Comment on Further definition on tap for Adventist fundamental belief on creation by Sean Pitman.
We aren’t talking about Church attendance or even membership here. We’re talking about being a paid representative of the SDA Church.
The only real reason why those in this forum oppose the proposed change to the wording of FB#6 is because they somehow think it leaves room for those who believe that life has existed and evolved on this planet over billions of years of time to teach this message in our classrooms and preach it from our pulpits. Even liberal scholars of Hebrew do not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis intended to convey anything other than the concept that the creation week was in fact a literal 6-day event. One would be hard pressed to better express the literal nature of the creation week than how it is already described in Genesis. Therefore, those who argue that the proposed changes to the wording of FB#6 are “extrabiblical” simply aren’t reading the account as it was obviously intended to be read by the author(s) who wrote it.
As Cliff pointed out, a change in wording wouldn’t be needed if professors working in our schools had not taken it upon themselves to attack the fundamental position of the SDA Church on this issue – on a doctrinal belief that forms the very basis of the name Seventh-day Adventist. Why should the SDA Church pay anyone to attack its most historically-cherished bedrock doctrinal beliefs? Even if the Church really is nuts, out of touch with reality, etc., what gives anyone the right to expect to be paid by the very Church that one is actively attacking in a very decided and fundamental manner? Here we have professors, as paid representatives of the SDA Church, telling their students that those who believe in the Church’s position on a literal 6-day creation week are part of the “lunatic fringe” and are like the ones who “fly airplanes into buildings.” Yet, these same people think to hide behind the supposed vagueness of the current wording of FB#6? Please… how disingenuous can one get?
If anyone really thinks the SDA Church is out to lunch on its very decided and very fundamental position on a literal 6-day creation week, by all means, join another Church that is more in line with your own views on this and other doctrinal beliefs. No big deal. As some in this forum have pointed out, this isn’t an issue of salvation in and of itself. This isn’t inherently a moral issue. However, taking money from an employer who has requested you to do one thing, but you decide to do the complete opposite, is a moral wrong. Regardless of how crazy you think your employer is, attacking your employer’s clearly-stated goals and ideals on the employer’s dime is still stealing. Stealing from crazy people is still stealing – a moral wrong in anyone’s book.
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Further definition on tap for Adventist fundamental belief on creation
For those who will no doubt argue that I’m mistaken in my suggestion that many liberal scholars of Hebrew support a literal interpretation of the Genesis narrative, consider the following comments from James Barr, late Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford:
“Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that: (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know.”
Letter from Professor James Barr to David C.C. Watson of the UK, dated 23 April 1984.
James Barr also takes conservative evangelicals and other conservative scholars to task for insisting on a literal interpretation of Scripture but then abandoning it when it comes to the creation story in Genesis. Barr explains, in his work entitled Fundamentalism that, “as the scientific approach came to have more and more assent from fundamentalists themselves, they shifted their interpretation of the Bible passage from literal to non-literal in order to save… the inerrancy of the Bible. In order to avoid the consequence of an errant Bible, the fundamentalist “has tried every possible direction of interpretation other than the literal.” Yet, Barr rightly continues by noting that “in fact the only natural exegesis is a literal one, in the sense that this is what the author meant.”
James Barr, Fundamentalism, Philadelphia, PA: Westminster 1977, p. 42
Some criticize use of these quotes because Barr did not himself believe in the historicity of Genesis. But, that is precisely why his statement is so interesting: he believed the author(s) of Genesis got it wrong. With no need to try to harmonize Genesis with anything, because he does not see it as carrying any authority, Barr is free to state the clear intention of the author. This contrasts with some ‘evangelical’ theologians who try to retain some sense of authority without actually believing Genesis says much, if anything, about real history…
Hebrew scholar Dr Stephen Boyd has shown, using a statistical comparison of verb type frequencies of historical and poetic Hebrew texts, that Genesis 1 is clearly historical narrative, not ‘poetry’. He concluded, ‘There is only one tenable view of its plain sense: God created everything in six literal days.’
Stephen W. Boyd in chapter 6, “The Genre of Genesis 1:1-2:3”
Form critic Hermann Gunkel concluded long ago, “The ‘days’ are of course days and nothing else.”
Hermann Gunkel, Genesis übersetzt und erklärt (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1901), 97.
This refrain can be continued with many additional voices, sharing the same non-concordist position. Victor P. Hamilton concludes, as do other broad concordist neoevangelical scholars, “And whoever wrote Gen. l believed he was talking about literal days.”
Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, The New International Commentary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Ml: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 54.
John H. Stek, another broad concordist, makes a number of points in his support for literal “days”:
Surely there is no sign or hint within the narrative [of Genesis 1] itself that the author thought his ‘days’ to be irregular designations — first a series of undefined periods, then a series of solar days — or that the ‘days’ he bounded with ‘evening and morning’ could possibly be understood as long aeons of time. His language is plain and simple, and he speaks in plain and simple terms of one of the most common elements in humanity’s experience of the world…. In his storying of God’s creative acts, the author was ‘moved’ to sequence them after the manner of human acts and ‘time’ them after the pattern of created time in humanity’s arena of experience.
John H. Stek, “What Says Scripture?” Portraits of Creation, 237-238.
Numerous scholars and commentators, regardless of whether they are concordist or non-concordist, have concluded that the creation “days” cannot be anything but literal 24-hour days. They are fully aware of the figurative, non-literal interpretations of the word “day” in Genesis 1 for the sake of harmonization with the long ages demanded by the evolutionary model of origins. Yet, they insist on the ground of careful investigations of the usage of “day” in Genesis 1 and elsewhere that the true meaning and intention of a creation “day” is a literal day of 24 hours.
In short, there are very few if any liberal scholars of Hebrew (who have no inherent need to harmonize Scripture with mainstream science) who would support the idea that the author(s) of the Genesis account intended to convey anything other than a literal historical narrative of events. Now, there are many, if not all, liberal scholars who don’t believe the Genesis author(s) got it right, but arguing that the author(s) got it wrong isn’t the same thing as arguing that they didn’t intend to write a literal narrative of actual historical events.
In any case, it is and has always been the position of the organized SDA Church that the author of Genesis did in fact intend to convey to his readers a literal historical account of real events. For the Church to take a stand on a concept that forms the very basis of its name, a concept that is also well defended by many well-known liberal scholars of Hebrew (and the Church’s own prophet to boot), should not be surprising to anyone – especially when this fundamental position of the Church starts to become the target of determined attack by paid representatives of the Church (i.e., professors within the Church’s own schools). It is because of the boldness of their attacks against the Church’s historical position on origins that the Church is trying to make it very clear that such attacks will not be tolerated on the Church’s dime – that no one can continue to hide behind what some amazingly claim to be the vagueness of the language of the Bible or of FB#6 on this topic as a basis for their attacks while on the payroll of the SDA Church.
Sean Pitman, M.D.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.
The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.
God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.
The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.
For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”
That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.
God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28
Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.
Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.
This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…
Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.
Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…