…from one who could not breathe the toxic air they made. I refer to myself herein and make no more apology about leaving hereafter.
Mr. Paige Patterson, I am told, did not attend the annual meeting of the CRSBC last week. He had been removed from one office and fired from another in the days leading up to the meeting. Mr. Patterson had been selected to preach the Keynote Sermon in Dallas. I had idly hoped, after the firing, he would remove himself from the prestigious spot for the good of the CRSBC itself. Mr. Patterson did remove himself but cited his concern for his family, not the convention, so I will not claim virtue for him he does not claim for himself.
I stayed with the old SBC as long as I could after 1979, but finally walked away sometime in the late 80’s when the Pressler-Patterson led coalition made the air too toxic for someone with my breathing difficulties. I watched the rest from afar, removing funds, students and influence from the monster being formed out of old body parts. The CRSBC lost exactly nothing when I left and I did not lose much.
Mr. Patterson’s fall and the previous civil suits brought against Mr. Pressler did not surprise me. One hears things over the years. I admit to some astonishment over the way persons climbing the ladder in the CRSBC continually flattered the two of them, but I marked that off to patriotism and fear, with a generous dollop of greed for good measure. I did not join the veneration but, let me advise all who care to read, one cannot in hatred live for long without paying a dreadful personal price.
Just look at the shambles of the CRSBC.
So, from one who left while he could still leave and hold up his head, come these words of warning. Heed them or not, but look to your soul.
First, anyone who takes a thread of joy from the evisceration of the CR leadership is doomed to weave a garment of despair. We cannot undo the dreadful damage that has been done to the old tree or its splintered branches, if all we do is deride two old men who never should have had a following in the first place. A few persons lost their jobs, a few preachers got rich, a few old vendettas were settled in blood. The Enemy (the real Enemy, not the phone booth full of liberals the CRSBC could find) turned the most evangelistic mass of persons in the world against each other.
If you need an operative emotion, try regret over resentment. Mourn, do not hate. Take no happiness in the downfall of another man, even if that man caused the downfall of others.
Second, consider what Mr. Patterson and his allies will now discover. A ministerial career is fragile to the point of frailty. Some will balk at the word “career” set next to the word “ministry.” Very well, let me explain. By “career in ministry” I refer to the intent of the person involved to spend his or (gasp) her life in perpetual service of the One, True God, such service with its companion pieces, hard work and little pay. Imagine such people. Where did we find them? My pastor in my teenage years led our church, loved a family, studied hard and drove a school bus to make ends meet. I feel some shame when I remember he made as much driving a bus as our church paid him. Where did we find such people?
And, having found them, what kind of fool pushes away a person who will work all day in the baking sun for a crust of bread? He may have parsed his iota privatives slightly across from mine, but we found a way to remain in fellowship. Now, there are as many reasons to withdraw fellowship at their jots and tittles in the Law. A ministerial career is fragile. Mr. Patterson has his money and his adulaters but he is now finding just how fragile is the career of a minister.
Mr. Patterson will now find out the difference between the busiest man in town and the figuratively defrocked. It is the empty calendar. I have watched this literally destroy the health and vitality of good men. Those who care about such men should watch their habits when they lose positions of power. Bad habits now become worse. Mr. Patterson has been opus dei and has now gone to persona non grata. Pray for him, my despised moderate friend, as our Lord commanded in Matthew 5.
If you need a religious guide through this miasma of misery, try the Sermon on the Mount.
Mr. Patterson and his followers will now find out about revenge. The wind has been sown. No one needs wonder about the harvest. Many in the CRSBC have felt Mr. Patterson’s vitriol. Do not be amazed if they return venom for it. Revenge may be a dish best tasted from a cold plate, but watch out for the fellow whose idol is a noted revenge-taker.
Any retribution for slights imagined or slices real felt will only assist our real Enemy. The seared soul is half to charred and will come off the fire with no life in the middle. Do not do to others, or even think of doing to others, what they did to you, now that they have neither position nor power.
If you need a leader here, try Jesus.