Confused about ordination? Watch this video! Dr. George Knight, professor emeritus of church history at the SDA Theological Seminary, clears up the confusion. Dr. Knight is a leading Adventist historian, theologian, author, and educator. He is the best-selling Adventist author of the past 30 years and is one of the most influential voices in the denomination. Here is a brief summary of some of the fascinating facts explained by Dr. Knight in the video:
1. Ordination is not a biblical concept (it is a post-biblical Catholic concept).
2. The laying on of hands is a biblical concept, but they received their “commission from God Himself, and the ceremony of the laying on of hands added no new grace or virtual qualification.” It was simply a human recognition that God had called the person. (AA, p. 161)
3. After Bible times, the Catholic church started to associate “ordination” with the laying on of hands. But they viewed ordination very differently.
4. The Protestant view is that “ordination” is merely a symbolic outward recognition of God’s calling (commissioning) of a person.
5. The Roman Catholic view is that “ordination” confers miraculous power upon a priest to transubstantiate bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ and to remit sins.
6. A pastor’s work is only to preach God’s Word and love God’s people. (II Timothy 4:1, 5.)
7. Who decides who can be a pastor? Jesus gave spiritual gifts, including the gift of pastoring (and they are not based on gender). (Ephesians 4:8, 11-13) The Bible has examples of female prophets and preachers.
8. Only the Holy Spirit decides how to distribute the gifts of the Spirit. (I Cor. 12:4, 7, 11, 28)
9. The laying on of hands merely recognizes publicly what the Holy Spirit has already done. (EGW, AA p. 161)
10. The vote at the General Conference is not about whether women can be ministers. The GC already approved women in ministry in 1990, and the Bible has several examples of women in ministry.
11. Women suffered discrimination in the culture of the Bible times. They were treated like property. Those who argue that there were no female priests should also consider that there were no priests of other races. But Jesus created a new system where there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female – where all believers are one in Christ. (Gal. 3:28)
12. The “husband of one wife” passage was a limitation against fornication and polygamy, not an indication that only males can be ministers. Jesus and Paul were not married.
13. Ordination of women is a “problem” only if you have a Roman Catholic view of ordination as adding power. But ordination is merely a recognition what has already taken place in heaven, where God called the person. The opponents of women’s ordination are simply confused about what biblical ordination is.
14. The General Conference already approved women in ministry 25 years ago. Men and women ministers already have the laying on of hands. The only difference is that the men are called “ordained” and the women are called “commissioned.” It is merely a word game, because they do the exact same work, and the two terms mean the same thing.
15. God is the One who ordains a person to ministry. Human “ordination” does not change anything. It merely gives public recognition and a paper certificate.
16. Since ordination and commissioning are the same thing, and our male and female pastors already do the same work, there is no reason to discriminate between the terms “commissioned” and “ordained” on their certificates.
17. It is especially amazing that Adventists are having this debate, given the fact that the most influential clergy person in Adventist history was a woman.
18. The confusion and debate over “ordination” would dissolve if we get rid of a Catholic view of ordination and accept the biblical view.
Dr. Knight delivered this sermon at the Medford, Oregon Seventh-day Adventist church on June 20, 2015. You will be blessed by this enlightening message, which corroborates what we have been saying here and what Dr. William G. Johnsson (retired Adventist Review editor) has pointed out. The Dean of the SDA Theological Seminary has likewise noted: “The biblical understanding of ordination is not that the act changes those who are set aside, but only that the church is acknowledging what God has already done by equipping them through the gifts of the Spirit.” (Dr. Jiří Moskala)
Also available subtitled in Spanish.
- William G. Johnsson Speaks Out
- Facts About Commissioning & Ordination
- San Antonio Address by Jan Paulsen
- A Closer Look at Women’s Ordination
Also available on Vimeo: