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I Support Men’s Commissioning
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Submitted: Feb 2, 2012
By David Hamstra

 

 

On October 10, 2011, church leaders announced a timetable for studying the theology of ordination over the next few years, the latest action following a promise at the 2010 General Conference session to study the issue.

Artur Stele, a world church vice president and director of the Biblical Research Institute, said the process would examine the foundation of ordination as well as its implications for church practices. (Adventist Review)

This is the latest in a series of debates, studies, and panels that have polarized the Seventh-day Adventist Church on the question of women's ordination since, by some accounts, the mid 1970s. (I've written previously on this topic here.) Opponents rest firm in the General Conference vote at Utrecht (1995), which shut down a move to allow the practice. Proponents continue to agitate for equality, most recently through the ONE (Ordain Now Equally) in Christ website.

Meanwhile, a proportionately small number of women continue to serve capably as Adventist pastors, and in some cases their ministry is exceptionally blessed. Rather than being ordained, these women are “commissioned,” which affords them the authority to do almost everything an ordained (i.e. male) pastor does except ordain elders and deacons or organize and disband churches.

This state of affairs seems to me untenable. On its face, there is no biblical support, and it is morally disingenuous. Either women can be pastors, or they can't. Either women are allowed to have authority in the church, or they aren't. In the scripture there is no such thing in scripture as an under-shepherd who has partial authority in the flock.

I don't intend to rehash the arguments pro and con women's ordination here. For me it boils down to one issue: Spiritual gifts come with the authority to use them. If a woman has been equipped by the Holy Spirit for pastoral ministry, the church is poorer for not recognizing this.

For this reason I fully support equality of men and women at all levels of church ministry. But, I hasten to add, I do not support women's ordination.

I have come to the conclusion that in the Seventh-day Adventist Church the term "ordination" has changed into something other than a simple recognition of God's blessing on a pastor's ministry. Ordination is now a word that is used to either attain or maintain power.

Those opposed to women's ordination are focused of defending the term in a way that excludes women from power, and those in favour of women's ordination are focused on expanding the term in a way that gains women power. Both sides of the debate are in a power struggle.

Yet according to Jesus, in His Kingdom you don't gain power by fighting for it but by giving it away.
 
“The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat.  Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do. ... They love to be greeted with honor in the markets and to be addressed as ‘Rabbi.’

“But you shouldn’t be called Rabbi, because you have one teacher, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Don’t call anybody on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is heavenly.  Don’t be called teacher, because Christ is your one teacher.  But the one who is greatest among you will be your servant.  All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up." (Matthew 23:2-3, 7-12, CEB)
 
 
“Do you know what I’ve done for you?  You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you speak correctly, because I am.  If I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you too must wash each other’s feet.  I have given you an example: just as I have done, you also must do. (John 13:12b-15, CEB)
 
“Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35b, CEB)
 
“You know that those who rule the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around.  But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant.  Whoever wants to be first among you will be your slave—just as the Human One didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.” (Matthew 20:25b-28, CEB)

Church offices and leadership structures are clearly necessary, as the apostolic church quickly discovered. But when an office or title becomes the focus of a power struggle, it's time to step back and recover Jesus' simple message of servant leadership: Instead of trying to elevate yourself, focus on elevating others. Instead of trying to be first, go serve those who are least. Instead of joining the race to the top, start a race to the bottom.

In that spirit, I propose the following: That Adventist pastors of both genders be, not "ordained," but "commissioned." After all, neither term is applied to pastors in the Bible, so we're free to change the terminology when warranted.

In fact, the term "ordained” comes from the Roman ordering of their society into plebs and patricians, the Gentile lords Jesus condemned. In the early Roman Catholic Church, ordination developed as the means by which a layman joins the elite order of the clergy.

On the other hand, "commissioned" carries, to my ear at least, the implication of "commissioned to serve," which is what a minister is supposed to do in the first place. Changing the term would also connote, in the context of the ordination debate, that Adventist pastors are less obsessed with their own power and position than they are with empowering and elevating others. It would signify that male ministers do not advance in God's upside-down Kingdom by allowing women to join them up on their level, but instead by moving down to a level where all can serve according to their gifts.

Therefore, I do not support women's ordination; I support men's commissioning.

 

(Editors note: linking authors crosspost on this blogspot
 
 

 

 

Rudy Good
2012-02-02 6:04 PM

I have tended to evade this topic, but I think I might be comfortable embracing your idea commisioning men and women because of the rationale you have articulated.

Horace Butler
2012-02-02 8:00 PM

A backhanded way of blurring the role distinctions between men and women.  I can't help wondering if this same kind of weak argumentation will be used by nominal Adventists when Sunday laws are being considered.  Whatever one doesn't like in Scripture can be explained away by poor exegesis and clever eisegesis.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-02 9:30 PM

Horace I am wondering what you think of my idea that gender restrictions should apply to the ordination of elders not pastors/clergy?  After all, the proof texts about being the husband of one wife, a good husband and father, all apply to being appointed as an elder (and to a lesser extent deacon) - not a pastor.  By contrast, the vocations of being an ‘apostle’, together with ‘prophet’, ‘evangelist’, ‘pastor’ and ‘teacher’ are all ministerial spiritual gifts bestowed directly by God – not men (Eph 4:11).  Isn’t this how it worked with Ellen White, who was never in a position of administrative leadership of the Church (i.e. she was never the President) but clearly was bestowed with all 5 of the spiritual gifts? Whilst Paul no doubt also had these spiritual gifts, is there any evidence of him being an ordained elder, and would he (or say young Timothy) have even satisfied his own selection criteria? Do both 'sides' of the debate have it all backwards? 

Kevin Riley
2012-02-02 9:40 PM

We have traditionally - with good reason - seen pastors as being a subset of elders.  The main push to distinuish the two seems to have come after the GC agreed to ordain women as elders, but then somewhat paradoxically voted not to ordain women as pastors, but to let them do the job without ordination.  I would hope the study of ordination might also lead to a study of the positions (pastor, elder, deacon) as well.  All spiritual gifts are bestowed by God.  Ordination was meant simply to be the church recognising someone's call to that vocation.  Why we confused things with commissioning can only be ascribed to politics, not theology or logic.

Rudy Good
2012-02-03 7:43 AM

Horace have you ever considered the experience of the the nominal Jews of Jesus day and what that might teach us about nominal Adventists or just nominal Christians? It might be particularly useful to consider and emulate Jesus' attitude toward the nominal Jews.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-02 9:23 PM

Great article.  I have also often wondered if we as a Church have approached this issue all backwards.  Shouldn't we be ordaining woman pastors but perhaps prevent the ordination of women elders - yet today we do the opposite?

It is interesting to note that ‘apostle’, together with ‘prophet’, ‘evangelist’, ‘pastor’ and ‘teacher’ are all ministerial spiritual gifts bestowed directly by God – not men (Eph 4:11).  For example, when Matthias was appointed as a replacement for Judas, the fact that he was chosen by lots emphasised that it was God, not human beings who made the choice (Acts 1:21-26). The word ‘clergy’ itself comes from Greek word for ‘allotment’ or ‘chosen by lots’, and no doubt is a reference to this method of non-human selection.  Similarly, in the case of Paul and Barnabas, whilst they were ‘ordained’ through the laying of human hands, this only occurred after the Holy Spirit had actively spoken for their appointment (Acts 13: 1-3).

By contrast, the New Testament also has several passages that mention the title ‘presbyteros’, literally meaning ‘elder’, which is used interchangeably with ‘episkopos’, literally meaning ‘overseer’ (See Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5,7 and 1 Peter 5:1).  Whereas ministers are called by God according to hidden criteria (think how unsuitable Saul seemed when God chose him as an apostle and pastor), elders are appointed by men (Tit 1:5) according to very visible criteria of public character and family circumstance (Tit 1:6-9, 1 Tim 3:1-7). Paul implies elders must reach a certain level of age and maturity, being the husband of one wife and self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined (Titus 1:8).  Peter likewise suggests elders/overseers are older men, with whom younger men should obey in humility disciplined (1 Pet 1, cf.8).

My point is, even if we assume that ordination should be restricted on the basis of gender, according to scripture the restriction should only apply to elders – not pastors or clergy. Yet in our Church we do the opposite – we allow a woman to be elders in our local churches or even Vice Presidents of the General Conference, but not to be ordained to pastor a local church. Isn’t this how it worked with Ellen White, who was never in a position of administrative leadership of the Church (i.e. she was never the President) but clearly was bestowed with all 5 of the spiritual gifts of Eph 4:11?

Wouldn’t empowering each local church to decide whether to restrict eldership on the basis of gender, whilst recognizing women chosen by the Holy Spirit can be pastors, offer an appropriate compromise for everyone – both liberal and conservative?

Kevin Riley
2012-02-02 10:06 PM

The traditional position - and what seemed to have worked in practice - is that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers refer to gifts given by God, elder and deacon refer to the positons in which those gifts are exercised.  Steven was an evangelist and a deacon.  Paul was an apostle and an elder.  The same seems to apply to the other 12 apostles.  Prophet and apostle seem to have been positions also in the early church, but did not survive.  I don't believe we can argue that everyone called to be an apostle (if it is seen as continuing), prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher must be a deacon or elder, but there are good reasons for arguing that elders (and perhaps deacons) should have at least one of those gifts.

Your compromise might not satisfy, not only because I doubt your proposal is actually biblical, but because the divide is not conservative/liberal on this.  The vast majority of liberal/progressive SDAs do support the ordination of women.  But, if you look at the division of SDAs into ultra-conservative, conservative, evangelical and liberal/progressive, there are supporters of women's ordination in all 4 groups.  The majority of ultra-conservatives do not support it, but a few do.  The argument is not over what the Bible says, but over which texts of the Bible take priority. 

You also need to consider that things weren't as simple as they seem.  Elders needed to be mature men, have one wife, rule their household, etc.  Yet Timothy and Titus seem to have been elders while young.  Paul was an elder and yet had no wife and no household.  Translating NT times to the C21st is difficult when it is so different.  We no longer live in a class-based communal society where the pater familias can and does make decisions for everyone.  Some sort of cultural translation is required as well as a translation from Greek to English.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-03 2:06 AM

Ok thanks Kevin good points taken.  Peter (1 Pet 5:1) and John (2 John 1:1) clearly called themselves elders but on what basis though do you say Timothy and Paul were also elders? If they were, on what basis could they be, given Paul's own stated selection criteria – was celibate Paul or young Timothy the husband of one wife whose children obey (Tit 1:6-9, 1 Tim 3:1-7)? Or does that just prove that these selection criteria were not meant to be taken so literally?

I agree with your overall point though that trying to make 1st century titles fit in the 21st century is problematic; however, isn’t this really what this dispute is all about – people trying to say how these ancient titles are meant to be applied today?  Even closer to home, look at the dispute within Christendom (going since the Reformation) as to whether the NT titles presbyteros (elder) and episkopos (overseer or bishop) mean the same role or two different roles. 
 
Even if you say the only two ranks of ministry are elder and deacon, why do we create a de facto third rank with local church elder and pastor?  If we can ordain women in our local congregations as elders, why not pastors - aren't they both just types of elders (based on the Presbyterian model)?

In today's age, shouldn't we be trying to reaffirm the Protestant standard of priesthood of all believers?  Shouldn't we be paying for anyone in fulltime ministry, regardless of position, title, gift, gender or race?

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-03 7:35 PM

Kevin, upon reading the great article by Johnston on NT models of leadership, provided by David, I am still not sure if I agree with you that biblically all pastors are automatically also types or sub-sets of elders etc:
http://www.atsjats.org/publication_file.php?pub_id=315&journal=1&type=pdf

Prof. Johnston suggests in the NT Chruch 'charismatic leaders' (e.g. apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists and pastors) were a different class or order of leadership than 'appointed leaders' (e.g. elders and deacons). There was even a third set for Jesus' family (e.g. James) but that died out.  Thus, whilst apostles could perhaps also be elders, the biblical evidence actually suggests that perhaps both roles were intended as completely seperate.

So again, whilst Paul and Timothy were clearly 'charismatic leaders' (i.e. apostles or pastors) I am not convinced that they were ever necessarily 'appointed leaders' (i.e. elders or deacons).  Charismatic leaders chose appointed leaders but that didn't make the charismatic leader an appointed leader - any more than a prophet annointing a priest or a king made the prophet anything but a prophet.

To my mind, there is clear evidence that women can be 'charismatic leaders' (e.g. Junias, Philip's daughters and Ellen White) and thus women today can be clergy/pastors.  It is only 'appointed leaders' of elders/deacons that one need concern debating the relevance (or non relevance) of the 'one-wife' selection criteria.  Again, our Church has it all backwards and we better fix it because a hallmark of God's Remnant Church is charismatic leadership - as the Apostle Peter and Ellen White both testify. 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-03 7:35 PM

Kevin, upon reading the great article by Johnston on NT models of leadership, provided by David, I am still not sure if I agree with you that biblically all pastors are automatically also types or sub-sets of elders etc:
http://www.atsjats.org/publication_file.php?pub_id=315&journal=1&type=pdf

Prof. Johnston suggests in the NT Chruch 'charismatic leaders' (e.g. apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists and pastors) were a different class or order of leadership than 'appointed leaders' (e.g. elders and deacons). There was even a third set for Jesus' family (e.g. James) but that died out.  Thus, whilst apostles could perhaps also be elders, the biblical evidence actually suggests that perhaps both roles were intended as completely seperate.

So again, whilst Paul and Timothy were clearly 'charismatic leaders' (i.e. apostles or pastors) I am not convinced that they were ever necessarily 'appointed leaders' (i.e. elders or deacons).  Charismatic leaders chose appointed leaders but that didn't make the charismatic leader an appointed leader - any more than a prophet annointing a priest or a king made the prophet anything but a prophet.

To my mind, there is clear evidence that women can be 'charismatic leaders' (e.g. Junias, Philip's daughters and Ellen White) and thus women today can be clergy/pastors.  It is only 'appointed leaders' of elders/deacons that one need concern debating the relevance (or non relevance) of the 'one-wife' selection criteria.  Again, our Church has it all backwards and we better fix it because a hallmark of God's Remnant Church is charismatic leadership - as the Apostle Peter and Ellen White both testify. 

Kevin Riley
2012-02-04 6:59 AM

There is a good argument for extending back by a century or two the insight that leaders are called by and from the community, and therefore derive their authority from the priesthood of believers, not directly from God.  Then all charismatic ministries derive from that given to the community, even if the Holy Spirit gives the gift to individuals.  Paul's argument that prophetic utterances were to be tested suggests that prophets were not entirely beyond the control of the community.  That false prophets were to be expelled would suggest that the true prophets were in some sense accepted by the community.  As Johnston himself says, ther lines are not always clear between charismatic and appointed leaders.  One insight from social science that might also help is that charismatic leaders require a community to accept their leadership before they can exercise it.  There is also the question of whether NT prophets were ever authoritative in the same way that OT prophets were.  I am not entirely convinced myself either way on that.  I suspect we may be building a substantial edifice on what are actually rather sketchy foundations.  It is not only 'ordination' where we have run ahead of the knowledge we actually have.  In the long run, it may not matter much.  I suspect God is more concerned that we do the job than he is with what we call thosewho do the work.


Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-02 9:32 PM

And I do agree perhaps the best idea is to commission all clergy rather than ordain them.

Horace Butler
2012-02-03 8:53 AM

Then what did Paul mean then when he told Titus to ordain elders in every city?

I'm not sure what David Hamstra means by "slavishly link our current leadership structures to those of the NT church."  The NT church is our model for how to do church.  How far can we deviate before we become something other than what is given to us in principle by the NT church?

I'm not sure what Rudy means by "nominal Jews."  Jesus called many of them hypocrites--for the very reason that they were nominal Jews (Jews in name only).  In reality they worked for their father, the devil.

According to Stephen, "a large number of Adventists (and other Christians) want to restrict women from certain roles and/or positions based on gender.  Although people try to base their arguments either for or against on scripture, the truth is much of the real motivation is one's own cultural baggage."

I don't know for whom he is speaking, but those I know (including authors I have read) base their conclusions regarding role distinctions on Scripture, not culture.  25 years ago, I was all for women's ordination.  But I had never studied the issue.  After I studied it thoroughly I could see that it was unbiblical.  It had nothing to do with my culture.

David Hamstra
2012-02-03 3:33 PM

Horace,

I don't quite know what to make of the fact that many people I know on both sides of the question have changed their minds at least once. Perhaps it means that we have some paradoxical claims in scripture that need to be reconciled. For instance, if gender roles are prescribed in scripture (and I believe that to an extent they are), does that rule out a man serving as pastor in his God given maleness or a woman serving as pastor in her God given femaleness? Or are pastoral positions suited to only the male role?

I myself find it hard to conceive how God, having given female prophets to his people, can not also give female pastors, given that a prophet has far more authority in the church than a pastor.

Regarding Titus 1:5, the Greek verb there is kathistemi, which means to put in charge. It is not the ancient word for ordaination, which meant moving into an "ordo" or elite class in society.

Horace Butler
2012-02-03 6:35 PM

True, God chose both male and female prophets, both in the OT and the NT.  But He didn't choose female priests; and the 12 apostles were all male.  I can't believe it was from a lack of female talent, or from cultural considerations, especially when many of the pagan religions had female priests.

Does a prophet really have more authority than an pastor?  The can deliver the inspired message, but they can't force the church to accept it.  Remember that the fate of prophets was not something that most of us would want.  They even shipped Ellen White off to Australia to get here out of their hair.  It didn't work, of course.  She continued her work from there.  Nevertheless, she submitted to the authority of the church leaders.

David Hamstra
2012-02-03 3:43 PM

"The NT church is our model for how to do church."

Which NT model? There was a development in leadership structures throughout the NT period (cf. this JATS article: http://www.atsjats.org/publication.php?pub_id=315&journal=1&cmd=view&). As I stated before, I do not see the NT as presenting us a single model of how to do church, but rather with a model of how to put Jesus' principles into practice in the church.

"How far can we deviate before we become something other than what is given to us in principle by the NT church?"

I don't think that's a question we can answer with any degree of accuracy, because any deviation from Bible principle is dangerous. I think it would be better to ask whether a specific practice deviates from principles set forth in scripture.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-03 7:21 PM

Looking at that great article from Johnston though, are pastors/clergy types of 'charismatic leadership' or 'appointed leadership'?  Surely they are types of charistmatic leadership, because one regularly talks about their 'calling'.  By contrast, surely elders/deacons are types of 'appointed leadership'.

So where is the evidence that Paul or Timothy were appointed leaders - i.e. elders or deacons? Johnston's article suggests they weren't.  They may have ordained elders but that didn't make them elders, any more than Moses' ordination of Aaron made Moses a priest, Samual's annointing of David made Samual a king, or John the Bapstist's ordination of Jesus made John the Messiah.  

David Hamstra
2012-02-03 12:34 AM

I think any attempt to slavishly link our current leadership structures to those of the NT church is doomed to failure. These is no single model of structuring leadership in the NT, but rather a development according to the requirements of the growing church. This shows that as context changes, the verity of church leaders required will change as well as the requirements necessary to carry out their duties. What is important is remaining consistant to Jesus principles of leadership and pattern of applying those principles set forth in the NT.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-03 2:15 AM

I agree but this doesn't seem to be what people are doing.  For whatever reason, a large number of Adventists (and other Christians) want to restrict women from certain roles and/or positions based on gender.  Although people try to base their arguments either for or against on scripture, the truth is much of the real motivation is one's own cultural baggage. 

My point is, IF one assumes there should be gender restrictions on roles and/or positions, and IF some sort of gender restriction is required for Church unity, and I am not saying I agree, why do we seem to have the restriction backwards?

In our Church we allow women to be Vice Presidents of the GC but not ordained pastors of the local church.  The so-called 'proof texts', if they were taken as correct (and I am not saying they are) would appear to more appropriately applied to prevent women from being Vice Presidents rather than local church pastors.  If women can't be local church pastors I fail to see how they should be allowed to be Vice Presidents; if they can be Vice Presidents I fail to see how they should be prevented from being local pastors?

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-03 2:20 AM

And I guess I am trying to be realistic that given the composition of the world Church, and the cultural background of many of its members and delegates, realistically trying to remove all gender restrictions from Church positions is not realistic - regardless of any theological committee.  My idea is if we are going to add restrictions, these restrictions would be better applied to prohibit woman from being 'ruling elders' rather than 'teaching elders' (to use the Presbyterian terminology) - where we currently appear to do the reverse. 

David Hamstra
2012-02-03 3:34 PM

Stephen,

I'm clearly not trying to be realistic. I don't think it's realistic at all that the church will adopt what I'm proposing. I just believe it's the right thing to do, and I believe that God still works miracles and that among them are helping his church to do the right thing.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-03 5:47 PM

Ok much thanks - well said.

prbigkev
2012-02-03 2:39 PM

As should be expected, the vast majority contributing to this forum discussion are in favour of changing current practice.  However, given the the first paragraph of David Hamstra's column I would have thought we should await the outcome of the study being conducted by the world church.  Instead of waiting for the professional and lengthy study to be completed many/most writing here want to put their "armchair" viewpoint and in so doing contribute to the ongoing and rancorous debate.  

David Hamstra
2012-02-03 3:46 PM

Prbigkev,

A question, if I may:  Who's job is it to do theology in the church?

Rudy Good
2012-02-03 4:53 PM

Or answer a very similar question.

Who's responsibility is it to do theology?

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-03 7:13 PM

David, much thanks for the great link to the Article by Robert Johnston on leadership models in the NT.
 
http://www.atsjats.org/publication_file.php?pub_id=315&journal=1&type=pdf
 
I guess what I was trying to ask in some of my previous comments, but perhaps poorly, is the difference between ‘charismatic leadership’ (note nothing to do with speaking in tongues) vs ‘appointive leadership’. I note Johnston similarly makes a similar distinction between charismatic leaders, who were people appointed directly by God through spiritual gifts (e.g. apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers etc), compared with appointive leaders (i.e. elders and deacons), being those elected by their peers. An OT analogy might be the prophet (called directly by God, and could be women) vs priesthood (strict selection criteria for administrative leadership).
 
The laying on of hands (i.e. ordination) was not really needed in relation to charismatic leaders, as they were directly called by God Himself. Johnston seems to makes similar observations about Matthias being chosen by lots and Paul being chosen as an Apostle – that it emphasised that really only God could make charismatic leaders, not men.  The Apostle Peter quoted Joel in noting that charismatic leadership was evidence of the Jesus-movement, and Ellen White shows it equally belongs in God’s SDA Church. Thus, whilst charismatic leadership somewhat died with the rise of the papacy, God’s Remnant Church should allow for this role – or as Johnston notes face real problems for the future.
 
By contrast, Johnston observes that appointed leaders were chosen for pragmatic reasons and by men; therefore, they especially needed the laying of hands as a sign of sufficient authority. My earlier observation was that the oft-cited ‘proof texts’ about being the husband of one wife etc only applied to appointive leadership – not charismatic leadership. Johnston noted elders/deacons were selected according to these criteria precisely becausethey were needed to help balance and guide the very exciteable charismatic leadership.  Ordination was required for appointed leaders because unlike charismatic leaders, appointed leaders could not simply claim to rely on divine inspiration for their authority.
 
Thus, back to my original question, especially to people like Horace who talk applying the NT model, aren’t our clergy/pastors types of ‘charismatic leaders’ (they talk about a ‘calling’ for ministry) whilst our elders/deacons are ‘appointed leaders’?  As charismatic leaders are chosen by God, no man can say a person can’t do that ministry, as no one was ultimately able to say Paul wasn’t an Apostle. The NT (Junias and Philip’s daughters) and Ellen White prove that charismatic leadership can be fulfilled by women.  By contrast, even assuming the ‘one-wife’ proof texts do somehow restrict women, at most they would only restrict women from ‘appointed leadership’ roles.  Therefore again, even taking a ‘conservative’ approach, women should not be prevented from being charismatic pastors/clergy, only from being appointed elders.
 
Getting back to David’s point, I really don’t think we need to or necessarily should be ‘ordaining’ any person in ‘charismatic leadership’ (i.e. clergy/pastors) at all, because they are chosen by God – not men.  It is only those in ‘appointed leadership’ (i.e. elders/deacons) that require ordination – and each local congregation should decide that for itself according to the Biblical criteria. 

David Hamstra
2012-02-04 1:02 AM

"...aren’t our clergy/pastors types of ‘charismatic leaders’ (they talk about a ‘calling’ for ministry) whilst our elders/deacons are ‘appointed leaders’?"

If you're asking my oppinion, the short answer is no. The long answer is in an article I wrote for the seminary's blog which developed Johnston's work: http://www.memorymeaningfaith.org/blog/2010/11/prophets-and-pastors.html.

The medium answer is that in order for leadership to be truely charismatic there must be some kind of external supernatural evidence in the ministry of the leader that this is so. This is the ground of their authority, as opposed to appointment. I do not believe the pastor's internal sense of calling is not sufficient for this.

As I explain in the article, charismatic authority creates its own function for the leader to fullfill, whereas institutional (my prefered term corresponding to Johnston's appointative) authority is given to a leader to fullfill a pre-existing function.

This is of course not to say that those who have institutional authority have no spiritual gifts, nor that those who have charismatic authority has no need of recognition by the institution. The question is which the basis is for the leader's authority in the body. OT experience shows that even when a prophet is not recognized as such by the institutional leadership, they still have Divinely leadership authority to try to turn God's people around. But without appointment, the pastor would have no authority to lead, even though their spiritual gifts would still enable them to serve in some other capacity.

I think it is at this level that our terminology fails us, because the word pastor can mean either the spiritual gift of looking after people or the position to which a leader is appointed. I believe the modern office of pastor is actually more related to what in the early church would have been called an elder or overseer.

The evidence for this is that having the calling and the position does not always include having the spiritual gift of pastoring—nurturing people's spiritual well being on and individual basis. Many examples spring to mind of (appointed) pastors I have known who did not have the spiritual gift of pastoring, but were gifted in some other area like teaching, evangelizing, administration, etc and whose ministry thrived. In other words, they were fulfilling an office, rather than having their position created for them by Divine appointment.


Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-04 3:34 AM

Ok much thanks again - great reply

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-04 3:41 AM

It seems that a huge problem here is one of terminology - not just of 'ordain' but of 'commission', 'clergy', 'pastor', 'minister' and 'elder'. As you say, 'pastor' is both a spiritual gift yet in our own Church it perhaps more appropriately corresponds to 'elder'.  Trying to apply these 1st Century concepts to the 21st Century is obviously a real struggle. I hope this GC theological committee is going to look at the issue of terminology thoroughly? Perhaps that is your point anyway?

David Hamstra
2012-02-07 5:25 PM

"As you say, 'pastor' is both a spiritual gift yet in our own Church it perhaps more appropriately corresponds to 'elder'. Trying to apply these 1st Century concepts to the 21st Century is obviously a real struggle. I hope this GC theological committee is going to look at the issue of terminology thoroughly?"

Yes!

All4Him
2012-02-03 9:17 PM

@ Stephen..... "and Ellen White prove that charismatic leadership can be fulfilled by women.  By contrast, even assuming the ‘one-wife’ proof texts do somehow restrict women, at most they would only restrict women from ‘appointed leadership’ roles.  Therefore again, even taking a ‘conservative’ approach, women should not be prevented from being charismatic pastors/clergy, only from being appointed elders."

Look at what she says...

"The primary object of our college was to afford young MEN an opportunity to study for the ministry and to prepare young persons of both sexes to become workers in the various branches of the cause" 5Tpage 60

"Those who enter the missionary field should be men and women who walk and talk with God.  Those who stand as ministers in the sacred desk should be MEN of blameless reputation. 5T page 598

These two statments sure sound like she is talking about the pastor/clergy duties?  Either we follow "Thus saith the Lord" or we don't.  Gender matters or it dosn't.  If it does not... it opens the door (just as it has for the first churches that ordained women) to the issue of gay, lesbian, transgender, bi-sexual pastor/clergy.

God is a God of order...."I am the Lord, I change not."  Malachi 3:6

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-03 10:46 PM

All4Him I kindly suggest you read the article from Prof Johnston, as provided by David:

http://www.atsjats.org/publication_file.php?pub_id=315&journal=1&type=pdf

What is a minister? What is a pastor?  What is a member of the clergy?  What is an elder?  What is a deacon? Do all theses terms mean the same thing - yes or no?  The article by Prof. Johnston suggests that in the NT Church 'charismatic leaders' (who were chosen by God) were distinct from 'appointed leaders' (ordained by men).

Following even a strict literal interpretation of the Bible, I am willing to conceed that a woman may not be an elder (although I personally doubt it) given Tit 1:5-9 and 1 Tim 3:1-7, but where does it say a in the Bible a woman cannot be a prophet, apostle, teacher, evangelist or pastor given Eph 4:11.  If you are going to say 'Thus saith the Lord', then can you please provide some scriptural authority?  Both the OT and NT infact suggest woman can and do possess all these 5 types of charismatic leadership - whether it be Deborah, Anna, Philip's daughter, Junia or Ellen White. Talking of order, these women had enormous authority over their peoples, much more than a local pastor - as God ordained (no pun intended).  

Finally, I am not sure how much one can hold on your Ellen White quotes (and they are hardly 'Thus saith the Lord').  My understanding is that Ellen White herself held a ministerial licence, so did other women around her, and she endorsed women getting paid for such ministry work. I think tying women ministers to lesbianism is also a bit of a long bow.

Who says pastors/ministers/clergy (being charismatic leaders according to the NT model) are the same as ordained elders/deacons/bishops (being appointed leaders according to the NT model)? Where is the biblical evidence and 'Thus saith the Lord'?







John Mark
2012-02-03 11:12 PM

Thanks for this post David. I have been hearing this perspective from Darius Jankiewicz over the last few weeks in one of my Seminary classes. I take it, this is perhaps where you were introduced to the ideas, or perhaps it's a coincidence. This has the potential to take the debate in an interesting direction, my impression is that this concept is recieved fairly positively by the Seminarians. I wouldn't expect any change overnight, but enough of the future leaders of the church are being exposed to the ideas that it may take root eventually. It is interestingly that these battles are fought so intensely, and yet we don't think as to whether we're maybe totally on the wrong battlefield. This concept asks that question. 

David Hamstra
2012-02-04 12:27 AM

It doesn't take much to recognize the source, does it John?

Ella M
2012-02-03 11:14 PM

This was a good blog with which I can agree.  The principle here is a Jesus one--defeating the desire for power!  It could even be a test for our church.  My only question (I am not a lawyer) is:  If we don't use the term "ordained" how will this affect the benefits that clergy get under the law?  I have heard that Adventist women can't be military chaplains because they require the person to be "ordained."
    We try to be biblical in this; but what does this mean?  Does the Bible set down organizational patterns for churches?  Were there conferences, unions, etc. in the New Testament church?  Does anyone claim we are not biblical because we use these terms and levels of heirarchy?  We don't use the term "bishops" but deacons and deaconesses and elders as in the NT.  Were these sacred terms?  Did they mean the same as now--have the same job descriptions?  Do women wear head coverings in church?  I am just wondering if the writers on here are saying that the early church organizational model and terms are sacred truths to be carried on in the future church or were they used during that time period like the references to slaves?
   What is the common sense approach?
    Sometimes I wonder if Jesus is not going to hold us responsible for the things we did not do to make our church and message more inclusive and to keep it in step with the times to save more lives for eternity.

David Hamstra
2012-02-04 12:25 AM

Ella,

To answer your practical questions,

(1) I have not served as a pastor in the US, but in Canada I received all the governmental benefits and prerogatives available to clergy (tax breaks, marriage powers, etc.) before I was ordained. Commissioned pastors are treated the same way. I suspect the same is true in the US.

(2) I recently attended an address to pastors given by a female, Adventist US Navy chaplain, so there is clearly no issue with commissioned ministers being commissioned as officer chaplains either.

My non-expert legal oppinion would be that to avoid claims of religious discrimination, the government would need to recognize whatever title a religious organization chooses for its clergy. (Are immams and rabbis ordained?)

prbigkev
2012-02-04 2:24 AM

David: "A question, if I may:  Who's job is it to do theology in the church?"

May I suggest that it is the job of the priesthood of all believers to do theology in the church. See Acts 17:11  However, may I also suggest it is the job of professional theologians to do theology for the church.

Kevin Riley
2012-02-04 6:47 AM

If you change that to 'it is the job of the professional thologians to do theology with the church', I think it might be more accurate.  The separation of professional theologians from the ordinary theologians in the church has not been good for anyone.

David Hamstra
2012-02-05 5:22 PM

Prbigkev,

Are you saying that the church contracts out its job of doing theology to professional theologians? I'm not clear on what you mean by saying that theologians do theology for the church. Do they not also do theology in the church? Do not church members also do theology for the church?

prbigkev
2012-02-06 12:25 AM

In practice, yes, the church does "contract" out the job of doing theology to professional theologians.  Take the BRI for example.  When theological issues are raised from time to time in various regions of the world the local Field Secretary has the responsibility of dealing with the issue - either on his own or with a theological committee.  At times these issues may be brought to BRICOM for further study.  Even on a less formal basis it is the professional theologian or the academics that are given greater authority to influence theological outcomes ... for better or for worse.
Unless we utilise our well trained theologians in helping the church develop or defend our belief system what better alternative might we use?
BTW - I like Kevin Riley's point made above.

David Hamstra
2012-02-07 5:30 PM

I would say it is the job of professional theologians to facilitate the church in it's job of doing theology. So I would agree with Kevin's point.

At any rate, this is a roundabout way of saying that I know of no reason why the church should stop doing theology on any one point and wait for the theologians to give us the answer. In fact, wise theologians should be listening for good ideas that come from the movement of the Holy Spirit through such discussions.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-02-04 7:42 AM

David, I have read both your article and Johnston’s before that – thanks again.  Correct me if I am wrong, but the suggestion is that the charismatic model of NT leadership died out in the early Church and was replaced or amalgamated by the appointed/institutional model alone – is that right?  You suggest that modern pastors/clergy are really equivalent to appointed/institutional elders, not charismatic leaders; if that is the case, doesn’t that open a number of other questions regarding the role of leadership in the Church, including:
 
1) You say that charismatic leadership requires some kind of external supernatural evidence; if so, what type of evidence?  Evidence of say a prophet is perhaps more obvious, but what external evidence is required for an apostle, evangelist, teacher or pastor? Or are you suggesting that every charismatic leader on the NT model needs to also be a prophet, and if so, where is the biblical evidence for that? If so, isn’t that similar to Pentecostals arguing glossolalia is likewise mandatory for charismatic leadership?
 
2) 1 Cor 9 links the right to Church remuneration to apostleship (i.e. charismatic leadership).  On what basis then do modern SDA pastors (i.e. who you suggest are really merely appointed elders), have to be paid from the tithe?  Thus, on what basis can we even claim to have a professional, paid 'clergy'? 
 
3) Is the notion of being ‘clergy’, being literally ‘that which is assigned by lots’, a reference to Matthias’ selection as an apostle according to the charismatic model? If modern pastors are really just a type of appointed/institutional elder, do you think that SDA pastors actually have the right to call themselves ‘ministers’, ‘clergy’ or even ‘pastor’?
 
4) In your article you note that ‘The early church concentrated spiritual (and secular) authority in the office of the monarchical bishop, combining institutional and charismatic authority in what was called the charism of truth.’ Although the SDA Church doesn’t use the terms ‘priest’ or ‘bishop’, haven’t we effectively done the same thing? Don’t we invest the rights and authority as NT charismatic leaders (i.e. apostles) in what you say is essentially an institutional/appointed leader? Although the early-ish Church did this amalgamating of charismatic and institutional leadership, is this biblical, especially in light of core Protestant principles about the priesthood of all believers and rejection of bishops? Isn't the SDA ordination practices then a type of the Catholic apostlic sucession (i.e. a vesting of the Apostle's charismatic authority) by a mere chain of institutional/appointment ordination, and isn't that a corruption, which again as Protestants we should reject?
 
5) If pastors are not charismatic leaders but rather mere appointed/institutional leaders, why does our Church have local church elders as well?  
 
Sorry, I’ll stop making posts and bothering you – I think I have made enough for a while.  But it is very interesting how your/Johnston’s exposition on NT leadership models opens up a whole other series of very interesting questions.

David Hamstra
2012-02-05 4:54 PM

Stephen,

These are interesting points you are raising. You're very clearly highlighting the areas where we have differing conceptions of institutional and charismatic leadership. I'll try to address your questions one by one.

1. In order for there to be chrismatic leadership, there must be a genuine perception that the leader is speaking directly for God. In the case of the apostle Paul, this came from his claim to have spoken directly with Jesus in visions; validated by the miracles he performed. Institutional leaders speak with the authority of the institution, using their spiritual gifts to do so and baseing their claims in previously revealed information. Charismatic leaders, not the other hand, are continualy receiving revelation from God. Under this conception of authority, only apostles and prophets have charismatic authority. Pastor's and teachers rely on the appointment of the church to exercise their spiritual gifts with authority, to the degree that some who do not receive such appointment break off and start their own church in order attain/maintain a following (sometimes claiming to be apostles or prophets in the process).

2. "...the Lord commanded those who proclaim the gospel to receive their living by the gospel." (1 Cor 9:14). This is the basis on which full-time Adventist preachers receive a tithe based salary. Nowhere in 1 Cor 9, does Paul say that only apostles should receive support for their ministry. Rather, he grounds his argument for this support in the Lord's princple that all who proclaim the gospel (presumably as a vocation) should be supported.

3. I do not believe Mathias's selection as apostle was charismatic, but rather appointative. It was the apostles who decided they needed a 12th apostle, not God. This was the first attempt to turn apostleship into an office, and it didn't turn out well. Mathias is never heard of again in the book of Acts. This is the main point I try to make in my article: The search for charismatic leaders is dangerous, because it attempts to combine charisma with office.

Jesus chose his 12th apostle when he was ready to, and that apostle was Paul. Paul's apostleship came through direct revelation of Jesus Christ, and was confirmed in supernatural ways throughout his ministry. Paul sought, recognition, but not appointment, from the other apostles. Clearly a charismatic, rather than appointed, leader.

4. In order for the comparison you are making to be true, SDA pastors would have to be understood to receive something like "the Spirit of Prophecy" when they are ordained. (In fact, I consider the "charism of truth" to be a counterfeit Spirit of Prophecy.) Clearly this is not the case. Rather, current Adventist theology of ordination views it as a recognition of God's blessings, not a conferring of spiritual gifts.

5. I was taught the from a Biblical perspective, Adventist pastors are basically elders who are committed to full-time ministry. Unordained pastors serve as ordained elders, and must be ordained as elders before they can baptise, serve at the Lord's table, or perform marriages. Of course, ordaining women elders while commissioning women pastors has broken this down somewhat, but in the structure of the Adventist church, ordained/commissioned pastors are more or less elders who have been appointed to full time ministry.

I hope that helps you to understand my position more clearly. At this point I think we've going down a rabbit trail which, while interesting, has diverged significantly enough from the original post that we should call off the chase. I would be willing the continue the dialogue over at Memory, Meaning & Faith, if you have more questions.

William Noel
2012-02-05 8:51 PM

David,

If we are each ministering under the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit as God clearly intended, why should there be any difference between institutional and charismatic leadership? 

David Hamstra
2012-02-06 12:01 AM

How do we know who is under the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit?

William Noel
2012-02-06 9:08 AM

David,

It is easy to understand your question because I once asked the same thing. Like most Adventists, I had become so focused on exposing the false outpouring of the Holy Spirit that I had become immunized against the reality of God wanting to actually live inside me and empower me.  God had to tear-down my old faith before He could rebuild me including the reality of the Holy Spirit. 

You will know it when the Holy Spirit is guiding and empowering because it is so miraculous and wonderful.  You will see God doing things through people (including you) that you have not seen before and which are beyond human capability.  You will see God giving understanding of things while reducing issues that once consumed a person to irrelevance.  You will see the church transformed by growing harmony and love on a level that turns the church into a fellowship that people genuinely want to be part of.  Instead of dry and theory-filled sermons about God, the members will be celebrating the reality of their experience with God.  It is an experience that I wish everyone would allow God to give them.

What has this done for the church of which I am part?  Our last evangelistic crusade was six years ago and our growth rate has only gone up since.  We're maxed-out on space in which to meet.  We have more ministries than I've ever seen anywhere else and the all work in perfect harmony because God is guiding.  I wish you could see it.


David Hamstra
2012-02-07 5:57 PM

William,

I think I did not construct my question very well. It's not the counterfeit I'm so much concerned about as understanding how the Holy Spirt works through the community of the church to organize ministry, including leadership. When the first elder-deacons were appointed in Acts, they were selected because they were full of the Holy Spirit. In Acts, the Holy Spirit has a hand in setting up and maintaining church institutions, including appointed leaders, through his prompting in the community of the church.

So to reiterate, the construct of institutional vs. charismatic leadership is not saying that institutional leadership has no reliance on the Holy Spirit. It's a question simple of where the basis of their authority to lead is—the church (ideally under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) or the supernatural evidence of God speaking directly to the leader. In a Spirit-led church, both forms of leadership can operate hand-in-hand, should God choose to gift a charismatic leader.

I believe miracles like healings, divine appointments, words of knowledge, etc. can and should happen in the ministry of any Christian leader—any Christian for that matter. All can and should receive impressions and divine direction. I'm thrilled to hear of what is happening in your church right now. (I hope God gives you a solution to your space issue soon. We're struggling with the same thing at the moment.) But these experiences alone do not constitute supern charismatic leadership.

Evangelicals and pentacostals are currently trying to water-down the definition of prophecy so that anyone who gets an impression or a gives a word to someone is a prophet. To me this is an attempt to bring prophecy under the control of the institutional church, because an impression and such is not sufficient supernatural evidence that a church leader couldn't challenge it. For charismatic leadership to mean anything as a construct for analyzing the way authority plays out in the church, there must be some kind of broadly recognized supernatural evidence within the community of believers that God is giving messages directly to the individual, who would then become a church leader. This is all I'm saying.

Ok, now I'm really done chasing this rabbit trail here. :) If anyone would like to discuss this further, please feel welcome at the post on Memory, Meaning & Faith. Thanks!

All4Him
2012-02-04 8:58 AM

Stephen, Chosen by God should be just that and not who can afford the tuition.  The quote I gave were from EGW and I have not found her writings contradictiong the Truths of God's Word.  The Bible is clear on this matter and prophets were sent to lead people back to the Word.  With all University Pastors being  pro-womans ordination do you not hear the bell of political correctness tolling.  Its about profits not prophets, tuition ove truth.  It seems you have to twist scripture to wring out ways of wetting your appetites on this matter.  Instead of questioning Gods Word with expostions follow It's simple teachings.  Twisting words will not change "GOD'S SENTENCE". 

"Lo this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." Ecclesiates 7:29.




William Noel
2012-02-06 4:44 PM

All4Him,

One of the beautiful parts about being empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit is that his tuition fees were paid at Calvary.  I learned more from the Holy Spirit about real ministry in only a few months than I did in all my years studying theology. 

All4Him
2012-02-04 9:34 AM

Ella M.... We try to be biblical in this; but what does this mean?  Does the Bible set down organizational patterns for churches?

The same principles of piety and justice that were to guide the rulers among God's people in the time of Moses and of David, were also to be followed by those given the oversight of the newly organized church of God in the gospel dispensation. In the work of setting things in order in all the churches, and ordaining suitable men to act as officers, the apostles held to the high standards of leadership outlined in the Old Testament Scriptures. They maintained that he who is called to stand in a position of leading responsibility in the church "must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." Titus 1:7-9. Acts of the Apostles pg. 95

Keep in mind this is EGW and not the Bible (but she is quoting the Bible).

Ella M
2012-02-04 3:05 PM

Response to All4Him:  There are other quotes that say "men and women" in ministry.  "Man" and "he" is also the term used in the Bible and through the 1800's and later for humans. You can make these writings say whatever you want generally. The same with the Bible.
 On the other hand we know the nature of God is love and fairness and he speaks to us where we are in history and life--this from the overview of the Scriptures. And we find overwhelming scripture and White writing on that basic foundation.
 That is the difference between a rigid literalism (which is contradicting because it speaks specifically to time and place) and living by principle.

All4Him
2012-02-04 3:45 PM

Please show me the quotes you mentioned Ella for again I would be one of the strongest proponents of Womens ordination if it could be found in Scripture or the Spirit of Prophecy.

The primary object of our college was to afford young men an opportunity to study for the ministry and to prepare young persons of both sexes to become workers in the various branches of the cause. 5T page 60.

Those who enter the missionary field should be men and women who walk and talk with God. Those who stand as ministers in the sacred desk should be men of blameless reputation. 5T page 598

Ella M
2012-02-04 5:54 PM

All4 Him 

I wish I had time to follow up on this, but I have other priorities.  If you are truly interested in knowing you can get information from the Women's Resource Center at La Sierra and any number of places including the White Estate material (that leaves the issue ambiguous).  You may not like the WRC, but if you want to hold a belief such as this, it would be important to check the research of the opposition (who also use White and the scriptures for their belief).  Again, there were no women pastors at the time White wrote the above.  But she also said truth was progressive and expected our church to grow with new light.  Unfortunately this hasn't happened.  I think we will have to answer to God for that at some time, sooner than we think.

All4Him
2012-02-04 6:13 PM

Please show text or quotes I'll be waiting if you find any...

David Patterson
2012-02-11 4:57 PM

"It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors to the flock of God." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6, p 322

All4Him
2012-02-15 5:39 AM

David read this in context the chapter is on the The Canvasser a Gospel Worker.....

ALL who desire an opportuntity for true ministry, and will give themselfs unreservedly to God, will find in the CANVASSING WORK opportunities to speak upon many  things concerning the future, imortal life.  for true ministry......There are some who are adapted to the work of the COLPORTEUR AND CAN ACCOMPLISH MORE IN THIS LINE THAN PREACHING......  Ellen White goes on to say on page 323 to say.... even MEN suited for this work undertake it; but some injudicious minister flatters them that thier gifts should be employed in preaching instead of the work of colporteur.   Thus they are influenced to get a licence to preach, and the very ones that might have trained to make good missionaries to visit families at their homes to talk and pray with them, are turned away from a work for which they are fitted.... 

The primary object of our college was to afford young men an opportunity to study for the ministry and to prepare young persons of both sexes to become workers in the various branches of the cause. Testimonies for the Church, Vol 5,  page 60.

Those who enter the missionary field should be men and women who walk and talk with God. Those who stand as ministers in the sacred desk should be men of blameless reputation. 5T page 598

There is a large field of Bibical womens ministry that is being accomplished in this area by Godly women.  They are doing a work that is as important or as sister White has mentioned this work just as important as being in the pulpit elsewhere.  Time is short and Christ coming is near, lets use everyones talents and energy in spreading the truth the way the Bible and SOP call for.

William Noel
2012-02-08 10:54 AM

All4Him,

Both Ellen White and the Apostle Paul expressed their observations and thoughts in a manner consistent with the social concepts of the day.  That is why Paul could give the counsel for women to be silent and EGW spoke of preparing young men for the ministry.  But times change.  Women are effective in many roles that once were the exclusive domain of men.  Because it is the Holy Spirit who empowers each person for ministry of whatever type in the manner and at the time of His choosing, discussion of this topic should really be focusing on how each of us can become empowered by the Holy Spirit instead of getting lost in arguing over who can or cannot. 

Jesus declared that we are either with him or against him and advised us to seek the empowerment of the Holy Spirit so we could spread the Gospel and He could return.  This old "he can but she can't" argument only prevents you and others from discovering the empowerment that Jesus wanted to be present in us.  So, why do you persist in this argument?  When will you let the Holy Spirit take control and empower you for greater ministry?

All4Him
2012-02-15 5:47 AM

William, Paul gave the counsel because it bookmatches the Word of God.  You are using the same arguement that the gay/lesbian ordination supporters do.  We all need to get out of the church and do canvasing to the world.  As I say myself and many others would be strong supporters of WO if it was from Gods Word and it is clearly not.

William Noel
2012-02-04 1:34 PM

David,

You've definitely stirred-up the proverbial "hornet's nest" on this one.  It is a timely topic that deserves serious exploration.

Most of the comments above posit one concept against another and one scripture against another, often with the idea that a particular text is proof of God's instruction.  Yes, the priests of ancient Israel were all men, but it was a male-dominated society where the lead male in the house held power much as we see in the Muslim world today.  But in the New Testament we have Paul's clear declaration that spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to all who believe and there is no difference in God's eyes between male and female. 

So, from where do we get the idea that women cannot serve in leading roles in the church?  Primarily from post-apostolic history where the clergy came to be viewed as a separate social class.  Ordination became the action by which church leaders conferred their official approval upon rising leaders and gave them authority to exercise power over certain matters.  That authority has been continued in varying degrees into the present day.  So, if we believe what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit empowering all believers regardless of gender, then the issue is reduced to the question of how to deal with and dispose of false claims of clerical authority.  Will we look to people as the ultimate authority on matters in the church, or the Holy Spirit?

All4Him
2012-02-04 2:52 PM

Willaim mentioned "Most of the comments above posit one concept against another and one scripture against another, often with the idea that a particular text is proof of God's instruction." 

This is clearly what you are doing, taking one verse of Paul ignoring the rest.  If you read it in context it would not be a pretext, for Paul was stating there is no difference in ones ability to obtain salvation and grace from our Lord.  If you see a row of chairs and one is not lined up with the others do you take the whole row and move it or bring the one chair in line with the others.  The Bible does not contradict itself just as it is impossible for the Holy Spirit to contradict the Word of God. 


William Noel
2012-02-04 10:57 PM

All4Him,

Let's take your absolutist pretext a bit further.  Paul admonished Philemon to be subject to his slave master.  So, should we promote or support slavery? 

Paul is very open in expressing his opinions.  Catholics take his statement in 1 Cor 7:7 as the basis for requiring priests to be celibate when the larger topic of his discussion is ministering using the gifts that God has given a person.  What about Paul's statements that women should not cut their hair and be silent in church?  That was to prevent disorder because the society of that time was strongly male-dominated, a woman with short hair and fancy clothing was assumed to be a prostitute and it women were expected to be quiet to respect the "authority" of their husbands. 

Our bigger challenge in this discussion is NOT what various texts do or do not say, but how deeply the Catholic concept of clerical authority has been embraced by protestantism and how Bible verses are used to defend the human concept of ordaining only men when the promise of Holy Spirit empowerment for ministry is given to all with God doing the picking and choosing.

All4Him
2012-02-04 6:31 PM

Timo please send me any text other than the misquoted Gal. 3:28....

or any EGW quotes that deal with the subject.

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word there is no light in them. Isa. 8:20

Kevin Riley
2012-02-05 6:40 PM

To argue that the basis on which God grants salvation has no relevance for how we live as Christians seem odd.  If we are all 'sons of God' and thus 'heirs', are we not all also part of the priesthood of all believers?  The NT record of the inclusion of so many women in the preaching of the gospel would suggest that Gal 3:28 has wider reference than just salvation.

David Patterson
2012-02-11 5:01 PM

"It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors to the flock of God." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6, p 322

All4Him
2012-02-12 8:27 AM

David read this in context the chapter is on the The Canvasser a Gospel Worker.....

ALL who desire an opportuntity for true ministry, and will give themselfs unreservedly to God, will find in the CANVASSING WORK opportunities to speak upon many  things concerning the future, imortal life.  for true ministry......There are some who are adapted to the work of the COLPORTEUR AND CAN ACCOMPLISH MORE IN THIS LINE THAN PREACHING......  Ellen White goes on to say on page 323 to say.... even MEN suited for this work undertake it; but some injudicious minister flatters them that thier gifts should be employed in preaching instead of the work of colporteur.   Thus they are influenced to get a licence to preach, and the very ones that might have trained to make good missionaries to visit families at their homes to talk and pray with them, are turned away from a work for which they are fitted.... 

The primary object of our college was to afford young men an opportunity to study for the ministry and to prepare young persons of both sexes to become workers in the various branches of the cause. Testimonies for the Church, Vol 5,  page 60.

Those who enter the missionary field should be men and women who walk and talk with God. Those who stand as ministers in the sacred desk should be men of blameless reputation. 5T page 598

There is a large field of Bibical womens ministry that is being accomplished in this area by Godly women.  They are doing a work that is as important or as sister White has mentioned this work just as important as being in the pulpit elsewhere.  Time is short and Christ coming is near, lets use everyones talents and energy in spreading the truth the way the Bible and SOP call for. 

JaNe
2012-07-19 1:12 AM

Women Ordination is very simple---there are those who want the spiritual to bend to their temporal views. They want their POLITICAL WORLDview to prevail over the Bible.

Anonymous


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