Utrect '95: Issues, Actions, Implications

Speaker: Categories: Sep 09, 1995


[54min, 46sec / 1hr, 12min, 45sec]


The word is out that, unless you were personally in attendance at the G.C. sessions in Utrecht, you'd find it difficult to believe some of what took place. The same reports mention that the attitudes exhibited by some delegates toward representatives from the United States were almost more alarming than the actual actions voted. But those are rumors being passed about. What about an eyewitness report?

"The church threw a giant $25 million dollar party," notes our September speaker, Dr. Jim Walters, "and 50,000 Adventists showed up. The celebration was great," he continues, "and it was only overshadowed by the votes on global authority and women's ordination."

"Authority. One of the most troubling things that culminated at Utrecht is the strengthening of the hierarchical nature of the denomination. Previous discussion of whether local churches should exclusively hold the membership of congregants is sobering. So is the current administration's push for linkage in which higher levels of organization would issue credentials for lower level administrators. Most significantly, the composition of the GC Executive Committee has now moved from dominance by U. S. based administrators to dominance by African and Latin American administrators. The new power is a fact; how it will be used is unknown," according to Dr. Walters.

"Ordination. Women were denied the opportunity to join the ranks of ordained clergy, but this anti-women vote was but the tip of the hermeneutical iceberg that the church hit head-on at Utrecht," contends our September speaker. "Never has the church so showcased the rift that exists in its interpretation of Scripture: scriptural literalism was argued to defeat women's ordination and scriptural principalism was advanced in favor of ordination."

So it would seem that the sides are set, not on rational and reasoned debate, but rather on a predetermined hermeneutic.

"At its best, Adventism has never had a simple view of truth. Truth is complex, residing in God. Truth is something that we will be discovering through eternity. Today, we must be content with seeing it through a glass darkly. Adventists have historically captured this insight in the precious notion of present truth."

"The spirit of present truth was hit a broadside at Utrecht," concludes Dr. Walters in his synopsis of remarks he will share on September 9.


James Walters, Ph.D., Professor of Christian Ethics at Loma Linda University, was our featured speaker one year ago when he offered some considerations regarding Ellen G. White and plagiarism. Dr. Walters served as a pastor prior to assuming a teaching position at LLU. He has been widely published in the areas of religion, ethics, and medicine. His two newest books accepted this year for publication by the University of Illinois Press are: What Is a Person? Brain Function and Moral Status and Rationing Health Care: Ethics and Aging. Almost sounds like another Forum presentation in preparation, doesn't it!

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