The North American Division (NAD)—which spent part of October and November 2018 demonstrating their defiance towards the Compliance Document voted by the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference Executive Commmittee at its 2018 Annual Council—closed out the year by attacking the Fulcrum7 website in a newsletter.
That newsletter produced a surge of interest in Fulcrum7, resulting in a large number of new subscriptions to the site, and a wave of support from laymen and denominational employees alike, for which we are grateful.
Let’s take a close look at the accusations made by the NAD
The division issued a statement claiming that Fulcrum7 has made “a recent series of false accusations.”
“We are troubled by a recent series of false accusations made in articles published by the lay-operated website Fulcrum 7. One such inaccuracy claims that the NAD plans “to ordain 1,000 female pastors.” This is a claim that does not represent the intent of the North American Division. The division has stated in the past — and continues to move forward with — its plan to hire 1,000 women for pastoral ministry positions, which is completely in line with General Conference Policy, allowing women to be hired as church pastors.”
A word about Pseudonyms
The article to which the NAD refers was written under the nom de plume “Seymour” by a longstanding Adventist worker who preferred to remain anonymous. We have and will continue to honor “Seymour’s” request to remain anonymous.
Pseudonymously authored articles are used by all publications, including the New York Times and Washington Post. This is usually because the author would be put in jeopardy, either in terms of his employment or even his physical safely, if his real name were attached to the article. Both Spectrum and Adventist Today have made extensive use of anonymously or pseudonymously published articles, often when publishing pieces critical of the church or church-affiliated institutions, where the author would be putting his employment in jeopardy if his real name were used. (The satire website “Barely Adventist” is run by a person or persons who remain entirely anonymous, for reasons we have no idea of.)
The June 1985 Ministry Magazine uses pseudonyms in various articles.
Almost everything written by someone in the middle east or a Muslim-majority country that appears in Adventist publications such as the Review or Adventist World is published anonymously, because it is very dangerous for a Christian to write about Christian evangelism in a Muslim country. See our recent article on the Q’uran, for instance.
At Fulcrum7, we agree with other publications that there are times when anonymity is appropriate.
We understood that “Seymour’s” suggestion would be controversial—that it was time to think about how and whether we should continue to finance a Division of the General Conference (NAD) that is daily hardening in its rebellion against the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. We believed that a pseudonymously published article would be especially appropriate given the highly-charged, sensitive nature of the tithe issue. We stand by that decision. We also posted disclaimers in each of the articles (two internally and one in the comment section), explaining that our singular goal was to bring the conversation out into the open. Here’s one disclaimer:
We are allowing various viewpoints on the topic of tithing and Divisional rebellion to be discussed, in an effort to bring a previously esoteric conversation out into the open. The first two articles have generated robust discussion. While we are hosting the conversation, Fulcrum7 is not necessarily endorsing every viewpoint expressed in this series. Fulcrum7 has (of course) no interest in receiving tithe. We strongly recommend that people pay tithe.
Now to the substance of the NAD’s complaint. “Seymour” wrote that the NAD had announced plans to “ordain 1,000 female pastors,” when in fact they had announced plans only to “hire 1,000 female pastors.” This is what the NAD seizes upon as a “false accusation” but it is a distinction without a difference. Elder Dan Jackson intends that at some future time, these women will be ordained. Just ask him, and he’ll tell you. Or watch this video:
The whole point of the NAD’s rebellion against the world church is to abolish any distinctions between men and women in ministry, especially the current policy that men may be ordained and women may not be.
The world Seventh-day Adventist Church in General Conference Session has voted three times on the question of women’s ordination—in 1990 to not ordain women to the gospel ministry, in 1995 not to allow a variance to NAD to ordain women to the gospel ministry, and in 2015 to not allow any division of the world church to decide whether or not to ordain women to the gospel ministry. Sadly, NAD and Dan Jackson have been determined to find a workaround to what the world church has voted.
Elder Jackson’s first attempt was to alter the E60 policy that only ordained ministers can serve as Conference presidents. That failed, because the NAD is an administrative sub-unit (a division) of the General Conference and therefore does not have its own constituency. Within a year of Elder Jackson’s failed attempt to alter E60, the Columbia Union and the Pacific Union, which do have their own constituencies, held constituency meetings and voted, contrary to their own constitutions to ordain women to the gospel ministry.
The 2015 GC Session in San Antonio again voted against ordaining women, but the NAD has blocked all attempts to discipline the two errant unions. In our current system, discipline of an administrative sub-unit of the church is to come from the unit immediately above, meaning that discipline for the Pacific and Columbia Unions should originate with the NAD. But Elder Jackson has let it be known widely that no discipline for female ordination to the gospel ministry will be forthcoming from the NAD. He has effectively greenlit the Columbia and Pacific Unions to continue to ordain women.
Elder Jackson’s refusal to discipline the two errant unions is the reason why the General Conference has been seeking, these past three years, for ways and means to bring some discipline to bear against the Columbia, Pacific, and Dutch Unions. This three-year process has resulted in the five disciplinary committees that were voted into being at last Fall’s Annual Council. These committees have garnered much criticism, chiefly from Elder Jackson and others in the NAD. Elder Jackson will not discipline the out-of-policy unions for continuing to ordain women against church policy and three session votes, and he is aghast that anyone else should be given the opportunity to do so.
In the face of this history of defiance of world church government in the pursuit of female ordination, the idea that it is meaningfully inaccurate to write that the NAD plans to ordain 1,000 female pastors is surreal. Elder Jackson certainly intends to ordain all or most of these women, eventually.
That Elder Jackson (or the NAD Communication Department) would seize upon this supposed inaccuracy to call out and criticize Fulcrum7 places Elder Jackson in a very difficult position. If Elder Jackson says he intends that most of the 1,000 female hires will be eventually ordained, then Seymour’s article is not meaningfully inaccurate and certainly doesn’t call for a public response from the NAD. But, if Jackson says he never intends that any of these 1,000 women should be ordained, but only at most commissioned, then he has alienated his liberal base, which fervently wants to see a completely egalitarian ministry in which men and women have the exact same credentials.
Indeed, Jackson is already receiving criticism for this very reason from the far Left at Spectrum. One of Spectrum’s posters wrote:
“In choosing this response, the NAD is far more annoying in its response than the issue . . . Great job, Dan Jackson. Now we know who is really full of Hooey. The NAD is apparently not going to be moving toward the ordination of the 1,000 women it wants to attract to the ministry. . . . what was all this dog & pony show at the annual council if the NAD isn’t going to back up the Unions that allow ordination in their conferences? Forget Fulcrum7, the NAD’s odd response to what it intends to do about ordination is the real story here. Also it seems the NAD is more concerned about keeping conservative (anti-WO) tithes than pushing the WO issue which it apparently intends to pursue with all the conviction of a wet noodle.
I agree with you completely, and I think you have said what needs to be said. Fulcrum7 is correct when they editorialize/paraphrase the NAD because it seems to be true that the goal is to ordain women (which I support). The NAD will one day look back at this exchange with regret because the NAD will have proven Fulcrum7 right. NAD leadership needs to be forthright and claim the mantle of WO.
Now, can we all stop using the term FAKE NEWS? It lowers the credibility and intelligence of your/our arguments and conversation. It is a politically loaded thought-stopping term. It is the intellectual equivalent of using the word “like” in every sentence.
The Tithe Trilogy
In an effort to justify the claim that Fulcrum7 has made “a series of false accusations,” the NAD statement unfortunately has made false statements:
“Fulcrum 7 has also called on Adventist church members to withhold tithe from their local church or conference. Efforts such as these only hinder the evangelistic outreach of the church. The local church is the foundation of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination; reduced tithes hamper mission efforts in the local congregation and community.”
First, even if we had called on members to withhold tithe, this would not be a “false accusation” and hence could not be a part of a series of such accusations.
Second, we have not called on Adventist members to withhold tithes from the local church or conference. We published a three-part series on tithing in the context of the NAD’s ongoing rebellion against the world church. “Seymour’s” article was just the first in the series. We also published an article by Ed Reid that sets forth all the traditional arguments and passages as to why tithe should only be returned into the “storehouse” of the local conference. Part three of the series was an article by Floyd Sayler that explains why not even Ellen White always returned tithe to the local conference treasury. We have been careful to present all sides of the issue, to the extent possible. (There was also a 4th piece on the topic, written by Deyvy Rodriquez.)
Each of these articles were thoughtful, and relevant to the topic, though they differed with each other on various points.
Prior to these articles, we had received numerous inquiries from various people, including pastors, who did not want to finance a tithe-funded attack against the world church; they wanted to know if anyone had suggestions as to what to do about tithes and offerings in the face of NAD’s rebellion. We didn’t know, but we agreed to allow the topic to be discussed openly.
What the NAD fails to acknowledge is that its rebellion against the world church is causing enormous tension among conservative Adventists; these folks want to pay an honest, faithful tithe, but do not want to support Dan Jackson’s lawless rebellion by the NAD against the world church on the issue of female ordination. Elder Jackson’s actions, and inactions, have placed these people in a terrible dilemma.
Finally, this part of the NAD’s statement is misleading with regard to how tithe is allocated. The NAD states, “The local church is the foundation of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination; reduced tithes hamper mission efforts in the local congregation and community.” But in the Adventist system, tithe does not stay in the local church but goes straight to the conference. Any funds that the giver intends to stay in the local church must be designated to local church budget, or some other local church ministry. Funds denominated as tithe go to the conference, and the conference uses that money to pay the salary of the ministers. Payment of ministers’ salaries is usually the only way that the money benefits a local congregation.
Next, the NAD claims that its rebellion will be hermetically sealed and limited, and will not bleed over into other issues of biblical interpretation:
“Finally, claims have been made that question the dedication of the North American Division in upholding the core beliefs of the church. We remain strongly committed to the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its biblical mission to spread the three angels’ messages to the whole world. Any attempt by Fulcrum 7 and others to inform our members of anything different is misleading and dishonest.”
This evidently refers to “Seymour’s” opinion that the NAD’s rebellion will inevitably spread to other issues of biblical interpretation. We believe “Seymour” is unquestionably correct that the hermeneutical compromises necessary to sustain female ordination will inevitably bleed over into other areas. One of the problems with ignoring the male headship passages of Scripture is that if you can ignore those half dozen texts, you can ignore with equal confidence the half dozen texts that forbid same-sex sexual activity. The LGBTQ forces are already working assiduously within the church to normalize non-biblical sexuality. Time will tell who is right about this, but at Fulcrum7, we have no doubt about the outcome of any compromise with anti-biblical female headship.
Questions for brother Dan Jackson and the NAD administration:
1. Will you be supporting Unions in the NAD which ordain without regard to gender?
2. Will you exercise your Divisional obligation to discipline and bring back into harmony Unions that have ordained women in opposition to the General Conference Session votes?
3. Will you be using your influence and position to support the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, in contradiction to the decision of the world church?
4. I also point out that liberals—who incorrectly demand that individuals who question their actions use Matthew 18—failed to practice what they preach in this case. Not to complain—but to observe.
5. If you are supportive of the world church, why would you say that the duly-voted Compliance Document should be put in the paper shredder, instead of humbly submitting to the October 14 decision, and beginning the process of cleaning up your own Division?
2018 has been a very good year for us. Not only has Fulcrum7 shattered its annual page-view records, we have (according to a lot of mail that we receive) been able to encourage and inform many dear and faithful Adventist members around the world. We are grateful to God for this opportunity, and we seek His wisdom and your prayers as we look forward to an even better year in 2019!
Walk with the King, and be a blessing.
From all of us at Fulcrum7