Comment on Northern California Conference Votes to Act Independent of the General Conference by Floyd.
Sean, I have been very impressed with your honesty and the integrity of how you are handling this whole debate being carried on here. You have been very careful to discern the difference between opinions and facts, something very few are choosing to do. Several here have relied on opinions expressed by ‘high’ authority in the church presuming that our church is organized in a way foreign to the plain teaching of Jesus that we are not to emulate the hierarchy of the Gentiles.
You have pointed out several times here what you have recently learned, that in fact the Unions were put into place over 100 years ago for the express purpose of defeating attempts to enforce just such a hierarchical system by people at the top intoxicated with an undue desire for control over others. Ellen White repeatedly warns against just such a spirit, yet nonetheless it is raising its ugly specter once again just as it did repeatedly in her day.
I would like to ask a similar question to those who want to insist that the ordaining of women is forbidden by church beliefs without quoting specific references from doctrine or policy. They point to opinions by Ted Wilson but that is not reflective of actual policy, only his take on it. I would add that most of this is also predicated on a recent presumption affecting the thinking of many in our denomination that male-headship is a doctrine of our church. Yet again there is no actual evidence from GC resolutions to defend this assumption. These are issues that are not being faced honestly by many who are arguing against you here.
What concerns me far more however, than how well either side can ‘prove’ their position by accurate references to legislated church beliefs by a GC in session is the much more vital issue of the condition of our spirit. According to the teachings of the New Testament in particular, I find God far more concerned with the disposition of how we treat others and the spirit which motivates our discourse much more than the accuracy of our beliefs. I have come to see that from heaven’s perspective this appears to be the more deciding factor in our salvation above everything else. No matter how well one may be able to string texts together to ‘prove’ the correctness of their position or how many biased quotations they may use from EGW to ‘prove’ their point, I have learned that when the spirit is tainted with animosity or a desire to force one’s opinion on the conscience of others, even if that has a majority vote in a church, it has not being inspired by heaven.
I pray that we all will be more willing to humble ourselves rather than seeking to force our opinions on others. And from my observation this tendency seems to be seen most clearly among those demanding that everyone in the world conform to their insistence that women must never be treated equally with men when it comes to recognizing the gifting of the Spirit independent of our preferences or beliefs. As I see it, those asking for recognition of the desires of certain Unions to be free to ordain women to help spread the gospel unencumbered by human restrictions are not trying to force this on anyone else. They are in fact seeking to humbly invite the world church to respect the freedom of conscience that Christ died to defend. These things I believe are the real issues at stake here, not just whether women’s ordination can be proven legitimate or not. It is the issue of who is the true leader and head of every person in the body of Christ and who has the right to force the conscience of another.
Again, thank-you for seeking to maintain a spirit of honesty, openness and humility through all of this. You have been an inspiration and a model for me as I watch how you have responded to strong statements from many sides of this issue.
Floyd Also Commented
Gina Wahlen: I would encourage you to read the Q & A that is on Pastor Wilson’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PastorTedWilson/
He very clearly answers the question…
This sound like a good idea. Sadly though it can also create an illusion of unity that is being heavily censored. A growing number of people are being blocked from commenting there or even asking questions even though their thoughtful and honest questions were very polite. It is starting to look a great deal like those who don’t support the particular views of Pastor Wilson are not counted among the Total Membership Involvement he claims to promote.
In addition it is becoming apparent that the answers provided there continue to skirt or ignore completely the facts of both history as well as actual written policy. The answers are more his personal interpretations of history and policy rather than clear explanations. I believe these are important facts to be aware of when visiting his page.
Northern California Conference Votes to Act Independent of the General Conference
Sean, you are getting hung up by a false presumption, that is that our church is a strictly top-down hierarchy. This is not the case. The Catholic church and many others do have that structure and maybe the majority of Adventists presume it is our structure but that does not change the facts written into policy for many years. This is the crux of the controversy raging right now.
Each level of organization has been given ‘final authority’ over various aspects of church responsibility that no other level can control. This was deliberately created to disrupt a top-down hierarchy that would violate the clear command of Christ. This is why so many are confused about what is happening and is part of why you are struggling to make sense out of all this. Your statement that ” It is the GC that sets policy for all underlying organizational elements” is not accurate. This is not how this church is organized no matter how many people try to wish it so.
skip mcclannahan: The Northern California Conference is really saying they are more in tuned to what our Lord would have God’s church do then literally hundreds of dedicated lay men and women, very experienced Pastors, Bible scholars and elected administrators from all around the world, who studied, prayed, investigated, and hashed out this very issue.
I find these comments somewhat amazing given that the GC deliberately and openly ignored the very group of people I presume you refer to here. If one honestly examines the conclusions of the TOSC it would be impossible to insist that the NCC is contradicting their conclusions – that simply is wishful thinking on the part of those who did not like how that turned out. My question would be, why did the GC leaders choose to completely ignore the findings of these people that cost them over a million dollars to conduct this study? Why did men at top levels of the church carefully orchestrate all sorts of things to push through their own agenda instead of honestly and openly taking into serious consideration the findings of this committee? Because they did not like it so they chose to compel the world church to vote on something the GC has never had authority over for many years.
I also have a serious question regarding your stance on the GC in session as unquestionably the highest authority of God on earth. The way you are relating to it along with many others seems strongly to be based on a presumption that is another way of saying that the GC in session is infallible. I realize those are strong words, but so too is the stance of all who insist on this being the final word. Are we claiming that when we get enough people together in the name of Adventism that we can claim the same boastful authority that the pope claims for himself? Are we suggesting that every decision of the GC in session is therefore to never be questioned and that they are all truthful and in the best interest of God’s work on earth? I shudder at such claims knowing human nature and the tendency of humans to be influenced and even corrupted by power, even large groups of people. This is also in direct contradiction to the plain teachings of Jesus that His people will not participate in a hierarchical way of relating to each other. It also presumes that the GC can do no wrong, a claim I could never countenance. Something has gone tragically wrong in the way many have come to view authority I’m afraid. We have been seduced into believing that God exercises authority the way we do here on earth which is a travesty.