The Seventh-day Adventist is one of the lesser known Protestant denominations even though it has the second largest pre-k to university parochial school system second only to the Catholics. In 2015 there was a vote at the General Conference of the denomination. The vote was to grant women pastors ordination which, according to denomination policy, is necessary to move in administrative positions in the church. Sadly, the denomination was split between conferences from Western developed nations and developing nations of South America, Asia, and Africa. The developing nations’ opposition to ordaining women pastors won in a narrow majority.
Since 2015, the denomination is still dealing with the outcome of this vote. Many conferences that were pro-ordination have changed their policies so that women can advance from pastoral to higher, administrative positions. This has angered the powers that be in the top positions because they see this as the church splintering and not following orders top-down
“Adventist Authority Wars” is an in-depth look at not only the topic of ordaining women pastors but the power struggle that is occurring amongst the various levels of administration. George Knight is a church historian and theologian. “Authority Wars” is a collection of his sermons relating to the topics I’ve described above.
What I appreciated about this book is the down-to-earth language that was used to explain what is happening and the implications of various actions. Too many theologians like to use complex language to express themselves and, frankly, I find it to be arrogant and aloof. Mr. Knight avoids this and addresses his audience as equals. He also breaks down his explanations in such a way that neither assumes too much nor is patronizing.
The outcome of the book is twofold. First, that the founders of the Seventh-day Church were worried that if too much power was held by the General Conference president (basically the administrative leader of the church) that power would corrupt the individual and lead the denomination to be more Catholic in its top-down leadership. Adventists tend to be wary of power and see all members as equals no matter your administrative position. So to see our current General Conference President acting in very papal ways is concerning. It’s also incredible that fears from the 1850s are playing out in 2017. Second, that ordination is not Biblical. It’s a structure that has been added by the church to set aside pastors that meet certain standards and thus eligible to rise in the ranks of the church administration. Ergo, ordaining women pastors isn’t a spiritual issues, it’s a political issue.
“Adventist Authority Wars” is probably not going to mean much to individuals who aren’t familiar with Seventh-day Adventists or who care much about church structure.