When The Word of the Lord Comes as a Gut Punch

(Spectrumbot) #1

Occasionally, the most powerful impact the words of Scripture can have is in the embodied, public reading of the text. Case in point: This past Sabbath, the pastoral staff at the La Sierra University Church in California--a staff that includes four women--read aloud the words of 1 Corinthians in which Paul admonishes the church in Corinth that women must be silent in the churches.

The biblical texts that subordinate women are texts that La Sierra senior pastor Chris Oberg generally doesn't use in her preaching. Most often when the texts have come up in the reading cycle, Oberg has elected to have one of her male colleagues do the preaching. "The higher value," Oberg told me by phone, "is doing the work assigned to us (women pastors), and letting that be the witness."

In her March 14 sermon, Oberge leveled with her congregation. "To be candid with you, it is easier to step aside than to receive the critique women usually get that we are either self-promoting or on some feminist rant. It's easier to keep silent on these texts," she said.

Several factors played into Oberg's electing to preach from the Pauline text this time:

First, she said, senior pastors on Adventist campuses in North America have agreed to speak out on the issue of women in pastoral ministry in advance of the 2015 General Conference Session, where the issue will be put to a vote. Along with Jennifer Scott, the senior pastor at the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church on the campus of Southwestern Adventist University, Oberg is one of two women senior pastors on fourteen college and university campuses in the North American Division.

Second, the Corinthian passage came up in the Scripture-reading schedule the church is following, and Oberg decided not to side-step the texts when their turn came in the cycle. "It emerged in a natural flow of reading," Oberg told me.

Third, Oberg pointed to the theological intent of Paul's writing--power reinterpreted by the cross event, a central theological framework on the way to Easter.

Seldom does the reading of the text and preaching from the text have the same impact as on this Sabbath on this issue.

WATCH: "Equal Most of the Time"

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6700

(Rheticus) #2

15:25 “There is no such thing as a plain simple reading of God’s word. The moment we begin to read…”

(Marianne Faust) #3

yes and AMEN! There is no such thing as a plain simple reading of this ancient text! She is wonderful!

(George Tichy) #4

Another "Diamond Article!"
Thanks Jared, superb job!

(Marianne Faust) #5

George what do you predict…The delay of the second coming in connection with wo…?

(James J Londis) #6

This complete disconnect from the content of these authoritative writings and our Spirit-led experience in the current church are the result of the widespread acceptance of the hermeneutic articulated in the Methods of Bible Study document voted by the church in 1986 (may find on the GC website). Given the way such texts are assumed to be a direct revelation from God in vision which transcends all cultural context, even Ellen White could not preach in the churches (but, many grant her an exception since she was a “prophet” and God commanded her to speak–which is itself another kind of disconnect from the text). New Testament scholars not enslaved to his crippling, myopic hermeneutic offer many highly illuminating comments on these passages, but we ignore them because they are not defending the “infallibility” of the thoughts and (often) the language in the text.

(Steve Mga) #7

Many Sunday Worshiping Denominations have interpreted these and other texts in approval of Women and Men called of God equally since the early 1970s.
But then THEY are BABYLON, and we SDAs have come OUT of Babylon.
In 1964 I had the unique opportunity to have a 2 month trip through Mexico and Central America.
Many churches down there have mid-week services. I saw quite a few women preachers on my trip.
But then again, those women were Babylonian Preachers, not SDA.

One thing I miss in my SDA church is the Oral, out loud Reading of Scripture. I miss the reading of the four Lextionary Scriptures for the week, OT, Psalm, NT, Gospel that I can hear in Babylon.
Actually, SING the Psalm chosen for the day is what I enjoy. One can take the simple melody to the house, and SING the Psalm at home all week while busy around the house…

Maybe when WE came out of Babylon we left a lot of good stuff, good traditions, helpful traditions back in Babylon
Terrific! Not the usual SDA sermon and closing.
“Home” comes through THIS telecast!
No wonder LSU is picked on, LOL, and causing panic in the [Male] church. LSU is inspiring TOO many little girls to answer the "call of God – like little Samuel."
I liked the statement, “When there is poison, and something is polluted, the Whole System is.”

(George Tichy) #8

This is a very profound question, and I am not sure I can actually predict something “substantial” about it …YET.
And since I don’t want to go “sevvy” I must tell you to wait until 2016 and address the question to the TOCS II yourself. This I can predict, that you will have your window of opportunity!

(Kevin Paulson) #9

I sat and watched this entire message, and took careful notes. Despite the articulate, caring, impassioned tone, this message reveals serious problems in its attempt to explain the Biblical text.

First of all, the speaker’s approach to Scripture is a glaring dismissal of the hermeneutic upheld in the “Methods of Bible Study” document, which another participant in this conversation has also denounced. Such statements as the following place the speaker in diametric opposition to orthodox Adventist scholarship in general and the writings of Ellen White in particular:

“When we spend our energy defending the text, we absolutely suffocate the story.”

“There is no such thing as a plain, simple reading of God’s Word.”

If this is true, the text of Scripture is suffocated indeed—through imprisonment in an ancient culture and the speculations of uninspired scholars. No one will tremble at the word of the Lord (Isa. 66:5) when such an approach is used. Transcendence is lost, and no objective measure of right and wrong can possibly exist with such a method of studying God’s Word.

The writings of Paul—which the speaker slams as “beating women” and “beating relationships” and “slaying the gospel”—are but one argument in the Biblical case for spiritual male headship. Most of the strongest passages upholding the primacy of the male gender in spiritual authority were left unaddressed—including, interestingly enough, First Timothy 2:12-13, despite its being read from the platform at the beginning.

The case for spiritual male headship is evident in the earliest chapters of Genesis. It is to Adam that the earliest instructions to humanity are given, regarding the care of the Garden and what to do about the two trees in its midst (Gen. 2:15-17). It is Adam who names the animals (verses 19-20), and Eve also—both before and after the fall (Gen. 2:23; 3:20). And it is on this basis that the male is commanded to leave father and mother and take the initiative in establishing the marriage relation (Gen. 2:24).

When Adam and Eve sinned, they do not become naked till Adam sins (Gen. 3:7). When they seek to hide from God’s presence (verse 8), it is to Adam—not Eve—that the Lord calls (verse 9). It is on this basis that the apostle Paul—with whose writings the speaker appears understandably uneasy—declares that it is through Adam, not Eve, that sin and death have entered the world, thus necessitating the coming of the Savior (Rom. 5:12-19; I Cor. 15:22). The Second Person of the Godhead came to earth not as the Second Eve, but as the Second Adam.

It is for this reason that headship roles in spiritual matters throughout Scripture have been given to men—from pre-Fall Eden to the patriarchs and priests of the Old Testament, on through the apostles, elders, and deacons of the New. Despite the speaker’s effort to bury this verse in some alien culture, Paul is entirely consistent with the Biblical message and narrative when he writes, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God” (I Cor. 11:3).

Did the speaker stop and consider what she was saying when she tries to explain “head” as meaning “source”? Is God the Father the “source” of God the Son? We know better than that, for Christ has existed from eternity with the Father (Micah 5:2). While the speaker attempts to dismiss a distinction in roles among the Members of the Godhead, she apparently has no trouble viewing the Father as the “source” of the Son. Exactly how, she does not explain. How then, may we ask, is Christ the “source” of the man?

The speaker insists that the word headship is not in the Bible, and that this supposedly is a relatively recent theory in Adventism. The word “trinity,” of course, isn’t in the Bible either, but the concept surely is. The same with spiritual male headship. And so far as Adventist history is concerned, Ellen White repeatedly spoke of “those standing at the head of the work.” And such pioneers as A.T. Jones, J.H. Waggoner, and others wrote in depth of the distinction of male and female roles so far as the life of the church is concerned.

The speaker contradicts herself quite obviously when, on the one hand, she insists we have to consider the tyrannical culture of the Roman world in which Paul wrote his counsel, which she claims cannot possibly be read the same way in our democratic contemporary society—yet, on the other hand, she insists she is not “caving in” to contemporary culture, the feminist movement, or the Western values of North America. (Many will find such counter observations more than slightly confusing!)

Regarding the silence of women enjoined in these verses, we need not seek cultural explanations for what the apostle is saying. All we need is to let Scripture explain itself. When Paul writes in First Timothy 2:12 that women are to be “in silence,” we need look only ten verses earlier to find Paul’s statement regarding our need to live a “quiet and peaceable life” relative to the civil authorities (verse 2). Paul isn’t telling believers to say nothing to civil authorities; sufficient examples abound in the New Testament of Paul and his colleagues saying a great deal. What Paul is describing is a spirit of yielding and submission. That is what he is enjoining upon women, relative to Biblical gender roles. We find the same principle at work in First Peter 3:4, where Peter urges women to submit to their husbands and to cultivate “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.”

When Paul speaks in First Thessalonians 4:11 of how believers should “study to be quiet,” he is not telling them to never talk. Rather, he is admonishing them to “do your own business.” Submission to a higher good is the issue here, and it is the same with the silence enjoined upon women, as the passage from First Timothy makes plain.

This isn’t about telling women to shut up. As the speaker has rightly noted, Paul speaks of women prophesying in church (I Cor. 11:5). Paul’s commands regarding silence are not about not talking. Rather, they are about submission to the original order of gender authority which began at creation (I Tim. 2:12-13) and which traces itself to the Godhead itself (I Cor. 11:3).

In sum, the speaker’s case for identical gender roles in ministry is saturated with higher-critical methodology so far as Scripture is concerned, along with a heavy focus on biography as theology. Experience, however, cannot be permitted to trump the written counsel of God. The Lord does not call contrary to His Word.

If this is the case for women’s ordination that those of the speaker’s persuasion plan to present in San Antonio, it will be a relatively easy matter for the world body to vote NO. Indeed, they will have no choice but to vote in the negative, as a positive vote would unleash an approach to God’s Word which would eviscerate its authority and open the gates to cultural diversions from the divine will. Indeed, the speaker’s reference to sexuality and relationship issues, and the tone taken in addressing them, leaves little doubt as to her evident flexibility on any number of contemporary issues and how the church should relate to them. Her approach would result in the fundamental compromise of Biblical authority and transcendence.

Whether she realizes it or not, she has made a most persuasive case for a NO vote at the pending General Conference session.

(Steve Mga) #10

This is ANOTHER reason to Shut Down, LSU, sell the property!
They are inspiring TOO MANY little girls to want to become Preachers for God.

(Kevin Paulson) #11

Actually Steve, I would like to see millions of little girls become preachers for God. At the end of time I am confident this will happen (e.g. Joel 2:28). But this doesn’t mean their leadership roles will be identical to those of men, because the Word of God does not permit that.

(Elmer Cupino) #14

Very benevolent of you to wish “little girls to become preachers for God.” But as soon as your left hand “giveth”, your right hand “taketh away” so allow me to edit your passage to make it more relevant and credible as follows; “…because the Word of God, as I understand it, does not permit that.”

GC Working Policy section B-05 “…decisions regarding the ordination of ministers are entrusted to the union conference/mission;” What is rebellious about exercising lawful rights?

(Billman) #15

Wow. A guarantee. A guarantee usually comes with some sort of recompense should the situation being guaranteed not occur. I’m getting excited.

As for “your” and “our”, it isn’t “mine”. I cut my ties with the Adventist church some years ago, and rejoice to be able to attend a church without this baggage. I enjoy sitting in a church and not needing to turn myself inside out over whether the denomination will or will not ordain, or ponder over my fate post 1844, or worry about how to apply EGW’s instruction to do your own thinking when someone else wants to bash you with her, or fret over how my interest in geology clashes with the denominations insistence that the earth was formed almost yesterday. Instead I sit in a church which is serious about engaging with people who don’t know God, which has dozens of visitors every week wondering what we are about, and which makes a meaningful positive impact on the local community. The real, versus the surreal.

(George Tichy) #16

Nobody can deny that there is an ongoing rebellion against the status quo in which the Unions have the power to make those decisions.

(Paul Kevin Wells) #17

You can or you can not. Pretty simple solution. If you can win people to Christ with your personal witness and proclamation then you need to be about our Father’s business. If you are not able to do so then please get out of the way and connect with Christ in order that you may then be able to.
Possessing a male appendage does not make one more or less qualified to preach the Gospel.
I am so tired over this quibbling. Everyday we spend debating about this issue is one more day lost to the mission.
Ordination, as we practice it, is hard to support from a Biblical perspective. That’s why when someone asks me my opinion of Women’s Ordination I tell them I am against it. Just as I am against Men’s Ordination as we currently practice it.
I find it a bit interesting that we have basically three groups we ordain and these groups have a hierarchy. They are Deacon, Elder, and Pastor. The Roman Catholic Church ordains Deacons, Priests and Bishops. Is it possible that our obsession with a three tiered hierarchy of ordination is simply a holdover from the Reformation that is yet to be Reformed out of us?

(Filipe Reis) #18

I wonder why they did not read from Isaiah 3:12…

(Rheticus) #19

Gen 2:25 - prior to sin
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed

Kevin, if you can’t even get the plain simple meaning of verses like this correct…

(Rheticus) #20

It is the Working Policy OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE. It describes what the Union Conferences have the authority to request the GC do. It does not bind the Union Conferences in any way.

(Elmer Cupino) #21

No matter how much time you spent listening and taking careful notes, being an avowed LGTer meant that you were destined and compelled to find the “entire message” fraught with “serious problems in its attempt to explain the Biblical text.” No surprise.

@GeorgeTichy FYI, don’t make any comments. We need you in Spectrum :laughing:

(Kevin Paulson) #22

But, Elmer, just as local churches are obligated to follow the GC-voted Church Manual in the discipline of local members (2010 edition, p. 63),so Unions are obligated to follow General Conference policy in the ordination of gospel ministers. And the policy regarding gender and ordination reads as follows:

“The appointment of individuals to serve as Bible instructors or chaplains, or in departmental or pastoral responsibilities, shall not be limited by race or color. Neither shall these positions be limited by gender (except those requiring ordination to the gospel ministry)” (General Conference Working Policy, 2013-2014 edition, p. 113).