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C. Raymond Holmes, D.Min.
2015-05-29

No one regrets more than I that it has been women’s ordination that has forced to the surface of our consciousness the fundamental issue of how we read, understand, and apply the principles of God’s Word. But something had to get our attention and evidently in God’s plan and timing this was it, as painful and distressing as it has been. The event can be compared to that of Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3). God had something to say to him as well as something important for him to do, and while he was busy tending sheep got his attention in an
unmistakable and dramatic way.

God has something to say to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the midst of Protestantism’s gradual abandonment of the Reformation and it’s basic principle of sola scriptura, the Bible and the Bible alone for faith and life. The great controversy struggle at the time of the Reformation was between the authority of the Bible and church tradition. Today, 500 years later, the great controversy struggle is between the Bible and secular culture. The time is short and the Remnant Church cannot afford to cave-in to the demands of secular culture and its ever-changing human tradition. It is the Word of God, not time and culture, that defines right action for the church.

The right time to adhere to that definition is the General Conference Session 2015, at which delegates will vote on whether it is “acceptable for division committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry.” A definite Yes or No vote will be called for. A No vote would constitute a Yes because it would acknowledge and support the biblical definition. If we are to “preach the Word” to the present generation it is imperative that we stay faithful to that Word. How do we do that?

First, by having the Spirit empowered courage to repent of wrong actions We did our faithful women a terrible wrong and disservice by means of the 1975 Autumn Council action. This was not an action taken by the world church in
General Conference session allowing for the ordination of women as local elders. It was wrong and a disservice because it gave so many gifted and talented women false hope, and that needs to be rectified. How? By rescinding that action in order to open the way to a process in harmony with those biblical principles that apply to the call and appointment of individuals for church leadership and pastoral work. A No would be Yes!Second, by applying Spirit of Prophecy principles of Bible interpretation that assure outcomes pleasing to God:

(1) The Bible interprets the Bible (Ev:581).

(2) Take the Bible as it reads (GC:88).

(3) Focus on the Bible’s plain statements (RH: 1/27/1885, 7/17/1888).

(4) Explain the language of the Bible according to its obvious meaning (GC:598). One example will suffice: “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, A spiritual leader such as bishop, pastor, elder, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife. . .” (1 Timothy 3:1-2, also Titus 1:5-6 ESV). The context of these verses must be taken into account in order to fully understand their meaning, such as “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise [usurp – KJV] authority over a man” on the basis of the fact that “Adam was formed first, then Eve. . .” (1 Timothy 2:12-13).

Applying these principles it is plainly obvious that the prerequisite for the specific office of overseer/spiritual leader is that the candidate be male, because a husband is a man not a woman. These principles are transcultural, applicable to the understanding and meaning of Scripture in every culture, and in every age, in which we evangelize and establish churches. A No vote means culture does not prevail but that Scripture does, which would promote and sustain theological unity. Again No would be Yes!

Third, in order to finish the work that God has assigned to us we must be united. Unity is based on truth, on common beliefs not on common mission. Mission grows out of truth and shared theological/doctrinal beliefs. So the question is, What is the truth? God’s truth alone must determine right action. In the interest of mission and unity we must be sensitive to, and surrendered to, God’s truth in every time and every culture. A Yes vote would actually constitute a No to church unity because it would officially approve and sustain the division and disunity already demonstrated by unilateral actions. A No vote would be Yes! Because it would sustain and uphold the Biblical witness of the whole, united, world church.

In conclusion, and as a member of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC), I am obligated to make the following observation. The recent website statement that the findings of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee was that “there is no Biblical consensus on this issue, and thus it must be treated as a matter of practice and not of theology” is incorrect and misleading. The truth is that the lack of consensus on the part of TOSC was not that there is no biblical consensus, it was that the committee was virtually divided on what that consensus actually is. The TOSC participants who support position 1 find ample biblical consensus.

Letting the Bible interpret itself apart from the influence of contemporary culture, and with the aid of Spirit of Prophecy counsel and insight together with the application of Ellen White’s principles of interpretation, we find that: (1) God created the human species “male and female” (Gen 1:27); (2) that He created them equal in essence and being but having differing functional roles; (3) that in terms of salvation and baptism He treats them as equal with one having no advantage over the other (Gal 3:26-29); (4) that the trajectory of male leadership/headship extends from Genesis through the Old and New Testaments and into the early church; (5) that when it comes to the organization of the church God has reserved the office of spiritual leader/overseer/bishop/elder/pastor for men (1 Tim 3 and Titus 1); and (6) that God is calling women to a specialized ministry for which they are uniquely qualified and gifted, and for which they must be trained. It is our failure to provide such specialized training that constitutes unfairness and injustice. Therefore, a No vote would be a resounding Yes! to the biblical consensus and trajectory!


C. Raymond Holmes, D.Min. left the ministry of the Lutheran Church to become a Seventh-day Adventist. Holmes has taught at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, MI, as well as at SDA Theological Seminary Far East. He wrote The Tip of an Iceberg, was part of the General Conference Theology of Ordination Study Committee, and presently serves in pastoral ministry in the Michigan Conference..

24 thoughts on “When No! is Yes!

  1. I am always thoughtfully encouraged by Dr. Holmes’ comment. In his book, Tip of the Iceberg, Holmes is almost prophetic in describing what is now coming upon us.

    Thank-you Dr Holmes for your service and contribution to lifting the Bible higher.

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  2. I have read much of your articles in many books. All that l can say is ”God bless you for your unwavering efforts to defend the truth”. My question is, can’ t the church get rid of these members who have vowed to divide the church? My conviction is that the church of God can move foward without them.

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    • Dear James, shame on you for having the hought and even expressing it “to get rid of these members”. I am sure that Jesus would not have had any such thoughts, let alone putting it in writing. Your words reflects the hatred towards fellow church members who do not agree with you. Your thoughts clearly portays the absence of true christian love.
      Please, my brother think twice before hurting other children of God’s chruch. Kind love and regards. Nico Grobler

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      • I definitely disagree with your stance Nico. I’ve just come across this site from an AD Vindicate article. We are at war with Satan and his agents, who use any ploy (including deception) to destroy God’s image and God’s Truth. That is why we have cancerous sin, death and nastiness in this world. We have a job to do, the 3rd angels message to proclaim. Not a time-wasting distraction of unbiblical women’s ordination. We should reflect God’s glory that He alone gives to those who are obedient to his commands. He is our Creator. We cannot negotiate with our enemy who has rebelled against God’s ways plus come to an amicable agreement for the sake of church unity! God didn’t when Satan rebelled in heaven and God threw him and his adherents out. The church disfellowships individuals and groups for standing against it’s God-given principles. We have Biblical examples eg. those destroyed after the golden calf episode. God does not force human beings to believe in Him and what he has done and has promised to do for us, eg. Judas Iscariot. If people cannot abide by His Will as given in the Bible, they are free to leave the SDA church. If they are determined to stay and cause demonic havoc, they should be disfellowshipped. It’s very sad but even God finds no pleasure in the death of sinners who reject his free merciful gifts, but SIN and rebellion against His order, His government, His righteousness, must end and cannot co-exist for eternity.

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      • Dear Nico, you are wrong. Paul rebuked the Corinth church for NOT ACTING, turning a blind eye and waiting till the problem would blow over by itself. He reproved them that they think to be more mercyful than God (1 Cor.5:1-7)! He admonishes Titus not to let anyone in who brings divisions but to remove them (Titus 3:10,11). We have a distorted understanding of “Christian love” that is not Biblical at all. Even in our home we don’t let people in or stay, that undermine our parent authority over our children. When shepherds are not shepherding anymore, the sheep perish.
        When we disfellowship someone we don’t condemn him. The Church has been given the authority, for the sake of the body to preserve the truth as it is understood. Our Church did right with Desmond Ford, for obvious reasons. The Church does wrong to stay passive in this issue and those responsible will have to give account. Even EGW says, remove them from their position or even their membership but keep on counseling them to win their hearts back to Christ.
        Here is a solemn statement that says it all — ”
        “He preaches to the people, but makes no after effort to follow up the sermons given. He said he could not visit families, that he just despised that kind of labor.” You can imagine the condition of a flock unvisited by the shepherd. I have repeatedly had this matter presented before me, that the men who are ordained to preach the word should be educated to make full proof of their ministry in their personal labors in families, talking with the members of the family, understanding their spiritual condition, encouraging, reproving with all long-suffering and doctrine, praying with them, binding up his interest with their hearts and souls. This | 300 limit

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  3. Dr. Holmes’ testimony first became known to me as a 14-year-old young Adventist, when my parents bought the book Stranger in My Home and we read it together for worship.

    This is a man who has sacrificed much for the sake of God’s Word, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been profoundly enriched by his ministry. In the midst of the present conflict, I believe the light of his work will shine ever brighter.

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  4. We are grateful to God for people like Dr Holmes. We must not fear the loss of unity. We already have it coming. Either way this vote is intended to be divisive. What we pray for is that those who feel they cannot comply with a GC decision should re – brand themselves if they choose to defy the decision. Confusion is worse than division. We have something greater to fear than human rebellion. It is Divine displeasure. The message is to FEAR GOD. Anyway we look at it, someone is going to be unhappy after San Antonio but it must not be God. We can afford to lose whole unions if their choice is to leave because they do not want the truth anymore. We cannot afford to lose the Lord. We have no desires to change masters. Not now. Ellen G. White saw it in vision. The day has come when standard after standard is to be lowered and left to trail in the dust. Others are well on their way in to pick up the truth and lift it up. We must not be blackmailed by the probable walk out of whole conferences from the Remnant Church. We must expect it. What we must fear is our own betrayal of our post of duty as the Elijah’s of our day. Let there be no muffling or half-steps or inaudible voice in this matter. We hate to see anyone leave the world wide church; we urge them not to, but we must not be blackmailed to have unity in confusion as a compromise nor unity in division. We must be clear as day and bold as Mount Rushmore. We need nothing from the world. We will not bow nor worship the image which is being set up here: the | 300 limit

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  5. if you want truth, be sure to read these verses as well. In the following verses is is entirely up to God who he gifts with what gift. We must leave it up to him.

    It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

    But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. (1 Corinthians 12:11, 18 NLT)

    All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages. (1 Corinthians 12: 27-28 NLT)
    Jesus said, “by this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35

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  6. Thank you Noel for saying exactly how I feel in my heart! We serve a big and powerful God and He will see His people through the times ahead. Gerita

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  7. We have a duty to WARN the world, not a duty to JOIN the world. We need to be clear, the issue is not whether people are able to to things, but how they do them and what they do. Authority in spiritual matters has never been vested in women. Women have been prophetesses but their authority has been God. They were His mouthpieces but it was clear that never had any prophet governmental authority based on their office. The authority of a prophet was in God. It is clear from reading their role that they never assumed administrative authority over men. We therefore object to starting something for which there is no scriptural precedent or support. The issue is not gifts and their usage as no one is forbidden from using their talents. What is being argued is whether there is scriptural authority for placing women in authority over men and thus giving control of the church to women? It is an issue of church GOVERNANCE.

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  8. Let me clarify what I am saying. When I say that governmental office was never vested in a prophet, I do not mean as in Moses, Samuel, David, Miriam, Deborah et al who were both prophets and administrators. There is clear precedent for duality of office but we have to differentiate between political office and spiritual mouthpiece for God. We do not find non prophetesses in any administrative or authoritative role in scripture. Those who occupy both offices are the exception but even they as in Deborah’s case clearly appoint men to lead and rebuke them for not doing so, The Bible is clear that hose who speak for God do not have inherent authority or gender sensitive authority. It is not an equality matter causing a great meeting to be called. The authority is vested in the ORIGIN AND ORIGINATOR of what they are saying. That is why these men and women always began with “Thus saith the Lord……” It was never them. We do not find in scripture a precedent for a POLICY DECISION to make women EQUAL to men and making things FAIR for women. The closest we have to the “fairness” issue is with land rights. Num 27:8 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter. And, that was if “he had no son”. The primacy of menfolk for responsibility OVER their female members of society is clear from Genesis. When Paul says women should not exercise authority over men, he is not stating a new PRINCIPLE. That men should rule is clear from Genesis. Men are to be the head and the next authority after men is God. Genesis 3:16. It is to be | 300 limit

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  9. It is very narrow to use 1 verse to support a teaching. If we are to go with just this verse it would preclude women from teaching. This would include SS divisions. When was the last time anyone saw a church filled with men filling those positions? I’d be surprised if there was a church.
    Secondly, the overseer must be married….to 1 wife. This eliminates all single men and men who have been divorced or who are married to a divorceé. This happens all the time.

    What is most astounding to me is that the focus is on the gender of the person vs the character. A haughty woman with an agenda to rule over a man is a disqualifyer. But so is an arrogant man who yells at his wife and kids.

    You can have a communion with a man and woman elder presiding. Let’s say the man is secretly a child molester or a porn addict [happening more than we want to know] but the woman is God fearing and humble. Which one will God’s Spirit flow through?

    This is why it can not be based on (either) gender.

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    • Gender differentiation on the part of God in terms of appointment to positions is not a question of justice or gender insensitivity or oppression but a continuous pattern on God’s part. Is God culturally oppressive? He has repeatedly chosen men to be Kings and men as Apostles. I do not think the issue we are debating is one of injustice or fairness or gender equality or recognition of gifts. What we are saying is this agenda originates neither from scripture nor from the spirit of prophecy nor from within Seventh Day Adventist. We are saying it is a foreign and false attempt to integrate Adventism with the world and we reject it. The world has nothing to teach or tell us on Church Governance.

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  10. Matt 10:26; 11:25; Mark 4:22; Luke 2:26
    these refer to the hidden things coming to the light. That the Holy Spirit will reveal it to the humble & open to hearing.

    “Many bright lights will go out in darkness.” In some cases people see them as bright but others see differently.

    There are the spurious amongst us. GOD knows who they are & reveals it to whom he will. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked.” “Everything we do is open to Him with whom we have to do.”

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  11. Thanks for the articles. Please all truth loving Christian Adventists should stand firm. We are living at the shaking time and our loyalty is being tested whether we will stand for the truth or not. Who is on the Lord’s side? Let the truth prevail amongst God’s church those who will not stand for the truth will be sifted and blown away and away and away. They reflect on the consequences. God bless you Dr. Holmes

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  12. The Shaking- As the praying ones continued their earnest cries, at times a ray of light from Jesus came to them, to encourage their hearts and light up their countenances. Some, I saw, did not participate in this work of agonizing and pleading. They seemed indifferent and careless. They were not resisting the darkness around them, and it shut them in like a thick cloud. The angels of God left these and went to the aid of the earnest, praying ones. I saw angels of God hasten to the assistance of all who were struggling with all their power to resist the evil angels and trying to help themselves by calling upon God with perseverance. But His angels left those who made no effort to help themselves, and I lost sight of them. {EW 270.1}
    I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will cause a shaking among God’s people. {EW 270.2}

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  13. Administrator, will someone please address this question that has been bothering me. The NAD wants to ordain individuals without reference to gender, so should we brace ourselves to welcome the “Caitlyn Jenners” as SDA pastors in the future .

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    • In order to be transgender, there is a violation of Deuteronomy 22:5, which is an abomination to God. Perhaps we need to take another look at this commandment. According to Ellen White, it was being violated by those women who wore the American Costume, which was clothing similar to men’s clothing.

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      • Linda, I get your point, it is a violation of Deuteronomy 22:5, but if as per the NAD’s request a transgender “female” comes into the church where the membership has no clue about her past and the person claims, she has been called to the ministry by the God, is the NAD going to ordain that person or not.

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  14. I dont know why the church want to debate on this issue because women functions in the bible is very clear. I thank Dr. Holmes for this piece. It is clear the Jesuites have penetrated in this church but God will never allow them to succeed.

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