Members of the Board of Trustees
President Stephen Livesay
Dear Bryan colleagues,
I love Bryan College and my Bryan friends so I frequently peruse the Bryan website. On Wednesday morning, March 5, I clicked the chapel icon on my computer to read News & Highlights. Immediately the words Board clarifies ‘Statement of Belief’ popped out at me from the screen. Whoa!! ?? I phoned Corinne before lunch to learn more about the “clarification” so I would be able to intelligently respond with “welcome participation from members of the Bryan community.” Following the phone call I was surprised and saddened to learn that I had stumbled upon a situation that was being played out on a national media stage. After reading numerous articles, letters, blogs, etc., I am ready to respond. I will summarize three pertinent concerns that I consider to be of utmost significance.
1. The Interpretation: The trustee’s formal interpretation of the creation portion of the Statement of Belief adopted February 14, 2014 states: “We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.”
I believe the “clarification” is conflated and I wouldn’t recommend that it be formal and/or mandatory! Why? Here’s one marginally simplistic example. Genesis 1:27 (male and female) must be considered along with Genesis 2:21-22 (woman from man’s rib). Is it possible that the position, i.e., recent formal interpretation, we’re trying to achieve is unachievable according to Divine writ? Problems loom…. Are we missing the obvious? Will we be able to articulate the profound? “We see through a glass, darkly.”
2. The Statement: The founders knew what they were doing when they wrote Statement of Belief #4: “We believe that the origin of man was by fiat of God in the act of creation as related in the Book of Genesis; that he was created in the image of God; and that he sinned and thereby incurred physical and spiritual death.”
I believe this historic statement has stood the test of time and the “clarification” is ill-advised and unnecessary. What is the screaming urgency? As I understand, when setting sights on a target the classical sequence is “Ready! Aim! Fire!” not “Ready! Fire! Aim!” Follow-up Steering Committee? “Too little? Too late?” Aha! Good! We now approach a “propportunity” (problem=opportunity).
Karl Keefer’s closing paragraph in The Parameters of Creationism reinforces our sound Biblical base:
“Bryan College stands unequivocally on the Bible as the inerrant, inspired Word of God and for a creationist view of the origin of the universe, the earth, and mankind. We do not insist on a particular view of creationism, while at the same time respecting and appreciating those of our sister institutions which do. We encourage our faculty and students to recognize the possibility of differences of viewpoint in the specific areas to which I have referred, as well as others, and to preserve kind and charitable feelings toward those with whom we may differ in these areas. We try to put into practice the maxim: In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
Let’s say that again! “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
3. The Truth: Here is a quote from the article on the Bryan website. (http://www.bryan.edu/origins.html)
Board clarifies ‘Statement of Belief’
February 23, 2014
Because of questions arising about Bryan College’s position on origins (Statement of Belief #4), “that the origin of man was by fiat of God in the act of creation as related in the Book of Genesis; that he was created in the image of God…,” the Board of Trustees provides this clarification of the College’s origins position:
“We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.”
This interpretation of Bryan’s position is in no way a change to the Statement of Belief. It is the current and historical position of Bryan, an institution founded and existing on a strong Creationist position.
If this interpretation “is in no way a change to the Statement of Belief,” then it is superfluous and every “trustee, faculty member, administrator or staff member” need not be required to sign it or leave. Bryan is “a school that would teach truth.” Friends, this “in no way a change…” claim doesn’t ring true! I think I detect a credibility problem at this point. The sequence of events is quite transparent. Should we focus on damage control within our Bryan community? Please consider a midcourse turn-around.
Lois Groeneveld Zartman, ’64 (Golden Grad)