by Ervin Taylor
It is very rare for liberal and conservative Adventists to agree on anything. However, under the current GC administration of Wilson II (Dr. Ted Wilson), I have been amazed by the common reaction of many Adventist liberal, moderate, and conservative observers in commenting on the behavior of the current General Conference president over the Women’s Ordination issue.
Essentially, they are asking the same question. Why has Wilson, at this particular time, decided to make Women’s Ordination (WO) a test of loyalty to the unity of the institutional Adventist Church and do it in such a visible and public way?
All kinds of answers to that question have been forthcoming. Some are just weird. For example, there are those who think that some deep conspiracy is in the works. A few members of the extreme right wing of the Adventist Church think that the Jesuits at the GC are pulling strings in the background. (May this blogger go on record to say that there are no Jesuits at the GC. Not even Cliff Goldstein.)
Others wonder if several Third World (South America or Africa) Division presidents have forced Wilson into a corner and he fears that they will revolt at the time of the next GC and not support his reelection unless he cracks down on the North American Adventist Church.
A colleague suggested yet another possibility. Could Ted Wilson really believe women today, as created by God, simply arrive from the celestial design shop unequipped for spiritual leadership that includes making decisions that affect others? Most people think of that as having “authority.” If that’s the case, does Dr. Wilson also disbelieve in Ellen White and her authority to speak out on spiritual issues? Or was Ellen White (in his opinion) simply taking verbal dictation from God, so she really did not exert her own authority?
Then there is my personal favorite. Not having his father’s acuity when it comes to sensing the political winds in the North American Adventist church, his son simply miscalculated. It did not help when a small group of very conservative people whom he trusts gave him misleading information. They and he thought that his personal appeal to the Columbia Union Conference and then the Pacific Union Conference session delegates would be enough to vote their resolutions down. The opposite happened. Wilson’s political credibility and authority evaporated.
Wilson and his supporters created a crisis where none previously existed. “Why did they do this?” Whatever the reason, they surely should know by now that if they continue to fight this battle in the open, they will lose. Or will they finally be forced to agree to some reasonable compromise?” An example of such a compromise would be to let each union conference decide on how they want to handle the WO issue.
So the questions of the day for this blog are two. The first is the one already mentioned: “Why has Wilson decided at this time to make Women’s Ordination a test of loyalty to the unity of the institutional Adventist Church and do it in such a visible and public way?” The second is: “What would be a reasonable compromise to avoid a political debacle in the Adventist Church over the WO issue?” (I have resisted the temptation to call this the WOE issue, as in “Woe to those opposing WO”)
All reasonable opinions and suggestions responding to these questions are solicited and welcomed. No Jesuit conspiracies please.