Seventh-day Adventists now have a new, updated version of their fundamental belief on Creation. Following deep discussions on Monday, and after being referred back to the Writing Committee for some rewording, delegates arrived Tuesday morning ready to review the updates. They were not disappointed. What maybe did surprise them was that before the reworded Fundamental Belief #6 was presented to the floor, there were a series of strong preambles from members of the committee that had been reviewing the fundamental belief ever since that last GC Session in 2010.
Angel Rodrigues, Director of the Biblical Research Institute, noted that their intention from the beginning was to avoid ambiguous language. "We are intentionally rejecting evolution, theistic evolution, or rejecting any interpretation along evolutionary lines", he said.
Both Rodrigues and World Church President, Elder Ted Wilson, spoke to the insertion of the word 'recent' in terms of the age of creation. Rodriques stated that it was "not to date the divine act of creation", noting that the church had never officially dated creation. "The intention of this is to argue that the creation itself took place not too long ago."
Pastor Wilson, who made clear his desire to strengthen the wording of the Fundamental Belief soon after his election as President in 2010 spoke to the latest wording: "This particular version is one that I personally very much endorse", he said noting that "it is very much in accordance with the Scripture".
He then spoke specifically to the use of the word 'recent'. "You can make any word say what you want it to say. But in essence we have come to the point where we need to clarify that recent means 'not old'." While reinforcing Rodrigues point on there being not specific stipulated date for creation he then added a side note. "Personally I believe what the Spirit of Prophecy says, around 6,000 years old (but some might not see it that way). What is clear is that it is not long ages."
Discussion from the floor generally followed this lead. Clifford Goldstein, for instance, stated, "This has to be intentional to exclude evolution. We call ourselves Seventh-day Adventists – is it too much to live by our name."
Voted with at least a ninety percent majority the new wording reads:
"God has revealed in Scripture the authentic and historical account of His creative activity. He created the universe, and in a recent, six-day creation, the Lord made "the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them" and rested on the seventh day. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of the work He performed and completed during six literal days that together with the Sabbath constituted the same unit of time that we call a week today. 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," (Gen. 1-2; 5; Ex. 20:8-11; Ps. 19:1-6; 33:6, 9; 104; Isa. 45:12, 18; Acts 17:24; Col 1:16; Heb. 1:2; 11:3; Rev. 106; 14:7.)
Other more minor changes in wording on Fundamental Beliefs included changing 'world-wide' to 'global' in terms of the Genesis flood mentioned in Fundamental Belief #8, and emphasising the 'sola scriptura' principal to highlight the Bible as the 'sole revealer of doctrines' in Fundamental Belief #1.
Many more editorial suggestions were made over the two days, a number of them from a TED delegate Megan Mole who, by profession is an editor. There was some concern from delegates that because these suggestions had not been voted that, though valuable, they might be lost. GC Vice President, Ella Simmons noted that all suggestions made, "even if not voted at this time will still be taken in consideration for the future." On that basis – expect more changes in 2020.