The Professors Valentine Expand Upon Chapter 1 in "Where Are Headed? Adventism After San Antonio"

Drawing upon their different resources and experiences, Gil Valentine and Kendra Haloviak Valentine elaborated on Chapter 1 in Where Are We Headed: Adventism after San Antonio by William G. Johnsson on June 24 at the Roy Branson Legacy Sabbath School in Loma Linda, California. The title of this chapter is “Women’s Ordination: The Battle is Over.”

William G. Johnsson, a New Testament scholar and Seventh-day Adventist missionary to India, long served as the editor of the Adventist Review. Kendra Haloviak Valentine is also a New Testament scholar. A professor for several years in the H.M.S. Richards Divinity School at La Sierra University, she is now shouldering administrative responsibilities on that campus as well.

Gil Valentine, who has long served as an academic administrator in different parts of the world, is now preparing others to do the same kind of work in the La Sierra University School of Education where he is a professor. In addition, he is among the most accomplished contemporary scholars of Seventh-day Adventist history.

Perhaps surprising to those who are aware of what happened at the 2015 meetings of the General Conference in San Antonio, Texas, Johnsson holds that the practice of ordaining men and women on an equal basis among some Adventists has prevailed and that it will become official policy in the not-so-distant future.

His confidence about this might seem to differ with his apprehensions about the denomination’s future in other respects. He believes that ordaining women should happen and that it will. There will be those who will disagree with him on one or the other or both of these and act accordingly. This is why people on the many “sides” of this discussion should pay attention to what he says.

Instead of confronting Johnsson’s thesis in strong agreement or disagreement, the professors Valentine proposed different interpretations of some of the evidence. It was probably easy for Johnsson to accept their suggestions.

In keeping with his work as a historian, Gil Valentine described the discovery by another scholar of documents in the archives of the United States that explicitly state how the federal government understood the official Adventist policy about ordaining women at different moments in the denomination’s history.

Kendra Haloviak Valentine described what it was like recently to be a member of one of the denomination’s most important official commissions to study the topic. She summarized some of the issues that the taskforce studied plus some of the feelings that its participants experienced.

My impression was that the issues tended to cluster the participants one way but the feelings tended to gather these same participants in a different way. Knowing what a person believed apparently turned out not a precise predictor of his or her feelings. This is the sort of thing that makes the professional lives of social psychologists worth living!

Alan Alipoon, a professor in the Loma Linda University School of Allied Health, thankfully recorded this video. Other videos on the Internet are available at or through bransonlegacysabbathschool.com. Requests to be added to the email list or other correspondence may be sent to bransonlegacysabbsathschool@aol.com. The participants in RBLSS are thankful for this opportunity to make these videos available to a larger audience.

WATCH: Gil Valentine and Kendra Haloviak Valentine on Chapter 1 in "Where Are We Headed?"

See also: William G. Johnsson Explains Why He Wrote Where Are We Headed? Adventism after San Antonio

Dr. David Larson is Professor of Religion at Loma Linda University.

Image Credit: Video Still

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8098

Thanks Gil and Kendra! I enjoyed your summary of the chapter and your overview of the book!
I would make several points however:

  1. Your comments about TOSC and its use and abuse at San Antonio were enlightening. Kendra’s highlighting of the response to WO contained within the individual Division Biblical Research Committee Reports and the rather nuanced responses they contained was especially appropriate. I have attempted previously on this blogsite to highlight some of these nuances especially as represented in the East Central Africa Division and the North Asia Pacific Division.
    If I am not mistaken the papers from the various Division BRC’s have diappeared from the Archives, Statistics and Research website though the summary papers from each Division remain. They were there for many months.
  2. In the initial years of British women training as doctors in the ninteenth century they were known colloquially as ‘women medicals.’ Sorry Gil!
    These women in the nineteenth century British Isles had a real battle to be allowed to study at medical school. The Irish medical schools and even the Scottish ones more easily embraced the entrance of women as medical students. It was Queen Victoria who was styled ‘Empress of India’ who urged this change. She was particularly eager to have women doctors on the Indian sub-continent where male doctors were unwelcome to provide obstetric services. A significant percentage of these nineteenth century women doctors went as medical missionaries to the Indian subcontinent, including my father’s aunt Dr Edith Marks, an orphaned Londoner, who graduated from a Dublin medical school in 1900 (the final year of the nineteenth century). Though she had graduated at the top of her class and with honours she left almost immediately for the NW Frontier of today’s Pakistan where she served for some 30 odd years in a very inhospitable environment. Thus it was that to a large degree this significant change in social attitudes to women was spearheaded by women missionary doctors who believed they were called to do this work.
  3. A former General Conference official who was present at San Antonio confided to me that there are GC people who believe that Jan Paulsen’s remarks helped to lose the vote for those in favour of WO by Divisions. (I fully support what he said and think that the whole booing incident was dispicable).
  4. The TED and the SPD have already invited the GC to consider the route of changing the ordination paradigm and commissioning persons from both genders equally. This new paradigm changes not only the nominclature but also helps bury lingering vestiges of a sacramental clerical model of Adventist pastoral leadership. It emphasises a more spiritual gift model of Adventist pastoral leadership with a concommitant stress on the total involvement of every member in the ministry of Christ. Surely it would make sense that more Divisions and Unions come on board and issue this same invitation to the GC.
  5. To continue to push the WO agenda according to the old paradigm (with only the addition of women) as the PUC and the CUC are doing seems self-defeating.
    @ECCLESIASTES
    As Ecclesistes says below the existing model reflects binary thinking. I take this to mean either you belong to the Adventist ordained clergy or to the laity. A new model, such as Dr Lowell Cooper, the TED and SPD have suggested, is both inclusive (both leaders and people belong to both the laos - the whole people of God). Such a model is also inclusive in that both leaders and people are embraced as “the called.” The NT uses the called language to point toward the entire congregation as God’s chosen missionary people. Our calling to serve and to minister with our congregations and world is enfolded in our particular gifting.This is what the General Conference needs to motivate a total member involvement. This is a re-formation and it facilitates revival.
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YES! A paradigm shift to the current pastoral ordination model is desperately needed. The existing model reflects binary thinking. Consequently, the arguments for and against it are divisive, adversarial and have become increasingly confrontational. A new model should be biblical and inclusive, moving the Adventist church forward unitedly through the power of the Spirit.

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Johnson is right; if we remain on this planet long enough, the time will certainly come when women’s ordination becomes widespread in our church.

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