Comment on GC Votes to Revise SDA Fundamental #6 on Creation by J. Knight.
Thank you for your considered response. You’ve been doing a lot of work in this forum, all reasoned and passionate without anger.
Itâ€™s Ok if you are convinced of some form of theistic evolution. You can still have a living relationship with God and still be saved. However, I believe that it is far better to have a clear understanding of the evidence in support of a literal Creation week because I think it paints a much better, much more hopeful, and more consistent picture of God. I think this picture is far more attractive compared to the theistic view where God deliberately uses the very painful, even evil, mechanism of â€œsurvival of the fittestâ€ to create and modify new forms of sentient life over vast periods of time. For me, this is not consistent with a God who instantly turned water into wine, who instantly raised in the past and will do so again in the future, and who cares for human and even animal suffering â€“ – noticing with concern when even a little sparrow falls wounded to the groundâ€¦
I’m not proposing an alternative model, and have made no mention of Evolution. This issue is much bigger than 2 sides. For those not steeped in the sciences (the vast majority of people), they will not see the merits of a particular argument being waged in our forums; they will more likely see our attitude towards members and leaders. To narrow our Fundamental Belief to add an extra layer of exclusion show just that – an exclusion.
It is possible that other models exist, one that could coincide with scientific data (not common interpretation, but actual data),and with the actual words written in Genesis (not our current interpretation of them). To limit our church to a position that excludes all available models, and to close the discussion so sharply -as I believe this measure does- dashes our ability to witness in communities of intelligence and learning, not to mention the mark of incredibility and close-minded-ness this leaves on our institutions. Our #1 job given my Jesus was to draw people in, not to make exclusionary rules like the Pharisees.
People arguing for <144hrs of work by God seem to think that any other process would be.. less magical, less glorious, or less powerful. That it would in some way diminish the awesome power of God (you allude to this in your wine-miracle comment, and His attention to sparrows). However – consider bowling: If I run down the lane and knock the pins over with my hand directly, is it not less impressive than if I can set something into motion – very deliberately that has an intended outcome. To me this does not remove intention, glory, or attentiveness. I'm not saying that God bowled us into existence, but I strikes me as rather rigid to insist on the first thing we pictured when we read the words. The Bible itself is FAR less specific than our proposed Fundamental Belief amendment – in these details I think we've gone too far.
There are also different understandings of â€œrestâ€ in English. One can rest from doing a particular task without being physically or mentally â€œtiredâ€.
I agree that God was not tired but my point is that He rest is symbolic, as He is the ultimate power of the Universe “rest” is somewhat meaningless… We are used to this symbolism so it doesn’t strike us unusual.
Even the most traditional believer must admit the few verses in the beginning of Genesis do not give us much detail. And how could they? I can’t explain half the things I own and use daily (nor my job) to most people. If it was explained fully, we still wouldn’t understand more. The story is kept simple for a reason: it has a couple points that should not be drowned in details.
-God did this on purpose
-God did this in and order, not randomly
-God set an example for Sabbath
It would seem wiser to me if our Church focused on the important themes rather than adding detail.
J. Knight Also Commented
The point is that we have to make exclusionary rules based on what we think we know about reality or there would be no â€œorganizationâ€. Organizations are defined by rules. Rules are not inherently bad things. The rules that define a religious organization or order are not inherently bad either. It is only a bad thing if those in a religious group think to impose their rules and regulations with the use of civil power upon those who do not voluntarily subscribe.
I fear you’re not hearing my intent. Of course we need to establish a property line to demark our organization, otherwise we are nomads and not a body of believers. And we HAVE this in the current Fundamental Belief(s). But to tighten it down further is to say that our interpretation of the Words of God is the only correct one, and if you don’t like it you are out! At least I fear that is how it will be seen.
Any organization must exists to serve a purpose. If the purpose fades, so does the org. Our purpose is to respond to Jesus’s call of discipleship. We are not save through the church – but as individuals, so the job of the church is to support and educate. Creating an increasingly limited view of – one full of interpretive details, not the pure word of the Bible – does not serve this purpose but works against it.
People arguing for <144hrs of work by God seem to think that any other process would be.. less magical, less glorious, or less powerful. That it would in some way diminish the awesome power of God (you allude to this in your wine-miracle comment, and His attention to sparrows). However â€“ consider bowling: If I run down the lane and knock the pins over with my hand directly, is it not less impressive than if I can set something into motion â€“ very deliberately that has an intended outcome. To me this does not remove intention, glory, or attentiveness. I'm not saying that God bowled us into existence, but I strikes me as rather rigid to insist on the first thing we pictured when we read the words. The Bible itself is FAR less specific than our proposed Fundamental Belief amendment â€“ in these details I think we've gone too far.
I disagree. The wording of the Genesis account is very specific. In fact most Hebrew scholars, even liberal Hebrew scholars (like James Barr for example) agree that the author(s) of the Genesis account clearly intended to convey a literal historical account of origins. Only the evangelical theologians are trying to warp the obvious intended meaning of the text into something that the original authors clearly did not intend to convey.
I agree that the author(s) of Genesis is intended to convey a literal, historical account, and would not posit otherwise. Faced with the task of explaining possibly the largest action of all time (2nd to the vanquishing of sin? that’s another topic) in under 800 words (KJV) what would you choose? Well.. I’d focus on getting my point across – that this thing happened in order and not by chance, and it was the direct result of God’s intent. Without directly mentioning it, you get the idea that God the Creator is a pretty big deal, powerful and organized, and sending a direct message – He rested. But to say that it’s limited to 24 hour periods, when the KJV mentions the invention of day in verse 14, is imposing your own interpretation.
However, these machines have clear limitations beyond which they cannot go and the universe itself follows very specific rules beyond which it cannot go as far as we know. One of the most obvious rules of the universe is thermodynamic entropy. And, another very real, though perhaps less obvious rule, is informational entropy.
Agreed. I’m still not proposing evolution. Just discouraging a close-minded view of scripture, and trying to point out what effect that might have outside of theological debate. It’s fine to be convinced of the answers, and to live with conviction based on those answers. But, especially in matters outside of salvation, it’s a tricky thing to apply those in a way that serves our main purpose. I think the existing Fundamental Belief #6 does this, and to modify it is to destroy that.
Our pre-Adventist history is an excellent example. Here we have a group of people who were fervently praying and studying – seeking the truth. They found VERY CLEAR evidence that God would be returning soon, and living like true believers they acted on it. Only.. they had to go back and read it again later to realize their evidence wasn’t so clear. It’s not just science that makes “laws” that are open to revision, it should be everything in our lives.
given the evidence that is currently available as to how the universe works and how this interplays with the description of the biblical authors, the SDA interpretation of the Bible makes the most sense to me and I think the SDA interpretation and fundamental belief statements along these lines are extremely valuable and should be defended.
I agree completely. Which is my point – they should be defended, not modified. #6 is good like it is.
If you read Genesis, already believing that Creation happened in 6 days (days as we currently experience them), then if very much supports that belief. If you read Genesis, believing something slightly different, it also supports that belief. In a case where this is true, I think a level of ambiguity is our only responsible choice. We’re saying “We’re sure of this much (the major themes of the story), and many of us also thing this (6-days as we experience them now)”. I know the 28 Fundamental Beliefs are not a test of membership (check what you signed when you got baptized), nor a test of employment (check with HR), but they are our broadcast statement to the world. Must we use them to beat people? Can we please use them to attract people?
You also are in the science community – publishing original research. You know that things are dis-proven and revised all the time. Any paper is a presentation of direct observation filled in with interpretation, and sometimes we get the interpretation wrong.
In LLU’s own labs, many of our employed researchers are unreachable for evangelism because of our strong stance on 6-literal days. I worked among them in 2005, and was unable to have a meaningful conversation about our religion (INSIDE the walls of hospital) because of this sticking point. Must we present ourselves as so rigid?
And, you are certainly free to your opinions in this wonderful country of ours. You are even free to start your own â€œorganizationâ€ where there are no exclusive rules (good luck with that lasting very long). However, a person is not, or at least should not be, free to promote his/her fundamentally contrary views on the SDA Churchâ€™s dime.
Well.. I’m in China, so maybe not so much.
Larry, if you are around, the above quote allegedly from you does not seem to make sense to me.
The account of creation as given in Gen. 1 and Ex. 20 says that God created everything in heaven and earth and the sea in 6 days, each consisting of a morning and an evening.You appear to be saying that it is a matter of interpretation. So then, is the meaning of â€œseaâ€ a matter of interpretation? The meaning of â€œearthâ€? The meaning of â€œGodâ€? The meaning of â€œcreatedâ€? The meaning of â€œeverythingâ€? The meaning of â€œmorningâ€? The meaning of â€œeveningâ€? Or is it only the meaning of â€œ6â€³ and the meaning of â€œdaysâ€ that is the problem?â€œâ€¦ interpret it in harmony with accepted standards of interpretation for Godâ€™s revelation in both nature and Scripture.â€ Within Adventism, the only acceptable way to interpret is that which subjects the hypotheses of science to the revelations of Scripture.By the way, Larry, what did you think of the last lecture of the Yes! Creation series on the disparity between rates of protein decay and the anomalously high levels of protein in fossil bone?
yes..the meaning of “evening” and of “morning” are open to interpretation.
If the sun is not made until the 4th day, on what time-scale are the “evening” and “morning” measured?
And we all accept that God “rested” on the 7th day not because He needed to recharge, but as an example to us. Why must the rest of the story be so rigid?
Clearly you are convinced on a certain view, but what if I am not? Am I not welcome in the to celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus with you; to keep the Sabbath as set in example by our Creator; or to work side by side to share the joy we have in our hearts under the Adventist umbrella merely because I am unsure of our origin story? Has adding these extra details to our fundamental beliefs helped us come closer to God or reach salvation for us or those we influence? Or does it squeeze out people who aren’t like you?
The first Chapters of Genesis are clear on these things:
-God created the Earth and everything else we know of
-He did it intentionally and with an increasing level of detail
-He “rested” as a symbol to us, which He reinforces through examples and a direct request elsewhere in our history with Him.
How does demanding a higher level of detail than this show us the incredible power of God? Or in some-way make us more right?
Explain how GPS works to a person who has never seen a battery (I tried this as a missionary). Whatever you tell them will necessarily be incomplete. So we all know we don’t have full knowledge of the story, why must we use this to exclude each other?
Recent Comments by J. Knight
Ted Wilson: “We will not flinch. We will not be deterred.”
I agree with several above comments that it is a shame dissenters fear a witch hunt, but what if we really see them as witches: those deceived and promoting fallacy against the church? SHOULDn’t they be hunted?!
Now think carefully about what you just answered… and consider your future actions. The quality of men is not shown in easy times, but when difficulty strikes. Remember your commitment to your neighbor, and
We’re protecting this: (FTA)
Wilson allowed that â€œwe donâ€™t have all the answers,â€ but that evidence does exist for a biblical creation and a global flood; evidence, he said, of â€œa loving God who created us in His image rather than a God . . . [who devolves] into a meaningless process . . . called theistic evolution.â€
By insisting this:
â€œUnfortunately, there are those who dismiss Genesis 1â€“11 as allegorical, [as] nice stories but only symbolic,â€ he added. â€œI want to tell you . . . that God created this world in six literal, consecutive, contiguous, 24-hour days of recent origin.â€
as though there are only two options. Could this over-simplification lead to problems? I say yes. If nothing else, the insistence that any deviation from the party-line isolates us from witnessing to those “educated in the world” as well as from other Christians, and most of the world.
We can agree on the protection – God is AWESOME! and He has demonstrated His caring for us. He desperately wants us to know this, and to rescue us sin. So much that He has made Himself personally available through prayer with no need for an intercessor. Go and use it.. not to request but to listen with an open heart.