By Sean Pitman:
There are many people who think that the “Fundamental Beliefs” of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have turned into a kind of creed or unchangeable set of doctrinal beliefs or Biblical interpretations that supersede the Bible itself in importance and authority. It has therefore been suggested that the Adventist Church is in danger of falling into the same trap that other Christian denominations and religious organizations have fallen into, of making human interpretations and traditions superior to the Bible as its own creed and interpreter.
Is this true? Has the Adventist Church truly diverged from the foundational protestant statement, “We have no creed but the Bible”? Are the efforts of those of us who manage this website to promote, within our own schools and churches, the teachings and authority of the basic fundamental goals and ideals of the church, as an organization, way off base? – at conflict with the concept of the Bible as its own interpreter for each individual? There are those who think so. Consider, for example, the following comment recently posted to this forum:
I am happy for the church to state what they believe as well, but the minute the church starts to do what Educate Truth is advocating, demanding orthodoxy as a test of fellowship and employment, then you have crossed over the line. The church no longer believes the “The Bible and the Bible Only”, because it is usurping the role of the Holy Spirit to interpret the Bible to each individual, and to bring conviction. Instead of allowing the Bible to be broadly interpreted as needed to meet peoples need, the creed limits the Bible to one narrow understanding which may not be where the Holy Spirit is going in some people’s lives. At the very least, the church is putting itself in the place of God by attempting to coerce thought and belief. Coercion is Satan’s tactic, not God’s. (Link)
This individual is not alone in his concerns over this issue. This was also the basic concern of the founders of the Adventist Church. Many of the founding fathers, and mothers, of our church had been active and devoted members of other protestant churches. When they had come upon what they believed to be new light from the Bible, which happened to conflict with the creeds of their own churches, they were removed from fellowship with the church families that they loved. They therefore originally thought of creedal statements, and even church organization, as entirely evil and fought very hard to prevent the early Adventist movement from organizing or forming official creedal statements of belief. This feeling has continued within our church to one degree or another and is often cited as a basis for allowing fundamentally divergent views to be preached and taught within our churches and schools.
For example, in support of allowing paid SDA representatives to teach fundamentally diverging opinions, Randal Wisbey, current president of La Sierra University, has quoted J.N. Loughborough in his 1861 statement regarding the issue of Church order and government:
The first step of apostasy is to get up a creed, telling us what we shall believe. The second is to make that creed a test of fellowship. The third is to try members by that creed. The fourth is to denounce as heretics those who do not believe that creed. And, fifth, to commit persecution against such.(1)
The problem, of course, is that Wisbey and others who reference the founding fathers of the church with regard to church order and government fail to reference Loughborough’s 1907 work, The Church, Its Organization, Order and Discipline. Although originally opposed to such constraints, it was John Loughborough, together with James White, who first started to realize the need for some sort of internal enforcement of Church order and discipline – i.e., an actual Church government.
As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization, there would be great confusion, and the work could not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying on the work in new fields, for protecting both the church and ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for other objects, organization was indispensable.(2)
Of course, those who were not considered to accurately represent the views of the early Adventist Church did not receive “cards of commendation”. And what was the attitude of such persons? according to Loughborough?:
Of course those who claimed “liberty to do as they pleased,” to “preach what they pleased,” and to “go when and where they pleased,” without “consultation with any one,” failed to get cards of commendation. They, with their sympathizers, drew off and commenced a warfare against those whom they claimed were “depriving them of their liberty.” Knowing that it was the Testimonies that had prompted us as a people to act, to establish “order,” these opponents soon turned their warfare against instruction from that source, claiming that “when they got that gift out of the way, the message would go unrestrained to its `loud cry.’ ”
One of the principal claims made by those who warred against organization was that it “abridged their liberty and independence, and that if one stood clear before the Lord that was all the organization needed,” etc… Upon this point, when church order was contested, we read: “Satan well knows that success only attend order and harmonious action. He well knows that everything connected with heaven is in perfect order, that subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. . . . He deceives even the professed people of God, and makes them believe that order and discipline are enemies to spirituality; that the only safety for them is to let each pursue his own course. . . . All the efforts made to establish order are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery.” (3)
When those who back in the “sixties” [1860s] witnessed the battle of establishing church order now hear persons, as conscientious no doubt as those back there, utter almost the identical words that were then used by those opposing order, it need not be wondered that they fear the result of such statements as the following: “Perfect unity means absolute independence, – each one knowing for himself. Why, we could not have outward disorganization if we all believed in the Lord. . . . This question of organization is a simple thing. All there is to it is for each individual to give himself to the Lord, and then the Lord will do with him just what he wants to, and that all the time. . . . Our only safety, under God, is to go back to the place where God is able to take a multitude of people and make them one, without parliamentary rules, without committee work, without legislation of any kind.” – General Conference Bulletin of 1899.
Superficially considered, this might seem to be a blessed state, a heaven indeed; but, as already noted on a preceding page, we read of heaven itself and its leadings that “the god of heaven is a god of order, and he requires all his followers to have rules and regulations to preserve order.” (2)
Yet Wisbey, and others, often quote Ellen White, of all people, in support of “progressive” Adventism where the maintenance of internal church doctrinal standards is viewed as quite harmful to growth, akin to what the Catholic Church did to Galileo:
There is no excuse for anyone to take the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that our expositions of the Scripture are without error.(1, 4)
Such “progressive” individuals fail to note that although Ellen White does indeed use the phrase “unity in diversity,” (5) and stated that “Instructors in our schools should never be bound about by being told that they are to teach only what has been taught hitherto,” (6) she also maintained that the landmarks and pillars of Adventist truth were to remain. Concepts that impact the science of geology which she “was shown” to be identified as permanent include the concept of six literal, empirical, historical 24-hour days of creation, culminating with a literal 24-hour Sabbath day of rest, and that life on earth was non-existent before the literal creation week described in Genesis.(7)
She also writes that no one is to go ahead or fall behind the current leading of God in the understanding of the Church as an organized body and expect to remain a recognized part of that body.
God is leading out a people, not a few separate individuals here and there, one believing one thing, another that. Angels of God are doing the work committed to their trust. The third angels is leading out and purifying a people, and they should move with him unitedly. Some run ahead of the angels that are leading His people; but they have to retrace every step, and meekly follow no faster than the angels lead… (8)
The Word of God does not give license for one man to set up his judgment in opposition to the judgment of the church, neither is he allowed to urge his opinions against the opinions of the church. If there were no church discipline and government, the church would go to fragments; it could not hold together as a body. There have ever been individuals of independent minds, who have claimed that they were right, that God has especially taught, impressed, and led them. Each has a theory of his own, views peculiar to himself, and each claims that his views are in accordance with the Word of God. Each one has a different theory and faith, yet each claims special light from God. These draw away from the body, and each one is a separate church of himself. All these can not be right, yet they all claim to be led of the Lord. The word of inspiration is not yea and nay, but yea and amen in Christ Jesus. (9)
How are those who think themselves so “progressive” in advance of the foundational pillars of the organized SDA Church on such basic fundamental issues going to be remotely capable of “bringing our young people home at the end of the day?”,(10) as Elder Paulsen put it, if they don’t really believe in or see evidence for the home message to begin with? Ultimately, is there to be no real accountability to the organized SDA Church for what is presented as “truth” from either pulpit or classroom? – by paid representatives supported by God’s own monies in the forms of tithes and offerings?
Such a perspective does not lead to growth, but to chaos and anarchy and eventual fragmentation of any organization. For any organization to remain viable, internal order and discipline must be maintained. This is not the same situation as occurred between the Catholic Church and Galileo where the Church thought to take on political and civil powers over all peoples. That is never a good idea and is the very reason for the need of separation between church and state. People should always be free to join or to leave any religious organization at will without any repercussions under civil law. However, this isn’t to say that internal government within the churrch is also dangerous or that it is unnecessary. To the contrary, without the enforcement of internal order and government upon certain core principles and ideals, no organization of any kind could exist. The order and government of the Adventist Church is itself inspired by God and in keeping with the general harmony and order that is displayed in Heaven. God is a God of order and government. He is not a God of chaos and anarchy.
The viability of the SDA Church, as an organization inspired by God, and the developing minds of a generation of SDA young people, is in our hands.
1. Dwyer, Bonnie. In the Eye of the Storm. 4, s.l. : Spectrum, 2009, Vol. 37.
2. Loughborough, JN. Testimonies for the Church. No. 32, p. 30.
3. Loughborough, JN. Testimonies for the Church. p. 650. Vol. 1.
4. White, Ellen G. Counsels to Writers and Editors. p. 35.
5. Nichol, Francis D. SDA Bible Commentary, 7 vols. plus supplement. Washington, D.C. : Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1970. p. 1083. Vol. 6.
6. White, Ellen. G. Silver Spring, MD : Ellen G. White Estate, 1888.
7. —. Spiritual Gifts, 4 vols. Battle Creek, MI : Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, 1858, 1860, 1864. pp. 90-93. Vol. 3.
8. —. Testimonies for the Church. Vol. 1. p. 207.
9. —. Testimonies for the Church. Vol. 1. p. 428, 429.
10. Paulsen, Jan. An Appeal. Adventist News Network. [Online] 2009. [Cited: December 21, 2009.] http://news.adventist.org/statements/an-appeal.html.
266 thoughts on “Creeds and Fundamental Beliefs”
Why do you assume that a professor turning to Atheism or some other belief would threaten Adventist belief? Are you afraid that Adventist beliefs can’t stand up to such scrutiny? To my mind, resorting to a creed and coercion implies that you really don’t have faith in your beliefs.
No, the appropriate response is to engage with them. Find out why they are persuaded to an alternate view. Then engage in constructive argument and reason. What is more, you should do this in good faith, remaining open to influence yourself. Jesus is the light that enlightens EVERY man, so we have a lot to learn from atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Catholics. The truth has nothing to fear. Truth is truth no matter where it comes from, and no matter how long it is thought to be heresy. If Adventist beliefs cannot stand the test of reason and time without the support of coercion, then they are worthless.
No, I am not defending the teachers. I am saying that the church is responding to the teachers in the wrong way. I believe that the church is abandoning it’s most fundamental of principles by responding they way they have, or at least the way you would like them to.
I see. So using that as our “rule” – then no SDA professor turned atheist, no SDA professor turned Hindu, no SDA educator turned Catholic who then promotes their views to the destruction of the SDA beliefs and the Bible – should ever be asked to stop — because that is just one step short of threatening their life?
Did you really think that one through or are you simply looking for any old excuse here?
I wish you could see the truth instead of subscribing to the evolutionary lie.
Regarding your suggestion that we must pay with tithe and tution dollars to have every form of heresy promoted to our young adults – because in your view to deny anyone a job – paid by our church – to teach heresy – is almost like a life threatening event.
Go, join a different church? How is that solution consistent with mission and evangelism? This is my church. I think I’ll stay.
No, that is not true, but I might have different goals and ideals than you.
It seems to me that supporters of Educate Truth value orthodoxy and doctrinal purity at the expense of being an inclusive community which values spiritual growth.
I think the most Fundamental of Adventist beliefs are freedom of conscience, by which I mean the right to think and act according to ones personal understanding of truth.
I do not believe that people can be forced to believe by dogma and creeds, but that each person needs to be convinced by close and diligent reasoning. Yes, I believe that evolution is a serious problem for the church, but the church has not done the hard work of reconciling its dogma with reality. I do not believe it is right for the church to punish biology teachers for simply teaching science, when the church as a whole does not have any reasonable explanation that is consistent with its theology.
I also think that Present Truth is a fundamental Adventist belief. The Adventist church as rejected many well established fundamental beliefs (Hell is a major one) of Christianity, because we believe God has continued to shed new light. I believe that the process of discovering Present Truth requires that it be safe to submit any and every thought to the close scrutiny of debate. I believe that truth has nothing to fear in such a process.
The establishment of a creed was widely discussed and rejected by our forefathers precisely because it inhibits the process of truth discovery, and the “Fundamental Beliefs” themselves are an apostasy from from the course set by our fathers.
What you are proposing – persecuting teachers and other believers, even by something so simple as telling me, I should leave the church is of the same spirit that motivated the inquisitions of the Catholic church, and even the persecutions of one protestant group by another. It is the pursuit of purity and orthodoxy by force that is the Mark of the Beast, in Catholicism the the image of the Beast in Protestantism. Adventism should have none of that.
Again, there was no option during the Catholic Inquisitions of the Middle Ages since the Church controlled civil government as well its own internal government. No one was really free to leave the Catholic Church during this time without fear of severe civil penalties.
This is not the case today since there is still a separation between church and state in this country (thank God). All are free to leave the SDA Church at will – free of any civil reprisals of any kind.
However, this does not therefore mean that all are free to expect a paycheck from the SDA Church for teaching or preaching whatever they want. The Church is also free to hire only those whom it feels would most effectively represent its primary goals and ideals – to include its efforts to promote its most fundamental doctrinal ideas to the world…
In no meaningful sense of the word can this sort of expectation be called a “persecution” of those who cannot or will not represent the church as the church sees fit – on the church’s dime.
Sean Pitman(Quote)View Comment
So Bob, am I to conclude from your comment that you are becoming a theistic evolutionist, since you seem to equate evolution and ID?
Darwin was objective enough to admit that evolutionism and the bible are not compatible. Dawkins, Provine and Meyers all did on-camera interviews admitting to the same point.
We find that point in 3SG 90-91.
You take the standard TE solution of the form “I just can’t see it”. Free will being what it is – you are welcome to go down that road.
But in the 2010 GC vote we heard “once again” that the Adventist church itself DOES see that point clearly. Evolutionism and the Bible are not compatible.
When evolutionists engage in “self-talk” they like to imagine that it is just one person here or there that admits that the Bible and evolutionism do not mix.
I suppose they need to do that to keep going down the road they are on.
But for the rest of us… the truth is a better solution.
Notice that when the entire denomination votes to restate the literal 7 day week in Belief #6 – the self-talk for the evolutionist does the revisionist-history hat-trick of making that merely “some people want to tighten up” a particular belief.
How “instructive” for the unbiased objective reader.
The world view given to us in the Bible is 100% opposed to evolutionism – as even Darwin himself admitted. Thus you will never find evolutionism stated as “For in SIX DAYS God created the Heavens and the earth the seas and all that are in them” Ex 20:11 (As shocking as this point is for some of our TE friends.).
Almost every human on the planet “sees the point” that creationism and evolutionism are two opposing views on how life in all its forms has come to be. Only our TE friends are so engaged in self-talk so as to imagine that the two can be married together.
This is probably why 3SG 90-91 refers to the TE position as the “worst form” of infidelity.
And no wonder – even Darwin himself could not cling to the self-conflicted notion of marrying the Bible to blind-faith-evolutionism.
I have attended several “new believers” Sabbath School classes where the Fundamental Beliefs (both 27 and 28) have been used as a text. This is a great way for members, both old and new, to become acquainted with what and why we SDA’s believe what we do, based on biblical evidence.
Holly Pham(Quote)View Comment
In this quote Sean claims that Ellen White was not soft on heresy and false doctrine. That she was firm on the issue of our Fundamental Beliefs –
Ok – so let’s see what Ellen White said about that.
She just said we are NOT to receive the words of those who contradict our faith!
And in the next quote – “let none tear away the foundations”
“Listen not a momment” to what?? To LSU teaching students that they can dump the SDA doctrine on origins?
And finally – “no lie is of the truth” –
The topic is Creeds and Fundamental beliefs, my question and response has been with that in mind.
I agree with you regarding the SS Quarterlies, however they do not claim to represent “the truth as it is in Jesus.” As far as I am aware, only the book Adventists Believe, makes that claim. Thus the question does that make it creedal, especially when people are judged by it as opposed to the Bible?
Ranald McLeish(Quote)View Comment
I like to imagine that the SS Quarterly would be infallibly doctrinal perfect in its every statement from today forward.
I have a hard time imagining that such a thing has happened in the past.
There is no board of SDA theologians vetting every word that comes forth in print from the quarterly as it turns out.
It is instead the best efforts of well intentioned individuals expressing some diversity in viewpoints and encouraging discussion.
But it is at times far from the “gold standard” on doctrinal purity. Though some optimists might wish to think it is “not far from it” — I am slightly more realistic.
The book – the 27 Fundamental Beliefs presents a fairly accurate rendering of the 27 Fundamental Beliefs – leaving little room at all for Bible wrenching by the reader.
No one ever said that everyone will choose to believe the SDA 28 fundamental beliefs. Opinions may certainly vary.
No one has ever demonstrated that the 28 Fundamental Beliefs do not come from the Bible.
These points are beyond dispute.
There certainly are those who would wish to wrench and bend some of the statements – such as FB6 so make it bow in service to blind faith evolutionism.
Those who wish to see the Fundamental Beliefs “change” over time should then be ecstatic that they are about to get their wish with FB 6 – a “change” is coming so that the literal 24 hour day sense of the text is impossible to ignore.
My point was that the statements you read about the pillars of our faith ‘not changing’ though challenged for decades at the time of the writing of that statement – fits precisely with the use of our beliefs to this very day.
You “wrote to the Sabbath School department”???
At what point did you ever decide that the Sabbath School department was some kind of doctrinal vetting ground or had the authority of the denomination in terms of doctrine or beliefs?
I have read some very good Sabbath School quarterlies and some that were “not so much”. I don’t expect perfection from those guys every time they step up to the plate. I respect their efforts and most of the guest writers they sign up for a tour of duty – do a pretty good job.
What in the world were you thinking with your appeal for an explanation from the Sabbath School department” ?
I guess it depends on how you define “Creedal”.
There is a video still on the internet in which William Johnson is being interviewed by Walter Martin (Kingdom of the Cults) and John Ankerberg – where Johnson recounts an instance where he spoke to a Gathering of SDA ministers saying that they could either remain with the church or leave – based on the answer to one question and one question only.
“Can you in all good conscience support and teach the 27 Fundamental Beliefs” –
Is this your definition of a “Creed”?
Is it your claim that if we reject atheism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Mormonism, etc and insist that our own voted body of doctrines be promoted “instead” that we have a “creed”?
If you read the specific posts I gave regarding the 19th century position of one of our key church leaders on this subject – you will see the view that held the day back in those early years.
You can believe whatever you want. you can choose to believe the Bible or not.
you can choose to believe SDA doctrine or to believe Catholic doctrine or … whatever.
But if you want to choose Catholicism, or mormonism and then “label it Seventh-day Adventist” you get some push back from those who actually believe SDA doctrine.
Surely we all see that.
The question is not “what CAN you choose to believe” – the question is whether you are free to misrepresent any old list of doctrines you choose to come up with – as “catholic” or “Mormon” or “SDA” slapping labels on it to suit your fancy — or whether you need to be accurate in those claims.
Normally someone would not go out of their way to be agnostic and yet claim to be SDA – UNLESS they had a job – paid by SDAs “as if you are SDA” and they did not want to put that job at risk.
Thus the “conflict of interest” problem well known to the rest of the world.
For those accustomed to using critical thinking when reading wild baseless claims such as the above – we note that you actually gave no detail, no evidence, no argument at all to show any of your wild accusations to be even remotely true.
The little dance done in that post above – carefully avoids the need to step up to the level of objectivity demonstrated in my practice of letting Dawkins, Darwin, Patterson, Provine, Meyers, Reese, Susskind make my points for me.
The TE’s favorite rock to hide their failed arguments under is the “I just can’t see it” rock.
And that rock is effectively removed when we point out just how well these well-known evolutionist sources ARE admitting and even dealing with the very issues that our TE friends want to claim “they just can’t see”.
In each case – how instructive for the unbiased objective reader.
in each case – the point made is that EVEN our atheist evolutionist friends are at times more objective and above aboard on these topics than some of the TEs within the church.
The TE’s reponse?? “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”. ??!! How was that solution on their part ever supposed to be taken seriously??
Impossible point to miss (no matter the level of ad hominem, sneering comments to which the evolutionist posters may choose to resort.)
This just could not be any more obvious. How did the evolutionist TEs posting here, suppose this would work out in their favor?
Bob, you seem to think it would be a grievously dishonest for a person misrepresent a doctrine as being “Adventist” when it wasn’t, and I agree with you whole heartily. I a perplexed that you don’t seem to hold the same standard up when you distinguish or fail to distinguish between science and religious belief. You seem to want to call our SDA religiousness belief in creation “Science” when it is not. I think the Biology teachers are right to reject this mischaracterization. It seems equally intellectually dishonest to me.
Sean, If you see the goal of the church to create a homogeneous group of believers who believe a narrow prescribed set of doctrines, then I will grant your assertion that the church has the right and obligation to carefully vet and fire teachers based on what they teach.
However if you want the church to be a safe place for everyone, including pastors and teachers, to submit their true thought to the critical evaluation, in a lively dynamic search for present truth, then you can’t do that.
Sometimes in order to thoroughly examine an issue for the purposes of figuring out what you actually believe about it, you have to argue for for the opposite position, the one you may not like, in order to see where it’s strengths and weaknesses are. You have to have the freedom and safety to accept and argue for positions that you might not ultimately accept. You can’t do that in an organization that demands orthodoxy.
Maybe you want an orthodox church where everyone believes the same. If so, then I guess you need to continue doing what you are doing. In my opinion such a church would be a dead church. I would not want to belong to such a church.
By the way, I am amused by the phrase “Darwin’s mechanisms” coming from a creationist. If you really believe in creation, then they aren’t Darwin’s mechanisms, they are God’s mechanisms. You have to settle in your own mind whether God created the world or didn’t he? If he did, then you have to accept that he also created the mechanism’s by which organisms evolve.
I’m puzzled as to what the real conflict is. The 28 Fundamental Beliefs(FB) are all scripture supported and based, therefore there is no deviation from the bible. Like the 10 commandments when one willingly and lovingly makes personal change they cease to be rules or laws; they become standards we strive to maintain as we move in a Christ-like direction. It is impossible to have a global organization or movement and not have a standard. Many of the 28 FB are overtly accepted by other Christian denominations. I ask for anyone who does not agree with the beliefs to point out any that aren’t scriptually based. To bring it home anyone who’s ever worked for a company has had to adhere to company guidelines. Those that intend to be good employees have no problem, those that don’t…..I suspect FB#22 is the one that generates the debate.
O. Nelson(Quote)View Comment
So, as a pragmatic matter, yes, truth changes.
Actually, God does change. We have evidence of him changing his mind in response to both Moses and Abraham. If the natural world in any way reflects the character of God, then one would infer that God “never changes” only in the sense that he never stops changing.
@ C Lee The trouble with that, is that I was a Seventh-day Adventist before the creed was developed. In fact I can trace my linage back to the falling of the stars even before 1844, and I never agreed to the change in doctrine represented by the Fundamental Beliefs. I remember that those who promulgated the Fundamental beliefs promised that they would never be considered a creed (read the pre-amble), but now we see their lies revealed and the true character of those who promote the Fundamental beliefs.
Smile: Well, I believe that God speaks to Hindu hearts as well as he does to Adventist hearts. Certainly Hindus have something to learn from Adventists, maybe Adventists have something to learn from Hindus; possibly religious tolerance?
(oops, sorry Henry)
Ahhh yes – “science” vs religion. That one-sided distinction for our TE friends where they fail to step up to the plate set for them by even the atheist evolutionists who are more willing to “Admit to the facts”.
Well said – say we all to our atheist evolutionist friend – Collin Patterson.
If only the TE’s at LSU could muster such objectivity when it comes to their religious devotion to evolutionism.
Certainly that is true.
Ron, do us all a favor: ignore him.
1. News flash – the Creation science movement is a product of Seventh-day Adventism.
2. 3SG 90-91 declares the TE notion to BE the worst form of infidelity. This is the view of Adventists in the 1800’s.
3. Darwin himself admits to the incompatibility of blind-faith evolutionism with Christianity.
So also do Provine, Meyers and Dawkins today. If they know anything at all – they know evolutionism and they have a good grasp of at least the overt gap between LEGAL CODE that is of the form “For in SIX days the Lord MADE the heavens and the earth the seas and all that is in them and rested the SEVENTH DAY” vs “the beeeeellions and beeeellions mantra” of evolutionism.
At this point – one wonders how even a former SDA such as you claim to be – could get so confused on these obvious facts.
No, not quite. I think evolution is a word that describes a universal principle that superceeds biology. Right now I am working as an inventor, and as I examine how I develop things, I see a lot of similarities with what happens in biology. If the creation reflects the creator, then I would have to say that evolution describes a characteristic of God.
So, explain to me the difference in mechanism between Darwinian-style evolution and something that requires intelligent design to produce? In your opinion, is it possible to produce all things via truly mindless evolutionary mechanisms? How can I tell if something did or did not require the input of an intelligent designer?
Sean Pitman(Quote)View Comment
Re Bob’s Quote
“If evolution is redefined as “a Intelligent designer created something” then I agree.”
Be careful my friend or someone might suggest you are starting to sound like a theistic evolutionist! 🙂
Your agnostic friend
Re the topic.
Will someone be brave enough to define exactly what “THE TRUTH AS IT IS IN JESUS” means to Adventists? It appears that unless we have a clear understanding as to what this phrase means to Adventists, when used by Adventists, we will not understand the difference between Creeds and Fundamental Beliefs.
For example, does THE TRUTH AS IT IS IN JESUS, change?
Ranald McLeish(Quote)View Comment
Fundamental Beliefs –
Someone here may say that the comment I have to make is off topic. True, it is not about evolution but it is about one of our most core fundamental beliefs. It is related to our very name “Adventist” and the issues upon which this church was founded.
When this church was founded, it was upon the belief of a very near coming of Jesus in power and glory. That was more than 150 years ago.
Am I mistaken when it seems to me that our discussions tend toward the long term?
One of our more fundamental beliefs, discussed here, would probably draw an even more heated discussion than our belief in a literal 7-day recent creation week. I’ll put it out there for response.
We believe that in the near future, God’s REMNANT church will face terrible persecution related to their faithfulness in worshipping the true God and keeping HIS Sabbath holy. In fact, this belief is so core to our existence that the day was made a part of our full name as an organization.
I believe that the preparations for this persecution are mostly in place and there remain only a few triggers to engage it fully.
So what will we as Seventh-Day Adventists be doing when the world-wide law is established that enforces the observance of Sunday? How quickly do YOU think this could happen? Will we be operating the finest medical facilities in the world? Will we be operating cutting-edge educational institutions?
Will we be posting our messages here on the internet? Will we be meeting in our prominant beautiful churches on “Main Street”? If so, will it be on Sabbath? Or Sunday?
How will we be doing all of that from the mountains and caves where we will be hiding?
Ellen White (yes, she was a true prophet) says that “the final movements will be rapid ones.” There are those among us who are pointing to the signs that this is true. We are almost to the time when this earth will be evacuated by God’s “saved”. Should we not be wholly focused on proclaiming the mission that is the cause for our existance?
Why are we here? What are we doing here? Why are we not yet in God’s Heavenly kingdom?
Sean, I thank you for your taking my comment seriously. I appreciate your thoughtful response.
The issue here for me is not unity of the church, or even church authority. The issue is the method by which unity is achieved and how the authority is exercised.
How is the church to achieve unity? One of the foundational principles of the Seventh-day Adventist church, is that truth is arrived at by careful study and appeals to reason and conscience. J.N. Loughborough’s 1861 statement is as true today as it was then, and none of the quotes above lessen it’s force. It is no more right for the Seventh-day Adventist church to excommunicate members and to coerce teachers today on the basis of a creed, than it was for the Protestant denominations of the 1800’s to excommunicate members for belief in the second coming of Christ and the Sabbath on the basis of their creeds.
I agree with the quotes above. But there as nothing like that going on at La Sierra. There were no teachers who have “claimed that they were right, that God has especially taught, impressed, and led them.” or taught that they had “special light from God”. No one was trying to undermine the foundations of the church. No one was claiming to “have a stronger foundation than was laid”. These are simply Biology teachers trying to teach basic science the best they can with the best information they have. They weren’t even teaching anything new! They certainly weren’t trying to disrupt church organization.
I could possibly credit your concerns if the church had a clear understanding and could reconcile the Bible with the Science, but the church doesn’t and can’t. No one can, and it seems unreasonable to expect a single biology teacher to be able to do what NO ONE has been able to do in the last 150 years.
Actually this is a moral issue. It is categorically immoral for anyone, let alone the church to use coercion and persecution to enforce anyone’s belief against reason and conscience. Short of threatening one’s life, I don’t think there is an stronger threat that can be made, than threatening someone’s livelihood. We like to claim religious freedom when the secular world threatens jobs over our Sabbath belief. Is religious freedom within the church any less moral?
No, actually there is one more thing that is further – coercion.
Faith, I am sorry that you find this so distressing. I wish that you could feel confident of God’s love and acceptance, and I wish you could see His wisdom and love in the evolution of his created universe.
How is it that quote of mine above is not the answer to your question??
The “mechanism” for creationism is observed every day. Intelligent designers create books, computer programs, works of art that rocks and gas will never produce no matter the times the blind-faith evolutionist utters their sacred mantra “beeeellions and beeeellions”.
By contrast – the “mechanism” for evolutionism whereby static genomes acquire new coding genes such that the amoeba turns into the horse (after the appropriate beeeeellions and beeeellions is said over it) – has never been “observed in nature”.
Hence Dawkin’s 11 seconds of totally flummoxed silence when asked to point to the actual mechanism of evolutionism “at work”.
Thus atheist evolutionist like Collin Patterson lament that the much imagined mechanism for evolutionism has never been found.
Classic “blind faith evolutionism”.
The claim “if become immune to a disease – or get over a cold – then birds come from reptiles and horses from amoeba” is the kind of junk-science poor-religion that we expect from blind faith evolutionists.
Well…that is what Hindus say about their relationship with all their many gods. To each village – its own choices of gods.
I apologize if I don’t respond to some points. I am finding it hard to navigate back and forth.
Re: evolution: If you admit “micro” evolution, you admit “macro” evolution. There is no biological or functional boundary between the two. The time is really immaterial. I can’t see that it matters much whether God created organisms with the capacity to evolve 6000 years ago or 6 billion years ago, evolution is still a scientific fact. That is true and needs to be acknowledged as true by Seventh-day Adventists. Our theologians need to get busy and show the rank and file how evolution is compatible with our beliefs, because frankly, it is, and denying the truth doesn’t help.
I think part of the issue here is that you and I have a fundamentally different views of what the church’s “goals and ideals” are. It appears to me that for you it is to define orthodoxy and promulgate doctrinal purity. That would be why you support the “Fundamental Beliefs”
For me, the most fundamental goal and ideal of the church is to facilitate the searching for truth. The reason Adventists exist as a denomination in the first place is that we didn’t agree with the orthodox views of the day. It used to be that Adventists were distinguished by their unwavering commitment to truth as they understood it, even when it disagreed with traditional “fundamental beliefs”.
Don’t miss understand me. I honor the scholarship and leading of the Holy Spirit that I have inherited, and from that perspective I accept the “Fundamental Beliefs” as a limited statement of understanding for a particular time. I value it as I would an anchor on a ship. Something stable to help us weather a storm, but not something to slow down or prohibit progress.
I don’t remember who it was, but someone once said, I don’t give a whit for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give the world for the simplicity that lies on the other side of complexity. To simply deny the evidence for evolution is not honest, and that is the simplicity on this side of complexity. To acknowledge the truth of evolution and do the hard theological work to harmonize the Bible and science gets us to the simplicity on the other side of complexity. Or, do the hard scientific work needed to convince people that there is some alternative, ANY alternative. I watched a documentary on the Dover trial last night. Michael Behe himself, under oath, stated that Intelligent Design is not a theory and by the criteria he himself proposed, it was scientifically refuted.
You asked, how do you resolve this? You resolve it by being tolerant until you can do the hard scientific and theological work needed to convince people rationally without coercion.
Orthodoxy by dent of “Fundamental Belief” and coercion is on this side of complexity. Orthodoxy based in respectful dialog, reason with hard scientific and theological effort is the simplicity on the other side of complexity.
The complexity between here and there is messy and painful, but it cannot be short circuited without doing violence to people and conscience.
Curiously – at no point do you talk about comparing beliefs to the clear statements of the Bible.
At no point do you observe the Bible claiming that it took “beeellions and beeellions of year to create life”.
How does that happen??
That is true because “God’s Word” defines Law – so to do away with God’s Law is to do away with God’s Word.
However that is not the main issue on Educate Truth. Here the main issue is the same one that Darwin, Dawkins, Meyers, Provine (and Ellen White) all mention as doing away with Christianity – evolutionism. Which means that TE is itself an oxymoron and could never be adopted by the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.
What then of those who wish to marry evolutionism to the Bible?
Well we all have free will. Each person must make his/her own choices.
But if someone chooses to be Hindu, or Muslim or Evolutionist they do not then have the freedom to insist that the Adventist denomination be Hindu, or Muslim or Evolutionist.
That is where we draw the line.
Is it possible that we could be perfectly united and yet all say different things because we are each in a unique personal relationship with Christ? If we all say the same thing, then what’s the point of there being more than one of us? All the rest are redundant.
When people believe that the gospel does away with the law, in the end, it actually means the gospel does away with the bible. All we have to do to affirm this is to see how Rome deals with the bible.
The bible is not salvational, the church is. And of course, the church is guided by spiritual experiences that transcends the written word.
Sad to say, this philosophy is taking root in some minds of those who lead and teach in the SDA church. And is manifested in more than a few ways, one being an attack on the biblical account of creation and substituting various evolutionary concepts that transcend the word of God.
There are many other manifestations of spiritualism in Adventism. The creation vs. evolution discussion is simply one of the more obvious ones.
Bill Sorensen(Quote)View Comment
@ Henry: OK. (except for this)
@ Bob: “former Adventist”? Hmmm. . . What kind of a spirit would prompt a comment like that? You may wish it was that easy. No, I am still an Adventist in good standing.
@ O Nelson:
Actually, I don’t have any trouble with the “Fundamental Beliefs” as they are currently articulated. I think they are Biblical. They just, aren’t Scientific. As an accurate description of how Adventists interpret the Divine story, they are great. As a description of modern genetics, they are not.
The problem is when you insist that the “Fundamental Beliefs” are the ONLY way to interpret scripture, then you cut yourself off from the power and mystery of the Divine Story which reinterprets itself to every human heart in every unique situation. You also cut yourself off from the further revelation of Present Truth.
As long as the “Fundamental Beliefs” remain beliefs, i.e. a position statement from the theology department, I am OK with them. It is when they become a creed trying to pose as science in the science department, enforced by sanctions, that we have a problem.
The other problem is that there are some in the church who want to reformulate the “Fundamental Beliefs”, to tighten them up so to speak. They want to introduce an extra biblical interpretation into them. The Bible says God is the creator. It says nothing about evolution. To say that God could not, and did not, create animals with the capacity to evolve is to add something extra Biblical to the creed which might not stand the test of time. In fact, as I read Genesis, it STRONGLY implies post creation evolution, even though it doesn’t spell it out explicitly.
With all due respect to Usher, the Bible also doesn’t give a time frame. All Adventist theologians that I know of think that Genesis 1 is ambiguous. The ancient Hebrew cosmology is so different from our modern cosmology, that it is hard to say exactly how much of the Universe is encompassed by the term “In the beginning . . .” So, to say that creation happened in exactly 6 literal days, 6000 years ago is to add something extra Biblical to the Fundamental Beliefs. It isn’t really what the Bible says, it is what some of us think the Bible says. In my mind there is an infinite difference between the two.
Now, to say that something is extra Biblical is not to say that it isn’t true, or that there isn’t a good reason to make the statement, certainly Mrs. White thought the earth was created about 6,000 years ago, but I think we are on thin ice to put something into our “Fundamental Belief” statement based on Mrs. White. She always deferred to scripture, and she never claimed to be infallible, and at least as I read her, she had great respect for science. In fact in one place she said that the reason to teach science in our schools is to correct errors in theology. To me, that just raises a caution flag. This is an area where I think we need to not be dogmatic. Just because Bob can’t see how evolution and Genesis are compatible doesn’t mean that I can’t. And if I can see it, then maybe, over time, others will see it too. I guess it really comes down to what are you afraid of. Bob seems to be afraid that God isn’t big enough to save evolutionists, I am afraid of being too small, and trying to make God stay in my box.
God, and therefore Truth, never changes. However, our human understanding of truth does change over time as we learn more about it. We will always be learning more and more about Truth throughout eternity. We can approach Truth, but we can never fully realize it.
Sean Pitman(Quote)View Comment
Daniel 8 does not address the length of time that the little horn rules. The little horn of Daniel 8 arises after the division of Greece.
But the little horn of Daniel 7 arises after the division of Rome into 10 divisions. In Daniel 7 the little horn persecutes the saints for 1260 years.
The little horn of Daniel 7 cannot include Pagan Rome.
But you pulled references from the little horn of Daniel 8 to make your complaint and in so doing you lost the specificity of the Daniel 7 timeline. There is no way to see Daniel 7 in every point read from Daniel 8 without deleting the added detail that we find in Daniel 8.
Hint – Paul wrote BOTH 1Cor 3 and Gal 1:6-11 so… “yes” that really is what he was talking about.
What else did you expect?
One of the major “creedal beliefs” of liberal and progressive SDA’s is that “nothing is salvational.” No matter what you believe or don’t believe, it really doesn’t matter since you probably believe some other “true” stuff, and that is “enough” to make it into heaven.
One of the principal objections to this website, as stated over on Spectrum and Adventist Today, is that belief or non-belief in “evolution as fact” doesn’t matter since the belief in the Genesis account is “not salvational.”
Name any biblical truth, and many Spectrumites will tell you it “isn’t salvational.”
Holly Pham(Quote)View Comment
Bob, that is part of the point. God has shown that He is a lover of diversity, that love, growth and development are all parts of his character. Certainly you remember Mrs. White’s description of heaven and how we will continually be growing, developing, and discovering new things. Would you agree with me so far? I think you would.
Then please come with me just a little bit more and notice that there is more than one way to characterize evolution. In your oft repeated quote, Mrs White isn’t saying evolution is bad. She is saying that using science to disparage belief in God is bad. The understanding of evolution was very limited in Mrs. White’s day and the discussion was framed in such a way that people were confused.
Today we understand evolution differently. We recognize now that evolution is really the physical manifestation of God’s character as described in my first paragraph. God is the creator, and evolution is only a word we use to describe his ongoing creative activity.
Evolution is God creating more diversity, and adapting biology to better fit an ever changing environment. I say biology because that is the topic here, but if you look around, everything, even inorganic matter and human spirituality evolve. They do it because that is a revelation of God’s nature as surely as is the 10 commandments.
This exhibits a fundamental misunderstanding of natural selection. Natural selection is anything but random. It definition it is very “selective”.
Well certainly Darwin, Dawkins, Provine and Meyers would all agree with you that your idea of calling the act of God – creating all forms of life in 7 days 6000 years ago — is certainly not what they mean at all when they talk about evolution.
So your claim that their definition of Evolution and yours’ are different – you win hands down there. Your view is not what any of us would call evolution.
Indeed – 3000 years and “humans are still humans”.
But in your model we have amoeba on day 3 and horse on day 6 – all within a real 7 day week.
That’s not the issue here. We all believe in limited forms of evolution via random mutations/natural selection. The problem is with the modern concept of evolution where there are no limitations to evolutionary progress with respect to functional complexity – where every living thing is claimed, by modern evolutionists, to have evolved over hundreds of millions of years from a single common ancestral life form and ultimately from non-living materials via purely mindless naturalistic mechanisms.
That’s what the LSU science professors have been teaching their students for decades, that life has existed on this planet for hundreds of millions of years and that it evolved form a common life form via Darwinian mechanisms without the obvious need for the input of intelligent design from anyone – not even God. Sure, they will admit that perhaps God did guide the process here and there, but they will argue that such guidance is non-detectable by science – that science is incapable of detecting the actions of God within the empirical world in which we live.
Your arguments for evolution in action, and the low-level examples you cite, are without contest on my part. Of course evolution happens at such low levels of functional complexity – quite rapidly indeed as you point out. The evidence for design, however, is in showing that evolutionary progress is limited, this side of a practical eternity of time, to such low levels of functional complexity. Nothing functionally new that requires a minimum of more than a few hundred specifically arranged amino acid residues (in single or multiprotein systems) can evolve this side of trillions upon trillions of years of time. That’s the problem for the modern ToE.
This is interesting. What would you recommend, in particular? How should the church respond to those paid representatives who are and have long been actively attacking the most basic and “fundamental” goals and ideals of the church organization? If you can think of a better way to resolve this issue, which hasn’t already been tried in this particular case, that would be absolutely wonderful! I’m all ears…
Just because I’m not threatened by the beliefs of atheists or agnostics or Catholics or Baptists or whatever does not mean that I should therefore hire those who hold such beliefs to preach in Adventist churches or to teach in Adventist schools. That would defeat the whole purpose of having a unique Adventist organization that actively and collectively promotes the uniquely Adventist position in all of our institutions.
Again, this is great advice when it comes to your neighbors and friends, but not when it comes to paid employees of the Adventist Church. You’re mixing up concepts here. I have a lot of friends outside of the Adventist faith, to include Catholics, Hindus, agnostics, atheists, and all the rest. We get along great and have a wonderful time together. But, you see, they don’t claim to be Adventist and they don’t expect to get a paycheck from the Adventist Church for promoting their views which are fundamentally at odds with those of Adventism.
I fail to see how it makes any sense to you that any organization would deliberately hire those who fundamentally opposed the clearly stated basic goals and ideals of the organization? It’s fine and even good to honestly and sincerely talk to those from outside of the organization who hold opposing views. But, if you or I or anyone else within the Adventist Church becomes convinced by these opposing views, it behooves us to resign from our positions within the Adventist Church and join the organization that we can honestly and actively support. Certainly one should not expect to get paid by the Adventist Church for going around attacking the clearly stated goals and ideals of the church. That’s an argument for anarchy my friend – not a viable organization of any kind.
Sean Pitman(Quote)View Comment
Bob, The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that we should not reject Catholicism, Hinduism, Mormonism or any other “ism” out right. Certainly not on the basis of an extra-Biblical creed, but we should always listen to everyone with courtesy and respect remembering that Jesus was the light that lights “every man” who comes into the world, and Jesus has sheep who are “not of this fold”. So we should approach every “ism” with an open mind to find the truth that Jesus has especially revealed to the that community. We don’t have to accept everything they say, and we certainly don’t have to give up what we believe without reason, but we need to be open to what God might be trying to teach us through his other children. Light shines in both directions.
Re: What every human being on the planet believes?
Empirically, as i don’t have blind faith I could know this, perhaps it could only be a divine being that could do so. 🙂
Always open to correction though to those that know the absolute truth,
Your agnostic friend
Seeing BobRyan responding to himself is very distubing but I appreciate that most visitors including myself have long since realized the futility of response and can graciously click down without unnecessarily derailing the rest of the conversation. There is absolutely nothing anyone can say that will at all change his perspective and the hostility with which he delivers his opinion “in Christ” is particulalry disconcerting to those of us who have a high view of the ethic of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Almost as disturbing is the apparent inability to acknowledge that both Patterson and Dawkins have documented the circumstances surrounding his favourite quotes (extracted as they seem to be from the AiG RQB) and the 11 second pause. The dubious nature of his use of this evidence has been pointed out to BobRyan before as has the questionable practice of citing for support someone who you think a liar. To make the argument either Dawkins and Patterson were lying in explaining themselves after the events or they were less than transparent initially. Either way a lawyer like David Read would not use them to make any supportive argument.
You said, “But you pulled references from the little horn of Daniel 8 to make your complaint and in so doing you lost the specificity of the Daniel 7 timeline. There is no way to see Daniel 7 in every point read from Daniel 8 without deleting the added detail that we find in Daniel 8.”
Where did I ever say that? Please do me justice and quote me correctly.
Bob you also said, ” Daniel 8 does not address the length of time that the little horn rules. The little horn of Daniel 8 arises after the division of Greece.”
I believe you are correct, if you see two little horns in Dan. 7 and 8. So please tell me, how do you fit your understanding with the statement from FB, that is considered by Adventists to be the truth … in Jesus?
I am assuming from what you have said that you and Bill agree the LH of 7:8 is “another horn” that represents another power, a new power, the Papacy, that arose in the midst of the 10 horn kingdoms, and ruled for 1260 years, 7:25.
Ranald McLeish(Quote)View Comment