Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Collegedale church controversy actually is good for us

There is an interesting story unfolding at Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church on the campus of Southern Adventist University reported on Spectrum Magazine online. Not really the part about  a pastor fainting but about the controversy between Dr. Tim Jennings and his Sabbath School Class and the Pastor’s sermon to refute a rather trivial part of Jennings teachings. Jennings has a website and Pastor Nixon has his sermon posted as audio and in written form.
Just so you know I don’t agree with either of them. Jennings misuses Ellen White and is logically flawed and Nixon is stuck in the Penal theory of atonement and the idea that punishment has to be meted out. I don’t believe an end time judgment of God is about punishment but about giving people what they want, to be with God as their savior and friend or to reject God. God being the source of life to reject God is to reject life and God ceases to sustain their lives. I would also like to thank Pastor Nixon for posting his written sermon if only more Pastors would do that we would all be better off as we could go to what they actually said rather then trying to remember a sermon, but then I covered that subject on a previous blog.

Nixon began his "Wrath of the Lamb" sermon by stating,
"There is a conflict of doctrinal teaching going on in our church, and it has become contentious. Some among us, under the guise of 'unique truth,' are promoting error concerning the character of God and the teaching is very subtle."

Nixon went on to say that he would rather discuss a less controversial topic, but said that "the stakes are too high. One misconception about who God really is leads us down a path fraught with danger, and I cannot stand silently by."
Nixon staked out what he called "the biblical teaching on this topic."
The controversial subject at hand is whether God's wrath includes "active" punishment of sin (i.e. God destroys the wicked) or "passive" punishment of sin (i.e. God withdraws protection, allowing the unrepentant to reap the natural consequences of sin). For Nixon, divine justice demands that God destroy the wicked for the sake of the weak and vulnerable.
Dr. Timothy Jennings, a psychiatrist and creator of, sees things differently. His website advances the idea that if it is unremedied, sin, not God ultimately destroys human beings.
Jennings teaches a popular Sabbath School class that was recently moved from the Collegedale Church to Ackerman Auditorium on Southern's campus across the street. Jennings also authored two books: The Healing of the Mind, and Could it Be This Simple?
Debating God's Character
Without naming Jennings, Nixon in his sermon categorically and emphatically rejected any teaching that does not make room for God's active punishment of evil. Scripture reveals God as the God of mercy and justice, the God of life and death, the God of giving and of taking away, Nixon said.

What seems to be unfolding is that the two sides are attempting to define the character of God not by what He has done or even is doing now but by what each side expects God to do in the future. That would seem to be a fools errand being either way it is tied upon how one interprets a rather symbolic portion of the Bible. It calls for predictions based upon our interpretation and then those predictions dictate to us what the character of God is. Which to put it mildly is a pretty backwards method of doing anything. In this case the ultimate argument is does God kill the wicked actively by what God does or does God kill the wicked passively because they can’t live in the presence of God. If your like me you say big deal the result is the same and neither one says anything about the Character of God.
The real story to me is the controversy between the two. Where a Pastor gives a sermon to deal with what he thinks is a wrong view being taught in their church. I almost said his church but Pastors are not and should not be in charge of churches they are the member’s churches and Pastors should not be the ones to tell everyone what to believe or not believe. The Pastor should give his sermon on the topic and present his best case and then he should open up the same pulpit to his opponent and he should be able to give his best case. In fact I would then like to see at least a third presentation moderated by a neutral party who could open up the subject to questions from the church membership.
Controversies are not bad they are opportunities to dig deeper then people normally would. We have to get away from this idea that there is someone in the church who is there to decide for us what is orthodox and heterodox and act as the gate keeper who stops anything he does not accept from being heard in his church. (I use the pronoun he because it is still predominately a male pastor thing in the SDA church).
I like this example because it is really such a trivial issue but it has overtones which are important to consider. Which is pretty much true of any theological controversy yet in this case it is not something that would split a church…at least not this portion of the topic. But this controversy would be a perfect reason to try a new method of relaying information in the church. Most Christians are too afraid to try anything new or different and thus we end up with irrelevant sermons which try to be as bland and boring and generally worthless as possible as the Pastor seeks to work by dealing with the lowest common denominator.
We as the Adventist church need to get past the idea that there are not other possibilities besides what we have traditionally believed. But our Pastors work as gate keepers to keep new ideas away from the members of the church. They work to keep the church static and wonder why their churches and their denomination do not grow.
So let the Pastor have his say and Jennings have his say and maybe a few other views on the subject and then some congregation involvement. What is the worst that can happen some people will think for themselves and some will object to their traditional ideas being questioned and some will find church service interesting for a change. If we as a denomination can’t compete inside the denomination’s own marketplace of ideas how can we ever deal with the larger marketplace of ideas outside our churches…you know the places we are supposed to go with the good news.


Ted McMillan said...

The problem is that God did not make His church into a "market place of ideas." When even the Saduccees came to Jesus with that hard riddle of a woman who became a widow and then married again and again, being widowed again and again and then they asked Him in heaven, which of her former husbands that died would have her, what did Jesus say? (Matthew 22:23-30) Did He encourage different ideas? or did He tell them that He gave us the scriptues and offered us His power to be able to solve even these hard controversies and that His Church was not put on earth to debate?

You talk about how the Investigative Judgment "doctrine" is not biblical. You have said the same about most all of our major truths. Every time I've seen your comments along these lines I couldn't find the almighty declarations, "IN MY OPINION," present. You appear to be very forgetful.

Still, on my website I present the fact that Adventism received her truths from the Scriptures and defends them well especially in her Revelation Seminars. The Lord took the time to condescend and give His Remnant people last day revelations through the unsealing of the prophetic book of Daniel, and the giving of the book of Revelation to John the Revelator for us. Our Revelation seminars show our respect for this condescension and for the wisdom of the Lord in deciding that WE NEED THESE EXTRA REVELATIONS for the events of the future. That's why we accept, teach and preach these things and then came out with the Investigative Judgment, the Sabbath, the Mark of the Beast, the Spirit of Prophecy and all our other TRUTHS.

If you can be so blunt as to tell us that the TRUTHS the Lord gave us are not biblical, then you can show us your better interpretation of those now unsealed scriptures and show what they actually mean. We find that you "Progressive Adventists" not only don't have Revelation Seminars, but you don't put interest in the special last day revelations at all. Worse than this, you are here to make sure no one else does. We have already proven from the last Chapter of the book of Revelation that ANYONE who claims to be a child of God and REFUSES to respect and expound upon the special messages of God for the last days, are lost.

Why you would purpose in your heart to do something like that and not think to show Adventists your true interpretation through your own study and Revelation Seminars is not so hard to ascertain.

There is no escaping the fact that all who call the name of the Lord and REFUSE to participate in the proclamation of the special last day messages, and worse, who yet work day and night to make sure no one else puts attention to them is lost. If you are truly a bible-based Christian, you would see the warning and stop right there.

Other than that, your ideas are all OLD--much older than the ideas of true Adventists you attack all the time. Adventists came out of churches that already believed your positions.

1. They already disbelieved the Investigative Judgment truth.

2. They always disbelieved the idea that Sunday Worship is false worship and is or ever will be the Mark of the Beast.

3. They already disbelieved the idea that Ellen White was a true prophet sent to Christ's people.

4. They already disbelieved that the Adventist people are the Remnant.

All your ideas are rather ancient--so much so, it begs to wonder why you would want to hang around the Adventist Church and not around all the other Christians who have your ideas and whom you claim are rather superior. How can you nor anyone else figure out that you are here to fight? Most of the world is dominated by your ecumenical beliefs. Are you here because you want different ideas to flourish? Or do you know your ecumenical ideas dominate most everywhere, but can't stand those little nooks and crannies where they do not dominate?

Anonymous said...

Can't we all just get along :(

Anonymous said...

I wish we all could get along too. We are having a struggle at our church at the moment. One of the elders connects well with Jennings, and started to teach and preach at church with hope that all would accept this "new" view point. He gave a sermon that stated at one point that our 28 Fundamental Beliefs are connected to Baal worship. It was really the spirit he had more than anything that bothered those who actually grasped what was taking place. He really believes that we as Adventist have a Satanic view point on who God really is. Simply watch Come and Reason's Sabbath School lesson 4th Quarter and 4 lesson. I can't remember the teacher's name at the moment...Alkins??? but he was standing in for Jennings. Check it really says it all in my opinion.

Now having said that, do I believe it to be good to be challanged. Yes! Do I believe that the church and church leaders have a duty to "manage" how things are being challanged? Yes again.

I believe Jennings teachings to cause dis-unity...I am seeing it first hand. And you know what...if this "new" view point is actually of God, it will stand. I just think it odd that Jennings crew seems to just attack our Sabbath School is used as a spring board to deconstruct...not build up.

God is good. He uses all things for good. I know He is in all of this. I just see the fruits of this "new" view point growing...doesn't taste good...isn't healing to our church.


Monica Tschickardt said...

We cannot be married to any church. We marry Christ and bring people to Christ. Many things do need to be questioned in the Adventist church. I grew up SDA and had questions that were never answered until I stepped away and into the scriptures only with the Holy Spirit. It is a good idea to get away from everyone with their opinions and "I believe".....what does the Scripture say? We need to go back to 1888 and learn from that history. The leaders led the church down a wrong and dangerous path. They left the Word of God (Jesus in John 1) behind. The light that was needed to interpret the bread....example in the Tabernacle. There is so much that SDA's do not understand because pride is standing in the way.