NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Paige Patterson and R. Albert Mohler Jr.,
each presidents of Southern Baptist seminaries and members of the task force
appointed to study the possibility of a new name for the Southern Baptist
Convention (SBC), have made public comments on the issue.
“The Southern Baptist Convention is no longer a regional convention, and every
Southern Baptist concerned for the lost will be interested in removing all
self-imposed barriers to the evangelization of all men,” Patterson, president
of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said in a
news release Sept. 21 after the task force was announced by SBC President
Bryant Wright during the Sept. 20-21 meeting of the convention’s Executive
“By the same token Southern Baptist stands for something very significant in a
number of ways and should not be abandoned without careful thought and
consideration of many attending circumstances.”
Patterson, a former SBC president and an architect of the Conservative
Resurgence, said he has given his life in service to the convention.
“I am not sure how qualified I am to be on the committee, but I am sure that I
love the churches of the SBC and wish to do nothing to harm them in any way,”
Patterson said, adding that all Southern Baptists should feel free to state
their opinions and convictions publicly or to Jimmy Draper, chairman of the
name change task force, or to any member of the committee.
“We expect that, and we want that,” he said. “I also appeal to our people to
keep this discussion on the highest conceivable level, leaning over backwards
to avoid judgments of anyone’s motives, which only God can know. I also appeal
for the ardent prayers of all our people for our gracious Lord to grant this
committee wisdom beyond anything that we could ever have on our own.”
Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.,
said changing the name of the convention is no simple rebranding effort.
“There is tremendous value in the established name and reputation of the
Southern Baptist Convention, especially when the denomination has put itself on
the line again and again in defense of biblical truth and theological
orthodoxy,” he wrote on his “Conventional Thinking” blog Sept. 20.
On the other hand, he said, “southern” refers to a region of the United States
that gave birth to the convention but no longer contains it. The name also
carries a deep stain associated with slavery and racism, Mohler noted.
“If these issues can be resolved, even to any significant degree, by a name
change, a gospel-minded people would never hesitate to consider such a
Mohler acknowledged that the idea of changing the convention name is a highly
charged issue that has the potential to create division if not handled
“To be honest, I am personally traumatized by the very idea of changing the
denomination’s name. I feel an almost physical loss at the very prospect,”
Mohler wrote. “It is a deeply and unavoidably emotional question for any Southern
Baptist whose life is intertwined with the convention, its work and its
“At the same time, our commitment to the Great Commission and the urgency of
the gospel must exceed our emotional attachments and fears. A responsible
movement of gospel churches – of Baptist churches – must be ready to ask this
question and face it fearlessly. We can and will do this together.”
The task force, Mohler said, is not poised to make an irresponsible proposal
and there is much hard work ahead.
“This decision will not be made by any task force. The name of the convention
belongs to the Southern Baptist Convention and will ultimately be settled by
its messengers,” Mohler wrote.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach with
reporting by Keith Collier of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)