New Adventists and Old Creation
by Jack Hoehn
Since completing my series of blogs on Long Term Creationism for Adventists, I have been met by people who tell me they have enjoyed reading the blogs even though they don’t fully agree with me, and others who thank me for writing things they have thought for a long time.
I was particularly interested in an E-mail from Mr. John H. Evans, forwarded to me by Adventist Today. With John’s permission I’d like to share edited portions of our correspondence:
I was delighted to receive your response to my email to the Atoday.com office.
I have been an Adventist for only about 10 months, but studied Adventist Basic Beliefs thoroughly before joining the Adventist Church. I am now a member of the Mosaic Christian Fellowship in Fairview, Texas, and am very pleased with its pastor, James Weingardner, and the friendly people in the church. Previously for many years I was a member of the Southern Baptist Church, but after finally realizing that the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment which the church adheres to is not acceptable, either from a rational or scriptural basis, I joined the Adventist Mosaic Fellowship… I left the Baptist Church and joined the Adventist church to a large extent because the Adventists do not believe in eternal punishment/torment for the unsaved…
From the very beginning though, I had reservations concerning the Adventists beliefs on Creation. I am retired now, and spent much of my career as a Research Economist for Exxon Mobil in their Earth Sciences R and D subsidiary. Also, my college work included many courses in the basic sciences including geology, biology, comparative anatomy, chemistry and physics. So I was really delighted to come across your articles in the Atoday.org website on creation, including the concept of theistic evolution and an old earth chronology. I am in complete agreement with your articles on these subjects, particularly your most recent article “Jack’s Last Words on Old Earth Creationism”.
I would particularly like to know your thoughts on an important aspect of this subject. And that is, what do you feel is the possibility of ever convincing Adventists, particularly the governing conferences, of your thoughts on evolution and an old age earth? Recent trends on the acceptance of the doctrine of soul annihilation gives me hope that conservative denominations might start leaning more in the direction of… an old earth and evolution. Could the Adventists be convinced that both a literal interpretation and a more scientific, theistic evolution explanation are acceptable?
I have just finished reading the scholarly Adventist book entitled “Creation, Catastrophe and Calvary” which strongly supports the conventional position of the Adventist Church. The main argument of this book is that evolution and an old age earth is in conflict with the Christian doctrine of atonement, including the concept that the living and dying of animals prior to Adam’s sin contradicts the doctrine of atonement. This interpretation seems very unreal, unlikely and contrived. It seems clear to me that the atonement applies only to the living and dying of humans, and not sub-humans.
At my advanced age, it might be optimistic that I could have much influence on Adventist theology, but I would be very interested in knowing your thoughts on this matter. It might not be feasible for you to put all your thoughts on this subject in writing, but anything you might have to say would be of interest to me. Would it be appropriate to include such an article on this subject on the Atoday.org website? God bless, John H. Evans
Later Mr. Evans wrote:
I have been reading some more of the Opinion section comments on the creation issue in the Adventist Today, including yours. I was amazed to find how spirited and lengthy the debate on a literal creation is in the magazine. It also is clear that you have spent a lot of time debating this issue in the magazine, and that you have a lot of opposition. I find it very interesting… Actually I don’t think the Baptist and other conservative denominations publish anything comparable. So the Adventist do encourage free discussion of these difficult debatable issues? Very encouraging.
So what would you say to our new Brother in Christ, willing to join an Adventist Church that tells the truth about hell and soul sleep?
How about having the Adventist church tell the truth about the age of the earth and the complexity of creation for the same reasons that convinced Mr. Evans to join Adventists, “on a Rational and Scriptural basis”?
I have suggested to John that he should submit a book review on Creation, Catastrophe, and Calvary.
Please welcome John Evans to our Adventist family, and suggest your answers to his questions below. He assures me he will be reading your comments.