The Problem With Autonomy: Florida SBC Church Invites Paige Patterson to Speak

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“Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.”― C.S. Lewis


The disgraced former head of SWBTS, Paige Patterson, has been invited to speak at Fellowship Church by the pastor Timothy Pigg. You can read about the history of this church and its pastor at the Florida State Convention website in an article written by his wife.

When Pigg arrived at Fellowship Church in May of 2015, they only had one deacon, no staff, and 40 people for worship. Almost four years later, Fellowship Church has six pastors who are mostly volunteer, five deacons, and is now averaging 250 across two campuses and three languages services. This month, Fellowship Church experienced its highest Sunday attendance in its 103-year history with 600 people.

When Pigg was asked why he thought God was growing and blessing Fellowship Church he said, “We are fully committed to knowing God and making Him known. I believe that God is blessing us as a response to our obedience to Him.”

Pastor Tim has a page with his bio at the church website. The church was formerly known as FBC Immokalee. On this page, you will see the esteem that Pastor Tom has for SWBTS>

In 2002, I accepted God’s call to vocational ministry while attending my church’s middle school camp. Uncertain which area of ministry God would have for me, I began to seek godly wisdom from those in leadership around me. In the summer of 2004, I once again felt the Lord clarifying my calling to pastoral ministry. Since that time, I have devoted my life to training for the pastorate. 

In 2008, my training took me to Fort Worth, Texas to study in the undergraduate program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS). By May 2013, I completed my B. A. in Humanities. After graduation, I continued at SWBTS and earned my M. Div. in May 2015. I am currently enrolled in the Doctoral program at SWBTS.  

On this public page, he posts the following contact information.

Office: 239-657-2694

tpigg@fellowshipchurch.co

Here is the advertisement on the church website for the Great Commission Weekend. How many of you remember when the SBC added the name to the *Great Commission Baptists?* It’s true but it didn’t take hold. Southern Baptists Approve ‘Great Commission Baptists’ as Alternative Name.

Question: Why is the pastor a special quest at his own church? Do you think he’s being paid a speaker fee?

 

The principle of autonomy versus the principle of cooperation

Here is the post I wrote on Monday. Prediction: SBC Entities Will Be Sued Because the *Doctrine* of Autonomy of Churches Is Not Easily Understood or Accepted and Will Be Challenged.

In the email/tweet from Dr Susan Codone, there is an attempt to convey that one can be autonomous while being *cooperartive.* I had heard that some of the folks involved in the Caring Well conference have attempted to get the SBC leaders to urge the local church to dump Patterson. I’ve been waiting to hear from some brave SBC leader taking Fellowship Church to task for this decidedly stupid invitation. An uproar was bound to happen and it is now well on its way.

So far, it is the sound of silence which is trickling forth from the leaders. Perhaps there is fear that the SBC could once again experience a split or maybe it is merely the typical fear of lawsuits.

Any sort of demand by the SBC leaders that Patterson be disinvited will just be more fodder for lawyer as lawsuits involving the SBC and the local conventions/associations begin to accumulate.

Many of today’s decidedly Reformed SBC leaders knew about Paige Patterson’s problems for years.

Patterson’s troublesome statement on a woman’s domestic abuse was made at a CBMW conference in 2000. Many of today’s leaders were presenter were aware of the strange stuff coming out of CBMW. Did it make any difference? No. Back in 2008, JD Geear had this to say about Paige Patterson, long after the infamous Patterson statement.

One of my mentors, Paige Patterson (president of the Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth) took exception to some of the conclusions. Dr. Patterson brought out a number of good points, including:

…-Mean-spiritedness” is never appropriate in the cause of Christ and is to be regretted.

…-There are a number of “younger” pastors (of whom he cited me as one), who have not left the Convention.

…-Many of the “older” Southern Baptist leaders have spent their lives investing in younger leaders and remain as mentors to those leaders today.

…Both Ed and Dr. Patterson are my friends and men I look up to, and both share the same values and commitment to the Gospel. Both love the church and her mission.

These relationships could lead to some awkward moments for today’s leaders. There are still a number of people in the SBC/GCB leadership who disagree with direction of their entity. In fact, there may be several differing directions Any sort of pressure to *do the right thing* might come back to bite them on their proverbial snoots.

The SBC prides itself on their harmonious autonomy. However, there is not much holding churches in the SBC. In discussions with some folks it is the retirement fund for the pastors and some cooperative missions effort. I even had one pastor claim that his church is NOT SBC although the church is listed on the website and they participate in the retirement program. This does not portend well for the future.

One would hope that the leaders would stand up for the truth, come what may. But, there may be a price to be paid for doing so.

However, TWW readers could fill in for the silent or conflicted leaders.

Here is a link to Contact Details to Complain about Paige Patterson Speaking at Great Commission Weekend. I plan to make a couple of calls myself. I might even write a post about their responses.

Once again, here is the sample letter by Susan Codone. If you do write or make a phone call, please let TWW readers know if you get a response.


Comments

The Problem With Autonomy: Florida SBC Church Invites Paige Patterson to Speak — 67 Comments

  1. When Pigg was asked why he thought God was growing and blessing Fellowship Church he said, “We are fully committed to knowing God and making Him known.

    Maybe they should make an effort to know the people they are following a little better?

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  2. When I saw this on Twitter, I wanted to beat my head against the desk. Particularly at the guy who was advertising this event on twitter and then said nobody on social media had the right to criticize him or their church for having Patterson. If you don’t want criticism, don’t advertise on Twitter–simple as that.

    Nobody should allow Paige Patterson a platform after the things that have come out about him. He stole thousands of files of student information, probably including mine, from SEBTS. He enabled his best buddy to molest young men. He tried to silence a woman who was raped at gunpoint by a predator who had keys to every room on the SWBTS campus.

    Paige Patterson has proved himself an enemy to Christ by his actions. He has enabled atrocious abuse to Christians.

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  3. ishy: Particularly at the guy who was advertising this event on twitter and then said nobody on social media had the right to criticize him or their church for having Patterson.

    I don’t know the laddie in question, but by definition he had no right to criticise anyone for criticising him.

    Anyway, back to this thing about “autonomy”. A bit like calvinismism and theSufficiencyOfScripture, “autonomy of local churches” has a meaning that is very clear, simple and strong until its logical consequences are challenged. At this point its meaning kind of goes Schrödinger’s Cat and becomes a linear combination of all possibilities.

    Superficially, this might be thought analogous to Nickism. However, this is a basic misunderstanding of Nickism.

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  4. This report does not distress me as much as it does most commenters, which perhaps is a mark of cynicism on my part. I view it as an example of Romans 1 “wrath of God” — idolatry leading to darkened understanding leading to bad decisions leading to bad outcomes. That seems to me a fair characterization of the results of PP’s tenure at SWBTS. Perhaps the esteem in which TP holds PP is simply more evidence of darkened understanding, and the hand of God is actually against that congregation, its cheerful numerical results notwithstanding.

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  5. Hmm–I would think any church inviting PP to speak is a church I would not want to attend. I would think as an autonomous church they can certainly invite him. And I would think the local association, state convention, and the SBC have every right to withdraw fellowship from said church.

    It really is an autonomous church and can have whomever they wish. But the other also autonomous entities have every right to withdraw fellowship.

    That is how autonomy works.

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  6. ishy: Particularly at the guy who was advertising this event on twitter and then said nobody on social media had the right to criticize him or their church for having Patterson.

    It must be his first day on twitter. Twitter is the Monty Python Argument Room made real – though in this case it’s right.

    Honestly, looking at the pastor’s bio, it’s obvious he is drawn straight from the core of Patterson’s influence. But clearly he hasn’t been paying attention or doesn’t care.

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  7. Hamilton
    If you actually cared about the answer to these questions you would have read TWW and realized how wrong you are exccept for the fact that I attend an LCMS church. So, do some work, First clue-which pastor does the Church sermons? What denomination is he? Is he Reformed? If you answer correctly, you will begin to understand some things about me.

    Spend a little time reading and stop making knee jerk comments.

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  8. More PR hires by the SBC Executive Committee announced:

    http://www.bpnews.net/54137/ec-announces-communications-staff-additions

    “With the addition of Jon, Kyle and Tess, we now have a team better equipped for online media distribution and relations. It’s exciting to see where God is leading and equipping us as we strive to better tell the Southern Baptist story”

    Jon used to work for Voice of the Martyrs.

    Kyle (member of Greear’s The Summit church) was hired away from ‘Stone Truck Parts’:

    https://twitter.com/kylcchrn/status/1205544666617253888

    Tess was a Lifeway intern and freelance writer.

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  9. So long as they (SBC folks) know they’re ‘saved’ and won’t wind up like those gawd-awful-catholics-and-mormons, and so long as the pot-lucks and social events continue on schedule, I don’t think they’d give rat’s rip if Simon Legree showed up to speak.

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  10. that’s OK, Paige Patterson has a non-profit org now that the denominational gravy train’s been cut off.

    Apparently his ‘Sandy Creek Foundation’ purchased a nice house in Texas.

    His hangers-on list the Foundation as their new employer:

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/z-scott-colter-83a148179

    Z. Scott Colter
    now: Executive Director, Sandy Creek Foundation
    previously: President’s Chief of Staff, SWBTS, Jan 2016 – Jul 2018

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacob-horton-447b8116b

    Jacob Horton
    now: Administrative Assistant, Sandy Creek Foundation
    previously: President’s Aide, SWBTS, Jan 2017 – Jul 2018

    “assisting president of School by running errands, driving, escorting, researching, maintaining a 35,000 volume Library, caring for his dog…”

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  11. Remember when SBC organ Baptist Press published an obituary for the Patterson dog?!

    http://www.bpnews.net/35777/first-person-the-joys-of-a-man-and-his-dog

    “July 18, 2011
    FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Born Oct. 25, 1997, Chuck’s Oro Negro (Kennel Club official name Chuck’s Black Gold) or Noche, as he would be know [sic] in 49 states…protected presidential residences at Magnolia Hill in North Carolina and Pecan Manor in Texas.”

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  12. Nothing in SBC life surprises me anymore. Anything is possible. Under the umbrella of autonomy, an Alexander the Coppersmith can stand in the pulpit … but put an anointed woman of God up there and all Hell breaks loose!

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  13. Mr. Jesperson:
    FYI.My mom passed last night at about 6 pm MST.I appreciate anyone who has or will pray for the family.Thanks all!

    Prayers for you and your family, Mr. Jesperson. Take good care of yourselves during this time.

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  14. Jerome,

    so, this ‘Sandy Creek Foundation’ described itself as a “non-profit 501(c)(3) organization” (which of course very much runs on profit).

    i can’t find any record of it anywhere.

    could it be operating under a different name? or through the Dorothy Patterson Scholarship Foundation?

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  15. Twitter is afire today. Denny Burk is ranting about “discernment blogs” because of course, bringing up problems in the church is only allowable by almighty men like him and his friends about everybody else.

    Then there’s this fascinating discussion started by Matthew Arbo about pastors and ghostwriting:
    “Christians, it’s high time we have that morally serious conversation about ghostwriting.”
    https://twitter.com/MatthewBArbo/status/1215466332432584709

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  16. elastigirl: so, this ‘Sandy Creek Foundation’ described itself as a “non-profit 501(c)(3) organization” (which of course very much runs on profit).

    i can’t find any record of it anywhere.

    Nor I.
    But I just noticed this:

    Jerome: Candi Finch…currently works at the Sandy Creek Foundation in Plano, Texas area

    Plano? That’s quite a ways from Fort Worth, isn’t it?
    Do the Pattersons have a Plano connection?
    Hmmm…

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  17. ishy: Twitter is afire today. Denny Burk is ranting about “discernment blogs” because of course, bringing up problems in the church is only allowable by almighty men like him and his friends about everybody else.

    Burk should be worried, cuz’ the days of business as usual are drawing to a close.

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  18. ishy: Denny Burk is ranting about “discernment blogs” because of course, bringing up problems in the church is only allowable by almighty men like him and his friends about everybody else.

    Since Burk did not name names, it is very plausible to understand his tweets as an attack on Pulpit&Pen, with no ill thoughts at all toward TWW. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    The TGC crowd is constantly writing vague articles criticizing others but without going into enough specifics to know who they are actually criticizing. If they had any integrity they would be specific. They are cowards.

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  19. ishy: Twitter is afire today. Denny Burk is ranting about “discernment blogs”

    He’s just upset that the “discernment blogs” have unearthed too much bad (real) news about the bad-boys in his tribe (New Calvinism) … he’s worried what will come next in 2020. He forgets that God has placed watchmen on the wall, and he doesn’t have a right to say who they should be – that requires ‘discernment’.

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  20. Ken F (aka Tweed): it is very plausible to understand his tweets as an attack on Pulpit&Pen, with no ill thoughts at all toward TWW

    The new reformation will eventually be taken down from within. They are their own worst enemy. There is too much arrogance in their bubble, the movement will implode.

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  21. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Hall seems convinced the New Calvinists are progressive, which I think is patently false. I think the New Cals like to appeal to the middle and then change the paradigm once people are “covenanted”. The New Calvinists have such a low view on women (and humanity in general excepting themselves), but they like to hide a lot of that behind closed doors.

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  22. ishy: The New Calvinists have such a low view on women (and humanity in general excepting themselves), but they like to hide a lot of that behind closed doors.

    “But it’s harder for defense attorneys to discredit victims when the case is a matter of he said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said.”

    @angelinachapin @HuffPost covering the Weinstein case.

    So, TWW – keep blogging the “she saids”.

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  23. Max: about the bad-boys in his tribe (New Calvinism) … he’s worried what will come next in 2020.

    Wait, if he’s a real New Calvinist then God is in control of everything and it’s all predestined, so what’s to worry about? Unless of course they only believe God is on control when things go as they expect or want…

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  24. Ken F (aka Tweed): This very recent article reads like satire:
    https://pulpitandpen.org/2020/01/10/gone-to-hell-founders-ministries-teams-up-with-notorious-leftist-blogger/

    The article reads like a fifth grade bully standing on the playground calling everyone names. Its beyond me how Pulpit and Pen can believe such a snide rude piece of writing is a defense for God.

    Didn’t the God JD Hall thinks he’s defending inspire Apostle Paul to write, “Let your conversation always be full of grace seasoned with salt” and “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up.”

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  25. Fisher: Unless of course they only believe God is in control when things go as they expect or want…

    SBC Founders (slaveholders in the South) believed sovereign God was on their side during the Civil War until early Confederate victories turned to defeat. Following the War, Southern Baptists distanced themselves from the Founders’ theology (Calvinism) and remained distinctly non-Calvinist in belief and practice until Mohler and his band of New Calvinists showed up.

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  26. Max: The new reformation will eventually be taken down from within.They are their own worst enemy.There is too much arrogance in their bubble, the movement will implode.

    Naziism and Communism also imploded, but look how many victims they took down in the process.

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  27. Jerome: Plano? That’s quite a ways from Fort Worth, isn’t it?

    Eh, plano is basically dallas? It’s about an hour from ft worth.

    ishy: Hall seems convinced the New Calvinists are progressive, which I think is patently false.

    hi Ishy! That sounds wrong, but it may be like that weird baptist church that thinks the SBC is ‘too liberal’. Someone says something positive about women and all of a sudden they are too progressive. Meh. Consider the source..

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  28. Fisher: Its beyond me how Pulpit and Pen can believe such a snide rude piece of writing is a defense for God.

    that seems to be their MO? Amazing the chantry thing didn’t shame them into oblivion honestly (that was them right?).

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  29. Fisher,

    “Its beyond me how Pulpit and Pen can believe such a snide rude piece of writing is a defense for God.”
    +++++++++++++

    well, i think we tend to make God in our own image.

    which is kind of troubling.

    (and revealing!)

    but to be expected when we’re trying to get to know something/someone totally invisible. and using faith. you have to start somewhere.

    i think kindness is spoken and understood across all cultures and languages (human, spiritual, extraterrestrial?), no matter the language barriers. if someone can’t grasp kindness and convey it, or refuses to, it’s a measure of some kind of psychological issue.

    indeed, it’s beyond me, as well, how p&p can possibly think he/they are representing God in a true way.

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  30. Jerome,

    Jerome: Do the Pattersons have a Plano connection?

    Sandy Creek Foundation owns a 5,000 + sq. ft. home in neighbouring Parker, TX where they presumably live. Their son-in-law pastors a church in Plano. There is also a “Dallas” connection, Southfork Ranch is about 3 miles away.

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  31. Fisher: Didn’t the God JD Hall thinks he’s defending inspire Apostle Paul to write, “Let your conversation always be full of grace seasoned with salt” and “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up.”

    I am pretty sure they redefine words to make them mean what they want them to mean. For example, grace becomes a doctrine that includes predestination to eternal conscious torment. So they season their speech with that kind of talk. And they think that what is helpful to build up others is to punch them in the face with what they believe to be truth. It’s a become a system that reads more like satire than anything remotely Christian. It would be hilarious if not for the Trail of damage they have left on their wake.

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  32. Max,

    While Burke’s piece was general, I believe the origins is a piece published at Capstone Report. Some anonymous told Capstone that the head honcho at MBTS had advocated on behalf refugee settlements with the governor of some state & Capstone ran with it without verification. The MBTS honcho denied doing this, although he did acknowledge meeting with the governor.

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  33. Donna D.: Some anonymous told Capstone that the head honcho at MBTS had advocated on behalf refugee settlements with the governor of some state & Capstone ran with it without verification.

    Yes, that appears to be the case:

    “Pathway editor: Capstone report that MBTS’s Allen lobbied state government is ‘fake news’”

    https://mbcpathway.com/2020/01/10/pathway-editor-capstone-report-that-mbtss-allen-lobbied-state-government-is-fake-news/

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  34. Jerome: I too have been falsely accused…

    And then he says these ‘false accusations’ were mild and not a big deal? Like, getting the name of something wrong because of bad fact checking is not the same thing and it’s a problem to see them conflated.

    I sideeye the h out of anyone saying that false accusations are constantly happening. The ones I have heard have generally been substantiated eventually.

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  35. He says any Baptist leader that might be accused, needs a heads up via snail mail:

    http://www.bpnews.net/54162/firstperson–denominational-discourse-and-the-future-of-the-sbc

    “Accusations are always out of bounds”

    “A letter arrives with a certain degree of formality, which prompts a response. A letter has a name associated with it, a return address…IF YOU WRITE A LETTER TO A MINISTRY LEADER, ESPECIALLY A SOUTHERN BAPTIST LEADER, I’M CONFIDENT YOU’LL RECEIVE AN ANSWER FROM THEM OR THEIR OFFICE.”

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