My last post was about Warren Johns’ talk, in which …

Comment on Video show LSU undermining church doctrine by David Read.

My last post was about Warren Johns’ talk, in which he argues that the Genesis 1 is not to be taken as a description of the creation of the world, but rather as describing the dedication of the cosmos/temple, the idea being that if 2nd century Jews came up with a chronology that has 7 cycles of 490 years, then Moses didn’t intend for Genesis to be taken literally, despite the Sabbath command.

Now I want to discuss John Webster’s talk. Near the beginning he says “you can surely be a top-flight scientist and a Christian; look at Francis Collins and Owen Gingerich (both of whom are theistic evolutionists). The none too subtle message is that you CANNOT be a top-flight scientist and a creationist.

Next he quotes a passage from Ellen White that he asserts is the “core Adventist tradition.” The quote is to the effect that since the book of nature and book of revelation bear the stamp of the same mastermind, they cannot but speak in harmony. … Science brings from her research nothing that “rightly understood” conflicts with revelation. In talking about this passage, Webster seems to be hinting that nature might teach us that we evolved from lower creatures over hundreds of millions of years, but based upon numerous other statements, Ellen White would not regard any macro-evolutionary inference from nature as “nature rightly understood.”

He states, quite correctly, that modern science is a child of Christian faith, and he deserves a lot of credit for getting that right, but he should have added that the founders of modern scientists were not only Christians, but also for the most part young earth creationists.

He next turns to the topic of exegeting the Bible, and mentions two German theologians, Karl Barth and Jurgen Moltmann, neither of whom took Genesis literally in the Adventist manner. Ron Osborn recently pointed this out at Spectrum: So Webster’s point seems to be that sophisticated exegetes of Scripture do not take Genesis literally.

He next mentions Thomas S. Kuhn’s concept of paradigm shifts, but instead of stating that perhaps origins science needs a paradigm shift, he says that religion, particular Adventist religion, needs a paradigm shift. In other words, in the clash between Adventism and Darwinism, Adventism must give way and construct a new paradigm.

He next lists five major challenges that Darwinism poses to Adventism. He says, with great conviction, that there are answers to all five of these challenges, but except for the second challenge, he doesn’t say what they are. The successful integration of Darwinism and Adventism is the holy grail of liberal types, and you’d think he couldn’t stop talking about it, if he’d really done it. But of course he hasn’t.

The second challenge listed is the threat to the Bible, below which it states: “If creation is not taken literally, why take the resurrection or the 2nd coming literally?” He does share his thoughts about this one, asserting that there are 4 ways of reading the Bible 1) literally –the historical-grammatical approach, 2) as pure myth, 3) figuratively, and 4) realistically. He dismisses the literal and mythological approaches out of hand as not very helpful. He allows that the “figurative” approach may be helpful, and gives as an example Johns’ bizarre “temple theology” in which Genesis 1 describes not the creation of the world, but the dedication of the temple/cosmos. But he saves most of his effort for the “realistic” approach, pursuant to which one approaches the Bible just as a cultural anthropologist approaches a primitive tribe: to learn what the tribe thinks and believes (but not to learn what to believe yourself).

He mentions the film, “The gods must be crazy.” For those of you unfamiliar with that South African film from about 25 years ago, a pilot flying over the Kalahari Desert carelessly throws out an empty bottle of Coke. The tribe of Bushmen who find it believe it was given them by the gods, and it has many different uses. Eventually the bottle causes so much envy and strife, however, that one of the bushman decides to take the bottle and throw it off the edge of the world. A charming little adventure ensues. Webster’s point seems to be that we should view the Bible writers just as we would study a primitive tribe in the Kalahari.

So this “realistic” approach to scripture is the one Webster is most enthusiastic about. He never comes back, however, to answer the question of “If creation is not taken literally, why take the resurrection or the 2nd coming literally?” So even regarding the one “challenge” of Darwinism to Adventism he deigns to try to answer, he never really does. He just punts.

David Read Also Commented

Video show LSU undermining church doctrine
Warren, thank you for looking up the passage from the book “Education,” p. 128 (first paragraph of chapter entitled “Sciene and the Bible”). If you read the paragraph in context with the next two paragraphs, not to mention the rest of the chapter, it is clear that Ellen White explicitly forecloses any accommodation with long ages geology or Darwinism.

Video show LSU undermining church doctrine
Wally, in fairness, this was not a biology class but a special seminar for incoming freshman on science and religion.

What happened was that when this story broke a little over a year ago, with David Asscherick’s open letter, one of the ways that LaSierra reacted was to say, “okay, we’ll have a special seminar for freshamn where we help them to integrate what they will learn in science class [Darwinism] with their Adventist background.”

Well, we’ve now seen that LaSierra has used the new seminar class as just another opportunity to undermine traditional Adventism and inculcate the idea that Adventism must change its views on origins, must change its “paradigm” of origins, and must change its biblical hermeneutic.

This issue has been public for over a year, and yet LaSierra is still openly in rebellion against traditional Adventism. I’m starting to worry that I overestimated the extent of support for traditional Adventist views and underestimated the power of the Seventh-day Darwinians in the Pacific Union. I fear the church is headed toward something like civil war on this and other issues.

Video show LSU undermining church doctrine
So Trenchard asked that his speech be taken down. Why do we now have only 82 seconds of Fritz Guy’s electrifying peroration on epistemology?

Recent Comments by David Read

The Reptile King
Poor Larry Geraty! He can’t understand why anyone would think him sympathetic to theistic evolution. Well, for starters, he wrote this for Spectrum last year:

“Christ tells us they will know us by our love, not by our commitment to a seven literal historical, consecutive, contiguous 24-hour day week of creation 6,000 years ago which is NOT in Genesis no matter how much the fundamentalist wing of the church would like to see it there.”

“Fundamental Belief No. 6 uses Biblical language to which we can all agree; once you start interpreting it according to anyone’s preference you begin to cut out members who have a different interpretation. I wholeheartedly affirm Scripture, but NOT the extra-Biblical interpretation of the Michigan Conference.”

So the traditional Adventist interpretation of Genesis is an “extra-Biblical interpretation” put forward by “the fundamentalist wing” of the SDA Church? What are people supposed to think about Larry Geraty’s views?

It is no mystery how LaSierra got in the condition it is in.

The Reptile King
Professor Kent says:

“I don’t do ‘orgins science.’ Not a single publication on the topic. I study contemporary biology. Plenty of publications.”

So, if you did science that related to origins, you would do it pursuant to the biblical paradigm, that is pursuant to the assumption that Genesis 1-11 is true history, correct?

The Reptile King
Well, Jeff, would it work better for you if we just closed the biology and religion departments? I’m open to that as a possible solution.

The Reptile King
Larry Geraty really did a job on LaSierra. Personally I think it is way gone, compromised beyond hope. The SDA Church should just cut its ties to LaSierra, and cut its losses.

As to the discussion on this thread, round up the usual suspects and their usual arguments.

La Sierra University Resignation Saga: Stranger-than-Fiction
It is a remarkably fair and unbiased article, and a pretty fair summary of what was said in the recorded conversation.