Summary and commentary of LSU Board releases

By Shane Hilde

la sierraI’ve looked over the LSU Board releases, and have included my summary and commentary below.

Statement of Support for the Adventist View of Creation

The Board said it was mindful of the responsibility that LSU has to give “whole-hearted support for the doctrines and teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as defined by the 28 Statements of Fundamental Beliefs, specifically fundamental belief #6.” They’ve heard our concerns and are “committed to assuring that the teaching of the theory of evolution takes place within the context of the Adventist belief regarding creation.”

There is nothing new in this statement. It merely follows what every other leader has been doing with this controversy, affirming what everyone already knows we believe. I suppose the primary assurance we have in this statement is that we’ve been heard, and they’re committed to ensuring that the theory of evolution is taught in its proper context.

Resolution regarding a scientifically rigorous affirmation of Seventh-day Adventist beliefs regarding creation

The LSU Board resolves to:

1. Request the Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities to convene a Study Group to develop a proposal for a college curriculum that fulfills the “General Conference Executive Committee’s call for a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous affirmation of the Adventist Church’s historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation.”

2. This same study group composed of the LSU president, two science faculty from each Adventist college and university in the NAD, two representatives from the Geoscience Research Institute, and two representatives from the General Conference Department of Education will also create “two model course outlines–one each in the life and earth sciences.”

3. The Board also requests that research be done to study the spiritual development of students at the university and college level with attention to students in the sciences. It will be coordinated by LSU’s John Hancock Center for Youth and Family Ministry in association with the NAD Office of Education and a qualified faculty research team.

It is note worthy that none of the actions voted on deal directly with the controversy surrounding their biology department, with an exception perhaps to composing two model course outlines, which I assume will be used in their department. Does this mean that they are going to require these professors to use this new curriculum? How long will it take to create such a curriculum, and how will the classes be handled in the mean time? Perhaps these questions will be answered later by the Board. Also, is there not a conflict of interest in having LSU conduct this study on the spiritual development of students?

La Sierra University Board of Trustees Affirms University’s Support for Church’s Creation Doctrine

The Board reaffirms LSU’s commitment to the church’s official doctrine on creation. The document then summarizes the previous two documents. The Chair of the biology department, James Wilson, is quoted, “The La Sierra Biology faculty have faith that God is their Creator and Sustainer.” He goes on to say that each faculty member understands their responsibility to “embrace the Adventist perspective of God as the Creator of all things.”

Wilson gives a very vague confession of the support the biology faculty have for the church’s position. Essentially they believe God created life and sustains it, but he didn’t create it six days or in the recent past.

The good news is the Board is addressing the issue. This is the most significant reaction from La Sierra in regard to this issue that I know of. The Board is still involved in an ongoing review, according to Ricardo Graham. I don’t think this is the end of what we will see from the Board. I don’t expect this issue to be resolved during this school year, but the ball is rolling in the right direction. I have it on good authority that the Board is very aware of the situation and will not let what has been going on continue much longer. The cogs in the system may be slow, but they’re turning. They’re next meeting is February 10 and 11, 2010.

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One thought on “Summary and commentary of LSU Board releases

  1. To the board:

    It doesn’t matter how strong the evidence is for evolution of life on earth over a long period of time, the Bible says it was done in six literal days. Therefore, the evidence for anything different is false.

    The church’s statement of belief on this is very plain. There shouldn’t be any question what you have to do. The church’s belief has to be taught as THE TRUTH. That does not mean that the evolution belief has to be ignored.

    The late Willis Hackett, former associate director of the BRI, put it this way: He drew two circles on the chalk board – a large circle with a smaller circle inside it. He represented the inside of the smaller circle as the place for the fundamental doctrines of the church. All members are free to teach and preach those at will. He represented the outside of the larger circle as the place for all obviously false doctrines. No one should be teaching or preaching those. The area in between the two circles was represented as the proper place for everything that had more than one possible interpretation. He said it was also OK to teach and preach your own beliefs on these points. However, he pointed out that it was wrong to teach your belief on these points as being THE TRUTH. His counsel was that BEFORE you make your presentation, you should tell your listening audience that you are going to present a different view on the subject and then share your own views on it. Make sure they know that it is “your view” or “some view other that what the church believes.”

    To teach anything other than a literal six day creation as being the truth would be outside the larger circle in the place for false doctrines. No teacher or preacher should be allowed to hold their license as an Adventist instructor if they do that. It would seen appropriate to allow the opposing view to be presented in the area in between Bro. Hackett’s two circles, as long as you tell your listeners that this is “your view” of this matter and the church’s view is in the inner circle.

    Elder Hackett said that when he wanted to present something that belonged in between the circles he told his listeners that it would be his personal view and they could believe it or just call it “Hackett heresy!”

    After hearing that, I adopted his suggestion and, when teaching between the circles, I told my listeners that they were about to hear some “Matlock malarkey.” Others adopted the idea and we heard some “attention commanding” labels that others put on their views. The listeners remained free to believe, or not believe, what they heard.

    May God’s blessings be with you as you deal with this problem.
    Sincerely, Your Brother in Christ,

    Wayne Matlock


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