getting what matters most

I have great confidence in this next generation. They get what matters most.

So says Matt Olson, president of Northland International University, here: “Confidence in the Next Generation”. Matt is infused with this confidence after spending a Sunday at Grace Bible Church of Philadelphia, PA. From the way he writes, it sounds like several Northland grads are involved in the ministry of this church and a NIU staffer will continue to be on the staff of Northland while moving to Philadelphia and becoming part of this church.

Matt describes the church this way:

My soul was refreshed and encouraged as I saw a variety of things taking place at Grace. At Grace they focus on Christ in all that they do. This was evidenced by their worship, expository preaching, and deliberateness of their service. This is a church that is multi-ethnic, has a heart for the city, thriving with young people, and getting ready to launch a church plant in the next 9-12 months into another part of the city. They get what matters most.

One would expect a Christian college president to be pleased with graduates who are busy serving the Lord. No surprise there! But there is something surprising for a fundamentalist who formerly included Northland International University among his recommended colleges and universities.

Grace Bible Church of Philadelphia is in the Sovereign Grace Family of Churches. That means they fully subscribe to the Sovereign Grace statement of faith as seen here:

Empowered by the Spirit

In addition to effecting regeneration and sanctification, the Holy Spirit also empowers believers for Christian witness and service. While all genuine believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit at conversion, the New Testament indicates the importance of an ongoing, empowering work of the Spirit subsequent to conversion as well. Being indwelt by the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit are theologically distinct experiences. The Holy Spirit desires to fill each believer continually with increased power for Christian life and witness, and imparts his supernatural gifts for the edification of the Body and for various works of ministry in the world. All the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in the church of the first-century are available today, are vital for the mission of the church, and are to be earnestly desired and practiced.1

The Church

… All members of the Church universal are to be a vital and committed part of a local church. In this context they are called to walk out the New Covenant as the people of God, and demonstrate the reality of the kingdom of God. The ascended Christ has given gift ministries to the church (including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) for the equipping of Christ’s body that it might mature and grow.

It is fairly well known that SGM holds to charismatic gifts and is a part of the charismatic movement. It is less well known that they hold the apostolic gift continues to exist today, albeit, perhaps, in a ‘dumbed down’ version. Modern apostles don’t write Scripture, but they are church planters. (I thought “All the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in the church of the first-century are available today…” but I digress.) As I do a bit more research, I see that the SGM “apostolic team” itself has further dumbed itself down to be merely a “regional leadership team”. I won’t belabor the point, but you can see there is some squishy theology going on here and more than a little shifting of doctrine. SGM seems to do theology by the seat of its pants, as it were.

Anyway, we have Matt Olson’s confidence that the next generation “gets what matters.” That’s probably true, because I am in Matt’s generation (we were classmates, and I’d like to still be friends), but I certainly don’t get it. A good deal of Matt’s comments are very confusing to me, especially in light of this:

Ecclesiastical Separation
The university’s position is not to cooperate with any organization or movement that is connected with apostasy or that places less than primary emphasis on the authority of the Word of God. Northland International University does not accept the philosophy, position, or practice of the National Council of Churches in America or the World Council of Churches. Further-more, Northland is opposed to Liberalism, Neo-Orthodoxy, New Evangelicalism, Hyper-Calvinism, and the Charismatic Movement.2

And this:

We believe God has given spiritual gifts to Christians to serve in and through the local church. Every believer has at least one gift, and the use of the gifts is always for the ultimate purpose of bringing glory to God. Among the gifts listed in the Bible, we believe that sign gifts (miracles, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy) were temporary in nature and given to the church in its infant state before the completion of the canon of Scripture. Therefore, we reject the modern Charismatic Movement and the confusion it has brought. (Romans 12:6–8; I Corinthians 12:1–11, 13:8; Ephesians 4:11–12)3

And this:

We believe God has called believers to live a life characterized by personal, ecclesiastical, and even familial separation. Personally we are to refrain from all things that would de?le us or bring shame to the name of Christ which we bear. We are called to live a life characterized by holiness and purity and to be an example of what the believer is to be like to a watching world.Ecclesiastically we are called upon to refrain from cooperation or alliances with groups which do not stand unashamedly for the truths revealed in the Word of God. Thus, we cannot accept the position reflected in the Ecumenical Movement, Neo-Orthodoxy, New Evangelicalism, or the various branches of the Charismatic Movement. We believe cooperation should be limited to those of like precious faith. (Romans 16:17; I Corinthians 6:19–20; II Corinthians 6:14–17;I Thessalonians 5:22; II Thessalonians 3:6, 14–15; I John 2:15, 17; II John 9, 10)4

I’m glad the next generation gets what matters most, because I am sure I don’t. How can the president of Northland International University be pleased with the involvement of graduates who are joining a branch of the Charismatic Movement when the published documents and doctrinal statement of NIU specifically calls for separation from the Charismatic Movement, rejects the modern Charismatic Movement, and cannot accept the position reflected in the various branches of the Charismatic Movement?

Do you get it? I sure don’t. I wonder if the board of NIU gets it.

don_sig2

Notes:

  1. Emphasis added []
  2. 2011-2013 Graduate School Academic Catalog, Northland Graduate School of Northland International University, p. 9, emphasis mine. []
  3. 2011-2013 Graduate School Academic Catalog, Northland Graduate School of Northland International University, p. 12, emphasis mine. []
  4. 2011-2013 Graduate School Academic Catalog, Northland Graduate School of Northland International University, p. 12, emphasis mine. []

Comments

  1. Andy Young says:

    Don,

    Have you read Lou Martuneac’s latest series of articles on Matt Olsen and NIU?

    http://www.indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com/2012/08/questions-answered-on-changes-at-niu_13.html

    Andy

    • Thanks for the link. Someone else sent me that link yesterday, found it very interesting. Not sure there is a really good reason for making the writer anonymous, since enough details are given that those in the know are sure to know who it is. Other than that, though, the writer is candid and straightforward.

      I don’t mind sharing the link here, though, so glad you sent it in.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      • Hi Don:

        Excellent article you did here. More on that later. On Thursday in the final part of the Q&A interview the name of my guest is revealed. By his biography some know who he is, which he anticipated. We had a reason for withholding his identity until the end.

        Lou

  2. Jay says:

    Hey Don-
    Good call on this article. I wonder if Olson is even aware of the dichotomy between NIU and this church. While I have no doubt that NIU has graduated alumnae that were charismatic or became such after graduation (as has any theological school!), that is a confusing and contradictory position to be in. Are we sure that the church in Philly actually teaches the SGM doctrine? Or does their website say that they reject tongues and miraculous gifts?

    • Jay says:

      -edit-
      I missed the GBC statement of faith you linked to. You’re right and there is a difference there. Not sure why Olson would have made the trip other than he didn’t know their position or just chose to ignore it, but I really don’t think it was a matter of NIU is now changing to embrace tongues and miraculous speech.
      As for the ‘anonymous’ writer – I am 99.9% I know who it is. If so, I’m very disappointed in him for writing that piece for Lou, but he answers to God for the choices that he makes, not me.

      • Yeah, I don’t like the anonymity, but Lou said in part 2 today that the writer’s name will be revealed when part 4 comes out. Don’t know what the point is in keeping it quiet.

        Maranatha!
        Don Johnson
        Jer 33.3

    • Hi Jay

      I don’t know what Olson knows about this church, hard to say. One would think that Dietrich would know.

      The doctrinal quotes are taken directly from the Philly church’s on-line doctrinal statement. The links to the talk about apostles are taken from other sites, but the local church’s doctrinal statement uses the words apostles and prophets.

      I should say also that I weighed writing to Matt first, but I decided that these stories are in the public domain and it wouldn’t hurt to start asking questions in public.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      • Jay says:

        Hey Don-

        Sorry – got a little behind on this. I do appreciate you covering it, though – these are questions that need to be asked. There is a public declaration of doctrine on both parts, so asking hard questions is certainly warranted in a public domain, I think.

        It seems to me that a lot of the speculation over “the overall direction of NIU” is based on nothing more than silence and assumption or even fear mongering. I’ll give NIU more time on this, but I’m not ready to write off the school yet. If BJ3 is “OK” to speak at a conference at FBC Hammond this year – see http://emmanuelbaptisttemple.org/media/bcflyer2011.pdf – then I think that Olson speaking at an SGM church in Philly is certainly forgivable. I’m certainly more worried about the overall trajectory of Hammond than I am NIU, but then again, Hammond is already in my ‘mark and avoid’ category.

        • Jay, I am definitely open to a wait and see posture, although this isn’t the first thing Matt has done and said that seems to be taking him on a trajectory away from fundamentalism. He doesn’t have to answer to me, of course, but I think fundamentalists have an interest in where he and NIU is going because some of them, at least, have young people in their homes thinking about where to go to school.

          BTW, the conference you link to is not at FBCH, but at a different church. It is fair game to bring it up, if I think of it I may ask Dr Bob about it next time I see him (won’t be for a while at this point, probably not till February, so I’ll have a hard time remembering that long). In any case, the only thing I have to say is that the emmanuelbaptist conference is more of a series of guest speakers at an individual church. If I was one of the guys on that poster, I’d feel uncomfortable about it personally, but it isn’t exactly the same as endorsing FBCH by speaking there or writing it up on your blog. The two are quite different. If you know something about aberrant doctrine at emmanuel, then maybe you would have more of a case.

          Maranatha!
          Don Johnson
          Jer 33.3

  3. Dennis says:

    Don,

    I am familiar with this church. At one point they were more aligned with Lancaster Bible College. They were generally pretty conservative when it came to music, etc. They were struggling quite a bit when the new pastor took over (good guy, but not where I am…BJ grad so that’s why there’s a connectedness to fund). They moved into the SGM circle of churches a few years back. They would certainly ascribe to all their teachings. A little surprised that NiU would be there but not shocked

  4. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Thanks Don for the article and bringing this to people’s attention. When you develop a blind eye to certain things, as some have done, such as Matt Olson, you “won’t see” other problems either. This will only get worse unless Matt acknowledges the problems and makes Biblical corrections.

  5. Don:

    “I wonder if the board of NIU gets it.” IMO, both those official printed positions and Matt’s embrace, recommendation of a Charismatic/SGM ministry can’t co-exist. One of them has to be reined in or abandoned. I suspect the NIU board is going to be making a decision on which is going to rule the day and the way forward for the school. I also suspect the printed position you cited above is going to be their subject for revision or eliminating.

    Not intending to self-promote, but I produced an article on the same subject, which is scheduled to appear after the current series.

    Appreciate your take and commentary on the latest “change” at NIU in the area of doctrine.

    Lou

  6. T. Pennock says:

    Don,

    Matt troubles me. He really does. I fear these aren’t lapses in judgment. Not at all. Given the past firestorm over NIU’s shift in direction. you’d think Matt would be exceedingly careful in what he does, what he says, and where he goes. This incident suggests his shift is continuing, sharper and further than most realize

    tjp.

  7. Brian Ernsberger says:

    @ T. Pennock, I agree with you, this is troubling because we are seeing that this shift is not accidental, or a misstep, etc. Rather, it seems to be a calculated, thought-out, change of direction for Matt Olson/NIU. The fact that the board at NIU has been mute and has not spoken out on what Matt Olson has done to this point, seems to indicate that they are comfortable with the direction change. Sad indeed, if this is the case.

    • TPennock/Brian:

      That Matt Olson would be so open about his embrace of the Charismatic Grace Bible Church and continued employment of a NIU staff person (Greg Dietrich) who will attend and support that church makes certain he and NIU are moving in a certain direction with eyes wide open. At least they aren’t keeping this move/change under the radar. Nevertheless, unless Matt offers an apology for having made a mistake, the NIU board reiterating their printed position that the University is opposed to and rejects the modern Charismatic Movement, they “are comfortable with the direction change.” I suppose a significant number of alumni and current friends may not be.

      LM

  8. Rob McQueary says:

    Don, I don’t know you, but passive aggression is not commensurate with the spirit of Jesus. Have you attempted to contact your former classmate to hear his intentions?

    • Hi Rob, you might know me, unless you are Rob McQueary the younger. We had a McQueary preach for us many years ago when were happy with the direction Northland was going at the time.

      I made it clear earlier in the comments that I did not contact Matt first and feel no obligation to do so. He is acting in the public square and his public statements are open for question in public.

      As for passive aggression, I could say something about those who use it in comments to blog posts, but I’ll just leave it aside. Most of my aggression is active, not passive. I would think my post is active aggression, if it is anything.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  9. T. Pennock says:

    Brian,

    It’s interesting to watch how men and institutions slip away from their original moorings. When they first shift, they answer their critics by pointing to doctrinal statements and original convictions. To those with whom they seek a broader fellowship, they ignore their earlier practices, pretending as if they never existed.

    What’s troublesome about NIU is their unwillingness to state their intentions plainly and to come clean publicly about their broader fellowship and trimmed convictions. In one sense I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I would enjoy seeing a Christian institution and its leadership act with integrity when it comes to the clarity of their testimony.

    tjp

  10. Brian Ernsberger says:

    T. Pennock,
    Yes, it is always good to be clear about our intentions/direction. It saddens me greatly when I read of past conflicts and interact with current conflicts that those who are changing, at least initially, are very hesitant to state that they are changing. To use a Biblical analogy, they are giving an “uncertain sound.”
    For me, this conflict hits home. I have a family in my church which has had three of their children graduate from Northland, their fourth has three years under his belt and will not return to finish his degree as a result of what has transpired at Northland. One of the three graduates worked in the admin offices since their graduation (10+ years I believe) and did not renew their contract after the 10-11 school year. It grieves me greatly.
    To answer a question posed to Don about contacting Matt, I did contact him after the Rick Holland, Wayne Simien, etc. debacle and voiced my concerns about what at the time looked to be a change in direction. Even though we had this tie with Northland, he had no desire to keep the bond between the school and our church. I had not said at the time that we could no longer support Northland but only voiced my concerns with whom he had invited in to speak. There was no attempt on his part to keep our support. I have since talked with him via e-mail and noted that we will no longer endorse, support, recommend Northland. Our paths have parted. This latest by Matt just confirms the rightness of that decision.

  11. T. Pennock says:

    Brian,

    When I was pastoring in Upper Michigan, I sent dozens of kids every year to Northland’s camp. As time went on, I also sent several students. In fact, a Northland grad is now pastoring the church I once did. And He’s doing a terrific job! In the past I’ve used Northland speakers to fill our church’s pulpit in my absence and to speak on special occasions. That said, however, I’m no longer recommending NIU to any young people. This latest episode did it for me. Openly endorsing the charismatic frauds and the SGM family is a down-turn too deliberate to ignore.

    tjp

  12. Mark Mincy says:

    Some seem to be measured and civil in this discourse. Others continue with vitriol and disdain, and seem to have as their sole purpose in life the destruction of other people and organizations. I’m not sure how the latter can claim to be in obedience to the Scripture which admonishes us to love our brothers in Christ. If we were to simply analyze both sides of this current issue according to their speech, Matt Olson wins – hands down. His blog posts have been filled with humble and gracious speech. The same cannot be said of the other side.

    Throughout the history of the church good and godly people have always disagreed on all kinds of issues. At the end of the day, the disagreements will always be there. That’s because people come to the text of Scripture and walk away with different understandings sometimes. Each are convinced in their own mind that their interpretation is correct. That shouldn’t surprise us. What should surprise us is professing Christians who choose to demonize their brothers in Christ simply because they understand or apply the Scripture differently on issues that have always presented interpretive problems within the realm of the orthodox Christian church. We will worship with these people in heaven someday. We should remember that while we remain on earth.

    • Mark, thank you for the comment. And fair enough, all that I said could have been said without the sarcasm.

      So let’s do a thought experiment. Think about what I have said in the post and in any of the comments in the subsequent thread. Let’s strip it all (in our minds) of the sarcastic components. That leaves the bare facts of Matt Olson speaking high praise of an explicitly charismatic church and continuing to employ an individual at Northland who is going to be a member of this charismatic church. There is also the bare fact of Northland’s doctrinal statement and position statements as published in the graduate school catalog.

      So, let’s grant that sarcasm doesn’t help and may hurt what I am attempting to argue in the bare facts of the case.

      But doesn’t lack of integrity bother you in the least? Because that is exactly what we have on the part of Olson and NIU, if the bare facts can speak for themselves.

      The bottom line is: Is NIU and Matt Olson right in making the decisions and public statements they are making or not?

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      P.S. Programming note: I will have limited access to the internet for the next few days, so response times may lag.

      • Mark Mincy says:

        Don, it seems to me that our tendency as human beings is to always jump to the worst possible assumptions and conclusions. “Charismatic” means different things to different people. “Continuationist” means different things to different people. I don’t imagine if you were to visit this particular church there would be anything overt that would make you think “this is a charismatic church”. I don’t imagine you would find people flopping in the aisles and/or speaking in tongues. I imagine they have text-based reasons for defining themselves as continuationists. They can probably defend their position quite well – from the Scripture.

        I think “lack of integrity” is too strong. Perhaps “inconsistent” is better. And there is plenty of that to go around. We should be most concerned about it in our own lives and associations.

        • Mark, thanks for coming back.

          I’m going to work on a follow-up to this. I’ll let you know when it is out. The ‘continuationist’ vs. ‘charismatic’ defense has already been anticipated. Seems a little too post-modern to me. Or Clintonesque. However, we’ll leave that aside for now.

          The integrity issue has to do with a definite statement of separation from something which in practice appears to be set aside.

          Anyway, more later. I have some checking to do and also a full week of other responsibilities. When it rains, it pours.

          Maranatha!
          Don Johnson
          Jer 33.3

      • d4v34x says:

        Don,

        Don’t let anyone bewitch you into thinking that sarcasm is a categorically unchristian way to speak of/to a brother.

        • Hi d4 Dave, well, that is true as it is a Biblical mode of expression. But it can easily get out of hand.

          Maranatha!
          Don Johnson
          Jer 33.3

  13. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Mark,
    I do not wish to sidetrack this thread but you state, “Some seem to be measured and civil in this discourse. Others continue with vitriol and disdain, and seem to have as their sole purpose in life the destruction of other people and organizations.” Since I am one of those commenting in this thread and I am not above being corrected, I would ask you to be specific in your accusations. I realize this is Don’s site and not mine, but it troubles me when people make statements without putting adequate proof to support their claim. I have re-read the article and the comments and do not find cause for your second sentence. Exactly what do you consider “vitriol and disdain” and “their sole purpose in life the destruction of other people and organizations” in the comments or the article? Now maybe we have different criteria for what constitutes “vitriol and distain” so it would be good to understand our distinctions.

    • Mark Mincy says:

      Brian, I was referring to the broader discussion that is going on in the blogosphere. You don’t have to look too far to find what I describe.

  14. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Mark, thank you for the clarification.

  15. T. Pennock says:

    Don,

    Is it I, or is the silence by Bauder, Doran, Shaper Iron, Proclaim and Defend, BJU and others on NIU’s down turn as telling as I think it is?

    Just wondering.

    Perhaps they’ve commented, and I haven’t seen it. If they have, please let me know. I’d be curious about what they’ve said.

    Tracy

    • Hi Tracy

      I haven’t seen anything from any of the players you mention. P&D is run by a committee which is chaired by me. So on that front, please stay tuned. However, some of the others may not be aware of this particular little connection. Hopefully more will be said on it shortly.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  16. T. Pennock says:

    Don,

    Not to beat a horse to death, but . . .

    The more I think about this, the more amusing it becomes. I remember awhile back when Bauder climbed all over Danny Sweatt about some remarks he made on Calvinism. Now, however, the president of NIU not only praises charistmatics and neoevangelical Calvinists, saying, they “get what matters most,” but ignores his own school’s doctrinal statement which, I assume, he’s sworn to uphold both in letter and spirit. And no one says a word! Silence reigns! It appears the new-type Bauder fundies are doing what they condemned the old-type Jones fundies of doing: covering things up.

    But it’s not so much Bauder and friends that concern me. It’s the school’s board. Where are they on this issue? It seems their stated beliefs are pretty clear and that Matt’s current attitude toward those beliefs is equally clear. AND THE TWO DON’T JIVE. Nevertheless, this in-house defection is meet with silence. Apparently, the board at NIU doesn’t see acting contrary to one’s stated convictions is really an issue and that the president may, as a matter of personal preference, reject the spirit of his own school’s doctrinal affirmations and still remain in good standing.

    tjp

    • I don’t think its a dead horse at all. I agree with your points here.

      More to come.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

    • TjP:

      You wrote, “Bauder climbed all over Danny Sweatt about some remarks he made on Calvinism. Now, however, the president of NIU not only praises charistmatics and neoevangelical Calvinists…”

      IMO, there is never going to be anything in the way of criticism coming from Kevin Bauder or Dave Doran on what is transpiring with Matt Olson and at Northland. No more will they address Olson and the Charismatic church issue than they would challenge Tim Jordan for having in Haddon Robinson or openly challenge the aberrant theology and ecumenism of their new friends in evangelicalism. “It’s all about the gospel;” right?

      On Danny Sweatt, let’s not forget that Bauder followed that up with a three part unprovoked series (at his blog and SI) in which he lambasted Bob Jones, Jr. and John R. Rice. Kevin referenced them as “pugilistic and bellicose,’ ‘alpha males,’ ‘the big boys,’ ‘bullies,’ ‘chieftains,’ etc. Remember?

      Will we be hearing from Bauder and Doran on what has happened to NIU? Nearly three months have gone by since the article from Olson about the Charismatic Church that “really gets it” and nothing to date. No, I don’t think they will be speaking to that one.

      LM

  17. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Based upon the track record of the above mentioned men (Bauder, Doran, Jordan, et. al.) they have no reason to denounce what Matt Olson has said and done. These men have, to one degree or another, opened up avenues to evangelicals without much in the way of warnings. So why would they denounce a fellow who is pursuing those same avenues?
    Tracy brings up good questions, where is the board of NIU on this?

    • Tracy/Brian:

      Tracy brings up good questions, where is the board of NIU on this?

      IMO, we may know more with the next NIU board meeting. Any board member who has serious concerns with what has transpired won’t stay on much longer. I suspect most will stay on and NIU will, over the next 5+/- years, wither away. It will go the way of Pillsbury minus an attempt to recover what was thrown away.

      LM

      • FYI, I have posted a re-worked version of this article at Proclaim & Defend. More details, less sarcasm. Perhaps I should try less sarcasm from now on. One of my friends says its good discipline!

        I contacted Matt yesterday and sent him a copy of the new article. He promised to get back to me on it, but I hope that he will make a public response. I think this particular move is a pretty serious matter.

        Maranatha!
        Don Johnson
        Jer 33.3

  18. T. Pennock says:

    Don,

    I read your article at PD and found it struck the right tone and stated the issue fairly.

    Already some at SI are trying to make this a personal matter, nothing more. Yet they carefully omit any concerns about Matt’s departure from the letter and spirit of NIU’s doctrinal statement, a statement that clearly spells out the school’s position on its associations with the charismatics.

    Why isn’t this an issue of integrity? If Matt now feels constrained by the school’s doctrinal positions, fine. But he should at least say so. It’s uncharitable, to say the least, for him to force people to surmise about his current convictions through his new-found associations. If he can no longer uphold his school’s convictions, then he should say so and step down–or change the school’s position.

    I don’t know the NIU Board Members. But I’m sure they’re people of integrity, or else they wouldn’t be there. Personally, I hope they find that Matt’s remarks were made without his recognizing their broader context and implications and the position from which he speaks. I’m sure he has enthusiasm for his grads, but some of them carry baggage. And he would be wise to recognize that, and the board would be wise to remind Matt of it.

    tjp

    • Don:

      Well done with the article at P&D. (Give us a link here and I will from my blog) I am grateful for the FBFI through its blog for having addressed this issue in a timely manner. One thought on the article: Wouldn’t NIU’s close association with the SGM Charismatic church, essentially render it no longer a fundamentalist Baptist ministry?

      Lou Martuneac

      • Well, there are some ramifications of a continuing pattern of these types of decisions. One-off incidents don’t make a trend. However, this one is pretty serious. It speaks to integrity for sure. Unfortunately I can envision several possible outcomes. None of them are really all that happy. However, I don’t want to speculate on what might happen.

        Maranatha!
        Don Johnson
        Jer 33.3

  19. Don Sailer says:

    Below is a web site that is asking Matt Olson to explain the new direction that Northland is headed. Matt is right when he stated that he is seeking to catch up with the alumni. I’ve also included my comments below. I wish Northland would publicly apologize to all of their alumni that they sought to discredit through name-calling, but I am glad to know that Northland finally gets it. Breaking fellowship with other Bible-believing Christians is a sin. I’m glad that Matt Olson is leading Northland back into historic fundamentalism and healthy fellowship with all who lift up the name of Jesus and who are together for the Gospel.

    http://indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com/2013/03/dr-matt-olson-i-apologize-to-you-for.html?showComment=1364817492697

    Matt Olson is following many of Northland’s alumni into historic fundamentalism. That’s right, into historic fundamentalism. Today’s modern “fundamentalism” is a mere shell of what thriving, healthy fundamentalism looked like in the early 1900s. Then, men and women from many denominations banded together around the fundamentals of the faith. Denominational distinctives, though important in each denomination, were not barriers to fellowship and unity. This is the direction Matt Olson is going. Northland is removing the unbiblical “separation” barriers that it had erected between itself and other Bible-believing denominations such as the Baptist General Conference, Conservative Baptist Convention, Evangelical Free Church of America, etc.

    This movement out of the fringe and back into historic, fundamentalist Christianity is a breath of fresh air. I know, because as the grandson of the founder of Northland, I took this step in the early 80s. Sure, Northland’s leadership at the time called me names, such as “new evangelical.” But I knew that I was actually walking down the path of historic fundamentalism. More importantly, I knew I was obeying God and no longer calling “unclean” what God had called “clean.” It wasn’t that hard of a step because the Patz family was never in the camp that Harold Patz led Northland into. BJU style fundamentalism was not our history as a family! And separating from Billy Graham was unheard of.

    So things are changing now, but for the good. Northland is returning to the Patz family roots. Harold Patz has watched his children and their spouses live devout lives for Christ in the denominations mentioned above. And Harold Patz, Les Ollila, and Matt Olson have seen the light. When your own kids are serving Christ faithfully in denominations once renounced, it creates dissonance. Thankfully, God has used this dissonance to wake up the leadership at Northland. Now, perhaps, Northland can become the school that God intended it to be. One that is in line with the founder and his family. One that reflects the glory of God and the unity of the saints. May God be praised.

    Blessings,

    Don Sailer

    • Interesting comment, Don.

      You are the grandson of Harold Patz? Is that correct?

      You are quite wrong in your understanding of historic fundamentalism. You are wrong in way too many ways for me to take the time to go over here. I would suggest you read George Marsden’s Fundamentalism and American Culture to get a better picture. What you are describing is classic New Evangelicalism as espoused by Billy Graham et al. They were the ones who changed in the 50s and 60s, not the fundamentalists.

      Maybe you’ll get the apology you seek. It doesn’t really matter. What I’d like to get out of Northland is a little honesty. The philosophy has clearly changed. It has changed in such a way that Northland is operating contrary to its own founding documents. My hope is that they show a little integrity, be honest about how they have changed, make it clear where they now stand, and act in harmony with it.

      Unfortunately, I don’t expect that to happen. There are still a few fundamentalists who might send some tuition payments their way as long as they remain ambiguous.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  20. M. Martin says:

    Don, for a few years now Olson and NIU have been trending away from not only their historical heritage (including a large number of their alumni) but their version of fundamentalism as well – both without apology. Many people have contacted Dr. Olson, and I’m sure Dr. Ollila as well to address their concerns. Obviously those concerns have been dismissed. Northland’s alumni and even past faculty & staff do deserve an apology, but that is not likely in coming.
    NIU built their program, buildings, and fundraising efforts on the backs of hundreds of families and churches who gave because they believed in what NIU represented. Now NIU is making at 90* left turn without so much a whisper of apology or consideration to all the people and churches from which they benefited.

    • Thanks for the comment.

      No doubt, you are absolutely right. I take no joy in that.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

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