On October 15, 2013, the delegates for the “Annual Council” of the Seventh-day Adventist Church “approved the next step in a five-year process to better articulate the church’s core beliefs, using clearer—and frequently more inclusive—language.”
Adventist theologians led delegates through a reading of an edited draft of all 28 Fundamental Beliefs prepared by the church’s Fundamental Beliefs Review Committee. The group was appointed in 2011 to follow up on a decision during the 2010 General Conference Session to strengthen the church’s interpretation of origins.
It came as no surprise, then, that Fundamental Belief Number 6 received the most red ink. One proposed edit to the church’s belief on Creation replaces “In six days, the Lord made” with “In a recent, six-day creation, the Lord made.” Another suggested change specifies that creation took place within the span of “six literal days.”
The word “literal” closes what some Adventists have claimed is an interpretive loophole that hypothetically allows theistic evolution to explain the Genesis origins account.
The edited draft also replaces the document’s citation of the first verse of Genesis, which states “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth” with a passage from Exodus 20, which says God created “the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them…”
The change allows for differing understandings of whether the creation of the “cosmos,” or universe, was coincident with the six-day creation of life on earth. Some creationist Adventist theologians believe Genesis 1:1 may refer to creation in a broader sense (see Job 38:7), whereas Exodus 20:11, the draft states, “seems to restrict the creative act to what took place during the six days of creation.”
“The suggested version doesn’t bring anything new to the belief. It just states with a firmer voice, or a more clear voice, what we have always believed,” said Artur Stele, an Adventist world church vice president and co-chair of the Fundamental Beliefs Review Committee.
Such clarification of FB#6, regarding the truly literal nature of the “creation week” described in Genesis, has long been needed as many have used what some claim is the more “ambiguous language” of FB#6 to excuse their promotion of Darwinian ideas within the classrooms of our own schools and even from our own pulpits. It is therefore encouraging that the Annual Council also recognizes this problem and is taking steps to clarify, even further, the Seventh-day Adventist position on origins.