After watching Dr. Olive Hemmings sermon on February 24, 2018 at the Sligo SDA Church and after reading G.C. President Ted Wilson’s speech at the Annual Global Leadership Summit in Lisbon Portugal on February 7, 2018 I what to add my response to that speech:
My response to GC President Ted Wilson’s speech at the 11th Annual Global Leadership Summit in Lisbon Portugal on February 7, 2018
“THE SPIRITUAL NECIESSITY FOR CHURCH UNITY AND BIBLICAL AUTHORITY TO ACCOMPLISH GOD’S MISSION”
To begin with we need to identify the ‘elephants’ in the room. In no particular ranking:
- Power and Control
- Ordination of Women
A couple things jumped out at me as I read and re-read TW’s speech. He is a master at supporting his position making it appear as if this is the voice of God. He continues to conflate customs and traditions into spiritual issues when they are not. When your premise is wrong to begin with and then you attempt to spiritualize it you do a disservice to yourself and the institution we call church. Headship has been exploited down through the annals of history and remains an angry force in contemporary society both religious and secular, worldwide.
Edwin Torkelsen and others have responded far more eloquently than I and have made reference to George Knight, and others writings on church polity. Beverly Jean Rumble noted on Spectrum in response to TW’s speech: “Church policy does not equal eternal truth.” The irony is not lost on TW’s extensive quoting of a female prophetess yet failing to acknowledge her growth and change over the years on more than just the current issues in question, which the record supports. Why this lack of recognition and acknowledgement and why the refusal to expose the complete record. Could it be that it does not serve his purpose. Certainly a man of TW’s stature and President of the GC would not be selective in his assessment. It is also disturbingly ironic that the parallels between are current U. S. President and our GC President’s antics give politics within and without the church a bad name. The patterns of manipulation and coercion are well known on both accounts and are strikingly similar.
From an SDA perspective we tend to view society as generally evil, failing to acknowledge the influence of society, traditions, and customs on the church. We cannot separate them. There are also principals that transcend both. While we are in the mist of the Great Controversy between good and evil the battle we are confronting is for more fundamental than that. This is really not about good and evil from a spiritual sense. It is about power and control at bottom line, and holding on to traditions that are not effective
in the 21ST Century. This is not democracy. This is about control; a resistance to understand, acknowledge, and/or ignore the will of the people while failing to comprehend a changing world even at the ‘end of time’. Yes we have a commission, but can we present it to a 21st Century world with a 19th and 20th Century mentality still exploiting headship, power, and control. I think not.
Spiritualizing issues for control and guilt trips are no longer effective and leadership steeped in these traditions needs to adapt or get out of the way. I refuse to be intimidated by leadership whose underlying motivation is coercion, power, and control, regardless of the vocally promoted emphasis on unity. It sounds and feel more like blatant grabs for uniformity and control, because I say so or feel I have the authority to impose my will. Yes I am making a value judgement and I am sticking to it. TW is entitled to his position that he articulates well. Thankyou TW for that. And thank God you don’t have the last word.
I believe in the church and its mission and I am a 4th generation Adventist. Our education system has educated me and my family well. Fortunately I was also taught to think independently. Our mission is God inspired. I think however, to be most effective in leading our church forward certain leadership must change for the unity we espouse, to be achieved. If uniformity is the goal stay the course and truly divide the church. Again change is inevitable while growth is optional.
Some thoughts that ran through my mind as I read the article. Firstly I would ask if TW reads and evaluates what he is writing in terms of the best interests of the entire membership or is he catering to a select few. Or does he feel his mission as president is to purge the church, of all who do not buy into his theology. Several references were made to humility, surrender to the authority of the GC, and the authority of the GC being the highest authority next to God…; rebellion by those you do not conform/comply/bow and kiss the ring, etc. Has TW stopped to think that his admonitions cut both ways and that he has the responsibility to lead by example?
TW makes reference to the General Conference Working Policy, specifically to the rigid application of B 15 10, stating, “The General Conference Working Policy shall be strictly adhered to by all organizations in every part of the world field. The work of every organization shall be administered in full harmony with the policies of the General Conference and of the divisions respectively….” The statement on its face is responsible policy, however rigid application used as a threat for discipline and censure without allowing divisions flexibility for local interpretation and implementation is irresponsible leadership. Responsible leadership must also exercise the ability to understand and evaluate when policy is no longer accomplishing stated goals and is no longer effective and requires adaptation, change or removal. There are times in an organization when it has to admit the implementation of policies are not accomplishing the states goals. It takes secure persons to admit when something is not effective and must change. To refuse to evaluate policy that is no longer effective and continue to perpetuate bad policy is when the institution, members, and administrators need to address the leadership. When leadership fails to do this internally membership of the organization must take action.
The United States has checks and balances shared by branches of government. The Constitution allows for redress by the people, (We the People), when government is abusing its powers and is no longer acting in the interest of the people. The Constitution which governs our country required Twenty Seven, 27, (the first 10 being the Bill of Rights), amendments, over time, to make it representative and effective for all of its citizens and is still not a closed document. There remain allowances for a process for modification and change for the good of the people. There are times in society, government, and in the governing of the church when bad policy must be addressed, and I propose that this is one of those times in the church when leadership and/or policy must be directly confronted.
One also must also understand the elements of, and arrogance of White Male Privilege at play in these current circumstances, and DT and TW are poster twins of narcissism.
Several years ago back in 2013 before I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer, I wrote the following with regard to Male Headship. As I am battling cancer currently the statement has all the more meaning:
‘MALE HEADSHIP’ with all its historical religious and cultural ramifications is dead. It’s time to give patriarchy a well-deserved burial. It lived a long life but is old, tired, set-in- it’s-ways, cranky, obnoxious, irritating, limiting; and abusive, suffering from Alzheimer’s, and fraught with a malignant debilitating terminal cancer with no cure. It has no productive use in a 21st Century world. We have all been exposed to it, but one has choices. We can choose to ignore the symptoms and let it infect us and be buried with it, or choose the sometimes radical surgery of progressive thought and action to cure, live, and grow.
I don’t know if we can eradicate, what I am calling, the ‘disease’ of headship, but I believe we can certainly put it in remission. Yes I am suggesting we do more than just explore change in leadership. I am suggesting aggressive grassroots efforts to influence change. Avenues for direct action by the people must be used and efforts to suppress such action should be strongly resisted. We must demand a seat at the table from within through formal established channels, and from without, supporting the formal channels, and seeking other innovative inroads such as this website. For me to sit back and do nothing is unchristian. I am looking for those who are interested in strategizing for a way forward in speaking truth to power.
The elephants in the room as stated in the beginning of Headship, Patriarchy, Power and Control underlying the promoted, self-serving conflict over Ordination of Women in the SDA Church, I have stated this before and I am stating it again, that maybe, just maybe this is one of the things our Heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior in consultation with the Holy Spirit is waiting for us to get right before He/She/They decides to send Their Son/Daughter to bring us all home. From Their perspective I believe the Godhead may be thinking there is not a bigger issue for gender-created humanity to overcome than gender inequality which we have continued to exploit throughout earth’s history. Our focus has been so riveted on certain identified categories of individual ‘sins’ that we neglect larger, universal justice responsibilities, of which gender inequality and exploitation falls under and that is a sin of both society and of the church. Yes the issue of women’s ordination comes back to this fundamental flaw and continued exploitation in spite of all attempts at justification.
I welcome response, feedback, criticism, dialogue for a way forward. We cannot afford to idly sit by and assume or wish thing will change.
What say You ???