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|Cline Rex Paden|
August 22, 1919|
Wagner, Hunt County, Texas, USA
|Died||May 26, 2007
|Occupation||Evangelist; Pastor; Educator|
|Religion||Churches of Christ|
|Spouse(s)||Jo Iris Cathey Paden|
Timothy Paden of Lubbock
|Parent(s)||Oscar and Lona Paden|
Cline Rex Paden (August 22, 1919 – May 26, 2007) was a prominent Churches of Christ evangelist and missionary who, in 1962, founded what became the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas. The institute offers college-style instruction in Lubbock and a series of satellite schools in forty-six states and in such countries as Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Bermuda, Canada, Cuba, El Salvador, England, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, Indonesia, Lithuania, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, and Trinidad. Such schools allow individuals to study the Bible in depth with instruction adapted to their schedules and particular circumstances.
Paden was born in Wagner in northwestern Hunt County near Dallas, to Oscar Paden and Lona Paden (1889-1975). The population of Wagner never exceeded fifty persons, and it is no longer listed on road maps or gazeteers. In 1927, the family moved to Lubbock County, where Paden later graduated from Idalou High School. In 1947, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, the seat of Taylor County, Texas.
Paden delivered his first sermon in Hawley in Jones County in west Texas. In 1949, he joined a missionary team to Italy. There, he ran into much opposition from the police and the Italian government in his effort to establish the Church of Christ in Rome. At one point, the government ordered Paden and his brother, Gerald Paden, to stop the distribution of food to the needy and to close their orphanage. After a lengthy legal fight, and with some help from then U.S. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, the Italian courts upheld the principle of religious toleration, and Paden was allowed to continue his mission in the shadow of Vatican City. His mission work was cited in several issues of Time magazine. The following is a quote from the Sept 29, 1952 issue of Time Magazine:
- "Older Protestant churches in Italy, which have complied with the registration laws, have not had any trouble." Said the Rev. Emanuele Shaffi, a Methodist, and chairman of Italy's Federal Council of Evangelical Churches (membership: 60,000): "We enjoy complete freedom of worship . . . We feel that our friends of the Churches of Christ are not entirely in the right."
Paden travelled to Italy in the midst of the Cold War without first applying for the visa needed to be a missionary under Italian law. Also, in Italy at the time non-Catholic churches were considered business and had to submit appropriate paperwork, which Paden avoided unlike Protestant missionaries. After Italian officials travelled to the United States and presented documents pertaining to Paden's claims of persecution, the U.S. State department released a letter stating that "No Americans are being denied the right to worship in Italy."
Sunset International began modestly with six Hispanic students. Paden believed that schools of preaching were needed to counter modernism within Church of Christ colleges and seminaries. He served as the executive director, equivalent of president, of the school until 1993, when he chose Truitt Ellis Adair (born ca. 1946) as his successor. He remained as chancellor until 2006. Over the decades, Paden helped to establish other seminaries, including the Mid-South Bible Institute in Glasgow, Kentucky.
He was also an elder at Sunset Church of Christ, 3723 34th Street, Lubbock, for over thirty years. As a result of his missionary background, Paden stressed global evangelism. He also urged Christians to shun debt and practice proper financial stewardship according to biblical standards. In 1973, Paden issued a manifesto stating that the innocent party in an adulterous marriage has biblical sanction to remarry, but there is no such approval to the guilty party. Paden occasionally aroused controversy, particularly after he endorsed a controversial 1995 book by Terry Rush titled The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense. Rush claims that from birth to his baptism Jesus Christ was human and not divine. According to this view known as "adoptionism", it was the baptism which made Jesus divine, a reference to the biblical line: "the Word became flesh."
Paden was survived by his wife of nearly fifty years, the former Jo Iris Cathey; three children, Tim and Metta Paden of Lubbock, Terry and Becky Paden of Abernathy north of Lubbock, and Tanja and Randy Couchman of Boerne (pronounced BUR NEY) near San Antonio; brother, Gerald Paden of Lubbock; two sisters from California, Jeri Fox of Oceanside, and Patsy Whitson of Lakewood, and nine grandchildren.
Services were held in Lubbock on May 30, 2007, at the Sunset Church of Christ, and interment followed in Resthaven Memorial Park.
Paden's life work was recognized by honorary doctor's degrees from five universities: Lipscomb University of Nashville, Tennessee, Abilene Christian University, Harding University of Searcy, Arkansas, Lubbock Christian University, and Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. In 1969, Paden was named one of the first "Distinguished Alumni" of Abilene Christian University.
Paden was sometimes referred to as "The Gray Eagle", presumably for his keen vision and wisdom. Truman Scott, a Sunset administrator, wrote a biography of Paden entitled The Gray Eagle. Scott documented Paden's impact on many people, particularly young ministers and missionaries whom he trained over the decades.