The Difficult Road to San Antonio

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The Difficult Road to San Antonio

As the world church nears its 60th General Conference Session, the subject of women’s ordination keeps getting louder and louder (did we forget about another crucial vote on Fundamental Belief #6, about creation?). A plethora of materials (I won’t even attempt to catalog all of them) from both pro and anti camps are circulating via the mail and the web. The output of these resources is unlikely to slow down or stop anytime soon given the nature of the vote and the complexity of the issue.

Judging from the responses and reactions to the recent article by one pastor, the debate seems to have caught a different tone. It is increasingly becoming clear that a YES or NO vote will not be the silver bullet many may wish for. The situation is fast becoming vitriolic. As I read books, blogs, and social media posts on the issue, it is obvious that lots of false reporting, misuse of personal and church resources, and character assassination have become a part of the debate. Sadly, substantive discussion on the issue has been downgraded to some questionable statements.

Here is one comment posted on Facebook following the online publication of the article mentioned above:

David Asscherick and Ty Gibson and associates I once had a high regard for them as serious students of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy who believe in a Sola Scriptura but alas my brother I have come to discover them that they are hereticks. Indeed they are Jesuits for the record who are masquarading as Seventh-day Adventists. Like Demas they have left God’s church. Imagine how powerrful David Asscherick and Ty Gibson were in their purity! Now they have been corrupted by Rome. I weep over their graves. Thats the philosophy of Freemasonry to be patient and establish followers and homage and loyal supporters then introduce deadly heresies which can not be discerned by the blind followers. God will strike them with leprosy and unless they repent of this damnable heresy they are going to be damned. They have forgotten the stone from which they were hewn and the pit from which they were dug. Cursed are they! They have styled themselves sons of perdition.

As if this wasn’t enough, a blogger adds the following about the article in question:

[The author’s] chronic mischaracterization again leads me to question whether it arises out of genuine innocent unfamiliarity with scripture–concerning enough in a pastor–or a more diabolical disingenuity designed to deceive…

There are more conflations, misrepresentations, and errors in Mr. Gibson’s article. However, at this point I believe we have seen enough to answer our original question: “Is Ty Gibson’s article on women’s ordination disingenuous?” As I previously mentioned, the only possible alternative explanation is that he is simply unfamiliar with the relevant Scriptures. However, at this point that explanation is simply not credible. For a pastor and co-director of a major ministry to be so embarrassingly unfamiliar with the Bible is just not a believable proposition. This leaves us with one unavoidable conclusion: Ty Gibson’s article on women’s ordination is disingenuous, and designed to deceive. We have been warned about such men.

Whatever happened to Christian civility?

Well, the problem is not just in the anti camp; the pro camp has been busy as well. Upon receiving certain material opposing women’s ordination, one person reacted as follows:

This morning I walked into the house and found a packet from an anonymous person. When I opened the packet, it contained a dvd and other unsolicited propaganda featuring Mr. Batchelor and Mr. Bohr amid the ordination debate. Funny because for [one] thing, I am not a pastor and even a delegate to the San Antonio General Conference. Unless anyone has a better use, I will keep it as fire starters this winter.

Reflecting on the possible outcome of the GC vote, one pastor is considering leaving the church:

As a pastor who strongly believes in WO I am honestly struggling with what my reaction will be if the vote is No. I do not want to be pessimistic, however, I cannot ignore the real possibility this could happen. I figure I have three choices: continue as I have been planting new Adventist churches because God is winning people to Christ, while asking for my ordination to be removed; leave and start a new career because I cannot in good conscience work for a misogynistic organization; or for the same reason leave and start new “Adventist” churches outside the system. I pray I am not faced with this choice next month. I love our church but I am leaning a bit toward the latter.

The road to San Antonio is proving to be a difficult one. If anything, such comments are indicative of the invisible wall that will remain post-GC Session 2015.

One church member opined that if the women’s ordination proposal passes, the differences of opinion will ultimately play out at the local church level:

By allowing the divisions to decide the matter apart from a GC vote we are saying that divisions can decide doctrine. But what if one union in a conference decides not to go with the division’s vote? How would they (who are the ones who actually do the ordaining) be forced to follow the Division? So essentially we would be saying that the Unions can decide the same as the Divisions. So what if a conference, in the Union that approves it, votes in their Executive Committee not to ordain or allow any ordained women? Are they bound to the Union and Division Decisions? And what about the local church? It is there that the most authority resides – in the members of the church gathered in a business meeting. If they vote to not receive a female minister as their pastor, would they be booted from the conference? It would be the greatest hypocrisy to allow many divisions of the world to reject woman’s ordination but then dis-fellowship a whole church (or member) for taking the same position. THUS not going with the cultural flow would not be apostasy or rebellion with the world church or denomination any more than their minority view would be. SO, the local churches would have the ultimate decision. Yes it would make us more like the congregational churches, but that is what a YES vote would do. Simply stated, I would find a local, Bible-based church that is denominationally affiliated and move my membership there, the same as if my church brought in a drum-set, or allowed a minister to set an example of wearing rings or eating meat. I have a family to raise for heaven, and while I won’t leave this ship, I will find a different cabin if I must.

Is this debate a repeat of 1888 that will perpetuate division within the remnant church? How can the church effectively claim and preach John 17? If we are divided in thought, we’ll continue to be divided in the work as well.

Let us know what you think church leadership and members can do to bridge this gap that is increasingly widening as we approach San Antonio.

More on this topic:

Unity and Divisions: 5 Lessons from Acts 15

Clerical Vestments . . . Or Revolution?

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Valmy Karemera is associate editor of The Compass Magazine and posts daily news updates on the Compass Twitter page. Originally from Rwanda, he now lives and works in Texas with his family.