With a couple of union conferences gathering for special constituency meetings (which are expensive, and not convened lightly) to discuss and vote on women’s ordination, there is an electric anticipation in the Adventist air right now. We may be on the verge of realizing a long-anticipated goal.
I hope, like many of you, that these constituents vote to ordain women pastors. But there’s something that could happen that might be almost as bad as losing the vote. It would be to win the vote, but not achieve what we won it for.
A few years ago I would have told you, had you asked, that I had heard of Samuel Korangteng-Pipim but I had no strong feelings about him. I knew he was a darling of the Seventh-day Adventist conservatives, that he ran a campus ministry, and that he had written some books. Later, as I began to hear more about him, I looked at his website and guessed that he was a man of robust self-esteem: he styled himself an eagle, his followers sometimes calling themselves eaglets.
I grew up in a mostly apolitical family. I only remember one strongly-voiced political opinion: that John F. Kennedy shouldn’t be president because he would let the papacy take charge of the country, and so would begin the persecution of Seventh-day Adventists. We had a family small business—a farm—and perhaps that’s why my father once told me, casually and without a lot of conviction, that he’d voted Republican, since the conventional wisdom was, and is, that Republicans are friends of business and advocates of low taxes.
Last November we learned that a popular coach at Pennsylvania State University was alleged to have had sexual relationships with underage, even pre-teen boys for many years. Exactly who in authority knew what Jerry Sandusky was doing, who was told, and what they did or should have done when they found out, the legal system is still trying to establish.
One of the benefits of studying church history is that it helps you see how much change there has been in Christian teachings through the years. By “church” I mean not just this denomination, but the whole sweep of Christianity that Ellen White reviews in The Great Controversy. In each era there are the faithful and the enemies of the faithful—and of course the whole point of that book is that in the end, the enemies lose and the faithful get their reward.
I had a colleague (this was years ago) who was assigned to a small town church whose members opposed any celebration of Christmas. When December came, the church members would drive past and peer in the parsonage windows, to check whether the new pastor’s family had Christmas decorations. So when my friend’s wife insisted they have a Christmas tree for their little boy, they had to set it up in the bathtub, that being the only room the church members couldn’t readily see into!
Recently I watched an interview with the polished and handsome Mitt Romney. He’ll quite possibly be the nominee for his party next year, and even if he isn’t, he’ll have left a big footprint on the American political landscape. I don’t like everything he stands for (if you can figure out what that is), but he’s clearly smart and pragmatic and, from what I can tell, at least as moral as some of the previous inhabitants of that office.
And he’s a Mormon.