Comment on ANN reports on affirmation of creation and FB #6 enhancement by Michael J. Cookenmaster, Ed.D..
I am concerned. We have chosen to send our daughter, who is an up-coming senior at Campion Academy, to Southern because of its historical, and traditional Adventist teachings. Dr. Bietz has me worried if we are making the right decision. My daughter, wife, and I need to take this next year into serious consideration and as a matter of prayer.
I am glad we are talking about literal interpretation of events, but WHY IS NO ONE STANDING UP AND USING THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY, since Sister White has clearly stated it was given to us as “lifeblood to the soul.” While we all agree that the Spirit of Prophecy is not a new testiment of Jesus, or even additional light, it clearly spells out the truths of our God. WHY ARE WE REMAINING IGNORANT? WILL WE NOT BE FOUND WANTING ON THE SCALES OF HEAVEN?
The sad thing is the Adventist church has truly become Laodiceia. We think our academic elite, our societies in the western world, our taste for music, our understanding of science, and our riches (did anyone get a look at the NAD mission report from the GC?) leave us in want of nothing. Contrare my dear friends. We lack everything, but we are blind.
I am privileged to be an adult Sabbath School teacher this quarter (something I haven’t done, since I have spent my life in Cradle Roll and Kindergarten with my five children). This week’s lesson is on being called to be saints. A holy, separated, peculiar people. The lesson asks what challenges our church faces today that should be met with a definiitve, “Thus saith the Lord.” It further asks us to reflect on what sources of knowledge and support God has given us for our times. I strongly proclaim that this crisis in our church, the crisis of creation, will tear us a part, and will dismantle all our other fundamental beliefs. Thus saith the Lord, “…in six days were the heavens and earth, and sea, and all that is in them created, and [I] rested on the seventh day, wherefore [I] blessed, made holy, and sanctified, that day.” The source of knowledge God has blessed us with for a time such as this is the Bible, and the Spirit of Prophecy.
I am glad the resolutions passed. I am disheartened that it will take until the next GC session to have results presented. There is no need for this delay.
Table of Contents
Recent Comments by Michael J. Cookenmaster, Ed.D.
Southern Adventist University opens Origins Exhibit
My daughter attends SAU and we are very pleased with the education and the biblical philosophy. Thanks to the faculty, staff, and administration for helping to keep our child grounded, not destroying what we have worked so diligently to instill for 18 years.
The Metamorphosis of La Sierra University: an eye-witness account
This whole situation at LSU has been so disheartening to me. I graduated from LSU in 1990 and my husband in 1992. We have 5 children and our oldest is now a senior in academy. We no longer live in California and because of what has happened, we have discouraged all of our children from attending LSU or PUC. My daughter will be attending Southern Adventist University next year. I think that many parents have done the same thing. We spoke with someone at Southern last week because we will be attending an upcoming preview there in October. The person at Southern said that they are bursting at the seams and that this is the largest Freshman class in the history of Southern. Praise the Lord! I can’t help but think that some of this added enrollment is due in part to the LSU situation. I don’t want to send my children to an SDA institution that does not uphold the morals, values, and beliefs of the church. I’m hoping that this will happen at Southern.
The following quote, Sister White (Maranath, p. 204) is something I read for worship this morning, and so accurately depicts our current dilemma. I pray each day that the Lord will keep the church strong, focused, and never failing in its faithfulness to His word.
“Satan will work his miracles to deceive; he will set up his power as supreme. The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out–the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place. None but those who have been overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths…. The remnant that purify their souls by obeying the truth gather strength from the trying process, exhibiting the beauty of holiness amid the surrounding apostasy.
I know that the Lord loves His church. It is not to be disorganized or broken up into independent atoms. There is not the least consistency in this; there is not the least evidence that such a thing will be. Those who shall heed this false message and try to leaven others will be deceived and prepared to receive advanced delusions, and they will come to naught.
I am encouraged and blessed as I realize that the God of Israel is still guiding His people, and that He will continue to be with them, even to the end.
We cannot now step off the foundation that God has established. We cannot now enter into any new organization; for this would mean apostasy from the truth.
The church, soon to enter upon her most severe conflict, will be the object most dear to God upon earth. The confederacy of evil will be stirred with power from beneath, and Satan will cast all the reproach possible upon the chosen ones whom he cannot deceive and delude with his satanic inventions and falsehoods. But exalted “to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins,” will Christ, our representative and head, close His heart, or withdraw His hand, or falsify His promise? No; never, never.”
Elder Graham: “Why I Support La Sierra University”
I wish to acknowledge Elder Graham’s letter to the LSU constituents. I am broadly interpreting his letter to be meant for those of us who are no longer Pacific Union constituents, but are alumni or members of the world church as well. My first reaction to his letter was that the letter was carefully constructed by a politician and draws an irrelevant conclusion. The irrelevant conclusion is strengthened by a straw manâ€™s argument (misrepresenting the historical Adventist viewpoint on the evolution controversy). The final breaking point leading to Elder Grahamâ€™s irrelevant conclusion is his use of argumentum verbosium (using so much rhetoric that it is hard to distinguish between the facts of the situation, therefore making the argument appear plausible). I will deconstruct Elder Grahamâ€™s letter as I understand it, from a historical Adventist perspective.
â€œI donâ€™t think a day goes by that I, along with LSU administration and faculty, are not working to assure LSU provides not only a thorough education, but also a faith-building experience for every student.â€ This is noble on the onset, but what faith-building experience is being provided? Sister White tells us, â€œEvil angels in the form of believers will work in our ranks to bring in a strong spirit of disbelief. We are never to catch up the words that human lips may speak to confirm the evil angels in their work, but we should repeat the words of Christ. Christ was the Instructor in the assemblies of these angels before they fell from their high estateâ€ (3SM 410). I would caution us not to begin to point fingers at who is working in conjunction with Satan, but when â€œSome depart from the faith, and give head to the doctrines of devilsâ€ (8MR 345) we need to stand up for Jesus.
â€œFirst, I would like you to know that I accept the biblical account of origins. This is a statement of my faith. I believe all life on earth was created a few thousand years ago in six 24-hour days, followed by the first Sabbath. And I expect to believe that until the Lord comes. For me, the biblical story of creation contains important foundational truths for what I believe about God, about myself, about others and about the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Not everyone agrees with my understanding of the Genesis story of creation. Many people, including some Seventh-day Adventists, have concluded that the evidence that life has developed on Earth over long periods of time is conclusive, and that the Genesis story must be understood in light of scientific data. I donâ€™t agree with that position. My views of science are informed by my faith in Godâ€™s Word, not the other way around.â€
I am glad to know that Elder Graham believes in the biblical perspective of creation. The problem is with his next statement that others may not believe in the literal Genesis story. The Holy Spirit counseled us through the inspired pen that â€œInferences erroneously drawn from facts observed in nature have, however, led to supposed conflict between science and revelation; and in the effort to restore harmony, interpretations of Scripture have been adopted that undermine and destroy the force of the word of God. Geology has been thought to contradict the literal interpretation of the Mosaic record of the creation. Millions of years, it is claimed, were required for the evolution of the earth from chaos; and in order to accommodate the Bible to this supposed revelation of science, the days of creation are assumed to have been vast, indefinite periods, covering thousands or even millions of years.
Such a conclusion is wholly uncalled for. The Bible record is in harmony with itself and with the teaching of nature. Of the first day employed in the work of creation is given the record, â€˜The evening and the morning were the first day.â€™ Genesis 1:5. And the same in substance is said of each of the first six days of creation week. Each of these periods Inspiration declares to have been a day consisting of evening and morning, like every other day since that time. In regard to the work of creation itself the divine testimony is, â€˜He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.â€™ Psalm 33:9. With Him who could thus call into existence unnumbered worlds, how long a time would be required for the evolution of the earth from chaos? In order to account for His works, must we do violence to His word?â€ (Ed. P. 129, 130).
â€œAs in the days of the Apostles men tried by tradition and philosophy to destroy faith in the Scriptures, so today, by the pleasing sentiments of higher criticism, evolutionâ€¦the enemy of righteousness is seeking to lead souls into forbidden paths. To many the Bible is as a lamp without oil, because they have turned their minds into channels of speculative belief that bring misunderstanding and confusion. The work of higher criticism, in dissecting, conjecturing, reconstructing, is destroying faith in the Bible as a divine revelation. It is robbing God’s word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human livesâ€ (AA, p. 474).
â€œIn the study of science, as generally pursued, there are dangers equally great. Evolution and its kindred errors are taught in schools of every grade, from the kindergarten to the college. Thus the study of science, which should impart a knowledge of God, is so mingled with the speculations and theories of men that it tends to infidelity (Ed, p. 227).
â€œAs a true university, LSU will always be on the cutting edge of science as well as other disciplines. If the day ever comes that no one challenges what is being taught in one class or another there, it will probably be because the school has lost its commitment to genuine learning and discovery. I hope that never happens.
I believe in La Sierra University, and I believe in academic freedom, but I also believe that no one who teaches in any Seventh-day Adventist school, including a university, has the freedom to teach as fact things that contradict or undermine the beliefs of the church.
At the same time, the school must be open to the challenges of contemporary life and open to making adjustments or even serious changes, if needed.â€
Here is where argumentum verbosium occurs. Granted, as a true university we want our students and teachers to be on the cutting edge of science. We want our students to learn to challenge, but not challenge the word of God. This leads to destruction and speculation of things God has chosen not to share with usâ€”a dangerous path. I believe that each person who is concerned about the great controversy taking place on the stage of La Sierra is a proponent of academic freedom, binding this freedom to Godâ€™s Word and the historic teachings of the church. The problem is that contemporary life and making adjustments as needed is a slippery slope. This is a similar tactic to re-interpreting the constitution, and not taking it for what it is and says. Contemporary life does not change God. Is He not always the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow? Our understanding of contemporary life does not impress God. Be careful Elder Graham and all who would follow this logic!
â€œTo understand this, one must look closely at our history as a church and at the organizational structure that has served us for more than a century. In response to fervent appeals from Ellen G. White and others at the dawn of the 20th century, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was reorganized to prevent what she called â€œkingly, ruling power.â€ Authority was distributed to committees and boards as close as possible to where ministry and education were facilitated.
As one who has served the church for more than 30 years, I can speak with conviction and passion about the importance of these organization structures. I believe that they are among Godâ€™s greatest gifts to our church. Our growth as a church, the way in which we have been able to minister in such diverse circumstances and such diverse ways, our capacity to minister in so many cultures, languages and settings, and our ability to stay in sync â€“ in unity â€“ with one another across widely varying situations, all can be attributed in large part to the organizational structure that was developed by our pioneers.â€
Here is more argumentum verbosium. The argument is not about the organizational structure of the church. While I am personally grateful for Elder Grahamâ€™s service to the church, the paragraph about his service is neither here nor there. This would be like me stating that because I have worked for the church for 10 years, and served in a public school setting for 14 years, I understand both sides of the educational coin better than Adventist pastors or teachers who have only served the church. This is fallacy! The argument is also not about our vast diversity, which is another blessing of the Holy Spirit, and which our pioneers would have wept at if they could have seen the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this remnant church on the global stage. Furthermore, we cannot cite Sister White when it is convenient, and leave her inspiration out of the discussion when it doesnâ€™t please us.
Adventist universities are not like elementary schools or even academies, where one or several people can make changes overnight. At a university, the process is often as important as the outcome. Those processes involve discussion, planning, experimentation, review and more changes until the goals are met. Those processes are ongoing at La Sierra University and I am pleased with the directions both the discussions and the adjustments are moving. I have no fear at all about where we will end.
Why are the faculty members of the colleges and university unable to make changes or for that matter, state they do not agree with the churchâ€™s historical teaching, overnight? This makes it appear as though university professors have some type of extra special clout or privilege that the local Adventist kindergarten teacher or academy bible teacher does not posse–somehow they are more important because they are at a university? It asserts that the active role of dialogue and communication are not important to the leadership of our elementary and secondary schools. Also, were does Elder Graham believe the end will lead to in this great controversy? He stated,
â€œFirst, LSU will be a school where the biblical account of a recent six-day creation will be respected and supported, and where the faith of our students will be encouraged and strengthened while their knowledge of science develops.
Second, LSU will be a school where every student â€“ regardless of their beliefs about origins â€“ will be respected, and where they will find every possible reason to believe in a loving God, accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ, value the Sabbath, seriously consider and choose to become Seventh-day Adventists, and commit themselves to the mission of preparing the world for the second coming of Christ.â€
I am glad to hear that LSU will again be a school where the biblical account of a literal, recent, six-day creation is respect and supported. Will it also be preached in the classroom, supported by the faculty, administration, and board? Will the strengthening of student science concepts be developed from a biblical perspective, or are our young people going to continually be at-risk at this Adventist institution for losing their faith in, â€œThus saith the Lordâ€¦?â€
The second statement is a statement of respect, but leans towards tolerance (two different perspectives). The issue is always Christ, and Him crucified. But Adventists have been called to be a unique and peculiar people. We cannot, should not, and for me and my house, will not adhere to the current conditions and understandings of the world, regardless of the liberal academic elite who believe as talking heads they know more than the common person. For me and my house, we will serve the Lord, and will rely on what His word has plainly said. We cannot have students going out to preach the gospel and preparing the world when they donâ€™t have a clear understanding of their origins. We are told that angels will be sent in the final days (which we are in) to finish the work that men had the blessing to partake in, but neglected the claims of God (RH, Dec. 15, 1885).
I pray that the Lord will bless the new leadership of the General Conference, Elder Wilson, as president, and all those who serve the Lord for this mighty church. We have a message to save, and people are begging us to â€œtell it again!â€ Let us not fail because we cannot clearly see what is before us, we listen to the doctrines of evil, seducing spirits, and are found wanting on the scales of heaven.
Youâ€™re right on target again, Richard. The crux of secular humanistic philosophy is to be â€œopenâ€ to anything, so â€œeverythingâ€ is equally valid and acceptable, at least to someone. The Bible is actually very â€œclose minded!â€ (Quote)
Dr. Stone and Richard,
Thank you. This was my point exactly! Have a blessed, joyous, and Christ-filled day. May Jesus and Him crucified be our theme!