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The Elephant in the Room — 279 Comments

  1. 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.

    Amen!(3)
    • 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.")

      Amen!(1)
      • 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).

        Amen!(1)
  2. 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}

    Amen!(7)
    • 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

      Amen!(1)
      • 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?"

        Amen!(1)
        • 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.

          Amen!(2)
    • 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.

      Amen!(1)
  3. 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.

    Amen!(7)
  4. 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.

    Amen!(8)
  5. 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.

    Relationship:
    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.

    Amen!(2)
      • 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.

        Amen!(3)
  6. DANGER – A TEXT NOT IN CONTEXT IS A PRETEXT(excuse)
    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

    Amen!(3)
  7. 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.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/materials/bible-nt-texts/1-corinthians-1434-35

    Amen!(0)
  8. 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
    that
    (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.

    2015
    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?
    ROSA BANKS:

    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?”

    1985

    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.]

    1990
    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.

    Amen!(2)
    • 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.

      Amen!(2)
      • 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.

        Amen!(0)
        • 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.

          Amen!(2)
        • 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/

          Amen!(3)
  9. 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

    Amen!(2)
      • 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.

        Amen!(2)
        • 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.

          Amen!(2)
  10. 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?

    Amen!(3)
    • 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.

      Amen!(2)
      • 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).

        Amen!(3)
  11. 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.

    Correctives

    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.
    https://atoday.org/does-the-general-conference-have-authority/

    Amen!(1)
  12. 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.
    https://atoday.org/does-the-general-conference-have-authority/

    Amen!(1)
  13. 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!

    Amen!(7)
  14. 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

    Amen!(2)
  15. 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

    Amen!(4)
  16. 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.

    Amen!(3)
  17. 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.

    Amen!(4)
  18. 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.

    Amen!(4)
  19. GC PRESIDENT SAYS ORDINATION VOTE DOESN’T CHANGE CURRENT POLICY
    NAD SAYS IT WILL CONTINUE TO ENCOURAGE WOMEN TO SERVE IN GOSPEL MINISTRY.
    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.
    https://news.adventist.org/en/all-news/news/go/2015-07-10/gc-president-says-ordination-vote-doesnt-change-current-policy/

    Amen!(0)
  20. "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.

    Amen!(1)
  21. 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

    Amen!(1)
  22. 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?

    Amen!(0)

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