Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reviewing Adventist Today

Summer 2010
Vol. 18, No. 3

This issue is a definite improvement over the past several. There is an appropriate balance of illustration and information, and there are five contributions that are definitely worth reading, and that includes Adventist Man’s best effort to date!

I’ll introduce the following pieces, but I’ll allow the authors speak for themselves.

WANTED: A THEOLOGY OF ORDINATION by J. David Newman suggests a reasonable solution to the ordination of women dilemma.

“We should be like the early church. When we appoint leaders in the church, let us have a commissioning service with laying on of hands but give no grade to these ceremonies. The same ceremony is used for any church leader. There really is little difference between the pastor and elder except that one is full time while the other is voluntary. The Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual indicates that in the absence of the pastor, the elder fulfills all the roles of the pastor even to the administering of the Lord’s Supper and, with the permission of the conference, can baptize as well.

“It is time for the church take to heart the caution of Ellen White, accept that our current theology of ordination is inadequate, and develop a true and biblical theology of ordination.”

WOMEN IN MINISTRY by Mike Tucker puts Paul’s admonitions to women in context.

“How are we to understand the passages that tell women to remain silent in church? First of all, we must interpret those verses in light of what we have just established—that there were women in leadership positions of the church. Obviously, Paul is addressing another issue entirely.

“In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul dealt with that church’s chaotic worship services. Men were seated on one side of the church, while the women and children were seated on the opposite side. The women of that day were generally uneducated, while men were more likely to have benefited from an education. Since women did not sit with their husbands, they would often shout across the room to ask their husbands to explain the sermon.

“Paul was simply telling women to wait until they got home to ask about the sermon. Obviously this issue does not exist everywhere, so his word to the first-century women of Corinth is to be viewed as a “local absolute” and not a ‘universal absolute.’

“When Paul wrote to Timothy, he gave a similar directive regarding women. In 1 Timothy, Paul was addressing heresies and false teachings that came from the worship of the pagan goddess, Diana, including the suggestion that women were authoritative over men and had higher access to spiritual knowledge than men did.

“In both of these cases, we can see that Paul is dealing with specific incidents in local churches. Sound hermeneutics will not allow us to turn the counsel Paul shared for a particular place and time into a global ‘commandment.’”

MY HOPES FOR THE 2010 GENERAL CONFERENCVE SESSION by Monte Sahlin is what is now a backward look at what actually happened. However, I wish that this superbly informed insider had had more than one of his “hopes” fulfilled.

“For the first time in decades, I am not going to General Conference as a delegate or staff member. Frankly, I am glad to stay home! If I were able to make myself heard among the 2,400 delegates, I would suggest four things:

“1. If Dr. Paulsen is retiring (or when he retires), elect a person of color as president. It is long overdue! We have division officers from the Southern Hemisphere with earned doctorates and good administrative track records… Quit playing games of white control and let the people of God emerge in the rainbow he created.

“2. Ignore the issue of women’s ordination…It has become a confused mass of some of ugliest thinking in the history of the movement. Ordination itself is not one of the 28 fundamentals of our faith. We could switch to only commissioned ministers and not lose a jot or a tittle of the Three Angels messages. Ordination is a post-Biblical relic for the papacy to defend, not a crucial issue to the cause of Christ.

“3. Have the courage to act on the Challenges papers presented five years ago in St. Louis. Vote specific strategic goals for urbanization, social concern, and the dropout problem. Take seriously the fact that as more people “come on board” the Adventist message, it is becoming more and more marginalized and irrelevant to the average woman/man on the globe…It is essential that we remain unapologetically Christ-centered and engaged with the mainstream of the real world in our contemporary context.

“4. Focus on the basic values of the Adventist movement. Don’t let reactionary, fearful voices lead us off to fight over details…

I’ve included David’s entire letter. It deserves to be read as written.

Death Before Sin
“I applaud Ole Olesen for taking on the controversial question of death before sin (Spring 2010). It seems to me that this is another issue on which church theologians and administrators would disagree somewhat with church science teachers. It would be easy as a theologian to say that death must come after sin. If not, then several well-constructed “house of cards” doctrines could come tumbling down. However, if you rigidly state that there was no death of plants or animals of any kind, then the poor science teacher goes home scratching his head.

“When Adam or Eve ate fruit or vegetables, were the plant cells not dying as they were digested? Did every seed become a plant, and did every plant live forever? How can you have rich, dark soil in the garden without decay of some kind? What about insects? How could every ant and beetle live forever without overcrowding the earth?

“What about rapidly reproducing animals like mice and rabbits? Was their reproductive cycle different back then?

“Today we see finely tuned killing machines like mountain lions and great white sharks. Explanations for these creatures can border on the bizarre, with theories about Satan doing genetic manipulation or supernatural crossbreeding. And don’t even get me started on the subject of dinosaurs...

“The Bible is not a science book. It focuses on the human condition and God’s intervening to save us. It would behoove us to be very careful what lines we draw in the sand when it comes to doctrines. And I would hope our scientists and theologians and administrators would admist that some some questions just can’t be answered completely right now and that’s OK. Open-mindedness and honest discussion are always appreciated, as well as thought provoking articles like Ole Olesen’s.

David Borecky
Escondido, California

ADVANTIST MAN has once again proved to be a super hero. Here’s proof.

What is the difference between the
“ordaining” and “commissioning” of ministers
in the Seventh-day Adventist Church?

A Y chromosome.

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