Pastor Passes Out While Preaching - Twice

The Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church on the campus of Southern Adventist University announced on its website that senior pastor John Nixon fainted on two separate occasions. The announcement stated that Nixon passed out on April 24 and again on May 22 while preaching a sermon entitled "The Wrath of the Lamb." After Spectrum contacted church administrator Wolf Jedamski asking for clarification, the website's announcement was amended, stating only that Nixon was unable to finish his sermon on May 22. The announcement now says that, "Pastor Nixon was unable to complete his sermon 'The Wrath of the Lamb' Sabbath, May 22. He was attended to by medical personnel and released that day." The announcement also added an affirmation after the fact: "In light of recent events, we, the pastors and elders of the Collegedale Church, express our strong support for Pastor John Nixon and our gratitude for his Christ-centered, biblical preaching, theological leadership and spiritual commitment. John, we are committed to uphold you as our spiritual leader and we will continue to uphold you in our prayers." Citing HIPAA regulations, Jedamski declined to comment on Nixon's diagnosis, stating only that he was attended to by medical personnel on May 22, and subsequently released. Jedamski did not clarify whether or not Nixon was hospitalized on April 24th. Nixon did not respond to requests for comment. Sermon Addresses Doctrinal Controversy 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. God is compassionate and gracious, forgiving rebellion and sin. God's love is unearned and extravagant. However, Nixon said, God is also the God of justice and judgment. God's character is only complete in light of rejection and destruction of those who refuse divine mercy, he insisted. God does not leave the guilty unpunished. For Nixon, interpretations that contradict this punitive view of God "explain away the portion we do not like," or "pretend the Bible does not mean what it says." We must "face the uncomfortable truth with humility." On April 24th, Nixon was preaching the sermon for the second time (Collegedale has three services) when he fainted. Undeterred, he decided to preach the sermon again nearly a month later. Again, he fainted before completing the sermon. Noting a "volatile and fluid" situation, Jennings did not want to go on record except to say, "my position is well documented on my website and I cannot speak to the position Nixon holds other to say he has made it clear he does not support my position." In a blog post entitled "Two Pictures of God," Jennings responded to the sermon and urged caution in reading too much into Nixon's fainting. In the article dated April 28 (four days after Nixon's first fainting spell), Jennings quoted his eleven-year-old nephew and fourteen-year-old niece who both reported feeling scared by the God Nixon preached about. Jennings offered a quotation from Ellen White that cautioned against terrifying children with the wrath of God. He then asked how to tell which portrait of God is accurate: "Should we look for miracles and signs that accompany the message? Miraculous signs are not reliable evidence, because miracles can be counterfeited (remember a talking serpent). The best approach is to examine the facts, the concepts, the ideas put forth and compare them with scripture and other evidences God has provided." Jennings listed several questions that one should ask to help in discerning truth from error. Discernment, and perceptions of truth and error seem to be the underlying issues in this doctrinal dust up. Perhaps Jennings and Nixon will find a way to continue advancing their understandings of God's character without trading ideological blows. However, given what both seem to perceive as high stakes, the intensity of the rhetoric, and the fainting spells, accord may be unlikely.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

More signs that we are living in the last days. Mr. Jennings, read your Bible and stop deceiving people by telling them that they must rely on the feelings of your nephew and niece to discover what is written in the Bible quite clearly. And, Pastor Nixon, your job is to bring people to Jesus Christ, not to some philosophical hair splitting which both you and Jennings are engaged in.
I just joined the Spectrum discussions, and from a little browsing through some of the comments, if they are coming from Adventists, I have to conclude that we no longer seem to be people of the Book that we claim to be. We seem to be becoming people of ignorance. But, there is hope. The holy scriptures are able to make anyone wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ.


Is he going to preach it a third time, just to see if he can go through?
If he faints again, he should probably consider that either God is intervening against his message, or go to a neurologist for a check up of the brain.


You got that right and he should have undergone a full neurological evaluation right after his first fainting spell, together with a full medical work up by his PCP. The fact that he was allowed to proceed, I’m assuming, by his medical team is a good sign. PTL. Let’s hope is was just a simple case of panic attack.

So its a doctrinal issue pitting theology against mental health. It only makes sense for a theologian to believe that God actively intervenes whereas it also makes sense for a psychiatrist to believe otherwise. You will never hear a psychiatrist inform his patient that his misfortunes were the results of God “actively” punishing him. Most likely the patient will be told, “these are the results of your bad judgement.” Nothing else will satisfy the standards of both professions. If it were the other way round, there would be two professionals who would lose their credibility. Viva la SDA! Why can’t they resort to @historic solution, ignore each other. This is not uncommon in our church anyway.

If I remember him right, he was our church pastor at AUC in the early 90s while we were in MA.


Well you said it better than I ever could. I completely agree. I just can’t heart you because I’ve reached my daily limit. Lol

what a completely curious story…

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To examine Scripture with Scripture as Pastor Nixon advises, I see Dr. Jennings being in total agreement. When the disciples asked Jesus to show them the Father, what were they implying? Jesus’ response was, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Were they wondering Who sent the flood, destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.?

Why didn’t all of God’s use of power bring an end to sin and sinners? What God wants, LOVE, force, fear, intimidation, and manipulation cannot produce. It must come from willful submission, agreement, and cooperation to love, truth, trust, respect, and choice.

Jesus, when He entered the garden of Gethsemene, began to die from sin. Sin pays its wage. The Father did not touch Him, neither did He have to. Sin kills, and if God did not intervene in heaven, Satan and his rebellious third, all would have died, and the universe would have THOUGHT God killed them, and served Him out of fear, and fear produces the attitude of a rebel, and God would have lost the universe. Adam and Eve should have died like Christ was dying in the garden, had not mercy stepped in again.

I learned that there are two types of JUSTICE: Retributive and Restorative. God, as represented in the Prodigal Son parable, was the Father, who offered Restorative Justice to His wayward son, but the elder brother demanded Retributive Justice. It is the goodness of God that leads to Repentance, but not all respond. The servant who owed the enormous debt, was given Restorative Justice, but went and administered Retributive Justice, and in so doing forfeited Restorative Justice and reaped Retributive Justice. The Lord’s Prayer is followed with a clear statement, “Matthew 6:14-15 KJV
[14] For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: [15] But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

It appears from Scripture, that we will receive the Justice that we endorse. Mercy is something everybody wants when we need it, but dispensing it to others is when Retributive Justice is demanded. That plays right into the parable of the servant with the enormous debt, choking out the debtor who owed a pitence. This is where I look at “The Wrath of the Lamb” as illustrated in Romans 1:24, 26, & 28. God “gave them up” to the consequences of their choice. They will be judged by the Justice they support.

When Jesus stood before Pilate and the people were given a choice: which Barabbas (Son of the Father) do you want? One, returns evil for evil, while the other overcomes evil with good. So, to me the choice is between Agape’s Principles of Restorative Justice and the world’s “Mark of the Beast” methodology of force and self-righteous principles of Retributive Justice.

I believe and am also convinced that God is righteous and just, what beclouds the picture is which Justice are we attributing to God? I lean towards Dr. Jennings, while accepting and respecting Pastor Nixon’s freedom of choice. The question in my mind is what does the TRUTH SET US FREE FROM? A boogieman picture of God or what Jesus came to reveal? We treat people according to the picture of God we behold. Saul’s or Paul’s?


Dr. Jennings is teaching a new theology.

There is a true science of psychology and the mind which Heaven approves of but we are explicitly warned against psychiatry. From personal experience I know that in the field of mental health there is no such thing as punishment for sin, or even sin. Everything is a “disorder, disease or dysfunction.”

In fact very few among Adventist teach any longer “cause and effect.” That when you sin, God punished you. We’re afraid of proclaiming such messages. Yet, while it’s true, in the past we have been just like the leaders of Israel and not presented a balanced picture that included a correct understanding of God’s love, that is not His fault and does not change the truth.

It is true, many times there are natural consequences to our wrong choices, it’s just as true and IMPORTANT that we realize our Father takes an active, direct hand in punishing sin.

Throughout the word our relationship with Him is put in context of a parent-child relationship. In this context is supported, precept upon precept and line upon line, that there IS retributive judgement. A wise, loving parent who follows God’s counsel does will spank a child as a last resort. This is what God does.

He allows us to suffer the consequences of our choices with the desire that the pain of the consequences will result in our repentance. But if we continue on, He does directly intervene and bring judgement.

To deny this and teach contrary is to totally cast aside one the main pillars of Adventism and say there really is no such thing as type meeting anti-type in the fulfillment of the prophetic time prophesy of the 2,300 days and what will happen at the end of this “Day of Atonement” in which judgement has passed from the dead to the living.

In focusing on Christ’s ministry here on earth and how he came to reveal to us the Father, let us not forget that he cleansed the Sanctuary TWICE, and how He did it, and that he had scathing words of rebuke for the leaders who intentionally led the people astray.

As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days when the Son of Man comes. The earth will be destroyed and everything in which sin is found, with it.

We HAVE to find the balance in the message Christ taught about the Father’s character. The people were under the weight of the Law as the leaders presented it to the people to be obeyed without teaching and exemplifying in their lives, God’s mercy and love.

Christ never, ever intended that we should think that because God only wants obedience through love, He will not mete out punishment for our disobedience and sin.

Christ wanted the people have a true understanding of the depth and breath of the Father’s love, not so they could feel to disobey but because, .with the right understanding of who God is and how much He loved them, if they would then STILL turn away from Him to give their service and allegiance to the enemy, what more could He do.

As the Spirit of God is now moving among His people to bring us into the same knowledge of His character and move us to obedience to Him that is motivated purely from a heart of thankfulness and reciprocated love, there’s also a risk. That risk is that some will do just as they are doing, believe and teach that, because the Father IS so loving He will not actively, directly punish sin.

And that too is because we do not understand. It is SIN God will destroy. Therefore those workers and doers of sin, are those in whom sin will be found. Therefore, they will be punished and eventually consumed in God’s wrath against…SIN.

Let us pray and thank God for men like Pastor Nixon who cannot sit still and silent as God’s character is being misrepresented and the people left with theories that breed a false spiritual security. And, perhaps looking at his fainting in the pulpit in a new light will help us to again, to get a true picture of God’s character AND the importance of Pastor Nixon’s message.

Could it be that the enemy, who is now as a roaring lion, was behind those attacks? With so much to lose when error is exposed, did anyone consider that?

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thanks for your insights. I wonder what we do with this quote from Christ’s Object Lessons pg 84.4: God destroys no man. Everyone who is destroyed will have destroyed himself.

Dr. Tim Jennings: The truth about God’s character of love is the center with which all other truth must align.

Examine the picture of God you hear at church; then compare it with the life of Jesus and Satan’s allegations against God, which picture of God is being presented?

It is time, time for God’s people everywhere to stand up and proclaim the truth about Him, time for us to reject the lies, time for us to take the final message of mercy to the world!

Won’t you reject the lies and stand up and proclaim the truth about Him?

Blog: Two Pictures of God

As a former participant, along with Tim Jennings, at the now-defunct forum, I am very familiar with the dynamics of this particular double bind.

Wikipedia: Double Bind

In a nutshell, an injunction is given that Scripture and the SOP are God’s messages to us.

A second injunction is that the message of Scripture and the SOP is God’s healing love, i.e., God does not actively punish; sin brings its own punishment, which God ultimately allows. All else is “Satan’s lies.” This was heavily reinforced with Graham Maxwell’s teaching.

Anyone who pointed out actual Scriptures and SOP quotes with clear references to a wrathful God who was actively threatening punishment, of which there are many, was severely sanctioned on the forum.

The crazy-making conclusion one was left with, which it was completely taboo to bring up, was that “Satan’s lies” were the portions of Scripture where a wrathful God is actually and actively threatening violent punishment, in black and white on the page before one.

While I, from personal experience, believe that God is unconditionally loving, and that God’s justice is restorative and will bring about universal reconciliation, I want to be very careful not to impose a double bind taboo upon other people in that regard, as I believe that is very harmful to individual mental health, and to social health.

I can’t speak with any knowledge about Pastor Nixon’s health or state of mind when he collapsed during his sermons, but I will mention what comes to mind:

Perhaps his body, like Balaam’s donkey, refused to go where his mind was driving it.

The body doesn’t lie.

Perhaps that will ultimately be the key to a harmonious hermeneutics.

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