Kevin Bauder critiques my recent post “Response to Tyler Robbins” beginning this way:

In Pastor Don Johnson’s description of “Convergent” evangelicals, the first item is “Anti-separatism (or at least non-separatism).” This descriptor is so vague as to be nearly incomprehensible, and to the degree that it can be comprehended it is misleading. To know what Pastor Johnson means by “anti-separatism,” we would first have to know exactly what he means by separatism. Presumably he is thinking in terms of some version of ecclesiastical separation, though exactly what his theory of ecclesiastical separation is, I have never quite been able to understand. At any rate, assuming that he is accusing “Convergents” of rejecting (or at least not implementing) ecclesiastical separation, the accusation is terribly unfair.

Even the Neoevangelicals were not completely anti-separatistic. They never argued for engaging in Christian fellowship with Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists, Jainists, Sikhs, Bahaists, Theosophists, Spiritists, Atheists, Satanists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Millennial Dawnists, or Mormons. They clearly understood that no Christian fellowship was possible with adherents of these gospel-denying systems.

It is true that I did not define what I meant by anti-separatist, but I think brother Bauder is well aware of what I mean by separatism as he goes on to describe it later in his post. I think his opening, however, is an odd attempt to muddy the waters as he argues that the New Evangelicals were somehow still a kind of separatist. If everyone is a separatist, no one is a separatist. Clearly the New Evangelicals were not for separation from theological liberalism, rather they sought to infiltrate and cooperate with liberalism for various ends, some of which Bauder lists in his post.

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Response to Tyler Robbins

This article is to respond to a lengthy piece by Tyler Robbins reacting to an article in our most recent FrontLine magazine. Tyler is unhappy with the article by Dan Unruh entitled, “Why I Left My Fundamentalist Church.” Dan’s article is among a collection of articles in this issue dealing with what we are calling “convergence,” that is, the phenomenon of individuals formerly connected with the fundamentalist movement who are now embracing certain aspects of the Evangelical movement. This change of position really is a new thing, it isn’t fundamentalist and perhaps it isn’t strictly evangelical either. Dan is writing about one part of that phenomenon where convergent pastors have decided to move their formerly fundamental churches into a more evangelical position. I wrote an article on this myself some months ago, entitled “What to do when your church leaves you.”

I should also say that my answers here are my personal opinions. I am not speaking for the FBFI at all, the only individual who speaks for us is Dr. John Vaughn, otherwise when the board speaks, we speak through position statements adopted in our meetings.

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He’s a separatist! He’s a separatist!

Isn’t he?

So much for the rumor that John MacArthur separated from Piper over his connections to Mark Driscoll, C J Mahaney, et al.

Yet some of our leaders are fine with cooperating on platforms with fringe members of this crowd… are they really coming our way?

I love peace, but next to peace…

Above all things I love peace, but next to peace I love a fight, and I believe the next best thing to peace is a theological fight.

— A. C. Dixon, in the Ecumenical Missionary Conference, New York 1900, I (New York, 1900), p. 364, quoted by George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, Oxford University Press, (Oxford, 2006) 101.

what shall we do with this?

Perhaps you remember an educational game called Amazon Trail. Part of the game involved ‘fishing’ so you could survive on your trek up the Amazon. Whenever you speared a fish, the program would tell you what kind of fish you had captured and a voice would ask, “What shall we do with this?” Over and over and over… as my kids played it, this line kept repeating itself from our kitchen. Enough to drive you batty (short trip for some of us).

Recent happenings in the ecclesiastical world make me ask that question: what shall we do with this?

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A few thoughts on the sudden about-face of Northland International “University”:

Clearly what we have witnessed is a power struggle. The conservative members of the board were able to get enough backing to fire Matt Olson, but the family spoke, the decision of the board was reversed, and according to some reports, all non-family members of the board resigned.

Which leads one to conclude that the board was a sham, the real power at NI”U” lies with the Patz family.

And one would have to think that the conservatives made a mistake in allowing Matt to continue through graduation, though perhaps they didn’t have enough clout to pull that off.

Clearly, the whiplash effect is an embarrassment – NI”U” is a sham school. It is hard to see how they have any credibility going forward. Will they have more than 200 students next year? Would you risk your hard earned $$$ to send a student there?

The chirping at SI by some that says this is showing leadership is incredibly amusing. Apparently these folks have no clue about leadership or integrity.

It’s a pretty sad situation. Hard to imagine how quickly this situation has deteriorated. Hard to see any way out for the Patz family and their play school.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

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.



In a recent exchange elsewhere, I was taken to task over my use of the word ‘apostasy’ with reference to the change in emphasis in another Christian ministry.

This leads me to some thinking on the term. What is ‘apostasy’ anyway? What is ‘the apostasy’ (the specific usage that was challenged)? Is it legitimate to use the term in connection with Christian brothers? So a little Bible study ensues…

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fundamentalists and ETS

Over at Theologically Driven, John Aloisi makes these remarks:

Trueman believes that the main problem with the “evangelical mind” is not that Christians are absent from the academy, but rather that both within and without the academy “evangelicals” lack any agreed upon gospel.

… In light of where I acquired my copy of this book [the recent meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society], I thought it rather ironic that Trueman singles out the ETS for special criticism in this area. He notes that the society’s innocuous 43-word statement of faith could be affirmed with integrity by conservative Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Eastern Orthodox people alike. If such is the case, why call it the Evangelical Theological Society?


I have long argued that the ETS is no place for fundamentalists. Trueman’s observation is absolutely correct, the ETS has a very minimalist doctrinal statement that almost any professing Christian, of almost any stripe, could sign without any twinge of conscience.

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a bit of wisdom for a fundamentalist mindset

NAU  Proverbs 28:4 Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, But those who keep the law strive with them.