Saturday, May 8, 2010

Adventist Women as Ordained Pastors

One of those famous old philosophers was known for his insistence upon "defining the terms" in order that people might accurately address a topic without either party sliding out of corners by altering or confusing the definitions of the terms being discussed.

I see that this altering or confusing of terms seems to be playing a major role in conversations regarding this topic, with people having different definitions for terms such as "ministry" "minister" "ordained" "laborer" etc.

One group defines all Christians as laborers, or ministers, in keeping with 1 Peter 2:9, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;"

Therefore, they say, all Christians are to be ministers to their fellow man. All Christians are part of the ministry, but not all Christians are to fulfill the role of an ordained pastor.

The ordained pastor, they say, is a specific part of the church structure, or hierarchy. The position of an ordained pastor within the organized church body is entirely separate from the Gospel work and ministry that every believer is called to.

Thus, saying that all believers should be part of the ministry, or Gospel work, is a true statement, whereas saying that all those in the ministry, or Gospel work, should be ordained pastors is a false statement. Otherwise you're concluding that all believers should be ordained pastors.

We must separate "laborers," "ministry," and "Gospel work" from "ordained pastor," for they are not one and the same. We needn't be ordained pastors to partake in the ministry of spreading the Gospel. We needn't be ordained pastors to be laborers in the harvest.

Case in point: Ellen White, who we all accept as having such a vital and important ministry, as being such a powerful worker in the spreading of the Gospel and as being such an effective laborer in the harvest, yet who did not think it appropriate to be ordained.

The other group will point to verses such as Luke 10:2, "Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest." and conclude that by not ordaining women we are thus sending fewer labourers into the harvest.

So, you can see that this group has defined "laborer" as meaning "ordained pastor." Therefore, they say, by not ordaining women we are hindering the Gospel work, or ministry.

But if taken to its logical conclusion, that would mean that every baptized member of the church should be ordained, so that we can all be Gospel workers or ministers to the fullest degree. Otherwise, if we do not ordain every baptized member, are we not then hindering the work?

But was Jesus Christ really referring only to ordained pastors or elders as "labourers?" Or, was He actually referring to all believers as "labourers?" And if so, is it really those who are refusing to ordain women based on lack of Scriptural support that are hindering the work? Or, is it actually those who are displaying an attitude of rebellion from the organized church body and who are creating dissension that are hindering the work?

Of course there are those who refer to this issue as "women in ministry," such as our beloved brother, pastor Doug, who are simply defining "ministry," in this instance, as meaning ordained pastors and elders. I think it would probably be wise not to use the word ministry in that sense, only because the opposition clings onto that word and cries, "You're refusing to let women be part of the ministry, or Gospel work...you're refusing to let women be labourers in the harvest!"

So, in conclusion, if we force participants in this discussion to define their terms, we can quickly set aside this false notion of the ordination of women having anything to do with the Gospel work, for we can then easily see that a "labourer" is not defined as an "ordained pastor." (In fact, I'd imagine that most of the labourers in the harvest are not ordained pastors.)

And if we have defined our terms and dismissed this first faulty argument, we can then begin to concentrate on the true issue: Is there Scriptural support for the ordination of women?

20 comments:

  1. This is a very good biblical post... I was on a blog the other day and it was mostly opinion and no texts to determine their objection for the ordination of woman. This was very good indeed.

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  2. Absolutely Todd! You hit it on the nail. The scripture says definitely NOT to have women pastors. I believe that in God's structure He has deemed it a "Man's" work. That is not to say woman is inferior, rather the qualifications for such work are better suited for the man. The SDA or any other church who approves this, is not adhering to the teachings of God's word. Good post Todd!

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  3. I have much study to do on this subject, but I wonder how much of the cry for the ordination of women comes from the "our bodies, ourselves" the NOW generation, a move toward the "progressive" liberal mindset and a want to be with what the world is doing?

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    1. My friend, don't you see your thot that all of us who disagree with one thing must be against all that is good, is tainting your idea of us? I am sure some who are pushing for WO are as you say, but that is NOT true of my family. God has put in us the desire to eat, look at, and do simple things. We want to give everything we have promoting Godd's kingdom. We cherish God's way and God's Word. We have not reached perfection on these things but it is the goal we are reaching for. Nor do I ask ordination for myself as I am retired. I used to believe that ordination was only for men until I began studying for myself what was in the Bible about women leaders. Even then I felt no need to push for it, until I realized that it was the framework mentioned in Joel 2 and Acts 2. Now I wonder if the reason God has not poured out the Latter Rain is because we would not accept those He wants to use. I just want to go home with as many people persons as possilbe.

      A few months ago I wrote down the reasons why I am for ordination. To share here with references is too long, whithout references is worthless. If you are interested, write me at: everylightshining@att.net

      -Shining

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  4. It's interesting that the Apostle Paul commanded women to not even speak in church, yet SDAs have no problem with all the speaking in churches by Ellen White during her long ministry.

    Not trying to be controversial here, just trying to understand why this one exception is made?

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  5. Deb, good point. However, in the case of Ellen, after such obvious signs from God (visions, predictions, powerful writings, etc.) I do think God had made an exception. But these are very rare. The Prophetess Deborah comes to mind. Actually, I am quite amazed at the instructions He give on about restrictions of women in the church. Nevertheless HE'S GOD not us, :-)

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  6. Deb, do you believe that God doesn't want women to speak in church?

    -Todd

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  7. In my denomination, yes I am an ordained pastor in the SDA church; no pastor is ever ordained to the Gospel ministry upon graduation from seminary. Biblically, “ordination” if that’s what the “laying on of hands” can be described as, happens in the process of sending to proclaim the Good News, not after he/she “proves” his/her grain (yes, in the NT men and women get sent out to preach the Gospel. Men and women were sent during Jesus’ ministry and especially after the resurrection. Read Acts 1-2 where both men and women receive the Holy Spirit which, if understood contextually, it is generally received in the context to preach the Gospel and as a testimony of its power. When a young male enters the ministry (I said “male” because in our church’s policy only men are placed in the “ordination track”) he must prove that he has been called by God should he fulfill the “10 year track” starting in his first year of religion/theological studies in college, two years of seminary studies, and four “in the field.” Until he is ordained he will not reach the top rung of the salary ladder, which is 150%.

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  8. Bible teachers, religion and theology professors (in most of our universities), as well as Conference treasurers are ordained not because they are directly involved in Gospel ministry, but in order for them to reach this “top” rung in the salary ladder of 150%. In North America, where either by compulsion (read legal) or ethics an employee must have equal pay for equal work, but in most cases, it is not so. Let me give you a real scenario as to how a pay scale is linked to ordination/commissioning. The female pastor I happen to work with, is a Spirit-filled and very effective pastor, she’s at about 120% of the salary scale, and she will not reach the 150% until she is “commissioned”, which means she must first complete her master degree and be at least four years in “active” ministry. Equal pay for equal work? Hardly. Other North American institutions use other formulas in order to bring their female employees up to par with their male counterparts because the law demands it, but not so where there is no law to regulate this, which is what happens in my church outside North America. Believe me, I know. I served there quite a few years. Things for church employees, especially women, outside North America really get trickier when it comes to salaries since these are directly linked to ordination (no commissioning of women there). Women there, using my teenager’s expression, really “get the bum rap”. Women are usually kept away from salaried positions that may require “climbing up” the salary scale. When some women become salaried employees they will always be underpaid while their male counterparts will get “ordained” and their salaries will reach the top of the wage scale allowed by policy. It is truly rare to see a woman teach religion/theology at any of our “seminaries” (religion departments). Mission/Conference and schools treasurers or business managers are generally men, who although never setting foot in a religion class in college, or even preached a sermon in a local church, are placed in the “ordination track” and eventually ordained so that they can reach this “top rung” of the salary ladder. Since the great majority of delegates are from outside North America, do we really expect a vote in favor of the ordination of women even if it was brought to a General Conference session? Naw! They don’t have to. Women do not fill pastoral ministry positions (except in some rare Asian places). Young women who graduate with religion/theology majors end up as boarding school deans, elementary school teachers, school counselors (never called “pastors”)… You see, for the rest of the world church there’s no need to have a worldwide policy on the ordination of women. So, North America, a just society calls for equality, but a biblically grounded society (read church) needs to recognize that when God sent his Spirit the women were there to receive it (Acts 1:14). When gifts are distributed, “All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses” (1 Corinthians 12:11, NRSV, emphasis mine) with no concern with genitalia.
    Pastor Carlos

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  9. Two things strike me about your comment(s), and thank you for them:

    1.) It seems as though the church has taken ordination to a wholly unbiblical place, i.e. something used in the computations of salaries and seniority. While it doesn't entirely surprise me, it is still a very sad comment on the state of our church.

    2.) Well, I guess it was really only one point as my next thought was that you, like the church, seem to be focused on payscales and "equality" when neither should really enter into our study of whether or not the Bible teaches that a woman should be an ordained pastor, and in a position of authority over men.

    Again, thank you so much for your comment and may God's great mercy be forever with you, my friend. :-)

    p.s. even if we don't see eye-to-eye, I hope you will hold me no ill will.

    -Todd

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  10. Yes, Todd, I saw this coming through quite clearly from his comments. God's way is first and foremost, not rules, regulations, etc. When it doubt, let's read and understand (from the HOLY SPIRIT) the bible first.

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  11. Women Preachers

    http://sabbathsermons.com/2009/09/15/women-preachers/

    THE NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING ABOUT WOMEN AND THEIR POSITION IN THE CHURCH

    “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? came the Word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” 1 Corinthians 14:33-36

    “AS IN ALL CONGREGATIONS OF GOD’S PEOPLE, WOMEN SHOULD NOT ADDRESS THE MEETING; THEY HAVE NO LICENCE TO SPEAK; BUT SHOULD KEEP THEIR PLACE AS THE LAW DIRECTS. IF THERE IS SOMETHING THEY WANT TO KNOW, THEY CAN ASK THEIR OWN HUSBANDS AT HOME. IT IS A SHOCKING THING THAT A WOMAN SHOULD ADDRESS THE CONGREGATION.” 1 Corinthians 14:33-36 – New English Translation

    “As is the rule IN ALL THE CHURCHES OF THE SAINTS, women must keep quiet at the gatherings of the church. They are not allowed to speak; they must take a subordinate place, as the law enjoins….IT IS DISGRACEFUL FOR A WOMAN TO SPEAK IN CHURCH. YOU CHALLENGE THIS RULE? PRAY, DID GOD’S WORD START WITH YOU? ARE YOU THE ONLY PEOPLE IT HAS REACHED?” 1 Corinthians 14:33-36 – Moffatt’s Translation

    You will hear many things put forward by Church members, by ministers, by the wives of ministers, that Paul was only speaking about the women in the early Church at Corinth – that these women were particularly wicked. This is hard to believe when this was one of the many first-established New Testament Churches that grew up under Paul’s inspired ministry. This was at a time when to accept and profess the new Christian teachings was to oftentimes be subjected to ridicule, punishment, and death.

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  12. It's a blessing to know that in the 21st Century the Word of God and the opinion of God out weighs the thoughts/intents of mankind male and female. The Holy Spirit is not the author of confusion and gave the Apostles instruction on how to have an orderly church service, since men and women were segregated by way of seating as were the gentiles, it was disruptive to the service for women to "yell" across to ask their husbands questions. The Spirit gives Gifts as "He" will and let us be careful less we fight against God!

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  13. Amen. While it is really not obeyed in this regard, nevertheless, as Paul states "The scripture did not begin with US" Infact, it has occured to me that maybe we are having blessings stopped because of our ignoring this "Commandment" (as paul calls it) in our churches today.

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  14. The Advent of of Lord Jesus Christ is closer than when we first believed, and to clarify the post of June 14, 2010 it was and still is in support both of the inclusiveness of Women in Ministry and the Ordination of Women in Pastoral Ministry.

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  15. If you think women pastors is bad, there's stuff going on daily, that most are not aware of, that makes this look like insignificant!

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  16. It's funny how those who are for woman pastors, always pick confusing and out of context texts to make their points, and almost always ignore the most direct texts. So I just don't have time for this pointless reasoning, twisting texts, and using terms which has nothing to do with the subject at hand.

    I believe the present culture is changing the minds of people on this issue. All of a sudden, it's a terrible thing not to ordain women as pastors. All of a sudden it becomes an issue of inferiority and superiority.

    I love living in America and enjoy it's freedoms, but I also believe that somethings should not change, as long as the word of God hasn't. So this is really a battle over the Bible. Should we follow the Bible or should we follow our personal feelings and the prevailing culture around us that has abandoned the Bible since the age of reason or when enlightenment came along?

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  17. continuation...
    If we accept to have women pastors in the church, then the theology in the Bible concerning men and women's roles from the old testament to the new testament will be destroyed. This is more of a theological issue than anything else.

    Have you noticed that too many who are pro-ordination of women pastor, also have a liberal stance on a few other positions the church holds?

    Have you notice that a majority of our sermons are watered down?

    Have you noticed that it has become a taboo to mention Ellen White in so many churches?

    Have you noticed that worldly things are creeping up into the church, but too many of our salaried preachers seem not to notice?

    So this issue of woman pastor came at the right time--the time of the end.

    I must say, that I have obsolutely nothing against a woman wanting to minister for the Lord. But for her to feel that she has not reach fulfillment unless she rebels, create a stir, and cause division in the church--is sad.

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  18. we should be mindful of how Satan is using the Jesuits to indoctrinate the pure fundamental beliefs of the church. i think it hard time all Adventist start to pray, because what is transpiring is not something physical but rather some of the snares of the devil.

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