Adventist Seminary Theologians Condemn “Headship” Theology
by Monte Sahlin
By Adventist Today News Team, August 22, 2014
The faculty of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University has released a statement clearly opposing from the Scripture and Adventist heritage the headship theology which is used by some to argue against the ordination of women to the gospel ministry. It is a very clear indicator that thinking among the denomination's Bible scholars is moving away from blocking permission for the ordination of women clergy.
The six-page document includes a careful Bible study and extensive references to the writings of Ellen G. White to support its conclusions. It was adopted by a very strong majority vote of the entire seminary faculty, the most important group of Bible scholars and theologians in the denomination.
In the conclusion the document affirms four things as biblical and rooted in Adventist heritage: (1) "That there is only one Head of the Church, Christ, and this headship in the Church is non-transferable and inimitable." (2) "That leadership in the Church should be modeled after Christ’s servant leadership and grounded in love, with the recognition that Christ’s manner of leadership is to be reflected by Christian leaders." (3) "That Church leaders possess stewardship responsibilities of the affairs of the Church, carrying out the decisions of the Church made in committee and business sessions." And (4) "The priesthood of all believers …"
And the document denies four things as unbiblical and out of line with the Adventist heritage: (1) "That any human can rightly assume a headship role within the Church." (2) "Any Church government that results in sacramental, elitist, and headship-oriented leadership, which are counterfeits of Christ’s moral government of love and usurp His unique role and authority as Head of the Church …" (3) "That any mere human is invested with final decision-making authority in regards to Church teaching, ritual, or doctrine. (4) "Any elevation of Church leaders as … head of … the Church."
The document also specifically states that "the role of 'head' in the home (Eph 5:23) is not transferable to the realm of the Church" just as "one's role in the home obviously does not translate into a similar or analogous role in one's workplace." This clearly counters a common argument against women serving as leaders in congregations which is taught by the Southern Baptist Convention and other Evangelical religious leaders and has been proposed by some Adventist clergy.
The entire document can be seen without commentary by clicking this link: On the Unique Headship of Christ in the Church – A Statement Of The Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary