CLEVELAND – Chapel at Truett McConnell University is not an incidental weekly event, but fundamental and vital to the life and wellbeing of the students, faculty, and administration of Georgia Baptists’ institution of higher education in the North Georgia mountains.
Consequently, the George Blaurock Student Wellness Center was filled with hundreds of students, faculty, and guests for the Inaugural Annual Paige and Dorothy Patterson Spring Lecture Series on Tuesday, March 12. While the topic for the series will vary from year to year, this year’s focus was on “Radical Reformation” and emphasized that TMU students are encouraged to follow their own conscience as directed by the Word of God.
Paige Patterson, a Southern Baptist statesman, who has devoted his life to Christian ministry, theological education, evangelism, and preaching the Gospel, brought the chapel message using Heb. 4:12 as his text. He cited the life of Martin Luther to illustrate that the “Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.”
Patterson proclaimed, “There are those who think the Protestant Reformation began when Luther proposed a discussion of the efficacy of indulgences by nailing his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church in 1517, but it is far more complicated than that.”
Patterson continued, “As an Augustinian monk Luther fasted, prayed, served the church, deprived himself, but no matter how much he did he was left wanting more of God. In his quest for truth he read Paul’s epistle to the Romans. When he got to ‘The just shall live by faith’ (Rom. 1:17), he had a revolutionary moment in his life. It was after that defining moment that he posted the Ninety-five Theses.”
The message by Patterson included comments about the Leipzig Debate between Luther and Johann Eck in 1519. “Eck told Luther, ‘You are infected by Jan Hus (John Huss).’ And while all the books of Hus had supposedly been burned, Luther found a good librarian who had kept one copy of Hus’s books, read the books that Hus had written and made a discovery – the Bible alone is sufficient for faith and practice.
“In 1521 Luther went to Worms, where now stands a statue of Luther surrounded by statues of Jan Hus, John Wycliffe, Girolamo Savonarola and Peter Waldo – men who had already started a revolution. Inspired by his experience in Worms, Luther vowed, ‘If it’s in the Bible, that is where I will stand.’
“When Luther left Worms, he was kidnapped by friends and taken to the Wartburg Castle where he devoted himself to a new task – translating the New Testament from its original language into German.” Patterson declared, “The revolution flew on Luther’s translation of the New Testament into the German language.
“When he left the Castle, he was still an Augustinian Monk, but his revolutionary ideas may have inspired a group of nuns to reject their vows and leave the cloister. Luther worked with a local merchant to engineer a daring nighttime rescue by stowing away nuns into empty fish barrels and transporting them to Wittenberg. All the nuns got married, but one – Katharina von Bora and Luther married her, thus taking the final step in breaking with the old and embracing the new and signifying that the ‘Word of God is alive.’”
Patterson concluded his message by sharing a personal testimony of leading a man named Mark to the Lord on an airplane. He told the man that there is a book in the Bible addressed to him. He then used the Gospel of Mark to share God’s plan of salvation and the man trusted Christ as Savior, proving again that the Word of God is “alive and powerful.”
A proclamation was presented to Paige and Dorothy Patterson by the Faculty of the Hubmaier School of Theology extolling the distinguished couple for their four decades of dedicated service to Christ through theological education, their passion for spreading the Gospel at home and around the world, their vital service in a myriad of ways to Southern Baptists and their being exemplary role models of Christian living.
The proclamation concluded with these words: “Whereas, Dr. and Mrs. Patterson have poured their lives into a myriad of people, including: Dr. Emir Caner, President of Truett McConnell University; Dr. Brad Reynolds, VP of Academic Services; Dr. Jason Graffagnino, VP of Finance and Operations; Mr. Chris Eppling, VP of Student Services; Dr. Maël Disseau, Dean of the Balthasar Hubmaier School of Theology and Missions; and other faculty members and administrators at TMU, therefore, the faculty of the Hubmaier School of Theology and Missions is honored to hereby name their Annual Spring Lecture Series in their honor.”
While the 2019 Paige and Dorothy Patterson Spring Lecture Series focused on “Radical Reformation,” the 2020 emphasis will be on the subject of “Creation.”