June 6, 2016
“God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority. The error that some are in danger of committing is in giving to the mind and judgment of one man, or of a small group of men, the full measure of authority and influence that God has invested in His church in the judgment and voice of the General Conference assembled to plan for the prosperity and advancement of His work. God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising, for he who does this despises the voice of God.”1
These oft-quoted statements, extrapolated from their original context and strategically compiled in such a way as to support the idea of every working agency being under the control and dictation of the General Conference, have been used many times to discourage the self-supporting ministry (i.e. the irregular lines) and encourage members to remain loyal to church authority/church leadership even if members disagree with the policies therein and even if apostasy is rampant. They are either obstinately ignorant of the principle set forth in the very Spirit of Prophecy that they conveniently use and misconstrue to support their ideas and practices, that esteems the self-supporting work and calls for ministries separate from the General Conference; or they just ignore it altogether.
“This is a question that should sometimes be considered, but it is not the Lord’s plan that means should be withheld from Madison, because they are not bound to the conference. The attitude which some of our brethren have assumed toward this enterprise shows that it is not wise for every working agency to be under the dictation of conference officers. There are some enterprises under certain conditions, that will produce better results if standing alone. When my advice was asked in reference to the Madison school, I said, Remain as you are. There is danger in binding every working agency under the dictation of the conference. The Lord did not design that this should be.”2
“Don’t leave, the ship,” many urge, “it is going through,” “the church may appear as about to fall…” Yet the same class, who themselves hold leadership positions in conference unions, divisions and churches that are so ready to encourage unquestioning loyalty to the General Conference corporate leadership in matters related to independent or self-supporting ministries, are rebelling against the voted policies from the General Conference that do no suit their beliefs or visions and cry “inequality.” The issue under consideration is women’s ordination.
In addition to the Upper Columbia, Oregon, and Washington Conferences commissioning women to perform the exact duties of an ordained minister, the entire Netherlands Union Conference is moving forward, not deceptively as the aforementioned conferences in ordaining women under the name of commission, to perform the same duties as those of an ordained minister, but in continuing the practice of ordaining women as elders as pastors. Really there is no difference at all in what is being done within the North American Division and in the Netherlands Union Conference respectively, as a label does not change the nature of the practice.
Spectrum Magazine ran a piece June 6 titled “Netherlands Union Conference Votes 88 to 76 to Continue Ordaining Women,” in which the author relates the following: “In a specially convened session, the Netherlands Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (NUC) has voted down a measure that would have rescinded the union’s May 30th, 2013 vote in favor of ordaining women. The motion was introduced by a group of NUC members, who felt the union’s policies have drifted from the stance of the global Seventh-day Adventist Church.”3
NUC prides itself on urging equality and justice and being a welcome place for all people as members and even leaders. Some months ago the NUC “advised all churches in the Netherlands to ‘fully commit themselves to ensuring that LGBTI individuals feel safe in the church.’ In addition, NUC leadership says it would ‘strongly advise against any steps to revoke the membership of LGBTI people, given the unsafe environment this would create in churches.”4
Advocacy for the “rights” of women in the church is little different from the arguments in favor of LGBTI membership; and those who are quick to join in the movement for women’s liberation urging equality for women, use the same premise to argue for the acceptance and fair treatment of members of the LGBT movement. Once the door is open in the churches for women to act outside of and contrary to their God-given roles and take upon themselves the duties assigned to man, which is out of God’s natural order, of course one can expect that the acceptance of the unnatural lifestyle of the LGBTI class will follow. It is interesting that historically when the women’s liberation movement gathered steam, women wearing men’s garments, specifically pants, came into the existence on a large scale, women began entering the workforce alongside their male counterparts to the neglect of the role that God had designed for them to fill, and the defeminization and corresponding masculinization of the woman had its genesis and proportionately lesbianism became customary.
How the General Conference leadership will respond to the Netherlands Union Conference and other such conferences that are ordaining women and pandering to the LGBTI community, is yet to be heard or seen; but one thing is certain, change in the form of revocation of the ordinations of women and termination of those who are going against Biblical mandates and voted policies of the denomination will never come from the top down. Mark Finely, assistant to the General Conference President, acknowledged at the 2014 Generation Youth for Christ Sabbath School panel discussion that there is nothing the General Conference leaders can do to root out apostasy within the denomination save express its disapproval. “In the Seventh-day Adventist Church we don’t have fiats that come down from the General Conference that dictate what each of the entities, whether they’re local churches, conferences, or unions do…So what can the General Conference do if a constituent group steps out of policy? It can simply express it’s disapproval for that…” What if an entity chooses to violate a particular policy…It’s a question that we wrestle with in General Conference leadership, because we don’t have constituent authority…I think our concern is, this opens the door for other open violations of policy in the area of tithe, in the area of certain sexuality issues that people are going to say, ‘Look this is a matter of conscience.’”5
For this very reason, the statement “The present showing is sufficient to prove to all who have the true missionary spirit that the ‘regular lines’ may prove a failure and a snare” can be appropriately applied. It will be interesting to see whether or not the aforementioned conferences will fully shift their position on church leadership and authority and begin quoting the statements from Ellen White that endorse self-supporting work, break away from the General Conference and continue in their work of open apostasy. The truly unfortunate thing is that the Testimonies and Ellen White’s name are being misused and put at variance against themselves and to support error and apostasy which thus renders them ineffectual in the eyes of those who are not studying for themselves.
1. White, Ellen. Last Day Events (1992), page 56
2. White, Ellen. Manuscript Releases, Volume 8, page 202
5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwv76Z6dtJE Start watching from 28:50- 29:45 and 35:00- 36:35
6. White, Ellen. The General Conference Bulletin, April 11, 1903