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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Southwestern Seminary’s Patterson addresses Muslim student concerncomment (0)

June 19, 2014

By Neisha Fuson


"I violated a policy, but I didn’t want to stand before [God] with blood on my hands,” said Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) President Paige Patterson during his report to Southern Baptist Convention messengers in Baltimore, Md.

The Fort Worth, Texas, seminary recently allowed a Palestinian Muslim to enroll in the school’s doctoral program in archaeology. 

The student’s enrollment represents a significant departure from the norm at a school where students must present a record of church involvement, evidence of Christian character and a statement about one’s Christian conversion before admission, according to Associated Baptist Press. 

Violation of charter

A messenger from the convention floor asked Patterson to explain the reasoning behind enrolling the non-Christian student, allowing him “on campus in violation of the seminary’s charter and the seminary’s guidelines.” 

“I owe the convention an apology,” Patterson said. “Particularly to those of you that I have caused sorrow, heartache, disillusionment and any other kind of sorrow. I deeply and profoundly apologize.

“The decision (to enroll the student) was my decision and my decision alone.” 

Patterson explained how the Muslim student reached out to the seminary for enrollment after working on a SWBTS archaeological dig in Israel. 

“I met with the young man and fell in love with him because he’s remarkable ... and very open at this point to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I did make the exception to the rule,” Patterson said. 

“He was admitted as a special student and that is not with Cooperative Program assistance. ... He has been studying with us and has not been a problem on campus.

“What will I say to God when I stand before the judgment seat of the Lord?” 

Patterson said he thinks he will say that he took the Word of God “very seriously” in Ezekiel 3:17–18, where it says that a sinner will die in his wickedness but his blood will be required of a Christian who does not seek to warn the wicked of their sin.

“I believe when I stand before the Lord God I will say ... ‘Dear God, I did the best I knew how.’”

Steve James, chairman of the SWBTS board of trustees, told messengers the concerns being expressed will be addressed. 

“Your concerns are our concerns. We take them to heart,” he said. “We take the role and responsibility that you have given to us very seriously.”

The executive board of trustees will meet in September followed by the full board in October. 

“The concerns you have expressed will all weigh in to those discussions that we have as a board and with our president, whom I believe in,” James said. “I ask of you to not ... talk amongst yourselves (on this topic) but talk to the Lord.

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