A Response to AToday's Article on the Unity Symposium

On August 4, 2017, AToday published a review of the Scripture, Church Structure and the Path to Unity symposium. Hosted by the supporting ministry Secrets Unsealed, the symposium dealt with the issue of Church unity in the face of the ongoing crisis regarding Women's Ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The AToday article can be read here

ADvindicate has obtained permission to publish Pastor Stephen Bohr's response, written on August 14, 2017, found below:

Dear Friends:

Some of our supporters have directed us to an article that appeared in Adventist Today that is critical of the recent symposium we held on “Scripture, Church Structure and the Path to Unity". The title of the article was “All-Male Lineup of Speakers at Anti-Women’s Ordination ‘Unity’ Symposium”, and complains that all the speakers and panelists were men so a word of explanation is in order. Several factors came into play when Secrets Unsealed chose the symposium speakers.

  1. Their availability on short notice.
  2. Their willingness to go on the record as fully supporting the view of the world church concerning women’s ordination. We know of several Adventists in leadership positions that support the vote of the world church but have chosen to remain ‘in the closet’ for fear of reprisals.
  3. Their unquestioned support of the decisions of the world church concerning women’s ordination. We openly admit that we purposely chose speakers who support only one side of the issue, that of the world church, much as the London Unity Conference chose only speakers who are at odds with the decisions of the world church.
  4. Their active involvement in the discussion since its inception (several were members of TOSC) and their knowledge of the denominational Constitution, bylaws, policies and decisions.

After the symposium, someone who had read the article made a post on Facebook complaining that all the speakers were ‘old white men’ and that there were no other racial groups or genders represented. When it was brought to this person’s attention that two of the speakers were Hispanic, the person responded ‘Hispanics are white.’ In the process of choosing speakers, we do not sit down and say, “We need an AfricanAmerican, a Hispanic, an Asian, a woman, a youth, a young adult, and a senior.”

We choose the speakers based on the factors previously mentioned. We did not choose speakers based on their gender, age, ethnicity, nationality or race. We chose individuals who are well versed in church policy and who have been actively involved in the discussion on women’s ordination and therefore are well versed and qualified to speak on the issues.

It is our view that we should pay attention to the content of the symposium rather than the presenters. The Bible was written entirely by men (we are not sure who wrote the books of Esther and Ruth) so would we complain that the content of the Bible should not be heeded because it was written by men?

Contrary to Adventist Today, Secrets Unsealed strongly supports the Fundamental Beliefs, lifestyle, policies and decisions of the world church. Secrets Unsealed does not publish articles such as the one by Desmond Ford where he openly questions the historical reliability of Genesis 1-11 under the pretense that this section of the book is of a different genre than the rest of Genesis (see “Genesis 1-11: A Different Genre” in Adventist Today, volume 23, no. 3).

We believe that Adventist Today is attempting to discredit the content of the symposium by referring to Secrets Unsealed as 'independent' and 'ultra-conservative'. If by ‘ultraconservative’ the journal means that Secrets Unsealed stands by and defends every doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church then we stand guilty as charged and are proud of it, and, as far as being ‘independent’ is concerned, although we have our own 501(c)3 non-profit status, we prefer to be called a supporting organization of the church rather than an independent one because we are supportive of the beliefs, constitution, policies, lifestyle and decisions of the world church. We need to say a few more things about the article.

The reader will notice that the word “unity” is placed in quotation marks when it refers to our symposium while it is not when it refers to the London Unity Conference. This is a telling point. The article claims that the London Conference was ‘concerned with how best to move forward in unity with the rest of the denomination despite a controversial vote at the San Antonio General Conference Session in 2015.’ Let us examine this statement.

First, the vote in San Antonio was not controversial at all. When there is a general election, what is a controversial vote? The word ‘controversial’ would mean that there was fraud or shenanigans. However, there were no shenanigans in San Antonio. Open and fair discussion of the issue took place on the floor followed by a transparent paper ballot vote visible to all.

Second, one wonders whether the true objective of the London Conference was a desire for unity when one of the speakers compared the president of the General Conference to Hitler and those who favor women’s ordination to the persecuted martyrs of the dark ages.

Another area where we strongly disagree with the article is where it tells the reader that Secrets Unsealed’s ‘anti-women’s ordination views wildly differ from those of the majority of Adventists in the North America, Europe, Australia and some other places.’ The fact is that North America, Europe and Australia represent less than 10% of the membership of the world church. Ten percent of the membership of the world church cannot impose its view on the other 90%.

In addition, even in North America it is not certain that the majority of Adventists ‘differ wildly’ with the view that the world church voted for in San Antonio. Perhaps it might be a good idea to poll all the Adventists in the Division (and technology makes this quite feasible) to determine if the statement is accurate.

We have no animosity toward the writers and publishers of Adventist Today. The journal has every right to express its point of view, as do we. We felt that it was necessary, however, to explain our perspective of the article. Let us pray that the Lord will bring true unity to the church based on the Scriptures and the inspired writings of the Spirit of Prophecy.

In His Service,

Pastor Stephen Bohr