Before you start calling me names please read these three disclosures:
- I believe the earth was created in six contiguous recent 24-hour days.
- I believe the crux of the La Sierra University debate is about full disclosure. I have spent a fair amount of time asking the question and I still don’t know what exactly is being taught or not taught in the Biology Department at La Sierra.
- Even if the worst rumors about La Sierra University are true, I still support the school and do not think the whole institution is apostate, anymore than a pastor or two with bad theology, makes a whole denomination apostate.
This whole pedagogy of origins argument is just plain weird to me. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. Jesus saves me because I have a trusting, committed relationship with him. I simply do not believe, on the Day of Judgment, I will find myself standing before Jesus to hear him say, “I know you loved me with all your heart and to the best of your ability; I know you took every opportunity to draw closer to me; I know you cared for the unlovable. But, because you did not believe in six recent literal 24-hour days of creation, you cannot enter into eternal life.
2. This is a battle between good and evil, between God and Satan. It is a battle that Satan is currently winning, not because our young people are being drawn away from a belief in God to a belief in evolution. Rather, they are running away because we treat each other so badly as we fight over this issue. They run because they see hard scientific data that seems to support, at the very least, a much older earth than Scripture implies and we provide simplistic explanations or no explanations at all. They drift away, or run away, because we tell them they are not wanted, they are even hated if they do not fully subscribe to the traditional Adventist view.
3. We are wasting hundreds, perhaps thousands, of human-years arguing about something that happened the way it happened. No human saw it happen. It was not put in writing until thousands of years after it happened. What any person thinks happened or did not happen will not change what actually happened. This lack of certainty is destined to be with us until we get to heaven, where we will have a perfect understanding of how it happened. I wonder how many:
- more people might we have told the story of Jesus, with all the time and energy we have spent debating this issue?
- hungry people could we have fed?
- prisoners could we have visited?
- sick people we could we have brought comfort?
4. There is a repeated argument unless one believes in six recent literal 24-hour days of creation the validity of Scripture is undermined. Is this really true? We do lots of interpretation of stories in the Bible that are very literal and very concrete. No Adventist really literally believes Luke 16:19-31, where conversation goes on between heaven and hell. We call this a metaphor because it does not fit our theology. No one really takes Paul seriously that women should not be heard in church at all. It may not seem logical, but in truth, there are many Adventists who completely trust Scripture, are faithful to the Adventist message and do not accept six recent literal 24-hour days.
5. Creation is the first place we see Sabbath and there is a argument made that if the Creation story is not strictly literal the seventh day Sabbath is undermined. Some would even say destroyed. Fine. . . except that when non-Adventists argue against the seventh day Sabbath it is not on the basis of a non-literal reading of the creation account. As noted in number four above, there are many faithful Sabbath-keeping Adventists who question the traditional interpretation. You will find these people in almost every Adventist Church at least in North America.
6. A troubling question is often asked and seldom answered. Why did God create such a confusing situation? Why is it that God made the earth look so old and then asks us to believe it is so young?
7. There is no support from Scripture or Ellen White for purging the church of people who do not have 100% orthodoxy with respect to the 28 Fundamental Beliefs. To read Adventist history is to discover she was amazingly tolerant of very aberrant theology in very prominent leaders.
8. A number church leaders have stated that, if a person does not believe the traditional interpretation and they are a person of integrity, they should leave the church. I issue this challenge to each and every pastor who agrees with this sentiment: If you have integrity and this is your belief, then go to your pulpit and deliver a creation sermon. Tell your congregation to get out if they do not believe. Tell them to resign their positions, stop paying tithe, giving for church budget and supporting missions. Tell them that you expect that they will not be in those pews next week unless they truly believe. You may want to leave by a side door and not stand at the exit to greet your church.
9. We are in a situation that is not unlike where the Children of Israel at the Red Sea. There is disaster all around. There is no apparent solution that will not result in huge casualties. So what do we do? We take the situation into our own hands, we seem to be willing to suffer massive casualties, because why? God can’t bring resolution to this problem. I see very little interest in anyone going to God and saying. “We don’t know what to do! Show us the path out of this mine field. We are helpless. We don’t want to lose our young people. We do want to be faithful to you.” It is my distinct impression that we either think we know exactly what God wants, even if it sacrifices his children or maybe we just don’t care.
10. As I reflect on the life of Christ, I find Jesus using a radically different, very inclusive standard for membership in the Kingdom of God. He seems to be looking for excuses to save people rather than reasons to exclude people.
In Matthew 11:28-30 he says: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Is this fight over creation really how we make the yoke easy, and the burden light for anyone?
Matthew 10: 42 says: And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." This is shocking! A cup of water to secure one’s reward? Or is it a cup of water plus belief in six literal recent days? Matthew 25: 31- 46 tells us that the standard for heaven is loving the least of these. Do we really believe this parable or is this just the beginning?
I am not suggesting this issue should not be a topic of discussion. I am not suggesting it is not important. I am even willing to concede that, elevated to the wrong level of prominence; it can be an issue that affects a person’s salvation. The sad truth here is that, for many who regard this issue of vital importance, being right is ultimately more important than kindness, compassion and brotherly love. This is so contrary to the gospel it is worth crying over. __ Steve Moran works in Silicon Valley. He is the head elder of his church and a member of the Central California Conference Executive Committee.
All images are from displays at the Creation Museum in Kentucky
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2543