Editorial: The Road to Irrelevance—And Back

What I care about most is getting back. I care about hope. So who can rip off the blinders that make the church’s high bureaucracy think we’re headed in the right direction when we’re not?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2016/03/29/editorial-road-irrelevance%25e2%2580%2594and-back

Many in leadership are travelling the Road to Damascus but the blinding light of truth awaits them. Rene G.


They were booing him for 2 reasons: A - he was taking too long, far longer than the allotted time for any other speaker, and the moderator (or whatever you call them) did nothing about it. And B - “pled” is an interesting word to use here. He was being patronising and basically asking (mainly the African) delegates to trust the (mainly white) leaders (who want women’s ordination), they know what’s best for them. It was that that got their nose out of joint, and if you are truly honest you will admit this.

Because she is there against policy. It is her fault for allowing herself to be nominated, and the rest of the delegates fault for voting her in AGAINST POLICY. But before you reiterate that the policy is faulty, attention must be drawn to what else you wrote above:

Exactly!! And

So no, they did not come to a consensus, therefore this issue should not proceed. For until you can biblically justify the ordination of women (without mangling the text and opening the door of Pandora’s box to further interesting interpretations of other passages of scripture along the same lines), you shouldn’t proceed. Whatever is not of faith is sin. Until everyone is convinced that the theology is straight, how can they vote yes? Just because two thirds of TOSC delegates were open to it? We follow the Bible, not a leadership elite. Luckily, delegates representing the church from ALL over the world came together, were not convinced, and voted no.

If you want women to be ordained, demonstrate that the Bible allows it without the theological process that got you there opening up a can of worms. For (in general) the same process that gets you there will allow practising LBGTI’s to be accepted as members, be ordained as elders (we already have one, don’t we???), later on as ministers, something which the Bible condemns as an ABOMINATION.


Biblically there is no good rebellion. All rebellion is of the devil. There are other ways of sorting out disagreements, but the Bible even encourages submission to unjust authority, something you don’t have in this case. You have rightful authority and a right decision based on the fact that the theology is uncertain.


i think the bigger reason is the global south’s captivity of the church…had that nov 8 vote in san antonio been held among nad, spd, or ted, the yes-vote would have passed…

an issue with such a cultural disparity attached to it as wo probably can’t be settled through a general conference vote…this is because people aren’t likely to vote outside of their geographic culture - ever…but given that there seems to be a bit of a trend now in the global north to not ordain at all, one wonders how relevant that no-vote will be over time…

The party spirit of Denominationalism is so painful to watch. It goes from “We have the Truth” to 'We are the Truth". We saw in at S.A.and we are watching the political process with a full blown case even in the political arena. My heart aches for my great grandchildren and their generation. tom Z


You wrote: We no longer,” he said, “want to belong to a church that has an official policy of discrimination.”
That is exactly what I’m feeling today!


As in a fully functional family, the church does not throw out and/or disown its members simply because they think and do differently. As long as they are not deliberately and harmfully breaching ethical, spiritual, and relational values they remain part of the family. The litmus test of our Christianity is not that we are right and they are wrong but whether we love each other and agree to disagree with each other without being disagreable, patronising, and angry with each other and thus we continue to live in peace and harmony - yes, even unity (not uniformity) - being submissive to one another and esteeming others better than ourselves (not easy for those who are addicted to, or budrened by, spiritual or/and scholarly pride). Sadly, there seems to be a painful paucity of being truly Christlike in this, and other, hot potato issues in Adventism nowadays. Hope remains however
if we leave the door open for the Holy Spirit to bind our multi-faceted wounds and bond us back together again.

The current church policy is an embarrassment even humiliation, for any man who has as I have had, a professional wife, and three professional daughters.

How professional educated women can continue in church membership, is beyond me.

Since women should supposedly be “silent” in church, let all women sabbath school leaders/teachers, including those who lead out in the children’s divisions RESIGN.

Let the female choir directors who create the “noise” of anthems, RESIGN.
And surely those who create the most “noise”, our female organists/pianists/vocalists/instrumentalists RESIGN


Let the “headship” advocates run the entire church including preparing and serving the “potlucks”!

It is time for our women members, ( surely the majority on our church rolls) to step aside and see how the churches will,survive their abdication!

And while we are talking “discrimination” let us not forget the despicable way our LGBT members have been treated – ostracized, shamed, shunned, accused of deliberately “choosing” their orientation, in short treated shabbily and Inhumanely.

That President SANDRA ROBERTS, should have her name blanked out in the church yearbook, is childish. Let us hope this infantile act will backfire on the perpetrators!


Based upon reading this site for more than half a decade, this same spirit that is agitating for female headship is also leading toward full acceptance into the church of practicing homosexuals. And lately this spirit has also been leading us to accept the transgendered into church leadership (such as in the Hollywood SDA). This spirit looks suspiciously like the demands of liberal/progressive gender and identity politics. It certainly isn’t the spirit that inspired the Bible writers. I know this because the Bible is very clear about male headship in the home and the church, that same-sex sexual activity is forbidden and sinful, and that God created two distinct sexes and he does not want them blended.

(And I would note that this is a not a “slippery slope” argument where it concerns intention, because Spectrum and the Adventist Left have for years been promoting the normalization of homosexuality, and now are affirming the transsexual Hollywood elder.)


When has anything worth while come out of CONSENSUS? Men are driven by many influences including greed, power, fear, politics etc. - we can’t know. There will always be a holdout driven by who-knows-what. God has always had to act outside of CONSENSUS, going back to the very beginning of Christ’s story. John was the first to herald THE COMING CHRIST. He didn’t do it in Jerusalem "which was where the temple was, and the rabbis, and all the accumulated wisdom of the religious establishment. If someone wanted to hear from God, why not stay right there, maybe attend some extra services or make an appointment with one of the chief priests? (from Home By Another Way by Barbara Brown Taylor)- yeah, a woman.)

Or, maybe you believe that a “consensus” at the GC is different - that a “consensus” at the GC is the “voice of God” - sort of like the declaration from the Vatican for the Catholics? Apparently the early SDA church thought so too, until Ellen White set them straight:

We have heard that the voice if the General Conference is the voice of God. Every time I have heard this, I have thought it was almost blasphemy. (MANUSCRIPT 37, APRIL 1, 1901)

…that these men should stand in a sacred place, to be as the voce of God to the people, as we once believed the GC to be - this is past. (General Conference Bulletin; 1901, pp. 23, 25

Jesus never followed protocol, as He overthrew the tables of the moneychangers; and dared to “eat with the gluttons, and drink with the winebibbers”. Of course His relationship with the lepers demonstrates His relationship to today’s “lepers among the faithful” - the LBGT’s.

As for leadership, Jesus said: "…Do not call anyone on earth your father; One is Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is Christ." Not only do we want to emphasize “leadership”, we marginalize more than half the population of the church - the very ones who first proclaimed the Gospel. It was a woman who brought the gospel to the Samaritans: From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” It was women who found the empty tomb …and they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. (Matt. 28).


Finally. Glad to hear this is happening.

I don’t know what identity politics is, but I do hope that progressives make headway. That is the only way the church might remain relevant in the coming years.

How do you/can you know that? It actually seems to me that Jesus’ ministry was completely inclusive, about the opposite of what you’re suggesting. Everything about the people he gathered about him indicates that it selected most of them because they were marginalized and vilified by society. Fishermen? Scum. Tax collectors? Prostitutes? Women? All scum. Even Jesus’ occupation as a carpenter was designed to show how lowly he was, as carpentry was one of the worst/lowest professions there was. Jesus rejected no one and violated social taboos in the process.

Are you suggesting a more exclusionary stance rather then Jesus’ example of inclusion for all who follow him?



Are you Greek or are you hiding?

Three short points: Regarding Sandra Roberts: you make policy an idol; do you think anyone believes that Jeremiah or Jesus and St. Paul were policy men? Regarding the Bible: you spew forth words and make no arguments, but try just this: using whatever your hermeneutic may be, make a BIBLICAL argument for ending slavery. One more thing: taking note of John 16’s teaching on the Holy Spirit, explain your attitude toward the concept of “new light.”


You say “people aren’t likely to vote outside of their geographic culture - ever.” Two points: Not many decades ago our own “geographic culture” didn’t even permit women to vote. So “geographic culture” is no prisonhouse. Also, the vote involved allowing women’s ordination where it would help; no one was insisting on women’s ordination everywhere. A generous leader could have gone to bat for this proposal by pointing this out. No one—at least no one on the platform—did. It was a catastrophic failure.


You are, in the unhappy sense of the phrase, a “true believer,” and I supposed you will die one. Perhaps it is insane for me even to respond to you. But I have met you, and I entertain the dream, at least, that we may actually be able to converse.

I allow that questions about homosexuality will not go away. But it is deeply irresponsible to allow your fears about this matter to count as an argument for gender discrimination. It is equally irresponsible to nullify, as you seem in effect to do, the clear biblical theme of the Holy Spirit’s teaching function (John 16).

This may not apply to you, but I throw it out anyway: the idea (which Adventists surely need to think about) that women may exercise prophetic authority but not pastoral authority make no sense at all. And if anyone should appeal to some key text (or lack of such) in defense of this idea, that same person will perforce have to agree that stoning rebellious sons may be biblically justifiable.

To those of who, like me, have here expressed your indignation concerning Adventism’s proud policy of official discrimination, I say Thank you. I would love, by the way, to be able to express thanks to readers who may occupy high positions in Adventist academia or administration.


P. S. Secular culture is pretty good about fighting for human “rights.” It is dismal concerning the importance of human responsibility, dismal concerning violence, dismal on the dignity of the human self. So let’s not suppose that agreement with some of what the secular culture fights for entails having nothing left to witness about.


David Read twists terminology and spins it to try to boost and buck up the unfounded doctrine of male headship, a heresy within the Adventist doctrinal beliefs.

This is like saying that the Woman at the Well, the first evangelist Jesus authorized and sent to evangelize her town and people, was “agitating for female headship”; or that the women who came to the tomb to check on Jesus and to anoint His body who were sent BY HIM with the news of His risen victory and were told to “tell the men” were “agitating for female headship”: or that the woman who washed Jesus’ feet, anointing Him before His death was “agitating for female headship” when she bowed before Him and did what NO MAN had the humility to do.

Attributing such motives is dishonest, an insult to the women then and now who are led and gifted by the Holy Spirit, and quite the commentary on the Holy Spirit who leads and guides, gifts, and endows women with spiritual leadership skills.

This is a low. He was an exalter, uplifter, and equalizer. The Creator Himself.

Add to that the “slippery slope” fallacy (all students in freshmen university classes can recognize this slimy technique) about the results of authorizing women to use their God-given gifts from the Holy Spirit: we can certainly see the spirit of disunity, dishonesty, and discouragement displayed and discrimination revealed. That certainly isn’t the Spirit that inspired Paul to proclaim that there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free.

This is the spirit of squelching the Priesthood of ALL Believers.


They are one and the same issue. If God has not created two sexes with different and complementary roles, what can possibly be the problem with homosexuality, or even with homosexuals adopting children? If God has created two sexes with different and complementary roles, then we have to take seriously Scripture’s teaching that men and women have different roles in the church. Transgenderism is a slightly different issue, in that it denies that God created anyone or anything; we create our own sex at our own whim, and God has no say in the matter. Transgenderism is a heresy more closely related to atheism (and atheism’s origins myth–Darwinism–also relentlessly supported on this site) than to homosexuality or sex roles.


The essential error of the “Bible as story” theory of inspiration is that it disallows transcendence, which the underlying message of Scripture conveys beyond question.

The authority of the prophetic Word above human opinion, human scholarship, human culture, and human experience is the consistent testimony of the Bible in both Testaments—from the original prophets who condemned various practices based on divine authority to the apostle Paul, who insisted that His epistles constituted God’s word and not humanity’s (I Thess. 2:13), and who excluded from the Christian community anyone who disregarded the inspired counsel given through his letters (II Thess. 3:14-15).

What the author of this piece derides as “the weird logic of fundamentalism” is as simple as taking the Bible as it reads. The author’s claim that for women’s ordination opponents, “Paul’s point (e.g. I Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11) can be trumped by a fact about Old Testament priesthood or the twelve apostles,” overlooks the glaring fact that for the apostle’s own theology. the above statements about equality of salvation opportunity do not obliterate gender role distinctions in either the home or the faith community (I Cor. 11:3; 14:33-34; Eph. 5:22-25; I Tim. 2:12-13). All have an equal opportunity to be saved, but the original role differences between men and women—established in a sinless world—still apply (I Tim. 2:12-13). There is no contradiction between these passages whatsoever.

This editorial likewise fails to explain how the testimonies of witnesses to the resurrection such as Thomas prove that anyone “contested” the written Word. There is no “competition” in these testimonies between the living and the written Word. No one who encountered the bodily form of the resurrected Jesus was constrained to abandon any part of the written Word in favor of some presumably superior, experiential revelation.

And to again bring up the issue of the stoning of rebellious children under the Israelite theocracy again serves to confuse the issue. The distinction between the moral and the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, together with the difference between the legal structure of Israel’s divinely-controlled civil state and the church of the New Testament, constitute settled theology within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, to which no one has yet raised substantial cause for reconsideration.

What again must be clarified is that gender distinctions are the only distinction between human beings which traces itself to creation. Ethnicity, skin color, social class, economic station—all are products of the age of sin. Gender differences, by contrast—like the seventh-day Sabbath—originate in a world unmarred by sin.

This editorial establishes yet again the fact that supreme Biblical authority is what lies at the heart of the ordination controversy, and at the heart of so many other disputes in contemporary Adventism. The culturally noxious aura of such words as “discrimination” cannot be permitted to influence our judgment. It is God’s transcendent Word which serves either to draw or obliterate lines of distinction between human beings. Neither traditional nor contemporary values can serve as our guide. The written counsel of God must stand supreme above all.


What you do here is to make the human condition with its rich diversity a “heresy”. As I see it, it sounds like fundamentalist oppressive theologies hiding behind the banner of ‘Scripture’.


chuck, both of your points prove my initial point on the constraints of culture…decades ago a general conference delegate vote for wo would have been overwhelmingly no, even in nad - the culture of the time certainly would have been a prison house…as it is, my understanding is that the san antonio no-vote represented the slimmest winning margin ever, and the most reasonable explanation is that so many cultural realities throughout the world, represented by the delegates, have shifted away from that no-vote mentality…as for ted wilson, my understanding is that he was raised in egypt, which even now is misogynist by most measures…if a yes-vote for wo was dependent on leadership, it couldn’t have been expected from ted…the fact that he didn’t campaign for a yes-vote, despite what he no doubt saw would have been the politically expedient thing to do, shows the strength of his cultural upbringing on his religion - and kudos to him for being faithful to his religion…the fact that jan paulsen advocated for wo doesn’t mean he is more biblically astute or spiritual than ted…it simply means he is the product of a pro-wo culture…

a question like wo, which is wholly cultural, is always going to be determined by the underlying majority culture…and at the moment, the majority culture of the global south is what’s driving our church machine, whether we like it or not…the bible and egw are only going to rule in issues that aren’t so culturally driven (and even the bible and egw are culturally driven on wo)…until the world’s culture is homogeneous, there’s no point in putting an issue like wo up for a vote…in retrospect, our leaders over many decades have failed to see this…had they simply allowed unions to do their thing over the yrs without seeing a need for a general conference comment, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now…


No, they were scripture men. The policy is in line with scripture. The understanding of scripture which allows WO is suspect, thus policy in this case is justified. The case that the Bible allows the ordination of women is not so clear cut and has many issues. Until (or unless) they are addressed and cleared, current understanding, which is in line with a plain reading of the Bible, should remain.

Simple: Exodus 21:16 “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he be found in his hands, shall surely be put to death.” From this we see that slavery in Israel originated from their experience and influence of surrounding nations. God was against it from the word Go, but said “since you have slaves, treat them well”, even breaking a slaves’s tooth was reason to free him. Totally unlike in the surrounding nations and unlike Islam today, where you can have sex with the wives of all your male slaves and that’s ok. Similar to divorce, God said marriage is forever, but since you are stubborn, if you’re going to divorce, at least have some principles for it.

New light must build on old light. It doesn’t contradict old light. Thus homosexuality is condemned throughout the Bible. Slavery is also condemned, and the Bible works toward the removal of slavery from beginning to end. If the Biblical pattern continuously is male spiritual leadership and the commands in the NT are the same, by what measure would you institute the ordination of women into church leadership?

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WO is controversial but not a third rail issue as are the IJ, the human nature of Christ, The Nature and degree of inspiration of Ellen White,. Adventism doesn’t use the term anathema but it practices it none the less. Tom Z


It saddens me to see Kevin Paulson perpetuate the racism of the Southern segregationists in his argument that “ethnicity” and “skin color” are “products of the age of sin.” Seventh-day Adventists should be united in their belief that all people, including black people, are created in the image of God. A black person’s ethnicity, skin color, hair texture, shape of nose, head construction, brain physiology, genital size, and other physical characteristics bear the indelible image of God. Ethnicity and skin color have their origins in Creation, not sin.

The fallacious linguistic premise of racism is binary opposition thinking. The Southern segregationists did not relate to black people as a robin might relate to a sparrow. Instead, differences were set in binary opposition to each other. If white is good, then black is bad. If white people are industrious, then black people are lazy. If white people are to be free, then black people are to be enslaved. Et cetera. This same linguistic fallacy is present in the misogyny we see in the Seventh-day Adventist Church today. If men and women are different, then they must have been assigned different spheres, different roles. If men are to lead, then women must follow. If men are intelligent, then women must be less intelligent. Et cetera. (In racism and misogyny, difference always results in the debasement of blacks and women even if expressed in back-handed flattery. For example, to say that black people are athletically inclined is to say that they are not academically inclined. To say that women possess high emotional intelligence is a way of saying that they possess low cerebral intelligence. We see this dynamic at work in the Anti-Semitic praising of the Jews, such as in the expression that Jews are good in business). Kevin Paulson and his colleague opponents of women’s ordination possess no self-awareness about the linguistic way that they see the world. They do not realize that they superimpose upon Scripture an untutored extra-biblical linguistic construct. They are blissfully ignorant of the study of linguistics, as the literature they have written reflects.

What is the sin that caused black people? For centuries, Christians believed that black pigmentation originated as a result of the Curse of Ham. There is some Christian thought that blackness originated as a result of the Curse of Cain, the murderer of Abel. Both theories were widely embraced by white Seventh-day Adventists throughout the twentieth century. And many white Seventh-day Adventists believed and still believe today that blackness resulted from the amalgamation of man and beast. Interracial marriage was vigorously opposed for the same reason that ordination of women is opposed today: there should be no blurring of differences. No doubt if Kevin Paulson were black he would interpret Scripture differently and find a reason not to believe that ethnicity and skin color are “products of the age of sin.”

The biblical evidence in favor of race-based slavery is just as strong as the biblical evidence in opposition to women’s ordination. The hermeneutical approach to Scripture taken by Seventh-day Adventist opponents of women’s ordination is identical to that taken by the Southern segregationists. That the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been historically steeped in racism is integral to an understanding of why the Church struggles with the demons of misogyny today. Granted, Seventh-day Adventist opponents of women’s ordination will invariably pat themselves on the back, declare that they are not racists, and by such declaration attempt to enshroud misogyny in a pure light. But racism and misogyny are one and the same, as Kevin’s argument reveals.

I appreciate Charles Scriven’s editorial. The Church will be walking in circles for many years to come as it is forced to relearn again and again the painful lessons of history.