Vincent, I too assumed that the NAD response was designed …

Comment on Back to Square One… by David Read.

Vincent, I too assumed that the NAD response was designed to placate WASC, and does not reflect the true feelings of Dan Jackson and the other leaders. But, eventually, duplicity catches up with you, even if you’re a very skillful politician.

Probably the best approach to take with WASC is to be very candid with them and say that we intend to teach creationism at Adventist colleges, and fire those biology faculty who cannot or will not get with the program. If you think you can stop us, WASC, take your best shot, but please understand that we have a lot of money and an army of lawyers.

I don’t think Dan Jackson would be inclined to make that argument, even assuming that he is on our side in this controversy. He comes from Canada, where believing Christians are very much a cowed and intimidated minority, and I imagine he has imbibed the timorous mentality that goes along with that.

One thing is for certain, this isn’t going away as a public issue. I doubt very seriously that the Michigan Conference people would be bullied into re-instating the educational subsidy. And I know that Sean and Shane are not going to drop it, and I know that the majority of Adventists, worldwide and even in the NAD, are on our side.

David Read Also Commented

Back to Square One…
Much of this lax attitude that Bill is talking about seems, to me anyway, to be related to one’s view of the church. This fight is, at bottom, a fight over ecclesiology.

Many people–we’ll call them group “A”—seem to take the view that the church a community that people belong to by virtue of having been born into it. Its purpose is community and fellowship, and also networking and mutual aid and support. Its institutions exist to provide jobs for the members, as well as advertising and positive PR for the community. It is much like the Kiwanis, the Shriners, the Rotary Club, the Junior League, the chamber of commerce, etc. It exists primarily for its members, who network and gain valuable business and political contacts, and also to do works of charity for the larger society.

Obviously, if this is your view of the purpose and mission of the church, having a coherent system of doctrines and beliefs is basically irrelevant to you. Doctrine doesn’t really figure into the purpose and goals of the community. In fact, to fight over doctrine when the fight itself might threaten the networking opportunities, cause some members to leave, and bring bad publicity to the community, seems like absolutely the dumbest thing in the world.

It is slowly dawning on me that a great many Adventists have exactly this view of the church. Its just something they were born into, and want to stay in because it is a comfortable environment for them, and there are many good networking opportunities.

There’s another class—we’ll call them group “B”—that do seem vaguely to realize that any Christian denomination is in some sense a faith community, or a community of shared beliefs. Their understanding is that one is saved by faith in Christ alone–by being in a life-changing relationship with Christ (which is true)–and since that is how one is saved, all the other doctrines are basically unimportant or optional. The church exists to help people get to heaven. As long as the church hangs onto salvation by faith in Christ, it still has the “recipe” for salvation, and none of the other doctrines matter much, and are certainly not worth fighting about. But I wonder why these people think the Adventist Church needs to exist as a separate denomination, because we certainly are not the only church that preaches salvation through Jesus Christ; all the others do, too.

The people in Group “A” don’t really even require that the community be a church at all. The People in Group “B” know that the SDA Church is a church, but they do not seem to believe that it needs a reason to exist as a separate denomination. They’re happy with it doing only what all the other churches do, and they’d prefer to leave it at that.

I think the Adventist Church exists primarily to call people back to worship on the day that God hallowed a set aside as a memorial to His creation of the world in six days. Obviously, Darwinism drastically undermines that mission, such that it is impossible and absurd to incorporate Darwinism into Adventist beliefs, or to tolerate its teaching by paid church employees. It is obviously worth fighting about, even at the cost of all the stress and hard feelings that go with such a fight.

Back to Square One…
“The present statement is plain enough for anyone but casuists.” –Phil Mills

I agree completely. My conclusion, therefore, is that what is needed is not a re-wording of FB 6 but the intestinal fortitude to cut the casuists loose.

What we are faced with is people who no longer believe in Adventist doctrine but make their living working for the church, or its affiliated institutions, in some capacity. And because they work for the church, they want to say they believe in the church’s doctrines, even though they actually do not. Hence, the casuistry with regard to doctrinal statements like FB 6.

Now, which is easier, to re-word FB 6 or to fire the casuists? Which will make a real difference to the life of the church and the effectiveness of the church’s ministry, to re-word FB 6 or to cut loose of “cultural Adventists” and other hangers-on who have relinquished the church’s doctrines but not her teat.

The answers to these questions is obvious. We’re seeing the chaos surrounding the situation at LaSierra, and we’re closer to the beginning than the end of that process. Firing people is brutal on all parties, often leads to bad feelings, and not infrequently to lawsuits. People don’t want to do it. So we’ll end up with a re-worded FB 6, but institutions just as full of non-believers as before, and professors just as toxic to the faith of their students as before.

Back to Square One…
Shawna, I disagree that all the colleges are gone. There’s no question that the spirit of academia is strongly opposed to religious faith, but I will not make a blanket condemnation of all the colleges. I know that Keene and Collegedale are still creationist in their outlook. LaSierra is a very extreme case.

Also, I don’t believe there is, at this time, good reason to give up on secular accreditation. The situation at LaSierra is, again, extreme and unusual. The liberal faction at LaSierra have been scheming for years to use secular accreditation to separate LaSierra from effective Church control, and so they are ahead in the game with regard to that particular school.

But the fact that accreditation is so crucial to the survival of any school means that it cannot be taken away arbitrarily, or for constitutionally impermissible reasons. The Accreditors—and the courts—well understand that church schools exist for sectarian religious reasons. If we will be forthright about the religious necessity of teaching creationism at Adventist schools, accreditors will be hesitant to take away accreditation on that ground, and courts even more reluctant to allow them to do it.

Which is another reason why church administrators must not fall into the trap of buying a “science is science, and religion is religion” approach to origins. In fact, Darwinian “science” is actually atheistic philosophy or religion, and there is plenty of data from nature that can honestly be interpreted to support Biblical history. That’s why the expressions of support for this recent “joint statement” are so discouraging. Our administrators are actually falling into a trap designed to make it harder to make the arguments we will have to make to keep accreditation.

Recent Comments by David Read

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Pauluc: I do not agree that science must be naturalistic, but if that is your bottom line, it will not trouble me much where it concerns most day-to-day science–the study of current, repeating phenomena. But a rigid naturalism applied to origins morphs into philosophical atheism. Hence, mainstream origins science is not science but atheistic apologetics. This is what should not be done at an Adventist school, but sadly what has been the rule at La Sierra.

Dr. Paul Cameron and the God of the Gaps
@Pauluc: The Adventist doctrine of creation is that God created the world in six days and rested on the Seventh day and hallowed it. (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:11) Do you believe that doctrine? It won’t do to say that you accept some vague “Christian doctrine of creation.” The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a very specific mission to call people back to the worship of the creator God, on the day that He hallowed at the creation.

You say you believe that the “core doctrine of Christianity is the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ,” but what was Jesus Christ incarnated to do? Wasn’t his mission to redeem fallen humanity, to be the second Adam who succeeded where the first Adam failed? And doesn’t your view of origins make nonsense of a perfect creation, a literal Adam who fell, and the need for redemption because of Adam’s sin? You seem to want to gloss over all the very profound differences you have not only with Seventh-day Adventist dcotrine, but with the most basic reasons that Seventh-day Adventism exists.

The syncretistic hodgepodge religion you’ve created for yourself, combining elements of a biblical world view (the incarnation) and elements of a pagan worldview (a self-created creation) is not Adventism. It is anti-Seventh-day Adventism.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Holly Pham: Holly, I will try, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Pauluc: Since no creationist could land a job as chairman of a biology department at a public university, it seems entirely appropriate that no Darwinist should be given the chairmanship of a biology department of a Seventh-day Adventist college.

The SDA educational system doesn’t exist to expensively duplicate the public university system. It exists to provide a uniquely biblical and Seventh-day Adventist education to interested young people. If mainstream origins science is correct in its assumptions and conclusions about our origins, the entire enterprise of Seventh-day Adventism is an utterly foolish waste of time. So at Adventist institutions, our professors should assume that Darwinistic science is false, and that creationistic science is true (just the reverse of how it is done at public universities), and proceed accordingly.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@gene fortner: What I like about your list of topics, Gene, is that it points out that many disciplines are implicated in the necessary change of worldview. It isn’t just biology and geology, although those are the main ones. History, archeology, anthropology and other disciplines should also be approached from a biblical worldview. The biblical worldview should pervade the entire curriculum.