Danny Akin

Beyond Dallas, onrushing #ChurchToo furor may spell trouble for biblical 'complementarians'

Beyond Dallas, onrushing #ChurchToo furor may spell trouble for biblical 'complementarians'

At this writing we don’t know whether Paige Patterson will turn up for his star appearance to preach the keynote sermon at the June 12-13 Dallas meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

Whatever, thanks to Patterson, reporters will flock to this gathering of the biggest U.S. Protestant denomination.

That’s due to the mop-up after Patterson’s sudden sacking as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (per this GetReligion item). It’s a dramatic turn in the onrushing #ChurchToo furor hitting U.S. Protestants after decades of Catholic ignominy over sexual misconduct.

The ouster involved his callous attitudes on spousal abuse, rape and reporting, plus sexist remarks, as protested by thousands of Baptist women. Patterson and Southwestern are also cover-up defendants in a sexual molesting case against retired Texas state Judge Paul Pressler. The storied Patterson-and- Pressler duo achieved what supporters call the SBC’s “conservative resurgence” and opponents the “fundamentalist takeover.”     

 The prime figure among their younger successors is R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. He has denounced the current scandal as “a foretaste of the wrath of God,” and predicts ongoing woe for Southern Baptists and other  evangelicals. Doubtless he’s also upset over the downfall of SBC headquarters honcho Frank Page.

Mohler especially fears damage to the “complementarian” movement in which he and Patterson have been allied. It believes the Bible restricts women’s authority in church and home. Their evangelical foes charge that this theology disrespects women and their policy input, ignores victims’ voices and fosters abuse and cover-ups.

The Religion Guy has depicted the debate between “egalitarian” evangelicals and complementarians here. For other background, note this narrative from a female ex-professor at Southwestern.

Complementarians gained momentum with the 1987 launch of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, backed by conservatives including Patterson’s wife Dorothy, Mohler, Daniel Akin who succeeded Patterson’s as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and many non-Baptists. 


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Watching Southern Baptist dominoes: Whither the Paige Patterson files on 2003 rape report?

Watching Southern Baptist dominoes: Whither the Paige Patterson files on 2003 rape report?

Several weeks ago, I recommended that editors needed to budget for airplane tickets and hotel space so that their religion-beat pros could be on the scene when the Southern Baptist Convention meets in Dallas, Jun 12-13. Those that acted back then saved money.

Yes, leaders of Southwestern Baptist Theological seminary have acted twice in reaction to controversies surrounding the Rev. Paige Patterson. Seminary trustees voted on May 23 to remove him as president and then, reacting to new evidence, their executive committee acted yesterday to strip him of his new "theologian in residence" title, his new living quarters on campus and, well, any other remaining ties that bind.

What new evidence? Once again, head over to The Washington Post -- since the religion-desk team there has been leading the charge on this story since Day 1. I'll come back to that subject in a minute.

First I want to note two items in the very buzz-worthy essay written by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler, after the May 23 action by the Southwestern trustees. The headline on that Mohler essay -- discussed in last weekend's GetReligion "think piece" -- was colorful, to say the least: "The Wrath of God Poured Out -- The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention." Read this Mohler passage carefully:

The church must make every appropriate call to law enforcement and recognize the rightful God-ordained responsibility of civil government to protect, to investigate and to prosecute.

Doesn't the word "prosecute" jump out at you, just a bit? Mohler goes on to say:

A church, denomination, or Christian ministry must look outside of itself when confronted with a pattern of mishandling such responsibilities, or merely of being charged with such a pattern. We cannot vindicate ourselves. ... I believe that any public accusation concerning such a pattern requires an independent, third-party investigation. 

With that in mind, consider this important passage in the new Post report about yesterday's action by Southwestern Seminary leaders to cut remaining ties to Patterson. This passage is, of course, linked to the earlier Post bombshell by Sarah Pulliam Bailey that ran with this headline: "Southern Baptist leader encouraged a woman not to report alleged rape to police and told her to forgive assailant, she says."

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