FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Professor of New Testament Terry Wilder presented Southwestern president Paige Patterson with a festschrift written in honor of his and Judge Paul Pressler’s work in the Conservative Resurgence—the two-decade effort to turn the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) back to a firm stance on the inerrancy of Scripture—during chapel, April 17. Wilder cited the work of Patterson and Pressler as a significant part of the state of the SBC today.
“We owe much to this man,” Wilder said of Patterson. “Most of us would not even be here today, were it not for him and Judge Pressler. If they had not done that under the leadership of the Lord, I dare say the SBC today would be a quagmire of ecumenism, pluralism, universalism and drifting further to the left, not concerned about evangelism as much as we are today.”
“[President Patterson] is a modern day Martin Luther, and we're thankful for his leadership.” Terry Wilder
Wilder co-edited the book, titled In Defense of the Bible: A Comprehensive Apologetic for the Authority of Scripture, with Associate Director of the Apologetics Resource Center Steven Cowan. Contributors include both Southern Baptists and other evangelicals.
Wilder said that while the battle for the Bible within the Southern Baptist Convention is largely over, the challenges that sprout along the way demand attention lest Baptists revert to a low view of Scripture, which Patterson and Pressler worked to absolve.
“When these challenges arise, it's important to deal with them as they occur, or frankly we're doomed to repeat our past,” Wilder said. “It's this sort of thing that with recent challenges in evangelicalism and within [some of] the SBC, that Steven Cowan and I have edited a book that was written in honor of Dr. Patterson and Judge Pressler.”
Inside its cover, the book bears the text of Jude 1:3 and this inscription: “To Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler, contenders of the faith. Untold numbers of Christians are forever in your debt.”
The first few pages also include founding president B.H. Carroll’s deathbed commission to L.R. Scarborough to keep the seminary “lashed to the cross.”
“Our president, whether you know it or not, is a modern day Martin Luther, and we're thankful for his leadership,” Wilder said.
Patterson gratefully accepted a three-paned plaque including the book’s cover and two inside pages, saying that the festschrift was indeed an honor and reminding those in chapel that the fight for the Bible, which came with great cost, will come again.
“I am deeply, deeply grateful to you, Dr. Wilder, for this presentation and I know that Judge Pressler will be equally happy for it,” Patterson said. “It was a heavy price to be paid, and I hope others will teach you something about it just so you’ll never walk that valley again, but you will. In your lifetime you will have to face the question of the inerrancy of God's word again and again and again. The devil will always attack that, and you’ve got to always know how it is that you answer.”