News Articles

Get ready for another fight, Paige Patterson alerts Baptists

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Another fight is ahead for the Southern Baptist Convention, Paige Patterson said.
“I believe the biggest fight of our whole history lies immediately ahead,” said Patterson, president of the SBC and of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.
The fight, Patterson said in his address to SBC Executive Committee, is “a fight for the souls of men.”
This June’s SBC annual meeting in Atlanta will be a key juncture in the fight, Patterson said. Focusing on the vast spiritual needs of America’s great cities, the theme will be “His Tears … Our Task,” reflecting Christ’s weeping for the city of Jerusalem.
“I believe it’s a vision that our people can catch once again,” Patterson said during the opening session of the Executive Committee’s Feb. 22-23 meeting in Nashville, Tenn. “But in order for them to catch it, they’ve got to be there.”
Referring to the SBC’s former theological battles, Patterson said, “We Baptists show up for a fight. And then when the fight’s over, we don’t show up too well.”
Urging efforts to call as many Baptists to the June 15-16 annual meeting as possible, Patterson continued, “Let’s get there not for the fight like we’ve sometimes had, but let’s get there for the real fight.
“Let’s get there to prepare our hearts and make our commitments to reaching the United States of America for Christ — so that we may get our arms around the whole globe and, one last time before Jesus comes, see an exodus from [the spiritual lostness called] ‘Egypt’ and into the promised land,” Patterson said in remarks based on references to Moses leading the people out of Egypt in the New Testament Book of Hebrews, chapter 11.
Patterson recounted an array of positive signs at Southern Baptist Convention agencies, such as the International Mission Board possibly reaching the 5,000-mark in missionaries by the year 2000; the North American Mission Board’s emphasis on reaching the nation’s cities; Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s outreach to Chicago; Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s vision for a gospel influence in the Pacific Rim; and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s commitment to stay in the inner city.
“And I think of all of these agencies working together harmoniously in this enterprise and I say, ‘God, you have been good to us. Unbelievably good,'” Patterson said, then adding: “But what does the Book say? ‘To whom much is given, of him shall much be required.'”
Terrible things are happening in the world, Patterson said, ranging from America’s moral sickness in relation to President Clinton’s adultery with a White House intern to the tragic bloodshed staining Kosovo.
“But all of that terror across the face of the earth is God’s open door to us,” Patterson said, “because everywhere people are realizing there is no hope in the established structures.
“My brothers and sisters, we have been called to this moment. If we do not do everything we can do, even to the point of incredible sacrifice, God will surely not only hold us responsible … but he will move on to another group that will hear his voice and respond to that assignment.”
The task facing God’s people has never really changed since Moses’ time, Patterson said. “It is still … to get the people out of the slavery of Egyptian servitude and into the promised land of God’s grace and mercy.”