Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Marvelously Saved"

I am still on the mailing list of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the seminary from which I received my Master of Divinity degree. It is interesting that they always address me as "Father James Early," even though Baptists do not believe in calling any minister "Father." Here is the text of the letter. I thought you might get a kick out of it.

Dear Prayer Partner,

Salim Nabih presented an unusual request. Although he was a priest in one of the Orthodox churches, he had felt in his heart that he wanted to study at an evangelical institution. Someone had recommended Southwestern Seminary to him and now he wanted to study although he had no means of doing so. Normally, of course, we require that any student seeking admission give evidence of having had a conversion experience and that he hold membership in a local Baptist church, which would give him an endorsement. Furthermore, our scholarship monies are available only for those students.

But, for some reason, I could not get the request from Salim out of my heart. Finally, I communicated with him and told him to come and that we would admit him as a special student. He could study here, and I would get a scholarship commitment for him. All of this came together without any promise of the future.

Salim has graduated now and, in fact, went on to get a PhD in a prestigious European university. The other day hecame back to see me. He wanted to express his appreciation for the assistance the seminary had given him and to tell me that when he came, even though he was an Orthodox priest, he had never come to know the Lord. However, through chapel services at Southwestern he had realized his need of Christ and had been marvelously saved. He was especially grateful for this and told me that after much prayer he was leaving the priesthood and becoming a member of a Baptist church. God has a wonderful future for Salim.

While I have not used his real name for his protection, I wanted you to know Salim’s story because people like you have made this possible. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is not only engaged in general education of the next generation of pastors and missionaries, but also in seeing God change the lives of people on campus and literally to the ends of the earth. This is the kind of investment that many are making in our students.

Unfortunately the cost for our students is rising on a daily basis...
And then he goes on for several sentences to hit me up for a contribution. He concludes...

Until He Comes,

Paige Patterson

P.S. Please let us know the next time you visit our campus. Dorothy and I would love to greet you personally.

So basically, what Dr. Patterson is telling me is, "We need some money from you to keep fulfilling our mission. And here is a great example of what we do: we persuaded an Orthodox priest to "get saved" (actually, I forgot; he didn't just "get saved," but was "marvelously saved!") and even to leave his Church and become a Baptist! Isn't that great?" I find it more than a little odd to send this testimony to an Orthodox priest!

Of course, I know that this is a form letter that went out to thousands of people, and that Dr. Patterson has no idea that the letter went to an (probably more than one) Orthodox priest. Still, I thought it both ironic and humorous. The thought has crossed my mind that I may indeed visit Paige and Dorothy one day and tell them exactly what I think of this letter and what they did with "Salim."

I could say much more about this letter and what it implies, but I would be more interested in hearing your thoughts. So, what are your thoughts? Post a comment and let me know!


Clint said...

I also still get fundraising letters from my former school, as well. I have "flown below the radar" so far, but I suspect that they will eventually find out about my conversion to Orthodoxy. I have tried to just slip away anonymously, but I doubt it will happen.

At least you got a form letter. I will probably get pleas and calls to "return to the faith" and to be "saved from the fire."

Now that you mention it, the fire seems a good place for letters like that....

Eddie said...

In all honestly Father, I can't really say I blame them. If the shoe were on the other foot and another Baptist minister converted to Orthodoxy, wouldn't we be excited about it and want to share it with other Orthodox? It really makes me want to know more about his story and how he wasn't "saved" until becoming a Baptist.

Katrina said...

I'm curious why they REALLY didn't use his actual name. What exactly are they trying to protect him from? Is he going to be attacked by an angry mob of Orthodox Bishops beating him with their staffs? Or perhaps he had been dismissed from the priesthood for unpleasant reasons?

Additionally, I would think if that you were "marvelously saved" and you truly cared about the salvation of others you would insist on the use of your real name as a witness tool. Seems kinda fishy.

Paul said...

What concerns me father is that an Orthodox priest was ordained to the priesthood who questioned not only his faith, but the calling of the priesthood. Was the "He is Worthy" over him done with fingers crossed?

I am not trying to put blame on anyone for sure, but I was under the impression there was a more indepth understanding of the calling for priest than for a catachumen.

Lord have mercy on his apostasy. Unless the letter was a ruse.

Fr Joseph Huneycutt said...

Clint converted to Orthodoxy?

Fr. James Early said...

He's working on it.

Clint said...

Hey, look everyone! The Priests are talking about me! Woo hoo!

Oh yes, I have 9 days until being formally accepted as a Catechumen (along with my entire family).

And we are all five absolutely fired up!

fdr said...

Having been an Evangelical Christian, I wouldn't accuse SWBS of lieing.....but EXAGERATING would seem likely and normal....