So it begins.
The Annual Council 2018 decision to continue to hold constituent elements of the church accountable has, through no fault of the church, has been a massive trigger for non-compliant entities and their sponsors. In its new video, the Pacific Union openly affirms its defiance toward the world body.
On October 18, four days after the Seventh-day Adventist Church's voted decision, the Pacific Union released a video asserting its right to self-determination regarding ordination. Much of what the Pacific Union asserts about itself in the video is contra-factual (or untrue, as we say in the country).
First off, facts don't care about your feelings. Facts don't bend to your desires or mine.
The Pacific Union has not been "drawn into the discussion" (00:00:49), but by its voted non-Adventist practice they have actively created disunity. Their actions have created the discussion. "Drawn into" makes it sound as if the Union only accidentally became involved (“Yeah, we were just going down life’s merry road, and Boom, we were hogtied and forced into a Discussion Room!”).
Second, the world church never granted to the Pacific Union the authority to make a decision about whether or not to ordain women to the gospel ministry. The claim that women's ordination is "a practice that we may choose to validate as the local governing organization" (00:00:57) is not an authority which the Seventh-day Adventist Church has, at any time, granted the Union.
Third, the Pacific Union video also claims that it has the right to ordain women "Because of our Fundamental Belief #14, Unity in the Body of Christ, which includes the phrase, 'differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ..." (00:01:06).
If this were so, why hasn't the church been ordaining women to the pastoral ministry since that fundamental belief nomenclature was added in 1980? Fundamental belief #14 actually states, "In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us."
The Pacific Union and its enablers are acting in contradiction to this fundamental belief. Its unilateral decision to ordain women is dividing the church. By its voted actions, it is clear that the Pacific Union does not adhere to fundamental belief #14.
Fourth, Union president Ricardo Graham stated that the Compliance process lacked a process for accountability to the world church. But the committees are merely advisory; the General Conference Executive Committee itself determines which recommendations it acts upon.
Ironically, Graham's complaint that the compliance process concentrates power into the hands of a few and prevents accountability is exactly opposite the anticipated outcome! The different levels of church structure (conference, union, division) have been misused by administrators who are culturally captive to women's ordination theology. By means of the insulation resulting from the different levels of structure, non-compliant entities have prevented themselves from being kept accountable to the church.
Thankfully, the action voted on October 14, 2018, helps the members of the church keep rogue leaders accountable. Leaders are responsible to the world church through their duty to implement the vote of the delegates in General Conference Session. The compliance process just voted, takes away that insulation which has resulted from the failure of leaders to act at intervening levels—by enabling the church to address situations in other levels. It strengthens transparency and accountability.
Graham complains that the Compliance process "empowers and provides a platform for individuals who have any issues with the church to bring accusations against leaders of the church at any level." We are thankful that the process voted will hold leaders accountable to the members of the world church, which they so desperately seek to avoid.
Fifth, Graham desired the motion not to pass, he said, because "If this is voted, no one is safe; if they come for me today they will come for you tomorrow." But the church wants accountability for the Pacific Union and others. The church is not going to seek out extra work. Everyone has plenty to do. But the church needs to put its house in order. It will be shown that the entities that "will not be safe" are those entities which are standing in unfaithful disregard toward decisions they are duty-bound to uphold.
Sixth, Graham's quotation from The Desire of Ages page 22 is stripped from its context and its meaning misrepresented. Graham quotes:
"The exercise of force is contrary to the principle of God's government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened" (00:02:58).
In its context the statement is actually addressing how God will break Satan's deceptive power. It is outlining the reasons for the incarnation, telling why Jesus came. Ellen White is not encouraging a principle that says everyone can do what they think is right in their own eyes, and that God's government has no recourse. Indeed, at the end, when Satan attacks the holy city to murder all those who have aligned eternally with Jesus, God DOES use force and Satan is destroyed. The same inspired author writes that the General Conference has authority. Thus, Graham's use of cherry-picked Ellen G. White quotations does nothing for Pacific Union's credibility.
Seventh, the Pacific Union video claims that representatives from several sections of the church did not participate in the debate, naming India and Asia. And yet, seven delegates who spoke in favor of the document were from the SID, the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division. Two delegates from the SSD, Southern Asia-Pacific Division also spoke in favor of the document. Representatives from those parts of the world field did participate. Is Pacific Union trying to insinuate some kind of plot? There is no evidence for this. Again, facts don't care about your feelings.
Eighth, Bradford Newton, Pacific Union secretary stated "I think the best thing we all could do right now is have faith in God's guidance and protection. To live honestly, to be fully committed to our faith, to conscientiously object to those things that go against what we believe and know to be true" (00:06:49).
And who decides what we know to be true? The church, collectively guided by its world leadership through the Word of God. It is not a regional church but a world church. Those leaders include the those representing the grassroots, the delegates to the General Conference in session itself--who voted NOT to permit Divisions to set their own qualifications for ordination.
Newton continued, saying, "I love the words 'I will be true.' All of us, every member, can demonstrate that we care deeply about the integrity and the moral certainty of a church that reflects those words, I will be true, to our very highest values and beliefs." (00:07:50).
What is the very highest belief of present Pacific Union leadership? They are willing to divide the church over women's ordination. They are willing to nullify Fundamental Belief #14. The fact is that no Conference or Union or even division-level entity has the authority to determine what it believes apart from the consensus of the global body. Truth is not regional--even in California.
There are a variety of other points that we might take space to clarify or correct. But, let us conclude by simply noting that the Pacific Union's contra-factual October 2018 rebellion video is meant to tell the story the way they want it to be told. Entities including the Pacific Union are actively, presently fracking God's church.
They admit they are following their highest values and beliefs. Alas, those values and beliefs, by demonstration, are no longer the same as the values and beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a Church that has been known as “People of the Book.”