2 Samuel 16:9,11 - "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head...let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him."

Matthew 7:15 - “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11 - “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

Monday, October 8, 2007

Paige Patterson: Mac Never Got a Honeymoon

It came to my attention recently that Dr. Paige Patterson, the president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, had some choice words to say to the students at SWBTS about First Baptist Church Jacksonville on March 6, 2007, following Dr. Mac Brunson's sermon during the SWBTS chapel service. What Paige Patterson said about our church to his student body is not true, although Dr. Patterson may have been given wrong information that caused him to say what he said. Here is what Dr. Patterson said, following Mac's sermon on March 6, 2007:

"....I think that you'd agree with me that is what a sermon ought to be...he took us to the text...he brought some things to our attention that I never noticed before, and that blesses my soul. And he did it with passion, he illustrated it cogently, and furthermore it was ever syllable true. Thank you so very much. Thank you Mac for a magnificent message and challenge today, and uh, he's going to have to go pretty quick but he'll be here for just a few minutes if you want to come by quickly and, uh tell him you love him and promise him you'll be praying for him. Unbelievable, he had not been at First Baptist Church Jacksonville for even two months, until recalicantrants started on him, and uh, unbelievable to me that anyone would do that, you know used to (sic) you got a honeymoon period in a church, uh, everybody said that we'll wait at least until he makes 5 mistakes before we kill him, and uh, so, that has not been the case in Jacksonville and yet God is blessing wonderfully in that ministry. You say 'why does that happen?', I'll tell you why it happens, because the devil knows that he has to stop the man of God, if he possibly can. You can expect the devil to attack, that's what's happening to him. I want him (Mac) to see something, he's our graduate here, I want to know how many of you here will wave a hand at Mac Brunson and say 'Dr. Brunson, you can count on me, I'm going to pray for you, I'm going to ask God to bless that ministry in Jacksonville.' Will you just do that? ...we promise we will do that sweet brother, don't grow weary in well-doing, and we will pray for you."

Well, Dr. Patterson, we used to think you loved FBC Jacksonville. I don't think a man would say such a thing about a church - equating our treatment of our pastor to wanting to "kill" him, unless he first confirmed those things to be true. So in light of your remarks I thought I would set the record straight for you and more importantly for the many SWBTS students that heard your remarks in chapel and that we know are regular readers of this blog.

1. You proclaim that "recalcitrants" started on Mac "not even two months after he got here". Most FBC Jax members can tell you this is just not so. Our church voted unanimously for him, we eagerly awaited his arrival, and we openly and warmingly embraced Mac and his family into our congregation when he arrived. There may have been those who didn't like his use of the NASB over the KJV and they might have sent him some emails, but that is it. To say that recalcitrants started attacking him right away is so very wrong. I would challenge Mac to tell his congregation how recalcitrants at his church started on him shortly after his arrival. Care to explain that to us Mac?

2. You proclaim sir that Mac didn't get a honeymoon period at FBC Jax. That is a lie. Either you knowingly lied or Mac lied to you and you repeated the lie to hundreds of your students. Any of the SWBTS students could only wish that they receive 1/10th of the "honeymoon" at one of their churches like Mac received at FBC Jax. Let's look at the facts:

- The church completed a very expensive renovation of the ground floor children's building to convert it into an office suite for the Brunsons. Attendees at the Pastor's Conference will remember Mac taking the seminary students to his office so they could "tour" his study and 15 foot ceilings and grand book cases and massive book collection? The church renovated this office space, which was formerly a large conference/meeting room, for Mac and Debbie and their secretary BEFORE THEY EVER ARRIVED.

- The search committee graciously agreed to allow Mac to keep his speaking and travel commitments he had already scheduled for 2006 before he accepted the call to Jacksonville. As a result Mac traveled quite a bit during 2006, often times not telling the congregation when he would or would not be preaching

- Mac and Debbie were given a full 2 months "vacation" with pay between the time we voted Mac to be pastor, and when he finally arrived in Jacksonville. This is more than the customary 1 month period given to new pastors. The church paid speaking fees and travel expenses during this 2 month period for some very high profile preachers to fill the gap and pave the way for Mac, most of them telling us how great Mac was going to be.

- Mac and Debbie were given free use of a mult-million dollar, ocean-front condominium on Amelia Island for almost a full year waiting for their 5000+ square foot house to be built on the property they were gifted (see next item)

- Mac and Debbie were given a 0.5 acre property in a high-end, exclusive gated community, backing up to a golfcourse fairway. The market value of this property is currently $307,000. Construction of their home began just a few months after they arrived in Jacksonville and has since been completed.

- Mac's wife and son were put on paid staff - most in the congregation don't know if this was agreed upon by the search committee as a condition of hiring, or if Mac did it after he came. But obviously the lay committees approved this, representing yet another expression of love for Mac and family. To this day the congregation still has not been told what their official area of ministry responsibilities are.

- The church paid tens of thousands of dollars to rent the Jacksonville minor league baseball stadium to hold a "Sermon on the Mound" event on Sunday evening of Father's Day 2006...this was our chance to introduce Mac to the community. We invited our friends and family members to come here the new preacher, along with Dennis Swanberg at the ball park.

- The church embraced the Brunson family, as evidenced by the wedding reception held at the church by the deacons and church body at large for Mac's son Trey and his new wife just weeks after Mac arrived in Jacksonville.

I realize these are mostly monetary expressions of love, but anyone that was here during Mac's first 6 months will tell you that indeed there WAS a honeymoon period between FBC Jax and Mac and Debbie when they arrived, and it is to an extent still occuring! The crowds have grown on Sunday morning, people are being saved, giving is up, our church is following Mac's lead in the area of missions - how could it be described as though the church wanted to "kill" Mac and that he had no honeymoon? The evil "recalcitrants" started in on Mac around January 2007, but only after our long-time staffers started leaving, and some church members began to see a lack of leadership on Mac's part after 8 months of him being pastor, and as the things above and other things came to light as possible abuses by Mac and/or the lay leadership.

3. Lastly Paige Patterson you were not honest about your explanation as to why this sort of thing happens to pastors. You attributed these "recalcitrant" attacks to the workings of the devil trying to "stop the man of God." That is dangerous theology Dr. Patterson, and you know it and you spread it to your students who will be preachers in SBC churches some day. Mega church pastors who are not open and transparent with their congregations, who earn CEO-salaries, who put their families on staff, who have standards of living much, much higher than the average church member are open to much scrutiny these days as people view these types of actions as potential abuses of money and power. Sure, pastors are subject to unwarranted attacks by "recalcitrants" but not all the time when questions are raised about a pastor is it the work of the devil. When people dared expose Bob Gray at Trinity Baptist Church for the monster he was, the accusers were labeled troublemakers and heretics - how dare they raise questions about "the man of God". As Mac says: See also "Frank Harber in Texas" and "Bob Reccord at NAMB" those who brought their abuses to light also were viewed as instruments of the devil by defenders.

I wonder Dr. Patterson if you would ever have dared to say something like this about FBC Jacksonville in the presence of Dr. Homer Lindsay, Jr. I think not...Dr. Lindsay wouldn't stand for someone to say something like this about his church. Now we're left wondering why Mac would travel to SWBTS and stand idly by why you uttered those words about the church that treated him and his family so well upon his arrival. Perhaps its another of Mac's attempts to paint himself as the victim.