Posts Tagged: Stephen Bohr

Multifarious Thoughts on Women’s Ordination

I’ve jotted down some thoughts based on a response to a friend this week on the women’s ordination issue and then I just went a little crazy Seth Godin style (not that I am the genius of Seth Godin just his free flowing style):

Something to remember in regards to the women’s ordination decision at San Antonio this summer is that a “yes” vote isn’t forcing anyone to go along with the ordination of women. No church, no conference, no Union, no division will HAVE TO ordain female pastors with a “yes” vote.

A “no” vote actually does force people to go against their beliefs.

I can see how folk can be convicted that women should not be ordained. How can I see this? I see it because I see in the Bible that there is no absolute “yes” nor is there an absolute “no” to the ordination of women.

In the writings of Mrs. White there is no “Thus sayeth the Lord” either for or against the ordination of women (which by the way should say something to us when she has commentary on every issue under the sun…and above the sun too :)).

For these reasons I can understand why some would come to the conclusion against women’s ordination because in the absence of these absolutes from the Bible or Mrs. White people must come to a conclusion from a multitude of variables. And it would be arrogant to assume the variables that have lead me to my position should be the same for everyone else.

Can I ask my brothers and sisters that oppose women’s ordination, with the absence of a definitive “yes” or “no” in these two authoritative places, are you able to likewise see how I could get to my conviction?

Do you my friends and colleagues that see this position different than I do believe that I can be, that I am a Biblically faithful Seventh-day Adventist even if I believe women should be ordained? If your answer is “no” then we have of course no place to work from, because you’ve chosen to place ordination at a level I have not, at a salvific level. However, if your answer is “yes, I can see how you could come to a different conclusion on WO’s than I do.”

Not that you agree but you can see how I could reach the conclusion I’ve reached, absent of definitiveness in the Bible or the writings of Mrs. White.

If you can see this, and if you do believe I can be a Biblically faithful Adventist while still believing that women should be ordained; why wouldn’t it make sense to support a decision that would allow me and people like me to serve in conjunction with my convictions and would in no way force you or people like you or your church to operate outside of your convictions?

A “yes” vote on women’s ordination is the only vote that does not force anyone to practice ordination outside of their convictions. No individual. No local church. No conference. No union. No division. A “no” vote forces individuals. Local churches. Local conferences. Unions. Divisions to function outside of their convictions.

I don’t believe a “yes” vote should be cloaked in the framework of “a vote for unity.” It makes it sound like if we don’t vote “yes” then those of us that support women’s ordination will rebel.

I believe a “yes” vote should be cloaked for those in opposition to women’s ordination in the framework of “a vote for acceptance.” Not acceptance of women’s ordination personally, but acceptance of other Biblically faithful Adventist’s having a different conviction.

I believe more individuals in support of women’s ordination should also state their opposition to the ordination or acceptance of practicing LGBT clergy within our denomination. Not because I want to oppose something that isn’t even on the table, but because this is the accusation and scare tactic being used Stephen Bohr and others to undermine the cause of women’s ordination.

Do I deny that there are some that do have this agenda? Absolutely not! But the world should know the great majority of us in favor of women’s ordination in North America do NOT have this position that Elder Bohr and others are insinuating.

I wish that those in favor of WO would stop saying that if we don’t vote “yes” on this we are going to lose our young people. For one, we’ve already lost a majority of our young people and it has nothing to do with WO. For two, a large percentage of young people I’ve talked to and asked, “would you leave the church over this issue?” have said, “no. I wouldn’t be happy, but no I wouldn’t leave the church.” The other large percentage has said, “What are you talking about? 🙂 ”

I think the millennial mind is a unique thing none-of-us should speak definitively on! It is as bad of argument as all the baby boomers that have said to me, “If we want to get the young people we need this type of music.” Here is what the millennials say to that:

Blogger Amy Peterson put it this way “I want a service that is not sensational, flashy, or particularly ‘relevant.’ I can be entertained anywhere. At church, I do not want to be entertained. I do not want to be the target of anyone’s marketing. I want to be asked to participate in the life of an ancient-future community.”

Millennial blogger Ben Irwin wrote: “When a church tells me how I should feel (‘Clap if you’re excited about Jesus!’), it smacks of inauthenticity. Sometimes I don’t feel like clapping. Sometimes I need to worship in the midst of my brokenness and confusion — not in spite of it and certainly not in denial of it.”

The scare tactic of “we will lose our young people if we don’t ordain women” is just as bad as “this will open the door for LGBT clergy.” Both are not helpful to the discussion.

I believe everyone on both sides of the discussion should watch this sermon by my friend Kessia Reyne Bennett. She lays out well her position, a good position, “that it is not a woman’s right or anyone’s right to be ordained.” ORDINATION is NOT a RIGHT

A “yes” vote is the only vote that has the potential to make the statement: “we agree to disagree now lets move forward with mission.”

I’m afraid a “no” vote at this juncture will keep this issue alive another 5 or 10 years and thus continue to be a distraction to the mission of the church, at which point the next generation will vote “yes” but we will have already lost those 5 or 10 distracted years.

I say this not because I plan to go against the church if it votes “no” but I believe there is too much momentum in support of women’s ordination at this time and many will keep it alive ’till the General Conference in 2020 or 2025.

That said if the vote is “no” I pray for God to give those of us in favor of women’s ordination holy amnesia and silent lips, ’till it is time to set the agenda for General Conference 2020 and then kindly request again the World Church’s support of our conviction.

May God shock and humble us all in San Antonio!

Okay I’m done.

Ten Most Read Blog Posts for February 2014

In this past month of February, my blog was viewed more times than any other month in it’s history and more times than the entire first year (2011) of “Outside the Pulpit.” This was due to the fact that three of the blog posts are in the top ten viewed of all posts in the 3 1/2 year history. So here are the most viewed posts on “Outside the Pulpit” for February 2014. Thank you for being a reader of this blog! I hope if it is a benefit to your life that you will share it with others.

If you missed any of the following posts I hope you will enjoy your read.

The Top Ten:

  1. “Why the Recent Rhetoric in the Church Makes Me Want to Shout About “Spiritual Formation” This post was not only the most viewed post of this month, it is the new number 1 viewed blog in “Outside the Pulpit’s” 3+ year history.
  2. Help! Adventist Ed is Dying: I was criticized by some for this article and I believe some of the criticism was fair, a point I made then about that post and I make it again here about the opinions I had in this post, “Take ‘em or leave ‘em as a parent that will soon have three kids in Adventist Ed, these are my thoughts.” They were just my thoughts.
  3. How I Hope Adventists Will Respond to the Kenneth Copeland/Pope Francis Video.
  4. Why I Get Defensive
  5. Please Count! This post to me is so important and can be a real help to folk, I hope more will read it!
  6. Please Move to The Middle
  7. A Response to Elder Stephen Bohr’s “Reflections on Deborah & Huldah”: This post was written back in October of 2013 but due to of course the nature of the ordination debate and the attention it continues to receive this blog has remained well read each month.
  8. Faster Pastor’s Episode # 7: “Is Christmas Compatible w/ Christ?” This was the most recent Faster Pastor Episode we did and also the most viewed of any of the episodes we have done. Dr. John Reeve joined us and we were blessed by his insights. David has moved off to Australia that may actually make it easier for us to do more Faster Pastor’s since he’ll be more permanent and not roaming all over the world now that he is the Senior Pastor of a church down there.
  9. Glad to Know I’m Still a Child of The King: I’m always a little saddened that my spiritual posts are not nearly as well read as my “controversial” posts. I guess that is just human nature. Though I hope we all realize, a controversy will never enhance our lives only the love of Jesus will. With that in mind I hope you’ll read this post for the first time, or 2nd time if necessary!
  10. The Superiority of Adventist Education–Please Read & Respond: This post was written back in 2011; yet at times it still pops up in the top ten list. What can I say? People are passionate about Adventist Ed, as well they should be!

Those are the top ten. Some new posts coming soon in March. Thank you again for being a great group of readers. I’d love to have you share any or all of these posts if you feel others would be interested.




A Response to Elder Stephen Bohr’s “Reflections on Deborah & Huldah”

Elder Stephen Bohr recently released through his ministry, Secrets Unsealed, an article entitle, “Reflections on Deborah & Huldah.” The purpose of Elder Bohr’s article is to refute, “the women’s ordination advocates” whom “take exceptional, out-of-the-ordinary cases and make them the norm to be followed in all situations.” In this instance he is addressing specifically the lives & ministries of Deborah & Huldah as related in scripture.

Elder Bohr loves Jesus and I know he loves the church. Many individuals have been blessed & will continue to be blessed by his ministry, and I praise the Lord for all that Elder Bohr does that helps people to fall more in love with Jesus.

While it is known from those that read my blog and know me personally that Elder Bohr and I disagree on this particular subject, I am not in this post attempting to prove that the ordination of women to the Gospel ministry is the correct position. The purpose of this post is to address specifically the errors I see in “Secrets Unsealed: Reflections on Deborah & Huldah.”

Within this article I found a number of leaps in logic and assumed deductions made by Elder Bohr which is the very thing he is criticizing those who support women’s ordination of doing.

First off on page 7 of the 3rd Quarter Secrets Unsealed publication Elder Bohr points out that the time of the Judges in which Deborah the prophetess lead the people of Israel was not the ideal organizational system. On this point Elder Bohr and I do not have argument. Elder Bohr then states that the ideal, what Mrs. White referred to as the ‘perfect organization’ is the system of leadership that was established under Moses (Exodus 18), again I agree. What seems to be Elder Bohr’s focus though of the perfect system is that Moses chose all men, men over thousands, hundreds, fifties, & tens. I would like to ask Elder Bohr is the perfection of the system in that men were chosen or the specific structure of governance that was chosen? If the system was perfect because of men, then he is right we are out of line and should not allow women to lead over men. If the system was perfect because of the structure, then guess what? We are still out of line! Because the system of governance that we have at least in my church is not of a Moses figure, but rather as the church in business meeting as the final word, and then the church board, etc.. We do not have a central Moses figure as the head. Even at the highest levels, Elder Ted Wilson does not get the final say, he as he has always stated does and will submit to the collective decision of the church. Could it be that when Mrs. White speaks of this being the perfect organizational system that she is speaking of the principle of “shared leadership” “shared burden” rather than men were chosen or even the exact structure? Would this not seem like more sound exegesis of all of Mrs. White’s writings and this specific text of scripture?

Elder Bohr continuing along the thought line of the time of the judges being an unusual point in Israel’s history (pp.8-10), which I would agree it was definitely a time of Israel in a constant back and forth limbo with God, Bohr states that Deborah’s “service” (he seems to want to completely stay away from acknowledging her as any ind of leader) was “outside the norm.” Bohr points out that Deborah was one out of 17 judges and he says, “What stands out in this list of seventeen judges is that only one of them was a woman!” He then in the next several pages sets forth in positioning arguments to show that she really wasn’t a leader but the people simply saw her as that. He seems to put forth great effort to show the actual leader was Barak, I deduce this from his statement on page 9 where he says, “all the judges from Othniel to Samuel served as military leaders, Deborah being the lone exception!” Bohr then on the last full paragraph of page 9 says, “Deborah was a perceptive woman who provided wise prophetic counsel to the military commander, Barak…Contrary to what pro-ordination advocates claim, Deborah did not summon and lead Israel to battle but rather advised Barak to do so.” Page 10, “It will be noticed that Deborah provided support for Barak’s efforts not he hers.” So in Elder Bohr’s heart I would ask who was the true leader? Deborah the one named by the Bible as judge or Barak as would be more acceptable to the idea that women can’t or should not lead men? To go with the latter would seem to be trying to force scripture to fit with an individuals ideal rather than allowing our ideals to be conformed to scripture.

As Elder Bohr moves forward in his arguments he moves into a position that I am not personally comfortable with, and that is that the authority of the prophet is submissive to the position of leadership, “Thus the prophets inspired the leaders but did not usurp their legitimate authority. This is the role of a prophet.” (p. 11) Bohr asserts correctly that even Ellen White submitted to the authority of the church, i.e. the male authority of the church. He states that this proves that prophets do not have authority over leadership, thus Ellen White a woman did not have authority over any man, thus she nor any other female prophet is an example that one can use in supporting the authority over men. I believe all this proves is that Ellen White was a better person than the rest of us 🙂 She was humble and willing to submit, not because they were men, but because that is what God called her to do in those instances. Bohr states that a prophet does not usurp or have authority of and over an “elder, a pastor, or a Conference, Union, or General Conference president.” I would strongly disagree with this position as I would hope most Seventh-day Adventist ministers would, male & female! Every prophet in the Bible from Deborah to Isaiah to Huldah & John the Revelator, I submit to each of them as they were inspired individuals that are part of Holy Writ. In like manner I submit to the testimonies of Ellen White as she also was an inspired individual. If Mrs. White were alive today and she was sitting in my congregation and got up to speak against me, would I because of my position as an ordained minister of the Gospel have the right to dismiss her? Would it be acceptable of me to ask her to be quiet because I have a higher position of authority over her? I say absolutely not, because I DO NOT have authority over her. In fact if I were to say, “get out of my church and go to Australia” if she did this, it would not be a sign of her affirming my authority or my male headship, it would simply be her following the example of Jesus. Jesus whom in like manner if I were to say, “get out of my life” would also submit to my wishes. NOT because I have authority over Him, but because He honors the wishes even the wrong wishes of His people. A prophet who stands in the highest authority within the church is the first representative of Christ and thus performs and acts in like manner of Jesus. I believe this thread of thought that Elder Bohr carries throughout his article is a dangerous premise to stand upon and it is not helpful in a church that is already undermining & or strongly questioning the authority of prophetic truth!

Elder Bohr in his continued refuting of Deborah throws in the statement, “Notably, God called two males to be His prophets before Ellen White, and neither of them accepted the call so God chose the weakest of the weak as His prophet. He chose the most unlikely of candidates–a poor, sickly, young, unstudied woman!” It seems here that Bohr is implying that God would prefer to not even have women as prophets, but almost He is forced to, to make a point, or because men said “no” again a premise I am uncomfortable with. But let us just say this premise is true; whom, whether Stephen Bohr or myself or any other individual could say that God is not once again calling women to step-up in the place of men to a position (for the sake of argument pastoral ministry) that God originally set aside for men whom have dropped the ball or refused the call? Isn’t this what Elder Bohr is arguing that God called Deborah to Judge, even Ellen White to be a prophet because men were not fulfilling their role? So would Elder Bohr based on his own argument be comfortable in saying that God would never at this point in history call a woman to step into a role that Elder Bohr originally sees as set aside for men? I would not be comfortable with such an assertion unless I had had a direct revelation from God. Elder Bohr states and I agree that simply because a woman served as a judge and prophetess it automatically concludes that a woman can be a “priest”/pastor. Elder Bohr you and I agree on that and I think it is a leap in logic to make this the sole premise of women’s ordination, however, the absence of a woman in the priesthood does not eliminate God using women later in history as pastors & elders. And I think that is the point that you actually prove yourself in the fact that you acknowledge though timidly and it seems regrettably that Deborah was a judge, but the only female out of seventeen. Thus though it was the exception she was still a woman God called to judge, I would say “lead” Israel. It had never happened before, yet God allowed it.

Elder Bohr’s argues against this however, “The Bible allows for gender inclusiveness when it comes to prophets, but it does not allow for this in the case of elders or pastors. In fact, there is not a single instance in Scripture of a woman prophet who was one of the twelve founders of Israel, a member of the council of the seventy, a Levite, a priest, a king, an apostle, a deacon, an elder, a bishop, a pastor, or a husband of one wife!” I could have just smiled at this entire statement accepted that we see the meaning of this differently and moved on until Elder Bohr threw in that last statement, “or a husband of one wife!” If we were to apply this literally then that would mean that any man that has never been married could not be a minister. That is not a position I know of anyone holding. This cannot be applied literally as one of the qualifications for a pastor, elder, deacon unless we are going to truly apply it across the board!

Later Elder Bohr asks the question, “Is the role of a ‘prophet’ interchangeable with that of an elder or bishop/pastor? Were prophets called by God to be leaders in Israel? I would simply say “yes” to this question which seems almost foolish. Let’s mention a few that we believe had inspired prophetic gift and were also leaders: Moses, David, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, John the Revelator to name a few.

As you can see there is much I find in error and contradiction in this article by Elder Bohr, maybe some of my very countering points are untenable and others may point that out to me. I am open to learn.

In conclusion I want to say this, I am absolutely okay with Elder Bohr having a different position on this issue than I do. I do not think that undermines or devalues his ministry. One of the great things about a being a Seventh-day Adventist is that there is a very large umbrella under which hopefully we all operate. We have yes fundamental teachings which should be held onto with a tight grip, but in areas in which there is no clear “thus saith the Lord” I am glad we are able to have cordial discussion & even disagreement. I would simply pray that no matter our position we would all agree to not be disagreeable in the midst of our disagreements.

In 2015 hopefully much of this will be decided and the money & time many of us are spending…maybe even wasting on this debate will be put to the greater mission of telling people about Jesus’ love, Jesus’ truths that reveal His true character, & Jesus’ soon coming!



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