Perspective: Stephen Bohr Quotes Ellen White Selectively

Stephen Bohr recently spoke at a symposium on women's ordination in Bakersfield, California. I cannot offer a full critique. However, I can make a few observations. First of all, I found Mr. Bohr’s arguments unconvincing. Certainly, his body language seemed to indicate that, if he could not convince me, as his listener, he would like to force the issue. At other times, when apparently satisfied that people were finding him very convincing, he seemed to gloat.  At times I felt that the lack of logic was being supplied by sheer persistence, that I was being beat into submission by endless repetition.

I should say that Mr. Bohr was successful in making one point against his critics. He established that there can be other heads (or leaders) under Christ, the one Head of the church. Having gained this seeming advantage, Mr. Bohr spent a great deal of time “rubbing it in.” Yet, in my view, he failed to establish that those leaders must be male. He read quote after quote after quote, emphasizing what he alleged to be gender-specific language. To me it seemed like an endless repeat of the “husband of one wife” fallacy. That is, he was making a point which the inspired writer never intended to make, in an approach which could only be convincing to those who (at least implicitly) believe in verbal inspiration (i.e. to fundamentalists). I think we all know what Ellen White had to say about that.

“It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man’s words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts...” {YRP 225.5}

From this I can see that the mere supposition, on the part of an inspired writer, that a leader will be male, falls far short of being a directive to that effect, even in those limited instances where the language truly is gender specific. (Notice that the inspired writer, in the above quotation, is called “the man himself.” Yet we have to know that Ellen White was including herself in this.)

Now let’s take a brief look at a few details in Mr. Bohr’s presentation. His entire thesis hangs on establishing:
1. That Christ was subservient to the Father prior to the incarnation, and
2. That Eve was subservient to Adam prior to the fall of mankind.

In order to establish the first of these points, Mr. Bohr cites 1 Corinthians 11:3, as well as a passage from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 36. The Bible text itself merely states that the head of Christ is God. It says nothing about their relationship prior to the incarnation. Thus we see that Mr. Bohr’s first assertion stands or falls on the Ellen White quotation alone.

Now, personally, I believe that Ellen White exercised the prophetic gift in the highest sense. I do not believe that she was somehow less inspired, or less authoritative, than the Bible writers themselves. However, I do understand that the “testimonies,” as her writings were called, were given for a different purpose than were the Scriptures – I see that their glory is a mere reflection of the glory of the Bible, as the moon reflects the sun. They were never intended to be canonical, and we are not to adopt any doctrinal position without Scriptural support. We are “sola scriptura” Protestants, after all. So Mr. Bohr’s thesis is already in trouble.

Then, when we look at Patriarchs and Prophets itself, we find that the information shared there was given to the angels by God the Father in order to “set forth the true position of His Son and show the relation He sustained to all created beings.” In other words, it was about the relationship between the Son and His created beings, not about the relationship between the Father and the Son. It is apparent to me, from the context, that the latter question would have been nobody’s business, as the Father and Son shared the throne. Therefore, Mr. Bohr fails to establish his first point.

In order to establish that Eve was subservient to Adam before the fall, Mr. Bohr commits a similar error. He quotes Ellen White numerous times, showing that Adam was placed over the “human family.” He seems to be hoping that his listeners will infer, from this, that Adam was also placed over Eve, rather than her standing by Adam’s side as his equal (as a co-regent). But this is where things really get interesting. Can it be that Mr. Bohr is unaware of the following statements from Patriarchs and Prophets?

Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal…” {PP 46.2}

In the creation God had made her the equal of Adam. Had they remained obedient to God—in harmony with His great law of love—they would ever have been in harmony with each other; but sin had brought discord, and now their union could be maintained and harmony preserved only by submission on the part of the one or the other. Eve had been the first in transgression; and she had fallen into temptation by separating from her companion, contrary to the divine direction. It was by her solicitation that Adam sinned, and she was now placed in subjection to her husband.” {PP 58.3}

Could language be any plainer than that? Ellen White, whom Mr. Bohr so frequently quotes for his own purposes, clearly tells us that the subjection of Eve to Adam was in consequence of sin, and took place only after the fall. Furthermore, she strongly suggests that God’s choice to make Eve subservient, rather than Adam, is not due to any inherent differences between the two. Someone has to submit, so it might as well be the one who transgressed first.

Mr. Bohr is correct in stating that Paul made something of the fact that the man was made first, and that the woman was taken from the man. However, when it comes to finding just what Paul was making of these facts, Mr. Bohr cites a “context” which is nowhere apparent to me. He even suggests a “context” in which Paul is talking about teaching with “full ecclesiastical authority,” so that women can still teach Sabbath School. Aside from the total lack of support for this, it raises a very serious question. If women are allowed to teach us the Scriptures, on which we Protestants say the authority of the church is based, then just what more are men allowed to do, beyond that, with their “full ecclesiastical authority?” To my ear, this strongly suggests some kind of papal doctrine. Maybe Mr. Bohr doesn’t realize that the papacy attempts to place far more than just “one man” between Christ and the believer.

 

Ronald G. White is a former preacher's kid who writes from Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.
 


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6869
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leave it to a canadian, or at least a canadian resident, to get things right, and explain it succinctly…my only issue with ronald’s fine piece is his contention that we are sola scriptura protestants, when sola scriptura, while in our fundamentals, is clearly not a biblical phrase or principle…

it is clear that the apostolic church, our immediate spiritual predecessors, regarded the gift of prophecy as their guide, and that they placed that gift on an equal authoritative footing with the old testament, 2 peter 1:19-21, which they regarded as a prior manifestation of prophecy…if we accept that the testimony of jesus is the gift of prophecy, revelation 19:10, we see that satanic strategy in the past has assumed the form of persecution against knowledge obtained through that source, revelation 1:9, which may be one reason it was prized so highly, 1 corinthians 1:6…but even in the old testament, we see the understanding that ascertaining the divine will involves consulting the written standard and the pronouncements of prophets outside of that standard, isaiah 8:20…certainly the history of the jews in christ’s day shows what adherence to the bible outside the testimony of an extra-biblical prophet accomplishes…

Wikipedia defines Sola Scriptura, which is the SDA position, as follows.

Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, “by Scripture alone”) is the Protestant Christian doctrine that the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. Sola scriptura
does not deny that other authorities govern Christian life and
devotion, but sees them all as subordinate to and corrected by the
written word of God.

From an SDA perspective, I might change “corrected by” to “tested by,” but I think it’s a pretty good fit overall. The Bible is our only creed.

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Keep it simple. Take the bible as God has given it. The Holy Spirit leads us to say what must I do to be saved. If your not saying that your not saying anything important.

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If you “pick and choose” you can make the Bible and/or SOP support just about anything. It is extremely important to be so familiar with God’s Word (through human beings) that you can find the everlasting principles and separate them from the examples.

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to use an author selectively is proper as long as it is used in correct context. here is the abuse. the classic is Judas when out and hung himself, go thou and do likewise. the entire conference was a last ditch effort that fell wide of the mark. Tom Z

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Tom
There are LOTS of SDAs who allow others to study for them, to digest words on a page, and to expound on what is written. LOTS of SDAs who will take these verbal messages and base their Beliefs on them.
The same in the context of Doug and Stephen.
I saw a lot of heads bobbing “Yes” in the audience shots.
We are no longer having a Berean mentality in the church, going home and searching to see if those things are so.
If the person is approved by the Church, like Doug, Stephen, and others are, then it is assumed that what they say is So, is True, is Adventist Thinking.

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If the author took some time to listen to more than one of Pastor Bohr’s sermons, he would find that Pastor Bohr HAS quoted - many times - the above mentioned excerpts from Patriarchs and Prophets. Go to You Tube, listen to his sermons on Women’s Ordination and see for yourself. You never know, you might learn something.

Those quotations directly and unmistakably contradict Mr. Bohr’s contention that Eve was subordinated to Adam before the fall of man, showing conclusively that he is in error on that point.

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No, it means having a former father. Do you still have yours?

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If women were meant to be subservient, why did the denomination allow a woman to be president of Loma Linda University for years? Why does it allow a woman to be president of Pacific Union College and Union College? No, I don’t see that as different. I don’t accept having one argument used against ordaining women to the ministry but not applying to women in other headship roles. Thus I reject Bohr’s thesis because I find him to be highly inconsistent.

My wife and I were ordained as elders at the same time 30 years ago, BTW. We are equals as EGW said God meant us to be. And God has blessed us immensely since then. Just saying.

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The fact remains that Pr Bohr has and does use the PP quotes stated above and to say that he ignores them or leaves them out is incorrect and disrespectful to the speaker.

Sorry, friend, but he left them out of this presentation. Furthermore, if he were to use them anywhere, in accordance with their plain and unmistakable meaning, he would have to change his position on Adam and Eve and give up the whole male headship theory. Now THAT would earn my respect.

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Yes, what was that quote about being thinkers and not mere reflectors. Sounds like there were a lot of sincere people in Bakersfield who have forgotten this inspired counsel. Bohr was tickling their ears with something that sounded piously good to them, and they just accepted it without question. For a Christian, that behavior is dangerous and can easily led to deception.

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Yes, let’s follow the Berean example in examining those quotes by Ellen G. White:

God Himself gave Adam a companion. He provided “an help meet for him”—a helper corresponding to him—one who was fitted to be his companion, and who could be one with him in love and sympathy. Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him.

As you can see the first quotes ends with, “to be loved and protected by him.” Let us ask ourselves, what did Eve need to be protected from in the garden of Eden? Does Adam’s protection place him in a role of responsibility regarding Eve? Is this referring to protection prefall? or postfall? I am not going to answer all of these questions but they are valid questions that do need answering.

Did she need protection from temptation? Most certainly she did otherwise she would not have chosen to eat the fruit that satan offered to her. Would you say that Adam had a spiritual role in protecting Eve in the Garden? I think you could very well argue that point. It is hard to imagine that she would need protection from anything that God created during the 7 days of creation but rather that which he created before which had chosen to sin, Lucifer. Would Adam have fallen the same way if he had been singled out by satan…we don’t know because it didn’t happen that way. But we do know Adam was charged with being her protector pre-fall. We can all draw our own conclusions on the meaning of that, you can see where my conclusions lie.

As the second quote addresses post-fall subjection I don’t feel I need to expound on that.

Is it not possible for us to be created equal and also have different roles? How literal are we going to get with non-inferior and equal. If I become overly literal then Adam and Eve must have been the same height…but they weren’t…because it isn’t to be interpreted in that way. Let me take it a step further, they were created equal so Adam must have been able to bear children…wait…too literal again. Equality and non-inferiority do not always apply to all aspects.

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My friend, that second quote, which you chose not to address, says: “… she was now placed in subjection to her husband.” I don’t know what that means to you, but to me it means that she was NOT placed in subjection to her husband earlier. In fact, the rest of the passage explains why the conditions brought on by the fall of man would necessitate this subjection, and why it had not been necessary before the fall.

Personally, I find this kind of plain language and explanation far more convincing than any speculative questions or doubtful inferences to the contrary.

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The second quote which I did not address pertains to the maintenance and harmony of their marriage union. She was placed in subjection to preserve their marriage relationship, the immediate context makes that clear. This quote says nothing about their roles pre-fall. What it does say is that they had perfect harmony before sin entered in to the world. They had perfect harmony in their unique roles. I find plain language and explanation convincing as well. Unfortunately, the plain language in this quote adds nothing to the description of their roles pre-fall, while the first quote most certainly does. Adam was charged with protecting Eve. Adam was given a role that differed from his wife. Let’s not exclude critical thinking from our thought process in considering these matters.

This quote goes on to say, that by separating from Adam she was acting contrary to divine direction. She separated from the protective influence of her husband. I see roles in place here that played an influence pre-fall.

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“This quote says nothing about their roles pre-fall.” That is not true, my friend. It clearly says that neither Adam nor Eve was placed in subjection to the other pre-fall. So, whatever one may wish to suppose or infer in regard to their relationship pre-fall – or even what is plainly written, such as Adam’s playing a protective role – it must NOT be interpreted to include Eve’s being “in subjection” to Adam. Therefore, if Adam was placed at the head of the human race, Eve was placed there with him as an equal, “at his side.”

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The Creation account specifies that both male & female were equally created a reflection of God’s image. The Creation mandate is the “role” of both: equal rule & filling of the earth. Procreation involves a biological function peculiar to each; the text does not extrapolate any role distinctions from such function. Speculation otherwise is based on reading post-Fall back into pre-Fall.

Genesis 1:26-28
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

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Is it possible to be perfect, have unique roles and choose to be in subjection to one another? [1Co 15:28 KJV] 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

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