A common understanding? A strategic retreat.

When someone withdraws from a contest they started it tells you about the strength of their position.  The draft business meeting agenda for the 2018 Australasian Conference included a motion from Salisbury (SA) and Wilston (QLD) supported by Enfield (SA) ecclesia.  They were trying to achieve majority agreement on THE way to read the basis of fellowship and thereby exclude evolution creation.  Despite having the many votes of the Inter Ecclesial Advisory Committee (a group of SA ecclesias), they withdrew the motion at the last minute.  Why?  Because many east coast ecclesias advised SA of their opposition.  Rather than face public defeat, the South Australians withdrew.  Will they now cease insisting their understanding is the only understanding?  that they alone are right?  We can only hope so – a little tolerance of different consciences is after all biblical.

A number of SA ecclesias and The Lampstand Magazine have proclaimed that the only possible understanding of the basis of fellowship excludes evolutionary creation.  This bold claim is undermined by:

  1. Specific clauses in many ecclesial constitutions rejecting evolution (if this was already clear then the clauses are redundant!).
  2. The IEAC group developed a “reaffirmation statement” which had to exposit the BASF and CCA – as if they were scripture – to try and exclude evolutionary creation.  If it was so clear no more would be needed (the reaffirmation statement itself was rightly criticised for denying scriptural and historical reality).
  3. Their instigation of motion 8.  If the common understanding was universal why the need to have it ratified? Worse still, if it was so common and plain why did the motion face such resistance from the east coast and ended up being withdrawn rather than face the embarrassment of public defeat?

While they publicly proclaim one thing their actions (and retreat) speak louder than words.

The original motion has been substituted by a proposed consultation process which the AACE is being asked to facilitate.  This is remarkably similar to the call for calm letter – an appeal for private discussion and consideration of the subject supported by over 150 brethren and sisters over 3 years ago (which resulted in some being barred from attending various SA meetings!).  It remains to be seen whether this motion will pass.  Regardless – the narrow understanding of the BASF and AAC of the IEAC group as a whole (some were perhaps not convinced of the wisdom of motion 8) was clearly sufficiently out of step that a retreat was deemed in order.

The detail of motion 8 – as it was originally proposed is shown below.  Perhaps analysis of its flaws can wait for another day….

Motion 8: Our common understanding of the creation of man and entry of sin and death into the world.

Preamble
The last few years have seen the promotion of teachings concerning God- directed-  evolution (GDE) amongst our community, particularly on the internet. These teachings contradict parts of our Australian Unity Agreement. Your attention is directed particularly to clauses 4 and 5 of the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith and also
to the early sentences of the Cooper-Carter Addendum. Those who promote GDE do not share a common understanding of these documents. The movers of the motion believe it is timely to draw attention to this issue.

Motion
It is moved by Salisbury Ecclesia and seconded by Wilston Ecclesia with the support of Enfield Ecclesia that:
The following is our common understanding of the Australian Unity Agreement and basis of fellowship in relation to the creation of man and entry of sin and death into the world.
8.1. Adam was the first and only human in existence when God created him. There were no other humans on the earth at this time.
8.2. God created Adam with a nature different to the one we now possess. God did not create Adam with a nature prone to sin. After Adam sinned there was a change and he became prone to sin.
8.3. Human death was introduced for the first time, as a consequence of Adam’s sin. Human death had no part in God’s creation, prior to Adam’s sin.
8.4. Sin and death in humans is a consequence of man’s actions not part of God’s creative design.

Out of interest you might wish to consider LG Sargent’s comments on similar moves to more narrowly define the basis of fellowship in response to questions about the literalness of the serpent.

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3 thoughts on “A common understanding? A strategic retreat.

  1. Andrew

    I have no problem with motion 8 or the preamble and am in total agreement with the stated clauses 8.1 through to 8.4.

    What absolute and solid biblical proof is there for any other understanding?

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  2. COD Post author

    Cool. Being comfortable in an understanding of the bible is great. However tolerating others understanding & application is also important (cue Romans 14). “Absolute and solid biblical proofs”. Well there are a lot of them on this site. Perhaps start with the interaction of science and scripture. Understanding your personal hermeneutic is an important precursor to “proofs”. Testing the consistency of your hermeneutic even more so.

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  3. Russell

    Well Andrew, should you not also consider what – (if any) “solid Biblical proof” actually exists for the clauses 8.1 through 8.4? With the emphasis on “solid”, I respectfully suggest you will need to dedicate a significant amount of time to the exercise. On the other hand perhaps you should commence your study with firstly establishing if the clauses actually represent the literacy of the Unity Agreement. For example, 8.1 has additional expressions, 8.2 refers to Adam becoming prone to sin as a consequence of a change in nature whereas the CCA simply says “he suffered the consequences of sin – shame, a defiled conscience and mortality”, 8.3 makes an “assertion human death has no part in God’s creation” – not even a reference in BASF/CCA and in fact was specifically the subject of comment by bro Roberts as “uncertain detail” (1888) and finally, 8.4 is a grandiose generality that flies directly in contradiction to the “solid Biblical proof” of John chpt 1 the redemptive work of our Lord and Saviour was part of the Father’s total design and not a response to an unforeseen circumstance. I respectfully suggest you consider carefully the paucity of Biblical proof to support the statements and then you or anyone else will be in a better position to consider the biblical basis for the actual expressions summarised in the Unity Agreement.

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