The Day After (AC18-12)

In case you had not heard, the compliance documents and procedures we have been talking about this last week were voted by the GCEC to the tune of 185-124, about a 60% majority. If you are wondering what will happen now, go back and read the last two blogs (AC18-10 and AC18-11) where I explore that. The odds are the vote will have little impact over the short run. The long run is less certain.

If you are rejoicing today, rejoice! Savor it with all your might. God has given us deep capacity for both joy and sadness. Days of sadness will come for you again, so take the days of joy to heart and remember them when the dark days come. But if you run across someone who is sad or even devastated today and you feel tempted to gloat or tell them sternly that they will now be rewarded for their rebellion, reject the feeling, it did not come from God. God weeps with those who weep. In times of rejoicing we have a surplus of energy to comfort the heartbroken and sooth the fears and anxieties of others. Don’t miss that opportunity today.

If you feel sad or devastated today, know that God loves freedom so much that He even allows human beings to take away the freedom of others. It was God who centuries ago allowed the papacy to win the battle of the Christianities and dominate the Christian world for over a thousand years. If God could somehow continue His mission in the darkness of the Middle Ages, this small setback yesterday is a piece of cake to him. If there are no humans that you can trust, know that God remains trustworthy, even in the midst of human freedom and its consequences. Stay close to Him and you will be all right.

To any of you who are thinking of leaving the Seventh-day Adventist Church today I ask, “Where will you go?” Where else can you find the unique package of ideas that John the Revelator prophesied would be mission critical in the last days of earth’s history? And if you think you can live without that, know that no matter where you go, religious politics will follow you. It will be same old same old wherever you go. God did some amazing things for the SDA pioneers more than 150 years ago. They needed to organize their religion in order to more efficiently proclaim what God was doing in the world. That was the right thing to do. Religion is a human attempt to honor and proclaim a mighty act of God, and as such it is a beautiful thing. But over time all human institutions become more focused on their own survival than on the original mission, even when they are feeling really pious. But feeble and defective as they are, religious institutions still bear witness to elements of the original mission. For that reason, the disciples never left Judaism. Luther never left the Catholic Church. And Ellen White never left the Methodist Church. They were all thrown out. God arranged things so they had no choice. I doubt things are that drastic now, but if it should happen to you, that will be God’s sign that He has something better for you. In the meantime, set your face to the tasks God has set before you today. Even when things seem out of control, God is still in control.

9 thoughts on “The Day After (AC18-12)

  1. Owen Bandy

    I still wish we could get back to basics and study the Bible and understand that “ordination” in the way we practice it and understand it is not what we think it is. If we could just strip the word of it’s mysterious mystical, ecclesiastical undertones, meant only for a “priestly class” we could return it to it’s Biblical meaning of “appointed”. It’s all about being given responsibility and not given a step up the ladder. We need to understand that “ordination” as we practice it, is just part of the trappings we drug along with us from the Catholic and then Protestant churches we came out of. We need to divest ourselves of the implications of “Ministerial Credentials” and the connection it has with the IRS. We need (male and female alike) to divest ourselves of the human tendency to want “position” and “glory” and “recognition” and “benefits”, then take up the banner “He must increase and I must decrease”. If we could do these things we could move along quicker to resolving the tension among us over this issue and be about our Father’s business.

  2. Ethne Ebens

    I have a neice who has just gone to Avondale college as she feels called into Ministry. What will become of her? Does the Adventist church really believe that she hasn’t been called by God. She is so ‘on fire’, she is talented, enthusiastic & wants to serve Jesus by spreading the Gospel.
    I am alarmed that the leaders of our church so undervalue her. I’m so, so sad. I guess she’ll find her way with Jesus leading her on hopefully without regrets

  3. Sue Busick

    I am still thinking about this. I wish to thank all those who have commented in addition to Dr. Paulien’s outstanding blog. Certain comments have caused me to go back and learn some Adventist history. However, I need clarification.

    I am probably oversimplifying this, but it appears that the IRS had a concern with how the church was compensating licensed vs. ordained ministers in 1965. Women fit into the category of licensed ministers. When the General Conference responded to the IRS trying to remove this difference to avoid a significant tax penalty, and after a lengthy negotiation process, women were removed from the ordination track.

    Thus far, I haven’t found a valid reason why this occurred since, in 1973, there was a favorable climate to promote women towards ordination. Yet, by 1975, this climate evaporated rather abruptly.

    There is an underlying belief by some, and it is compelling, that “our theology of ministry and practice of ordination was determined by economics, not by Scripture.” That is, to satisfy the IRS. After, they were very close to seizing church properties!

    Why, in this process, were women thrown under the bus? The IRS sure didn’t require it.

    Thank you.

    1. Jon Paulien Post author

      Sue, I think your narrative is not totally sound. I think the IRS business was later. Women were already licensed ministers (category for pastors in training), but were not qualified to do everything an ordained minister could so. IRS came along and said if ministers are not ordained, they would have to be allowed to do all that an ordained minister could do or lost their tax deduction. It made sense to upgrade the license position, but in so doing upgraded women as well. Obviously, one could argue God used the IRS to accomplish His purpose or that the church compromised.


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