According to reports, leaders of the Trans-European Division (TED) met on February 15 “to draft a formal response” to the General Conference’ (GC) process for reconciliation document voted at Annual Council 2016. The TED document claims to speak for Adventist members of that Division and calls for the issuance of a single credential for ministers. The requested change would contradict three General Conference session level votes (1990, 1995, 2015) which refused to open the way for women’s ordination to the gospel ministry. Since the beginning of the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the denomination has never approved the ordination of women.

Some European leaders are determined to practice the ordination of women in contradiction to their brothers and sisters in the world church. Some European Conferences even accept practicing gay and lesbian persons engaged in same-sex sin into church membership. Adventists have never accepted these two teachings as being valid biblical practices. We are a world church, not a regional European Church endorsing errant cultural practices.

The TED report on this meeting emphasized the “very complex and challenging situation the Church finds itself facing in secularized Europe.” TED leaders highlighted alleged legal demands by European secular governments. But God’s Church is not servant of the secular but of the Creator. Demands, whether made by a vast empire or by a small state, if they conflict with Scripture truth, cannot be determinative for us. The Church is called to carry forward a global countercultural witness. Europe is not an exception.

Many members in Europe do not accept that the Church must conform to state expectations. Adventists in Europe who have contacted us feel betrayed by those in leadership who have become entangled in culture. God’s Church in Europe is at risk of cultural captivity. We are a world church called to live by Bible-based rather than culturally-accommodating teachings and lifestyle practices.

The voted TED document affirmed that it would abide by decisions made by the General Conference in session, but claimed that decisions made at the General Conference level of administration were always to be carried out in specific regional settings. Are TED leaders saying they will refuse to work with the GC administration between sessions? Are they claiming they will obey with the right hand then emptying that claim of meeting with their left, granting to themselves right to “interpret” GC decisions “locally” in ways differing from the decisions of the world church?

At least one TED officer, Executive Secretary Audrey Andersson, correctly noted that “We cannot create a new credential ourselves, but we can recommend to the GC.” The TED committee also discussed the idea of asking that the commissioned minister credential be redefined to be equivalent to the ordained minister. Again, it is the GC which defines the authorities included in credentials. The Executive Committee of the Upper Columbia Conference in the North American Division decided on January 31, 2017 to abandon seeking a similar policy, and, on paper at least, to remain in harmony with the world church.

After decades of debate and years of study, it is not time to draft responses to GC voted actions as if women’s ordination were still under consideration. The Church has repeatedly refused to localize this question or change global practice to include the ordination of women. It has refused to surrender biblical principle to cultural imperative. It is time to work with General Conference leadership and get past this. Europeans do not know better than their world church. Being Jesus’ people of the Book is what is imperative–even in Europe.

15 thoughts on “TED Calls for Unisex Pastoral Credential

  1. When the “national legislation” goes against scripture then we need to follow scripture. Scripture paints a patriarchy as the structure of society and church relationships not feminism. If women never entered ministry then this would not even be raised….for decades male ministerial entrants accepted that their licenced status was not on par with full ordination……..the horse has already bolted and we may well regret ever ordaining women even as elders……I think that is just the TED’s smokescreen to continue to push WO in the GC’s face…….they quickly go against “legislation” when it suits them……

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      • You are right, Cathy. But this won’t happen as it is too deeply ingrained in the minds of many as a viable means of ministry for women. And it is support by Conference presidents all over the USA. So it won’t change. The church will split in some way or another because it already has spiritually.

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      • Incidentally, there’s no more biblical grounds for ordaining women as deacons than there is for ordaining them as elders.

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        • This is why we need to backtrack and correct some things. I realize that the majority of NAD leadership favor ordination to be opened to women. IN that case, we can pray that God will work. This is not a humanly-solved problem; the Bible is filled with such predicaments, but that didn’t keep God from intervening when His people called upon Him. One of my favorite stories is in 2 Chronicles 20. When the enemies of Israel threatened, in desperation King Jehoshaphat unashamedly fell on his face and prayed, “. . .we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee.” 2 Chon. 20:12 There is no reason why God can not deliver His people–His church today as He did then! That is IF we ask and believe He will. Let’s pray!

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        • When is the church going to acknowledge that they have made a mistake and that we need to revert back to what the bible actually says.

          As it says in John 16:13 – But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth….. How can the Holy Spirit guide 2 people into opposite truths – it is impossible. One is a lie & one is the truth. Imagine how many members are either deceived or don’t know what to believe just on the issue of women & ordination, how much easier is it going to be for the devil to deceive on any “meatier” issues doctrines. Eph 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;

          There is a reason for God putting in the bible Matt. 24:24 – For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

          Not what is says and the implications for each of us – if possible, the very elect!!!!!

          Oh how we need to knell at the cross and ask God to guide us and have a daily walk with God in prayer and study of the bible.

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    • Our church government is about as inept as the civil government and for the same reasons. We refuse to enforce any viable law and punishment for rebellion against properly ordained authority. The fact is, you can’t persuade everyone to do the right thing by just “being nice.” Apparently the former administration of the civil government thought so, and our church seems to think so as well.

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  2. Thank you so much for keeping the readers apprised of the developments of response to the Unity Document that the world church delegates voted to approve in October 2016 at Annual Council. Would you rewrite this incomplete sentence: ” Members in Europe who do not share convictions that the Church there must conform to state expectations.” I can figure out what you mean by context, but just thought I’d mention it. Thanks.

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  3. Does the church no longer keep the scriptures and its truth as its common reference point for our beliefs? Peter encouraged the leadership to be examples. “Nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3). The tone and purpose of this “unity document” appears to find the process to quickly disfellowship members from the Adventist church and avoid the difficult task of being Shepherd to flocks that had been entrusted to them. A policy issue being debated as a fundamental belief is so is disheartening. We need to keep praying for the gift of adminisration on our leaders and the many many sheep who are so broken hearted by the actions of the leadership of the church.

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  4. Here is a timely update for you all.
    Please read the following article, which was written by the president of one of our leading universities: news.llu.edu/wholeness/notes-from-president-lgbt

    You should also be aware of the following, (locally) widely publicized symposium at the same university, from October 2016: youtube.com/watch?v=WKBYp4Rexls

    There is more that I cannot share at this time. These are not isolated events, but are part of a long-time institutional pattern of behavior.

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  5. “. . . .it cannot be considered a choice they are making but rather an internal identity caused by their particular genetic code and its expression.” I find this phrase in the above referenced “Notes from the President” problematic. The author of the note presents Christ’s acceptance of the sinner as excluding the need for the sinner to accept His healing of their condition. When Jesus reached out to the leper, He did not just offer acceptance, but healing. If the leper had insisted that he was fine in his diseased condition, Christ’s acceptance could not have provided healing. The sick have to understand they need healing; the sinner needs forgiving and overcoming power. How we fail the world of hurting humans when we give them an incomplete, impotent “your ok, I’m ok” message.

    Reply

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