Former IMB Chairman Says Paige Patterson Should Be Reinstated, Calls Firing Improper

Thomas Hatley, a former chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, has called for the resignation of Kevin Ueckert, chairman of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees, as well as the executive board members for firing the seminary’s former president Paige Patterson.

Hatley, who served as IMB chairman for eight years and has been a pastor in the SBC for more than 40 years, also called for the reinstatement of Patterson as president of the Texas seminary and an independent investigation of the claims that led to his firing.

“I recommend that the SWBTS board chairman and executive committee resign as board members for the following reasons,” Hatley wrote in an open letter to Southern Baptists after noting that conflicts should be handled biblically with both love and grace.

Among the reasons he listed as warranting the resignation of Ueckert and the seminary’s executive board is the lack of understanding of the need for decorum, process and honest reporting which “has not been evident in their leadership.”

“There has been a failure to enforce the guidelines of Jesus in Matthew 18. Personal conflict should first be handled by one-on-one resolution where possible. If needed, the parties should proceed to resolution with the assistance of several wise leaders. If not resolved at that level, Dr. Patterson’s local church leaders and church should be involved. If still unresolved, then the board could take a look at the extreme need and vote on a resolution,” Hatley said.

Instead, the seminary abruptly announced on May 30 that effective immediately they had cut all ties with Patterson after new details emerged about his purported mishandling of a report of a rape allegation by a female student against another student in 2003 when he was president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

The announcement came a week after Patterson had resigned from his position as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary after public uproar over comments he made in 2000 about how he never advises couples to divorce but has counseled women to seek separation if they are being physically abused.

On June 1, a day after the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced it had severed all ties with Patterson and had terminated him as president emeritus, Sharayah Colter, wife of Patterson’s former chief of staff Scott Colter, challenged several of the allegations that led to the firing and revealed how he was unceremoniously let go in a  telephone call after midnight while he was on assignment in Germany.

Patterson’s Fort Worth attorney, Shelby Sharpe, also challenged the claims in a statement this week.

Hatley said the manner in which Ueckert and the executive board members fired Patterson was unbiblical and that the evidence used to dismiss him was “spurious.”

“There has been a failure to abide by scripture by confirming all matters with two or three witnesses who have direct knowledge of the problem at hand. (‘One witness cannot establish any iniquity or sin against a person, whatever that person has done. A fact must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses’ Deut. 19:15 CSB, this verse is also referenced in the New Testament.),” he wrote.

“The second termination of Dr. Patterson was enacted with spurious evidence and with no input from Dr. Patterson or his staff or his lawyer. It is not biblical to condemn someone without hearing from them first. Why could the matter have not waited a few days or weeks to be sure all was done properly?” Hatley asked. “Apparently, hard evidence in this matter was suppressed.”

He said that because of the manner in which Ueckert and the executive board acted, they were no longer fit to fairly execute the duties of their positions and called for an “honest 3rd party review of accusations and evidence with Dr. Patterson’s and the seminary’s lawyers deep involvement.”

“That 3rd party would then act as the head of a mediation team to bring a fitting conclusion to this matter. The board, of course would have to vote to accept the findings and conclusions of that mediation team. (One approach would be for our current SBC president to recommend or sign off on the choice of mediator.),” Hatley noted.

He then called for the reinstatement of Patterson at president of SWBTS with conditions including “no direct duties or involvement with any issues involving moral failure at the school.”

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Source: Christian Post