by Ervin Taylor

by Ervin Taylor, September 3, 2014

It now appears that one of the main reasons that the recently concluded invitation-only General Conference-sponsored International Conference on the Bible and Science: Affirming Creation meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, and St. George, Utah, was organized to ensure that the Adventist Theological Society (ATS)-inspired revision of Adventist Fundamental Belief (FB) No. 6 at the 2015 General Conference session would be adopted overwhelmingly with the votes of Third World delegates. It would also make sure that the current General Conference president was reelected with no opposition.

The main targets attending the conference were Church administrators and those teaching at Adventist schools in the Third World who may not have been aware of the pressing nature of this issue to fundamentalist and conservative forces in the First World Adventist Church. ATS and their supporters in the GC administration apparently did not want to take any chances and so spent tens of thousands of dollars of Church funds and some donated money to make sure that the vote in 2015 from the Third World would go their way.

According to usually reliable sources, the ATS plan was to push its longstanding plan to change FB No. 6 wording to make sure that it says that there was a recent creation of life in six literal, 24-hour days a few thousand years ago and that there was a recent worldwide flood. However, they hoped that they could be ambiguous about the age of the earth since even some very conservative theologians belonging to the ATS have indicated publicly that the earth itself (not life) is billions of years old. However, the ordinary Adventist member may not understand the difference and might be shocked to be told that the president of the General Conference believes in an earth billions of years old, especially since the Adventist prophet was opposed to such an interpretation of Genesis.

But someone in the ATS apparently forgot to cue in the current General Conference president to make sure that he would be careful to follow the exact specifications of the ATS party line in his public statements as he usually has done in the past.

Thus, in his first speech at the conference, Wilson II not only condemned any Adventist who believed that life was old but also stated that any “real” Adventist must reject any idea that the “world [is] much older than the 6,000-odd years that Creationists believe had passed since the Earth was formed.” Uh-oh.

Where would Wilson II get the idea that a “good” Adventist had to believe that both the earth and life had to be not more than “6,000-odd” years old? A disinterested observer who was not aware of the details of Adventist history would perhaps assume that belief in the 6,000-year age of the earth was derived from the figure 4004 BC (which, of course, would be about 6,000 years ago), originally calculated by the 16th-century English scholar and Anglican Church Archbishop James Ussher.

However, if this hypothetical disinterested observer would have an opportunity to examine carefully the history of early Seventh-day Adventism, he/she would discover that for the average Adventist reader and probably Wilson II, the figure of “about 6,000 years” came from the writings of the 19th-century American mystic and charismatic visionary and co-founder of the Adventist Church, Ellen Gould Harmon-White (EGHW).

It is almost certainly true that EGHW, like most of her contemporaries belonging to the Protestant evangelical churches of her day, believed in the 6,000-year figure for creation, primarily because the Protestant version of the Bible they and she mostly used (the King James, or Authorized Version) contained in its margins the dates calculated by Ussher, including 4004 BC as the date of creation of both the earth and life on the earth.

Ever since the conclusion of the Las Vegas/St. George conference, rumors have been floating around the Adventist blogosphere and elsewhere (including the hallways of the General Conference building in Silver Spring, Maryland, thanks to the reports of informants there) to the effect that Wilson II must have misspoken (or was misquoted) in his remarks and then been quoted (or misquoted) in the pages of the Adventist Review to the effect that the earth itself is only 6,000 years old.

It has been reported by the same usually reliable sources that several in the conservative Adventist camp who are supporters of Wilson II and his allies in the ATS are now spreading the word that Wilson II really believes that the earth itself is billions of years old! He apparently was not aware of the difference between Young Earth Creationism (YEC) and Young Life Creationism (YLC).

If these reports are correct, then it would seem that it would be very helpful for the ordinary Adventist to be directly informed about what the GC president actually believes on this issue. Is the earth billions of years old? Or like Ellen White, does he believe that both the creation of the world and life upon it occurred about 6,000 years ago?
Another article in the Adventist Review by him could clear this confusion up. One would think that his supporters would want him to explain his views. Or perhaps not.