Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Ellen White's ordination creditials

I have to admit it has been a long time since I have seen anything noteworthy on SDANET. But this post is rather stunning. SDANET has had a discussion on the ordination credentials of Ellen White, which they have posted on their at issues page here. A person inquired of the White Estate if Ellen White had been ordained. The answer was no she was not ordained though she was given the ordination credentials probably because they were the highest recognition the church could give since they did not have "prophet credentials". Of course the whole reason that most Traditional SDA's don't want women's ordination is because of the Biblical prohibition against women having authority over men. What an amazing disconnect! A prophet even a female prophet would have far more authority over men than an ordained Pastor (assuming the definition used by Adventists where a prophet is defined like an Old Testament prophet see funamental belief 18). But read for yourself William Fagal, Associate Director Ellen G. White Estate as he proves that logic is for others, not the White Estate.

Dear Brother Mutambirwa,

Thank you for contacting the Ellen G. White Estate. Mrs. White was not an
ordained minister, though she was granted the credentials of an ordained
minister, which sometimes results in confusion on this point. From 1871
onward various organizations in the church issued her ministerial
credentials (typically they were valid for two years at a time, so they
needed to be renewed). The printed form for such credentials says that
so-and-so (fill in the blank) is an ordained minister of the Seventh-day
Adventist church. I'm sure this has led some people honestly to conclude
that she was ordained. But in some cases on Mrs. White's credentials, the
word "ordained" was neatly struck out. In 1909 a "Biographical Information
Blank" that Mrs. White filled out for the General Conference asked "If
ordained, state where, when, and by whom." Her answer on this line was an
X, the same answer that appears on the question about remarriage. She had
not remarried after her husband's death, and neither had she ever been

So why was she given the credentials of an ordained minister? I can only
guess, but my guess is that the church wished to recognize her contribution
officially. It had no "prophet's credentials" (and it still doesn't), so it
gave her the highest credentials it had, recognizing that they were not a
perfect fit (hence the occasional crossing out of "ordained"). She never
functioned as an ordained minister--never baptized, officiated at communion
services or marriages, organized or disbanded churches, presided at business
meetings of the church, etc. In her prophetic role, she functioned for more
than 25 years (1844-1871) without any credentials at all.

I hope this will help to resolve the question for you. Let me know if I may
be of further service. Thank you for writing, and God bless!

William Fagal
Associate Director
Ellen G. White Estate
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600 U.S.A.

Phone: 301 680-6550
FAX: 301 680-6559

See also
Bille Burdick response to Fagal's letter here.


Editor APD said...

Does the letter (response) from the E.G. White Estate has a date? Letters or documents without not legal. It's like a paper without signature...
Thanks for clarification

Ron Corson said...

I am sure that the letter if sent by email has the date automatically archived in the header. I would not expect someone who posts the letter to include that part of the email however.

Keith E. Phillips said...

I am almost and the emphasis is on almost embarrassed writing this, but I will. And brother you have added nothing note worthy also, you are not looking to debate nor willing to dialog but hurt those who really don't know and want to sit down to study this thing out. More over the response you gave was very unprofessional. It appears if anyone disagrees with your stance on woman's ordination they can not be biblical, and they cannot interpret actions taken by the General conference or by Ellen White. The first argument made is, that those against the ordination of women are thus so because they don't want women to have authority over men, nonsense! The issue is function not chauvinistic. Logic must be a relative proponent of your theology alone? Debate Mr. Fagal respectfully, with courtesy. Who knows you might help him see something different and better yet you might make a friend in Christ.

Ron Corson said...

Keith I am guessing that English is a second language for you because your comment makes very little sense.

What you think is noteworthy is of little importance to me as I look at a larger perspective. I offered the information you can do with it as you like, there is no debate here I just gave the information as discovered on with the comment about why fundamentalist feel a women cannot function as a Pastor. The argument is based upon the fundamentalist view of Paul when he says:

(1 Tim 2:12 NIV) I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

It is however nonsense for people to continue that type of tradition just because Paul made those comments reflecting his culture at his time.

Keith E. Phillips said...

That is a argument that most liberals make. Give me the names of those who make that claim. I have never heard or seen anyone use that text to argue against woman's ordination. You make it sound as if that is the only text someone can use in Paul's writings to support an opposite view.

It was not the information you supplied, it was your closing statement about his logic that concerned me.

keith said...

Also could you explain to me what the larger perspective is? Because if your point was to show a opposite view OK but you put your little innuendos in which are really personal attacks. Also using 2 Tim. 2: 12 for your argument with out keeping it with in its context is bad hermeneutics.

Ron Corson said...

Keith wrote:
"That is a argument that most liberals make. Give me the names of those who make that claim. I have never heard or seen anyone use that text to argue against woman's ordination."

Well Keith I am sure there are a lot of things you don't know but that does not make them untrue. That also answers the larger perspective I mentioned. Information increases knowledge and Knowledge increases understanding and that is the goal of this blog and my articles.

Here is a quote from a traditionalist Adventist magazine that you can still see online.

From Adventists Affirm
A Response to Women In Ministry Chapter 15
Spiritualism and Women: Then and Now by Laurel Damsteegt

Bound up in this "simple" issue are such important considerations as the foundations of our faith. If we interpret Scripture to allow women to oversee, or to "usurp authority over the man" (1 Tim. 2:12), we are going directly contrary to Scripture. Just how important is this changing of the meaning of Scripture? Suppose we were to change the name or being of God from our Heavenly Father, which the Bible calls Him, to Mother or Light, as many in the feminist movement urge, would we not create a new idolatry? If we deem man and woman the same, as many feminists promote, do we not open the door to androgyny, great perversion, and wickedness? If we discard the biblical roles that distinguish men and women, do we not insult the Creator who crafted us differently for His glory?"

Do you need another one. Here is a site that is very popular among the Traditional SDA's
Searching the Scriptures, Samuel Koranteng-Pipim chapter one:

"(b) Biblical Prohibition of Women Elders/Pastors. Despite the active involvement of women in ministry in the apostolic church, Paul's pastoral epistles to Timothy and Titus (letters specifically written to pastors and laity) contain instruction that only men may aspire to the office of elder or pastor. "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men" (1 Tim 2:12 RSV); "a bishop [or elder] must be . . . the husband of one wife" (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:6). These passages all use the same Greek word for "man" and "husband." It is not the generic term anthropos, from which the English word "anthropology" derives and which refers to human beings, male or female, without regard to gender. [1] Rather, Paul employed the specific word aner, a term that means a male person in distinction from a woman (cf. Acts 8:12; 1 Tim 2:12), one capable of being a husband (see Matt 1:16; John 4:16; Rom 7:2; Titus 1:6). Why did Paul prohibit women from exercising the headship/leadership role of elder or pastor?"

So Keith take some time to digest the information this blog gives you click the links to the things I link to in articles and maybe even do some research on your own. Take the time to learn something before you complain about it.

Keith said...


Sorry it has been so long but I have been very busy however, I am sure you are to. I meant that no one uses that verse the way many liberals claim we use it. Meaning the order of creation has to do with function, not the God given right to dominate over a woman because I am a man. And why did Paul prohibit women from usurping authority over men? That is clear by understanding the situation in Corinth at that time. I have done much studying on the topic. Also I want to emphasis again that I don't see anyone arguing against women in ministry, I do believe women have major ministerial rolls pivotal to the success of our church. My argument is not chauvinistic as many would suggest it is, simply function. Ron do you believe that the church is an extension of the home? If it is then who is the priest of the home? The question is with the understanding that there are both the husband and wife in the home. If the husband is always the priest of the home, then would that legitimize the scriptural arguments that the man alone is called to the function of Pastor or Elder in the church also? "In their (women) effort to reach positions for which He has not fitted them, many are leaving vacant the place where they might be a blessing. In their desire for a higher sphere, many sacrificed true womanly dignity and nobility of character, and have left undone the very work that Heaven appointed them." PP 59 I do not believe that is talking about motherhood.
Well I guess we can argue about this for a long time, but I do wish that the argument will not cause people to loose their salvation, I see many setting aside their Christian dignity for hatred.



Anonymous said...

If everyone would read Ro 16 and see that lots of these names were Women in Ministry.
Read about Philips daughters.
Read about the Elect lady in 2John, whom had an assembly in here home and was probably the Pastor of it.
Also the debate about Sis. White's Ordination.
I have seen pictures of her credential of Ordination where the word ordained was not crossed out. So that would have made her at one time an Ordained Elder.
And she was the Leader of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and so to speak the founder. Would that not make her the Spiritual Leader of the SDA.
And IF a woman was truly to be silent in the Church, then why quote so much about Sis. White?

Anonymous said...

I have yet to see one shred of Biblical evidence that would override the 1990 and 1995 GC stand against ordination of women elders and pastors. This is a divisive issue that should be laid to rest. We are living in perilous times and we are called upon to hold-up the standard of righteousness in unity of the faith before the world.