" who writes these things" is really a crucial question!
This GC leadership (read: President Ted Wilson) believes God has called them to “protect” HIM. And somehow they believe the WO is the point of entry of the devil into the church. At GC 95 in Utrecht, when NAD came with the request for session to allow each division to decide, Ted Wilson, who was the Division President of Euro-Asia (offices in Moscow, Russia) was the ONLY division president who went to the microphone during the debate on the floor and spoke (of course…against the motion). The TOSC was for them just to try and pretend that they will consider other opinions on the matter. They always knew that the GC 2015 session will vote against WO. Paul Ratsara and the Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division, for example, was meant to ensure that Ted Wilson gets his way. The sad thing is that in order to achieve the goal of an “NO vote” they didn’t shy from even using some unethical methods to get it…for example the SID women ordination study which was manipulated to achieve a specific outcome. It is now known that Paul Ratsara manipulated the process. And now for the GC President to demonize any Union that makes its own decision on the matter, is like “the kettle calling the pot black”.
Or, is it a man who doesn’t understand the Gospel and has never experienced the new birth, becoming a new creation in Christ?
Sadly, I see that.
When our children were going up the front for storytime, 30 years ago, quite a different story. Now, at the church I attend, hardly any children. This is unfortunately the age we live in. Expectations have changed. Many women are having to work to help pay the mortgage on a house twice the size, and twice as flash as what I live in. Subsequently, often needing to borrow from savings to afford the services of a fertility specialist. A common story.
Yes, women can have it all! yay! BUT, if you’ve ever experienced the sadness of observing the heartbreak many couples go through with infertility, miscarriages, etc. At what price?
Seems I recall more than just a vague notion of God’s greatest commandments:
- “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” Matt. 22:37.
- “Love they neighbor as they self,” Matt. 22:39.
- Just actually who/what is “my God”?
- Just actually who/what is “my neighbor”?
- Just how/when am I to love?
- Just what "holds it all together"?
Can’t help but wonder at how the God/neighbor/love idea may be illuminated amidst this fury and seeming misunderstanding of the SDA-WO scrimmage. Sadly, we seed a potential minefield in what we construe to be our out-reach/in-reach by consuming good will, testamental prudence and God-sense at nearly every turn.
Unity is indeed a virtue. An essential ingredient of the community for the saints of all ages. However, by what essential truth shall they/we be unified? Saving grace, I think. Elegant, free, priceless and true. Timothy 21:11-14 reminds me how it looks and how it works. How to live, what to look for and why.
What was it I heard Him say? “I am your God, simply love like Jesus did.”
Divisions are The General Conference in a given geographic part of the world. All church entities are subject to world wide church policies that bind the church including Unions. The policy regarding WO was twice voted down by the world church in Session in Utrecth, Holland in 1995, and then again in 2015 in San Antonio Texas. Whether it is the issue of WO or any other issue that is voted at a GC sesion they become General Conference working policy and they apply to all entities of the 7th day Adventist Church world wide. There may be some cultural/local/national variations but such would not be the case for a major policy item like WO. The GCEXECOM acts on behalf of the GC in sesssion in between GC sessions. Should an Annual council vote something that goes contrary to the will of the World Wide membership theoritically this can be rectified at the next GC session, something which, to my knowlege, has not happened yet. A Division may ask the World Church in session to make some allowances and exceptions for them, as in the case of WO, but if the session votes it down, they need to abide by the decision. Divisions (GC) don’t ordain pastors. They delegate that authority to Unions/Conferences. Unions, in and of themselves, have no right to ordain men or women unless authorised by GC policy. They are not self-generated in their authority. Their authority is derived from GC.
Statement released by the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in response to the recent GC document, “A Study of Church Governance and Unity.”
“We the faculty of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, affirm the biblical truth of church unity grounded in our worship of God, our common faith, our shared community, and our sense of mission. We have serious concerns about the recent document ‘A Study of Church Governance and Unity’ released by the General Conference and its portrayal of the nature and authority of the church. Further discussion by the church at large on this important ecclesiological issue is needed before such a document is adopted.”
I find it interesting that those who appose women’s ordination like to use the writings of Ellen White who was herself a female ordained minister in the Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
For how long is the greater body of the SDA church going to hold to the arrogant view that the ‘Body of Christ’ church is comprised solely of them? That the ‘shaking’ will be the “bad ones leaving the Adventist church”.
It is such a great feeling to think that we have it all right, that we know it all, that no one else can prove us wrong, but how many of us want to be around someone like that? It is that very attitude that, when taken into a context of organizational religion, drives people away.
The funny thing is, the church still thinks that attitude is attracting people, because they are exclusive and better than anyone else - thus the continual evangelistic series’ about the “Mark of the Beast” being Sabbath observation (or more accurately, the lack of…), and about the “National Sunday Law”; which will, of course, single out Sabbath keeping Adventists because they are RIGHT, and the world will persecute them exclusively - thus the need to learn wilderness survival techniques for the last days…
I just can’t see Christ in any of that.
Maybe if they did’t have so many letters after their names they could see…But it does feel good to be elite, as long as you are not humble or seeking the character of Jesus.
Really? It might as well just say that they are the ‘Vicar of Christ’! How contrary this is to what we have always been told about their focus, ‘to support the local congregations in their spreading of the gospel and advancement of the kingdom’?
The very root of sin is selfishness - the original sin of Lucifer in heaven, wanting to be like God; and even the stated desire of Eve in eating the fruit - and selfishness is permeating the church today, this document reeks of it! Maybe it was assembled by many, but with a common goal of power. I commend those who have already stated the likeness of a mandate to bow down to the beast.
Where is the humility? Where is the compassion? This has been hidden for so long from the greater body of the denomination, who, like me, revered those at the “highest level of authority” for their implied godliness and desire to serve. But, trust me, the higher you go, the more political, superficial, nepotistic, and greedy it gets.
Sure, you can say that God ordained the SDA movement - I wasn’t there, couldn’t say for sure, but it is possible - but did they do what He wanted? Or did they do what they wanted? There was this king once, that God also ordained. Maybe you have heard of him, his name was Saul. Things didn’t turn out so great for him when he forgot who put him where he was.
The world will wander after the beast. Babylon is false worship, and she has gained another worshiper in this organization.
This is far enough down the comments chain it will probably not get many views, but I apologize as always if I offend and welcome dialogue to the contrary. I don’t think I’m right, but I perpetually seek the One who is.
The Ordination Truth website provides some NPUC history:
Bert Haloviak provides some GC history:
The Internal Revenue Service and the Redefinition of Adventist Ministry
by BERT HALOVIAK
For more than 100 years, Seventh-day Adventists held that the functions of the licensed and ordained ministry were different. We claimed the support of scripture and of Ellen White for our position. By the 1970’s, however, this traditional policy was changed in response to new IRS regulations.
This paper shows the context and development of the change.
Not content with a war of attrition, will SDA now actively blow itself up?
Have you counted the social cost?
Please explain to me the deep meaning of ordination in light of documented SDA/IRS credentialing history.
The church of Christ is not a community of equals in which all the faithful have the same rights. It is a society of un-equals, not only because among the faithful some are clerics and some are layman, but particularly because there is in the church the power from God whereby to some it is given to sanctify, teach, and govern, and to others not.
Constitutions on the church, First Vatican Council (1869-1870)
(Thanks to @frankpeachamvt Frank Peacham for the above quote.)
Note that in item #3, “Uniformity” was mistakenly misspelled as “Unity”.
It is great that you are so sanguine about this. After reading the document I must say it is a great piece of propaganda.
Analysing this as a piece of literature it seem to be completely naive to the history of Adventism as a reforming Church.
If we understand the critical importance of the Christian doctrine of unity as expressed in this document we must repent of our Adventist pioneers willingness to leave the council and unity of the protestant churches. We must also repent of Martin Luther and the protestant reformers break with the authority and the supreme unity imposed by the one holy catholic church.
The distinction between the GC as session and the GC as executive is particularly finely argued. Butler and his ilk were of course overstepping their authority and rightly chastised by EG White but of course that doesnt happen now because the GC executive is completely the servant of the GC in session and only implements what the GC votes without prompting except by the Holy Spirit. I cant help feeling that EG White if alive today would not view Wilson any different than she did Butler or Kellogg. The mantra if you were really Christlike you would submit to us is a fine tool in the production of propaganda.
Most telling is the implicit assumption in the argument predicated on EG Whites critique of the executive that the GC in session is a completely open environment where all positions are articulated and there is a free vote of representatives of the people led only by the holy spirit and not subject to any influence by the GC executive. Really? That Ted Wilson goes to the autumn council or the GC without any agenda is a piece of propaganda of momentous proportions. This whole exercise of creating a propaganda statement on GC authority and carefully defining the agenda for Autumn council makes any vote taken in session extremely suspect. With some careful and finely crafted words it seems you can fool most of the people most of the time.
Unity is critical and the GC is the highest authority of the SDA church. Women should not be ordained and the unions, conferences or churches that are doing that need to be called into account and disciplined accordingly.
Those opposed to this action are instigating a revolt similar to other current revolts, rebels and protests going on in the USA without merit. The church needs to be strong and unified and not give into other churches worldly practices.
Where does it say that Ellen G. White was an ordained minister? My understanding is that she had credentials from the Michigan Conference but was never ordained as an elder or minister…
Point 1: Wrong practices
How can a “study” on the subject of unity with so much reliance on the woman Ellen G. White not include the following counsel?
“Christ calls for unity. But He does not call for us to unify on wrong practices. The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure, elevating, ennobling truth and false, misleading doctrines. He calls sin and impenitence by the right name. He does not gloss over wrongdoing with a coat of untempered mortar. I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, scriptural basis. -Manuscript 10, 1905. 1SM 175.1
When the laborers have an abiding Christ in their own souls, when all selfishness is dead, when there is no rivalry, no strife for the supremacy, when oneness exists, when they sanctify themselves, so that love for one another is seen and felt, then the showers of the grace of the Holy Spirit will just as surely come upon them as that God’s promise will never fail in one jot or tittle. But when the work of others is discounted, that the workers may show their own superiority, they prove that their own work does not bear the signature it should. God cannot bless them.-Manuscript 24, 1896. 1SM 175.2 “ Selected Messages 1, pg 175
Point 2: Reciprocity
“However, having had input, reciprocity means that there must be acceptance of the collective decision.” – A Study of Church Governance and Unity, Secretariat, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, pg 15
I was in San Antonio and present for the proceedings where the subject vote was made. My recollection is that the schedule, programming and parliamentary procedure precluded that vast majority of individuals delegated and lined up ready to speak (over 200) to actually have such opportunity. The reciprocity described in the GC document in this instance at least was not established. The opportunity for input was denied. There was no legitimate vote taken which benefited from those present having input. The actual number of people who did speak represents a very small minority of the total present and desirous of speaking before the vote was taken. The whole thing was a fraudulent sham. This is not the sort of Holy Spirit guided process that creates any legitimate authority.
Point 3: Brood of vipers / hypocrites – to use Christ’s words
The GC presumes to talk of ordination as though it carries some sort of deeply sacred holiness reserved exclusively for those the Bible characterizes as worthy and called. Where is ANY holy standard applied in actual practice to all the MALE recipients of ordination? The only criteria the GC deems worthy of the hurt and expense incurred on this subject is gender – a criterion of which the Bible is not so plainly understood in a uniform manner by a wide representation of members. I think it’s pretty safe to say that there exists a unanimous consensus that stealing, sexual misconduct, and slandering are not traits to be tolerated in those who are ordained. However, I, and I’m sure many others, can provide names, dates and facts that document SDA ordained individuals who are unrepentantly guilty of these and other offenses which one should expect would disqualify for ordination. When leadership is aware of such offenses the typical response is to squash public awareness and then if necessary recommend a reassignment or move. Rarely is one’s ordination status or ministerial license ever revoked, and if revocation is pursued it’s not usually on the basis of holiness.
Point 4: The woman with authority
Ellen G. White seems to have for whatever reason failed to address the issue of WO with the sort of specificity and clarity we might like to find. It is fascinating that the GC has referenced HER statements so heavily in support of their positions as to leave no room for doubt that HER authority is to be respected. It is some consolation to see these boys submit to this WOMAN’s authority on issues that they at least believe to be clearly addressed. No doubt, if Ellen G. White had provided unequivocally clear counsel on the subject of WO these GC leaders would toe the line. The willingness to submit to HER counsel on any matter says it all.
My Jesus! I wonder what He sees as He stands looking at us leaving Him completely out of the picture
when it comes to how this document treats the WO issue. I can’t help but wonder why it seems we are dealing with a parent child or teacher student relationship when it comes to the GC versus Unions.
God is showing us that our focus must be on Him through all of this. When I read about Abigail and Esther and Ruth and even Rahab, I cringe at the thought that our Church Leaders will only acknowledge the Leadership of men by denying WO. Men and
Women are to be happy that Jesus is the Only authority in Heaven and on earth that we bow to. He is our Highest and our lowest authority. No where in His word has He directed us to do otherwise. Stay focussed Church, stay focussed. Jesus is almost here!
I love my church and fear our leadership is acting with “Kingly Power” as Sister Ellen wrote against. I fear we are about to appear as if we will fall but won’t as she also wrote. We must pray and humble ourselves on this issue. Ordination is not a doctrine. It is based on Apostlic Succession a Roman Heresy. Until we finish Reformation in our own system we need to allow diversity with unity to exist.
Of deep concern is the attitude of defiance of the General Conference. It is not the first time that liberal Adventists with money have tried to pressure the GC into changing policy. But now, they have gone farther, engaging in open defiance. Surely, part of the ‘shaking.’
I find very troubling this labeling of one another as “liberal” or “conservative.” It seems we want to set up groups and then advocate that the world would be better without them. When we turn people into labels, we make it easier to hate and devalue them because they are no longer our neighbors, our family or our fellow parishioners. Instead they are “them,” the evil other that must be eradicated. In truth, no one is entirely “liberal” or “conservative” just as no humanity outside of Christ’s is entirely righteous. That latter fact underscores how dangerous our labeling and judging of others is, seeing our own failings and need of grace.