Comment on ANN reports on affirmation of creation and FB #6 enhancement by Sean Pitman.
Dr. Bietzâ€™s comments lasted 15-20 seconds. He gave no speech. He simply asked that the motion be divided since he supported the first part (which was a reaffirmation of Creation and a belief in a 7-day 24 hour literal Creation.) He in a few seconds said he couldnâ€™t support the second part but gave absolutely no reasons for his opposition.
The reason why I am personally disappointed in Bietz’s proposal is because I know the history behind the effort not to make the wording of FB#6 more explicit regarding the “literal” nature of the 6-day week. Because of this there have been many, to include the administration and science professors of LSU who have interpreted the “days” of creation to really mean indefinite periods of time. It is only in this sense that they feels themselves able to claim that they are in line with all of the SDA fundamental beliefs in their teaching at LSU.
In fact, the last president of LSU, Lawrence Geraty, along with Fritz Guy, specifically worked to maintain what they considered to be the “vagueness” of the wording of FB#6 for this very reason, to allow for a much greater diversity of opinion regarding the interpretations of “days” than has been the historical norm within the SDA Church and contrary to the very clear statements of Mrs. White on this matter. I am sure that Dr. Bietz is also well aware of this history and the reason for the efforts to continue to maintain this “vagueness” in the language of FB#6.
Beyond this, however, my father was recently at SAU for a trust services conference. During this conference Dr. Bietz gave a presentation to his group in which he, in no uncertain terms, affirmed the position of LSU and argued in defense of their “academic freedom”. He, like Dr. Geraty, seems to have subscribed to the “big tent” view of Adventism where the Church is tolerate of teachers and preachers who believe in and even actively promote a long-age view of origins on this planet… enabling them to somehow attempt to be in line with both mainstream science as well as a semblance of Adventism.
Personally, I don’t think this is possible. Like Clifford Goldstein, I believe that mainstream evolutionary views are so fundamentally opposed to SDA and even general Christian thinking that such views would end up undermining everything the founders of the SDA Church and Christianity in general stood for and died for.
This is why I am disappointed with what Dr. Bietz did. Even if his speech only lasted 20 seconds, it spoke volumes to those who understand the current conflict and its history within the SDA Church…
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Evidently many Seventh-day Adventists- including most EducateTruthers- feel the Bible canâ€™t be taken at face value and therefore more words must be added.
The Bible can be taken at face value given its entire context. Individual phrases, taken out of context, can be quite ambiguous and need context for clarification. Even though they are taken from the Bible, biblical passages do not stand alone. Their intended meaning is dependent upon other contributing passages and the overall context in which the passage was found.
Clearly then, taken in context, the obvious intent of the author of the first passages of Genesis was to convey the idea that the creation week was a literal week. This is quite clear to most Hebrew scholars, conservative and liberal. Even Lawrence Geraty supports this conclusion.
So, the effort to clarify the wording of SDA FB#6 by adding the word “literal” is by no means going beyond the obviously intended in-context-meaning of the biblical text itself.
Therefore, the resistance to adding this clarifying word to FB#6 by Geraty and others is based entirely on the effort to pacify those who would interpret Genesis in an allegorical manner, contrary to its clearly intended meaning, in order to try to somehow maintain the Genesis narrative while incorporating the evolutionary beliefs of mainstream scientists at the same time.
The SDA Church need not be open to this sort of pacifist effort – to pacify those with ambiguous language who hold beliefs that fundamentally oppose what we consider to be a vitally important Gospel message of hope as a Pillar of our SDA Faith; and even science.
As an academy principal at Takoma Academy, we also had strict rules on jewelry and dress and only taught what is being advocated on this web site. The results arenâ€™t a lot better. Perhaps there are more important aspects of our church that we need to worry about.
There certainly are many other important things that our Church needs to worry about, but this does not mean that our Church should no longer worry about promoting and actively upholding its fundamental doctrines – doctrinal truths discovered and preserved at the cost of many fortunes and lives so that we might have the benefit of their understanding. The current secular society in which we live is naturally attractive to many young people. Interest in religion and God in general is waning in this country and in European countries as well.
In his book, “Already Gone” Ken Ham points out that young people see the church as simply a nice social club that really doesn’t stand for anything anymore – at least not anything worth sacrificing for much less dying for. Most denominations even question the literal reality of most of the Bible stories – presenting them more as allegories or moral fables.
For me and most other people, young and old, the idea that the Bible stories aren’t really true or reliable throws out a great deal of meaning that used to be present in Christianity. No one wants to be seen as ignorant or stupid. The opinions and conclusions of mainstream scientists have largely replaced the Bible as the only really reliable source of truth. Churches are therefore rapidly becoming hardly more than glorified social clubs without real conviction or a sense of purpose or of belonging to something important – a movement that is worth risking life and limb to support.
If you really want the Church to grow, really grow in a vital way, offer something that is worth dying for. Offer something that produces real meaning in life and a solid hope for the future. The promotion of higher critical ideas of the Bible and mainstream evolutionary concepts that strike at the very heart of biblical credibility will end up eroding real growth for any Christian church. Those Churches that are experiencing the most solid growth are those Churches that actually stand for something – where people actually believe what they say they believe and are willing to sacrificing everything for what they see as extremely valuable truths.
In the final analysis, interest in God and overcoming self cannot be forced and success should not be based on the numbers. After all, looking just at the numbers Noah wasn’t very successful at all. Therefore, what’s the point in watering down truth in order to increase numbers? Numbers are up to God and His Holy Spirit. Our job is to stand for those important truths that God has given us to improve and make our lives more hopeful and joyful – truths which many have sacrificed a great deal to deliver to us; even their very lives.
These Gospel truths, these precious foundational doctrines of our Church, should not be taken lightly. I myself was brought under the threat of court martial twice while in the Army for refusing to attend unnecessary classes on Sabbath. One time Admiral Barry Black, the highest ranking chaplain in the armed forces at the time, offered to come and defend me and the case was dropped when this was made known. I would not have been able to stand against such pressure if I didn’t believe in the reality of the literal nature of the Genesis account. But, because of my carefully studied confidence in the reality of my religion, it was a thrilling experience for me to be able to stand for God in such situations – a true honor.
This same sort of call and confidence in the Word is needed to keep our young people in the Church; to successfully compete with the innumerable attractions that the secular world has to offer to distract the mind from the most important issues and decisions of life.
In these documents you will find the Standards and Criteria for Review with guidelines that visiting teams and our Commission will use to evaluate whether a university which voluntarily applies for regional accreditation meets.
I looked in your document for how WASC expects “academic freedom” to co-exist with certain specific goals and ideals of the organization that owns the school, but am still a bit confused.
For example, several Catholic schools have let professors go who opposed Catholic doctrines in or even outside of class. A recent case of a math teacher in a Catholic school who questioned the existence of God on a public website comes to mind. She was fired for this ( Link ). Would this case be viewed by WASC as a violation of “academic freedom”? – especially given that she wasn’t even a religion professor at the school?
There is also the fairly recent case of the well known evangelical scholar, Bruce K. Waltke, who was forced to leave his position at the Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando) because of his stand on evolution ( Link ). Is this a violation of “academic freedom” according to WASC?
I apologize, but it is pretty difficult for me to tell from the document you referenced. It seems like this is about as good a definition of “academic freedom” as I could find in your document:
Institutional policies and practices that affirm that those in the academy are free to share their convictions and responsible conclusions with their colleagues and students in their teaching and in their writing.
What is a “responsible conclusion”? Who defines this term and upon what basis? What rights and protection does the institution have against the attacks of a professor against the primary goals and/or ideals of the institution? Does WASC only protect the professor’s rights? – or does WASC also consider the ideals and goals of the institution as well?
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Again, most people, including most non-Christians, consider late-term abortions (abortions within the third trimester of otherwise healthy viable babies) to be murder. There is relatively little argument about this. One doesn’t have to know the “precise point” to know that, after a certain point, abortion is clearly murder. The argument that a baby isn’t alive or really human until the moment that it is born is nonsense in my opinion.
Of course, before the third trimester, things start to get a bit more grey and unclear. Some define the beginnings of human life with the full activity of the brain’s cortex. Others define it with the earliest activity of the brain stem. Others define it as the beginnings of fetal movement or the fetal heartbeat. I might have my own opinions here, but the question I ask myself is at what point would I be willing to convict someone else of murder? – and be willing to put them in prison for it? For me, I wouldn’t be willing to do this until things are overwhelmingly clear that the baby is functioning as a full human being and is viable (which would include full brain activity).
As far as rape or incest is concerned, the resulting pregnancy should be terminated as soon as possible within the first trimester. Waiting for the third trimester is simply not an option because, at this point, it would still be murder to kill a fully-formed baby regardless of its origin…
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
I agree with you up until your last sentence. It seems very very clear to me that a baby becomes human before it takes its first breath. A baby born at 40 weeks gestation is not somehow inherently “more human” than a baby that is still inside its mother at 39 weeks gestation. At 39 weeks, such a baby is indistinguishable from a baby that has already been born. The location inside or outside of the mother makes absolutely no difference at this point in time and development.
I think, therefore, that we as Christians should avoid both obvious extremes here in this discussion. There are two very clear ditches on both sides of the road here. We should avoid claiming that a baby is not really human until it is actually born at full term, and, at the same time, we should also avoid claiming that full humanity and moral worth is instantly realized at the moment of conception…
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Most would agree with you that the baby John the Baptist, before he was born, was, at some point, a real human being who could “leap for joy” (Luke 1:44). Even most non-Christians would agree that a third-trimester abortion is murder. However, this isn’t the real problem here. We are talking about if a single cell or a simple ball of cells is fully “human” and if ending a pregnancy at such an early stage of development is truly a “murder” of a real human being. After all, when conception first takes place a single cell cannot “leap for joy” – or for any other reason. It’s just a single fertilized cell that cannot think or feel or move and has no brain or mind or intelligence of any kind. The same is true of an embryo that consists of no more than an unformed ball of cells for quite some time. Upon what basis, then, is it “murder” to end a pregnancy at this early point in embryological development?
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Then you have several different questions to explain. 1) How can a 6 month developed (but dead?), non-human being (from a human mother and father?) , being carried in it’s human mother’s womb, leap for joy because he (it?) recognized the mother of the World’s Savior? ”The dead know nothing, neither have they any more knowledge under the sun.” 2) How can anything dead even move? The opposite of alive is dead. Everything alive has life from God. Dead things don’t grow and they don’t move. Every SDA should know this. The Laws of God are not altered in order to justify killing unborn human beings that He has given life to.
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
That’s just it. You say that, “The unborn think and feel”. However, an embryo in the earliest stages of development is just a single cell or an unformed ball of cells – with no apparent functional difference than a cluster of cells in my appendix. Such an embryo cannot think or feel or understand anything. There is no mind or intelligence at this point. If it isn’t murder to take out someone’s appendix, how then call it be truly “murder” to end a pregnancy at this point in time? How can you be so sure of yourself here? Based on what moral principle?
Also, people who are clearly “brain dead” need not be maintained indefinitely on life support. They’re just a shell of a body at this point and it is not “murder” to simply take them off the mechanical support of the empty shell of their body. This happens all the time in hospitals – and it is not considered to be “murder” at all… by most medical professionals (even most Christian ones).