June 23, 1999

Churches leaving SBC
demonstrate integrity, Patterson tells press

___By Tony Cartledge
___North Carolina Biblical Recorder
___ATLANTA--Churches that voluntarily leave the Southern Baptist Convention should be applauded for their integrity, Paige Patterson said during a press conference shortly after his re-election as SBC president June 15.
___Churches that desire to affiliate with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship "should be perfectly candid and honest," Patterson said. "Be truthful with your people. If you're gonna
PAIGE PATTERSON addresses reporters in a news conference shortly after his re-election as Southern Baptist Convention president. By his side is his wife, Dorothy. (Photo by Tony Cartledge)
support Southern Baptists, do it. If you're not, be honest enough and have enough integrity to say, 'We're not there anymore. We're out of here.'"
___He said somewhere between five and 20 churches have withdrawn from the SBC because of doctrinal differences with the denomination's more conservative stance in recent years.
___However, he did not cite those departures as contributing to recently reported losses in SBC membership.
___When questioned about declining membership, reported for the first time last year, he said many churches were purging their rolls of inactive or non-resident members, and that may have affected some reporting.
___Patterson said he was not especially concerned about membership numbers, judging the reported increases in baptisms and Cooperative Program giving as better indicators of denominational health.
___When asked for an opinion regarding a "reconciliation movement" in North Carolina that would call for moderates and conservatives to share power in that state, Patterson said he purposely had kept a low profile on the issue while serving as SBC president, lest it appear that he was throwing his weight around in state matters.
___Anything that might involve compromise was troublesome to him, he said, but he expressed great confidence in conservative leaders who helped to develop the shared leadership plan, as well as in the integrity of moderates involved in the process. Patterson said he was still waiting to learn more before deciding if he favored the plan.
___Several reporters asked questions related to President Clinton's June 11 proclamation declaring June 1999 as "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month."
___Patterson said he stands with Clinton in his concern that violence or hatred should not be directed toward any group, including gays and lesbians. However, "you can't call right wrong and wrong right," he said.
___President Clinton apparently does not understand biblical teachings about homosexuality, Patterson said, and was clearly endorsing homosexual behavior by issuing the proclamation.
___Earlier in the day, several messengers had proposed motions and resolutions calling for the SBC to confront Clinton's home church, Immanuel Baptist of Little Rock, Ark., calling for the church to discipline Clinton.
___Patterson said he believed the church as a whole was a conservative, Bible-believing church. "I'm sure many people in the church are very confused right now," he said, saying he saw no virtue in refusing to seat messengers from the church.
___Patterson also clarified several comments from his presidential address:
___* Regarding the creation of a Baptist "TV superstation," he explained that Southern Baptists "must face the fact that TV goes through brick walls, across oceans and into places we cannot otherwise reach." Several individuals have created TV superstations, he said, and a denomination of 40,000 churches should be able to do the same.
___Patterson said that the North American Mission Board will consider within the next few months whether to develop a Baptist superstation or TV network of some kind.
___* Regarding an increasing influence of charismatic practice in some churches, he cautioned adherence to the Bible.
___Asked for examples of things that did not pass muster, he mentioned being "slain in the spirit," "holy laughter" and recent reports that charismatic worshipers' amalgam fillings had been changed to gold. "I'd rather have my tooth healed completely than have a filling turned to gold," he said.
___* Regarding contemporary worship styles, he noted that "people like Rick Warren are doing some very good things." Warren is pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Mission Viejo, Calif.
___"My primary concerns are two," Patterson said. "One, I am concerned by the movement toward what is called narrative preaching, which focuses more on stories and moves away from didactic or teaching texts. Two, there is a growing tendency not to use careful exposition in preaching. Too many preachers are relying on what we used to call 'topical preaching,' choosing a text from the newspaper and then showing your ignorance about it. ... That is the worst of all preaching options."

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