I place this before you in awareness of an ongoing discussion in some quarters between faith and science, particularly as it relates to origins and creation.
For us as a community it has always been of utmost importance to stay close to the Scripture. Faith has that as its final point of reference. We must not allow ourselves to come adrift from the Bible in defining our values and in stating what we hold.
Our position as a church in the matter of origins is clearly although somewhat broadly stated in our Fundamental Beliefs. This position is further amplified in a statement voted by the General Conference Executive Committee at the 2004 Annual Council. To remind ourselves of the details of that action, I have included the wording in this appeal:
- "We strongly endorse the document's affirmation of our historic, biblical position of belief in a literal, recent, six-day Creation.
- We urge that the document, accompanied by this response, be disseminated widely throughout the world Seventh-day Adventist Church, using all available communication channels and in the major languages of world membership.
- We reaffirm the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the historicity of Genesis 1-11: that the seven days of the Creation account were literal 24-hour days forming a week identical in time to what we now experience as a week; and that the Flood was global in nature.
- We call on all boards and educators at Seventh-day Adventist institutions at all levels to continue upholding and advocating the church's position on origins. We, along with Seventh-day Adventist parents, expect students to receive a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation, even as they are educated to understand and assess competing philosophies of origins that dominate scientific discussion in the contemporary world.
- We urge church leaders throughout the world to seek ways to educate members, especially young people attending non-Seventh-day Adventist schools, in the issues involved in the doctrine of creation.
- We call on all members of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist family to proclaim and teach the church's understanding of the biblical doctrine of Creation, living in its light, rejoicing in our status as sons and daughters of God, and praising our Lord Jesus Christ--our Creator and Redeemer."
I appeal to all engaged by our church in the ministries of administration, preaching, teaching, and writing to articulate and reflect our stand as a community on Creation. We are a faith-community, and the world of faith is the world in which God's creative powers are on constant display. Sometimes the findings of science may reflect some of this, but often not. Faith is certainly not subject to findings of science.
To those who teach at our colleges and universities, let me say that you have a demanding, often difficult, but sacred assignment. It is a ministry you hold in trust. It is understood that to care for your ministry responsibly you have to take your students on many a journey of findings into various disciplines of study. They need to know what they will meet in their profession and in life. As part of that exercise you will also expose them to the elements and concepts of evolution. That is understood.
As your pastor, however, I appeal to you that when you take your students out on the journey, you bring them safely back home before the day is over. And their home must always be in the world of faith. You owe it to the students, you owe it to God, you owe it to their parents, you owe it to the church, and you owe it to yourself as a believer to safely guide them through difficult moments on their journey.
This appeal comes with the greatest respect for your integrity and your professional skills. But you are also my sister and brother in faith, and we share a common commitment to God to whom we shall ultimately bring the fruits of our labor. I pray that he will give to each of us the strength that accompanies faithfulness.