The Potomac Conference Executive committee voted on February 26, 2019 to submit the name of Therezinha Barbalho for approval for ordination to the gospel ministry. Barbalho, a woman, serves as pastor in the Silver Spring, MD church. Union approval is required before a conference proceeds with an ordination. The target date for Barbalho’s ordination is June 2019.

The world church voted in General Conference Session 2015 not to permit Divisions to decide unilaterally whether to ordain women to the gospel ministry. Disregard for that decision led the General Conference Executive Committee to create and vote a special compliance process in 2018.

The highest human authority in the church is the General Conference Session held every five years. Between GC Sessions, the General Conference Executive Committee handles necessary business items. The GC in session is analogous to a church business meeting, and the GC executive committee to the church board meeting. In the case of the General Conference, these meetings have global authority. Divisions, unions, and conferences in their turn, are all under the authority of the next higher level of organization. The Church Manual, p. 27, reminds us, “In the Seventh-day Adventist Church structure, no organization determines its own status, nor does it function as if it had no obligations to the Church family beyond its boundaries.”

Because the world church has not approved the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, neither Potomac Conference nor Columbia Union, subsidiary entities that they are, have not been delegated authority \to conduct such an ordination. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the ordained minister is recognized by the Church as having authority to minister on behalf of the church globally. For this reason, no sub-entity can act unilaterally; ordination grants authority across the entire organization.

It is ironic that the Conference and the Union are following the lines of authority to approve such an ordination at the lower levels when they clearly lack the authority at the higher levels. When conferences and unions act unilaterally and in contradiction to the decisions of the world church, they are engaging in a form of congregationalism. They are disrespecting the decision-making process of the very entities which have delegated to them the authority they are misusing. They are sowing disunity in the Church.

In an unprecedented act, the North Pacific Union (NPUC) executive committee voted 34-2 on November 14 to “unreservedly endorse the official response of the North American Division (NAD) to the document approved by the General Conference (GC) executive committee” (Gleaner, December 2018, p. 5).

Readers will recall that on November 6, 2018, the NAD voted a response to the October 14, 2018, General Conference action. In its response, the NAD stated

[W]e are compelled to reject the spirit and direction of this document voted at the 2018 Annual Council (hereafter indicated as ‘the document’), as it is not consistent with the biblical model of the church. We simply cannot, in good conscience, support or participate in the implementation of the process outlined in the document, as it is contrary to the culture of respect and collaboration taught in the Bible.

Excerpt from NAD Newspoints, November 7, 2018. https://www.nadadventist.org/sites/default/files/2018-11/NP%2011-7-18.pdf

It is difficult to see how the NPUC decision can do anything but create disunity in the North Pacific Union, its constituent conferences, the NAD territory and the world church. The 2015 General Conference Session vote at San Antonio regarding ordination is being openly disregarded. And now, the NAD—with the unreserved endorsement of the NPUC—adds further insult. The NPUC leaders have published a decision which can only encourage disregard for the Holy Spirit-guided decision-making of representative members from the broader world church.

The Council of Adventist Pastors (CAP) hereby expresses its unreserved disagreement with entities acting in open resistance toward the work of the Holy Spirit. The church should now be given an example of unity. Instead, entities we have respected act in insubordination, telling the world church they refuse to participate in the generous, even mild, compliance process voted at GC Annual Council 2018.

We find instructive the following lines published in Ministry magazine in 1995 shortly after the world church decided a second time not to embrace the ordination of women to the gospel ministry:

The General Conference in its session every five years is the highest authorizing body of the church. If we do not like what it votes, then we can work through legitimate channels of the church to change the decision. But in the process we must obey what the session has voted. What is the alternative? Anarchy, disunity, conflict, and fragmentation.

Part of the struggle of living in this sinful world is living with decisions we do not like. While majorities must always be respectful of the minority, the minority cannot expect to have its way when the majority rules otherwise. Either God is leading this church or not. If He is, then we need to respect the decisions made by the church in its highest governing session.

Ministry, April 1995, p. 30

While our just-previous news article with three videos gives readers the material needed to understand the forging of the NAD decision, the final short video above comes from the final debate and vote to reject the 2018 General Conference decision on Compliance. Not only did those favoring WO and open opposition to the General Conference speak, but some also critiqued the NAD decision and pled for a different approach. Their remarks are so to the point that we wanted to bring them to you in this form.

The full text for the remarkable, exceeding-its-authority, and yes, rebellious, NAD decision, is as follows.

North American Division Response to GC Annual Council Vote

On November 6, 2018, the Executive Committee of the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted the following response to a General Conference vote taken at the 2018 GC Annual Council:

North American Division 2018 Year-end Meeting Response to the Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions November 6, 2018

Affirmation

As the North American Division Executive Committee, we, along with our brothers and sisters around the world, wholeheartedly affirm a shared commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist faith. Based on the Bible and the 28 Fundamental Beliefs, this faith is expressed through the church’s worldwide mission and prophetic role in fulfilling the commission to proclaim the gospel “to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev 14:6, ESV; see also Matt 28:18-20; Rev 14:6-12).

We also affirm a shared commitment to oneness in the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-13, 27). As a global church family comprised of all generations, we belong to each other, care for each other, and are called to treat each other with respect and trust (John 13:34, 35; 15:12, 17; 1 John 4:7-8, 11-12, 20-21; Eph 4:2, 32; Col 3:13). As Ellen G. White wrote, “There is no person, no nation, that is perfect in every habit and thought. One must learn of another. Therefore, God wants the different nationalities to mingle together, to be one in judgment, one in purpose. Then the union that there is in Christ will be exemplified” (Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 137.1).

We also affirm that structure and organization bring value to advancing the mission and message of the church (1 Cor 14:40).

Our Church

When the body of Christ functions as God intended, as exemplified by the early church, it derives its authority from Christ, the head of the church, who led through service (Matt 20:28; Mark 10:45; Eph 1:22; Col 1:18; 2:10). Servant leaders express and foster Christlike forbearance and humility (Matt 20:25-28; John 13:1-17; Phil 2:1-5). Such leadership creates healthy structure, which gives voice to all members of the body and respects the priesthood of all believers (Ex 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9).

The structure of the church is characterized by unity and diversity, as stated by Paul in 1 Cor 12:12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (ESV). Such st reflects a reality for which He prays in John 17. Honoring diversity in implementing the Seventh-day Adventist mission allows for effective response to specific conditions while still maintaining global values and identity, as exemplified in Acts 15.

Our Position

We recognize Christ as the head of the church (Col 1:18). We are guided by the Bible as our only creed, the Holy Spirit who inspired and interprets it, the writings of Ellen G. White that shine light on it, and a resulting spirit of Christlike forbearance.

As such, we are compelled to reject the spirit and direction of this document voted at the 2018 Annual Council (hereafter indicated as “the document”), as it is not consistent with the biblical model of the church. We simply cannot, in good conscience, support or participate in the implementation of the process outlined in the document, as it is contrary to the culture of respect and collaboration taught in the Bible (Zech 4:6; Rom 14:13; 15:7; 1 Cor 1:10; 2 Cor 13:11; Phil 2:5; Eph 5:2).

Furthermore, we believe that the document moves us away from the biblical values proclaimed by the Protestant reformers and the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and, in so doing, moves us toward a centralized power and a hierarchical system of governance that overrides the policies and procedures already in place (1 Cor 12:12-27). We are alarmed that, in this document, church policies and voted actions are equated with Scripture. We are also deeply concerned by the use of shame as a punitive measure, because it is in violation of the spirit of the gospel (John 8:3-11).

Additionally, the document moves us away from the principles behind the 1901-03 reorganization, endorsed by Ellen G. White, which decentralized denominational authority.

The voicing of our objection is in alignment with the 1877 General Conference voted action, which allows for questioning any General Conference vote “shown to conflict with the word of God and the rights of individual conscience” (Review and Herald, October 4, 1877, p. 106).

Ellen G. White, in response to an 1888 General Conference Session vote she had counseled against, later wrote, “It was not right for the conference to pass it. It was not in God’s order, and this resolution will fall powerless to the ground. I shall not sustain it, for I would not be found working against God. This is not God’s way of working, and I will not give it countenance for a moment” (Letter 22, 1889, pp. 10-11). We believe the church should take heed of this counsel at this moment in our history.

Requests for Action

1. We respectfully request, in light of Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17 and in harmony with the call for unity in the body of Christ in Fundamental Belief No. 14, that the General Conference Executive Committee at its 2019 Annual Council rescind the action approving the document.

2. We respectfully request that the 2019 Annual Council revise any policies that enable majority fields to dictate the management of non-doctrinal, non-biblical issues to minority fields (1 Cor 12:26) and create policies that protect the interests of minority fields.

3. We respectfully request that an item be placed on the 2020 General Conference Session agenda calling for a statement by the world church that: (1) affirms our shared respect for the richness and variety of the multiple cultures and practices in which we minister; and (2) empowers ministry that is sensitive to the local context (Acts 15; 1 Cor 9:19-23).

It is our sincere hope that the future will be characterized by continual prayer and open dialogue, empowered by “him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20, ESV).

This response was voted during the Year-end Meeting of the North American Division Executive Committee on November 6, 2018 in Columbia, Maryland.

The North American Division (NAD) Executive Committee acted in its 2018 Year-end Meeting (YEM) to openly defy the voted actions of the world church.

  • The NAD president claimed that the NAD had not contravened General Conference Working Policy, and stated the NAD “We will not be deterred. We don’t care what action, we don’t care what body, we do not care.”
  • NAD President: "We Have not Contravened GC Policy" from CAP on Vimeo.

  • And yet, present NAD leadership, by inaction on more than 50 unauthorized ordinations of women in NAD Conferences and Unions (Fulcrum7.com, “The real Issue: Hint–It’s Not Ted Wilson,” Oct. 10, 2018, http://www.fulcrum7.com/blog/2018/10/10/the-real-issue-hint-its-not-ted-wilson?rq=ted%20wilson), effectively aligns itself against world church 1990, 1995, and 2015 General Conference Session votes which refused to authorize such ordinations or to authorize the regionalization of such ordinations. In the November 6, 2018 meeting, NAD president Dan Jackson called these ordinations “small matters.”
  • On October 14, 2018, the General Conference Executive Committee, representing the world church, enacted a new Compliance policy designed to bring accountability for situations where different levels of church governance disregard world church policies and voted actions. The new policy enables appropriate intervention by General Conference leadership. The world church leadership is tasked with carrying out the decisions voted by the delegates of the world body.
  • On Nov 6 the majority vote of NAD YEM voted a reply telling the General Conference, “we are compelled to reject the spirit and direction of this document voted at the 2018 Annual Council (hereafter indicated as ‘the document’), as it is not consistent with the biblical model of the church. We simply cannot, in good conscience, support or participate in the implementation of the process outlined in the document, as it is contrary to the culture of respect and collaboration taught in the Bible” (Full text of voted statement at end of this article.) You can view a 51 minute “Readers Digest” version of four hour Nov. 4 floor debate which initiated the voted statement here:
  • NAD YEM Nov. 4 2018 "Reader's Digest" version floor debate from CAP on Vimeo.

  • The NAD is not granted authority to act thus, thus its action is a usurpation of authority.
  • Furthermore, the NAD voted to request a catastrophic reduction in the amount of tithe it passes onward to the world church.
  • After this vote, the NAD president specifically called out world church division leaders, reminding them that the NAD is “the breadbasket” of the church, and threatening them that they “had better be a spirit of reconciliation” and he threatened to “walk away,” warning, “my fellow division presidents, be a little careful.” View the Jackson’s statement here:
  • Jackson Demands New Push for WO from CAP on Vimeo.

    (We plan to update this article with an additional Video from NAD meeting.)


    North American Division Response to GC Annual Council Vote

    On November 6, 2018, the Executive Committee of the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted the following response to a General Conference vote taken at the 2018 GC Annual Council:

    North American Division 2018 Year-end Meeting Response to the Regard for
    and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions November 6, 2018

    Affirmation

    As the North American Division Executive Committee, we, along with our brothers and sisters around the world, wholeheartedly affirm a shared commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist faith. Based on the Bible and the 28 Fundamental Beliefs, this faith is expressed through the church’s worldwide mission and prophetic role in fulfilling the commission to proclaim the gospel “to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev 14:6, ESV; see also Matt 28:18-20; Rev 14:6-12).

    We also affirm a shared commitment to oneness in the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-13, 27). As a global church family comprised of all generations, we belong to each other, care for each other, and are called to treat each other with respect and trust (John 13:34, 35; 15:12, 17; 1 John 4:7-8, 11-12, 20-21; Eph 4:2, 32; Col 3:13). As Ellen G. White wrote, “There is no person, no nation, that is perfect in every habit and thought. One must learn of another. Therefore, God wants the different nationalities to mingle together, to be one in judgment, one in purpose. Then the union that there is in Christ will be exemplified” (Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 137.1).

    We also affirm that structure and organization bring value to advancing the mission and message of the church (1 Cor 14:40).

    Our Church

    When the body of Christ functions as God intended, as exemplified by the early church, it derives its authority from Christ, the head of the church, who led through service (Matt 20:28; Mark 10:45; Eph 1:22; Col 1:18; 2:10). Servant leaders express and foster Christlike forbearance and humility (Matt 20:25-28; John 13:1-17; Phil 2:1-5). Such leadership creates healthy structure, which gives voice to all members of the body and respects the priesthood of all believers (Ex 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9).

    The structure of the church is characterized by unity and diversity, as stated by Paul in 1 Cor 12:12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (ESV). Such st reflects a reality for which He prays in John 17. Honoring diversity in implementing the Seventh-day Adventist mission allows for effective response to specific conditions while still maintaining global values and identity, as exemplified in Acts 15.

    Our Position

    We recognize Christ as the head of the church (Col 1:18). We are guided by the
    Bible as our only creed, the Holy Spirit who inspired and interprets it, the writings of Ellen G. White that shine light on it, and a resulting spirit of Christlike forbearance.

    As such, we are compelled to reject the spirit and direction of this document voted at the 2018 Annual Council (hereafter indicated as “the document”), as it is not consistent with the biblical model of the church. We simply cannot, in good conscience, support or participate in the implementation of the process outlined in the document, as it is contrary to the culture of respect and collaboration taught in the Bible (Zech 4:6; Rom 14:13; 15:7; 1 Cor 1:10; 2 Cor 13:11; Phil 2:5; Eph 5:2).

    Furthermore, we believe that the document moves us away from the biblical values proclaimed by the Protestant reformers and the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and, in so doing, moves us toward a centralized power and a hierarchical system of governance that overrides the policies and procedures already in place (1 Cor 12:12-27). We are alarmed that, in this document, church policies and voted actions are equated with Scripture. We are also deeply concerned by the use of shame as a punitive measure, because it is in violation of the spirit of the gospel (John 8:3-11).

    Additionally, the document moves us away from the principles behind the 1901-03 reorganization, endorsed by Ellen G. White, which decentralized denominational authority.

    The voicing of our objection is in alignment with the 1877 General Conference voted action, which allows for questioning any General Conference vote “shown to conflict with the word of God and the rights of individual conscience” (Review and Herald, October 4, 1877, p. 106).

    Ellen G. White, in response to an 1888 General Conference Session vote she had counseled against, later wrote, “It was not right for the conference to pass it. It was not in God’s order, and this resolution will fall powerless to the ground. I shall not sustain it, for I would not be found working against God. This is not God’s way of working, and I will not give it countenance for a moment” (Letter 22, 1889, pp. 10-11). We believe the church should take heed of this counsel at this moment in our history.

    Requests for Action

    1. We respectfully request, in light of Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17 and in harmony with the call for unity in the body of Christ in Fundamental Belief No. 14, that the General Conference Executive Committee at its 2019 Annual Council rescind the action approving the document.
    2. We respectfully request that the 2019 Annual Council revise any policies that enable majority fields to dictate the management of non-doctrinal, non-biblical issues to minority fields (1 Cor 12:26) and create policies that protect the interests of minority fields.
    3. We respectfully request that an item be placed on the 2020 General Conference Session agenda calling for a statement by the world church that: (1) affirms our shared respect for the richness and variety of the multiple cultures and practices in which we minister; and (2) empowers ministry that is sensitive to the local context (Acts 15; 1 Cor 9:19-23).

    It is our sincere hope that the future will be characterized by continual prayer and open dialogue, empowered by “him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20, ESV).

    This response was voted during the Year-end Meeting of the North American Division Executive Committee on November 6, 2018 in Columbia, Maryland.

    By a vote of 185 yes, 124 no, with two abstentions, the General Conference Executive Committee (GCEC) on Oct. 14, 2018 adopted a plan to facilitate course correction for church entities rebelliously engaged in ordaining women to the gospel ministry.

    One day later, October 15, NAD leaders issued their own statement. Disagreeing with the GCEC decision, they asserted that the newly voted plan “seeks to create a hierarchical system of governance.” Present NAD leadership indicated that “In a collaborative effort, leaders in the NAD are discussing how the church in North America will move forward.”

    The Council of Adventist Pastors (CAP), a group including both conference-employed and retired North American Division pastors, decided to issue its own statement as follows:

    At the 2015 General Conference Session held in San Antonio Texas, it was voted not to permit any Division to unilaterally engage in the ordination of women to the gospel ministry. Yet recent years have seen approximately 60 such illegal ordinations—many actually occurring after San Antonio. What was voted by delegates in 2015 was not a policy decision; the motion enacted was based on the word of God. Recall the motion’s wording:

    “After your prayerful study on ordination from the Bible, the writings of Ellen G White, and the reports of the study commissions, and;
    After your careful consideration of what is best for the Church and the fulfillment of its mission,
    Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? Yes or No”

    Church membership is always voluntary. The people of God by faith are bound to obey the decision voted. CAP pastors believe that for the NAD to manifest anything less than whole-hearted commitment to timely and full cooperation with the world church is profoundly misguided.

    With rejoicing CAP reiterates its full support of the 2015 San Antonio decision and indicates its full support of the voted decision of the 2018 Annual Council. As pastors and workers presently serving Jesus in the North America Division, NAD CAP pastors treasure unity with the world church.

    Consider these sample responses from some NAD CAP pastors:

    * Pastor Kent Knight, ret., states “I found Sunday’s deliberation and the outcome of the resulting vote to be greatly reassuring of God’s leading. I retired last evening with a prayerful concern for those who were disappointed.”

    * Pastor Larry Kirkpatrick says, “Here we stand at the end of time and just now some are trading present truth for a stale feminism that cannot be reconciled with Scripture. But Jesus is ready to help those who have become confused to turn to Him.”

    * Pastor Lonny Liebelt wrote, “I was grateful that the motion was passed at Fall Council to move forward with the compliance issues in our church today.”

    * Pastor Jim Anderson says, “God’s counsel is being followed, at least by our brothers and sisters in much of the world. Lord, may it be so in the NAD.”

    * Pastor Dan Knapp, ret., said, “The vote to implement the Compliance Document Sunday, October 14 confirms once again that Biblically-based faith and governance practices will triumph over strained Biblical hermeneutics, secular cultural accommodation and radical gender obliterating social political correctness.”

    * Pastor Alvaro Sauza writes, “I am praying for Elder Daniel Jackson to seize the opportunity of stepping up to the plate and humbly submitting to the decision we have made as a church. May our NAD president take the lead in surrendering personal agenda for the sake of unity. I believe God is waiting for a genuine demonstration of Micah 6:8 by the NAD.”

    * Pastor Mike Lambert added, “I am part of something that is bigger than me. It is the Great Advent Movement, tasked with a mission that goes to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. On Sunday, our brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world voted a document to help keep order in our great mission. Let us faithfully pray for and support their decision.”

    Refusal by GCEC to act decisively toward errant NAD leadership as necessary, would spread the virus of non-compliance to the General Conference Executive Committee itself, making the GCEC itself non-compliant. If present NAD leaders manifest anything short of full cooperation with the world church, let it be known that those leaders speak for themselves only and not for rank and file workers and members. Our hearts and prayers are with the God of heaven and His world church. Jesus never purchased peace by compromise (DA 356). Neither can God’s remnant church.

    Lonny Liebelt responds to William Johnsson’s article “A troubling Disconnect.” Johnsson thinks that he and the pro-WO faction is being led by the Holy Spirit. He thinks that the Generla confernece is not being led by the Holy Spirit. Pastor Liebelt interacts with Johnsson’s assertions here:

    http://ordinationtruth.com/featured/response-to-william-johnsson-a-troubling-disconnect/

    The General Conference Administrative Committee voted on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, to approve a complicated proposal offered by the Unity Oversight Committee. Details here:

    https://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/story6303-administrative-committee-takes-step-forward-in-unity-process

    The action proposed by the Unity Oversight Committee (UOC) for Annual Council 2018 is inadequate. God has spoken through His people. The world church has voted not to permit units to act unilaterally to ordain women to the pastoral ministry. Neither did the church vote in 2015 to permit modified specious credentialing practices. Since the 2015 vote, non-compliant conferences and unions in the North American Division (NAD) have been given more than sufficient opportunity to come in line with the decision of the world church. MORE THAN THREE YEARS HAVE PASSED since the San Antonio July 8, 2015 world church decision. In this time, NAD leadership has brought not even one insubordinate entity into compliance.

    The proposed UOC plan calls for noncompliance to be reported to the next higher level. If that level fails to address the non-compliance, that level becomes responsible to the next higher level of organization. Thus, in the North American context, some entity would need to report non-compliance by Pacific Union, Columbia Union, or North Pacific Union (all of which presently embrace non-compliant practice regarding ordaining or credentialing women pastors). But reporting to the non-compliant union itself would be ineffectual. Then, if somehow the matter were actually forwarded to the North American Division, what? NAD does nothing.

    If the matter is not resolved by the NAD, the General Conference can assign the matter to be reviewed by the compliance committee. And in all this there are no time limits. Indeed, the proposal asks for “much prayer and dialogue.”

    There is no concrete set of time limitations at any stage. At every stage the implementation of any action is built on indeterminate “mays” and “ifs.” And even if a committee somewhere has enough conviction and energy to call for the actual application of sanctions, the possible actions are:

    1. Warning. (No action to address individual leaders.)
    2. Public reprimand. (The leaders of the non-compliant entity continue to have voice and vote. They are rewarded for their non-compliance. But a reminder is given each time they seek the floor, publicly stating that their entity is in non-compliance.)
    3. If non-compliance continues, members of the non-compliant entity may be removed “for cause,” according to Bylaws Article XIII Sec. 1. c. and GC B 95.

    But this option (number 3) ALREADY EXISTS. By creating an elaborate series of additional steps, barriers are created which hinder the application of discipline.

    And, according to the plan, even

    In instances where a president has been removed from the membership of the committee “for cause,” other members of the General Conference Executive Committee from that union shall continue to exercise full privileges without mention of reprimand.

    Thus, the process envisioned by the UOC achieves little. It actually adds layers. Church members are not calling for additional bureaucratic labyrinth or for time-consuming, ineffectual actions. The effect of this plan, if implemented, will be to facilitate non-compliance, assuring no substantive consequence will be applied for breaching the trust of the world body.

    The proposed plan will further divide the church of God.

    Instead, we urge all parties to consider a simpler proposal: to immediately remove “for cause” at Annual Council 2018 the three current NAD executive administrative officers, whose inaction has deeply damaged the global unity of the church and in the North American Division.

    Three years have passed and nothing substantive has been done. Let the Annual Council now act.

    The Adventist Review recently posted a survey on Facebook which appears to be designed to link Antitrinitarianism with Last Generation Theology and with those who oppose women’s ordination.

    The current resurgence in Antitrinitarianism is not justified by the Bible or the Ellen G. White writings. A small number of persons have recently adopted Antitrinitarian notions and are presenting teachings such as

      – There are two persons in the Godhead—the Father and the Son Jesus only—and that there are not three distinct persons.
      – The Holy Spirit is not an actual person in Himself.
      – There was a time when Jesus as a distinct person actually had a beginning.

    All three notions are false. There are three persons, not two (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:13). The Holy Spirit is a distinct person in Himself just as the Father and Jesus. And, Jesus has always existed as a distinct person in the Godhead; He never had a beginning (Micah 5:2; John 1:1-3).

    Meanwhile, “Last Generation Theology” is basically a shorthand way to refer to the distinctive Adventist sanctuary package. In the last days God has raised up a movement to follow Jesus fully, and to receive His forgiveness and power for victory over sin (Revelation 14:12; 18:1). As Ellen White writes,

    Christ is cleansing the heavenly sanctuary from the sins of the people, and it is the work of all who are laborers together with God to be cleansing the sanctuary of the soul from everything that is offensive to Him (Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, pp. 54, 55).

    There is more to say, but Ellen White stated a profound truth in The Great Controversy that

    The subject of the sanctuary was the key which unlocked the mystery of the disappointment of 1844. It opened to view a complete system of truth, connected and harmonious, showing that God’s hand had directed the great advent movement and revealing present duty as it brought to light the position and work of His people” (The Great Controversy, p. 423).

    Meanwhile, other voices seem determined to give the impression of a strong connection between LGT and Antitrinitarianism. George Knight, not content to compare General Conference leadership to Nazis and Catholics over the women’s ordination issue, follows a guilt-by-association plan in his new book End-Time Events and The Last Generation (ETETLG). What he does here is similar.

    Knight claims in ETETLG that “anti-Trinitarianism is especially strong among the believers in Andreasen’s last generation theology,” and, “It should be noted that not all of the newer voices among the last generation theology believers are anti-Trinitarian,” and, “it is important to realize that the last generation segment of Adventism is far from united on Trinitarian issues,” pp. 113, 114 and 114, respectively). Knight’s attempt to link the recent interest in anti-Trinitarianism among a small number of Adventists and former-Adventists at the margin falls flat. All of the prominent contemporary voices Knight names as supporting Last Generation Theology and who are named in the Seminary book God’s Character and the Last Generation, are fully Trinitarian and fully supportive of the Fundamental Beliefs of the church including the Godhead or Trinity.

    Adventist Review editors in early May 2018 posted a short survey on Facebook titled “The Godhead Survey.” Most of the questions composing the survey are significantly misleading. Do we believe that the one God in three persons, whom Ellen White refers to as the “heavenly trio,” are co-equal? or co-eternal? Do we believe that Jesus is eternally submissive to the Father? or functionally submissive? Here are the survey questions:

    1. God the Father and God the Son share co-equal, co-sovereign divinity. T or F
    2. Jesus may properly be called God’s only begotten Son because He had a beginning at some stage in eternity past. T or F
    3. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit share co-equal, co-sovereign divinity. T or F
    4. Jesus’ eternal subordination to His Father is a divine dimension of the hierarchy also present within God’s created order. T or F
    5. Jesus’ eternal subordination to His Father illustrates the same principle of headship applicable between husband and wife in God’s ideal for marriage. T or F
    6. The life of Jesus proves that victory over sin is assured to everyone who trusts in God as Jesus did. T or F
    7. Before Christ returns God is looking for a generation of people who will vindicate Him by showing a perfect reproduction of the character of Christ.
    8. Because Christ shared the same human nature that we do, we know that we may overcome as He did.
    9. How old are you?
    10. Gender? M or F

    What is intended in the survey to be the meaning of “co-equal”? Adventist Fundamental Beliefs do not make this claim. Instead, FB #2 states, “There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons.” The full texts of FBs #2 The Trinity, #3 The Father, #4 The Son, #5 The Holy Spirit, never use language stating that the three divine Persons are co-equal. But Survey questions #1 and #3 use “co-equal” and ask the respondent to indicate True or False.

    The second survey question states “Jesus may properly be called God’s only begotten Son because He had a beginning at some stage in eternity past.” The title of the survey, “Godhead,” seems calculated to interest antitrinitarian respondents, who will certainly mark question two as “True.” This response, along with others, will cause it to appear that there is a connection between those who believe regular Adventism, who are thus “LGT,” and those who are Antitrinitarian!

    Survey question #4 states, “Jesus’ eternal subordination to His Father is a divine dimension of the hierarchy also present within God’s created order.” But “eternal subordination” is a straw man argument of the pro-women’s ordination faction in the church. Rather, from what we read in the Bible and EGW writings, Jesus chooses to be in functional submission to the Father. Eternally subordinate could indicate a structural or organic difference within the Godhead. We have Bible evidence for functional submission but not for eternal subordination.

    Survey question #5 states “Jesus’ eternal subordination to His Father illustrates the same principle of headship applicable between husband and wife in God’s ideal for marriage.” It is wrong to use the term “eternal subordination,” which, again, is not employed by any who support LGT or who oppose women’s ordination. But this question, if answered “True,” would lend support to the idea that male leadership or headship is based on a mistaken view of the relation between the three persons of the Godhead or Trinity.

    What the Adventist Review would seek to prove about male leadership using the potential survey results of this misleading Survey?

    Questions #6 through #8 would likely be regarded by most Adventists as close to true. We believe that Jesus’ victory shows us how to overcome. Yet we have to ask, Who can claim to trust in the Father with hearts as deeply committed to Him as Jesus did? Yes, that should be our goal. But those trusting the most in Jesus will feel deep distrust in themselves. Such might hesitate to mark this “True.” Christ has not yet come, as He seeks to see His character closely copied in the last generation (Ellen White uses the term “perfectly reproduced.” See Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69; Counsels to Teachers, p. 324). But we must beware of claiming that they vindicate Jesus. By living holy lives, they will give testimony to God’s goodness, and those lives will have a vindicating aspect to them (The Desire of Ages, p. 671), but all should be clear that Jesus’ death on the cross provided the complete sacrifice for our sins and that humans living holy lives in no way add merit to the sacrifice of the cross.

    Most will be comfortable answering questions #6, #7, #8 “Yes,” but what would be the result of the finished survey? Question two would assure receiving many “True” answers from Antitrinitarians, while questions 6-8 would provide many “True” answers from Adventists who believe what the Church teaches. Thus, survey results could create the false impression that there is substantial overlap between Antitrinitarianism, Last Generation Theology, and those who support a biblical-qualifications only position with reference to women’s ordination (those opposing women’s ordination).

    Thus, the Antitrinitarian error might be used misleadingly to portray conservative Adventists as heretics. The Adventist Review “Godhead Survey” appears to be intentionally designed to create false impressions, false linkages between truth and error.

    Was it so designed? We will likely never know.

    Hopefully, the survey will be deleted from the Adventist Review’s Facebook page during the next few days. But “The Godhead Survey” is filled with misleading questions, seems to treat the members of the church with contempt, and to be designed for political purposes to divide and confuse conservative Adventists and to unite and advance the insubordinate position of those now combining against the authority of the world church in session and the General Conference. Are the editors at the Review working to unite the Church at this time? Bill Knott’s remarkably awful 2015 article “A Time to Marginalize” reminds us that the Review has been a deeply-divisive source of disunity, right when we need to unify over biblically sound decisions the church has made which have been decided by duly elected delegates in Session.

    Let us pray for the appointment of new leadership at the Adventist Review and apology for this remarkable exhibit of deception.


    The editor of the Review can be contacted at revieweditor@gc.adventist.org. But at this point, a more effectual course really would be to write to the chair of the Adventist Review, Elder Ted N.C. Wilson, at president@gc.adventist.org.

    On Sabbath, March 3, 2018, Potomac Conference administrators participated in the “ordination” of Ms. Renee Stepp.

    But in 2015, Adventist representatives from all over the globe assembled in San Antonio Texas, USA for General Conference Session. Thousands of delegates participated debating, voting, and reaching a decision on behalf of the world church. The Church refused to grant authority for subsections of itself to act unilaterally regarding ordination. Following the Bible pattern, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has never in its history approved the ordination of women to the gospel ministry.

    And yet, with the world church’s San Antonio decision in full view, the Columbia Union Executive Committee approved the request of Potomac Conference Executive Committee leaders. Stepp’s Williamsburg “ordination” is an open, high-handed act of rebellion by Potomac and Columbia elected leaders exactly contradicting the decision voted by the delegates of the world church.

    According to an article by Potomac Conference, Stepp’s experience includes service as women’s dean at academy, holding office in her local church, full time student at Andrews University Theological Seminary, and chaplain of an Adventist academy. She served in a supporting role in the Vienna congregation.

    Paul urged workers to select spiritually qualified males of experience to serve as elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), but never a woman. The Bible contains zero examples of women as primary congregational leaders, and zero examples of women elders.

    To circumvent the decision of the world church is to circumvent God’s plan for church governance. If Columbia and Potomac can ordain a woman, they can ordain anyone.

    Participants in the ordination service included Potomac conference president William “Bill” Miller, Dave Vandevere, vice president for finance, Rick Jordan and Renee Stepp.

    http://www.pcsda.org/2018/03/05/renee-stepp-ordained-gospel-ministry/