By AT News Team, July 5, 2015: A major new study of ordination, both from the Bible and from the Adventist heritage, is just now off the press and available. Some sources have told Adventist Today that it should be read before the vote on ordination is taken this week because it is a much more thorough and comprehensive study than any of the others.
Ordination Reconsidered was written by Dr. Bertil Wiklander, who retired last fall as president of the Trans-European Division of the General Conference. He is a Bible scholar and served the denomination as a seminary professor and missionary, as well as a respected administrator. The book is published by the Newbold Academic Press and copies are available in the Adventist Book Center in the exhibit hall in San Antonio. It will also be available as an eBook soon on Amazon.
The book anchors its analysis in “the mission of God” and an examination of the Genesis account of the creation of man and woman. It focuses on understanding not only what the Bible says, but also, more deeply, what the Bible means.
Chapter 7 follows carefully the history of the priesthood in the Old Testament and the institution of ordination in that context. It discusses the absence of female priests and also points out numerous examples in the Old Testament of women serving as judges, Nazirites, prophetesses and spiritual leaders, as well as proclaiming God’s word.
The book does not advance a particular point of view in the current debate among Adventists, but stays faithful to a careful understanding of what God has taught us in Scripture. Chapter 9 focuses on the New Testament, tracing what is written about female disciples and eyewitnesses to the resurrection, a section on the role of women as seen in John’s writings as well as the Pauline passages on elders, overseers and deacons.
There are specific reviews of the origin of ordination in the New Testament and the practice of laying on of hands in both the Old and New Testament, as well as word studies of “head” and “submission” in the controversial passages of Ephesians 5, I Corinthians 11 and 14, and I Timothy 2. Chapter 10 looks at the fundamental notion of the Christian church as a “kingdom of priests.”
An appendix specifically addresses considerations for the Adventist denomination in its policies about ordination. These are the practical findings from the in-depth Bible study and address the decisions before the GC delegates this week. “Perhaps this study means that the entire decision should be put off another five years to provide time for the kind of careful attention to the Bible that is needed,” one reader told Adventist Today.
A review of the book by Dr. Reinder Bruinsma is available in the Opinion section here.