2013 Annual Council Votes to Change Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6

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.

Read More…

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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.

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23 thoughts on “2013 Annual Council Votes to Change Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6

  1. What exactly does “more inclusive” mean? The Northern California Conference uses this term in their literature, without explaining what it really means.




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    • Holly, one of the most basic errors of modern Adventism is a reversal of the method and order we must follow to determine what is truth.

      The church today works from the false idea that we must first seek to find unity, and then seek to know what is truth.

      In fact, the opposite is the proper procedure for creating a church and maintaining true doctrine.

      Truth is always the first goal, and unity will follow as those who seek truth will bind themselves together in a common faith to advocate and support it. Truth creates unity.

      Those who oppose it will necessarily abandon the fellowship and start one of their own. When we opt for Pluralism as the church has done, then unity transcends any given truth since no clear truth can be discerned on any given subject.

      Rome has one given non-negotiable doctrine. It is simply the infallibility of the church. In which case, the church is always right, no matter what. And anyone can attack any given church doctrine on any given level, all except this one final doctrine of infallibility for the church. This creates a closed unity that can never be broken, unless and until the primary confession of faith is challenged and over thrown.

      Adventism today is less than half a step from being a perfect reflection of Rome on this false principle, and in fact, is the main reason many, if not most, lay people never really get involved in sensitive issues concerning doctrinal differences. Always concluding “God will somehow ‘make’ our leaders follow His leading eventually.

      Such a conclusion is totally bogus for obvious reasons. If God can “force” anyone or any leader to do His will, why did He not “force” Lucifer to do it in heaven?

      We see the Great Controversy is about individual moral accountability by every created being in the Universe. If and when this principle is abandon or lost, all is lost in the Great Controversy. Apparently many don’t see it or know it, but we can be sure that Satan does.

      Let’s abandon all this talk about unity, and get down to business examining the teachings of the bible with the final goal being, we know unity will come with pure and sound doctrine. At least with those who cling to this clear bible principle of doctrine before unity.




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    • It’s more like men and women agreeing on how they collectively interpret the Bible, as an organization, and what the Bible is saying about what they collectively believe God has revealed through revelation and the weight of empirical evidence… as they are currently able to understand it and agree amongst themselves (i.e., “present truth”).

      So, if you don’t like the position of an organization, no problem – go and form your own organization of like minds. Or, just do your own thing all by yourself. It’s a free country after all (so far)…




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      • ” So, if you don’t like the position of an organization, no problem – go and form your own organization of like minds. Or, just do your own thing all by yourself. It’s a free country after all (so far)…”

        This statement is true in principle, but must be understood in a more comprehensive application.

        Every “reformer” began by pointing out the errors of the present church, with the hopes of correcting error and a return to basic and fundamental truth. All the prophets did this.

        Jesus, Himself, followed this format until they murdered Him, as was done before His time and was repeated again and again after His resurrection and the final formation of the “new church”.

        Some today want to return to basic fundamental bible Adventism, while others desire to change the basic doctrine, teaching, and life style. This second group represents the liberal agenda and have the major influence and control even though many, if not most members have little awareness, or even care that this is true. And this is why the liberal element has so much power and influence.

        It has taken about 4 decades to get where we are today. The final point being, no one knows for sure if it is possible for the church to return to its mission and message. So many who are informed, simply work and wait and watch to see how the whole issue works out.

        So, who is going to “leave”? As long as the liberals hold control, they certainly won’t leave. And conservatives are not sure there is no hope for a real reformation and return to historic truth, so, they don’t generally leave either.

        Some on both sides, do. At some point, it will be obvious as to what decision a person must make, or will make. Until then, the situation will simply degenerate more and more until the situation becomes such an impossibility, that some out ward manifestation will force the final issue and outcome.

        Like the war in heaven, or, when Jesus came and created such a situation, or, the Protestant Reformation It does seem more than certain that a physical and obvious split will be the outcome, but exactly how this will happen is not so easily discerned.




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  2. It is time to connect the dots and see who is leading the opposition. Fritz Guy and Larry Geraty lead out in 1980 fundemental belief restatement that supposedly leaves door open for theistic evolution as a SDA belief. They each become president at LSU, Fritz Guy (1990-91) and Larry Geraty (1993-2007) and some how LSU evolves into teaching theistic evolution as well as straight up evolution rather than a literal 6 day creation. Fritz Guy writes books, Understanding Genesis… and another, Christianity and Homosexuality…. Fritz Guy is nominating committee Chairman two sessions in a row in the Southeastern California Conference [edit]. If you google each of them and look at the Wikipedia profile you will see all the honors received within the Adventist Church. We need to wake up! Thankfully, this revision maybe the first step in turning this infiltration from the opposition around.




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  3. Just a reminder: If we add to the word, God will add to our plaques and if we take from the word, God will take our names from the Lamb’s book of life.

    The Master will hold those in leadership responsible if they lead the flock astray, so please ensure that the people of God are being led aright.
    Jesus said His word is truth…(John 17:17)




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  4. While it is true there are many who freely admit they do not hold to scripture as a final authority, even within the Christian community, there are far more who claim to hold scripture as the final authority who do not by the way they explain the how and way of it. And this is what we must examine with a critical eye by way of scripture itself.

    Rome appeals to scripture to claim the scripture has abandon its own authority to the church. A pretty trickey way to claim you believe scripture while undermining its authority. So, “What ever is bound on earth is bound in heaven” means God has abandon His authority to the church and must necessarily abide by whatever the church decides.

    The ongoing discussion on creation vs. evolution has various elements of affirmation of scripture, while also finding other focal points of authority on various levels as well. And this pretty well fits all the different discussions in the SDA church today.

    As an example, Is Jesus subject to the scripture, or, are the scriptures subject to Christ? This is not a “catch 22” but has a clear and definitive answer. And the answer is, “Jesus is subject to scripture.”

    He always affirmed His ministry by way of “Moses and the prophets.” The reason should be somewhat obvious. How could we know if “Jesus” was the Messiah unless we tested Him by way of Moses and the prophets? Our final authority is always scripture, and any “new” exhortation must necessarily be tested by Moses and the prophets.

    One special tactic of Satan is to claim the bible is not sufficiently clear on many issues, and if this is true, we have no “final” authority, but a non-discernable standard that could and may mean many things because the revelation is obscure. This is the tactic he is useing in the SDA church today. Not just the creation discussion, but in almost every issue of division and contention.

    So some will claim you can build a defense from the bible on many devisive issues. This is false. It simply means someone is useing the bible in a non-biblical format and context to support a false position. And only those who hold a false position will claim it is possible to defend various ideas and concepts. It suits their agenda to introduce false doctrine. It creates total confusion and devisiveness just as the devil wants it.

    But we must discern the whole point of all the division and ambiguity is laying the ground work for an abandonment of the bible Sabbath with the argument that a defense of the Sabbath is not so clearly discernable in scripture, and more than one conclusion can be correct as it is impossible to know for sure one way or the other.

    In which case, like the argument of Catholicism, the Holy Spirit will lead the church into a correct understanding over and above the scriptures. Now if you don’t see this in all the bickering and discussions and divisions in Adventism, you are not seeing the picture clearly, nor will you be able to defend your own faith in scriptural authority and affirm it.

    Our final confession is this. The bible is a clear and definitive revelation of truth that is beyond obscurity so we can define and know exactly what it teaches and means.

    The liberal agenda will never accept this testimony as it exposes all their false doctrines and pretensions and unites all true believers in a concise and definitive faith that will bind us together in the word of God.

    Keep the faith.




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  5. Sean Pitman: So, if you don’t like the position of an organization, no problem – go and form your own organization of like minds.

    Since you and other like-minded Educate Truthers clearly disapprove of the church’s current fundamental belief #6, why haven’t you formed your own organization of like minds?




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    • We are in full agreement with the position of the organized church on a literal creation week. Beyond this, the church is currently taking steps to clarify the language of FB#6 to reflect the church’s position on this topic – as you can see from the article.




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      • @Sean Pitman:
        Sean, if you are right and if ‘we are ALL in full agreement with the organized church’, why then is evolutionary science both taught and practiced at SDA universities, while there is no or shall I say, little, and, in most cases, no evidence that creation science is taught at Adventist institutions of higher learning? A previous post aluded to the fact that Adventism have income streams other than tithe. Could it be that the ‘income streams other than tithe’are providing a steady income stream and therefore Adventist Institutions are committed to teach and practice the theory of evolution? Clearly, these teachings are in opposition to FB#6. Those who are responsible for practicing and teaching the theory of evolution and ignoring creation science, are in clear breach of FB #6, right? Can we expect a major exodus now that FB #6 have been clarified?




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        • @newbie: The most recent poll of science professors in Adventist institutions of higher learning indicates that about 2/3 affirm the creation of life on earth in 6 days and in the recent past. It is true that some subscribe to evolution (especially at LSU), but to say that there is “no evidence that creation science is taught at Adventist institutions” is false.




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  6. I agree with the church’s position on FB#6 but I am very concerned about the efforts to change it. Especially because, the effort is clearly designed as a test of fellowship in the church. Frankly I think the wording could create more problems than it solves.

    Here is the proposed new wording:

    In a recent six-day creation the Lord made “the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them” and rested on the seventh day. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of His creative work performed and completed during six literal days that together with the Sabbath constituted a week as we experience it today.

    This wording quotes Ex 20:11 and makes an explicit assumption that the words “For in six days the Lord made” are literal. However most SDAs including Sean and others here DO NOT BELIEVE the next words are literal: “the heavens and the earth”. While some could argue what “the heavens” refer to, there is no question that the “earth” is our planet. Young earth creationists (YEC’s) certainly accept the wording to be literal (the earth itself being created about 6000 years ago) but young life creationists (YLC’s) absolutely reject it (the earth was here previously but life on the earth was created about 6000 years ago).

    Clearly there is a dilemma: if some of these words from Ex 20:11 are literal and we require acceptance of them to be literal then all of the words must be literal and we must require all to accept them as literal. In other words there is no room for a gap theory and those who sympathize with it (the overwhelming majority of SDAs) including this website would all become heretics. Church employees who insist, the earth itself was created more than 6000 or so years ago would be undermining a fundamental SDA belief and would need to be fired. Especially if the new wording of FB#6 is going to serve its intended purpose to expunge heretics.

    I’m concerned that those who advocate for change, and these are primarily YLC’s have set a trap for themselves that would, with no small amount of irony, put them outside of the church.




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    • I don’t think this is much of a concern. For one thing, many of those who proposed this type of new language for FB#6 are YLCs. For another thing, even though I favor the YLC position, I do not “absolutely reject” the possibility that the materials of the Earth were also created during this week. I do not favor this possibility, given the reading of the texts available, but I do not reject this possibility either. And, I do not consider either possibility out of line with the proposed changes to the wording of FB#6 which leaves this question open.




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    • @Jared: Actually, the word earth can also be translated land, and I’m doubtful that the author and first readers ever had the concept of a planet in mind. The creation of the heavens, earth, sea, and that is in them refers to the expanse of day 2, the land and sea of day three, and the plants and animals that filled these realms. However, Gen 1:2 does seem to speak of a sterile, chaotic earth that existed prior to creation week. If that is the case, Ex 20:11 refers to the creation of what we today would term the earth’s biosphere.




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      • @Bob Helm:

        You wrote: “Actually, the word earth can also be translated land.”

        You’re making my point: if we are going to be literal in interpreting words, we need to be consistent. The Hebrew word for “days” (yowm) can have multiple meanings, as can the Hebrew word for “earth” (‘erets). It’s easy to look up the various ways in which these two terms have been translated differently throughout scripture. In essence, you are defending a literal reading of one phrase (“in six days the Lord made”) and choosing a more figurative meaning of another phrase (“the heavens and the earth”).

        Again, the bigger problem is that the proposed change to the wording of FB#6 could be interpreted by many as supporting a narrow view of how long it took for the Lord to make “the heavens and the earth,” and used forcefully to punish those who advocate young life creationism (the earth made many thousands or millions of years ago) instead of young earth creationism (the earth made about 6,000 years ago). The motivation to revise the wording–to punish those who interpret things differently–serves well such an unintended consequence. I think it’s a mistake.




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        • It is very hard to misinterpret the phrase “evenings and mornings”. Beyond this, Hebrew scholars are in general agreement that the author of Genesis intended to convey literal historical events to his readers – i.e., a literal creation week. For example, consider the thoughts of well-known Oxford Hebrew scholar James Barr:

          “Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that: (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience. (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know.”

          Letter from Professor James Barr to David C.C. Watson of the UK, dated 23 April 1984.

          Consider that Prof. Barr made this statement while personally considering the Genesis narrative to be false. He did not believe that God created life on this planet in just six literal days. He believed that life existed and evolved on this planet over billions of years just like most mainstream scientists do today. Yet, he still was quite clear that the author(s) of the Genesis narrative intended to say something about real historical events. They did not intend to be figurative in their language.

          Now, it is quite a different thing to say that the Biblical authors where simply mistaken compared to the argument that suggests that they were intending to write symbolically or figuratively. The SDA Church takes the Bible at its word, as the revealed Word of God. So, in suggesting that the SDA Church not put so much stock in a literal reading of the Genesis narrative, you are suggesting that the Church back off of its position that the Bible was in fact inspired by God to give us privileged information about God and about the world in which we live. If the SDA Church were to do this, it would basically undermine the entire purpose for their being a unique Seventh-day Adventist Church. After all, if one can pick and choose what is and what is not correct in the Bible, regardless of the obvious intent of the author of a given passage or account, what’s the point?

          Again, the bigger problem is that the proposed change to the wording of FB#6 could be interpreted by many as supporting a narrow view of how long it took for the Lord to make “the heavens and the earth,” and used forcefully to punish those who advocate young life creationism (the earth made many thousands or millions of years ago) instead of young earth creationism (the earth made about 6,000 years ago). The motivation to revise the wording–to punish those who interpret things differently–serves well such an unintended consequence. I think it’s a mistake.

          Many reasonable people do interpret the Bible very differently from how the Seventh-day Adventist Church interprets the Bible. This is perfectly fine. All are and should be free to come to their own conclusions and form their own opinions as to what the Bible is or isn’t saying. However, the church is also free to take on its own unique position as an organization of like minds and to hire, as paid representatives, only those who will actually promote those ideas that the church considers to be its primary goals and ideals. Surely you cannot be arguing that the church should maintain teachers or pastors regardless of what they are teaching or preaching? Beyond this, the Adventist Church, as an organization, has always upheld the position that the “week” described in Genesis was a literal week and that this understanding of the message of the author of Genesis is “fundamental” to the Adventist message. It is perfectly reasonable, therefore, to reflect this position more definitively in the statement of Adventist Fundamental Beliefs.




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          That’s a long-winded reply!

          I never suggested the evenings and mornings were not literal (they are not in Exodus 20 or in the new FB#6 wording), that the Biblical authors were mistaken, or that pastors and teachers should be free to teach as they please. I simply suggested that the proposed wording may not help all that much.

          I don’t understand why a belief articulated 33 years ago is so misleading that it must be revised to save the church. The current wording has clearly articulated the church’s position for decades. Those who insist on changing it will themselves one day be criticized for poor word choice.

          That’s my opinion. Apparently my opinion is offensive to those who disagree. I now regret having shared it.




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        • The reason why the concept of a literal week needs to be spelled out more explicitly is precisely because the current wording of FB#6 was specifically designed, by Fritz Guy and Larry Geraty, to allow for long-age interpretations for life on this planet (i.e., theistic evolution). This “loophole” has allowed both Guy and Geraty to hire and maintain ardent evolutionists at La Sierra who have long taught their students that the church’s position on a literal creation week is insane in light of the arguments of mainstream scientists. It is for this reason that it is necessary that the church take a more definitive stand on this issue in the wording of its fundamental belief statements.




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  7. Perhaps the statement “Apathy is the real problem, but who cares?” is in fact the oxymoron of truth that allows and even causes division in the church, or, in any other group organized for some purpose.

    How can we not see a perfect reflection of the SDA church and its spiritual problems in the civil political debate in American politics? A lack of competance and qualification is destroying the American way of life by those who are abandoning the basis of that way of life, namely, our constitution and system of law.

    In the context of the SDA church, we must ask, “When does the reality of false teaching and false doctrine allowed by individuals in the church, become the teaching of the church itself?”

    Or, “When does apostacy in the church make the church an apostate church?” Somewhere, the line is crossed from saying there is apostacy in the church, to affirming that the church itself is apostate.

    When evolution is not only allowed, but condoned and supported, at some point, this fact is not apostacy in the church, but it makes the church an apostate church. If the church refuses to take any demonstrateable action and only makes statement after statement about the false teaching, it becomes like the boy who cries “wolf” again and again until no one believes him on any level.

    And this response is repeated again and again on every level of challenge to the historic Christian declarations of faith. All this simply affirms again and again that Pluralism is impotent to act with the final end being self destruction.

    At some point, the church that allows and supports false doctrine, must eventually become an apostate church. There is no bible “gospel” that allows for the tolerance and indifference for false doctrine. And neither does the false application of “judge not” have any relevance in such a situation. At some point, there must be an “Elijah” movement that demands accountability of those who are responsible for false teaching and false doctrine. If not, apostacy in the church, soon makes it an apostate church.




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  8. No matter how the FBs are worded, there will be contention about it.

    Anyone who has fully embraced this message realizes that the days to Jesus’ coming are few. Thus it behooves us to be about the work of proclaiming the unique ADVENTIST message to a world that is facing impending doom.

    May I suggest the sermons of Jeremiah Davis. (can be found on Youtube)




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  9. After the Dr. Ford fiasco, he had so much sympathy in support of his false application of the gospel and so much protest for “how he was treated”, the church opted for Pluralism.

    No more discipline for false doctrine. So the Moral Influence Theory with Maxwell was tolerated and a host of other false ideas were left “untouched” and made their way into Adventism.

    So, how can “the church” discipline those who advocate some form of evolution when the church has not disciplined any other false doctrine for decades?

    Now some people are becoming deeply concerned about apostacy in the church, and rightly so. But the liberal theology of Pluralism has negated any efforts to correct in any substancial way the error of past, present, and probably future.

    Where this will finally go, no one knows for sure. But we can know for a fact that God will eventually create a community of believers who hold the bible as the final rule of faith and practice. Unless the church returns to this confession of faith and demands accountability by way of scripture, we have no hope for the church to be God’s final instrumentality to prepare people for the second coming.

    There is now an “awakening” on some level to this reality, and so more and more independent ministries are calling for some genuine reform within the SDA church. The shaking will be a “terrible ordeal” EGW, and to try to avoid it is useless. It will come no matter how hard the political elements try to resolve the issues with a cry for unity at all cost. There will be no unity, but war and division. If we don’t prepare for it, we will be swept away in the flood of false doctrine that has spread all over Adventism.

    The church is already split spiritually. There must be a physical split in harmony with the spiritual split. We better know the bible, and I don’t means some superfical understanding many have today. We need to be grounded in the word.




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  10. An important part of the discussion concerning the evolution vs. creation scenario, is the issue of church authority and its limits to define and discipline those who oppose any objective given defined by “the church”.

    No church can state all the requirements of God defined in the bible and then try to discipline the members if they fail to comply. The law is too complex and comprehensive to make such a statement. But a church can define some definitive doctrines as the lowest common denominator for church members to confess and agree to.

    As SDA’s, we don’t set a standard that represents the highest level of spirituality possible for a Christian. We do set a minimal list of “rules” and doctrines and if these are denied, the individual should move on, or expect to be disciplined for failure to either comply and/or support the list. The basic list might include Sabbath keeping on the 7th day. The state of the dead. The thousand year period of time being in heaven and not on this earth. Also, some health practices such as not smoking, drinking and/or other drug abuse.

    Certainly a 7 day creation week as a literal week of time is in harmony with the Sabbath issue. A few other things could be mentioned, but the list is not a comprehensive statment concerning the most mature spirituality any believer can attain. It is a minimual list. Neither does it claim nor assume that no one is, or can be a Christian who does not agree to the list. A person may be a Christian, but not a SDA Christian if they deny the list.

    Neither does discipline and even disfellowshipment claim the church can determine who is saved and who is not. It can only determine who is qualifed to represent the SDA faith. Any spiritual community has the right and obligation to define its identity and defend it.

    We need not apologize if and when a person is fired who attacks church defined doctrines. Nor does “religious freedom” include the right to be a part of a spiritual community and then attack any stated doctrine without discipline. Religious freedom means you can start your own church, and/or oppose any community you are not a part of without secular and civil authority to punish you for doing so.

    The liberal agenda in Adventism denies the church’s right to define itself and discipline those within who attack and oppose it. How the final issue is resolved is yet to be determined. But we must accept the fact that any church has the right and authority to disfellowship anyone it decides is not worthy to bear the name of the fellowship. After this point is established, the church can move forward in the action necessary to keep harmony in the church. And on the other side of the coin, if the church does not represent you, you are free to leave.




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