A Historical Review of the Creation Debate Among SDAs

By Gerhard Pfandl, Ph.D.

At its 1980 world session in Dallas, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists officially voted the church’s statement of faith in terms of 27 fundamental beliefs.

Belief No. 6 states: “God is Creator of all things, and has revealed in Scripture the authentic account of His creative activity. In six days the Lord made ‘the heaven and the earth’ and all living things upon the earth, and rested on the seventh day of that first week. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of His completed creative work. The first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was ‘very good,’ declaring the glory of God. (Gen. 1; 2; Ex. 20:8-11; Ps. 19:1-6; 33:6, 9; 104; Heb. 11:3).”

This statement spells out that Seventh-day Adventists believe (a) that God created heaven and earth and all that is therein in six days, and (b) that the Sabbath is a continual reminder of the six-day creation.

On the basis of biblical chronology and some statements of Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventists have tradition ally believed that this creation took place about 6000 years ago.

Traditional creation models among Adventists

Two different views in regard to the creation record of Genesis 1 have prevailed in the Adventist Church.

1. The Adventist gap theory. This view understands Genesis 1:1 as a reference to the creation of the universe including the earth in its raw state billions of years ago. Several thousand years ago the Holy Spirit hovered above the waters and the six-day creation took place. This view was predominant among Adventist pioneers. M. C. Wilcox in 1898 wrote, “When did God create, or bring into existence, the heaven and the earth? ‘In the beginning.’ When this ‘beginning’ was, how long a period it covered, it is idle to conjecture; for it is not revealed. That it was a period which antedated the six days’ work is evident.” 1

The same view is found among Adventists today. For example, Clyde Webster, former associate director of the Geo-Science Research Institute, in his book The Earth writes, “There is no reference in Scripture within creation week that addresses the creation of water or the mineral content of dry land. . . . The only reference made to their creation is ‘in the beginning.’ It seems possible then that the elementary inorganic matter is not bound by a limited age as is the living matter.” 2

More recently, at the 2002 General Conference-sponsored Faith and Science Conference, Richard Davidson from Andrews University stated that “[T]he biblical text of Genesis 1 leaves room for either (a) young pre-fossil rock, created as part of the seven days of creation (with apparent old age), or (b) much older pre-fossil earth rock, with a long interval between the creation of the inanimate ‘raw materials’ on earth described in Genesis 1:1,2 and the seven days of Creation week described in Genesis 1:3ff (which I find the preferable interpretation).” 3

Contrary to the gap or ruin-restoration theory of the Scofield Bible, Seventh-day Adventists do not believe that life existed on earth prior to Genesis 1. Only nonfossil bearing rock can be billions of years old. While this is a possibility, Genesis 1:1-3 does not indicate that there is a gap between verses 1 and 2. Furthermore, Exodus 20:11 says “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them.” This text seems to say that with in six days God created everything connected with our earth. At any rate, the gap view does not really help us when it comes to the fossil bearing geologic column, since death can have occurred only after the Fall.

2. The original Creation account. This view sees the six-day Creation week beginning in verse 1, not in verse 3. In other words, “heaven and earth” in verse 1 refers only to our planetary system or our Milky Way and not to the universe as a whole. The reason is that in Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:1 “heaven and earth” do not refer to a re-creation of the universe but only to that part of the uni verse contaminated by sin.

This was J. N. Andrews’s view. He believed that the universe was created on day one. “If we could be placed back some 6,000 years in the past, and from that point survey the vast abyss of space now studded with the stars of heaven,what should we behold? Blank nothing. The host of heaven did not then exist. Our earth itself had not risen into being. The vast infinity of space was literally, as job expresses it, ‘the empty place,’ and that which filled it was ‘nothing’ Job 26:7. Utter and profound darkness rested upon the great void. Even the materials which subsequently formed the worlds had no existence.” 4

Ellen White wrote in 1904, in connection with the pantheism crisis, “The theory that God did not create matter when He brought the world into existence is without foundation. In the formation of our world, God was not indebted to pre-existing matter.” 5

While this statement can be used by both positions, in view of all her other statements on creation, I believe she held the second view. Whatever the case, both positions hold to a six-day Creation and see the Creation account as the basis for the Sabbath commandment in Exodus 20.

Evolution and the Adventist church

Until the 1950s Adventists on the whole accepted one or the other of the two creation models. During the last few decades, however, some Adventists have begun introducing a third creation model theistic evolution. This is an attempt to harmonize evolutionary biology with the Christian faith.

In 1957 the General Conference established the Geoscience Research Institute, located today on the campus of Loma Linda University in California. “The institute focuses mainly on the bio logical, geological, and paleontological questions regarding the origin of life and the past history of our planet in the context of the Creation account given in the book of Genesis.” 6

During the first two decades of its work, tensions existed among the scientists of the institute because of different views on how to interpret the past. Some took the statements of Scripture and Ellen White seriously and attempted to interpret the facts of science accordingly. Others were willing to consider seriously “evidence from radioactive time clocks that placed ‘Creation Week hundreds of millions of years ago’ ” 7 and searched for ways to interpret Scripture in the light of this view.

In time, all the so-called progressive scientists left the institute, and around 1980, when Ariel Roth became director of the institute, only scientists who accepted the Scriptural record as it reads were on the staff. In Adventist schools and universities, however, the picture was different. A number of science teachers tended to lean more and more toward theistic evolution.

The Geoscience Research Institute organized field conferences in North America, Europe, and Australia that informed the leadership of the church, teachers, and ministers about the problems of the evolutionary theory and offered a solution to the geologic column on the basis of the biblical flood.

On one of these tours in 1977 the General Conference president Robert Pierson realized that some of our scientists tended toward theistic evolution. He asked the vice presidents Duncan Eva, Willis Hackett, and Richard Hammill to formulate two doctrinal points, one about inspiration and the other about creation, which the scientists and Bible teachers in our schools should accept. “Their efforts on behalf of Pierson’s ‘creedal statement’ prompted one cam pus theologian to confess that he could see no substantive difference between the actions of the General Conference president and those of the pope.” 8

About the same time that Ariel Roth became director of the Geoscience Research Institute, Gerhard Hasel became dean of the theological semi nary at Andrews. Through these appointments Elder Pierson hoped to contain the pluralism among the theologians and scientists.

The progressive or more liberal thinking scholars and scientists, however, were frustrated. They turned to Richard Ritland, who had retired in 1982, and asked him to organize a field conference for the Association of Adventist Forums. The conference took place in 1985 with about 100 participants. For ten days they studied the geological formations in Utah and Wyoming and another five days were spent at a study conference in Yellowstone Park. “Conference presenters dealt with three themes: earth history, the biblical record, and responses by Christians seeking to reconcile their faith with the evidence from science.” 9

A report of this field conference, published in Spectrum, stated, “The conference generated some feeling of apprehension, partly because not all the familiar answers seemed adequate to explain what we saw, and because participants were concerned that the issue of origins might be divisive for the Adventist Church.” 10

The concern was justified. At a Geoscience field conference in 1991, which newly elected General Conference president Robert Folkenberg attended, Ariel Roth informed the participants that a number of Adventist scientists had become theistic evolutionists. Then in the year 2000, the Association of Adventist Forums published the book Creation Reconsidered, which contains the 28 lectures given at the 1985 Yellowstone conference. A number of the contributors to this volume advocate theistic evolution.

Two views in the church today

Based on recent publications of Adventist theologians and scientists in regard to creation we can say that today there are basically two views in the Adventist Church. One sees creation extending over millions of years; the other holds to a six-day Creation several thousand years ago.

Representatives of theistic evolution. Richard M. Ritland (a retired biologist who taught at Loma Linda and Andrews). At the field conference in 1985, in his lecture on the geologic column, which seems to indicate that life on earth existed millions of years ago, he traced the development and the evidences for the geologic column. He concluded by saying, “Like a clock for organizing the day, the geologic column has become like a calendar for relating and organizing the vast body of information and theories that has become the essential core to which the records of earth history relate. It has become an indispensable tool, not only for general studies but also for those special areas related to the flow of energy and life throughout time, to origins, to time, to evolutionary change all of immediate concern to those probing the meaning of life, existence, and the governance of the cosmos.” 11

Richard ]. Bottomley (a geophysicist at the Canadian University College). At the same conference, he dealt with the topic of dating the rocks. After explaining the radioactive dating methods, he showed that fossil-bearing rocks have a certain sequence the bottom rock must have been laid down before the younger rock on top of it. Since the dates for the individual layers are spread over hundreds of millions of years, he concluded that the layers of rock “do represent long intervals of time and that the rocks involved could not have been deposited over a short period of time,” 12 as most Adventists believe happened during the Flood.

Richard L. Hammill (former president of Andrews, General Conference vice president). After his retirement, Dr. Hammill studied scientific theories (plate tectonics, fossils, radioactive dating, etc.). After nine years of study he came to the conclusion that “animals were living on the earth . . . millions of years ago before these [continental] plates separated. And, moreover, as I got to looking into the geologic col umn, I had to recognize . . . that the geologic column is valid, that some forms of life were extinct before other forms of life came into existence. . . . The steadily accumulating evidence in the natural world has forced a reevaluation in the way I look and understand and interpret parts of the Bible.”13 He called himself a progressive creationist.

Fritz Guy (a theologian at La Sierra University). At the Faith and Science Conference in 2002, Dr. Guy presented a lecture, “Interpreting Genesis One in the Twenty-First Century,” that was later published in Spectrum. He interprets Genesis 1 theologically, i.e., he sees Genesis 1 “not as a literalistic description of a process, but as ‘a spiritual interpretation of the universe’s origin, nature, and destiny.'” 14 That means “read theologically, the explanation of creation in Genesis 1 is complementary also to a sci entific explanation of the history of the cosmos, the earth, life, and humanity. Taking the two explanations together ‘yields an intellectually satisfying and spiritually illuminating account of creation.'” 15 As far as Ellen White is concerned, he believes that if she were living now, knowing what we know today about natural history, “she would undoubtedly avoid making a divisive issue of the interpretation of Genesis 1 .” 16

Representatives of a six-day Creation. Jim Gibson (biologist and director of the Geoscience Research Institute). In 1998, at the European Geoscience field conference Jim Gibson stated that “the long-age viewpoint makes certain unfavorable implications about the character of God and the reliability of the Bible. Since I give epistemological primacy to the Scriptures, I accept the Genesis record as a matter of faith. Having adopted that position, I am encouraged that much of the evidence claimed to support long ages can be reinterpreted in the context of a short chronology.” 17

Randall Younker (archaeologist at Andrews University with a background in biology). At Andrews University, he and John Baldwin teach the course “Issues in Origin” in which they present the traditional creationist viewpoint.Younker wrote the Sabbath School quarterly on creation for the fourth quarter of 1999. In the introduction to the lesson he states, “Seventh-day Adventists take Genesis 1-11 as an accurate historical account of origins of life on earth. We accept the biblical account’s straightforward testimony that the creation of life on this planet and its various habitats occurred in six literal, 24-hour days. Based on the avail able biblical data, we also believe that the period of time since the Creation has been a short chronology of a few thousand years, as opposed to millions of years required by the general theory of evolution.” 18

Leonard Brand (biologist at Loma Linda University). In the introduction to his book Faith, Reason, and Earth History he writes that “a central thesis of this book is that a creationist can indeed be an effective scientist.”19 He champions interventionism, a view of history that recognizes the important role of intelligent intervention in history. In the chapter on faith and science he says in regard to geology, “Science has proposed a theory that fossil-bearing geologic deposits have accumulated over hundreds of millions of years…. 1 conclude that the Bible indicates that current geological theory, in certain respects, is an incorrect interpretation of the data. Our task is to go back to the research lab and develop a more correct theory.” 20

Richard Davidson (theologian at Andrews University). Davidson is a proponent of the Adventist gap theory, i.e., Genesis 1:1 speaks about the creation of the universe; only from verse 3 on is the creation week in view. In regard to the interpretation of Genesis 1 he says, “Based upon the testimony of the Genesis account and later intertextual allusions to this account, I must affirm the literal, historical nature of Genesis 1 and 2, with a literal Creation week consisting of six consecutive, contiguous, creative, natural 24-hour days, followed immediately by a literal 24-hour seventh day, during which God rested, blessed, and sanctified the Sabbath as a memorial of creation.”21

The view of Jack Provonsha. In the face of scientific facts, a six-day Creation a few thousand years ago is no longer acceptable to many Adventist scholars and scientists. On the other hand, conservative Adventist scholars cannot accept any view that posits death before human beings lived on the earth, because Paul in Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (NK]V).

The Loma Linda physician and theologian Jack Provonsha, therefore, has proposed a different solution. He has suggested that Adventists consider the ruin-restoration theory as propounded by the Scofield Bible. According to this view, when Lucifer was cast out of heaven to the earth he was given a long time to work out his principles. “This included genetic experimentation resulting in the evolutionary process which ultimately led to the development of human-like apes. At some more recent time, Provonsha suggested, God stepped in and created the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.”22

Although this view combines the conservative view with the scientific data of death before Adam, it has received little support from either side.

Recent faith and science conferences

At the Annual Council in 2001 the General Conference Executive Committee organized a series of conferences on faith and science during the years 2002-2004. The first one in 2002 was an international conference in Ogden, Utah. More than 80 scientists, theologians, and church administrators from different parts of the world began dis cussing the interrelationship between faith and science. Topics ranged from the hominid fossil record to Ellen White’s view of science. The conference revealed the seriousness and breadth of differences concerning questions of origin that are present in the Adventist community today.

During 2003 and the first half of 2004 most divisions held similar faith and science conferences in their territories. The formal discussions came to an end in August 2004 at the second international conference in Denver, Colorado. “The new element in this conference was a discussion on the ethics of dissent dealing with the ethical responsibility of those who differ in significant ways from the biblical position of the church on the topic of creation. The discussion was open, candid, and highly professional. It was obvious that a small number of individuals scientists and theologians did not support or felt uncomfortable with the biblical doctrine of creation in six literal, consecutive days as clearly revealed in Genesis I.”23

There was no attempt on the part of church leaders to modify or change our fundamental belief on Creation. This was clearly stated by Elder Jan Paulsen, the General Conference president, before the discussions were initiated. However, such discussions cannot be avoided because the theory of evolution and the Adventist doctrine of creation represent two antagonistic and fundamentally diverse worldviews. Unfortunately, theistic evolution is one view that is being held and taught by a number of Seventh-day Adventists today.

Secondly, it is important for the church to be aware that neither evolutionists nor creationists have all the answers in the debate. These conferences provided a proper environment to discuss these questions while at the same time holding to our faith commitment.

The report of the International Faith and Science Conference Organizing Committee to the 2004 Autumn Council of the General Conference stated that while there is widespread affirmation of the Church’s position on Creation, “[W]e recognize that some among us interpret the biblical record in ways that lead to sharply different conclusions.”24

The Annual Council, after careful discussion, produced a response to the report in which the Council strongly endorsed the Church’s historic, biblical position of belief in a literal, recent, six day creation. “We reaffirm the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the historicity of Genesis 1-11: that the seven days of the Creation account were literal 24-hour days forming a week identical in time to what we now experience as a week; and that the Flood was global in nature.” 25 The response also called upon all boards and teachers at our schools to uphold and advocate the Church’s position on origins.

Conclusion

The last few years have shown that there are a number of views on creation within the Adventist Church. Not all of them can be right. Should theistic evolution become more and more accept ed, we will be in danger of losing the biblical foundation for the Sabbath and our understanding of salvation.

Without the Creation week the Sabbath becomes a Jewish institution, and if death existed long before the appearance of man, there was no Fall in Eden and therefore there is no need for salvation. Then Paul was in error when he wrote: “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

Gerhard Pfandl is an associate director of the Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland.

1 M.C. Wilcox, “The Gospel in Genesis One,” The Signs of the Times, 24.27 (July 7, 1898): 16.
2 Clyde E. Webster, The Earth (Silver Spring: Office of Education, NAD, 1989), 43.
3 Richard Davidson, “The Biblical Account of Origins.” Paper presented at the Faith and Science Conference, August 23-29, 2002 in Ogden, Utah, 29.
4 J.N. Andrews, “The Memorial of Creation,” Review and Herald 43.17 (April 7, 1874): 129.
5 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, 8 cols. (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press, 1948), 8.258.
6 Seventh Day Adventist Encyclopedia, second rv. ed Commentary Reference Series, vol 10 (Hagerstown, MD Review and Herald, 1996), 599.
7 Ron Numbers, The Creationists (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1992), 292.
8 James L. Hayward, ed, Creation Reconsidered (Roseville, Calif. Association of Adventists Forums, 2000), 12.
9 _____, “The Many Faces of Adventist Creationism,” Spectrum 25.3 (March 1996), 25.
10 Karen Bottomley, “Pilgrimage in the Rockies: The AAF Geology Tour,” Spectrum 16.4 (1985), 26.
11 Richard M. Ritland, “The Geologic Column” in Hayward, ed. Creation Reconsidered, 34.
12 _____”Age Dating of Rocks” in Hayward, ed , Creation Reconwlerett, 75
13 Quoted in Hayward, Spettrttm 25 3 (1996). 27, 2B
14 Fritz Guy, “Interpreting Genesis One in the Twenty-First Century,” Spectrum 31 2 (Spring 200J), 11,
15 Ibid, 12
16 Ibid, 13
17 Jim Gibson, “Why a Creation Conference” (Geoscience Research Institute, Unpublished manuscript), 19
18 Randall Younker, God’s Creation, Sabbath School Study Guide for the third quarter 1999 (Silver Spring Genera! Conference!, 1999), 4
19 Leonard Brand, Faith, and Reason, Earth History (Berrien Springs, Mich.. Andrews University Press, 1997), viii
20 Ibid , 95
21 Richard M Davidson, “The Biblical Account of Origins” Unpublished paper presented at the International Faith and Science Conference 2002 at Ogden, Utah, 22
22 Hayward, Spectrum 25.3 (1996) 22
23 Angel M. Rodriguez, “Second international Faith and Science Conference A Report,” Reflections 9 (Jan 2005) 2.
24 “An Affirmation of Creation,” Report of the International Faith and Science Conference of Organizing Committee, 5.
25 “Response to an Affirmation of Creation,” Annual Council 2004, 1.

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16 thoughts on “A Historical Review of the Creation Debate Among SDAs

  1. Gerhard Pfandl’s conclusion says it all. If theistic evolution is right, there is no fall, no sin, and no need of supernatural salvation. We need only follow the inevitable trajectory of natural progress outlined by Darwin, by which nature advances through the brutal subjugation of the weak to the strong. The kind of mercy to the unfortunate which Christ declared to be a condition of entering His eternal kingdom (Matt. 25:31-46) is utterly out of place in such a worldview.

    Some of us are still waiting for liberal Adventists to explain how mercy, love, and grace fit into a view of reality which accepts Darwinian evolution as the model for the origin of life.

    God bless!

    Pastor Kevin Paulson




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  2. Some of us are still waiting for liberal Adventists to explain how mercy, love, and grace fit into a view of reality which accepts Darwinian evolution as the model for the origin of life.God bless!Pastor Kevin Paulson  

    I am definitely not waiting, since it is impossible to “fit” the biblical story with Darwinian evolution. You won’t find any of the Bio Profs even attempting to do this. Theologians will, however, give it a try, using secular humanistic philosophy and maze-like “logic” to try and convince us the two are compatible!




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  3. If you read the chapter in “Patriarchs and Prophets”, Why was sin Permitted, and the corresponding chapter in “the Great Contorversy” you will find Ellen saying that Satan fell before the creation of the Earth. And that he traveled throughout the universe tempting angels and other created being on other planets to join him. Part of the reason for his fall was jealously over Jesus being taken into counsel over the plans for the creation on this planet with Adam and Eve, et. al.

    When you put 2-and-2 together, it is plain from these chapters that Ellen believed that God had created and populated the universe with angels and other intelligent life forms on other planets. That Lucifer fell taking within 1/3 of the angels and spreading his doubts throughout the intelligent life forms of the universe. THEN, God prepared this planet for life and its ecosystems.

    So, it seems that she considered verse 1 to be the Creation of the universe which was then followed by the creation week at a later date. It seems to me that the most likely place where a passing of time can be found is IN vs 2 between the description of the condition of the earth and God the Spirit coming down in preparation for the Creation week.




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  4. “Unfortunately, theistic evolution is one view that is being held and taught by a number of Seventh-day Adventists today.”

    I think there should be quotes around “Seventh-day Adventists.” In fact, this piece, although written by someone sympathetic to traditional Adventism, is a bit too neutral in tone. Another example:

    “The last few years have shown that there are a number of views on creation within the Adventist Church.”

    Really, this is all the cultural Adventists, the Seventh-day Darwinians, want: a concession that an Adventist in good standing can be either a Darwinist or a creationist. Their main argument is that Adventism is defined not by adherence to a coherent body of doctrine, but by self-identificationn with the Adventist subculture, regardless of adherence to beliefs. If this point is ever conceded, the game is over and Adventism as a belief system is doomed.

    So, no, there certainly are not “a number of views on creation within the Adventist Church.” Rather, there are unbelievers who are attacking the foundations of the church from within. I know that Sean and others disagree with me on this point, but now that I appreciate the extent of the problem, I believe that the impulse to coddle and tolerate these people–even laypeople who were not employed as teachers or church officials–was not from God. I think Lydian put it very wisely and eloquently on another thread:

    “It also seems to me (and forgive me if I’m wrong) that an awful lot of responsible people have been asleep at the wheel for a mighty long time and this has allowed this heresy to grow from a baby to a full-sized monster! And what could have, and should have, been met with Christ-like firmness many years ago is now going to take tremendous action (and likely many more lost souls) to root out and eradicate this deeply rooted cancer in our church–even if it is possible to do so (which is questionable.)”




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  5. Kevin Paulson said: “Some of us are still waiting for liberal Adventists to explain how mercy, love, and grace fit into a view of reality which accepts Darwinian evolution as the model for the origin of life.”

    I’m not espousing what I’m about to say, but I think I can describe what an evolutionist would say.

    Things like love, mercy and grace shown from one person to another, and even self sacrifice, even giving one’s own life for others, is a way to help ensure the furthering of one’s tribe, and thus one’s genes.

    Humanity started with a vested interest in furthering one’s tribe in the face of many threats. Helping others in the tribe helped one’s own survivability. After several generations over a few thousand years, this has had an effect on humanity.

    As society has grown into larger and larger civilizations, the size of one’s “tribe” has grown. With Christianity, there is no male nor female, no jew (insider) nor greek (outsider), all humanity are defined as one “tribe” and we need to take care of everyone.

    Again, I’m not saying this is true. I’m just saying that this is what I think an evolutionist would say.




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  6. David Read quoted…..

    ” I think Lydian put it very wisely and eloquently on another thread:

    “It also seems to me (and forgive me if I’m wrong) that an awful lot of responsible people have been asleep at the wheel for a mighty long time and this has allowed this heresy to grow from a baby to a full-sized monster! And what could have, and should have, been met with Christ-like firmness many years ago is now going to take tremendous action (and likely many more lost souls) to root out and eradicate this deeply rooted cancer in our church–even if it is possible to do so (which is questionable.)” David Read(Quote)

    It is amazing that so few in “the church” are just now beginning to wake up to the reality of this situation. And this is by no means the only one. The present church spirituality was advocated and advanced by Dr. Ford when he attack EGW and our historic message. So, for 3 decades his influence has been growing and now coming to maturity more and more.

    Real church discipline was abandon and the new tactic of “pluralism” was put in place so church leaders could abandon their responsibility to govern the church. The only discipline they exercised was against anyone who called for accountability.

    How did they pull this off. By a continual selling the idea of “church infallibility” where no matter how bad the church is, God will somehow straighten out the problem, and therefore, no church member need concern themselves with church problems in doctrine and theology.

    Make no mistake, this is how the devil has opperated again and again since the sin problem has arisen. And since we are inherently lazy and sinful, we are more than willingly to “buy” this false line.

    Did God raise up the SDA movement? Yes, no doubt. Will “the church” eventually succeed? Yes. But only if you define “the church” as those who cling to the bible and the message God has given. When the church is defined as the legal instrumentality and visible structure, and appeal to this as “the church” that will go through, all Satan needs to do is gain control of the visible structure and he will gain his final goal.

    Some are now becoming more and more aware of this false idea and so we can take heart that the true message will soon become dynamic as it was in the past. I know the David Read is seeing more and more this reality as well as many others.

    Evolution vs. creation is only one issue. And we can be certain the Sabbath is close at the heels of this controversy.

    Keep the faith

    Bill Sorensen




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  7. Bill,

    I think the problem is apathy. People don’t want to know “the negative.” They don’t want to see any “dirty laundry,” much less be participant to hanging it out to the open air and sunshine for a proper cleansing.

    I’ve tried talking to a few about this problem and their response was a mixture of incredulity (as in “you’re not going to get me to believe that”) and of disinterest. Putting one’s head in the proverbial sand will not make the problems go away. But it is true that we must face the problems in the right spirit and with wisdom.

    There are three swords that the Bible tells us we must choose from: that of Hazael, or of Jehu, or of Elisha. He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. We must choose one of the above. There is no escaping from all three, according to 1 Kings 19:17, but one of them must take us. Will it be that of Hazael, who as an outsider cruelly persecuted and slaughtered God’s people? Will it be that of Jehu, who as a member raised his sword against his own leaders? Or will it be that of Elisha, who had the double portion of God’s Spirit: truth and mercy, justice and love?

    It is high time to see cleansing in the church. But let us not become Jehus and Hazaels. We can stand up for truth without living by the sword of criticism. We must speak the truth, but always in love.

    Erik




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  8. Erik says:
    June 3, 2010 Bill,

    “I think the problem is apathy. People don’t want to know “the negative.” They don’t want to see any “dirty laundry,” much less be participant to hanging it out to the open air and sunshine for a proper cleansing.”

    Yes, apathy, Erik. Simply because they think and hope they have no accountability in the matter. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Has a more comprehensive application than many suppose.

    That we must certainly have “the Spirit of Jesus” in our response, this may not be as easy to define as some may think. “The Spirit of Jesus” is manifested throughout scripture in a number of ways.

    The prophets were generally confrontational. But this is not the only format God had used in the past. Patience and support is another virtue in some circumstances.

    Most people hate confrontation. It causes division and usually considerable pain and discomfort. Yet, in the end, it seems to be the only final solution in any religious controversy.

    Luther desired to reform the church. And many agreed. But when reformation was impossible, not a few opted to bow out and just let it go. Or, as Father Staupitz said, “I can not choose to destroy my church.”

    Often times, love for the church is simply love of self and self righteousness. And when people are convinced that, loyalty to the church, is, ipso facto, loyalty to Christ, you can be sure the church can and will become an instrument of Satan to undermine God and His kingdom.

    Sad to say, much of Adventism today has wandered far from the bible. And EGW is simply ignored except in areas where she speaks in generic terms of unity, love, and helping your neighbor. This is nothing but a social gospel when it is not clearly stated in a more definitive context of doctrine and bible truth.

    Even the investigative judgment has little dynamic if and when the law is so dumb down it no longer has any teeth. The Sabbath is the final test. Not the only test.

    The intensity of our convictions and actions, are directly related to how important we think any issue is. Or, if we think we have any responsibility or culpability in the outcome.

    “I’m OK, you’re OK” is the basic norm. Don’t confront anyone and mind your own business is the common advice. Even pastors can not preach and teach the “straight testimony” for fear of being chided by their leaders.

    So, the saying goes,
    “He who has a thing to sell,
    and goes and whispers in a well,
    Is not so apt to get the dollars,
    As he who climbs a tree and hollars.”

    Maybe it is even too late to hollar. But remember this, the prophets would not “shut up” and were unrelenting in demanding accountability. Of course, they weren’t very popular people, were they?

    I doubt Shane is very popular by most in Adventism who consider his challenge. Hopefully, more than we think.

    And like Luther’s day, there are more than a few rebels who will use it as an excuse to attack anything and everything, regardless. Truth is always precarious.

    Bill Sorensen




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  9. Science.–“In the study of the sciences also, we are to obtain a knowledge of the Creator. All true science is but an interpretation of the handwriting of God in the material world. Science
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    brings from her research only fresh evidence of the wisdom and power of God. Rightly understood, both the book of nature and the written Word make us acquainted with God by teaching us something of the wise and beneficent laws through which He works. {PH124 24.8}




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  10. Geology.–“Apart from Bible history, geology can prove nothing. . . . Relics found in the earth do give evidence of conditions differing in many respects from the present; but the time when these conditions existed can be learned only from the Inspired Record. In the history of the flood, inspiration has explained that which geology alone could never fathom. In the days of Noah, men, animals, and trees, many times larger than now exist, were buried, and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history.”–Patriarchs, p. 112. {PH124 26.1}
    “At the flood the surface of the earth was broken up, marked changes took place, and in the re-formation of the earth’s crust were preserved many evidences of the life previously existing. The vast forests buried in the earth at the time of the flood, and since changed to coal, form the extensive coal fields, and yield the supplies of oil, that minister to our comfort and convenience today. These things, as they are brought to light, are so many witnesses mutely testifying to the truth of the Word of God.”–Ed., p. 129. {PH124 26.2}




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  11. Purpose of Church School Work

    “When properly conducted, church schools will be the means of lifting the standard of truth in the places where they are established; for children who are receiving a Christian education will be witnesses for Christ. As Jesus in the temple solved the mysteries which priests and rulers had not discerned, so in the closing work of this earth, children who have been rightly educated will in their simplicity speak words which will be an astonishment to men who now talk of ‘higher education.’ As the children sang in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He that cometh in the name
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    of the Lord,’ so in these last days, children’s voices will be raised to give the last message of warning to a perishing world. When heavenly intelligences see that men are no longer permitted to present the truth, the Spirit of God will come upon the children, and they will do a work in the proclamation of the truth which the older workers cannot do, because their way will be hedged up. {PH124 19.6}
    “Our church schools are ordained by God to prepare the children for this great work. Here children are to be instructed in the special truths for this time. . . . By them God’s message will be made known, and His saving health to all nations.”–Test., Vol. VI, pp. 202, 203. {PH124 20.1}
    1. The Bible.–“The Word of God is the most perfect educational book in our world.”–Sp. Test., page 19.
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    {PH124 20.2}




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  12. There is a huge problem here based on the BRI summary.

    This is not unlike the Catholic church’s recent statementa about aliens on other planets and that the Christian world needs to adjust its views to aliens being real (for what reason? Maybe the Catholic church thinks they are going to show up).

    Anyway – all very strange stuff.

    BTW – Maranatha 210 says that “heathen deities.. will exhibit themselves before the cities of the world” (Whatever that means).

    In the same way Pfandl’s statement (with names attached) appears to be preparing the Adventist church in general for a coming reality – that is most unnexpected.

    1. The account he gives provides no instance where the Bible view actually wins out such that all of our scientists are creationist.

    2. The history shows that things are only getting worse over time and that the people endorsing it are more and more coming from mainstream Adventism. The momentum over time indicates no hint of solving the problem, rather it shows a tendency towards “containing the problem less” as time goes by.

    Here is something I recently put on Spectrum after having first sent a form of it to the Review months ago –

    ========================================================

    The alpha of apostasy that was dealt with in early Adventism – was Kellogg’s pantheism.

    Now let’s compare our current problems with evolutionism – to pantheism in Kellogg’s “Living Temple” at Battle Creek – what do you get?

    1. Our schools today that do not tow the line in service to evolutionism – STILL have to teach evolution to the biology students at some modest level – just to inform them about the jargon, the mythology – they will meet when they graduate and seek jobs.
    There was never any such thing as “teach the Living Temple basics to the students even though we don’t believe them – because the whole world is using that system as a frame of reference”. It simply was not there in the late 1800’s.

    2. In the recent U.S Presidential election – we had all the presidential candidates of one of the political parties asked “do you believe in evolution” on national television during a debate – and the few that said “no” were then pummeled by the press over the next week or two with demands that they recant combined with insistence that nobody could be president that did not “believe” in evolutionism.
    By comparison – there was no such “you must believe in Kellogg’s Living Temple or you cannot be elected to political office” nonsense in the 1800’s or early 1900’s.

    3. In America – government grant funding is fully behind evolutionism as is the National Academy of Sciences. So anyone going into a field of research that might be remotely related to a field that evolutionists are interested in – will find a lot of jobs helping to promote an evolutionist agenda and none for Creation. Imagine for a moment that this were the case for Kellogg’s “living temple”.
    Simply no comparison. Do we get out of science? I don’t think so. Well then where will this end up?

    4. Acceptance of Evolution by the general public in Europe is reported to be well above 90% – and it has already destroyed Christian church attendance in Europe (it is down about 90% from what it was in the 1950’s in terms of % of population attending services) and will soon reach that point in Canada, and American acceptance of evolution is on the rise.
    By comparison – there was no such world wide momentum behind Kellogg’s Living temple at the time the Adventists were dealing with it. Having all of society line up behind the mythology of evolutionism applies peer pressure at the grass roots level before students even get to college.

    5. All indications are that if time continues long enough – almost all of our Universities will eventually fall, if our denominational response to this crisis is no more “insightful” than what we have seen over the last 12 years.

    So while it is true that some “Worse thing” could always show up in the next few years – this one is plenty bad enough to be an “Omega of a most shocking nature”.




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  13. Pfandl said –

    2. The original Creation account. This view sees the six-day Creation week beginning in verse 1, not in verse 3. In other words, “heaven and earth” in verse 1 refers only to our planetary system or our Milky Way and not to the universe as a whole. The reason is that in Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:1 “heaven and earth” do not refer to a re-creation of the universe but only to that part of the uni verse contaminated by sin.

    This was J. N. Andrews’s view. He believed that the universe was created on day one. “If we could be placed back some 6,000 years in the past, and from that point survey the vast abyss of space now studded with the stars of heaven,what should we behold? Blank nothing. The host of heaven did not then exist. Our earth itself had not risen into being. The vast infinity of space was literally, as job expresses it, ‘the empty place,’ and that which filled it was ‘nothing’ Job 26:7. Utter and profound darkness rested upon the great void. Even the materials which subsequently formed the worlds had no existence.” 4

    Possibly J.N Andrews’ view is supposed to have a #3 by it because it does not look like the #2 that is listed above.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  14. @bill quoted Elln: ”Apart from Bible history, geology can prove nothing. . . . Relics found in the earth do give evidence of conditions differing in many respects from the present; but the time when these conditions existed can be learned only from the Inspired Record. In the history of the flood, inspiration has explained that which geology alone could never fathom.”

    Ellen first wrote this quote in about 1856 about 5 years after Darwin published his Origin of the Species. What is utterly fantastic about this is that this idea that geology as a science must be understood within a paradigm (in this case Biblical history). This concept was not realized until the mid twentieth century when Thomas Khun explained how science can only be done within a paradigm. Here again, Ellen was 100 years ahead of her time. The problem is that we have not appreciated what she has really said. In another place Ellen talks about how students who take sciences from secular universities must be STRONG IN THE FAITH. Thus again showing that the real issue is not about science vs religion but rather religious beliefs vs. religious beliefs. What we have in some of our schools are people who attended public Us and didn’t realize that they were facing issues of faith. They became fooled by the claim of naturalists and evolutionists that the issue was science vs. religion and so they have been compromising their faith ever since and teaching others to do the same.

    We need people who will stand up and say that this is all about faith in the Bible and which religious belief you are going to accept as true — Naturalism or Creationism.




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  15. Wow, I didn’t realize I believe an “Adventist gap theory.” But I’ll stand by it. Since each day is carefully bracketed with an, “And God said…” and “And the evening and the morning were the ___ day”, and Day One doesn’t include the creation of water or the apparently submerged land, I don’t see any other way around it. But neither am I dogmatic about it.

    I agree with others above that there’s nothing Adventist about any theistic evolution option. It reduces the church to a cultural relic, with no doctrinal significance. Although I feel hopeful that the church will stand down this threat, if it should fail to do so and eventually embrace evolution, I will be forced to withdraw my membership. Adventism and Darwinism cannot mix; they are like iron and clay. For that matter, Christianity and Darwinism cannot mix. It is heresy in the worst way. Choose the Bible, or choose Origin of Species … but you can’t have both.




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  16. Gehard Pfandl has provided a good history of the “Origins” debate among Adventists. However, it should be noted that Ellen White did not accept the young universe views of J.N. Andrews and others. In “Patriarchs and Prophets” page 37, she speaks of worlds that were inhabited by intelligent beings when Lucifer was beginning his rebellion in heaven and before creation week on earth. This is clearly an old universe view.




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