Comment on SDA Darwinians compromise key church doctrines by Professor Kent.
Personally, I’m willing to accept Ellen White’s claim, but here is some sober reality for thought (lifted from an SDA website, no less: SDAnet.org):
Although godliness was the usual direction of their lives, we do see the best of prophets stumbling and falling at times. We should be careful not to judge them on their worst times, which may be fleeting compared to the overwhelming amount of their lives which were godly. Note these: Abraham (the first person ever to be called a prophet) denied Sarah was his wife and told the half-truth that she was his sister (Genesis 12: 10-20). Samuel deceived Saul into thinking he was going out to make a sacrifice when in reality he was going out to anoint David as king (1 Samuel 16:2). David lied to the High Priest to get the consecrated bread (1 Samuel 21:1-9). He was also a mass murderer and an adulterer. Jeremiah lied to the people at the king’s suggestion (Jeremiah 38:24-29).
Moses lost his temper and had to be disciplined by God because of his rash actions (Numbers 20: 9-13). Some of the most magnificent prophecies found in the Old Testament regarding the coming of Christ were uttered by Balaam who was an apostate (Numbers 22-24). Elijah fled in despair and wished to die (1 Kings 19: 3-5).
In the New Testament, Peter is led astray in his judgment by the Judaisers and withdrew from eating with Gentiles. He was later rebuked by Paul for denying “the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2: 11-14). Earlier, though, he had been given a vision to show that all people were equal in the sight of God (Acts 10:9-48). After realising the significance of the vision and declaring it to others he later fails to live by what had been revealed to him and what he had proclaimed to others.
Paul had a sharp disagreement with Barnabas about the future ministry of Mark. He did not think [Mark] worthy to go with him on his next missionary journey and they parted company. Paul went with Silas and Barnabas took Mark with him. Subsequent events showed that Barnabas showed better judgment than Paul. Mark performed well when given the chance (Acts 15:36-41).
We must recognise that prophets are human, like the rest of us. They can make mistakes. They can follow poor advice. They can misjudge a situation. They can be discouraged and irritable. They may be well informed in some areas and not so in other areas. Even prophets used mightily by God are still very human. The danger is that we may expect them to have the perfection we see in Christ. The truth is that no one has lived as He lived. If they fail at times it does not make them false prophets because of their lapses.
A simple question regarding time: did the New Testament authors believe they would live to see Christ’s second return? Was their understanding of temporal events correct?
Regarding Ms. White: was she actually incapable of telling a lie? Was she ever mistaken in her understanding? Did she ever fail to practice what she preached (as in indulgence of appetite and the wearing of jewelry)? Let’s not make her any more inerrent than the prophets of old.
Professor Kent Also Commented
Should one subordinate one’s human reason to the consensus of Church leaders or the GC in this regard?
The answer: depends on whether you want to keep your job.
BobRyan: It is a standard method for letting the text speak for itself. And the most accurate application I know of is the Historical-Grammatical hermeneutic. The idea is to let the Bible speak for itself and then let the chips fall where they may…
Yes, the historical-grammatical hermeneutic makes crystal clear that the Bible speaks for itself, and that we are not to judge its validity or interpret its meaning based on external evidence. Implicit is a very simple concept that the SDA Church formally embraces and which Satan seeks desperately to undermine: God’s Word can be trusted at face value.
But I am learning that many SDAs outright reject this hermeneutic, including the administrators of this website. They ask, “how can we know the Bible is true without some form of external evidence to evaluate its validity?” They quote scripture and Ellen White to support their view that God expects us to put his Word to the test.
One of the biggest challenges is to find evidence to support the Bible’s claims. What do we do if we fail to find evidence to support a young earth? Or a flood that covered 100% of the earth’s surface (and not 98%)? Or that an axe head can float on water? Or that a pile of dirt can be transformed into a living human? Or that a virgin woman can give birth to a child? Sean Pitman tells us that if we fail to find evidence for a young earth and global flood, that he would reject God’s word outright. Yet he seems blithely unconcerned about the lack of evidence for other claims.
So here is the crux of the problem: if we insist that we must use our God-given brains to decide whether God’s word is trustworthy (Sean Pitman’s position), how do we select WHICH claims of the Bible must be supported for it to be believed? Obviously, some claims can be supported, and others cannot (which also happens to be true of the Book of Mormon and other supposedly inspired books). Do we accept the Bible because of the claims that can be supported, or do we reject it because of the claims that cannot be supported?
Although Ken has not articulated the concern posed in this latter question, I believe it creates an enormous dilemma for those who reject the historical-grammatical approach and insist the Bible must be subject to external validition (the historical-critical hermeneutic). In relying on science, human reason, and falsifiable evidence (Sean Pitman’s clearly articulated position), the decision to accept or reject the claims of Scripture becomes an inescapably arbitary and capricious exercise. It also destroys Sola Scriptura.
BobRyan: It was my understanding that the H-G model was accepted by Sean and others here as valid, just like the rest of us would accept it. And after using that method to determine “what the Bible says” the next step was to note the confirmation or refutation of the Bible claims as presented in our objective observations “in nature” and compare the two…Did I miss something?
Yes, you did miss something. You need to read more about the historical-grammatical hermeneutic. Here is a good starting point: http://biblicalresearch.gc.adventist.org/documents/interp%20scripture%20davidson.pdf
The H-G hermenteutic and the official SDA Church (the Rio Document) make explicitly clear that the Bible is NOT to be subject to external validation. You just don’t get it yet.
Recent Comments by Professor Kent
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Nic Samojluk: No wonder most creationist writers do not even try to submit their papers to such organizations.
Who wants to waste his/her time trying to enter through a door that is closed to him/her a priori?
You have no idea what you’re writing about, Nic. As it turns out, there are in fact many of us Adventists who “waste” our time publishing articles through doors that open to us a priori. Even Leonard Brand at Loma Linda, a widely recognized creationist, has published in the top geology journals. I mean the top journals in the discipline.
The myth that creationists cannot publish in mainstream science is perpetuated by people who simply do not understand the culture of science–and will remain clueless that they do not understand it even when confronted with their misunderstandings. Such is human nature.
Your questions about conservation genetics are very insightful. I don’t understand how all these life forms were able to greatly increase in genetic diversity while simultaneously winding down and losing genetic information to mutations. Sean seems to insist that both processes happen simultaneously. I had the impression he has insisted all along that the former cannot overcome the latter. But I think you must be right: God had to intervene to alter the course of nature. However, we can probably test this empirically because there must be a signature of evidence available in the DNA. I’ll bet Sean can find the evidence for this.
I’m also glad the predators (just 2 of most such species) in the ark had enough clean animals (14 of each such species) to eat during the deluge and in the months and years after they emerged from the ark that they didn’t wipe out the vast majority of animal species through predation. Maybe they all consumed manna while in the ark and during the first few months or years afterward. Perhaps Sean can find in the literature a gene for a single digestive enzyme that is common to all predatory animals, from the lowest invertebrate to the highest vertebrate. Now that would be amazing.
Wait a minute–I remember once being told that SDA biologists like Art Chadwick believe that some animals survived on floating vegetation outside the ark. Now that would solve some of these very real problems! I wonder whether readers here would allow for this possibility. Multiple arks without walls, roof, and human caretakers.
Ellen White said, “In the days of Noah, men…many times larger than now exist, were buried, and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians [presumably referring to humans] perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history…”
Sean Pitman said, “All human fossils discovered so far are Tertiary or post-Flood fossils. There are no known antediluvian human fossils.”
Ellen White tells us that humans and dinosaurs (presumably referred to in the statement, “a class of very large animals which perished at the flood… mammoth animals”) lived together before the flood. Evolutionary biologists tell us that dinosaurs and humans never lived together. You’re telling us, Sean, that the fossil record supports the conclusion of evolutionists rather than that of Ellen White and the SDA Church. Many of the “very large animals which perished at the flood” are found only in fossil deposits prior to or attributed to the flood, whereas hunans occur in fossil deposits only after the flood (when their numbers were most scarce).
Should the SDA biologists, who are supposed to teach “creation science,” be fired if they teach what you have just conceded?
La Sierra Univeristy Fires Dr. Lee Greer; Signs anti-Creation Bond
For those aghast about the LSU situation and wondering what other SDA institutions have taken out bonds, hold on to your britches. You’ll be stunned when you learn (soon) how many of our other schools, and which ones in particular, have taken out these bonds. You will be amazed to learn just how many other administrators have deliberately secularized their institutions besides Randal Wisbey, presumably because they too hate the SDA Church (as David Read has put it so tactfully).
Be sure to protest equally loudly.
So clearly you believe that science can explain supernatural events. Congratulations on that.