Editor’s note: On Aug. 22, the Adventist Review
published an online story about the release of a consensus document by the
faculty of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews
University, “The Unique Headship of Christ.” We offer the following story
about a recently published response to that earlier story.
A group of 25 Adventist
theologians and pastors has appealed to faculty of the Seventh-day Adventist
Theological Seminary at Andrews University to reconsider a recent statement on Biblical
concepts of headship.
The group — which includes a
current and a former seminary faculty member, alumni, and students, as well as professors
from other North American Adventist universities — has sent an eight-page open
appeal to the seminary, the church’s main North American training ground for
pastors, in connection with the document approved by consensus in late August.
The appeal, dated Monday, “urges the faculty to reconsider their statement and
adjust it so that it considers the full biblical counsel on this subject and be
in harmony with the vital Protestant and Adventist principle of ‘the Bible and
the Bible only.’”
“Instead of unifying church members, it seems that the
document has brought confusion in regard to the Biblical view of Christ’s
headship and its implications for leadership under Christ in the church,” the
The appeal opens by
concurring that Christ’s headship over
the church is absolute. But it also says “the arguments in the seminary
document to support His headship role are at times problematic.”
“We see the need to recognize that Scripture is clear
that Christ has delegated leadership responsibility for His church to ministers
and elders as undershepherds in His stead with His authority,” it says.
The appeal lists four
“problematic arguments” from the seminary statement, and follows each with a
The appeal makes no mention
of women’s ordination, a divisive issue among some church members that may face
a vote at the General Conference session next July.
Contradicting the seminary
statement, the appeal affirms that God established the headship of man over woman
in the Garden of Eden and says that God desires to maintain that hierarchy.
“There are clear indications in both the Bible and the
writings of Ellen White that Adam had a leadership role before the entrance of
sin, one that continued after the Fall, because both are created in the image
of God,” it says.
“This view is in harmony with the plain teaching of
the apostle Paul with regard to the equal value of men and women as heirs of
salvation (Gal. 3:26-29)."
The signatories said they
hoped seminary faculty would use their suggestions.
“We feel strongly about the reputation of the seminary
and are concerned that this statement … will not solve the current controversy
over gender and leadership roles in the church,” it says. “To the contrary, it
may hurt the seminary’s reputation, trust, and credibility among members in
North America and worldwide, and may undermine our credibility among thinking
scholars in other denominations.”
“An Open Appeal From Faculty, Alumni, Students, and Friends of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary to Faculty of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary Regarding the Recent Seminary Statement on the Unique Headship of Christ in the Church”
Adventist Review, Aug. 22, 2014: “Andrews Theologians Approve Statement on Headship”