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The Elephant in the Room — 279 Comments

  1. There is a great deal of confusion today as to woman's role both in the home and in the church. This uncertainty provides a good opportunity to study afresh what the Bible teaches on the subject. As the church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), it is most important that the church reflect Biblical truth about woman's role.
    A good place to begin a study of woman's role in the church is with the earthly ministry of Jesus. We understand, of course, the church did not begin while Jesus was on earth (Matthew 16:18), but after he ascended into Heaven (Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-4). Nevertheless, we can learn something about women's role in the church by studying how Jesus considered them during his earthly ministry.

    We know that none of the apostles were women (Matt. 10:2-4). However, some of Jesus' closest disciples were women. Luke 8:2-3 mentions Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and "many others" who helped provide financial support for Jesus and the apostles as they went about preaching. Later, when the apostles fled the crucifixion scene in fear, certain faithful and sorrowing women remained to watch his death on the cross (Matt. 27:55-56).

    From these and other references in the Gospels we learn that Jesus in no way dealt with women as being inferior to men as far as being his disciples was concerned. In selecting men rather than women to be his apostles, he did make some distinction in the roles men and women should fill. These two basic principles, i.e., (1) equality of worth in Christ's sight, and (2) difference in role assignments for men and women, were clearly taught in the early church, and should, or course, be reflected in the church today.

    • "In selecting men rather than women to be his apostles, he (Jesus) did make some distinction in the roles men and women should fill."

      With respect, I would raise consideration of the possibility that this conclusion is not unequivocal. Was Jesus intentionally setting a precedent that He intended to be for all time and all contexts as is being suggested?

      Or, was Jesus perhaps working within the limitations of the time and context that was in existence because that was the most that could viably be achieved?

      Do we have Biblical examples where contextual factors modified what God's wider intention was? Just a couple of examples that come to mind are Matt 19:3-8 and God's allowance of Satan to inflict Job and his household. There are many more.

      • Hi Phil & Josiah, I agree with Phil, Jesus even said "I have many things to tell you but you cannot bear them now"

        It is very possible that the current status of women in Jesus day was so low and the fact that the pagans worshiped goddess and priestess meant that at that stage it would negatively affect his mission to appoint a woman as an apostle. However we do see by his actions he was constantly raising the status of women even saying that Mary's place was at His feet (that of a disciple) and not in the kitchen.

        In addition we have the example of Paul in regard to slaves, he didn't preach against the system of slaves, he even sent one back to his master, but he did encouraged the slaves and masters to have a kinder relationship, but he still said "Slaves obey your master", however now days we don't believe there should be slaves anymore. So the Bible shows there are changes on how people interact.

        In Israel's history the pagans worshiped Ashtaroth who they called (the Queen of Heaven) and many of the Israelites followed them. Also in Paul's time many people worshiped Dianna in Ephesus.
        Jdg 2:11  And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: 
        Jdg 2:12  And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. 
        Jdg 2:13  And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.

        Act 19:35  And when the town clerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 

        • If Jesus had taught anything according to the customs of His day, He would have taught very little compared to what He did teach. Keep in mind, He was nailed to a cross for His "radical" teachings, and the apostles also suffered for their faith and practice. Jesus would never allow the customs of a fallen race to turn Him from His path of revealing the "good, acceptable and perfect will of God" to those lost in sin. If women were to be ordained in the roles God has given to men, Jesus would have taught it. As it stands, the word of God has nothing for us to follow on this. We are forbidden to add to His word under severe penalty.

          Again, this is not about equality, but about the will of God which He does not need to justify to our wayward thinking. We need only to "observe all things [He] has commanded us", and nothing else. Unbelief has seized the hearts of many.

          • “If women were to be ordained in the roles God has given to men, Jesus would have taught it.“

            Not necessarily.

            “I have many more things to say to you but you cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12).

            “Jesus replied, "Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.” (Matt 19:8).

            Humanities capacity to hear limits how much God is able to teach. I would propose that God has laid out all key PRINCIPLES in scripture, but not all specific applications of these principles to specific contexts.

            That is why the need for the admonition of 2 Tim 2:15 - which is to be done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of course (as per Jn 16:13 etc).

          • Phil, you have made an assumption only haven't you? How are we to "prove that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God"(Rom 12:2) if He has been bound to teach an earthly standard because of the customs of this world? Just think about your reasoning here and try to realize we do have the "good, acceptable and perfect will of God" revealed in His Word. This is our only rule to follow, not the assumptions of men.

            Beware of where you would lead others.

          • Hi Robert. Thank you for calling me to accountability. I take very seriously that what I say may influence others and put in considerable effort to consider my reasoning behind everything I say or don’t say.

            If you believe I have made an invalid assumption underpinning my resultant statement in paragraph 5 of my comment, please provide me with specific evidence that demonstrates how that assumption is invalid - and what a more valid assumption and resultant position would be - so I can go and research it.

          • But the bible is also silent about ordination of either man or woman pastor. It talks about an elder or bishop ordination. I searched the whole bible and I found that the word pastor fall among spiritual gifts bestowed upon either man or woman according to our calling. Ephesians 4v11. Therefore this ordination thing is a non starter. People should use their talents freely as given by God. Who are we to judge and block others? Even if we may block, Jesus said he will use stones and bricks instead. So honestly, would we rather have God use stones, when there could be men and women who have pastoral spiritual gifts out there?

          • Liz, you make a good point, however over time people have come to call Pastors those the Bible calls Elders or Overseers. If we read Titus 1:9 Elders are to keep order and maintain sound doctrine which what our Pastors do. However those who are anti WO can't use these passages because the GC has already approved ordination of women as Elders.

      • Phil, I would like to point out a simple truth, and ask a question for you and all to consider.

        Jesus has commanded to the church to: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:".

        Since the fall, has there been a command from God to place any woman in a role which from the beginning, God has only assigned to men?

        • Robert, how about Deborah, Hanniah, Ellen,
          Jesus appointed Mary a place at his feet, that of a disciple, not in the kitchen. eg Paul studied at the feet of Gemaial

          • Shirley, I understand your reason for sharing the names of these Godly women, yet not one of them was called to serve as a priest or pastor. While One body, the church has many parts that are needed for the body to work.

            I would add that Ellen was called after two men refused to accept the call. So, as H.M.S. Richards was reported to have said when asked what HE thought of women's ordination: "I think it's a GREAT idea, as soon as we run out of men". He knew what scripture tells us.

            The objection to this move is not against women, but out of the fear of the Lord who has not lead us that way yet. I would be the first to vote "YES!" if God would lead us to that position.

            Do we know His will(Eph 5:17), and do we trust Him, no matter what? This alone is the real issue here.

          • Rober, you wrote,

            the fear of the Lord who has not lead us that way yet.

            That's precisely what the discussion is about. You and others say that the Lord has not led us that way yet. Many others say that the Lord has clearly led that way, citing as evidence the number of successful female evangelists and pastors in China, as well as some in other places of the world. To those who feel God has led that way, it seems much like the issue at the Jerusalem Council (see Acts 15) where there was no clear scriptural basis for abandoning circumcision, but Peter argued that the Holy Spirit had led the way by falling on Gentiles just as well as the Jews.

            I think we need to be careful to claim that *we* understand God's leading while those who do not agree with us do *not* understand God's leading.

            You mention to Shirley that none of the women in the Bible were called to the office of priest or pastor, but there is no precedent for ordaining "pastors" in the Bible, only elders. (I trust you know that our church has ordained female elders for nearly 30 years, based on considerable study over the years and confirmed by a General Conference vote.)

            And surely we all understand that a pastoral role is not equivalent to the Old-Testament priesthood, since we recognize only Christ as the Intercessor between God and His people. Equating pastors with priests would appear to lead us straight into Roman Catholicism.

        • “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”.

          If we take this literally, then each year at tax time we should be out fishing:

          “"But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." (Matt 17:27).

          In response to consideration of your question Robert...

          Jesus taught His followers principles that they would need to learn to apply under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The specific application of these principles depends upon and therefore varies in accordance with contextual factors. This is why discernment is needed in applying scripture (2 Tim 2:15).

          I second the examples of females who were used of God that Shirley de Beer mentions.

        • Robert, you asked,

          Since the fall, has there been a command from God to place any woman in a role which from the beginning, God has only assigned to men?

          That makes me wonder which role you believe God "assigned only to men" "from the beginning." Could you please clarify?

          I see God appointing Adam and Eve co-regents of this planet "from the beginning." I don't see God assigning a role only to Adam. What am I missing? Would appreciate clarification.

          • Inge, I believe I gave reply to this, but don't see it included here.

            I know you have studied the Old Testament, and are familiar with Genesis 3 all everything that follows. You'll find the answer to your question there. You will also find it continued in the New Testament in the record of the church and it's administration. So why answer as if you don't know what I mean?

        • Robert, the answer is NO! There is neither precept nor example that can be found in the Bible for WO. This is why you have people making stuff up.

          WO is a bit like the theory of evolution. Because they have no evidence they resort to conjecture, speculation and imagination.

          Honestly, after all the exhaustive and conclusive Bible studies and having done the rounds at so many GC sessions, and after having been voted down so many times, it beggars belief that people are still trying to foist this rebellion upon the Church!

          People do not realise that WO is a test and a precursor to the final test which is the Sunday Law and that failing this initial test guarantee failure of the final test.

          "None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict." - GC88 593.2

          The acceptance of anything you cannot support from Scripture suggests your defence has been breached. In cricketing parlance, you have been clean bowled and lost your wicket!!!

          • I have to ask, where does it say in the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy that Women's Ordination is a test and precursor to the final test, the Sunday Law?

          • There is also no proof in the Bible for mens ordination.
            “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”
            ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:19‬ ‭KJV‬‬
            this text is called the great commission not the great ordination

          • John, clean bowled...wicket? Perhaps a British thing? 😉
            We'd call it "striking out" on this side of the pond. But same idea, yes?

            Maurice, Bible doesn't need to say "WO is a test...", but a prayerful study of scripture tells us that to go in advance of God's leading is presumption, and a failure of faith. So it stands to reason that each step in the wrong direction will most likely lead to acceptance of the mark of the beast. This is a gradual process of conforming to the way of the world, which is unbelief in the Word of God, and thus a departure from His will.

            Every choice you and I make is a "test" of faith(not talking about "which shirt should I wear today?", but yes, it could include that), and this testing will include what we serve at our table, to what we preach from the pulpit, and every daily choice that either denies or reflects perfectly, Jesus, who in answer to Satan, said that " Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

            So where is the "word" to move in this direction? Most of us(so far) cannot find it and are afraid to turn away from following where the Lamb of God is leading us(Rev 14:4).

            • I really cannot see any rebuke for recognizing that women can be called to preach the Word of God. In fact, if we are looking for precedent, when Jesus was on his journey to Jerusalem and his disciples (many more than the 12 apostles) were praising him along the way, the Pharisees took umbrage and ask Jesus to rebuke them. Jesus replied.

              And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

          • “...clearly a misapplication of scripture on this topic”.

            This is an assertion. Please provide evidence validating this strong claim so we (readers) can weigh it up.

            Thank you.

        • This is called loading the dice. Before you throw it, you add weight to one side to assure a predictable outcome. In Genesis One, both male and female we were assigned the image of God, so your search for " a command from God to place any woman in a role which from the beginning, God has only assigned to men?" is a false start. From BEFORE THE FALL, men and women were assigned equally the status of image bearers. So, let me ask, at what point did God un-assign women from this role? Answer: at no point. As this was the highest and best role assigned at Creation, then maybe you might reconsider your question. Unload the dice and deal with the biblical facts first.

          • Isn't it ironic asking where in the SOP or Bible for WO being a test yet ignoring the fact that the Bible positively forbids women in leadership positions anywhere in the Bible? It isn't WO per se that is the test but rather it is truth.

            WO like any falsehood that is used to attack the church is always a TEST. It doesn't have to be named specifically it only has to be an error. When members accept a falsehood they obviously fail and if they fail a lesser test then obviously they will also fail the greater. Luk_16:10  "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much"

            WO is no different from Sunday worship in the sense that there is not a single word if the Bible to support either. They are both a lie and there are no good lies!

          • Jordan, you wrote: "So, let me ask, at what point did God un-assign women from this role? Answer: at no point."

            Have you consulted the Word of God on this question? Do you wish to have an answer from Scripture for your question of "at what point...?"?

            If so, start reading at Genesis 3, and read to the last chapter in the Revelation to find your answer. You will find it quickly and often if open to it.

            May God bless your desire to know and follow His will as revealed in His Holy Word, which man must live by if he would enter into eternal life through faith.

      • I have to agree with Phil here, Time and context needs to be considered in many decisions we make today.

        We seem sometimes tend to shelve the thought that the Bible has had women like Deborah who God allowed to lead Israel to battle and won (as much as Barak who was to lead this battle) and that the role of many women in the Bible was really not secondary but complimentary.

        I stand to be corrected, but I feel that the setting aside of women in the Bible was more a customary matter than a religious issue.

        I agree with Maurice's article, we need to think deep into how we shall approach this matter.

      • What we have within the confines of Scripture is a clear definitive statement re roles in the church. True we are ALL equal at the foot of the cross. We ALL need to be born again BUT God is indeed a God of order and He has made that clear through HIS Apostle Paul. This clarity if found in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and in Titus

        Qualifications for Overseers

        1Timothy 3:1-13  This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3  Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4  One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 
        1Ti 3:6  Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 

        Qualifications for Deacons

        1Timothy 3:8  Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9  Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10  And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11  Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12  Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13  For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 

        Qualifications for Elders

        Titus 1:5-9  For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6  If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7  For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8  But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9  Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 

        The words translated "bishop" in the King James comes from the following Greek word:

        Thayers Greek Dictionary:G1984
        Thayer Definition:
        1) investigation, inspection, visitation
        1a) that act by which God looks into and searches out the ways, deeds character, of men, in order to adjudge them their lot accordingly, whether joyous or sad
        1b) oversight
        1b1) overseership, office, charge, the office of an elder
        1b2) the overseer or presiding officers of a Christian church

        Based upon those verses and the definition of the word God clearly made it clear a man, the HUSBAND of one wife has been established to be the overseer (pastor), bishop, elder. NOT because men are better. I am sure in some cases there are women who would do a better job BUT God has other lines of work for women than a pastor, elder, overseer of a church.

        • All of this should be seen in a cultural background where a married woman was essentially seen as the property of her husband. Women were segregated from men in the Synagogue, divorce could only be initiated by the husband, and widows were often ostracised by society, they could not own property, had no voice on public issues, and were essentially kept in the background in public. Jesus initiated reforms to change this thinking. (His comments or divorce were directed at men who could divorce their wives simply because they did not please them. )

          The big principle behind the quotes in the NT about the church officers was their moral uprightness, not their gender.

          • According to the Apostles letters to both Timothy and Titus gender did indeed have an impact on church officers! IF we decide cultural was the issue we can dismiss most of Scripture based upon "cultural" issues! Many in the Christian world use that excuse for dismissing the fourth commandment calling it "the Jewish Sabbath!"

            • I still maintain that the big picture on these epistles is about the character of the person, not the gender.

          • Exactly, I agree with Maurice....Remember when they asked Jesus about the divorce, Jesus said it was because of the hardness of the hearts that Moses issued a divorce certificate. But God's original plan was for man and woman to stay and work together. Likewise,in Jesus day, he was dealing with a hardened disease and they rejected him and crucified him. We have the Holy Spirit leading us into the truth and the SOP, why should we continue to be so hardened against each other? Men or women, why should we not support each other in using spiritual gifts bestowed upon us by God regardless of gender?

        • “...God is indeed a God of order and He has made that clear through HIS Apostle Paul...”

          Where, then, is the evidence that women who provide the role of oversight - where that oversight is in harmony with the characteristics outlined in the verses you reproduced - are, in doing so, fostering disorder?

          I would contend that any disorder that arises is due to those who themselves are motivated by a spirit that is other than the Holy Spirit (see Matt 16:21-23 as an example that this can and does occur).

          Although Ellen White was not ordained, it cannot be denied that she has had an ‘oversight role’ impact on the SDA church that would be matched in magnitude by few, if any, others.

          What we have in the verses you provided is a clear difinitive statement re roles as they were within the early New Testament church. Whether these were the divinely prescribed roles intended for all time and contexts is a question that requires much deeper study and consideration as per application of the 2 Tim 2:15 principle regarding “rightly dividing the Word of Truth”.

          • Mrs. White's role was that of a Prophetess even though she said it was even more than that! (Maybe an Apostle?) I personally am convinced she was/is the "Elijah" to come as stated by Christ.

            Now what Biblically was/is the role of a prophet? To speak for God! As did John the Baptist, Elijah and others! She was NOT put in a position of an Overseer/Bishop/Pastor or Elder of overseeing any individual Church, Union or Conference. While she certainly had the Words of the LORD for us she was again never an Overseer. Prophets of old were NEVER placed in such positions either!

            So now what? Do we pick and choose, cafeteria style what we want to believe? Thinking that was because of THEIR culture? Where do we draw the line? It makes sense to me to take a very PLAIN statement, statements re instructions from the LORD through His prophets of old then to speculate whether or not it is applicable today.

            • A primary question is whether we have interpreted the Bible correctly to arrive at our views. It seems to me that those who interpret the Bible literalistically, outside of historical context, do the most picking and choosing "cafeteria-style."

              I confess I find it a bit puzzling how it is possible to ascribe such authority to a *woman* like Ellen White, while arguing that women cannot be ordained as elders or pastors. Daniel, you mention "overseers." Who has more "oversight" than a prophet who rebukes kings (in OT) and General Conference presidents in the 19th and 20th century.

              Is overseeing the ordinary business of a local church of more import than overseeing a world church and its officers?

              I ask again: What does ordination signify to you?

          • Oversight means provision of watchful care (typical dictionary definition). Ellen White certainly provided that for individuals, sub groups and even to the entire organisation of the time. Attempting to do so even got her ‘exiled’ to Australia.

            Elijah had the same role. Prophets spoke to guide people - such guidance is part of providing watchful care.

            Do we pick and choose? Absolutely not.

            Do we need to apply Holy Spirit guided discernment in our study and application of scripture? According to 2 Tim 2:15, absolutely.

            In case you think I am applying a single text inappropriately, see also the entire article R & H July 12, 1898 - noting the final paragraph in that article as the climax of the points being laid out in the article.

          • Ellen White was ordained. She said she was ordained by God and did not need the ordination of man. "In the city of Portland the Lord ordained me as his messenger, and here my first labors were given to the cause of present truth." RH, May 18, 1911 par. 3
            She also said of Paul, "Paul did not depend upon man for his ordination. He had received from the Lord his commission and ordination." 6BC 1088.10

            • James this is why I was very reluctant to join the conversation. Real ordination for men and women is by God and not man. Ellen White was ordained by God as a prophet, not a pastor. Paul was ordained as an apostle and not a pastor. No one was ordained as a pastor in the Bible, and all callings must be ordained by God and not man. Anything else is a political game.

        • In reading scripture we find the term "men" "man" etc., used to mean human beings. Until this controversy over ordination became a "war" in Adventist circles, I thought those people who wanted to revise scripture to read in a more gender neutral way were making a very unnecessary demand.
          After all, I thought, everyone knows the word "man" when it is speaking of principles, includes all humans.

          I don't see it that way anymore.
          Too many have insisted that "man" means "male".

          In the past I would read the tenth commandment, "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife" and understand perfectly that it included the same principle to women, "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's husband".

          Thus in the same way, I would read -- a deacon (or deaconess) is to be faithful to ONE spouse.

          Let the deacons be grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so the women should be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12 Let the deacons be the spouse of one partner, ruling their children and their own houses well.

          Romans 16:1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a deacon of the church which is at Cenchrea.

          It shouldn't be an either/or situation.
          We NEED good, faithful, committed male and female leaders.

          • Not sure what translation you are using Ulrike but the Greek word in 1 Timothy 3:12 and Titus 1:6 does not mean "spouse" it means husband.

            G435 ἀνήρ anēr an'-ayr
            A primary word (compare G444); a man (properly as an individual male): - fellow, husband, man, sir

        • Hmm... Daniel points out that the Apostle Paul stated "Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife," (a similar requisite as that for "overseers"). Daniel justifiably concludes that overseers, and presumably deacons as well, must be male.

          Yet Paul commends a deacon by the name of Phoebe, a "sister."

          Does Paul understand his own counsel differently than many, including Daniel, do today?

          • In Romans 16:1 the KJV when speaking of Phebe Paul refers to her as a servant. THAT particular Greek word also has been translated deacon, minister, ministers. When read in their context we KNOW that Paul is NOT calling rulers of this world our pastors or deacons! (see Romans 13:4) Christ in Romans 15:8 is referred to "a minister of the circumcision" and we know Christ Himself said He came to serve!

            It is obvious when we read ALL the verses using the Greek word διάκονος diakonos dee-ak'-on-os in their context in can mean "one who runs errands, a waiter, teacher, a servant, minister." In attempting to understand what is meant in each case let us keep it IN its context NOT ignoring the rest of Scripture. God, through Paul made it clear in his letters to Timothy and Titus what the official roles are and who is to fulfill them in overseeing His Church!

          • To be "ordained" is to be set apart for a very specific purpose. In Phebe's case SHE was set apart to minister to OTHER women which could not with propriety be performed by men! It is dangerous to have men minister to the needs of women and the same with women. It is dangerous for them to minister to the needs of men! Any "appearance of evil" leads to gossip! It can also lead to more serious situations as - well I think you know what I mean.

            In the Church I attend the women do indeed minister to each other as describe in Scripture. Our pastor, when ministering to a woman never did so alone! Always would have his wife with him! There is always the danger of "affections" towards the one ministering to you becoming more than just "brotherly love."

            Whether we wish to admit it or not there is the doctrine of "headship." To deny it is to deny what Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus.

          • Daniel,

            You have hit the nail on the head: men should baptize men and women should baptise women. To do otherwise, might be viewed as impropriety, or even worse, especially in some cultures.

          • Daniel I want to tell you that I have really appreated your thoughts and comments regarding this topic. It seems that there is a lot of opposition to you in this forum but I know that I appreciate what you have to say.

            Just looking at scripture I can have to say that im slanted to believe that Men are to be in the role of ordained ministers and leading churches. But I can also see where there may be some ambiguity.

            What no one has mentioned which I feel like is very significant is that our world church has voted on this 3 times and each time the vote has been to no ordain women as pastors. I feel like to ignore decision of not just a couple people at the top of administration but to ignore 2,358 Adventist from all over the world is a sad and dangerous situation. In Ellen White Testimony's to the Church Volume 9 page 259 says this

            "I have often been instructed by the Lord that no man’s judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any other one man. Never should the mind of one man or the minds of a few men be regarded as sufficient in wisdom and power to control the work, and to say what plans should be followed. But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field, is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body."

          • Hi CDK.

            With regard to one mans opinion versus the many, this can be applied equally within a region or across the world. The GC has no place in ruling what is acceptable behaviour in a region, that is best decided regionally.

            The GC must decide on important issues, not this minor stuff.

          • Hey Ian,
            With your reasoning of that the GC has no business voting on such an issue like Woman's ordination and that it should be left up to a region, I fear that logic could be used for a lot of the votes that take place not just at the GC but maybe even at the Union level or even Conference level.

            What if we were to use your reasoning for where our tithe goes? Don't quote me on the percent's but I believe its around 80% of the tithe I give stays in my local conference, the remaining 20% goes to my union, and then they send a portion to the division and then a portion goes to the GC. Well what if my conference was doing an exciting evangelist series and we wanted to do everything we could to make it be a success and so my conference decides to just send 10% of the tithe given to the union instead of the 20%. There is nothing in scripture telling my conference how much to give to the union and Ellen White I don't believe says much about the specific amounts. But even if it was in scripture or EGW I could argue "well we have to take into consideration the culture of the time and ....." I admit that this is an imperfect example but I think you understand were im going.

            If we as an individual, a local church, a conference, a union and so on throw up our hands and say we don't have to listen to a governing body above us we quickly lose our effectiveness as a world wide church. We end up just being these fragmented groups just doing our own thing.

            What it comes down to is submission. And im not just talking about Women's ordination but to a lot of different disagreements within our world church. We have to be willing to set aside our own opions and believes on non doctrinal things.

            If you think about it this was Lucifer's primary problem in heaven. He was not willing to submit to a governing higher authority (being God). Conferences, Unions, and Divisions have also taken this same path by disregarding the leadership of the GC in Session.

          • I find it interesting that in Romans 16:2, Paul amplifies his commendation of Phebe with these words: "that you receive her in the Lord, as becomes saints, and that you may assist her in whatever business she has need of you. For she has been a helper of many, and of myself also." And that he entrusted her with delivery of his seminal letter to the Romans.

            Why would he send a woman to do a “man’s” job, especially to a church in the paternalistic Roman culture? Why would he have called her a “διάκονος” (minister) instead of “παῖς” (G3816) or “δοῦλος” (G1401)? Why would he feel the need to add to his commendation that the Roman church would “assist her in whatever business she has”?

            Was he making a “statement” to the Romans? Addressing bias or bigotry?

            I wonder how the (male) translators would have rendered διάκονος in Romans 16:1 if bearer of the Paul’s letter was a man instead of a woman? “Minister” or “servant”? The context makes "minister" the obvious choice.

            I wonder.

        • In Rom. 16:1, Phoebe is described as a servant of the Lord although the Greek word is 'diakonos' which can be translated as deacon. If Phoebe was a deacon or deaconess, how would one apply 1 Tim. 3:12 to Phoebe?

      • The idea that God respects human ideas on status of people is wrong. Just think to the man that was given the message that EGW accepted to give. He was a black man in the 1830s of our country, this was still 25 years before the end of the Civil War. God did not shy from using trying to use a black man before a woman accepted the call. So to say Jesus refused to have women as an apostle is not giving Jesus the credit He deserves. There are simply different roles for men and women.

      • I agree with Phil here. Jesus, operating within the Jewish male-dominated system, chose 12 male disciples, but also permitted many women to join. However, at the resurrection, the task of sharing the good news was given to the women at the tomb, and they were later joined by the men. So the Christian message turns things on its head. Women come first, and men can follow if they believe the women.

    • I disagree in the point that by choosing only men to be is close followers Jesus was making a distinction between the roles of men and women. I simply see it as a pragmatic decision. Imagine: even when he did not choose women to be part of his "inner circle", some have come out with some outrageous theories, such as considering Mary of Magdala to be Jesus' lover.
      Jesus' band of close followers would be spending time with Jesus alone in the wilderness, they would be sleeping - sometimes on the ground (camping out) in close proximity to each other... and Jesus wanted to avoid gossip and ill reputation the women that followed him and for the group as a whole,

    • I think Jesus selected his disciples based on the cultural context and the nature of work at hand. Jesus ministry involve a lot of travel by foot and late night ministry. Just imagine Jesus walking around with other persons' wives and daughters in the name of preaching the gospel until late at night. He had to be relevant to his target audience without treating women as inferior. Jesus' selection of men as disciples is not a good reason to stop the ordination of women. I think the opposition to women ordination is more cultural than spiritual.

    • Jesus was following the precepts of the culture in the time and place he was limited by his human nature. Yet Paul is clear that under God's eyes, there is neither Jew or Gentile male or female. Biologically male and female are different for procreation reasons. Ephesians 5 and 6 puts the man as head of the household, not to dominate and oppress wives and their children but to demonstrate Christ's character of self sacrifice and service.
      The Church needs to treat it's women in the same manner.

      • Laura makes a very valid point. Years ago a pastor from New York called me with a Bible Worker position proposition. He told me the church was interested in me because I was white. He said the church was not prejudiced at all against other races but the community was. So in spreading the gospel they had to be aware of the prejudices of the people they were trying to reach. I am sure Jesus had to do the same. I did not take the offer however, as I am used to living in cultures where all races are accepted and treated equally.

        • THank you for your response. I am glad you did not take the position and no one should have taken it with the demands of white only. If the Congregation is racist, then it is up to the leadership of the Church to condemn such behavior . In heaven there will be no such thing as racial, ethnic, political, wealth or gender divides. Church members are ambassadors of Christ and as such, should live by example walking as Jesus did with love, acceptance and kindness to all.

          • Laura, please let me clarify. The congregation was not prejudiced. The community was prejudiced, so they wanted a white worker who could work in a prejudiced community. I did not want to live in a prejudiced community though.

    • So I can understand your viewpoint/s better, I would invite those who believe women's ordination is against God's will to list what they believe will be the specific 'consequences' that would be unleashed if women's ordination were to go ahead.

      What do you fear/believe would inevitably happen?

      • What specific consequences would be unleashed if the church approved women to serve as ordained pastors? Probably the same consequences that have been unleashed on Sunday keepers, teachers of eternal torment, the immortal soul, eating unclean animals for food, etc.

        A day is coming when every soul will answer for their choices made when God's will has been revealed for all to know and follow. Until that day, the sun will rise and set, the seasons will change, and life will continue as it has until probation ends.

        God allowed access to a tree He forbid Adam and Eve to eat from, and today, YOU and I may choose to obey the Lord or not, with no apparent consequences either way. At least not yet.

        • "Probably the same consequences that have been unleashed on Sunday keepers, teachers of eternal torment, the immortal soul, eating unclean animals for food, etc."

          What are these consequences more specifically?

          • Look around you Phil. Do you see any consequences unleashed on the specific groups mentioned?

            God allows man a probation for his rebellion and hopeful return to accept God's sovereignty. So if the ordination of women as ministers/pastors over congregations, nothing would happen until the close of probation, if anything. God is merciful toward sinners as I expect you would agree, but has set a time when He will judge the world in righteousness according to His Standard, and the revelation of His will to all who are willing and able to know it for themselves.

            What answer were you expecting to your question?

            God's seeming indifference to our sinfulness is only the result of His reluctance that any should perish.

            However, in regard to your question on a different level, many would be very disappointed, while placing the matter in God's care. Many women are not ready to have a woman as their pastor in Christ's stead. So this is not the "men dominating women" issue many have made it out to be.
            I just pray the church will be faithful to the will of God on this matter.

          • "Many women are not ready to have a woman as their pastor in Christ's stead."

            If there are any women reading this who would say that the above statement is true for them, I would really appreciate if you would write more about your view so I could understand it better.

            Thanks in anticipation

      • Phil you wrote:

        So I can understand your viewpoint/s better, I would invite those who believe women's ordination is against God's will to list what they believe will be the specific 'consequences' that would be unleashed if women's ordination were to go ahead.

        What do you fear/believe would inevitably happen?

        My answer: What were the results we find in Scripture every time nation of Israel went contrary to God's established order, His ways, His Word? It wasn't good! Why? Because if it is NOT of God than it is of man/Satan! Christ was clear about the traditions of men and we know that Satan is the father of all lies! A lie in any form is dangerous and leads to more lies!!

        Also there is very effective military practice that works - it is called "divide and conquer." Obviously this issue is VERY divisive! It is Truth that sets us free and any attempt to mix truth with error is extremely dangerous! More so than obvious open error. The enemy of all souls for sure wants to divide us and he is using this issue to do just that.

    • What about the role of women in the resurrection? They were given the opportunity to announce the good news to the disciples and to the world. Upon hearing the news, Peter and the others men who had fled had to decide whether to believe the women or not. Today we have a residual problem, as many supposed Christians still do not believe the women!

  2. Let's take a long look at the picture of God we present to the world. We teach men and women are made in the image of God. We teach the priesthood of all believers. We teach that it takes the whole church to present a picture of God in the world ( 1Cor 12,1Pet 2). We teach that race, gender, slave or free are one in Christ. We teach the sovereignty of God. How can we say to God when He calls a woman to minister ”You can’t do that… It’s not Biblical…. Women are not equal". It presents a picture of God that misrepresents God and is offensive to people who are looking to find justice in our world.

    • In addition to the valid point you raise, I wanted to hilight the process you were illustrating.

      You have illustrates the vital need to:
      a) identify and consider the multiple principles that are frequently relevant to a concept from across the landscape of scripture, and
      b) observe the point/s at which these principles converge, in order to
      c) discern between conclusions that are consistent with this convergence from those which are inconsistent.

      And the point you also raise regarding the need to consider how the church is representing God to a world - where God has been so misrepresented - is also a very important one.

      • For Cheryll and Phil, have you found in God's word what God's will is on this issue? Has He addressed it at all? Being free and equal has nothing to do with God's will on anything specific which He has addressed, either by command or silence.

        If you don't know God's will on this specific matter, how could you learn to know it?

    • So I feel like there needs to be a distinction made between equality and the equal value of something. If I say two things are equal then really what Im saying is that the two things are interchangeable. If I say that two things have equal value then to me that means something different.
      I don't feel like that God created men and women equal (ie interchangeable), but I do believe that men and women have equal value in God's eyes.
      By continuing to focus on how men and women should be the same and be able to do the same things interchangeably, we lose sight of God's creative power and how He created men and women differently with different strengths and weaknesses.

      • Obviously men and women aren't "interchangeable," given their differing bodies, if nothing else. However, there are many roles both men and women can fill. A woman may perform the same role differently than a man, and that is not a bad thing. Especially in the body of Christ, we need the perspective of both men and women.

        At creation Adam and Eve were to be co-regents of this planet. Nothing is said about different "roles," though, clearly a man couldn't bear children. Gen 1:27-28. "Man" in this instance, is more accurately translated as "humans," since it included both Adam and Eve. And, by the way, the original word "Adam" also meant "human."

          • Indeed. But so what? That only put Eve in the same kind of role as God, who is frequently also called "etzer" or helper in the OT. In God's service, there is no inferiority of role or status in being a helper.

          • Hello Bothwell,

            Your comment of a “helper” gives the impression of someone who might make a task easier, but someone, nevertheless, that could be done without. The story (context) from which you take the verse clearly indicates that Adam was fully aware that something vital and crucial was missing from his life in the Garden, and that the lack of that essential element would prevent him from fully expressing the love of his Creator on this earth.

            Similarly, there is an essential element missing in the Body of Christ (that is, the Church) that is impeding the full expression of the love of the Saviour for this earth.

            That is the context in which this issue is framed.


          • What do you mean so what ? My one single point is this "Eve was Adams helper". That function/role cannot be taken by any one on earth or in Gods creation. She is the only one creature who can be helper. Adams children can decide to be Adams helper

            .. I never mentioned anything about being inferior or less important thus in reading into my one sentence you draw conclusions.

            I am putting one single view across that that "roles where there from day eden."

            I however disagree with puting Eve equal to God. When a verb or human emotion is used to describe God ( e.g Gen 6 God repents )the meaning changes. Man repentance is change of character.. Gods repentance is change of relationship.

          • Thanks Richard.

            To me the immediate literal context is that of God setting up family. In a family there is one and only one person who has the role of helper. No one can replace her, she can not hand over the role to another woman or to another family member she was "ordanied" as helper.

          • I find it a powerful and interesting thought that the first woman was ordained by God as an essential (even critical) element of the ministry that God gave mankind on this earth.

        • Hey Gary,
          I work in a hospital and during the day there are 2 emergency room doctors that see patients. Those doctors have an "equal purpose" meaning that they function the say and do the same thing. The only reason there is two of them there is because of the volume of patients.

          In contrast in the hospital we also have surgeons that do a variety of different OR procedures.

          Now what if I said the ER docs are going to switch with the surgeons and the ER docs will do surgery now and the surgeons will see ER patients.

          We would have a disaster because while yes both of them went to 4 years of med school and have a similar background their further training in residency and so on have given them a different purpose. No one would argue that ER doctors have more or less "value" then surgeons, but I think everyone can see they function very differently and thus have a different purpose.

  3. The memory text states in Christ there’s neither Jew or gentile bond nor male nor female accepted! Therefore should a female pastor baptized person who accepted Jesus do you think that these persons will enter heaven? Or will they be in one side of heaven and the persons the male pastors baptized be on the other side of heaven? Is it any wonder why Jesus had not yet returned because the preaching of the gospel is not yet gone to the ends of the earth. Should women not given the right tools to help finishing the work. So then for the male pastors who is so ganghoe in rushing to the television screens to preach here’s a good advice! Leave the pulpits and the aculades and head to the jungles of South America and the wasteland of Africa in the heartland of the country’s of the Middle East and preach. Leave the caring of the flocks to the women if you care so much about preaching!

    • Please be careful to always quote scripture in proper context. The memory text stated from Gal. 3:28 "there is neither Jew nor Greek... Male nor female," etc.
      Is referring to salvation and righteousness by faith in Christ being available to all. There is no inference there that applies to God's established order and purpose.
      See Eph 5:22-27,32,33;
      1Cor. 11:2,3;and Gen. 2:18.
      Let the word speak.

      • Creation order is the last created has dominion over first created, e.g. humans over animals. Humans were created in the image of the 3-in-1 Godhead who are all equal to each other, so male and female must be in a equal partnership, ezer knegdo means equal partner or even can mean a more important helper, Moses uses ezer to say God is our helper Ex 18:4, Deut 33:26. Only after sin did God put the husband as leader in the sexual relationship with his wife.
        Gal is shows that gospel restores relationships that had been perverted by people.

  4. It is important to notice the LORD's Progressive Revelation of His Plan of Salvation. He has His Principles of Life that do not change but how and when they are revealed depend on the understanding and maturity of His chosen people

    Possibly this is what Jesus meant when he said:
    Joh 16:12,13  I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.

    Deu 29:29  The secret things belong to Jehovah our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our sons forever, so that we may do all the words of this Law.

  5. women cannot be ordained as pastors

    (1 Cor 14:33-35)

    They should remain silent in the church.

    If the want to inquire about something, they should ask their husbands at home.

    It is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church.

    ( 1 Tim 2:11-12)

    They are not permitted to teach or to have authority over a man.

    They can only be saved through child bearing. 1 Tim 2:15.

    Is this true???

    • Excellent question Cyrus.

      Yes, it WAS true to the particular specific situation to which the authors were writing at that time. It was a particular application of wider principles to a specific, context-bound circumstance where there were unhealthy dynamics on many levels within the local church and the wider society/culture at large.

      No, it is NOT true as a PRINCIPLE to be applied to ALL situations and contexts at all times.

      Hence the vital need to study under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to “rightly divide/handle/use/apply” scripture (2 Tim 2:15)

      • So what are you suggesting Phil? Certain parts of Scripture are only applicable to specific time periods? Who is to determine what is or is not applicable to today? Is what we find in Scripture inspired by God or not? Does God change?

        We find ourselves on dangerous ground when we start to suggest what is plain and clear statements in Scripture to ONLY be applied to those in specific time periods.

        • Is it possible that we interpret Paul according to our own prejudices?

          Am also wondering whether you believe that only women who have children will be saved, seeing Paul seems to make that a requisite to women's salvation in 1 Tim 2:15.

        • Yes, Daniel, I am essentially saying that certain parts of scripture are only applicable to specific time periods when those parts of scripture are context-bound applications of wider principles. I didn’t make that up - I learnt that in first year theology classes.

          With respect to determining what is or is not applicable today, when it is in regard to a personal matter, each person must be fully persuaded in their own mind (Rom 14:5). When it is in regard to a corporate matter, it may be a Spirit-gifted leader (like Paul) or it may be a group decision like the Jerusalem council of Acts 15.

          Is what we find in scripture inspired by God? Yes - but your view of inspiration and mine may well be very different. For starters, scripture was not dictated word for word, was not written in English, contains a range of genres, and contains a lot of metaphors, symbolic representations and parables.

          Does God change? No. Does God change the way He reveals things in accordance with the developmental and contextual dynamics of those He is revealing himself to? Yes. Do people vary in regard to their capacity to understand God as a function of their developmental ‘level’ and other contextual factors? Yes.

          Why Paul’s charge to Timothy in 2 Tim 2:15? Because scripture needs to be rightly divided/interpreted. The disciples even had to learn how to understand Jesus teaching (see Matt 16:5-12 as one example).

          • So than who decides what IS applicable for us today? You? Me? Do we all get to choose for ourselves, doing what is right in our own eyes?

            As far as Romans 14:5 is concerned it is NOT dealing with a thus saith the LORD but the traditions of the Pharisees etc.! Many non-adventist point to that very verse for their justification not keeping the 7th day Sabbath! THAT is a perfect example of WHY it is extremely dangerous for any of us to attempt to decide what is indeed applicable for us today! Either we rely on the Word of God OR our own "feelings," opinions etc.

          • Thank you for your feedback that, each time, gets me to carefully re-examine what I have written. You don't know me, but the last thing I want to do is lead anyone astray, so I welcome the opportunity to check and double check what I write and the basis for that. I take very seriously that I am responsible for what I say.

            "So then who decides what IS applicable for us today? You? Me? Do we all get to choose for ourselves, doing what is right in our own eyes?"

            Yes, we each need to choose/decide for ourselves - in accordance with the principles laid out most explicitly and succinctly in 2 Tim 2:15 and Rom 14:4 - for example.

            'Doing what is right in our own eyes' (Judges 21:25) is what I would be doing if I were merely choosing based exclusively upon my own preferences/"feelings"/opinions, INDEPENDENTLY of the Bible. I have never advocated doing this. What I am advocating is bringing our reasoning to the table, under submission to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (as per Jn 16:13; 1 Cor 2:14), to rightly divide/handle/apply/discern etc the identification of biblically-based principles and their appropriate application to relevant contexts, situations, etc.

            Respectfully, I disagree with what you have said regarding Rom 14:5 being as narrow as only applying to the tradition of the Pharisees. Rom 14, the context for Rom 14:5, is dealing in detail with the topic of differences in faith development from one believer to another and makes the point that we are each accountable to God for our faith walk (v12) - which is why we each need to be fully persuaded in our own mind about what we accept and what we reject in our faith walk.

            What I have outlined above, and again here, is also consistent with what Ellen White outlines in Education pg 17 that "every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator—individuality, power to think and to do" and therefore that we are each, individually, to grow and develop our ability to be "thinkers and not mere reflectors of other men's thought". We cannot do this without learning how to choose for ourselves.

        • Hi Daniel.

          Re your comment "We find ourselves on dangerous ground when we start to suggest what is plain and clear statements in Scripture to ONLY be applied to those in specific time periods."

          I would with interest read your take on plain Biblical teaching on slavery. If we are to apply a fixed rule on women we must likewise apply it consistently everywhere. There are any number of items which we intelligently apply differently because of changed circumstances.

          If accepting women as my equals in all things without exception, I were thereby breaking the commandments or being unloving to God or man then it is a salvational matter and wrong. If not, then it is best decided in context.

          I believe women should be segregated, given subservient roles, not speak in church, and other such things in some places in the world today, with the hard line Muslim countries being most notable examples. To enforce the treatment of women as equals by Adventist members in those countries would negatively impact the view the Muslims have of Adventists, and I would thereby bring God's work into disrepute in the minds of the people.

          In the same context, the English speaking world is similarly impacted by *not* treating women as equals. By considering women incapable of any task or in any way inferior to me solely on the basis of gender brings God's work into disrepute there.

          For each time and place there is an appropriate way of dealing with gender bias.

          Choose that which will bring honour to our God, standing firm on what we habitually call pillars of our faith, but on those things that are not salvational, work within the environmental constraints.

          It would have been wrong to teach the Eskimo people not to eat Narwhal because it is an unclean animal, as it was their sole source of vitamin C, vital to life. Yes, in another environment and another time, it would be wrong. But Eskimos eating Narwhal is not a commandment, not a matter of love for God and man, it is not important, it is not salvational.

          I find the whole women's ordination thing fairly boring and quite the waste of effort. The sole attraction to this conversation being my desire to not see God being maligned in different regions simply because of environmental variations.

          God very clearly led the Adventist church to devolve these decisions down to a regional level, where each region can and should choose a different path as appropriate for their environment.

          Kind regards,


          • Scripture condemns FORCED slavery in which someone steals a person and sells them. (see Exodus 21:16)

            On the other hand Scripture does deal with slavery in which a person, because of extreme debt or other issues SELLS themselves into "slavery" for a certain period of time. Which according to Scripture is for seven years. There are guidelines on how they were to be treated AND at the end they were NOT to go out empty handed.

          • Hi Ian,

            Thank you for your explanation, I agree.

            As I've said before the 3-in-1 Godhead live by their Principles of Life and are progressively revealing them to human beings. The Principles do not change but how they apply in our daily life can vary. In the beginning God gave Moses the pattern for the tabernacle as an object lesson of the relationship between humans and the LORD. It was basic and designed so it could be packed up and carried with them on their journey. Then the LORD gave Solomon the pattern for the temple which was much bigger, more intricate and of course not movable. Then Jesus came to 'tabernacle' with us to tell and show us the relationship was based on self sacrificing love. In all three the LORD was fulfilling His covenant promise to "dwell with you", He was revealing His Principle but the application was different. We are looking forward to us dwelling with Him and seeing the heavenly sanctuary.

            So yes I agree we need to get to know the LORD and his Word, His Character, His Principles of Life and understand the Big Picture. We need to remember that Jesus said: I have many things to tell you but you can't bear them now, He sent the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. I believe Jesus showed the way by uplifting the downcast in society.

        • Yes, certain parts of scripture do not have universal application, and it is up to believing communities of faith to determine which is which. God does not change but his instructions for people sure do, and it is all equally inspired. Are requiring your male child to be circumcised? Are you forbidding the mixing of different materials in your clouting? I hope you get the point.

    • Cyrus, I6 think we live on the same continent where customs are different than in other parts of the world! Women are moving from the traditional role of house maid and child bearer to leaders in their countries. It's not so long ago... 150 years perhaps... That men and women sat on opposites sides of a church, almost like in Bible times when the women and children sat out of sight behind a screen in the synagogue. Just imagine how disrupting it would be for a woman to shout a question under those circumstances. Hence Paul's advice for women to keep silent... Ask their husband's at home... He can get an answer on behalf of his wife at the next Sabbath meeting. Women have been given the most honorable role on earth - the bearing children and the responsibility of raising them to become good citizens of earth and heaven. Paul remained single so that he could be free to spend all his energy on spreading the gospel. If women want to do a man's job then they should remain single and not have children. There are a multitude of tasks a woman can do to serve the Lord besides pastoring ... being a good pastor's wife and fellow counselor is just one! However - being a stay at home mother is a woman's God top priority.... And the church should pay all pastors' wives a salary as associate pastor. A pastor should never have to have his reputation compromised by having to counsel the women and youth in his parish without his wife present! How can a woman pastor counsel the men in her congregations (as in Africa) where congregations have to share pastors.?

    • Mr. Cyrus Mwangi,
      One could approach the texts you've listed in more than one way. I will simply respond to your last statement that "they can only be saved through childbearing" and answer your question - no this is not true. Acts 15:11 "On the contrary! We believe that we are saved in the same way they are—through the grace of our Lord Jesus.”

    • Good question, Cyrus.

      If we are going to interpret texts literally, as applicable today, they should all have the same value, should they not?

      So, does that mean that childless women cannot be saved?

      For those who disagree with that thought, why make a difference between that text and the others?

    • Checking the original greek word for "silent"..it does not mean speachless. Also means "to be still"


  6. Maurice, I would like to point out that the unfair wages given to women doing the same work as men has nothing to do with the question of ordaining women as either priest, king, apostle, or pastor.

    The unequal treatment for the same work is the result of being in a sinful world and the church erred in promoting this inequality. The role of women in any position that the entire word of God has only given to men is not up for discussion, except that we decide our wisdom is above the wisdom of God. There would be no such question entertained if we lived only by every word that proceeds from God. It's not about equality in this case, it's about God's will, which He does not have to explain to us. We need only to exercise faith and follow His commands(Matt 28:20).

      • You err in placing the two issues in the same basket Maurice. We need only follow the revealed will of God without adding to it. Ordination is not about recognition.

        I invite you to share any scripture we can all follow to support your view on this specific issue. We don't really need the sentiments of the world to be our guide when God has given us His Word and His Son as the faithful path to follow.

        • My comment is an observation of what happens in church administrative thinking. Using ordination to construct a remuneration difference is not biblical.

          • We both agree that the church has and can make mistakes. This is not new, as many of the testimonies reveal.

            We can each study to show ourselves approved unto God, then work in any proper way possible when something is wrong.

    • Robert; have you considered that an apostle is one sent of God to do a specific task. In example to proclaim the risen Lord. The first apostle after the resurrection of Jesus that Jesus sent was Mary Magdalene. He waited specifically for her, Not the other disciples. She is truly the first apostle by him after his resurrection… Royce

    • “The role of women in any position that the entire word of God has only given to men is not up for discussion, except that we decide our wisdom is above the wisdom of God.”

      Which position/s has the entire Word of God said a woman must never hold?

      “... it’s about God’s will which He does not have to explain to us.” God does not have to, but He chooses to because He desires that we would understand Him as best we can at any given point in time and that we grow in our understanding across time.

  7. The issue about women ordination is not biblical and Adventists are unique to their calling, those who will teach and influence the church in the wrong direction will receive Gods punishment. A man is a priest in the home and at church, those roles are not interchangeable. God is not an author of confusion. A man's role signifies Christ's role, a woman's on the other hand signifies the church. Can the church tell Christ what to do?. If not, how can women teach their priests spiritual things!. God made it distinct, let us remember its not about us, it's all about salvation, Christ and the church.

    • Before discussing whether or not ordaining *women* is biblical, perhaps we should discuss the significance of "ordination."

      What does "ordination" mean to you? What difference does it make for the person ordained and for the church?

      • I agree with Inge, we should first study the bible to see what spiritual gifts are given to people by the Holy Spirit.

        I believe that "ordination" is the recognizing by the church of Spiritual Gifts, it does not confer any additional gifts.

        It is clear that it is the Holy Spirit that decides which gifts to give to whom. Paul said there was no difference between female and male Christians they have all put on Christ. Peter under inspiration quoted Joel who clearly includes women in sharing the gospel in the last days.

        Eph 4:11 And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
        Eph 4:12 for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
        Eph 4:13 And this until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
        Gal 3:26  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 
        Gal 3:27  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
        Gal 3:28  There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is no male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 

        Act 2:16  But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: 
        Act 2:17  "And it shall be in the last days, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 
        Act 2:18  And in those days I will pour out My Spirit upon My slaves and My slave women, and they shall prophesy. 

    • Livingston John.

      Looking at the incidence of domestic violence and sexual abuse within the Adventist church, there are a lot of men that have a lot to learn about being a ‘priest’ in their family.

      Such men would do well to learn spiritual things from women that would stop their abusing.

      You are my brother in Christ. But I respectfully disagree with much of what you have said. However, I do agree and fully accept the responsibility for what I teach. And I do agree that God is not the author of confusion.

      • Few men in this sinful world understand their accountability to God and their responsibility to their wife and children, yet does this sad fact change the will of God?

    • Livingstone,

      You may want to consider these words of Christ: Matthew 16:19. The context is the revelation of Christ to the world, which even females, as believers, have as a calling and confession.


    • Livingstone, you said, "A man is a priest in the home and at church, those roles are not interchangeable." Seventh-day Adventists teach that the (high) priesthood and sacrifices of the Tabernacle services are types, or illustrations of the actual ministry of Christ. I agree that Scripture holds no instruction authorizing any female as a priest within the Tabernacle's services, but neither did it authorize all males in the service of the priesthood either.

      You also said, "A man's role signifies Christ's role, a woman's on the other hand signifies the church." While the priesthood has been assigned in type to human males, no human was ever assigned in type the role of the sacrifice. Leviticus 4 assigns those roles only to various animals, specific to the sin offering. There are four offering types described within that chapter, priestly sins of ignorance (Lev 4:3-4), congregational sins of ignorance (Lev 4:13-14), leadership sins of ignorance (Lev 4:22-23) and individual sins of ignorance (Lev 4:27-28). Keeping in mind that the sin offering is typical of Christ (Lev 6:25; 1 Pt 3:18), what, if anything, do you think Scripture might be teaching by being silent on gender for the first two sacrifices (Lev 4:3,14) but specifying one male (Lev 4:23) and the other female (Lev 4:28,32) in the next two?

      • "While the priesthood has been assigned in type to human males, no human was ever assigned in type the role of the sacrifice."

        One could perhaps argue that this is true under the Old Testament covenant. However, the New Testament covenant has every believer (regardless of gender) in type being a priest within the royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9) and a living sacrifice (Rom 12:2; Lk 9:23; Jn 15:12,13 etc).

  8. I am reminded of the story of Ellen White who in the 1890s was sent to Australia because she became an embarrassment to the General Conference. In those days it took about 3 months for a letter to go between Australia and the USA. While in Australia she became acutely aware of the fact that women workers were treated differently to men.

    She had this to say:

    There are ministers’ wives—Sisters Starr, Haskell, Wilson, and Robinson—who have been devoted, earnest, whole-souled workers, giving Bible readings and praying with families, helping along by personal efforts just as successfully as their husbands. These women give their whole time, and are told that they receive nothing for their labors because their husbands receive wages. I tell them to go forward and all such decisions will be revised. The Word says, “The labourer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7). When any such decision as this is made, I will in the name of the Lord, protest. I will feel it my duty to create a fund from my tithe money to pay these women who are accomplishing just as essential work as the ministers are doing, and this tithe I will reserve for work in the same line as that of the ministers, hunting for souls, fishing for souls. I know that the faithful women should be paid wages as it is considered proportionate to the pay received by ministers. They carry the burden of souls and should not be treated unjustly. These sisters are giving their time to educating those newly come to the faith and hire their own work done and pay those who work for them. All these things must be adjusted and set in order and justice be done to all. Proof-readers in the office receive their wages; those who are working at housework receive their wages, two dollars-and-a-half and three dollars a week. This I have had to pay and others have to pay. But ministers’ wives, who carry a tremendous responsibility, devoting their entire time, have nothing for their labor. {12MR 160.2}
    This will give you an idea of how matters are in this conference. There are seventy-five souls organized into a church, who are paying their tithe into the conference, and as a saving plan it has been deemed essential to let these poor souls labor for nothing. But this does not trouble me, for I will not allow it to go thus.—Letter 137, 1898, pp. 1, 9, 10. (To Brethren Irwin, Evans, Smith, and Jones, April 21, 1898.)

    In the same document she says this:

    Ministers’ Wives Who Do Bible Work Should Be Paid a Salary—A house has been hired for the ministers and their wives and those whom they are educating to give Bible studies from house to house. The people are invited to ask their friends and neighbors to these meetings, and opportunity is given for them to ask questions on the lessons given. These are occasions of deep interest. I have great confidence in this method of labor. The workers who are hunting and fishing for the souls of men and women labor hard from morning till night. Often their appointments are not over till ten o’clock. {12MR 162.3}
    Work has now been begun in Wallsend, a suburb of Newcastle, ten miles from Newcastle, and in Maitland, a town twenty miles from Newcastle. This is a large field, and we shall employ workers who will give their whole time to the work. Elder Haskell and his wife are now laboring in Newcastle. They have tact and skill and teach the truth both in public and from house to house. There will be other ministers there besides Elder Haskell and the Bible readers. No less than twelve workers are needed in this place, for it is a large field.

    Now it impinges on my own family history. My wife was born in Wallsend and grew up in Maitland. Ellen White's appeals for better treatment and recognition of women who were working, spreading the Gospel was made while she herself was working in our area. My wife's family came into the church during this time.

    My observation is this: Ellen White saw fit to go against church policy when she saw in injustice. She adapted to the needs of the modern world.

    • If the Church followed this inspired counsel there would have been no need for a court case. The prophet was not adapting to the modern world, she was upholding a Biblical principle - the labourer is worthy of his hire. Adam and Eve were both fed in Eden, but Adam was the head of his home. Notice she refers to ministers and their wives, not ministers and their husbands.
      If women want to minister, then just find someone to minister to and get on with it. Why do women seek ordination? Men don’t have to be ordained to be labourers together with God, so why are women seeking ordination? If it’s really about equal pay, then ask for equal pay from the Church in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s counsel quoted above; don’t ask for the Holy Spirit to ordain you when He has already shown that the males are to be the spiritual heads of His church family.
      Eve got into big trouble when she sought a higher position than she was given. The prophet speaks of “restless modern Eves...”

      • Penny, if "men don't have to be ordained to be laborers" (and I agree, by the way), why are they ordained?

        What does ordination mean in the current church context?

        And do you know where the practice of "ordination" (rather than the "laying on of hands") originated?

        I am asking these questions in all seriousness because I think that if we understand the basis and meaning of the terms we are using, we have a way forward to understanding biblical truth and each others.

        But I am concerned by your statement that "males are to be the spiritual heads of His church family." I understand that Christ is the spiritual head of the church family. See Eph 5:23. What makes you think otherwise? (What would you call anyone who tries to take on the role of Christ in the church?)

        • Dear Inge,
          Good questions. I’m sorry I didn’t make my comments clearer. The following two passages from Acts of the Apostles, (which was written to guide the remnant Church) clarify how I understand “ordination” and what the difference is between an “ordained minister” and the “consecrated laymen” or laywomen.
          (I have shortened it down to save space but the whole section is worth reading.)

          “The cause of God in the earth today is in need of living representatives of Bible truth. The ordained ministers alone are not equal to the task of warning the great cities. God is calling not only upon ministers, but also upon physicians, nurses, colporteurs, Bible workers, and other consecrated laymen of varied talent who have a knowledge of the word of God and who know the power of His grace, to consider the needs of the unwarned cities. AA 158.3

          “God had abundantly blessed the labors of Paul and Barnabas during the year they remained with the believers in Antioch. But neither of them had as yet been formally ordained to the gospel ministry”........
          “Before being sent forth as missionaries to the heathen world, these apostles were solemnly dedicated to God by fasting and prayer and the laying on of hands. Thus they were authorized by the church, not only to teach the truth, but to perform the rite of baptism and to organize churches, being invested with full ecclesiastical authority.”......
          “Both Paul and Barnabas had already received their commission from God Himself, and the ceremony of the laying on of hands added no new grace or virtual qualification. It was an acknowledged form of designation to an appointed office and a recognition of one’s authority in that office. By it the seal of the church was set upon the work of God.” – {AA 161.2}

          Regarding men being spiritual leaders I didn’t mean they replace the role of Christ! I meant they are to be the visible leaders in their homes and churches: the Priest of the home, the Pastors and Elders of the flock etc.

          “As you faithfully do your duty in the home, the father as a priest of the household, the mother as a home missionary...” CH 430.1

          I believe the issue we are discussing is not ordination as such, as women can be ordained to be deaconesses, for example, but rather whether women can be ordained to certain offices in the Church.
          Women can teach and preach and evangelize and minister in so many ways, as Sister Caro, Sister Haskell and others did, but should women be ordained to the offices of Pastor (called Ministers in Ellen White’s day) and Elder?

    • By going contrary to church policy, as you put it, was she going contrary to a GC Session decision, without a biblical mandate to do so? That really is the key question.

      The real issue re: WO isn't really WO. It's whether women can serve as conference presidents. Under the current situation, if a church wants to elect a woman as a local elder, they can, at least in some divisions, and it doesn't affect other churches that believe that to be unbiblical. But once women can become conference presidents, it will no longer be "let every man be thoroughly persuaded in his own mind." Churches that believe it to be unbiblical will be expected to recognize the elder in chief of the conference as being such, and church leaders who believe it to be unbiblical will be expected to recognize that president as a voting member of the GC Executive Committee.

      Since the Bible is our only rule of faith and practice, before we conclude that Paul wrote what he did because that was the culture of those times, we ought to have a plain Bible statement to that effect. Do we have such?

      • 1) Ellen White was openly critical of a number of administrative decisions by the general conference and it is clear that she saw the role of general conference in a very different light to how it operates today. We all have a mandate to ensure that our organizations remain true to purpose. And sometimes that means we have to be constructively critical even after the vote has been taken.

        2) Mrs White did give instruction that was applicable to her time. In her time most births were home births and her comment regarding midwives was most appropriate. Nowadays, with the shift to hospital-based birthing that instruction is less applicable. (I know Christian gynecologists and obstetricians of both sexes) She also spoke about bicycles and photography suggesting that both were an indulgence. Cycling today is regarded as not only healthy exercise but an environmentally friendly means of local transport. I have also spent the last 20 years using my photography to enhance worship services. Both these are examples of where the principles are important but changing circumstances have rendered the detail as no longer relevant.

        3)In the synagogues of the NT the sexes were separated. In some congregations, the women and children were required to sit behind a screen while the men carried out the liturgy. From what little knowledge we have of the Christian churches of the era, gender segregation was also the norm. Small wonder then that Paul instructed women not to talk in church and wait until the got home to ask questions. Do we want to run gender segregated churches today? (We used to do that in our Colleges when I was a student!)

        • Maurice, I will add a thought. The professor I mentioned had adopted a popular philosophy in which human reasoning was placed above what the Word of God plainly said. I didn't understand that at the time, but only realized that after lengthy discussions years later with someone who had similar theological views about much more foundational topics.

          The professor I mentioned was widely respected, and his talks on the family were popular. But the day came when he left Adventism, left Christianity, and left his wife. For years I wondered what happened. Then I was told he got swept off his feet by the theologians in a non-Adventist institution.

          That explanation made sense to me, because our only defense against Satan's temptations is the Word of God, and thanks to that popular theology he had accepted, the Bible was no longer the final authority for him.

          So I don't think it safe to replace the hermeneutical approach of our pioneers with the hermeneutical approach you are suggesting for the texts in questions. Our pioneers simply did not interpret those texts as irrelevant for today because our culture is different now.

  9. The issue under discussion with regard to women,s rights has been hotly contested at the General Conference session in Texas a few years ago. Even with the conference Presidents vote, a number of other conference presidents have determined to accept womens ordination in spite of the Presidents authority. It goes much deeper, to an episcopal women minister at the beginning of the women's rights movement. There are undoubtedly a number of different opinions with Biblical texts to support those opinions. With 66 books full of admonitions to chose from, Probably better to heal old wounds, than create new ones.

    • Hi Paul, were you at the GC in 2015 or did you watch some of the discussions? As I remember the question was not "should women be ordained" The question was in effect "currently the conferences decide who should be ordained, shall we change it to be the unions can decide who should be ordained"
      When the answer was no, the GC President Ted Wilson stood up and said "that means that nothing changes"
      Can someone who was actually there confirm or deny what the vote was and what Ted said?

      • I was not in the stadium when the discussion and vote were taking place, but I'm sure that's not the case. The question was whether, based on one's study of the Bible and the SoP, divisions could decide whether women could be ordained within their territories.

        As it is now, unions are the ones who decide who will be ordained. Conference recommend, but the unions decide.

        But unions cannot decide the criteria used in determining whether someone can be ordained.

  10. Their have been comments with regard to the legitimacy of EGW by SDA members for a goodly number of years. In places where she says, "I was shown", compared to advice to someone over a particular issue, can be somewhat confusing. The great disappointment, also adds to some of the questions at hand.

  11. I wonder where we stand on the spectrum of women’s role in the spiritual life of the church?

    1) men go to work, women stay home & look after the children only
    2) only men can determine the spiritual beliefs of the family
    3) men are cleverer than woman so she needs to be told what to do
    4) it is only in the family that men are in charge of the women
    5) only men can be leaders in the church
    6) only men can discuss spiritual/scriptural issues, the women must listen to them
    7) women must be silent in church - this means even in sabbath school if there are men in the audience
    8) women can only share the gospel with other women or children not with any men
    9) women cannot have authority over men even in the secular field i.e. they cannot be a manager over men, in a hospital a female doctor can't tell a male nurse what to do
    10) a woman should not have any type of leadership role in the church unless it is over children or welfare
    11) no woman should ever stand behind the pulpit and preach
    12) no woman should be elected as an elder
    13) no woman can fulfill the role as a lay pastor or a commissioned pastor
    14) no woman can be the head of even a department in our educational institutions
    15) a woman can only approach Christ through her husband or her pastor

    With how many of these points do you agree and how many do you disagree?

    Believe it or not the real elephant in the room is people's belief of the Biblical role of women in society and the church, not just the question of ordination.
    Some areas believe that women should not have any leadership role in the church.
    Some believe women can be Elders
    Some believe women can do the work of but not be called pastors
    Some believe women can be "commissioned" as a pastor
    Some even believe women can be "ordained" as a pastor.
    However these all depend on what they believe the LORD has specified as the role of women in society and has this changed or not over time.

    • From my study, I believe Ellen White has addressed most if not all of these questions. Too many are saying “I think” instead of searching for a “thus saith the Lord.”
      The testimony of Jesus is in the Remnant Church to guide us through the many “winds of doctrine.” The question is, when we do find the truth, are we willing to submit to it?

    • I think to add other issues about should woman be professional and working might end up clouding the discussion The issue is biblical ordination. I seem to seeing more questions and logical reasoning than biblical dogmatic points from those who are for woman ordination

  12. I preach that God desires the efforts of all men and women as they are inspired by the Holy Spirit. In the US it is understood and interpreted differently because of social structure than it is understood in Africa. I don't change their culture overnight. The US liberal attitudes should not dictate the world church's view (even though we may have strong Biblical evidence for our position). God understands culture and sent Jesus out of His way to make a dog into a minister. Mark7:24-29. See comments in DA, Jesus went to open the disciples minds. Foreigners, women, unbelievers, ugly and dirty street people with missing teeth who don't polish their shoes on Sabbath,these can all be ministers. Their culture is a challenge, Gods permission is not constrained.

  13. This controversy began in heaven. Lucifer spread the lie that he was being treated unfairly. Was he? He inferred, to Eve, that there was something unfair about not being able to eat of all the trees in the Garden. Was it? Now we are told it is unfair that women can not Pastor the Church. Is it?
    Soon we will be told that it’s unfair not to let those the Bible condemns in Leviticus 18:22 and Jude 7 Pastor the Church. Will it?

  14. Dear beloved of the Lord, if we trust ourselves and our knowledge we will indeed be divided by issues such as 'woman ordination' which is not the Gospel. I would rather that we focus on SDA doctrinal issues that are at the foundation of this movement that God raised just before the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let best minds and divisions be on how to prepare a people for the soon coming King. God in His Majestic Wisdom saw it fit to partner with a feeble Church to do this divine work. In fact everything about us is divisive (our history, races, gender, geographic location, socio-economic background, culture/ customs, etc.), but everything about Christ in us, with us and for us - will unite us. IF you remove your eyes from Christ you will see all these differences (which were not made by the SDA or GC but are of this fallen world) and you would want to be side-tracked on your calling to start addressing socio-political-economic issues using the Church, the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy selectively to your own detriment. 'Love one another'- is the New Commandment - Should we love one another in our diversity we will have unity in Christ and the ills of this world will not affect us nor require us to alter how Christ arranged His Body (the Church) to meet the 'changing times' for we are not of this world - in fact we have only one-another and nothing of this world. If we do indeed 'love one another' - women, people of different races, tongues, culture & customs would not waste time fighting to be the same with others before Christ. That is why the current study on UNITY IN CHRIST is more important to us!

  15. The elephant is much larger than that and starting with the leadership it is manifested at a greater concentration in the membership. Racism so permeates the membership that one must question our profession as disciples of Jesus. The same mentality that existed in the early church exists today, division, classism and bigotry. The same hypocrisy that dogged Christ and the Apostle Paul is ever with us. we all shall be held accountable. Many of us, who voted for the mindset, mentality, and the agenda that is being pushed by the POTUS, his administration and our legislature as well as our Denomination. Where the characteristics exist unity is a sham and a pipe dream. And yet we have the audacity to cry, even so, come Lord Jesus! Christ detests most of all, hypocrisy. Time is of the essence for there is coming a time when there will be time no more.

  16. True, the issue of the ordination of women has been "an elephant in the room" in the composition of the SS Bible Study Guide. But then, so has the issue of how to reconcile those whose actions are not following the decisions of the world church. I believe this second elephant carries more weight because (1) the resolution of the reconciliation issue (or lack of resolution) could impact other areas of conflict, many other elephants, (2) how we handle conflicts in the church will affect our witness to those who watch from outside of the church, and (3) God's Word gives many clear statements that He will hold us accountable in the judgment for how we treat each other, especially during disagreements. We know that there will be disagreements. (See the quote at the end of Friday's lesson.) May God help us to not be divisive or disagreeable.

  17. Let us get on with the mission of the church.To seek for those who are lost and lead them to the Saviour.The enemy knows he has a short time so he is distracting us so that we will forget our focus. We are living in perilious times .Let us wake up and keep our lamps burning so that when the Bridegroom comes we will be ready to meet him.

    • It would be a mistake to assume that because we are trying to resolve a significant issue that we aren’t at the same time also out there each day seeking to point people to Jesus when they are open to such.

      At the same time, people who accept Jesus also need a Christian community they can become part of that will nurture them in their faith walk.

      And what kind of community are we able to offer them? Perhaps this is what motivates us to try and facilitate change and growth within church community that it better reflects the principles and practices of the Kingdom of God.

  18. My Brethren I'm far from what God desired and cannot quote many scriptures as do some of my fellow believers. However, I agreed with Penny and few others with some of the relevant points. One brother stated we must be unified and the love of God must permeate our heart in order for us to grasp the concept. Inge is correct also in stating that we must understand what is meant by ordination... While I may not have gone to certain parts of the world; I understand full well that women plays a great part in the work of the church and there's need for us women everywhere. I do believe as E.G. White stated they should be paid as does men for their labor. However, through the pages of the bible we see numerous women acting as leaders appointed by the HolySpirit but not ordained. The issue is the ordination and from my recollection, Sis. White was called to the prophetic office by God but nothing was ever said she was ordained(or hands laid on her). I thoroughly believe that women can serve in various leadership position, even evangelize. However, when my sisters who seek ordination to be pastors/elders/deaconess and when it's not conferred on them and they are making a big deal about it; it's indicative that it's not of God. One who's under the anointing of the HolySpirit will not make it a contention to be appointed in a position that the Lord has not said he/she should be placed in. I believe my fellow sisters can preach, minister, serve, teach etc with the right spirit and God will honor their effort. Additionally, I do not claim to have read all the Ellen G. White books but for the many I've gone through, I've not encountered any that states that we should ordain women as Pastors, Elders, Deaconess etc. and she has provided many counsels for which we should adhere. 1 Pet.2:9 says that we are a royal priesthood...no distinction between women and men here but I'm also mindful that some of my brothers have fallen short in their responsibilities as the Priest of the household and therefore we women has been filling the gap.
    Brethren the enemy is slick and women in a 'primary' sense has great influence. Many men has been made spiritual stalwart by the influence of females and likewise many a stalwart has been brought to their spiritual demise by women. Even so in the prophetic sense the great controversy alludes to two women(2 churches, the true & false church... Thus this controversy over ordination of women is a side issue to distract us from the real issue ahead. With prayerful heart and the study of God's word, God's will, will be made known and if any of us women desires ordination; we should by fasting and prayer seek God's guidance to know if this is ordain by God or is it pure ambition or a desire instigated by the enemy. The obedient follower will indeed receives the right answer and divine guidance from God Himself! God cannot change and will not contradict His word.
    Please forgive me for my lengthy discourse and thanks for all the weekly insights.

  19. I wonder how many (man or woman) will be fighting so hard for the "official" privilegie to preach and be "called a pastor" to lead a church... in the latter days to come.

    At the times when there will be no GC, no building to call church, no pulpit to stand.. no free speech. When preaching the truth will be a chased crime and will cost our jobs, families or friends...

    I wonder.

    Then we might reconsider what should we have spent our time on.

    Maybe we've been out of trouble for too long, like old times Israel.

    Maybe we need those latter times sooner than later... before we're all divided and conquered.

    Maybe God's right, we need some fire to shine.

    We should be praying more than we are debating, time's up, if u did not notice yet.

    • Well said Mario... I also wonder if we are as full of zeal seeking the salvation of the lost and the establishment of God's kingdom as we are in arguing pro or against women's ordination. It saddens me when I see brethren maligning brethren because they have a different point of view in matters that do not have anything to do with salvation, and we are so slow in coming together to fulfill the mission of bringing souls to the knowledge of salvation through Christ Jesus.
      The advise is: (1) Allow God to dwell in your heart, and (2) be ready to give reason of your convictions WITH MEEKNESS (HUMBLENESS) AND REVERENCE...

      • Where is the maligning you mention as I can only see very respectful debating on both sides?

        And where is the evidence that we are not putting in even more effort seeking the lost and the establishment of God's Kingdom than we are dialoguing about an issue that will be 'judged' by those we are seeking?

        • Good morning Phil...
          I agree with you that in this blog all have been polite and respectful. I have perceived the tendency to malign on a personal basis when laypersons and pastors treat others as "preaching other gospel", being the shaft and the weeds instead of the wheat, etc...
          Concerning the diminished effort in reaching the lost: I was a Pastor for 44 years, and I retired last year, and what I perceived is that those that got tangled in different discussions, spent more time and effort in soul wining activities, or they completely stoped doing anything in the area of evangelism.
          This is my last post, because I think I am falling in same vicious cicle. I have not disclosed my position concerning this issue, but I pray the Holy Spirit will guide us so we all can be instrumental in the "edification of the body of Christ." It saddens me when I visit the churches where I am invited to preach and they are almost empty. God bless you.

          • Thank you Javier for your reply and God bless your personal journey in Him and your witness of Him as you be "salt" and "light" to others.

  20. I agree we need to concentrate on spreading the Gospel, however how can we do that if we don't know what it is? This is why we are having these studies and discussions. Otherwise how will you answer if someone asks 'what do you believe?' Peter tells us in. 1Pet 3:15 always be ready with an answer for those who ask about your faith.

    • You're right. We should always be ready.

      So here it is.

      Paul explained the Gospel he recieved and passed on for the salvation of future souls:

      1st Corinthians 15:1-11.

      Also, if we study prophecy (which is the "Faith of Jesus" described in Apocalypse 14:12) , we see that at the end of times our church will be different to the rest on 2 subjects only: The sabbath truth (God's seal) and the state of the dead.

      It's not that complicated, God likes to keep it simple, humans are the ones that always complicate things.

      "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
      Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight...
      For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

  21. KJV Mark 3
    14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,
    15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:

    The twelve where ordained.

    1. To be with Jesus
    2. To evangelise
    3. To heal
    4. To cast out devils

    Though i am of the position that there is spiritual order in the church and in the family where father is head and priest...etc

    My question though is can women not be ordained as per Mark 3v14 ?

  22. “In a land of boasted freedom of thought and of conscience, like ours, church force cannot produce unity; but has caused divisions, and has given rise to religious sects and parties almost innumerable” (James White, ST, June 4, 1874).
    And William Johnnson, the former editor of the Adventist Review recently wrote, "As I see it, the whole issue of women’s ordination boils down to a single stark issue — justice. The Adventist Church discriminates against ministers who happen to be women."

  23. Who were the first humans instructed to proclaim to the disciples the Good News about the resurrection of Jesus? (Matt 28. 5-7). Was Esther ordained/commissioned/anointed/crowned? How many of Philip’s daughters “prophesied”? By whose or what authority did Mother Theresa or Tabitha (Dorcus) minister to the poor?
    Hmmm... what’s my motive for serving/representing God?

    What is the question? Does the answer to “the question” prevent me from serving God?

    • What if the Holy Spirit has given me the gift of being a Pastor should I not exercise that gift so it produces fruit or should I bury it?

      • Hello Shirley. My belief in and understanding of God’s character because of the life and teachings of Jesus, the revelation of God in science/nature, and my own experience of the power of God the HolySpirit in my existence...then Yes.
        Your relationship with God is your relationship with God. It would seem that the only mistake In this entire scenario that is being discussed would be to not answer the call of God and His lead, regardless of who we are or are perceived to be...or the “club rules” of our denomination of choice.
        My personal belief is that God’s greatest desire is to have a personal relationship with every consenting being in the universe. And, where he leads us may cause other people to talk and possibly try to prevent our service for God. But Jesus and others since have shown that God’s message to a dying planet will not be prevented from completely encompassing this earth and transforming all who choose to “...live in the light as He is in the light...”. Indeed, He is the light.

  24. To me ordained means being set apart. A recognition that you were chosen by God to accomplish his mission. God is clearly working with sister X and Brother y. This goes beyond having a degree, or a title. This is spiritual authority. So at some point, (in certain part of the church, it is immediate, a women's work will immediately be questioned, or does not really exist) even if you want to serve the Lord, there is a limit, a qualifying limit, it's second best, always, forever. This permanent awareness that not everybody wants you to be there, do this or that. Even for the Lord. It is hindering for spiritual growth. This is how I see it. Why is Mary not an Apostle ? Because History decided so. We write history. Men. Not God. Her role and pre-eminence is clearly stated in the Bible. We should remember that people when they were baptised were baptised naked in the beginning (early church). So women went into the water with women. Men with men. You had to have women set apart to take care of other women. There is nothing new under the sun. It was so obvious so public and also so sensitive, that perhaps we overlook it now. Mixing gender in the water, really ? When people could not even sit together ? Ordaining is a question of authority. It becomes relevant for the voiceless, and the weak in the church. There would be less abuse if there were more women with recognised authority in the church at the highest levels. For that reason. I am for women ordination. Times have changed and not for the better.

    • A couple of months ago, a woman pastor preached a sermon of conviction at the church I attended. I thought the sermon was good--it convicted me, making me think more deeply about my relationship with God and what he was calling me to do for him with my life. However, I heard some comments afterward asking the rhetorical question: What was she trying to prove?

      A message of conviction appears to be much more difficult to take from a woman than from a man.

      When the Holy Spirit has called someone minister for God, it seems destructive and dysfunctional to question the call based on gender, race and ethnicity. Those biases run deep in the fallen human psyche.

  25. It seems to me that those who are anti WO are so based on a deeply held conviction that the Bible teaches that God has from creation determined that the male of the species are to rule over the females in the home and in the church. So that is the true elephant in the room that needs to be addressed.

      • How a person interprets this verse will depend upon their view of God and reality.

        Those who see this verse as a curse imposed by God will see male dominance as a divine decree.

        Those who understand it as God outlining the inherent consequences unleashed by sin will see male dominance is not something that God created or intended.

        Had this verse been written in Genesis 1 or 2 prior to the entry of sin, then that would have been a whole different scenario.

        • What is there to interpret? It says what it says! When we start to "interpret" it is than that we start to twist things to OUR view of God instead of just taking Him at HIS word!

          • You must know that Hebrew and Greek words, like English, frequently have a range of possible interpretation options. Which one was the original writer referring to?So, translation from original Hebrew and Greek to Latin was an interpretation process - that's what the field of hermenutics is about. Translation from Latin to English was yet another round of interpretation. Hermenutics involved again.

            And then there are the range of bible genres: poetry, symbolism/metaphor/simile, parable. These generes by nature require interpretation.

            So, we have 2 opinions being presented here. One is saying that when we start to interpret, then we end up twisting things. The other opinion is saying that when we fail to interpret accurately, then we end up twisting things.

            How is a person to know which opinion is correct? Each person is going to have to investigate the matter for themselves, asking the Holy Spirit for guidance (James 1:5), and then coming to a conclusion where they are fully persuaded in their own mind (Rom 14:5) regarding how to rightly divide the Word of God (2 Tim 2:15).

        • Yes Phil I understand that which is why I use the KJV, the Received Text not those that come from the Vulgate. When we look up THAT particular Hebrew word in Strong's and BDB we find this:

          Strong's Hebrew Dictionary
          H4910 מָשַׁל mâshal maw-shal'
          A primitive root; to rule: - (have, make to have) dominion, governor, X indeed, reign, (bear, cause to, have) rule (-ing, -r), have power.

          H4910 משׁל mâshal BDB Definition:
          1) to rule, have dominion, reign
          1a) (Qal) to rule, have dominion
          1b) (Hiphil)
          1b1) to cause to rule
          1b2) to exercise dominion

          Pretty clear there! No room for any other interpretation than that what it says!

          Gen 3:16  Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 

          Plus let us not forget that Eve was created to be Adam's HELP MEET!

          Gen 2:20  And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help (aid) meet for him. 

          • "Pretty clear there! No room for any other interpretation than that what it says!"

            Perhaps - or perhaps not.

            Gen 3:16. Is mâshal because God divinely decreed it, or was God describing what would unfold? In the first part of the verse, the pronoun I is used thereby identifying a connection between God (whether because God would cause or allow is not irrevocably specified) and Eve. But the latter part of the verse does not contain this pronoun and instead limits the members involved in the 'desire-rule over' exchange to being Adam and Eve. Hence, there is not irrefutable proof that God divinely decreed that Adam should exercise mâshal over Eve.

            Gen 2:20. For Adam, there was not found an ezer for him. Ezer mentioned 4 times in the Bible: Gen 2:18,20; Ps 89:10; Dan 11:34. Ezer is a masculine noun derived from the primitive root azar which is a verb meaning to surround. Being a very concrete language, the Hebrew conveys the idea of surrounding to protect and/or strengthen/support. Hence, the noun ezer is the consequential state that arises as a result of having been provided with azar (verb). This verse is therefore describing the resultant effect to Adam. It is not a verse definitively outlining the scope and limits of Eve's role.

            Consequently, this only leaves Gen 1:28, linked inseparably with 1:27 and 1:26 as the closest we have to a definitive divinely ordained statement regarding the ascribing of roles. The Hebrew word in 1:26 and its cousin in 1:28, are being applied to Adam AND Eve together, no distinction, is radah and means to have a dominion that involves a heirarchy. That heirarchy is between them and the animals.

            So, what is the definitively divinely decreed state? Adam and Eve were to non-differentially co-rule the rest of creation (in self-renouncing love of course).

            Once again, you have raised your perspective and the evidence you have used to support that perspective. And I have done the same thing. Hopefully others reading this will be informed and encouraged to do their own research for themselves.

            Thank you, Daniel, for sharing your perspective that you are convicted of. I know that I have benefited greatly from the renewed study on this topic that I have undertaken as a result.

            I hope that others are also benefiting from being challenged to study for themselves and not mistakenly seeing the exchanges occurring here as people simply arguing.

          • Phil, I believe scripture shows that the fall changed the perfect order of sinless Eden in a way that cannot be restored until all things are restored. If you examine Paul's interpretation, by the Holy Spirit, (see 2 Tim 3:16, 1 Tim 2:11-15, Eph 5) of the events in Gen 3, what is the conclusion for the bible student who believes "all scripture is given by inspiration of God..."? (p.s. by Whom was Paul taught[Gal 1:11,12]?)

            Originally, man(male and female together) were "one flesh", but sin changed the order of things and God has given us enough to understand the outcome as long as this present world exists. Only God can explain fully why. So how does one show faith under these circumstances, even if not fully understanding why?

            I feel I must add this: though God's Word calls for the wife to submit to the husband, what is the husband called to do, and, IF that husband reflects Jesus fully, what will that home be like, though in this sinful world?

            One thing it tells me, if a woman desires to be obedient to God in all things, she should find a Godly man for a husband, and likewise, a man who would obey the Lord will want to seek a Godly wife. That home will be a heaven on earth. The best life we will find here is the life of a Servant. (Anyone here who can say from experience: "it's true!" ?)

  26. I would appreciate it if those who believe that being appointed by God to be His messenger of truth is different from being appointed by the church as overseer of one or more churches is different would explain it?
    Is it level of authority?
    Is it type of authority?
    Is it type of work or function?
    Is the difference spiritual, intelligence, educational, adminstration ability?

  27. KJV Ephesians 5
    23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

    Now can we interchange and say wife is head of the husband ?

    Paul uses Christs headship for the church eqauting it to husbands headship to his wife.

    In this case husband = Christ, wife = church.

    If wife becomes head of husband. Then church becomes head of Christ. Which no one agrees with. Thus to keep these spiritual symbols true husband should head the wife as Christ is head of the church..

  28. Very well written article. Just one point of clarification. I believe authors of the quarterly are asked to write them, sometimes years in advanced before they are actually published. They are given a topic. They put a lot of research into it which may itself take months since they may have other jobs. They may or may not know in advance what year it will be published. So it is very unlikely that there is any real significance of the theme and our present situation.

    While the women’s ordination issue has existed for years, there is no guarantee what would be the state of the issue by the time the quarterly is actual published. Plus I believe the editor has the final say as to the order of the lessons and content.

    A quarterly is not a good forum to bring up such a controversial issue where the church at large is still studying. But churches, groups within churches and individuals should study and pray on the matter. The few minutes dedicated for Sabbath School will in no way be sufficient to discuss such a matter.

  29. Great discussion, I appreciate we keep this civil.
    Mark 7:24 KJV marriage in heaven. We are as angels.
    Galatians 3:28 KJV
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Will there be male and female in heaven(...are there female angels)?
    We are presenting God to a lost world. Do we advocate as gendered servants or promote God's principles? In the end all these questions are academic and selfish if I become as an angel.
    I am not stuck but am being made new, as in a mirror, reflecting the image of Christ through His spirit. My present constraints are social, economic, educational etc. God sent His son to save to the uttermost. I wish to invite everyone to the same liberty in Christ, but their mind is also constrained by the same. We preach but the Holy Spirit instructs.

  30. With respect to all and even more respect to our unchanging God and Love for Jesus Christ our savior I interject that what ever is done should be done in strict accord to the Word of God and not the thoughts of men in our ever changing secular world.

    As Seventh Day Adventist we believe in the never changing character of God. We also believe the words found in John 1:1 which clearly state, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." which derives the common sense logic that if God is unchanging, the same in the beginning as the end, that His Word also is unchanging.

    We are admonished not to live the ways of the world but to unwavering follow God/Jesus's teachings as found in His Word. Popular opinion does not matter, only God's Word matters. What I think does not matter, only what God thinks and decrees matters.

    We understand how the 4th commandment has been desecrated and rejected by the world through popular opinion. How we worship and who leads is a decision made by God and not man. If man can change what is stated in the Word of God and is done so by popular opinion then what good is the Word of God and through logical extension what good is God?

    I caution all of you, my brothers and sisters, that the topic of discussion is on very shaky ground. I am not telling you what to believe or not believe but am admonishing all of you to place your complete faith in Jesus and he will direct your path. Please stop listening to the words of good men who believe they are doing the right thing and listen only to the Word of God that will direct your path in the right direction towards him instead of the wrong path in the direction of the world where Satan himself desires you to go.

    May God bless all of you and please remember that Jesus is your advocate.

    • I understand what you are saying Dave. At the same time, we need to appreciate that our understanding of the word of God changes. There is also the problem that different interpretations are taken from the same texts. A secular historian had this to say about those who have a literal interpretation of scripture: Literalists have very little tolerance for other literalists. There are issues that we need to discuss. And we need to listen to one another. Our Pioneers did that and they did not always agree, but out of that study and discussion they developed an understanding that has largely stood the test of time. We need to continue that process, rather than resting on the work of the Pioneers.

      • Respectfully our understanding of the Word of God may change, never the less God's Word is unchanging.
        As a suggestion for you to understand what I am saying you may find the book The Great Controversy, Ended... by E.G. White to be of interest particular to the history of the Christian Church from the ascension of Jesus following his resurrection up to the time of her death. I found it to be an extremely accurate representation of Christian Church history and the prophecy revealed by her and confirmed in Scripture to be extremely accurate and appropriate for today. Christ teaches that we should rely on the words of the Prophets of God and the traditions of the Church, which embraces the ancient Hebrews as well as all Christian churches as well as our Jewish and Islamic brethren today.

        Note: I am not saying that all of the other viewpoints are correct as practiced by those people but saying that if we study and adhere to God's Word we shall ALL gain a better understanding of what God intends for us and how we should conduct ourselves as we await his coming. To wit, resting on the work of the Pioneers is a part of that and we need to closely consider it before going the way of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" and going off in the ways of the world instead of drawing closer to God. I totally agree we need to continue to study but will state that many of God's people in past history failed because they all agreed and that agreement was contrary to God. While our understanding of God's word may and does change His Word does not change. Popular beliefs formed by the popular culture of our world today is not the best way to determine this. It's not what I may think that is important. What God thinks is.

        • "...God's Word is unchanging..."

          Also respectfully (and I mean this genuinely, not sarcastically), you will need to be more specific by what you mean by this statement.

          Are you referring to God's Word in the ancient Hebrew and Greek - because the English translations are quite different in many ways as a consequence of 'cultural' influences that influenced the translators frame of reference. The process of translation is a process of interpretation and therefore a process that is influenced by the translator's frame-of-reference. Hence the field of hermeneutics.

          Are you referring to God's Word expressed directly to humans? In the OT, God (likely Jesus) taught Israel "an eye for an eye". But in the New Testament Jesus taught "turn the other cheek".

          Heb 4:12 tells us that God's Word is living and active - a dynamic as opposed to a static image.

          God does not change - but because of factors associated with our living within a sin-infected world, God's expression of His unchanging nature does change in accordance with the needs and limitations of the recipient/s of that expression. God demonstrates repeatedly that He meets us where we are at.

          And God's 'Laws' do not change - or as Shirley de Beer regularly and correctly refers to them as Principles of Life. (And by God's laws I am referring to the principles behind the 10 commandments of which the 10 commandments are but a subset expressed in more specific terms). However, the specific application of these laws is variously manifested according to the particular needs and dynamics of a particular point of contextual reference. This is related to your point that our understanding of the Word of God may change - but it also encompasses that God also changes how He expresses His eternal 'unchangingness' and the eternal 'unchangingness' of the Laws/Principles of Life.

          This is why we are to study or train - under the guidance of the Holy Spirit - to learn and practice how to rightly divide/handle/apply the Word of God. I make this statement as a combined consideration of the principles embedded in, for example, Hebrew 4:12 and 2 Tim 2:15. Ellen White echoes similar sentiments in her article entitled "Treasure Hidden" (R&H July 12, 1898).

          I welcome your feedback...

          • First, before going forward, my usage of the word 'respectfully' in my comment WAS NOT a sarcastic response as you may have thought since you brought it up specific in the conversation. I realize that in our PC world today the word is used sarcastically and demeaning to the person it is sent to. But that may have your assumption even though it was not intended as such. If that is what you took from my usage of the word 'respectfully' I apologize as that was not my intent.

            I am well informed on the field of hermeneutics since I have employed it in my scriptural studies for well over 30 years now. This is not to say that I am an expert or may not come to an erroneous conclusion.

            Specifically in Heb 4:12 the English in the KJV states "12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

            The word you have apparently focused your attention is 'living' in the ESV bible. In the original Greek text Strong's 2198 the word is 'zaō' a primary verb that means

            "to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead)

            to enjoy real life
            to have true life and worthy of the name
            active, blessed, endless in the kingdom of God
            to live i.e. pass life, in the manner of the living and acting
            of mortals or character
            living water, having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul

            metaph. to be in full vigour
            to be fresh, strong, efficient,
            as adj. active, powerful, efficacious

            No where do I read anywhere else in scripture where 'zaō' means living in the sense that this 'living' is 'dynamic' such as English is considered to be a living language that changes over time in it's understanding to fit the culture of the time, as you seem to indicate. If I am wrong in this I apologize and ask you to please explain with references in God's Word and not what someone else has written on the subject.

            What it does indicate and is defined as is that God and His Word are living and vibrantly alive. It does not indicate or mean that the Word or God changes its meaning and character over time dependent on man's knowledge at that time along with their cultural notions.

            With respect to my statement that God is unchanging I was quite surprised you did not cue in on the scriptures found in Revelation 22:13 which states, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." They are also echoed in Rev 1:8, 1:11 and 21:6.

            Those passages of God's Word are also found in Isaiah 41:4 which states "Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he."

            Note particularly where God inspired the Prophet to write the word 'generations,' 'dowr' in Hebrew, Strong's H1755, which is a noun meaning:

            period, generation, habitation, dwelling
            period, age, generation (period of time)
            generation (those living during a period)
            generation (characterised by quality, condition, class of men)
            dwelling-place, habitation.

            and specifically circumscribes those 'generations' and their times with the words "from the beginning," "first""and last," meaning for all of time.

            While God may have shown some tolerance for humanity, in it's understanding of his will, as with the areas of polygamy and the owning of slaves, His Word is replete with examples that he did not sanction those things and provided us many examples in His Word where those who practice such things did not fair well with respect to the difficulties they experienced in their mortal lives.

            God judges from the light (knowledge and practices we hold in our minds) that we hold in our hearts and that is good. But to knowingly defying His will when we are provided a clearer understanding of Him and His Word than did our ancestors isn't a good way to go and is filled with pitfalls along the way that can entrap us.

            With respect to prophets and how God defines what a prophet is I am forced to ask the question, "Was the Apostle Paul a prophet of God?" If we are to follow the instruction of Jesus that tells us that we are to follow the words of the Prophets of God, should we? Or was it optional dependent on our understanding and actions of our culture in this time?

            Incidentally, in parting, I also utilize Young's Concordance but unfortunately have never found a digitized rendition of that publication. It is also worth mentioning that while I reference other translations of the Bible in English I conduct my main line studies of the Scripture using the King James version of the Bible.

            I will await your reply but, unfortunately, this is not the proper forum to facilitate in depth scriptural studies. I regret that I cannot devote more time to this forum to explore the scriptures more in depths with you but my studies demand more of my time in other areas.

          • Hi Dave.

            Sorry, I was not implying your use of respectfully was sarcastic. I was trying to reduce the risk of you thinking that because I used the same word back to you that you might think I was being sarcastic. So, all good. The difficulties of not communicating face to face.

            With regard to the rest of what you wrote, your feedback is appreciated and I will get back to you when I have further time too.


          • Hi Dave

            Getting back to you as I mentioned.

            With respect to my interpretation of the principles embedded in Heb 4:12, no I was not focusing in on the word living alone. (Can't for the life of me see how the KJV came to select the word "quick" as the interpretation of zōn). Perhaps you have an idea.

            Rather, zōn is presented in conjunction with logos (Word), with logos being a Greek-based concept of a medium of communication/expression that the NT writers adopted from Greek culture and extended to describe the revelation of God, by God, in all its forms - with Jesus being the ultimate Logos (Jn 1:1). The point Heb 4:12 is emphasizing then is that logos is alive/living.

            One of the qualities of something that is alive is that it has the capacity to adapt. In this way it is dynamic as opposed to something that is inanimate and, by nature, static.

            Does this mean that God changes? No, God Himself does not change - but God also interacts adaptively with His creation because of the nature of His creation.

            God's creation is developmental by nature. We were created to learn and grow - the created has to do this within a reality based upon freedom. Our character is something that has to be developed because character is developed through practice/experience - a fully developed character cannot be implanted. Even Jesus had to develop His character as a member of humanity, the Son of Man (Heb 5:8,9). The entrance of 'sin' into this world further complicates the developmental nature of sin in that that development has also been degenerative in nature.

            What does all this mean? God does not change, but because His creation changes, God dynamically adapts the APPLICATION of truth/reality in accordance with the capacities (or frequently the limits to those capacities) of His creation. So, an application of truth/reality at one point in time or one context/situation may be different to the application of truth/reality at another point in time/context/situation.

            I hope you can see and understand the difference between God,'s reality/truth being unchanging, but the APPLICATION of that reality/truth being frequently contingent upon factors inherent to the creation - particularly when it comes to a sin-impacted creation (ie developmentally-bound factors and cultural/contextual factors).

            An example of what I have said above from the Bible. Have a look at Lev 24:1,19,20: where we see that the Lord (likely Jesus) spoke to Moses and instructed him in regard to what was to happen when one person wronged/injured his neighbour. Then look at Matt 5:38,39 where Jesus references his former instructions to Moses and then modifies these instructions for the NT context.

            I have also previously referred to Jesus discussion regarding Divorce as another example of the modified application of truth/reality by God according to the contextual limitations of the times/situation.

            With respect to your comment "...to knowingly defying His will when we are provided a clearer understanding of Him and His Word than did our ancestors isn't a good way to go and is filled with pitfalls along the way that can entrap us", please show me anywhere that you believe I have done this or advocated this.

            I welcome any response you may have...

  31. Maurice.

    I greatly appreciate that you concluded your introductory remarks to opening up this topic for discussion with:

    "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 5:35"

    This topic has been discussed for decades and will likely go on being discussed for decades. Will we reach a point of unanimous agreement? I suspect probably not. Does that mean our capacity to witness to the world will be impaired? That depends....

    There will be a subset of people for whom one view on this topic works well for. And there will be other subsets of people for whom other views on this topic will work well for. And there will similarly be people who will choose to also become part of the body of Christ for which one particular view will work better for who they are and where they are at, while others will find that other views will do the same for them.

    So for those (male and female included) who hold to the view of male headship and express that in the manner that Paul refers to in Eph 5:25, and that expression results in a building up of the body of Christ, you will be a valuable part of the body of Christ.

    And for those who hold to the view that God can and does gift/use people in all levels of service, independent of gender, and express that in a manner consistent with John 15:13, and that results in the building up of the body of Christ, you too will be a valuable part of the body of Christ.

    People outside of church circles looking on do not expect that there will be no differences of opinion within church. What they would benefit from seeing is that the body of Christ is able to discuss and debate passionately, yet respectfully and 'self-renouncingly lovingly' - while simultaneously carrying out its commission and in the pursuit of better carrying out its commission.

    As I reflect upon the need for constructive dialogue and debate within Christian community, I recall the following passage from Ellen White's book, Education pg 17, that we had to commit to memory in teacher's college. This principles expressed in this passage are not limited to "youth", or to "men", but are equally applicable to all members of adulthood as well.

    "Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator— individuality, power to think and to do. The men in whom this power is developed are the men who bear responsibilities, who are leaders in enterprise, and who influence character. It is the work of true education to develop this power, to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men's thought. Instead of confining their study to that which men have said or written, let students be directed to the sources of truth, to the vast fields opened for research in nature and revelation. Let them contemplate the great facts of duty and destiny, and the mind will expand and strengthen."

  32. No, I do not have a final answer to this much debated issue. On one hand, we, women and men, are baptized in Christ and have put on Christ. As our creator and redeemer He is the son of man (Daniel 7:13), including both, men and women in a universal sense. (Galatians 3:27) Hence, all unequality would be out of place. On the other hand, the apostles commissioned only men to be bishops. (1 Timothy 3:1-2,Acts20:28)This was obviously the apostolic practice. I am just trying to understand the caution of the majority vote following the apostolic practice in order not to overstep apostolic authority as seen in the apostolic practice. Even if I am not happy with this decision and deploring any form of unequality, I (as a man) submit to the General Conference vote rather than rebelling against it, which, I think, would cause much damage to the unity of the church as is currently done by much upheaval in many parts of the world field, especialy in my own country.

    Winfried Stolpmann (Germany)

  33. I believe that all of God's laws are given in the 1st 5 books of the Bible (Deut 4:2). As there were no clear degrees given about endorsing or banning woman's role in the temple service, I feel that this decision was left to the interpretation of the sanhedrin of elders at that time.

    I would conclude that it is a rabbinic tradition that was accepted by assembly of votes rather than a direct degree from God.

    Woman's role in society has evolved from a domestic one to a full participation in the economy. As such, at least to me, the decision should not imposed from the top but to the votes from a local church community.

    Leaders should be chosen by the people. When they are artificially imposed, it will caused division.

    A church in Canada might accept a female pastor but not one from a conservative and traditional church in Asia.

    • Kelvin, if you go back to those first 5 books of Moses, you will find God's very particular appointment of "Aaron and his sons", but no daughters or wives. God has not been unclear on this matter, and until He changes His way of administration, we should not run ahead of Him. God is not bound by fallen man's traditions or inclination, but rather, He appointed according to His "good, acceptable, and perfect will...". Why seek to change it without His leading?

      In His appointments, God is not saying women are inferior or unequal. God calls ALL to be His witnesses, but the sacred office of priest/pastor He has not even called all men to do.

  34. While I completely understand our need to think through and discuss all sorts of issues in the course of our living, I'm wondering whether female ordination is the REAL elephant in the room. I believe the REAL elephant in the room is the minds of humans. I think that until we come to an awareness and an acceptance that it is the individual mind/thinking of humans that is the REAL problem, then--and only then--will we be on track to achieving the oneness (on any issue, gnat or elephant-sized) for which Jesus prayed (Jn 17:20-21). He appeared to have taught His disciples that a certain quality (Jn 13:34-35), disseminated by a particular Agent (Rm 5:5), would be key to being successful witness (Act 1:8; 1 Pt 2:5; Mal 2:7).

    Consider, for example, Jesus' statement in Mt 15:23-24, 26 which appeared to harmonize with His instructions to His disciples when He initially commissioned them (Mt 10:5-6). Was Jesus casting His vote for Jewish exclusiveness? How was His statement and instruction to be UNDERSTOOD by His disciples? Misunderstandings are sourced in one (or both) of two places, the instruction source and/or the instruction recipient. Scripture places weighty responsibility on instruction source(s)(1 Cor 14:5,7-8; Jam 3:1). But what about the instruction recipient? What if the recipient's reception mechanism is impaired (Lk 24:25; Jer 5:21; Mt 15:15-16)? What, if any, responsibility lies with the recipient? In the disciples' case, thanks to their Father's providence, they had not only the clear Word made flesh (Jn 1:14) living with them, they also had Him who could heal all parts of their impaired reception mechanism (Isaiah 35:4-6; Lk 4:18; 24:45)!

    Clearly, Jesus didn't endorse Jewish exclusiveness (Mk 11:17). It was His disciples' ongoing relationship with Him that entitled them to continuous updates (Lk 24:47-49). God intended that in His Son's absence, our minds are to become the perpetual dwelling of His truthful Spirit (1 Cor 3:16; Jn 16:12-13), not gnats, camels and/or elephants (Mt 23:24). We can't allow gnats, camels, elephants or doves to hog the place of the Spirit (Mk 11:15). His promised Replacement knows no national, age or gender boundaries (Act 2:17-18).

  35. At meeting of a state-wide lay advisory board a few weeks before the GC vote in 2015, the issue of women ordination came up. Since there were several members on that board who would be voting delegates to the GC I felt moved to speak to the issue. My main point at that time was that I believed the delegates voting on this issue should ask themselves a question similar to the question a judge in a divorce proceeding involving a family with children is required to ask and decide on. That is - the judge must ask himself and decide on : what is in the best interest of the children? The delegates should ask and decide on : what is in the best interest of the church?
    The argument that we should only ask the question : what does the Bible say on the issue has in effect become somewhat mute, since after years and years on study on this question our experts have , as I understand it, reported that the Bible does not clearly oppose the idea of women's ordination.
    As we now observe, after the fact of the 2015 GC vote , the confusion and conflict that has ensued, perhaps leadership should consider the possibility that said vote was not 'in the best interest of the church' - may God show us the way to heal our wound and move forward in true 'unity'.

  36. Hi Kelvin,

    I am interested to hear of your understanding of possible women's roles in the temple.

    I understood that according to the instructions from God to Moses the only priests were Aaron and his sons and that only priests were allowed into the Holy & Most Holy place not even the the sons of the tribe of Levi who assisted them.

    • Shirley, I totally concur with you.

      The priest's role were mainly to perform ceremonial and temple sacrifices. Nothing was mentioned that prohibit women from teaching and preaching outside the Holy and Most Holy place. Rather it is a rabbinic tradition that forbid women to teach and preach about spiritual matters, not a Torah dictation.

      A distinction has to be made between prophets, teachers and priest. Yes, women are forbidden to serve as a priest and perform other religious duties in the Temple (the temple is not the church and all pastors didn't descend from the tribe of Levi either). So what applies in the Temple, doesn't apply to the church until the restoration of the Temple. Technically, Israel is still in exile and many rules for the Temple is in suspension and do not apply for rules of worship in synagogues and churches.

      But to extend the prohibition to say that women is not allowed to preach, prophesized, teach and serve in schools, Yeshivas, churches, etc, is a matter of opinion of rabbis and men.

      I standby Deut 4:2 that women's level of participation in a church should be interpreted in the context of the Torah, and any extrapolation from Torah is a matter of opinion which is best decided from a local church community as long as it doesn't contravene the clear text spelt out in the Torah.

  37. we can not be to judgmental in this area. The church I attend, and my sister church, if it were NOT for US WOMEN the church would be shut down. We need to let the Holy Spirit do his job. Some churches do not have MEN to step up. just keeping it real

  38. I am female doctor in male dominated specialization somewhere in Africa. What I feel at work is the similar everywhere. People are always questioning and describing my ability, my inspiration, my boundaries and my limitations however they all expect my full commitment to do unpopular unspoken errands. You know how this feels.
    And when this kind of debates arising at church, there always two groups of men and few women.Other women who do not engage publicly will have behind the curtain circus discussing deeds of debaters they know about.

    Is this worthy to church? Certainly, no. We waste so much time behind biblical musk covering our cultural perspective describing what women can or can not do. Since then, we all know women can do a lot, both evil and good.And the division of roles doesn't make one righteous than others.We all can tell who was better between Mary, young girl and Cayapha the priest. We also can tell between Pontius Pilate and his wife as well as Abigail vs Nabil.

    And now the devil is using women at church, giving them all reasons not to feel obliged to church course. We need active women for church growth. Can we start questioning how many of Tabitha, Debora, Anna, Mary do we have at least? Where are Debora the soldiers of Christ, do we have Esther or Jezebel? Do we have Hannas who will send their children for sacred duties? Are there prophetess? Any Lydia? Are old women teaching their young married? Can we get committed Susan and Mary? As husbands, brothers, elders do you support women around you exercise to their duties?

    The Israelite lost direction as their were clinging to define and exercise their world power within themselves. Most of the people in power couldn't accept Jesus, the kings, the richest, the priests, the writers and others. It is only without that coat of pride, we can realize our weakness and our attitude towards others. May God forgive us and help us to define our christian character.

    • Thank you for your comment Rebecca.

      When I read your words "male dominated", I thought about the concepts of dominion and domination and how that before sin entered this world, male and female were BOTH given dominion of the earth (Gen 1:27,28). There is no distinction recorded prior to the entry of sin.

      But after sin entered the world, a distinction arose (Gen 3:16b) and shared dominion gave way to domination as a consequence. There are those who will see this verse as as something imposed by God, but I would propose that it is a description of a reality principle at work under sin and therefore an effect that God is outlining. That reality principle is what Paul terms "the law (principle) of sin and death" Rom 8:2.

      Similar to Jesus comment regarding divorce not being God's intention but an outcome due to hardness of heart (Matt 19:8; Mark 10:5-8), I would propose that male domination was also not God's intention. Rather, God's intention was shared dominion as per Gen 1:27,28.

      Yes, we live under sin now where domination occurs. But this was not God's intention.

      Here in Australia, I interact with women who suffer adversely under male domination. And I also interact with men who suffer adversely under female domination. Hence it appears that under sin, dominion is replaced by domination.

      May God bless you in your medical ministry under difficult circumstances Rebecca.

  39. Andrew Masinga,
    Rebecca has just nailed it, when I look on this matter of ordination, I ask myself two questions; why should all ministers be ordained, then who is to be ordained.in my country we have both male and female deacons while Acts 6 has only male, and were chosen to help female. Male deacon are ordained and female are not although they have a same duty in God's church. We also have some places where woman are more likely to go to church than male and are more spiritual than men but they chose male elder based on being male, than on good report.

    Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

    • Andrew, aren't you implying a meaning to Peter's statement that he was not intending? Why insert that particular quote concerning the election of God to save all, to the issue being discussed here? Peter himself never applied it that way.

    • In Rom. 16:1, in KJV, we read about "Phoebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea". The Greek word translated servant is 'diakonos' which literally means a deacon. So there were women deacons in Paul's time, but for some reason the KJV translators translated the word as servant.

  40. Where does NT state that Elders receive spiritual authority on appointment? 1Tim 2:5 Paul is clear that there is only one mediator between God and men and that is Jesus. Why are some men in our church assuming they have spiritual authority over members?

  41. I have followed this amazing debate. Amazing from the viewpoint of a unified respect even though we do not agree on The issue of WO.
    Re ordination: John 15: 16, 17 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
    These things I command you, that ye love one another.' Are these words culturally bound and applicable only to the 11 Apostles with JESUS in the upper room at that time? Or is the choosing and ordination and subsequent promise of our prayers being answered relevant to ALL His disciples?
    Note it is JESUS Who chooses and ordains and therefore empowers us to the work of being fruitful. Let us not lose our focus for we all have just a blip of time in eternity to prepare to meet our Saviour.
    4T20 'Dissensions, unhappy differences, and petty church trials dishonor our Redeemer. All these may be avoided if self is surrendered to God and the followers of Jesus obey the voice of the church...And the history of Christianity from that time until now proves conclusively that in union only is there strength. Let individual judgment submit to the authority of the church.'

  42. To everyone who has replied with questions or thoughts to my comments, I simply don't have the time to address all of them right now, but I can commend you to the Word of God as a sure guide to all who will be obedient to that Word(Eph 5:17).

  43. For as I can see the gospel is still being preached and we all know there’s gonna be disunity it’s sad but it is what it is , this other issue about the woman going to court for equal pay great they should now on the other hand I believe they can help out in the preach and spreading the gospel as Christ instructed us all to do , but the plan was drawn before woman were made . In heaven father son Holy Spirit leads there , Satan was a (man) leader in heaven (created) angel to do what he was made to do . Why was he not satisfied of what he was made for ? And went around heaven causing disunity . Which God had to send his son to set what , the record straight, Christ taught Adam how he wanted him to teach his family to worship him thus Adam was born first and was chosen to lead out in church worship his wife and family were beside him helping him and obeying God’s plan until Satan cycle played out down here . We know the story . This is not about equal pay it’s about usurping Gods plan for his church , he sent his son a man to pastor his church period no woman pastor no woman elder acting as Christ and he trained men to do this work until he Christ comes back for his church it will not be a woman leader from heaven coming back for the church . Woman I believe have plenty to do for the church they can be scholars what have you in Christianity but they should not be ordained as elders or pastors . I pray that this will go away one day but until then it’s gonna be division and that what Satan wants and I’m fully on the lords side in this manner we must know our place and respect what God has given and done for us .

  44. John15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
    John15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

    Note: That it is JESUS Who chooses, ordains, makes fruitful, commands love and promises answers to our requests. To whom were these wonderful blessings given? To the 11 apostles in the upper room (Judas had gone by then) or to all His faithful disciples?
    May GOD enable us to be focussed on our collective and individual mission and not be sidetracked or distracted from our real purpose of unitedly bearing fruit in the LORD.

  45. While it is a sad bit of SDA history, I am not sure of the background. Was the payscale an administrative decision or did the General Conference voted ons it?
    And what jurisdiction did the court have?
    Thank You

  46. I have done my best to stay out of this conversation since my brain does not run in the same direction as those for or against women's ordination run. But this weekend I was in an Adventist community and found I am not the only one who thinks the same way. By the way all those I talked to say they stay out of these discussions too. So, in case anyone is wondering what all the quiet people are thinking here goes.

    If we pay a woman the same we pay a conference pastor, should we also pay all the lay men and women who work just as hard or harder than a conference pastor the same as a conference pastor? Please don't misunderstand the point here. I am all for women getting paid the same for whatever job they are getting paid for. But please keep in mind, there are men lay pastors who get paid nothing, while working as hard or harder than some full time pastors. Its just a fact. So why are we just making an issue about women? So how do we pretend its about women getting paid equally when men are not getting paid equally either?

    If we ordain women pastors because they are doing everything a male conference paid pastor is doing, than should we ordain every male and female lay person who does what a pastor does? The New Testament teaches the priesthood of all believers but does not teach that all believers should be ordained by the conference. So how do we make it out to be about women getting respect for working hard, when there are hard working men getting no respect or recognition either? And since when was it about recognition? So with everyone working just as hard, how do we decide which hard workers to ordain and pay full time and which ones not to? This is where it gets political and myself and apparently millions of others leave the conversation. We have souls to win and can't waste time debating politics.

    • Hi William, I believe the issue is that men are preventing women from ministering to people in the way they understand that the LORD has called them to do and that He has given them the requisite Spiritual Gifts to do so.
      How would you fulfill your mission if you were prevented from baptizing people you had lead to the LORD?

      • Thank you for asking Shirley. I indeed understand what you are talking about. For years I led hundreds to Jesus but was not allowed to baptize them even though they specifically wanted me to. About 8 years ago the Florida Conference allowed me to baptize. But I was still able to lead hundreds to Jesus without being ordained and baptizing myself, and even though I can baptize now I am still not ordained, but that has not limited my ministry at all. I do not need to be ordained to fulfill the gospel commission. I think women and men can and indeed accomplish ever but as much as I do and even more without being ordained. As a matter of fact I know they do. It is not always women who are oppressed or bullied. Several years ago a pastor brought in a woman gospel worker and told me she would be working with small groups instead of me. I had several small groups going on, and people I had connections with who I was leading to Christ. The pastor wanted her to replace my ministry and take over my small groups I had built myself, as he specifically wanted to promote women. In the end that is not what happened, and I kept my small groups. I needn't say too much on a public forum, but you can trust me spiritual oppression works both ways. God will provide men and women opportunities to fulfill the gospel commission regardless if they are ordained or not. And God will also grant those opportunities without bullying other gospel workers. We can all work together.

        • William:
          It is commendable that you had such a vibrant, full-time ministry, but were you self supporting? And did you do this full time? Why would you be expect to be ordained if you were not working for the church and not pastoring a church? Local elders, both male and female, are ordained in my neck of the woods.

          • Hi Rudy,

            Thank you for your questions. First of all I am confused as to how you got the idea I expected to be ordained? My point I thought was clear that I do not need to be ordained to accomplish the Gospel commission and neither does anyone else. I was a full time paid Bible Worker for many years in Oklahoma, Texas and Florida. Over 25 years to be exact. In the last 3 years the church I was working for ran out of money so I began a self supporting ministry, where my salary is based solely on contributions. Those contributions go through the Plant City Florida SDA Church and I still receive my check from the conference. I am also currently lay pastoring the Plant City church and working closely with the district pastor. I receive nothing for my lay pastor efforts and am only paid for Bible Work-evangelism outside the church. I am happy with this situation. I believe if I can be happy while not being ordained and yet still spreading the gospel not only in Florida but around the world with SSNET and my personal blog, others should be able to do the same. Not being ordained has not held me back in anyway and it should not hold anyone else back either. As far as elders go, I was ordained as a local elder at the age of 22.

  47. All who desire an opportunity for true ministry, and who will give themselves unreservedly to God, will find in the canvassing work opportunities to speak upon many things pertaining to the future, immortal life. The experience thus gained will be of the greatest value to those who are fitting themselves for the ministry. It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors to the flock of God. As they cherish the thought that Christ is their Companion, a holy awe, a sacred joy, will be felt by them amid all their trying experiences and all their tests. They will learn how to pray as they work. They will be educated in patience, kindness, affability, and helpfulness. They will practice true Christian courtesy, bearing in mind that Christ, their Companion, cannot approve of harsh, unkind words or feelings. Their words will be purified. The power of speech will be regarded as a precious talent, lent them to do a high and holy work. The human agent will learn how to represent the divine Companion with whom he is associated.
    Testimonies for the Church, Volume 6, Page 322

  48. A. Ecclesiastical authority

    Roman Catholicism and other episcopal churches believe that "[by] the laying on of hands in the ceremony of ordination, the authority of the apostles has been transmitted down through history to the bishops of today. According to this theory, which is known as the theory of apostolic succession, modern bishops have the authority which the apostles had, authority which the apostles had in turn received from Christ" (Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983-1985], 1071).

    This view of apostolic succession closely associates ordination and authority. There is no ecclesiastical authority without ordination. Furthermore, ordination within the apostolic succession confers upon the recipient a sacramental power to perform the rites and ceremonies of the church. Without the proper ordination, the minister cannot perform efficaciously the sacraments of the church.

    Ellen White's understanding of the purpose of ordination varies greatly from the episcopal model; her clearest comments on this are found in connection with the ordination of Paul and Barnabas (AA 160-162). These two apostles had seen their labors abundantly blessed by God during their early ministry in Antioch even though "neither of them had as yet been formally ordained to the gospel ministry" (AA 160. In my opinion, her use of the adverd 'formally' indicates that God had already ordained them to their ministry before the church at Antioch ordained them by the laying on of hands before sending them off on their first missionary journey).

    But they had reached a point in their ministry when God desired to entrust them with the carrying of the gospel message to the Gentiles. For this purpose, and to meet the challenges of the task, "they would need every advantage that could be obtained through the agency of the church" (ibid.).

    Here Ellen White's concept of ordination suggests a close relationship between God and his church. As we have already seen, God commissions and ordains all Christians to ministry first, then, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the church sets its seal of approval upon the work of God through the laying on of hands on some chosen individuals. "The circumstances connected with the separation of Paul and Barnabas by the Holy Spirit to a definite line of service, show clearly that the Lord works through appointed agencies in His organized church" (AA 162). Before being sent forth as missionaries, Paul and Barnabas were dedicated to God by the church at Antioch which, in this case, became God's instrument in the formal appointment of the apostles to their God-given mission.

    According to Ellen White's description of this event, the ordination of Paul and Barnabas fulfilled five inter-related purposes.

    First, the church invested them with full church authority to teach the truth, perform baptisms and organize churches (Redemption, or the teachings of Paul and his mission to the Gentiles, 5).

    Second, foreseeing the difficulties and the opposition ahead of them, God wished for their work to be above challenge and, thus, receive the sanction of the church (ibid., 6).

    Third, the ordination was a public recognition to the church at large that they had been chosen by the Holy Spirit for a special work to the Gentiles (ibid.).

    Fourth, "the ceremony of laying on of hands added no new grace or virtual qualification", it was the action of the church setting its seal of approval upon the work of God (ibid., 7).

    Fifth, hands were laid upon the apostles to ask "God to bestow his blessing upon them" (ibid.).

    Thus we see that Ellen White's definition of ordination is altogether pragmatic: it is a public recognition of divine appointment and an "acknowledged form of designation to an appointed office" (ibid., 6-7).

    What is the relationship between ordination and authority?

    For Ellen White, the church grants authority to the ordained minister to preach the gospel, and to act in its stead in the organization of churches and all its ministries. As far as the performance of some church rites is concerned, her comments imply that only the church can authorize an individual to perform these rites. Therefore, the church does confer authority upon some chosen individuals through the ordination ceremony. Here we find that the laying on of hands is a ceremony to serve the purpose of the church. It is also the church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which ultimately decides who is to be given authority through ordination.
    Extract from an article by Denis Fortin

  49. B. Divine Authority

    Yet, our understanding of the relationship of authority to ordination would be incomplete if we were to consider only the church authority conferred upon a minister at ordination. Ellen White presented also another aspect of authority which is shared by all Christians, in general, and by ordained ministers, in particular.

    As a Christian, an ordained minister not only possesses ecclesiastical authority to perform his duties for the church, but possesses also divine authority to preach the gospel and serve as an ambassador of God. This divine authority is, I believe, more fundamentally related to the priesthood of all believers.

    Speaking about ordained ministers as Christ's ambassadors on earth, she affirms that from "Christ's ascension to the present day, men ordained of God, deriving their authority from Him, have become teachers of the faith. . . . Thus the position of those who labor in word and doctrine becomes very important" (4T 393 italics supplied).

    Elsewhere, again speaking about ordained ministers, she adds, "He has ordained that there should be a succession of men who derive authority from the first teachers of the faith for the continual preaching of Christ and Him crucified. The Great Teacher has delegated power to His servants. . ." (4T 529 italics supplied).

    Although, at first glance, the phrase "a succession of men who derive authority from the first teachers of the faith" may seem to validate a belief in episcopal apostolic succession, Ellen White did not say that ordained ministers receive their authority directly from Peter, through a direct succession of laying on of hands ceremonies. Rather, she affirmed that the authority of God's servants is derived from God and the first teachers of the faith. This derivation of authority is based upon faithfulness to the Word of God and to truth.

    Her comments in The Desire of Ages concerning the apostolic succession are explicit. "Descent from Abraham was proved, not by name and lineage, but by likeness of character. So the apostolic succession rests not upon the transmission of ecclesiastical authority, but upon spiritual relationship. A life actuated by the apostles' spirit, the belief and teaching of the truth they taught, this is the true evidence of apostolic succession. This is what constitutes men the successors of the first teachers of the gospel" (DA 467).

    As long as a servant of God (not only an ordained minister) is faithful to God and his word, this person has divine authority to "labor in word and doctrine". This ties in with what we have seen in regard to the priesthood of all believers. This is what the church acknowledges when ordaining a person to ministry. The authority of an ordained minister is, consequently, first, derived from God and, secondly, conferred by the church. The first gives authority to teach the faith, while the second to act on behalf of the church.
    Further extract from Denis Fortin

  50. Through out these discussions many men ask where in the Bible are women appointed as Pastors. I say how many men are specifically named as being appointed as Pastors, or even as Elders?

    My point after reading the two extracts I quoted, Jesus said he had many things to tell the disciples but they could not bear it them, He said the Holy Spirit would reveal it to them. So why don't we pay attention to our churches' prophet who gives us messages from the Holy Spirit, when she explains what ordination means and when she makes a clear statement like the one quoted by John: It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become PASTORS to the flock of God. Testimonies V6, pg 322

  51. Hello, Richard Ferguson,

    You mentioned Adam was fully aware that something vital and crucial was missing, I agree, but what was missing was not someone who could do the same thing as him, but someone who could play a different role. How could someone notice something is missing, if it is everything that they already are capable of?

    Benjamin Dwayne

  52. I believe my mission is summarized in 1Pe 3:15 “but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason of the hope in you, with meekness and fear”

    So I would like to share with SSNet step by step what I believe about this elephant!

    Step 1: Methods of Bible Study

    I believe in the Methods of Bible Study document dated Oct 12, 1986 which is part of the Official Statements Documents of the SDA church.
    See below some extracts that I believe are helpful (emphasis is mine).

    I believe that the message of salvation is clear and plain for everyone to understand but I agree with Peter that in some of Paul’s letters “there are some things hard to be understood” and thus need to be studied carefully.

    This excerpt from the document summarizes what I believe: “Every experience or statement of Scripture is a divinely inspired record, but not every statement or experience is necessarily normative for Christian behaviour today. Both the spirit and the letter of Scripture must be understood (1Cor. 10:6-13; The Desire of Ages, 150; Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 10-12).”

    c. Seek to grasp the simple, most obvious meaning of the biblical passage being studied.
    d. Seek to discover the underlying major themes of Scripture as found in individual texts, passages, and books.
    e. Recognize that the Bible is its own interpreter and that the meaning of words, texts, and passages is best determined by diligently comparing scripture with scripture.
    f. Study the CONTEXT of the passage under consideration by relating it to the sentences and paragraphs immediately preceding and following it. Try to relate the ideas of the passage to the line of thought of the entire Bible book.
    g. As far as possible ascertain the HISTORICAL CIRCUMSTANCES in which the passage was written by the biblical writers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
    h. Determine the literary type the author is using. Some biblical material is composed of parables, proverbs, allegories, psalms, and apocalyptic prophecies.
    i. Recognize that a given biblical text may not conform in every detail to present-day literary category
    j. Take note of grammar and sentence construction in order to DISCOVER THE AUTHOR’S MEANINGS.
    k. In connection with the study of the biblical text, EXPLORE THE HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL FACTORS..
    l. Seventh-day Adventists believe that God inspired Ellen G. White. Therefore, her expositions on any given Bible passage offer an inspired guide to the meaning of texts WITHOUT EXHAUSTING THEIR MEANING OR PREEMPTING THE TASK OF EXEGESIS
    m. After studying as outlined above, turn to various commentaries and secondary helps such as scholarly works to see how others have dealt with the passage. Then carefully evaluate the different viewpoints expressed from the standpoint of SCRIPTURE AS A WHOLE.
    p. The Scriptures were written for the practical purpose of revealing the will of God to the human family. However, in order not to MISCONSTRUE certain kinds of statements, it is important to RECOGNIZE that they were ADDRESSED to peoples of EASTERN CULTURES and expressed in their thought patterns.

    While there is an overarching unity in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and while all Scripture is equally inspired, God chose to reveal Himself to and through human individuals and to MEET THEM WHERE THEY WERE IN TERMS OF SPIRITUAL AND INTELLECTUAL ENDOWMENTS. God Himself does not change, but He PROGRESSIVELY unfolded His revelation to men as they were able to grasp it (John 16:12; The SDA Bible Commentary, vol .7, p. 945; Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 21). Every experience or statement of Scripture is a divinely inspired record, but not every statement or experience is necessarily normative for Christian behaviour today. Both the spirit and the letter of Scripture must be understood (1Cor. 10:6-13; The Desire of Ages, 150; Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 10-12).

  53. Step 2 of my answers to those who ask my reason for what I believe about this Elephant!

    Step 2: The Nature & Relationship of the 3-in-1 Godhead

    The Nature of each individual in the 3-in-1 Godhead is one of self-sacrificing love and they live according to their Principles of Life which do not change.
    The Relationship between them is that of a unified equal Partnership that has existed for all eternity.

    Gen 1:26 And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.
    John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    John 14:9 Jesus said - He who has seen Me has seen the Father.
    John 17:5 And now Father, glorify Me with Yourself with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
    Joh 17:21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
    Joh 17:22 And I have given them the glory which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one,
    John 17:23 I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.

    Step 1: Methods of Bible Study
    The Scriptures were written for the practical purpose of revealing the will of God to the human family. However, in order not to MISCONSTRUE certain kinds of statements, it is important to RECOGNIZE that they were ADDRESSED to peoples of EASTERN CULTURES and expressed in their thought patterns.
    While there is an overarching unity in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and while all Scripture is equally inspired, God chose to reveal Himself to and through human individuals and to MEET THEM WHERE THEY WERE IN TERMS OF SPIRITUAL AND INTELLECTUAL ENDOWMENTS. God Himself does not change, but He PROGRESSIVELY unfolded His revelation to men as they were able to grasp it (John 16:12; The SDA Bible Commentary, vol .7, p. 945; Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 21). Every experience or statement of Scripture is a divinely inspired record, but not every statement or experience is necessarily normative for Christian behaviour today. Both the spirit and the letter of Scripture must be understood

  54. I have read every comment here regarding women's ordination, but no where has one very important text been mentioned that I believe sets the foundation of the whole matter. Back in the garden of Eden God gave a two part warning to Adam and Eve that would keep harmony forever between God and man and the animals -- stay together and away from the tree in the center of the garden, for evil dwells there. As we know, that didn't happen and we are reaping the fruits of their disobedience. As a result in Genesis 3:14-19 we find God instituting three different curses. On the snake - it would crawl on it's belly and eat dust, plus God placed enmity on it. On the man God placed a curse on the ground causing weeds, and his tending of the ground would be hard and sweaty. The curse on Eve was two-fold - she would bear children in pain, and although her desire would be in her husband, he would rule over her. Why is the last part always left out? The snake still crawls on it's belly and eats dust, the ground is still cursed, and I know the pain of childbirth still exists, and I believe God in His wisdom still places the leadership of man over woman. Yes, man has abused that leadership that God intended, but that doesn't negate the fact that He cursed women to accept a subordination to man as a result of her part in the debacle of sin. We don't like to face truth, do we?

    The subject of 'equality' that Paul talks about, by the way, has only to do with equality in the gift of salvation. It has nothing to do with slave/master, men/women, ect. relationships.
    Any other use of that text takes it out of context, and it is no longer legitimate use of scripture.

    In looking at the world today and what the twin issue of woman's dominance and LGBT+ (which is really one and the same),
    how can we not see the mayhem it has caused out there. Why would we want to bring it into the church? But that is what we have done.

    In Patriarchs and Prophets, speaking of this experience, on page 55 we find: "All the lessons which God has caused to be placed on record in His word are for our warning and instruction. They are given to save us from deception. Their neglect will result in ruin to ourselves. Whatever contradicts God's word, we may be sure proceeds from Satan."

    Then on page 59 we find: "Eve had been perfectly happy by her husbands side in her Eden home; but like restless modern Eves, she was flattered with the hope of entering a higher sphere than that which God had assigned her. In attempting to rise above her original position, she fell far below it. A similar result will be reached by all who are unwilling to take up cheerfully their life duties in accordance with God's plan. In their efforts to reach positions for which He has not fitted them, many are leaving vacant the place where they might be a blessing."

    What a blessing God has given us in that chapter "The temptation and fall" in Patriarchs and Prophets. If only all would read it. It would cause us to think!!

    Worse than the issue at hand, women's ordination, is the spirit of rebellion that comes with the issue. Again,instead of accepting the world church's vote on three different occasions, we find the cry to agitate, agitate, until we get it overturned. Hardly the right spirit.

    • Sherle, there are two statements in your comment that need addressing:

      In looking at the world today and what the twin issue of woman's dominance and LGBT+ (which is really one and the same),
      how can we not see the mayhem it has caused out there. Why would we want to bring it into the church? But that is what we have done.

      The WO and LGBT+ issues are not the same. I have noticed that a number of other respondents have used a similar argument. Linking the two creates an emotive response that clouds the issue of women being called to preach the Gospel and pastor churches. Let us talk about women ministering and pastoring because they are led by the Holy Spirit to do it; not as some branch of the sexuality issue.

      The other comment that needs addressing is:

      Again, instead of accepting the world church's vote on three different occasions...

      We need to be clear that the church has voted twice on the issue of women's ordination. The essential meaning of the issue being voted was that the time was not right *now*, for women's ordination. In other words, it was left open that at some future time it may be acceptable. The third vote was essentially a vote as to whether individual divisions, in response to their needs, could make their own decisions.

      I would think carefully about the use of the word "rebellion" to describe women who would like some recognition from the church for their call to service. Many of them are pastoring churches and preaching the gospel without the word "ordained" being added to their CV. They are not seeking position or control - they just want to use their talents. Perhaps we need to rethink the whole ordination idea.

      • I agree with Maurice. In addition awhile ago the General Conference voted that women could be ordained as an Elder (which I was). So I don't understand how people can say Paul's description of the character of an Elder means a women can't be a Pastor.

    • I want to affirm what Maurice Ashton wrote. The issue of whether ordaining women to the gospel ministry is appropriate for Bible-believing Seventh-day Adventists has never been addressed by the world church in a General Conference session.

      However, a recent biblical study committee as well as two previous ones resulted in a majority understanding that there was nothing in the Bible to prevent the ordination of women.

      Of course much depends on how we understand the word "ordination." If we understand it in the Roman and Roman Catholic sense of conferring a higher status on the one ordained, then it seems to me that neither men nor women should be ordained, because Jesus made it clear that His disciples should not exercise authority over one another, as the Gentiles did, but they should *serve* one another. (Matthew 20:24-26)

      As I understand it, the offices of pastor or conference or union president are offices of *service.* And I haven't heard anyone objecting to women *serving.*

      I get the impression that it is a false understanding of ordination (that it confers a higher status on the receiver) that drives the protest against treating female pastors the same as male pastors. Such unequal treatment for essentially the same work and same position is actually in violation of our Fundamental Belief #14 which says, among other things:

      In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation.

      I am concerned about your reference to "women's dominance," because it seems to indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of not just a pastor's role but the God-designed relationship of believers one to another. Do you believe that men's ordination affirms "men's dominance"? Did Christ teach that men were to dominate women? Did He teach that some of His followers should "dominate" others?

      I see the opposition to the recognition of female pastors on the same basis as male pastors as misrepresenting God Himself as one who approves of dominance of males over females. If further implies that God "dominates" His church and His creation. Is that what Christ came to reveal about the Father? Is that what the death of Jesus taught us?

      I suggest a re-reading of Genesis 3:14-19. I read that neither Adam nor Eve were cursed. Only the serpent and the ground were cursed. In fact, within the curse on the serpent is found a redemptive promise to Eve - that she would bear an "offspring" who would destroy the serpent. Yes, she would have pain in childbirth, and Adam would have to work hard to provide food for the family. But both children and physical labor were to be a blessing. As I see it, that men would "rule over" their wives was a prophecy whose fulfillment we see all too readily. It was not a command to "rule over" wives. (But even if it were, did Christ say that all women should be subject to men in the church? Again, are men supposed to dominate women in the church?)

      It seems to me that if we study the life of Christ and how He treated women it becomes clear that the gospel is meant to restore men and women to their original relations at creation, when both were created equal and given the co-regency of the earth.

      • Another thought on

        The curse on Eve was two-fold - she would bear children in pain, and although her desire would be in her husband, he would rule over her.

        I already mentioned that I see this more as a prophecy, rather than a "curse."

        Here are my reasons:
        1. No mention is made of a "curse" on Eve. The pain in childbirth is more likely the natural result of the change in female bodies after sin. (Some very active women still have very little trouble delivering children.)

        2. Interpreting God's words regarding husbands "ruling over" wives would appear to command husbands to do something that is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Christ who taught us that we are not to exercise authority over each other ((Matthew 20:24-26). Rather, the descriptions of the husband-wife relationship in the New Testament picture a willing submission of the wife to her husband, *not* a husband's forceful rule over his wife. A husband is to act like Christ did, who gave His life for the salvation of the church. (Also see Phil 2:5-8)

        The way I see it, Christ demonstrated a self-renouncing love in our lives that leads us to submit ourselves one to another. (See Eph 5:21)

        So you think God would command Adam to do something that is altogether opposed to the teachings and example of the incarnate Son of God?

    • Sherle,

      If as you say Paul's statement
      "Gal 3:28  There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is no male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus"
      is only about salvation, then please explain - are you saying that prior to this women weren't saved like men are saved? 

  55. Maurice I believe you are wrong. WO is not the elephant in the room. Submission to authority is the elephant in the room.
    Those blaming the church (and incorrectly the President) for being “dictatorial” or worse are saying that these opposed to WO are “backward, repressive” members.
    Those against WO say that the others are going against the Biblical standards.
    Both sides have quoted Scripture and SOP to support their view.
    I’m not sure I have seen anyone convinced of the correctness of the other view but I frequently have seen some hard feelings develop.
    Before the issue was put to a vote in San Antonio I had an opinion but said that I would yield to the vote of the world church in a General Conference session, whether it matched my opinion or not.
    My thought was that God’s timing is definitely better than mine and that to do things in order is more important than whatever human opinions I may have.
    I realize that I am a member of what is probably a very small minority but I firmly believe that my opinion is not nearly as important as submitting myself to the Lord.
    I have faith that if we trust Him with everything in His time God will make the answer plain and that we will go forward according to His will and in unity.
    May you be blessed in your service to Him.

    • Some of the language used by both sides of this discussion is accusative and I think we have a lot to learn about how to disagree. I am not sure that submission to Authority is the issue here. I worked for the church for a long time and as I have said previously, I have seen both good and bad behavior by administrations. I have seen emotions raised in public administrative meetings and votes taken that in hindsight and on reflection were bad decisions. I have seen administrators carefully manipulate the result they wanted. On the other hand, I have seen administrators who have listened carefully and who have made wise and sometimes unpopular decisions for the good of the organization.

      We do need to ask ourselves about what we mean by authority. Do we recognize administrations as having authority over us in the same sense as the Catholic church uses the Pope/Cardinal/Archbishop/Bishop/Priest system, or do we have a different authority structure? What authority does the priesthood of believers have, if any?

      • Maurice
        No, I do not mean the Roman Catholic definition of submission to authority but our SDA structured version. Churches, Conferences, Unions, Divisions and ultimately the General Conference working as the world church. I would not appreciate a church where one person tells me what to do or believe. (I believe that is called a cult in most places)
        As the general conference gave the instructions, it’s actually not any of us individually who are obedient or not (except maybe in spirit) but parts of the church structure that are making decisions about activities.
        We need to humbly honor that structure of submission as Jesus submitted to the Father’s plan.
        The one who says that he’s not having people from backwards countries tell him what to do is no more correct than the one who says that no woman is going to tell him what to do.
        God will tell all of us what to do - maybe even through a donkey - and it is our choice to listen or not.
        At this point I choose to listen to the vote of the general conference and I fear for those who do not care to listen, and for our church.
        Those who disagree need to prayerfully work on a way to convince the others that the change is part of God’s plan and then see what happens in 2020 (less than two years from now). Prayer according to God’s word is powerful.
        If it is right it cannot fail, even if the timing isn’t what some want.
        I have things I am broken hearted over but I keep coming to God and thanking Him for working out His will and then I have to mean it and just wait to see what he will do.
        I don’t believe going against the world church is the right way to fix anything.
        That’s why I said submission is the elephant in the room.
        But I pray that we go forward in unity. The discussion here is probably the first one I’ve even been willing to follow as there isn’t a lot of name calling going on and I have read points to think on from both “sides”.

  56. Bottom Line
    The delegates at the 1990 General Conference Session did in fact vote to approve allowing women to serve as elders, and even to allow women employed as pastors who have been voted as elders by a local congregation to perform ministerial functions such as baptisms and weddings

    ... the vote was taken on the final part of the Church Manual revisions, those related to removing gender from the requirements for elders and permitting elders to conduct baptisms and weddings. Elder Kenneth Mittleider was the GC vice president chairing the meeting, and he announced the vote: “Those opposed to the motion: 494. Those in favor: 776.” (Page 938)

  57. I have been saddened to see obstinate and selfish behavior on both sides of this question. We have much to learn about how to treat one another.

    I know there are people who disagree with me, just as there are people who agree with me. That does not make one side right and another side wrong. There have always been different interpretations of some passages of scripture and sometimes the correct or best alternative is not all that clear. I know what I believe and why I believe that, but at the same time, I try to be generous to those who disagree with me. There is no sense in winning the argument and turning someone away from Jesus in the process.

    Regarding Genesis 3, there are two interpretations, either it is prescriptive or descriptive. I think that God is describing the way men will treat women as a result of sin rather than prescribing that man should rule over women. I accept that there are others who think differently and that because of sin, man has to rule over women, but it is a view that I find difficult to ascribe to because it elevates men over women.

    Regarding the message to 1 Tim 2: 11-12. I wonder how far do we want to take the issue of women not speaking in Church. Should it apply to Sabbath School as well? Within my circle of acquaintances, I have women who are accomplished academics in Biblical theology, and who speak eloquently and engagingly of the Gospel. Should the church prevent them from preaching a sermon because Paul said they should be silent in Church? I don't think that was ever Paul's intention.

    • Maurice,

      I wholeheartedly agree with the contention brought up by this topic. Winning seems to be the goal and not understanding. Thank you for your comments.

      I understand your approach about the results of sin elevating men over women and that's not right, so there must be an understanding of that text that is in line with the character of God.

      Question, is teaching Sabbath School exerting authority over man in the Church? Even preaching a sermon?

      Also, do you think that skill is a qualifier for ordination? As humans, we may be persuaded that if a women even a man has oratorical skills, charisma, etc. that that is what qualifies them for certain positions, but I don't believe it does. The Holy Spirit doesn't come in a skill set, Moses sure wasn't skillful. God is not looking at our human resumes that makes us dependent upon self, but our weaknesses that makes us dependent upon Him. I believe that a lot of the desire for WO is the skill and talent that many women have in our Church and wanting to be considered at a level that we feel appreciates that, being a pastor or leader of the Church. But our desires may not necessarily be in line with God's.

      Women can win souls and be used powerfully for the work of God, but when recognition is desired are we decreasing (for God to increase) or increasing (for God to decrease)?
      I totally believe that if a women was a pastor of a Church and preached a sermon that she would win souls for Christ. But the ends does not justify the means. People have been won to Christ in many ways even outside the Church by unsuspecting people, even drug addicts, alcoholics being used for God's glory, but this doesn't mean that its okay to drink and use drugs. The ends does not justify the means.

      This issue I believe has been brought in by the enemy to create division in the SDA Church and sadly it's working. I am inclined to believe as well that the outside culture has a lot to do with it, too. The media has an agenda that is affecting the world over and we are playing into it. We must remember that as Christians we are of a higher(Heavenly) culture that is not like this world and will be hated for it.

      Benjamin Dwayne

    • Maurice, concerning the meaning of Gen 3 and Paul's counsel in 1 Tim 2, do you see how Paul is interpreting this? Also, the "speaking" isn't the issue, but authority is. I don't think the act of talking is here addressed by Paul, but the exerting of authority. Paul's letters have much we can learn from, having been taught by Jesus personally.

      Do we imagine that God is bound by the customs of the world when organizing and instructing His people, who are to become prepared to stand in His presence before Jesus returns? I would agree that when one first approaches a place where customs are not divinely appointed, that tact and care be practiced with kindness, courtesy, and sympathy to their ignorance, but once the Gospel of Christ is received, why continue to instruct God's people in the ways of their former ignorance? Jesus' kingdom is "not of this world".

      Just questions which I believe require consideration with this main topic of discussion. Whatever we will conclude as individuals, can we be certain it is agreeable to the will of God? (see Prov 22:20,21)

        • What "authority" did/does Jesus have over the disciples/church?

          What is the role of a pastor? Isn't it to stand in Christ's stead over a congregation, leading as He led(not in the worldly ways of lording over others)?

          Many pastors are content to preach, as there seems to be few that shepherd the flock as Jesus set the example for. Regarding authority, in some cases, Paul counseled pastors to "rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith". There are many duties of a pastor that place him as a shepherd over the precious souls given to his charge, with preaching being the least important of his tasks(you'll find this clearly emphasized in "Gospel Workers", the Testimonies, etc).

          I realize not many others here see it as I do, but in the role of a pastor, as with priests and kings, we find no evidence of it being appointed to a woman by God in scripture. This has nothing to do with worth or equality, but it is clearly God's will revealed. I don't wish to argue with anyone who doesn't see it. They can take it up with God's Word and see what they find. Most of the Christian world does not see the Sabbath, the Sanctuary, and other SDA beliefs/practices in the word of God. So disagreement does not have to lead us to question God's leading on any truth. His leading is there for anyone to know and follow.

          Anyone can teach a SS class, give bible studies, or a sermon for worship without needing to be a pastor ordained for service by the Church.

          Lastly, we need to know God's will in order to obey it, yet we need no explanation for why if God has not chosen to revealed why, yet we seem to have a why here don't we? At least I've yet to hear a sound reason for taking it to mean anything else, while hearing many arguments to disregard it "in our day".

          • Robert, you wrote,

            in the role of a pastor, as with priests and kings, we find no evidence of it being appointed to a woman by God in scripture.

            The only reference to "pastors" (literally "shepherds") I can find in the Bible is in Ephesians 4:11-12. Am I to understand that you believe that all the "appointments" mentioned in this passage are reserved only for men?

            It seems to me that if we equate pastors with priests and kings, we have a far bigger problem than treating female pastors the same as male pastors. Equating pastors with "priests" seems to be mainly practiced by the Roman Catholic Church and closely related denominations. Do you feel we should follow suit?

            As to equating pastors with kings, what comes to my mind is Ellen White's stern warning against conference presidents exercising "kingly power."

            Rather, we find Paul teaching us to have the "mind of Jesus," which is the polar opposite of a mindset of "kingly power." See Phil 2:5-8

            Perhaps we should also address what it means to "be ordained," because different people clearly have very different ideas. A cognate question is whether ordination, as currently understood and practiced, is biblical in its principles.

          • Inge, please read again my comment and notice there is no mention of earthly kings or Catholic priests being examples for our pastors/ministers to follow. I clearly state that Jesus is the Example to follow.

            The similarity of the roles I was pointing out is that of being a position of authority(in reply to Maurice) appointed by God to be in His stead before the people(yes, though God did not desire Israel to have a king, when they insisted, He allowed it, but appointed the person to be the king Himself, and gave clear commandments for the king to follow, which, beginning with Solomon, were disregarded completely). Jesus' example on earth was not that of a king or priest, but a shepherd/pastor. This Example all pastors/ministers are safe to follow when called to do so, as stated clearly in my comment above. So why the spin on my words?

            When has the church in the prior centuries felt that God has appointed women to this role of authority* over His congregation? If this has been done by the apostles, it would be helpful to know wouldn't it? If they haven't, why are we wanting to do so now? Where is the mandate from the Lord, who is The Head of the Church? This would be helpful to know as well. Until then, what do we have to guide us to be in harmony with God's will on this matter?

            *In regard to having authority, here is what Ellen has written, citing the efforts of Paul, who was called of the Lord:

            "The Thessalonian believers were greatly annoyed by men coming among them with fanatical ideas and doctrines. Some were “disorderly, working not at all, but ... busy-bodies.” The church had been properly organized, and officers had been appointed to act as ministers and deacons. But there were some, self-willed and impetuous, who refused to be subordinate to those who held positions of authority in the church. They claimed not only the right of private judgment, but that of publicly urging their views upon the church. In view of this, Paul called the attention of the Thessalonians to the respect and deference due to those who had been chosen to occupy positions of authority in the church." (AA 261)

            Does this answer your question Maurice?

          • Robert, I repeat,

            Perhaps we should also address what it means to "be ordained," because different people clearly have very different ideas. A cognate question is whether ordination, as currently understood and practiced, is biblical in its principles.

            We cannot have a conversation if we mean different things by the same words - which is a logical fallacy of equivocation. Thus, I need to know what you think it means to "be ordained," with all its ramifications in the context of the current discussion.

            And, by the way, if you did not mean "earthly kings," but the heavenly King of kings, as the authority model for a pastor, it seems to make your argument even more Roman Catholic.

          • Robert, I agree with Inge, let us understand what it means "to ordained". I believe it is a recognition of the God given talent of organization and the Spiritual Gift of being a pastor. When a Pastor is "ordained" he is given the authority by the church community to exercise the God given gifts of Organizational Leadership and Spiritual Leadership.

            Tit 1:5  For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in *order* the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city,  
            Tit 1:7  For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God;
            Tit 1:9  Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

            I am sure we agree that the Bible approves of a women who is able to organize - see Prov 31
            So then the real question is - does the Lord approve of a woman with the appropriate spiritual gifts exercising Spiritual Leadership in His church.

            When we have got down to the essence of the question then your question "has a women been appointed to the role of priest, king or apostle loses its validity." Then we have to ask has the Lord approved of any women exercising Spiritual Leadership over His people. And then the answer is Yes of course, namely Miriam Deborah, Huldah, many Co-Workers of Paul and then Ellen White of course.

            It is not the role of pastor, it is the exercise of Spiritual Leadership that is the issue. Being a Pastor is not about authority per se, it is servant leadership that the Lord requires from his representatives.

            To ordain means to appoint to a position or role in the church, it falls under the Church Manual not under the 28 Fundamental Beliefs.

            As Inge says, if you have a different understanding of what it means to be ordained, please share it with us.  

          • Extract from "Women's Ordination: Is the Church Free to Act?" by Ty Gibson:
            Take ordination itself, for example. Nowhere in Scripture can we find explicit justification for our particular method of or criterion for pastoral ordination. By “ordain” we basically mean something like, “This person has met certain educational and professional standards.” Now let’s be clear: that is not what was being said or done when elders or deacons were ordained in the apostolic church.

            What, then, was going on when the apostolic church ordained someone? Something like this: “We, as the church, see the fruit and anointing of the Spirit in this person. We believe and pray that God will prosper them in their mission to take the gospel to the world.”

            But there’s more. And don’t miss this part, because nobody seems to be talking about it: in order to be ordained as a globally-recognized pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist church, you have to be an employee. Let that register. Our particular method and mode of ordination, when it comes to a globally-recognized pastor, is basically an educational, professional, and career-based attainment within an employing organization called the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Again, this is only tangentially related to what was happening in the apostolic church.

            And yet we do it.

            Do you see the point? What we call “ordination” in our modern ecclesiastical context means one sort of thing, but it certainly doesn’t look much like what was happening in the apostolic church. Does that make our modern system bad? No, not necessarily. It just makes it what it is: our particular system. The fact that we have used a quasi-biblical word—“ordination”—to describe a modern mode of operation, creates an unusual situation in which many well-meaning, modern Seventh-day Adventists assume they’re standing up for a biblical model of “ordination” when, in reality, very little about our version of “ordination” is biblical at all!

            But, it’s working, for the most part, and that’s a good thing. Praise God!

            So, this is the question I’m posing: is the church free to do as it deems best for the advancement of the gospel as long as it operates within the principles of righteousness?

            Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

            Our inclination is for God to give us rigid parameters and dictates, while God’s inclination is to give us freedom to assess our situation and act out intelligent plans. The church is free to act, and God is happy with our freedom and the creative solutions we come up with to the real-world problems we face.

          • Main content of: Dr. George Knight: "Biblical Meaning of Ordination"

            Confused about ordination? Watch this video. Dr. George Knight, professor emeritus of church history at the SDA Theological Seminary, clears up the confusion. Dr. Knight is a leading Adventist historian, theologian, author, and educator. He is the best-selling Adventist author of the past 30 years and is one of the most influential voices in the denomination. Here is a brief summary of some of the fascinating facts explained by Dr. Knight:

            1. Ordination is not a biblical concept (it is a post-biblical Catholic concept).
            2. The laying on of hands is a biblical concept, but they received their “commission from God Himself, and the ceremony of the laying on of hands added no new grace or virtual qualification.” It was simply a human recognition that God had called the person. (AA, p. 161)
            3. After Bible times, the Catholic church started to associate “ordination” with the laying on of hands. But they viewed ordination very differently.
            4. The Protestant view is that “ordination” is merely a symbolic outward recognition of God’s calling (commissioning) of a person.
            5. The Roman Catholic view is that “ordination” confers miraculous power upon a priest to transubstantiate bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ and to remit sins.
            6. A pastor’s work is only to preach God’s Word and love God’s people. (II Timothy 4:1, 5.)
            7. Who decides who can be a pastor? Jesus gave spiritual gifts, including the gift of pastoring (and they are not based on gender). (Ephesians 4:8, 11-13) The Bible has examples of female prophets and preachers.
            8. Only the Holy Spirit decides how to distribute the gifts of the Spirit. (I Cor. 12:4, 7, 11, 28)
            9. The laying on of hands merely recognizes publicly what the Holy Spirit has already done. (EGW, AA p. 161)
            10. The vote at the General Conference is not about whether women can be ministers. The GC already approved women in ministry in 1990, and the Bible has several examples of women in ministry.
            11. Women suffered discrimination in the culture of the Bible times. They were treated like property. Those who argue that there were no female priests should also consider that there were no priests of other races. But Jesus created a new system where there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female – where all believers are one in Christ. (Gal. 3:28)
            12. The “husband of one wife” passage was a limitation against fornication and polygamy, not an indication that only males can be ministers. Jesus and Paul were not married.
            13. Ordination of women is a “problem” only if you have a Roman Catholic view of ordination as adding power. But ordination is merely a recognition what has already taken place in heaven, where God called the person. The opponents of women’s ordination are simply confused about what biblical ordination is.
            14. The General Conference already approved women in ministry 25 years ago. Men and women ministers already have the laying on of hands. The only difference is that the men are called “ordained” and the women are called “commissioned.” It is merely a word game, because they do the exact same work, and the two terms mean the same thing.
            15. God is the One who ordains a person to ministry. Human “ordination” does not change anything. It merely gives public recognition and a paper certificate.
            16. Since ordination and commissioning are the same thing, and our male and female pastors already do the same work, there is no reason to discriminate between the terms “commissioned” and “ordained” on their certificates.
            17. It is especially amazing that Adventists are having this debate, given the fact that the most influential clergy person in Adventist history was a woman.
            18. The confusion and debate over “ordination” would dissolve if we get rid of a Catholic view of ordination and accept the biblical view.

  58. Step 3 of my answers to those who ask my reason for what I believe about this Elephant!

    Step 3: The Nature of the Angels

    We know that angels are promoted to new positions, which means that they were not created to fill a particular one without the possibility of new opportunities for service. Gabriel was not a covering cherub, but was assigned that position after the fall of Lucifer.

    All things both in heaven and in earth declare that the great law of life is a law of service. The infinite Father ministers to the life of every living thing. Christ came to the earth “as He that serveth.” Luke 22:27. The angels are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” Hebrews 1:14.

    “The more studiously the intellect is cultivated, the more effectively it can be used in the service of God, if it is placed under the control of his Spirit. Talents used are talents multiplied; experience in spiritual things widens the vision of saints and angels, and both increase in capability and knowledge as they work in their respective spheres. ”Ellen White, Special Testimonies on Education, 57.

    Step 2: The Nature & Relationship of the 3-in-1 Godhead
    The Nature of each individual in the 3-in-1 Godhead is one of self-sacrificing love and they live according to their Principles of Life which do not change.
    The Relationship between them is that of a unified equal Partnership that has existed for all eternity.

    Step 1: Methods of Bible Study
    The Scriptures were written for the practical purpose of revealing the will of God to the human family. However, in order not to MISCONSTRUE certain kinds of statements, it is important to RECOGNIZE that they were ADDRESSED to peoples of EASTERN CULTURES and expressed in their thought patterns.

  59. I'm wondering out loud whether the discussion of gender roles within Christendom, and particularly within our denomination, introduces the biggest elephant yet into "our room". Each INDIVIDUAL who professes to be a follower of Christ MUST necessarily SUBORDINATE him/herself to His authority (Mt 17:5; Lk 6:46; Act 3:22-23). While He selected "the twelve" for a purpose (Mt 10:5-7) and even went on record with His specific purpose for Peter (Mt 4:18-19; Jn 21:17), He clearly taught who would occupy His position of authority after His ascension (Jn 16:7,12-14). The question of Jesus' authoritative teaching regarding the invisible, intelligent leadership of His Church by His Holy Spirit looms menacingly over whether we believe, let alone are willing to subordinate, to His teaching on this matter.

    Jesus instructed His disciples to wait for His Power, who would not only enable their witness among Jews (Act 1:8), but would continue to expand it beyond Jerusalem and Jewish culture (Lk 24:47-49). The OT Scripture (Joel 2:28-29) began to prepare these Jewish witnesses who would come under the New Covenant ministry in Christ (Eze 11:19-20; Act 1:4-5), regarding what would be the nature and scope of His ministry (Act 10:2,15,28). In this specific instance, Peter's Spirit-directed "fishing" ministry created some discord (Act 11:2-3). This discord arose, not because of any wrong action on Peter's part, but rather because everyone did not share the mind of Christ's designated Leader--the Holy Spirit (Eze 18:30-31; Rm 8:9,13-14).

    I find it interesting that part of the preparation intended for the early Jewish witnesses in Joel 2:28-29, and which may be instructive to the matter currently under discussion is in danger of being undervalued. How is Paul's instruction in 1 Tim 2:11-15 and 1 Cor 14:34-35 to be understood, when compared to Joel 2:28-29? Was Paul teaching in these two primary references that there is something intrinsically objectionable or wrong with female-derived instruction or authority? Was that true only in a church gathering? Was a female never to instruct her husband or male child(ren) in the home? If a female is permitted to "teach or to have authority over a man" child(ren) in the home, at what age is he released from his mother's "authority"?

    On the other hand there is the preparatory Scripture in Joel 2:28-29. At the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, Peter quotes Joel 2:28-29 (see Act 2:16-18). Note God's prophetic intention to pour out His "Spirit on all flesh" in accordance with Gal 3:8,14, with specific mention that both "sons and your daughters shall prophesy", repeating "My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy" (Act 2:18; Gal 3:27-29). Paul emphasized the importance of the prophetic gift (1 Cor 14:1) and why (1 Cor 14:5,12,24-25,31). Now, if the Spirit is the one responsible for the distribution of the prophetic gift (1 Cor 12:7,10-11), wouldn't some be insisting that He give it only to males, since it is for the "edification of the church" (1 Cor 14:4) and women are to "keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak" (1 Cor 14:34)? Why should the daughters of Philip the evangelist be in possession of the prophetic gift (Act 21:8-9)? Why should a stalwart like Apollos (Act 18:24,27-28) subordinate himself to a ministry so strongly associated with a woman (Act 18:26; 1 Cor 16:19)?

    As I see it, the question isn't really about female ordination. The question really is whether those professing Christ will come in possession of the "mind of Christ" and be led by His designated Head, or whether His designated Head will be led by the body.

    • Lynrol, I very much appreciate your comment. You make some excellent points, but I'm a bit confused by your concluding statement and hope you can clarify:

      The question really is whether those professing Christ will come in possession of the "mind of Christ" and be led by His designated Head, or whether His designated Head will be led by the body.

      Who, in your mind, is "His designated Head." (I'm puzzled, because the "designated Head," according to my understanding, can *never* be "led by the body.")

      • Inge, thanks for the opportunity for clarification. I believe, based in Scripture, that sinners who are rescued by God the Father from satan's domain are placed in the care of God the Son (Col 1:12-14,21-23; Jn 17:6-9; Hos 11:1,3-4). Jesus, the Son of God, as typified in the ministry of Moses (Dt 18:18-19), provides a kind of "wilderness" leadership (Mt 2:14-15; Jn 6:31-33) and conveys those rescued from satan's domain to the land promised (Lk 24:49; Act 1:4; Heb 4:9-10).

        This "promised land" isn't a physical place, but represents an experience where the Son bequeaths governance of those rescued to God the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:7,12-14; Act 2:38-39)--Christ's designated Head. This is the end result of an ongoing relationship of subordination to the Son's authority and leadership (Jn 15:26-27; note "BECAUSE you have BEEN WITH ME from THE BEGINNING"). The "promised land" experience is depicted in Scripture as a final state (Eph 1:13-14; 4:30), violated at a severe cost (Lev 18:1-3,27-29; Heb 6:4-6; 10:29-31).

        Inge, so to answer your request for clarification directly, "the mind of Christ" is the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, who was similarly responsible for Christ's birth (Lk 1:35) and with whom He was specially anointed at His baptism (Lk 3:22; Act 10:38). We see the Holy Spirit assuming immediate direction of the path of His substitutionary ministry thereafter (Lk 4:1-2; Heb 5:5-8). All who make a profession of Christ must be anointed with a mind like His, that remains continuously subordinated to the Holy Spirit's authority and leadership (Jn 8:28-29; Act 2:38; Mt 10:20) in ongoing decision-making. All in such an experience ceases "their works" (Gal 5:19-21) and glorify their Father by entry into His ordained "place" of promised rest (Gal 5:22-23,25; 1 Cor 2:11-12,16).

  60. Jesus, when questioned about the law of divorce given by God to Moses pointed His hearers to the ideal of Creation for the standard. He said,“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

    They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.Matt. 19:4-8.

    The Creation standard is "no divorce." Plan B is "divorce permitted in certain situations."
    For male/female relationship the Creation standard is male and female created side by side. Plan B is man has the responsibility for headship but in the same self-sacrificing way that Christ has headship over the Church.

    Consider what Ellen White said about her ordination. "In the city of Portland the Lord ordained me as his messenger, and here my first labors were given to the cause of present truth."RH, May 18, 1911 par. 3. She was ordained by God and did not need the ordination of man. She said this about Paul's ordination, "Paul did not depend upon man for his ordination. He had received from the Lord his commission and ordination. He regarded his ministerial labor as a privilege. To him it was not a duty performed in return for money. He labored for the souls of men."6BC 1088.10

    Would we not solve the enigma if we applied the same standard to the issue of WO? Isn't it time for all to move forward in earnest to do what God has ordained all SDA's to do - give the light of the first second and third angels messages.

    "In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention. { 9T 19.1}

    • Hello, James,

      In response to your comment,
      "Would we not solve the enigma if we applied the same standard to the issue of WO? Isn't it time for all to move forward in earnest to do what God has ordained all SDA's to do - give the light of the first second and third angels messages."

      Are you implying that this work cannot be done without the ordination of women?
      Is it impossible to move forward without the ordination of women?

      I agree that in creation, male/female were side by side, but this does not mean a sameness of responsibility. We are all One body, with different functions. No, Eve was not lesser than Adam, but Eve had a different role than Adam.

      And after reading the EGW quote you supplied about her ordination as messenger. This doesn't look like she is saying that she was ordained as pastor or elder. Further clarification may be needed.

      Benjamin Dwayne

      • No, but we need all hands on board to get our responsibility into high gear. As I see it being a messenger ordained by God is the answer God has given in answer to the question, "Can women carry the spiritual responsibility of being a shepherd of the flock?"

        • Brother James,

          Do you believe that is God's answer to the question?
          Yes, women can carry the spiritual responsibility of doing the work of bringing people to Christ. But this response does not look like God is saying that they can Shepherd the flock.
          Getting our responsibility into high gear doesn't require WO, but all hands to do their part.
          It seems we are stretching this to meet our own standards and not God's.

          I'm not sure that what you see as a reason for WO is Biblically founded.

          Ben D.

    • Plan A, not plan B, is the Christian standard. A full vegetarian diet was the original and best plan, but meat eating was later permitted as Plan B. Just as we can aim for best health with a plant-based diet, so we should strive for full equality of women in all spiritual life.

  61. Viewing comments, I tend to conclude that WO really is NOT about being given permission to minister and witness for the Lord.
    Ordination has nothing to do with permission to work for the Lord. Christ has already commissioned us to do that!
    Indeed, a woman (or any person) can witness and minister in many ways, even preaching and teaching as well as serving and helping in whatever capacity their spiritual gifts and the help of the Holy Spirit enables them. Ordination is not required for any of that.

    So what is WO about?
    It's about recognition for a JOB!
    It's being recognized as a fully qualified and approved pastor, who is eligible to advance to higher positions in the church leadership structure if he/she so desires.

    A pastor just out of college is given a license and sent out for a few years to "prove" himself, and if he shows himself competent, he is ordained -- no longer under probation, he is recognized by the church as qualified for the job, and eligible to advance.

    A person who is not ordained, does not have that same level of recognition as being qualified for the job, nor the same authority, and they are held back in certain areas from advancing in the leadership of the church structure.

    It's not about "being able to minister for the Lord" but it is about climbing the ladder of recognition and status for a paying job within the church.

    Maybe the real question is -- do we even understand what "ordaining" really means, or have we simply turned it into a "graduation" ritual -- and women want to "graduate", too.

  62. The biggest objection to women being ordained is that an Elder must be a male, however read below a detailed report of the General Conference in session amending the Church Manual to allow women to be ordained as an Elder and when acting as a Pastor to baptize and marry people.

    The minutes of the 1990 GC Session, on page 938, reveal that during the afternoon meeting on July 12, General Conference delegates in Indianapolis voted 776 to 494 to adopt an amendment to the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual that they were told was specifically crafted to permit women to be ordained as local elders.

    ...at the 1990 General Conference Session in Indianapolis, the body voted to authorize female local church elders, and to give them permission as local elders to conduct baptisms and weddings. On page 911 of the official General Conference Bulletin for the 1990 Session, a revised statement on “Ordination of Local Elders” to be included in the Church Manual is listed as a voted item among “session actions.” It also introduces gender-neutral language: previous editions of the Church Manual used “he” in referring to local elders, while the new language said simply, “the elder” and does not specify sex.

    There was no misunderstanding of the intent of this revision when it was voted the next afternoon. In fact, it followed considerable discussion of this proposal and how it related to the historic decision taken at the same General Conference Session in Indianapolis to preserve unity in the denomination by not authorizing the ordination of women as clergy.

    The 1990 Decision

    When this item was introduced on the afternoon of July 11, 1990, Dr. Calvin Rock was chairing the meeting. He is quoted in the minutes as saying, “The next item is the second part of the document on the role of women in the church.” (The first part was the earlier decision about not ordaining women as clergy, which the special study commission had found was not prohibited by Scripture or the writings of Ellen G. White, but might be the cause of great disunity in the denomination.)

    Elder Neal C. Wilson, the General Conference president at the time and the father of today’s president, gave the background for the proposed revision. He traced it back to the 1985 GC Session when “a request was made to the North American Division Committee to clarify the functions of ministerial workers who hold ministerial licenses,” including “the functions of women who serve as pastors.” (Page 909.)

    From its beginnings in the 19th century, the denomination has issued a Ministerial License to new clergy to give them a few years to prepare for ordination. After ordination, the Ordained Minister Credential was issued. After the first discussion of the ordination of women at the 1881 GC Session, conferences had begun issuing the Ministerial License to women who were serving as pastors. In the 1990s, Commissioned Minister credentials were introduced to provide a parallel set of credentials for unordained clergy.

    “The North American Division was to make a full report to the 1989 GC Annual Council,” Neal Wilson said. “It was understood that the action of the 1989 Annual Council would be final. … It was suggested that in North America … women could be ordained as local church elders. At present [in 1990] there are 1,100 North American women who are ordained as local elders.”

    … After lengthy discussion and a lot of prayer, it was felt that the Holy Spirit had led, and that there was strong support for women to be ordained as local church elders.”

    Voted and Expanded

    The item was voted, and the meeting moved on to another related Church Manual revision, which clarified that unordained pastors were permitted to conduct weddings and baptisms. This discussion reignited essentially the same debate about the role of women in ministry. Many wanted to speak and the meeting ran out of time, so the discussion was continued at the meeting the next morning.

    Elder Charles Bradford, the president of the North American Division, was asked to answer a number of questions that had been raised in the debate. He explained that “for more than a decade” licensed ministers who were ordained as local elders had been permitted to conduct baptisms and weddings. (Page 912) Elder Alfred McClure, who was elected North American Division president at this session because of Bradford’s retirement, supported Bradford’s statement and told the delegates, “We believe that the matter that is before us is one that does not divide the church, but rather provides for some diversity while maintaining unity.”

    The chairman, Dr. Rock, reminded the delegates that “authority was given to the 1989 Annual Council by the General Conference Session” to decide the matter. A number of delegates expressed opinions for and against the proposed revision throughout the morning meeting, and as the afternoon meeting began, the chairman announced “there are 30 persons who want to speak” about it. (Page 936)

    Toward the end of the meeting, Elder Neal Wilson again reviewed with the delegates the steps that led up to the proposed revision, which everyone understood would allow women ordained as local elders and employed by local conferences as pastors to conduct baptisms and weddings, a practice that had been done in North America for a number of years.
    At this point, the vote was taken on the final part of the Church Manual revisions, those related to removing gender from the requirements for elders and permitting elders to conduct baptisms and weddings. Elder Kenneth Mittleider was the GC vice president chairing the meeting, and he announced the vote: “Those opposed to the motion: 494. Those in favour: 776.” (Page 938)

    Bottom Line

    The delegates at the 1990 General Conference Session did in fact vote to approve allowing women to serve as elders, and even to allow women employed as pastors who have been voted as elders by a local congregation to perform ministerial functions such as baptisms and weddings. The documentation can be seen at either the GC Archives website or the Adventist Review archives web page.

    In fact, a careful look at the history of the Adventist movement indicates that throughout its history there have been women serving as local elders, as preachers and as pastors. Although it has also long been the practice for only men to become ordained ministers, the arguments that this is a doctrinal requirement are more recent. There is nothing in Scripture or Adventist tradition that makes the office of ordained elder and ordained minister significantly different from one another. Ellen White, the most revered founder of the denomination and a woman believed by most Adventists to have exercised the ministry of a prophet, was recognized by the GC with the credentials of an ordained minister for much of her life.

  63. Step 4 of my answers to those who ask my reason for what I believe about this Elephant!

    Step 4: Pre-fall Nature of Relationship between Male & Female

    Creation Order:
    In Gen1 the Almighty Eloheem (3-in-1 Godhead) created order out of chaos.
    They created light & life.
    They created two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night.
    They created flora and then fauna and then humans
    Their last and crowning act of creation was humans and they were given dominion over the fauna.
    If it was Eloheem’s intention this was the logical point for them to institute the rulership of the male over the female, instead the emphasis was on the humans being in their image & likeness and being joint rulers over the fauna.

    Gen 1 has given us two tools to interpret Gen 2.
    1. The relationship must reflect the one between the individuals in the 3-in-1 Godhead, which we have discovered is an equal partnership based on self-sacrificing love
    2. Order of creation does not determine rulership
    The Hebrew language provides an additional tool: - the entire account is
    cast in the form of an “inclusio” or "ring construction," in which the
    creation of man at the beginning of the narrative and that of woman at the
    end correspond to each other in importance. The narrator underscores
    their equal importance by employing precisely the same number of words
    (in Hebrew) for the description of the creation of the man as for the
    creation of woman

    These 3 tools answer most questions raised.

    The reason I believe that Yahweh created the male and female separately and then brought them together is revealed in Yahweh’s statement “It is not good for the male to be alone, I will make him an equal partner”. This shows that the male alone could not truly reflect the likeness of Eloheem and that only the male & female in harmonious partnership could reflect the Oneness of the 3-in-1 Eloheem.

      • Praise the Lord and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I have been helped by the many lengthy resources on the topic and mainly I try and put together a short answer that reflects my understanding as well.

    Approaching a biblical text with a preconceived idea could lead us into an improper interpretation unless we are willing to listen to the text and to correct our preconceptions. Let me give you an example to illustrate how easy it is to find in a text what we are looking for instead of allowing the text to tell us what it means.
    If I were to argue (let it be clear that I am not arguing for this) that in the pre-fall headship Adam was under subjection to Eve, I could provide a list of points to support my assumption:
    (1) Eve was created after Adam and according to the order of creation that which is created second has dominion over what was created first; (2) in 1 Timothy 2:14 Paul is arguing that even though Eve was superior to Adam she was deceived, thus emphasizing the power of deception and the need to stay away from the enemy; (3) Satan went after Eve because she was the head of Adam and Adam would follow her; (4) Adam acknowledged her superiority when after seeing her for the first time he praised her, thus showing his willingness to exist under her; (5) God assigned servile work to Adam but not to Eve—he was going to be her servant; (6) man was to leave his parents in order to exist under submission to the woman; and (7) Adam existed for a while as an incomplete being but Eve enjoyed fullness of life from the very beginning.
    We can find in the text what we are looking for. The only safety is an interpretation that is based on the context of the passage. Based on the correct principle I can easily conclude that the headship of Eve over Adam is not found in the creation narrative; neither is there the headship of Adam over Eve.
    extract from article by Angel Manuel Rodriquez

  65. My last step is summarized in this article, "1 Corinthians 14:34, 35," by Ángel Manuel Rodríguez from our church's Biblical Research Institute:

    What about the role of women in the church? Some people use 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 to say that women should not have leadership positions. What was Paul saying in that passage?

    In this passage Paul clearly stated that women are to keep silent in church. If that prohibition is interpreted absolutely, as some do, women would basically disappear from church. It would mean they could proclaim the gospel to friends and relatives, but whenever they went to church their freedom to proclaim God’s goodness would end. Such an understanding of the role of women in church is not supported by the Bible.

    Throughout history God has used women in different roles. Particularly important is the fact that prophetesses proclaimed their messages to God’s people in public (Ex. 15:20; Judges 4:4-16; 2 Kings 22:14-20; Acts 2:17; 21:9). Paul himself acknowledged that a woman can pray and prophesy in church; that women are not strictly forbidden to speak in church. God, through the gifts of the Spirit, granted them that right and privilege (1 Cor. 11:5). The question is, What did Paul mean when he stated that women should be silent in church? We should keep several things in mind.

    1. Tensions during worship: One of the problems Paul had to meet in the church at Corinth was deciding proper behavior in church. Different groups with different ideas created confusion and tensions (e.g., 1 Cor. 1:10, 11; 14:26). This suggests that the speech of women that Paul prohibited was in some way contributing to that state of confusion. That is supported by the fact that the speech of women Paul referred to was related to questions they were asking and possibly comments they made that did not contribute to proper order in the church. This is indicated by the fact that Paul told them that if they had questions they should ask them to their husbands at home.

    2. Preaching is not the subject: The discussion was not whether women should preach or occupy important leadership positions in church, but about the proper attitude in church when instruction was being given. To forbid women to preach or teach in church or to hold leadership positions is to misuse this text. Paul was dealing with a very specific situation and was advising church leaders how to deal with it. He was regulating the only kind of speech directly mentioned in the text, namely, asking questions.

    3. Women should be instructed: Paul’s advice didn’t deny women the right to learn, but regulated the form the learning should take. He stated that in church they are to learn in silence, without speaking, subjecting themselves to the instruction being given. In the ancient world it was impolite for students to interrupt teachers with questions that in some cases showed their ignorance of the subject and disrupted the learning experience. In this case Paul proposed that women should not interrupt the teacher by asking disruptive questions; their education could also take place at home. In that more private setting they could ask their husbands questions and be properly instructed. The fact that husbands were expected to share their knowledge with their wives indicates that it was not their exclusive possession. In principle, Paul was affirming women’s right to learn. This right to learn about the gospel did not simply have the result of increasing their knowledge for personal self-fulfillment. It implies that they were being trained to teach others.

    This text simply suggests that in some of the churches there were tensions between women and their instructors. Paul tried to control that situation by controlling an abuse but not removing the privileges of praying, learning, and prophesying in public (1 Cor. 11:5). In fact the Greek verb sigao, “to keep silent,” could be also translated “to be still,” in the sense of not being too outspoken. We should not read Paul’s statement to mean that women are permanently forbidden to speak in church. The reason Paul gave for his counsel is that such conduct is unbecoming to Christian women in church. The church is not the place for a person—man or woman—to enter into verbal controversies with those in charge of instructing the congregation. Christian harmony is the rule.

  66. I was asked to research the actual details of the 3 General Conference motions of the SDA Church. I discovered that all three motions were essentially the following:

    (1) In the light of the fact that we are not all of one mind
    (2) the LORD approves certain women with appropriate God given Talents and Spiritual Gifts to exercise Spiritual Leadership in His Church
    therefore should the GC in session
    (3) in the meantime authorized the practice of ordaining appropriate women as Pastor for those who believe (2).

    The vote each time was no, not yet.
    Numbers: 2015 – 59% no, 41% yes; 1990 – 76% no, 24% yes; 1985 not applicable

    However the GC in session in 1990 did authorize the practice of ordaining women as Elders.
    In addition the GC in council did authorize appointing women to the role of Pastor to carry out the functions of a Pastor and to be Commissioned as a Pastor.

    The following are the actual motions.

    MICHAEL RYAN: All right. Thank you. And I’m just wondering, Dr. Ng, secretary of the General Conference, if we could just have a reminder of what it means to vote yes and what it means to vote no. I want to make sure this is absolutely clear in the minds of the delegates. Because, obviously, this is a very important item, and I want to make sure that we have that clarification.
    G. T. NG:

    If the majority of the church votes yes, that means divisions will be authorized to make decisions on the issues of women’s ordination within their territory.
    If the vote is no, divisions are not authorized to decide on the issue of women’s ordination in their territory, and therefore current policy stands.

    All right. Rosa, let’s have a rereading of the motion. Is it on the screen? Can we have it up on the screen and read that motion again so that we are absolutely clear?

    OK. In reading it off the screen, the question that has been moved already is: “After your prayerful study on ordination from the Bible, the writings of Ellen G. White, and the reports of the study commissions, and after your careful consideration of what is best for the church and the fulfilment of its mission, is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? Yes or No?”


    1. To take no definite action at this time regarding the ordination of women to the gospel ministry.
    2. To maintain the church's present position on this matter.
    3. To prepare further Biblical and other studies on the question of ordaining women by assigning specific topics to scholars and theologians for research.
    4. To assign discussion of the documents growing out of such research to a special representative committee that will be scheduled to meet early in 1988, its findings to be presented in a report to the 1988 Spring Meeting of the General Conference Committee and subsequently to the 1989 Annual Council, at which time the entire issue will be reviewed.

    [Motion was seconded and voted.]

    I think it is important that we know exactly the vote in this case. Permit me to restate the motion that is before us. The motion is to accept the report and recommendations of the Role of Women Commission as recommended by the 1989 Annual Council as follows:

    VOTED, To record that it is the sense of this body that the action on item 104-89GNa, Ordination of Women to the Gospel Ministry—Report of Role of Women Commission, taken on Thursday afternoon (see GCC 89-387), October 5, 1989 be interpreted and processed as follows:

    1. That the following portion of the report dealing with the ordination of women be referred to the 1990 General Conference Session for approval:
    “The presidents of the world divisions of the General Conference reported to the Commission on the situation in their fields with respect to the ordaining of women to the gospel ministry. In several divisions there is little or no acceptance of women in the role of pastors, ordained or otherwise. In other divisions some unions would accept women as pastors, but indications are that the majority of unions do not find this acceptable. However, in the North American Division there seems to be wider support of the ordination of women.
    “The division presidents also reported that based upon extensive discussions, committees, commissions, surveys, etc, there exists the probability that approving the ordination of women would result in disunity, dissension, and perhaps even schism. Hence the presidents came to these two conclusions:
    “1. A decision to ordain women as pastors would not be welcomed or meet with approval in most of the world Church.
    “2. The provisions of the Church Manual and the General Conference Working Policy, which allow only for ordination to the gospel ministry on a worldwide basis, have strong support by the divisions.
    “The General Conference and division officers present at the Commission concur with the conclusions of the presidents.
    “The Commission, having listened to the arguments and presentations for and against the ordination of women; having sensed the needs and concerns of the world field; having carefully considered what is probably best and the least disruptive for the world Church at this time; and recognizing the importance of our eschatological mission, the witness and image of our spiritual family, and the need for oneness of and unity in the Church, reports to the 1989 Annual Council of the General Conference the following results of its deliberation:
    “1. While the Commission does not have a consensus as to whether or not the scriptures and the writings of Ellen G White explicitly advocate or deny the ordination of women to pastoral ministry, it concludes unanimously that these sources affirm a significant, wide-ranging, and continuing ministry for women which is being expressed and will be evidenced in varied and expanding gifts according to the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
    “2. Further, in view of the widespread lack of support for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry in the world Church, and in view of the possible risk of disunity, dissension, and diversion from the mission of the Church, the Commission recommends to the 1989 Annual Council that we do not recommend authorization for women to be ordained to the gospel ministry.

    Source: General Conference Committee Minutes, October 9, 1989, 89-429-431 (http://www.adventistarchives.org/docs/GCC/GCC1989-10a/index.djvu).
    At the GC session 76% voted in favour of accepting the report and 24% not in favour of accepting the report.

    • Thank you Shirley for sharing the results of your research.

      So, the issue rests on 2 key points:
      1) No consensus has been able to be reached (despite years of investigation) on the biblical basis for or against women's 'ordination'. As Inge has been rightly drawing attention to through this discussion, it is vital to be aware that this is referring to 'ordination' as it is practiced within the SDA church organisation today. Hence, it is not surprising that the Bible does not directly comment on this practice of 'ordination'. Thus, there is no direct, Biblical mandate for women's 'ordination', AND there is no direct prohibition against it. Neither is there direct mandate for the modern practice of 'ordination' nor direct prohibition against it.

      2) Therefore, the present position has taken the a conservative approach in an effort to reduce the risk of "disunity, dissension, and diversion from the mission of the Church".

      Hence, in looking at the substantiated facts as reported in official documentation, the current official position on women's ordination has ultimately been based on what has been perceived by church leadership as currently expedient for the worldwide church as a single entity. [I am not implying this as a criticsm - I am merely identifying the basis that should be acknowledged].

      Thanks ssnet for providing a forum for constructive discussion and exploration.

      • If I may make some observations:

        First, we should not focus on "what is ordination" so much as an issue, but the appointment(by whatever means) of a woman in the position of authority over a congregation. Is this God's will or not?

        Secondly, the lack of being able to confirm a clear biblical teaching on this matter does NOT prove it doesn't exist. I don't know what it does prove, but I am certain what it does not prove(Prov 22:20,21).

        Third, however flawed the final decision of the body is or isn't, it is the decision of the church body at it's highest authority(the world congregation), so how would Jesus wish for all to receive it(Matt 16:19)? Is He pleased that it remains agitated, and that many have acted in open opposition to this decision of the church's highest governing body?

        That's it regarding the comment above.

        p.s. to everyone/anyone, this decision is NOT the decision of a few in leadership positions, but the majority decision of all the world delegates. Please remember this.

        • A pastor exercises spiritual leadership and organizational leadership, he/she does not have authority over the congregation.
          Jesus said:
          Mat 20:25  But Jesus called them and said, You know that the rulers of the nations exercise dominion over them, and they who are great exercise authority over them. 
          Mat 20:26  However, it shall not be so among you. But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. 
          Mat 20:27  And whoever desires to be chief among you, let him be your servant; 
          Mat 20:28  even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. 

          Of the two leadership functions of a pastor, I think the more important one is the spiritual leadership. We have clear indications that the Lord does approve of a woman exercising spiritual leadership over His people, namely Deborah and Ellen White. In addition Paul clearly included women in his remarks about fellow workers for the Lord that were on his and Apollo's level of leadership, The function of the fellow workers of God was so important that Paul urged the members of the church at Corinth, to be “in subjection to [hupotassō] such men [the household of Stephanas] and to everyone who helps in the work [Greek, “to every fellow worker”] and labors [laborer]” (1 Cor 16:16).140 It would be difficult to argue that the submission to fellow workers is to be limited to males when Paul explicitly calls some women coworkers. We find here ladies functioning in important leadership roles to whom church members are to be in subjection.

        • Yes it is about ordination. Let us be clear what the actual decision was by the GC in 2015.

          Excerpted from a 2015 article: Facts About Equality in Ministry by Alicia Hamlin

          Does God discriminate in whom He calls to minister? Does He have a pastoral caste system with second-class citizens based on race or gender? Does He relegate them to the “back of the bus” when they want to share the Good News? Has He installed a glass ceiling in heaven? God said we are all one in Christ; there is no male or female. (Gal. 3:28) If God does not discriminate, should His church do so?

          This summer the GC will decide whether it is “acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry?” We have been led to believe that it’s a theological issue about “male headship” or “women being silent” in church. But it’s actually a game of semantics and ecclesiastical politics. The underlying unwritten, unspoken implication is: God may not discriminate, but His church can.

          There is no real theological issue about male headship precluding women in ministry. “Christ, not the minister, is the head of the church.” (E.G.W., Signs of the Times, Jan. 27, 1890). The pastor is not the head; “Christ is the head of the church, which is His body.” (Col. 1:18) Over 125 years ago Ellen White declared: “There are women who should labor in the gospel ministry…. The way is open for consecrated women.” (Manuscript 43a, 1898). Sis. White said the Holy Spirit “prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors.” (R&H Jan. 15, 1901; T6 p. 322) Proportionately, there were many more women pastors in Ellen White’s time than now.

          “The refining, softening influence of Christian women is needed in the great work of preaching the truth.” (E.G.W., R&H, Jan. 2, 1879) “It is not always men who are best adapted to the successful management of a church.” (E.G.W., Pastoral Ministry, p. 36). The GC Session in November, 1887 “took action recommending those who should receive ministerial credentials. Ellen White’s name was among those voted to receive papers of the ordained ministers, although her ordination was [by God,] not by the laying on of hands by men.” (Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years: 1876-1891 [vol. 3], p. 377). By 1884, Mrs. White was listed as an ordained minister in the GC Yearbook, and many female pastors served in her era, as early as 1872.

          After a deep study of the Bible and the Pen of Inspiration, “Adventist scholars, in 1975, found no theological obstacles to ordaining women to gospel ministry.” (Adventist Review, March 7, 1985) The General Conference Biblical Research Institute concluded in 1976, “If God has called a woman, and her ministry is fruitful, why should the church withhold its standard act of recognition?” God said, on “both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit.” (Acts 2:18) And the General Conference approved commissioning women to the gospel ministry in 1990. For the past 25 years, this “commissioned minister” credential has allowed female pastors to do virtually anything an ordained minister can do.

          We already have over 3,200 women pastors, including more than 140 in North America. These female ministers preach, pray, give Bible studies, hold evangelistic crusades, win souls, baptize, perform weddings and funerals, visit the sick, dedicate babies, conduct communion services and prayer meetings, chair church board meetings and business meetings, and lead the congregation. Some are even senior pastors and lead a cadre of associate pastors. (If that is “headship,” it’s time to stop arguing because they already have it under the official 1990 GC policy.)

          So why aren’t they called “ordained”? The history of the terms “licensed,” “commissioned,” and “ordained” is tied to IRS rules for parsonage allowance tax deductions. According to church historian Mervyn Maxwell, the term “commissioned” was coined by the ever-helpful IRS. For political expediency, the term “commissioned” was used at the 1990 GC session to placate certain elements (largely oversees divisions) who thought women should not be ordained. (If your friend doesn’t like your horse, call it a cow.)

          These women pastors are consecrated to the gospel ministry in a “commissioning service” complete with prayers, Scripture readings, a sermon, a charge, and even the laying on of hands. The ceremony has an eerie resemblance to an ordination ceremony. “But don’t worry,” overseas divisions, “it’s not the same thing.

          If the GC really wants to have any significant debate based on the “male headship” theory or the “women must be silent” theory, they should vote whether to have women pastors at all, or whether to recognize their ministerial calling at all. But they can’t have that debate because the issue was de facto settled 25 years ago. Now the only issue left to decide is whether to print “ordained” on the certificate instead of “commissioned.” God does not care which word they use. “Commissioned” and “ordained” are the same thing in His eyes, and the female pastor will do the same work regardless of which word is used.

          The terms “commissioned” and “ordained” are used interchangeably in the writings of Ellen White. Ministers receive “their commission from God Himself, and the ceremony of the laying on of hands [ordination] added no new grace or virtual qualification.” (EGW, Acts of the Apostles, p. 161)

          Do you see the duplicity of some GC leaders in resisting women’s ordination by making those theological arguments, when the GC already decided 25 years ago to allow women pastors to be “commissioned”? ... Obviously the GC is not going to backtrack and vote to stop having female pastors or stop “commissioning” them. And that question is not even on the agenda.

          Moreover, a minister does not wield headship. The real meaning of “minister” is “to give service, care, or aid.” A pastor is a shepherd and servant. “Christ is the head of the church …. [and] the church is subject unto Christ.” (Eph. 5:23-24) “Christ is the only Head of the church.” (E.G.W. 21MR-274) So ordination of pastors is simply not an issue of theological headship.... All that really matters now is terminology: what word to print on the certificate that female pastors receive after the ceremony where the conference leaders lay hands on them and pray to consecrate them to ministry: will we continue calling women “commissioned,” or can we call them “ordained”?

          And the decision as to which word to print on the certificate, depends on politics. The ballot asks whether to let each division decide independently, and it’s common knowledge that North America tends to favour using the term “ordination,” whereas some overseas divisions prefer to continue “commissioning.” If the ballot is approved this summer, and the individual divisions then proceed to vote separately, their only real options will be to keep the term “commissioned” or change it to “ordained.”

          The divisions will not back-track on the 1990 policy and quit commissioning women as ministers or abolish female pastorates based on a “male headship” theory. The real debate here is not about whether to have female pastors or what their duties should be; the crux of the San Antonio vote is what to call these women. Female pastorates will exist regardless. It’s just an issue of terminology.

          Some argue that the Bible does not condone women’s ordination. The truth is, it does not prescribe any ordination for anyone. Ordination is not a biblical concept. It was a ceremony invented by the Roman Catholic Church based on Roman government ceremonies, long after Bible times. “The practice of ‘ordaining’ people is of Catholic origin. It has no basis in the Greek text of the New Testament.” “The Greek text indicates that in each town, the believers elected a number of mature and respected local believers, as elders.” Ordination is not evil, but “the [Greek] New Testament does not contain any mention or instruction regarding laying of hands on those who were elected as elders.” www.biblepages.net/eea021.htm

          Biblical or not, the GC already gave its blessing to women’s ordination (under the code name “commissioning”) 25 years ago. We already have “commissioned” female senior pastors and conference departmental leaders The real issue for this summer is which label to use. It’s a game of semantics.

          But it’s a game with a consequences, because the powers that be have decided that only an “ordained” minister can become a conference president. ...

          Since we already have female senior pastors with the GC’s blessing, the core issue for San Antonio is to determine whether to let the various divisions make their own decisions about whether to call these pastors “ordained” instead of “commissioned” (which could also be one of the qualifications to potentially serve as a conference president).

          For the full essay see https://ordinationfacts.wordpress.com/equality/

  67. Could someone please clarify for me a statement I heard recently - women were ordained ministers in the USA till the mid to late 1960's. This appearantly was stopped "over night" due to churches being taxed heaverly for women ministers? Thanks

      • Hi Phil, thanks for that link, in reading that article it highlights that no decision on church practices is "final" as we have seen over time they have been changed.

        • Never mind that our church practices can change over time (e.g allowing women to be ordained as elders and appointed as commissioned pastors), even our fundamental beliefs can also be revised - see intro, so Robert saying that the vote at 2015 GC is "final" is not correct.

          Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as their only creed and hold certain fundamental beliefs to be the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. These beliefs, as set forth here, constitute the church's understanding and expression of the teaching of Scripture. Revision of these statements may be expected at a General Conference session when the church is led by the Holy Spirit to a fuller understanding of Bible truth or finds better language in which to express the teachings of God's Holy Word.

  68. Hi Robert.

    "First, we should not focus on "what is ordination" so much as an issue, but the appointment (by whatever means) of a woman in the position of authority over a congregation. Is this God's will or not?"

    From Fundamental Belief #18: "Her (Ellen White) writings speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church." According to this Fundamental Belief, the church holds that Ellen White's ministry is authoritative to the entire church to the extent that such is claimed as an identifying mark of the remnant church. So, is Ellen White held to be a woman in the position of authority? And if so, is this God's will or not?

    "Secondly, the lack of being able to confirm a clear biblical teaching on this matter does NOT prove it doesn't exist. I don't know what it does prove, but I am certain what it does not prove(Prov 22:20,21)."

    Sorry, but I am having difficulty grasping the logic you have used in your statement even though I have looked at the verses you have given to support that logic/conclusion.

    "Third, however flawed the final decision of the body is or isn't, it is the decision of the church body at it's highest authority(the world congregation), so how would Jesus wish for all to receive it?"

    With regard to the GC decisions regarding the issue of women's ordination, I refer to the comment by Shirley de Beer on December 4, 2018 at 9:59 pm. In summary, the 1985 GC decision was that the matter of Women's Ordination needed further study. The Role of Women Commission was established and presented its findings and recommendations to the subsequent GC in 1990. The Commission could not come to consensus as to the biblical position on the issue of women's ordination and noted that a decision to ordain women would not be well received. Therefore, in the absence of a biblical consensus, it was voted that the status quo not be changed in order to avoid risk of dissension. Expediency, not biblical mandate, was the basis for the 1990 vote.

    In 2015, the vote was to see if a change to policy and practice of one-size-fits-all would be acceptable. It was not.

    Hence, there was not, as some would promote, 3 GC decisions affirming the biblical basis for non-ordination of women. There was 1 decision that noted there was insufficient knowledge on the subject that therefore needed further investigation; a subsequent decision that was based on expediency in the absence of a consensus position on the biblical position of women's ordination; and a third decision that decided to retain the one-size-fits-all policy and practice.

    Consequently, the direct issue itself regarding the biblical basis for women's ordination has not actually been directly voted on by the GC. The lack of consensus regarding the biblical position remains unresolved since 1990.

    From what you are saying, the bottom line then is that a decision should be received, accepted and implemented because the church has decided, regardless of how flawed the decision is? I can think of 2 churches that ran/run by this maxim. One headed up by Caiaphas approx 2000 years ago, and one that claims to be the heritage of Peter. Would God have that we should do the same?

    • Good morning Phil,

      I will try to address your questions/points.

      It has been my understanding that the issues voted on were centered on the matter of approving the ordination of women as pastors, and that this matter has not yet gained the approval of the church body according to the vote(s) taken. I have also understood that a number of conferences, and even unions/divisions, have taken actions in opposition to the voted decision of the majority.

      So I remain concerned by the actions of those who have openly opposed the decision(by their own admission, which any can view on youtube/etc) and what these actions reveal.

      The reference to Prov 22 speaks for itself doesn't it? Though the entire world church, including those in it's highest positions of trust and responsibility, were to disregard God's revealed will, I am still accountable to God for MY understanding and resulting words and actions. Proverbs tells me I can know "the certainty of the words of Truth". I do not agree with those who feel that God has been silent on this matter, as my comments have stated. Still, the church has consented to vote on what they will do regarding this issue, and as a supporting member of this world denomination, I am bound to not act in open opposition to what the world church has determined by a vote. (Personally, I am disappointed that it was even considered as a matter to be voted upon. That you regard the decision as flawed is a personal opinion that I do not agree with, nor would the majority of those who voted.)

      By personal study of this matter from scripture, I have reached the best understanding I can find, and leave it to others to do the same. I pray all will seek to know God's will by consulting His word above the word and actions of all others. We are accountable to God individually, and will answer for "every idle word".

      Phil, don't you realize the "authority" of Ellen is not the same as the issue that was central for the votes taken? Do you also take into account that God called two men before turning to "the weakest of the weak" who in faith accepted the call, though reluctant to do so? I believe this speaks to the issue more than many seem to realize. I don't find your use of this example to be relevant to the true matter that underlies the 3 votes taken. Consider that Ellen was never placed in the position of a president or pastor. (as for Ellen's authority, few members read her testimonies and even among those that do, few receive them, and instead act as if they were never written. Are you aware she address how we are to accept the decisions made by the body? So where is her authority for those openly acting in opposition to the decisions? I believe some would call this irony.[?])

      I will not acknowledge your notion of the church being as the popes. When a decision is made by the means we are appointed to follow, anyone openly acting in opposition to the decision is considered in heaven to be no longer a member of the body by their own actions. How do most nations treat traitors?(No, I am not advocating the church order executions, but the church is responsible to discipline for the sake of restoring the erring, and if need be, removing any who remain persistent in their disregard of the body's decisions.)

      Lastly, I have remained in this discussion far too long, and it is my intention to withdraw from this public debate. Everyone here has made their point clear, and I have nothing further to add.

      • Please note that according to current GC Policy, when Phillip baptised the Ethiopian Eunuch, that it was an invalid baptism because Phillip was a deacon, and according to the Church Manual, only an ordained pastor may baptise. The poor fellow.

        Further, the "Great Commission" applies only to pastors, because it says to teach all nations and baptise them.

        Specifically, we can also see from this most clearly, that women are not included in the great commission. Baptism is so clearly out of their court.

        Must have something to do with it being that women could never baptise a man. Probably inappropriate. Of course, quite fit and proper for a man to baptise a woman though.

        To plagiarise Mark Twain: "One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."

        On a more serious note, a smile and a chuckle is good for you, and it is, after all, food for thought 🙂

        Have a Happy and Blessed Sabbath from here at the bottom of the world (New Zealand).

  69. Does the General Conference Have Authority?

    By Gary Patterson, August 3, 2015: The obvious answer to the question is yes. But unfortunately this answer does not address the real issues generally being raised when the question is asked. What is at stake in the context of this question is in reality, “What authority does the General Conference rightly and properly possess?”

    Proper Authority

    In order to place the question in perspective, consider for a moment a foolish comparison. Hard by the west side of the Alamodome in San Antonio, where the meetings of the recent General Conference session were held, runs highway Interstate 35. A steady stream of vehicles continued to rush by at the 60 mile per hour speed limit as posted on that highway.

    If the session voted to change that speed limit to 45 miles per hour, it would have no effect on the traffic, given that such an action is not within the jurisdiction of the General Conference. That decision resides with the City of San Antonio and the State of Texas. This may seem to be a ridiculous comparison, but for all its seemingly foolishness, it gets at the heart of the issue by asking what really is within the jurisdiction of the General Conference.

    In an attempt to give authority to the application of actions voted by the General Conference, a statement Ellen White made in a private letter in 1875 is frequently quoted, in which she observed, “When the judgment of the General Conference, which is the highest authority that God has upon earth, is exercised, private judgment must not be maintained, but surrendered.” (Testimonies for the Church, Volume 3, p 492)

    While this concept has merit, other observations she makes are rarely placed in context with it. In a letter written in 1896, some twenty years later, she stated, “The voice from Battle Creek, which has been regarded as authority in counseling how the work should be done, is no longer the voice of God.” (Letter 4, 1896; Manuscript Releases, Volume 17, pp 185, 186) Two years later she wrote, “It has been some years since I have considered the General Conference as the voice of God.” (Letter 77, 1898; Manuscript Releases, Volume 17, p 216)

    As the 1901 General Conference session drew near, she said, “The voice of the conference ought to be the voice of God, but it is not.” (Manuscript 37, 1901; Sermons and Talks, p 159-160) And even after the 1901 reorganization of the General Conference and the establishment of union conferences, her concern continued to the 1903 session as well.

    Her resistance to centralization was expressed in her opposition to what she called “kingly authority,” which she rejected. “It has been a necessity to organize union conferences, that the General Conference shall not exercise dictation over all the separate conferences. The power vested in the Conference is not to be centered in one man, or two men, or six men; there is to be a council of men over the separate divisions. In the work of God no kingly authority is to be exercised by any human being, or by two or three. The representatives of the Conference, as it has been carried with authority for the last twenty years, shall be no longer justified in saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we.’ The men in positions of trust have not been carrying the work wisely.” (Manuscript 26, 1903)

    Does this mean the General Conference has no authority? Certainly not. But the statement regarding it being the highest authority on earth, used as it often is to impose control over the church, is at best disingenuous, and perhaps, misleading. Even if at times it may be true, this on again, off again coverage is clearly spotty over time, and the question arises as to when and how we determine it to be such an authority.

    Authority and Inerrancy

    Being an authority does not convey inerrancy. That the General Conference in session can and does err in its judgement and actions is demonstrated by the issues of the 1888 session, which are still debated today over a century later. In addition, some actions taken in subsequent years since that time are certainly not above question. To assume everything voted by the session is the will of God is a mammoth leap of reason, to say nothing of theology. Perhaps, rather than a ringing endorsement of its authority, the comment should be taken as an apology, stating that this institution, with all its human foibles, is the best that we have to work with at any given time.

    Assuming that every action taken at the session is the will of God for the world church, what does such a stance say about those who voted against the action? Were those who in good conscience voted in opposition to a given action, thus voting against the will of God? Clearly, many things voted at the session would not fall into the category of the will of God. Such matters as voting to close discussion, or times of meetings, or adjournment would not generally be considered will of God issues.

    All this being the obvious case, it then needs to be determined just which things are in the jurisdiction of the General Conference and which are not. Though the list is much longer than given here, yet a few examples will serve to illustrate the point, as delineated in GC Working Policy B 05, point 6.

    Different elements of organizational authority and responsibility are distributed among the various levels of denominational organization. For example, the decision as to who may/may not be a member of a local Seventh-day Adventist Church is entrusted to the members of the local church concerned; decision as to employment of local church pastors is entrusted to the local conference/mission; decisions regarding the ordination of ministers are entrusted to the union conference/mission; and the definition of denominational beliefs is entrusted to the General Conference in session. Thus each level of organization exercises a realm of final authority and responsibility that may have implications for other levels of organization.

    Authority belongs to each of the four distinct levels of church structure which, as the policy states, is “a realm of final authority.” Thus the General Conference may not act upon issues relating to individual membership. Though in the Roman Catholic system, the Pope may excommunicate individual members, in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, neither the General Conference in session nor any level of church governance, other than the local congregation, may do so. Membership, as well as church officer election, belongs exclusively to the local congregation. And though the congregation as a constituency does not operate under a constitution and by-laws as the other constituent levels do, the Church Manual serves as its template for action.

    Likewise, the staffing of pastoral positions, as well as conference level employees, is within the authority of the local conference and may not be countered by other levels of the denominational organization. Further, the structure of the church established in the 1901 and 1903 General Conference sessions, as clearly stated in policy B 05.6, places the authority for the ordination of ministers at the union conference level of church structure. While it is true that the general level does establish the criteria for both membership and ordination, it does not have authority as to who may be accepted as members or who may be employed or ordained, so long as they meet the criteria established.

    So firmly are these authorities established as “a realm of final authority and responsibility” that it was deemed necessary to provide an exception in GC Working Policy L 45.4 in order to allow Division and General Conference Committees to authorize their own candidates for ordination through their respective executive committees, sparing them from the requirement to do so through union conference committees to which ordination is assigned. As we often observe, “it is the exception that proves the rule.”

    Illustrative of the issues that arise when cross constituency meddling occurs, is the vote of the General Conference several decades ago “authorizing” the ordination of women as local church elders. While it may have been a good idea to encourage churches to do so, there was no cause to “authorize” the practice, since such authority for selecting elders rests with the local congregation and there was no prohibition for selecting women to such a post. How incongruous would it have been to vote to “authorize” the election of women as church clerks, or church treasurers, or Sabbath School Superintendents when, likewise, no such prohibition existed for staffing these offices?

    Furthermore, the argument for the need to keep the world church together regarding the ordination of women is shown to be without merit, given that GC Working Policy BA 60 10 states in a footnote to point 2, “*The exception clause, and any other statement above, shall not be used to reinterpret the action already taken by the world Church authorizing the ordination of women as local church elders in divisions where executive committees have given their approval.”

    All this forces the question, why is it acceptable for the divisions to go their separate ways regarding the ordination of women as local elders, but it is not acceptable for them to do so regarding the ordination of ministers? To say that the one splits the church and the other does not, makes no sense. An additional argument advanced is that ordination to ministry is for the world church. But so is membership and ordination as an elder. Any person who has been accepted into membership is free to join any church worldwide by transfer, and anyone who has been ordained as an elder is eligible to hold such position in any church. This argument also makes no sense.

    Fundamental Beliefs

    The development of a statement of fundamental beliefs for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, though seemingly necessary, is fraught with difficulties, so much so that the founders of the church resisted the idea with strong statements of the perceived risks inherent in creedalism. The preamble to the Fundamental Beliefs seeks to allay these fears and risks, by saying “Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as their only creed and hold certain fundamental beliefs to be the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. These beliefs, as set forth here, constitute the church’s understanding and expression of the teaching of Scripture. Revision of these statements may be expected at a General Conference session when the church is led by the Holy Spirit to a fuller understanding of Bible truth or finds better language in which to express the teachings of God’s Holy Word.”

    Yet even beyond these caveats is the underlying problem of language itself. Though we are fond of the notion that words have exact meaning and are capable of conveying precise clarity on a given topic or idea, the reality is that people do not share exactly the same meaning of the words they employ in expressing themselves. Differences in culture, education and personal perceptual skills gives credence to the idea that words do not have meaning. Rather people have meaning which they impose on the words they use and hear.

    To complicate matters further, the world church is made up of people from multiple nations and languages. Thus any statement of beliefs must be both presented and understood in multiple settings where people not only think different things, they also think the same things differently. Turning Fundamental Beliefs into a creed violates this principle of perception.

    In addition to the language and perception problem is the authoritarian drift that such statements inherently possess. Vested in the General Conference level, as the policy indicates, is “the definition of denominational beliefs.” Yet even here we need to ask, are the 28 fundamental beliefs tests of membership, tests of fellowship, tests of leadership, or tests of employment? Must one accept all 28 statements (or whatever number there are of them at a given point) in their entirety to join the church? Or can a person be dis-fellowshipped for failure to accept them all?

    Is it a requirement that all 28 be agreed to in order to hold office in the church? Or what about employment? Are these a requirement for ministers and teachers, but not necessarily for janitors or cafeteria employees? And can the church employ someone as an attorney, or financial advisor, or a musician, who does not accept all 28? Or for that matter, who may not even be a member? Furthermore, given that membership issues belong to the local church, who will enforce these matters, and how will it be done in a consistent manner?

    The 28 beliefs as currently expressed would not have been believed or accepted by many of the early leaders of the church. A prime example of this is the doctrine of the Trinity. Many early Adventists held Arian beliefs regarding the life and ministry of Jesus. And this notion persisted well into the middle of the 1900’s, as demonstrated in the hymnal of the church printed and used during that era.

    The well-known hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy” which in its original Protestant form contained the verse, “God in three persons, blessed Trinity” was changed to fit the Arian perspective and was sung as, “God over all, who rules eternity.” In the current hymnal, it is returned to its original wording, reflecting the Trinitarian view. Does this mean that those of the Arian notion were not real Adventists? Were they unworthy of membership, or fellowship, or leadership, or employment? And if we overlook that divergence in the past, do we ignore it today?

    Further to the point is the divide over the role of Ellen White in the church and the prophetic office. In the early days there were many who did not accept what is generally proffered today as her authority in the church. Not only was she not accepted in parts of Europe early on, but her time in Australia was devised by church leadership, not so much as a mission venture, but as a method of getting her out of North America and away from the General Conference leadership.

    As the preamble maintains, the statement of beliefs is changed from time to time, as better understanding and language is used to more clearly convey the church’s shared perception of biblical truth. But by this very concept, the statements are demonstrated to be only an expression of beliefs at a given moment in time, of perceived truth found in Scripture. If the Bible is the only creed, as the preamble states, then we should not be writing into the Fundamental Beliefs wording and expressions that are not in the Bible. In this context, much has been made of the effort to insert into the fundamental beliefs, wording regarding creation that is not in scripture itself. And speculation abounds as to how insistence on this wording will play out in such matters as membership and employment.

    Decision Making Process

    As clearly demonstrated at the San Antonio General Conference Session, the process being followed to do the business of the church has become nearly non-functional. It does not take much rational thought process to realize that attempting to carry on an open floor discussion with over 2,500 people is not a viable way to do business. The system needs to be changed to reflect reality. A few examples will suffice to illustrate the point.

    Given that all changes in the Church Manual require a vote from the session, an editing process was undertaken in which it was discussed at length whether the preposition “in” or “on” should be used in the document under consideration. Multiple speakers with varying linguistic backgrounds and native languages weighed in at length on the issue. Not only was the folly of such a discussion on the floor obvious, but the fact that the document would be translated into multiple languages made it even more absurd to spend the time of the world church on such matters.

    Another similar editorial change that had to be voted by the session was the change of name for one of the divisions which was employed to more accurately reflect the territory and people it was serving. But rather than merely making such an obvious editorial adjustment in the text, it had to come to the floor for a vote, where it engendered useless discussion.

    Perhaps the most abused process of a session seeking to have open floor discussion among thousands of delegates is the “Point of Order” request. In the San Antonio meeting this abuse was rampant. Whether it was based on ignorance of the rules of order in a democratic process, or an intentional attempt to subvert the process is difficult to assess. However, when speakers at the microphone calling for points of order nearly equal the number of those speaking to the issue before the body, it is clear that the process is broken.

    Given that the chair ruled most of such requests as failing to meet the requirements of a point of order, it is evident that a better system needs to be devised. Rather than employing the services of one parliamentarian to advise the chair on process, it would be helpful to provide deputy or assistant parliamentarians on the floor to screen such point of order requests before spurious interruptions to the process consume the time of the business at hand.

    Nomination and Election

    The work of the Nominating Committee is, in particular, an unrealistic process. The members of this body are constituted by a caucus of the divisions/attached unions soon after the opening of the session. Upon being selected and voted by the session as its Nominating Committee, these individuals, who had no advance knowledge that they would be on the committee, then proceed to elect a Chair and Secretary from their midst, who likewise have no knowledge or time for preparation for such a responsibility in advance.

    This large group of over 100 members, constituted of people from all over the world church, must embark on selecting for nomination, hundreds of individuals to serve not only in General Conference leadership positions, but in the thirteen division territories as well. Few on this committee have a knowledge of either the territories represented by the world church, or their needs and personnel for leadership.

    After getting organized, the work of nomination begins, usually by the first Friday morning of the session. The first order of business is the nomination of the General Conference President, which is expected to be delivered to the floor of the session before noon. When presented, its acceptance is generally assumed and the vote called for quickly. This expected short time frame of a few hours on Friday morning of the session is in stark contrast to other nomination and leadership processes and requirements of the church.

    The nomination of local church officers and leaders generally occurs over a period of time of a month or two of careful study, and once presented to the church body, the nominations require a first and second reading, separated generally by one week or more. The selection of a new pastor often extends into several months, or even a year of search. Leadership in such positions as principals and presidents of educational institutions generally follow a long and careful search process. In this context, it seems astonishing that we would expect the election of world church leadership to be pressed into a few hours on the first Friday of the General Conference session.

    To further complicate the dilemma of the Nominating Committee, it is tasked not only with providing for the election of General Conference leadership, but division leadership as well, given that divisions are not constituent entities and do not have such authority on their own. Thus members of the committee are expected to staff divisions which the bulk of the committee members know little or nothing about. So the divisions go into caucus and present a list of prospective officers and leaders to the Nominating Committee who basically “rubber stamp” the selections and pass them on to the floor of the session for their “rubber stamp” as well – given that they know even less about the individuals nominated than the members of the committee do. And one has to wonder why this matter is not just left with the divisions to decide on their own at a time and in a setting where much more informed and careful decisions can be made.

    Perception and Reality

    There is a persistent perception that the General Conference has a policy or vote forbidding the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, but such is not the case. No such action exists, nor has it existed in the history of the church, despite those who say that it does. The most prevalent of this notion of a prohibition is that the actions of the 1990, 1995 and 2015 sessions forbid the ordination of women. Following are the minutes of the actions at these three sessions:

    1990 Session in Indianapolis: “The Commission, having listened to the arguments and presentations for and against the ordination of women; having sensed the needs and concerns of the world field; having carefully considered what is probably best and the least disruptive for the world church at this time; and recognizing the importance of our eschatological mission, the witness and image of our spiritual family, and the need for openness and unity in the Church, reports to the 1990 General Conference Session upon the recommendation of the 1989 Annual Council the following result of its deliberation:

    “1. While the Commission does not have a consensus as to whether or not the scriptures and the writing of Ellen G White explicitly advocate or deny the ordination of women to pastoral ministry, it concludes unanimously that these sources affirm a significant, wide ranging, and continuing ministry for women which is being expressed and will be evidenced in the varied and expanding gifts according to the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

    “2. Further, in view of the widespread lack of support for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry in the world Church and in view of the possible risk to disunity, dissension, and diversion from the mission of the Church, we do not approve the ordination of women to the gospel ministry.”

    1995 Session in Utrecht: “The motion reads as follows: To refer to the General Conference session the North American Division request that the General Conference in session adopt provisions on ordination as outlined below:

    “The General Conference vests in each division the right to authorize ordination of individuals within its territory in harmony with established policies. In addition, where circumstances do not render it inadvisable, a division may authorize the ordination of qualified individuals without regard to gender. In divisions where the division executive committee takes specific actions approving the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, women may be ordained to serve in those divisions.” [Not voted.]

    2015 Session in San Antonio: “The General Conference Executive Committee requests delegates in their sacred responsibility to God at the 2015 General Conference Session to respond to the following question: After your thorough study of the Bible, the writings of Ellen G White, and the reports of the study commissions on ordination, and; After your careful consideration of what is best for the Church and the fulfillment of its mission, Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? Yes or No.”

    The action presented in all three of these sessions was to approve the ordination of women. The action failed on all three occasions. When a motion fails, it simply goes away. It does not create the opposite of the intent of the motion. Therefore, the result neither establishes nor forbids the practice of ordaining women in these sessions.

    Three factors are significant in this issue. First, the ordination issue does not belong to either the division or the General Conference level. It is assigned by policy to the union conferences. As such, this was not an item that should be on the General Conference agenda without changing the basic structure of the Church. Second, there is not, nor has there been a policy against ordaining women to ministry. Since no such policy exists, there is no valid reason to vote on giving permission. We do not need to authorize that which is not forbidden. Finally, the failure of the vote to authorize such ordination on these three occasions, results in the action simply going away. And it is neither authorized nor forbidden. A motion that fails, results in no action.

    It is accurate to say that both precedent and perception regarding such ordination lead to the opinion that it is not allowed. However, neither precedent not perception are policy. Given that these actions do not forbid the ordination of women to ministry, then as stated, the position of the church remains as it was before these actions. The question then is, what is that position? Ordination authority is clearly defined in General Conference policy. Regarding the approval of persons designated for ordination GC Working Policy B 05 states, “decisions regarding the ordination of ministers are entrusted to the union conference….” Regarding such decisions the policy further states, “each level of organization exercises a realm of final authority and responsibility….” Thus, in the selection and authorization of such individuals, the General Conference has no authority over the union conference decisions, so long as these decisions are in harmony with the criteria established for ordination by General Conference policy.

    The General Conference Working Policy does establish the criteria for ordination. There are fifteen such criteria listed in GC Working Policy L 50, none of which refer in any way to gender. If, therefore, any individual approved by a union conference meets these fifteen criteria, the General Conference authority has been satisfied. Given that there is no gender reference in these requirements, the union conference is acting within its authority to ordain women as stated in GC Working Policy B 05. Policy exercises governance over both practice and perception. But in the case of gender issues in ordination, there is no policy. However, over a century of practice has created the perception that there is policy on this matter, and one hundred years of practice certainly does establish precedent. But it remains that policy is the issue in ordination, neither practice, precedent nor perception.

    The actions of the three GC Sessions are not based on policy, leaving one to wonder what they were based on; practice, precedent, perception, or perhaps prejudice? But unless the General Conference changes its policy and takes away the authorization given in GC Working Policy B 05 to other levels of governance such as the local church regarding membership, or the local conference regarding employment, or the union conference regarding ordination, it is not free to intrude into these areas. Thus its attempt to counter the union authority in the area of ordination is a violation of its own policy.

    If the General Conference wishes to address the issue of gender in ordination to ministry, it may do so, but only after changing its policy to a straightforward requirement that ordination is male gender exclusive, forbidding the ordination of females. There is no such policy presently in existence, nor has there been in the history of the church. Practice, precedent, perception and even prejudice do not constitute a policy. Only straightforward, clearly articulated policy governs the issue of gender inclusive ordination

    The perception exists that the General Conference cannot violate policy, that whatever it does constitutes policy, but this is not so. The General Conference can violate policy just as well as any other level of the church, if and when it acts contrary to the provisions of policy. Unless and until the General Conference changes the policy by specific vote, any action contrary to that policy is a violation. Thus, the union conferences are not out of policy on this matter of gender inclusiveness in the ordination of ministers. The General Conference itself is out of policy by intruding where it does not have authority.


    What actions, therefore, need to be taken to address these policy and function disorders? The following is a suggestion of areas that need to be addressed:

    1. Divisions should be made constituent levels of organization, and much of the business of the GC Session should be transferred to these levels. As the church nears the twenty million membership level, and as most divisions number over one million members, the leadership and authority for their work should be shifted to their own territory for better efficiency and understanding of needs.

    2. Better methods of seeking input on issues should be found, rather than attempting to conduct open floor discussion with over two thousand people. The democratic process can still be accomplished by providing opportunity to vote on issues without open discussion in a time crunched environment.

    3. Uniformity of action imposed on all divisions must not be confused with unity of purpose for the church as a whole. Diversity of behavior already exists in the church in such matters as life style, dress, Sabbath activity, polygamy, family relationships and a host of cultural, religious and traditional behaviors. Imposing the traditions and tastes of one area of the church on another, is not a method of securing unity. Rather it is a recipe for disunity, clearly demonstrated by the cheering, booing and hissing which accompanied perceived victories over votes taken at the recent session.

    4. The process of hermeneutical interpretation and understanding of scripture is in jeopardy when narrow fundamentalist readings of scripture trump the council of the leading biblical scholars of the church and its seminaries. Picking and choosing parts of scripture to make a point while ignoring other parts – at times even in the same verse – is at best dangerous, and perhaps even dishonest. Such faulty biblical interpretation must stop.

    5. Authority in the various constituent levels of the church must be clearly defined and adhered to. No part of the church is without its constituted authority and it must be seen as operating in “a realm of final authority” in its assigned responsibilities as policy states, lest we reverse the structure of the church developed in 1901 under the leadership of Ellen White and return to the “kingly powers” error so strongly opposed at that session.

    6. The tendency toward ever expanding and explicit fundamental belief statements, with the potential of leading to creedalism, should be halted or reversed. Jesus summed it up with two simple but profound statements, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself.” The early Christian church summarized requirements in four restrictions, “abstain from food sacrificed to animals, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.” We can do better than to continue to build an ever expanding and more tightly defining list of beliefs.

    7. Address issues of broad scope for the mission of the church at these sessions, and avoid the minutiae of such things as editing and wording of documents. Let such materials that must be processed by the session, be prepared with broad opportunity for input over adequate time frames, and vote them up or down without floor discussion.

    8. Do not allow the session to be encumbered by those who, out of ignorance of process or intent to disrupt, or desire to be seen and heard, frustrate the purpose of the agenda and proper procedure.

    9. Make it clear that practice, precedent, and perception are not policy. No matter how long an idea may have persisted, it is actual policy that governs the church at all levels. If we do not like the policy, change it. But do not violate it by usurping that which belongs to another constituency.

    10. Construct the session program so that its purpose is to cast a large vision for the future of the church, rather than spending time addressing minutiae that can be better handled by other levels of the church structure.

    Dr. Gary Patterson is a retired field secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He served as senior pastor of some of the largest congregations in the denomination, a conference president in two conferences and assistant to the president of the North American Division.

  70. Does the General Conference Have Authority?
    The perception exists that the General Conference cannot violate policy, that whatever it does constitutes policy, but this is not so. The General Conference can violate policy just as well as any other level of the church, if and when it acts contrary to the provisions of policy. Unless and until the General Conference changes the policy by specific vote, any action contrary to that policy is a violation. Thus, the union conferences are not out of policy on this matter of gender inclusiveness in the ordination of ministers. The General Conference itself is out of policy by intruding where it does not have authority.
    Read the full article.
    Dr. Gary Patterson is a retired field secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He served as senior pastor of some of the largest congregations in the denomination, a conference president in two conferences and assistant to the president of the North American Division.

  71. When I listen to or read Seventh Day Adventist discussion of this issue, I am left sad, and a bit discouraged about my church. This is the church I love dearly. It would seem that this is the time when we need the voice of a prophet to bring clarity on such a divisive issue. Ellen White gave detailed instructions regarding dress, diet, entertainment, even to length of women' skirts and types of bicycles to ride. she spoke about going to theaters and places of amusements. She, however, was vague or silent for the most part on women's ordination. She was God's prophet with the ability to see events and developments in the church straight through the last events on earth, nay, even to the time when we enter and sit at that endless table where Jesus serves the saints. She, with the ability to see that this issue would threaten the unity of God's remnant church gave no clear guidance as to whether or not the church should extend the rite of ordination to women. Is it possible that she was not shown that this is an issue that affects our salvation; one that puts us in serious jeopardy of losing God's favor? Are we choosing to make this a defining issue in these last days? God, through his prophet, gives necessary guidance on important issues that impact his church. If they have not spoken with greater specificity about this issue, maybe we should not attempt to either. Can we trust people who love and are committed to God to make these decisions as the Holy Spirit leads them? We often act as if we hold the fate of God's church on our spiritual shoulders. We do not. God is perfectly capable of leading, correcting, and guiding his people. Is the ordination of women so out of God's will that we are willing to condemn, to alienate, to divide the church because of it? I am sorry, I do not think so. For those of us who are losing sleep over the issue, pray for a prophetic voice in these times, and I firmly believe God will speak out of his great love for his church. In the mean time let us Go make disciples. Islam is growing in leaps and bounds. In 50 years it will be the largest religion in America. Go, make disciples, stop being powerless in the face of an opioid crisis and rampant gun violence. Go make disciples!

  72. Grace, Ellen White did say "It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors to the flock of God. T6:322

  73. Grace, Ellen White also said: "Again and again the Lord has shown me that women teachers are just as greatly needed to do the work to which He has appointed them as are men. MR 5:325

  74. Grace, Ellen White in 1911 explains that context of her thoughts were very important she stated: "Regarding the testimonies, nothing is ignored; nothing is cast aside; but time and place must be considered" when we put this together with her many encouragements for women to become more and more involved in many aspects of ministry and to be paid equal amounts for equal work and to be set aside by laying on of hands for such work shows I believe that in our time she would support ordination of women.

  75. It is clear from Mrs. White's writings that she received no message from God to disallow the ordination of women. This, when with her prophetic gift, she could see how this issue would consume the church. It is not a doctrinal issue, and is being made so by many. Who are we to prevent someone male or female from acting on the gift God has given them? The laying on of hands was offered to people who already received a call and an appointment from God. We chose to extend it as a sign of authority to people who often choose to take up a certain work,unmindful as to whether they received a call or not. What we have today as ordination creates a hierarchy in the church that does not promote servant leadership. This was not God or the apostle's intent when they offered the laying on of hands. For those of us who interpret Paul so strictly without taking into consideration cultural applications, should those of us who are slaves continue to serve willingly without seeing freedom and liberty as natural rights? I am glad that in the last days, these days, the Holy Spirit is being poured on all all flesh, and makes no distinction as to gender.

  76. In our current study in Revelation John states that Jesus has made us kings and priests Rev 1:6, - so we have a "thus sayeth the Lord" also women can be priests to serve Him and His people.

    July 10, 2015 | San Antonio, Texas, USA | Andrew McChesney, Adventist Review / ANN staff
    General Conference president Ted N.C. Wilson said Friday that a vote this week on the issue of women’s ordination meant “we maintain the current policy.”
    Wilson told delegates at the General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas, that Wednesday’s vote simply barred the church’s world divisions from making decisions on the ordination of women.
    He said the vote has nothing to do with women being ordained as local elders, a practice based on church policy that has been in place for several decades.
    Furthermore, he said, the vote was not related to commissioned ministers, who can be male or female under the church’s policy.
    “So let us be clear on what was voted on Wednesday,” Wilson said. “We are now back to our original understanding, and I would strongly urge all to adhere by what has been voted. But do not place into the vote other things which were not listed in the vote. We need to be fair, we need to be open, and we all need to accept what is voted at a General Conference session.
    Wilson asked division presidents to clarify the meaning of Wednesday’s vote in their territories.
    Shortly after Wilson spoke, North American Division president Daniel R. Jackson issued a statement saying that the division “would comply with the vote of the world church.”
    He said the division acknowledged that “the vote prohibited the 13 world divisions of the church or any of their entities from making their own decisions regarding the consideration and potential implementation of women’s ordination to the gospel ministry.”
    But, he added, the motion did not disallow women from serving as commissioned church pastors; women from serving as ordained elders in the local church, and the ordination of deaconesses.
    “Since the motion did not disallow these things, we therefore continue to encourage those who have been serving in these capacities to continue to do so,” Jackson said.
    He added: “It is vital to understand that the NAD will continue to follow the directions found in the General Conference Working Policy allowing conferences and unions to license women as commissioned ministers in pastoral ministry. We will also continue to encourage utilizing the services of women as ordained local elders and deaconesses.”
    Wilson on Friday also said he has asked divisions to care for specific items that come up in their territory. He did not elaborate, saying only that General Conference leadership hoped matters would go smoothly and expected assistance from divisions on those items.
    He said division leaders have a spirit of upholding what the General Conference in session votes. Decisions made by the General Conference in session have the highest authority in the church.

  78. "Ecclesiastical deadlock: James White solves a problem that had no answer," by George R. Knight.
    George R. Knight, EdD, is professor emeritus of church history at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States.

    Church organization was one of the hardest fought battles in Adventism’s early decades. Extending nearly 20 years, the struggle not only eventuated in aspects of church order not suggested in Scripture but provided a key hermeneutical principle for deciding other topics not made explicit in the Bible. In the process, James White, and many others, experienced a hermeneutical metamorphosis, a necessary transformation that allowed Seventh-day Adventism to develop into a worldwide force. Without the change, Adventism probably still would be a backwater religious group largely confined to the northeastern and midwestern United States. What was the issue, and how can we learn from it today?
    In 1859 James White moved beyond the biblical literalism of his earlier days, when he believed that the Bible must explicitly spell out each aspect of church organization. In 1859, he argued that “we should not be afraid of that system which is not opposed by the Bible, and is approved by sound sense.” Thus he had come to a new hermeneutic. He had moved from a principle of Bible interpretation that held that the only things Scripture allowed were those things it explicitly approved to a hermeneutic that approved of anything that did not contradict the Bible and good sense. That shift was essential to the creative steps in church organization that he would advocate in the 1860s.
    That revised hermeneutic, however, put White in opposition to Frisbie, R. F. Cottrell, and others who continued to maintain a literalistic approach that demanded the Bible should explicitly spell out something before the church could accept it. In response, White noted that nowhere in the Bible did it say that Christians should have a weekly paper, a steam printing press, build places of worship, or publish books. He went on to argue that the “living church of God” needed to move forward with prayer and common sense.

  79. The reason why this topic of women playing senior role in the church ,is such of debate with seemingly endless sight.It is in this manner i am of the opinion,which we all are sharing,is that this debate is a distraction,of the devil and will only serve to divide the church,when we are at a time where unity of purpose is of utmost importance.There is sufficient scripture to support either views.Meaning it cannot be the priority of Jesus at this time or the time of his physical appearance on earth.Focus should be shifted to the urgency of the time...selah

  80. Denton, it could be a distraction or maybe it is a little test in advance - are we prepared to study for ourselves and stand by what we believe even if we are in the minority or are we going to subordinate ourselves to the majority?


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