SAU Faculty Statement on Creation (2004)

SunsetSource: Southern Adventist University School of Religion

Faculty Statement on Creation
A REAFFIRMATION OF CREATION

September 8, 2004

Introduction

The Faith and Science Conferences that have taken place in the church during the past three years (2002-2004) have shown the wide range of views that exist concerning the origins of life and the early chapters of Genesis.

Despite the fact that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has had a long-held fundamental belief concerning creation, a small but vocal group has:

a. called for a reinterpretation of the longstanding Adventist understanding of creation and the flood and proposed a view that is constructed upon evolutionary presuppositions.
b. argued that the lack of specificity in Fundamental Belief #6 allows for a number of mutually exclusive views to coexist in the Church.

In response to the present focus on origins in the Church, we, the faculty of the School of Religion, Southern Adventist University, offer this reaffirmation of creation with recommendations to be considered by the organizing committee and officers of the General Conference.

Affirmations
According to Scripture:

1. We affirm the primacy of Scripture in all areas of inquiry whether science or other disciplines because it is the inspired Word of God (Is 40:8; 2 Pet 1:19-21; 2 Tim 3:16).

2. We affirm that Genesis 1-11 is a historical, literal, and reliable account since the description found therein is reaffirmed throughout the OT (Exod 20:11; Neh 9:6; Job 26:7,13; Psa 8:3; 33:6; 96:5; 102:25; 104:24,30; 115:15; 121:2; 124:8; 134:3; 136:5; 146:6; 148:4, 5; Prov 3:19; 8:22-30; Eccl 12:1; Isa 37:16; 40:12,26-28; 42:7; 43:7; 44:24; 45:11-18; 51:13,16; Jer 51:15; Zech 12:1); also, every NT writer and Jesus Himself, explicitly or implicitly affirm the historicity of Gen 1-11 (Matt 19:4, 5; 24:37-39; Mark 10:6; Luke 3:38; 17:26, 27; Jn 1:3; Rom 5:12; Acts 17:24-26; 1 Cor 6:16; 11:8-9, 12; 15:45-48; 2 Cor 11:3; Col 1:16; Eph 5:31; 1 Tim 2:13, 14; Heb 11: 3, 7; 1 Pet 3:20; 2 Pet 2:5; 3:5-6; James 3:9; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11, 14; Rev 14:7).

3. We affirm that by His word, God created all things out of nothing (ex nihilo) (Gen 1:3; Ps 33: 6, 9; Jn 1:3; Heb 11:3).

4. We affirm the supernatural creation of a perfect and good world in six, consecutive, contiguous, literal, 24-hour days (Gen 1; Ex 20:11) and that creation was complete at the end of creation week (Gen 2:1-2).

5. We affirm that the six-day creation of life on earth took place recently, a few thousand years ago (Gen 5, 11; 1 Chron 1:1-27).

6. We affirm that all things were created by God, both in the heavens and the earth, visible and invisible (Col 1:16).

7. We affirm that death was the result of sin (Rom 6:23), and that therefore there was no death before sin (Gen 2:16-17), and there will no longer be death in the new heaven and the new earth (Rev 21:4).

8. We affirm that death came into the world by the first man, Adam (Gen 3:6; Rom 5:14; 1 Cor 15:22), and that after introducing evil into the world there was a tremendous increase of wickedness (Gen 6:1-4).

9. We affirm that a subsequent catastrophic, global flood was sent by God as a judgment against wickedness (Gen 6:5-7) “so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered” (Gen 7:20-21), and that this flood destroyed all flesh except that which was preserved on the ark (Gen 7:1-3; 2 Pet 2:5-7).

10. We affirm the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy as manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White to this remnant movement and her specific reaffirmation of the biblical doctrine of creation as taught by the Scriptures: specifically, a literal six-day creation; God’s rest on the seventh day; a universal, global flood; and her reaffirmation of a short chronology of “about 6,000 years.”

11. We affirm that, when properly understood, Scripture and nature are harmonious in their witness to the creation and flood.

12. We affirm the interlocking nature of the doctrine of creation with these doctrines: Scripture, nature and character of God, nature of man, Great Controversy, atonement, remnant and mission, unity of the church, gift of prophecy, law of God, Sabbath, stewardship, Christian behavior, marriage, Second Coming, death and resurrection, and the new earth.

Denials

1. We deny that the creation story is parable, saga, metaphor, myth, or any other literary category insofar as they are construed as mutually exclusive to a literal and historical account.

2. We deny any other theory of origins involving millions of years for the development of life, and the evolution of humans from non-human primates as taught in natural evolution, theistic evolution, and progressive creation.

3. We deny the view that a literal and historical account of Gen 1-11 is not essential to the belief system of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

4. We deny that death was part of God’s original creation or that it will be part of God’s new creation.

5. We deny that the biblical flood was only local or that the covering of the high mountains only involved water in a solid state.

6. We deny that Ellen G. White is to be understood only devotionally in the area of origins.

Recommendations
Based on these affirmations and denials, we recommend that:

1. The General Conference consider initiating an appropriate process which would enable Fundamental Belief # 6 on creation to speak with greater clarity, regarding the historicity and timing of Gen 1-11.

2. The leadership in our church employ only educators and pastors who are committed to the teachings of Scripture as understood by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and establish procedures that would encourage academic honesty, integrity, and accountability in this regard.

3. The Church continue to foster ways to educate its membership regarding the value and importance of the doctrine of creation.

Ron E. M. Clouzet, D.Min., Dean and Professor of Ministry
Stephen Bauer, M.Div., Associate Professor of Religion
Jack J. Blanco, Th.D., Former Dean and Adjunct Professor of Theology
Norman R. Gulley, Ph.D., Research Professor of Systematic Theology
Michael G. Hasel, Ph.D., Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Archaeology
Douglas Jacobs, D.Min., Associate Professor of Religion
Greg A. King, Ph.D., Professor of Biblical Studies
Judson Lake, D.Min., Th.D., Professor of Pastoral Theology
Donn W. Leatherman, Ph.D., Professor of Old Testament Studies
Carlos G. Martín, Ph.D., Professor of Evangelism and Missions
Edwin Reynolds, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament Studies
Phillip G. Samaan, D.Min., Professor of Applied Theology and Evangelism
Douglas A. Tilstra, M.Div., Associate Professor of Religion

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2 thoughts on “SAU Faculty Statement on Creation (2004)

  1. “Those who are uneducated, untrained, and unrefined are not prepared to enter a field in which the powerful influences of talent and education combat the truths of God’s Word. Neither can they successfully meet the strange forms of error, religious and philosophical combined, to expose which requires a knowledge of scientific as well as Scriptural truth.” GW 81 (1915)
    Notice, Mrs White indicates that is is the SCIENTIFIC data that is sopposed to correct the religious and philosophical error. It is NOT theology that is to correct science, but SCIENCE CORRECTS THEOLOGY.
    She here makes the teachings of the Bible subordinate to the teachging of science.




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  2. @Ron:
    I am happy to see the entire faculty of SAU’s religion department supporting the doctrine of six literal, consecutive, 24-hours days of creation. I would like to encourage the biology department as well as the other science departments of SAU to also make this stand, if they have not done so already.
    The Gospel Workers statement that Ron quoted does not explicitly delineate what it is that Ellen White thought was error in religious or philosophical fields. However, the following statements would indicate that she places the Bible as an authority over science, to direct the interpretation of the evidences revealed in science.
    “Human knowledge of both material and spiritual things is partial and imperfect; therefore many are unable to harmonize their views of science with Scripture statements. Many accept mere theories and speculations as scientific facts, and they think that God’s Word is to be tested by the teachings of “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20). The Creator and His works are beyond their comprehension; and because they cannot explain these by natural laws, Bible history is regarded as unreliable. Those who doubt the reliability of the records of the Old and New Testaments too often go a step further and doubt the existence of God and attribute infinite power to nature. Having let go their anchor, they are left to beat about upon the rocks of infidelity.”–GC 522
    “To many, scientific research has become a curse. God has permitted a flood of light to be poured upon the world in discoveries in science and art; but even the greatest minds, if not guided by the Word of God in their research, become bewildered in their attempts to investigate the relations of science and revelation.”–GC 522
    “He who has a knowledge of God and His word has a settled faith in the divinity of the Holy Scriptures. He does not test the Bible by man’s ideas of science. He brings these ideas to the test of the unerring standard. He knows that God’s word is truth, and truth can never contradict itself; whatever in the teaching of so-called science contradicts the truth of God’s revelation is mere human guesswork.”–8T 325
    The scientific method of testing the physical and mathematical evidences is limited when it comes to origins, because no one is able to directly observe the past. Both evolution and creation are therefore in the realm of philosophy and religion, rather than empirical science. Both creationists and evolutionists start with a premise of origins, and interpret the empirical data according to their starting point.
    My starting point is the Bible, because I believe that the Bible records the account of only eye-witness to the origins of the universe and the earth. That eye-witness is God, who told the Bible writers what He had done when He created all things.
    As to what Ellen White believed about the long-age earth theory, please read this passage:
    “The infidel supposition that the events of the first week required seven vast, indefinite periods for their accomplishment, strikes directly at the foundation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. It makes indefinite and obscure that which God has made very plain. It is the worst kind of infidelity; for with many who profess to believe the record of creation, it is infidelity in disguise. It charges God with commanding men to observe the week of seven literal days in commemoration of seven indefinite periods, which is unlike his dealings with mortals, and is an impeachment of his wisdom.
    “Infidel geologists claim that the world is very much older than the Bible record makes it. They reject the Bible record because of those things which are to them evidences from the earth itself that the world has existed tens of thousands of years. And many who profess to believe the Bible record are at a loss to account for wonderful things which are found in the earth, with the view that creation week was only seven literal days, and that the world is now only about six thousand years old. These, to free themselves from difficulties thrown in their way by infidel geologists, adopt the view that the six days of creation were six vast, indefinite periods, and the day of God’s rest was another indefinite period; making senseless the fourth commandment of God’s holy law. Some eagerly receive this position; for it destroys the force of the fourth commandment, and they feel a freedom from its claims upon them.” 1SP 86-87.




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