John W. Peters is a pastor in the Pennsylvania Conference. As part of the Theology of Ordination Stdy Committee he has been among the presenters in the TOSC meetings. Some of his materials were critiqued by Angel Rodriguez in his 76 p. anaylsis of the [pro-biblical qualifications arguments (arguments opposing women’s ordination). In the paper now made available on OrdinationTruth.com, Peters responds to Rodriguez’ particular critique of Peters. READ IT HERE.
On May 18, 2014, the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (a unit in the insubordinate Pacific Union) held its constituency meeting in Angwin, California. The conference of some 40,000 members was represented by hundreds of delegates. Several churches in the conference combined to bring to the delegates three items proposed for action. One item was a statement supporting the unity of the church and directly addressing the question of women’s ordination. A majority of delegates chose not to make a “yes” or “no” decision on the matter but to refer the motion to the conference executive committee. The full text of this motion was:
Resolution Supporting Unity of the Church
Whereas, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in response to conflicting practices within the church, the Apostles established church order by holding the Jerusalem Council, whose decisions were regarded as binding upon the Church everywhere;(1)
Whereas, in like manner, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was established as the highest constituted authority determining policies and procedures for the worldwide Church as reflected in the General Conference Working Policy;
Whereas, the Pacific Union has been delegated authority to represent the Seventh-day Adventist Church in its geographical region, conditioned upon the Union’s willingness to work in harmony with the working policies of the denomination as documented below;
Whereas, the General Conference Model Union Constitution and Bylaws requires sections essential to the unity of the Church worldwide, appearing in bold print, to be adopted into the Bylaws by each union conference;(2)
Whereas, the General Conference Model Constitution includes bold print mandatory language that requires all purposes, policies, and procedures of the union to be in harmony with the working policies and procedures of the North American division and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists;(3)
Whereas, the Pacific Union Conference recognizes its role, as part of the worldwide church, as indicated by its adoption of Article III into the Bylaws of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Article III incorporates required language from the Model Union Constitution of the General Conference Working Policy as follows:
“The Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is part of the North American Division which in turn is part of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, a world church organization.
“All policies, purposes and procedures of this Union shall be in harmony with the working policies and procedures of the North American Division and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.”
This Union shall pursue the purposes of the Church in harmony with the doctrines, programs, and initiatives adopted and approved by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Constituency Session.(4)
Whereas, to assure the future unity of the Church, the Article XIV of the of the Pacific Union Conference Bylaws specifically precludes the Constituency Delegation from voting changes to its Bylaws which are not in harmony with the spirit of the Model Union Constitution;(5)
Whereas, Article VII, Section 7 of the bylaws of the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (NCC) requires that rules and regulations of the NCC adopted by the Executive Committee shall be in compliance with the Bylaws of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (PUC);(6)
Whereas, the current edition of the General Conference Working Policy declares all appointments and responsibilities within the church to be open to persons regardless of gender, “except those requiring ordination to the gospel ministry.”(7)
Therefore, be it hereby resolved by the Northern California Conference in constituent session assembled, that the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists shall refrain from pastoral ordination to the gospel ministry without respect to gender in practice, policy, rule, or regulation until such time as the Delegates of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in worldwide session approve a Bylaw, policy, rule, or regulation which allows such ordination.
1. Acts 15
2. 2012-2013 General Conference Working Policy, D 10 05 Constitution of the Union Conferences, Page 135
3. 2012-2013 General Conference Working Policy, D 10 05 Constitution of the Union Conferences, Page 136, Article III – Relationships
4. Bylaws of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, August 29, 2011, 5, Article III – Relationships
5. Bylaws of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, August 29, 2011, Page 16, Article VII – Amendments
6. Bylaws of the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Artcile VII, Section 7
7. 2012-2013 General Conference Working Policy, BA 60 10 p. 113
As can be seen, the proposed motion was entirely reasonable, respectful, and appropriate. It was directed to the very body of persons—Northern California delegates—who should make such decisions. It would have inculcated unity and harmony with the world church.
Unfortunately, the Pacific Union and its subentitites has increasingly and persistently demonstrated a voted pattern of insubordination toward the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Union is operating in open violation of General Conference decisions in 1990 and 1995. A unit within the Union, the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, voted itself a woman president outside the agreed policies of the church in 2013 who is not recognized by the General Conference.
The motion, and the two other motions, were never read to the meeting, nor debated. They were consistently treated as a set when they were three distinct and separate motions. When their turn on the agenda arrived, almost immediately two delegates moved they be referred to executive committee. Several minutes of debate ensued, with many delegates opposing such course of action.
In the end, a slim majority of the delegates voted to defer all three items to a conferance administration that has supported the insubordinate action of the Pacific Union on women’s ordination and operated in contradiction to the world church. Northern California churches entrusted the delegates to represent them and to make decisions. Rather than vote “yes” or “no” on important issues impacting the mission of the church in their field, they punted.
Today’s action by delegates in the Northern California conference, emanating yet again from within the Pacific Union, is added evidence that units in this section of the church are operating independently of the world body. Rather than moving toward unity, this field is spiraling further away from the broader consensus of the world body.
Other items included a plan to change from two to five year apart constituency sessions. That plan was rejected by the delegates. Agenda items condemning the teaching of evolution and which also would have stated “unqualified disapproval” of the practice of homosexual acts, were, like the unity motion, referred to the conference executive committee. The most recent previous Northern California constituency session was held May 20, 2012.
The text of all three important motions is available here from the Northern California Conference website.
A 19 page set of footnotes supporting the Unity motion meticulously compiled was made available to delegates via the Northern California website, and is available VIA THIS LINK.
NOTE: ADvindicate.com has an article now offering more detail about the events at NCC Constituency meeting: The rest of the story: NCC constituency meeting
Among those taken to task in Angel Rodriguez’ 76 page paper addressing the main pro-biblical qualification (anti-WO) arguments was Edwin Reynolds. Professor Reynolds has responded point by point in a paper here made available. Those who have read Rodriguez’ paper will want to review Reynolds’ thoughtful response. FIND IT HERE.
Pacific Union Conference communication director Gerry Chudleigh published his paper on May 1, 2014 titled, “A short history of the Headship Doctrine in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” Chudleigh proposes that in the 1980s a small group of Adventists from Southern Michigan raided Calvinist theologians for their “headship theology.” Nevertheless, he says, practically no Adventists had heard such ideas until 2012. According to Chudleigh “headship theology” is a brand new doctrine for Adventists, and the TOSC process “may be the first Adventist school of headship theology.” Via TOSC, according to him, this divisive new doctrine is being spread across the world field. Pastor Larry Kirkpatrick (Bonners Ferry and Clark Fork Idaho churches, Upper Columbia Conference, NPUC, NAD) considers Chudleigh’s rendition of events in this short response video. He is one of several ministers who are part of the Council of Adventist Pastors (CAP).
By Many Hands
“[T]he question of homosexuality now presents evangelicals in the United States with a decision that cannot be avoided. Within a very short time, we will know where everyone stands on this question. There will be no place to hide, and there will be no way to remain silent. To be silent will answer the question.
“The question is whether evangelicals will remain true to the teachings of Scripture and the unbroken teaching of the Christian church for over two thousand years on the morality of same-sex acts and the institution of marriage” (Albert Mohler, “God, the Gospel, and the Gay Challenge—a Response to Matthew Vines,” http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/04/22/god-the-gospel-and-the-gay-challenge-a-response-to-matthew-vines/).
The church stands on a precipice. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is seeing clearly on a crucial issue. The tides of culture are washing in on the church. Mohler warns we are now living in the midst of what is essentially a revolution. Society-wide conceptions of morality are rapidly changing, and “. . .our answer to this question will both determine or reveal what we understand about everything the Bible reveals and everything the church teaches—even the gospel itself” (Ibid.).
If Mohler is right, much more is at stake for Adventists than a mere attempt to hold together opposite wings as one church. The actual question for us, is whether or not the Seventh-day Adventist Church will continue its commitment to following the Bible, that is, whether or not the Seventh-day Adventist Church will continue to exist as we know it.
The larger context of Mohler’s article is the threat posed by the teaching of Matthew Vines. Vines, an evangelical Christian, began a few years ago to publicly argue that one can both be Christian and also engage in committed same-sex “relationships.” He has gone on to develop and publish his viewpoints. Mohler warns that Vines “specifically seeks to argue that the basic sexual complementarity of the human male and the female—each made in God’s image—is neither essential to Genesis chapters 1 and 2 or to any biblical text that follows.”
This will have a familiar ring to Seventh-day Adventists who support our longstanding use of the Historical-grammatical method, who see evidence in Genesis two as does the New Testament’s apostle Paul. Under inspiration, Paul looks back to Genesis two, before the fall, for divinely-revealed insight on male and female roles. Opposite this Genesis two understanding we find Adventists advocating what the NAD has recently designated as the “Principle-based, Historical-cultural” (PBHC) method of Bible interpretation. Theirs is a view holding that these male and female roles arise not from Genesis two but from chapter three, after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God.
The difference is enormous. If male and female roles of headship and submission are part of the Creator’s design from a sinless world (as are Sabbath and marriage), they remain forever normative. But if headship entered only after sin, it is temporary and not part of the created order.
It is interesting to ponder which approach is consonant with current cultural claims of role interchangeability and same-sex “marriage”? Mohler warns:
“There are a great host of people, considered to be within the larger evangelical movement, who are desperately seeking a way to make peace with the moral revolution and endorse the acceptance of openly-gay individuals and couples within the life of the church. Given the excruciating pressures now exerted on evangelical Christianity, many people—including some high-profile leaders—are desperately seeking an argument they can claim as both persuasive and biblical. . . . the Bible insists on a difference in roles. In order to overcome this impediment, biblical scholars and theologians committed to egalitarianism have made arguments that are hauntingly similar to those now made by Matthew Vines in favor of relativizing the Bible’s texts on same-sex behaviors” (Ibid.).
The warning is clear. Denial of male and female complementarity opens the way for the denial of sexual complementarity. There are risks and potholes all over this road. If the Seventh-day Adventist Church would remain on the path of faithfulness to Scripture, it must step carefully. It must look beyond short term “gains” (keeping the church “together”) to the longer-term perspective.
The church is not “together.” There are differing approaches, differing hermeneutics, different views concerning the authority of Scripture. But there is a movement toward clarity. In due course we will have clarity. As in the larger evangelical world, soon everyone will know where the Seventh-day Adventist Church stands. One pathway compromises with culture; the other, although painful, maintains the counter-cultural biblical witness of an Eden to be restored. This witness is God’s Eden corrective, not man’s compromise with culture.
We stand on the precipice. The only question is whether or not we recognize it. Clarification on sex-roles in the church is not coming one moment too soon. If Mohler is right, “within a very short time, we will know where everyone stands on this question.”