by Jack Hoehn | 15 July 2018 | There is a confluence of ideas coming from within and without the Seventh-day Adventist church, that suggests places this church can go with its theology and mission. Jack wants to talk with you about some of them. This article #7a is on an expanded creationism, and parts b and c will follow.


For once, let’s not start at the Beginning. Let’s step over the amazing creation stories/poems of Genesis 1-3 and first consider what the rest of the Bible tells us about the God who is Creator of all.

BIG ENOUGH FOR THE WHOLE UNIVERSE

Nehemiah 9:5-6 Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.
Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.
You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host,
the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them.
You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that has been made.

Job 38:4-7 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Here are the unapologetic claims that not only earth and sky but the universe (the highest heavens and all their starry host) was created by the One we know as God the Word, our Savior Jesus Christ. And land and sea and all that is in them are God’s work through Jesus. Also, the text intimates that not only on earth is sentient life; it hints that the multitudes of heaven worship, and there were sons of God shouting for joy at the creation of earth. Adventists need a doctrine of Creation big enough to fit not only our backyards but a doctrine big enough to fit the universe and life far beyond earth’s bounds.

PLANNED, SEQUENTIAL

Proverbs 8:22-31 The LORD brought me [Wisdom, Intelligently Designed Plans] forth
as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;
I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning,
when the world came to be. When there were no watery depths,
I was given birth, when there were no springs overflowing with water;
before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth,
before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth.
I was there when he set the heavens in place
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
rejoicing in his whole world and
delighting in mankind.

Here the Creator shows wisdom, intelligence, design, planning that started with wisdom, with Intelligent Design, BEFORE the progressive acts of creation. This is not a magical creation; God is not shaking a magic wand and suddenly a world magically came to be. No, creation was planned long in advance by the Heavenly Trio.[1] It was wise; it was thought out. A plan was there, before earth was given its foundations to be stable and lasting, before the clouds were placed above. Even if you think creation happened quickly or recently, at least admit that the planning for creation was not recent or quick; it was formed long ago at the very beginning, before the hills, even before the dust!

Listen to Isaiah:

Isaiah 45:18 For this is what the LORD says–he who created the heavens, he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited
he says: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.”

See the progressive, process verbs: fashioned, made, founded, formed it. These are verbs of a workman creating by progressive processes, not of a magician pulling fully formed rabbits from a hat.

Psalm 8 again shows that creation is not instantaneous, but progressive, sequential. First the universe, then the moon and stars, then humans (lower than previously created angels) over the previously created domestic and wild animals, birds, fish, in an intelligently designed order.

Psalm 8 LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens….
when I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

CREATION BY INFORMATION

We have already read John 1 on the Creator as the WORD of God. Now add Psalm 33.

Psalm 33:6,9 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth…
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

Words are information transmitted by the code of language. Writing is reproducing those words using symbols. In speaking, God is transmitting information to create stuff and life. His speaking must also include the rules or relationships by which things and organisms survive, the rules we observe as “laws of nature.”

Jeremiah 33:25 This is what the LORD says: “… I have… made my covenant with day and night
and established the laws of heaven and earth.”

Astrophysicists and astronomers who study the universe and its origins have come to recognize that the organization of matter is “exquisitely tuned” for the universe and life in it to exist. Astronomers Guillermo Gonzales, Hugh Ross, and Robert Jastrow all recognize the fine tuning of the physics and its constants, the precise placement of earth in this universe, that make earth a privileged planet for life to exist.

God’s words of creation are also present as a written record. His information is found inside every living cell. The DNA and RNA at the center of every cell is a language, a code, a set of complex instructions with its own four-letter alphabet not only telling cells what they are to be, but also how and when. This software of life is the most efficient information storage system known. And it comes with complex error correction and duplication systems preserving life, reproducing it, but permitting variety, adaptation, change, and diversity by His design. Our Creation doctrine needs to take into consideration not only the history of life in rocks, but the history of life recorded inside our cells in the DNA language.

WORSHIP WHO (Not When or How)

The key doctrine of Creation emphasized in Revelation 14 is about Who created, not when or how things were created.

Revelation 14:6-7  Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel
to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people.
He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come.
Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

God who created is our beloved, approachable, love-peace-and-joy-promoting Jesus. The One who tells us the truth about who God is and what God is like, the One who says to us, “Amen, yes, it shall be so,” is in fact the Ruler of creation, the Origin of all that is, the Source of the entire universe.

H. L. Mencken explained our problem this way:
“For every complicated problem there is a solution that is simple, direct, understand-able, and wrong.”

Revelation 3:14 To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen,
the faithful and true witness, the ruler/
originator/source of God’s creation.

The Adventist doctrine of Creation must not only be “faithful”; it must also be “true.” It must grow big enough to hold all of creation, from long before the six creation days to long after the second coming of Christ and the world to come. It must be able to include life outside of this planet, angels, cherubim, seraphim, and sons and daughters of God who sang. It must also listen to truths from astronomy, physics, chemistry, the geology of earth, its fossil history, and from the DNA records found inside all of your cells. It must be able to coordinate those facts with the character of God revealed in the Holy Scriptures and the Great Controversy there explained.

It is probable that our simple, direct, understandable 19th-century ideas about how God created this world are very likely inadequate and mostly wrong. Is this to be the sad death of Adventism, or the exciting future of Adventism?

We need a very big, robust, competent Creation doctrine, for we have a very big, robust, competent Creator to understand. We need to stop looking at how we think creation should have happened, to look at how it actually happened. We need to stop hiding behind a beloved traditional theology (and its 19th-century science) and face God’s wonderful creative reality honestly and bravely with 21st-century science and fresh appreciation of the Holy Scriptures.

 

This topic will be continued in the next article: Adventist Tomorrow #7b.) Grown-Up Creationism.
The previous 6 articles
[2] in this series are also available on the Adventist Today website.
You can also use the SEARCH box in upper right corner for author “Jack Hoehn” or title “Adventist Tomorrow”.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] For an Adventist take on the planning of creation long before its implementation, note what Ellen White believed in this vision of the pre-earth-creation planning as the origin of the Cosmic Controversy:  “The Son was seated on the throne with the Father…to work in union with Himself in the anticipated creation of the earth and every living thing that should exist upon the earth…Lucifer was envious and jealous…Christ had been taken into the special counsel of God in regard to His plans, while Lucifer was unacquainted with them. He did not understand, neither was he permitted to know, the purposes of God… He left the immediate presence of the Father, dissatisfied and filled with envy against Jesus Christ.” (EGW, Story of Redemption, pages 13-14).

[2] This article is 7th of a series. Adventist Tomorrow by Jack Hoehn has so far presented:

#1)Better Way to Read Bible.

#2)The Openness of God.

#3)Rethinking Same Sex Love

#4)Becoming Political

#5)Satan and Freedom of Will

#6)Militant Pacifism


Jack Hoehn is a frequent contributor to both the print and online versions of Adventist Today. He has served on the Adventist Today Foundation board since 2012. He and his wife Deanne live in Walla Walla, Washington. He has a BA in Religion from Pacific Union College, and an MD from Loma Linda University. He was a licensed minister of the Adventist church for 13 years when serving as a missionary physician in Africa. 

To read part #7b, “Grown-up Creationism,” click here.

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