Reflections on Annual Council

(Steve Mga) #62

Mr. Nkosi –
It will be OK for you to stop and reflect.
HOWEVER, while you take a “break” others are making advancements in the
EMANCIPATION of Seventh day Adventist women. The ALLOWING of Women
to enlist and serve God equally as well as men.
As Rudyard Kipling said one time – Truth is usually on the Cross. However, there
are times when Truth becomes resurrected and is liberated from the tomb.

(George Tichy) #63

It may be very helpful to include in your reflections that discrimination is a defect of character. when discrimination is detected within a religious context it may also indicate a a flaw in spirituality.

The problem can be treated with professional therapy, but discriminators usually will not seek help. They think they know better than any other professional.

(Gerald du Preez) #64

Dr Webster. An excellent article from the church in the heterogeneous South.

Wish the leaders in the SID and the Unions in the SID would read your reflections with an open mind.

Unfortunately, a pig-flying session is not on the horizon. . .

(reliquum) #65

Thanks for clarification, i was sincerely wondering where your love and grace infused posts were coming from!

(Denver Fletcher) #66


Elder Wilson called upon church members to watch their pastors and call them to account for faulty theology and to keep an eye on our Colleges and Universities and to speak out against any deviant teachings. Thus was inaugurated an era of suspicion and distrust in the administration of our church.


I find this kind of statement difficult to accept for a number of reasons. Before I get into those, let me say that I have no firm opinion on the matter of women’s ordination per se. I do have some strong opinions on the worldly nature of the arguments, pro and con, that have been made about women’s ordination in our church, and time and space may permit me to get to those in due course. Or maybe not. But I don’t believe there is any biblical warrant for the issue being one of salvific significance; i.e. your opinion on it won’t get you into heaven and it won’t keep you out of heaven. Not necessarily.

(it is always possible to have an opinion based on rebellious reasoning. It’s not the opinion that will keep you out of heaven but the rebellion will.)

My first objection is that the statement is strongly prejudicial. It is in fact the responsibility of the congregation to hold our “leaders” to account, to hold them to a strictly biblical standard of behaviour, of theology, of demeanour, and of policy.

We have, in the main, failed in this duty. For a very long time.

If that assessment is accurate, then we bear the responsibility for the current state of our leadership. Not that the leaders who have taken personal advantage of our negligence are innocent, but our sin is no less than theirs. Before we attempt microscopic eye surgery on Mr Wilson we might be better served removing the self-fitted blinders from our own eyes.

I’m opposed to the compliance committee concept because I see it not as primarily dictatorial (although it is) but I see it another abdication of responsibility. If the church hires people - say professors in our universities - to teach Adventist youth the distinctive doctrines of our church then it is a simple matter of contract law to relieve them of their position when they fail to do so. The teaching of evolution in our colleges and universities is a stark case in point. It requires no investigation, no committee meetings, to see that this is a flagrant breach of contract with our church. But since (as above) we have let our conference offices become in many ways just another bureaucracy, they behave as bureaucrats always have and seek to exercise power without responsibility. The compliance committees are an attempt to do this; the “leaders” want to be rulers but not be responsible for the decisions they impose on us. Like Adam and Eve before them, they want to be able to say “It’s not my fault!

We should, we must, deny them this opportunity. Almost nothing could be more corrosive of the moral integrity of the “back office” of the church than to let it exercise power without responsibility. But this is, sadly, what we the congregation have done, for many years.

In the matter of women’s ordination, a great proportion of the controversy rests on this negligence. By it we have let the male pastors in our church build a hierarchy entirely reserved to themselves. It is a hierarchy of status and power and privilege, it is a hierarchy of shepherds without sheep. I may be intellectually barefoot, being but a small-town boy, but when I see a man calling himself a shepherd and having no sheep, I am inclined to disbelieve him. In the same way when I see a professing Christian claiming that the law is written on his heart, but he not only breaks the law but teaches others that having it written on your heart means you are free of its strictures, I am inclined to disbelieve the claim.

it is long past the time that the lay people of the Seventh Day Adventist church take up the responsibility to run our church, to whip the power brokers from the church if necessary, and insist that we will not tolerate a moment longer a dictatorship of credentialed shepherds without sheep.

Until we do so, we will be plagued by people who claim to be representing “all women”, contending for the brass ring of pastor-hood, advocating in the same self-interested manner for policy changes that will reserve for them and people like them places in this same system of status, power, and privilege. If, under the current design, women’s ordination is accepted by the worldwide church it is only a matter of time until 52% of pastoral positions are reserved for women and we will have completely abandoned any pretense of ordination being the recognition of God’s calling and be allocating such positions on the basis of identity politics. In other words, if it is not clear, we will be converted to the standards of the world, in direct opposition to our God-given duty, which is to convert the world to His standards.

I weep when I read arguments on this matter which refer stridently to the standards of the culture in which we live as the guiding principle of our decision-making. Since this controversy became so wide-spread I have not seen a single argument that contends that a woman is as capable as a man (she is, no doubt) of giving her life to save one sheep. I have not heard a word of the responsibility of the shepherd for the flock. It is all about how it is so unfair that the male pastors have status and power and privilege that is denied to females.

It IS unfair. But the answer is not to reserve the status, power, and privilege to some proportion of women pastors, of women shepherds without sheep. The answer is to tear down the wall that divides us and make of the twain, one body.

Understand this: I am not arguing against women’s ordination. I am arguing against the paucity of sound doctrinal argument, based on strong scriptural exegesis, in favour of it AND in denial of it.

Until I see a compelling argument in its favour, however, and until that argument occurs in a context not polluted by the culture of the world or by the incestuous sub-culture of the present bureaucratic monster that has grown in the shadows of our negligence, I will not be convinced, and thus I will err on the side of caution. It might be true that the church of Paul’s day, that Paul himself, was drenched in culturally conditioned misogyny.

But that church conquered the world.

Beware, lest you be found to fight against God.


Could you give examples of such strident rhetoric?


Are you a believer in the Priesthood of ALL Believers?

This is something you might enjoy reading since your are interested in an argument that is not from “culture.”


(Eric Webster) #69

Dear Dr Gerald, thank you for your kind words. Nice to hear from you. I am sure there are many in South Africa and beyond who would take a more balanced stand. Perhaps there is a way to pass on my article to the SID and to all the Union presidents.
I am sure that many of our leaders would believe in unity in diversity rather than in complete uniformity. We do have good thinkers and spiritual leaders and members in Africa. God bless


Praying that this is true. Unity in diversity is one of the most enduring strengths of our church.

(George Tichy) #71

It a virtue that the GC is trying now to destroy.

(Denver Fletcher) #72

Even the title is an example of my point. It’s all abut the right of sisters. I’ve been blessed to hear the word of God from many of my sisters, starting with my mother and my biological sisters, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. Where’s the argument that God has commanded our sisters to preach, to sacrifice themselves, their preferences, their fears, their hesitancies, their rights, and simply do as He commands?

Am I believer in the priesthood of all believers?

Of what significance is this question? Are we now arguing that ALL believers should be ordained as Pastors? Perhaps this phrase doesn’t mean what you think it means?

(Denver Fletcher) #73

The major argument made in favour of women’s ordination is explicitly founded on taking the current values of the culture of the world as being THE justification for adapting our church organisation to conform itself to the values of our time. It is emphatic and strident in claiminig that the only possible reason for Paul’s writing about women is that he hated women because ancient jewish-roman culture.
It therefore necessarily must insist that Paul’s statements about women were likewise informed solely by the cultural mores of his time. Of course you cannot make the argument that we should be guided by the worldly culture of our time unless you first make the argument that Paul was himself guided by the worldly culture of his time and thus his words on the subject were not God’s words on the subject. The slippery slope nature of this argument (who decides which parts of the New Testament are God’s word and which parts are just dead white men talking? How much will be left after everything the culture of our time objects to has been discarded?) is determinedly suppressed because the people making the argument like the conclusion of it.
But it has a bigger problem, and that is the inherent contradiction of claiming that Paul was wrong to be guided by the culture of his time but we will be right to be guided by the culture of our time, as if our culture is so self-evidently superior.

It’s not.


Denver - the priesthood of all believers refers to the advocacy of Christ for all. That is, the vicarious role of the priestly and Patriachal hierarchy no longer applies. You have a point in suggesting that this concept does not translate into the proliferation of priestly claims.

The calling of Apostles/Missionaries and Pastors / Overseers, indeed the Christian church is introduced but is not progressively developed in the NT.

The idea of a world corporate church is not particularly Biblical, therefore we do have find contextual ways forward from the early church. Culture of itself is not authoritative as you suggest. There are times to be called to higher standards than prevailing culture, there are times culture has to be respected for the sake of a higher goal or ethic.

(George Tichy) #75

“… current values of the culture of the world…” Seriously?

Does a person’s value depend on the person’s culture? No! This idea is extraneous to the Biblical content, history and doctrine. The value of any person resides in the fact that every human being is created by God, no matter what gender one may consider. God’s creation action is what gives value to any human being. Not their culture.

This is why, in my opinion, when men continued depriving women from their intrinsic value - as given by God - they, those men, are actually committing a serious sin, the sin of discrimination against creatures that were created (and are sustained) by God.

(Kim Green) #76

"This is why, in my opinion, when men continued depriving women from their intrinsic value - as given by God - they, those men, are actually committing a serious sin, the sin of discrimination against creatures that were created (and are sustained) by God."

And for those who like “plain” scriptural reading:

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galations 3:28

Can it really get any “plainer” than this??

(Eric Webster) #77

Denver, one must have spiritual vision to see movement in Scripture. God said very clearly in Genesis 17 that circumcision was to be the sign of the everlasting covenant, “and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant” (verse 13).
Is there any clear word from God that He changed this requirement for the New testament church? No, it was only under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that this was changed at the Jerusalem Council.
Even if Paul did make statements against women in leadership, cannot the Holy Spirit likewise lead the church to make changes 2000 years later? Are Paul’s words stronger than Gods?
In addition Paul under inspiration sowed seeds of change. See Galatians 3:28, 29. Also in the spiritual gifts he listed in Ephesians 4:11, “apostles prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers” there is no mention of gender. If a prophet can be a woman, then a pastor can also be a woman. Ellen White had both prophetic and pastoral roles.

(Denver Fletcher) #78

Oh, dear.

Who made ordination a measure of value?

I’m sorry, I cannot answer your question since I do not share this premise. Ordination is a sacred responsibility; it is not a measure of value.

(Denver Fletcher) #79

So they’re Paul’s words? And being the words of a mere man, they can be disputed, and then discarded?

Are you really sure you want to travel that path? Because it is well-trodden before you and it leads nowhere good.

(Denver Fletcher) #80

Dear Kim,

Paul wrote a small letter known as the book of Philemon. In it he sends a slave back to his master.

He also wrote that men doing things with men that are more properly done with women is worthy of death, so apparently his thoughts about sex being irrelevant are not as plain as you suppose, either.

He also spent much of his life seeking to rescue his Jewish brethren from the dead-end of their errant theology, and called himself the apostle to the Gentiles, so again his meaning in that regard is not quite so plain as you propose.

How exactly do you know that Paul was writing (in the text you quote) only what God intended, when you apparently think that when he wrote that the man is head of the woman he was merely expressing his culturally conditioned opinion? What is the rule you have applied by which anyone else may discern the difference?

Please don’t tell me it is your culturally conditioned opinion, which holds that to deny anything to a woman that is available to men is to devalue her? (If I deny you entrance to the men’s toilets am I devaluing you?)

As I said earlier, none of the arguments in favour of women’s ordination stack up. If we allow these illogical unscriptural appeals to emotion and modern culture to rule over this point, they will soon dominate every point of Adventist doctrine and then there will be no Adventist doctrine.

Convince me with sound exegesis not public opprobrium. Seventh Day Adventists are supposed to be strong enough to withstand peer pressure, or else we’re all going to burn anyway.

(Kim Green) #81

If the church’s own theologians can’t agree on WO…neither will we.

However, thanks for informing me of what the “book of Philemon” is. I am sure that I would never know otherwise. :rofl: