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More Adventist Leaders Speak Up for Women’s Ordination

Jim Pedersen, President, Northern California Conference

When I’m asked to respond to a sermon’s topic, I always want to preface my comments by stating I honor the right of pastors to speak from their biblical study in the context of the Seventh-day Adventist message. Pastor Doug Batchelor, in his sermon titled “Women Pastors: A Biblical Perspective,” articulated his viewpoint on this subject as part of the ongoing discussion worldwide about the role of women in pastoral ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. However, I also deeply respect the positions voted by the world church and the Northern California Conference. The NCC has a history of supporting women in pastoral ministry. The members in Northern California went on record at the 2002 Constituency Session in support of this issue by recommending women’s ordination to the General Conference. While I wish views on this topic were always completely compatible, I remain confident that the Lord will eventually lead us all to the unity that Christ desires for His people.

Marianne Kolkmann, Pastor, Trondheim, Norway

I must say that this TV sermon is sad, not because it will have effect for me in my local pastoral ministry right here in Scandinavia, but for all the other women who are ministers and elders all over the world.

I am more sad for all the wonderful bright young women who are studying theology and are met with this kind of statement.

There is a lack of young people wanting to study theology in general. And we have been losing pastors, also female pastors the last decade or so in the Nordic countries as well as many church members.

Perhaps this is the time when we need to stand up to this kind of bashing of women in the church through media like Amazing Facts, and tell the world that the facts other places in the world is just as amazing, but different!!!

Personally I am sad to see that this will discourage bright, young, spiritually gifted women in the future from studying theology.

Maybe now is the time to define and take up the discussion again. Are we willing to risk losing pastors over this, or the elders we have in our churches?

I am just appealing to you, as the leaders of the Adventist church to think this issue through. We need to redefine our view of women in ministry, not out from one TV sermon, but from a prayerful, careful study of what this will mean in our churches.

Dan Appel, Senior Pastor, Auburn, California

Recently a nationally known television personality in Adventist circles spoke at some length on this subject in a public forum. His remarks were televised, have traveled far and wide on the internet, and have reopened discussion of this important subject.

It would be very easy to view his remarks as nothing more than an emotional polemic designed to galvanize his base to support his particular position at the upcoming meetings and to dismiss them out of hand. His arguments, though, bear careful and thoughtful scrutiny because they are the major arguments put forth by the Jewish spiritual and national leadership in Old Testament times and by the New Testament Church’s leadership in the dark and middle ages and even today when it is argued that women should not be ordained to gospel ministry.

One thing we do not wish to do is to “muzzle Paul!” At the same time, we need to use good hermeneutics as we seek to determine just what he meant in certain places and instances. As Peter said so eloquently, “ . . . our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking . . . as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand . . .” 2 Peter 3:15-16

Using the conservative Historical-grammatical method, it is fair to try to determine what of Paul’s statements are personal and cultural and what are based on sound theology. Even when he is talking about clearly held beliefs we need to ask which are his opinion and which are a clear “thus says the Lord.” The statements most often used to combat the notion of ordaining women are as follows:

Colossians 3:18-20 – Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

This passage sounds pretty clear-cut. In the family, wives are to subject themselves to their husbands. In the original Greek it is even clearer – wives obey your husbands!

What those who like this verse rarely do is to quote the parallel passage in Ephesians 5:21-33 where Paul says, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21 (In fairness, the speaker referred to above did, albeit very much out of context.) The identical word is used in both passages. Paul goes on to describe what he intends in Ephesians 5:33 when he says that each one should love his wife as he does himself and the wife should respect her husband. The meaning of the subjection Paul admonishes wives to have for their husband is not blind obedience, but respect. Men are challenged to give up themselves (their pride, power and desire to control) for their wives as Jesus gave up himself for the church. Love always gives up it’s desire to dominate and serves. Paul clarifies his meaning when he says that husbands are to spiritually lead their wives to God by giving up themselves and becoming servants in love to lead them to a relationship with God.

This is far from the power and pride of position that evidences many who wish to use this passage to exert their predominance over women.

Below is the full .pdf of Pastor Dan Appel’s nine page examination of the Biblical, historical and practical issues surrounding Adventist ordination in 2010.

Women’s Ordination

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