The 60th world session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church General Conference meeting in San Antonio, Texas voted Wednesday on a proposal that would allow those regions of the world who wished to ordain women as pastors. Even though the proposal would seem to be fair-minded and show consideration for the beliefs of others in the church, the vote was:
The strongly conservative vote was influenced by the fact that the majority of church members now live in third world nations where women are not viewed with the same respect as in North America and Europe, and there are strong patriarchal traditions still dominating their cultures.
However, Friday the North American Division, which hosted the world session, issued a clarification, noting that the vote (as the proposal was carefully worded) did not "disallow" women continuing to serve as "commissioned church pastors" or "ordained elders" or "ordained deaconesses." This appears to be a clever manuevering, where the NAD put one over on the majority of the world church. While in my opinion this may have saved the church, it could have dire consequences in the long run for the NAD, perhaps in five years when the General Conference world session is next supposed to meet. And I still deplore the subterfuge involved. This is why I did not become a minister, even though I was a theology major at Andrews University many years ago. I have a very low tolerance for church politics.
There should be more effort made to educate the ignorant about sound Bible scholarship concerning the women's ordination issue, such as the clear importance of taking 1 Tim. 2:9-15 in context with the fact that Paul was counselling Timothy on dealing with the Artemis Cult in Ephesus, which is the only thing that allows many of the statements in that passage to make sense at all.
As for the idea of women being "commissioned church pastors," Biblically it is God who ordains, and the laying on of hands was not itself ordination, merely the church's way of acknowledging those whom God has already ordained. Despite the way these were confused later in the church, there was no new grace or virtue or power given by the laying on of hands. Anyway, this means that Biblically, there is no difference between a "commissioned church pastor" and an "ordained church pastor." So women who are already church pastors, in North America and Europe, can continue in those roles, and can continue to be paid their salaries by the local conferences.
"The laying on of hands" is one of those legendary things that have been verified by modern science. As I mentioned in an earlier thread, Pavlov and other behavioral psychologists proved exactly how the process works - and is truly not gender specific.
Anyone can encounter a traumatic experience that overwhelms the psyche, and results in an hysterical illness. It can be blindness, the inability to walk, or many other measurable maladies. The afflictions are real - and medical science is largely inadequate to treat them. What Pavlov discovered is the psychological mechanism that causes them, and can also cure them.
A traumatic event or staged focused emotional disturbance can push a person into a "plastic period" in which old mores, social tenets, and physical health disappear and are replaced with whatever is presented and reinforced correctly. The "laying on of hands" is done after a person re-enters a plastic state similar to the one which produced the hysterical illness. In modern times, such states were generated in church revival meetings, like those invented in 1735 by Jonathan Edwards of Massachusetts. The theologian Jonathan Edwards discovered that he could make his 'sinners' break down and submit completely to his will. He achieved this by threatening them with Hell and thereby inducing acute fear, apprehension and guilt. Edwards, like many other preachers before and after him, whipped up the emotions of his congregation to a fever-pitch of anger, fear, excitement and nervous tension, before exposing them to the new ideas and beliefs he wanted them to absorb. To this day, live rattlesnakes are passed around some congregations in the southern parts of the USA; the fear and anxiety they induce can impair judgement and make the candidates for conversion more suggestible. Once this state of mental plasticity has been created, the preacher starts to replace their existing patterns of thought. There is quite a controversy surrounding Jonathon Edwards, because some vilify him for bringing so many attendees of his revival meetings to a point where they committed suicide because of their perceived past transgressions. He often didn't try to "Save" them until after they were already dead.
Always remember Arthur Clark's third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The converse is true. also. Things that are believed as incontrovertible magic can be explained by science. What happened to Saul on the Road to Damascus, what happened to Jonathon Edwards' many converts, and the ordination and healing missions of various churches all are real examples of science. Almost all Christian churches, including Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Southern Baptists, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use laying on of hands for ordination, confirmation, and healing.
It works. It really does.
The problem began when the laying on of hands was confused with ordination. God alone ordains. The laying on of hands was simply the church's way of acknowledging those whom God had already ordained. Roman Catholics were probably the foremost in perverting this, because they taught that by ordination, a special grace and authority was conferred on the priest that in effect made him able to "create the Creator," by saying a Latin phrase in the Eucharist and supposedly turning the wine and bread into the literal blood and body of Christ. Even among Protestants, this notion of the mystical or even magical conveyance by the laying on of hands persists. Even among many Seventh-day Adventists, who of all people should know better, there still remains confusion caused by this way of thinking.
Ellen G. White, whom most SDAs believe was a genuine prophet who talked to God and received her messages from God, said concerning the ordination of Paul and Barnabus: "Both Paul and Barnabas had already received their commission from God Himself, and THE CEREMONY OF THE LAYING ON OF HANDS ADDED NO NEW GRACE OR VIRTUAL QUALIFICATION. It was an acknowledged form of designation to an appointed office and a recognition of one's authority in that office. By it the seal of the church was set upon the work of God." Acts of the Apostles, p. 161, published in 1911 (emphasis supplied) The earliest appearence of these words by White was in Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 349, published in 1878.
So SDAs have no excuse for remaining confused about ordination and the laying on of hands ceremony. It is God alone who ordains. The church's part in the laying on of hands ceremony is just to show the church's acknowledgment of those whom God has already ordained.
Today is the last Saturday of the 10-day world session of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference, being held in San Antonio, Texas. 70,000 people are said to be in attendance. 2,571 official delegates are present. They represent 18,479,257 Seventh-day Adventists from every continent. They come from 132 unions with 633 sections/missions/conferences. According to a recent report in Christianity Today
the Adventist Church is now the “fifth-largest Christian communion worldwide, after Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and Assemblies of God” (Christianity Today,
Feb. 22, 2015).
Quote:This membership number does not include unbaptized children, or the many others who consider themselves Seventh-day Adventists. In Papua New Guinea, for instance, the membership on the books is about 250,000. But a recent government census revealed that close to 1 million people regard themselves as Seventh-day Adventists. Many who have left the church still consider themselves Adventists.
In Jamaica the books record 262,000 members. The government census, however, reveals 323,000 people who claim to be Seventh-day Adventists. In Chiapas, Mexico, the situation is similar.
The latest figures show that we had 78,810 churches and 69,213 companies in 2014. Compared with 2013, a record 2,446 new churches opened their doors to worshippers in a single year, or 6.7 new churches each day. Every 3.58 hours a new church is planted. The previous record was attained in 2002, with 2,416 new churches planted. The year 2014 goes down in history as the best church-planting year ever.
There are more SDA than Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Baptists?
That's what the Christianity Today article claims. Baptists, of course, are big in the USA, but apparently not elsewhere. Methodists arose mainly as a reaction against the staid stuffiness and spiritual weakness of the Anglican Church, and persecution drove them to America which is where they have flourished. Lutherans were originally German, then spread to America, where they flourish. I don't know as much about the history of Presbyterians, except that they seem to be another British offshoot that made it to America to flourish. The Episcopalian church is actually the Anglican church in America. I don't know if the the Christianity Today article counted them separately or together.
SDAs are said to be in every continent (I'm not sure if that includes Antarctica). The SDA church is highly evangelical, emphasizes a program of "church planting," and bases much of its appeal on the sheer logical consistency and exact harmony with Scripture of its interpretation of Bible doctrines and especially Bible prophecy. It is growing much faster in third world countries. I have been told that in some of the major cities of Brazil, there are Adventist churches on nearly every other block. It is growing so fast in South America, that often up to 12 churches have to share one pastor. In those cases, the elders take over most of the pastoral duties. They just call in the official pastor for baptisms. That actually may be part of the advantage--the North American and European customs of having a "hovering pastor" over each congregation may actually inhibit the spiritual advancement of the congregation. This is turning out to be a confirmation of what Ellen G. White called for over a hundred years ago (she died in 1915). She advocated elders doing more of the pastor's job, allowing pastors to be free to evangelize the community, leading out in evangelistic campaigns. The church in North America and Europe has always pretty much ignored what she said about this. But the way church growth is booming in other countries may be proving her right.
When I was actively serving as an elder, I frequently was called upon to preach the sermon in church. But this was partly because I was part of a church planting effort that established a new church company in Utica, Mich., then grew into a regular church of more than 50 members, and moved to New Haven, Mich., when we were able to purchase a former Lutheran Church, when that congregation was moving to a larger new church they were building. Any way, as a relatively small church, we shared a pastor with another church, so on the Sabbaths when the pastor was at the other church, the elders at our church would take turns giving the sermon. Of the elders, I was the only one who had actual ministerial training in college, including homiletics. So sermons were easy for me.
I know there are Baptists in the UK, but, that's the only other place I am aware of them.
I don't have the "gift" for teaching or preaching( or much anything but making people mad, I am good at that), but, I can imagine it's a great honor and I bet you have done a good job, hat's off to you for that.