Viewpoint: African and Latin-American Adventism--An Occasion Lost on the Ordination Vote

The fundamental flaw and weakness of this article (and others of similar nature) is that this article is based on an unsubstantiated assumption that he, Gutierrez, claims to know which divisions had the largest votes on the Wednesday vote. Can anyone tell me how this author was able to determine the vote tallies for each division when the vote was a SECRET ballot vote?

As an academic, my brother should be aware that he can only make claims about what he can substantiate. He can safely make claims against Latin America and Africa based on what he heard the delegates saying because that information is accessible to all who watched the voting session. However, he doesn’t have the ground to substantiate that Latin American and Africa primarily prevented the “Yes” motion from passing. The presuppositions of this article are based on mere speculation. For all we know, God or even Satan could have performed a miracle/magic to change the marked votes regardless of who voted. The author does not feel the vote was a godly vote so maybe even Satan could have magically manipulated the voting cards. Before some readers get sidetracked by this last point, my basic point is that any claim about which division is responsibly for the “No” vote on Wednesday is just mere speculation. No one knows each division’s contribution to the vote!

The second disappointing thing about this article is that this thinker attacks those he considers judgmental by using judgmental arguments. Notice these scathing attacks he has thrust on Latin-America and Africa Adventists: they are “misled” by “pride,” they expressed “naive” arguments. Latin American and Africans voted “mechanically and so ideologically.” They, Gutierrez argues, still lack “spiritual maturity” and have yet to “learn” to prove they can lead Adventism in the future. In addition, the author did not use the word “narcissism” just out of the blue without a sense of reference to anyone.

By the way, on what academically sound basis has he determined that Latin America is a sister of Africa? Because these two regions are both poorer than the divisions which seeked the “Yes” vote? Or because they both verbally opposed the autonomy of each division determining unilaterally on ordination matters. From an academic and philosophical standpoint, this construct of sisterhood seems a bit made up and weak. When did this sisterhood begin to exist? Does it exist beyond the ordination issue? Where is the Middle East region and Asian divisions in this sisterhood construct? What of the Caribbean and other Islands which also opposed the motion? Dear dear chair of Spectrum Magazine, I have a point of order: This sisterhood construct is rather shaky because its not well constructed.

Also, Gutierrez introduced some theological beliefs that he still needs to substantiate through the Bible or even the Spirit of Prophecy (assuming he recognizes Ellen G. White’s prophetic authority). Here are a few of the unsubstantiated statements:

  1. He claims that Latin American and African Adventists “lost the Holy Spirit-led capacity of trusting and understanding before speaking and acting.” On what authority does the author yield the right to determine who lost a Holy Spirit-led capacity? This statement by Gutierrez is quite problematic because the author has essentially assumed a superior spiritual gift than that of the delegates through which he can judge where the Holy Spirit is leading and where it has left. I admit that the author may have this gift but we are yet to be convinced of this special gift he possesses because has yet to substantiate it.
  2. Gutierrez’s perspective of democracy seems at bit at odds with what we see in “democratic societies.” In his argument about how Latin America and Africa have made an “administrative mistake” regarding the democratic structure of the church, he states “We don’t need to follow the same administrative rule everywhere to say we are united. The union has more to do with the general perspective and not necessarily with the specific rule.” Take for example the United States of America. The state of the union is very prescriptive in both the general and the specific administrative rules. For instance, the constitution is the general rule imposed on all those in the union; similarly specific administrative rules about when to file your federal taxes, lesbians and gays being allowed to married in all states, individuals having universal health insurance, each person having a social security number, etc. This are specific administrative rules affecting the day to day lives of people and operations of government throughout the union. I think Gutierrez may have overlooked this evidence is so called “democratic states.” Democratic societies can be justified in enforcing specific administrative rules. By the way, even God’s kingdom is prescriptive in what we should do with one of the days of the week. That is a very specific rule affecting our weekly schedules. Therefore, the delegates can still maintain a democratic union of the church by endorsing both general and specific administrative rules.

There is more I could critique in this article but I will enforce a point of order against making this response excessively lengthy.


I agree, but think that it’s worse than that.

When I travel to another country, I am sure to try very hard to find out local social customs and expectations so that I don’t make a mistake that is offensive. There are places, for example, where you don’t tip. There are places where you don’t show the bottom of your feet. There are places where you don’t show your mouth while you eat, and where you can only eat or touch anything sacred or holy with your right hand. Never the left. This is hard for me as I’m left-handed.

And apparently there are places where it is OK to publicly boo your leaders in religious meetings if you don’t like them or don’t like what they’re saying. But one of those places is not North America.

Next time you visit another country, perhaps for a world-wide religious meeting, I encourage you take perhaps 30 minutes to read up on how to behave. Find out how to show respect for another, how to appear as if you know what you’re doing, so you’re not at once offensive and acting in a way that makes others think you’re a joke.

This might involve a bow, averting your eyes, extending your hand, or maybe not insulting someone by booing them when they are trying to speak.


hehe…God bless elder Paulsen and elder Wilson. :sunny:


All due respect, this erudite-sounding article is disappointingly devoid of any spiritual depth. God requires obedience more than sacrifice. He requires obedience, even when it is not convenient. He requires it, even when we don’t fully understand. A Christian trying to impose human intellect against his divine Word is an irony. He is God. We are not. If this is what we preach, then we can only affirm that we will obey, even when it doesn’t suit us, because that is the whole premise of FAITH. And he will keep his church intact, even if it takes a backward, lazy, unpopular, culturally “un-savvy” lot to do it. He has done it in the past, and will do it again. And we owe who we are as a church to God using people against the culture of the day to preserve his church. Peddling the gospel to the needs of the people in the form they want to hear it is the beginning of spiritual Armageddon. Mr. Gutierrez also fails to point out that prominent North American leaders of the church (the supposed “official” model of Adventism) would rather refer to Scripture over the cultural milieu for guidance on this matter ( The role of women in the church and society is a universally human question (the Vatican is a short ride from Villa Aurora: I’ve taken it. Women still make 83 cents to a developed-world dollar), so choosing to limit the argument to supposedly short-sighted “retrogressive” Latin-Americans and Africans is not only demeaning, but divisive and factually baseless. Prayerful application of Scripture has, and will continue to be the mainstay of God’s true church, no matter what popular opinion is in a thousand generations to come. The church has ONE foundation; scattering God’s sheep is Satan’s goal. Challenging Biblical doctrine in the name of enlightenment is spiritually self-defeatist, and God has proved that over and over again. What may seem right to man may be a means to destruction. And as my African pastor would say, “LET US PRAY FOR GUIDANCE.” That said, there are many man-made aspects of culture that put women down (this space is not enough for examples). Whether we reap benefits from speaking out against them depends on how we choose to tackle the issues. And it is almost guaranteed that an attack meted out on culture/groups of people as opposed to addressing real problems is bound to backfire. As this article has on me…and my fellow backward human beings.

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and you suppose the discrimination of women is obedient to God?


Latin America aside. It ceases to be a “secret” when you:


Webed, I hope you would not mind me posting this, especially seeing as this article is a new one. I believe it is something your readers have been wanting to see since hearing about it.

I know a few here have asked if a video, or even a transcript had been made available of Jan Paulsens speech at SA, to judge for themselves if he said anything that was so wrong, which caused him to receive boo’s. Jan Paulsen’s 4 min speech begins at 8 mins into the video: (I find no fault, but rather a genuine plea. People can judge for themselves)

Jan Paulsen’s Appeal at the 2015 GC

He may have begun his appeal with Africans, but as we can see, he did not only ask them to trust their leaders, but also South American’s, North American’s and Europeans, too.


The above video has been edited by the person who posted it on YT.


It doesn’t sound as bad as reported (in terms of being offensive to Africans), but, not being African, I may not understand the full ramifications of his statement, as it would be understood by Africans. However, he appears to take an “ends-justify-the-means” approach; lower the standard to keep more people in the church. That approach never works. It really didn’t make much sense. Every member can work for God, no matter their ordination status. If everyone followed Solomon’s advice, they wouldn’t be worried about this issue. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. Eccl. 9:10. He almost sounded like the Jewish leaders at the time of Christ, or the Medieval church: trust the leaders to know what’s best. Yeah, right.

I thought Doug Batchelor made much more sense than Jan Paulsen.

By today’s standards, you’d be accusing God of discriminating against women in the laws he gave to Moses. If the Bible forbids women to fulfill the role of elder or minster, then it is not discrimination, at least not in the way you mean it. Discrimination is not a bad word. We all discriminate to one degree or another. We did so when we made a decision on who we would marry. We discriminated against all the other potential partners out there, by choosing the one we thought was best suited as a life partner. We do so when we forbid our kids to play with certain other kids who will get them into trouble. And it’s not an issue of effective ministry or witnessing. These can be done by anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or ordination status.

Birder, what you seemed to have left out was that Paulsen did not only appeal to Africans, as I was led to believe. But as I stated: North/South Americans and Europeans, too.

“Lower the standard”? Oh, Birder, I mean really.

Reeeeally?!?! No way. You preferring Doug over Jan. I’m shocked. I truly am :smile:

I find it interesting, though, that you could not even get yourself to say that booing him was wrong.


We are told that women can be in charge of our hospitals but not the GC for example. Having said that, what I found even more interesting was Natasha Nebblett’s speech. The leader/president of the GYC telling other women they cannot be leaders of the general conference…


You stated “Every member can work for God…” then you quoted Solomon, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, DO IT."
What you FAILED to say was,
There are Laws and People around saying, NO! You CANT to that. ONLY certain GENDERS can DO certain things, do certain tasks, make certain things, engage in certain occupations.
THIS is what is being said in the Seventh day Adventist Church.
The Religious Hierarchy of the SDA church is NOT even as good as the U. S. Marine Corps which says, BE ALL THAT YOU CAN BE!!
It is difficult for me to go along with persons who will make and uphold LAWS in the SDA church who will do this.
This mental assent and behavior is against EVERYTHING that Ellen White has ever written about human development, about one’s usefulness to God.
And I will again, use the word EVIL, and say that persons who engage in this type of behavior of making Laws, are EVIL persons engaging in EVIL behavior.


I disagree with the autor. I must be one of those 22-years old nostalgic Westerns. :smile: It could be true that some delegates were biased and I would be much more happy if people were voting “No” for the right reasons, but even if they were voting for the wrong reasons, they still voted the right thing.


Uh, that was the Army that had that slogan.

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doug bachelor never makes sense to me. he has said too many crazy unsubstantiated things for me to believe he is a bible scholar.

also discernment is not the same as discrimination!!! the bible tells us to be discerning.


@marianne_faust I did not write the Bible. As to why God did not ordain women or endorse it is for him to answer. I don’t understand why either. But my faith in God would not challenge his decision. Obedience is an expression of faith. Do you find Scripture discriminatory? Why challenge it? Ask Jesus!

Thanks for this honest, authentic, and truthful evaluation. What the vote in San Antonio signals is a need for a more qualatative voting system. It seems the leadership of the Latin-American and African countries need to study how to listen to the Holy Spirit. The blessing: God will continue to bless the women He called into ministry. They will be ordained. Those who intend to stop this spiritual moving forward of the church will either change their point of view or they will not be in office. It is that simple.


Um… You may want to inform the dictionary.

Synonym Discussion

discernment, discrimination, perception, penetration, insight, acumen mean a power to see what is not evident to the average mind. discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art) . discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent


Jane, Either God did ordain Ellen White or she and the church were lying.
Fact is: Scripture has never told us to discriminate people because of their faith, gender or race. On the contrary, the most terrible things always happened to Israel, when they started to discriminate the weak.
Fact is: all the study committees have agreed that there is no ordination as we practice it in the Bible.
Fact is: women are allowed to preach, teach and do the work of a minister. The Holy Spirit obviously blesses their work, as seen in China and elsewhere. Who are we to say: “we won’t recognize your call”?


Kade, you should know quite well that discrimination as used in this context is different from discernment.


Why…because you disagree?

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