George R. Knight: A Poignant Message to the GC on Women's Ordination Ahead of its Annual Council Meetings
I received a call from George Knight last night. The message was clear: "The time has come." Articles that George had presented in March were now seemingly being ignored. "I want to be clear," George told me, "These papers were not written as a response to what is happening, but as a forethought."
In case you are unaware of the things that are transpiring in Silver Spring, MD, allow me to catch you up to date. There are currently Annual Council meetings taking place by a committee called GCDO which stands for General Conference and Division Officers. They are discussing something that has been very divisive and emotional recently in the Seventh-day Adventist Church: Women's Ordination. During these meetings, it was proposed that they take action toward the Unions that have gone forward with ordaining women despite the GC vote against ordaining women in 2015. At one point it was suggested that there should be a takeover of the unions that aren't following the vote of the GC in session, which is held in very high regard. Out of these meetings a document arose called "The Unity Document". This is the basis for which the leaders in this meeting believe they should be making their decisions against the Unions.
It is unclear how far the suggestion to reprimand or take over those Unions has made it, but it is clear that many are concerned enough to start making public statements. One of those concerned is George Knight (Adventist author, historian, and professor emeritus at Andrews University). He was concerned before things progressed this far which is why he wrote these two papers and presented them in March to a select number of people that would be on this committee. Now he believes the time has come to share them with everyone in Adventism. Please take the time to be informed! These articles are extremely powerful although they are lengthy.
The less important of the two is entitled "The Anti-Organizational People"
While I use the term "less," I hesitate to give you that impression. This paper contains my favorite quote from all of my time in college that is in one of George's Adventist History books:
[John] Loughborough then took the lead in discussing the dangers of a formal creed.
- “The first step of apostasy,” he noted, “is to get up a creed, telling us what we shall believe.
- “The second is, to make that creed a test of fellowship.
- “The third is to try members by that creed.
- “The fourth to denounce as heretics those who do not believe that creed.
- “And, fifth, to commence persecution against such.”53
The second paper is entitled "The Role of Union Conferences in Relation to Higher Authorities."
Here is a short excerpt of the article to whet your appetite:
- It is God through the Holy Spirit that calls pastors and equips them with spiritual gifts (Eph. 4:11). The church does not call a pastor.
- Ordination as we know it is not a biblical concept, but one developed in the history of theearly church and, notes Ellen White, was eventually “greatly abused” and “unwarrantableimportance was attached to the act.”55
- The laying on of hands, however, is a biblical concept and served in the Bible, we read in Acts of the Apostles, as a “public recognition” that God had already called the recipients. By that ceremony no power or qualification was added to the ordinands.56 Over time, the early church began to call the ceremony of laying on of hands an ordination service. But “the English word ‘ordination,’ to which we have become accustomed, derives not from any Greek word used in the New Testament, but from the Latin ordinare.”57
- The Seventh-day Adventist Church recognizes God’s call of both males and females to the pastoral ministry by the laying on of hands. That is biblical. BUT it calls one ordination and the other commissioning. That is not biblical. Rather, it is merely a word game that apparently has medieval concepts of ordination at its root since there is certainly no grounding for it in either the Bible or Ellen White’s writings.
To read the full text of "The Role of Union Conferences in Relation to Higher Authorities" with a foreword added this morning by George click here.
-Keith Bowman, thehaystack,org