My father was a welder.
He warned us kids never to look at the bright light of the welding torch. You might get a "flash," a painful burn of the cornea. The same condition comes when too much light reflects off the snow into one's eye. The light can be natural or artificial. Normally, vision can recover. I would like to think that Adventists adamant to promote women's ordination can still return to seeing as most Adventists see.
I am not so sure.
In the run-up to the 2015 San Antonio GC Session, which ultimately decided not to permit Divisions or by extension their component units to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, one European church leader said he would "die for" his belief in WO. That earns an "A" for zeal. But Paul gave top zealotry marks to Jews who rejected Christ, too.
There are two kinds of Adventist: those for whom Scripture truly is baseline, and those who are church members for some other reason or combination of reasons. I don't want to put things so starkly but there it is.
Those who take the Bible seriously see it, down to their toes, not as the word of men, but as "The word of God" (1 Thessalonians 2:13). God reached down from infinity, and revealed His truth to us tiny little humans. He made us in His image that we might tune into His moral channel. Then He equipped us to understand and cleave to His moral channel. The Bible is given so that we might become more like Jesus. He is the grand attraction. Embracing His truth is part of knowing Him.
The other sort of Adventist may be equally sincere. But, for him, the Bible is one voice among others. The Bible may, at various points, have the voice of God in it, it may be a communication with the divine, but not necessarily; the human component looms larger. This is more like our interacting with the God of Deism who made the world then left us to run the place.
If God is still interested and involved, His will must be supreme. If God has "left" this building then we do rather stand in need of having dictators and dictated-to’s. Then the academic and the administrator become interpreters-in-chief, our filters for truth, and he would be derelict not to employ his position to make the ethical corrections that God left behind for elites to address.
The Bible has a very different place under these two regimes. For the one group the Bible is supreme because it is the supreme revelation. For the other, the Bible is--"important"--because it is perceived by the simple as being supreme. The chasm between important and supreme is infinite.
If the Bible is "important," there will be good feelings about it, good stories, and experiences about Scripture. But there will still be a place for human legislation, that is, the human defining of truth. Then God seeks intellectual human mediators. Then He even intends for social justice workers to correct gaps in understanding even in good folk like Moses and Paul whose very thoughts are likely tainted with male bias.
The idea of humans correcting ethical loose ends opens the way for surprise ideologies. For example, extreme egalitarianism (or equalitarianism):
One of the most influential political groups of the French Revolution was the Jacobin Club so called because its sessions were held in a former convent of the Dominicans, who were known in Paris as Jacobins. They became identified with extreme equalitarianism and violence and their ideals soon spread rapidly across the world. Jacobin thinking also had an important influence for international history due its influence on the rise of Socialism. The first founders of a popular socialist movement in France came from the Jacobin thought and Marx and Engels abandoned bourgeois democracy for the socialism, their thinking profoundly shaped by Jacobin influence. Jacobinism was first given democratic form in the French revolution and was subsequently extended and reshaped by Marx and the various socialist movements of the nineteenth century (Ben Aston, "Why is the French Revolution regarded as such an important event in modern international history?").
At the core of the French Revolution was a leveling, the obliteration of primary societal benchmarks. Extreme equalitarianism tears down every distinction. Not only false distinctions, but divinely ordained ones. Ellen White warns:
The fatal error which wrought such woe for the inhabitants of France was the ignoring of this one great truth: that true freedom lies within the proscriptions of the law of God (The Great Controversy, p. 285).
At the core of Jacobin thinking (AKA, socialistic and Marxian thought) is class consciousness. People are led to view themselves as elements of collectivities: proletariat versus bourgeois, men versus women, this color versus that. In these pairs, one collectivity is labeled "good" and the other "bad." Now you have class struggle, the whole purpose being to create the narrative of oppressor and oppressed. The current incarnation of class struggle is straight versus gay.
These are branches from the tree of marxist thought. Add the idea that the very structure of reality is a human construction, and truth becomes only another construction. Since the very concept of truth insists that distinctions are integral to reality, truth itself comes to be considered an instrument of oppression. Now, instead of "facts" you just have "hate-facts"; everything is humanly constructed, hence relative. And at last you are enmeshed in what Lauren Southern so colorfully (and accurately) labelled "this fetishistic, suffocating, religion of equality" (Lauren Southern, "Return of the Traditional Woman," Cal Poly, 2017).
An article in October 6, 2017 New York Times reports that American High Schools are discontinuing the practice of naming their top student, in favor either of naming multiple valadictorians or none at all (Tawnell D. Hobbs, "Farewell, Valedictorian: High Schools Drop Tradition of Naming Top Student," NY Times, Oct. 6, 2017,
Meanwhile students in the UK, Canada, and Australia taking university exams who ask to be labeled "disabled," are given additional time to finish not given to "non-disabled" students.
In Revolutionary France they also made reasonable determinations:
"Cease to tremble before the powerless thunders of a God whom your fears have created. Henceforth acknowledge no divinity but reason" (The Great Controversy, p. 276).
There can be a desire to transform the world, while at the same time failure to grasp that oneself is already infected with a secular ideology that, like a prism, bends all light passing through it.
They cannot see that they cannot see.
The same plan at work in today's great discard of male and female difference. No wonder then Aston cites E. Hobsbawm, Age of Revolution, p. 94:
"The French Revolution ‘was a phenomenon as awful and irreversible as the first nuclear explosion, and all history has been permanently changed by it.’"
What if the ripping down of all distinction seen in the French Revolution is a trial run for the last upheaval of human history? What if the endgame is that this central feature of the atheism of the French Revolution (extreme equalitarianism) is to be played out at the global scale? If the very moorings of society are swept aside, and civilizational reset ensues after everyone discovers that their pet equalitarian dogma doesn't work, what then? What entity will remain ready to offer "moral" differentiation all over again? The papacy (which never changes) will fill the vacuum and reassert distinction.
Then comes Sunday.
Whatever is built upon the authority of man will be overthrown; but that which is founded upon the rock of God's immutable word shall stand forever (The Great Controversy, p. 288).
God's truth will ultimately prevail. But I wonder how those can be cured who have embraced extreme equalitarianism, and who cannot read the Bible but through that revolutionary prism? They must make women's ordination a matter of conscience, because under their view that dogma is supreme, not Scripture; Scripture is only important. And, so long as these ministers are retained they will relentlessly work influencing the Church to embrace what they think moral reality to be.
If the blind lead the blind, next, the ditch. The grand vision for global mission will grind to a halt in this Church just as it has in every other religious body drinking from the same cup. It is much safer for the Church to address by substantial action this queer infatuation, by changing officers in rebel Unions, and letting God move His Church forward. How long shall we halt between two opinions?
Much safer indeed.
Larry is a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in the Pacific Northwest.