Saturday, September 5, 2015

Time to Marginalize? I Don't Think So!

A recent editorial by Bill Knott, editor and executive publisher of the Adventist Review suggested that it is time to marginalize certain independent ministries and speakers and bar them from speaking in and on behalf of SDA churches. The language of the editorial accused some of those who opposed the recent decision at the San Antonio of being divisive for speaking out against the decision at San Antonio BEFORE THE MEETING EVEN TOOK PLACE! 

It seems to me that if the vote had gone the other way, they would have been preaching FOR the winning side of the vote, which the GC administration apparently approves of. As I've said in other places, the GC vote changed nothing with regard to women's role in the churches. The only thing that was decided was who it is that holds the power to make the decision as to whether or not someone gets ordained - the GC or the unions, conferences and the local churches. 

Knott cites a letter by Paul where the apostle instructed one of the churches to reject a false teacher as support for his call to marginalize. Interesting, that he doesn't talk about the very proper doctrinal authorities of the Sanhedrin who so much wanted to ban Christ from talking to the people that they murdered Jesus to silence Him. In fact, in Scripture, most of the banning of prophets and preachers from speaking comes from whoever held central authority in the church at the time.

There are several independent ministries that are apparently being targeted for the GC's or the NAD's version of shunning.  Mike Cauley, Florida Conference President called Doug Batchelor a "polarizing influence" and counseled a Florida Church to cancel an Amazing Facts Evangelist series. The GC tried to make David Gates, another indie preacher, sign a document promising to get permission from the Union for anything he does. He reportedly didn't sign.   

Hassling Indie preachers is nothing new. HMS Richards Sr., founder of the Voice of Prophecy used to get "advice" from the GC on occasion. Del Delker, who was singing for the VOP got raked over the coals by some church leading lights for singing with The Wedgwood Trio, a Christian folk group that used banjos on occasion. There's always someone out there who wants to make everyone conform to their tastes "in the name of Jesus".  I lost a dear friend who was an incredible youth evangelist, but was hounded out of the church during a bout with mental illness, so I have reason to find banning independent evangelists repugnant.

I find it interesting to count up how many prophets, apostles and faithful followers of God who, throughout the Bible have been forbidden by church authorities to enter the temple and synagogues - Amos, Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, Paul, Barnabus and more of God's messengers who spoke the Word of the Lord.  The original sin was all about power. The devil tempted Eve to take the forbidden fruit that by disobeying God, she might become like God - all powerful.

The most vocal problem children have been those who categorically reject women's ordination, but they aren't the only ones who are speaking against the status quo.
There are those who believe, like me, that the decision as to who should minister and who should preach in our pulpits be made at the local level. Then there are those who believe women should be ordained period.  Finally, there is the GC as represented by Ted Wilson and Bill Knott which seems most concerned with keeping power to make that decision centered in the GC administration and holding the status quo.

In the aftermath of the 1901, Ellen White spoke very clearly and forcefully against efforts by what she called "two or three minds in Battle Creek" to restrict who might spread the Word of God. She supported efforts to decentralize the power in the SDA church and called for SDA Christians to spread the Word by whatever means God gave to them.

There ARE ministries that do disrupt and seek to siphon off church members into independent sects with some charismatic preacher at their head. Vernon Howell III (aka David Koresh) tried to do that in my home church at Tyler, Tx. We pitched him out on his ear! So should we do with all those who attempt to tear the church apart. That doesn't mean that the powers-that-be should tell people how to act and what to preach. My home church also freed itself from that sort of oppression too. 

The Truth, Jesus says, will set you free. I choose to be a Seventh day Adventist. The devil knows that the only way I will ever leave my church is if the church throws me out the back door (and I'll probably crawl back in through a window next Sabbath if I have to). The devil knows that the surest way to break up the church is through encouraging the original sin - the lust for power. If the church is destroyed, it will likely be destroyed from the inside out. Let us pray for our leaders that they submit their own will to Christ that Satan may not use the love of authority against them.

Here at the end of time, God's messenger gave an exhortation (top of the right side column) to men to stand for the right though the heavens fall. A church whose head is a man is easily brought down by simply lopping off the head. A church whose head is Christ, is very much harder to kill. And a church, if it avoids trying to take authority that belongs to Christ will grow and be filled with active, participating sons and daughters of God. Something the menfolk should be mindful of.

(c) 2015 Tom King