end of an era or a stepping stone?

I’ve been on the road all day, literally. Read about the termination of Matt Olson as president of Northland International University somewhere between Cache Creek and Kamloops, BC. I was more than a little astonished.

I’m not writing to pontificate today. I am sorry to see Matt lose his post, though I have been a very vocal critic of the positions he has been taking over the last few years. Matt and I were classmates and I think at one time I could have counted him as a friend. I doubt that he thinks of me in that way any longer.

His announcement by way of his public letter was very gracious. I applaud him for it. I haven’t seen the chapel session, probably won’t. Don’t have time this week and it will be old news by next week. But I expect it was handled in a similar fashion. I hope that Matt does well in the future and I also hope that he will come out in a better position with respect to fundamentalism / evangelicalism and holiness / worldliness.

Where does NIU go from here? It depends on who they select as a new president. One could wonder if anyone in their right mind would want the job, but surely some courageous soul will take it. Who that is will give us an indication whether the experiment with evangelicalism is over or we are merely moving to phase 2.

don_sig2

Comments

  1. Good thoughts, Don. Thank you for giving Matt Olson credit for what I also thought was a good letter.

  2. T. Pennock says:

    Don,

    I was wondering if the NIU infection is speading. I was looking over a recent e-mail I received from the GARB, and I noticed that at this year’s GARB conference Dave Doran and Bruce Compton will be conducting workshops. Perhaps they’ve been doing this for a while, I don’t know. But I do know, having been involved with the Regular Baptists in the past, that schools like Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary were generally hostile to anything GARB. What changed or who changed?

    TJP

    • I would say that Dave has changed his approach somewhat. Some of the things that bug him bug me as well, but he has apparently decided to change the separation/cooperation paradigm for himself.

      Last I checked on the GARBC conference, Matt Olson was to speak as well. Don’t know if he is still on the list.

      I have a perception that the GARBC is having some increasing strength in its more conservative elements, but that is just a perception from a few news articles. I have no idea how widespread this “strengthening” might be, nor where the GARBC is going overall.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  3. Wally Morris says:

    Another Question: How/Why did the Board let the situation get this far? I’m not so sure this is what it appears.

    • Wally, I have to agree, the whole scene is kind of bizarre.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  4. Dave Doran says:

    The answer is simple–at the 2006 meeting in Lansing the GARBC clarified its position on separation in a way that satisfied my previous concerns. It is a very good document worthy of your consideration, especially since you, particularly TJ, seem to be making judgments on the basis of outdated info.

    • Hi Dave, I hope I am not making unfair judgements, but I am thinking you have changed your approach somewhat based on things you have said about separation in the recent past. Am I wrong in that assessment? I’m thinking about the message where you talked about “the map” and “the tribes” or some such metaphor.

      BTW, I am away from the internet most of the day today, so if you reply it may take me a while to get it posted and to respond.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

    • T. Pennock says:

      Dave,

      What is it about the 2006 GARB statement on separation that persuades you that you can now associate with the Regular Baptists? As I said, I’ve worked among them for years, and there are some very fine men and churches in that fellowship. However, I don’t find anything of real principle in their 2006 statement that they’ve never really held to previously. So I’m a bit confused as to your present willingness to identify with them, especially since the animosity I encountered from your circle while I was among the GARBeepers went far beyond a few vagaries concerning separation.

      Don’t get me wrong. I’m not downing your new-found fellowship. Have at it. Personally, I think you’ll enjoy your time among the Regulars. My views on separation are probably not too far from your own. Perhaps they’re somewhere between yours and Don’s. But it did surprise me to see you listed as a workshop presenter for a group that is “awash in compromise.” I trust things will go well for you.

      TJP

  5. Dave Doran says:

    Last comment for me. Historically, our church was part of the GARBC until the mid-80s, leaving in large part over the toleration of what was happening at Grand Rapids, Cedarville, etc., not to mention the clear softening of the historic separatist position. In 2006, along with the reaffirmation of the historic position, the Association ended its relationship with Cedarville, an action that suggested to me that they were intent on applying the documents which had historically been the positions of the Association. The problem in the 80s was not on paper, but practice. That changed for the good.

    But, for the sake of clarity, our church pulling out of the GARBC did not mean that we had chosen to practice separation from all people and things GARBC. We had speakers here who were affiliated with the GARBC. I (and others from here) have spoken and continue to speak in some GARBC contexts. Up until this year I had never been invited to speak at the national meeting. My guess is that we were invited this year because it is in our backyard more than anything else. My speaking is not contrary to anything I have ever believed and practiced regarding separation.

    • Dave, from what I can observe, not ever having been close to GARBC circles, these changes have seemed encouraging. I hope that they are signs of good things to come from that quarter.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

    • T. Pennock says:

      Dave,

      Thanks for the explanation. I figured the reason for your present participation in the GARB conference was probably due to its tighter application of its separation principles, a needed thing indeed.

      In the early 70s I came to Christ in Upper Michigan through a then approved Regular Baptist mission agency, Hiawatha Land Independent Baptist Missions (now Continental Baptist Missions). The GARB men I came to know then (mostly in Upper Michigan and northern lower Michigain) were good separatist men.

      Over the years I’ve been in and out of the GARB circles. Right now I’m planting a church in AZ and am not affiliated with any group, though I recently attended a Regular Baptist pastor’s meeting in Kingman, AZ, where I met Kevin Bauder’s father.

      Again, thanks for the explanation.

      TJP

  6. DanS says:

    By now I’m sure you know about Matt being reinstated. In this post you asked “Where does NIU go from here?” After watching the chapel announcement I think that Matt answered that question – full steam ahead in the direction they’re headed. One more observation. Mr. Patz openly mentioned the changes that have come to NIU under Matt’s leadership. But for the past couple of years Matt has been denying that NIU is changing. Integrity was lacking. From now on though, I expect that NIU won’t worry anymore about getting various video clips and photos off the internet.

    Here’s the link to the chapel announcement. http://new.livestream.com/northlandu/chapel

    • Hi Dan

      I wrote to a friend yesterday “it’s a bizarro world”. Personally, I don’t expect them to survive this. As for integrity, can a leopard change its spots?

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

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