By OrdinationTruth.com staff

Last week the General Conference’s Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) met in its second substantial meeting and voted 86-8 to approve a consensus statement concerning ordination. We are interested in the developing thought of the committee seen in the areas touched by this document.

In the first of five paragraphs, all members of the church are included in a “royal priesthood.” Believers are called by God and engage in the God-appointed mission of the body. They serve according to the gifts God bestows.

The next paragraph makes clear that beside this general ministry, there are more particularized kinds. There is ministry in terms of “specific leadership positions.” These are on the basis of particular “biblical qualifications,” among them, those sex-specific items found in 1 Timothy 3:1-12 and Titus 5-9. Persons are called to serve in these “offices” for “local and global church ministry.” This is amplified by recognition in the document that “some leaders were itinerant and supervised greater territory with multiple congregations” (third paragraph).

One argument that has been urgent to some of those favoring either the ordination of women or a significant overhaul of the Adventist understanding of it, has been that ordination, as it has been practiced by Adventists, is little more than an error emanating from a Roman Catholic tradition that we have copied unwittingly.

This idea is seen, for example, in the 1998 volume, Women in Ministry (WIM). Daniel Augsberger’s chapter “Clerical Authority and Ordination in the Early Christian Church,” closed arguing that

By mid-fourth century the bishops had taken over the power to preach and the authority to judge Christians. . . Clericalism had triumphed. . . . Adventist ordination that is valid worldwide reflects a later,
Augustinian concept of ordination (p. 96).

The idea represented here has been that anything approaching ordination as Seventh-day Adventists have understood it is wrong. Especially here, the new consensus statement is of special interest. The statement rejects this idea found both in WIM and in more recent discussions. The committee concludes rather that the basic Adventist approach is
consonant with Scripture; it is valid. This, then, is an important point of clarification: there is an identifiable biblical approach to this question, and the present Adventist Church position is confirmed.

More might be said. But as we look on and consider the development of this consensus, we see a position whose shapers have sought to develop in a manner biblically defensible. Interestingly, the statement as voted has room for both a baseline equality of men and women, even while honoring distinct, differentiated, creation-assigned sex-roles.

As earlier mentioned, here already is a trend away from the position of the chapter in WIM and toward a more biblical one. Not only has the world church never indicated progress toward the position of the WIM book, but here is seen movement away from that position. We concur that there is a kind of biblically consistent ordination, there is a royal priesthood in which we as believers participate, and at the same time, there are roles which are Scripturally mediated by specific qualifications.

We encourage church members to continue to lift up TOSC participants in prayer. We have added the TOSC consensus statement to our growing list of resources available on OrdinationTruth.com. Download it here:

TOSC-Theology of Ordination Consensus Statement.