Letters to the Editor

December 21, 2013

Baptist leaders in stained glass

Dorothy Patterson, wife of Paige Patterson, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, wanted to depict the 20-year history of the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Church in beautiful stained-glass images in the J.W. MacGorman Chapel at the seminary. (See Saturday news story, “Seeing Baptists in a new light.”)

Dorothy Patterson, wife of Paige Patterson, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, wanted to depict the 20-year history of the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Church in beautiful stained-glass images in the J.W. MacGorman Chapel at the seminary. (See Saturday news story, “Seeing Baptists in a new light.”)

An accurate depiction of that time should include:

• Numerous Southern Baptist Convention churches that had to leave the 135-year-old convention and find a new home.
• Pastors who had been friends and classmates since seminary days and now never speak to one another.
• Churches that were so divided by the issues that they had to split into separate congregations.
• Professors and seminary presidents who were fired for their beliefs.
• The innocent children of fired pastors and professors, who often had to relocate, adapt to a home with reduced or no income, and deal with a parent suffering from depression.
• Missionaries who had to leave their life’s work because their integrity was questioned.

I hope that the chapel has enough windows to tell the whole story of the conservative resurgence.

— Sara Goode, Fort Worth

Among the infinite choices to be made by a seminary, the decision by the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to devote space and resources to stained-glass images of themselves is absurd and tragic.

In the spirit of this action, I await the Paige Patterson Meditation Foyer of “Animals I Shot and had Mounted.”

— J. Alan Nelson, Waco

Some of us who are Protestants object to the portrayal of human religious leaders in stained glass.

Further, some of us would view this as a violation of the second of the Ten Commandments, which forbids the making of such likenesses and states: “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”

No doubt Baptists would counter that they’re not bowing to or serving such images, but how do such icons affect the minds of worshipers in the chapel?

Are worshipers drawn to think upon the holiness of God and his Word, or are they instead drawn to contemplate the greatness of their Baptist leaders?

I suspect that some of these leaders of the past would shudder to find that they are being venerated in such a manner.

This is the idolatry warned of throughout Scripture. Now it appears that Baptists have designated saints to venerate similar to those of Roman Catholicism.

— Chuck Cain, Arlington

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