The Latest on Women’s Ordination and the Annual Council

I am sitting in the Biblical Research Committee of the General Conference. Just heard a report on the women’s ordination debate and I am now much more satisfied with what took place at the Annual Council of SDAs. It seemed to me at first that the church had simply “punted,” sending the 2015 session the same question they had already settled in 1995. It sounded to me like “deja vu all over again.” I couldn’t see why sensible people would agree to that. But that was because my attention had been focused on the question going to the floor of the General Conference as to whether segments of the church can differ in how they relate to ordination. But that was not all that was voted.

The actual voted document is four pages long. It was affirmed to me today by the chair of TOSC (Theology of Ordination Study Committee) that the voted question should not be read in isolation, but in the context of the whole four pages that were voted, and this is significant. Page four, paragraph one, essentially makes the point I have made in my solution to the problem. The Bible does not address the issue with the kind of clarity needed for the church to settle the matter for everyone in every place on the basis of the Bible alone. Please read the whole document: http://www.adventistreview.org/assets/public/news/2014-10/statement.pdf.

The bottom line of that paragraph is the point I made earlier this morning: The Bible does not either affirm or deny ordination to women. What makes this even more significant is that this statement comes as the unanimous affirmation of the world church’s officers. In other words, the entire leadership of the church wants us to understand that the settled outcome of two years of study by more than 200 people is that neither side has iced its case on the basis of the Bible. That being the case, the way is open to diversity on the matter, wherever mission to diverse situations calls for it.

Doubt the church leaders  were paying attention to my earlier blogs (well, I know that some did), but it feels good to know that the two-year process has been taken seriously. I was wrong to suggest this morning that the church “punted” the issue to next year, I believe they have actually listened carefully to the years of study around the world and felt that the Holy Spirit led them to this unanimous consensus in spite of many differences among them in detail. I look forward to further evidences of the Spirit’s work in the year to come.

3 thoughts on “The Latest on Women’s Ordination and the Annual Council

  1. Michael Lee

    Thank you, Dr. Paulien, for your transparency, humility, and your taking responsibility when new information comes to you. God has truly worked in you to be a godly man. I also appreciate the blogs and facebook posts that you write. They are helpful in my own spiritual life. May God continue to bless you as you work toward Jesus’ second coming.

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  2. J David Newman

    Jon. You may be right but it all depends on how it is presented. In 1995 it was presented as for or against ordination not unity and diversity. At San Antonio if the three options of TOSC are presented as at Annual Council I fear the result will be similar to Utrecht. What many people are going to miss is that the AC actually agreed it was not a theological question. You do not allow divisions to decide theology but you can allow them to decide practice. The Instructions in San Antonio should be on the limits of diversity in practice not on the theology of ordination

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