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Women in Ministry


 

RESPONSE TO THE SECC'S LETTER OF REBUTTAL FOR PASTOR DOUG BATCHELOR'S SERMON, "WOMEN IN MINISTRY, A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE."

Stephen Billiter

Dear Conference Leaders,

As we know, the controversy upon women's ordination seems to be increasing in the subsequent uproar over Pastor Batchelor's recent sermon in question. I would just prefer to go straight to the crux of the matter which is this: I do not see a single shred of Biblical, or Spirit of Prophecy evidence for the ordination of women, which is not to be confused with women in ministry. I believe that Pastor Batchelor's presentation correctly presented the overall Biblical view that clearly shows that God has designed men to be the leaders in the family and church subject to Christ.

So my position is that men are not to usurp the God-given duties for women-which does include their work as lay pastors, and women should not usurp the man's God-given positions as ordained pastors and other church leaders. Ellen White confirms the eligibility for women in important positions of ministry as these texts prove:

"All who desire an opportunity for true ministry, and who will give themselves unreservedly to God, will find in the canvassing work opportunities to speak upon many things pertaining to the future, immortal life. The experience thus gained will be of the greatest value to those who are fitting themselves for the ministry. It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors to the flock of God" {6T 322}.

I conclude from this text that this pastoral calling for women (and men) is that of lay pastor, because there is no mention in this context, nor is there in the entire writings of Ellen White, that mention any ordination for women for any position. And there is this also from the pen of inspiration:

"The Lord God has work for women as well as men to do. They can do a work in families that men cannot do, a work that reaches the inner life. They can come close to the hearts of those whom men cannot reach.Therefore their labor is needed. We must have it" {21MR 30.3}

Here is the mention of pastoral duties for women that men should respect and not try to overrule or interfere with. For example, if I am requested by a single woman to give her Bible studies or to come over to her residence to pray for her or other persons, I should immediately contact a godly woman or couple in church to perform these duties to avoid possible complications, and to be more certain that God's Word is preeminent in this endeavour.

Once again, no mention of women's ordination is made anywhere in Ellen Whites writings. Moreover, I simply cannot think of a higher aspiration to, or more noble work than that of lay pastor and Bible worker who will gather in lost sinners into the everlasting kingdom of God. In addition, I see no New Testament example or command to ordain women for leadership positions. However, I do see evidence for women in ministry, such as Phebe:

Rom 16:1, "I commend to you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea" (AKJV).

Rom 16:2 "That you receive her in the Lord, as becomes saints, and that you assist her in whatever business she has need of you: for she has been a succorer of many, and of myself also."

You erroneously state that Phebe was a deacon. The King JamesVersion does not say that along with the Majority text manuscripts in the Greek. Perhaps you see that in a liberal Bible version in which they all are well known for perverting the truth. Desmond Ford did the exact same thing when trying to discredit the Investigative Judgment. The American King James Version parallels the KJV exactly with only the "these and thous" changed along with "keepeth" to keeps and such as that. The AKJV changes no doctrine from the KJV as liberal versions often do.

Paul is not clear about just what Phebe did except that it was good. I would conclude that since God included these texts about Phebe, He could be making the point that women should be involved in the ministry in at least support positions. Priscilla and her husband Aquila are mentioned in the NT, and seem to be a ministry team of some sort, as Scripture says they both taught Apollos about Christ:

Act 18:26 "and he (Apollos) began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him to them, and expounded to him the way of God more perfectly."

Neither of these examples mentions Phebe or Priscilla as ordained church leaders set apart as per instructions of Paul, or the laying on of hands. Indeed, no NT Bible text mentions any position for deacon, pastor,elder, or bishop, as applicable for women, nor does any text speak of ordination, or the laying on of hands that refers to women. The following text obviously refers to age and not an ordained position in the church: "The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity" (
1Tim 5:2). It is clear that contrasts are made here for the"elder" and the "younger" with ‘elder" clearly is not contextual in reference to a church position of leadership.

Of course we know that in the Old Testament there is no command or example for women to be called to the Levitical priesthood; however we know that Deborah was a judge of Israel, and Miriam, Moses' sister, was a prophet as were the four daughters of Phillip, and Anna in Luke 2.

In 1st Timothy, Paul gives the qualifications for deacon and bishop:

1Tim 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop,he desires a good work.

1Tim 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

1Tim 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

1Tim 3:4 One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

1Tim 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

1Tim 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

1Tim 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave,not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

1Tim 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

No women are mentioned as eligible for these offices. The New Testament is clear that leadership positions are to filled by men only. The conference argument that "Paul does not forbid women's ordination therefore they are eligible," simply does not hold water. 2000 years ago there was not a problem with women attempting to usurp God's authority in the family and church hierarchy, so God did not need to inspire Paul and the other apostles to specifically address a non-existent problem. In addition, I believe God knew that there was more than sufficient evidence in His Word so that we see clearly His will in this manner.

Similarly, 2000 years ago there was no questions raised over what day the Sabbath is, that is why Paul and the others did not need to address a then non-existent controversy upon whether the 1st day, or the 7th day of the week is the true Sabbath. So there is well enough Bible evidence to prove the validity of Saturday as the true Sabbath without a need for Paul to conclusively say that, "Sunday is not the Sabbath, Saturday is."

In like manner, we can conclude that Paul did not need to say,"Women are not to be ordained for leadership roles." We may take other difficult, controversial Bible topics and apply the same line upon line, here a little and there a little, as we methodically and systematically let the Bible interpret itself. By designating men only for church office Paul also means, and God's intent is that women are forbidden forsuch.

With the topic of women's ordination, we must lay our foundation in the book of Genesis, in which God clearly gives us the order of family authority:

"To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you" (Gen 3:16).

If we search the Bible from cover to cover, has God somewhere changed His order of authority in the family? No. Absolutely not. Moreover, why would God establish this order in the family hierarchy, and then change it in the church family order to make women and men equal in leadership authority? A system like that would be confusing at best, and the evidence for such we are seeing now! The current SDA church policy is infact proving divisive with no end in sight. If there were clear Bible and SOP evidence for women's ordination then this writer, Pastor Batchelor and others, would have no need to stand against this perversion of truth that now exists.

We can follow the progression from
Genesis 3:16 on through the New Testament and God's hierarchal system for order for the family and church does not change one iota.

It is God's will that Adventists should be constantly seeking and learning to obey more fully His Word and not man's sometimes misguided opinions based on the world's views and practices. The argument that God is "no respecter of persons" and that men and women are equal, and therefore women must be ordained as well, also holds no water. Men and women are equal, and children too, but does that mean it's ok to let young children run the household and the church? Of course not, but some children actually do control their parents to some extent! The LORD says:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (
Isa 55:8, 9)

Clearly, if we did not have the LORD's guidance on the matter of women's ordination then we would be groping in the dark and it might seem natural to connect the women's rights movement with ordination.

I believe that yes, men and women are equal, but God has designed the man to stand in His place in the family unit, in church, as well as administrative positions, and represent Him. When a woman attempts to do this, she does not come across as convincing, nor is she able to deliver God's word with authority, and that would certainly hold truer for the majority of men listeners. Men are naturally endowed with physical characteristics that prove more beneficial for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit of Bible truth in sermons, evangelistic meetings, and church leadership positions.

So what happens when men are in attendance and are members in churches run by women? In the first place, it appears that the ministry of a woman who seeks ordination is clearly outside the will of God; and the same cannot be blessed by God with the best results. In addition, I do not believe that most men will react favourably to women who are in charge of a church. However, most women will react with acceptance to men in pastor and other leadership positions. So women as ordained ministers does not follow the revealed will of God, and serves to undermine the mission of the church in shepherding God's flock, and preaching the 3 angels messages to the world. Moreover, this current policy has already proven to be divisive in reality, diverting precious resources away from a better use, causing confusion and ineffective ministry.

So members of the Conference Executive Committee, it is not Pastor Batchelor who is showing disrespect for his fellow women ordained pastors and the Conference that supervises his pastorate, as it is in fact the SDA conference itself that has erred in this matter and created one more item on the growing list of apostasy in our beloved church. Pastor Batchelor is to be commended for his courage in standing for Biblical truth above all else, including his job considerations. He is truly an example of a godly pastor putting God first and foremost at any risk. We can be assured that men and women of his calibre will continue to enjoy the blessings of obedience in the LORD, in spite of the trials.

I find it most illuminating and instructive that within your position paper that I refer to, not a single member of the SECC Executive Committee has signed or otherwise revealed their names. How peculiar. My position, which evidently is not yours, is that whatever I speak or write, I sign my name to; with other contact information made available immediately upon request.

So in conclusion, I find it unnecessary to address every objection you list to Pastor Batchelor's sermon for the simple reason that had the 7th Day Adventist Conference been able to discern the revealed will of God and not made women's ordination a policy, then Pastor Batchelor would never had needed to preach that sermon, and I would not be writing this letter.

May the LORD guide and direct your efforts when seeking to understand His will in the future.

Sincerely in Christ,

Steve Billiter



Referenced:

secc.adventistfaith.org : The web location of the SECC letter in question.

amazingfacts.org : The Web location of Pastor Batchelor's sermon, "Women in Ministry, a Biblical perspective."

Some key Events in Seventh-day Adventist History: A Chronological List :
Advent History


1989 - California vote favours women's ordination by 284-198 at the Southeastern California Conference's sixth triennial session, and called for a special constituency session in the fall of 1990 if the General Conference did not vote on ordaining women. (GC did not vote to ordain women in the 1990 General Conference Convention).-AR June 15, 1989.