Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath School Lesson

Being and Doing

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Nature Testifies of God

Upon all created things is seen the impress of the Deity

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Christ says, "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, . . . and have the keys of hell and of death."     Revelation 1:18.

Looking upon His disciples with divine love and with the tenderest sympathy, Christ said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." Judas had left the upper chamber, and Christ was alone with the eleven.

Justification by Faith

Vatican Official Exhorts the Sunday

Sunday should be a day for worship, rest and time with family and friends, said Monsignor Miquel Delgado Galindo, under secretary for the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

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Signs of the Times

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Jesus said "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars....For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places."

 

 

Christian History

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In the great final conflict, Satan will employ the same policy, manifest the same spirit, and work for the same end as in all preceding ages. That which has been, will be. Satan's deceptions will be more subtle. If possible, even the very elect would be deceived.

A Faithful Record

Nature God's Second Book

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Nature is an open book which reveals God. All who are attracted to nature may behold in it the God that created them.

Book of Nature

 

Annual Council, Day Two

 

 

Elephant in the room revealed, openly discussed: some won’t be re-appointed

Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders spent the second day of Annual Council addressing two major issues relating to next year’s General Conference Session—administrators’ own re-election and a potential vote on the theology of ordination as it relates to gender.

In no uncertain terms, Church officials prepared the more than 330 delegates to face the reality that they might not be asked to return to their present job. Also, longtime evangelist Mark Finley, who is an assistant to the president, highlighted how church leaders in the New Testament settled their differences to focus on mission.

Finley’s presentation was a preamble for next week when delegates are expected to discuss the matter of women’s ordination and set it as an agenda item for GC Session. While the Adventist Church has women serving as licensed ministers, the Church currently ordains only men as ministers.

The denomination has engaged in a two-year study on the theology of ordination following at least four decades of discussion, Finley said. This week’s seven-day meeting of the Executive Committee could be the last time the matter is officially deliberated before potentially being sent to July’s GC Session, which is held every five years and is the denomination’s top governing body.

This morning’s meeting began with a deep dive into the issue of elections, a “taboo subject” this isn’t typically discussed openly, leaders said.

Vice President Pardon Mwansa offered a devotional titled, “The Nominating Committee Decided to Make a Change.” His talk was a nod to next July when many in the auditorium might see their current position assigned to someone else.

Invoking lessons from Old Testament characters Daniel and Samuel, Mwansa said that a person elected to an office has replaced someone, and that it would also happen to them.

“We are called to serve and minister and not to an office or a position,” Mwansa said.

Several Church officials from various parts of the world offered case studies on how to prepare for a change in leadership, or in some situations, how to make a needed change at an administrative unit within their territory. Several delegates said a change in leadership can help both the Church and send a signal to the person being assigned to another position.

“Change brings innovation. Change ensures that we keep focused, and we might step back if we do not change,” said Maria Fraser, a lay member from the Southern Africa Union Conference. “There will be weaknesses in everyone, but the secret is for the team to synergize all their attributes and energies so that we can have the best for the Church.”

Don Livsay, president of the Lake Union Conference in the North American Division, urged his colleagues in the room to subject themselves to periodic evaluations.

“We as administrators typically would rather have a root canal than be evaluated. Therefore we don’t know where we’re hitting it right and missing it wrong,” Livsay said.

Livsay also called for evaluations to be formalized throughout the denomination, which would enhance accountability and balance in an administrator’s leadership and personal life.

“If our life falls apart because we’re not re-elected, we verify not being re-elected,” he said.

Ultimately, Secretary G. T. Ng implored delegates, who include officers of the 13 divisions and presidents of each of the 132 unions, to view their job as one of stewardship.

“If you are elected to the same position, then you will become a steward of that new position.”

Ng urged delegates to follow his custom at the end of each term by bringing a moving box into his office and thanking his administrative assistant for the time they worked together.

Each delegate lined up to receive a miniature box to remind them of Ng’s request. While delegates filed down the aisles, an organist played the hymn, “It is well with my soul,” a more-preferred song during election season, Ng said, than songs such as “I shall not be moved” or “I’m pressing on the upward way.”

Later in the morning, Finley took to the platform in a nearly one-hour speech titled “Toward unity in the body of Christ.”

The well-known evangelist addressed how leaders on both sides of the women’s ordination discussion would react if a potential vote next year at GC Session was different than their own convictions.

Finley said the issue went beyond women’s ordination and had implications on how the Church works out points of disagreement. He spent most of his time on three “flash-points” from the book of Acts that threatened unity of the early church. “Dissention deters you from mission. That’s the devil’s strategy,” he said.

The New Testament patterns for resolving differences, Finley said, included prayer, seeking biblical answers, discussing the issues, considering what is best for the church’s mission and then finally making a decision on the issue together.

At one point he paused to offer his thoughts on the process for moving forward.

“May I make a humble suggestion? When you’ve studied an issue for 40 years and discussed it and discussed it and discussed it, pretty soon people have pretty well made up their minds on either side of the question. Continual discussion and debate only furthers division.”

Finley said he hoped the Adventist Church, like the early church, could learn to live with the decision on a major issue because people on both sides of the debate “were committed to the same Jesus.”

“Whatever decision is ultimately made on the ordination of women, and I pray that this church make the right decision, but whatever decision is ultimately made, my prayer is that nothing but God’s unified and prophetic mission will be the central focus of our lives,” Finley said.

Delegates have the afternoon off, and Annual Council continues this evening with the first installment of the Council on Evangelism and Witness.

 

 

Objections to the Andrews Seminary Statement on Headship in the Church

AN OPEN APPEAL FROM FACULTY, ALUMNI, STUDENTS, AND FRIENDS  OF THE SEVENTH‐DAY ADVENTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 
 
TO FACULTY OF THE SEVENTH‐DAY ADVENTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY REGARDING THE RECENT SEMINARY STATEMENT ON THE UNIQUE HEADSHIP OF CHRIST IN THE CHURCH

Preamble
On August 21, 2014 the Seventh-­‐day Adventist Theological Seminary voted to approve a statement that affirmed and explained in detail “that Christ is the only Head of the Church (Eph 1:22; 5:23; Col 1:18).” The next day the online edition of the Adventist Review published an article about the Seminary statement and concluded that the faculty hoped the Andrews statement would help end some divisions among church members and would “prove to be
a unifying influence in the church.”

The article had a link to the actual document which resulted in this statement becoming widely known. The reactions to the document have been mixed, with some approving, others disapproving, and still others expressing doubts. Instead of unifying church members it seems that the document has brought confusion in regard to the Biblical view of Christ’s headship and its implications for leadership under Christ in the church. 

This appeal offers the views and concern of some current and retired seminary faculty, seminary alumni, students, and friends who disapprove of various aspects of the statement on the unique headship of Christ. It urges the faculty to reconsider their statement and adjust it so that it considers the full biblical counsel on this subject and be in harmony with the vital Protestant and Adventist principle of “the Bible and the Bible only.” 

Problematic arguments 

The recent Seminary statement points out that God’s moral government is based on love. In the great controversy between Christ and Satan, this government of love is most clearly contrasted with the oppressive control that has manifested itself especially in the development of the historic antichrist, the vast structure of church government seen in the Roman Catholic Church. We fully agree about the danger of this unbiblical headship model of the papacy—in which the headship of Christ is replaced with that of the pope as the vicar of Christ, the Son of God—and its apostolic succession. 

However, we need to be careful not to project this distorted Catholic model onto the Seventh-­‐day Adventist Church. Although in some regions of the world the Adventist leadership may demonstrate a certain authoritarianism, this is not the servant leadership model that has been taught in and by the church and is practiced in many areas. We fully agree that Christ’s headship is absolute. However, the arguments in the Seminary document to support His headship role are at times problematic, giving rise to serious misunderstandings and confusion.

While we concur that Christ’s headship is absolute, for every knee shall bow to Him as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rom 14:10-­‐11; Phil 2:10-­‐11), we see the need to recognize that Scripture is clear that Christ has delegated leadership responsibility for His church to ministers and elders as undershepherds in His stead with His authority. We question the  following arguments the Seminary statement uses to support the idea that the headship of Christ is non-­‐transferable.


1. The Seminary statement argues that the interpersonal relationship within the Trinity is not a model for a governmental structure for human leadership within the Church (p. 4).

Reply: On the contrary, the Bible points to this relationship in salvation history within the Trinity as a guide for the church, even in its leadership. Jesus declared that the relationship between His followers should resemble the relationship existing between the Himself and the Father (John 17:21-­‐23). In a similar way, in 1 Corithians 11:3 Paul parallels the relationship male believers have to Christ with the relationship that Christ has to the Father, employing the concept of headship within the Godhead and between men and women in the church: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (NKJV).1

Here the Bible teaches that headship and submission are principles of heaven belonging to the Godhead, and that on earth human beings have been created to reflect these principles because they bear the image of God. This issue of headship has important implications for the church. In this passage Paul refers to the principle of headship to address a problem regarding the way that men and women worship in the church (1 Cor 11:4, 5, 16). He is not addressing relations between husbands and wives in the home as we find in Eph 5. In both contexts, Paul bases his instructions on the pre-­‐Fall circumstances of Gen 2 (see 1 Cor 11:8-­‐9; Eph 5:31), not the cultural norms of Corinth or of the Greco-­‐Roman world. In 1Corinthians 11, the headship of Christ and that of God the Father form the pattern for theheadship of the man-­‐woman relationship in the church, just as Christ’s headship in relation to the church forms the pattern for the headship of husband to wife in the home in Ephesians 5:23-­‐24. Since the context of 1 Corinthians 11 is clearly the church and not the home, this passage is significant for our understanding of gender relationships in the church.

2. The Seminary statement argues that neither the Scriptures nor the writings of Ellen G. White endorse any transfer of the role of head in the home to roles within the Church body (p. 4).

Reply: The Bible uses the pattern of leadership in the home as a model and qualifier for church leadership. When we use the Protestant and Adventist principles of Biblical interpretation for formulating doctrine by comparing Scripture with Scripture, we discover that there is an intimate connection between leadership in the home and leadership in the church (see esp. 1 Tim 3:5, 15). Toward the end of his life, Paul mandates the necessary qualifications for male elders, who are to be the leaders of the church, to oversee its operations. In two separate instances he points out that one of the crucial qualifications for this role is that the church needs successful, proven leadership in the home first (1 Tim 3: 4, 5; Titus 1:6). Only those who demonstrate successful leadership of their homes would qualify for the office of overseer/minister to serve the church in loving leadership. The home is the smallest unit of the church, and a godly, loving father in the family indicates eligibility for being a godly leader in the church. According to Paul, being the spiritual head of the home (Eph 5:23) is indeed the key that determines if one is suitable for spiritual leadership in the church because the church is a collection of families who come together for worship on a weekly basis.
 

Ellen G. White also makes this point that shepherds who fail at home will fail as shepherds/ministers of the church: “He who is engaged in the work of the gospel ministry must be faithful in his family life. It is as essential that as a father he should improve the talents God has given him for the purpose of making the home a symbol of the heavenly family, as that in the work of the ministry, he should make use of his God-­‐given powers to win souls for the church.” She continued, “As the priest in the home, and as the ambassador of Christ in the church, he should exemplify in his life the character of Christ. He must be faithful in watching for souls as one that must give an account. . . . He who fails to be a faithful, discerning shepherd in the home, will surely fail of being a faithful shepherd of the flock of God in the church.—6MR 49” (PaM 88, 89).

3. The Seminary statement argues that headship in the Church is unique to Christ and is non-­‐transferable (p. 4).

Reply: As we have seen above, though the headship of Christ is indeed unique (i.e., special), unique here does not mean singular, or only. Jesus clearly calls some people to leadership in the church. What, then, does the statement mean by “non-­‐transferable” headship?

Certainly we all agree that the role of Christ as the only mediator between God and humans is non-­‐transferable. The question that really needs to be answered though is this, “In what way does Christ rule or lead the church?” The Bible shows that in the operation of the church, Christ as the Great Shepherd, delegates some authority to His undershepherds who meet specific biblical qualifications. Some examples of such leaders under Christ are Moses, Joshua, David, the Twelve Apostles, Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, Titus, and the elders appointed by these leaders in every newly established church. These elders were undershepherds. The apostle Peter cautioned these them, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Pet 5:2-­‐4, emphasis supplied; AA 525, 526).

The relationship between Christ and the elders/overseers is that of the Chief Shepherd to the undershepherds. These leaders receive their authority from Christ under whose authority they function in accordance with His word. Christ delegates leadership authority in the church to these officers. Ellen White shows the relationship between Christ and His ordained leadership as follows, “The great Head of the church superintends His work through the instrumentality of men ordained to act as His representatives” (AA 360). Elsewhere she states, “Christ remains the true minister of His church, but He delegates His power to His under-­‐shepherds, to His chosen ministers, who have the treasure of His grace in earthen vessels. God superintends the affairs of His servants, and they are placed in His work by divine appointment” (ST, April 7, 1890). This does not usurp the unique role of Christ as the only mediator between God and humans (1 Tim 2:5), which Paul makes clear before setting forth instructions on church worship and church leadership (1 Tim 2:8-­‐3:15).

In the Seminary statement, the headship of Christ in relation to the headship/leadership of the New Testament offices is not carefully presented. Christ’s headship is presented in such a way as to downplay any authority ministers may have as His chosen representatives. But, as Ellen White points out, Paul identifies these (along with himself) as Christ’s ambassadors (see 2Cor 5:20):

“Since His ascension, Christ the great Head of the church, has carried forward His work in the world by chosen ambassadors, through whom He speaks to the children of men, and ministers to their needs. The position of those who have been called of God to labor in word and doctrine for the upbuilding of His church, is one of grave responsibility. In Christ’s stead they are to beseech men and women to be reconciled to God” (GW 13). Ambassadors carry the same authority as the person they represent. To overlook the New Testament evidence for this authority (e.g., 1 Cor 9:18; 2 Cor 10:8, 13-­‐14; 13:10; 1 Tim 5:17; Titus 2:15; Heb 13:17; see also AA 360) leads to incorrect conclusions.

In the New Testament Christ’s delegated authority was not centered in any one person. The apostles did not appoint a single leader for the church, but a plurality of leaders as they “appointed elders in every church” (Acts 14:23). Already in the 1850s, Adventists realized the need for credentialed ministers (see EW 97-­‐104). By 1863 in the face of divergent personalities and fanatics, they sensed the need for even more “gospel order,” and gave authority to an elected leader. In no way was this “president” to resemble the antichrist power, yet they realized that the church, for organizational and functional reasons needed solid leadership.

In time Adventists have accepted the concept that the highest authority on earth is not vested in individuals or small committees but in the voice of the General Conference session when all the delegates throughout the world are assembled. Yet this does not do away with leadership authority in the local churches at various levels of church organization. Elders have spiritual teaching authority as overseers, according to the New Testament (1 Tim 2:12; 3:2; 4:11; Titus 2:15; Heb 13:7, 17, 24).

4. The Seminary statement argues that no inspired writer teaches the headship of man over woman at Creation. It contends that before the fall, God established an egalitarian ideal of full equality without hierarchy between male and female, and that the Bible consistently calls us back to this ideal (p. 5).

Reply: The Seminary statement neglects very important aspects in this discussion of gender relationships. There are clear indications in both the Bible and the writings of Ellen White that Adam had a leadership role before the entrance of sin, one that continued after the Fall, because both are created in the image of God. This view is in harmony with the plain teaching of the apostle Paul with regard to the equal value of men and women as heirs of salvation (Gal 3:26-­‐29). However, the expression “in the image of God” invites us to recall that at Creation Christ, as the Son of God, had already taken a position that included functional differences from God the Father. He was committed to the function of the Lamb of God that was to take away the sins of the world in the future by His death on the Cross (1Pet 1:20; Rev 13:8). Functional differences were also reflected in God’s original design of the relationships between male and female as the rest of the Creation story reveals.

In Genesis 2 the Bible shows the different functions of Adam in relation to Eve. Again there is equality of nature and essence because Eve was created from Adam’s rib, indicating that she was to stand by her husband’s side as an equal—not to be inferior or superior (PP 46). Yet the chapter describes the functional differences of the couple by showing the priority of man being formed from the dust (Gen 2:7); how God put the man in the garden and gave instructions to him “to tend and keep it” (2:15); how God gave the command concerning what he could eat (2:16) and the warning about the forbidden tree (2:17). Then God  brought the animals and birds to Adam and gave him the responsibility of naming them (2:19). Finally, God created a woman from Adam’s rib and “brought her to the man” (2:21, 22), giving to Adam the privilege of also naming his companion (2:23). Further, God indicates that, in the marriage relationship, the man is to take the initiative by leaving his family and being joined to his wife (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:4-­‐6). At this time Eve considers Adam “her husband” (Gen 3:6). Ellen White interprets the term “husband” to mean that “he is the house-­‐band of the family, binding the members together, even as Christ is the head of the church and the Saviour of the mystical body [Eph 5:23]” (AH 215). Thus the internal evidence in Genesis prior to Adam’s fall reveals his leadership role and his responsibility toward the woman.

 

In the following statements Ellen White confirms Adam’s leadership role in the Garden of Eden: “Under God, Adam was to stand at the head of the earthly family, to maintain the principles of the heavenly family” (CT 33; 6T 236); “Adam was appointed by God to be monarch of the world, under the supervision of the Creator” (BE, Aug 28, 1899; cf. ST Apr29, 1875; see also RH, Feb 24, 1874); “The Sabbath was committed to Adam, the father and representative of the whole human family” (PP 48); “Adam was lord in his beautiful domain” (FE 38). Although both were given dominion over the earth (Gen 1:26, 27), the leadership in this relationship was given to Adam. “Adam was crowned king in Eden. To him was given dominion over every living thing that God had created. The Lord blessed Adam and Eve with intelligence such as He had not given to any other creature. He made Adam the rightful sovereign over all the works of His hands” (SDABC 1:1078). Co-­‐ leadership and representative roles and titles for Eve are completely missing from the inspired writings. Adam alone is designated as representative and the leader of the earthly family.

What type of relationship existed between the man and the woman at this time? Here we need to follow an important rule of comparing Scripture with Scripture by consulting the whole Bible to see if there are any other references that describe the relationship between the man and the woman in Genesis 2 before sin. We should definitely consult the New Testament because “the New Testament explains the Old” (Ev 578).

As we have seen, Paul explains the headship/leadership principle of man as “the head of the woman” (1 Cor 11:3) by referring to Genesis 2:18, 21-­‐22, stating that the man “is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man” (vv. 7-­‐9).

It is therefore incorrect to say that no inspired author teaches the headship of man over woman at creation, for Paul clearly teaches it in this passage. Elsewhere the New Testament gives further evidence regarding these relationships. In 1 Timothy 2:12, 13, Paul again refers to the pre-­‐Fall situation of Genesis 2, on which he bases the leadership principle that is to operate within the church. God gave a leading role to the man before He created woman, which Paul cites as the rationale for not permitting women “to teach or to have authority [KJV: “to usurp authority”] over a man” in the church (1 Tim 2:12), because it is “the house of God, . . . the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). The apostle had already established the link between home and church in connection with the qualifications for elders: “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1 Tim 3:5).
 

After the Fall recorded in Genesis 3, Adam’s headship role became even more pronounced. It was only after Adam, as leader, followed his wife in the path of disobedience and sinned that the eyes of both were opened and they realized their sinful condition and resulting nakedness (Gen 3:7). Next God came down to question Adam first (not Eve) as the responsible leader (3:9-­‐12). Only after this did He address the woman (3:13). Adam received the death penalty, which consequently affected every human being (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:22). Then he was expelled from the Garden, his wife also (Gen 3:24).

The Fall of Adam and Eve brought a change to their relationship. Before the Fall, there was harmony. Eve gladly and willingly accepted Adam’s transparent godly leadership, submitting without resentment or duress. However, once their relationship was damaged and distorted by sin, it was necessary for God to encourage Adam’s role by way of command. The principle itself had not changed, but the woman must now accept his preeminent “rule” over her (Gen 3:16), although her new sin-­‐borne desire was to rule over him (note the similar meaning of the terms in the close parallel a few verses later, in Gen 4:7).2

This change was not in terms of two pre-­‐Fall heads being reduced to one, but in moving from the harmonious, willing cooperation with Adam’s loving, beautiful leadership to a different relationship that would include tension and rivalry within the human family between the two genders. As a result, harmony could only be preserved by the (now unnatural) submission of the woman to the man, since there can be only one head/leader in any relationship. Otherwise, there would be constant and open conflict over authority. This authority within the home (and also within the church family) is given by God, but it must never be demanded or used autocratically or abusively. Rather, it should be expressed in loving care for the wife, “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph 5:25). That is the nature of the headship authority modeled by God and Christ (1 Cor 11:3; Eph 5:22-­‐33).

To Adam God said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife” and eaten from the forbidden tree, the earth will be cursed and you will die (Gen 3:17, 19). Using again the interpretive principle of comparing Scripture with Scripture, we notice that the New Testament also teaches that Adam, as the leader, was held responsible for the entrance of sin into the human race—not Eve, despite her being the first to transgress God’s command: “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Rom 5:18). Clearly, Paul’s contrasting of Adam’s role with that of Christ is rooted in the fact that Adam was the responsible leader. Even though Adam followed the leadership of his wife in disobedience, the Bible continues to recognize Adam’s role as head of the human race.

In subsequent generations, following this divine design of headship, husbands occupied similar leadership roles. Ellen White writes, “In early times the father was the ruler and priest of his own family, and he exercised authority over his children. . . . His descendants were taught to look up to him as their head, in both religious and secular matters” (PP 141; see also Gen 18:19). The importance of this statement should not be underestimated. Here she designates the father of the family as the “head in both religious and secular matters,” which forms the basis for the New Testament model of the male spiritual leader in the  church, the spiritual family. Abraham, representative of God’s truth and father of true believers, followed this divine pattern. Ellen White adds, “This patriarchal system of government Abraham endeavored to perpetuate, as it tended to preserve the knowledge of God” (PP 141). Stressing the divine origin of this system, she continues, “It was a wise arrangement, which God Himself had made, to cut off His people, so far as possible, from connection with the heathen” (PP 141). From this quotation, one can conclude that the system of patriarchy as implemented by Abraham, the father of believers, was not a curse as many today want us to believe, but was intended to be a blessing that would protects God’s people against idolatry and apostasy so that “the true faith might be preserved in its purity by his descendants from generation to generation” (PP 142).
 

On the historical development of headship/leadership Ellen White comments, “In the beginning the head of each family was considered ruler and priest of his own household. Afterward, as the race multiplied upon the earth, men of divine appointment performed this solemn worship of sacrifice for the people” (LHU 25). So the leadership role moved beyond the family to priests functioning for the corporate people of God—the church in the wilderness. With Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, God established the nation of Israel as His kingdom on earth and appointed men to lead His people. From that time onward, the Bible reveals the installation of qualified men for service in leadership offices so that they might guide God’s people under His direction. The same Old Testament leadership pattern was repeated in the New Testament where the qualifications for leadership by elders and ministers is spelled out by the apostle Paul and was continued throughout the Christian church. Although distorted by apostasy in the church and the rise of the man of sin (2 Thess 2) distorted this arrangement, the Protestant Reformation restored the biblical leadership principle of an elder-­‐led church. Later developments in Protestantism resulted in a distortion of this leadership model until the rise of the Great Second Advent Movement and its reestablishment in the Seventh-­‐day Adventist Church. This headship/leadership model is fully biblical and will be successful when church leaders follow it with the humility and “mind of Christ” (Phil 2:5).

Recommendations

In light of the above evidence from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, we humbly appeal to the Seminary leadership and faculty to reconsider the recently-­‐published statement and include our suggestions. We feel strongly about the reputation of the Seminary and are concerned that this statement, released on August 22, 2014, will not solve the current controversy over gender and leadership roles in the church. To the contrary, it may hurt the Seminary’s reputation, trust, and credibility among members in North America and worldwide, and may undermines our credibility among thinking scholars in other denominations.

Current and retired faculty, alumni, students, and friends of the Seventh-­‐day Adventist
Theological Seminary, October 6, 2014


Steven Bohr, MA, MDiv, Pastor of the Fresno Central SDA Church, Speaker/Director  of Secrets Unsealed
Thomas R. Cusack, MDiv, MS, Pastor of the Pennsylvatia Conference
Laurel Damsteegt, MDiv, MSPH, Christian Heritage Media
P. Gerard Damsteegt, Dr. Theol., MPH, Associtate Professor of Church History, SDA Theological Seminary
Jay Gallimore, MA, President of the Michigan Conference
Michael Hasel, PhD, Professor of Religion, Near Eastern Studies, and Archeology, Southern Adventist
University
C. Raymond Holmes, MDiv, MTh, DMin, Retired professor of the Semary, Pastor of the Michigan Conference James Howard,  BSBA, Pastor, Personal Ministry Director and Evanglism Cordinator, Michigan Conference Don Macintosh, MDiv, Director of Health Program, Co-­‐Chair of Weimar Theology Deparatment, Chaplain Phil Mills, MD.
Leroy Moore. PhD, Author, Professor of Religion at Weimar College
Kevin Paulson, MA, MDiv. Evangelist, Pastor, and Revivalist.
John W. Peters, PhD, MDiv, Pastor of the Pensylvania Conference
Gerhard Pfandl, PhD, Retired Associate Director of the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference
Eugene W. Prewitt, Church Planter
George Reid, PhD, Retired Director of the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference
Edwin E. Reynolds, PhD, Professor of NT Studies and Biblical Languages at Southern Adventist University
Daniel Scarone, MTh, Associate Ministerial Director of the Michigan Conference
Dolores E. Slikkers, Member of the Andrews University Board of Trustees and Seminary Executive Committee
Ingo Sorke, PhD, Professor of Religion, Southwestern Adventist University Steve Toscano, MAT, MA, PhD student in Church History, Andrews University Mario Veloso, ThD, Retired Associate Secretary of the General Conference. Karl Wilcox, PhD, Professor of English, Southwestern Adventist University. Robert Wilcox M.Div.  Missionary and lay pastor.
Dojcin Zivadinovic, PhD candidate, Church History, Andrews University, SDA Theological Seminary

1 Unless indicated otherwise, the biblical text is quoted from the New King James Version.
2 Paul Ratsara and Daniel K. Bediako, “Man and Woman in Genesis 1-­‐3: Ontological Equality and Role
Differentiation” (paper presented at the Theology of Ordination Study Committee, July 22-­‐24., 2013), 39-­‐42,
http://www.adventistarchives.org/man-­‐and-­‐woman-­‐in-­‐genesis-­‐one-­‐thru-­‐three.pdf (Accessed Sept. 26,
2014).

 

International Day to Pray for Peace

 

Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders are inviting members to join the United Nations’ International Day of Peace on Sunday, September 21 by responding to a call for a minute of silence at noon with prayer.

In prepared remarks for the upcoming day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged people to reflect on peace. “We must douse the fires of extremism and tackle the root causes of conflict. Peace is a long road that we must travel together—step by step, beginning today.”

The Adventist Church has promoted peacemaking efforts since its inception. In one of its official statements on peace the Church acknowledged that “Jesus wants his followers to be peacemakers in society and hence calls them blessed.”

John Graz, director of the Adventist Church’s Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department, said, “Durable peace can not be built without developing education, health, justice and freedom for all people. That’s why the Adventist Church has heavily invested in schools, hospitals and organizations promoting freedom of conscience.”

Graz described the International Day of Peace as a “time to strengthen the ideals of peace, and to celebrate those who dedicate their lives to peace making.”

Church leaders in various parts of the world where conflict is a present concern reflected on the theme of peace.

Homer Trecartin, president of the Church’s Middle East North Africa Union said, “I believe more than ever before that real peace will come when we are willing to follow the example of Jesus and suffer wrong without retaliation or revenge.”

Guillermo Biaggi, president of the denomination’s Euro-Asia Division said peace is something difficult to achieve and easy to lose. “We need to base it in a stronger, more permanent and unshakable foundation than human words, treaties and agreements. For peace to become true in our lives and modern societies, we need to pray earnestly to our Lord and to count with the One Who said, "I am the way and the truth and the life.”

 

 

Ejler Jensen, First Seventh-day Adventist Missionary to Okinawa

 


Remembrance: Jensen, 102, was Adventist pioneer to Okinawa

Jensen baptizes Enzo Yokomizo, one of the first residents of Okinawa to accept the Adventist faith. She became a Bible worker. Only the ocean was available for baptisms and, without any beaches, was risky because people had to walk over sharp coral filled with sea urchins and jellyfish to get into the water. [photo courtesy Linda Jensen]

Missionary built first Adventist church, hospital on island ravaged by WWII

September 09, 2014 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Andrew McChesney/Adventist Review

Ejler Jensen was the first Seventh-day Adventist missionary to the Japanese island of Okinawa, where he planted a vibrant church community, including a school and hospital, in the 1950s.

Jensen, who died at age 102 on August 27, set about building an Adventist church big enough for 200 people on Okinawa when there was 600,000 people and not one single Adventist on the island, which was devastated after World War II. Building materials consisted of war remnants and military supplies. The church opened in 1951.

He later opened a school in the southern part of the island, and then a church attached to the school. As church membership increased, Jensen began designing a 15-bed hospital that is regarded today as the leading private hospital on the island.

Thirty-nine patients showed up on opening day of the clinic, which was located up a steep hillside. “Within a year, the lone doctor was seeing over 200 patients a day,” his daughter Linda said. The facility, the Adobenchisuto (Adventist) Medical Center, moved to a new location with more than 100 beds a few years ago.

"Adventist members in Okinawa and the Japan Union Conference will never forget Elder Jensen, who built the foundation of the Okinawa Mission,” said Masumi Shimada, president of the denomination’s Japan Union Conference. “We appreciate his efforts and love for Okinawa and remember his service to the Lord.”

Ejler E. Jensen was born in 1912 to Danish immigrants in Alberta, Canada. The Lutheran family converted to the Adventist Church through an Adventist bookseller.

As a young child, Jensen became fascinated with mission stories told at campmeetings at Canadian Junior College (now Canadian Union University).

The family moved to Modesto, California, United States, in 1918 to grow table grapes, but a combination of drought, gophers, and a weak economy devastated them. Financially ruined, they moved back to Canada.

Attempts to farm wheat proved successful until the Dust Bowl and Great Depression hit in 1929 and 1930. The howling winds blew crops and soil away. The family lost everything and had to walk away, destitute and in debt.

At age 20, Jensen became a literature evangelist to raise money for college. He was given an old bicycle with wooden wheels and a territory of hundreds of miles. He later described this time as the most lonely of his life, going from house to house in the country, seeing strange faces every day and asking for a bed to sleep on.

Jensen attended Canadian Junior College from 1936 to 1939 and then transferred to California-based Pacific Union College, where he graduated in 1942 with a double major in Bible and history. At PUC, he met Iona Clark, and the couple married in 1942.

After serving as a pastor for two years in the U.S. states of Nevada and Utah, Jensen accepted a call in 1944 to work as head of the Alaska Mission, a territory that would later become a U.S. state.

At times it took days to reach remote parts of the territory, with Jensen catching rides on fishing boats, Coast Guard lifeboats and with bush pilots delivering supplies and mail with amphibious aircraft.

One night, while flying with a bush pilot, a storm forced a landing on a small, isolated inlet. Ice developed on the wings and propeller and the plane began to sink.

Jensen and the pilot jumped out and waded to shore. Disoriented, wet, and freezing, Jensen began to pray fervently. Then, out of the blowing snow, an old Eskimo appeared, dressed in white, and waved at the lost pair to follow him. He led them through the storm to a small settlement, where villagers gave them shelter until the storm passed.

When Jensen asked the villagers for the rescuer’s name in order to thank him, the villagers replied that no such person lived in the area.

“Dad was certain that his guardian angel had appeared to save him that day,” Linda said.

While in Alaska, Jensen accepted an invitation to serve as a missionary in Indonesia. Seventeen days into the voyage across the Pacific Ocean aboard a freighter he received a cable asking him to go to Japan instead.

The couple enrolled in a language school and spent the next year and a half becoming fluent in Japanese. In 1949, local Adventist leaders decided to open mission work on Okinawa, and the Jensens agreed to move there.

In 1960, after a decade on Okinawa, Jensen was appointed as the head of the Tokyo Sanitarium and Hospital (now Tokyo Adventist Hospital) and the pastor of a church on the same property. Six years later he moved to Malaysia, where he worked as business manager of the Penang Sanitarium (now Penang Adventist Hospital) as well as the pastor of the English-speaking church with a membership of 200.

With both daughters in college, he and his wife decided to return to the U.S. in 1969.

He worked for four years as an assistant credit manager at St. Helena Hospital in Deer Park, California, and then pastored a church in Miranda, California.

The couple retired in 1975 in California’s Napa Valley. Iona preceded him in death in 2005.

Today, Okinawa has 16 Adventist churches with a membership of nearly 2,100, according to the Adventist Yearbook.

 

 

Colombia Adventist University Promotes Missionary Work

 

In Colombia, university students urged to serve in mission field

International mission congress [photo courtesy North Colombia Union/IAD]

Mission congress challenges students to work beyond national borders

Nearly 2,000 young people, students and professionals from throughout Colombia, Peru and Argentina took part in an Adventist Missions International Congress coined as “I will go too.”


The congress sought to motivate professionals and university students to serve in the mission field. Organized by Colombia Adventist University in Medellin, July 13 to August 2, the initiative is the third such event to promote mission work around the world.

Holding the event on campus was key to confirming the commission God has given to His church to spread the gospel in every tongue, tribe and nation, said Abraham Acosta, president of Colombia Adventist University and main organizer of the event. It is the first such event ever organized in Colombia, organizers said.

“We wanted to inspire our young people who study different careers just as they grow academically, they can grow with a commitment and growing passion for the mission of the church,” Acosta said. “Our goal and challenge after this congress is to work with the global mission of training and motivating our young people to go beyond the borders of Colombia.”

Speakers from the Institute of World Missions and Global Mission at the General Conference and Andrews University, Adventist-Muslim Relations at the North American Division, Middle East Union and North Africa among others lectured the hundreds of participants on the importance of serving outside of their countries to spread the gospel.

“Our great challenge is reaching persons who are not Christians,” said Cheryl Doss, director of the Institute of World Missions at the General Conference. “To reach them we must be willing to change our current methodology of evangelism as the challenge goes much faster than the growth of the Adventist Church.”

One of the most basic aspects of serving in the mission field is to be willing to learn and adapt, said Wagner Kuhn associate director of the Global Mission Institute at Andrews University. “Look to understanding the native tongue to be able to speak to the hearts of the people, be servants and look to others with empathy,” Kuhn said.

More than 100 signed up for the school of missions at the university. Among the signees Jenny Paola Muñoz, who studies accounting. “I think God is touching the hearts of students thanks to this congress, because many of us are really motivated to preach the gospel to finish the work on earth,” Muñoz said.

Nathalia Andrea Lopez, a fourth-year preschool student, was also excited to participate in the congress because “there are so many places still out there to serve the Lord around the world.”

Already, the university has embarked on an initiative where 18 municipal districts in Medellin have been targeted as areas to be evangelized. Students are participating with church leaders to establish centers of influence there. In addition, students are involved in community outreach activities in hospitals and nursing homes.

For more information about the congress, visit unac.edu.co.

 

 

Pastor Wilson, Call to Educators

 

Wilson urges all Adventists to reaffirm stance on Creation

Grand Canyon field trip [photo: Larry Blackmer]

Seventh-day Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson expanded his recent call for Church educators to reaffirm their conviction that God created the Earth several thousand years ago to include all 18 million members of the denomination, saying the issue “involves the eternal destiny of each of us.”

Wilson’s comments came at the end of a 10-day International Conference on the Bible and Science in St. George, Utah, where about 400 educators approved a resolution pledging to teach the biblical understandings of origins in their classrooms and got ready to share the latest scientific research that they had learned with their students.

Wilson, speaking in an interview, said all Church members should carefully weigh an appeal that he made for Adventist educators to reject evolutionary origins during his opening speech at the conference on Aug. 15.

“This is so intrinsic to the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists that it is vital for all church members to reaffirm their conviction that God truly is the Creator and created this Earth in six literal days recently,” he said. “This is certainly a personal decision that has to be made, and in all kindness and love I urge every church member to do so because it involves the eternal destiny of each of us.”

Wilson, reiterating his August 15 speech, said that educators and pastors who accepted widespread teachings that the Earth evolved over millions of years should not be permitted to lead in Adventist classrooms and churches.

As for regular Church members, he said, the matter was personal, but people who hadn’t resolved it in their minds should pray earnestly and make a decision.

“These decisions on the part of every individual will help to determine how they relate to this extraordinary mission entrusted into our hands by heaven and proclaimed by the three angels’ messages, which includes the first angel’s message to worship God and give glory to Him for He has made everything,” he said, referring to the three angels’ messages recorded in Revelation 14 to prepare people for Jesus’ return to Earth.

'Employees Should Believe in Creation'

Wilson’s Aug. 15 speech—in which he said that anyone who rejected the literal six-day creation described in Genesis could not be described as a real “Seventh-day” Adventist because “Seventh-day” refers to the 24-hour Sabbath day that ended creation week—elicited much comment on Seventh-day Adventist websites during the past 10 days.

Some Adventists have embraced a popular theory that each day of creation might have lasted millions of years rather than 24 hours, thereby mixing the Bible account with evolutionary teachings. This line of reasoning, Wilson said, not only invalided the Sabbath but also cast doubt on the inspiration of the creation account and, by extension, the entire Bible.

“It is vital that every employee—whether an administrator, pastor, teacher, or whoever—should strongly believe in the fundamental understanding of creation as the Seventh-day Adventist Church enunciates it,” Wilson said Sunday. “To continue to be employed and hold a view other than that would not be compatible to the very reason for the existence of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

He added: “As far as church members in general are concerned, it’s a personal matter that they need to discuss with the Lord in earnest.”

Wilson's Closing Speech

Wilson also mentioned the Church at large in a closing speech Sunday that focused primarily on the educators in attendance.

“As Seventh-day Adventist teachers, educators, pastors and church employees living in the end of time—and not only employees but all Church members—we should not reduce our ‘seventh-day’ distinctiveness but rather trumpet it as a wonderful feature of life,” he said.

Speaking directly to conference attendees, Wilson urged them to work hard, show love, and cling to the Bible.

“Scientists: Continue to do good scientific research. Do the work God has given you in a profound and careful way,” he said.

“Theologians: Do the same thing. Reach out to those who may not agree with what we have voted today and with what the Seventh-day Adventist Church has stood for. Reach out to those people in care and love—not in a condescending way, but in a loving way.

“But,” he said, “I want to tell you: Please do not in any way be reluctant to stand for biblical truth. Be open, be careful, but be bold.”

At the close of the 42-minute speech, Wilson asked the educators to reaffirm their conviction to the biblical creation by standing up and later pairing with seatmates to pray.

Conference Approves Statement

Shortly before Wilson’s speech, the conference attendees approved in a nearly unanimous verbal vote a statement that affirmed that the Bible presents "the reliable account" of a recent literal six-day Creation and that a global flood destroyed the Earth except for Noah’s family and animals in an ark.

“We reject those worldviews that intentionally remove biblical truth from public discourse and scientific endeavor,” the statement says. “We affirm the necessity of an intellectual environment in which competing theories about origins are presented and openly discussed within the context of a biblical worldview. We commit ourselves to teaching and advocating the biblical understandings of origins in our professional roles as Adventist educators.”

The document, which was developed during the 10-day event, will be submitted to the church’s major year-end business meeting, the Annual Council, in October, said Michael L. Ryan, a vice president of the Adventist world church and chair of its Faith and Science Council, which sponsored the conference.

It was unclear what influence, if any, the document would have on the wider church. Ryan said a separate working group of the world church was considering revisions to one of the church’s 28 Fundamental Beliefs—on creation—in preparation for a vote by delegates of the world church during the General Conference Session in July 2015.

High Demand for Resources

Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, director of the world church’s Education department, told the conference that she would use the statement to press for funding to produce and distribute more resources that support creation. The resolution calls for “a coordinated approach to be taken to the ongoing development, in all major languages, of high-quality, media-rich resources regarding the biblical account of origins and natural and earth sciences.”

Speaking in an interview, Beardsley-Hardy said conference participants have inundated her with requests for creation-themed materials.

“The biggest comment that I’ve gotten is, ‘We want materials so that when I go back to our schools we’ll be able to educate our students and educate our family about the issues,” she said. “They want textbooks, they want PowerPoints, they want to be able to download some of the presentations that were here so they can study them themselves and translate them into various languages.”

Beardsley-Hardy said some conference materials could be found on the Faith and Science Council’s website, fscsda.org, and the Geoscience Research Institute's website, grisda.org, and more would be released in the upcoming weeks and months.

But, as any major conference, some presentations might not be available for some time because their authors are preparing the research for publication in major scientific journals, said Beardsley-Hardy, who helped organize the conference and is a member of the Faith and Science Council.

“Some of the presentations that were here were cutting edge research, and the presenters can’t have those presentations shown elsewhere until they get published in peer-reviewed literature,” she said.

Beardsley-Hardy said she was pleased that scientists, theologians and other educators in attendance appeared enthusiastic about sharing what they had learned, and she expressed hope that they would leave feeling more informed and less intimidated about discussing the areas where science and the Bible overlap.

“Nature tells us some things, and the Bible tells us some things, and the Bible is a higher source of revelation because nature has been influenced by sin,” she said. “But there are areas of overlap, and I want our academics to be reasonably informed about the areas of overlap.”

 

 

Christians Persecuted in Iraq

Iraq persecution testimony before US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

 

Seventh-day Adventist Church Protests Religious Persecution in Iraq and Syria

 

Adventist Church president releases statement on persecution of religious minorities in Iraq, Syria

Ted N. C. Wilson is President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. [ANN file photo]

Wilson calls on members to pray for victims of extremism

Seventh-day Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson released the following statement today expressing concern over the persecution of religious minorities in Iraq and Syria:

It is with great sadness and deep concern that we have learned of the tragic situation where tens of thousands of Christians and others have been subjected to persecution, coercion, killings, intimidation and lack of religious liberty in certain areas of Iraq and Syria.

I urgently call upon all Seventh-day Adventist Church members around the world to pray for the victims of this extremism in religious intolerance. We also need to pray for various religious minorities who are targeted because of their religious convictions and beliefs.

It is important that the international community act unitedly to stop the persecution of Christian believers and others who represent those who have lived in relative peace with their Muslim neighbors in the Middle East for hundreds of years. The Seventh-day Adventist Church will do its best to assist victims of this new tragedy, which reflects a total lack of religious liberty, and we will earnestly pray for a positive resolution to this appalling situation. May the Holy Spirit as the Comforter come especially close to those facing immediate persecution and death at this time.

—Ted N. C. Wilson, President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

 

Food For Life

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.       2 Corinthians 3:18

Tell of His Grace

Testimonies of the power of grace to change lives......

 

I was born into a non Adventist home, well that is an understatement really. My father was and still is a heavily practicing Satanist and as such, myself being a female, made me a target for ridicule and I was most certainly placed way below my brothers in the family......Tamara's Testimony

Country Living

Mar10 Demo Image Too late to move?

Moving to the country is becoming very hard in some locations. Selling a home and financing a new one is difficult. Some government agencies want to move everyone into the cities. God's people need to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one. We should now begin to heed the instruction given us over and over again: Get out of the cities into rural districts, where the houses are not crowded closely together, and where you will be free from the interference of those who are opposed to the truth. Pray that God will open a way.

Religious Liberty

European Sunday Law?

The world will urge an outward compliance with the laws of the land, for the sake of peace and harmony. And there are some who will even urge such a course from the Scripture: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. . . . The powers that be are ordained of God." But what has been the course of God's servants in ages past? When the disciples preached Christ and Him crucified, after His resurrection, the authorities commanded them not to speak any more nor to teach in the name of Jesus. "But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Today, our liberty is being threatened.

European Sunday Law

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