By Shane Hilde
Newly elected North American Division president, Dan Jackson, was interviewed in Adventist World (September 2010) by Bill Knott and Mark Kellner. Jackson says he is a “dogmatic believer in a short-term, literal, six-day creation” and he anticipates this discussion will not “go on and on.” Spectrum reported that during a press conference following his election as NAD president, Jackson said he would visit LSU to tell the faculty he loved them:
Jackson said that he had just told LSU President Randall Wisbey that he wants an opportunity to come to LSU to tell the faculty that ‘we love them.’
Given La Sierraâ€™s status at the center of the denominational debate on creation, Jackson may be sought to play a peacemaking role.
However, it seemed Spectrum’s hopes for Jackson disappeared when he gave his support for the change to fundamental belief #6. Two days after Jackson’s press conference, Keith Lockhart at Spectrum wrote:
Even Dan Jackson, newly elected president of the North American Division, who raised hopes in a press conference two days ago of a more tolerant approach to La Sierra University, which has been under fire for allegedly teaching evolution in science classes, said he was in ‘full agreement’ with the change.
The buzz surrounding Jackson’s comment must have caught his attention, “The fact that I say ‘I love you’ doesn’t mean that we won’t deal with issues.” It’s beginning to sound like we have a few leaders who are capable of addressing the La Sierra conflict.
[Excerpt from Adventist World]
“KNOTT: In addition to the systemic needs for institutional strength, financial support, and enrollment, there are the issues that we recently discussed at the General Conference session, particularly the science curriculum on Adventist campuses in North America. You’ve probably already begun sketching some process by which those issues come to fruitful discussion. What process will you be following?
“JACKSON: We need that discussion; I don’t think we should run away from it. I feel very keenly that one of the things we need to do is to embrace our institutions. They need to know that the crew in Silver Spring is saying to them, “We believe in Christian education.That’s part of the core teachings of our church. We’re not going to back away from that.” We need to let our educators know that we love them, that we want them, that they are a significant part of the ministry force of this organization.
“But while I say that, I don’t want anyone to mistake my own resolve. I am by faith a dogmatic believer in a short-term, literal, six-day creation. While I say that, and while I believe that, I don’t believe that we will resolve issues by alienating individuals or institutions. The fact that I say “I love you” doesn’t mean that we won’t deal with issues.
“KNOTT: When do you see that process beginning? Many members are a bit wary that the church will tend to put things off three, four, or five years, hoping that something will change. Are you talking about a conversation that starts within six months, or is this something that will stretch out over several years? I have two university-bound Adventist young people in my family, and they’re going to be in those classes this fall and beyond. Our kids are in the crucible right now.
“JACKSON: Let me make this point right now: I stand very close philosophically with our General Conference president. We have already set in motion a discussion to be conducted sometime this summer at General Conference headquarters with some of the leaders of our institutions. I would not anticipate that this discussion will go on and on.
“KNOTT: Many parents will be encouraged to hear that you have a short chronology of moving to address these issues.
“JACKSON: I’ll tell you why I have no softness [on this issue]. A precious child of mine, many years ago, went through an Adventist institution and had some challenges. I have no difficulty understanding the angst of parents; and my commitment is to do all I can to assist whoever is dealing with the issue to bring it resolution.”