Monday, January 28, 2008

WANTED: Courageous Baptist pastors!

Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines will be speaking at the annual Pastors’ Conference in Jacksonville, Florida on February 2nd. I wish the pastors in attendance would ask Patterson and Vines some tough questions, but I expect most will be inclined to treat them like celebrities.

There will probably be a lot more pastors lining up to get their books signed than pastors posing questions about accountability.

For those of you who haven’t followed this story, Patterson and Vines are former Southern Baptist presidents, and both of them had significant information about pastor Darrell Gilyard, who is now accused of sending obscene text messages to underage teens in Florida.

Gilyard had a past in Texas, and they knew it. Why didn’t they try harder to protect people?

Gilyard left 4 churches in 4 years after allegations of sexual abuse and sexual assault surfaced in each of them. There were 25 allegations reported in his first church alone.

Many college students and church women said that they tried to tell Paige Patterson about Gilyard. One said Gilyard raped her, and another described Gilyard pushing her to the floor. You can read the tragic history of how Patterson reportedly responded in the Dallas Morning News. A couple other ministers and a pastoral counselor also tried to get through to Patterson.

Read the Dallas Morning News articles for yourself.

The hurtfulness of Patterson’s reported responses should haunt every decent Southern Baptist pastor in the country. They show a sad pattern of victim-blaming and victim-bullying.

We do not have as many published details about exactly what Jerry Vines knew, but we know that Vines “agreed to forgive” Gilyard for his Texas troubles. Also, a woman who says she resisted Gilyard’s unwanted advances when she was 18 says that she told her pastor, Jerry Vines, about it at the time. Nevertheless, she reports that Vines later spoke at Gilyard’s church, thereby giving continuing credibility to Gilyard.

The recent charges against Gilyard brought a new spotlight to the stories about how Southern Baptist leaders mishandled the accusations against Gilyard years ago.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just acknowledge that they made terrible mistakes and didn’t do nearly enough, express their regret, and promise to work at trying to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future? But so far we haven’t seen anything resembling that.

So how about the rest of you Southern Baptist pastors out there? Will you hold your leaders’ feet to the fire, ask some tough questions of them, and insist on accountability?

WANTED: Courageous Southern Baptist pastors! Are you out there? Are you going to Jacksonville for the Pastors’ Conference?

Here are some possible questions you could ask:

  • How many women would it take before Patterson would give credence to their reports of sexual abuse and consider the reports to be substantiated? Would 50 be enough? 100?
  • Absent a minister’s confession, would Patterson require multiple eyewitnesses? Male eyewitnesses? How likely is that?
  • Was it enough that Patterson allowed Gilyard to confess to “adulterous relationships” after what many women and college students reported was actually sexual abuse and sexual assault?
  • In 1991, a woman publicly stated that “Paige Patterson asked me to refrain from speaking to anybody about this.” Now Patterson says that he “never asked anybody to remain quiet about anything.” Which story is true?
  • How was any pastoral concern shown for the many college students and women who reported abuse by Gilyard? It’s certainly not reflected in Patterson’s responses in the Dallas Morning News article.
  • Was it enough to get Gilyard out of the SBC, or should Southern Baptist leaders have also taken steps to warn congregations outside the SBC – i.e., Gilyard’s next Florida congregation?
  • Given the extent to which Patterson, Vines, and First Baptist of Dallas officials reportedly promoted Gilyard’s career, didn’t they have some obligation to be equally proactive in later warning people about this person whom they had built up?
  • Didn’t Patterson at least send a mixed message about the seriousness of Gilyard’s conduct when Patterson publicly stated his view that the complaints against Gilyard involved “culpability on the women’s part?”
  • Even after multiple accusations against Gilyard, Patterson reportedly said, “It’s amazing how jealousy, frustration and racism can be motives for making accusations.” When high-level Baptist leaders are so dismissive of clergy abuse allegations, why should anyone imagine that other churches would take such accusations seriously?
  • If someone like Paige Patterson claims that he didn’t have the resources to conduct an investigation, why should anyone imagine that ordinary churches would have the resources? Isn’t this a perfect illustration of why Southern Baptist churches need the resource of an independent objective review board to consider whether accusations against clergy are credible or not?
  • Why did officials at First Baptist of Dallas (where Patterson worked in connection with Criswell College) reportedly “continue to recommend” Gilyard despite multiple allegations against him?
  • Why did Jerry Vines lend credibility to Gilyard by speaking at Gilyard’s Florida church, even though Vines knew about Gilyard’s past in Texas and even though one of Vines’ own congregants told him about Gilyard?
  • Is it acceptable that high-level Southern Baptist leaders claim to be powerless while leaving kids and congregations at risk from serial predators?
  • What will Patterson and Vines do NOW to assure that the mistakes of the past aren’t repeated?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

It would seem appropriate for people to demonstrate outside the venue. Since you can't depend on the pastors to say anything, wouldn't that force some sort of attention to the problem? I would if I was not 800 miles away.

Anonymous said...

If a pastor has committed sin, the sin will be dealt with. God never allows sin to go unpunishd. What one must remember is that pastors are God-called men and we are repeatedly warned at being careful in touching God's annointed. The word of God clearly states: "wicked men flee when no one is chasing them" If this pastor has not done anything wrong, he needs to confront and face his accusers. IF however he has indeed committed such sins he will not prosper, his sin will find him out.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Excellent article Christa. Everything I know about Jerry Vines tells me he WILL address this issue publicly at the Pastor's Conference, will apologize for the poor decision in preaching at Gilyard's church and not doing more to expose him.

Everything I know about Paige Patterson tells me he WILL NOT.

We shall see.

Christa Brown said...

anonymous 1: If I were in Jacksonville, I would stand out front handing out a list of these questions to every pastor attending the conference. But I'm not in Jacksonville.

anonymous 2: Actually, NONE of us can possibly know for sure whether a particular pastor is a "God-called" man or not. All we can know is that he says he is "God-called" and that he's convinced some other people of that. And as for the "touch not mine annointed" line...it's been used far too often to shame clergy abuse victims back into silence and to leave child-molesting ministers in their pulpits.

gmommy said...

anonymous 2,
Yea....keep drinking that kool-aid!
Sorry, but that is just brainless of you.
Study the scriptures instead of listening to what these so called annointed tell you.
Study the priesthood of the believer.
Skip to the New Testament,PLEASE!

Jeri said...

The "anointed" one is Jesus Christ. Previous to His incarnation, there were anointings given to specific men who acted as God's representatives on earth. However, since the advent of jesus Christ, He is the anointed one.

2 Corinthians 1:20-21 tells us, "all the promises of God in him [are] yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, [is] God."

That is, in Jesus Christ, we have the standing of Jesus Christ before God. His righteousness is imputed to us, as well as His position of Sonship. All who are in Christ Jesus are anointed of God to serve as priests and to one day reign with Christ.

So the converse of what is warned is true: there is no hope or help for any man, no matter how high his church office, who allows the innocent beleivers to be harmed by predators. For HE has harmed the anointed of God. Such actions bring his profession of Christ into doubt. And certainly, for the sake of his own soul, the Church should rebuke him strongly and demand to see fruits of genuine repentance or else declare him anathema.

gmommy said...

Thank you for explaining that so well!!!!... I had never thought much about that term (so loosly used by SBC ministers) until this past year.
Amazing how "catholic" we are becoming....we don't get into our own Bibles because it is on the BIG SCREEN and it's what the SR Pastors say from the pulpit!!!

Anonymous said...

fbc jax watchdog

What is the deal with Pattterson on this matter then? Matthew 18 never ever indicates that two witnesses are needed in such a type of case. Matthew 18 is dealing when an offense can't be staightened out one on one and another person has to come along side.

gmommy said...

you would think Paige P would understand scripture better, wouldn't you??? BUT I guess his twist worked for the moment.

He should so step away from leadership along with all of the ministers that cover for or have any knowledge of abuse by clergy and do NOTHING!
He can kill all the wild animals he wants but there is nothing manly or godly about him if he can't protect the innocent and tell the truth.

Jon L. Estes said...

Do you think Jesus would have accepted an invitation to speak at Gilyard's church if given opportunity?

Think of the hearts of the church leaders where Jesus did speak? The hearts of the people?

Speaking somewhere does not immediately mean condoning of someone unless all can be guilty by association.

But you need to make a point so I understand where you are coming from.

gmommy said...

my point....when you lie with dogs, you tend to get their fleas.

no matter what your opinion is, there are church people who skip the details of what's really going on and look to their "leadership" for direction. I have experienced this personally many times in the last year.
It may not mean that the leader condones whatever wrong is going on but to many people it sends a message of support.

Not that you don't already know this.

Anonymous said...

Truly, civil justice is the restraineth of a man that will not restraineth themself.

Jeri said...

Sure I think the Lord Jesus would have spoken, but as He rebuked the Pharisees right in the temple, I am sure He would have gotten up into that pulpit and rebuked the wicked actions of those men. He would have spoken on behalf of the victims of predatory pastors as He spoke on behalf of the widows preyed upon by the Pharisees, and He would have rebuked the SBC/IFB confidence in political parties/rallies/big numbers and names as He rebuked the confidence that the religious leaders of His day placed in being of the lineage of Moses and Abraham, or the monuments that they built to the prophets, whom their fathers slew.

Believe me, if the Lord Jesus had come and spoken at Gilyard's church, I would not be at all surprised if the result would not be the same as it was 2000 years ago: some disgruntled follower goign out and looking for 30 pieces of silver, and some crooked religious leaders approaching him with 30 pieces of silver all ready.

When they betray the innocent, they DO betray the Lord Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

Reading 1 Corinthians 5, I cannot imagine Jesus would have spoken there and not rebuked the pastor to shame and stepping down from ministry.

Jon, Are you a pastor?

Anon, all believers have 'anointing'. There are no special anointed beleivers. God is no respecter of persons. Jesus taught we are not to lord it over others and whoever would be the greatist in the Kingdom must be the servant of all. He used a child to teach this in Matthew 18. In that time, children had NO social standing. They were equivelant to slaves. If Jesus was trying to attract believers, it was a horrible marketing tactic. Jesus came as a lowly peasant with no political power. He uses the weak the shame the strong. (2 Corin)


And if God wanted us NOT to rebuke and call out sin in the church...including the elders, then why the Epistles which are full of instructions for doing just that? And full of warnings about guys like Gilyard, Patterson and co?

Read your Bible. The Holy Spirit will teach you., In this day and time, there are many false teachers out there twisting scripture for power and personal gain. You must be a Berean.

Your friend.

A D Brown said...

Deeply Concerned

I am writing this letter from a variety of perspectives, what Darrell has been accused of doing has made it difficult for those who have been wrongly accused. Likewise, if he is guilty then there should be swift justice for his victims.

Darrell’s history has made it difficult for those who are wrongly accused to ever be heard and believed for the truth that is. Yet, Gilyard's alleged actions have been egregiously trailed. It is my prayer that it is a false allegation, but given that he has been arrested, does not speak well for his innocence. The reports that he has resigned and/or others been fired also gives a particular signal. I do pray that we all learn something from this experience. If these allegations are true, then I do pray for the justice systems swift and prompt action. He should also receive therapeutic treatment for the countless abuse allegations.

I do pray that we might learn from this experience. We need to be cautious with our precious children. Always taking extreme caution with anyone who we have not developed a healthy and meaningful relationship. A former pastor of my youth, Dr. J. E. Hollingsworth always expressed a need to take caution when dealing with anyone. He taught me while I was a young person and worker of his ministry at Kingspark Baptist Church, that even the appearance of evil should be weighted. We should not place ourselves into a situation and/or an environment that might jeopardize our wellbeing.

My prayers are with those who have accused Dr. Gilyard, as well as, with the Gilyard family. Again, if he is found guilty it would be my prayer for immediate and prompt justice, and that he may be finally forced into therapeutic treatment. Again, it is of utmost importance that these children receive care too. I pray that if the allegations are true, then they should receive therapy accordingly, if not, then they too should receive the hand of justice and therapeutic care. I am a firm believer that we need to place our minds on both the macro and micro perspectives ensuring that no rock is left unturned. I am a firm believer of innocent until proven guilty. I am also a firm believer in forgiveness. While I cannot speak what I might do if God forbid it was my child, but I do hope that the grace and mercy of God would fulfill me.

I do not believe that forgiveness eliminates responsibility. We are responsible for he deeds we commit and the forgiveness factor is a direct command of God.

My wishes and prayers are with everyone involved.

Asa

PHILIPPIANS 4:4-9

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen
In me —put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Anonymous said...

I am Rev. Dr. Nishan Wijesinha from SRI LANKA. Here in Sri Lanka with the Tsunami striking the Southern and North and East Provinces, and also the war in the North, has left many homeless and subjected to spirits of divination. The Lord called me to a ministry in these concepts. And I have put out the following website so that it will encourage the ministers in the walk with the Lord. This website is located at
www.geocities.com/drnishan/divining.html