Whenever we read the last two pages of Revelation, we sense calmness. John describes the out-of-this-world gleam of precious stones, plants, and houses that are incomparable to anything we know.
In the Beginning God
Acknowledging God’s six-day miracle
By Clinton Wahlen
I used to be firmly convinced that the universe and all life originated through evolutionary processes open to our study. Then I learned that these processes of macroevolution are not open to study, because millions of years would be required to confirm them by scientific observation.
I also knew about the “missing links” (or “transitional forms”) needed to show how human beings descended from such primates as the ape. Then I discovered that there were countless missing links for all kinds of life, not just one.
Finding the Truth
It was a shocking realization to me that evolution was not really a scientific theory at all, because it cannot be tested; that it was simply the metanarrative used by scientists to form hypotheses and theories that can be scientifically tested and confirmed or invalidated.
As I read for the first time the Bible’s account of creation, it was so elegant and believable—even with all our scientific knowledge. Genesis is unique. No other ancient creation story is remotely credible today.
Nevertheless, some Adventists have begun to include evolution into the mix of those first “six days”—and with it, predation, suffering, death, and a creation “week” lasting hundreds of millions of our years—while claiming to believe “all 28 fundamental beliefs.” Thus, clarifying our statement on creation became a top priority.
Editing Fundamental Belief 6
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has always read Genesis literally, as a creation in six literal days, not as a description of life evolving over millions of years. Revisions made at the 2015 General Conference session do not change the substance of our beliefs; they only reduce potential misunderstanding by clarifying the first three sentences:
The word “historical” was added. Scripture provides the “authentic account” of God’s creative activity, but we also believe it is historical. Genesis 1 accurately describes what God created on each day and the order in which He created it.
Three ideas were clarified:
Since the Bible indicates that God made other “worlds” besides our own (Heb. 1:2; 11:3) and probably earlier than ours (the Greek word ai?nas refers to unbounded time), the sentence begins by indicating that God created the entire universe first, before the six-day creation. More Bible references were added to support our view (Isa. 45:12, 18; Acts 17:24; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).
Including the word “recent” affirms that the creation of our world took place a few thousand years ago, not millions of years ago. Genesis 5 and 11, which contain the chronogenealogies that show a recent creation, were incorporated into the list of Bible references to support this addition and the first sentence’s claim that this is a historical account.
Now included is the divine interpretation of Genesis given in the Sabbath commandment (Ex. 20:11), which limits the six days to the creation of our world, with its three habitable spaces and “all that is in them”: “the heavens” (sky), “the earth” (land), and “the sea” (water). Biblical support for these three environments (Rev. 10:6) and for the centrality of the Sabbath and a six-day creation to God’s last-day people (Rev. 14:7) were also added to the reference list.
Words were added to remove any remaining ambiguity and to clarify that we do not believe in a long timescale or evolutionary processes for creation:
God did not just complete His work during creation week—as if much of His creative work on this planet happened even earlier and over a longer period of time—He also “performed” it.
God’s work of creation took place “during six literal days,” thus excluding the possibility that the “six days” were symbolic of thousands or millions of years.
These six days “together with the Sabbath constituted the same unit of time that we call a week today.” The seventh day was an integral part of creation week, not separated from it by a gap of long ages. Also, that first week is not just “like” a week today, but “the same unit of time.”
How Our Editing Has Helped
Some have said that our original statement on creation was fine, and it was—for those who hold to a literal interpretation of Genesis. But since that statement was voted in 1980, an astonishing number of Christians, even some who claim to have a high view of Scripture, now read Genesis very differently, so as to make room for evolutionary processes requiring deep time—millions and even billions of years. These revisions are for such a time as this. They leave no room for doubt about what we believe as Seventh-day Adventists, no room for equivocation, no room for waffling. They never intended to before, and these revisions make that clear.
When, as an atheist, I began reading the Bible, three passages about creation profoundly impressed me.
Isaiah 40:26-28 seemed to be speaking directly to me: “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? . . . Have you not known?
Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.”* I hadn’t known and hadn’t heard. But once I began to open my eyes and think about it seriously, I discovered the wonder of a world teeming with life best explained by Genesis.
Second Peter 3:3, 4 described my atheism perfectly. I was one of these last-day scoffers. I had, based on uniformitarianism, asked my Christian friends, “Where is the promise of his coming? For . . . all things are continuing as they were from the beginning.” It came as quite a shock to discover that my skeptical thoughts had already been recorded in the Bible!
Revelation 14:6, 7 predicts that faith in the Genesis account of creation and seventh-day Sabbath worship will be at issue in the last days.
My heart was won by the amazing love and mercy of a Creator God who saw thousands of years ago the world I would live in today and the evidence I would need to believe in Him. How about you?
God has revealed in Scripture the authentic and historical account of His creative activity. He created the universe, and in a recent six-day creation the Lord made “the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” and rested on the seventh day. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of the work He performed and completed during six literal days that together with the Sabbath constituted the same unit of time that we call a week today. The first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was “very good,” declaring the glory of God. (Gen. 1-2; 5; 11; Ex. 20:8-11; Ps. 19:1-6; 33:6, 9; 104; Isa. 45:12, 18; Acts 17:24; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2; 11:3; Rev. 10:6; 14:7.)
*All Bible quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version [ESV], copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.