Nicholas Miller Writes Open Letter to Doug Batchelor on Ordination

On October 13, Seventh-day Adventist pastor and TV personality Doug Batchelor posted the following status update on his Facebook page:

CATHOLICS AND ADVENTIST AT CULTURAL CROSSROADS

I wanted to this add to my last post. Is it just me or does it seem strange… maybe even prophetic… that at the same exact time the principal leaders of the Catholic Church are assembling to consider redefining how their church views the differences between men and women, the principal leaders in the Adventist church are also meeting at our Maryland headquarters in which the hot topics are homosexuality and the distinction of gender roles in the church.

Even the two pictures look eerily alike. (Except for the red and pink hats.) I’d like to encourage everybody to fast and pray as our leaders take up these very important subjects in the next couple of days that the Holy Spirit will guide and we will stick to the Scriptures. The future of the church really is in the balance right now!

In response to Doug Batchelor's post, Nicholas Miller, professor of Church History at Andrews University and director of the International Religious Liberty Institute, wrote the following open letter on his own Facebook page.

An Open Letter to Pastor Doug Batchelor:

Dear Pastor Doug,

We both served on the TOSC together, and fellowshipped in meetings, at worship, and on the Raquetball court. We do not see eye to eye on ordination, but you chose to caucus with group 3, the so-called moderate group.

I believed that we had some positive and fruitful discussions about our respective views. You were open and honest when we reached a point where you felt that you could not fully support every aspect of group 3's proposal. I felt that you showed yourself open to dialogue, supportive of women's ministry generally in terms of preaching and evangelizing (though not ordination), and a willingness to avoid the strident rhetoric of the extreme conservatives.

In light of these shared experiences, I am deeply disappointed by the post below comparing the Annual Council's discussion of ordination with the recent Papal Conclave's actions and comments on homosexuality. Your comparison is reasonably perceived as the kind of demonizing of your brothers and sisters that heightens dissension and distrust in the church. It is seen by many as more the action of a demagogue than a pastor, shepherd, and evangelist of the flock.

In the past, while not agreeing with you on all things, I have defended to others your ministry as basically positive for the gospel and the church. Posts like this one seriously weaken my ability, and undermine my willingness, to continue to do so. There have been some intemperate responses by some of my brothers and sisters in the work to you in light of your post below. And yet most of these workers do not have the years of experience in working for the Lord and the Church that you do. Thus, in some ways I view you as more responsible for provoking them, then for them being provoked.

I urge you as a co-worker for God's kingdom and a brother in Christ, to commit to seeking peaceful conciliation on this matter rather than sending out bugle calls for further war.

After our vote in the summer of 2015, one side or another will be disappointed. How our church weathers this disappointment will depend in large measure as to how leaders, such as yourself, prepare them to respond to it.

I don't question your loyalty to the church or willingness to stick with it, but your rhetoric is such that many of your followers may well not be able to handle it, and you will have alienated those on the other side of the question. Let us leave claims to infallibility on issues of church order to that other church that you rightly critique. For the love of Christ and the unity of His church, please be a pastor and evangelist for all God's people, not just for those that agree with you on this particular organizational issue.

Your brother, Nick


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6421

This is fascinating to watch play out. It is reprehensible that the topic of women’s ordination would be derailed by something the Vatican is discussing. However, Batchelor may be starting to realize something. Women’s Ordination and the acceptance of LGBT people in the church are not mutually exclusive.

The patriarchal General Conference has been stalling on Women’s Ordination for years. The LGBT community has been ignored and shunned, while meaningful people are left wondering where to find their spiritual community.

There is pervasive heterosexism in the Adventist church. How we treat women and how we treat the LGBT community is interconnected. We cannot ignore either. Heterosexism is a self-justifying system of homophobia that perpetuates patriarchal gender roles. It also provides a privileged status for heterosexual men. This group is represented well in the General Conference. When will we stop waging spiritual warfare on members of our church? Why can’t we accept the call of ministry to anyone who hears it?

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We all know Adventism still nurses anti-Catholicism. So the slam isn’t a surprise. But here, Batchelor invokes “homosexuality” and Miller perceives the link as defamatory only because both men still believe LGBT identities and lives to be immoral and devil-influenced. To respond to Doug’s dual comparison as an attack and “bugle call for war” is to first accept and share its assumptions.

It would’ve been easy for Nick to have said “I’m proud to be part of a church that reflects thoughtfully on our practices and is willing to hear from its own leadership. If the Catholic church leaders are doing that too, that’s worth encouraging, not criticizing.” But he didn’t. Instead he accepted the anti-papal reasoning as valid and resisted it. I found that funny given how much he quotes Catholic “natural law” philosophy otherwise.

Othering of Catholics and Othering of LGBT people aren’t worthy; neither group needs to be bulldozed for us to start recognizing ministers on the basis of call and efficacy rather than on the basis of gender. There may be a few female ministers who’ll accept minority scapegoating as the price of their new status in the church, but I suspect and hope most won’t think it worth it.

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this is such a responsible letter that nick is writing to doug…hopefully more pastors and leaders will take it to heart…after san antonio, the male headship crowd may need years to feel reconciled…

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Doug, Ugh! He may have left the cave, but the cave never left him. Tom Z

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Although I have a lot of respect for Nicholas Miller, I believe he overreacted. I saw no demonizing of anyone. Pointing out the similarities between the RCC meetings and our meetings hardly rises to the level of “sending out bugle calls for further war.” The facts are that we are in a battle between truth and error. The devil will introduce as much error into the church as we let him. One may have honest differences of opinions on the WO issue, but there seems to be more name calling by its proponents (e.g., misogynists, sexists, discrimination, etc.) than by its opponents. As far as homosexuality is concerned, there can be no compromise. Scripture is clear enough, in spite of all the clever theological gymnastics used to make it mean something else.

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Doug Batchelor’s post is ironic, because the proposed New Light of male headship theory that he and his like-minded colleagues have promoted is patently antichrist, in that the theory diminishes Jesus as God, Creator, Lord, Savior, High Priest, and Head of the church. Jesus is diminished as God by the claim that He is eternally subordinate to the Father. He is diminished as Creator by virtue of the diminishment of His exalted creation–women–by the claim that He assigned women a sphere that is lower than the sphere assigned to men. He is diminished as Lord by the claim that He no longer exercises authority but that His authority has been delegated to ordained men who function “in His stead and with His authority.” He is diminished as Savior by the claim that men mediate the salvation of women, who are regarded as incapable of differentiating right from wrong away from their respective husbands’ sides and thus unfit for ordination. He is diminished as High Priest by the claim that the OT priesthood points to an exclusively-male church pastorate instead of Himself, the typological fulfillment of the OT priesthood. He is diminished as Head of the church by the claim that ordained men exercise His headship authority.

In fairness to Elder Batchelor, he appears to be willing to rethink his views, as Nick Miller’s letter intimates. And Elder Batchelor did apologize after his notorious sermon about women that he gave a few years ago. If there is anyone better at weathering a life transformation moment than he, I don’t know who that might be. Dr. Miller’s letter is kind and gentle, but I predict that the crucible is about to get a whole lot hotter for male headship theorists in the months ahead.

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There is nothing to say that this has not already happened centuries ago and has been perpetuated since then. The status of women was poor in the social context that Paul writes in and to. The error could have been introduced then or shortly after as humans copied and interpreted Paul’s writing.

Praise God! Nick has eloquently reminded us that our ability to respond positively and unitedly to each other in the aftermath of the vote in 2015 will be fashioned to a large degree by our mutual response now!

The decision in 2015 on WO will be very significant, but it is not more significant than our ability to respond to the issues as each of the options presents itself now. This is exactly why each option needs to present itself as winsomely and winningly as possible to the church at large, and the GC and the various Divisions need to spearhead the process of educating Adventist people. An ignorance of other perspectives, other than that which we currently embrace, will only breed further ignorance, contempt, suspicion, conspiracy theories concerning our fellow Adventists. Please God, may this not be the ultimate outcome.

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So we must let the current culture determine the veracity of Paul’s writings? Your statement leads me to believe that you don’t have much faith in Scripture, that you believe it is culturally conditioned, and that therefore we can ignore those things which our out of harmony with current cultural norms. This sounds suspiciously like the so-called “higher criticism,” which has been responsible for numerous heresies over the centuries.

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I like the tone of this letter. It’s nice.

At the same time i’m thankful for Doug’s posts and ministry. We need someone who is bold enough ,to interpret world events from these traditional SDA perspectives.

It could be a lot of EGW inpired baseless paranoia…But what if it’s not?

Doug’s ongoing Landmarks of Prophecy series is abundantly Christ centered and powerful. His name has indeed been lifted up.

I don’t think Doug Batchelor has retracted his infamous sermon. I believe it is still available. His latest book reiterates the points he makes in the sermon, so it does not seem to me that he has changed positions in any way.

He met with Group #3 for a time at TOSC, but ultimately went back to Group #1, stating that he didn’t realize what Group #3 was about when he initially caucused with them.

I agree fully with you, Phillip Brantley, that the male headship theory that he promotes diminishes Jesus in the ways that you enumerate above.

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Its interesting that we have to silence those who are pointing out the obvious compromises that many in our church are making, even as our Catholic counterparts are making similar choices. Don’t take the path of intolerance. Its vogue to get offended when people like Doug, who by the way has brought more souls to Christ than any of his detractors, point out compromise.

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Whatever your view of Doug ministry you cannot deny his passion and efforts for spreading the gospel. I know several people who have come to Christ with Doug used as the messenger. Doug’s ministry is Christ centered, but like all of us, he is not perfect and does not claim to be. We are reminded in last weeks lesson the responsibility of gospel leadership and how politics should not play a part. Lets focus on the message and not the side issues.

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who by the way has brought more souls to Christ than any of his detractors,

How could you possibly know that?

@blairrj71 Yes I agree, Doug’s ministry is absolutely Christ centered and Grace filled. I am blessed continually by his sermons, online, here in Japan.

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It’s a current fad to be “offended” when something cuts to the bone. Actually, it’s probably not a current trend, it’s just part of human nature. Rather than take offence/get angry etc when something cuts to the bone, may I suggest that those offended rather examine themselves to see whether in fact that statement cut to the bone because it touched on something that we are holding on to that is not in accordance with God’s ways, but which we hold on to of whatever reason, and it is a manifestation of the conviction of the Spirit. It should encourage us to examine the issue and to examine ourselves, and possibly reevaluate our own position on the matter.

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I believe there are groups that are agitating to have women ordained. i believe such groups have even posted posts here.

Doug is doing the same from his side. I don’t think Doug is a demagogue. He has an opinion and is going to promote it. The seminary put out a piece on this, didn’t they? Are they the only ones that have a right to speak?

I would allow each side to do as it sees fit, as this is going to happen anyway.

Doug is an influential man. Nick doesn’t like his position nor the way he promotes it. That is how I see it.

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Pr Doug is preaching what the bible says. Ithere is no instance of women ordination in the bible and various verses in the bible clearly point to a male headship in the church.God loves every one . However there is clear responsibilities for every one .just like the priest hood was given to the house of Aaron in the Old Testament We read about the male headship through Paul’s letters and other instances in the New Testament . In matters pertaining to the church we are to look at what God wants and not promote our personal interests . I completely disagree with this article which tells that Pr Doug has to take in to account all the believers . He should take in to account what the bible teaches and what the truth is however unpopular the truth is . If seventh day Adventists are going to compromise , are we going to compromise on key issues like sabbath at a later point ?

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It is amazing to me that we look at women ordination as a “them against us” kind of platform, with someone winning and someone losing. This is what Pastor Miller is sharing in his post and his concern that Pastor Doug is setting up those who buy into a “them against us” position is setting up those individuals to struggle with the results. No matter which side “wins” there is still the “losing” side. This is hurtful and better that people are asked to pray God’s Will in these matters than to try to rally church members around the topic at hand. The more we debate as church members the harder it will be when the decision is handed down in 2015.

My biggest concern is NOT if women will be ordained but how our whole church’s focus is off what we are really all about. Are we not to preach Jesus and Him crucified? Are we not to lift up a Savior to those who are hurting all around us? Are we not asked to carry the character of Christ in all our dealings? Is our church members and leaders so involved with debating what is right/wrong about women’s ordination that we are losing sight of our God given job? Thats what worries me and I have refused to debate anyone on this. I know our leaders have to decide but let them decide and be done with it. Let’s not promote or talk down one side or the other, that way life after the decision can be one of unitedly sharing the joyful message of our Jesus who loves us all (male and female).

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You didn’t, eh?
Didn’t Bachelor support Laurel Damstegt’s openly demonizing presentation in Fresno?
And you saw no demonizing, uh?

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