The following statement was unanimously approved by the faculty members of the Washington Adventist University Religion Department in response to the General Conference document, "A Study of Church Governance and Unity." The statement was approved on October 14, 2016 and published on the WAU website on October 18.
Religion Department Faculty
Washington Adventist University
Voted Friday, October 14, 2016
Together with our colleagues at other sister institutions we, the faculty of the Department of Religion at Washington Adventist University, embrace and uphold the biblical principle of the unity of the church grounded in our worship of God, our common faith, our shared community under the Lordship of Christ, and our shared sense of mission. At the same time, we have serious concerns about the document titled “A Study of Church Governance and Unity” recently released by the General Conference and its portrayal of the nature and authority of the church. We share the concern voiced by other theologians and scholars that there needs to be a much wider further discussion on this very important ecclesiological issue before it is adopted and becomes binding.
We recognize the biblical principle of justice (the same word English Bibles translate as “righteousness”) as an authoritative guide for Christian living. We believe that the church is accountable for the vast body of knowledge that divine Providence now makes available to the human community to inform us on how to more perfectly apply God’s righteousness/justice to the life and witness of the faith community. We further state our concerns over the concept of ordination that is laid out in the document, a concept that seems to borrow a lot more from tradition than from biblical evidence. We believe it reflects the influence of an age-long culture of gender alienation, characterized by overt and covert forms of male domination (Deut. 22:13-30; 1 Cor. 11:3-10; I Tim. 2:11-15), which according to the apostle Paul, we overcome if we are in Christ (1 Cor. 11:11-12; Gal 3:28; cf. Gen 1:28). Thus, we claim the responsibility to respond to the promptings of the Spirit, which leads us to greater inclusiveness of meaning and enables us to overcome this culture of human brokenness through mutual servanthood as we move towards, embrace, and reflect God’s reign of righteousness. It is our sincere hope that more discussion and deliberation will take place before the elements of this document become church policy.
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