Saturday, February 11, 2017

Christians and Power – the Ancient Sin


David spares Saul though he himself had been
anointed King by Samuel.
Follow the money.

 There is an old principal that police detectives have learned when investigating crimes, especially white collar crimes, drug crimes or political crimes. If there is corruption going on, usually it's easiest to track it through money behind the corruption. Another old saw states that money is power and money truly does seem to be the most tangible form of power that there is.

There is a reason that tracing the flow of power leads you to the source of trouble. Like electricity is needed to power your radio or lights, power of the temporal sort is needed to support evil. Like electricity, temporal power can be useful, but it can also be dangerous when misused. It's also tempting.

The lust for power dates all the way back to Eden. In the Garden, the serpent first tempted Eve by offering her the power to “be like gods”.  Eve’s real sin was not that she was hungry and ate some fruit. Hers was not the sin of appetite. It was the lust for power and control over her own life and future. Rather than trusting God to care for her needs, Eve wanted the power that belonged to God. It doesn’t say why she wanted that power. That’s the great mystery, but the lust for power pretty much underpins every other sin. It is, in effect, the first sin of all.

And it’s still a problem today. Politicians will lie, manipulate and steal to achieve political power. Business people will lie, cheat, manipulate and steal to protect their fortunes. Sadly, even Christians fall victim to the lust for power. Most obviously, we see television preachers building massive monuments ostensibly to God, but no one is fooled as to whose power such edifices celebrate. Preachers live in massive homes, build theme parks and drive expensive cars. Bishops live in massive homes, fly all over the world, and collect some of the most expensive artwork in the world in jewel-encrusted cathedrals. But lest we think that our simpler, more modest churches and congregations are safe from the sin of lust for power, it takes a pass through a mere handful of stars to find congregations torn apart because one group or one person or faction decides they should be in control and should tell all the other members how they ought to worship, what they ought to wear or how they ought to behave.

The wonderful thing about being an Adventist church member is that we have no church tradition of authoritarianism. Adventists tend to believe that they are responsible, not to bishops, cardinals and priests, but to Christ alone. So what do we do when an elder or a wealthy member of your congregation begins throwing his weight around?  Is a zeal for the purity of the church even a sin? After all, those who “run the church” believe they are doing so for our own good and who are we to challenge leaders that are chosen by God?  Aren’t they given such authority by God?

Fortunately, we have plenty of examples in scripture and history to guide us. These stories demonstrate the proper way to respond to those who assume religious authority that rightly belongs only to Christ. In fact, some of the greatest leaders in scripture were individuals who did NOT want power in the first place. Moses protested that he wasn’t the man for the job, when God sent him to the Egyptians. Joseph didn’t seek power in Egypt; he just did the best he could, even when he wound up in prison. David refused to take power even though he’d been anointed King so long as the old King Saul was still alive. Time and time again, God chose reluctant leaders like Gideon to step up and take charge. These great leaders all had one thing in common – they weren’t interested in holding power. Elijah had no interest in a position of power in Ahab's kingdom. God told him to go deliver a message. Elijah knew what might happen if he did.

And yet among our congregations there are those who take upon themselves the authority of Christ, which does not belong to them. I once moved to a church in which one of these authoritarian cliques had pretty much seized political control of the church. The church became very stiff and stodgy. No pastor could make the masters of the church happy. The first time the pastor wasn’t compliant with the bosses, the Conference office got a visit and he was soon looking for another job. The church had developed a reputation as a career killer for pastors because of the political masters of the church. We were losing our children who were leaving the church as fast as they turned teenagers.

With the help of a wise Conference President and the parents of the upcoming generation of youth and the grandparents of those children, the congregation stood up to the good old boy leadership. Our pastor, who was under attack, hung on and when the problem folks got mad and boycotted the services, we replaced them on the boards and committees and by the time we got a new pastor and they returned, they no longer had power. The church they returned to was at peace, the youth were being made an active part of the services and new members were joining and old members were coming back. We even paid off the school building in just six weeks.

That church is now a plum congregation for pastors, we have a strong school and a very active younger generation who take one of the Sabbath services every week. The strife and unhappiness that once darkened the life of the church is gone. Some of the folk responsible couldn’t stand it and moved their membership elsewhere.

Those who lust for power cannot stand the pure atmosphere of selfless love, kindness and joy that comes from heaven. They are either changed by it of flee from it. An SDA congregation serves Christ, not the pastor or the head elder or the Conference President or the GC president. If we see our church congregations being bullied by individuals or groups who feel they have the right to give orders to others and to force others to comply with their edicts about how to run the church, we CAN stand up to them. Sometimes, as David demonstrated, all it takes is one person having the courage to stand for what is right, to do what is necessary, and then to step aside, lay down his sword and let God rule. Ellen White spoke about this and she had her own difficulty with people in authority. That was one of the reasons I suspect that the GC was so interested in shipping her off to Australia. She had a way of speaking truth to power, in exactly the same way the Old Testament prophets used to upset the kings and got themselves murdered for their trouble. To counter the lust for power within the church, Ellen White said this.
  • "The greatest want of the world is the want of men - men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. 

Here at the end of the world, is it not time for Adventist men to stand strong for Christ and to resist any who would seize authority that belongs to Christ alone, especially in our local churches?  The local congregation is where the rubber meets the road for our faith and it is there that we introduce Christ to the world.

© 2017 by Tom King

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Born to Be Saved

 
 
We are each born knowing everything we need to know how to do in order to obey God. His children are born in his image. As babies, we are born already knowing how to love in the most immediate and instinctive way. We are born loving ourselves. If we need something, we demand that the little person we love above all gets what he or she wants. Love for ourselves is instinctive. So when Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to treat others as we want to be treated, we already know how to do that.
 
Love is not something beyond our understanding because first we loved ourselves. We need only attempt to love that which is outside ourselves the way God intended for us to do and God gives us the spiritual strength to go with it to make selfless love possible. Despite all our other flaws that may be overlaid upon our character, love is still there. The Golden Rule activates the love we already know how to give and turns it outward. It even feels right to tear down the flimsy walls built by sin and love someone besides ourselves. We do this because we are designed to love, not just ourselves, but everyone and everything else.
 
God's plan was a brilliant plan and as it turns out, a person has to work very hard to escape the inevitable attraction of being good. It feels so right to be good. The Ebenezer Scrooge story resonates with us because we all have been something of an angry sinner at one time or another and we have or may soon discover how wonderful and how right it feels to surrender our anger and hate and to drag out the love that God buried deep inside us at the very beginning and to give it some exercise.
 
How cool is that?

© 2017 by Tom King

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Fallen Warriors: Leroy J. Leiske

Leroy J. Leiske
I've recently lost several mentors from my early Christian experience - some to retirement and some have passed away. Leroy J. Leiske was one of those mentors. When I knew him he was President of Southwestern Union College during my freshman year at the college. I'm not sure how, but he knew my name by the end of the first week of classes. He knew everybody's name and we had some 600 kids or so.

We'd seen Elder Leiske with his sleeves rolled up all over campus that summer personally planting decorative shrubs and hedges, pouring concrete and generally sprucing up the campus. So our first chapel service, he got up front and described some of the improvements they'd been making in the campus. Then he told us that he believed that one of the key missions of Adventist colleges was to help create strong new Adventist families. In order to fulfill that mission, Elder Leiske explained that he had created new places on campus that were more secluded and that if we would stop by his office he would show us a map of where those places were. This brought down the house.

Elder Leiske was the only college president I ever saw who could get a standing ovation from students just for walking out on stage at a chapel service. The students thoroughly loved him. I wasn't aware at the time that he was coming off an attempt to completely integrate the Southern Union which got him canned after just 13 months.

In his tenure at SUC as development director and president, he built the college up, more than doubled the number of students, built new facilities and put the school on a solid financial foundation. We had new students every year, many of them conspicuously black. I'm sure he ruffled some serious feathers and I heard some negative comments about him, but people learned not to talk bad about Elder Leiske in front of students.

One of my favorite stories about Elder Leiske was this one, (click link) which demonstrated the challenges faced by Uncle Leroy as some of us called him, in coping with Keene culture. Leiske's drive and determination led to some interesting situations to say the least, but the man was fearless! He moved on from Keene to another Union presidency and ran Pacific Press for several years before "retiring" to Keene. My wife and I ran a day care center there in Keene and we had his grandson with us. Elder Leiske dropped by to pick him up often and I was always glad to see him.

From Elder Leiske I learned optimism and how to have a sense of humor in crisis.
He was a lovely man and will be missed.

© 2016 by Tom King



Saturday, December 17, 2016

My First Mentor Retires

Add caption
My Dad took a flyer when I was four leaving Mom with three little ones to care for and without visible means of support. Until I was in my teens, my male role models tended to be fictional ones from books. Through a series of providences, however, I wound up newly baptized and granted a summer job at Lone Star Camp as a $10 a week trash collector, janitor and shovel operator. God had his hand in it.

The camp director that summer was a lanky theology student and outdoorsman named Sam Miller. Sam was a revelation. I'd joined the church because God argued me into a corner where I had to give Him a chance despite my own misgivings. I'd grown up in a church town where, as Sam later told me, "Adventists are like manure. Spread 'em out over a space and the do a lot of good, but pile 'em up in one place and pretty soon it begins to stink!"

The first leader God sent to educate me was Sam. Most of what I've come to know about working with young people, I learned from Sam that first couple of summers. He taught me to be a lifeguard and put me on track to become a Water Safety Instructor Trainer for the Red Cross and eventually the camp's waterfront director.

Old Sam (we called him that because he seemed so much older than the rest of us for some reason) had an easy-going way with young hormonally-charged staff members. It is a tribute to Sam that no children were either drowned or created during the summer's he herded our motley crew. He once led our whole staff in hijacking a Six Flags war canoe and altering its course. We learned to ski, built pyramids, skied on canoe paddles and raided the kitchen. We also knew where the line was with Sam and we pretty much didn't cross it - at least not any farther than we could safely draw back for the most part. 


I learned how to lead by example rather than by bullying. I learned that a soft answer does turn away wrath and I learned that a leader is a human being too. Old Sam is retiring and I'm sure he will be missed by everyone he works with.  I'm also sure that some of our "leaders" never quite understood Sam either. I put leaders in quotes because those are the kind of leaders that Sam taught me not to become like.

For more stories about Sam check out my personal weblog about him. I hate to seek a good man go, but I'm pretty sure Old Sam will still be around making a difference in the lives of young people for a long time yet.

© 2016 by Tom King

Friday, November 25, 2016

Church Unity - A Time for the Men of God to Lead the Way

John the Baptist - Troublemaker
It is a tough time to have opinions here at the end of the world. It seems that you can't believe anything without 40 or 50 people doing a Youtube video that says you're crazy or malicious or even downright evil. I looked up "Seventh Day Adventist" this morning and the ones that were against us outnumbered the ones for us by far better than 2 to 1 against.

Many of these videos were by former pastors or independent pastors attacking the church for one perceived sin or another. I've been critical of a few moves by church leaders in the past in my own blogs and comments, so I can't righteously cast the first stone.

The Psalmist (133) says, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" There are preachers among us who say this means we should all sit down and shut up and do what the church leadership tells us to do no matter what. But while Scripture praises the beauty of unity among God's people, it also bids God's servants to tell the truth for "The Truth shall set you free." Just as many of us interpret that to mean we should speak out loudly and firmly against what we believe are the sins of those who claim to be of the body of Christ.

Myself, I have come to believe that the church can have differences of opinion and still remain unified in loving service to Christ. Sadly, not everyone believe that works. There are those who believe that all must believe exactly the same things across the board or be purged from the church.

If you look at the history of the Adventist church however, you'll find that we've always had differences of opinion; sometimes strident disagreements as a matter of fact. Despite these, the church still stands. There has always been disagreement in the church over doctrine and details of Christian life - women's ordination, drums in the church, the sanctuary, righteousness by faith and the Shut Door vs. the Open Door doctrines to name a few.  We've always worked it out.

Before Christ came the first time, the children of God had descended into nitpicking and to the development of rigid interpretations of laws and customs related to everything from how far you could walk on the Sabbath to whether or not there would be life after death for anyone. There were Pharisees and Saducees duking it out in loud debates within the Sanhedrin and the synagogues.

Today we have offshoot ministries, lapsed Adventists and angry fundamentalists blasting us and sniping at each other on the Internet. We even had a prominent SDA evangelist recently banned from holding an evangelist series in a North American Conference because he was considered too polarizing to be allowed to hold an evangelistic series in that Conference.

As the signs more than ever point toward Christ's soon coming, the spirit of dissent and disunity spreads among human beings like a pestilence. More than ever before, people are divided on every possible point of belief, whether it be on politics, religion, custom, tradition and even on subjects as basic as diet and sex.

It is time for the men of God to arise and stand together; to unite and lead our families to heaven. It is time we put away the kinds of nit-picking, strivings about fine points of theology. Jesus sliced through the tangled web of human practices heaped upon the Law of God, reducing all the law and prophets to two principles. Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. "Upon these," Jesus said, "Hang all the law and the prophets."

The simplicity of the Gospel is what will bring us unity. Religious bullying and condemnation are the devils tools and must be laid down by the Children of God. We may disagree. We may engage in discussions over out differences, but they must not divide us. Angels will not stand at the gates of heaven to kick out those who guessed wrong on the Feast Days or the Sanctuary Doctrine. God will judge. We must not for by the same standard by which we judge others, we ourselves will be judged.

Me, I hope God will go easy on me, so I try to keep my judging of others to a bare minimum and focus on Christ, the power and source of our salvation.


© 2016 by Tom King

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Camping Genius: The Monkey Bridge

Ambitious Monkey Bridge (not recommended for a first time out)


If you're going to work with Pathfinders, you've got to know how to build a monkey bridge. You may think it's a useless skill, but I've built two or three of them over my career. One was over a deep gully at a treatment center for emotionally disturbed kids. It was part of our obstacle course. The kids helped me build it and keep it up. It expanded our nature trail significantly. They loved to cross the gully after a rain when there was water in the creek below.

It's a basic Pathfinder thing. Here's how to build one.  It's easier to build one over the ground than over a creek or gully. Start out with a simple practice one before you try to build one over a gap. You can string the support ropes while standing on ground. Over a creek, you have to work your way across while standing on the ropes. It's a lot trickier. For detailed instructions, the Boy Scouts

Materials:
  • 3 strands 5/8" to 3/4" rope - each the length of the span plus 1/3 to 1/2 the gap extra for tie-offs 
  • 3/8" to 1/2" support ropes
  • 2 pair of 5/8" to 3/4" anchor ropes - 15 to 20' long
  • 6 heavy 3 foot long steel spikes
  • 50 feet of 1/4" lashing cord
  • 3 pound sledge hammer or 20 pound sledge - your choice
  • 6 - 8' landscape timbers for the sheer legs. 
  • 2 - 3' squares of thick fabric
Basic Directions:
  1. Measure the distance you need to span. Twenty-four feet is a good beginner's span with kids.
    Anything much longer can be dangerous, especially if the lashings aren't secure as they are likely to be with kids. Lay out the foot rope
  2. Set up two teams. One group starts out building the sheer legs (the big wooden A's in the picture).  The other bunch should drive in the anchors. 
  3. When putting together the sheer legs, put some kind of thick fabric between the legs to protect the foot rope from friction against the sheer legs.  
  4. Drive 3 anchors about 2 feet apart and 8 feet or so from the sheer legs. Some experts drive the three in a line as shown in the drawing. Drive the stakes into the ground angled away from the sheer legs. Drive them deep. They'll have to take a lot of strain.
  5. Lash the sheer legs together as shown in the picture and raise them on both ends. To make them more secure dig holes for the legs to secure them. 
  6. Tie anchor ropes to the outside stakes and tie them between the anchors and the tops of the sheer legs. Use a clove hitch with a keeper half hitch to keep them from slipping. You can also use a round turn and two half hitches to secure topes to the sheer legs.
  7. Run the foot rope between the legs of the sheer legs over the top of the fabric between the sheer legs. Tie the ends of the foot ropes to the center stakes at either end. I've used a stick or pole as a lever, taking one turn of the handle in the foot rope between the sheer legs and the anchor. Once the foot rope is in place, you can take half turns in the rope with your stick and then lash the end of the handle to keep the foot rope tight. The foot rope will take most of the weight so it needs to be tight. The top ropes will provide extra support. 
  8. Next thing is to tie the handropes between the tops of the sheer legs so that you have two handrails that will be shoulder height above the foot rope. The bridgeway will be shaped like a  "V". Again use a clove hitch which you can pull tight and secure and then tie an overhand knot as keeper
  9. Now begin tying the support ropes between the handrails and the foot rope. I use clove hitches and lengths of rope long enough to make four passes. Start tying the ropes from one end. If you run out of rope start a new length by overlapping the first knot. I use clove hitches because they make a nice longer knot to step on. The first time you can tie the support ropes standing on the ground. For fun try doing it as though you were working over a height. It's tricky, but challenging for the kids and that's what you want.
  10. When you're done, check all the knots, make adjustments as necessary, put away your tools and let the kids try it out. 
Here's a simple X-frame version

Notes:
 
You can find details on the knots and safety recommendations by following the links below. The Scouts have some really good material on building a monkey bridge. Once you've mastered it, you can hang one anywhere.  At camp we once hung one over an inlet of the lake. If you fell, you made a big splash. How cool is that?

If you've never built one with your kids you owe it to yourself to do it.


Detailed References:
  1. Double-A-Frame-Monkey-Bridge
  2. Single X frame Monkey Bridge
  3. Monkey Bridge - Boys Life Article 
  4. Handbook of Scout Engineering (PDF download)
  5. A Survivalist's Guide to Rope Bridges

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Seeds of Change

Deborah - ordained of God
Since the big "high level" GC meeting on October 6, I've been getting a confusing flood of "updates" from the GC and the North American Division seeking to clarify what actually happened at the meeting. According to the Adventist Review, "...officers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted on Oct. 6 for a document detailing actions to be taken in response to certain entities of the world church that are not in compliance with an action voted on by more than 2,000 representatives of the 19.5 million-member denomination at its most recent General Conference Session held in San Antonio, Texas from July 2-11, 2015."

The San Antonio vote, despite many efforts to either explain or obscure what happened in San Antonio, was not a vote to end women's ordination. It was a vote about who has the power to decide whether or not to ordain women. The vote took back power from the divisions ceded to them at a 1903 general conference where power was decentralized away from the church - a move Ellen White, who attended the conference, approved. Rather than voting down women's ordination - a tricky proposition given that opinions on the subject are sharply divided among SDA theologians and previous study committees that have found no objection to ordination of women - the GC in 2015 merely got itself made "the Decider."

Ultimately the issue comes down to who ways whether we can ordain women as pastors or not. GC says, that's us. The divisions, at least some of them, beg to differ. Over here in the Washington Conference and in both West Coast divisions, sentiment has come down rather firmly on the side of women's ordination. Women have been ordained pretty widely in this and other divisions, particularly in the North American Division. Now the GC says they can't do that. Heretofore, such decisions were firmly in the hands of the division and local conferences. Now it's not.

Daniel Jackson, NAD president keeps reassuring us that nothing is wrong and that we all need to be unified and that everything is okay. Obviously everything is not okay, especially if the GC forces division and conference leaders out of office and demotes or removes women pastor's already installed. A guy I knew back in college, Randy Roberts, who pastors the LaSierra College church, recently made an impassioned pro-women's ordination speech at a meeting of concerned division leaders. His motion at that particular conference probably seemed "rebellious" to come folk. It was not. It mostly reaffirmed the shared beliefs of an apparent majority of pastors in the division.

With all of the controversy over this issue, NAD staff probably need to keep looking for less inflammatory words than "rebellion" to describe the resolve on the part of some conferences to ordain who they please. 

Two things trouble me.  First the words "high-level" to describe the October 6 GC committee that decided how to handle the non-compliant divisions. I've never found the authoritarian approach to religious organization to be good for the church. To be honest, I think the headship doctrine of strict levels of authority based upon church rank and gender are not very representative of the structure of the relationship God seeks to have with his people. It's Calvinist in its origins and unprecedented in Adventist theology prior to Samuel Bacchiochi's return from earning advanced theology degrees in Vatican schools. This is not to say old Sam turned Catholic on us, but his writings took a turn for the more restrictive in many ways. I lost more than one friend that left the church after reading Bacchiochi, looking for a path to God that was a little more arduous than the then prevalent 'righteousness by faith" path.

The second thing that troubles me is the seeming intent by some in our GC leadership to return Adventism to "the way it was".  I remember how the church once was when I was a child. It was authoritarian, legalistic and more than a bit grim and it nearly scared me away. I fortunately met Christ thanks to an HMS Richards Sr. protoge' who taught us about righteousness by faith. I met Christ as He is - a loving God whose love awakens in us love and obedience and who saves us by his Grace. That was a new version of Christ in my church. Prior to that, evangelists just hammered us about our clothes, our diet and our behavior as though somehow we could grit our teeth and that would get us through to Paradise. Combined with vivid pictures of the last days and the time of trouble, that formed the old time Adventism of the day, I had a completely wrong picture of God and kept me more out of the church than in.

In a recent speech, Ted Wilson called for members to "“... lay aside our personal opinions for the good of the body of Christ, and that we will, together, march forward to the kingdom of God." The calls for submission have become almost daily lately as the GC seeks to enforce its will on "noncompliant" Adventist believers.  I think this is a bad thing. I am not good at marching. I'm more of a wanderer. Sheep are like that. We need a shepherd, not a drill-master.

The thing that has made our church strong over the decades is a willingness to look at Scripture as our spiritual source. We also have the prophetic gift to help us form our belief system. We've got 28 fundamental beliefs and membership in the church requires we adhere to those. God only gave us ten, so I think we've probably got those covered. A difference of opinion over a relatively unimportant point of doctrine should probably not be characterized as a rebellion.

Progressive revelation has played an important role in the development of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Ellen White commented that ""There are mines of truth yet to be discovered by the earnest seeker."  She believed that capital "T" Truth was an advancing truth. We can clearly see this with respect to the issue of monogamous marriage which was tolerated in ancient times, but became a clearly accepted doctrine by Christ's time. Slavery, which was accepted as a fixture of life, even into New Testament times, is clearly not something God approves of.  In Scripture were the seeds of the end of slavery.

The Biblical roots of our Constitution, injected into that document the seeds of the end of slavery in the United States. We learn slowly, we human beings do, but God has promises in Isaiah 54:13 that he will be our teacher and our children's teacher. The reason that slavery, polygamy, stoning, the divine right of kings and other ideas became repugnant to us is because the seed of that repugnance is buried in the pages of Scripture, planted there in Eden, watered at Sinai and grown to fruition on the tree on Calvary.

Because we are a people who believe in "Thus saith the Lord" some would have it that there must always be one firm and exact way of looking at things and no other. Had our forefathers adopted that attitude, we'd all still be Catholics. The great reformers like Luther, Zwingli, Wesley and Calvin mined great truths from Scripture. Some of them they got right. Some they got wrong. Others they overlooked altogether to be discovered later by other searchers.

Our responsibility as a church is to be God's Earthly MASH unit. We are the front-line aid station for a wounded and suffering world. Our job is to take in the lost and sick and injured, not to focus on ways to exclude and marginalize others. Adventism has been able to absorb debate over issues over the years. Within the church you'll find everything from feast day keeping legalism to vegetarians waiting for the coming of the Lord to people with more liberal ideas about love and forgiveness and Grace.

The point of unity for the Christian church is, of course, Christ. Are we going to turn the focus away from Christ over whether or not to pay women pastors the same as we pay men, which is a lot of it if you really want to get right down to it?

I really liked the Norwegian church's response to the GC vote on ordination. All their male ministers turned in their ordination credentials and the conference's pastors, male and female, instantly became equal as commissioned pastors. It was a courageous act on the part of the men and it left the GC without any real leg to stand on since the GC staked the issue on ordination and not on whether women should be silent in church.

Ellen White, in responding to an earlier church crisis counseled strongly that the church's leadership should not attempt to exercise what she called "kingly power".  It would do our leaders well to remember that. In the meantime, whatever I believe I am not in rebellion against my church nor will I leave it. As Morris Venden once pointed out, you can't change the church from outside the church.

Men do have a leadership role which I believe is a God-given trait that goes with being men. That said, remember what God did when men wouldn't step up and do the job. Deborah led the Israelite armies when Barak proved too chicken to go on his own. God even used a woman to knock off the enemy general.  A couple of men turned down the prophetic gift prior to Ellen White's taking it up.  So female leadership is not unheard of in the Bible.

Perhaps we should call what the pastors of Norway did and the men like Randy Roberts who are risking their careers over the issue, not "rebellion", but "resistance".  We are a fellowship after all and not a dictatorship. Seeking change is not rebellion. No one I know wants to break up the church. The truth will set you free and, as a whole string of dictators over the centuries have learned, you cannot rule a free people. The chain of command in the Christian church is short.  There's you and then there's God. That's pretty much it for the chain.

While we might disagree with our leaders on issues of conscience, as I have in the past, that does not mean I will leave the church in any way other than feet first in a pine box. As one church deacon told one of our church's self-declared "leaders" when he tried to move a Filipino family out of "his" pew, "Brothers, nobody owns a pew in this church. They all belong to God!" My church belongs to Jesus. He lets anybody be in it that wants to be in it and lets anyone out who wants to be out. The only one we need to absolutely obey is God and even He, as perfect as He is, is pretty good about forgiving us when we mess up. Perhaps in return, we should go easy on our leaders and our leaders should go a little easier on those they are responsible for. After all, like us, they're only human.

© 2016 by Tom King