10 Reasons Why I Believe the San Antonio Vote Was Not “The Voice of God”

Two years have passed since the majority of the delegates in San Antonio voted not to give the divisions the authority to decide within their own territories concerning women’s ordination. Is the no-vote in San Antonio a viable base for the Church in dealing with this matter? It is my claim that the vote concerning female ordination in San Antonio does not stand the test of a valid vote in a General Conference Session.

The 2017 General Conference Annual Council in October must seize the opportunity to accept that the concept of “ordination,” a word with Latin roots, must not be allowed to continue to be divisive among us. Starting a process of rewriting working policy seems to be the only option to save the Church from a serious schism.

The following areas of concern will be dealt with: 1. The calling of Christ and the gifts of the Holy Spirit; 2. Acts 15 – the Jerusalem Council; 3. Testimonies from gifted Adventist female pastors not heard in San Antonio; 4. Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) – vital information not heard in San Antonio; 5. No clear saying in the Bible nor in the writings of Ellen White; 6. Not in harmony with the 28 Fundamental Beliefs; 7. Matter of conscience; 8. Headship theology; 9. Culture; 10. Collectivistic thinking; Conclusion: What can and should the 2017 GC Annual Council do?

1. The calling of Christ and the gifts of the Holy Spirit

The calling of men and women to mission work is by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The church has the responsibility of recognizing that a person is given the gift of pastoring by the Holy Spirit, and is called by Christ.

It was he [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up … [i]

Ellen White reminds us of the saying of the prophet Joel in her introduction to the Great Controversy:

In immediate connection with the scenes of the great day of God, the Lord by the prophet Joel has promised a special manifestation of His Spirit (Joel 2:28). This prophecy received a partial fulfillment in the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost; but it will reach its full accomplishment in the manifestation of divine grace which will attend the closing work of the gospel.[ii] (Emphasis added)

These are the words from Joel:

… I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.[iii]

The delegates in San Antonio were asked for their personal opinion. The fact that the Holy Spirit is equipping females with the gift of pastoring and that Christ is calling them to the work of the church as pastors were passed by in silence. How can human opinion overrule the calling of God? How can we say that we focus on mission while ignoring the pastoral gift given by the Holy Spirit to female pastors, and the fact that Christ has called them?

2. Acts 15: The Jerusalem Council

Possibly the most appropriate biblical illustration on how to deal with a major difference of opinion regarding a challenging religious based question is to be found in Acts 15 and the Jerusalem Council:

… there are two major factors for the success of the decision at the Jerusalem Council. One factor was how the Holy Spirit lead to positions they previously held unthinkable as well as working mightily among Gentiles. In the council, Peter told how he was asked to visit Cornelius, and Paul and Barnabas witnessed concerning their work among gentiles. The second major factor was the apostles’ brave leadership of guiding the church into a totally new understanding of Scripture, making room for different practices in the church…

At the General Conference Session in San Antonio in 2015, the Seventh-day Adventist Church decided to deny the principle that guided the Jerusalem Council and made it a success. The work of the Holy Spirit through female pastors in China was not mentioned.[iv]

George R. Knight puts it this way:

The breakthrough in Acts 15 truly was based on process and came when Peter was able to demonstrate that the Holy Spirit made no distinction between Jews and Gentiles but came in the same way to both groups (Acts 15:8, 9). Without that evidence there would have been nothing but ongoing divisiveness. But with it there was healing and unity.[v]

3. Testimonies from gifted Adventist female pastors not heard in San Antonio

In the Jerusalem Council, the testimony of Peter first of all, and then Paul and Barnabas, changed the whole mentality of the council from being a heated discussion to an assembly ready to listen.

George R. Knight makes this comparison of the Jerusalem council and what could have happened in San Antonio:

What would have happened in San Antonio if the process utilized in Acts 15 had been used on the day of the vote? There would have been testimonies from people put on the program that demonstrated that the Holy Spirit fell upon the pastoral/evangelistic ministries of women in the same way as for men. Such testimonies were important in the final TOSC meeting and helped lead to a significant majority of the participants, despite their personal position on women’s ordination, to approve flexibility in the practice of ordaining women.[vi]

4. Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) – vital information not heard in San Antonio

Prior to the San Antonio session a large number of study documents were made available online to the delegates including the TOSC report. All these documents were, for the majority of the delegates, an overwhelming mass of information to deal with in a comparatively short time span. A great responsibility was left with the leadership in presenting the essential information during the GC Session.

George R. Knight has made this observation:

The results of TOSC were never clearly presented to the General Conference Session at the time of the vote... Thus the 2015 delegates were not informed that a super majority of 2/3 (62 for and 32 opposed) of the members of TOSC were in favor of allowing divisions to make the choice on whether to ordain female pastors. In addition, the delegates were not informed that at least nine of the 13 Divisions of the church in their TOSC reports were favorable toward letting each division make its own decision on female ordination. Nor did the final TOSC report present that data.[vii]

5. No clear saying in the Bible nor in the writings of Ellen White

In a document voted by the GC Annual Council in 2014 this statement appears:

WHEREAS, Various groups appointed by the General Conference and its divisions have carefully studied the Bible and Ellen G White writings with respect to the ordination of women and have not arrived at consensus as to whether ministerial ordination for women is unilaterally affirmed or denied…[viii]

That neither Ellen White nor the Bible has any conclusive saying on the matter of ordination of women has more or less been the conclusion of all commissions looking into this matter. Neal C. Wilson in his summary from the 1990 GC Session possibly points out the major reason for this:

The word ordination doesn’t even appear in the Bible. A more appropriate word is appointed, rather than ordained. [ix]

The discussion is in a way a discussion on semantics. Ordination and commission - two words with more or less identical meaning - are in Adventist usage given a marked difference.

George R. Knight makes this comment:

The word “ordination” as Adventists use it is not a biblical teaching but one that finds its roots in the early and early-medieval church. From that perspective, the distinction between ordaining and commissioning is a word game of no biblical substance.[x]

The difference of meaning imposed on these two words eliminates women from leadership roles in the church organization, while at the same time the top leadership position of Andrews University has been given to a woman.

6. Not in harmony with the 28 Fundamental Beliefs

Equal treatment of male and female pastors within the Adventist Church has a solid base in Fundamental Belief no. 14 UNITY IN THE BODY OF CHRIST:

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

When it comes to the skills necessary for the mission of the Church, the Holy Spirit enables each individual “as He wills.” According to Fundamental Belief no. 17 SPIRITUAL GIFTS AND MINISTRIES:

God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts that each member is to employ in loving ministry … Given by the agency of the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills …. Some members are called of God and endowed by the Spirit for functions recognized by the church in pastoral, evangelistic, and teaching ministries ... When members employ these spiritual gifts as faithful stewards of God’s varied grace, the church is protected … and is built up in faith and love. (Emphasis added)[xii]

None of the spiritual gifts are reserved for men only, neither according to Fundamental Belief no. 17 nor the Bible.

7. Matter of conscience

The church has invited women to take the necessary education required of a pastor, and have hired them as pastors and permitted them “to perform essentially the same functions as an ordained pastor” to use the words of Neal Wilson in 1990.[xiii] That brings the current practice of inequality of male and female pastors into conflict with a value and a basic principle of the Adventist church as expressed in the GC Working Policy:

BA 60 05 Basic Principles— …

The Church rejects any system or philosophy which discriminates against anyone on the basis of race, color, or gender.[xiv]

The Adventist Church has been heading the fight for religious liberty. Since 1906 Liberty Magazine has been published and supported by the church. Part of the declaration of principles is worded like this:

Religious liberty entails freedom of conscience: to worship or not to worship; to profess, practice and promulgate religious beliefs or to change them. In exercising these rights, however, one must respect the equivalent rights of all others.[xv]

Although Liberty’s main concern has been separation of church and state, the rights of individuals up against group-thinking that does not respect equal rights, is part of this declaration of principles.

The question posed to the delegates in San Antonio was a question with deep implications concerning a voted value of the Church. An attempt to decide on what thinking a person should have concerning what is morally right or wrong, cannot be achieve by a majority vote, without a firm basis in an accepted principle, particularly in view of Fundamental Beliefs 14 and 17.

8. Headship theology

The publishing of the Mohaven Papers by the GC in 1986 created a stir in some people’s minds. The GC sponsored committee had done its work more than ten years earlier.

That GC committee reported that there was no biblical reason to not ordain women to ministry and recommended that the church begin actively finding ways to incorporate more women into ministry.

Andrews University professor Samuele Bacchiocchi … went looking for biblical arguments that would stop the Adventist church from voting to ordain women to ministry. His bibliography reveals that he found those arguments in the teachings of a few Calvinist Bible teachers who were at that time developing headship theology. In 1987, Bacchiocchi self-published Women in the Church. This groundbreaking book imported the entire headship doctrine from those Evangelical Calvinist writers into the Adventist church.[xvi]

A careful look through the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of the Adventist Church, will reveal that this headship theology is not in harmony with the Fundamental Beliefs. Notice particularly numbers 6, 7, 12, 14, 17, 22 and 23. That Headship theology forms the basis of position summary 1 in the TOSC report is alarming in view of the total lack of support in the 28 Fundamental Beliefs.

9. Culture

Gender-based discrimination is a global challenge. “Gender inequalities are still deep-rooted in every society” is the claim of the United Nations.[xvii] The majority of the delegates to a GC Session come from “tribal and Roman Catholic cultures”[xviii] with long traditions of gender inequalities.

In Paul’s thinking, adaptation to culture was basic in his missionary work:

… To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. … I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. [xix]

To differentiate between the advice that must be understood as global principles above cultural norms, and advice given on the principle of cultural adaptation, has been a challenge. Paul’s saying concerning the need for ladies to wear hats did make a great impact even among Adventists years ago:

If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off ...[xx]

It took Adventists decades, even generations, to realize that this was one example of Paul’s cultural adaptations. His comments on women not to speak in church is still challenging.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church recognizes the need for cultural adaptation. One cannot deal with people in Asia the same way as with Europeans. The Mission Institute prepares Adventist missionaries for the impact of cultural differences.

The question posed to the delegates in San Antonio required good cultural understanding. The delegates were not educated concerning the importance of setting their cultural biases aside, neither concerning Paul’s teaching on cultural adaptation.

10. Collectivistic thinking

Individualistic and collectivistic thinking have an impact in decision making. Brett Rutledge has given this description:

In individualist cultures, individual uniqueness and self-determination is valued... Collectivist cultures, on the other hand, expect people to identify with and work well in groups which protect them in exchange for loyalty and compliance.[xxi]

In the lecture “Does EVERYONE Trust You?,” the Adventist scholar Dr. Ann Gibson pointed out some of the challenges of the collectivistic cultures, and how a leader may influence decisions.

… Some people are seen as outside the boundaries where moral considerations and fairness apply. The mind-set is: Influenced by culture; included in language; spread through stereotypes.[xxii]

The Church Manual points out the absolute requirement of individual thinking of delegates to a conference session:

Duty of Delegates—Delegates to a conference session … should view the work as a whole, remembering their responsibility for the welfare of the worldwide work of the Church. It is not permissible for church or conference delegations to organize or attempt to direct their votes as a unit… Each delegate should be susceptible to the direction of the Holy Spirit and vote according to personal convictions. (Emphasis added)[xxiii]

Disturbing testimonies point in the direction that the collectivistic thinking rather than following personal convictions was influencing some of the delegates in San Antonio to vote no.

CONCLUSION - What can and should the 2017 GC Annual Council do?

Allowing the Church to experience a serious schism over the understanding of the concept of ordination, a word that does not have its roots in the Bible, but rather from the early and early-medieval church, does not make sense at all. The GC leadership has the responsibility for solving this critical situation and not allowing it to develop further!

What are the options for the 2017 GC Annual Council?

  • Accept that the vote in San Antonio was not done in a way that fulfills the requirements of a valid vote according to the Adventist standards.
  • Accept that in Adventist policy the term “ordination” has acquired meanings beyond what can be substantiated from the New Testament or the writings of Ellen White.
  • Accept that the basic meaning of “ordination” and “commissioning” in fact is identical, and that support for a distinction between them cannot be found in the Bible.
  • Accept that the worldwide validity of ordination within the Adventist Church as it is described in GC Working Policy must be terminated in order to come out of the present deadlock. (See my article in Spectrum on April 7, 2017: Ordination: The Gordian Knot of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.)
  • Vote to support that the GC Secretariat start rewriting policy in view of the previous mentioned facts.

Finn F. Eckhoff is Executive Secretary of the Norwegian Union.

Image Credit: North American Division / James Bokovoy

Notes & References:

[ii] Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. ix

[iv]NORUC, A response to A Study of Church Governance and Unity, 2016 10 04 p. 2, http://www.adventist.no/Media/Adventist/Images/2016/September-2016/A-response-to-A-Study-of-Church-Governance-and-Unity

[v]George R. Knight, Catholic or Adventist: The Ongoing Struggle Over Authority + 9.5 Theses, p. 27

[vii]George R. Knight, Catholic or Adventist: The Ongoing Struggle Over Authority + 9.5 Theses, p. 24, 25

[viii] Voted document 2014 GC Annual Council: Theology and Practice of Ministerial Ordination, The 2015 General Conference Session agenda and support material p. 68

[ix]Neal C. Wilson, General Conference Bulletin 1990-07, p. 12

[x]George R. Knight, Catholic or Adventist: The Ongoing Struggle Over Authority + 9.5 Theses, p. 6

[xi]Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual 19th edition, revised 2015, updated 2016, p. 167

[xiii]Neal C. Wilson, General Conference Bulletin 1990-07, p. 11

[xiv]Working Policy of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2016-2017 Edition, p. 129

[xv] http://www.libertymagazine.org/about.html

[xvi] Gerry Chudleigh, A Short History of the Headship Doctrine In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, p. 13

[xviii]George R. Knight, Catholic or Adventist: The Ongoing Struggle Over Authority + 9.5 Theses, p. 25

[xxii]Ann Gibson, PhD, CPA, Andrews University, Does EVERYONE Trust You? Global Issues in Trust, Transparency and Team-Building, Presentation for the TED Year-End Meetings, November 14, 2016

[xxiii]Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual 19th edition, revised 2015, updated 2016, pp. 114, 115

If you respond to this article, please:

Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8220
1 Like

A cultural clash aided and abetted by "My Way or the Highway–Ted Wilson.


Dear Mr. Finn F. Eckhoff (Executive Secretary of the Norwegian Union),

You fail to realize the pit you have dug for yourself. Indeed, you wax eloquent about the New Testament, and Paul in particular, without realizing:

  1. that though Jesus Christ recognized the faith of women, He chose 12 men to lead His Church;

  2. that though Paul spoke of everyone regardless of gender being equal before Christ, nevertheless, he had this to say about leadership in the Church, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” (1 Tim. 2:12) And again, more pointedly, “This is a faithful saying: if a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife …” (1 Tim. 3:1-2)

In short, the best modern example we have of this paradox, was demonstrated in the life and ministry of Ellen White. She spoke, she warned, she comforted, she prophesied, and the list goes on, but she was never Elder, Pastor, or President of the denomination. [i]

George Orwell expressed this idea accurately in Animal Farm: “All animals are equal,” he said, “but some animals are more equal than others.” THAT, Sir, is a true saying. Before the Throne of Grace, we are all equal like all the Children of Israel, but with regards to shaping the direction, overseeing the administration of the Church and taking care of the members on behalf of Jesus Christ, there is no such thing as a “shepherdess”.

Even God showed this when He established the Old Covenant and made ONLY the Levites ministers of His Sanctuary; and then, ONLY MALE LEVITES, a headship principle which Jesus Christ followed in the New Covenant as shown in (1) above.


James Peterson

[i] http://ellenwhite.org/content/file/circumstances-ellen-whites-ordination-elder#document



It is true that Jesus recognized the faith and affirmed the sincere evangelistic effort of the Samaritan woman; but like Mary the brother of Lazarus, Mary Magdalene and even His own mother Mary, who was with the disciples on the day of Pentecost, she was never appointed a leader of the Church. The problem with those who support women’s ordination, like yourself, is that they conflate personal ministry with ecclesiastical authority.



And God, all through the Bible, never appointed a woman to be leader in His Church, period. He did, however, highly praise ALL who demonstrated great faith in Him!



God told Moses, “'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exod. 19:6) So only the male Levites were “ordained to minister in the sanctuary”; but ALL ISRAEL were to be a people who knew Him and declared Him to the world.

Peter expresses much the same idea. We are, according to him, first a living breathing temple and then a priesthood ministering in that temple. (1 Peter 2:4-10), just as God spoke of Israel. While all declare the glory of God by word and deed (a holy nation), only some are “ordained to the priesthood” (a kingdom of priests).



@ECCLESIASTES has answered you well enough,



I would suggest to Mr Peterson that Jesus sent a woman, an uneducated woman, and at that, a lower caste (Samarian) woman, and lower than that, a divorced woman, a four time divorced woman, and even lower than that - ONE LIVING IN PRESENT ADULTERY!!
She apparently did not require the personal tutelage the 12 knuckleheads did-who, even after they were appointed to scurry off and get some wham and cheese subs from the neighborhood PigglyWiggly in Samaria, did not understand what this gospel-thing they were being groomed to preach.

Note what the knuckleheads said after they were appointed to fetch vittles and shuffled back with their meal for master-
“Have you eaten, Master?”

That could mean only one thing-the meta message clear:
"surely Master will not eat with THAT woman, that Samarian, that &DULTRESS!!!!

Note what the woman then did, who we will call, according to the Northern Kingdom scrolls, "PHOTINA"
She went back to the village that dismissed, disgraced, and disrespected her-and she preached to them the gospel-before the knuckleheads had even been sent-and was such a phenom that "ALL THE MEN IN HER VILLAGE FOLLOWED HER TO JESUS. Before you say -AH HAAA!- See-only MEN!
She either (like the 12 reluctant potnotsolucky apostles) didn’t preach to the women or children,
or, more likely, the word “MEN” in context meant men, women, and children.

Jesus, what a rebel-upstaging the GC, err, Sanhedrin, and setting the “ME FIRST” men in their place.
Photina, what a phenom! All she was before-a broken cup of water-
and what a luminous spring of flowing water afterward!
Generously sharing the living water, without regard to race or caste or status or role. Note-nor gender.

Unlike the penurious knuckleheads, who wanted to deny her any water, or even a crumb of bread.

We do need to read with ears-hearts aware, and see with eyes of our hearts-
instead of doing a narrow-souled squint over pet, letter-of-law mis-interpreted and disparate proof-text quotes. The truth is hid in the word, as much the Word.
And the truth is love, period.

I pray for our leaders-for these (with all due respect) knuckleheads, who, just like their fore-types in writ-seem to love only their power and their status and position of privilege. May they remember to avoid even the slightest guile, the teeniest appearance of evil, favoritism of person-and then, they too, will spout like springs in the desert, giving water and bread to a thirsting, hungry world.

Please pass the salt-such a feast as we’ve ever imagined is about to transpire-
the wedding feast of a thousand millenia, when the groom finally woos back his bride!


Ecclesiastical authority is a contridiction in terms. The authority is God. Period.


Peter, who is seen by millions of Christians as the Rock of the church, wrote a letter to MEN AND WOMEN, BROTHERS and SISTERS to a wide geographical area of churches according to his 1st letter, called 1st Peter.
Chapter 2, vs 9 Peter tells the Brothers AND Sisters they are a Royal Priesthood. representing a Holy Nation [Heaven and Earth United].
Tell me I am wrong, when a person becomes a Priest they are Anointed by The Trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit - to DO THE WORK OF PRIESTS.
This seems to indicate that EVERYONE in Christ is a PRIEST irregardless of GENDER – the MEN AND WOMEN of that very large geographical area. Since it is posted in our Sacred Scriptures, it would seem that Saint Peter’s words are APPLICAL to the World Wide Christian Church for the last 2000 years, and also to the Seventh-day Adventist church since its organization in the 1860s.
Now it is true, that the church can decide to PAY certain priests for their time, other priests finance their own volunteer service. BUT Paid or Un-Paid, a follower of Christ is already a Priest.
Since Peter was a Jew, he KNEW he was elevating ALL followers of Christ to the Priestly Order of Aaron. So the instructions available about the Priestly Order of Aaron were no longer valid. The Order of Aaron was relegated to history,
So IF we USE the Priestly Order of Aaron rules and regulations as applicable to the Seventh day Adventist church, we ARE NOT following Biblical Instruction.

Yvonne – I am sure You and I KNOW that those outside the US did NOT take just an airfare from their own country to SanAntonio air port and back home. And NO souvenier shopping. I would think that many had planned side trips prior to flying back home. If I was going to Europe or Africa or elsewhere, that is what I would do – “see the USA”.

EDIT-- In more thinking about the Author’s Question and Negative answer to it. Perhaps THE VOTE at SA2015 WAS THE VOICE OF GOD Allowing Unions [the grass-roots churches of the SDA] to Decide WHAT IS BEST FOR THEM when it comes to Leadership Policies in the Local Churches, the Conferences, the Union.
****** It would not take much for the various Unions to have agreements whereby pastors could move from Union to Union, Conference to Conference should any wish to apply, and move about the Division, or even between Divisions.
If there are any problems with Retirement Benefits [most church workers in the US can be covered by Social Security at retirement] put any retirement benefits in a 401K and allow it to follow from one Union to another, or one Division to another. And set it up so that if one should die prematurely, the proceeds would be available to the designated heir.
IT IS TIME for Whining and the Crying to STOP by the NAD Unions, the European Unions.
It is their RIGHT, by the VOTE SA2015 to continue to recognize the Gift of the Holy Spirit to Women AND Men, and to Lay Hands on Equally to leadership of Priests in the Kingdom of Heaven – on Heaven and Earth.
Yes, perhaps the SA2015 VOTE WAS THE VOICE OF GOD.
IT IS TIME for the Whining and Crying at Silver Springs to STOP. The VOICE of the Church SPOKE and said it is OK for the Unions to continue to do what they were doing.
ANY RETRIBUTION or DISCIPLINE would be AGAINST the SA2015 VOTE and would be OUT OF ORDER according to The VOTE.


Excellent article.
TOSC was tasked with two important studies.

  1. Ordination itself - valid, meaning, conseqences of, etc. - which was touched on but not really dealt with and thus
  2. WO was woefully over discussed and conclusions probably were not what they should have been if #1 were done first as directed.
    Frankly, I was thrilled when the vote was “no” at 15GCSA as the decision needs to be left to the Union’s where the people have some small say as oppossed to the division controlled by a few men with basically no input from the people. Most people think they voted against women being ordained. NOT although spread by the likes of DB and SB and others.
    There was also a very clear anti North America vote re Division v Union authority at 15GCSA and it didn’t really matter what other divisions supported WO or even whether it was an appropriate vote or not. It was voted down because of strong feelings against the NAD.
    The clear lack of church history was very apparent at 15GCSA. For example NAD being separated from GC, and rightly so, was in reaction to the perceived, and probably actual, influence of the NAD on the GC to the detriment of the rest of the world church. Yet there was anger expressed that the NAD would not be giving as much money to be distributed to the other divisions since NAD now had to pay for itself. The lack of delegates studying their materials, trying to grasp church history or anything else was overshadowed by a big trip to the USA.

If our brother Neal truly feels like “it’s either my way or the highway” (quoted by tjzwemer in previous posting, see the first comment on this article)) then we are in for some very serious problems as a worldwide church.
How does anyone feel about what amounts to a “do as your told and shut up” approach to what should be open and frank discussion, which is demeaning, disrespectful, and inappropriate?
To argue with someone who is in a position of power in the church can be daunting, the stakes can be high –with the power to promote, demote, or fire. I think of the expression “might makes right,” and know this sort of interaction can be tricky business. I wonder. Is there gender conditioning behind the need to be right? Is there always some sort of psychological twist – or several – that yields the controlling, superior partner, the domineering boss, the close-minded father? And why is it that some people are ready for a fight over every thing, insisting that their position or policy is the only position, and that their “right way” is the “one” right way? The symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is certainly the first thing that comes to mind when I consider the “my way or the highway” type leader. (e.g. I am thinking about our current #45, US president.) This could apply to any one of us…
• Overblown sense of self
• Preoccupied with fantasies of power
• Believes himself to be unique, never apologizes or admits to making mistakes
• Demands attention and admiration
• Takes advantage of others
• Lacks empathy


James Peterson,
You quote Paul in your defense of the San Antonio vote.

Do you also support Paul in his EMPHATIC, ENERGETIC, ENDORSEMENT
of slavery?:


Surely James Peterson, you do not endorse slavery, just because Paul emphatically did?

Human trafficking is the most heinous, horrific human rights abuse, yet Paul was emphatically for it. As a member of the upper echelon of Jewish elite, he had Sanhedrin friends with restless, unruly slaves.
To curry favor with them, Paul made his ungoverned, injudicious,
statement. ( just like Donald Trump, many of Paul’s statements do not hold up under scrutiny )

This unwise pronouncement gave Carte Blanche and cover, to countless centuries of slave owners and slave traders alike.

James Peterson, are you also in favor of wife beating?

My Adventist women pastor friends tell me that spousal abuse is ENDEMIC In every congregation in Adventism.
— all furthered and perpetuated by the heinous, heretical headship dogma based on Paul’s misogynist remarks, more particularly:


This intemperate, brash remark has given Carte Blanche and cover to countless men to beat their wives, and wife beating is regrettably rampant in Adventism.

So I never take Paul’s statements at authentic face value, because they have led to so much human misery over the two millennia since he uttered them
( he has a lot in common with Donald Trump’s brash ill advised tweets.)

If Saint Peter ever admits Paul through the pearly gates, millions of slaves will rightfully confront him:

What were you thinking Paul to endorse slavery and cause us so much MISERY?

Similarly millions of abused wives will demand his apology for their suffering.

Right now, Paul’s intemperate misogynistic remarks are causing schism, division and misery in the Adventist church. They are incompatible with modern thinking, and our US constitution which espouses egalitarianism.

Just like his antiquated endorsements of slavery and spousal subjugation, they should be
appropriately ignored in this modern twenty first century of EQUAL RIGHTS.

That was precisely my point:
Paul is an accomplice, an aider and abettor of slave traders, slave owners, wife beaters, gay bashers, with his intemperate pro-slavery, misogynist , and homophobic statements.
He has caused more MISERY on this planet than Hitler and Stalin combined!

Those despots only impacted their own generations.
Paul created MISERY over TWO MILLENNIA, for slaves, abused wives, and persecuted gays!


Just one point: For husbands to abuse their wives or children (physically, psychologically, spiritually, financially) is a complete denial of the Gospel. Period.
For a FULL and much better understanding of what Paul is saying, one must read beyond verse 22 ,down to verse 32. OTHERWISE one makes Paul into a liar, or much worse – an accomplice in abhorrent acts; crimes against the powerless.



  1. Was the vote against policy? No.
  2. Were the delegates uninformed on the issue? After a year of campaigning and all kinds of discussion for 40 years, how could they be? No.
  3. Were the voices of those in favor muted and given no time or resources to convince all that WO’s time had come. No.
  4. Did TW control the discussion? No.
  5. Was it immoral to vote on this issue? Well, WO advocates surely did not think so at the time, and worked with all their might to convince delegates to vote yes. If they had felt it was immoral to vote, they should have said so at the time. They did not. So, again, No.
  6. Was the vote at SA unique, that is there had never been a vote on the issue before? No, there had been votes on this before.

So, it seems that this was a legitimate vote. The 10 reasons that Mr. Eckhoff gives are not valid reasons, and mainly arguments put forth by WO supporters. There are counter arguments to them. And I might add if Mr. Eckhoff’s Norwegian union were growing like Africa or South America, he might have a more convincing voice.

So, what is going to be the cause of schism? It will be supporters of WO who have set up a false morality that is not supported by scripture (see no. 5, above, we are not told we HAVE to do WO). The Bible is mute on this, making it a matter of personal choice, not moral imperative. WO supporters make it a moral imperative. That is setting up your own morality.

If Jesus had thought this was a necessary thing, he would have said so.

Any schism will be on the heads of WO supporters who cannot submit to a proper vote by their fellow believers on an issue that is not a moral one. To bad.


Here are 7 of my reasons for why the San Antonio vote is not the voice of God:

  1. Scripture does not authorize the making of church policy by vote. (The only votes we see in the NT are the votes to stone Stephen and crucify Jesus). Instead, the NT establishes that church policy should be made in accordance with the consensus of the church members.
  2. The vote was too close (58% to 42%) to constitute the last word on the matter. In contrast, the votes taken by unions to ordain women enjoy a super-majority margin of support and have withstood the test of time.
  3. The close San Antonio vote defies the consensus view of the overwhelming majority of Seventh-day Adventist biblical scholars. History teaches that in the long run smart typically prevails over stupid.
  4. History shows that support for women’s ordination has increased year over year as Seventh-day Adventists have studied and learned. The San Antonio vote is already obsolete.
  5. Women are already being ordained as ministers. They are already bearing fruit of the Holy Spirit. Any vote that casts a cloud over that fruit of the Holy Spirit is unbiblical, illegitimate, and a sin against the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Seventh-day Adventist Church should repent of its sin committed in San Antonio.
  6. The vote reflects a hermeneutical approach to Scripture that is identical to that taken by the nineteenth-century Christian apologists for slavery. The hermeneutical moorings of the vote make a mockery of the Word of God.
  7. As the author of this nice essay states, the San Antonio vote does not cohere with many of the doctrines of the Church.

Thanks Finn! The San Antonio vote is also unsafe and unsound with me.

Equally, it would have been unsafe and unsound had the vote gone the other way.

Yet I have little interest in Unions pursuing ordination of women against the expressed wishes of the General Conference in Session until such times as a global body of representative leaders has done further work on this issue, in conjunction with solid biblical scholarship.

There are at least three good reasons for these assertions.

The 1877 General Conference voted that "the highest authority under God among Seventh-day Adventists is found in the will of the body of that people, as expressed in the decisions of the General Conference when acting within its proper jurisdiction, and that such decisions should be submitted to by all without exception."

There we have it people! There is no appeal against the 2015 San Antonio decision? Am I correct?

Fortunately the answer is NO!

This is not the full text of the 1877 GC Session vote! Importantly the 1877 GC Session vote contains an important exception clause - "… such decisions should be submitted to by all without exception, unless they can be shown to conflict with the word of God and the rights of individual conscience."

Note that the above resolution and especially this exception clause follows very Protestant principles. It echoes the concepts contained in Martin Luther’s words at the Diet of Worms, “I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the councils … Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture … I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen.”

In Martin Luther’s mind, conviction concerning the testimony of Scripture (having been educated by it) was always to be the foundation and substance of his subsequent speech and conscience informed action.

In fact, the sacred nature of the rights of individual conscience when informed by Scripture, even if opposed to ecclesiastical authorities was one of the drivers of the Protestant Reformation. Ellen White asserts that “the very beginning of the great apostasy was in seeking to supplement the authority of God, [in the Scripture] by that of the church.” Apostasy continues in our day by the same means!

For many of the delegates voting on the ordination issue at San Antonio, the outcome of disallowing the proposal that each Division is unsustainable. To them it can easily be shown to be in conflict with both their studied conclusions of what Scripture is saying and of the rights of Scripture informed individual conscience.

Equally, for a majority of delegates, had the voted outcome allowed the same proposal to be voted into policy, it could easily be shown to be in conflict with their studied conclusions of what Scripture is saying and of the rights of Scripture informed individual conscience.

From this I conclude that the 2015 vote was wrong-headed, unsafe and unsound and would have been so, even if the vote had gone the other way.

The attempt to use this vote fails by its attempt to supress the Scripture informed individual consciences of so many, and especially so, given that a super majority of the TOSC committee members had already declared themselves in favour of the proposal.

What to do? Reframe the conversation!

Adventists have a practice of seeking truth not by vote but by consensus. The pillars of our faith - salvation, sabbath, second coming, state of the dead, etc were arrived at after discussion, dissention and debate before consensus was reached. No vote was taken to prescribe truth. Our fundamental beliefs have ever been descriptive presentations of truths commonly believed among us. Truth has not been arrived at in leaps and bounds. The process of growing in our sanctified maturity of understanding is an unending process, and often painful. Even our understanding of a relatively minor truth such as “the king of the north” was not brought to conclusion by a vote.

Many imagine that the San Antonio vote marks the establishment of the truth about ordination, and was indicative of further action eg of repealing policy providing for women elders. But truth cannot be arrived at by supressing the conscientiously held beliefs of a large and growing minority of believers.

The San Antonio vote was a lazy solution to a debate where we have as yet been unable to frame in terms that win the confidence of Bible believers everywhere.

The attempt to silence dissent from the voted solution in the interests of focusing on mission is to refuse to see that this issue is at its foundation a missional issue.

The ordination issue encompasses so much of our theology! It invites us to consider what our theology of the whole people of God is! So many Adventist believers [on all sides of the issue] still speak and write of Adventist laity and Adventist clergy, as if our leaders are a global super-class, supernaturally endowed to do all the heavy lifting of continuing the ministry of Christ in our Christian movement and in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. @ajshep [Please don’t mock me, Pr Shepherd. This is a real problem. The language Adventists often use at this point often betrays a seriously deficient theology of the whole people of God].

All believers are called by God to humble service in the continuing ministry of Christ. All are gifted, and their particular calling is in their gifting. Some have leadership gifts and these are to be our authorized representative spokesmen and decision-makers, not for all time, but according to God’s timetable. The gifts of such people are discerned by the body of believers and then appointed to specific roles, blessed and commissioned for their roles. According to Daniel Augsburger, “[T]here is no support in early Christian history for an ordination attached to the person of the minister rather than to his mission.”


What is amazing with those who want the ordination of women is the dogmatism with which they express their view. The issue is not open and clear if it was there would be no need for controversy. The whole issue is not that thought leaders in the church have suddenly discovered a forgotten truth, it is that social change has raised the prophile of women in society and the view has been developed that women should have the same options in the church.
Wheather women should or should not be on ordained is moot but the level of the discussion is does not comment respect especially when leaders in the General Conference are vilified.
It is a law of life that you will be paid in the same coin in which you trade.


Paul did not endorse abuse of women, remember that he allows divorce in 1 Cor 7!!!
Paul was not pro-slavery or misogynist, he was remembering the principle of submission to higher authority whenever it was possible and keep our integrity of the soul and body.


Once again, Allen, you’ve resorted to reasoned logic, something liberals cannot abide.

If this hand been said about our “beloved” Dan Jackson, it would be deleted, or there would be a severe rebuke.

But I’m sure there’s no double standard here.

Because the losers in that decision are in a state of permanent denial. The rest of us would like to move on to more important matters, but those who refuse to accept the vote continue to agitate and rebel.

1 Like

Wonderful list, Phil.

And you got me looking at the choice of Stephen and the crucifixion of Jesus, and I do not see a vote of any kind. Acts 15 and Acts 6 appears to be leadership reaching consensus, while each mention of Pilot and the crucifixion of Jesus illustrates Pilot yielding to mob tumult rather than fulfilling his role as judge.

Had Elder Wilson approach the General Conference delegation and explained to them the overwhelming reasons to delegate to the divisions of the church the introduction of women’s ordination in their territory as they may see fit, the vote to do so would have be a super majority in favor.

Indeed, had Elder Wilson secured the consensus of his executive committee in simply interpreting the current organization of the church as leaving this matter of ordination in the care of each individual Union Conference constituency, this matter would be settled one and for all time.

Indeed, this could happen next month. Elder Wilson could finish what his father began and do so in the same fashion that James did. He could stand before the Annual Council, testify to what has been learned from the Holy Spirit, and declare to those assembled that it is his observation that the best path forward for the church is to let the Holy Spirit continue to work through the constituencies of each Union Conference and Mission to address all ordination matters as is their experience of the Holy Spirit.

He would then pause as did James, and let quietness prevail for the Holy Spirit to speak, and then propose that with their consensus he will write a letter that they can take with them affirming that the General Conference officers will support the decisions of the Union Conference constituencies with regard to all matters delegated to them, including ordination qualifications.

Imagine the empowerment such an action would convey for good for the denomination. It would be akin to the vote in 1901 when a church of 69,000 members organized 15 Union Conferences and 1 Union Mission for just this purpose.

We are living in very interesting times.



i agree with much of this article, but my feeling is that it’s point is in the past…even the question of whether the vote in san antonio was the voice of god or not cannot matter now…this is because the bible and egw neither forbid nor enjoin women’s ordination, which means no-one can claim the vote either was or wasn’t dispositive for being the voice of god, or even whether a knowledge of the convoluted and drawn out political process leading up to and possibly affecting the outcome of the vote can have any impact on anyone’s verdict…

what matters now is what mattered as soon as the vote was tallied and announced, which is our collective response to it…it’s actually quite clear to me that if major portions of our church ignore the san antonio vote, we might as well not have a GC, or a world church…it would be as well for all of us to go our separate ways and do what is right in our own eyes, and draw from this experience that in the future, if anyone or group we think we have something in common with disagrees with what we feel strongly about, we’ll simply ignore them, and cast them into a tangential, blurry orbit surrounding the farthest and least defined periphery of our priorities…salient questions to consider now are whether this is what we want, and whether it’s worth splitting our church into independent atoms over something that cannot qualify as a core doctrine, and that isn’t even remotely connected to what we stand to uniquely offer the world…

assuming the answer to these questions is no, i see two possible ways to keep our world church intact…in the first place, disaffected pro-WO interests can take annual council up on its offer to grant an exemption to the working policy determined by the san antonio vote…that is, according to the secretariat’s 50-page A Study of Church Governance and Unity, sprung on attendees to annual council 2016 at the last minute, and that actually required a 17-page condensed version (is no-one focused enough to read 50 pages in a short sitting anymore), unity in diversity is possible and desirable as long as a representative world body - annual council or a GC session - agrees to grant that diversity…my impression of this somewhat self-promotional conclusion by the secretariat is that it all but promises anyone who asks for an exemption that it will be granted…this being the case, why haven’t any pro-WO interests put this provision to the test…what does anyone have to lose…what does anyone have to gain by not putting it to the test…even if there is dispute over whether this is a power-grab by annual council, and that acquiescing to its terms would confer legitimacy, isn’t it better to secure an intact ship, and work out the details later…how does risking a split and sinking the ship for the sake of principle over how the ship should be run promote the good of the ship…

in the second place, pro-WO interests can swallow their pride and sense of justice and recognize that there is virtue in submitting to the opposing side when that opposing side is wrong because it isn’t capable yet of being right, this being vastly different from being wrong when there is the clear capacity to be right…i think it’s quite evident that, for whatever reasons, there exists in our church resentment on the part of the global south towards the global north…i think president paulsen’s noble speech on the floor of san antonio, just before the vote, was readily turned into a convenient opportunity to unleash obvious pent up hostility, which evinces many things…among them is that resistance by the global north to the orchestrated vote of the global south at san antonio can only exacerbate matters because it conveys a lack of respect that will certainly consolidate existing resentment…what i think needs to be duly considered, moving forward, is that as more and more culturally disparate segments of the globe accept the three angels’ messages - and assuming we ourselves still believe them - our politics can only become more and more strained, and difficult…more ways of viewing and responding to the world having an increasing say at our table means nothing can be expected to become easier…

perhaps the real trump card held by the global north now is unreserved submission to the global south…this posture, so unexpected, would surely disarm and ultimately undo the suspicions of the global south, which is almost certainly the root of their resentment…the stage would be irreversibly set for a less polarized and charged conversation on WO, and perhaps a more important open conversation on the feelings of the global south towards the global north, and why…but on the subject of WO itself, i think it is possible that some people from the global south would be enabled to feel the wisdom of WO who simply cannot do so now, because they’re responding to the promptings of resentment, rather than the merits of WO…it occurs to me that peter’s counsel for all of us to “be subject one to another”, 1 Peter 5:5, must have arisen from regional defensiveness stemming from the jarring clash of cultures going on in the apostolic church, just as now…after-all, if no-one had difficulty submitting to the person sitting next to him because everyone saw and felt things in the same way, what would have been the point of such counsel, given so near the end of a relatively important letter to “the strangers scattered throughout” the known, non-jewish, world, 1 Peter 1:1…the point is that even if all these “strangers” were jews, which is possible given 1 Peter 2:12, not to mention Galatians 2:7-8, their vastly different surroundings from jerusalem would have shaped their thinking in disparate, and important, ways…i think it’s plausible, if not inescapable, that peter, by positioning mutual submission and humility as a strong suit and advantage, was beseeching the growing apostolic church to not let regional and cultural prejudices impede collective progress, which is a message for our own time if there ever was one…

1 Like

The two Wilsons have vilified themselves and whoever resisted their abuse of power. We claim to be heirs of the Reformation, but as I recall, Time Magazine observed that in the betrayal of Dr. Ford we got the Reformation backwards.

For a fascinating history of men who have recently coveted ecclesiastical power, I recommend The Evangelicals by Pulitzer winner Frances Fitzgerald.


Bill, oh that Wilson would do that. It would show unexpected statesmanship and pour oil on troubled waters. But I’m afraid he is an ideologue who puts his personal sense of what’s “right” above all else. And then there is the political instinct to go with the Divisions that form his power base. Nasty combination, that. Ideology and politics.