New Dilday Book on his firing from SWBTS

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Jimmy C, Nov 30, 2004.

  1. Jimmy C

    Jimmy C
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    Posted on Sat, Nov. 20, 2004

    Ex-seminary leader recounts events surrounding dismissal

    By Jim Jones

    Special to the Star-Telegram

    It was more than 10 years ago that conservatives fired Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Russell Dilday, sparking storms of protest across the Southern Baptist Convention.

    To me, it seems more like yesterday.

    And a new book by Dilday, Columns: Glimpses of a Seminary Under Assault (Smythe & Helwys, $18), makes it seem even closer.

    It is Dilday's version -- likely to be disputed by conservatives -- of the "holy war" in the denomination. One chapter, titled "Fired," details how he was dismissed on March 9, 1994, despite assurances to him and others -- including myself -- that it wasn't going to happen.

    "During the last 10 years of my presidency I witnessed up close and personal the systematic undermining of what was then the world's largest seminary and the crown jewel of Baptist theological education," Dilday told me this week. "Most of it was done behind closed doors. I wanted to open those doors and give people an eyewitness account."

    Dilday's 346-page book isn't just about controversy. It includes many of his columns from Southwestern News and highlights achievements of his presidency from 1978 to 1994.

    The heart of the book, though, is Dilday's take on the conservative-moderate conflict in the denomination.

    Dilday estimates that when he was fired there were 32 "hard-core fundamentalists" and eight "traditional mainstream Baptists" on the board.

    There had been efforts to fire Dilday, who was critical of the conservative political machine, but all seemed peaceful at the Wednesday morning trustees session, which I was covering as a reporter for the Star-Telegram.

    During a mid-morning break, trustees Ralph Pulley, the Rev. Damon Shook, Lee Weaver and T. Bob Davis asked to meet with Dilday in his office, Dilday reveals in his book.

    "We've come to ask for your immediate resignation," Dilday quotes Pulley as saying. "We have here an offer for early retirement with generous financial provisions."

    Dilday, then 63, didn't even look at the plan. He said he didn't feel it was God's plan for him to retire. He alluded to previous discussions when he said he planned to retire in four or five years. Pulley told him to either accept or be fired with no benefits, Dilday writes.

    I remember a slightly glassy-eyed Dilday as he walked through the hall on his way to the trustees meeting. "They're going to fire me," he told me and others he passed in the hallway.

    Trustees, meeting in a closed session, voted 27-7 to dismiss Dilday. After protests from other trustees, they restored a more generous severance package. Dilday calls those who voted against his firing "the magnificent seven." Minutes after he was fired, workmen changed locks on Dilday's office doors.

    Today, the seminary is under conservative control, and the Rev. Paige Patterson, one of Dilday's political adversaries who spearheaded the conservative rise to power, is president.

    "The Southwestern we knew no longer exists," Dilday said this week. "What Jerry Falwell says is right. All six Southern Baptist seminaries have become fundamentalist."

    Patterson deplores the fundamentalist label, saying it is pejorative and denotes an angry, narrow philosophy. He says he and others are merely taking the 16-million-member denomination back to its biblically conservative roots.

    "My opposition was never against conservative theology," Dilday said. "I'm a conservative. I don't like the term 'moderate.' What I objected to was the blatant political strategy used to do the Lord's work. The Bible says not to use the weapons of the world but to use spiritual weapons of persuasion."

    Although conservatives strongly disagree, Dilday says the controversy that split the nation's largest Protestant denomination was more about political power than theology. "It was winner take all. If you were on the wrong side, you were out," he said.

    "It was kind of like denominational ethnic cleansing."
     
  2. scubablt

    scubablt
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    Dilday was robbed,

    I attended SWBTS from 1982-1985, graduating with a M.Div. in July of 1985. I also received a D.Min. for another Southern Baptist Seminary (New Orleans. I am blessed to have had Dr. R. Dilday as the president of that once-great school while I was there. I have also had Dr. dilday speak in the pulpits of churches I have pastored. My wife worked with his sweet wife in Women's Ministries.

    Yes, What that group of egotistical, renegade Trustee members was nothing short of criminal. They acted alone and did not take into consideration the plan and will of God for that once-great school. They wanted him out, simply "playing him and his ministry" as another pawn in the National SBC's leadership takeover and plan of destroying and dismantling the once-great SBC.

    Yes, Dr. Dilday is a great man who had his ministry at SWBTS stolen from him by a couple-dozen crooks. They "broke into the Seminara" via their ections as Trusettes and stole it from him and those who supported him! God did not smile down on SWBTS that day, and it has been down hill for them every since.

    And then to call P. Patterson as presidnet was really a joke... a big, bad, ugly joke. He is a joke of a president and the school is headed straight to oblivion as a Baptist Seminary. Too bad. :(

    BLT
     
  3. Paul33

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    What's a joke is when liberals deny the fundamentals of the faith in the name of academic freedom, or in this case, the priesthood of the believer.

    When the liberals had full power, you didn't hear a peep from them about abuse of power, etc.

    Just a bunch of sour grapes.

    Thank God that someone finally stood up to the liberal bullies and exposed them for what they were.
     
  4. Daniel David

    Daniel David
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    We all know Dilday's take. He is a bitter old fart who is about as valuable to reality as an 8 track.
     
  5. Todd

    Todd
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    And I thank God for it! Long gone are the days when profs within SBC seminaries denied the inerrancy of Scripture and supported egalitarian ministry. Long gone are the days of profs advocating "inter-faith" relationships. Long gone are the days of profs covering up debased theological practices by arguing for "soul competency" and "priesthood of the believer." I know that Dilday uses the word "fundamentalist" in a very derogatory way (as he probably added an "n" after the "m" as most moderates do when they say it), but I'm proud that our SBC seminaries are now noticed not only for excellence in education, but also for doctrinal integrity and accountability to the Convention that supports their academic endeavors.

    "Down hill"...really? I was under the impression that SWBTS has an ever-increasing enrollment that looks to be gaining even more ground in the years to come. What's more, they will soon be adding an undergrad program and facilities expansion and remodeling are already in the works. And as for the education one can hope to receive at SWBTS, they have some of the evangelical community's most recognizable theologicans (just ask the Evangelical Theological Society). If that's your definition of "downhill," I'd love to know what you would classify as "uphill" - slippery theology, no doctrinal accountability towards the Convention that supports it, etc?

    Dr. P will be holding a short revival for our church in March. I'll have to make sure I include "a joke of a president" in my introduction of him to our people. Let's look at the facts: While he was at Criswell College, the school grew by leaps and bounds. While he was at SEBTS, during his 10-year tenure the school's enrollment grew by 400%. What's more, he was able to build one of the world's elite evangelical seminary faculties, bringing in such men as D.A. Black, Bruce Little, Maurice Robinson, and many others. What's more, SEBTS now has full accredidation status back (something it lost while the liberals were in charge). And, for what it's worth, there aren't any finer theologians in the world than Dr. P. He can argue any point of doctrine with laser-sharp precision, as I witnessed in the Fall of 2001 when he tore apart the ungodly arguments of Duke's Dr. Stanley Hauerwas in a debate on the campus of SEBTS. And, by the way, how good was Dr. Dilday at motivating young men and women to do the work of missions? How successful was he at leading the charge in church planting in New England and other morally debased areas? Dr. P has done more to encourage both North American and International missions than any person in SBC life over the past 10 years. If that makes Dr. P a joke, then I'll be the first to laugh.

    By the way, it's funny that Dr. P has never found the time to write his own book about the whole conservative resurrgence...guess he was too busy leading two of the world's greatest evangelical seminaries while Dr. D was brooding over the fact that the old, moderate SBC is gone. Just a thought.
     
  6. Jimmy C

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    One fact that cannot be denied is that SWBTS was conservative under Dilday. Southern and Southeastern had liberal proffs - SWBTS did not. Another fact - SWBTS was growing under Dilday, it shrank in the years following Dilday. I would submit that the faculty under Dilday was of a much higher calibur than the faculty is currently. I will be glad when the conservatives finish rewarding loyal soldiers and look harder at bringing on real scholars - look at the new dean of the theology school - Allen, did a great job as chairman of the trustees (from a political perspective) so was rewarded with the job of dean.

    Dilday was also very committed to missions - the missions program under Dilday was very strong, look at the number of missionaries around the world that graduated from SWBTS (didnt just happen this year)

    By the way we can always count on DD to libel a fellow Christian who may disagree with him, thanks for coming through again!

    Todd, just for fun, make a note of every time Patterson talks about himself, or uses himself as an illustration regarding himself in his sermon. I have been amazed the several times that I have listened to him at how often he incorporates himself.

    By the way, I have never heard anyone dispute the facts of what Dilday says in his book regarding his firing. The writer of the article has been at the FT Worth Star Telegram for many years as the religion editor, he was an eyewitness to the happenings.
     
  7. RandR

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    Jimmy,

    You're right about the conservative faculty. MOST of the faculty were quite conservative. (And save a particular church history professor, most remained undivisive on matters of convention politics.) I'll even go as far as to agree with Dilday's assessment of himself that he is conservative personally but just didn't agree with the tactics of the conservative resurgence. (They were, after all, "going after" the convention's power base and many of his friends.)

    But the two common assessments of the current situation at Southwestern (which you reference) regarding the quality of the faculty and the number of students really aren't fair.

    Trying to compare the student population "now" vs. "then" is like comparing apples and oranges. The enrollment issue likely has less to do with who was/is president and more to do with the situations at the other seminaries. Because of the state of affairs at Southeastern and Southern into the mid-to-late 80s, Southwestern enjoyed many students from all over the south and southeast. Many pastors counseled their young people against Louisville and Wake Forest even though they were closer to home. Southwestern reaped the benefit (enrollment-wise) of having the conservative faculty and the evangelistic/missions emphasis.

    Since the early 90s, Southern and Southeastern have both grown steadily mainly because they're now keeping more of their own regional students at home. While that's great for them, it means fewer non-regional students (therefore fewer total students) at Southwestern. No personality or undergrad degree will likely reverse the trend.

    The second issue is the comparing of the faculty. Sure, many "household names" (in Texas) are retiring and being replaced with younger people who don't have the recognition of Drs. Tolar, Estep, McBeth, etc. But one has to wonder if those men were always well known and respected. Were they, too, not once young professors of whom most people knew little? I will submit that they were.

    I don't think its going out on a limb to predict that men such as Drs. Blount, Swain, Kennedy, Ashlock, etc. are fine professors and scholars and will also grow to be well-respected and well-loved. (At leasat by those who are willing to give them half a chance.)

    (For comparison sake, many of the names on the Baylor religion faculty have changed over the last half-decade also. Drs. Lester, Tatum and Harvey were once well-known. Current students know them only as "teachers my parents had." Does that mean that the department is somehow "worse" or the professors less qualified?)

    I saw Dr. Dilday at Baylor homecoming last month and we spoke briefly. He was very cordial as always. But I do regret some of the decisions he has made in the years since his firing. I'm still confused as to how one so opposed to "blatant political" strategy so quickly found a home within the world of HH Reynolds and ascended to the presidency of the BGCT, "blatant political strategists" both.

    Anyway, God bless him. I can in no way relate to how he must have felt back then, and I hope his book brings him some closure.
     
  8. Jimmy C

    Jimmy C
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    Rand,

    I agree with you on most matters you have raised, although regarding enrollment - your statements, while very possibly true, are conjecture.

    I think (conjecture on my part) that the reason Dilday went so heavily political after his firing, had to do with his firing. I also wish that he had stayed above the fray.

    Whether the new faculty becomes as respected, only time will tell. I am very fond of SWBTS and can only hope that you are correct. The only one of the newer faculty that I am aquainted with is Ashlock, and I would agree that he is a fine man.
     
  9. RandR

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    Its just a theory. But I think its a pretty good one based on the timeline and the growth at the other two major schools.

    For what its worth, I began to give the matter of the enrollment numbers considerable thought and investigation mainly when the current board began to be unduly critical of Hemphill for the fact that the other schools were growing while SWBTS didn't seem to be or that the others were claiming to be "bigger" than SWBTS.

    Here's what I discovered:
    SEBTS and SBTS have done a masterful job of recruiting in the last decade, particularly from among their regional base of potential students. Both have shown remarkable growth among FTEs.

    Southern, Southeastern, and New Orleans all boost their enrollment figures by including their undergrad and part-time students. While admittedly, this doesn't detract from their growth in FTEs, it does sort of "cook the books."

    NOBTS recently began to proclaim itself the "largest" of the six SBC seminaries, primarily because its reporting includes people in certificate programs and in prison programs, etc.

    Even with the FTE growth at Southern and Southeastern, and their status as the "darlings" of the convention for nearly a decade, SWBTS remained the largest seminary using the only number that really counts, FTEs.

    As mentioned, I started looking at the enrollment issue mainly because I thought the board was unfair to Hemphill on the issue and naive to think that a larger personality in his office would change things.

    That all factors in to why it think its "apples and oranges" to compare enrollment in 1985 to enrollment in 1995 or 2005.

    But you're right. It is conjecture. Even though I happen to think its pretty well informed conjecture, if I may say so myself! [​IMG]
     
  10. Dr. Bob

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    Dr. Dilday was a blessing to many and he was/is appreciated. That said, MANY of us are thrilled with the conservatives regaining the seminaries of the SBC and the great hope that is for the future of that organization.

    Dr. Patterson was a blessing to me at FBC in Dallas where he often ministered. He is one of the most gifted speakers/teachers of the Word and I for one would be THRILLED to see class after class of men like HIM.
     
  11. Daniel David

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    Dilday was only conservative by the standards of the lunatic left.

    Jimmy, my boy, what you fail to grasp is that missions under the moderate/liberal fringe leadership was not missions. It was a social gospel, if the word gospel can even be used.

    This is why the moderates lost. Their THEOLOGY drove their methodology and their methodology was horrendous. Good riddance to Dilday, another worthless liberal who is rotting in bitterness.
     
  12. gb93433

    gb93433
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    So you think it is okay for you to be named among the liars?
     
  13. Daniel David

    Daniel David
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    Call me whatever makes you feel better about losing the convention to Christians.
     
  14. Jimmy C

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    Ah yes, DD enters the conversation and straight to name calling and mud slinging. What a pleasure to read your missives.

    if you dont like Dilday, thats fine. If you have a disagreement with what he has said, or done - no sweat, if you have ANY facts to back up what you say. But please, the denigration of a fellow believer is below even you.
     
  15. Jimmy C

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    Rand,

    Interesting study, as I said you very possibly are correct. One of my theories as to why Patterson wants to start an undergraduate school at SWBTS is to pump up the numbers. I personally dont see the need with the number of quality unergraduate schools in the state - from the most conservative, Criswell - to the most liberal (from a Baptist perspective) Baylor. But, Patterson seems to relate success to numbers. chapel is only a success if large numbers of students are attending - so now 1st year students are required as part of thier Biblical formations class, his tenure will only be a success if the enrollment grows.
     
  16. rsr

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    DD said:

    "Call me whatever makes you feel better about losing the convention to Christians."

    Does being offensive come naturally to you, or have you learned it? If you've learned it, where? Then we can know the places to avoid.
     
  17. scubablt

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    :( Sorry guys, but anyone who says that P. Patterson is GOOD for theological education at SWBTS is mistaken -- :confused: just like Patterson himself. I know that will rankle some of your Fundy feathers, but so be it. Yes, SWBTS is on the "DOWN HILL SIDE" of their blessed history. Who says that increased enrollment is a sign of godly events and blessings? Numbers going up do not always indicate positve events taking place. It could just be a definite sign that there are more fools out there than 1st expected. ;) That, in my humble opinion, is the case here. After all, sheep are so dumb they will follow the leader off a steep cliff and plummet 100's of feet to their death... such is the case here at SWBTS. Many young, impressionable, students of Theology are following this cowboy boot-wearing, misinformed seminary president right off the theological cliff of Christian and Baptist life. Sure, he has helped some people in his years, but at his age, you would hope he had done some good for someone during all that time. But, wiegh the cons against the pros and the cons will quickly outweigh the pros. Look at what he did the beloved SBC... he hlped tear it up with his misinformed scare-tactics that he and Pressler absolutley terrified millions of S. Baptist with beginning in 1979. Instead of being proud of the work he says he 'has accomplished,' he ought to be ashamed of what he has done! :mad:
    And trust me guys, there is no person or minister more conservative theologically or more Baptist than me. So, be careful about posting junk about me and writing me off as some liberal fool who knows nothing about any thing. I am as strict when it comes to theology, Scriptural authority, or any other litmus test you want to run me through. I am so conservative, I squeak when I walk. I can quote, live, and preach the KJV with the best of them. I just have enough insight and personal knowledge of the situation to know what I am talking about. I am 45 and have been a Baptist for alomst 46 years. I went to church for 9 months in my mom's womb and was in the church nursery before I was one-month old. I have been in a Baptist church just about every week since, have a M.Div. from SWBTS and a D.Min. from New Orleans Baptist Seminary. :cool: I have been a Baptist pastor for 20 years plus 4 more as a youth pastor. Tack on a few more years as a youth intern, pastoral assistant, mission field work, and I have been actively serving God and Baptists for 27 of my 45 years. Yes, if you cut me, I will BLEED Southern Baptist blood and the Cooperative Program! [​IMG]

    Like the saying goes: "God said it, That settles it. I believe it... ans so should you." Good day. [​IMG]
     
  18. preachinjesus

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    couple of quick hits from a current SWBTS student:

    1. DD you're comments are mean and not in a good Christian spirit. I hope the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin here and you apologize

    2. There is an undergrad instutition being started at SWBTS.

    3. Not all current SWBTS students are going lock step with Dr. Patterson...actually Dr. P has been gracious enough to tell us its okay to disagree with him

    4. There has been a great outcry about the required chapel thingy...but I doubt it will change since I sit in meetings with admin folks and see their reponses to such things

    5. SWBTS is still a great school with a growing and budding theological faculty. Looking forward to hearing from some of my profs in years to come

    6. I doubt I'll ever return to SWBTS to do futher education

    7. SWBTS has always been a conservative school in the SBC...it didn't need rescuing

    8. I doubt the Dilday book will be carried in the bookstore

    thanks...maybe I'll comment more once I graduate ;)
     
  19. Todd

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    Scuba, you may want to be careful with your language: "But whoever says, 'You fool' shall be in danger of hell fire" (Mt. 5:22). Branding those of us who have followed the career and have a good relationship with Dr. P as "fools" is certainly nothing worse than what DD has done. Your posting simply proves your ignorance in this situation. You rattle off a bunch of smear opinions about Dr. P and who he is, but you offer no evidences of things that he had done to you or those around you that would prove that he is an unfit Pres at SWBTS. You ought to be ashamed and convicted.
     
  20. NateT

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    I thought you might find it interesting that you can buy this book at the SBTS bookstore.
     

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