Board of faith and life statement on creation

In March 2010, the MB Herald printed an article titled “Is there a Christian view of Darwin?” The title and content caused concern to several individuals and churches in our denomination. The board of faith and life (BFL) became engaged in discussions around what we believe about creation.

The most formal discussion was held with Hillside MB Church, Beechy, Sask., and involved several stimulating and fruitful meetings with Hillside’s board and BFL representatives. During the course of that conversation, the BFL reaffirmed our commitment to the biblical work of God in creation. Though we are aware that many in our midst are grappling with what the mechanisms involved in cosmic and human origins might be, we continue to affirm the truth that God is the sovereign creator of all that is, and we allow for diversity regarding acceptance of scientific principles, such as biological evolution, insofar as they do not deny God’s role as outlined in Scripture.

In response, and to the church’s satisfaction, the BFL drafted a formal response to the article on Darwinist evolution.

In view of the fact that the Beechy board was not the only voice that expressed concern about the article, and in view of the fact that the article was printed in our public press, the MB Herald, the BFL has decided to print the response in the MB Herald as well.

The board of faith and life issued the following statement at Gathering 2012 in Winnipeg:

The board of faith and life rejects ideologies which propose evolutionary forces as acting outside of, or instead of, the creative work of the God of Scripture. God is the author and creator of all forces at work within creation. God created Adam and Eve in his image. Human beings are the deliberate creation of God. The board of faith and life disagrees fundamentally with atheistic evolution. Darwinism, or any other system under another name, that proposes life originated and grew by chance instead of by design, is simply not compatible with Scripture.

—The board of faith and life of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches

 

See also “Credentialing: the BFL’s favourite task“.

15 Comments on “Board of faith and life statement on creation

  1. Lately my small group has been discussing the various interpretations around the “24 hour” – days of creation. Is this part of this and is it an essential tangent?

    • Hi Rudy! I don’t think talk about the days of creation is a tangent, but it can become one if we focus on the length of the days in a way that gets in the way of drawing our attention to the work of God in creation. The creation account is primarily about what God intended to do in creation (and how humans messed it up) rather than about the mechanics of cosmic, earthly, or human origins. A narrow focus on ‘days’ may also perpetuate a disconnected perspective that inclines us to see the biblical account of creation at odds with the geological record and other scientific data from which we derive conclusions about the age and origins of the earth. Presumptions of conflict between science and theology are based on human error (or worse!); what God reveals in nature is in complete harmony with what God reveals in Scripture. Forgetting that essential truth causes innumerable problems.

  2. Rudy, I agree with you. In my church context the “24 hour” day is an essential tangent.
    Personally one of the reasons why I joined the MB Conference almost 15 years ago was I could have a dialog about the age of the earth and not get smashed by young or old earth creationists.

    So lets please let the dialog begin without setting up straw men and name calling. Lets listen to each other with a sense of humility and brotherly love.

    I personally lean towards an old earth due to the vastness of space. On a clear moonless night I can see with my 4.5 ” telescope a number of distant (but part of our “close” cosmic neighborhood).
    The closest one is the Andromeda Galaxy which is 2.2 million light years away. That means the light I see came off of that group of 500 Billion Stars 2.2 million years ago before that light now hits my eye.
    The AMAZING Whirlpool Galaxy is 23 million light years away.

    • Hey there MennoKnight. Nice name! My real name is Lyndon Unger and I’m from Abbotsford (i.e. the other “Mennoknight”). Do we know each other?

  3. It could take us a couple of light years to exhaust this topic so I’m adding another tangent. Lately I’ve been amazed by the OASIS tv channel that shows the expanse of the visible cosmic vistas to the extent that I wonder about life of a human sort on these “outer” galaxies. In other words, we must not be tempted to limit our Creator to only inhabiting this Earth with humans for His creative enjoyment.

    • Can we still address the first tangent Rudy?

      I don’t understand why you think the meaning of “day”, (or any other word in scripture) would be tangential. Could you please explain where you’re coming from?

      As for the second tangent, why would we be “tempted” to limit God to doing what he says he has done? How is that a temptation? It seems like the “temptation” would be to go beyond what is revealed, not to stick to it.

      • I think the larger issue here is that we want to focus on the what and why questions of creation rather than on the how question. We do not concern ourselves with the biological and chemical mechanisms behind the feeding of the five thousand, the turning of water to wine at Cana, or the burning bush as seen by Moses. While it may be interesting to speculate about such things, that sort of speculation does not principally draw us closer to the sovereign God who works miracles.

        Similarly, a focus on the “days” of creation is potentially an interesting inquiry, but Scripture itself does not provide us with answers to questions regarding the length of the “day” mentioned in Genesis, and so I am inclined to wonder about how fruitful it is to speculate about such matters. We can learn much from other types of inquiry about the intricacy and complexity of life, and the magnitude of space — and we should — but these inquiries may or may not enhance our appreciation for the God of creation. It is only in the context of faith in the risen Christ that our inquiries find their fulfillment. Faith perfects knowledge, but knowledge does not create faith.

        • Brian, it’s interesting how you assume a natural explanation for supernatural events.

          By their very nature, supernatural events (i.e. miracles) are non-natural events that cannot be explained in terms of any combination of natural processes. The very nature of biblical miracles rules out natural processes right from the start.

          I mean Brian, let’s be serious with one example: the feeding of the 5,000. If we’re talking about ANY sort of underlying “how” that involves ANY sort of physical process whatsoever, what sort of physical process spontaneously either creates matter or re-organizes it from one complex structure (i.e. air) into another (i.e. bread)? What combination of natural processes regularly makes bread appear nicely in baskets?

          Get serious.

          There is no physical process that explains it, and you and I both know it. If you suggest that there might be one that we haven’t yet discovered, you’re exhibiting a faith in the omnipotence of unregenerate men performing empirical science rather than faith in the omnipotent God of the Bible.

          I’d submit that as a good practical definition of “insanity”.

          There was an underlying mechanism, but it wasn’t a physical one. The underlying mechanism was the divine will of Christ.

          This goes for all the miracles, including the days of creation. The Bible tells us jolly well what the “how” was. The scripture is explicit that the mechanism of creation was divine speech. Genesis 1 is filled with the phrase “And God said” followed by matter falling into line under the divine sovereign of the universe. The mechanism of creation was that Jesus Christ spoke. That’s all. That’s maybe not the answer you’re wanting, but that’s the answer that scripture gives us.

          – As for the length of the days, I don’t understand how there’s debate in Genesis 1 and nowhere else, since Genesis 1 spells it out in plain language with both ordinal numbers and the phrase “evening and morning”, kinda like God saw this strange debate coming…

          In Exodus 18:13-14, we have a day with the descriptive phrase “evening and morning”. As far as I’m aware, there is absolutely no debate about the length of the “day” in Exodus 18:13-14. The same goes for Exodus27:21, Leviticus 6:20, Numbers 9:21, Judges 19:9, etc. (everywhere else in the OT where there’s a day with “evening and morning”).

          In Exodus 12:15-18, we have the a day with an ordinal number. As far as I’m aware, there is absolutely no debate about the length of the “day” in Exodus 12:15-18. The same goes for Exodus 40:2, 40:17, Leviticus 23:5, 23:24, 23:35, 23:39-40, Numbers 1:1, 1:18, 7:12, 9:5, 28:16, 28:18, 29:1, 33:3, 33:38, etc. (the examples here number in the triple digits and the pattern is uniform).

          In Deuteronomy 16:4 we have a day with both an ordinal number and the descriptive phrase “evening and morning”. As far as I’m aware, there is absolutely no debate about the length of the “day” in Deuteronomy 16:4.

          In 1 Samuel 17:16, we have a cardinal number with the phrase “evening and morning”. As far as I’m aware, there is absolutely no debate about the length of the “day” in 1 Samuel 16:14.

          The pattern is consistent in scripture throughout the Old Testament and New. When the word “day” appears with the descriptive phrase “evening and morning”, it’s a regular 24-hour solar day. When the word “day” appears with either a ordinal or cardinal number, it’s a regular 24-hour solar day with only a handful of exceptions; the only places in the entire scripture where the meaning of “day” is debated is in a handful of prophetic passages.

          I’m wondering what within the text of scripture drives you to says that “Scripture itself does not provide us with answers to questions regarding the length of the ‘day’ mentioned in Genesis” when the scripture appears to overtly rub our faces in it? Almost every Hebrew scholar I know at least admits that it seems like the author of Genesis was trying to portray the “days” as normal, 24 hours solar days.

          – As for the claim that “these inquiries may or may not enhance our appreciation for the God of creation”, I disagree with my whole heart because you say “It is only in the context of faith in the risen Christ that our inquiries find their fulfillment”, but I would suggest that only in the context of the entire Old Testament (cemented in all its glorious prophetic promises and intricate historic details) does the risen Christ find any meaning whatsoever. If Genesis 1 is a myth, so is the risen Christ…not because of some sort of “slippery slope” but rather because of hermeneutical consistency. Once people start picking and choosing what parts of scripture are historical and reliable (on the basis of the uniform testimony of unregenerate practitioners of biology, chemistry, any other physical science, or any popular view of culture), the chopping block always starts in Genesis but the univocal testimony of history is that it NEVER stops there.

          I submit to you ever liberal denomination in North America as exhibit A.

  4. Let us move on from the ridiculous idea of the 24 hr day. Nothing but conservative, fundamentalist, literalist eisegesis. Thankfully there are few who hold to such nonsense any longer.

    • I’d respond to Richard, but that’s not his real name and not his real comment; his real comment has probably already been screened by the site admin; I’m guessing he informed them to not let me post comments on here anymore and asked them to tell me to shut down my blog.

      I appreciate the discernment of the site admin.

      He’s simply a sad little troll that is having a tantrum (as little trolls do). His other alias’ are Jim Sarco, Jimmy Johnson iii, Phil Jackson iii, and a few others. It’s best to not feed the trolls.

      • I seem to recall someone suggesting that we “let he dialog begin without setting up straw men and name calling.” Hmmm . . .

        • Brian, you’re totally right. I’d like to express my repentance on calling Jim a “sad little troll” and ask for his forgiveness. Regardless of how I’ve been called names, condemned to hell, or whatever, it’s sinful and unloving to reciprocate name calling. Feel free to delete my comment, or edit it, or whatever the admin feels is appropriate.

          I agree that everyone is welcome to dialogue, whether they appear to take it seriously or not. Thanks for the correction.

  5. My understanding of the Biblical account of creation presents Adam as a mature adult of the human species. Capable of reproduction, after his creation. The animals also were created mature, capable of reproducing, birds capable of flight. This is an extremely significant detail with enormous implications.

    For life to be able to exist and sustained on earth, the earth as well as the rest of the material universe would have to have been created, like Adam, in a mature state. As readers of the Biblical creation account, we tend to overlook and not factor this in. Relatively speaking, the earth along with the physical universe, if designed in the same manner as Adam, would have been created in a mature state, billions of years old. There would have been varying degrees of erosion present, rivers, valleys, mountains, detritus and compost to sustain plant and microbial life.

    The celestial bodies were created according to the purposes of G-d, to cast their light upon the earth, their light would have been visible from the earth at the moment of their creation.

    There is no real mystery to these conditions, we are given wisdom to accumulate the knowledge required to grasp that this is the truth, if we but sincerely and humbly study G-d’s word. Adam and Eve, were not created as suckling infants. Upon their creation they were plenipotentiary creatures, designed fully capable of fulfilling G-d’s purpose. Why should we find it so hard to grasp, that everything created before them was similarly designed?

    • Agreed Brad.

      People who make the argument regarding the “apparent age” of the universe tend to ignore that “apparent age” is only “apparent” if you utterly ignore the fact that God tells us, in propositional and inscripturated revelation, that things are NOT as they appear.

      God has revealed the nature of the universe, including how it came to be as it is. He has done that in inspired writing, without error and bearing the full weight of his authority. God has pierced the veil of history to bring mankind supernatural insights into events that mankind was not around to witness…but we somehow think that God’s eyewitness testimony is one of many equally reliable “witnesses”.

      It’s not.

      God was the only eyewitness to the events in question, and due to the nature of those events (supernatural events), a careful examination of all the empirical aftermath is woefully inadequate to cross the gap from “investigator” to “witness”.

      God’s eyewitness testimony is the perfectly reliable but empirically incomprehensible answer to the question of ultimate origins. For some reason, this question is different than all other questions. When it comes to the question of origins, gross confusion regarding the answer all of a sudden means that the answer is ignorant rather than the person asking the question from a fatally-flawed epistemological and ontological foundation.

      • Since 2013, I’ve noticed fewer and fewer believers holding fast to the 24 hr day. This is evidence of excellent scholarly research resulting in an educated laity. Great to see.

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