Thursday, September 20, 2012

Reviewing Adventist Today

September-October, 2012
Vol. 20, No. 4

After the last print edition, there was nowhere to go but up, and I’m happy to report that this issue is definitely up! I am particularly delighted with the easy access to the magazine’s pdf file! It’s easily worth the subscription price. Kudos to all concerned.

The title of J. David Newman’s editorial, GC PRESIDENT’S PLEA FOR UNITY WAS REALLY FOR UNIFORMITY says it all. I was particularly struck by his side note.

On a side note. The only power the General Conference has over a union is to remove it from the sisterhood of union conferences. But that poses a dilemma for the president. His membership resides in the Columbia Union. If the union is declared out of conformity with the will of the General Conference and removed, then Wilson would lose his membership in the Adventist Church. Since he would no longer be a member, he would have to resign as General Conference president.

KINGLY POWER: IS IT FINDING A PLACE IN THE ADVENTIST CHURCH? by Stanley E. Patterson is a thoughtful and thorough discussion of the politics of Adventism as related to the issue of women’s ordination, and a defense of the Union’s rights to ordain whom they wish. An Ellen White quote summarizes the argument:

It has been a necessity to organize union conferences, that the General Conference shall not exercise dictation over all the separate conferences.

Patterson concludes:
Proponents of the centralized model of authority challenged the newly adopted representative model at the 1903 General Conference Session. The delegates defended the idea that it was the people’s church and held to the distributed model of governance and rejected what was referred by some as “kingly authority.” It should not be ignored, however, that the tendency to control rather than to trust the voice of the body remains a temptation that has an insidious and persistent pull upon those called to lead. Remember

Plato’s tyrant; he started out as a protector! We must ask ourselves and, yes, even assess our organization to determine whether controlling behavior is impacting the church in a systemic manner. Are we still honoring the spirit of the 1901 reorganization? There is evidence that the church is functionally moving toward an
Episcopal model as the representative structure crumbles from lack of maintenance.

Patterson follows this article with another. SIX POINTS ON THE ISSUE OF ORDINATION OF WOMEN in which he discusses church structure, hierarchical permission issues, the histories of the various commutes appointed by the GC to study the issue of women’s ordination, conflicts in the church’s working policies, the meaning of the word, “unity”, and interpretations of biblical authority. He concludes:

Given that this matter has been under study for more than 60 years, some see the current action as further stalling tactics by a body that has authority to advise on the issue but does not have the constituted authority to make the decision for implementation. While the General Conference in session is recognized as the highest authority in the world church, it is not entitled to impose its actions on other levels of the church, in which it does not have constituted authority.

Following the Patterson articles is UNITY AND AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH, the presentation made to the July 29 Columbia Union Constituency by Raj, Attiken, President of the Ohio Conference. He makes a persuasive case for what he calls, “Doing What’s Right, and ends his presentation with the following words:

We conclude that the action today by this body, to approve the ordination of persons to the gospel ministry without regard to gender, is within the rightful purview of this body and that to wait for another level of the organization to address it would be to abdicate our responsibility and privilege.

We conclude that the world church, at multiple General Conference sessions and Annual Council sessions, has amply demonstrated its inability to act decisively in this matter. We have no evidence that the regional and cultural biases have
changed on this subject.

We conclude that our action does not intrude upon or usurp the authority of any other level of the organization, but respects our collective commitment to delegated and distributed authority.

We conclude that the proposed action is not a violation of any biblical teaching or theological principle.

We conclude that gender-based discrimination in ministerial ordination is a practice that we must not condone any longer in the Columbia Union Conference.

We conclude that the action we are proposing is morally and ethically the right thing to do—and that the right time to do the right thing is right now.

In DOES ADRA HAVE A FUTURE? Monte Sahlin reviews the history of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency and concludes that the recent shakeup in administration is due to personality conflicts at GC headquarters and a significant turbulence in its strategic environment, including issues that will likely force major changes in the way it operates.

Sahlin approves the choice of Elder Robert Rawson, ADRA’s interim administrator, but recommends the selection of a new leader that will stir things up. In addition:

All of the board members and the entire staff need to spend two solid weeks in small groups brainstorming: What are the issues? What do we need to do? They need to listen to some hard-to-hear input from people capable of providing a fresh, outside assessment. They need to spend some quality time together in prayer.

GOD ENCOUNTERS is an interview with Adventist Pastor A. Allen Martin, one of the co-founders of a nondenominational organization whose aim is to help young people to establish a strong connection with God. It has become an international program with scheduled events designed to build an online community. is an open door to that fellowship.

A QUANTUM PARADOX OF TIME AND PROVIDENCE: DEATH BEFORE SIN AND MAN’S FALL AFTERWARD AS ITS CAUSE by Darrel Lindensmith is a title in search of coherent thought.

In MAKING PEACE WITH CHANGE, when Alden Thompson opines, Adventists resist admitting change in beliefs and practices…We know that change comes. We also need to know that it usually comes very slowly, he’s stating the obvious. However, when he asserts that typically changes happen quietly, without fanfare—like the dropping of circumcision from the list of requirements at the first General Conference in Acts 15, that statement certainly understates the kerfuffle that preceded that change!

Gary E. Fraser, MD, Ph.D. provides an analysis of The China Study critique in the last issue. Fraser claims Dr. Roger N. Trubey doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Reader, you’re on your own.

Adventist Man’s Satirical Look At Adventist Life should be funnier than it is. I’m not sure why. PERHAPS COMMENTERS NEEDED! while attempting to caricature varieties of online gadflies, the Man’s attempt at humor may be an unintended reminder of the exasperating, mind numbing, albeit addictive attempt to discover pearls of wisdom in the unending comments of commenters.

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