Voluntary Unity in Christ or Forced Unity by Dictation?
by Ervin Taylor
An article posted on line on August 7, 2012, ahead of publication in the Adventist Review carried the headline, “Church Leaders Issue ‘An Appeal for Oneness in Christ.’”
This “appeal” was clearly stated to be in response to the recent action of the Columbia Union Conference stating that ordination to the gospel ministry in that union would no longer be based on gender. The “Leaders” were identified as “World church executives and . . . 13 division presidents.”
In part, the “appeal” stated that the CUC action was “not in harmony with General Conference Working Policy.” It was considered “a serious threat to the unity of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church.” It further stated that the CUC had engaged in “unilateralism” in that the CUC action “sets aside the 1990 and 1995 decisions of the General Conference in Session respecting the practice of ordination.”
Finally, earlier statements of Ted Wilson as well as the wording of the “appeal” carried a clear threat. Previous statements warned of “serious consequences.” In this case, there was a statement that “at its next meeting in October 2012, the General Conference Executive Committee will carefully review the situation and determine how to respond.”
The most egregious part of this “appeal” is in its citation of a prayer of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John: “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” which was followed by “the unity among disciples for Jesus prayed is a precious gift of God.”
I wonder if this blogger is the only one who views quoting the prayer of Jesus in this statement issued by Adventist “world church executives” as bordering on the blasphemous. Citing the authority of Jesus and the Bible in the furtherance of maintaining their control of the reins of centralized power in the Adventist Church is eerily reminiscent of a strategy used some 500 years ago by another set of leaders of a world church. Captive theological apologists supporting the power of the 16th Century Roman Papacy in their rebuttals of Marin Luther’s condemnation of Papal indulgences used phrases such as “Unity of the Faith” and “Oneness in Christ” as counter arguments. In this case, it would appear that the only substantive difference between the wording used in 16th Century Papal Bulls and other church pronouncements and this declaration of Adventist “world church executives” is that the 16th century ones were written in Latin while the 21st century one was written in English.
The Pacific Union Conference now has an opportunity to send another clear message to Silver Spring, the Adventist Vatican. We will follow our consciences and Biblical principles in this matter, not the dictates of an earthly church hierarchy, no matter what kinds of threats are made. We can do no other. So help us God!