Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A signed letter to an anonymous professor

I posted the following comment on SBC Outpost in response to an anonymous letter posted there, purportedly by a professor at one of our 6 SBC seminaries. The author accuses Drs. Al Mohler and Paige Patterson of actions that he believes have dispirited faculty and administrators at Southern and Southwestern seminaries. Perhaps some of what he writes is true. Perhaps it is not. Here is what I wrote there in response.
I agree with the author of this letter on one point: His anonymous letter is an act of cowardice. What he has admitted is that he values his salaried position more than he values integrity and truth. if his accusations and charges are true then they are serious enough to declare openly and honestly. Sign your name, friend. Show your fellow Southern Baptists that you value truth and integrity more than money. Continued anonymity discredits everything you say and I, for one, refuse to put any credence in anonymous accusations.
It is time for those who care about the SBC to play the man, speak truth in love and leave the consequences to God. Boyd Luter says that this kind of anonymous post over at the Outpost is "barely even a work in progress" and calls it "a new idea" that he does not quite yet know how to handle. For what it is worth, I recommend that the Outpost handle anonymous letters by encouraging the authors of them either to man up or remain quiet in order to keep your paycheck while realizing that you are a part of the very problem over which you profess concern.
I have more to say on this issue and so I will express my thoughts in a letter of response to the anonymous professor.

Dear Sir or Madam:

After reading and rereading your letter what has become sadly obvious to me is that it demonstrates little understanding of biblical integrity and boldness. The accusations that you make under the cover of anonymity lack courage, plain and simple. You admit your reason, as if doing so justifies your action and alleviates your cowardly action.
I am writing to you anonymously because I do not want to lose my job as a seminary professor. Not that I feel worthy of being fired for what I am doing, but because I am concerned my president might do so for exposing these matters. No doubt some will equate my anonymity with cowardice. But of one thing I am sure: doing this has required more nerve than my years of silence watching good people--and the SBC--being hurt.
Your admission is an indictment of your failure of nerve. You have decided that maintaining a paycheck is more valuable than directly engaging the issues that cause you concern. So, rather than honor Jesus Christ in handling your concerns the way the Bible says to handle them, you sit in the shadows, under the cover of darkness and work like a sniper. Galatians 6:1, Matthew 18:15-18, and Paul's example in Galatians 2:11-21 all rebuke your way of handling your concerns.

While it may have required more nerve for you to write an anonymous letter than to sit back for years in silence while watching good people being hurt, your present action is nothing to applaud. In fact, it is to be greatly lamented by everyone who not only affirms inerrancy but is simple enough actually to believe that our inerrant Bible ought to be obeyed, even when doing so jeopardizes one's job.

You liken your actions to those in the conservative resurgence years ago who informed Southern Baptist church members of problems in our seminaries and institutions.
In the past the SBC was spared disaster when rank and file Southern Baptists became informed of how truly liberal our seminaries had become. Courageous trustees did not simply rubber stamp the presentations of liberal seminary administrations. Instead they investigated the concerns of Southern Baptists and took appropriate action when needed. Thank God! Though the issues now are different, courageous trustees are still needed for the long term health of our seminaries and ultimately our convention.
Courageous professors are also needed. But your method of informing Southern Baptists is far different from those who led out in the resurgence decades ago. Jerry Johnson did not make his accusations of problems at Southern Seminary anonymously. Tom Nettles and Russ Bush did not make their accusations anonymously. Paige Patterson did not make his accusations anonymously. They signed their names on their charges and were willing to endure the consequences, regardless of what they might be.

In 1980, when I was still a seminary student and just coming to understand the issues at stake in the denominational struggle, Dr. Patterson gave me a few hours of his time at his study in Dallas. When I asked him what he had learned thus far in his efforts to bring these issues to light, he said, "I have learned what I would never have imagined to be true--that so many Southern Baptist pastors are cowards." He went on to explain that a common refrain he was hearing went like this: "I am with you, brother. I believe in inerrancy and think we need to take a stand, but because of my position, I am not able to come out and speak on this openly."

I was young and idealistic then and shuddered at the thought of trying to minister with that kind of pressure. Now I am old and realistic and I realize that such pressure is self-imposed and arises from unbelief. I am not suggesting that I am in any way above those temptations. Rather, I am saying that they are temptations to sin and must be fought vigorously.

You also distance yourself from the "insensitive presentations and even coarse language" of some bloggers who have raised concerns similar to your own. I agree with you that some of the things that have been written on blogs have been over-the-top and are regrettable. But one thing that can be said about the bloggers who have done this--they signed their names to what they wrote. Some have readily provided substantial documentation for claims they have made. They didn't shoot from the shadows.

You obviously wrote this letter because you believe that in doing so you are bringing to light some serious problems in our SBC seminaries. The kinds of things that you mention ought to be addressed and not swept under any rug. What you have also unwittingly done is to display a far more urgent and serious problem than concerns me greatly. Simply stated, it is this: our future generations of pastors are being trained by professors who care more about their salaries than they do God's truth and honor! That, my brother or sister, is a problem of staggering magnitude.

I trust that you are in the minority among our Southern Baptist professors. You write, however, as if you would have us believe that that is not the case. I hope you are wrong. I hope that most of the professors whom we are employing to teach future pastors are made of stronger stuff than either to turn a blind eye to serious problems or to address them from the cover or anonymity.

You make this appeal to your readers:
My prayer is that you will consider whether the message is true rather than the praiseworthiness of the messenger.... I hope you likewise will not turn a deaf ear to me and other seminary professors who might find the courage to speak up.
If your message is true, then sign your name to it. It is hard to imagine a servant of the crucified Savior being unwilling to endure repercussions for speaking the truth openly in pursuit of His glory and honor. Follow the Scripture that you teach. Be an example to your students and your fellow Southern Baptists in demonstrating how to handle such serious matters in a biblical way.

Finally, I assure you, I and others will not turn a deaf ear to you and your colleagues if you ever do find the courage to speak up about sinful matters that need to see the light of day. Keep looking for such courage. Thus far, it has eluded you.

56 comments:

Scott Gordon said...

Tom,

Thank you for this letter. I am tired of the relentless attacks upon our convention. Personal vendetta cannot be buttressed by phantoms. Either this 'professor' should take his stand or not. This type of 'letter' only exacerbates the problem. It is not helpful.

Sola Gratia!

GUNNY said...

"Well, the Lord hates a coward."
-Malone in "The Untouchables," played by Sean Connery

In these parts we'd say he needs to "Cowboy up."

If it's the right thing to do, it's the right thing to do, regardless of the consequences.

DW said...

Tom I appreciate your stand on this. While I think we should be discerning and merciful in all of our comments to brethren, we also need to be truthful. The guy who wrote this should have put his name on it, it would have been an excellent opportunity for the Lord to show Himself faithful to him.

It takes courage to believe and trust in the Lord sometimes.
It may be doubtful but, Lord willing, the guy could still redeem himself by telling the publisher to put his name on it.

Malcolm Yarnell said...

Tom,

From the many professors that I know in our seminaries, I believe your hope will not be disappointed.

The one thing that I have appreciated about you over the years, even when we disagreed, was that you always spoke with truth and tried to do so with kindness even during stressful disagreement. Thank you for seeking to live out the Word in this manner. May we all emulate your example.

In Christ,
Malcolm

Will Shin said...

OK, first, there is the clear biblical mandate: Matthew 18:15, "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private..."

Obviously, this "anonymous" professor did not confront Drs. Mohler and Patterson in private but made a "public" address. I think everyone is in agreement that this professor failed to adhere to this biblical principle.

Now for the second, the culture factor. Everyone saying that this professor's act is cowardice, I'm guessing are from the South and Anglo. Here in California and especially among Asians, for example, this professor's act is not considered cowardice, but passive-aggressive in handling difficult relational issues. For example, Asians are not "up front, out in the open" declarers of the truth (I'm an exception to this I guess). They, instead, are taught what is called "passive-aggressive." Be aggressive in your attack by passive approaches (e.g. gossip).

My guess is that this professor who is using such a "passive-aggressive" approach by posting an anonymous letter is someone not from the South, someone not raised in Southern culture, someone not Anglo, or any combination of the above.

It seems to me that this professor is genuinely scared. Therefore, calling him a coward will not encourage him to come to forward any more than calling a rape victim a coward for failing to openly confront her attackers will encourage her to come forward.

If you wish for him to come out, it is best to address his fear he has of retribution for his career and his family's security.

Just my two-cents worth.

Pastor C. Lee Smith said...

Where are the facts? He questions the Dr. Mohler's character but gives no specific support, and he does so from the cloak of darkness. With no specific information this letter rings of sour grapes. I say to the prof, "give the details or stop making general attacks." He even hints that there is cause for church discipline! If this prof has knowledge of sin that would call for discipline then it is his duty to go to his brother and do the ministry of speck removal. I might suggest he first remove the log from his own eye.

Also, I say the blog was out of order to publish this. If they keep this up they will become the National Enquirer of the blogosphere.

Grace Southern Baptist Church said...

Thank you for the post. This post gives me great wisdom as I deal with these types of letters and comments in the church I serve.

Brent L. Williams

Debbie Kaufman said...

Aren't we shooting the messenger here? Shouldn't this at least be investigated? Also where was the support for ones who did give both documented proof and their name?

Scott Shaffer said...

Debbie,

As someone already mentioned, one of the problems with the accusations is they lack specific facts. They also appear to be second hand reports, that is, I heard from someone that so and so is doing this or causing this, etc.

There may be substance to the accusations, but it is just cowardly to throw out general statements like that without giving your name. The Outpost shouldn't have even posted it.

John said...

When I get a letter, the first thing I do is look and see who sent it. If it is not signed, I shred it. If someone really wants to make a constructive comment, or try and help with positive change, they will not be afraid to let you know who they are.

Darby Livingston said...

I am shocked that no one in the entire blogosphere can sympathize with the professor's position. I find it hard to believe that every pastor reading these posts has been above board all the time and never failed to say what needed to be said. All the people branding this professor a coward are far more godly than I'll lay claim to. It's so easy to talk about "speck removal" and church discipline. Is everyone living in an idealistic bubble? If anyone should know the difficulty of affecting change in a highly political environment, it should be those associated with Founder's Conference. Don't get me wrong, I love Tom Ascol for the stands he has been courageous enough to lay his name to. He is a model of truth and grace. But all the rhetoric seems to prove the professor's fears. How about an encouraging, loving word to the anonymous professor? The guy's been skewed on several blogs without even considering what he's asserted. Is that really going to change by signing his name?

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

Many times I have been accused of just logging on to disagree. Perhaps that's fair; perhaps not. One thing is certain: what you have just stated is absolutely spot on.

Allow me an indulgence, my Brother. I penned this at Dr. Boyd Luter's site from whence this letter originated:

"Dr. Luter,

Oh my. A topsy-turvey moral structure do we embrace. “I hope you likewise will not turn a deaf ear to me and other seminary professors who might find the courage to speak up.”

From my side of the ethical boulevard, there is no courage whatsoever–zilch…none–in writing an “open letter” when it’s pricetag is less than a stamp–and that even granting that the contents were true...

If hard evidence exists, it is immoral to conceal it–even if personal sacrifice of one’s job is necessary. Period. In my view, place the bet or fold the cards..."

Thanks again. With that, I am...

Peter

Scott Shaffer said...

Darby,

I think you're missing the point. He anonymously accuses two men of sinful behavior but won't give specifics. What is anyone supposed to do with that?

And, I certainly sympathize with his situation, but quite frankly if this doesn't fit the definition of gossip I don't know what does.

geekforgreek said...

I for one grieve over what is posted over on SBCOutpost regularly.

It seems to be a vehicle for carrying out a vendetta on certain persons within SBC life.

Thank you for standing up Tom, I'm certain the bloggers at SBCoutpost wouldn't take kindly to Patterson or Mohler posting on their websites anonymous letters accusing them of wrongdoing without providing evidence.

Aaron Kahler

Paul said...

I once counseled with a lady who had grown up in an abusive home. She later married an abusive man. From those experiences she learned to "fight back." The man she is now engaged to is a big man - 6'3" and about 300 pounds. Whenever they get into conflict she immediately grabs for something - a hammer, a cordless screwdriver, something, even though he wouldn't hurt her in a million years. It is a sad reaction that she has learned and that is unhealthy for their relationship. She simply cannot continue to respond like that and they're relationship be healthy.

In the mean time, I understood that he would need to be patient with her as she began to "unlearn" this behavior. I did not beat her up for her behavior. I simply pointed out that it was unhealthy and would have some damaging consequences if it didn't change. She could end up running off a good man who loves her. Then we started talking about ways to positively respond.

I hope you see where I am going with this. This professor has learned to respond as he does. He has learned to trust his paycheck over what is right. He has yet to come to the place where he so trusts God that he believes he can step out of his fear and act.

I'm not sure that excoriating him is the most effective way to prod him on to faithfulness and trust in God. I also think that he deserves our patience just as the the Lord has shown patience to us in our weaknesses. That doesn't mean that we accept his behavior any more than this woman should have accepted her own. We confront it lovingly, show the damaging consequences and then teach him a new way of dealing with this problem. But that will require us to put down our stones and wrap his arms around our shoulders as we walk together in this new way.

By the way, while this man is a friend of Boyd Luter's and I do not know his name, I have told Boyd that if he would come forward he would be supported, but that if he means to be taken seriously he will have to come forward and give his name. I trust Boyd has passed those sentiments along.

Darby Livingston said...

Scott,

I'm not sure I'm missing the point. There are posts all over SBC Outpost citing specifics, signed by courageous men. These men are thrashed, just like the anonymous professor. Leave this cowardly professor's "gossip" out of it for a minute. I've not seen a lot of support for SBC Outpost, even while it has been above board. In fact, just the opposite. So the evidence doesn't support that if this professor came out and signed his name that he'd be treated any differently. In other words, I'm just not seeing the same standard of humility and timidity offered to this professor as I see offered to those whom he is accusing. Am I to believe anonymity is the greatest sin in the SBC? Greater than the sins of the men he's accusing if they turned out to be true? I'm not defending the professor. I'm questioning our collective treatment of him. BTW, I've never posted anonymously, but can sympathize with why this man did.

Scott Shaffer said...

Darby,

You may be correct that he would be lambasted whether he posted his name or not. However, that is really beside the point because it's saying, "I'm going to misbehave because I know they are going to misbehave." Both are wrong.

Again, I can simulatenously sympathize with the man's situation and criticize his methods.

I'm also scratching my head, wondering what he thought he was going to accomplish with these methods, i.e., an anonymous public accusation.

Paul said...

Obviously that should read "their relationship" not "they're" relationship.

Art said...

I told Tom I would log on and comment to this, so I will.

I may have more to say later and I will post it on SBC Outpost if I do.

In the meantime, I personally have made the decision to sign my name to the things I have written over the last two years and many have been unpopular. I have been excoriated and my integrity challenged. It doesn't matter to me, because I did what I believed to be right and just.

The practical outworking of all of this is actually pretty simple. Unless the myriad of people who know what is going on reveal it and how they know it, signing their names to their words, nothing is going to change.

If a large group of professors came public with specific instances of misbehavior, then the situation would certainly be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. The SBC and the subsequent Boards of Trustees could not ignore such a thing.

Failing that, all accusations, signed or anonymous will be ignored and pushed aside.

I will go one step further, concerning this professor. He has taken a middle ground position that has left him wanting in two desperate ways.

He no longer has the peace he once had as people will be seeking to learn his identity - something they are likely to do, even if it takes some time.

Further, though he has spoken out, his words are of no real consequence because he did not sign his name (but also because he is alone in his accusation).

He has forfeited his peace for no real profit.

Darby Livingston said...

"I'm also scratching my head, wondering what he thought he was going to accomplish with these methods, i.e., an anonymous public accusation."

I understand your point, and agree with it. Thank you for your patience. I don't think it was the best way to achieve his goal. I agree with Art's comment as well. I just thought the collective tone of the comments on the blogs covering this issue seemed rather self-righteous and condescending. That's what I was addressing in my first comment.

Cal Wallace said...

Thank you Tom for your handling of this. You have dealt with the matter more throughly and more eloquently than I could have myself.

JIm Champion said...

Most of you all are pastors and are protected, for the most part you can write what you want and criticize who ever you want and will not be affected. this seminary professor is a denominational employee, his words in a matter like this mean more. His first responsibility is to his family, put food on the table and a roof over thier heads. He seems to care enough about our seminaries that he has written what he has written to serve as a wakeup call, and to let us know that not everything is as peachy as it appears in seminaryland.

At this point I hope he takes Lin's advice over on the outpost and stays anny, goes back into the classroom and teaches his (or her)students and pretends like this never happened. Most of the commenters that I have seen, should he reveal his identity, would then drag him through the muck and mire for daring to attack CR icons, regardless of names, dates and times that he could or would provide as documentation. His collegues would cut and run on him so fast his head would spin.

I would imagine that is resume is ready to go - but until you all are ready to destitute your own families I would advise you to look at the substance of what he has said and begin to evaluate if there is truth there that needs to be dealt with.

farmboy said...

Anonymity does not necessarily rob a publication of all value. The Federalist Papers were published under the pseudonym of "Publius" yet they played an important part in the ratification of the Constitution of these United States.

My biggest concern is with the content of the anonymous letter in question. The charges are vague and lack evidence. My guess is that this is typical of many anonymous publications.

Were a person to receive an anonymous publication with specific charges backed up by specific, credible, documented evidence, that person would be foolish to ignore the evidence simply because it came from an anonymous source. This would be equivalent to discounting a superior idea simply because one did not like the person advancing the idea.

ddw said...

ad hominem. Judge his letter on the merits of his contents, not whether he was a coward for writing the letter.

Chris Bonts said...
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lordodamanor said...

Jim Champion,

Boy that was a list of excuses. Seems to me I have read that more than a few men have risked not just their own lives but the lives of wives and children. One was imprisoned and refused to live a lie, while his wife and children starved. I think that even a child died. Being abandoned by a father and husband upon whom they depended for the truth just seemed to go with the territory.

I am a layman. I have attacked Al Mohler, and will again if he compromises the truth. I am often wrong and the kindness of my brothers like ta is to slap my little bottom. And I slowly learn.

Listen, if it were to eventuate that this professor was sacrificed on the altar of self-interest by his foggy foes, we would at least know who our enemies are. We do not condone such vengence and he would do us all a favor to expose the enemy within. We must be self-correcting to reform and inneundo anonomously and without evidence is merely back-bitting.

Should we go down the path of liberal politics suggesting that there is impropriety so that a investigation ensues. That is a ruse to distract from the real issues at hand. It consumes time and effort and almost always resolves nothing.

Since when do men who take postitions of leadership, not pastor? How has it become that the Convention is merely a bureaucracy of disaffected employees? Employees? These are teachers, charged with speaking the truth in love, living what they teach as an example. They are to speak as oracles of God, and if they judge, it is not like that of shady conspirators, is it? Even if they are only employees, where is their loyalty to virtue?

And yes, I am ready and have already sacrificed the means of support of my family while standing for the truth in the open. It has cost far more than income and what we did discover is that most of those smiling faces that we thought were friends morphed into the crowd of accusers. Beware, the tongue that drips with sweetness, but faithful are the wounds of a friend. Friends stand with you in failure, as does family, and they stand with you in truth, also. Either way, this man should test the strength of his confidence in the Lord and not forget the admonition, "If you will not stand in faith, you will not be established."

Wayne Smith said...

Dr. TOM,
I agree 100% with you and what we as people of God should do, as God Word tell us to do.
BUT, it is a sad state of affairs we as Southern Baptist are in. If a Pastor really Preaches God Word in his church, he will be fired. Therefore the churches are hearing what they want to have their ears tickled. Out of FEAR of what the Powers to Be, the Pastors and the Oppressed COW to what keep them SAFE.
As CB Scott always says, it is Time to COWBOY UP!!!

For Reform by being Informed.

In His Name

Chris Bonts said...

ddw,
I find it somewhat ironic that you accuse Tom Ascol of an ad hominem attack, when the author of the unsigned letter referred to Dr. Mohler's fits of "anger, selfishness, and disrespect," yet offers no verification of his charges or that he has spoken with Dr. Mohler about these very issues.

Regardless of the difficulty of the situation, the author of the letter has an obligation to go to his brother if his charges are true. Fear of reprisal or unemployment provides no cloak of innocence for anonymous, malicious behavior. The letter should not have been written.

I have been a student at Southern for the past seven years (MDiv and now Ph.D). I have worked closely with various professors and administrators on a host of issues and would disagree vehemently with the way "anonymous" has characterized Dr. Mohler. While it may be true that there are disgruntled employees at Southern (aren't there everywhere?), it does not follow that these charges are true. In fact I know of specific instances where individuals raised their concerns, were heard, and changes took place.

The author of this letter has misconstrued events at Southern and slandered a Christian brother (Dr. Mohler). He should repent publicly and he should sign his letter of repentance.

Chris

Steve said...

About all an unsigned letter like this could do is spur the boards at the seminaries involved to start asking questions. If they do, the writer has won his point. It probably would have been better if he'd been specific and just contacted the trustees themselves.

I have heard anonymous complaints compared to plea deals where the least guilty party testifies to merit lighter sentencing.

Those who would skewer this complaintant might do well to begin to budget sums to compensate the writer when he does lose his job for complaining, which could follow his eventual public disclosure. To insist he sign his name and not help pay his cost of truthfulness would demonstrate callousness in the least.

Chris Bonts said...

Steve,
How is it callous to rebuke a brother for publicly sinning? Or to defend another brother from unsubstantiated gossip/slander?
Chris

P.S.
By the way, my church is 20 miles from campus. If the charges were true - and he had owned up to them when he made his complaint and were subsequently fired - we would have stood by and helped him gladly. As it is, we would not help him unless there is some public repentance on his part, followed by confirmation that Matthew 18 has been followed.

Terry said...

I am reading Lewis Drummond's biography on C H Spurgeon. According to Drummond, Spurgeon took truthful accusations made by someone wishing to remain annonymous to the Baptist Union.
The immediate result was that Spurgeon bore the brunt of attacks while Mr. Annonymous stood by unscathed.

I agree with Tom. If someone is ready to make the accusations, he/she ought to own up rather than hope someone else will fight the good fight.

I may yet face the day when I stand im my pulpit knowing that what I preach will cost my job. If that day comes, I hope and pray that I will remember that my Lord and Savior expects me to bear the cost of persecution for faithfulness to His Word and Commandments (Matthew 5:10-12).

May I also know the peace that comes from trusting His Promise to meet my needs (Matthew 6:25-34).

I know that times have gone by when I have failed to stand up. Yet I blame no one but myself if I stand by without speaking up.

Terry Buster

Terry said...
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JIm Champion said...

Lord o da manor

I guess I take a pragmatic look at this. This individual prepared for years and was then hired to take his (or Her) dream job - to teach at one of the two best seminaries in SBC life.

Perhaps he will decide to sacrifice it all to give his name and be more specific. If he does, he will have more courage than I do. the command to feed my family would come before committing hari kari on my career and throwing it all down the drain for the sake of the convention.

INteresting to me however, some of the early CR leaders encouraged thier students to take tape recorders to class to see if they could catch a proff in some sort of liberalism or demeaning the CR, upfront those boys were eh?

Colin McGahey said...
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Colin McGahey said...
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lordodamanor said...

Jim Champion,

s'pose you could tell that my experience left me a bitter taste.

Good news, I still love the Lord.

There were times that I wanted to record conversations. The crazy thing is, we shouldn't have to. We should stand by our convictions until we have been proven wrong. If we really love the ministry of reconciliation we will repent, because our repentence builds our teacher up as well as reestablishing us. I have often been frustrated though by the lack of honesty. I am sure that I have also frustrated others by my obstinacy in the face of candidness. As I was sharing this morning with my wife about our situation, to say that there has been fault on both sides is equivocation and does not address the issues.

I found this interesting at SBCOutpost:

Dr. Rick Davis

On the great opportunity to make conventions morph into a 21st century form …

So, why do we still grease the machine?

Well, what about the missionaries? What of the institutions?

Who said we had to leave them? Why do we let the ruling elite presuppose calamity for all if we set them aside?
___________________________________

He hit it on the head. Avoiding the elephant in the livingroom will not stop the destrucion that will eventually happen if disenfranchisement through political gerrymandering and usurpation of power is not ended. And, the fact is, that the institutions will not necessarily succumb to calamity, if they are given second consideration until the fracturing of the conference is addressed.

dogpreacher said...
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dogpreacher said...
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Bob Cleveland said...

Tom:

Perhaps this is in some respects, a microcosm of the SBC. Those on both sides of the issue might be right, given the circumstances, in their opinions. I won't judge either side, as I had to give up the right to judge people guilty OR innocent.

The disturbing part, to me, is this: I assume the professor is a bright, principled man, just as I assume you are (but have more evidence in your case). I won't assume that the Educators in question aren't, either. Yet, despite those assumptions, there's been a scenario established where the professor sees this as the only way out, and important enough to warrant an anonymous, and open, letter.

There also seems to be evidence for fear on the part of "whistleblowers".

That, in the SBC and its entities, is the sad part to me.

Brian R. Giaquinto said...

This is all further proof that the SBC is coming apart. Look how seriously divided this has become throughout the SBC blogosphere.

(notice that I did not say where I stand on this. So, don't accuse me of being for or against. I'm commenting on the overall effect of one anonymous letter)

Joshua Stewart said...

Just a note:
Read Dr. York's response on his blog.
http://hershaelyork.blogspot.com/2007/08/mohlers-motives-and-ministry.html

Lin said...

After reading Dr. York's nasty response, I doubt this professor will ever come out.

If Dr. York's response is indicative of the type of professors at SBTS, I say no thanks. Spare me a pastor like that, please!!!

At least Dr. York's response gave us some idea of what those who may disagree with them have to deal with. Yikes.

Lin said...

"Slander with "evidence" or "facts" is still slander, and gossip couched in "truth" is still gossip."

Huh?

Is this part of 'touch not thine anointed'?

burtledog said...

Lin:
If you think that was a nasty or at least an unwarranted response, you will find any criticism to be unwarranted or harsh.
I read it. It makes sense. It uses examples of behavior. It refers accurately to biblical instruction on how to handle such problems. Is it a little sarcastic and pointed...yes. Have some of the posts about Dr. Mohler been such...you bet, by folks that don't even know him.
If this prof really wishes to address his issues with Dr. Mohler or Dr. Patteson, let them do what I did 11 years ago at SEBTS. I wrote and signed a letter complaining about the firing of a friend. Guess what, I was asked to see Dr. Patterson in the game room (his office with big game trophies and all). I was given a soft drink, talked with him and as gingerly as possible given the situation. He told me what wasn't of a confidential nature. We agreed. 3 years later I graduated and every poor grade I earned was earned. If you have a beef with a brother, talk with them. If they can't explain themselves or they don't see their sin, ask another to go with you. It doesn't matter if it "works" or not. Our first job is not to earn a living at our chosen profession for our family as one poster said, but to Honor and Obey God. Remember, Matthew 18:15-20 are red letters. We are not owed a living doing what we wish. Ask me, I know of what I speak, and talking directly to people has played a roll in keeping me in a volunteer role and not as a paid staff member. Do as Jesus commmands. It is not easy, but it is what we must do.
Greg (with my 3d or 4th sign on here)

Cap Pooser said...

Brother Tom,
When I was in Officer Candidate school over 45 years ago we were required to memorize a modification of Hubbard’s statement on loyalty from “Message for Garcia”. It has been helpful to reflect on many times when I have been tempted to strike out at my leaders. If the problem is not serious enough for me to resign my position in order to condemn, it is best to try to work things out within the institution.

Hubbard’s statement on loyalty
If you work for a man, in Heaven's name work for him. If he pays wages
that supply you your bread and butter, work for him, speak well of
him, think well of him, stand by him, and stand by the institution
he represents. . If you must damn and condemn, and continually find fault, why, resign your position, and when you are on the outside, damn to your heart's content. But, aslong as you are a part of an institution, do not condemn it. If you do, the first strong wind that comes along will blow you away, and you will probably never know why.
By grace alone, Cap

Lin said...

burtledog, It is just not what I would have expected from someone like him.

I have to wonder what result there would if the response were something along the lines of this:

Brother, we are hurt you think this and want to understand better. Please come and talk to me without fear. I will listen with an open heart and there will be no reprisals.

Instead, it was more insults and attacks that were totally unnecessary. Somebody has got to humble themselves. Isn't that true Christ like leadership? Isn't that what one expects of 'Christian' leaders anymore... Turn the other cheek?

These guys are training our future pastors. What they model in public in response to attacks and disagreement is very important.

Ben Stevenson said...

Lin,
You are right when you say:
"These guys are training our future pastors. What they model in public in response to attacks and disagreement is very important."
However, I disagree with your evaluation of Dr York's post.

You might be pleased to learn that Hershael York has now said that he did contact Dr. Luter privately before expressing his disagreement publicly.

Lin said...

York wrote: "Little men with lots of time find it easy to discover faults in great men with little time."

No matter if he contacted him before he published the anonymous letter (as he indicates on his blog) or not. The above sentence and quite a few others were unnecessary to make his defense of Mohler.

It only makes me believe the charges of anger all the more.

There is a glaring lack of wisdom and discernment on both sides here.

Colin McGahey said...

Tom,

This is a good word from you, and it gives me hope that change can be had with integrity. Slander with "evidence" or "facts" is still slander, and gossip couched in "truth" is still gossip. Charges can be levied forthwrightly and in love, but in three+ years of anti-establishment blogging this has rarely been done. I see no reason to herald or applaud anyone thus far for dragging a beloved of Christ through the mud, even it he is latched to the reins of evidence and horses of truth. It is neither biblically mandated nor biblically supported.

This letter is no exception. Did this man not seek to win his brother? Did he not approach this brother's close friends for counsel and to win the brother back if he indeed is in sin? I do have sympathy for the man in view of God's mercy, but what fruits are we getting from this? I have seen many careless words slung at personality, management style, giving a speech about the convention when God clearly mandated by divine command that he speak on the state of the seminary, how a man uses the latitude given him, and financial management; but no charges of sin. In cowardice we have heard of "forthcoming" letters when times times and half a time is completed, yet where is this veiled threat supported in the Bible? You can no more support this letter than you can any of the recent charges against existing SBC leadership, substantial documentation notwithstanding. Are we biblicists or 'babblicists'?

Lord give us the courage to heed our mother's advice when she tells us, "Play the man."

ed.

Colin McGahey said...

lin,

To answer your question, Paul warns against these two (among other) activities: gossip and slander. What is the difference between the two? It has nothing to do with "touch not thine anointed".

Ben Stevenson said...

Colin,
There must be times when it is appropriate to publicly call attention to sin:

"I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us." -- 3 John 1:9-10

"Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning." -- 1 Timothy 5:19-20

Passages such as Matthew 7:3-5 and Matthew 18:15-17 must be remembered by anyone who decides to publicly rebuke others, but there may still be appropriate times and ways of doing it.

Lin said...

Colin wrote: "Slander with "evidence" or "facts" is still slander, and gossip couched in "truth" is still gossip."

Colin wrote: "To answer your question, Paul warns against these two (among other) activities: gossip and slander. What is the difference between the two? It has nothing to do with "touch not thine anointed"

Colin, I have no idea what you are trying to communicate in terms of the subject matter. Paul warns of many things and even publicly rebuked Peter in a letter for all to read for 2000 years. Same with John and Diotrehphes. And there are other examples.

I posted both your comments because the first one is quite confusing. You are saying that truth or evidence can be slander?

Colin McGahey said...

Ben,

Is there precedent for publicly airing personality conflict or differences that are not sin? That is gossip.

Lin,
My point is that many classify gossip as spreading false information. This seems biblically not to be the case. Rather, it is the spreading of information, either true or false, with the intent of tearing down a brother. Even public rebuke for sin has not that as its aim. Salnder would be spreading of false information. So the issue of whether these charges can be substantiated is moot.

Thanks, sorry for not being clear.

Ben Stevenson said...

Colin said: "Is there precedent for publicly airing personality conflict or differences that are not sin? That is gossip."

I agree that it is wrong to gossip about things that are not sin.

"Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.... Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand...." -- Romans 14:1,4

My point was specifically about the need to not ignore sin.
I suspect we don't disagree we just have in mind different types of situations?

Brotherhank said...

Amen Tom. As Zell Miller would say, we need pastors and educators in the SBC with "spines of tempered steel".

gig'em,
W.Hank Balch

Lin said...

"Rather, it is the spreading of information, either true or false, with the intent of tearing down a brother. Even public rebuke for sin has not that as its aim."

Right. It is meant to 'restore' a brother. Perhaps we do not agree on what 'tearing down a brother' means.

The 'brother' and his followers could consider any information or questions as 'tearing down'.