Recent days have found some of us in communication with participants in the Theology of Ordination Study Committee. Thus, it has been interesting when several persons not present in that meeting have urgently sought to post in links and comments copies of certain news reports to OrdinationTruth.com. (Indeed, one significantly slanted report has been quietly withdrawn.) We have read these reports, comparing notes with some present at TOSC. It is even being reported that the chair of the committee feels most of the divisions are willing to accept women’s ordination and that the time for study has passed.
Whether or not this individual is being quoted in context we do not know. We do know this: the Seventh-day Adventist Church will determine whether or not to ordain women in the 2015 General Conference session. It will not be determined by TOSC or any news network, website, conference, union, or division.
We also know that current deliberations are of necessity conducted in an atmosphere of biases, influences and threats. Some articles in print and online with women’s ordination under discussion have included reminders that funding supporting church mission in overseas divisions is, in measure, dependent upon North American dollars. Neither are we unaware that for the past several decades, pro-WO North American Adventist academic opinion has been exported round the world through an influence traceable to Andrews University international students. Therefore, it is no surprise to us if the current dominant North American academic perspective has filtered into the leadership ranks in places far afield.
The January 2014 TOSC included a more significant and contentious discussion of hermeneutics than previous meetings. Positions on hermeneutics within TOSC at present are in sharp disagreement. This is no surprise, since proposed changes to how the Church interprets Scripture would be unparalleled in our history, and have the most far-reaching impact on its ability to maintain a distinct Seventh-day Adventist identity and mission going forward.
Never before in Seventh-day Adventist work have changes contemplated been so significant. This situation seems an unlikely time to discontinue investigation. If the goal of this most extensive study is an enduring solution for the Church, the issue of hermeneutics cannot be avoided. It is impossible to envision any unifying solution with the church markedly divided over methods of interpretation. The Church has long agreed that the Historical-grammatical approach be used while avoiding even a modified use of methods that approach the Scriptures from a critical standpoint. The North American Division is asking the church to embrace hermeneutical pluralism, to approve the practice of a method of interpretation in direct contradiction to the Historical-grammatical.
Is this the path to unity?
When the Council of Adventist Pastors began publishing this website a year ago, we stated that a part of the reason for its operation was as an alternative resource for church members where information provided might sometimes be at odds with “officially” presented news and views. None should be surprised when OrdinationTruth.com chooses not to echo lines that have been predetermined to sustain certain preferred perspectives.
God has His hand on the wheel. A world church is considering these matters. Issues are becoming more sharply defined. The Holy Spirit is working. Pray for all as the Church seeks to follow the lead of He who is still its Head, Jesus.