According to ABP News, in a recent seminary chapel sermon, Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas, declared that ‘there’s no room in the church for whistleblowers’.
According to the Baptist leader, the biblical principle (in 1 Cor. 6) according to which Christians should not sort out their differences in court, but resolve them in church means “we don’t take matters before unbelievers”, and, according to him, this also applies to the media: ‘What goes on in the church of God doesn’t go to the press’. I wonder if he also means the religious or denominational media. He did not seem to have thought that much about it, especially as it stands in the context of the internet.
What Patterson seems to long for is a sort of inquisitorial context, in which church leaders can play with impunity their pathetic power games, without any possibility for the ‘little people’ they pretend to serve to react in any way. Those who are familiar with the highly dubious political means through which fundamentalists took over leadership and eliminate not only liberals, but also moderates from the Southern Baptist denomination know very well what Patterson means. Such dishonouring means are described by Patterson euphemistically, as mere ‘mistakes’. They would have been, for certain, ‘sins against the Holy Spirit’ if they were committed by the liberals.
So, what does Patterson advise those who are abused in this manner in church? To swallow it humbly. You may wonder, qui prodest? Such pro domo ways or interpreting the Bible are as weighty as the dubious attempts of the so-called ‘complementarians’ to preserve the privileges that outdated patriarchal church structures reserved only for men.
I contend there is absolutely no difference between this SBC ecclesial polity and the way in which the Ayatolachs run religious matters in Iran. SBC is there in very good fundamentalist company.
My own traumatic first hand experience of this pathological authoritarian manner of church politics, as a lecturer in a theological school which Southern Baptist ‘bought’ with financial support, (a matter in which Patterson himself played an important role) tells me that such approaches are not only outdated (fitting more the medieval times than the 21st century), but also dangerous and dehumanising. It is not surprising, then, that young people are leaving such oppressive ecclesial environments.