Comment on LSU student: ‘Apostates or Apostles’? by Professor Kent.
@ Sean Pitman
The SDA Church clearly promotes the idea that the Divine origin of the Bible is rational – built on a firm empirical basis. If the Church did not support this idea it would not be backing institutions that SEEK TO FIND EMPIRICAL SUPPORT FOR BIBLICAL CREDIBILITY because there would be no need for such support from the position of empirically-blind faith in the Bible as God’s Word. (emphasis supplied)
You continue to misconstrue SDA hermeneutics. In 1986, the SDA Church in its Annual Council approved the “Rio” statement on Bible Study. The official position of the SDA Church, which you have repeatedly denigrated, is “Human reason is subject to the Bible, NOT EQUAL TO OR ABOVE IT. Presuppositions regarding the Scriptures must be in harmony with the claims of the Scriptures and subject to correction by them (1 Cor. 2:1-6). God intends that human reason be used to its fullest extent, but within the context and under the authority of His Word rather than independent of it (emphasis added).”
This document goes on to state that it IS appropriate “…to explore the historical and cultural factors. Archaeology, anthropology, and history may contribute to UNDERSTANDING THE MEANING of the text (emphasis supplied).” However, science and human reason are NOT to be used to assess the VALIDITY of the scriptures.
Your insistence that we must seek “empirical support for Biblical credibility” directly contradicts Ellen White, who wrote, “The opinions of learned men, the DEDUCTIONS OF SCIENCE, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority–not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence FOR OR AGAINST any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support.” GC 595 (emphasis added).
I have often stated that a plain “Thus saith the Lord” should be our position, but you have repeatedly belittled this sage counsel from Ellen White herself. She makes crystal clear that the DEDUCTIONS OF SCIENCE have absolutely NO BEARING on the CREDIBILITY of the God’s word. You are on shaky ground, Dr. Pitman, and you should confess your heresy.
Professor Kent Also Commented
LSU student: ‘Apostates or Apostles’?
For the honest soul who wants to better understand the Church’s official position on Scriptural interpretation, here are things in a nutshell (i.e., a condensed version):
HISTORICAL-CRITICAL METHOD (Sean Pitman’s preferred hermeneutic)
Definition: The attempt to VERIFY THE TRUTHFULNESS and understand the meaning of biblical data on the basis of the principles and procedures of humanistic historical science. (emphasis supplied)
Basic Presuppositions: Secularism norm: The principles and procedures of humanistic historical science constitute the external norm and proper method for evaluating the truthfulness and interpreting the meaning of biblical data. Principle of criticism (methodological doubt): the autonomy of the human investigator to interrogate and evaluate on his own apart from the specific declarations of the biblical text.
HISTORICAL-GRAMMATICAL METHOD (the official SDA Church hermeneutic)
Definition: The attempt to understand the meaning of biblical data by means of methodological considerations arising from Scripture alone.
Basic Presuppositions: Sola Scriptura: The authority and unity of Scripture are such that Scripture is the final norm with regard to content and method of interpretation. (Isaiah 8:20). The Bible is the ultimate authority and is not amendable to the principle of criticism: biblical data are accepted AT FACE VALUE and not subjected to an EXTERNAL NORM to determine truthfulness, adequacy, validity, intelligibility, etc. (Isaiah 66:2). (emphasis supplied)
Source: Dr. Richard Davidson, J. N. Andrews Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, Andrews University, and a member of the SDA Biblical Research Institute Committee (http://fae.adventist.org/essays/26Bcc_017-055.htm)
By the way, I have no problem with whatever belief Dr. Pitman subscribes. I am doubtful he will concede any form of error. However, when he declares others to be undermining official SDA beliefs, he ought to take a more careful look at his own position. I think it’s unfortunate that so many have been led astray by his vigorous arguments.
LSU student: ‘Apostates or Apostles’?
@ Sean Pitman,
You overlooked the heart of my statement: “All of this is “empirical evidence” that goes beyond what is needed to establish the validity of scripture.”
What part of “sola scriptura” do you not get? We don’t need you, your reason, your website, or any other “empirical evidence” or “reason” to believe that what God tells us in scripture can be believed. You’re still pushing an anti-SDA theology.
LSU student: ‘Apostates or Apostles’?
Bill, I respect what you have to say. I can’t tell whether you are unhappy with my defense of the SDA hermeneutic, but what could possibly be more fundamental to the Church than the approach we use to interpret and understand Scripture? Do we really want to undermine that?
If someone’s faith is weak and they lack a close walk with Jesus, I suppose they can benefit from the crutch Dr. Pitman insists they need. Yes, there is some evidence (of which few agree with him that it is “overwhelming”) for a young earth and literal creation (which I myself believe in). But the SDA Church makes abundantly clear that the Scripture can be interpreted and believed without any requirement of historical or scientific confirmation. If one does not accept this premise and publicly argues against it, they are undermining the fundamental tenets of the SDA Church.
Recent Comments by Professor Kent
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Nic Samojluk: No wonder most creationist writers do not even try to submit their papers to such organizations.
Who wants to waste his/her time trying to enter through a door that is closed to him/her a priori?
You have no idea what you’re writing about, Nic. As it turns out, there are in fact many of us Adventists who “waste” our time publishing articles through doors that open to us a priori. Even Leonard Brand at Loma Linda, a widely recognized creationist, has published in the top geology journals. I mean the top journals in the discipline.
The myth that creationists cannot publish in mainstream science is perpetuated by people who simply do not understand the culture of science–and will remain clueless that they do not understand it even when confronted with their misunderstandings. Such is human nature.
Your questions about conservation genetics are very insightful. I don’t understand how all these life forms were able to greatly increase in genetic diversity while simultaneously winding down and losing genetic information to mutations. Sean seems to insist that both processes happen simultaneously. I had the impression he has insisted all along that the former cannot overcome the latter. But I think you must be right: God had to intervene to alter the course of nature. However, we can probably test this empirically because there must be a signature of evidence available in the DNA. I’ll bet Sean can find the evidence for this.
I’m also glad the predators (just 2 of most such species) in the ark had enough clean animals (14 of each such species) to eat during the deluge and in the months and years after they emerged from the ark that they didn’t wipe out the vast majority of animal species through predation. Maybe they all consumed manna while in the ark and during the first few months or years afterward. Perhaps Sean can find in the literature a gene for a single digestive enzyme that is common to all predatory animals, from the lowest invertebrate to the highest vertebrate. Now that would be amazing.
Wait a minute–I remember once being told that SDA biologists like Art Chadwick believe that some animals survived on floating vegetation outside the ark. Now that would solve some of these very real problems! I wonder whether readers here would allow for this possibility. Multiple arks without walls, roof, and human caretakers.
Ellen White said, “In the days of Noah, men…many times larger than now exist, were buried, and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians [presumably referring to humans] perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history…”
Sean Pitman said, “All human fossils discovered so far are Tertiary or post-Flood fossils. There are no known antediluvian human fossils.”
Ellen White tells us that humans and dinosaurs (presumably referred to in the statement, “a class of very large animals which perished at the flood… mammoth animals”) lived together before the flood. Evolutionary biologists tell us that dinosaurs and humans never lived together. You’re telling us, Sean, that the fossil record supports the conclusion of evolutionists rather than that of Ellen White and the SDA Church. Many of the “very large animals which perished at the flood” are found only in fossil deposits prior to or attributed to the flood, whereas hunans occur in fossil deposits only after the flood (when their numbers were most scarce).
Should the SDA biologists, who are supposed to teach “creation science,” be fired if they teach what you have just conceded?
La Sierra Univeristy Fires Dr. Lee Greer; Signs anti-Creation Bond
For those aghast about the LSU situation and wondering what other SDA institutions have taken out bonds, hold on to your britches. You’ll be stunned when you learn (soon) how many of our other schools, and which ones in particular, have taken out these bonds. You will be amazed to learn just how many other administrators have deliberately secularized their institutions besides Randal Wisbey, presumably because they too hate the SDA Church (as David Read has put it so tactfully).
Be sure to protest equally loudly.
So clearly you believe that science can explain supernatural events. Congratulations on that.