Attempts to Change Seminary Statement on Headship Rebutted


(system) #1

Yesterday the Adventist Review reported that the faculty of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University voted to reaffirm its statement on headship, denying the appeal to significantly change it made by a group of 25 theologians and pastors, spearheaded by Gerard Damsteegt, professor of Church History at the Adventist Seminary.

The Adventist Seminary at Andrews published its statement called “On the Unique Headship of Christ in the Church,” refuting the "male headship" doctrine, on August 21.

Damsteegt, a staunch supporter of male headship as the biblical model for the home and the church, along with others wrote an "Open Appeal" published on October 8 asking "Seminary administration and faculty to revisit certain controversial areas in the statement and make modifications or remove disputed sections so that the Seminary statement will receive widespread support in the church."

The Seminary faculty met in a special meeting to discuss the request last Friday, October 10, and spent more than three hours talking about it, according to the Review.

After study and examination, the faculty voted unanimously to release this statement:

“We, the faculty of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, respectfully reaffirm our original statement on the ‘Unique Headship of Christ in the Church’ which was the result of prayerful and responsible study of Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy, and was voted by an overwhelming majority of the faculty in a duly called meeting.”

The Adventist Church's official seminary has made it clear where it stands on the theory of "male headship." After today's decision at the Annual Council to send the question of women's ordination by division to the General Conference session delegates in summer 2015, we will have to wait to see what the world church thinks.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6335

(jeremy) #2

i’m really proud of our seminary for sticking to their convictions…i have read their original statement and completely support it…


(Andreas Bochmann) #3

I like the brevity and clarity of the statement. More words were not needed.


(Marek Rakowski) #4

It is interesting how to combine Andrews statement with GC decision next year which probably will be against it.


(Bille) #5

Yes, indeed. The leadership of the Seminary and of Andrews University is truly to be admired and well equipped to be true LEADERS of the SDA church. We do not need to be ashamed of our church when looking at them as representative of Adventism!


(Thomas J Zwemer) #6

The question was raised by the GC brass that the issue was indeed a theological issue. Now even those top guns say it isn’t Theological but an administrative issue, which they in due time will decide. So why would the Seminarians change their view? The flow is glacial but relentless, women will be ordained. What I want to know, if I am going to sit in a pew for an hour, Does the speaker know and preach the Gospel of Grace and can tell that story in a narrative fashion that one can return home with joy in there hearts and not looking up to see if there are any black drones overhead. Tom Z


(Frank Peacham) #7

As the RC church aged it endlessly re-defined small points of its theology and practice, being today nearly an about face to where practice stood 500 or more years ago. Not in contrast as the SDA church ages it continues to sharpen it creedal positions to the neglect of what matters—promoting the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount—where Jesus gave his State of the World address as to the issues that really matter.

Sabbath keeping if open to all who see the sun rise and set with no social distinction. The Sabbath welcomes and receives slaves, rich or poor, male or female. Standing in the rays of the sun all can receive equal light. Sabbath keepers should be the most equal rights advocates on the planet.


(Denny) #8

Adventism has always been 10 steps behind social change. Our pioneers were more forthcoming, we their children are like sheep. Read the history of Adventism in South African, USA segregation and German Nazism. We should weep with shame.


(Beth Again) #9

Even though in their statement they upheld headship in the family?


(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #10

The Review was incorrect, now twice, to describe the appeal group as “25 theologians & pastors.” (Usually the same news item runs also on ANN.) The list of signatories clearly shows that they’re far from all being theologians & pastors. I commented politely on this, but the overlord refused to post it. I guess “theologian” includes anyone w/ an opinion on theology.

On issues pertaining to WO, ANN & Review’s news editor has been exposing an editorial slant. He did especially in his summaries of the TOSC positions, which actually were later changed, although not enough, when Bill Knott received complaints.

Be mindful of the slant whenever reading news on ANN or Review by McChesney related to WO.


(Kim Green) #11

I agree with you, Frank, that there is a correlation between the RC re-definitions and that of the SDA church- you made a good point.


(Kim Green) #12

On being like “sheep”: a by-product of having a works-orientation instead of grace-orientation. Things are so much more important than people…hence the struggle with WO.


(Winona Winkler Wendth) #13

As responsible as the journalists have been over at ANN, one would expect some kind of slant—they are the voice and public face of the organization, so leadership gets to say, and we don’t have a Fifth Estate in this organization. Misinformation is another issue, however, and we ought to be able to trust our journalists not to change facts. I think that the word “pastor,” is where language gets murky—technically, any ordained person, retired, self-supporting, or simply hopeful, would qualify.


(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #14

Yes. And, some of the signatories are in completely different fields, e.g. medicine, modern languages, etc. It’s truly misinformation to claim, “25 theologians & pastors.” The motivation is to heighten the influence of the group “appealing” against the Seminary scholars by making them appear equally qualified. On the TOSC summaries, McChesney wrote that Option 2 “requires” WO.


(Winona Winkler Wendth) #15

I noticed that at least two were still students, although that, in itself, is not a problem, especially in the case of a high-performing graduate student, but I doubt that these people are known outside of the seminary classroom; implicit coercion is also a troubling possibility in those cases. Nothing will be gained by research, here, but were this a legal case, I imagine that the depositions would make for interesting reading (and they would be public reading, too).


(Warren Ruf) #16

As denominations (not only RC or Adventist) succeed and achieve societal acceptance, they naturally turn inward and invest greater energy in clarifying their identity and, as you say, redefining their core message. This is described in the “Sect to Church” theories of Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch. As the Early Church aged administrative councils changed from “What can we do to facilitate the gospel to the Gentiles” as explored in Jerusalem (Acts 15), to the Byzantine’s favorite topics, “What do we believe about ________?” or “How do we relate to those believe differently?”

By the way, with all the current talk about following the plain teaching of scripture, I have not yet heard anyone acknowledge the fact that from a Jewish perspective, the Jerusalem Council compromise of Acts 15 violated the plain teaching of scripture in that Gentiles could be saved without circumcision.


(Denny) #17

Which shows a BIG contradiction, we follow plain teaching of scripture when it suits us. As Jesus said “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,” John 5:39 (and here is the KJV for those who think King James lived in 1st century Palestine and was an apostle.)
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”


(Andy Blosser) #18

Great work seminary professors! Andrews gives me hope that the world church will eventually come around to affirming women’s role in pastoral ministry, since most pastors have to come through Andrews at some point (unless you’re in the Michigan conference, which, in a case of definite geographical paradox, seems to shun Andrews graduates).


(George Tichy) #19

I hope the world church will give more attention to people who manage doctrines than to those who manage money and offices.

If our theologians are not the Church’s theological voice, why should the administrators be? Can anyone explain this?


(Andy Blosser) #20

That is a good question, George. I suppose you could say that the administrators are chosen by the members, while the theologians are chosen by the theologians, but we all know that isn’t true. Cronyism and nepotism are the rule for church administration.