All the situations you mention of the suffering and death …

Comment on GC Delegates Vote to Tighten Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation by Sean Pitman.

All the situations you mention of the suffering and death of sentient animals are post-Fall examples of suffering and death in a non-ideal world that was not “very good” as it was originally intended to be – according to the Bible. Animal sacrifices, for example, were instituted after the Fall in order to point to the seriousness of the death of Jesus for the sins of mankind. However, this was by no means part of God’s original ideal world. It was simply to illustrate or remind those asked to sacrifice innocent sentient animals of the seriousness and evilness of sin – that it causes the suffering and death of the innocent and ultimately the Son of God Himself. Why do you think God asked for the sacrifice of a lamb to remind Adam and Eve and their descendants the future death of Jesus, instead of some vegetables that Cain wanted to offer? Obviously, it’s because the death of a sentient animal is a much bigger deal and much more serious in the sight of God – something not to be taken lightly. Ellen White describes Adam as being greatly pained in having to take the life of an innocent lamb as a sacrificial reminder of what it would cost The Father to sacrifice Jesus to redeem fallen humanity from the evils of sin. The fact is that throughout the Bible were God is consistently described as being empathetic toward the suffering of sentient animals. Sometimes it is a necessarily evil in an evil world. However, it is never described as being “very good” within the pages of the Bible.

Tell me, would you really be completely happy in a world in which innocent sentient animals continued to suffer and die? Really? Would you call such a place “very good”? Why then do you think a good God would call such a place “very good” – if you wouldn’t?

Yet, you seem to suggest that it’s no big deal if sentient animals (like dogs, cats, elephants, dolphins, cows, sheep, birds, and the like) suffer and die. It really doesn’t bother you? Really? Do you really feel no empathy at all for animal suffering and death?

Sean Pitman Also Commented

GC Delegates Vote to Tighten Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation
As already mentioned, the Bible never teaches that anyone is guilty and deserves condemnation or death because of the sins or crimes committed by someone else (Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20; Jeremiah 31:29, 30; Romans 2:5, 6; 6:23; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Galatians 6:7, 8; Revelation 20:12, 13; 21:8). This would be a monstrous and unjust portrayal of God since it goes against every sense of justice and fair play.

Beyond this, even Jesus took on the fallen nature of humanity, yet without sin. Therefore, it isn’t the fallen nature that is sinful, but the actual transgressions against the Royal Law that an individual commits that make him/her guilty of sin. Jesus “took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men . . . in fashion as a man” (Philippians 2:7, 8), “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3); thus, “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).

“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:14-18)

Christ lived a life of sinlessness in our fallen human nature and thereby condemned sin in the flesh, in our fallen condition with all of our natural fallen propensities and weaknesses. Christ proved that our nature, fallen and corrupted though it may be, is no excuse for sinning and that obedience to God’s law is possible in our fallen condition – thus exposing Satan’s lie and charge against God. It was Satan who declared that no man could keep the law of God after the disobedience of Adam. He claimed that the whole race is under his control and could not escape. Jesus disproved this claim showing how even a man with a fallen nature could, with God’s power, live a sinless life.

Ellen White, stresses this fundamental truth:

“Christ’s overcoming and obedience is that of a true human being. In our conclusions, we make many mistakes because of our erroneous views of the human nature of our Lord. When we give to His human nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, we destroy the completeness of His humanity.” – Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (Washington, D.C.: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1953-1957, 929).

“In our humanity, Christ was to redeem Adam’s failure. But when Adam was assailed by the tempter, none of the effects of sin were upon him. He stood in the strength of perfect manhood, possessing the full vigor of mind and body. He was surrounded with the glories of Eden, and was in daily communion with heavenly beings. It was not thus with Jesus when He entered the wilderness to cope with Satan. For four thousand years the race had been decreasing in physical strength, in mental power, and the moral worth; and Christ took upon Him the infirmities of degenerate humanity. Only thus could He rescue man from the lowest depths of his degradation.” — Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, 117.

“The King of glory proposed to humble Himself to fallen humanity! He would place His feet in Adam’s steps. He would take man’s fallen nature, and engage to cope with the strong foe who triumphed over Adam. He would overcome Satan, and in thus doing He would open the way for the redemption from the disgrace of Adam’s failure and fall, of all those who would believe on Him” (Ellen White, Redemption; or the Temptation of Christ in The Wilderness, 15).

Though He had no taint of sin upon His character, yet He condescended to connect our fallen human nature with His divinity. By thus taking humanity, He honored humanity. Having taken our fallen nature, He showed what it might become, by accepting the ample provision He has made for it, and by becoming partaker of the divine nature. – Ellen White, Special Instruction Relating to the Review and Herald Office, and the Work in Battle Creek, 13 (May 26, 1896).

Clearly then, the fallen nature of humanity is not in and of itself “sin”. Otherwise, Jesus could not have taken on our fallen nature and still have been guiltless of sin. Likewise, when we are born into this world, we are born with a fallen nature that inevitably leads to sin (i.e., transgression of the Law, the Royal Law in particular), outside of the power of God, but is not sin in and of itself. We are simply not guilty of Adam’s sin simply by being born. We become guilty for our own sins once we deliberately break the Royal Law.


GC Delegates Vote to Tighten Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation
Being born separated from God isn’t the same thing as “sinning”. Again, sin requires a deliberate choice of a free moral agent to act against that which is known to be right and good. Otherwise, there simply is no sin. Nothing is more clearly spelled out in the Bible than this. Sin is deliberate rebellion against the Royal Law. Of course, being born with a fallen nature certainly leads to sin. However, being born with a fallen nature isn’t sin in and of itself.

In short, we are not born guilty of Adam’s particular sin. We are born with his fallen nature and a propensity to sin. However, the Catholic notion that guilt itself can be inherited is mistaken. Everyone is judged based on his or her own personal decisions as a free moral agent. This concept is spelled out very clearly throughout the Bible (Ezekiel 18:20, 2Kings 14:6, Deuteronomy 24:16, Jeremiah 31:29-30).


GC Delegates Vote to Tighten Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation
I hope you re-read the Bible with more care regarding all of its statements regarding the creation week and its literal nature. After all, even secular scholars of Hebrew (as already mentioned above) recognize that the author of the Genesis account of creation clearly intended to write a literal historical narrative including the literal nature of the 7-day creation week.


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


Christians and the Sabbath
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Again, most people, including most non-Christians, consider late-term abortions (abortions within the third trimester of otherwise healthy viable babies) to be murder. There is relatively little argument about this. One doesn’t have to know the “precise point” to know that, after a certain point, abortion is clearly murder. The argument that a baby isn’t alive or really human until the moment that it is born is nonsense in my opinion.

Of course, before the third trimester, things start to get a bit more grey and unclear. Some define the beginnings of human life with the full activity of the brain’s cortex. Others define it with the earliest activity of the brain stem. Others define it as the beginnings of fetal movement or the fetal heartbeat. I might have my own opinions here, but the question I ask myself is at what point would I be willing to convict someone else of murder? – and be willing to put them in prison for it? For me, I wouldn’t be willing to do this until things are overwhelmingly clear that the baby is functioning as a full human being and is viable (which would include full brain activity).

As far as rape or incest is concerned, the resulting pregnancy should be terminated as soon as possible within the first trimester. Waiting for the third trimester is simply not an option because, at this point, it would still be murder to kill a fully-formed baby regardless of its origin…


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
I agree with you up until your last sentence. It seems very very clear to me that a baby becomes human before it takes its first breath. A baby born at 40 weeks gestation is not somehow inherently “more human” than a baby that is still inside its mother at 39 weeks gestation. At 39 weeks, such a baby is indistinguishable from a baby that has already been born. The location inside or outside of the mother makes absolutely no difference at this point in time and development.

I think, therefore, that we as Christians should avoid both obvious extremes here in this discussion. There are two very clear ditches on both sides of the road here. We should avoid claiming that a baby is not really human until it is actually born at full term, and, at the same time, we should also avoid claiming that full humanity and moral worth is instantly realized at the moment of conception…


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Most would agree with you that the baby John the Baptist, before he was born, was, at some point, a real human being who could “leap for joy” (Luke 1:44). Even most non-Christians would agree that a third-trimester abortion is murder. However, this isn’t the real problem here. We are talking about if a single cell or a simple ball of cells is fully “human” and if ending a pregnancy at such an early stage of development is truly a “murder” of a real human being. After all, when conception first takes place a single cell cannot “leap for joy” – or for any other reason. It’s just a single fertilized cell that cannot think or feel or move and has no brain or mind or intelligence of any kind. The same is true of an embryo that consists of no more than an unformed ball of cells for quite some time. Upon what basis, then, is it “murder” to end a pregnancy at this early point in embryological development?