General Conference Non-Obligation to TOSC

The Theology of Ordination Study Committee of the Seventh-day Adventist Church was approved on September 20, 2011 by the General Conference Administrative Committee.  Its stated purpose follows:

The objective of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee should be to carefully and prayerfully follow the terms of reference with an aim of reaching consensus on as many points as possible. [1]

TOSC members were selected on the basis of, “a broad base of perspectives” (Ibid.).  TOSC members were not selected on a membership representative basis as General Conference Session members are.  TOSC membership was not a representative committee of the church membership, but rather a collection of church scholars and thinkers representing different points of view.

The Holy Spirit makes no distinction between professor and believer.  He guides every believer into truth (John 16:13; Acts 2:38).  God’s “Word is truth” (John 17:17), so the Holy Spirit leads all believers to understand the Bible.  

“The Bible was written for the common people as well as for scholars, and is within the comprehension of all” (RH January 27, 1885).

David wrote, “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation” (Psalms 119:99).  People of all walks of life and nations can understand the truth of the Bible” (Matthew 28:19).  Truth is not constrained to geography or profession.

Truth is advanced on its own merit, not the value of the professor.  Truth is not advanced by educational degrees, strength, or wealth.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the strong man glory in his strength, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me (Jeremiah 9:23, 24a).

Teachers and pastors are unworthy of our implicit confidence.  Believers must, “prove all things” (1 Thess. 5:21).  In the end of time, the church is warned that false teachers will multiply. “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3).  “There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies” (2 Peter 2:1), who, "with a pretense of great wisdom, teach that the Scriptures have a mystical, a secret, spiritual meaning not apparent in the language employed” (Great Controversy 598).  We should be as the Bereans, who, “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Jesus and His foremost disciples, though not educated in the rabbinical schools, had a higher education.  The Jews wondered, " How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" (John 7:15), and “when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13).  Formal education, conducted properly, yields good results, but does not hold the keys to the domain of truth.  That is the Holy Spirit’s job.

The question put to the General Conference Session of 2015 regarding ordination of women was as follows:

After your prayerful study on ordination from the Bible, the writings of Ellen G. White, and the reports of the study commissions, and, after your careful consideration of what is best for the church and the fulfillment of its mission, is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? 

The question was put to the delegates without obligation or mandate, implicit or explicit, to vote the opinions of TOSC.  It asked Session delegates to determine, after prayerful study of the Bible, writings of Ellen G. White, and reports of the study commissions, whether or not to provide variance for the ordination of women.  The responsibility rested thus, with the representative believers of the worldwide church, under the guidance the Holy Spirit, as it should have been. [2]



Rich and Cathy live with their four precious children in Oklahoma, where Rich is the pastor of the Ardmore and Arbuckle View SDA churches. Besides God and family, they enjoy outdoor activities, traveling, and learning.




1.     Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research

2.     "At times, when a small group of men entrusted with the general management of the work have, in the name of the General Conference, sought to carry out unwise plans and to restrict God’s work, I have said that I could no longer regard the voice of the General Conference, represented by these few men, as the voice of God.  But this is not saying that the decisions of a General Conference composed of an assembly of duly appointed, representative men from all parts of the field should not be respected.  God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority" (Testimonies, Vol. 9, p 260).