Seminary to Adjust Bylaws to Allow for ‘Flexibility’ in Admitting Non-Christian Students

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary pdFORT WORTH, Texas — A Texas theological seminary, which trains Christian men for ministry, has announced that it will adjust its bylaws to allow for greater “flexibility” in the admittance of non-Christian students following controversy surrounding the enrollment of a Muslim man.

As previously reported, the controversy erupted in June of this year when it was discovered that Ghassan Nagagren, a Palestinian Muslim, had completed his first year of studies at the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in his pursuit of a doctorate in archaeology.

“For several years, Southwestern Seminary has operated a dig at Tel Gezer in Israel,” President Paige Patterson outlined in response to those who decried the decision to admit Nagagren. “During that time we have been joined in the effort by around 20 of our own students and about 60 students from secular schools and religious schools. We have had both Israelis and Muslims.”

“One of these young men from a Muslim background loved our people and asked to study with us. He accepted the necessity of abiding by our moral code of conduct,” he continued. “He is a man of peace, and we agreed to admit him into the archaeology program.”

Patterson said that he did not see an issue with admitting the Muslim student and spoke of the benefits of forming a relationship with Nagagren.

“This man’s progress has been good, and we are especially grateful for the close relations that have been forged with peaceful Muslims and the opportunities that we have had to share biblical truths with them,” he stated. “In all of this, there is not even a hint of compromise of our historic position.”

However, the seminary president later issued an apology before a group of delegates from the Southern Baptist Convention.

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“I made an exception to a rule that I assumed, probably wrongly, the president has the right to make if he feels that it is that important,” Patterson said. “I believe when I stand before the Lord God, I’m going to say, ‘Dear God, I violated a policy, but I didn’t want to stand before you with blood on my hands. Dear God, I did the best I knew how.’”

The seminary’s board of trustees then launched a formal review of Patterson’s decision, and this week, it concluded that while the president should have requested an exception to the bylaws to allow Nagagren’s admittance, they believed that his actions were out of his desire to evangelize and not commit any wrongdoing.

“We join with our fellow Southern Baptists in appreciation for and admiration of the evangelistic heart of our president,” the board wrote in a statement on Wednesday. “Any violations of the seminary bylaws were done in a good-faith enthusiasm to pursue the seminary’s purpose…”

It noted that in light of the matter, as well as concerns over its prison ministry program, which allows atheists and others to study with the school, changes would be forthcoming to allow non-Christians to be admitted at the seminary.

“While not compromising the missional purpose of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, we are taking steps to amend the seminary’s bylaws to improve accountability that will allow for flexibility in pursuing ministry opportunities, such as the one at the Darrington Unit,” the trustees outlined.

However, some state that allowing Muslims and those of other faiths—or no faith—into the school’s programs cannot be considered a proper or biblical way to evangelize.

“I know some people will … [say] … ‘It’s about evangelism! Don’t you believe that our seminaries should be in the prisons leading people to Christ by offering Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, neo-Nazi’s, and all other people of faith (or non-faith) the opportunity to enroll in theological educational courses provided by our seminaries?” Wade Burleson of Istoria Ministries wrote. “Answer: ‘No.’ Let me make that ‘A resounding no.'”

“Our seminaries should be training Christian men and women how to go into the prisons and lead people to Christ,” he said.

“All of us want to see our Muslim and Mormon friends come to faith in Christ for their salvation and deliverance,” Burleson also commented in June when the controversy first erupted. “[However], the place for evangelism to take place is not the seminaries Southern Baptists have set aside to train gospel ministers and missionaries.”

“We are far more effective fulfilling the polices of the Southern Baptist Convention and the charters and policies of our seminaries by training Christians for gospel ministry and then sending them to places where Muslims are, than we are by violating policies and bringing Muslims and Mormons to where our gospel ministers and missionaries are being trained,” he said.

Nagagren has since discontinued his time at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, stating that he did not wish to be a distraction in the school.


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  • BarkingDawg

    Hatred and bigotry has no place in modern society.

    • WorldGoneCrazy

      Then what are you still doing here?

    • Chic Magnet Bailey

      I agree with you, when are you going to post this message on an Islamic site, better yet, why don’t you PERSONALLY go to just one of these places on the link below and say this to those non-racist and non bigots.. We are not racist or bigots, instead were wise in protecting our families and country, wise as God commanded His servant King David. We aren’t the ones beheading people, circumcising our women, cutting off heads, putting rings of fire on Christians necks and lighting them, burying people outside Islam alive, putting into slavery all ‘infidels’, raping women and children. That being said, your wisdom is yet to be determined, what is your reasons for ecumenicalism where historically it has proven to be deadly when attached with Islam. And to the President, you have no idea just how much might develop on your hands from this decision. http://thereligionofpeace.com/

      • pammylou

        Did you know most of the mosques in the US are paid for by the Saudi’s?
        And did you know that the British created the Saudi State (Lawrence of Arabia)? And the British created Israel of course,and the Plaestinian mandate creating thhis Palestine,and they created Iraq,and they created Sierra Leone,and they created Pakistan(Ghandi)! They ruled over India so long the Indian culture is shaped by the British… All those pesky people in the news who can’t get along thanks to the British! The nazi’s created the Muslim Brotherhood,but after the nazi’s went away for a while building spaceships for NASA and the Soviets,the British picked up relations with the Muslim brotherhood.You know who invented the Wahabi’s to overthrow the Ottoman Empire? Care to guess? It starts with a B! Yep the British!Whacky world isn’t it?We can thank a former WW1 British MI5 agent (From the Daily Mail UK Oct 14 2009)”MI5 paid Benito Mussolini ‘£6,000 a week’ during World War I to peddle British propaganda”)and Benito Mussolini went on to create the Vatican Nation State to make the Vatican powerful again! Then the Vatican gave new passports to the nazi scientists so we could be proud to shoot rockets into space and be astronuts!And send a man to the moon! At least on TV they said it really happened1Those poor British really screwed the place up huh?They need our prayers!
        Mr Livingstone is a Muslim and he says not to worry because after they use the Muslims as suckers like with Lawrence Of Arabia double crossed them they are going to double cross them again! It all works out in the end? I guess they know wht they are doing allrighty?
        Red Ice Radio – David Livingstone – Pt 1 – The Muslim Brotherhood
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaxDiFJZo68

    • Chic Magnet Bailey

      Hey BarkingDog, I suggest you go and lecture these people. I guess you wont because you feel not letting someone who isn’t a Christian into a CHRISTIAN university is worse than this. So come on Dog, be the man you think you are and watch this and then come back for a discussion. (Oh, am I being sarcastic and thus not a Christian? Nope, I’m a realist where as you are purely ignorant of History, current events, theologies and doctrines along with Biblical knowledge. I make no excuses for this post, I’d rather you detest me and become wise to what the facts are instead of being ignorant and insulting the lives that shed their blood in the name of Christ. http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ccd_1407931049

    • pammylou

      Did you learn that in a small group session?

      • BarkingDawg

        Explain to me what useful purpose hatred and bigotry serves.

        • pammylou

          God himself hates the assembly of evil doers.
          God is at war with Amalek forever.
          Proverbs 6:16-19 King James Version (KJV)
          16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
          17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
          18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
          19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
          Such persons are mere babes. But solid food is for adults–that is, for
          those who through constant practice have their spiritual faculties
          carefully trained to distinguish good from evil.d go on but am in a hurry right now…But God hates and I hate what God hates.
          Someone has led you astray!
          Hebrews 5:14
          Such persons are mere babes. But solid food is for adults–that is, for
          those who through constant practice have their spiritual faculties
          carefully trained to distinguish good from evil.
          It’s called Godly discernment .

          Maybe you should get out of your small group community building church
          where they play with people looking to build “Community” instead of
          teaching you the word of God.
          Maybe you would enjoy learning the
          Theory Of Everything.I highly reccomend it! Thanks for giving me an
          opportunity to tell you this stuff!
          (There are a lot of false
          churches out there more interested in building Peter F Drucker/Rick
          Warren “community” instead of the inerrant word of God trying to please
          all men.Don’t be unequally yoked.God is not mocked. Here ya go!
          Theory of Everything: GOD, Devils, Dimensions, Dragons, Illusion & Reality -the Theory of Everything
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtBz1roiQR8

  • Michael Banka

    Institutional bureaucrats seldom see the plank.

  • alnga

    This can become an extremely hot subject to handle. But allow me to ask in all innocence , how is this any different than allowing any lost person into our worship services and our small group bible studies? I was once not just lost but I thought I was unrecoverable..

    • MamaBear

      Because the purpose of a seminary is very specific, to train men and women for leading Christian ministries.
      Lost people are indeed welcome in Bible studies and worship services, but not as leaders or potential leaders until they are saved.

    • pammylou

      I hate to tell you who is the father of those “small groups” you have been frequenting?…. The father of “small group dynamics” was a fellow named Kurt Lewin.He worked for the OSS (the CIA back then).He convinced some Jewish people they were self hating Jews in the 30’s using small groups! The people in that group didn’t think that they were self hating at all.But they gave Kurt’s small group dynamics a whirl? And dang if they didn’t find out they hated themselves! You can look it up!
      Anyway,they didn’t know what to do about hating themselves!After many sessions they all walked away thinking just like Kurt Lewin.The father of group dynamics!
      Groups of people are far far easier to control than an individual so it is a favorite of the business model churches that build “community”.Where everyone needs to thinks the same so they are very happy all the time ! Small groups are technically psychotherapy.It’s almost like hypnotism!But in the hands of a trained Doctor psychotherapist it could work? But in small group leaders in the community building church’s? Those are just people with nopsychological training.The group pits thesis vs antithesis and creates a compromise! And we all know all good Christians are to be compromised.Then as soon as you compromise,a new conflict is introduced.It can turn your mind into mush.But if you are building community then that’s exactly the mindset a community needs! Rick Warrens mentor Peter F Drucker figured it would make for good community assembllies,and figured the religion was secondary to community!
      Thanks for the insight! It sounds as if you enjoy your psychotherapy group sessions and theyhave made a tremendous impact on your rationale!

  • OldArkie

    2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

    • pammylou

      Awwww c’mon this is the new and improved Popedude.He’s like the Obamba! He’s a change agent and and “innovator”! If not for the loveable Benito Mussolini giving that poor Vatican it’s power back with the Lataren Treaty ,the Pope wouldn’t be the big shot he is today! Missolini may have been a bloody facist killer,but he knew the value of a strong Vatican! And it was a good thing too!Because the Vatican gave new passports to all the good nazi scientists with that new power,so they could come to the US and build NASA and continue their work of spending big cash to shoot junk in the atmosphere.Google Space Debris.Our orbital atmosphere is loaded with so much junk they are having a hard time shooting more (real important)junk up there.The space junk is thick thugh and protects us from global warming though! If not for the dictator Mussolini you wouldn’t even have a Rock Star Pope.2 Popes even! The Ratzinger guy is still a Pope technically too! Double the fun for the price of one! And the British Papers now take credit for getting Mussolini his big start! (From the Daily Mail UK Oct 14 2009)
      MI5 paid Benito Mussolini ‘£6,000 a week’ during World War I to peddle British propaganda
      Pope Frankie is the Hope and Change Pope! He’s like a Holy Obamba guy!
      Hip Hip Hooray! The Pope is here to stay! Ya gotta love him ! He’ll even wash your feet for you in a photo opportunity like Nancy Peloski did.He does it all!

    • pammylou

      Awwww man! You’re making the Pope guy look bad! Hehehehe

  • Marie Adigwe

    Well what’s wrong with this? Why not allow people who want to learn about Christianity come to the seminary? You don’t convert people by closing yourselves off to them when they come to you obviously wanting to learn.

  • Peter Leh

    by all means… keep the unbelievers out! Out of seminary, sunday school, awana, VBS. please don’t let them learn about the bible! (sarcasm off)

  • John Mark IB

    just plain weird too, that ok, so why is it that a non Christian wants to go to a so called Christian seminary anyways? (they always want to push and go against the holdouts or supposed holdouts?) and then of course no way do they have to admit this guy, or then allow folks to enter, and then change their whole reason for being which is supposedly to either train ministers and or evangelists missionaries of the gospel etc.,?? seems strange, but then again, it just could be the modernistic falling away and continued smart attacks, clever anyways or all too deceptive? on the part of the muslims who just want to take over and infiltrate the so called Christian schools and complete their ultimate plan to Islamize the world and USA etc., ?? here’s hope folks please pass it on and send to all you can and may GOD bless you with love joy and peace always in Jesus name amen! have a blessed day and week
    http://faithsaves.net
    http://www.pillarandground.org/home/?page_id=36
    http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com