Comment on Former LSU student letter reveals professor’s agenda by Sean Pitman.
Excuse me: I didnâ€™t comment on Leonard Brand. I was responding to the mention of Chadwick and Lee. Letâ€™s ask this: what have they contributed to science that my niece has not? They like to dig fossils; so does my niece. They like to talk about their â€œresearch;â€ so does my niece. They talk to college students; my niece talks to schoolmates and Sabbath Schoolmates. One can easily Google the [lack of] publications by these professors (especially as senior authors); one can do the same for my niece.
You do realize that Brand and Chadwick have worked together and published papers together? – right? I wonder what Brand would say about your comparison of the knowledge and work of Chadwick to your niece?
You actually chastise Shane and me for publicly calling out professors who are attacking the Church’s fundamental beliefs in our own classrooms, but feel yourself free to publicly compare the work of someone like Arthur Chadwick to your niece?!
Methinks you doth protest too much 😉
Sean Pitman Also Commented
I wrote, â€œThe SDA Church is Godâ€™s appointed vessel to bring salvation through Jesus Christ to the worldâ€¦Jesus is what saves and Jesus alone; the SDA Church and all it represents (â€œtruthâ€) can never save a soul who does not reach out to Jesus.â€
And you graciously corrected me: â€œLast I checked, the Church has no power to save at all. The entire purpose of the Church is not to save, but to spread the Gospel message of hope to those for whom salvation has already been purchased.â€
You have suggested I need to do more thinking on my own, but somehow you are always one up on me.
This wasn’t a correction professor. I was actually agreeing with you on this particular point. My disagreement with you is over the importance, or lack thereof, of knowledge of the truth. Just because empirical knowledge doesn’t have the power to save, in and of itself, doesn’t mean that it isn’t important or vital to the Gospel’s message of hope…
And once again you give evidence of your embrace of the false dichotomy so popular in modern and postmodern Adventism between â€œChristâ€ and the â€œdoctrines.â€ You insist that correct doctrine will save no one. And you are wrong. Over and over again, in Holy Scripture, truth is declared to be the means of salvation (Hosea 4:6; Matt. 4:4; John 8:31; II Thess. 2:13; I Tim. 4:16). Such truth must be internalized within the heart, to be sure, but it is still the means by which God saves men and women.
Internalization is key. Knowledge of the truth, by itself, is powerless to save. After all, Satan has more knowledge of the truth than all of us put together. Therefore, one must have a love of the truth which allows one to internalize the truth and make it part of one’s self in order for the saving power of Jesus to become effective within the heart.
It is for this reason that even the heathen who are honestly ignorant of the life of Jesus, the Plan of Salvation, the Bible, or the Gospel message of hope can be saved – by living a life according to the Royal Law written upon the hearts of all mankind. However, they will have missed out on the blessings to be had by knowing and accepting the Gospel message of hope here in this life…
The SDA Church is Godâ€™s appointed vessel to bring salvation through Jesus Christ to the worldâ€“not salvation through 28 fundamental beliefs, FB#6, physical evidence for a young earth and the flood, and the like. Jesus is what saves and Jesus alone; the SDA Church and all it represents (â€œtruthâ€) can never save a soul who does not reach out to Jesus.
Last I checked, the Church has no power to save at all. The entire purpose of the Church is not to save, but to spread the Gospel message of hope to those for whom salvation has already been purchased.
Remember now, knowledge, in and of itself, doesn’t save. However, knowledge does have the power to give people hope here and now…
When was the last time you got an empirical hug from Jesus, Sean?
Every time I see the evidence of Design in nature I know that there is a God. Every time I read the Bible and see the empirical evidence supported by historical science, I know there is a personal God who loves and cares for me. If that isn’t a “hug from Jesus” I don’t know what is…
God didn’t have to give us any evidence whatsoever. He didn’t have to tell us anything about why we are here or any reasons for sin and suffering or anything about what He plans to do about it or our bright future in Heaven with Him for eternity. He didn’t have to tell us any of that. He didn’t have to give us any evidence for the reliability of the Bible vs. other flights of fancy – like the Book of Mormon. The righteous could have been saved without any knowledge, in this life, of the Gospel hope. Yet, I’m so glad that I do have this knowledge here and now. How much better this life when one has a knowledge of the Gospel message of hope and the evidence supporting its credibility as a true story of history and of our future life…
Why is it that you donâ€™t speak of Christ, love, forgiveness, or the cross?
I do speak of Christ’s love, forgiveness, and the Cross all the time. It is just that without evidence of the reality of these things, they’re just a bunch of just-so stories that have no more power to give people hope than a Santa Claus story told to gullible children.
I think youâ€™re so stuck on your superior knowledge of â€œevidenceâ€ and so hypercritical of the simple faith of others, which you mock, that you have lost grasp of the source of your salvation. It is written, â€œthe righteous shall live by faith.â€ Tell us once again that Iâ€™m teaching falsehood, Sean. Warn us all!
Faith is based on the evidence of things unseen professor. Without this evidence, one may be saved, but one will not have a solid conscious realization of this future reality here and now.
For example, did the disciples of Jesus have more or less faith in the Gospel message after they saw Him raised from the dead? Think about it…
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us… We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 1 John 1:3 NIV and 2 Peter 1:16 NIV
Clearly, it was the evidence of their senses, the empirical evidence itself, that gave them their hope and confidence in Jesus as the true Savior and Redeemer.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
“Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you ‘blew my cover.’ There was no cover to blow.” – Bryan Ness
You’re not the main problem here. I’d have no problem with you personally and what you personally believe at all except that you are a professor in an Adventist school – Pacific Union College.
It’s this school who presents itself as being in line with the primary goals and ideals of the Adventist Church, when it really isn’t. I have friends of mine who have gone to PUC and talked to the leadership about sending their children to PUC. They’ve specifically asked about the situation at La Sierra University and asked the PUC leadership and heads of departments what their position is on teaching the theory of evolution as “the truth” – and if the teachers at PUC support the SDA position on origins and other issues? They were told that PUC does not condone what happened at LSU and that the professors at PUC are fully in line with the SDA position on origins and all of the other fundamental positions of the church.
Of course, you know and I know that this just isn’t true. You, for one, publically speak and teach against the church’s position on origins as well as human sexuality. This reality is not being presented by the leadership of PUC to the parents of potential PUC students. This reality simply isn’t being advertised to the general church membership at all. What PUC should be advertizing to parents and the church membership at large is,
“Yes, we do maintain professors who teach our students that the church’s position on various fundamental doctrinal issues is in fact wrong and should be changed to reflect the more popular secular position on these topics.”
That’s what it should be telling everyone, but this just isn’t what is being done.
I am attacking no one… Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church?
Since it was placed as one of the church’s “fundamental beliefs” by the church (Link). When you publically publish an article stating that the Church’s position is clearly mistaken and should be changed, that’s an attack on the church’s position.
And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.”
The SDA Church has chosen to describe the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman as one of the “fundamental” messages to spread to the world – as one of the fundamental reasons for its very existence…
Now, you call what you’re doing, not an “attack”, but a “plea for compassion”. However, your plea for compassion is presented as a clear statement that the church’s position is absolutely mistaken – that the church’s position is not at all “compassionate” or even biblical. Now, you may be very honest and sincere in your views here, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not attacking the church’s position in a very real and fundamental way. The fact is that you are making a very clear attack on the church’s position while accepting money from the church as a representative who is supposed to be supporting the church as a paid employee.
Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?
That’s not my goal. However, if a person wants to know what the Bible has to say about what they are doing, I’m not going to pretend that the Bible has nothing to say when the Bible does in fact have something to say. If what the Bible says “causes pain” to a person living in what the Bible says is a “sinful” lifestyle, that’s between them and God. The very same thing is true of me and my own sinful tendencies. If what the Bible says about what I’m doing causes me pain, I can either respond to that by ignoring what the Bible has to say, or I can ask God for help in changing my ways.
Jesus himself said that He did not come to bring peace to those who are living in rebellion against God’s ideals for humanity, but a “sword” (Matthew 10:34). The denial of self and what we naturally want to do given our fallen condition, in order to follow God and what He calls us to do, is often quite painful indeed. That doesn’t mean it’s not the best path to follow. There simply can be no peace between God and those who wish to hang onto what God has said to give up. God does not condemn the sinner for being born broken, but He does warn those who refuse to accept His offer of help to escape their broken condition that, eventually, such refusals of help will not end well for those who are determined to follow their own way.
Yet, these professors get very upset when their actions are made public – when they can no longer hide what they are doing from the church at large. – Sean Pitman
Uh, I have never hidden my support and affirmation for LGBTQ+ individuals, and any parent who wanted to know my views on the subject could easily look up what I’ve written, or they could just plain ask me. I openly acknowledge where I stand on these issues on social media too. Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you “blew my cover.” There was no cover to blow.
You have not simply let people know what I advocate, you have attacked me personally and impugned my motives and personal spiritual path. You are causing pain not just to me, but to the very people I am trying to comfort and encourage. Your words are not just being seen by the legalistic and judgmental people like yourself, but by parents of LGBTQ+ children and those LGBTQ+ individuals themselves, many of whom are likely already heavily weighed down with self revulsion and depression. And you are doing this for who’s good?
And you wonder why I might be angry and upset? As hard as it is for me to do, I have daily decided to pray for you and those like you that God would soften your heart and show you the grave wounds you are inflicting on God’s beloved. I pray God will help you find compassion and clearer spiritual insight.
Do you really think it’s a “little thing” when our own professors are attacking the primary goals and ideals of the church from the inside? – Sean Pitman
I am attacking no one. You act as if you have not even read my article. I did suggest in there that I think it is time for the church to change and affirm same-sex marriage, but that is not an attack, that is a plea for compassion, a plea that the church return and study this topic again, and I laid out the reasons I think it is fully warranted that we do so. Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church? And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.” You are inflating the importance of this topic. the only place where same-sex marriage really rises to a high level of importance is when you are an LGBTQ+ person contemplating marriage, or are the parent, relative or friend of an LGBTQ+ person. Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?
The purpose of the H.E. is not to wall people off by modifying curriculum of every subject to fit dogma. The dogma itself has to be enhanced with broader understanding of how to relate various perspectives to these fields of human enterprise.
Certainly, Adventist schools should by no means isolate students from popular ideas that are prevalent within secular culture. If anything, students educated in our schools should have a much better understanding of ideas like neoDarwinism or homosexuality than students educated in secular institutions. However, the education of students within Adventist schools shouldn’t stop here. Adventist education should also give students a reasonable explanation as to why the Adventist perspective on these ideas is actually supported by the Church – by professors who actually personally hold to the Church’s positions on these topics (like the topics of origins or homosexuality, etc).
Again, it is simply counterproductive to have a church school if professors in that school teach that the church’s position is not only wrong, but downright ludicrous, outdated, and completely opposed to the overwhelming weight of “scientific evidence”. Such teaching, by professors that are respected by the students, will strongly influence most students to be naturally opposed to the church’s position on these topics. Clearly then, this would not be in the church’s best interest. It would be far better, from the church’s perspective, not to form church schools at all than to have professors within their own schools attack the church organization from the inside.
But there is world of difference between presenting it as fact that the teacher believes, and a theory with problems. – @ajshep (Allen Shepherd)
I’m in total agreement here. Again, it is one thing to teach about a particular concept that opposes the teachings of the church. It is a far far different thing to then support this particular concept as “true” as compared to showing the students why you, as their teacher, don’t find it convincing.
That is why a teacher, employed by the church, is actually stealing from the church when they attack the church’s position on a given topic from within their own classroom or via a public forum. Such activity simply goes against what a teacher is being paid to do by his/her employer.
Your presumption and hubris are exactly what Jesus pointed out to those who brought the women caught in adultery. Have you learned nothing from the examples of what it means to be a Christian that you would indulge in such harshness and judgemental words and pronouncements.
Consider that while Jesus most certainly was very kind and gentle and forgiving to the woman caught in adultery (certainly one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible), that He did in fact tell her to “go and sin no more”.
I would say that the very same action and recommendation should be given to all who find themselves part of the LBGTQ+ community. God loves sinners and came to save all of us who find ourselves caught in the web of fallen and sinful lives. He doesn’t condemn us for being broken, but He does offer us a way out and tells us to “go and sin no more”.
In light of this, my problem with the efforts of Dr. Ness is that he is making the claim that there is no brokenness or moral problem with committed monogamous homosexual lifestyles – that the Bible says absolutely nothing in this regard and therefore there is nothing for God to forgive here. There is simply no need to say, “I love you, now go and sin no more”.
I’m also not quite sure why Dr. Ness draws the line with monogamy since he doesn’t accept the Biblical statements, often within the same passages as those discussing monogamy, that speak against homosexual activities? This seems inconsistent to me since it seems quite reasonable, given the arguments presented by Dr. Ness, that polygamy could also be argued as being even more consistent with God’s will and natural genetic mutations that God Himself designed. Upon what “scientific” or “religious” or “philosophical” basis does Dr. Ness draw the line at monogamy as being the clear Biblical standard where God draws the line? – when many have very strong and very “natural” polygamous tendencies?
Of course, I also have a problem with a paid representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who is responsible for teaching our youth in support of the primary goals and ideals of the Church, publicly arguing that these goals and ideals are completely wrong – on the church’s dime. Such activity, even if one is totally convinced as to the error of one’s employer, is unethical since it is a form of stealing from one’s employer.
At the very least, parents who are paying a great deal of money to send their children to one of our church schools should be very well informed as to what they can expect their children to be taught at our schools and what positions the teachers at the school are publicly promoting. Providing this information to such parents is my primary purpose in responding to Dr. Ness’s publicly published article in public forum.
Do you not understand what it is like in academia? Differences of opinion among scholars is not only tolerated, it is valued. I have nothing more to say concerning your accusations. Our church has no “official” stand on this issue, if by that you mean I am disavowing my membership in the church by simply believing that gays should allow ro get married to one another. That is not even how our church operates. I can point to many other church employees who openly disagree about certain issues of belief, including this one, and congregations that are fully affirming of same-sex marriage. They are a part of the SDA church just as I am.
My concern still is more about the tone and stance of your attacks. You are attacking fellow SDAs, some of them being the most vulnerable members of our church, and you seem to have no sense of the damage you are potentially doing to these individuals. By attacking me in the fashion you are you are also attacking all those for whom I am standing up. You may want to take Jesus’ words to heart:
But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Matt. 18:6
I know very well what it’s like to be involved in leadership positions within the church and within academia. My own father is a retired pastor and teacher. It’s one thing to publicly present and even promote various opinions that do not directly undermine the church or school one is working for. However, it is another thing entirely to directly attack the fundamental positions of the church while being a paid representative of the church. Such activity is not at all encouraged and is, in fact, unethical – a form of theft from your employer. Sure, there are many pastors and teachers who think to do such things anyway. That doesn’t make such activities morally right. It’s still wrong to do what you are doing.