Cline Paden

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Cline Rex Paden
Cline Rex Paden of Lubbock, TX.jpg

(1919-08-22)August 22, 1919
Wagner, Hunt County

Texas, USA
Died May 26, 2007(2007-05-26) (aged 87)
Lubbock, Texas
Resting place Resthaven Memorial Park in Lubbock
Occupation Evangelist; Pastor; Educator
Spouse(s) Jo Iris Cathey Paden (married 1947-2007, his death)

Timothy Paden of Lubbock
Terry Paden

Tanja Paden Couchman
Parent(s) John Calvin Oscar and Lona Harden Paden
Relatives Gerald S. Paden (brother)
A prominent Churches of Christ evangelist and minister, Paden was the founder of Sunset International Bible Institute in his adopted city of Lubbock, Texas.

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.[1]


Paden was one of seven children of John Calvin Oscar Paden (1888-1957), an Arkansas native, and the former Lona Harden Paden (1889-1975), originally from Tennessee.[2] Only one of the seven children, the youngest, Patsy Paden Whitson (born December 7, 1928) of Lakewood, California, survives.[3] He was born in Wagner in northwestern Hunt County near Dallas. The population of Wagner never exceeded fifty persons, and the community is no longer listed on road maps or gazetteers. In 1927, the family moved to Lubbock County in West Texas, where Paden later graduated from Idalou High School. In 1947, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Abilene Christian University in Abilene in Taylor County, Texas.[4]


Paden delivered his first sermon in Hawley in Jones County, also in West Texas.[4] In 1949, he joined a missionary team to Italy, which he declared "sorely in need of material and spiritual help." There, he ran into much opposition from the police and the Italian government in his effort to establish in Rome the Church of Christ, which at the time had some 700,000 members in the United States.[5] At one point, the government ordered Paden and his brother, Gerald S. Paden (August 17, 1924 – July 20, 2015), 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 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:

Older Protestant churches in Italy, which have complied with the registration laws, have not had any trouble.

Said the Reverend Emanuele Shaffi, a Methodist and the 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 businesses 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 United States State Department released a letter stating that "No Americans are being denied the right to worship in Italy."[6]

In 1957, Paden went on a missionary journey to Denmark.[4][7] Though he spent five years with the Danes, no sustaining Church of Christ work could be established there.

Sunset International Bible Institute[edit]

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. Originally called the Latin American Bible School,[8] Sunset expanded over the years. In 1973, Sunset established an Adventures in Missions program for college students.[9] In 1977, a deaf program was added.[8] Paden served as the executive director, equivalent of president, of the school until 1993, when he chose Truitt Ellis Adair (born December 28, 1944) as his successor. He remained as chancellor until 2006.[4] Over the decades, Paden helped to establish other seminaries, including the Mid-South Bible Institute in Glasgow, Kentucky.

Paden was also an elder at the Sunset Church of Christ, 3723 34th Street in Lubbock for more than thirty years. As a result of his missionary background, Paden stressed global evangelism.[4] He urged Christians to shun debt and practice proper financial stewardship according to biblical standards. "[We need] a strong warning for those headed for fiscal disaster and yet ... hope ...for those who had already given up hope of ever breathing another breath of debt-free air."[10] 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 aroused controversy when he wrote the introduction to a 1995 book by Terry Rush entitled 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 makes Jesus divine, a reference to the biblical line: "The Word became flesh."[11]

Family, death, and legacy[edit]

Besides Patsy and Gerald, Paden's other siblings were Mildred, Ivan, and Harold Oscar Paden, Sr. (July 22, 1922 – March 29, 2001), a United States Army private who received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart during World War II. He was a minister in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Harold Paden is interred at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in the capital city of Santa Fe, New Mexico.[12]

Cline Paden died at his home in Lubbock after a lengthy fight with Parkinson's disease. Earlier in 2007, he had also been diagnosed with the beginning stage of Alzheimer's disease. He was survived by his wife of nearly fifty years, the former Jo Iris Cathey (December 28, 1926 – August 19, 2014);[13] 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, Texas; brother, Gerald Paden of Lubbock; two sisters, Geraldine "Jeri" Fox (twin sister of Gerald Paden) of Oceanside, California, and Patsy Whitson, and nine grandchildren.[4]

Like his brother Cline, Gerald Paden graduated from Idalou High School and Abilene Christian College. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1943 and served aboard the aircraft carrier, the USS Shipley Bay (CVE-85). Honorably discharged in 1946, he wed the former Bobbie Rhea, who became a vital part of his ministry in the Church of Christ in West Texas at Meadow in Terry County (1951-1953) and New Home in Lynn County (1960-1963). In 1953, he followed his brothers Cline and Harold into overseas mission work in Rome and Pisa, Italy. Self-taught in the Italian language and with his knowledge of Scripture, research, and publications, he became a sought-after lecturer in Italy and in other European cities. Upon his return to Lubbock in 1971, Gerald Paden joined the faculty of Sunset International Bible School, already in its ninth year of instruction since its establishment by his brother.[3]

Graves of Cline and Jo Iris Cathey Paden at Resthaven Memorial Park in Lubbock

Cline Paden's services were held in Lubbock on May 30, 2007, at the Sunset Church of Christ, and interment followed at Resthaven Memorial Park.[4]

Paden's life work was recognized by honorary doctoral degrees from five universities including his alma mater, Abilene Christian: Lipscomb University of Nashville, Tennessee, Harding University of Searcy, Arkansas, Lubbock Christian University, and Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.[4] In 1969, Paden was named one of the first "Distinguished Alumni" of Abilene Christian University.[14]

Paden was referred to as "The Gray Eagle", presumably for his keen vision and wisdom. Truman Scott, a Sunset administrator, penned a 2000 biography of Paden entitled The Gray Eagle, in which Scott documents Paden's impact on many people, particularly young ministers and missionaries whom he trained over the decades.[15]


  1. ^ "Satellite schools". Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  2. ^ "search for "Lona Paden"". Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Gerald Paden". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Cline Rex Paden". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. May 28, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Religion: Beachead". Time magazine. January 23, 1950. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Religion: Missionaries in Rome". Time. September 29, 1952. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  7. ^ ""They Shall All Be Taught of God": Center for Restoration Studies". 1956. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Sunset International Bible Institute: Our History". Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Life in Lubbock". Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  10. ^ Steve Diggs. "What Christian Leaders Are Saying: Cline Paden". Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  11. ^ Tommy H. Hicks. "Sunset School of Preaching and Terry Rush: When Cline Paden, Richard Rogers, and Ted Stewart endorsed Terry Rush's book, The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense, they endorsed Rush's false doctrines of: "Christ was only a man" (Adoptionism), "Direction Operation of the Holy Spirit," "Divine Illumination of the Scriptures," and "Law verses Spirit." Doctrinally sound men do not endorse false doctrines!". Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Harold Oscar Paden, Sr.". Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Jo C. Paden". Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Distinguished Alumni Citation". 1969. Archived from the original on July 22, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  15. ^ Truman Scott (September 5, 2000). The Gray Eagle. Lubbock, Texas: Sunset Institute Press. ISBN 9780976869870. Retrieved July 21, 2015.