After the Vote


(Spectrumbot) #1

Sunday afternoon, delegates to the 2018 Annual Council cast their votes on the proposal to discipline “non-compliant” units of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Despite all the words in the proposal and speeches on the floor, the real target was the ordination of women ministers, with the Pacific Union and Columbia Union in the crosshairs for punitive action. The General Conference was and remains determined to bring these two unions to heel.

Look at the trajectory of the past three Annual Councils:

2016: The GC introduced a proposal focused on punishing non-compliant unions. It failed to get a majority vote.

2017: A modified, more stringent proposal along the same lines was brought to the floor. It likewise failed.

2018: The latest proposal came packaged with a large, complicated procedure, supported by survey data of a dubious nature. But the original intent to force the Pacific and Columbia Unions to submit, although obscured in a fog of words, remained. The proposal passed handily.

I am disappointed but not surprised — and certainly not discouraged. Here’s why.

Disappointed because I believe strongly that what was voted marks a radical departure from the Adventism of Ellen White and the founders of our movement, from our Protestant heritage, and from the life and teachings of Jesus. It will ultimately shatter the unity of the SDA church — ironically, in the name of unity.

Not surprised because the decision to bring the proposal to the floor virtually guaranteed the vote.

During the week preceding the Annual Council, Division and General Conference Officers (GCDO), as they customarily do, met to consider agenda items. This meeting of the top leadership of the global church functions in important ways like the U.S. Senate, where accumulated wisdom and careful deliberation are meant to be the hallmark.

When GCDO met and voted, these leaders split down the middle on the non-compliance proposal. The margin in favor of going forward was razor thin.

The proposal should have died right there — it should have been withdrawn. We are a church not a political organization that acts on the slimmest of majorities.

The GC leadership forged ahead anyway. Did they figure that, although the “Senate” was split down the middle, the “House” (the much larger GC Committee) could be counted on to deliver the vote?

The composition of the GC Committee has undergone a sharp transformation. It has become weighted toward the global South over against the North. This is because each new union voted in at a GC Session gets a seat on the GC Committee. And the new unions nowadays come overwhelmingly from the developing world.

The outcome in Battle Creek was entirely predictable.

But not discouraged. How could I be when the head of the Church isn’t someone in Silver Spring? Jesus is Head of the Church, and He will bring a good result in spite of the present disappointment.

How can I be so confident? You can’t hold back the dawn. History is on the side of justice and equality.

I am proud of Elder Ricardo Graham and his fellow officers. I am proud of Elder Dave Weigley and his fellow officers. They stand on the right side of history.

I stand with them.

“The stream of Adventism is fed by the teardrops of the Great Disappointment,” writes Alex Bryan in “Primal Adventism: Jesus at the Beginning” (For the One: Voices from the One Project, a sermon originally preached at the One Project).

Bryan is correct: disappointment is in our DNA.

Out of the disappointment of October 22, 1844, arose our church, which, in spite of all its flaws, is still a wonderful family to belong to.

And out of the disappointment of October 14, 2018, will arise the new, just Adventism of the Lord’s devising.

William G. Johnsson is the retired Editor of Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines, and the author of numerous books including Where Are We Headed? Adventism after San Antonio (2017) and Authentic Adventism (2018).

Image: SpectrumMagazine.org

Further Reading:

Responses from Church Entities and Timeline of Key Events, Annual Council 2017 to Present

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9121

The Adventist Bioethics Consortium (Day 2)
(Mark Cady, MD) #2

Elder Johnsson: I, too, believe firmly in God’s providence! You’ve got “reason”.


(Eugene Borg) #3

What is also in our Adventist DNA is the divine badge of honor of being in the MINORITY. As a member of the La Sierra Adventist church with Pastor Chris Oberg as our female pastor, I am proud to be in the minority after this recent 2018 Annual Council vote in favor of forced compliance as compared to God favored Unity in Diversity.


(George Tichy) #4

Each Union should defend their territory against the intromissions and violations supported by this abusive GC. This is why I support PUC, CUC, The Scandinavians, and anyone else who says NO to this interference fomented by the GC.

I am a member of the La Sierra University Church, where the senior pastor is a bright female, a great preacher. In no circumstances should anyone from the GC come here to tell us that she is less than a male pastor.

The only solution for this problem is to either vote this GC administration out, or to completely dissolve, dismantle the GC as an agency. What is it good for anyway? Lately it has only created difficulty, problems, and it appears that it’s leading to a split in the Denomination. Enough of this nonsense!


(Billman) #5

On what basis is God the head of the church? Everywhere I look it appears to be religious politicians in control of the organisation, be it Adventist, Episcopal, Catholic or otherwise. Looking through time, the organisation and control of large and small bodies of people, be it through governments, churches, companies, councils, has been a construct of human endeavour.

The only church God is the head of is the one comprised of individuals seeking to follow him. It has no denominational boundaries, and is bound to no set system of belief. Those that follow have a constantly evolving individual sense and understanding of God.

Adventism needs to get over itself in its belief that God is the head of that denomination. God isn’t. Human leaders, appointed by other humans through their own control mechanisms, are the head. God may work through individuals in that denomination, as he works through individuals in other denominations.


#6

That is a pretty optimistic view of the DNA. Possibly a more accurate view is being wrong and saying we are right is our DNA


(Thomas J Zwemer) #7

I was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The name Wilson was never mentioned. My worship is to the three in one, My public worship is with those who share that relationship. Orthodoxy not gender is my criteria.


(Pierre-Paul Legault) #8

I have attended many a committee meeting. God has never chaired the meeting nor been given a vote.

We also have to get over the belief that the church is the legal organization called the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. God’s church wasn’t founded by the filing of incorporation papers and the registering of trademarks.


(George Tichy) #9

This is why I always say that, whatever Ted Wilson or anyone else does, it will not affect me, the member.

All those meetings, committees, voting sessions, manipulations, threats, etc affect only the political structure of the Denomination. It has nothing to with the members, the real Church.

The black-suited guys upstairs think they have some kind of authority. Well, not on any member!

I only wish they wouldn’t be discriminators of women! That would help a little bit their witnessing since they say they are Christians… :roll_eyes: :innocent:


(jeremy) #10

i won’t be forwarding any tithe or offerings or donations to anything even remotely connected to the GC…in fact i’ll be checking any cause that asks for my help to determine whether they intend to share any percentage of it with the GC…i’ll only be donating to local and NAD-related concerns in the future…


(George Tichy) #11

I am doing this for quite a while, giving everything to “local church budget” and a couple of other needy recipients.

I will never support any institution that discriminates in any form, or that does not fully support freedom in any way.


(Robert Lindbeck) #12

This is from Thursday’s lesson in the Collegiate Quarterly in reference to John 17:6-19

“If we, then, as modern disciples of Jesus, are not living in the unity that Jesus prayed for us in the previous verses, we rob those who would believe in Him through our “word” of the chance to know Him and be brought into the unity of Christ.”

Is this “Practice what you preach” or “The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing”?


(George Tichy) #13

This is a major problem now. Thanks GC!!!

How much encouragement church members have to invite friends and other people to the Church now? Sure, don’t have to tell them anything about what is going on, but, who feel comfortable knowing that there is a rotten side of the wall that we are just hiding?

I wonder if anyone invited their non-SDAs friends to watch (on Sunday) how the “remnant church” deals with certain issues? And how disunited the people from different parts of the earth are. And how some people speak in favor of discrimination of women!


(David Holland) #14

I think this compliance document was brought forward for a vote despite so much objection from North america and Europe and others is because leadership felt the dissenters were not bringing forth “a good report”


(Steve Mga) #15

Robert –
Perhaps “Unity with Christ” can be formed “outside of church”. In personal devotions of
prayer and Bible Meditation [not just reading].
Community is just where we meet together and praise God.

One of the Problems with “Unity with Christ” is this ---- It cannot be measured by others
by some type of “test”.
Compliance to a Set of Doctrines–Beliefs CAN be measured by some type of “test”.


(Phillip Brantley) #16

What saddens me the most is that Ted Wilson, his colleagues at the GC, and the GC Executive Committee delegates who trampled upon the courageous minority do not acknowledge that the inalienable right of personal conscience, bestowed by our Creator, exists. None of the speeches made in favor of the massive oversight compliance system acknowledged in the slightest that such an inalienable right exists. None of those speeches attempted to differentiate between conscientious noncompliance and unholy rebellion. None of those speeches expressed one kind sentiment for the Protestant Reformation. And of course, none of those speeches made any reference to Jesus.

The GC has become a persecuting power and millions of Seventh-day Adventists who look to the GC for guidance and instruction are being deceived.


#17

It is not the CUC, PUC or any other entity of the same persuasion that has caused disunity. It has been clear all along that they are willing to let those areas of the world that hold a different view live and act unto themselves regarding such. The culprits in all of this are those that fail to heed the following: “Jesus did not tell His followers to go do this and that, He said, come follow me.” And for those that require an Ellen White quote to do their thinking for them…yes, it’s found in The Desire of Ages.


(Nathan Robinson) #18

Johnsson burried the lead:

“And out of the disappointment of October 14, 2018, will arise the new, just Adventism of the Lord’s devising.”

I would love for this statement to be fully fleshed out.


(Robert Lindbeck) #19

@gareebraun, I am not sure if you understood the meaning of my post. The meaning was that while the GC is publishing one thing in the SS Quarterly, they are enacting something all together different at Battle Creek. Hence the question, Does the GC need to practice what they are preaching to the churches via the quarterly? or Does the GC not really know what is being presented to the churches in the quarterly?


(Robert Lindbeck) #20

In the face of disappointment we can react in to different ways, the same as our pioneers did in 1844. In the face of ridicule and embarassment, some chose to return to their former congregations, accepted they had been wrong and got on with life. The other group were not satified with being wrong and had to know why. These were spiritually maturing individuals. You don’t grow if you don’t learn from your mistakes.

Likewise, following the disappointment of 2018, we have the opportunity to react in two different ways. We can accept the vote, fall into line and comply. Alternatively, we can learn from this and grow. Spiritual maturity is evinced by not being satisfied that you know everything. The spiritually mature will study more, seek to understand and grow. This is where the new, just Adventism will come. This was the way of the reformation. Each succeding reformer added new light. They were not satisfied that the current truth was everything.

Unfortunately, with the Disappointment of 1844 and the Disappointment of 2018, there is a third group involved - the masses, the majority. They did not heed the messages that were given up to the October events. In some cases they were ignorant, blisfully so. In some cases they mocked the believers. The bottom line is they did not heed the warnings. Their reaction following the events - “Told you so.” The events, and the inherent opportunity to grow, passed them by. They remained mired in view of truth.

The church as a whole has an opportunity to grow, not in numbers but in spiritual maturity, as a corporate body and as individuals.