On February 6, Doug Batchelor, senior pastor of the Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist Church in California and president of the international media ministry Amazing Facts preached a sermon entitled "Women Pastors: A Biblical Perspective." Batchelor's main point is to assert that women should not be pastors (or elders), as God designed women to be subservient to men, according to Batchelor. He states, "Sin came into our world as a result of man neglecting and women disregarding the husband’s leadership role." He presents his point of view as Biblical and therefore irrefutable by saying, "God's word is God's word."
Reactions have been pouring in to Adventist Today, as many feel Batchelor's conservative Biblical interpretations are being taken out of its historical and cultural context and his unrestrained remarks are offensive toward women.
Batchelor goes further, stressing the biological differences between the sexes. He states that "[M]en have more neurons in their brain, and some of that is because we have more mass and that may mean more nerve endings. But you should also know…and I know this isn’t gonna get me reelected. According to the British Journal of Psychology, [men] on an average score five points higher on an IQ test." He continues, "[I]t’s important to recognize that as we approach this subject that those who are clamoring and campaigning to say that there shouldn’t be any difference in the roles of men and women in the church - we are different. We are gifted differently and God has said there should be a different [sic]."
Batchelor's take on the "ordination versus commissioned" debate, he feels, is really just a play on words, as both male and female pastors are granted the same rights to perform their duties. Batchelor is not shy about his strong opposition of such rights for women pastors:
"I believe that we have been badgered and intimidated so that we are not really going by what does the Bible say. Matter of fact in the Seventh-day Adventist Church if you trace the history a little bit, I am sorry to say a lot of those changes and of course in North America, not so much in other parts of the world now, women are being ordained. They call it commissioned but it’s really the same thing as being ordained as pastors. And it’s… you know you can call it commissioned but in every other way it’s the same as ordination with all the rights, privileges. It’s like Abraham Lincoln used to say, ‘you can call a dog’s tail a leg, but it’s still a tail.’ And so just changing the label of something doesn’t change the definition of it. And what they have done is they have tried to pacify people who read the Bible and say only men should be ordained as pastors and say well we’re not ordaining women pastors - were commissioning them as pastors. That’s the same thing. And in every other way—the authority, they’re baptizing, they’re leading out in communion services, they’re fulfilling all the sacred offices that God originally said should be reserved for the man. And this is a dangerous subject for me to share. But you know I just figure someone's gotta say something and if I perish, I perish. I’ve been here a long time anyway. And I know it’s not very popular in our culture to say these things. Kind of like wearing a mink coat to a PETA convention. But someone needs to say it. Both male and female pastors."
The concern for many stems from the fact that thousands of Adventists, and even non-Adventists, look to Batchelor as a voice of Biblical authority and interpretation of scripture. Some are calling for responsible hermeneutics, and that other interpretations of Scripture be presented from the pulpits across North America to people of good faith.
Batchelor's church in Sacramento, CA, falls in the territory of the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Adventist Today reached the president of that conference—Jim Pedersen, for a response and received this official statement by e-mail:
"When I’m asked to respond to a sermon’s topic, I always want to preface my comments by stating I honor the right of pastors to speak from their biblical study in the context of the Seventh-day Adventist message. Pastor Doug Batchelor, in his sermon titled “Women Pastors: A Biblical Perspective,” articulated his viewpoint on this subject as part of the ongoing discussion worldwide about the role of women in pastoral ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. However, I also deeply respect the positions voted by the world church and the Northern California Conference. The NCC has a history of supporting women in pastoral ministry. The members in Northern California went on record at the 2002 Constituency Session in support of this issue by recommending women’s ordination to the General Conference. While I wish views on this topic were always completely compatible, I remain confident that the Lord will eventually lead us all to the unity that Christ desires for His people."
Adventist Today is also waiting for a statement from Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The Union's Executive Committee met last week, and, according to a close source at that meeting, Batchelor's sermon was brought up for discussion. Adventist Today will bring alerts to its readers of any subsequent action against Batchelor resulting from the Union meeting.
Adventist Today has also recently received the manuscript of the sermon. Click here to view 24-page sermon. NOTE: The sermon was transcribed verbatim. Tthe copy has been streamlined by eliminating only wordy redundancy and some "rambling" from the original sermon.
Finally, Adventist Today will be posting articles by thinking pastors, theologians and the laity in next few days. They will respond and challenge the Batchelor sermon in good taste and offer their own perspective of what the Word of God states on women and the church.
David Newman, senior pastor of New Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fulton, MD, and editor of Adventist Today begins the series by providing the first response to Batchelor. Click here to read it now. http://www.amazingfacts.org/media-library/book/e/2/t/Gods-Role-for-Women-in-Ministry.aspx
Below is the video of the Batchelor sermon which is available on the Amazing Facts website.
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