Perspective: Even The General Conference in Session Doesn't Believe all 28 Fundamental Beliefs

Do you have to believe all 28 Fundamental Beliefs in order to be an Adventist? This is a common question pastors are asked. If you were to talk to most Adventists, they would admit that there is at least one fundamental belief they are uncomfortable with. My response to this question has always been three-fold:

1. If you want to be considered an Adventist, who I am to tell you that you aren’t? If you find the Adventist church provides you meaningful worship, fellowship, and service experiences please stay.

2. Please don’t aggressively promote your views and try to win over “converts” to your position. I’m fine with you expressing your opinion in discussions and conversation with others but please do it in a respectful way knowing the tension it will bring.

3. The church believes in progressive revelation and someday what you believe might actually become doctrine.

With the recent vote to not allow divisions to decide on ordaining women, I now have a fourth response:

4. Even the General Conference in Session doesn’t believe all 28 Fundamental Beliefs.

Not ordaining a pastor, simply on the basis of their gender, is a clear violation of Fundamental Belief #14, “Unity in the Body of Christ.” This comes through clearly in the summary paragraph of the belief:

“The church is one body with many members, called from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one Fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation. Through the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures we share the same faith and hope, and reach out in one witness to all. This unity has its source in the oneness of the triune God, who has adopted us as His children.”

This paragraph summary clearly states that distinctions, including gender, should not be divisive among us and that all of us are “equal in Christ.” Not ordaining women is a glaring violation of this belief.

As we read the opening paragraphs of the belief, we find it reflecting on how Jesus agonized over the state of his disciples, worried that they were more concerned about positions of power than serving others. We read:

“Jesus is Love. It was His sympathy that kept the masses following Him. Not understanding this unselfish love, His disciples were filled with strong prejudices toward non-Jews, women, "sinners," and the poor, which blinded them to the all encompassing love of Christ even toward these detested ones. When the disciples found Him conversing with a Samaritan woman of ill-repute, they had not yet learned that the fields, ripe for harvest, include grain of all varieties, ready to be reaped.

But Christ could not be swayed by tradition, public opinion, or even family control. His irrepressible love reached down and restored broken humanity. Such love, which would set them apart from the careless public, would be the evidence of being true disciples. As He loved, they were to love. The world would forever be able to distinguish Christians—not because of their profession, but because of the revelation of Christ's love in them (cf. John 13;34, 35).”

The statement tells us that prejudice comes from not understanding God’s “unselfish love.” It challenges us by telling us that if we are true disciples of Jesus, we will love as he loves and break down the selfish barriers and prejudices we previously held.

Later, the belief reflects on the fact that we are united into “one body” by the Holy Spirit and states:

“Calling them from every nationality and race, the Holy Spirit baptizes people into one body—the body of Christ, the church. As they grow into Christ cultural differences are no longer divisive. The Holy Spirit breaks down barriers between high and low, rich and poor, male and female. Realizing that in God's sight they are all equal, they hold one another in esteem.”

The belief also reflects on how far this unity extends. Does it mean that it removes all diversity in the body of Christ? It states:

“God's church, then, ought to reveal a unity of feeling, thought, and action. Does this mean that members should have identical feelings, thoughts, and actions? Does Biblical unity imply uniformity?

Biblical unity does not mean uniformity. The Biblical metaphor of the human body demonstrates that the church's unity exists in diversity.”

At the General Conference Session, there was lots of talk about the importance of the Holy Spirit being part of our lives and church. This belief clearly states that when the Holy Spirit is present, all barriers, including gender are broken down. Also, all the talk and arguments against a “yes” vote for the sake of unity were misguided because the church teaches “unity in diversity.”

The concept of male headship is soon debunked as well when we read:

“So while there are different temperaments in the church, all work under one Head. While there are many gifts, there is but one Spirit. Though the gifts differ, there is harmonious action. "It is the same God who works all in all" (1 Cor. 12:6).”

This General Conference Session featured lots of talk about the importance of mission, and framed the discussion of ordination as a distraction. However, the belief states that central to being united for mission is the Spirit removing all prejudices from our hearts. It reads:

“As the Spirit enters believers, He causes them to transcend human prejudices of culture, race, sex, color, nationality, and status (see Gal. 3:26-28). He accomplishes this by bringing Christ within the heart. Those whom He inhabits will focus on Jesus, not themselves. Their union with Christ establishes the bond of unity among themselves—the fruit of the indwelling Spirit.

They will then minimize their differences and unite in mission to glorify Jesus.”

There is no doubt—the refusal to ordain anyone to pastoral ministry solely on the basis of gender is a clear violation of Fundamental Belief #14.

So, when even the highest governing body of the Adventist church itself doesn’t believe all 28 Fundamental Beliefs, I think it’s safe for individual members to remain in good and regular standing when they disagree with them as well.

As disappointing as the vote was at the General Conference Session, I’m thankful to know that even the General Conference in Session is willing to admit it doesn’t believe all 28 Fundamental Beliefs, just like the rest of us.

Trevan Osborn is an associate pastor at the Azure Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church in Grand Terrace, California.

Photo Credit: James Bokovoy/NAD

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Something that both sides need to keep in mind, and that even Spectrum sometimes allows it’s authors to forget. So good on you for making that point.

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Some appear to forget that gender is the only distinction between human beings that traces itself to the hand of the Creator in a sinless world (Gen. 1:27). No other distinction between human beings—social, economic, racial—was designed by God prior to the age of sin.

One is neither “prejudiced” nor engaged in the building of “barriers” when God’s original roles of headship and willing submission are practiced within the family or the fellowship of faith (I Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-25; I Tim. 2:12-13). The roles of men and women as outlined in these passages are of equal importance. Neither a father nor a mother is greater or lesser in importance within the family unit, and the same holds true for men and women in the church. But their roles in both settings are nevertheless different.

The church’s action on July 8 was therefore in no way contradictory to Fundamental Belief No. 14, as the vote against women’s ordination in no way embraces notions of inferiority or lesser importance for anyone. Different roles do not mean greater or lesser value.


Thank you for explaining this so eloquently and with respect. I truly admire your ability to do so.


Lets give peace a chance and imagine a world with no religion, some dude said this a few years ago, and i believe that what he was saying is" regarding the day of the coming of our Lord, there will be a lot of surprises on that day😟


I have contradictory thoughts here. To be clear, I support women’s ordination. Having said that:

The author states: “Please don’t aggressively promote your views or try to win over “converts” to your position.” Then he proceeds to do exactly that with his comments that non-ordination of women is a clear violation of Fundamental Belief #14. While agree about women’s ordination, that doesn’t mean that those who disagree are automatically in error. They simply interpret differently. The same with the concept of headship.

In response to Kevin Paulson who points out that in his view, headship is biblical and that gender was in fact determined by God. I would argue that just because God made man and woman separately does not mean he made women to be subservient (I know you’ll argue not subservient, just different roles). I do not believe that “separate but equal” is in fact equal. And I do believe that God has no problem with women ministering including to men. When my wife counsels me, I would do well to listen and a primary function of leading is “ministering” something that in general women are at least as good at (and probably better at) than men.

Lastly, for quite a few years I’ve made the tongue-in-cheek comment that “I don’t think I’m a very good Adventist, but that’s okay, I’m not trying to be, I’m trying to become the best follower of Jesus I can be.”. I have at times wondered if I’m a fit for this denomination. I often feel I no longer am (or at least not the rigid denomination I grew up in). However, when I look at other Christian traditions, it’s clear to me that I am a Seventh-day Adventist much more than any of these other traditions.

I’m just no longer interested in calling Catholics followers of the Anti-Christ (some of the most dedicated Christians I know are Catholics), I don’t worry about how to calculate the years in Daniel. I’m more flexible in how I keep the Sabbath than how I was raised (don’t play in the water until after the Sabbath!!!). I believe that other Christians are going to heaven and I’m not opposed to the idea that God has a plan for those who grew up, learned and died in other non-Christian faith traditions. I look to love my fellow humans rather than condemn them first, even if I don’t understand them or their lifestyle, but I’m not interested in judging them. And frankly I don’t care if the world was made in 6 days or 6 billion years - I still believe in a great God who loves me far beyond what I deserve.

GC delegates might not think I should be an Adventist, but fortunately they don’t get to decide for me.


I have come to understand that there are not just two ‘sides’ to a topic. There are as many points of view as there are people. People may gravitate to a stated POV on a topic, but in reality each person’s thinking about any topic will always be subtly different than the next person’s.


Trevan thank you! I appreciate your viewpoint very much!


It is important to remind ourselves, and this is where your analysis tends toward factual incorrectness, that the Seventh-day Adventist Church, apparently under the influence of the Holy Spirit, has decided unequivocally that women may serve as pastors and that they may be licensed as such. This point has been repeatedly, deliberately omitted from the discussion, but the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook attests to the fact that officially, the Seventh-day Adventist Church holds that women may serve the role of licensed minister.

The fact that the church continues to allow women to serve as ministers while insist upon giving them inferior credentials belies the Church’s discrimination against women, ergo assigning a lesser value on the women who minister than the men who minister.


the one thing san antonio has established is that the general conference is no longer the voice of god some of us thought it was at one time…it’s as rife with politics as anything else in this world…


Yes but what I meant was those for it and those against it.

That may have been, according to the narrative in Genesis, the only distinction we could see. We don’t know what the differences were, according to that narrative, otherwise. Would Genesis be telling us that what others see is who we are? And no where does that narrative tell us what Eve looked like. Only that she was a woman. If one is going to be literal about this, that opens the category of “woman” wide open. One could hardly build a politic on a notion that was not phenomenologically evident.


That’s not being aggressive, merely stating the facts in a courteous, polite way.


Yes, exactly, this is the strange theological quandary that the church finds itself in. They say God calls women to be ministers, but this same God would be unhappy if the church performed the service that acknowledges he has called them to ministry.

So God wants certain women to actually do the work of pastoring but just not get the formal recognition?

It’s like Ms. Nebblett at the GC saying she is proud to serve as GYC leader but doesn’t want ordaination. She is leading lots of men spiritually in that position which is God’s plan for her, but she thinks it is not God’s plan for her to simply have that plan acknowledged?

To me, it makes more sense to say women cannot serve as spiritual leaders period, rather than say they can, but it can’t be acknowledged formally. Why would that part bother God?


The vote for gender discrimination totally discounts the Priesthood of all Believers and imposes a restraint upon the Holy Spirit for empowering women to receive gifts and authorization to preach. It is a blatantly anti-Biblical move by the church to limit the scope, reach, and penetration of the Gospel. It is a troubling move away from Gospel evangelizing and the mission of the Church.


I think you mean he’s merely stating his opinion or perspective. They’re not facts.


But then we go into terms such as licensed minister, pastor, or just minister?

Can someone please explain what each mean? Because it seems that sometimes they are used interchangeably. And it can get confusing. :confused:

It’s more than that. The author purposely used constructions aimed to incite, evident in the very title. This goes beyond stating an opinion to the level of purposely mis-stating others opinions in order to get a rise out of them or ridicule them–what is commonly referred to as “trolling,” and forbidden in this forum. It is interesting to note the tenor of the recent articles here: This one contains obvious trolling, another contained an ad-hominem attack (below)

A third claimed that people with a certain theological perspective tear that church apart (below)

All of these are things that are prohibited here on the forum, but Spectrum is going to have an increasingly difficult time policing the comments when it fails to hold its articles to the same standard.


Totally agree with your analysis. I think I said so too somewhere but I’ve written so much I can’t remember. Lol

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We who have been given the gift of being married understand this important concept. @kevindpaulson and those who are yet to be married could have their worldview skewed to being “entitled.”

I went through five years of clinical training in how to listen actively. I would rather listen attentively in hopes of ministering to those who need to have an empathic listener. There are way too many pontiffs already.