Geoscience Research Institute Calls for a “Biblically Sound Statement on Abortion”

Editor’s Note: On October 2, 2019, the Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) issued the following news release regarding the upcoming Annual Council discussion on abortion. The GRI is “is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church with a mission to discover and share an understanding of nature and its relationship with the Biblical revelation of the Creator God” according to the mission statement on its website.

The statement follows in full below:

GRI Supports a Biblically Sound Statement on Abortion

The Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) has issued a letter stressing the value of human life in light of the biblical record of creation. This letter is addressed to the committee editing a new Seventh-day Adventist statement on abortion. Church administrators from all over the world will vote this abortion statement during the Church’s Annual Council meetings October 10-16, 2019, held at the Church’s world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. The GRI letter supporting a biblically sound statement arose out of conviction that the Bible’s teachings must guide Christians’ understanding of abortion, just as they should any other controversial issue in society. Political and economic pressures are real, as are the emotional reactions surrounding abortion, but none of these should distract from the Church’s duty to clearly proclaim the Bible’s revelation of the infinite value of every human life.

The text of the letter reads:

Dear “Public and Official Statement on Abortion Working Group:”

The biblical description of creation, with its six-day time table and special creation of humans, provides the theological and moral foundation for human rights and respect for human life. As society has turned away from the biblical story, there has been a decline in respect for human life, as seen in the legalization of assisted suicide, euthanasia, and abortion on demand, and calls for artificial production of humans through cloning. Lack of respect for human life is also seen in the epidemic of abuse and neglect of children, neglect of the mentally ill, and violence toward and exploitation of the weak.

From the perspective of biblical creation, every person, whether born or unborn, old or young, healthy or disabled, is endowed with the image of God and is of infinite value. We deplore the tendency in our society to regard humans as just one more species of animal, albeit a unique one. We also deplore the trend toward treating humans like commodities, to be used or exterminated for reasons of economy or convenience. The true value of human life can be understood only in the light of the biblical story of creation and redemption.

In this context, we support development of a clearly stated, biblically sound statement on abortion. We acknowledge and support the work toward this end by the Biblical Research Institute and the Bioethics Committee. We advocate giving strong emphasis to the implications of the biblical story of creation for the value of human life in both belief and practice. We want to be known as a community that derives its moral principles from biblical teachings, values human life more than comfort or reputation, and shows compassion to all. Our proclamation of the three angels’ message will be strengthened as it is accompanied by an emphasis on the practical implications of biblical creation.

L James Gibson Director, Geoscience Research Institute

This statement was provided by the Geoscience Research Institute.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Further Reading:

An Open Letter Concerning the Adventist Church’s Abortion Guidelines,” by Mark B. Johnson, October 4, 2019

A Clinical Ethicist’s Perspective on Creating a New Abortion Statement,” by Mark F. Carr, October 2, 2019

"Abortion Rates and Ratios Continue Dropping in the United States" by David Larson, September 27, 2019

Our Abortion Guidelines Are Too Good to Replace” by David Larson, September 16, 2019

Abortion Law: Adventist Leaders Active Behind the Scenes” by Kent Kingston, September 18, 2019

Amidst Growing Criticism Adventist Church is Revisiting Abortion Position” by Michael Peabody, September 23, 2019

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Official Guidelines on Abortion, approved and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee at the Annual Council session in Silver Spring, Maryland, October 12, 1992.

The current Spectrum print journal, volume 47, issue 3, includes additional articles on abortion.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9917
1 Like

Isn’t the GRI asking too much when they say “Biblically Sound Statement?”
Or is it exactly what they want and know how problematic this issue is?

8 Likes

The “Letter” is more like a Sermon than an ACTUAL proposed statement
to be voted on.
Were they AFRAID to present a proposed statement binding on 18,000,000
[eighteen million] Seventh day Adventist members world wide?

Typical of Committees!!!

6 Likes

Am I the only one reading implicit rebutal of the actual guidelines as not sufficiently biblical? Also a definite rejection for any cause for abortion? There is little mistake in the direction that we are taking when some are pressured to issue this type of statement at a time like this.
It is a moquery to even use the words “compassion for all” when the motives of the other are so trivialized and demonized. The only human being in this text is the unborn child, for him a woman should sacrifice her life ( I do not recall that we are dealing with abortion on demand, this has never been the case), and if she does not take it at heart perhaps the grand picture of creation will help her sacrifice more willingly. This narrative will help in the new guidelines. What was that ? I am pinching myself.

4 Likes

While I appreciate the GRI statement’s concern with the epidemic of abuse and neglect of children, the mentally ill and the weak, it appears that, intentionally or not, they are making a strong implication that the church’s current guidelines on abortion were crafted without concerns for being true to biblical principles or “soundness”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Having been a student and colleague of some of the key members of the committee that worked on the current guidelines, I know this is wrong and find such an implication sad and insulting. Just because something was not done by us does not mean it was done poorly or without spiritual guidance.

I am also intrigued by the apparent claim that the unborn, without any allusion to stage of life, are apparently granted the “power to think and to do”, at least that is the traditional Adventist definition of the image of God. They are also found to be of “infinite value”. It will be very interesting to see, when this period of life on earth draws to a close, how this infinite value is calculated and dealt with for the billions of miscarriages and spontaneous abortions that have occurred during humans’ sojourn on earth.

Finally, I fear that we as a church are once again doing science backwards. We apparently have determined in advance what the correct answer to the question is, and now we are encouraging our theologians to find the necessary supports. If this is going to continue to be the way we operate as a church, we should quit wasting our money on education.

13 Likes

This is a mystery to me. What’s the connection? I can’t comprehend it.

This is from a group whose name includes the word “science”? Well, now, if they’re scientific thinkers (probably not) then they would know that 1) this is pure conjecture, and 2) they would understand after their careful research that none of the items listed constitute a “decline in respect for human life”. Quite the opposite, IMO.

They appear to be mentally challenged.

Some call it science. It appears they don’t understand.

OK, when does the unborn attain the attributes of infinite value? At fertilization? At implantation? At two weeks?

I guess I ask as something like 50% of fertilized eggs, which begin to divide, never implant. And a further ~25% of pregnancies end naturally in the first few weeks. If these events represent a person of infinite value dying, then why aren’t we holding funerals for them?

13 Likes

Tim and George – Perhaps they are out of their League to begin with.
The definition for GEOSCIENCE, which is apparently what they were
mandated to do by the NAME of their Institute is THIS:–
“Geoscience is the scientific study of the planet Earth and its many
natural geological systems. It includes the study and investigation of
Earth’s minerals.”
No Wonder they are at a LOSS to provide a suggested proposed
statement binding on the 18,000,000 million SDAs world wide.

7 Likes

Ironically enough they are referring to the mythical meaning of Genesis 1 and 2 as it gives human being purpose, definition, origin on a philosophical point of view. ( who am I, where do I come from, what is my purpose). Man is made by God. He is the center of creation and he is the ruler of this earth, He is a being made for relationships and so on. Thus the story begins. IMHO this paper is made of three ideas jotted together speedily. There is nothing scientific about those lines. Purposefully?l

2 Likes

Are there any women at the Geoscience Research Institute who may have had a voice in crafting this statement?

Perhaps I missed the list of members of the Institute at their website…

12 Likes

Barney,

I had to smile at the absurdity of the pro-life position that you describe so well, “I am also intrigued by the apparent claim that the unborn, without any allusion to stage of life, are apparently granted the “power to think and to do”, at least that is the traditional Adventist definition of the image of God. They are also found to be of “infinite value”. It will be very interesting to see, when this period of life on earth draws to a close, how this infinite value is calculated and dealt with for the billions of miscarriages and spontaneous abortions that have occurred during humans’ sojourn on earth.”

Obviously the miscarriages and spontaneous abortions and intentional abortions are not contemplated in the scheme of salvation. They weren’t people or even truly alive. There’s a better chance for a cherished pet to be in heaven. I doubt they were even a footnote at the cross.

They can’t think or do, there are probably adults who can’t “think or do” either who will not be saved in a metaphorical “new earth.”

This entire “pro-life” line of argument had been nothing short of catastrophic and the GC would rightfully dismiss any change to the guidelines out of hand. Maybe then they can start to extend some grace to the living human members of the LGBTQI community who really need recognition as “humans” in the church.

Sam

6 Likes

To interfere in the decision of fate of a fetus is to take on a life long responsibility for the nurture, education of one’s son or daughter, as well as moral instruction and guidance. Adoption is the primary solution. Will these requested documents address the moral consequences. If not, is not biblical.

3 Likes

I find this whole business of revising a perfectly good and useful church statement on abortion very troubling, and this letter even more so. If we truly are concerned about the dignity of human life, of course we should all desire that abortions never occur, but we also need to recognize there are times when an abortion may be the best choice. Truly valuing human life and dignity, IMO, means valuing first those individuals that are already born, which includes the mother who is carrying a fetus.

The current statement puts the choice where it belongs, with the woman and her doctor. Who else is better qualified to decide for the mother whether risking or damaging her own life for the sake of a fetus is appropriate than she herself, with the expert advice of her doctor? We need to recognize that there are many possible reasons to abort. Pregnancy due to rape, for example, or detection of a severe genetic defect in the fetus that would potentially cause great suffering for the fetus if it is eventually born. The list goes on. I do not think it is anyone’s right to make choices in cases like these, and others.

Our current statement makes room for these kinds of cases, while clearly stating the church’s opposition to elective abortions for convenience. I am concerned that any changes made to the current statement will take away more rights for the mother to make these decisions. Of course, any mother could ignore the church’s position on abortion, but why put her in a place where she would need to do that. Let’s trust our mothers to make wise choices themselves, and not try to further dictate what we think they should do.

15 Likes

Since this is a ‘’’'woman’s issue" only, it seems that ONLY women can
truly address this type of Women’s Issue.
To have ANY men involved in the development of a statement on this
issue is WRONG!

7 Likes

How can it be entirely a woman’s issue since the life created was done so by two people? Aside from criminal activity, the man involved and the woman involved during the act of creating a child have equal input so that equality should also be applied in the abortion discussion and child support. Do you not agree with equality?

“Be careful what you wish for”
In wanting a “Biblically Sound Statement on Abortion” at this present time are we saying that our values, ethics, and beliefs about life have evolved or changed? Do Ethics Change?
Maya Angelou wrote, "The needs of society determine its ethics.” Are the nation’s ethics about immigration changing? Do a society’s ethics really evolve in response to its needs? Do our ethics change with time?. The answer is yes. ‘Ethics’ change over time, and they do indeed evolve to reflect changing the changing needs of society. It takes a consistent, authentic, and transparent “modus operandi” to compose a “Biblically Sound Statement on Abortion”. Look at the history of forming a “Biblically Sound Statement on Ordination”…that has not gone well.

3 Likes

shshsh–
What you are asking has nothing to do with a ‘statement on abortion’.
The statement on abortion has Nothing To Do With WHO OWNS, as
in your case the Male.
There are LOTS of Males out there who want to “make” babies, but
refuse to support.
No, it is a Female/Woman Issue. It is her body, HER Ownership only.

7 Likes

Make no mistake about it, this is another huge step on the SDA journey toward a fundamentalism our founders never imagined. It started decades ago when the GC leadership invited Harold Lindsell, the author of THE BATTLE FOR THE BIBLE, to its headquarters to speak. He told them: “Liberal theologians in your church are often the nicest people you know, which is precisely why they are the most dangerous.” Robert Pierson took that warning to heart. Seminary “cleansed,” BRI established, on and on it goes. Now this. As if the Bible gives us guidance on the complexity of this question. It does if you adopt the traditional Roman Catholic position–a non-Biblical one.

11 Likes

The extent of the fundamentalist takeover of the church cannot be overestimated. It is clear that the universe evolved over time, possibly in a process instituted by a diety but we cannot know how that happened. There was death before “the fall” (if the search for knowledge constitutes a fall) and there was death after the fall. Much of the old testament is metaphor and it is likely that the creation of a “new earth” after a destruction would take millenia if not millions of billions of years.

So we just preserve life and the love that we have for living humans. Sometimes that requires the pre-life removal of unwanted potential life. That is a decision strictly that a woman can make and not even a diety would intervene. The ultimate law that she has to consider is her enjoyment of her current life because what comes before and after is uncertain. One should not be required to spend a large portion of their brief existence caring for some other person that they have been forced to bring into the world. And the decision is not one that has a moral consequence.

Equality and enjoyment are our primary concerns.

3 Likes

TWO “INFINITE VALUES?”

I wonder if male and female fetuses were considered of same “infinite value?”

If so, will they tell us also when the female human beings become of “less infinite value” as compared to the male ones? Why can one gender become an ordained minister and the other can’t? :thinking::roll_eyes::sunglasses:

11 Likes

Like Brian Ness, James Londis, and others here, I am disturbed that the scientists at GRI would weigh in on this, especially in that they omit anything of science–or even Scripture–that could inform us about what defines a viable, sentient creature worthy of “infinite value.”

Catholic theology emphasizes the special value of an undying human “soul” created by union of spirit and body, which is believed to occur at conception. Contemporary evangelicals believe the same of an undying “spirit” that results at conception. Of course, SDAs view the soul and spirit in a very different light. Scripture is remarkably clear that all animals–not just humans–are composed of a spirit (divine spark of life) and body, which enjoin to form a living soul that suffers the same fate following death: utter nonexistence for all, except that God devised and executed a special plan to bring humans back to life.

Given the equal fate (and, arguably, eternal value) of humans and non-human animals apart from this special plan, our position begs a few questions that merit consideration. Does Scripture render every animal–human and non-human, born and unborn–of “infinite value?” Should we extend to non-human animals, including those unborn, the same respect that GRI requests for humans? Do we treat all non-human animals the same, including those we think of as a pestilence, such as mosquitoes and other biting insects? Is euthanasia wrong for humans but okay for animals? Why is animal consumption permitted for humans (even Jesus did it)? What makes fertilized eggs and early human embryos of more infinite value than an adult salmon or cuddly kitten, particularly when the latter are more sentient and viable? If we are to find in Scripture no distinction in infinite value between an unborn and born human, where do we find in Scripture the distinction–let’s face it, we make it–between the finite value of a non-human animal and the infinite value of a human? Seriously–what does Scripture have to say regarding these perfectly legitimate questions?

In all frankness, I don’t believe Dr. Gibson or others at GRI would be willing to address these and related questions.

9 Likes