@Bill Sorensen: Bill, This was a nice discussion, but I …

Comment on Supreme Court Decision on Church Employment Case by Ron.

@Bill Sorensen:
Bill, This was a nice discussion, but I don’t think it quite addresses the issue. At least not for me.

1. You listed many areas where people disagree. For example the Catholic belief in transubstantiation, and the protestant belief in the rapture. If so many other Christians can be in error, (according to you), then how can you be so sure that you aren’t in error as well? It seems reasonable to me to assume that we (including the whole SDA church) are probably in error as well. If it is highly likely that at least some of what we believe is in error, then is seems unwise to set up a creed that goes beyond what the Bible says.

Look at our history. At one time our major fundamental belief was that Jesus second coming was going to be Oct. 22 1844. If we were wrong in that fundamental Belief, shouldn’t we hold the rest of our “Fundamental Belief’s” lightly?

2. Remember, I am speaking as a believer now. Our stand has always been to accept the Bible as literal unless there is reason to believe it is not. At the time of Mrs. White we did not have the scientific evidence that we do now. I am beginning to wonder if the fact that, after so many years of honest trying, Genesis and Science remain irreconcilable, that may be an indication that Genesis really is a spiritual story rather than a literal one.
At least I think it should give us pause, and encourage us to be a little more charitable toward our weaker brothers.

3. I am not so certain it is possible to tell the difference between Theistic evolution and Intelligent design.

Did Bob mention that he was a designer? I’ll bet that if Bob sits down and really analyses the design process, that he will see that it is at its heart, an evolutionary process. You generally start with a rough idea of what you want, then you start tweaking it until gradually, and eventually, you have what you want. Usually you don’t start completely from scratch, but you adapt, or branch off from something you have seen or done previously.

So, as I look at the world, it appears to me that evolution is a fundamental law of the universe, even a law of Intelligent Design. Evolution describes the process rather than the Cause. And it seems to me that something so pervasive in nature, must connect somehow with the God who created nature. Part of God’s nature if you will. If God, the creator, is constantly creating, then would that not appear like evolution to us? Far from undermining belief in God, I think evolution as we see it, is evidence that God is in fact, live and well, and continuing to create.

(The main theological point of disagreement here, is whether God continues to create or whether he stopped being the creator after he created Earth. Let’s not go there.)

I think that when Mrs. White objected to Evolution, she was referring to Evolution as the Cause. What we have typically labeled “Atheistic evolution”. That was a fundamental error in early thought about evolution and I agree with Mrs. White’s objections, and Bob’s quotes, on that ground, but I am not sure her statements would apply to evolution as a process. As I read Mrs. White’s statements, it appears to me that she is objecting to skeptics using Evolution as an argument to remove God as the cause, hence her description of God sustaining and moving every atom. It does not appear that she ever conceptualized the possibility of evolution as a process. Because she never made that distinction, I don’t think her statements really address the current issues.

(Please don’t side step this question by reference to evolution requiring death. It doesn’t, and I consider that argument irrelevant, and quite frankly, intellectually insulting.)

4. Bob, et. al. object to theistic evolution. But everyone, even Bob admits to what they call “micro evolution”. (I don’t see any dividing line between evolution and micro-evolution. It is all the same as far as I can tell.) But if God is in control of the movement of every atom as Mrs. White describes, how is it that micro-evolution is not theistic evolution?

Ron Also Commented

Supreme Court Decision on Church Employment Case

Bill&#032Sorensen: Many will stand in our pulpits with the torch of false prophecy in their hands, kindled from the hellish torch of Satan

Bill, It is Satan who is the “accuser of the brethren”. You might want to re-read your post with that in mind.

Bill&#032Sorensen: And so they point out how “loving and tolerant” Jesus was, and refuse to acknowledge His direct challenge to the false doctrine and theology the religious leaders taught in His day.

Hmm . . . The only time I recall Jesus challenging doctrine, is when he explicitly contradicted the clear teaching of the Bible on how to observe the Sabbath. (Something to think about.)

The only time he really got angry was when the people were being robbed in the temple, when they were plotting his murder, and when they were condemning sinners.

I see the spirit of Jesus as being in direct opposition to the spirit of conservativism.

Supreme Court Decision on Church Employment Case

Bill&#032Sorensen: You see the point clearly. And as I said, David represents “the church” of today for the most part.

When it comes to the original topic of this web site, how to deal with members in our church who hold a minority position on how to interpret Gen. 1, I find this comment very instructive.

Bill here acknowledges that his view on the fundamental belief of salvation by faith differs from that of the church at large. Some how the church tolerates the membership of Bill, and people like him.

Yet, Bill and others on this web site advocate the excommunication of Biology teachers and others who differ with them over the timing of creation.

This attitude of intolerance of wrong.

Supreme Court Decision on Church Employment Case

Holly&#032Pham: Is La Sierra an “autonomous” institution with regards to our SDA Church?

Perhaps the institution is not autonomous, but the thoughts of the the people within the institution should always be, with the possible exception of hate speech.

Recent Comments by Ron

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
@Sean Pitman:
I think what you say could only be true if God were not a loving God.

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
@Sean Pitman:
Can you think of any metafore for God in the Bible where God would not in some way be responsible for our actions? The ones that come to mind for me are: sovereign, Lord, father, shepherd, a male lover. In all of these metafores God is responsible for either instigating the relationship as in the Song of Songs, or being an advocate, protector, or supervisor. I can’t think of anywhere in the Bible where God denies responsibility. I can think of lots of places where he claims responsibility and oundard explanation is, “Oh, he didn’t really mean that, He really just allowed some one else to do it,” Satan, Pharaoh, evil king etc.

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
@Sean Pitman:

“I’m not sure how many more times I have to explain this concept to you? Natural laws, created by God, work independent of God’s need for direct deliberate action.”

Sean, where do you get this idea that there is a natural law apart from God’s action? I don’t see that being taught in the Bible anywhere.

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
@Sean Pitman:

I think it comes down to semantics and perspective.

I think that you are still looking at the problem from a human perspective rather than God’s perspective. Move your point of reference up one level.

It is not God’s will that we sin, but the fact that we sin is not outside God’s will.

It is much like when my teenagers started driving. It was not my will that they have an accident, but I knew that it was almost certain that they eventually would, so I got them an older SUV to drive instead of my Lexus, and I bought insurance, sent them to driver’s school, and did my best to make them defensive drivers. My will and desire that they learn to drive, included the possibility that they would have an accident, so when they had an accident, it was not outside my will, or you might say, planning. I was prepared for it.

I think, this is an important perspective to have, because it takes a huge burden off of people when they sin. They know that they are still within God’s will, that he has a plan and can take care of it, that he still loves them, and that it is OK. They don’t have to go away and hide from God, because it is OK. God still loves them. They are still OK with God. He has a plan. He can take care of it. They are still within His will.

I don’t want my kids to run away and stop talking to me when they have an accident, because they are afraid of me. In fact, when they have their accident is exactly when I want them to talk to me the most. There isn’t any kind of accident that they can have, that I can’t deal with.

And I don’t want them to be afraid of driving, just because there is a risk of death, either. Yes, if they were killed, that would be tragic, but to be afraid of dying would be even more tragic. So, yes, I warn them, and I nag them about their defensive driving, and if they are killed, I will grieve terribly, but even their death is within my will. I would rather them live life to the fullest, and take the risk of death, than to not live, or to live fearful, timid, “safe” lives.

In the same way, the problem in the Garden of Eden wan’t so much eating the apple, God already had an insurance plan in place. Christ was the “Lamb That Was Slain From The Foundation Of The World”. God could fix it. They were still within His will.

Notice in the quote you quoted above about Satan. God could have restored Satan to his ORIGINAL position if, when he understood the nature of his action, he had been just willing to accept God’s forgiveness and take his position back again. There was no death penalty at that point, and Christ would NOT have had to die. It wasn’t until Satan completely understood the true consequences of his action and STILL refused to return to his original position, that his position was finally removed from him.

So, applying the same principles to Adam and Eve’s case shows us that it wasn’t the eating of the apple, or sin, per se’ that necessitated Christ’s death, it was their fear that caused them to run away and to try to justify themselves that necessitated Christ’s death.

Just like with Satan, the only reason God couldn’t restore them to their original position is the fear that made them run away from Him. It was their FEAR of His judgement. That is what made it impossible for God to fix it. That is what truly resulted in the death penalty. It was just as if my kid’s had runaway from home after their first accident. I would not have been able to help them.

Truthfully, when my kid’s had their accidents, I wasn’t even that upset. I pretty much expected it, and I was prepared. In the same way, I believe God pretty much expected it and was prepared.

God knew the fear that Satan had raised in the minds of the universe. He knew that the fear is the primary motivator for rebellion, and that it would eventually bear fruit in rebellion. But what could He do? This isn’t something you can resolve with words, and coercion or punishment would only make things worse. (Back to the main topic, Coercion is EVIL). Only a demonstration of God’s loving self sacrifice in response to sin could resolve the fear. (It is really hard to rebel against someone you believe truly has your best interest at heart. Think about it.)

So what did He do? He put the trees on all of the worlds and waited. He gave a warning of the consequences of eating of the tree, which is really the consequence of the fear that generated the rebellious act.

He was right to give the warning, but it was impossible for the warning to be effective. The word “death” has no meaning to someone who has never seen it. It would be like naming colors to a person born blind.

So was it God’s will that Adam and Eve be afraid of Him? No, of course not. But, being afraid, because of Satan’s deception, was it God’s will that they live forever in fear and doubt? No, of course not. So, what alternative is there?

The ONLY alternative that affirms a full and vibrant life without fear, is to confront the fear itself. At some point, someone in the Universe has to have the courage (remember courage can not exist without fear) to act on, or in spite of, their fear. And at some point God has to demonstrate that even in the face of rebellion, He loves us, forgives us, and invites us back to His heart and home. The only way for Him to abolish fear is to demonstrate that He has OUR best interest at heart, even above His own. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.” That is the true healing power of the cross. It abolishes fear.

So that is why I affirm Eve’s action. It confronts the fear, and affirms that life is worth living in spite of the risk and pain of death, in the same way that I affirm my child’s learning to drive in spite of the risk of pain and death. I affirm it because a full life, free from fear is worth it. It was through Eve’s action that God was able to remove fear from the heart of the Universe forever. It was also through Eve’s action, that God came to dwell within the heart of man. 2 Peter 1:3,4. A far more exalted position, and intimate relationship than is possible for any other being in the Universe.

It is only when we remain afraid of God, after all He has sacrificed for us that we are outside His will. What more can He do?

It is only when we are afraid to embrace life for fear of pain and death that we are outside his will. What more can He do?

So it is for these reasons that being punitive toward member’s and employee’s who are embracing all of the challenges of a vigorous, lively discussion of religion and science, especially evolution is wrong. The punitive action arises out of fear, and misrepresents God to the Universe as a God of fear and coercion.

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
@Sean Pitman:

“This mindless evolutionary mechanism gives an advantage to the individual that sustains a reproductive advantage regardless of what this advantage might do to the overall system or environment within which the individual lives. In other words, this evolutionary mechanism is what is responsible for various forms of cancer which end up destabilizing the higher level environment,”

This statement seems illogical to me. Evolution doesn’t cause cancer, things like radiation damage cause cancer. I don’t see how a population that gets cancer has a selection bias over a population that does not get cancer. It seems to me that the population that doesn’t get cancer will very soon out perform the population that gets cancer and those with cancer will very shortly become a small percentage of the overall population.

PS. I know the phrase “Survival of the fittest” has a bad connotation and I don’t like it, but here is a good example of it in a positive context. Let’s say we have an environment that is subject to high radiation exposure. The off spring of those individuals that are more resistant to getting cancer from radiation are going to survive better than those who are more susceptible to radiation damage. To me this represents a positive adaptive response that a loving creator would be likely to build into his creation.