Comment on PUC Professor: The Noachian Flood was just a local flood? by Laurie Sanford.
I have been following this site for several days but have hesitated to comment because Iâ€™m not a fan of arguments among church members, nor have I been able to discern what the main issue is based on the comments Iâ€™ve read from both ends of the spectrum. However, I can no longer sit silently because my heart is aching over this situation.
To the makers and defenders of this site, I understand why you exist and in no way condemn you for trying to defend truth in an ever changing world. As far as I can tell, your purpose is to protect students from the harm of false teachings. While I donâ€™t agree with the tactics you use, I at least respect what I see as the motive behind them.
That being said, I believe you may never be convinced by what anyone tells you about the integrity of Dr. Nessâ€™ teaching, because you do not know him. You have not sat in his classes, listened to his sermons, or conversed with him about theology and science. You have one example, taken out of context. Unfortunately, students donâ€™t make such videos in order to uplift their professors. If they did, I can assure you that I would have a wealth of evidence to show you that he does indeed present both sides of the argument within the paradigm of Adventist Christianity. In his class, I was taught to evaluate, to reason, and to conclude based on scientific evidence and the Bible. He was one of the greatest teachers I have ever had the pleasure of learning from. My Adventist belief system was only affirmed in his class, because I finally understood how science and faith are not mutually exclusive as the world teaches, but go hand in hand and support one another.
I do not believe in macroevolution or that Noahâ€™s flood was a local event. Nor do I condone a professor teaching this as fact in an Adventist classroom. I do, however, strongly believe in knowing all sides of an argument–which is what I think Dr. Ness was trying to share in the video you saw. Even believing as I do, Iâ€™m not afraid to acknowledge the fact that the Bible writers did make mistakes when it comes to science. If not, we should all go back to believing that the sun revolves around the earth (Joshua 10:12-13). Isaiah 1:18 reminds us that God doesnâ€™t want faith without reason. He invites our questions and concerns. Without them, his followers would be a group of unhappy robots, and God would have had no reason to give us minds in the first place.
This whole situation makes me very sad and I hope that you will take studentsâ€™ testimony to heart. It is the only evidence we have that Dr. Ness is not only a wonderful, Christian man, but an amazing teacher and avid defender of Biblical principles. I hope that one day I am half the teacher that he is.
May God guide those who genuinely seek truth in this matter. My prayers are with you.
Laurie Sanford Also Commented
PUC Professor: The Noachian Flood was just a local flood?
Thank you Ben and William for reminding us to maintain a loving attitude about this whole issue. We can go back and forth all day long about science vs. theology and how they do or do not support one another, but if we forget to love and respect each other, our efforts are lost. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13: 1,2 While I’m trying to keep an open mind about this site (only fair, since I’m asking for an open mind regarding Dr. Ness), I am seeing it more and more as a witch hunt. Whether the original intent or not, I believe this argument is hurting much more than helping our church.
I am especially disturbed over the post Bob Ryan made about the October 2009 colloquy talk given by Dr. Ness. I keep hearing over and over that this is not in any way an attack on Dr. Ness’ character, but a discussion on the beliefs he presents to the students at PUC. Yet I read about a sermon presenting the creation week told of in Genesis, picked apart piece by piece, and completely skewed to mean something clearly not intended. Perhaps I didn’t understand your post, but I see it as a blantant attack not only on Dr. Ness’ beliefs, but on his character as well. Any man who would knowingly present God’s Word in a fashion that deceives his listeners into accepting an idea that goes against his church’s framework without their knowledge is not an honest follower of Christ. Consider what you are insinuating from your conclusions on his sermon. Please explain this to me if it was not your intent, because I was very disheartened by your post.
PUC Professor: The Noachian Flood was just a local flood?
@ Pastor Kevin Paulson
Let me ask you a simple question. You say you do not believe in macroevolution or that Noahâ€™s Flood was merely local. From having sat in the classes of the professor in question, would you say he too denies macroevolution or the theory that Noahâ€™s Flood was just local?
To be honest, the class I took from Dr. Ness was during my freshman or sophomore year in college (around 2004), and one reason it stood out to me was because of the way theological issues were handled. I was a Religion major with little interest in science and Dr. Ness found a way to actually make me sit up and take notice. I have little recollection of studying Noah’s Flood. I know we did, but I just don’t remember. That class was probably the first time in my life that I was presented with theories regarding the age of the earth other than the simple cut and dried creation vs. evolution arguments.
While I can in no way judge Dr. Ness’ personal beliefs, I think sufficient evidence shows that he is a man committed to Adventist principles. He said himself on this board that he upholds our doctrines as stated in our fundamental beliefs. In his class, it was very clear to me that he is a creationist who believes in a literal six day creation week. I have heard his sermon posted a few comments back, and it only reaffirms this truth. I guess I’m having a little trouble understanding how this hasn’t been made clear already.
Let me ask you a second question. From your experience as a student of this professor and his colleagues, and from your association with fellow students who have sat in their classes, have you found studentsâ€™ faith strengthened or weakened in the doctrine of a literal creation week approximately 6,000 years ago, and the universal nature of the Flood as described in Genesis?
I can only speak for myself in this matter (I don’t recall this ever being an issue among my friends), and I can tell you very plainly as I stated earlier that my faith in Adventist teachings were only strengthened in his class. That includes the doctrine of a literal creation week approximately 6,000 years ago and a universal flood.
All of this sounds fine, but I havenâ€™t yet heard any of this manâ€™s students say he strengthened (or perhaps restored) their faithâ€“scientifically or theologicallyâ€“in a literal creation week approximately 6,000 years ago, or their faith in the universal reality of the Genesis Flood.
I actually have read accounts of this testimony on this board already, but perhaps they were not stated clearly enough. I have always been blessed with a strong faith in God and the teachings of Scripture, but Dr. Ness only reaffirmed these beliefs and actually strengthened them because he showed me how they fit into the realm of science. He taught me that creationism is not an idiotic idea as much of the world views it, but a legitimate response to the questions of our origins.
One point I am deeply concerned about, which has troubled me for many years in the midst of controversies such as this, is the tendency of certain ones to allow relationships to gain the upper hand over truth. If one who addresses a particular topic comes across as a nice, charismatic, obviously intelligent, apparently sincere person, it is easy for people to simply accept what he or she says without testing it by Godâ€™s Word. If we like someone, and he or she seems to be helping us sort issues out in our personal or spiritual journey at a given time, that seems to be all that matters to some of us. Too many seem to think that when the devilâ€™s agents confront us, they will likely be mean-spirited, unattractive, boring people to whom none of our friends pay any attention. conversation.
I understand this concern and echo it. I realize you don’t know me so have no idea I’m not one of these “certain ones” you speak of. This has been a very real issue in my own life that I have pondered long and hard. As a Bible teacher and chaplain myself, I take the responsibility of God’s Word very seriously. I believe that Bryan Ness is a sincere, Christian man, but this is not why I stand in defense of him. As you mentioned, misunderstandings happen all the time in the church, and this is how I view the situation at hand. Students have reacted defensively because of the way this was brought to light and because they know, like I do, that it’s a grievous mistake. They’re hurting for one of the family.