Fifty-ninth General Conference session, June 29, 2010, 9:15 a.m.
L. JAMES GIBSON: We are ready to call the meeting to order. As we prepare our hearts to conduct the Lord’s business, let’s bow our heads to ask Him to be with us. Thank you. [Prayer.]
BANGKOK ADVENTIST HOSPITAL CHAMBER SINGERS: [Worship in music.]
MARK A. FINLEY: Each morning before we begin our actual business, we have been spending time on our knees seeking God in prayer. We’ve been asking God that His Spirit come in a powerful, mighty way into our assembly to guide our business sessions. And each morning we’ve focused our attention on a specific aspect of prayer. This morning I want to direct your attention to several texts of Scripture that will provide the context for our prayer as we pray in groups of two or three. Psalm 119:107: “Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word” (NKJV). Psalm 119:154: “Revive me according to Your word” (NKJV).
The Word of God, inspired by the Spirit of God, is the essence and basis of all revival. All great revivals throughout history have found their foundation in the Word of God. That Word, inspired by the Spirit, shapes our hearts and provides direction for the church. So as we kneel to pray today, I’m going to encourage you to focus the subject of your prayers in two areas. First, that every one of our discussions will be shaped by the moral, ethical principles of God’s Word. That our personal lives will be guided by God’s Word. So as we pray today, let’s open our hearts to the Spirit that inspired the Word, asking the God of the Word to revive us through His Word. And second, let’s pray that our church will never wander from that Word, that our church will find its foundation in this assembly and always through the Word of God. So let’s claim those promises in Psalm 119, “Revive me [personally], O Lord, according to Your word”; “Revive [our church] according to Your word,” as we pray together. So let us pray in groups of two or three. At the close I will pray again. [Season of prayer.]
[Closing prayer by Mark Finley.]
GERRY D. KARST: Thank you, Elder Finley. It’s good to start each day in the business session with prayer, inviting God to be with us and to uphold the principles that have made us a church of unity around the world. I am always amazed when we are in a session like this, with delegates from so many countries and parts of the world, that we can transact our business in a spirit of openness, and a spirit of friendliness, and continue to be brothers and sisters united in this faith. I was also asked to announce that the worship speaker from two morning ago, who had an unfortunate incident while preaching, is fine. He was taken to the hospital, examined by the doctors, and is well. Since that was not a business item, we’ll accept that applause.
Now, our first item of business on the agenda today involves the handout you have received that has the yellow sheet on the front, and in order for us to move into this part of the program, I am going to vacate the chair and ask Dr. Eugene Hsu, one of the vice presidents, to come and chair this portion.
EUGENE HSU: Good morning. This is a very important agenda item, and we would like to request Elder Karst, who is very closely involved with this item, to make the presentation.
GERRY D. KARST: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am inviting two of my colleagues to join me here at the podium as we attempt to explain the background to the item that has come to you through the Steering Committee. You have in your hands the document “Response to an Affirmation of Creation—Reaffirmation,” which was voted by the General Conference Executive Committee in 2004. The position of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on the topic of Creation has been historically clear and is included in Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, number 6. However, recently this doctrine has come under question and attack both from without and from within the church. Early in the 2000-2005 quinquennium the General Conference Executive Committee put in place the Faith and Science conferences that met over several years and then reported to the Annual Council of 2004. Those conferences were comprised of scientists and theologians who met over a number of days, and it was out of that particular series of conferences that the statement that came to the Annual Council was developed. Annual Council then voted an affirmation of that statement, which you have in your hands today. I am going to ask the secretary, Elder Claude Sabot, to read the statement. We want to read it and place it before you. Elder Sabot, please read the statement for us.
CLAUDE SABOT: [Read 150-10GS, “Response to an Affirmation of Creation—Reaffirmation.”]
GERRY KARST: Thank you, Elder Sabot. In order to have the entire picture before you, we are now going to place on the screen number 6 of the Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which deals with Creation. I’m going to ask Dr. Jim Gibson, the director of the Geoscience Research Institute, if he will read that, while you follow on the screen.
L. JAMES GIBSON: “God is the Creator of all things, and has revealed in Scripture the authentic account of His creative activity. In six days, the Lord made ‘the heaven and the earth’ and all living things upon the earth, and rested on the seventh day of that first week. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of His completed creative work. 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.”
[A series of texts were shown on the screen: Genesis 1; 2; Exodus 20:8-11; Psalms 19:1-6; 33:6, 9; 104; Hebrews 11:3.]
GERRY D. KARST: Those of you who were in attendance at the General Conference session in St. Louis in the year 2005 will recall that there was an addition to our fundamental beliefs. We had 27 beliefs; we now have 28. And the delegates to the 2005 session voted a protocol to be followed anytime one of the fundamental beliefs was reexamined or there was an intent to amend or change it. That protocol is quite clear, but in order for you to understand it, inasmuch as it may not be fresh in your memory, I have asked Dr. Angel Rodriguez to review for us what that protocol is.
ANGEL MANUEL RODRIGUEZ: According to the protocol, any requests or revisions or additions to the Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists should reach the office of the president of the General Conference at least two years before the next General Conference session. At that point the office of the president will appoint an ad hoc committee that will look at the request, examine it, and proceed, if necessary, to prepare the first draft of the revisions. Once that first draft is put together, it should go through the Administrative Committee to the Spring Meeting or Annual Council for further discussions, contributions, and suggestions for changes or revisions. After that, those suggestions will be incorporated into the document. The document will be circulated among theologians, and it will be sent to the world church. The document will be published or printed in the Adventist Review and in Ministry magazine. Suggestions will be requested from the world field, and the ad hoc committee will receive those requests, study them, and, when they are accepted, incorporate them into the statement.
The semifinal statement will go to the Autumn Council preceding the General Conference session for further discussions and suggestions. And from there it will be voted to take it to the General Conference session with any recommendation that the Annual Council might have.
GERRY D. KARST: Thank you, Dr. Rodríguez. We just wanted to give you the background and the setting, and help you understand the protocol that’s in place anytime we attempt to address one of the fundamental beliefs.
Because the fundamental belief number 6, which was on the screen, was written by a group of people some time ago, and the 2004 statement was written by other individuals, it was felt that it would be important for us to try to integrate or merge the two statements, which would potentially involve a rewriting of fundamental belief number 6 that would have to follow the protocol. And so we have a proposal to place before you. And I’m going to read a motion in two parts. This is the action before us:
Part A: I move that the fifty-ninth session of the General Conference endorse the 2004 Annual Council’s reaffirmation of Creation statement. Part B: I move further that the General Conference administration be requested to initiate a process to integrate fundamental belief number 6 and the reaffirmation of Creation statement, as is provided for in the 2005 General Conference session protocol for amending a fundamental belief.
Mr. Chairman, I would move it.
EUGENE HSU: It’s been moved. I see many seconds. And now I would like to hear comments from the president.
TED N. C. WILSON: I want to thank my colleagues, Pastor Karst, Dr. Rodriguez, Dr. Gibson, for their presentation so far. I want to thank Pastor Finley for his emphasis this morning on the Word of God just before our prayer session. I prayed earnestly, and I know you did too.
I believe that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. It is God’s Word to us. The authority of Scripture is something that Seventh-day Adventists hold very close to their hearts. It is absolutely critical that we accept Scripture as it reads. We believe that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are not allegorical, not symbolic in some abstract way, but represent an authentic, true, literal explanation of how God created this earth and also of those events following the Creation, including a global flood of massive proportions.
We are facing a critical time. The devil is trying his best to undermine the very foundations of our beliefs that are derived from this Word. Creation, I believe, and as the Seventh-day Adventist Church has declared, came about through a declaration by fiat by God Himself. He spoke, and it was done. It did not involve long periods of development on its own. Revelation 14:6, 7 specifically says that the first angel spoke with a loud voice. And when we read at the end of that verse the words “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters,” we have embedded in the first angel’s message God’s powerful declaration that He is the Creator not only of this earth but of everything. He is the Supreme Creator.
The three angels’ messages, every single one of them, is related to the doctrine of Creation, one of the most important doctrines that we believe in. And brothers and sisters, let me tell you something. If ever people tell you that you are a legalist because you focus on the Ten Commandments, I want you to respond by saying that Jesus Christ is the center of every single commandment, every single doctrine, that we hold. And if you cannot point to Jesus, it is not worth keeping. But I want to tell you that our doctrines, our beliefs, are centered in Christ and His beautiful grace. Every single one of the three angels’ messages is related to one of the most important areas—the Sabbath. The Sabbath is God’s sign of Creatorship. It is the sign of His ability to re-create in us a new heart. According to scriptural evidence and Spirit of Prophecy counsel, the Sabbath is to be the one sign that God is going to use to seal His people—those who are separated and belong to Him at the end of time. And if you take away the literal understanding of a six-day creation, you do incredible damage to the seventh day—the Sabbath of the Lord our God.
I personally believe, and I hope all of you do, in a Creation within six literal 24-hour consecutive periods of recent date. The Spirit of Prophecy is very clear about Creation. I would invite you to read the ninth chapter of Patriarchs and Prophets. It is, in fact, entitled “The Literal Week.” When you read that chapter and if you believe in the Spirit of Prophecy—and I earnestly hope that you do—that chapter will give you answers to many questions.
I want to read a particular quotation from Signs of the Times, March 20, 1879. It is also found in To Be Like Jesus, page 153, under the title “The Sabbath Memorializes a Literal Day.” Listen to these words; I believe them, and I believe they were inspired. “But the infidel supposition that the events of the first week required seven vast, indefinite periods for their accomplishment strikes directly at the foundation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. It makes indefinite and obscure that which God has made very plain. It is the worst kind of infidelity; for with many who profess to believe the record of Creation, it is infidelity in disguise. It charges God with commanding us to observe the week of seven literal days in commemoration of seven indefinite periods, which is unlike His dealings with us, and is an impeachment of His wisdom.” I didn’t write those words. Those were inspired words given to us through the Lord’s servant Ellen White.
Elder Rodriguez has given us the process of how we change or adapt even one word of our fundamental beliefs. That process will be guarded and cared for in an appropriate way over the next five years.
Brothers and sisters, let me tell you, I hope we don’t meet in another General Conference session. I hope we will meet in heaven; but if we don’t, during the next General Conference session, whatever adjustments or wording changes need to be made will be followed in a very careful manner by the process that Pastor Rodriguez has outlined. The exact wording will be shared with divisions, with the General Conference Executive Committee. It will be made public. I want to tell you that I give 100 percent support to the motion, Mr. Chairman. I want to make mention of a parliamentary aspect. Some of you may fault me for doing this, but I wish to go on record as being so strongly convicted on this point that I am putting forth some counsel and a request to you. During the discussion that is going to ensue, and we ought to have discussion time limited for each person because we could elongate this far too much, we need to have discussion on those items that people might want to reflect on. There may be some who feel compelled to attempt to table this motion, or perhaps in some way to refer it back to some committee. I would love to see us vote this motion either up or down, but not to refer it or to table it. So if there is a motion to table and it’s up to you, I would hope that you will vote down any motion to table this motion. That is my counsel, my advice, which comes from a strong conviction, but that’s up to you. I’ve prayed about this, and I appeal to you from the bottom of my heart to support this action, endorsing the 2004 Annual Council statement about Creation and the request to proceed with the General Conference reviewing this to be brought back five years from now in reference to fundamental belief number 6. It has my 100 percent support. I will be praying, and I ask that each of you pray as well. We must lift up the Word of God, the authoritative Word of God, our Creator. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
EUGENE HSU: Thank you, Brother Wilson. Now we are open for discussion from the floor. I see there are many names on the screen already. I think our secretary has a motion to make concerning the procedure.
CLAUDE SABOT: Mr. Chairman, I would like to move to limit the discussion to two minutes per delegate. I move, it Mr. Chaiman.
EUGENE HSU: Three for translation, right?
CLAUDE SABOT: Three if translation is involved. [Motion was made, seconded, and voted.]
EUGENE HSU: Now we’re open for discussion. Number one is from microphone 5, Ed Zinke.
E. EDWARD ZINKE: Mr. Chairman, I’d like to express my appreciation for these motions and give them my support. I was involved both in fundamental belief number 6, in our statement of belief, and also in the statement that you have before you, I’d like to give some further history. Statement number 6 was written in such a way that it left open many possible interpretations, and that was done intentionally. That’s one of the reasons that we had the conferences that led up to this statement that we have before us. This statement was given consideration in its prior forms by all divisions of the world. Each division brought in their suggestions, and this was the result of the work of the world field at Annual Council 2004. I’d also like to point out that we’ve been talking about grace. If God does not have the power to carry through on the gift of grace, then grace is not grace. I am grateful that we have a God who is powerful enough to create the world. He clearly says that He created it. That means that He also has the power to transform our lives, to give us the power to live for Him, and to return in the Second Coming. This statement impacts almost every aspect of our statement of belief. If we do not accept Creation as God has revealed it to us, we really have no reason to exist as a church.
EUGENE HSU: Our next speaker is Benjamin Clausen.
BENJAMIN CLAUSEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I stand in support of the church’s belief in God as Creator as outlined in the Bible. This leads to my concern about this response statement. Item number 4 is asking educators to give a scientifically rigorous exposure to a literal recent six-day creation. Here are my concerns. As I frequently give presentations on science and religion issues to church members, I find that members fear that faith will be threatened if the Genesis story and the Sabbath are not scientifically supported. As I talk to my scientist friends I find a resistance to believe in the Bible and the Sabbath if it requires belief in some untenable scientific model. That’s a dangerous position to be in—to base one’s belief in Scripture on science. I find this to be especially true in my area of scientific study, physics, cosmology, and geology. So the wording before us, “scientifically rigorous exposure to . . . a literal, recent, six-day creation,” has several problems. To ask our science professors to present rigorous creation science to our students is impossible, because we have no working scientific models for Creation and the Flood and probably shouldn’t even expect them. I will give a more lengthy discussion of the issues this afternoon in one of the Creation lectures. I recommend and can make a motion as appropriate that a suitable group within the church rethink how we should tie our belief in the Genesis story and the Sabbath to scientific data. Thank you.
EUGENE HSU: Thank you for your comment. Is there any response?
ANGEL MANUEL RODRIGUEZ: There is a response, Mr. Chairman. At this point we’re not discussing the way that the fundamental belief number 6 will read. If the motion is approved, a committee that will take into consideration the statements made by our friend and colleague will be set up and will make sure that the fundamental belief will be properly worded.
EUGENE HSU: The chair recognizes Gary Krause.
GARY D. KRAUSE: Just a question of clarification. The recommendation says that we are to “reaffirm and endorse the following statement.” Are we wanting to endorse the following statement, or the “Affirmation of Creation” document? And if it is the “Affirmation of Creation” document, where does that start, at line 9 or line 22?
EUGENE HSU: We have a response.
JAMES L. GIBSON: If you’ll look at the wording there, we strongly endorse the document’s affirmation of our position.
GARY D. KRAUSE: So we’re not interested in lines 5-21, we’re just considering lines 22 on?
GERRY D. KARST: Mr. Chairman, let me respond. The motion is to endorse the document from 2004, the totality of which you have in your hand. I don’t know that we can break this up.
GARY D. KRAUSE: So the recommendation then needs to be made a little clearer. The affirmation of Creation starts with line 22. What we’re endorsing is the 2004 “Affirmation of Creation” document, not the affirmation of Creation.
GERRY D. KARST: That’s correct.
GARY D. KRAUSE: Thank you.
EUGENE HSU: Our next speaker is Alberto Ronald Timm.
ALBERTO RONALD TIMM: I would like to speak in favor of the motion. I think the document before us is biblical, faithful, and in harmony with the Spirit of Prophecy. I would like to highlight a point that is very important. I think that doctrines do not function in isolation. And one of the best ways to see the importance of a doctrine is to negate, or deny, that doctrine. If we would open our doctrine of Creation to accommodate evolutionistic ideas in order to be consistent, we would need to rewrite also our doctrine of the God of the Sabbath. If God took long ages to create the world, how would our theology of a new earth and new heavens have to be understood? I would like to support this motion. It’s crucial for all of our doctrinal system.
EUGENE HSU: Thank you very much for your affirmation of the motion. Our next speaker is Daniel Jackson.
DANIEL JACKSON: I want to stand in full agreement with the motion, and I want to praise God for the willingness to bring this issue back to us again. Because, you know, when I study the Bible, my Creator is my Redeemer, and these two amazing teachings of Scripture are, in my belief, linked together inextricably. I want to affirm faith in the full inspiration of the Scriptures. I praise God for the Word of God, and I also want to say that I praise God for our educational institutions—for our K-12 system and for our higher education system. And for the teachers, those who work on a daily basis with our young people. I believe we need to embrace them, pray for them, and collectively guide and direct them as they teach what we are talking about here. So, Mr. Chairman, I stand in full support of this motion.
EUGENE HSU: Thank you. Our next speaker is Gordon Bietz.
GORDON BIETZ: There are clearly two portions of this motion. I understand Elder Karst indicated part A and part B. I would like to move the division of the question.
EUGENE HSU: Is there any second to this motion? Yes, there is a second. There is no debate. Let us vote on this amendment. Is it clear that the motion is to divide the original motion into two parts?
tenth business meeting (cont)
Fifty-ninth General Conference session, June 30, 2010, 9:15 a.m.
GERRY D. KARST: I think what Dr. Bietz is intending through his motion is to separate the motion that I presented as parts A and B, and make them two separate items that we would vote on separately. Dr Bietz, is that correct?
GORDON BIETZ: Yes, that is exactly correct. You would have two motions. There would be one motion that is the reaffirmation of the Creation, and the other motion would relate to setting up a committee to change the fundamental belief. I am in favor of the first motion. I agree with the affirmation. I’m concerned about changing the fundamental belief.
EUGENE HSU: Thank you. So is it clear that the original motion is one motion but with two parts? Now the suggestion is to divide the original motion into two separate motions. On this action there is no debate. So if it’s clear to you what the motion is, then we can go ahead. [The motion was approved.]
Now we have many people in the line, but first a point of order.
ALLAN HANDYSIDES: Mr. Chairman, I notice that we have been applying the position that we took in St. Louis that pertains to the way the fundamental beliefs may be altered. We have been applying those procedures to this Annual Council statement. It’s my belief that the Annual Council statement does not represent one of the voted fundamental beliefs of the church. Thus it is inappropriate to apply those procedural rules to this Annual Council statement.
EUGENE HSU: I don’t think that is a point of order, but anyway, thank you for your comment. The next point of order, please.
TOR TJERANSEN: Could we have the two parts of the motion on the screen? There is considerable confusion as to what the motion really is. [Gerry D. Karst read the motion.]
EUGENE HSU: Thank you. Now we go to Ella Simmons at microphone 5.
ELLA SIMMONS: I resonate with most of what has been said already. But in view of the continuing and growing—indeed, the escalating—conversation in many sectors of the church on this topic, I want to emphasize what is happening in our education circles, particularly within the universities. The university debates are chief among these debates, conversations, and points of confusion.
We must have some flexibility for thought in education in many regards, but this must come without betraying the Word of God. We must have parameters. There are some absolutes that provide us our identity; that make us Seventh-day Adventists. And we must, therefore, have parameters based on and structured firmly around Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and understandings of the biblical account of Creation. We must recognize that we have Seventh-day Adventist education for very specific purposes. It is not just an alternative to public education. Among these responsibilities are the communication, explication, and clarity of the beliefs of the church. These must include questioning and exploration, but all must be grounded in a faith-based certainty in the accuracy and authority of the Scriptures.
We have a responsibility to hold our schools, colleges, and universities accountable, but first we must be accountable for providing clarity on what we believe before we can hold them accountable. And indeed, God holds us all accountable. Therefore, I support this motion.
EUGENE HSU: Given the shortness of the time, because we have only up to 11:00 to cover both motions, our secretary has a motion concerning the procedure.
CLAUDE SABOT: Mr. Chairman, I see 28 persons standing in the back row, and I would like to move that we go by a section of 15 minutes. After 15 minutes we will ask the body if they want to cease discussion and vote the motion or if they want to continue for another section of 15 minutes and reevaluate it at that time. I move it, Mr. Chairman.
EUGENE HSU: The motion has been seconded. [The motion was approved.] Now let’s continue and remember the limit of two or three minutes per speaker.
GERRY D. KARST: Mr. Chairman, I think that there may still be a little confusion as to what we are doing and how we are proceeding. This first section deals only with the statement you have in print in your hands. The procedure by which an amendment or modification would develop for fundamental belief number 6 will be the second portion, and so the thing has been divided now, and I think it would be well just to keep our attention focused on that portion of the motion.
EUGENE HSU: Yes, thank you for the clarification. Microphone 4.
CYNTHIA TUTSCH: I speak in support of the motion. Some may inquire why further clarification of belief number 6 is necessary or desirable. The reason is: the language of belief number 6 is ambiguous.
EUGENE HSU: Thank you. Microphone 1.
MOFFAT PHIRI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I strongly support this particular motion. In Early Writings Ellen White tells us that she saw the devil encouraging his angels to cause confusion among God’s people. I am so thankful for the preamble that came from our General Conference president. This is a picture that we need to uphold.
EUGENE HSU: Thank you for your positive comment. Microphone 4.
RICARDO GRAHAM: I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to this motion even as it has been bifurcated this morning into parts A and B. I believe the statement is more than helpful to our members, as it clearly expresses our faith in Scripture and in God’s creative Word. Our faith informs our science; our science does not inform our faith. And so, Mr. Chairman, I speak strongly in favor of this motion.
EUGENE HSU: Thank you for your support. Microphone 4, Richard Lane.
RICHARD LANE: I am a lay delegate from the Michigan Conference in the North American Division. I strongly support this resolution. Wherever there may be any problems in this regard in any of our educational institutions, I would hope that our administrators and boards of trustees will take care of them, because they have the authority, the responsibility, the right, and the direction to do so. There is a very direct and a very instructive Spirit of Prophecy quote, for which I do not have the reference at this very moment, that says, in essence, “Do what’s right because it’s right, and leave the consequences to God.” Thank you.
EUGENE HSU: We go to the next speaker, Roberto David Badenas Sanguesa.
ROBERTO DAVID BADENAS SANGUESA: For me the doctrine of Creation is very important, and I would wish that this statement would be clearer about its implications. The doctrine of Creation affects not only the way we rest on Sabbath but also the way we work every day. The stewardship aspect of Creation is biblically prior to the doctrine of Sabbath. And I wish that the doctrine of Creation may be explicitly applied to our lifestyle. The way we build our home, the way we manage our business, the way we travel, the way we produce waste, etc. The respect for God’s creation is part of the doctrine of Creation. The responsibility to care for God’s creation is very important, and should appear in this document.
GERRY D. KARST: Can I respond to that? I respect Dr. Badenas and his scholarship. These suggestions will have to be incorporated in the process that will occur during the next quinquennium. Those are the sorts of things that should be discussed and talked about, but they are not part of the document that’s before us today. It’s a historical document, and we are not in a position here to amend or change it.
EUGENE HSU: Our next speaker is Artur Stele.
ARTUR STELE: I will not repeat what has been said already, but allow me to add that most members of the Euro-Asia delegation have been raised and educated in an atheistic and Communistic environment. That means that almost on a daily basis we had to defend our faith in a Creator God. But the most famous Soviet scholars concluded that as long as the believers believed in an all-powerful God, no evidence could destroy this faith. Therefore, we would like to support this motion.
EUGENE HSU: Our next speaker is William Knott.
WILLIAM KNOTT: In November 1848 Ellen White received the foundational vision that launched the ministries of the Adventist Review and today’s Adventist World, and that vision was all about light. As she put it, it was streams of light going clear round the world. It was not, I note, streams of opacity or streams of ambiguity. This movement has stood since day one for clarity and for truth. And it is in that service that this document has been brought forward, to emphasize the clarity that this church wishes to apply to this issue. So I speak strongly in favor of the document in front of us as giving the clarity needed in this moment.
EUGENE HSU: Our next speaker is John Fowler.
JOHN M. FOWLER: Mr. Chairman, this morning I speak as a simple believer and an ordinary pastor. Long ago I began my Christian journey, convicted that I was a sinner and that I was redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ and awaiting His soon return to join the heavenly family. All these things are mysteries that I cannot explain and cannot understand. But I have accepted, I have lived, I have walked this faith by two powerful words from the testimony of Hebrews 11: by faith. And by these two powerful words I also stand to affirm what is beyond my comprehension, and by faith I accept the first few words of the Bible. In the beginning God created. Without that “in the beginning God” I am nowhere; I am lost. As a Seventh-day Adventist I want to affirm and support this clarion call. Without Creation there is no support for sin, there is no support for redemption, there is no support for the soon coming of Jesus. We nullify the ministry of Jesus by rejecting Creation. I therefore support this move wholeheartedly.
EUGENE HSU: Our 15-minute limit has expired, so now we must vote whether we want to continue the debate on this first motion. [The motion to cease debate was voted.] Now we are ready to vote on the motion itself. Let’s have it on the screen. [The motion was voted.]
Now we are ready to move on to the second motion. Elder Karst, do you have additional comments to make?
GERRY D. KARST: The motion before us is that this body will authorize the General Conference administration to engage the process that the protocol describes, of finding better wording to express fundamental belief number 6.
EUGENE HSU: The next speaker is Chester Clark.
CHESTER V. CLARK III: I just want to speak on behalf of many Adventist young people. Many are studying on secular university campuses. Many are studying science. Many are brilliant young people who have chosen to believe and to have a belief structure that is guided by the Word of God. And they have sensed, whether it is accurate or not, that there is ambiguity in the church’s position on this subject. So I just want to thank you for bringing this motion before us, and I want to plead that there be clarity, in the church’s official documents and our Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, as to what we actually believe. Young people would appreciate that, and I would too. Thank you.
EUGENE HSU: The next speaker is Clive Dottin.
CLIVE DOTTIN: Baptist scholar Dwayne T. Gish, a foremost creationist, told the university of the Worldwide Church of God that they should end the ambiguity. Otherwise, theistic evolutionists will penetrate the university owned by the Worldwide Church of God. That has happened to us. The watchmen on the walls of Zion have been sleeping, while the evolutionists (and I think the greatest danger is not so much the evolutionists as the theistic evolutionists, who try to involve God in the process) are active. And I am saying there are pastors and scholars who have compromised our position, and I thank God for this document. I thank God for an end to ambiguity. I thank God this morning that the Holy Spirit is working in this session. I also praise God for what I heard Pastor Wilson say. In the book If I Were the Devil, by George Knight, I read that what has kept this church going is the eschatological link between Creation, the Sabbath, and prophecy in Revelation 14:6-12. I rise to support the motion, and I ask us, as watchmen on the walls of Zion, to stand firm. We need a systematic and structured approach to protect our universities and our secondary schools, which have already been infiltrated. Fellow delegates, I rise to support this motion, and I believe the Holy Ghost is guiding us. Thank you so much.
EUGENE HSU: Our next speaker is James Standish.
JAMES STANDISH: I rise to support this motion. You heard earlier from an Adventist scientist who opposed the original motion. I want you to know this morning, brothers and sisters, that there are Adventist scientists who are right behind our cause of supporting biblical creation. I am very encouraged this morning to hear our new General Conference president put this on the table and ask us as a body to end the deliberate ambiguity and clarify where we stand. Friends, it’s not easy to have faith in Jesus Christ. It’s not easy to have faith in the Word of God. It’s much easier to have faith in what the world is telling us and what the general opinion is. When we vote to uphold the biblical belief of Creation, we are standing by faith in God. Make no mistake about it. Salvation comes from faith, and we need to end the ambiguities about this foundational belief that have crept into our church—ambiguities that undergird everything else that we stand for. So I support this motion.
EUGENE HSU: Our next speaker is Keith Mattingly.
KEITH MATTINGLY: I am the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Andrews University. I am a strong supporter of the first motion we just had. We know that at our beginnings we were very careful about how much detail we put into our beliefs. I think our current fundamental belief on Creation is sufficiently clear.
My concern is not that we have a doctrine, but about how we promote the doctrine. I have young people in my college that struggle with the church, mainly on how the issue is handled, not regarding the doctrine itself. So I am pleading that we remember this morning’s devotional, and as we deal with each other on this doctrine, we do it gently. We have good thinking people who believe in the Lord but who get falsely accused, and I’d like to make sure that we make every effort to give clear support to all of our believers, even those who may have a little different way to say it.
EUGENE HSU: Our next speaker is Alex Ponniah.
ALEX RAJAKUMAR PONNIAH: I am in support of the motion. As a lay member to this august body I have gone personally through secular education myself, and I know it’s a great challenge to believe in God in the secular world. Science and religion are always at conflict. Science can never explain religion, because science has no room for faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God. And how relevant is Revelation 14 at this time! A lot of our young people today, a vast majority of them, are having secular education and are subject to evolutionary teachings, that humanity’s existence is a result of evolutionary process. It is a great challenge, and we must stand firm in our beliefs in the existence of God. And I tell you, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, that many people who were once atheists, who were once believers in evolution and science, have now become Seventh-day Adventists. I have listened to their testimonies. They were once staunch evolutionists, but now they are Seventh-day Adventists. I am in full support of this motion.
EUGENE HSU: Thank you very much for your comment. Our 15-minute time limit has come, so let us vote whether or not we cease debate. [It was voted to cease debate.] Now we will vote on the motion itself. Let’s have the motion on the screen one more time. [The motion was voted.]
YOUNG KUN KIM: [Benediction.]
EUGENE HSU, Chair
CLAUDE SABOT, Secretary
CLAUDE SABOT, Proceedings Editor
REINDER BRUINSMA and LARRY COLBURN, Assistant Proceedings Editors
Fifty-ninth General Conference session, June 30, 2010, 9:15 a.m.
Since so many delegates were lined up to comment on the Creation item, it was
VOTED, To limit speakers to the item on Creation, to two minutes or three minutes if the speaker needs translation.
Because of the length of time devoted to comments on the item on Creation, it was
VOTED, To limit the discussion to fifteen minutes, after which a vote will be taken whether to continue to discussion or call for the vote.
150-10GS RESPONSE TO AN AFFIRMATION OF CREATION—REAFFIRMATION
VOTED, To reaffirm and endorse the following statement that was voted at the 2004 Annual Council in response to the International Faith and Science Conference Organizing Committee’s report, An Affirmation of Creation, which reads as follows:
Whereas belief in a literal, six-day creation is indissolubly linked with the authority of Scripture, and;
Whereas such belief interlocks with other doctrines of Scripture, including the Sabbath and the Atonement, and;
Whereas Seventh-day Adventists understand our mission, as specified in Revelation 14:6, 7, to include a call to the world to worship God as Creator,
We, the members of the General Conference Executive Committee at the 2004 Annual Council, state the following as our response to the document, An Affirmation of Creation, submitted by the International Faith and Science Conferences:
1. We strongly endorse the document’s affirmation of our historic, biblical position of belief in a literal, recent, six-day
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
FUNDAMENTAL BELIEF #6: CREATION—AMENDMENT
VOTED, To request General Conference administration to initiate a process to integrate Fundamental Belief #6 and the statement “Response to An Affirmation on Creation,” as provided for by the 2005 General Conference Session protocol for amending a fundamental belief.
Gerry D Karst and Eugene Hsu, Chairs
Claude Sabot, Secretary
Larry R Evans, Actions Editor
Tamara K Boward, Recording Secretary