North German Union Requests GC Rescind the Document Passed at Annual Council 2018


(Spectrumbot) #1

On Sunday, April 14, 2019, the Executive Committee of the North German Union of Seventh-day Adventists unanimously passed two motions which will be forwarded to General Conference leadership, with the request they be voted on at the 2019 Annual Council in October. The first motion requests that the document “Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions” which was passed at Annual Council in October 2018 be rescinded. The second motion requests that unions be granted more self-determination.

An English translation of the motions is provided below (translated to English via DeepL.com and Google Translate):

Motions for Proposal to the GC

1. Request for withdrawal of the adopted documents

At its meeting in 2019, the Executive Committee of the GC will decide to withdraw the document “Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions.”

Reason:

• The Working Policy (WP) has other guidelines that are sufficient to ensure that the responsible bodies can intervene in cases of problems or controversy.

• The document triggers conflicts at the community level of our church,

• it promotes a spirit of mistrust, criticism and evaluation,

• it weakens the identification of many church members with the worldwide Church which damages the whole body.

2. Request for more Union self-determination

The Executive Committee of the GC commissions the World Church Leadership to develop guidelines that allow the Unions to autonomously decide and implement the issues and options for action which are of great importance for the internal strength and mission of their territories.

3. Opinion on the understanding of unity

Seventh-day Adventists in Germany are part of the worldwide Church of Seventh-day Adventists and are associated with it in their faith in Jesus Christ and in the doctrines.

• The unity of the Church is worked and guaranteed by Jesus alone. (John 17:20-23) The quality of this unity is unmistakable: “As you, Father, are in me and I in you, so also they shall be in us...”

• Unity is first and foremost an undeserved gift that is founded in God alone. It is not the result of human effort, but it is given to us by God because Jesus asks the Father for it.

• The believer realizes unity directly and realistically in the local church. Here he comes to faith and is baptized. This church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:3-6) and at the same time part of the whole body that we form as a worldwide church. It is held together by the Spirit with the confession of the Lord, baptism, hope and faith.

• Unity explicitly includes diversity and thus distinguishes itself from uniformity. According to 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, unity and diversity are related to each other because the Spirit has different gifts in store.

• Unity always stands in a fertile, lively tension with diversity. Diversity and unity are two poles that define the field of power in our communities and must therefore always be safeguarded: Unity is only biblical if it includes diversity in itself, and diversity is only biblical when it’s grounded in unity. As Adventists we have all received one Holy Spirit, and that one Spirit gives us a variety of gifts and ministries. We all have one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who connects us through the unity of his body. We all have a single God, the Father of Jesus Christ, and this one God is the creator of all human beings in an unmanageable Diversity, which all together form one humanity as God’s counterpart. God combines in himself unity and diversity: He is the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

• We encounter this diversity in the worldwide Adventist church. We experience it as challenging through cultural imprints, other theological emphases, liturgies, legal questions. Nevertheless, the Kingdom of God is built in this diversity by calling people to follow Jesus. Therefore, we may withhold human rules or guidelines, as they are always limited.

• Unity presupposes that there is diversity. For this reason, unity necessarily includes talking about differences. An argument in the categories of “right” and “wrong” polarizes more than it contributes to understanding diversity.

• In the history of our free church there have been and still are examples of dominance and paternalism over other styles of worship and individual practices of faith. Without regard to cultural differences, injuries have arisen which we regret and ask God for healing.

• Paul's admonition from Ephesians 4 is also groundbreaking here, namely that unity in the Spirit and the variety of gifts can only be lived in humility, meekness, patience and love.

The official document in German is provided here:

North German Union President Pastor Johannes Naether also released a video on YouTube with additional comments concerning the vote (in German):

Alisa Williams is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9551

(Andreas Bochmann) #2

Congratulations to SPECTRUM on their quick reporting and translation. As far as I am aware there is no official translation by the North German Union yet.

Their position is admirable - though a bit of the kind: “We don’t have a chance. Let’s use it.” I believe it will make the issue at hand clearer (and a bit like the needle to the pole…) . What I would ask the brethren is, whether they have considered what ought to happen, should the motion be defeated…


#3

Half the world church will applaud these requests. Our German brothers and sisters are to be congratulated. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will open the ears, minds and hearts of the GC brethren (not too many sisters involved there), who appear not to understand the quality of unity that is at work in the church. Any attempt from the top to impose uniformity is doomed to fail as so much unity in diversity exists at more local levels. It’s not good for the health of the church. It’s an impediment to present truth. It’s not a solution. It’s just a delaying tactic. God wants the church to move forward. We’ve been stumbling along looking backwards for too long.


(George Tichy) #4

Congratulations again to the Germans. It’s not the first time they do the right thing!
I’m curious to see the GC’s reaction. What kind of maneuver will they choose to neutralize the idea proposed by the Germans?


(Steve Mga) #5

What a GREAT study [in just a few words] of the relationship of Unity AND
Diversity as we find told in the New Testament Gospels [when Jesus said it was
OK for those not of His group to baptize in His name and call to repentance], when
James, Peter, Paul, others voted to allow differences between Jewish and Gentile
believers, and Paul’s study various places on Diverse Gifts of the Spirit in the church
for building up the Body of Christ [not based on body parts].
Yes, there is allowances for Diversity in Unity throughout the Bible from Genesis to
Revelation.
However, in the madness of wanting FULL CONTROL from the TOP DOWN to the
local level in each local church in the wide world, a few out of over 18 million voted
in 2018 for these Documents. Documents that would control over 18 million believers
in the Kingdom of GOD [not kingdom of “church”]
When Jesus said “other sheep have I”, He was saying that there were more God
worshipers in the world than in just the Jewish Nation, relations to Abraham. So
does Jesus have more “sheep” than just those in the SDA church.
Diversity in the “church” allows for contact and socialization with those “other sheep”.


(George Tichy) #6

Steve,
The math is actually,
“over 18 million” - “a few Spectrumites” = a few less than over 18 million
:rofl:


(Thomas J Zwemer) #7

The church is in the midst of a conflict between institutionalism and Christianity. It has always been so. but today the conflict is open and life treating for the institution. Sad that gender is the wedge. Thank God that salvation is not institutionally based.


(George Tichy) #8

I believe that nowadays the percentage of members who worship the “institution” has dropped. Now many members dare not to worship the Church… aka “couldn’t care less about the institution.”
What do you think?


(Stephen Terry) #9

This document does nothing more than continue to assert the reason unions were created in the first place. In order to recognize this “elephant in the room,” the GC would have to accept limitations to its power inherent in such an acceptance. Thus far they seem unwilling to accept such limitations, preferring instead to move toward a more Roman Catholic “rule from the top” position. It begs the question in interpreting prophecy, is this how America makes an image to the beast? Is it American religion rather than American government that accomplishes that feat? Perhaps we should remember it is impossible for secular entities to apostatize by definition. That can only be done by those within the faith. We should be careful that we not act as though we have a “Get Out of Apostasy Free” card like the ancient Israelites did before their kingdom fell to Babylon. If God was powerless to prevent that apostasy, why do we think he will somehow do so simply because the building says “Seventh-day Adventist” on the front? Are we making a foray into Calvinism with its predestination theology when we assert that it is impossible for the denomination to apostasize? So many questions like these are raised by our present course of action. Apparently, based on ongoing performance, the GC sees the answer to each of those questions as more rules.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #10

Yes and no, it changes by divisions. In dollars there is dissent, in numbers there is agreement. So I see Ted’s Adventism becoming a third world enterprise. Let us see if dollars in tithe makes a difference.


(George Tichy) #11

Little they know that “their rules” are meaningless to members who repute the GC as worthless to the local churches. I am one of them.


(Elmer Cupino) #12

I believe the train has left the station on this issue. A more effective way is to educate the upcoming nomination committee for the next GC president to nominate only those who are less “anal-retentive” with their personality traits. All nominees at the minimum must be subjected to a psychological evaluation with professional psychologists the likes of Dr. George Tichy @GeorgeTichy


(Thomas J Zwemer) #13

The problem go to the very definition of church. It does not start with control or domination. It connotes rejoicing and fellowship from which service proceeds.


(Elmer Cupino) #14

Very salient point. As in family, the parents task is to introject a set of values which the children can internalize to guide them through life even in the absence of parents. The need for external control is symptom of a fundamental defect.

If church members continue to require external control throughout their spiritual life, the church has failed miserably.


(Steve Mga) #15

Let me ask this question –
In the Theology Training at the Undergraduate Level, Master of Divinity Level.
Doctorate of Divinity Level IS “anal-retentive”, obsessive-compulsive behavior
being promoted and awarded in SDA Universities?
These mental conditions destroy several behaviors. The ABILITY to look at
Scriptural reading from various perspectives, and from NEW perspectives, realities
as one becomes more Mature [because OCD PREVENTS maturation]. OCD and
“anal-retentive” PREVENTS the allowing of accepting or promoting changes of
how the Pastor looks at the community beyond the confines of the property lines,
and how the Pastor ALLOWS the community of believers attending and sitting in
HIS pews to look at the community beyond the confines of the church property lines.
OCD behaviors is ALSO FEARFUL of babies born by the community of believers
who do not measure up to HIS expectations and causes the community to ALSO
fear and reject those babies and children who do not measure up to expectations.

Probably anybody who is a member of ANY GC committee [also Division, maybe
Union] are at least Master of Theology, and many Doctor of Theology. I know
most Pastors are strongly encouraged to get their Master of Theology. So perhaps
this “anal-retentive”, OCD mind-set is pervasive through the ranks – local church
on to the Divisions.

Interferes with giving the Gospel as Jesus [before He became Christ] envisioned
the giving and promoting of the Gospel – the Kingdom of God is near, the Kingdom
of God is at hand, the Kingdom of God is within you."


(Cfowler) #16

IMO, when looking for answers as to why, in the SDA church, there is so much legalism, the OCD behavior (that you mentioned), fear, the inability to look at scripture in a different way, etc., one only needs to look to the foundation of the church…EGW and her “I was shown” writings/declarations. Pastors, teachers, even most members can’t, or won’t, venture too far from her proclamations. How can they? The prophet has spoken, and that will determine all boundaries and doctrines. It’s that simple.

Steve, do you have any ideas as to how there can be any different ways (of any real divergence) introduced in the theology training that would be different than what EGW has said?


(Steve Mga) #17

New looks? No. I am just wondering if open minds of late adolescence and early
20’s are programmed for this OCD behavior of thinking and acting when it comes
to meditating [do SDAs meditate??] on Scripture. And this affects their next 60-70
years of life.
I would have no answers except to “sneak” in reading of non-SDA Scripture lovers
once in a while. But will THAT give them a sense of Guilt?
Anyway, no, the laity are at the mercy of our Colleges and Universities to tell us
what Scripture says when we meditate on it.


(Cfowler) #18

I think minds are programmed well before late adolescence and early 20’s on many things, including meditating. Do SDA’s meditate on Scripture? I’m sure there might be a (very) few that do, but overall this would seem to be something that would be frowned upon, at best.


(Elmer Cupino) #19

Some behaviors are legitimate and some are not. When a behavior is pervasive and out of context, you normally begin to wonder. For instance, if one’s concerns are focused on a particular issue, then it could normally be a legitimate behavior. However, when one’s concerns extends out of context such as “salt and pepper” dispensers in a public cafeteria area or purchasing the rights of a vendor to sell their products such as Starbucks within a convention center, then you begin to wonder that there must be more to “it” than just doctrinal issues.


(Robert Lindbeck) #20

Dare I say that those pushing the “I was shown…” line need to keep reading EGW books. I suggest the book Counsels to Writers and Editors until they find this…

Page 35: There’s no excuse for anyone taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for years is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. If the pillars of our faith will not stand investigation, it’s time we knew it.

Page 37: We have many lessons to learn and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think they’ll never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion will be disappointed.”

Page 38: The rebuke of the Lord will be upon those who would be guardians of the doctrine, who would bar the way that greater light shall not come to the people. A great work is to be done, and God sees that our leading men have need of greater light, that they may unite harmoniously, with the messengers.

Page 39: The fact that there’s no controversy or agitation among us as a people should not be regarded as conclusive evidence that God’s people are holding fast to sound doctrines. Where no new questions are started by investigation of the Scriptures, where no difference of opinion arises, there will be many now who, as in ancient times, will worship they know not what.

IMHO, the two most important questions in the English language are Why? and Why not? We cannot blindly accept what is given but must be convinced in our own minds (Rom 14:5).