Controversy Erupts After Christian School Affirms Commitment to Literal Creation Account

Bryan College 2DAYTON, Tenn. – Were Adam and Eve historical people, specially created by God? This simple question has created a significant rift in a small Christian college in eastern Tennessee.

Bryan College is an evangelical Christian school in Dayton, Tennessee, with a total enrollment of approximately 1,400 students. According to Bryan College’s website, the school exists “to cultivate in our students a deepening love for God and His Truth.”

As a Christian school, all faculty and staff members must subscribe to Brian College’s 8-point Statement of Belief, which lays out the college’s theological stance and scriptural interpretation. Included in the 80-year-old Statement of Belief is a reference to the creation of man:

“[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; that he sinned and thereby incurred physical and spiritual death,” the statement says.

In order to remove any ambiguity with Brian College’s position on the creation of man, the school’s Board of Trustees issued a statement late last month, clarifying the Statement of Belief.

“We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve,” the Board explained. “They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.”

According to the statement from the Board of Trustees, this clarification is in keeping with the school’s “strong Creationist position.” At the same time, the Board emphasized their commitment to open discussion about the topic and invited feedback from the Bryan College community.

  • Connect with Christian News

“Our goal,” Board Chairman John Haynes said in the statement, “is to ensure that the College stays true to its purpose and on course with the Statement of Belief that is the basis of and directs all of us who are charged with fulfilling Bryan’s mission of educating students to become servants of Christ to make a difference in today’s world.”

However, following the Statement of Belief clarification, many students and faculty—including the Student Government Association—decried the literal Creationist interpretation of the biblical creation account.

“We believe that the current motion will alienate faculty, our brothers and sisters in Christ, by requiring them to affirm a negative on an ancillary matter of faith,” a petition filed by the Student Government Association states. “We believe that the expertise and opinions of faculty have been largely if not entirely disregarded in the making of this decision.”

The students argued that the literal Creationist position would discourage potential faculty and students from attending Bryan College in the future, saying the measure “sets a precedent of fear and distrust in our community.”

Mark Trail, a member of the Board of Trustees, announced his resignation following the Statement of Belief decision. Trail said he was “unable to ascribe to the recent interpretation, and as a result I had to resign.”

“So what do I believe? I do believe that God created the heavens and the earth, and all those that dwell here, including mankind,” Trail explained in a letter published on the school’s student website. “The problem for me comes when we start to say exactly how God did it, or didn’t do it for that matter. We don’t really know, and it is reasonable to believe that He didn’t tell us everything.”

“It deeply saddens me to think that the rush to clarify the statement of faith offered by the Board could have an adverse effect on our dedicated staff’s continued employment,” Trail added.

David Tromanhauser, former alumni director for Bryan College, suggested the Board’s position will “cut off the conversation.”

“Then it’s not an academic pursuit,” Tromanhauser claimed, according to a report from the Times Free Press. “It’s indoctrination. There are schools that do that. But they’re not involved much in intellectual pursuit.”

Meanwhile, other Christian leaders argued that Bryan College’s stand on the literal interpretation of the biblical creation account is laudable. Ken Ham, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis, stressed that the existence of Adam and Eve is foundational to the rest of the Scriptures.

“Obviously, if you don’t believe in a literal Adam and a literal Fall, then the whole foundation of the gospel is gone, as there would be no original sin,” Ham wrote in a recent blog post. “Also, if there were no literal Adam, then why are all people sinners? Where did sin come from, and what does it mean when the Bible states, ‘Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned’ (Romans 5:12)?”

Dr. Stephen Livesay, president of Bryan College, told Christian News Network in an email that the historicity of Adam and Eve is important for two reasons.

“First, if Adam and Eve were not historical people, then the credibility of all scripture is at stake,” Dr. Livesay said. “When the Genesis account of humanity’s first parents is reduced to myth or allegory, how can any portion of the Bible be understood as true in word and meaning?”

“Second,” he continued, “Adam and Eve are foundational to understanding original sin and the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. The need for a second Adam (Jesus Christ) is pointless if our first parents did not sin. Sin affected both the physical world as well as all humanity and required God’s Son’s death and resurrection for sin’s payment and our victory.”

Though Dr. Livesay reaffirmed Bryan College’s commitment to open discussion, he said the authority of the Bible is paramount.

“As part of their college curriculum, students should be well-versed in the various theories of origins through rigorous discussion and debate,” he stated. “For believers to end the discussion as open ended, however, undermines the authority of Scripture. The merits of any theory must be judged by a literal interpretation of creation as recorded in Genesis.”

Bryan College’s Board of Trustees plans to soon publish a “position paper” which will further outline the school’s position on the origin of man. The Board will collect feedback on the matter until this Friday, March 28.

Photo: Facebook


A special message from the publisher...

Dear Reader, our hearts are deeply grieved by the ongoing devastation in Iraq, and through this we have been compelled to take a stand at the gates of hell against the enemy who came to kill and destroy. Bibles for Iraq is a project to put Arabic and Kurdish audio Bibles into the hands of Iraqi and Syrian refugees—many of whom are illiterate and who have never heard the gospel.Will you stand with us and make a donation today to this important effort? Please click here to send a Bible to a refugee >>

Print Friendly
  • Scot Hayter

    Glad to see they took a proper stand on literal Biblical inerrancy!

  • Denise

    I would like to have a clarification from Edward as to where in scripture Jesus even mentions Adam or Eve?

    • Matt

      Denise, why does it matter whether or not Jesus mentioned Adam and Eve? He never mentioned the internet but that doesn’t make it irrelevant or non-existent. lol. There are a great many things he didn’t mention…but that doesn’t suggest ANYTHING one way or another, only that He didn’t mention them.

  • Terri

    response to Denise. There would not need to be a mention of Adam and Eve by Jesus. Jesus came to die for our sins and if you read Genesis the sin was caused by Adam and Eve. If no Adam and Eve there is no reason for anyone to die on the cross for our sins.

  • Slavik

    Paul mentioned Adam and Eve in Romans.

  • Aleth

    It is written : “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
    And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”. This passage is a clear reference to the creation and the marriage of Adam and Eve. It cannot be anything else. God’s people needs to read the Bible !

  • Rocky

    This whole issue at Bryan College started when Dr. Bill Brown was President. He was a wishy-washy “evangelical” who when caught participating in non-Christian behavior soon felt “the leading of the Lord to leave.” Unfortunately, he then polluted Cedarville University and started it on a slippery slope to liberalism or at least neo-orthodoxy and not biblical orthodoxy. Now, he too, felt led to leave there. Fortunately, the Southern Baptist who was appointed as Cedarville’s new President is really doing a great job of returning Cedarville to biblical inerrancy and Truth. That God that Bryan College is doing the same, but we have Brown to blame there and at Cedarville.

  • Rocky

    My last sentence should have read “Thank God that…” I apologize for the typo.

  • Vicki thomas

    Check out Luke 3:23-37 the genealogy record of Joseph goes back to Adam! All these names represent specific people. There should be no doubt as to where Adam, a specific man, came from. It says “the son of God” as in created by God. I am thankful that Bryan College is teaching the credibility of scripture!

  • Angela W

    I thank my God for a Christian College who is upholding the Word and the undeniable concept of Creation! The denomination I am in has some big-church pastors who want to change some parts of the statement of beliefs because it might make people uncomfortable. In this end times, there will be coming many more attempts to remove this or that. It surprises me that atheists have not gone to court over the parts of the Bible that “offend” them such as homosexuality and abortion. I’m aware that these are not the points in debate here, just saying.

    I went to a certain Catholic college where the religion instructor was a “priest” who used God’s name in vain every other sentence and did NOT belief in the Virgin Birth! Then, like Edwards, GET OUT!

    (Note: I am NOT putting down Catholics or the college…just the priest who was obviously in the wrong place, but I’m sure he had tenure)

  • Erin Carol Ponzo

    Christ is God and God is truth, he is the actual Living Word. The word itself says that many will deny him. To deny any part of the Word is to deny him. To say that the word may partially be false is the same as calling God a liar. That is an impossibility. Men may have distorted some of the literal meaning of scriptural text over the years and have made it unclear as to the true meaning in English, however its highly unlikely the distinct and blunt words of Genesis have been misinterpreted. They are very clear.