So everyone born knows the 7th day is the Sabbath? …

Comment on GC Delegates Vote to Tighten Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation by Sean Pitman.

So everyone born knows the 7th day is the Sabbath? The moral law is God’s will for the human family. And Adam and Eve knew without any instruction about the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

The Ten Commandments, especially the first four, are not the “Royal Law”. The Royal Law is more fundamental. Everyone is given to know, via it being written on the heart, the Royal Law of Love – which Jesus says is the basis of everything else, of all other laws including those of the Ten Commandments (Galatians 5:14 and Matthew 22:37-40). The “Ten Commandments” are simply a practical guide on how to apply the Royal Law of Love for those who are in such bad shape that love doesn’t come naturally to them. However, the Ten Commandments are themselves based on the underlying Law of Love – the “Royal Law”. If the entire law is fulfilled in keeping the one command, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, as the Bible clearly claims, how then can one be accused of being a “sinner” if one is in line with this Royal Law? – even if one has never heard of other commands like the Sabbath command or the “don’t eat from that tree” command? – commands which have not been “written on the heart” like the Royal Law has been? You see, if the Royal Law is followed, all other known commands that are in line with the Royal Law will also be followed.

You see, I could hardly be accused of not showing love toward my wife if I was in the habit of doing something that she didn’t like – like putting on a particular type of aftershave that she hates. However, once she tells me that she hates my aftershave, and wouldn’t I please try a different one, then it would be hateful of me, against the Law of Love, to continue to use the one that I now know she doesn’t like. The same is true with God and commands like the Sabbath commands that are not inherently known or knowable, but must be taught and learned over time.

Consider again that if one is honestly unaware of the Sabbath command (or that some tree is “forbidden”) how can one be guilty of breaking a command of God when God has never given a particular person such a command? – or be guilty of breaking the all-important Royal Law? It just doesn’t follow. That is why sin simply isn’t a matter of a lack of information. If that’s all it is, as you seem to suggest, then Jesus didn’t need to die on the cross. All He needed to do was provide the necessary information regarding the existence of this or that command. The problem with sin, you see, is that it is not a problem of a lack of information – not at all! It is a problem of rebelling against that which is already known to be true. Did Lucifer sin because of ignorance? If he did, he would have had a very good excuse for his rebellion. However, if he rebelled against what he knew was right and good, where is his excuse for what he did? Sin is therefore a form of insanity since there is no rational excuse for rebelling against what one knows to be right and good. Even Ellen White argues that if a good excuse could be found for sin, it would cease to be sin:

“[Sin] is mysterious, unaccountable; to excuse it, is to defend it. Could excuse for it be found, or cause be shown for its existence, it would cease to be sin. Our only definition of sin is that given in the Word of God; it is “the transgression of the law;” it is the outworking of a principle at war with the great law of love which is the foundation of the divine government.”

– Ellen White, GC, p. 493

How can one be ignorantly “at war” against the “great law of love”? That’s impossible. One can only be “at war” against something that is known…

Again, you’ve repeatedly failed to answer my question: Would Adam and Eve have been guilty of sin if God had not directly told them not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? If you will not answer this question, I don’t feel the need to continue this conversation…

Original sin is so completely and throughly biblical that John Wesley stated that anyone who would deny it is not even a Christian. It is a basic denial of the atonement and its far reaching application for those who accept their culpablity in Adam’s sin, even though they didn ‘t actually do it themselves.

You are like Cain who refused to admit he was a sinner, and would not offer a lamb.

On please, your Augustinian/Calvinistic view of “original sin” is not an Adventist concept (or even the Wesleyan concept). We are all sinners because we all have rebelled against that which we knew was true. We’ve all deliberately done things knowing, ahead of time, that they were wrong. That’s why we are all guilty of sin. We are not guilty of sin because we do things ignorantly, but because we’ve done bad things deliberately.

Seventh-day Adventists have historically preached a doctrine of inherited weakness, not a doctrine of inherited guilt. Adventists believe that humans are sinful primarily due to the fall of Adam and Eve and the resulting separation from God, which is inherited, but Adventists do not accept the Augustinian/Calvinistic understanding of original sin, taught in terms of original guilt. According to Augustine and Calvin, humanity inherits not only Adam’s depraved nature but also the actual guilt of his transgression. Adventists, on the other hand, look more toward the Wesleyan model (which you don’t seem to understand). John Wesley taught that no person was condemned because of “Original Sin”. It was only for “actual sins” that a person would be judged. Given our corrupted nature it happens that everyone does consciously sin. This situation is inevitable without Divine help. However, it is for sins a person deliberately commits, not a corrupt nature that we inherit from Adam and Eve, that we are personally judged (Link).

The Adventist view is similar since most Adventists leaders (and founding fathers as well) view the Fall as causing a “separation from God”. This separation is what removes from us the Power to effectively resist the temptation to sin. Sin, however, remains a deliberate act of rebellion against that which is known to be true – a rebellion against the Royal Law that is written on our hearts. Sin is not and has never been something done in ignorance. This is why Adventists generally deny that we inherit Adam’s guilt, only his fallen nature or “separation” from God (Link). This is also why Adventists do not perform infant baptisms like the Catholics. As Ellen White puts it, “It is inevitable that children should suffer from the consequences of parental wrong-doing, but they are not punished for the parent’s guilt, except as they participate in their sins.”

Again, the concept of individual responsibility for sin as the result of deliberate acts against known truth is highlighted here… while maintaining that all are born “separated” from God and therefore require the intervention of Jesus to re-establish that connection which gives all of us who do so the Power to resist temptation. However, Adam and Eve would never have become “separated” from God if they had eaten from the “forbidden tree” unknowingly. It is because they knew ahead of time that the fruit of the “forbidden tree” was in fact “forbidden” by God Himself, that their eating of it created a separation between themselves and God. And this, in an nutshell, is the fundamental problem of sin and evil – it creates a separation between the sinner and God.

Again, traditionally, Adventists look at sin in terms of willful transgressions. This position is based on texts such as “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4) And, it is impossible to transgress the Royal Law of Love while in ignorance. Such a transgression must be a conscious deliberate transgression.

We are therefore “sinners” because we have all knowingly broken the law. And, not just any law, but the Royal Law of Love… deliberately. Sin isn’t the result of some accidental trespass against some unknown law or rule. It is a deliberate rebellion against that which is known to be true. And, it is because of our tendency to deliberately rebel against the Royal Law that we must be “born again” – to obtain the power of God to be able to truly fulfill the Royal Law of Love toward others.

Sean Pitman Also Commented

GC Delegates Vote to Tighten Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation
As already mentioned, the Bible never teaches that anyone is guilty and deserves condemnation or death because of the sins or crimes committed by someone else (Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20; Jeremiah 31:29, 30; Romans 2:5, 6; 6:23; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Galatians 6:7, 8; Revelation 20:12, 13; 21:8). This would be a monstrous and unjust portrayal of God since it goes against every sense of justice and fair play.

Beyond this, even Jesus took on the fallen nature of humanity, yet without sin. Therefore, it isn’t the fallen nature that is sinful, but the actual transgressions against the Royal Law that an individual commits that make him/her guilty of sin. Jesus “took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men . . . in fashion as a man” (Philippians 2:7, 8), “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3); thus, “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).

“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:14-18)

Christ lived a life of sinlessness in our fallen human nature and thereby condemned sin in the flesh, in our fallen condition with all of our natural fallen propensities and weaknesses. Christ proved that our nature, fallen and corrupted though it may be, is no excuse for sinning and that obedience to God’s law is possible in our fallen condition – thus exposing Satan’s lie and charge against God. It was Satan who declared that no man could keep the law of God after the disobedience of Adam. He claimed that the whole race is under his control and could not escape. Jesus disproved this claim showing how even a man with a fallen nature could, with God’s power, live a sinless life.

Ellen White, stresses this fundamental truth:

“Christ’s overcoming and obedience is that of a true human being. In our conclusions, we make many mistakes because of our erroneous views of the human nature of our Lord. When we give to His human nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, we destroy the completeness of His humanity.” – Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (Washington, D.C.: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1953-1957, 929).

“In our humanity, Christ was to redeem Adam’s failure. But when Adam was assailed by the tempter, none of the effects of sin were upon him. He stood in the strength of perfect manhood, possessing the full vigor of mind and body. He was surrounded with the glories of Eden, and was in daily communion with heavenly beings. It was not thus with Jesus when He entered the wilderness to cope with Satan. For four thousand years the race had been decreasing in physical strength, in mental power, and the moral worth; and Christ took upon Him the infirmities of degenerate humanity. Only thus could He rescue man from the lowest depths of his degradation.” — Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, 117.

“The King of glory proposed to humble Himself to fallen humanity! He would place His feet in Adam’s steps. He would take man’s fallen nature, and engage to cope with the strong foe who triumphed over Adam. He would overcome Satan, and in thus doing He would open the way for the redemption from the disgrace of Adam’s failure and fall, of all those who would believe on Him” (Ellen White, Redemption; or the Temptation of Christ in The Wilderness, 15).

Though He had no taint of sin upon His character, yet He condescended to connect our fallen human nature with His divinity. By thus taking humanity, He honored humanity. Having taken our fallen nature, He showed what it might become, by accepting the ample provision He has made for it, and by becoming partaker of the divine nature. – Ellen White, Special Instruction Relating to the Review and Herald Office, and the Work in Battle Creek, 13 (May 26, 1896).

Clearly then, the fallen nature of humanity is not in and of itself “sin”. Otherwise, Jesus could not have taken on our fallen nature and still have been guiltless of sin. Likewise, when we are born into this world, we are born with a fallen nature that inevitably leads to sin (i.e., transgression of the Law, the Royal Law in particular), outside of the power of God, but is not sin in and of itself. We are simply not guilty of Adam’s sin simply by being born. We become guilty for our own sins once we deliberately break the Royal Law.

GC Delegates Vote to Tighten Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation
Being born separated from God isn’t the same thing as “sinning”. Again, sin requires a deliberate choice of a free moral agent to act against that which is known to be right and good. Otherwise, there simply is no sin. Nothing is more clearly spelled out in the Bible than this. Sin is deliberate rebellion against the Royal Law. Of course, being born with a fallen nature certainly leads to sin. However, being born with a fallen nature isn’t sin in and of itself.

In short, we are not born guilty of Adam’s particular sin. We are born with his fallen nature and a propensity to sin. However, the Catholic notion that guilt itself can be inherited is mistaken. Everyone is judged based on his or her own personal decisions as a free moral agent. This concept is spelled out very clearly throughout the Bible (Ezekiel 18:20, 2Kings 14:6, Deuteronomy 24:16, Jeremiah 31:29-30).

GC Delegates Vote to Tighten Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation
I hope you re-read the Bible with more care regarding all of its statements regarding the creation week and its literal nature. After all, even secular scholars of Hebrew (as already mentioned above) recognize that the author of the Genesis account of creation clearly intended to write a literal historical narrative including the literal nature of the 7-day creation week.

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I fail to see where you have convincingly supported your claim that the GC leadership contributed to the harm of anyone’s personal religious liberties? – given that the GC leadership does not and could not override personal religious liberties in this country, nor substantively change the outcome of those who lost their jobs over various vaccine mandates. That’s just not how it works here in this country. Religious liberties are personally derived. Again, they simply are not based on a corporate or church position, but rely solely upon individual convictions – regardless of what the church may or may not say or do.

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Beyond this, the GC Leadership did, in fact, write in support of personal religious convictions on this topic – and there are GC lawyers who have and continue to write personal letters in support of personal religious convictions (even if these personal convictions are at odds with the position of the church on a given topic). Just because the GC leadership also supports the advances of modern medicine doesn’t mean that the GC leadership cannot support individual convictions at the same time. Both are possible. This is not an inconsistency.