Motions affirm creation position, reopen fundamental belief for enhancement
By Mark A. Kellner, news editor
In the face of a society and academic community where challenges to the Seventh-day Adventist fundamental belief in a “literal, recent, six-day creation” are rampant, delegates to the fifty-ninth General Conference session in Atlanta, Georgia, voted June 30 to reaffirm that belief, and possibly strengthen the church’s fundamen- tal belief language on that point.
“The Bible is I believe to be the authoritative word of God,” said Pastor Ted N. C. Wilson, General Conference president. “It is God’s word to us, and it is critical we accept Scripture as it reads.”
Wilson said the first eleven chapters of Genesis “are not an allegory,” but are “an authentic, true and literal explanation” of the creation and events following, including a global flood.
“We’re facing a critical time,” Wilson added, where “the devil is trying to undermine belief.” While “our doctrine and our beliefs are centered in Christ and His grace,” he added, the seventh-day Sabbath—which creation supports—is “the one sign God is going to use to seal His people at the end of time.”
The motion to both affirm the 2004 Annual Council statement reaffirming belief in creation and review the fundamental belief “has my 100 percent support. We must lift up the Word of God … God our Creator,” Wilson said.
Following those comments, the motion, introduced by general vice president Gerry D. Karst, went to the floor:
“Part A, I move that the [fifty-ninth] session of the General Conference endorse the 2004 Annual Council statement, reaffirmation of creation. Part B, further, that the General Conference administration be requested to initiate a process to integrate Fundamental Belief Number 6 and the statement ‘A [Response to An Affirmation] of Creation’ as provided for in the 2005 General Conference Session protocol for amending a Fundamental Belief.”
Objecting to considering the motion’s two parts together, Southern Adventist Universitypresident Gordon Bietz moved to divide the resolution. The motion passed, separating the affirmation of the 2004 statement from the reopening of Fundamental Belief 6 for review and rewriting, the latter to incorporate the intent of the 2004 statement.
Both parts of the now-bifurcated measure passed with strong votes.
Another North American Division delegate, Donna Richards, supported the church’s historic position on Creation, saying that “teaching anything else is inaccurate.” Alberto Timm of theSouth American Division added his support, noting that “doctrines do not function in isolation,” and that belief in Creation is “important for all our doctrinal systems.”
Dan Jackson, the new North American Division president, also took to the floor to affirm the importance of Fundamental Belief 6: “My Creator is my Redeemer—the two are linked.”
General vice president Ella Smith Simmons said that while academic flexibility is important, it “must come without betraying the Word of God. There are absolutes.” She said that while it is important to hold Adventist “schools, colleges, and universities accountable” for what they teach, “we must first provide clarity” to those institutions.
Keith Mattingly, dean of college of arts and sciences at Andrews University, averred that “how we promote the doctrine” is the issue, saying he’s had students who’ve questioned their faith because of how the matter has been handled.
Bill Knott, editor and executive publisher of Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines, urged delegates to pass both parts of the measure.
“If you support the clarity of part A before us, you must then also support the endorsement of part B. If you wish for clarity, follow through, and you achieve what this movement has always been about.”
Both measures passed by large margins, and the examination and possible revision of Fundamental Belief 6 will proceed during the new quinquennium, with the results being presented to the next session.