Confounding Conundrums: A Response to Mark Finley’s ‘Mystical Myths’ Article

I cannot assume what the voters were voting for. Were they voting for or against “the practice” of women’s ordination or were they voting in response to the motion.

My father voted in 1995 at Utrecht. His position is that God calls and ordains women. Whether he voted to change the ordination authority from the Unions to the Divisions, I do not know. But the motion was, “The General Conference vests in each division the right to authorize the ordination of individuals within its territory in harmony with established policies. In addition, where circumstances do not render it inadvisable, a division may authorize the ordination of qualified individuals without regard to gender. In divisions where the division executive committees take specific actions approving the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, women may be ordained to serve in those divisions.” So he could have voted for that or against that, and it would not have changed his position on the Authority of God to ordain women. To this day, at 87 years old, he is still firm in his conviction that the SDA church should not belittle the power of God and the calling of the Holy Spirit.

The TOSC (Theology of Ordination Study Committee) provided three WAYS TO MOVE FORWARD in their report: Two of the three ways to move forward recognized the current “working policy” that the regional (Union Conference/Mission) is the best entity to effectively address the issue.

As much as I personally feel that Women’s Ordination is honoring God’s character, I am willing to let the issue be decided by each region. I have lived and worked for God in a Muslim environment, I am fully aware of those cultural challenges to our Mission, but showing sensitivity to the issue of women’s discrimination does not mean that I endorse it. I do not endorse discrimination.


Thanks, Red. I really appreciate your willingness to take the time to respond.

I’ll restate the first question: would you agree that the votes referenced promoted or held back the process of ordaining women?

If we allow issues to be decided on a regional level, would you suggest that this approach be applied without exception? For example, if the constituents of a specific region decided that Sabbath was Sunday, would we allow them to go forward as Seventh-day Adventists?

@dkburk I will get back to you on this… my 4 year old granddaughter just asked me to come jump with her, and right now, that sounds like a whole lot more enjoyable than tapping on my keyboard… so off I go! TTFN


I completely understand! I’d do the same… :sunglasses:

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Thank you, Mr. Harmdierks, for putting together this cogent response. I have been astonished by Findlay’s acquiescence to Wilson’s obsession with top-down control. I’m really pleased to see his disappointing defense of the document exposed for what it really is.


Makes me wonder. If we had compliance committees when Rachel Oaks Preston pointed out that Saturday is the Sabbath, would she have been held in noncompliance to the majority who may have continued to keep Sunday?


Involve more women (they are about 70% of the church) in decision-making at every level instead of trying to root them out and prevent their voices through noncompliance tribunals.


Well, she was wrong…


I’m disappointed in Elder Finley’s explanation of Fact #1. First he says re the compliance system: "Rather than a centralization of power, it encourages the opposite. It urges all issues of policy non-compliance to be solved at the local level.”

Seems fine so far, but his next sentence brings on the truth: “If that is not possible the next highest level of church organization may become involved.”

Analysis: Of course the GC wants “lower” levels of the church to spare it the trouble of enforcing compliance. But if conferences/unions/divisions fail to do what the GC wants, the compliance court is ready and willing to help out.

Summarizing: This compliance document does not decentralize power—Big Brother monitors “lower” levels of the church, waiting to pounce with power from on high. This is compliant with the papal system, not with the priesthood of all believers.


@martinweber7, perhaps evocative of some other words I once read, somewhere.
“I did not do it. It was the Divisions, Unions, and Conferences you gave me…”


Financial audit @Cassie. A functional audit can only really be done by an entity familiar with the operations, processes and policies of the GC - ie the GC. A functional audit is to ensure that all of the appropriate policies and processes are being followed. Again, it does not pass judgement if the policy/process is good or bad.

10/27/18 - #14

Thanks, Robert.

Again, the Avondale study indicates that there is something about an “operational audit” that might address what a “financial” (or functional?) audit does not.

I’m not familiar with auditing terms, but it seems that’s what they’re saying. Correct me, anyone.

she did not ask me to jump… to conclusions … jump ship or jump off a cliff. We jumped for joy, the simple pleasures of life.

Back to your questions:

I don’t know if the votes “promoted” or “held back”, possibly both? The discussion before and after each voting event has certainly kept the issue on the “table”. You mentioned 2005, but WO was a discussion point, and voting item well before that.

and now your second question:

As long as the issues are within their jurisdiction (local church, union conference/mission), my answer is YES, without exception. Your example of Sabbath is invalid. It would not be considered an exception for a regional area (union conference/mission). Sabbath is part of the Fundamental Beliefs. Fundamental Beliefs are not decided by union conference/missions.

Now a question that you have not asked yet: What was the motivation behind the wording of the motions to transfer the jurisdiction of ordination from the union conference/mission to the GC (Divisions are part of the GC)?


You are exactly right, there are many people still believing that there was a vote on WO in 2015 when there was NONE! This happens because they don’t read the text that was voted on, they just assume it was on WO. And immediately spread the gossip (fake news) everywhere. Thus helping to mislead Church members.

If they only read the text somewhere… :roll_eyes: :innocent:

"After your thorough study of the Bible, the writings of Ellen G White, and the reports of the study commissions on ordination, and; After your careful consideration of what is best for the Church and the fulfillment of its mission, Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? Yes or No. "



This is a very strange question that cannot be compared to the WO issue since the latter is actually discrimination of women. Just curious, Don,

Do you support discrimination of women? ___ YES … … ____ NO


@Cassie, This quote is from the paper by Howson, Langton and West about the functional audit. I have bolder and italicized the key phrase.

“The area of “operational auditing” has been a venture into new territory for both the
Church auditors and those management personnel who are being audited. It appears,
therefore, that some further time will need to be taken before it is generally accepted. In
that it takes a different approach to the financial audit, operational auditing requires
organisational introspection and the asking of such basic questions as what are we doing
and how do we go about achieving these goals? Within the Church and also within other
not-for-profit organisations, in general, there has often been a negative response to such
questions being asked, for they may seem to imply a value judgement on the effectiveness of a leadership team or a particular administration. Nonetheless the
concept is important because it must by necessity go beyond the auditor simply enquiring
into whether client church organisations have functioned within church working policy

Questioning the behaviour/actions of a church entity could very easily be seen as “lack of faith”, with much pressure brought to bear on the auditor to deliver an “all clear”. We know that 80% of church entities are out of compliance. We don’t know if that refers to financial compliance, policy compliance or legal compliance. We also don’t know which entitis. For all we know the GC could have already been identified as out of compliance in some matters.

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10/27/18 - #19

Yes, that is exactly the portion of the Avondale study I was referring to, thank you Robert.

So the spanking clean audit is maybe an improvement over (mixed metaphor alert) the years when the locusts ate the tithes in Dodge City, but it still doesn’t tell you how wisely the money is being spent, say on litigation, etc.

But who’s the wiser, eh?

The triumph of style over substance…


Mark Finley’s points remind me of cases of domestic violence where the victimized wife makes all the excuses to justify’s her husband’s abusive behaviors. However, once separated from her husband and able to get away from the abusive milieu the wife begins to appreciate her individuality and autonomy and then can become more objective. This happens frequently in psychiatric cases to warrant a term known as “folie a deux.”

Folie a deux is “shared psychosis, a psychiatric syndrome in which symptoms of a delusional belief and sometimes hallucinations are transmitted from one individual to another.” For instance if you and your best friend are convinced that her dog can speak English, it may be a folie a deux.” It would appear that Mark Finley is convinced that Ted Wilson’s dog speaks English.


One of these things is not like the other…

a) Sabbath is moral law first described in Genesis
b) Gift of the Spirit are the sole domain of God and Ordination is a human construct and process to confirm Spirit of Gods calling to service of an individual and have no gender qualification based on scripture
c) voted church administrative policy for the GC is how to facilitate moving the mission forward however it seems like policy is the same as doctrine or even moral law

Your comparison of using C to either A or B is illogical

The use of C as a means to contradict either A or B would both be to put human tradition above that which God has established and is idolatrous in practice. You might as well say human sacrifice was voted for and this now binds God to it.

Additionally the issue of B is primarily due to two factors a) gifts of the spirit i.e. ministry is not subject has no scriptural gender qualification requirement for gender or subclass definition based on gender, b) based on this the only logical root issue is a cultural tradition regarding gender role or as George puts it discrimination.

As an example of cultural tradition force at work you can use EGW as an example in the SDA. In her case there was an orgy of evidence demonstrating her being chosen by the Spirit. This evidence so overwhelmed the cultural/tradition prohibition regarding gender that to refuse recognition would expose the opposition to be blatantly opposing God. This however had the secondary effect of further reinforcing the cultural prohibition to any female thereafter who did not rise to the same level of demonstrated choice of a gift of ministry by the Holy Spirit as EGW.


Wait a minute that would mean that we have established another priesthood which is masquerading Clergy to keep everyone in-line like the Papacy…right?

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