Are We Family?


(Spectrumbot) #1

Anyone who follows my writing in this forum knows that, by a chance of fate, I write the column that posts on the morning of Thanksgiving. For the vast majority of my time as a columnist for this site, I attempted to eschew opinion writing on this day, opting instead for a message of peace, gratefulness, and togetherness. Last year I ended that tradition for reasons that were, and still are, very important to me. But two days ago the GC released a video related to women’s ordination, the subject of unity, and the idea of family, and I once again find myself believing that this space would be better spent providing thoughts about our church. To do anything else would be disingenuous on my part and a disservice to us all.

What follows are some reactions I had in to a video released in response to the criticism raised by the outcome of this year’s Annual Council meeting. While there are several critical paths I could follow,[1] I want to focus where thematic questions or critiques can be raised, in response to the arguments this video attempts to make. I will quote the video and leave time stamps as well.[2] With one exception, I will follow the video chronologically.

· “But one thing that doesn’t change….is our commitment and dedication to the message and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is what makes us a family.” (0:36 – 0:52) – There are two things that bother me in this formulation. First, knowing that the issue is women’s ordination and (supposedly) unity, I find it interesting that so soon in the video we hear a connection to the message and mission of the church. I wonder what these people think the message and mission of the church is? I was under the impression that it was fulfilling the Great Commission. I guess it is possible to fashion a somewhat plausible argument that the red herring of unity is tangentially related to the spreading of the gospel; you can’t say that about women’s ordination. In fact, on several levels I think it is a stronger argument that the issue of women’s ordination is actually a detriment to spreading of the gospel. Second, I want to raise a point of correction and clarification. “Our commitment and dedication to the message and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church” is not what makes us a family. The atonement of the Messiah, His counsel to us, and our discipleship are what make us a family. How presumptuous and arrogant of anyone to present anything else as the tie that binds.

· “For the sake of unity…” (1:29) “This has challenged our principle of staying together as a church family even when we disagree.” (2:40-2:50) – Recently I reviewed the tactics of great debaters and refamilarized myself with the concept of the “snuck premise”. This is a tactic debaters use to trick the opposition into arguing on their terms. They couch the terms of the debate so that it assumes the very thing that is at issue.[3] How are these statements an example of a snuck premise? As it pertains to the issue of unity, the very thing being debated is whether unity requires uniformity on women’s ordination. Therefore to say that what is being done is “for the sake of unity,” or that support of women’s ordination “challenge[s] our principle of staying together,” unilaterally answers the question in debate. Unity may not necessarily mean uniformity and, if it doesn’t, than difference on this question would not challenge anything. The church could solve its unity problem by having more flexibility. The church leaders decided not to take this approach, and as a natural consequence created the lack of unity that they now bemoan.

· “It’s not about control, politics, or power. It’s not about forcing conscience.” (3:30-3:35) – This is an example of a distinction without a difference. “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions,” exists as a cliché for a reason. Dress it up with whatever positive rationales one may desire, the fact of the matter is that the issues of control, politics, power, and conscience are inextricably bound to this question. Anyone who seeks to be dismissive of these issues is sticking their head in the sand. How refreshing it would be for our church to face these issues directly instead of obfuscating the matter with propaganda.

· “Let’s press together… and support the decisions that our worldwide family made.” (4:02-4:10). I could be wrong, but this smacks of facetiousness to me. The General Conference leadership has made their position on this issue very clear. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to assume that if the pro-women’s ordination advocates carried the day, no one in GC leadership would be calling for us to press together and support a decision they thought was wrong.

· “A family that has, as its foundation, the word of God.” (4:26) – This statement is problematic for two reasons explained earlier. First it is a snuck premise. The very issue is whether women’s ordination is in accordance with the word of God. To say that this family, which is officially against women’s ordination, is based on the word of God is to assume that women’s ordination is against the word of God. Second, it once again gets the mission, purpose, and foundation of the church incorrect. Christ Himself, the word made flesh, is the foundation of this family. Maybe they meant that, but I find it interesting how unclear they are about this very important point.

· “You can help fulfill Christ’s prayer for unity in His church. Be a voice of unity. Unity and brotherly love. We support our church… Won’t you? (4:51- 4:58) (5:13-5:25) – This is fascinating because of the juxtaposition and division it creates between those who are against women’s ordination (the speakers and people behind the video) and those who support women’s ordination. The implication is clear – those who support women’s ordination are not fulfilling Christ’s prayer for unity. They don’t believe in unity and brotherly love, and they don’t support the church. This is the last statement of the video and the final question establishes the line in the sand. You’re either with them – the people who are seeking to break apart the church, or you’re with us – the ones who believe in unity, brotherly love, and supporting the Adventist Church. I can’t tell you how much it saddens me to see the leadership of our church resort to these types of heavy-handed tactics.

The last quote is something mentioned for the first time twenty-two seconds into the video and several more times throughout- “We are a family.” I used to believe this, but unfortunately this year I am not as sure. For these last few years I watched my church ignore the collective calling of God on the lives of our women pastors, relegating them to a second-class status based on their sex.[4] I don’t think anyone would say that a family is well-functioning if we treat members this way. This Thanksgiving I give thanks for every women who elevates their calling above the disrespect shown them by their “family.” We don’t deserve your faithfulness, but I am grateful for the grace you show us every time you stand to fulfill your call. God bless you all.

[1] For example, I could be critical of the optics used in the video, whether we focus on the “diversity of the speakers, the use of women, or the use of children. I could also be critical of the arguments raised in either a theological or political way. I may do that in some small ways throughout this piece, but I want to focus on some implicit and explicit issues raised by the words used in the video itself. Hence I describe it as a thematic critique.

[2] In some places the timestamp will indicate when the quotation begins. If the quotation ran across speakers, the timestamp indicates the full length of the quotation.

[3] Here is a common example of a snuck premise. In an abortion debate, when a pro-life advocate continually describes abortion as murder, they are attempting a snuck premise. The very issue in the abortion debate is whether abortion is murder. As such, it should not be described as murder because to do so would be to presume the answer to the question at the heart of the matter.

[4] There’s a word for this – sexism.

Jason Hines is a former attorney with a doctorate in Religion, Politics, and Society from the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He is also an assistant professor at Adventist University of Health Sciences. He blogs about religious liberty and other issues at www.TheHinesight.Blogspot.com.

Previous Spectrum columns by Jason Hines can be found at: https://spectrummagazine.org/author/jason-hines

Image Credit: ANN

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9228

#2

“We are a family.” I used to believe this, but unfortunately this year I am not as sure. For these last few years I watched my church ignore the collective calling of God on the lives of our women pastors, relegating them to a second-class status based on their sex.[4] I don’t think anyone would say that a family is well-functioning if we treat members this way. This Thanksgiving I give thanks for every woman who elevates their calling above the disrespect shown them by their “family.”

Exactly!

Thank you Jason Hines for your insight, forthrightness and honesty.


(Terrance Dunder) #3

What if we were to make our theology so radically accepting that Gods grace and acceptance was truely free to all without preconditions of any sort. I believe that would be the most unifying and the least oppositional to the great commission.


(2nd Opinion) #4

This is a move that will backfire on Wilson. Plain and simple. There has been nothing but universal condemnation for the video on feeds and outlets that I follow. “Creepy” is a word that keeps coming up. “False” and “misleading” are also common descriptors. Wilson may as well accept it: he has lost the capacity to lead this church, with up to 40% or more of its members dug in for the right to follow their conscience. When he says, “It’s not about control, politics, or power. It’s not about forcing conscience," we know that’s a bald-faced lie. Wilson has been about control and politics and power since day one–set upon a self-appointed mission to perfect the church and bring it across Jordan. Did he intend to force anyone’s conscience? I doubt it. But that is now the outcome of his failed leadership. I pray that it’s good riddance to Wilson in 2020. It’s time for a more nuanced, less ideological leader to take the reins.


(Paula Sanders Blackwell) #5

Exactly what I was thinking. I’m over Wilson. He’s got To go!’


(Martin H Weber) #6

So a grassroots posse of laypeople from diverse backgrounds (diversity not of perspective but of age, ethnicity, and gender) produces a propaganda video in collaboration with the General Conference–and eagerly promoted by Elder Wilson himself.

Is this his vision of the New NAD after the 2020 General Conference Session, when a simple majority of a GC-chaired nominating committee selects a compliance-driven NAD candidate for president? His name would go direct to the floor of the GC Session to be voted into power by global delegates.

Then can begin the big purge of non-compliant union leaders, with the rest of us “shaken out” so “the faithful remnant” can "finish the work and Jesus can come.”

Is this the way God will reach the world with His gospel of grace and truth? Or is this when He fulfills His promise: "I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation” (Micah 4:7).


(James Peterson) #7

What I find VERY, VERY fascinating about this debate is the dearth of women writing such articles of rage as you have written here. Look through all of Spectrum and you will see.

It seems to me that the controversy over WO is a smoke screen for a real antagonism between the Ted camp of men and the anti-Ted camp of men: a bitter struggle between men coveting the seat of power and decision making, willing to jump on the bandwagon of any issue to vocalize their emotions.

If indeed the women feel so wronged, why don’t they simply walk away like Ellen White did with her husband and family friend Joseph Bates? If they are so moved by the Holy Spirit, why the abject lack of faith in “crossing the Jordan and carrying out the command of God to inherit the Promised Land”, in leaving the desert and finding rest in a fruitful place?

Instead, in a spectacularly ironic twist, they are beseeching men to make them legitimate.

///


(Kim Green) #8

"produces a propaganda video in collaboration with the General Conference"

I am grateful that they have…it will backfire because it is an insult to the intelligence of most Adventists. This might have been more impressive years and years ago but there is more sophistication due to the exposure to the many “messages” out there on mass media. Fortunately, most SDAs will see through the “propaganda”.


(Kim Green) #9

"articles of rage"

Seriously?? :laughing:

"the controversy over WO is a smoke screen for a real antagonism between the Ted camp of men and the anti-Ted camp of men"

Oh, yes…this MUST be it! :wink:

If indeed the women feel so wronged , why don’t one simply walk away like Ellen White did with her husband and family friend Joseph Bates?"

Because it isn’t the only choice that we have…

" Instead , in a spectacularly ironic twist, they are beseeching men to make them legitimate."

You must be seeing things through a “glass darkly”. :slight_smile:


#10

A family allows adult children to follow their own consciences. In fact, this is the goal of a family—to be a place where people think and study and reach conclusions and then act on what they feel would be right.

The analogy of family-enforced compliance only works in the context of dealing with children. It cannot work in a worldwide church that is comprised by people coming from many cultures. The family analogy may, initially, sound realistic and applicable. Yet, if a person dares to question the family analogy that is being hammered into the NAD, then one will see the family comparison is not rational. Indeed, if a family were to function in the way the video implies, then it would be a failed family that does not reach its goal. The goal of a family is to be a place where people grow to maturity and are able, eventually, to think through complex issues and act with wisdom.

We are a family, but I think we should strive to be a healthy family. Healthy families do not require adult children to live in a way that is against their deepest convictions.


#11

Therefore, I think it is reasonable to assume that if the pro-women’s ordination advocates carried the day, no one in GC leadership would be calling for us to press together and support a decision they thought was wrong.

This doesn’t have to be assumed, though. Unfortunately, it’s a cold hard fact.

The 2014 TOSC report came back with only 32 of 95 votes supporting “only qualified men to the office of pastor/minister” (in the document’s own words), and what happened? It was ignored by the GC leadership.

In 2017, acceptance of the compliance document was shot down 184-114, and what happened? It went back to committee, and the GC president immediately said “By God’s grace, we will find a way of bringing something together again.”

It’s frustrating to see GC leadership ignore a TOSC super-majority, ignore another 184-114 vote, and then act like getting 58% of the vote is the biggest voting landslide since Barry Goldwater.


(Steve Mga) #12

James –
Your ALLUDING to “crossing the Jordan”.
The WO women are like Caleb and Joshua. Having seen a goodly land, knowing a God
who can deal with the walled cities and the fearsome giants of people.
They are calling the Leaders, they are calling the people to have a NEW VISION OF GOD,
just like Caleb and Joshua.
But they want to “cross over Jordan” with everyone. God did not call Caleb and Joshua to
LEAVE and go by themselves. That is why Caleb and Joshua stayed for another 38 years
wandering the wilderness with the other one to two million former slaves.
But it REQUIRED ALL BUT TWO of those who left Egypt to DIE before God’s promise of
the Land was given to the SECOND GENERATION of believers.

Does God HAVE to let this generation of Leaders in the church DIE so another younger
generation will have control and allow for Promised Land to be experienced??

Yes there was the Caleb and Joshua camp of men.
Yes there was the ANTI-Caleb and Joshua camp of men.
But WHO were honored?? Caleb and Joshua. The ONLY TWO of those who left Egypt
who were allowed to enter Canaan… Even Moses, Aaron, Miriam died in the desert.
;


(Cleber Machado) #13

Not long ago I read a book by Ross Parsley called, “Messy Church: a multigenerational mission for God’s family”. The book (maybe) has some “non-compliant” ideas (pun intended), but the main focus is to show the reality of Christianity adopting a consumeristic and non-biblical perspective on how-to-do church (exactly, “we” do church… far from “BEing” church, like Jesus intended, “you are the light”, “you are the salt”). Here are some quotes from Chapter 1 that can add to the conversation…

“Families are filled with grit and grime, sunshine and storms, whining as well as wonder. Families contain stories of tragedy and triumph, fun and foolishness, grace as well as gunk—or grace in the midst of gunk. … The family analogy is the best picture of what a healthy and vibrant church community is supposed to look like. If you think about it, families are perfectly designed for discipleship: constant access, consistent modeling, demonstration, teaching and training, conflict management and resolution, failure, follow-up and feedback. And this should all happen in an attitude and atmosphere of love. Children are raised, parents are matured, and grandparents are valued all at the same time.

This is God’s design.

But our churches don’t tend to have the characteristics of families anymore. Instead, we are more often full of consumers looking for our next God product, bingeing and purging Sunday to Sunday [here is non-compliant with the Bible, but the point is the same, “purging from Sabbath to Sabbath”] with a steady diet of fast-food TV preachers. We don’t often learn how to fight fair with loving correction and guidance but instead appear to be recruiting culture warriors to fight against an unholy society—or worse, against a perceived political opponent. We all hate religion but love our spiritual individualism with such passion that we may be creating a generation of dechurched orphans who have no authentic spiritual family or heritage.

We’re losing our children and teenagers. Our college students are disappearing from our pews. Demographic niches and consumer conveniences are not attracting the next generation to join us. The longevity of a church community is not even considered in the model of church that appeals to just one particular segment of society. We might be rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The big C Church is on the verge of a massive shift philosophically and generationally. We are addicted to instant gratification. Microwave Christianity has replaced cooking the family meal. Instead of filming a movie classic, we’re capturing YouTube videos. Instead of taking long, leisurely walks, we’re making mad dashes to the mall. Instead of saving for our children’s inheritance, we’re buying lottery tickets. Our picture of who we are as the church is woefully inadequate and tragically shortsighted. We are not learning enough from each other. We are not connecting generationally, and we are not birthing new family members. Most tragically, we are not making enough disciples to make a dent in our current culture. We’re sneezing into the wind.”

It seems to me that our “family model” could be more of a help for a factory, implementing a compliant production line than real churches making mature disciples to share the Gospel in different contexts. Further from the biblical model, the church needs to create more policies and regulations to control. It happened 2k years ago, and so many times throughout History. Unforunatelly, some are trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, singing hymns with a false sense of security, of holiness! Most tragically, we are not making a dent in our current culture because we are making disciples for the 1800s, not for 2018!

It’s time for us to unleash the power of the Holy Spirit using every capable person to share the Gospel, to speak an understandable “language” for the diverse cultural melting-pot we live. As the Bible affirms, “And afterward, 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.” ‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:28-29‬ ‭NIV‬‬


(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #14

Jason Hines

A brilliant and scathing analysis of the GC propaganda video which Donald Trump would label FAKE NEWS.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #15

Disfunctional Family, with the queen bee threatening dire consequences. I prefer a different nest. Yet I mourn the loss of what could have been. Answers to Questions on Doctrine was a start. Des Ford made a vain attempt., Davenport exposedthe greed. Several clearly demonstrated the visionary was a copy cat. Jesus was an example not a Redeemer. Now women are second class. Just a little too much DNA. Clean sweep down with the wrong broom. Time for a new broom.


(2nd Opinion) #16

It’s these sorts of possibilities that should keep someone up at night–besides Wilson, who already has thought of them, for sure. The NAD needs to 2020-proof itself immediately.


(Kim Green) #17

You have said many practical things and if even one or two were implemented the church would be in better shape. Especially love the disciple analogy- so true!


(Elmer Cupino) #18

You know the ship is about to sink when even the rats begin to abandon the ship.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #19

P.S. Yes family with Ted as God Father., There are consequences if his offer is rejected. He doesn’t wear a ring so where does one kiss?


(Steve Mga) #20

Tom–
perhaps one’s tie clasp as an alternative.
PS–If I recall correctly, Popes at one time Did Wear Open-toed Shoes.
So the visitor could kiss his [which ever one was Pope at the time] Great toe.