I am saddened to see church counsels appear to be regarded as infallible, rather than the majority view urging compliance through cooperation and brotherly love. Is this not similar to the development of the Papacy in applying the words “whatever is bound on earth is bound in heaven,” giving to church counsels and papal decrees infallibility? What resulted? Church punishment for decanters with a litany of shattered lives, war and bloodshed.
I lay this condition to at the feet of EGW which mistakenly gave infallible power to GC sessions. Something no single or group of individuals should ever possess, in my opinion. Historically many church groups viewed descent as a threat. As when in 1636 Roger Williams and in 1638 Ann Hutchinson were expelled from their colonies. For Ann Hutchinson this was a death sentence, for in 1643, Ann with family and friends were massacred by a band of Indians. This tragic loss need not have taken place if the Puritans had practiced love through toleration.
“While we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” This advice is for both sides of this issue.
There is no inconsistency at all on the part of the GC. They are following the world session vote, now voted NO three times. What part of “no” do people not understand? Ted Wilson is only trying to implement what was voted. A few Unions went against the world session vote and are now paying for it. They need our prayers and support and help as they work on the mess they created.
Why don’t we make a case for Congregationalism and abolish GC meetings all together for their meaningless constituency consist mostly of “uneducated Africans and South Americans”. In fact, break up the world church in independent atoms and let the ones with the big mouths rule. Safe the money and efforts to hold Annuals and GC Sessions all together. They are meaningless. Let the " Union constituents" decide. But do not forget first to erase all the passages in the CM, Constitution and Bylaws and Working Policy that say the Unions Policy must be “in harmony” or better, have some PhD’s redefine what “in harmony” means to them, and follow them and not “the constituency of the World Church”. And above all, don’t educate the members or the delegates, keep them ignorant as to what the Church structure is, what the ground rules of the Church are, manipulate them with ambiguous motions and have them vote on that. Don’t forget to keep your tithe too, for why should you transfe that to a body if you don’t recognize its authrity? If you do this prayerfully, Heaven will surely answer … One thing I wonder though – what will a Union’s EC do if “the constituents” of a Conference or local church insist on their own definition of “in harmony”? Will they ban them? Is the power of the 20 board members of a Union’s EC, or the Unions let say 250 constituents more than the GC with her 2500+ constituents? Remember what happened to Korah with his 250 “constituents” …
Besides, I am a member of the world church, for my membersihip is accepted all over the world. Not so if my Union is an SDA offshoot …
Since the remnant is that portion which is unused in the man-made garment then it makes sense that those which follow the Lamb wherever He goes will be the ones that are shaken out since they cannot afford to support the creation of the image of the beast. Perhaps, even as the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, Ted Wilson is God’s work to establish that image, such that all men may know the vile power of divide and conquer. Let us be wary that we fight not against God, that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
“Come out of her My people, that you be not partakers in her sins.”
“MENE: God has numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL: Thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting. UPHARSIN: Thy kingdom is divided.”
Thank you for your thoughts, Frank, much appreciated.
Regarding EGW and her position on the supposed infallibility of the GC, I have found the following statement of her’s made in 1898 quite helpful: “It has been some years since I have considered the General Conference as the voice of God." (17MR 216).” Could it be that this statement more accurately reflects what she really thought concerning infallibility and GC sessions?
One commenter said: “This means that each union’s actions regarding ordination must be in accordance with those of the General Conference since it is the source of the authority.”
Christ is the source of authority. (Hebrew 1:1-3). The General Conference does have authority, but not ultimate authority. (Check out the later Ellen White and her objections [!] to regarding the GC in session as God’s voice.) So the point of view represented in the quoted sentence IS the point of view of a church leadership making of itself an image to the beast. By what BIBLICAL argument can anyone oppose this conclusion?
Another wrote: “There is no inconsistency at all on the part of the GC. They are following the world session vote, now voted NO three times. What part of ‘no’ do people not understand?”
Those who object do understand No. But they give higher priority to Christ’s Yes.
(Now let me underline my own happy willingness to allow the various sectors of the church to proceed at their own pace on the question of gender equality. Authoritarianism from our side would make no sense, and that, of course, is why the question delegates voted on in San Antonio was ingenious. Unfortunately, the majority of delegates did not get it.)
This is all alarmingly similar to the process whereby the Roman church gained ascendancy over other, originally equal, bishoprics. They did this through the use of flawed, and, at times, forged documents such as the well-known Donation of Constantine. In addition they relied on political alliances with secular authorities in order to buttress their claims to power. If the current General Conference administration is following that same path, I would expect an appeal to the secular courts, perhaps using the established precedent that they own the trademark to the name Seventh-day Adventist and therefore the authority to determine who is and is not SDA. In this, the GC has already demonstrated a willingness to use the secular powers to resolve what are primarily religious disputes. Is this so different from our Roman predecessors?
Ellen White’s 1909 statement, the last of its kind, had no such objection regarding the will of God: “God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference [Session], shall have authority.” 9T 261. So while God is indeed the “ultimate” source of authority, and no one I know disputes this, the church nevertheless exercises His “authority” in a General Conference Session, at least according to Ellen White.
Spalding and Magan Collection, Page 368
"Too much power is invested in humanity when matters are so arranged that one man or a small group of men have it in their power to rule or ruin the work of their fellow laborers. In the erection of medical institutions and the development of their work there is not to be a ruling kingly power as there has been in the past. The kingly power formerly exhibited in the General Conference is not to be perpetuated.
The division of the General Conference into district union conferences was God’s arrangement. In the work of the Lord for these last days there are to be no Jerusalem centers, no kingly power"
Not sure if I have the right to comment on Jennifer’s post or not. Others have commented on people’s posts. If not, I apologize and feel free to remove.
Jennifer, I would suggest the following:
San Antonio did not vote that women’s ordination was not supported by the Bible. It did vote that Unions cannot make decisions about WO on their own (a decision that some Unions dispute and feel is not following previous GC decisions as explained by Elder Chudleigh).
You note: “No, the church does not consider women’s ordination supported by the BIble.” “Yes, Southern California area does perform ordination for women.”. I do not believe that the world church as a matter of policy has stated that WO is against church doctrine. It is a matter of disagreement at this time. There is certainly biblical evidence for women in ministry and nothing in the GC is suggesting that women cannot commissioned, just not moving forward on ordination (which means cannot ordain others or serve as Conference or Division Presidents) I’d also note that in different cultures, how we worship has a wide variety of expression. For example, in many Adventist churches, any form of dance would be considered sinful. In others, it is a part of their cultural heritage (Polynesian, African-American interpretive scripture, etc.). Just because SECC has a woman leader does not make us crazy. I’ll add that if you have ever had the privilege to know or work with Sandi Roberts, you’ll know that she is both a very spirit-filled person and an incredibly capable Conference President.
You suggest these differences causes others to see us as a dysfunctional family. I would suggest that many outsiders would think that a Church that believes that women are less capable than men and do not have the ability (or that God restricts them because of their gender) from leading a Conference, that sort of church is dysfunctional.
I am confounded that the General Conference would risk a schism in the church on an issue which is not doctrinally based! If not schism, this misguided response can only cause bad blood, bitterness, rancor and animosity.
I am not a theologian, but my understanding is that the TOSC findings showed that the ordination of women had neither biblical approval nor prohibition. In other words it was not a doctrinal issue, but a cultural one.
While the secret ballot on the vote,for women’s ordination was admirable, what a shame we did not have “exit polling” to determine the demographics of the voters. Since the majority of those voting were church employees, and therefore equally salaried, there were no “class distinctions " so we cannot aver that those voting “no” were “blue collar”. However, intuitively we can guess that those voting “yes” had more graduate degrees, more education and were less " third world”. So CULTURE was the dominant determinant of the vote.
In his brilliant, eloquent and articulate review of the Headship Doctrine in Adventism, Gerry Chudleigh revealed that the rationale the GC uses against the ordination of women has no historical foundation in Adventism, but was recently imported into our church from Calvinist theologians.
That this imported shibboleth, from suspect sources, not doctrinally based, and with no historicity
in our denomination would be manipulated so as to cause dissent and division, is a travesty.
As Chudleigh so admirably elucidates, the very Pauline texts used to deny the right of women to be ordained, were used by critics of EGW to question her authenticity.
What for me is MYSTIFYING, is that those most vehement in their opposition to ordaining women, on the basis of women’s supposed lack of leadership ability, are those very ones who demonstrate the most obsequious obeisance to EGW. For them, she is the “Virgin Mary” of Adventism!
Yet somehow (actually due to Paul’s misogynist denigration of women in various texts) all other females than EGW become second class citizens.
A shameful extension of this Headship philosophy, whereby husbands are supposedly given ultimate authority over their wives, is a politically incorrect subject: A senior women pastor for whom I have great respect, informed me of the pervasive nature of spousal abuse (wife beating) in Adventist congregations.
And so we come full circle: Who better to deal with this delicate issue than women pastors in whom these desperate, bruised and battered wives can confide?
The only legal avenue the Unions have now is to stop ordaining ministers and only offer commissions so that both male and female are treated equal. All made ordained ministers should turn in their ordination certificates and accept only commission to the gospel ministry! Some pastors in the Chesapeake Conference are or have done this!
Pastor Ted is following in the footsteps of his father, Pastor Neal Wilson, who testified under oath in the Merikay Silver lawsuit that the Adventist church organization is hierarchical, “just like the Catholic church.” In other words, he presumed to hold the position of “boss” of the thinking of all church members. Fortunately, the court in San Francisco ruled against him on that point. The Adventist church was ordered to pay thousands of dollars of back pay to the women of the Pacific Press, following the “whistle blower” lawsuit by Merikay Silver, back in the 1970s. The women’s pay rates were then raised to be in conformance with the pay rate for men, and in conformance with existing laws.
Too bad “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” in this case. Pastor Ted needs to learn than he is only the president; he is not the pope. Our SDA organization is NOT a hierarchical system; we all have equal votes in all matters.
Steve, this appears to me to be the wedge issue which will allow the desired consolidation of power within the SDA church.
Until now, it’s been possible to argue that the church is not authoritarian and top-down hierarchical in nature, but now is the moment of truth.
The far Christian Right political machine has used abortion as a wedge issue in the larger Christian culture, but obviously this won’t work in a denomination that finds abortion lucrative and helpful for “population control.”
The fact that numerous EGW statements clearly support this headship ideology seals the deal.
A juggernaut political machine is coalescing, it appears to me, made all the more powerful by women who morally capitulate to males.
To illustrate what a GC “call to unity” might imply, and for those who think an authoritarian mindset is anathema to religious-liberty-loving Adventists, here is a partial collection of quotes from lightministries.com :
“The General Conference, then is the Seventh-day Adventist church…the embodiment of the Remnant Church as a Christian denomination, in a unified worldwide organization, to which all baptized Seventh-day Adventists owe spiritual allegiance…” (Court Transcript of United States vs the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission vs the Pacific Press Publishing Association and the General Conference, Opening Brief for Defendants, Civil Case #74-2025 CBR, p 17, brackets added to show meaning).
“Church documents that prescribe the church’s structure and governance confirm that all parts of the church are parts of a single entity. Next to the Roman Catholic church, the Adventist church is the most centralized of all the major Christian denominations in this country. The General Conference, as the world wide governing body of the Adventist denomination, is the church’s highest legislative, judicial and ecclesiastical authority.” (Legal Decision of Judge William T. Hart of the U.S. District Court, North District of Illinois, East Division, Court Transcript of Derrick Proctor vs the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Case #81 C 4938, Findings of Fact, Section B, Church Objective and Structures, p 22, October 29, 1986).
“It is our responsibility to study the Scriptures for ourselves, to ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to submit our understandings to those in the church who are able to judge our findings, and then to abide to the decisions of the church…” (Seventh-day Adventist Church Adult Sabbath School Quarterly, Lesson 13, March 28, 1987, p 92, or p 153 in the Teacher’s Edition).
"People expect the General Conference to have the last word and to speak for the Church with ultimate authority....The General Conference is the highest authority and the sum of all the parts, not only philosophically, but also (1) organizationally, (2) legislatively, (3) administratively, (4) judicially, (5) in terms of policy and (6) Church standards.” (General Conference President Neal C. Wilson, Commission Report on Role and Function of Denominational Organizations, 140-85GN, p 22-23, April 30, 1985, brackets added to show meaning).
“The plain and undeniable fact is that the Seventh-day Adventist church is most assuredly not a ‘congregational’ one (although it contains elements of congregationalism) but is clearly of the…‘hierarchical’ variety.” (Neal C. Wilson, Court Transcript of United States vs the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission vs the Pacific Press Publishing Association and the General Conference, Reply Brief for Defendants, Civil Case #74-2025 CBR, parentheses in original).
"...the church governs by a method of organization...which embraces exactly, from a legal standpoint, the same kind of organization (in opposition to ‘congregationalism’) as is embraced by the term ‘hierarchical’." (Neal C. Wilson, Court Transcript of United States vs the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission vs the Pacific Press Publishing Association and the General Conference, Reply Brief for Defendants, Civil Case #74-2025, p 29, parenthesis in original).
“Seventh-day Adventist Church leadership is a function of the church’s organizational structure…
“A twofold task faces the church: (1) train and inspire good leadership, and (2) train and inspire good followership…Leadership will lead in love and understanding, and followership will support the church leadership unfailingly, even though necessarily critical of some decisions of leadership.” (Walter R. Beach, past vice-president of the General Conference, in Adventist Review, October 25, 1979, p 13-14).
"The Seventh-day Adventist Church is essentially a hierarchical system..." (Bruce Manners, Associate Editor of the Record (the Official Paper of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, South Pacific Division), in the Record, June 23, 1990, p 2).
"The session [55th General Conference Session in 1990] has demonstrated the hierarchial nature of the church's administrative structure." (Gary Krause, Associate Editor of the Record, in the Record, August 4, 1990, p 2).
"...the official hierarchy of the (SDA) church..." (Walter Douglas, chair of the SDA Church History Department at the Andrews University Theological Seminary, in Adventist Review (the Official General Paper of the Seventh-day Adventist Church), Special Edition, October, 1994, p 51).
"...the structure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is essentially hierarchical...The pyramid of church organization maintains equilibrium and sustains growth..." (Walter Scragg, President of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in the Record, June 23, 1990, p 4-5).
"The Seventh-day Adventist Church...maintains ...a hierarchical structure of church authority." (Neal C. Wilson, in the Court Transcript of the United States Secretary of Labor vs Pacific Union Conference and General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church, Case CV 75-3032-R, presided over by Judge Manuel L. Real, February 6, 1976).
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church follows a model of organizational order in the church which is modified from the orders of Roman Catholicism, but it retains the same notions of clerical order which separates the members of the Church into two classes–clergy and laity.” (Douglas Devnich, president of the Canadian Union of Seventh-day Adventists, in the Messenger (Official Journal of the Canadian Union Conference), December, 1993, p 2).
“Elder Robert H. Pierson is the President of [the] General Conference and, as such the first (or supreme) minister (or pastor) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” (Court Transcript of United States vs the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission vs the Pacific Press Publishing Association and the General Conference, Opening Brief for the Defendants, Civil Case #74-2025, p 45, December 4, 1974, parentheses added to show meaning).
"...the leadership of the church, including myself as its first minister for the time being..." (Affidavit of General Conference President Robert H. Pierson, Court Transcript of United States vs the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission vs the Pacific Press Publishing Association and the General Conference, Civil Case #74-2025 CBR, November 30, 1974).
"Many church members would say that the power in the Seventh-day Adventist Church resides with the president…He has authority to decide and act…he does have considerable power…
“He’s the spiritual leader of the community of faith…He’s shepherd, guardian, guide and captain (or head).” (Walter Scragg, President of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in the Record, June 23, 1990, p 4, parentheses added to show meaning).
“Those who work for the Seventh-day Adventist Church respond to a religious vocation in exactly the same sense as does a cloistered nun.” (Court Transcript of United States vs the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission vs the Pacific Press Publishing Association and the General Conference, Opening Brief for the Defendants, Civil Case #74-2025, p 90, December 4, 1974).
“Division and General Conference officers form a critical area of church leadership around the world. Vice presidents (and you understand that division presidents are first vice presidents of the General Conference) report to the General Conference president. According to the Bylaws, while they serve a division they are vice presidents of the General Conference…
“If you compare vice presidents to ‘cardinals,’ we already have a ‘cardinal’ from Africa, and before this [1985 General Conference] session ends, I predict we will have two African ‘cardinals’ among our 15 vice-presidents…there is no ‘cardinal’ from all the countries of the Far East, while there will probably be two ‘cardinals’ from Africa.” (General Conference President Neal C. Wilson, in Adventist Review, July 3, 1985, p 11).
“At the local conference level the Seventh-day Adventist church has a representative form of government, above that level the polity of the Seventh-day Adventist is hierarchical: authority flows downward and members in local congregations have virtually no voice…the Seventh-day Adventist church is a closed, self-operating, and self-perpetuating system, similar to the Roman Catholic church, in which those in authority are not responsible to lower echelons. Above the local conference level, those in authority are not elected by, representative of, or administratively accountable to, local congregations or the membership at large.” (Raymond F. Cottrell, former Associate Editor of the Adventist Review and the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, in Spectrum (Journal of Association of Adventist Forums), vol 14, #4, March, 1984, p 42).
“We see here that his (Aaron’s) principle responsibility was to act as a mediator, as a link between the holy and profane, between God and man…an incarnation of the people, and the spiritual representative of all Israel…In like manner the minister of the gospel today is the high priest…Today we (SDA ministers) are the high priests…God desires that we who are His high priests today learn the same lesson…What a tremendous responsibility to act as mediators between God and man!” (M.S. Nigri, president of the South Brazil Union Conference, in Ministry Magazine (official journal of the Ministerial Association of the Seventh-day Adventist Church), December, 1961, p 27-29).
I apologize for the lengthy quotes, but many are not aware of these authoritarian SDA sentiments, and I wanted this to be in the record.