Letter to Elder Graham from Bernard Brandstater

letterBernard Brandstater (Medical Doctor; prominent member of LLU Church) writes to Elder Graham regarding this issue (Letter dated 3/3/09):

“I happen to be one of the older professors at Loma Linda University. I was chair of the department of anesthesiology for ten years. Furthermore I served as head elder of University Church for three years during the tenure of Pastor Bill Loveless. I mention these facts only to let you know I am fairly well known here. I should also mention that at LSU I am well acquainted with Doctor Wisbey, and the name of my parents is attached to the Gallery in the LSU Art Department. Also, for many years I have been a close friend and confidant of Larry Geraty. So I know some key players in the development of science teaching at LSU.
     I write to support and reinforce the concerns that Dr. Pitman has expressed. After much early questioning, I have become a devotee of biblical Creation. And I have reached this position after much reading and study, and without surrendering my habits of left brained analysis and critical thinking. When you look for it, powerful evidence exists to support the Bible’s account. I am well acquainted with many leaders of the Creation movement worldwide. Phillip Johnson, the founding father of the Intelligent Design movement, has been my house guest in Redlands. Today the most influential, the most articulate exponents of biblical Creation, are outside of Adventist ranks. And their message is powerful; we should be paying more attention. Please believe me when I assure you the theory of neo-Darwinian evolution is in deep trouble today; recent science has undermined many of its foundation principles. And I am a much more robust creationist today than I was even fifteen years ago.
     What is both puzzling and troubling is that many younger Adventist scientists don’t seem to know of exciting recent discoveries. And they have laid aside the biblical account, rationalizing it in various ways. They don’t discard faith altogether, but all their doctoral studies have been completed in university environments where philosophic naturalism is the ruling paradigm. In their scientific constructs, no place remains for a Creator. They have not purposefully balanced their reading from sources that would undergird their faith……though there are excellent materials in print these days. And in my view, Adventists apologists have been less than successful in bolstering the Church’s traditional view on origins. The situation that we see now in La Sierra is the outcome of this slow erosion of conviction about the Bible story.
     Like Dr. Pitman, I believe the situation has become serious, and erosion must not be allowed to continue. The Creation story is at the very heart of Adventism. It is the basis for the Sabbath, and is attested by God’s own finger in the Ten Commandments. Far from weakening the Adventist stand on Creation, I believe we should strengthen it. In so doing we will win the admiration of many millions of conservative Christians in this country and around the world who desperately look for a church that will champion the story as they read it in the Bible. Also, our preaching of Creation will endear us to a billion Muslims worldwide who are looking for a bold advocate of a six-day creation as taught in the Koran. I’m convinced Creation can be a powerful evangelistic motif for Adventism, a valuable distinctive to be displayed proudly.
     What is to be done? I have enough suggestions to weary you. I do plead that the response to Dr. Pitman’s concern should be well deliberated and measured, not hasty and ad hoc. The professors who are the target of complaints are not bad men; they are knowledgeable, and believe their teaching is right. And they are not alone. A surrender to naturalistic science is happening well outside of La Sierra, and is a nationwide phenomenon. So I believe that an effective remedy must be devised at the level of the North American Division, and possibly even beyond.
     But here there is a problematic mismatch: The Church leaders who populate Church councils and are guardians of the faith are usually not well equipped in the sciences to make confident judgments. And that is true of university presidents, too. So I suspect we might begin a turnaround by thoroughly informing these Church leaders and decision-makers, to help them get a clear sense of direction. They can call upon the most balanced and best informed spokesmen in the ranks of Bible-faithful scientists anywhere. Without this kind of thorough briefing, our leaders will not have the boldness to be decisive in today’s world. I would be happy to help identify the finest God-fearing scientists that could bring new conviction and energy to our Church’s leaders, of whom you are one.
    My home phone is […]. Please feel free to call me if I can be of help while you deal with this troubling issue.”