Dear Brother Recorder

The attached Reaffirmation Statement Concerning Creation and the Fall of Man stems from IEAC meetings held in November 2014 and March 2015 to discuss theistic Evolution and whether any statement should be drafted against that teaching.

The March 2015 meeting agreed that a statement should be prepared, and that the statement would (i) be a reaffirmation of our belief in creation and its relationship to the atonement, (ii) be produced for the benefit of our members, and (iii) not be a new or additional basis of fellowship together.

A Working Group was formed comprising one delegate each from eleven Adelaide ecclesias. Further to a number of meetings and periods for ecclesial review and feedback, the attached Statement has been agreed. On your behalf I thank the Working Group for their efforts in preparing this Statement.

the Working Group agreed that it would be beneficial to include the following quote from the late Brother LG Sargent (a past editor of the Christadelphian Magazine) as an introduction to the Statement:

“An evolutionary view does not fit in with essential elements of the Faith; where it is adopted there must sooner or later be changes in the Biblical conceptions of the Fall and Atonement, in the nature of revelation, in the literal fact of resurrection, and in the character of the Kingdom of God. Of this there is abundant ex­ample in the teaching of the churches around us where an evolutionary philosophy has come to be accepted. If adopted among us I am convinced that it would in time pervade the whole of our belief and change it as the doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul changed the belief of the early church.

There are a great many things we do not know, and doubtless will never know fully until we can look on them with immortal eyes. Our best help to our young people is to show them the fallibility of scientists compared with the certainties of the Word of God and the limitations of the scientific method, particularly in dealing with the origins which cannot be repeatable. It is the Word which is sure, and the investigations of men which are uncertain.” Bro LG Sargent, Editor, The Christadelphian, August 1965

Background

The opening chapters of the Bible describe the creation of the heavens and the earth. These chapters are infused with the majesty, holiness and truthfulness of God. Here we discover the origins of life seen all about us today, followed by Adam’s transgression and the consequences of sin. We accept the creation record as literal in its details.

The teaching of Theistic Evolution, or Evolu­tionary Creationism as it is sometimes called, undermines this understanding. Theistic Evolution embraces the idea that life began under the direction of God perhaps billions of years ago and was brought to its current state by God through a process of evolutionary biological transitions. As such it has serious implications that challenge our understanding of Scripture as defined in the Statement of Faith.

In response to this challenge, the undersigned ecclesias have formulated the following statement to reaffirm what we believe the Scriptures teach.

Reaffirmation

We reaffirm our belief in the first principles of the One Faith revealed in the Scriptures as defined in the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith (BASF), with positive and negative clauses and the Commandments of Christ, and as understood in conjunction with the Cooper-Carter Addendum and the Fellowship Clauses contained in pages 13­ 15 of the Australian Unity Booklet.

In making this reaffirmation we observe that a number of statements in the BASF and the Cooper-Carter Addendum directly relate to the creation of man, the origin of sin and death, and the nature of man before and after transgression.The

BASF Foundation Clause states that the Scriptures are ‘the only source of knowledge con­cerning God and His purposes at present extant or available in the earth’. While some branches of science yield information that allows us to appreciate the eternal power and wisdom of God, the teaching of the Scriptures takes precedence over human explanations relating to the origin of life in the current creation. ‘The law and the testimony’ remain our ultimate source of truth (Isaiah 8:20).

BASF Clause 1 states that God ‘created heaven  and earth and all that in them is’. There is no hint or suggestion in the Scriptures of a gradual evolution­ary process by which God brought life to the planet. In contrast the Scriptures consistently speak of a miraculous creation of complex and complete life forms – ‘God said … and it was so’ (Genesis 1:3, 11, 12, 15, 21-23, 24, 26, 27, 30; 2:1-3; Psalm 33:6-9).

BASF Clauses 3 and 4 both state that Adam was ‘the first man’, with Clause 4 adding ‘whom  God created’. The reference to Adam being the ‘first man’ precludes the view that there were other humans or similar beings existing at the time of his creation (see also Genesis 2:5; 2:18; 3:20; Acts 17:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:45, 47). This understanding is consistent with the teaching of Christ and the apostles, all of whom upheld the literal interpretation of the creation record (Mark 10:6-7; 1 Corinthians 11:7-9; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13-14; 2 Peter 3:5).

BASF Clause 4 states that Adam was created ‘“very good” in kind and condition’. This phrase is used to mean that Adam was not created with a nature flawed by the imperfections that we experience (Romans 7:23; 8:2).

BASF Clause 5 in conjunction with the Cooper-Carter Addendum teaches that the sentence passed upon Adam due to his disobedience ‘became a physical law of his being’ so that ‘he fell from his very good state’. Adam’s transgression brought about both a sentence of death (resulting in a change in the condition of his nature to become a dying creature) and a proneness to sin.

The Addendum states ‘As his descendants, we partake of that mortality that came by sin and inherit a nature prone to sin’. This statement signifies that the whole human race is physically descended from Adam. This mortality and the proneness to sin came to the human race because of Adam’s sin (Genesis 2:17; 3:19; 5:3).

Paul also teaches”

  • ‘For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive’ (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)
  • ‘For the wages of sin in death; but the gift of God eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 6:23)
  • ‘Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned’ (Roman 5:12).

Capture

As a demonstration of inter-ecclesial support on this matter, many ecclesia have advised their willing-ness to add their name to the document – these are listed above.

Christadelphian Inter-Ecclesial Advisory Committee (Adelaide)

c/o Tony Lines, 35 Braemar Road, Torrens Park, SA 5062 20 January 2016