A Letter to My Church: Get Back on Track

 

My name is Mitchell Powers, I am a Seventh-day Adventist, and I am actively choosing to continue to be an Adventist believer. I adore the message and convictions of the Adventist Church and my intention is to seek out the doctrines of the Bible earnestly and to practice the theology of the Bible in a wholesome fashion. As such, however, as an aspiring pastor and growing academic in theology and religion, I believe God has given me a hard message to bring to the Adventist Church that might bring forward an amount of change and recalibration in our church.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11821
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Why did not Paulson bring up WO when he was president? He was in favor. And his speech, a snark at the conservatives in the church at the time of the vote just made them more likely to reject it.

Do you understand the thinking of the members from the conservative third world? Are you aware of their weariness of being considered second rate members, chided by the more liberal west?

So, no, our ordination is not an abomination. It is the result of an open vote of all the members. That is called democracy.

You might not agree with he vote, but it was fair to all involved.

I might ask where you are attending? I know coffee drinkers and movie goers all over the place, and they come and are welcomed weekly. Maybe you are thinking of a past era, or attend a more conservative church, but even those are pretty tolerant, at least from my perspective.

Such generalizations as are voiced here are of little help. Just do what you think you should do, and don’t be so judgmental of those who disagree with you. Do you really see how judgmental you are in this piece? No self insight!

Astounding!

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Sadly church democracy does not include equal representation.

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Democracy? Did I vote for whomever or any other regular member, did I vote on who was a delegate or any other…

de·moc·ra·cy
noun
a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state

What we had/have is a mockery, plain and simple!

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Well, Allen, talk about judgmental…

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Mitchell, thank you for your letter. I generally agree with your five points.

Since you are a student, I want to respond to one aspect of your letter. You said at the top that:

That statement reflects what I consider to be one of the biggest challenges in Adventism: intense focus on doctrine and theology. At the same time, we have a large risk of short-changing basic Christianity in our pursuit of doctrine and “truth.”

It strikes me that your five points are only tangential to doctrine and theology. They have more to do with attitudes, behavior, relationships, and practice. Who we are is far more important than what we know - or think we know.

I appreciate that you ventured out to write this letter and have it published. I am not being critical of your efforts. Since you are young, I want to express my thoughts to you as you develop your own priorities.

Blessings.

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As a physician trained in scientific research, odds, and statistics, and as a pastor schooled in ethics, I am truly puzzled at your outright statement that the ordination of women has not become a global-wide reality because democracy has spoken.

I beg to differ with your logic when 57% at least of church membership is made up of women, and 18% of GC delegates are women.

Women are substantially unrepresented, especially women who need to be “ordained” to be eligible for positions who are de facto delegates.

I know this from experience as a GC delegate from a union where I was on the Union Executive Committee.

Democracy is defined by voter representation. We, in this church, have not achieved that.

Even now178 years after Ellen White, who was ordained by God Himself (according to her), was a founder of the church that would expand to nearly every country represented in the United Nations. During the last Wilson administration, her union president would have been called out and publicly punished because of that “ordained” status and punished in Compliance Committees cooked up by Wilson. How much representation did those Compliance Committees have? You can probably guess.

Doctor and Elder, your claim puzzles me, especially since I assume you believe in the Holy Spirit’s important role to provide gifts, spiritual gifts, to the entire church membership. The ENTIRE church–every member–regardless of plumbing.

We need to do better. The authority of the Church’s business meetings depend on it.

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Sorry, it is a representative govt. More at a republic

Did you read the letter? Just judgment all along the line. My post is less so. If you are going to rail against judgmentalism, you have to be less judgmental.

I’m concerned that this young person may have a misdirected zeal. Social justice, as is currently understood within our country, is not a path for our church to follow. Equal justice, yes, but social justice, no. “Social Justice” today tends to deceive many to a distribution category that falls into the discrepancy decisions of a state to distribute some “haves” with the “have nots”. This brings into the SJ subject the term “equity” which is nearly 100% opposite of equality, and the term “common good” which always begs the question, “Who decides what is good?” . The government then gets involved in very much a tyrannical form leading to a removal of individual rights and property. The subject this young person refers to is far deeper than the simple statement he made and I will venture to guess that he has no idea of the harm we could experience by getting back on some “track” he says we are no longer following.

Social justice is absolutely what the church should be advocating. There can be no equality without equity. The overwhelming reason for social justice is because “have nots” exist.

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Dear Mitchell,
I appreciated your letter, so full of idealism. Been there, done that - when I was young.

Now, at almost 72, let me tell you something I want to remember 40 or 50 years ahead, when you get older
: The SDA Church is NOT going to change. Ever! It haven’t changed, and it’s not going to. Because it more founded on EGW than on the Bible, so it is what it is.

I hope you will study Adventism in depth, while you are young, so that you make educated choices for your future. Compare what the Church teaches with what was written by, at least, Desmond Ford, Walter Rea, Ronald Numbers, Geoffrey Paxton, Steve Daily, Fritz Guy, Smuts van Rooyen - to start with!

Those people I mentioned above are much more honest and reliable than the official literature from the Church that is always geared toward hidding facts and ignore reality. Manipulation of your thinking is a horrendous thing; don’t let them do it to you. I am speaking with a lifetime experience.

God bless!

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I’m not going to repeat what @GeorgeTichy said, Mitchell, but I do want to “second” it.

I’m a 67 year-old “polymath” (IOW, I have an advanced degree in nothing) who left the church when I was 25 and am convinced it was one of the best decisions of my life.

I’d like to add, however, that while I don’t disagree with what George said about the glaring problems with EGW, her debatable “inspiration” WAS NOT the determinant factor in that decision.

Instead, it slowly occurred to me that if any of the things organized religions teach about god are true-that is, that he, she or it is omni-anything-then there really is no need for organized religion as our creator has the power to interact directly with any of his creatures and without the need for publicists or publications.

So sure, read extra-Adventist literature to get a more objective perspective on Adventism.

And read about other religions, too, particularly the Eastern, non-verbal and more meditative traditions.

But it you want a better relationship with our maker I’d suggest that you go back to The First Book, also known as Nature, and devout yourself to studying that. If the ongoing miracles you find there don’t evoke a sense of indescribable wonder, or if the beauty you see doesn’t convince you that ours is a great and living (if decidedly irreligious) god then you can return to Sabbath School any time-I’m sure it’ll still be there, as unchanged as if you never left-and tell the class that George and I are doddering old fools who are obviously suffering from late-onset senility.

:smiling_imp::rofl:

Oooos. I forgot.

George doesn’t like being called “old”.

But I’m okay with the label, even sort of proud of having made this far, despite being the younger of the two!!!

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well said ajshep. The church voted on WO and the majority in the church are convinced that the votes reflects their biblical understanding on this matter. Why should those who are convinced otherwise think their opinion is all that matters?

Discrimination of women is institutionalized in the Adventist Church. It’s shameful but it is what it is. And I believe it’s not going to cvhange any soon unless women really start a very aggressive (and I mean, dynamic) movement to change this nonsense.

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LOL. Bruce, my good old friend, it’s obvious that we both are old, but one of us is “more old” than the other… :roll_eyes: :cold_face::joy: :rofl:

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Why do you not understand that teams of church scholars have studied this for forty years and have consistently concluded that barring women from ordination can’t be supported from the Bible, especially the NT? Even the TOSC in 2015 said it couldn’t be supported, you know, the results that Ted Wilson ignored and looked to suppress before the body of delegates voted?

Therefore, anyone concluding that this is biblically supportable is missing the central issue. Get past this to the real driver…this is a cultural issue. Most of the world church believes that women don’t belong in the pulpit or in pastoral leadership because they are women. They use the Bible to support their cultural bias. One could say that this is happening on both sides of the divide.

The way that such disputable matters were handled in the NT could be seen in Romans 14-15. Paul allowed for different cultural convictions and practices, while urging the believers in Rome to come together in a united diversity around the same fellowship table. What Ted Wilson has done is to take a culturally driven, disputable matter, and to side with the majority in imposing their views on the minority, thus demonizing dissent and driving it underground. One couldn’t find a better recipe to cause division in the church. That is what trying to enforce cultural and even theological uniformity does.

This is textbook inept leadership. The sad part is that you and many others admire it, and are probably thinking that this is prophetic fulfillment of “the shaking.” It is really self fulfilling, from the mind of Ted Wilson and those of his own supporters.

Frank

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Well said Frank. But I came to the conclusion that this situation is not going to change since the official Church, in the hands of retrograde people like TW, will be kept withing the medieval mentality. Only people who “dare” to think independently , and able to access facts by studying/researching by themselves will be able to break the eggshell imposed on them by the Church.

The AC will never change! What will change is that people who learn better will just throw the towel. And we are just wasting time explaining all this…

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this is really the kind of question where both sides should be accommodated…in the same way that it is wrong to impose WO everywhere, it is wrong now to impose headship everywhere…this kind of diversity is what a yes vote in San Antonio would have allowed for…a yes vote was never an all or nothing proposition…

i think our church is going to need to revisit this subject until we get it right…the accommodation for both circumcision and non-circumcision that we see in Acts 15 is our example of what’s right…my hope is that TW, having seen the futility of enforcing San Antonio, will work to make the accommodation principle of Acts 15 the solution in our church on this WO question…perhaps we’ll be the only major church which adopts this accommodation principle when we do…

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Continuing the discussion from A Letter to My Church: Get Back on Track:

DoloresHerzo:
Just briefly, I appreciate your essay although I find that it tends toward the judgmental overall, especially sections, 3,4, and 5. My perspective re coffee drinkers, movie-goers, etc., is that of a respondent (Shepherd, I believe) that these Adventists are hardly noticed for these “transgressions”… and I note that they are often leaders. In Item 5, do we always have to find a way to blame the Catholics ? Let’s not spend so much time, “evaluating out mistakes”…we are for the most part doing the best we can: giving as much money, time, care as we can… We are still coming out of Covid, and suffering from it.

the Bible does not endorse it either, that is make it a moral issue. Therefore, it is acceptable to deny it, as it is not a command.

Now remember, at the last GC, Paulson spoke down to some of the delegates. Not a strategy for passage, and Ted whom the world divisions are comfortable with, does not push it, something they apparently like. So, he continues to be their choice for leadership.

You wanted Ted to 1. abandon a personal position (he opposes WO), and 2. support those who have more or less incessantly attacked him. Perhaps he is not up to that kind of “leadership.” But there is a certain sense that the West has dug its own grave on the matter. And the developed world does hold the cards here, with all their growth. Why has the West not grown so? Many reasons, but a battery of beliefs in the west has impeded growth. So they have overtaken us, and get to call the shots.

I don’t think blaming Ted is productive or altogether true. He allowed for more discussion than Paulson, who never brought it up. Maybe you should go after him.

You could argue that Ted only allowed it because he knew the vote would go his way. I am not at all sure that is true, and as Mike Jordan said, every shot you don’t take you miss 100% of the time. Paulson did not take a shot. Ted allowed for the WO crowd to take the shot. Maybe he was the better leader…?