We want to point your attention to four interesting new websites that did not exist even six months ago. All are the products of laypeople who support the world church in the present crisis!

TheStairView.com is entirely the work of Adventist laypeople who support the long-standing Seventh-day Adventist use of the historical-grammatical method of biblical interpretation. The focus is on sound biblical interpretation. The material fully supports the decision of the world church. Layperson Johnston Robinson is responsible.

Rollene.no is a new website from laypeople in Norway. “Rollene” means “the Roles.” Many Adventists in Norway have remained largely unaware of the crisis concerning women’s ordination. The site invites Adventists to strengthen their understanding of bible truth applied to gender roles. The Bible is to be read according to the “Sola, Tota, Prima Scriptura” principle. Some leaders are resisting the world church and leading church members away from the body with them. The goal of Rollene.no is to minimize the resulting harm. Articles are grouped in the four sections: The Bible, the Family, the Church, and Q&A. The material fully supports the decision of the world church. Layperson Sergey Paniflov is responsible.

UnityInTruth.com is a new site seeking to activate laypeople in support of the world church. Its mission is to promote loving, Christlike accountability in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, so that we may truly reflect Christ to a world in darkness. UnityInTruth.com seeks to encourage leadership and laity alike to faithfulness to message and mission, hastening the return of Christ. The site also features a thoughtful petition calling for action against the insubordinate sections of the Church. The material fully supports the decision of the world church. Laypersons Gabe and Jennifer Arruda are responsible.

AffirmationSabbath.org is the official site of a growing movement of laypeople from across the NAD called World Church Affirmation Sabbath. The work of this group is to hold lay-led meetings where laypeople can meet face to face and learn how to better fulfill heaven’s plan for representative church governance, which has been largely ignored leaving us in the present crisis. The site gives locations for meetings to be held in September, publishes a twice-a-month newsletter, and has links to videos from it meetings. It will include livestreaming links for the September event. The work of Affirmation Sabbath fully supports the decision of the world church, and the initiative has been positively featured in the General conference Executive Committee Newsletter. Laypersons involved are listed on the site.

Many of these sites merit further detailed review and we hope in the near future to describe some of them more fully.

WO Symposium “Dangers on the Horizon” | Pr. Larry Kirkpatrick

DOWNLOAD HANDOUT for Kirkpatrick Bakersfield presentation.
WO Symposium PANEL DISCUSSION Allen Davis, Gerzon Gomez, Larry Kirkpatrick, Laurel Damsteegt, Jennifer Arruda, Daniel Mesa

WO Symposium “The Forgotten Story of 1989″ | Laurel Damsteegt

WO Symposium “Gift Versus Appointment” | Allen Davis

WO Symposium “We the People, Must Speak” | Jennifer Arruda

WO Symposium “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth” | Pr. Daniel Mesa

WO Symposium “The Impact of Culture and the Desire for Unity” | Allen Davis

WO Symposium “A Woman’s Full Participation in Ministry” | Julie Mesa

AOC-Cover

A new book has just been released addressing the present crisis over women’s ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is the result of a careful two year collaborative study of several Adventist leaders, including pastors, university professors, conference administrators, physicians, teachers, and lay-leaders—men and women alike—from around the world. Featured contributors include Doug Batchelor, Stephen Bohr, Allen Davis, Laurel Damsteegt, Michael Hasel, C. Raymond Holmes, Jim Howard, Wayne Kablanow, Larry Kirkpatrick, Daniel Knapp Sr., Kent Knight, Mike Lambert, Junie Lawson, Don Mackintosh, Carrisa McSherry, Phil Mills, Kevin Paulson, John Peters, Eugene Prewitt, David Read, Edwin Reynolds, Alvaro Sauza, Ingo Sorke, Mario Veloso.

This 128 page book concisely yet carefully addresses the key issues. Chapters address hermeneutics, spiritual gifts, church offices, qualifications, Ellen White’s example, gender role differences, headship, Ellen White’s teaching on gender roles, culture and consequences, and the way forward. Special material is included addressing the facts about General Conference action on elders and also the “China” question.

This is an important book offering a concise summary of key factors in the decisions faced by Seventh-day Adventists in the General Conference session to be held in San Antonio Texas in July 2, 2015!

The book is available in quantities of 10 or more for only $1.00 each. Order yours now. Every Adventist in your congregation should have an opportunity to read this book!

The book is available through Amazing Facts: http://www.afbookstore.com/item/i/BK-AOC/n/The_Adventist_Ordination_Crisis/

More than 18M members, gathered from across the globe, make up the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Every five years delegates are elected and called to General Conference session. They seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit for collective leading in key decisions of the Church. This July (2015), delegates will meet in San Antonio, Texas, USA. The issue of women’s ordination is to be addressed. On two previous occasions (1990, 1995), the General Conference voted not to permit the ordination of women to the gospel ministry. The short video appeal above calls for delegates to reject the proposal to permit each division to decide for itself on women’s ordination, and that the Church instead implement TOSC position #1.

The following presentations were given and live-streamed on Wednesday and Thursday, October 1, 2, 2014:

Womens Ordination #1 Oct 1 — “Are You Sure? Issues and Answers” — Stephen Bohr

Womens Ordination #2 Oct 2 — “The Impact of Spiritualism on Feminism and Gender Issues Today” — Laurel Damsteegt

Women’s Ordination #3 Oct 2 — “From Mohaven to TOSC: How we got here” — Mario Veloso

Women’s Ordination #4 Oct 2 — “Male Headship in the Old Testament” — John Peters

Women’s Ordination #5 Oct 2 — “Male Headship in the New Testament” — Ingo Sorke

Women’s Ordination #6 Oct 2 — “Hermeneutics: Universal Principles and Local Application — 1st Panel”

Women’s Ordination #7 Oct 2 — “Straw Man Arguments in Favor of Women’s Ordination” — Eugene Prewitt

Women’s Ordination #8 Oct 2 — “The Present Relevance of 1 Timothy” — Don Mackintosh

The following is the one page TOSC “Way Forward” statement made by the 32 persons opposing women’s ordination and arguing for a position consistent with the biblical qualifications.


To remain faithful to Scripture, to reaffirm and further promote women in ministry, and to preserve Bible-based unity in the Church, we recommend the following for consideration by the General Conference in full session: (1) Reaffirm and encourage women whom God has called to gospel work by public recognition and licensure; (2) Provide specialized educational opportunities for women in gospel work and ensure fair and just treatment upon their placement in ministry; (3) Promote the greater development of various lines of ministry for women, according to their spiritual gifts, including but not limited to personal and public evangelism, teaching, preaching, ministering to families, counseling, medical missionary work, departmental leadership, etc. While increasing opportunities for women in ministry, we also recommend that we (4) Retain the scriptural practice of ordaining/commissioning only qualified men to the office of pastor/minister throughout the world church in harmony with the consistent example of Christ, the apostles, and the Adventist pioneers; and (5) Return to the biblical practice of electing and ordaining only men to the office of local elder throughout the world church, while allowing women to serve as unordained church leaders under certain circumstances.

Support and Other Considerations

  • God calls women to both full- and part-time ministry (Daughters of God, pp. 20, 110; Evangelism, p. 472). The lines of service in which women may work are broad and far-reaching (Exodus 15:20; Judges chs. 4-5; Acts 9:36, 39; Romans 16:1-12; Titus 2:3-5; Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 128, 129; Christian Service, p. 68). For its mission, the Church must make full use of the indispensable role of women in the ministry of the church. Women “can do in families a work that men cannot do, a work that reaches the inner life. They can come close to the hearts of those whom men cannot reach. Their work is needed” (Christian Service, p. 27). The Church should issue an appropriate license with equitable compensation to qualified women “although the hands of ordination have not been laid upon” them (Manuscript 22, 1892; Evangelism, pp. 491-493; Manuscript Releases 12, p. 160; Gospel Workers, p. 492).
  • Although both men and women are called to various lines of ministry, the Bible consistently assigns the office of local elder or pastor/minister to faithful men who satisfy the scriptural requirements. See the examples of Jesus and the early church as well as Paul’s instruction (Mark 3:13; Acts 1:21-26; 6:3; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). This assignment, rather than being based on culture, is grounded by Paul in the male spiritual leadership role established at Creation and reaffirmed after the Fall (1 Timothy 2:13, 14; 1 Corinthians 11:3, 8, 9). While spiritual gifts include pastoral care, this is not equivalent to the biblical office of elder that is today referred to as “pastor.”
  • Ordination involves a call from God (Acts 13:2) and recognition by the church regionally (acts 13:3) in harmony with the church globally (see Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 43). Ordination to the office of pastor/minister (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:1-9) grants full ecclesialastical authority to establish new churches, ordain local elders, baptize converts, and lead out in the ordinances of the church in cooperation with the local conference (Acts of the Apostles, p. 160). In certain circumstances, a woman may serve as a local church leader (Church Manual, pp. 75, 76) without being ordained as an elder (Manuscript releases 19, p. 56).
  • Allowing regionally established beliefs or qualifications for ordination would fracture the church, create confusion and disunity, and set a dangerous precedent. It would remove an important protection from non-biblical cultural influences (Acts of the Apostles, pp. 95, 96) and move the church toward becoming an association of national churches instead of a united world church.
  • Global church unity can be preserved only by yielding to the “plain” and “obvious meaning” of Scripture (The Great Controversy, pp. 268, 599, 521, 54), rejecting “higher criticism” (Education, p. 227) or other methods of Bible study that give the reader authority over the divinely inspired text (2 Timothy 3:16; Luke 24:27).
  • Jesus is our example of servant leadership. His life expresses the loving authority and submission that exist in God’s family in heaven and on earth (1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:28; Matthew 6:10).

After some 18 months of work, the 106 member Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) concluded deliberations with a June 2-4, 2014 meeting. The TOSC study group was appointed as a result of the 2010 Atlanta General Conference session request made by the North American Division (NAD) that the Church consider women’s ordination yet again. It is now possible to look more broadly at what TOSC (not an NAD but a General Conference committee), has revealed.

Key outcomes from the 2013-2014 TOSC process now concluded include:

  • The committee agreed that the Seventh-day Adventist practice of ordination was valid (some had urged the practice was unbiblical).
  • The committee agreed that women should be involved in ministry. This was never in dispute although some favoring women’s ordination (WO) had suggested it was.
  • As meetings progressed it became apparent some supporters of WO were proposing the use of methods that seriously diverged from the longstanding Seventh-day Adventist use of the historical-grammatical approach to biblical interpretation. Advocates of WO unveiled an “adaptation” of the historical-grammatical method and a “major” (2013 NAD Report, p. 24) plan for biblical interpretation they called the “principle-based, historical-cultural” (PBHC) method. This approach they placed on a continuum between the historical-critical and historical-grammatical methods! (Ibid., p. 8). This modification in approach, they said, was “required” in order to address certain “difficult passages” (Ibid., p. 31). Fortuitously for those favoring WO, the use of the PBHC method eliminated from the Bible “conclusive evidence prohibiting the ordination of women” (Ibid., p. 25). The NAD study committee report here quoted from, far from supporting the historical-grammatical method as claimed (Ibid., pp. 7, 8, 14-20) actually treated the 1986 “Methods of Bible Study” document advocating it selectively at best, even criticizing it (Ibid., pp. 23-25).
  • Several biblical passages touching the question of Headship were studied in TOSC. Although the committee as a whole was divided, many found the exploration of the Scriptures on this point stimulating and useful.

The spirit of the meetings remained positive, but TOSC closed with no consensus. Participants remained sharply divided over women’s ordination.

The results of the TOSC process will in due course be made available in its final report, which includes the positions and recommendations suggested by groups in the committee. This material will be forwarded to General Conference ADCOM (Administrative committee) this month. At Annual Council this October the General Conference will review TOSC’s advisory recommendations and determine how the women’s ordination question will be processed at the 2015 General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

In the concluding meeting, a third distinct group developed. This group felt it necessary to concede that the Church should let each division decide the women’s ordination question for itself. While holding that the office of the ordained minister should ideally be carried out by males, this group’s overarching stated concern was unity. And so, as God permitted Israel to choose for itself a king against His will, the Church should let each division decide the women’s ordination question for itself—even if the decision to ordain women was wrong.

A straw poll was taken on the last day of the meeting. Thirty-two persons voted for the biblical-qualifications (anti-women’s ordination) position. Forty committee members favored women’s ordination. And 22 persons voted for the let-each-division-decide-independently option. Imagine! Here we stand on the very borders of the heavenly Canaan, and the best we can do is agree to disagree?

The straw poll seemed to show that the participating majority of the committee would approve of having each division decide the matter of women’s ordination for itself—yet this was not so. In fact, the “Biblical qualifications” (anti-WO) and the “A proposal for an accord on Women in Ministry” (pro-women’s ordination) positions were very firm. Thus, the majority of the 95 polls returned (73) were NOT interested in the compromise position as their first option. (But as many as 12 who favored women’s ordination could have included the compromise position as their second option). But the straw poll also showed (32 + 22) that more than half of those participating understood male headship/leadership to be the biblical position. The compromise position garnered 22 responses as first choice, yet of those 22 almost as many, 19, were willing to accept another option. Thus, the compromise position lacked deep commitment. In contrast to these, zero of the 32 participants marking the “biblical qualifications” (anti-WO) position were willing to mark either alternative as second choice, while two did have a distant third option they preferred to the other. And so, a more nuanced look at the poll results shows that rather than being fluid, the positions are rather firmly locked.

toscstrawpoll

Some favoring women’s ordination will overstate the significance of the straw poll results, but in actuality, there is little in the TOSC process for them to rejoice in. TOSC has revealed the most fundamental point in the whole matter. Namely, that should the world church adopt women’s ordination, it will have to change its approach to biblical interpretation in order to lend support for the new practice. It is no news that some are ready to change how we interpret the Bible in order to prevent “division” of the church. Yet the facts remain: the church is divided as never before.

TOSC has not created the divide. It has only more clearly revealed it.

Everything turns on the Adventist approach to biblical interpretation. Encouraging each division to act unilaterally on women’s ordination would set the precedent that in future, every division would decide on same-sex marriage or any other overly controversial matter. In essence, this course of action would mean abandoning global coherence as a church body. We would become a gaggle of disagreeing units each doing what was locally felt to be the right. Can a church thrive or even persist in existence when it values unity even at the sacrifice of God’s ideal, more than that unity founded on the authority of “the Scripture of truth”? Another denomination might survive that approach for a time; the Seventh-day Adventist Church would not.

TOSC could not have been more successful in revealing that the Church now stands at a monumental crossroads in biblical interpretation. Whatever is decided in San Antonio, it will be impossible to turn back.

At the January 2014 meeting of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC), Angel Rodriguez presented a 78 page paper summarizing and analyzing the theological arguments of those in the church who support the ministry of men and women according to the biblical guidelines, (that is, of those who oppose women’s ordination). Rodriguez’ paper, while offering some benefits, manifests significant deficiencies.

This letter is one of several earnest responses prepared by those who have carefully read and studied the Rodriguez paper.

Phil Mills shines light on the official answer of the pro-women’s ordination position to the pro-biblical qualifications arguments. It exposes Rodriguez’s surprisingly defective research and use of gender-altered Ellen White material. It gently notes his ad hominem attacks, out of context quotations, and the misjudging and misstating of the actual positions of those holding the pro-biblical qualifications view. This short paper should be required reading for those following the debate over the biblical validity of woman’s ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. FIND IT HERE.

At the Stateline Church, near Milton-Freewater, Oregon, Pastor Mike Lambert presents part five of his six-part series on “A gender agenda.” The message addresses Deborah’s behavior in relation to headship in Judges 4, Phoebe and Junias in Romans 16, Ellen White’s “ordination” credential, and finally and very importantly, some of the urgent larger issues.

Exactly one year ago on February 4, 2013 the OrdinationTruth.com website went live. Much has happened this past year. Reflecting on the past orients us for the future.

The attempt to introduce women’s ordination (the practice of women and men in the Church serving interchangeably in positions of spiritual authority) has a history in our midst. The emphasis as it has developed in our lifetime has its rise in the 1960s. The ordination of women as local elders was introduced at 1986 Annual Council.

In due course, the ordination of women as pastors with full global authority was addressed at two General Conference sessions (1990 and 1995). Decisions were made at the highest level of church authority. The Church refused to take the step of ordaining women to these positions of spiritual authority. Our brothers and sisters were not convinced that the practice was reconcilable with Scripture.

By 2009, North American Division (NAD) leadership remained urgent to proceed. They targeted the Church’s E-60 policy. This world church guidance forbade women from serving in male headship positions such as conference and union president. But General Conference (GC) leadership upheld the decisions of the GC sessions (exactly what did NAD leadership expect?).

After an extended interaction between the NAD and GC, NAD leadership saw they could not prevail by following the rules; GC policy was too clear. The result? In early 2012 the NAD president wrote to the leaders of NAD Unions inciting them to action with directions such as the following:

“The North American Division and its Unions and Conferences (as local circumstances permit) must become more intentional in the development of pathways to ministry for female pastors. We must also develop intentional methods of mentoring women who can take on executive leadership positions within our conferences. . . . We must continue to move this matter forward throughout the North American Division” (Quoted in the E-60 link above).

The division president told them that in order to bring change they would have to make it happen at union and conference levels.

The result of this astonishing move came with speed. By midyear NAD’s Columbia and Pacific Unions had held special meetings and voted themselves their own variances, placing themselves in opposition to the world church. They denied the authority of the 1990/1995 General Conference sessions. They even acted in the face of earnest appeals by the General Conference administration which sent our current president to these meetings to plead that they not act in disunity.

It should not be passed over that these actions were undertaken even as the current GC administration was responding to the 2010 General Conference session request to revisit the question of women’s ordination by forming the Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC), a gathering of more than 100 scholars, laypeople, pastors, and administrators representing all 13 world Divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And yet, even as that process was beginning, these Unions exceeded their authority and began to “ordain” women.

When we in the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) learned from our union paper, Gleaner, that the NPUC had created an ad hoc committee to study these matters and that our Union would now “educate” church members concerning the basis for “ordination without regard to gender,” after which it would hold a special session as Columbia and Pacific Unions had, we knew forces were converging which might lead to the same insubordinate outcome as those Unions. It became necessary that we investigate further for ourselves, and then seek to aid our Union and if possible influence it not to join itself to the example of the other NAD Unions.

Appeals were forwarded to NPUC leadership. We pleaded that the proposed steps not be taken. We are thankful that until now the NPUC has not held a similar session.

Surveying the situation, we saw that issues were not contained to the NPUC, and heard from many from across the NAD who were as alarmed as ourselves at actions now manifesting in the North American field. Because the NPUC continued to send mixed signals, our initially chosen name (“NPUC Supporting Pastors”) made unclear what we did and did not support. Growing interest throughout the NAD and a desire from others outside our Union who wished to participate led us to change our name to the Council of Adventist Pastors (CAP). Now pastors throughout the North American Division territory could participate.

What the NAD president and Columbia and Pacific Unions had begun continued to bear its fruit. In October 2013, the Southeastern California Conference constituency, in opposition to its world church, elected Ms. Sandra Roberts to serve as its president in direct violation of E-60 and GC session decisions.

This was not all. Each Division invited to be involved in TOSC had been asked to study the issues surrounding women’s ordination. NAD leadership appointed itself a committee, too. Its committee released a 249 page report pleading that the world church permit it to ordain women.

Most astonishing of all was that—at last—the unavoidable issue of hermeneutics was placed front and center. The NAD admitted in its report that in order to neutralize the Bible evidence opposing the ordination of women, it was necessary to use a plan of biblical interpretation they called the “Principle-based, Historical-cultural” method.

This method is said to be intended only for selective use. It is to be applied especially in the interpretation of what the NAD called “difficult” New Testament “headship” texts. The NAD-proposed method exactly contradicts the longstanding Seventh-day Adventist approach to biblical interpretation called the Historical-grammatical approach, voted by Annual Council in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1986.

We commend current NAD leadership for their lucid admission that this change in interpretive methodology is required to make possible the achievement of their purpose. But is the church ready to lay aside the Historical-grammatical approach that Scripture interprets Scripture? Is it ready to discard the one methodical approach to the Bible which has led to our unity on a worldwide basis in embracing the seventh day Sabbath, and our adherence to the literal, physical, visible, audible Second Coming of Jesus with kindred truths?

We believe that every church member within the North American Divisions would be blessed by the NAD’s Minority report.

Another development of interest coming from TOSC has been that some in our world divisions have called for a return to biblical fidelity on the issue of women elders, that the practice be discontinued.

“There is a lack of biblical precedence for the appointment of female elders…. there is no biblical support for the ordination of woman pastors. The ordination of women elders should also not be considered. That implies that as from the action date, women shall no longer serve as elders” (Summary of the South Africa-Indian Ocean Division Biblical Research Committee on the Ordination of Women, pp. 1, 3, at
http://www.adventistarchives.org/brc-southern-africa-indian-ocean-division-presentation.pdf, accessed 2014-02-04).

Other Divisions have also found the desire to ordain women as pastors having global authority biblically unsustainable. For example, consider these notes from fellow believers in the South American Division:

In the New Testament, the preeminence of male spiritual leadership is seen in the role of the husband at home (Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Cor 11:3), in the leadership of the apostles, the elders and the deacons in the Church (Acts 6:1-6; 17 14:23; 15:6, 22; 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 2:20; 4:11; 1 Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9), and in the ministry of the prophets, the pastors-teachers, and the evangelists (Acts 13:1; 21:8; 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11). . . . The New Testament plainly presents the qualifications required for someone to become a bishop/presbyter/pastor (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). According to these texts, the pastoral ministry seems to belong to a distinctive area of male spiritual leadership in the Church. Faithfulness to biblical teaching predicates the need to follow this orientation. There is no clear biblical basis, therefore, to ordain women to the pastoral ministry” (South American Division Summary and Report on its Study and Proposal on the Ordination of Women to the Pastoral Ministry, pp. 3, 4, http://www.adventistarchives.org/brc-south-american-division-presentation.pdf, accessed 2014-02-04).

We find ourselves much in agreement with these initiatives which would help restore consistency and unity and help revitalize as a global people our faithfulness to the Bible.

Looking to developments anticipated between now and 2015, we remain alert. Columbia and Pacific union leadership remain in place, and those Unions are presently “ordaining” women in opposition to the General Conference session determined position of the world church. Those Unions are presently operating in flagrant defiance of the world church. They have substituted their authority for the authority of the General Conference.

Another trend we already see is pro-WO advocates urging that the General Conference is illegitimately gathering power to itself, centralizing its authority. We anticipate that these unfounded charges will be broadcast ever more loudly by those who insist on acting in contradiction to the appeals for unity which have been offered on behalf of the world church.

TOSC is set to complete its study process this year and forward its report to 2014 GC Annual Council. The NAD’s proposed “Principle-based, Historical-cultural” method is now public knowledge and Adventists are only just beginning to process the implications that would follow its adoption. Shall the Seventh-day Adventist Church endorse the ordination of females to male headship roles? Possibly. But if so, it is clear now that it will be at the cost of the most primitive, basic issue of all—how we interpret Scripture.

It is urgent that we count the cost now before we buy the product in 2015. If we are going to charge women’s ordination on the Seventh-day Adventist hermeneutical credit card, we must first consider what it will cost in the long term.

Although we have had an enormous response to our continuing study and website, many Seventh-day Adventists—even some pastors—remain unaware of this website or of the existence of the Council of Adventist Pastors. We encourage all readers to share this blog post link with fellow Adventists and especially with your pastors who, in this one post, will have a sample of links and materials the scores of pastors who are CAP have shared. Maybe your pastor would like to participate?

And now: Let OrdinationTruth.com year two BEGIN! . . .