Bill Knott, editor of the Adventist Review, announced in an editorial published in the current issue (dated September 13) that the leading journal of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination will “in coming weeks” publish “articles … interviews, letters, features and editorials” about “the appropriateness of ordaining women to gospel ministry and the process to follow in making that decision.” This is surprising because since the early 1990s, the magazine has published nothing on the topic.
“The church is founded, not on unanimity—and certainly not on uniformity—but on the covenant created by divinely given love and goodwill,” the editor asserted. He cited a quote he has remembered for 35 years from a college professor; “If two people are always agreeing, one of them is not necessary.” And he referenced Matthew 18, stating that “Jesus also expects at least some disagreements among us,” His followers.
Knott cited the fact that in the early history of the denomination his periodical often published materials that disagreed with each other, a practice more carefully controlled in recent decades. “This journal, now 163 years old, was the vital bulletin board of ideas and visions around which the first generation of Sabbathkeeping Adventists gathered to learn how to talk and live with each other.”
This is an unexpected development to all the observers that Adventist Today has contacted. Many are dubious about how open and balanced the materials may be. After all, the journal is published by the General Conference and the GC president is chairman of its board. “It is unlikely that this decision was made entirely independently by the editor,” a veteran church administrator told Adventist Today.
Despite the surprise and skepticism, advocates of removing gender discrimination in ordination welcomed the announcement. Every Bible study conducted by Adventists on this topic at the level of quality that the Adventist Review typically publishes has resulted in agreement that Scripture does not prohibit extending ordination to qualified women.
Knott’s editorial is careful not to wish for too much. “I’m praying that what we read and ponder here in the days ahead will improve the quality of our conversation and our respect for those who disagree with us,” the piece ends. He does not say if he also prays for a solution that would permit the denomination to bring closure to the ordination debate and move beyond it.
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