Andrews Theological Seminary Releases Statement on Headship
By Julio C. Muñoz
Ahora Disponible en Español: Acerca de Cristo Como la Única Cabeza de la Iglesia Una Declaración del Seminario Teológico Adventista del Séptimo Día
The faculty of the Seventh-day Adventist® Theological Seminary voted and released a statement on August 21, which unequivocally reaffirmed Christ as the head of the church and sought to be a unifying voice in the church regarding the current debate on leadership.
The statement, which went through a rigorous vetting process by the faculty of the Andrews University-based seminary, warned against the teaching of male headship in the church. Introducing such teachings into the church, according to the theologians, may result in “significant doctrinal aberrations.” It also cautioned against the misuse of authority.
“As the faculty of the SDA Theological Seminary we affirm that Jesus Christ is the only head of the Church and to Him we are totally submitted,” said Dr. Jiri Moskala, Dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, in an exclusive interview with NewsPoints. “We are committed to follow His leadership. He can delegate authority of leadership, but it is always a servant (and not a headship) leadership role.”
The document, in very clear language, states that only Christ can be the head of the church, “…while there exists legitimate leadership in the Church, no other human being may rightfully claim a headship role in the Church.”
Dr. Moskala stated that the Seventh-day Adventist Church, like several of the early protestant reformers, agree that Christ is the only head of the church. He cited the example of Jan Hus, the 15th Century Czech reformer, who was the first to write a theological treatise on godly headship, and it cost him his life. In 1415 Hus was burned at the stake in Germany.
“Now we need to put it on another level. No human being – either male or female, in whatever capacity, pastor, church elder, Conference, Union, Division or General Conference president, may usurp this position from Christ,” said Dr. Moskala. “It means that we need to be consistent and should not speak about male or female headship in the church.”
The process of developing this statement was thorough and included “very careful study of the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy.” The document underwent several drafts.
“It represents a consensus of the Seminary faculty who created this document as a service to the worldwide Church,” said Dr. Moskala. “It was discussed at the Theology and Christian Philosophy Department, the Seminary SDA Faith Committee, the Dean’s Council, and two faculty meetings. It was passed by overwhelming vote.”
The faculty of the seminary and its leadership hope the document will be a unifying element in the current leadership debate.
“I am excited to offer to the worldwide Church this biblical-theological study that uplifts the unique headship of Christ in the Church. It is my hope that it will significantly and positively contribute to the current debates on servant leadership,” said Dr. Moskala.
“I am grateful,” Dr. Moskala continues, “for the faculty that is dedicated to the Church and its mission, and worked diligently and prayerfully to produce this statement. I praise the Lord for their commitment to God’s cause and unselfish service, and wonderful spirit of cooperation among my faculty. I pray that this document will play and prove to be a unifying influence in the Church.”
You can read the document in its entirety HERE