Well, to be honest I expected a lot more response (and was braced for a lot more negative response, but also hoping for some enlightenment from the wise and learned) to the blog on Creation last week, but in addition to the two people were kind enough to leave comments I did get, as promised, one excellent video response. You can view Ed Dickerson’s video response to me here, and tomorrow I’ll be posting a “Sunday Supplement” in which I reply to him.
Because we’ve got that tangential dialogue going now about Creation vs evolution (and I’m eager for other people to jump in with comments and insights — don’t feel you need to make a video, just comment!) I’m going to leave aside the Creationist element of today’s topic, Seventh-day Adventist fundamental belief #7: The Nature of Man, and concentrate on some other aspects. The text of the belief states:
Man and woman were made in the image of God with individuality, the power and freedom to think and to do. Though created free beings, each is an indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit, dependent upon God for life and breath and all else. When our first parents disobeyed God, they denied their dependence upon Him and fell from their high position under God. The image of God in them was marred and they became subject to death. Their descendants share this fallen nature and its consequences. They are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil. But God in Christ reconciled the world to Himself and by His Spirit restores in penitent mortals the image of their Maker. Created for the glory of God, they are called to love Him and one another, and to care for their environment.
As my title for today’s video and blog post suggests, I’m more comfortable with the term “nature of humanity” than “nature of man,” but otherwise, this statement of belief is one of the things I really like about the Seventh-day Adventist church. I like that it affirms the indivisible unity of body, mind and spirit — no disembodied soul living on after us. This has huge implications, as we’ll see later, for our beliefs about what happens after death — but it also has huge implications for how we live here and now, since it implies that our bodies and what we do with them matter.
I also like the fact that (as is further explored in the chapter accompanying this statement in Seventh-day Adventists Believe), while Adventists do believe in the Fall and in the fact that we have a sinful nature with “weaknesses and tendencies to evil,” we don’t share either the Original Sin doctrine of our Catholic friends or the “total depravity” doctrine of our Calvinist friends. Human nature, in the Adventist view, is a mixed bag — weakened by sin and fatally prone to selfishness, but also still reflecting the image of God. In other words, a mixed bag — just as we all recognize it to be when we look at each other and at ourselves.
Finally, I like that humanity’s role in being given “dominion” over the earth is clearly interpreted here as stewardship and care for the environment — the perfect theological framework for a commitment to Christian environmentalism that most areas of Adventism have not developed nearly as fully as we could or should.