Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath School Lesson

The Humility of Heavenly Wisdom

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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

 

Egyptian Proposal Does Not Recognize Church as Christian

 

Seventh-day Adventist Church officials in Egypt are expressing concern over a proposed draft of the nation’s Personal Status Law that would classify the Adventist Church as a non-Christian denomination.

Local Adventist Church officials said the new classification would have a negative impact on the Church’s work and image among other Christians in Egypt.

Johnny N. Salib, Assistant Secretary of denomination’s Egypt-Sudan Field, said the current draft of article 112 of the proposed new civil law for non-Muslim minorities would put the Adventist Church in different category of religious denominations. 

Salib said the current draft of the law was submitted to the Egyptian government more than three decades ago but was not adopted. Over the years, Adventists have made several attempts to meet with leaders of other Christian groups in Egypt to explain the denomination’s Protestant identity. Still, no steps have been taken to remove Adventists from the list of non-Christian churches.

Now, as Egypt is heading toward building a more democratic Constitution, the law proposed by the Christian minority is under serious discussion.

“I am saddened by the fact that some churches consider us as a non-Christian denomination, while the government recognizes us as Christians and gives us our full freedom to worship,” Salib said.

On Sunday, a delegation from the denomination’s Egypt-Sudan Field will meet with the Ministry of Transmitting Justice to discuss the matter. Church officials have already sent a letter to news agencies pointing out that the Adventist Church has existed in Egypt for more than 100 years and was officially registered in the early 1950s, Salib said. 

Salib said Adventist leaders will attempt to defend the identity of the denomination without creating any animosity with other Christian denominations in Egypt. With news agencies reporting the matter, he said leaders will focus on how to best use the situation with attention focused on the Church.

“This could be a chance for many Egyptians to know the truth about the Adventist Church and to learn more about our spiritual as well as social contributions in Egypt for many years,” Salib said. “I trust that the prayers of dedicated Adventists in Egypt and around the world can turn the situation into a blessed testimony for our Church.”

 

 

Remnant Online Forums Offline

The Remnant Online message board will be offline while upgrading our server.  We will go down at 3pm pst. today, Friday. We are sorry for the short notice, but while testing we got too far along to stop. We do not see the end from the beginning as God does. Working with computers is like working with people, you never know what may happen next.  God is in control so we have peace knowing that all things work together for us as we abide in Christ.

This site, remnant-online.org will remain active until the message board is restored and running. Have a blessed Sabbath dear brothers and sisters.

U.S. Affirms Clergy Tax-exempt Housing


In the U.S., ‘parsonage allowance’ upheld against challenge by atheist group

photo copyright for ANN by Andrew Nelles

Federal Court overrules lower court decision that clergy tax-exempt housing allowance is unconstitutional

A U.S. federal court confirmed today that clergy can continue to claim the tax benefit for housing allowance, upholding a Seventh-day Adventist Church-backed appeal against a lower court ruling that would have ended the so-called parsonage allowance.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Chicago, handed down its decision saying the plaintiffs—the Freedom From Religion Foundation—lacked standing to challenge the exemption, meaning that the group had not suffered damage personally.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church had joined an amicus brief—or “friend of the court” brief—for the case in April along with more than 30 other denominations and religious organizations.

The ruling stops what could have been hundreds of millions of dollars of tax increases on clergy and other individuals with tax-exempt status for housing.

Today’s decision was the latest step that began with a 2011 suit by Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist and agnostic group based in the state of Wisconsin.

Freedom From Religion had originally sued the top leaders of the U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service over the exemption, which was passed by Congress in 1954. Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code permits a “minister of the gospel” to designate some compensation as a housing allowance and exempt it from income tax.

A decision last year from a lower court said the parsonage exemption violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion.”

Adventist Church Associate General Counsel Todd McFarland said the Church was pleased with today’s decision.

“The Adventist Church has a long history of a commitment to separation of church and state; however, granting pastors this longstanding tax benefit does not violate the ‘Establishment Clause,’” McFarland said. “The government grants tax breaks for all kinds of people and businesses.”

Other exemptions, McFarland said, include teachers and professors working for educational institutions, military personnel, employee lodging for the convenience of the employer, as well as certain taxpayers living abroad.

Many religious organizations have long depended on the tax benefit for the compensation package for their clergy in the United States.

Ivan Williams, Ministerial Department director for the Adventist Church’s North American Division, said that the denomination’s pastors can make a decent living wage on a "base pay" basis, but depending on where they live, their cost of living adjustments are usually drastically behind and not commensurate. The parsonage exclusion gives them the ability to exempt their housing expenses from their taxable income.

Williams said the after-tax benefit to Adventist ministers is estimated between 5 and 10 percent of their total compensation package.

 

Bahamas Prime Minister Commends Church

PM Christie asks Church to build wellness center

Bahamas Prime Minister commends Adventist Church for health commitment

photo courtesy ATCU

The top leader of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas last week recognized the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the areas of health, education and youth ministries.

Prime Minister Perry G. Christie commended the Adventist Church for the role it has played in the development of the Bahamas and challenged Church leaders in the Caribbean nation to develop a health and wellness center, saying that the Church has a very effective healthy living program.   

“You have an extraordinary history of commitment to best health practice,” Christie told Church leaders following a report from the Church’s top leader in the region. “In this report it speaks to the success of wellness programs that you have, but it also says we must move to create in the Bahamas a wellness center.”   

Christie delivered his remarks on November 2 at the Hillview Adventist Church in Nassau during the opening business session of the denomination’s South Bahamas Conference.

Christie went on to lend his support for the wellness center, saying that the Adventist Church “has an international reputation for its commitment to wellness and healthy lifestyle,” and that if the wellness center is built “the government of the Bahamas will find a way to help you succeed at doing that.”      

Adventists are noted for their commitment to healthful living and service. Church members around the world have been documented in books, magazines and medical journals as one of the longest-living people groups ever studied.

“As Adventists we have many ways we can help people in the community live healthful, joyful lives with our principles,” Belkis Archbold, Health Ministries director for denomination’s Inter-American Division, said following the meeting. “We are pleased to see this being recognized by government leaders.”

Leonard Johnson, president of the denomination’s Atlantic Caribbean Union, informed the delegation of upcoming plans to launch a health initiative entitled “I Want to Live Healthy” throughout the territory in 2015 and reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to continuously pray for the leaders of the country.   

“When we visit with leaders of our country, it is not just to solicit help from them or to deal with issues, but, as spiritual leaders, it is to take time to pray for them,” Johnson said.

There are more than 23,000 Adventist Church members in the Bahamas.

 

 

Romania Supports Religious Liberty

Symposium on freedom of conscience highlights need for continued promotion

Romanian officials offer strong support for religious liberty

Photo RUC

Top Romanian officials last week pledged their support for religious liberty in the Eastern European nation during a two-day symposium sponsored by the Conscience and Liberty Association.

Titus Corlatean, Romania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, told attendees of the importance for religious denominations to be able to operate without restrictions on their traditions, beliefs or rituals.

“By supporting religious liberty and by condemning any attack against some religious communities, Romania has … gained a better social cohesion, proving that this is also thanks to this interreligious dialogue,” Corlatean said.

Corlatean delivered his remarks in the Human Rights Hall at the Palace of the Parliament on October 22. More than 120 dignitaries were in attendance, including government officials, religious leaders, and professors. Representatives included delegates from Harvard University in the United States, University of Montpellier in France, and from Complutense University of Madrid in Spain.

Conscience and Liberty Association President Nelu Burcea characterized the symposium as one that offered education and communication regarding religious freedom.

“The participation of our country’s officials showed Romania’s determination to move toward a total respect of religious liberty,” Burcea said. “It is important to transmit to future generations a message of peace and respect based on the values of human dignity.”

Burcea also serves as Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Romania. The Adventist Church is a key sponsor of the Conscience and Liberty Association, a non-sectarian organization that promotes religious freedom.

Romania has a population of more than 21 million, of which more than 80 percent are Eastern Orthodox. Less than 7 percent are Protestant. There are 67,000 Adventists in the country.

Corlatean also highlighted the key educational role organizations and entities play in promoting religious freedom, including politicians, media professionals and clerics. Interreligious and interdenominational dialogue can ensure a climate based on mutual respect regardless of religious orientation, he said.

Victor Opaschi, Romania’s state secretary for religious affairs, said enforcing the law in order to protect religious liberty must be a “permanent concern” in maintaining democracy.

Mihnea Costoiu, Romania’s minister for Higher Education, Scientific Research and Technological Development, highlighted the need of “permanent education” for the benefits of “global and local religious pluralism.”

Costoiu also spoke on October 23 at a ceremony for the presentation of two honorary doctorates. Officials from Wallachia University in Targoviste presented the title of Doctor Honoris Causa to John Graz, secretary-general of the International Religious Liberty Association, and Ganoune Diop, associate Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director of the Adventist Church.

Costoiu described Graz as “a global visionary who inspires and builds suitable solutions for governments and international diplomacy.”

John Graz has visited Romanian churches and officials annually since 1987. In collaboration with “Conscience and Liberty” Association, he presented numerous seminars for local and regional officials from more than 20 locations throughout the nation. Several of his books are also translated into Romanian.

Diop was also recognized for his interest in promoting human dignity as a foundation for all fundamental rights.

“His training sessions for officials and religious leaders has given us the perspective of continuing these endeavors and interests,” Costoiu said.

 

 

SDA Church Celebrtates 100 years in Kerala, India

 


Adventist Church celebrates 100 years in India’s Kerala state

The Adventist Church held a celebration to mark a century of the Church's work in the region that is now the Indian state of Kerala. More than 4,000 people attended the weekend's festivities. [photo courtesy SUD]

Church President Wilson encourages members to continue serving society

Seventh-day Adventists in the Southwest Indian state of Kerala last weekend celebrated 100 years of the Adventist Church’s work in the region, a century after the Adventist message first arrived with an Adventist bookseller from a neighboring state.

More than 4,000 people attended festivities held October 24-25 at the Al Saj International Convention Center in Kerala’s capital city of Thiruvananthapuram.

Seventh-day Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson attended the weekend celebration. Wilson spoke at two press conferences in which he emphasized that Adventists wish to serve God by responding to needs of society. Wilson also met with Sri Oommen Chandy, Kerala's chief minister.

Chandy inaugurated the Friday, October 24 afternoon meeting. In his keynote address, he commented on the service of the Adventist Church in the state through its schools and hospital. He also expressed his appreciation for the service of the Church to everyone irrespective of caste. Discrimination of caste is a major factor that is detrimental to the progress of a society, he said.

Wilson challenged Church members to stand firm for truth and to serve others faithfully while waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus. He urged those in attendance to live a life based on Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Wilson also encouraged Adventists in southern India to not only enjoy looking at the past but to focus on the future outreach of the Church as they entered the 101st year.

“When you are looking at a total population of 1.2 billion for the country of India, we have much to do to proclaim the three angels’ messages in this vast and complex country and in the entire Southern Asia Division,” Wilson said. “This is why an intense personal Bible study and prayer life is so important and requesting of heaven the latter rain of the Holy Spirit.” 

John Rathinaraj, president of the Church’s Southern Asia Division, which includes India, presented the history of the Adventist Church in the region. He began with an Adventist bookseller named Suvshesha Muthu who came from the present-day neighboring state of Tamilnadu. Muthu sold Adventist books and literature in the towns of Vadacode and in Danuwachapuram.

The Adventist Church’s work gradually progressed in the region through its health ministry outreach and schools.

Today there are nearly 37,000 members in the state, as well as 27 schools and a hospital with a nursing school.

Kerala was formed in 1956 by combining several Malayalam-speaking regions.

More than 55 percent of Kerala’s population are Hindu and nearly 25 percent are Muslim. Roughly 20 percent of the population is Christian.

It is believed that Thomas, the disciple of Jesus, founded the first Christian church in India in what is now Kerala.

Saturday afternoon festivities included presentations on Adventist World Radio’s work in the region and the work of the local publishing house. Several books in Malayalam were released, and Church pioneers and retirees were honored during the session.

On Saturday evening, a delegation traveled to Kawadiar for the inauguration of the newly rebuilt Central Adventist Church. Wilson spoke at the dedication ceremony, saying he appreciated the beauty of the church and urged all members to be beautiful exhibitions of the character of Jesus in their own lives in order to attract others to the gospel.

 

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).

 

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