Adventist Church President
Ted N.C. Wilson expanded his recent call for church educators to reaffirm
their conviction that God created the Earth several thousand years ago to include all
18 million members of the denomination, saying the issue “involves the eternal
destiny of each of us.”
Wilson’s comments came at
the end of a 10-day International Conference on the Bible and Science in St.
George, Utah, where about 400 educators approved a resolution pledging to teach the biblical
understandings of origins in their classrooms and got ready to share the latest scientific research that they had
learned with their students.
Wilson, speaking in an
interview, said all church members should carefully weigh an appeal that he
made for Adventist educators to reject evolutionary origins during his opening
speech at the conference on Aug. 15.
“This is so intrinsic to the
beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists that it is vital for all church members to
reaffirm their conviction that God truly is the Creator and created this Earth
in six literal days recently,” he said. “This is certainly a personal decision
that has to be made, and in all kindness and love I urge every church member to
do so because it involves the eternal destiny of each of us.”
Wilson, reiterating his Aug.
15 speech, said that educators and pastors who accepted widespread teachings
that the Earth evolved over millions of years should not be permitted to lead
in Adventist classrooms and churches.
As for regular church
members, he said, the matter was personal, but people who hadn’t resolved it in
their minds should pray earnestly and make a decision.
“These decisions on the part
of every individual will help to determine how they relate to this
extraordinary mission entrusted into our hands by heaven and proclaimed by the
three angels’ messages, which includes the first angel’s message to worship God
and give glory to Him for He has made everything,” he said, referring to the
three angels’ messages recorded in Revelation 14 to prepare people for Jesus’
return to Earth.
Wilson’s Aug. 15 speech — in
which he said that anyone who rejected the literal six-day creation described
in Genesis could not be described as a real “Seventh-day” Adventist because
“Seventh-day” refers to the 24-hour Sabbath day that ended creation week — elicited
much comment on Seventh-day Adventist websites during the past 10 days.
Some Adventists have
embraced a popular theory that each day of creation might have lasted millions
of years rather than 24 hours, thereby mixing the Bible account with evolutionary
teachings. This line of reasoning, Wilson said, not only invalided the Sabbath
but also cast doubt on the inspiration of the creation account and, by
extension, the entire Bible.
“It is vital that every
employee — whether an administrator, pastor, teacher, or whoever — should strongly
believe in the fundamental understanding of creation as the Seventh-day
Adventist Church enunciates it,” Wilson said Sunday. “To continue to be
employed and hold a view other than that would not be compatible to the very
reason for the existence of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
He added: “As far as church
members in general are concerned, it’s a personal matter that they need to discuss
with the Lord in earnest.”
Wilson also mentioned the
church at large in a closing speech Sunday that focused primarily on the
educators in attendance.
Seventh-day Adventist teachers, educators, pastors and church employees living
in the end of time — and not only employees but all church members — we should
not reduce our ‘seventh-day’ distinctiveness but rather trumpet it as a
wonderful feature of life,” he said.
Speaking directly to conference
attendees, Wilson urged them to work hard, show love, and cling to the Bible.
“Scientists: Continue to do
good scientific research. Do the work God has given you in a profound and
careful way,” he said.
Do the same thing. Reach out to those who may not agree with what we have voted
today and with what the Seventh-day Adventist Church has stood for. Reach out
to those people in care and love — not in a condescending way, but in a loving
he said, “I want to tell you: Please do not in any way be reluctant to stand
for biblical truth. Be open, be careful, but be bold.”
the close of the 42-minute speech, Wilson asked the educators to reaffirm their
conviction to the biblical creation by standing up and later pairing with seatmates
Shortly before Wilson’s
speech, the conference attendees approved in a nearly unanimous verbal vote a statement that affirmed that the Bible presents "the reliable account" of a recent
literal six-day Creation and that a global flood destroyed the Earth except for
Noah’s family and animals in an ark.
reject those worldviews that intentionally remove biblical truth from public
discourse and scientific endeavor,” the statement says. “We affirm the
necessity of an intellectual environment in which competing theories about
origins are presented and openly discussed within the context of a biblical
worldview. We commit ourselves to teaching and advocating the biblical
understandings of origins in our professional roles as Adventist educators.”
The document, which was developed during the 10-day event, will be submitted to the church’s major
year-end business meeting, the Annual Council, in October, said Michael L.
Ryan, a vice president of the Adventist world church and chair of its Faith and
Science Council, which sponsored the conference.
It was unclear what influence, if any, the
document would have on the wider church. Ryan said a separate working group of the world church was
considering revisions to one of the church’s 28 Fundamental Beliefs — on creation — in preparation for a vote by delegates of the world church during the General Conference Session in July
director of the world church’s education department, told the conference that
she would use the statement to press for funding to produce and distribute
more resources that support creation. The resolution calls for “a coordinated
approach to be taken to the ongoing development, in all major languages, of high-quality,
media-rich resources regarding the biblical account of origins and natural and
in an interview, Beardsley-Hardy said conference
participants have inundated her with requests for creation-themed materials.
“The biggest comment that I’ve
gotten is, ‘We want materials so that when I go back to our schools we’ll be
able to educate our students and educate our family about the issues,” she said.
“They want textbooks, they want PowerPoints, they want to be able to download some
of the presentations that were here so they can study them themselves and
translate them into various languages.”
Beardsley-Hardy said some
conference materials could be found on the Faith and Science Council’s Web site, fscsda.org, and the Geoscience Research Institute's Web site, grisda.org, more would be released in the upcoming weeks and months.
But, as any major conference, some
presentations might not be available for some time because their authors are
preparing the research for publication in major scientific journals, said Beardsley-Hardy, who helped organize the conference and is a member of the Faith and
“Some of the presentations that were here were
cutting edge research, and the presenters can’t have those presentations shown
elsewhere until they get published in peer-reviewed literature,” she said.
Beardsley-Hardy said she was
pleased that scientists, theologians and other educators in attendance appeared
enthusiastic about sharing what they had learned, and she expressed hope that
they would leave feeling more informed and less intimidated about discussing
the areas where science and the Bible overlap.
“Nature tells us some
things, and the Bible tells us some things, and the Bible is a higher source of
revelation because nature has been influenced by sin,” she said. “But there are
areas of overlap, and I want our academics to be reasonably informed about the
areas of overlap.”