Why the SDA Church needs to update its FB#6 statement on Creation



By Larry Kirkpatrick

Fundamental Belief #6 Versus Scripture

The Seventh-day Adventist church needs to change one of its fundamental belief statements. To keep this brief, we will not analyze every part of the statement. First, listen to a portion of the belief statement as it presently stands.

In six days the Lord made “the heaven and the earth,” and all living things upon the earth, and rested the seventh day of that first week (Church Manual, 2005 ed., p. 10).

Place this side-by-side with the pertinent part of Exodus 20:11:

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day (KJV).

Did you notice the difference? The belief statement says that God is the Creator, that He made heaven and earth in six literal days, but limits that which He made in the six days to all living things. See the difference?

Scripture affirms that the earth and all that is in it—all living matter and all non-living matter—was created in six days. The fundamental belief statement can be read as affirming only that living matter was created during the six day span of creation. As is stands, the statement leaves room for persons, under cover of the fundamental beliefs, to believe that the non-living matter may have existed hanging dead in space—before the first day—for 4.6 billion years.

If the Bible did not affirm in the Ten Commandment law that the earth “and all that in it is” was made in six literal days, this would not be an issue. But God saw where this would go. He knew that these questions would arise, a rival paradigm would become ascendant, evolution would challenge creation, and science so-called would conflict with revelation. So, He revealed to Moses what He wished him to write, and Moses, in his own words but words nonetheless divinely guarded, wrote into Scripture a six day creation that included all the initial material of earth.

I have to believe that God knew what He was doing.

How Fundamental Belief #6 Gives Cover

Today, there are some in the church who disagree with this bold, and yes, fundamental proposition. They want to be recognized as Seventh-day Adventists, but cannot with clear conscience say that they believe that the substance of the earth is only in the range of 6,000 years old.

They plead that they cannot affirm such a belief and remain intellectually honest. And so, the present belief statement provides cover, for it fails to affirm unequivocally that the creation week includes the creation of inorganic matter. The creation of the “heaven and earth,” is immediately qualified in the same sentence by the statement that “all living things” were then made.

Forceful Reasoning Destroyed

Why does this matter?

As others have already noted, the reason we are to observe God’s holy day, His Sabbath, on the seventh day appears beautiful and forceful when we understand the days of creation to be literal. But when the assumption is introduced that the events of the first week—any of those events—required very long periods of time to be accomplished, periods of time very much longer than seven literal days, the Ten Commandments are attacked.

Why? Because the Creator is represented as commanding people to observe a definite week of literal days in commemoration of long, indefinite periods of time. God has made this matter plain in His Word. But belief in an extended creation of the earth taking very long periods of time—with significant creative activity previous to day one—undermines God’s moral law which states otherwise. It is unfaithfulness. It is remarkably insidious.

When we begin to doubt the reliability and the accuracy of the biblical record of history, we begin to doubt the reliability of any other thing that we may read in the Old or New Testament. The next step is to doubt even the existence of God.

If I cannot believe Genesis one or Genesis two, then on what basis can I believe Genesis three? The Fall of the human race, the need of a Savior, is there revealed. If the history of creation as given in Scripture is unreliable, then why would I think that the history of the Fall of our race there given is any more reliable? Not just the Sabbath, but the basis of Christianity stands or falls with our belief about the reliability of the great acts of God recorded and preserved in Genesis.

Only Part of the Commandment

Since the beginning of the Seventh-day Adventist movement, others have opposed us specifically because of our stand on the fourth commandment. They have often been willing to affirm nine of the Ten Commandments, but, when it comes to the fourth they take what God has very specifically said and reduce it to an affirmation of only part of the commandment.

They insist that the meaning is that the Christian should observe one day out of seven as a rest day. Others, seeing the clear connection of all Ten Commandments as a unit, in an attempt to maintain logical consistency, have rejected the Commandments in toto.

But now in the Church there are those among us who engage in exactly the same thing; they reject a portion of the fourth commandment, and affirm only part of it. As in the fundamental belief statement, they affirm the creation of “the heaven and the earth,” but they deny the creation of the earth’s non-living matter in six literal days. Their position is very similar in its essence of denial to the position held by Christians who reject the Sabbath.

Countdown to Explosion

Brothers and sisters, this is a ticking bomb in our midst, a weapon of mass spiritual destruction, which has been allowed to fester and tick and tick and tick. Some in responsible positions have not been faithful in dealing with this matter. And now it threatens to explode at last, perhaps even at this General Conference Session. Warnings and cries for help in the church have for years gone unheeded. Now the crisis is come.

Let me open your eyeballs a bit. Recent history has seen academics in the church, persons specifically called to positions to defend the church’s stand on creation, and who regularly affirmed with urgency their personal belief in a “six day literal creation.” But carefully listening to their presentations demonstrates that they actually believe that only the earth’s living matter was made in six literal days, and that, in fact, they believe that the earth pre-existed the “first day of creation” by perhaps several billion years.

What I am talking about is a failure of integrity, a deception, a playing-with-words, or, as inspiration puts such matters, a lie. People can be fooled, but God cannot. He warns that “all liars” will have their part in the destruction that comes at the end of the world (Revelation 21:8). He is serious about integrity.

If you want to know what someone in the church believes about the six day literal creation of the heavens and the earth, ask them point-blank: Do you believe that any material from which the earth was made pre-existed the first 24 hour day? This is not about credentials, position, or any other supposed competency; it is about belief—or not—in what the Bible says. The fundamental belief statement voted years ago encouraged certain ones, and remain and promote their views in our classrooms, and is a direct root behind the rise of evolutionary belief in certain segments of today’s church. Poor wording adopted 30 years ago is a source of present degeneration.

And All That Is In It

Our statement on creation must be changed to affirm the creation of the earth and all that is in it, in six literal days. Not only “all living things on the earth,” but all that is in the earth.

Someone will say, “if we push this issue, we will lose our thought leaders. We will lose our church in California.” We have already lost some of our thought leaders. We have already lost some in California. The worldwide witness of the church is being compromised because we persist in the fantasy that such differences can be accommodated under one big umbrella. But creation and evolution cannot co-exist in the Seventh-day Adventist Church; they are mutually exclusive. We cannot have it both ways.

An Empty Objection

Some will object that this leaves unresolved the question of how much of the heavens was created during creation week. And yet, neither is this question addressed in our present statement. The Bible is painfully clear, however, concerning how much of the planet was created during the six day creation week: the earth and all that is in it. It is not vagueness in the Bible that bothers certain ones nearly as much as God-given specificity!

A Call to Action

It is time for action. It is time to change the way our fundamental belief is stated to more accurately reflect biblical language and teaching on the question of creation. Jesus will be with us if we do what is right, and will see us through any turmoil that may ensue.

The source of this division is not the larger body of Seventh-day Adventists; but it was contributed to by the adoption in 1980 of a biblically-compromised wording on this point of belief. This opened a space of legitimacy for the misguided teaching of a very old earth which has been going on in our colleges and universities for decades. In our very own schools, our own children have had their faith undermined while we sat stupidly, trustingly, and watched it happen.

No more.

Turn the corner, O Church, in Atlanta.

Larry Kirkpatrick has served in the ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church since 1994. He is a pastor of the American West, having led churches in Nevada, Utah, California, and Idaho. His writings include the books Real Grace for Real People, and Cleanse and Close. Larry and wife Pamela presently serve in the Upper Columbia Conference, ministering to the Bonners Ferry and Clark Fork churches in the incomparable beauty of Northern Idaho.

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10 thoughts on “Why the SDA Church needs to update its FB#6 statement on Creation

  1. “Some will object that this leaves unresolved the question of how much of the heavens was created during creation week. And yet, neither is this question addressed in our present statement. The Bible is painfully clear, however, concerning how much of the planet was created during the six day creation week: the earth and all that is in it. It is not vagueness in the Bible that bothers certain ones nearly as much as God-given specificity!”

    Bro. Kirkpatrick is addressing an issue that has caused much confusion in our church. I’m not sure the above statement has contributed to clarity.

    Adventists are not ‘short age’ creationists in the ICR sense, because we believe the ‘starry heavens’ existed before this earth and contained inhabited planets that predated this earth.

    However, Bro. Kirpatrick seems to be saying that the 4th commandment is very specific about how much was created on the earth during the six days – but not how much of the heavens (the Hebrew seems to be plural, not singular as in the KJV and fundamental belief) were created.

    The folks at ICR would probably tell Bro. Kirkpatrick that they are more faithful in their reading of the text because they believe ‘all that is in’ the heavens plural (including the starry heavens) was created in six days also. They would probably say, where is this vagueness you speak of?

    In light of this controversy it might be better to also focus on the first chapter of Genesis to explain how and why its language supports a complete ex nihilo creation of the planet (not the starry heavens) in six literal days.




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  2. Larry, I agree.

    One question. What exactly was the earth made up of before creation week?

    What does this text in your opinion mean?

    Gen 1:2

    “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

    Was the earth just a blob of water?

    My interpretation was that there was water that was very deep and that the surface was dark but this is where God started his creation.

    Does this mean no rocks or sand at the bottom? What WAS at the bottom? “deep” needs a bottom still. What was there?

    “dry ground” was created later on in the week. Does this mean that ground beneath the water could have existed prior?

    Honestly, Any ideas?




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  3. More thought….

    Gen 1:9-10

    And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

    10And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

    It looks to me that the gry ground was created as a consequence of the water being gathered in one place (perhaps because the dry ground was elevated). This would seem to imply in my mind that the ground existed previously but was just under the water.

    On the other hand. God called the dry land “Earth” and as was quoted above:

    “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day (KJV).”

    …it says that he “made” the earth

    I guess the question is what does “made” mean. Does it mean created out of thin air? Or does it mean elevated it from beneath the waters so that it was dry?

    I don’t have simplar questions about living matter. I am pretty sure that these were created out of the dust of the ground etc. However, the dry land – innominate objects – at least in its most rudimentry form may have existed at the bottom of the “deep” preior to that week 6000 years ago. It’s quite certain to me that water existed prior to that first week.




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  4. This question arises, apparently built on the implicit idea that the “let there be” (LTB) statements in the six creation days of Genesis one are never preceded by other text within the same day. Here, a look at days two through six is instructive.

    Day 2 (vv. 6-8) LTB statements = 1, preceding text = no
    Day 3 (vv. 9-13) LTB statements = 2, preceding text = yes (vv. 9, 10)
    Day 4 (vv. 14-19) LTB statements = 1, preceding text = no
    Day 5 (vv. 20-23) LTB statements = 1, preceding text = no
    Day 6 (vv. 24-31) LTB statements = 2, preceding text = yes (vv. 24, 25)

    Considering this, it is not so strange that day one comes out thus:

    Day 1 (vv. 1-5) LTB statements = 1, preceding text = yes (vv. 1, 2)

    Are there differences then in the text for the first day? Yes, but also for the sixth and final of the six days of creation. Is this a problem? No, for it is the nature of initiating and concluding elements in a series that the first and last items often contain unique elements. An example of this is the English sentence, in which the first letter is capitalized, and the whole sentence unit is concluded by a period or other stop mark. So there does not seem to be an issue based on including verses 1-5 in day one of the creation week. Furthermore, Exodus 20:11 includes “all that in them is” in the creation of earth in six literal days, and “all that in them is” includes water, which we saw discussed in Genesis 1:2. There is not a problem here.

    As for the question of the scope of “heavens” in Genesis one and in Exodus 20, it was my point that we need not try to specify the scope intended by the inspired writer. The key issues in the creation/evolution debate are centered in earth and its creation and not the heavens.




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  5. @Victor Marshall: Victor, the 4th commandment specifically refers to all that is in the heaven that was created in the 6 days of Gen. 1.

    The only place that refers to the creating of a heaven is the 2nd day, when the firmament was created between the waters and the waters. I have seen a theory out there that calls for that to be the starry heavens, if I remember correctly, but usually folks take the heaven of the 2nd day to mean the atmosphere, not the starry heavens, and not the place where God dwells.

    I think there is agreement among Bible believers that everything in the atmosphere, namely, the birds, was created during the 6 days of creation.

    “As the moon and the stars of the solar system shine by the reflected light of the sun, so, as far as their teaching is true …” (DA 465; Ed 13).

    The stars of the 4th day of creation can therefore simply be the planets and comets of our solar system. However, the theory of one scientist that the pre-creation inhabited worlds are beyond the visible universe is something that should be explored to see if there is any merit in the idea.




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  6. All right!! So now some creationists are less creationist than others. And a pattern repeats itself because this story is starting to sound familiar. “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times….” Enjoy your little witch hunt everyone.




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  7. No witch hunt here Michael. Again, mistaking a nice Sabbath after noon discussion for complete disbelief in a fundamental teaching such as creation. Weather the innominate objects were actually there nor not before creation is not really appropo to understanding who God is and why we are Seventh-day Adventist nor what our mission is.

    Witch hunt over. (never began).




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  8. Brothers and Sisters:
    We are not left to wonder about these things. The SOP, that wonderful lesser light that illumines the greater light, has made this abundantly clear.

    “The Creation of the Earth
    The work of creation cannot be explained by science. What science can explain the mystery of life?

    “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews 11:3.

    “I form the light, and create darkness: . . .
    I the Lord do all these things. . . .
    I have made the earth,
    And created man upon it:
    I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens,
    And all their host have I commanded.”
    “When I call unto them, they stand up together.”
    Isaiah 45:7-12; 48:13.

    In the creation of the earth, GOD WAS NOT INDEBTED TO PRE-EXISTING MATTER. “He spake, and it was; . . . He commanded, and it stood fast.” Psalm 33:9. All things, material or spiritual, stood up before the Lord Jehovah at His voice and were created for His own purpose. The heavens and all

    Page 415
    the host of them, the earth and all things therein, came into existence by the breath of His mouth.” –Ministry of Healing pp 414-415 (Capitalized section my emphasis.)

    God has been so clear on this…He spake and it was created by His power. THE EARTH AND ALL THINGS THEREIN were made in creation week. Simple. Man with his inferior intellect cannot reason out anything else and be correct. Does it matter how much of the starry heavens was created during the six days of our planet’s creation? We know that God will continue to create throughout eternity. Why not wait and let Him show us Himself how much of the universe is created when he brings a planet into existence? Bottom line is this: you cannot incorporate any type of evolution into the story of creation and remain faithful to the Lord our Creator. If you are faithful, you will see with your own eyes the work of creation. If you are unfaithful, you will die with all your theories. I really don’t see what is so hard about all this. Just believe what the Lord says in His Word and you cannot go astray.

    My personal belief concerning the starry heavens is that our galaxy was created on the 4th day. Whether I am right or wrong remains to be seen. This is not a point of doctrine relative to salvation, (unless I stray into evolution.) But one day I want to ask the Lord himself…He is the only reliable source of knowledge. I am content to wait and allow Him to reveal the mysteries of creation to me in His own time. I look forward to that time.

    And Please, Michael, quit with the witch hunt accusations. Our church has a perfect right to expect its employees to teach our beliefs. It is only those of you who don’t want to conform to these teachings that seem to think in terms of witch hunts. It is, of course, your right to believe as you choose. But we have that same right and we have the right to expect our corporate entities and institutions to uphold our principles and beliefs. Witch hunts have nothing to do with it.




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  9. “The Creation of the Earth
    The work of creation cannot be explained by science. What science can explain the mystery of life?

    “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews 11:3.

    Amen, sister!




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  10. I do not agree that the we are in dire straights if it turns out that a rock on earth is 6000 and 1 years old – that it already existed on day 1 with water “covering the surface of the deep” where the “surface of the deep” is in fact a rock surface that is already covered by water BEFORE God says “LET THERE BE LIGHT”.

    Now I suppose it is possible that the water is in fact hyrdrogen and oxygen in gas form and that the rock is simply some form of dust or whatever wrapped inside a gas cloud in some way.

    But – that is a level of detail that I don’t find in the text.

    The problem we have with theistic evolutionists today is not a problem with “old rocks” it is the blatant problem of “birds come from dinosaurs” just as LSU claims for origins. It is the problem of none of the EXPLICIT details listed in Genesis 1-2 actuallying happening in that 6 days of creation followed by the Sabbath. That is where actual “Doctrine” gets broken!

    The text is about more than “life” created in 6 days (for that is only day 3, 5 and 6) but it is also about the “forming” of the earth (formatting of the eart at the very least), the creation of the sun and the moon.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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