Seminary apologizes for admitting Muslim student; Pastor Responds

by | Jun 14, 2014 | Islam | 1 comment

Patterson, Courtesy CNN

Patterson, Courtesy CNN

“I believe when I stand before the Lord God, I’m going to say, ‘Dear God, I violated a policy but I didn’t want to stand before you with blood on my hands,’” a choked-up Patterson said. “’Dear God, I did the best I knew how.'”
That’s the latest from a story we previously reported, A devout Muslim (anti-Christian) at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary?, a fascinating post by pastor Wade Burleson on his blog expressing frustration over the policy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas which recently allowed the admission of a professing, devout Muslim into the School of Theology. He is calling for the Southern Baptist Convention to address this immediately. Unfortunately, those in charge are seen as “untouchable, Burleson says, and the students and faculty are fearful of speaking up and standing for truth:

“Well, I care. My church cares. You, too, should care. I plan to be in Baltimore for the Southern Baptist Convention and ask other Southern Baptists their feeling about having their Cooperative Program dollars pay for the education of Muslims at Southwestern Seminary.

Christian News Network has this report:

Southern Baptist Seminary President Apologizes for Admitting Muslim Student

BALTIMORE (RNS) — The head of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offered an emotional apology to Southern Baptists for accepting a Muslim student into his school’s Ph.D. program — an unusual step for an evangelical seminary but one other schools have taken for years.
“I made an exception to a rule that I assumed, probably wrongly, the president has the right to make if he feels that it is that important,” Paige Patterson told Southern Baptist delegates on Wednesday (June 11). “He was admitted as a special student in the Ph.D. program.”
As previously reported, Patterson, an architect of the conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention a generation ago and one of the church’s most revered figures, faced heavy criticism from some Baptists who accused him of violating the standards of his school in Fort Worth, Texas.
Some were worried that the student, Ghassan Nagagreh, was receiving money from the denomination’s funding program. Patterson insisted that Nagagreh, a Palestinian Muslim student who initially worked as a volunteer on a Southwestern archaeological dig in Israel, received no financial support.

…Patterson found himself Wednesday answering not only questions about admitting Nagagreh but also about the range of students in the Darrington program, which he said includes Muslim and atheist inmates.
“Unfortunately, it is the case that you cannot discriminate and have a program in prison,” said Patterson. “We have no choice. We have to admit them to class but the wonderful thing, of course, as you would guess, is that as they are studying in class they are coming to know the Lord.”
That’s why Patterson supported admitting the Sunni Muslim student, who he described as “very open, at this point, to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
…Patterson, a veteran of 63 consecutive SBC annual meetings, apologized profusely to the convention, his family, his faculty and his board of trustees, which he noted was not responsible for his decision about the student.
“It was my decision and my decision alone,” he said.
But he added that he already had an answer prepared for God.
“I believe when I stand before the Lord God, I’m going to say, ‘Dear God, I violated a policy but I didn’t want to stand before you with blood on my hands,’” a choked-up Patterson said. “’Dear God, I did the best I knew how.’”

For his part, Pastor Wade Burleson had this to day about the tearful apology on his blog:

Paige Patterson’s Apology to the ‘People He’s Hurt’

 The Southwestern Seminary report was given today at the Southern Baptist Convention. You may watch the final 18 minutes of it here.  Some have requested to know how I felt about Dr. Patterson’s remarks. Here are few thoughts.

(1). After the report Danny Akin said from the platform, “Dr. Patterson does not have to apologize to me for his heart for the lost.” I am sure Dr. Akin is a bright and intelligent human being, but how in the world someone would think ‘an apology’ was being given for having ‘a heart for the lost’ is beyond my comprehension — particularly an apology given to the Southern Baptist Convention for having a heart for the lost.  Why would anyone ‘apologize’ for that?  Dr. Akin, we don’t need leaders in the Convention using sycophantic language that makes no sense.  We need men who clearly articulate the principles of grace and truth. Give us some truth Danny. We see through flattery.
(2). The Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Southwestern Seminary made it clear that the trustees would address the issue in September. Good for him. He also said, “Don’t talk to others about this, talk to God.” Not so good for him. Until people talked to others about this issue (including trustees), nothing was being said or done. You are only as sick as the secrets you keep.
(3). Dr. Patterson looked like he was under stress. His voice faltered. He teared up a few times. He looked rattled.  Honestly, my heart went out to him. But then I thought about “Pinky” Klouda, Dr. Sheri Klouda’s husband, whose heart was literally failing when Dr. Klouda was being terminated from SWBTS for being a woman teaching Hebrew to men, and my compassion for Dr. Patterson tempered. I thought about Dr. Cornish and the rescission of his contract because his wife had been divorced from an abusive husband when she was just nineteen, long before she ever met Dr. Cornish.  I thought about Dr. Mitchell and what I know about his termination. I am hopeful that ‘love for evangelical Christians’ reaches the same level as the ‘love for the lost’ that was expressed from the platform today. Why do we treat believers in Allah better than we do believers in Jesus Christ?
(4).  My old friend, Malcolm Yarnell, found a little anecdote about Dr. Rufus Burleson breaking the rules and admitting an atheist at Baylor University. Good for him. I believe people are always more important than rules. It’s interesting that the people who live by the sword, ultimately die by the sword. You fight fire with fire. We need some grace in the Convention for Christians who disagree with others over tertiary doctrinal matters, and  maybe a taste of one’s own medicine this spring caused a realization that love for people is far more important than your precious principles that a woman shouldn’t teach a man, or a faculty member’s wife should never be divorced, or an administrator that has a mouse pad with a saying you don’t like… well, you get the picture.
(5). I am praying for Dr. and Mrs. Patterson. I am not just saying those words. I just finished praying for them.   I trust that the lessons learned will be applied in the future when its time to be gracious to those Southern Baptists and other evangelicals who disagree on tertiary issues of the Christian faith. That’s the lesson of this Convention.