Adventist Authority Wars, Ordination, and the Roman Catholic Temptation by George Knight
L chose a denomination-specific book for her pick in December in my friends’ book club. For those of you not in the know, I am a Seventh-day Adventist, which is a Protestant faith based in the Millerite movement of the 1830s and 40s. We are categorized as Evangelical rather than Fundamentalist, though we as an organization officially maintain a steady political neutrality (though there are certainly plenty within my local congregation who drink deeply of the Trumpian well, to my immense disappointment). George Knight is an academic and historian, who deals in church history, particularly with founders’ histories and church organizational history. This has become vital, because the church has faced several periods of hierarchical struggle, especially with regards to biblical and organizational authority. Those in authority have often conflated the two, though church founding was emphatic in establishing local churches’ authority, especially in leadership among the ordinary members. In 2015, the world church organization held a vote on whether or not to let regional divisions decide on whether or not to ordain female ministers. If that sounds confusing, you’re in good company. What has emerged is a struggle to understand how we derive authority and how we follow the Bible’s model for authority. And this is where Knight’s book takes place.
Knight’s book is a compilation of several essays, sermons, or academic lectures in the last several years regarding ordination of pastors and church authority models. It’s an infuriating and fascinating read, and it has shown me how corrupt church organizations can be, especially when in pursuit of power. I have not lost faith in my faith, though I certainly do not have confidence in the administrators who are working aggressively to keep women and dissenters in positions of subordination. I am hoping and praying for better and more equal times in my church. I will certainly be sharing this book far and wide with people who are open to supporting female clergy or have questions about it.