An Open Letter from Dr. Matt Olson of Northland International University

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SharperIron's picture
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An Open Letter from Dr. Matt Olson of Northland International University

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Dear Friends in Ministry,

Thank you for your demonstration of true friendship over these past few months. So many of you have called, emailed, and written me. Yes, God has been doing great things. Yet, when He does, the pot gets stirred. Conflict often follows.

What God has been doing among us…

I thought it would be helpful for me to share a few thoughts concerning recent events at Northland as well as our process of thought. My prayer each day is that God would give us grace to work through our present opportunities and challenges in ways that fulfill His purposes for us and that please Him most. Never has there been a more exciting day to prepare this next generation for Great Commission living or to advance kingdom causes!

January 2008: I began praying for God to do “greater things” here at Northland. It seemed to me that the church as a whole had grown cold with the works of men and was crying out for the works of God to be manifest. I prayed to that end:

  1. For God to give us vision and clarity for what He wanted at Northland.
  2. For wisdom in navigating from where we were to where we needed to be.
  3. For boldness and grace—as we knew the process would be difficult.
  4. For abundant provision.
  5. For His name alone to be magnified.

In many ways God has been answering those prayers and has blessed Northland beyond our expectations. We felt, however, that this was only the beginning.

August 15, 2010: I began a forty day journey of fasting and prayer for the works of God to be manifested and for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. I took this step of faith with some uncertainty—not really knowing how I would do or what God would do. I was certain that I was not content to coast through this final stretch of life and ministry without seeing God do something much more. I have been longing for “greater things.” Dr. Ollila, the administration, faculty, and staff joined me in this. I wish I could share all that has taken place. It has been an incredible time!

What I did not expect was the testing that would follow. Yet, now I realize this to be a familiar pattern in scripture and in history. So, we take it from the Lord and respond with strength and grace that He gives. Sometimes our motives and actions can be misunderstood and miscommunicated. I know that happens. I have always felt that the best response would be to communicate in a positive way. The following are a few points of clarification on what is happening at Northland:

1. The Way of Discipleship

We have superseded our demerit system with what we feel is a biblical model of discipleship. In reality, it is a re-commitment to a means of discipleship that has already been present at Northland. We just took away an artificial demerit system that was awkwardly laid on top of our student system of governance. Our standards and expectations remain the same. But, the way we confront and encourage is relational and the consequences practical. Quite honestly, it is a lot more work with this new way. But, it’s more biblical. And it already appears to be yielding better results. We see “The Way of Discipleship” in the spirit of Matthew 5 where Jesus “raised the bar” from the Old Testament law. We believe grace expects more—and deepens more. While we see our system as a “work in progress,” we have been very pleased with the responses of our students, faculty, and staff.

2. Our Music Philosophy

Philosophically, it is unchanged. Let me say it again…unchanged. What we have always been trying to do, and will continue to do into the future, is to make sure Northland’s practice of music (as with every aspect of the Christian life) is built principally on clear teachings from the Bible rather than on reactionary, extra-biblical reasoning that has proven to be troublingly insufficient when exported to cultures beyond American borders. We believe the Bible is sufficient to bring us to right and God-honoring positions regardless of time and culture. Even though we haven’t changed our music at a philosophical level, we are changing our music on a missional level. Where you will see changes is in our intent to expand our training to prepare students for worship and music globally. This only makes sense because, as you may have noticed, Northland International University has become more and more an international, global ministry with a passion to take the gospel where it is not proclaimed. Over 41% of the world’s population is still without a Gospel witness. This has become our students’ burden. Our Director of Fine Arts, Kevin Suiter, has recently informed us he does not believe he can take us forward in this way and thus has announced his plans to move on. We wish Kevin and Grace the best and thank them for the investments they have made here.

3. Our Guest Speakers

We invited two speakers that have generated some questions.

a. Rick Holland. Dr. Holland is the Executive Pastor at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, where John MacArthur is senior pastor. Since we get many questions concerning John MacArthur and where he is in regard to fundamentalism, we decided that the best way to address this was to meet him face to face. In April of this year, Les Ollila, Doug McLachlan, Sam Horn, and I went to California and sat down with Dr. MacArthur, Rick Holland, and Phil Johnson (Executive Director of Grace to You). We had an excellent visit and found that while we did not agree on everything, we did agree on the most substantive issues of life and ministry. While we realize we function in different circles and with different constituencies, we appreciated what they were doing. I invited Rick to visit our campus to see what we were doing at Northland, meet with our Bible faculty, and speak in chapel. This was an opportunity to get to know one another and discuss significant issues of our day.

b. Bruce Ware. Dr. Ware is a professor at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. He is a well-recognized teacher and author. We have invited him to teach half of an advanced-degree seminar on a specialty subject our leading pastors need to be fully versed in. Why? Because Dr. Ware has written so skillfully and authoritatively on this particular topic. This seminar is for experienced, mature pastors who are presently in ministry. We see this as appropriate in the academic context and the type of thing we have done in the past for the very same reasons. In fact, most seminaries bring adjunct professors in to address key issues that they believe helpful. Never has this been intended as a move to align with any other group.

We did not see that having these speakers would be a significant problem. Biblically, we worked through a process of decision making and felt these choices and the context in which they were made were consistent with what we have always believed. Knowing now that these decisions might be confusing, misunderstood, or miscommunicated, we would likely have planned differently. We have no desire to distract from our focus here or on the field of ministry.

We affirm that Northland stands in the historic tradition of Fundamentalism and is committed to remain as an independent, Baptist, separatist institution. We will do our best to serve the local church, which we believe is the primary institution ordained of God to carry out the Great Commission. We respect the autonomy of the local church, the priesthood of the believer, and individual soul liberty. We know that other Fundamentalists will develop different applications based on biblical authority and the principles that flow from it. We will do our best to defer to our brothers in Christ but refuse to be swayed by party politics, threats, and pressures. While deference brings unity, the fear of man paralyzes our ability to serve Christ. In the spirit of Galatians 1, we will serve Christ.

Sometimes I have to smile when I think about the politics in college ministry. Early on I found that I had to just keep it simple: do the right thing, keep a right spirit, communicate the best I can, and leave the results to God. That is all I can do. That’s what I will do. I am not disappointed with differing views and opinions or even challenges that come from healthy critics. These help me grow. What I do think needs to be confronted in our movement is the lack of biblical process in responding to one another when we have questions or disagreements.

We must keep our focus. A friend of mine shared this with me, and I found it to be a great encouragement:

Stick with your work. Do not flinch because the lion roars; do not stop to stone the devil’s dogs; do not fool away your time chasing the devil’s rabbits. Do your work. Let liars lie, let sectarians quarrel, let critics malign, let enemies accuse, let the devil do his worst; but see to it nothing hinders you from fulfilling with joy the work God has given you. He has not commanded you to be admired or esteemed. He has never bidden you to defend your character. He has not set you at work to contradict falsehood about yourself which Satan’s or God’s servants may start to peddle, or to track down every rumor that threatens your reputation. If you do these things, you will do nothing else; you will be at work for yourself and not for the Lord. Keep at your work. Let your aim be as steady as a star. You may be assaulted, wronged, insulted, slandered, wounded and rejected, misunderstood, or assigned impure motives; you may be abused by foes, forsaken by friends, and despised and rejected of men. But see to it with steadfast determination, with unfaltering zeal, that you pursue the great purpose of your life and object of your being until at last you can say, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.”

If you have further questions or comments, please feel free to write or call me. I welcome that. We have never been more excited about our future than we are now. Doc O and I believe that God is moving in a very special way and that the evidence is seen in both the abundant blessing of God and in the attacks of the Devil. We have the greatest and most exciting opportunity in the world—preparing this next generation of servant leaders for Great Commission living. Pray with us as we move boldly forward for the cause of Christ.

Your friend and fellow servant,

MO

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Commendations

I commend Northland for exposing its students to such first-rate teachers and speakers. That is what a college experience should involve. Not that these speakers are even espousing controversial ideas -- but if they were, what safer environment to hear from them than in a fundamentalist college?
Hearing from the best and brightest is part of what you pay for when you plunk down that big chunk of change called college tuition. This should include having the opportunity to learn from world-class speakers who -- even though they may have some disagreement with a particular school -- nevertheless have enough expertise on a certain subject to merit their appearance to address that topic.
On the flip side, how many horror stories could we pull together regarding speakers who we heard in college chapel who were borderline heretics, but were considered "safe" because they were "fundamental." :Sp :Sp :Sp :Sp (I once heard one mock the hypostatic union.)
BTW -- in January Northland will host three speakers from Answers in Genesis on its campus: Terry Mortenson, Jason Lisle and Ken Ham. I think it's great -- great for the students and a good sign that fundamentalism is maturing. Biggrin

The views I express are purely my own. However, I am happy to promote the great ministries with which I work: I minister for www.SermonAudio.com/Whitcomb. I do freelance writing for www.RegularBaptistPress.org. I speak through www.IMISOS.org.

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Amen to everything Paul said.

Amen to everything Paul said. I couldn't have said it better.

Kudos to Matt Olsen and Northland for refusing to genuflect before petty critics and instead seem to be renewing a commitment to giving their charges a well-rounded education by teaching them how to think Biblically, not what to think politically.

Matt -- you don't need to worry about explaining yourself or responding to heel-nippers. Carry on and watch the Lord bless and students come to the great White North. I'm sure there are days when it feels like you are getting nibbled to death by ducks, but in the end, the institution you lead will produce strong grads because you are giving them a broader educational experience.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

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I wonder...

I wonder that if schools like Northland get to cozy with Southern Baptist and Non-Denominational colleges - will they lose students to those schools and end up dying due to lack of enough of a fundamentalist distinction? This is what I think some might fear who disagree with Northland on this.

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Unfortunately, too many

Unfortunately, too many people in fundamentalism are plagued with a critical spirit that results in falsely lumping people and ministries into categories in which they do not belong and where friends become enemies. It also results in a mindset where one can only see the wrong in others but can't quite see the wrong in ourselves, or, it sees the wrongs in others as "worse" than the wrongs in ourselves.

As parents, this hypercritical environment does not help when it comes to leading our children in decisions as to which college they should attend. The only way parents and children will ever be able to make wise choices is to make visiting these campuses a high priority. By visiting the campuses and meeting their leaders, you will be able to filter out truth from the falsehoods out there in blogdom.

As pastors, I believe it is imperative to not jump to conclusions. The pressure for party loyalty, even in fundamentalism, can compete with our loyalty to the Lord and His Word.

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Oops, I'm sorry. I

Oops, I'm sorry. I overlooked the fact that Northland is not using a demerit system. I am not sure how you can ever encourage sanctification in the Christian college environment without demerits. :bigsmile:

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As I already emailed Dr Olson

As I already emailed Dr Olson and what he hinted at, a lot of this has always been true at Northland. Most of the things that have been coming from here lately seem to be just a reaffirmation of what has always been true, but not necessarily taught and displayed adequately by every faculty member.

Of course some things like the removal of the demerit system are new, but the attempt at heart change(discipleship) was always there. I know because I frequented the dean of men's office on many occasion, of my own accord and not. Smile

Only thing I could wish was that this happened while I was still there. And again, keep up the great work there.

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First Steps on the Path of Rapprochement

Several years ago I studied under Bruce Ware in a doctoral program and have a great appreciation for his work in certain areas. However, I know firsthand that he also embraces theological views that position him outside the parameters of Northland's doctrinal statement. Surely there is an obvious difference between using the man's published work and bringing him personally to the campus. There are men within fundamentalism who have equal or superior gifts (and yes, I know several).

A shared pulpit communicates substantial affinity. Eighteen-year-olds who inevitably tend toward hero-worship will never navigate the nuances that distinguish the position of the institution from that of the speaker. Consequently, these are the first steps on the path of rapprochement with conservative evangelicalism. I do not suggest that this is Matt's intention, but it certainly will be the result. To deny this, in my opinion, exhibits a degree of tone deafness to the lessons of history.

Some hastily applaud and justify these moves by pointing out the shameful fact that our institutions have used chapel sessions to expose our students to the worst that fundamentalism has to offer (poor theology and worse exegesis). Such an obvious fallacy carries no weight. The solution is relational consistency that clarifies and supports our biblical commitments rather than broadening the inconsistency so that confusion multiplies.

I am certain that these decisions will eventually prove unwise, prayer and fasting notwithstanding.

ST

Steven Thomas

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I applaud Northland and

I applaud Northland and brother Matt Olson in this. I pray God's blessing on their willingness to follow God's leading and be truly independent. Fundamentalists prize autonomy and independence, except when it means people break from the ranks in some sacred cow issue.

I am excited about the change with demerits and the desire to offer a quality education. The strong arm politics that is involved in the administration of Bible colleges on both spectrums of fundamentalism -- I've seen first hand. It's not pretty.

I applaud from a distance and appreciate their trajectory, and humility. May God raise up other courageous leaders who will serve within fundamentalism in ways faithful to God and not be afraid to pursue Christian unity when possible with other likeminded believers.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

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Steven Thomas wrote: I am

Steven Thomas wrote:
I am certain that these decisions will eventually prove unwise, prayer and fasting notwithstanding.
ST

Hi Steve,

How will you be able to "eventually prove" that Northland's decisions were unwise? IOW, what measure will you use to show that their changes were unbiblical?

Just wondering...

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Cross-Comment

Also posted in this thread: http://sharperiron.org/comment/21780#comment-21780

Matt Olson wrote:
We did not see that having these speakers would be a significant problem. Biblically, we worked through a process of decision making and felt these choices and the context in which they were made were consistent with what we have always believed. Knowing now that these decisions might be confusing, misunderstood, or miscommunicated, we would likely have planned differently. We have no desire to distract from our focus here or on the field of ministry.

Don Johnson wrote:
It is simply unbelievable that you didn’t see a huge negative reaction coming.

I think Don is right in this statement. Whether or not you agree with what Olson is doing at Northland, it seems incredibly naive at best to think that this would not evoke a response from Northland's established constituency, who were used to previously established practices that (for whatever reason) did not include practices or invitations such as have recently occurred. Even if you agree with these changes Olson has implemented, I don't think it's unreasonable to say that a better job could have been done at explaining the rationale prior to the events, or at least acknowledging that some will differ and disagree with the choices made. Appealing to "oh, we didn't know" strikes me as incredibly lame.

Greg Linscott
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marshall, MN
http://www.facebook.com/greglinscott

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Steven Thomas wrote: A shared

Steven Thomas wrote:

A shared pulpit communicates substantial affinity. Eighteen-year-olds who inevitably tend toward hero-worship will never navigate the nuances that distinguish the position of the institution from that of the speaker.

Perhaps Mr. Thomas missed the part where Matt Olson said:

Matt Olson wrote:

This seminar is for experienced, mature pastors who are presently in ministry. We see this as appropriate in the academic context and the type of thing we have done in the past for the very same reasons.

On top of this, the letter did not mention the fact that when Bruce Ware will be teaching at NIU is in the summer, when students are not here. The reality is most students when they have heard about this have responded "who is Bruce Ware?"

NIU is not a church and Bruce Ware is not preaching in a chapel so there is no shared pulpit. He is sharing his academic expertise to mature pastors in a doctoral program.

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The use of the pulpit

Brethren, I think we are altogether too superstitious about the function of a pulpit. I think most people of average intelligence can discern that someone's presence behind a pulpit does not endow them with super spiritual powers or infallibility. I don't think it should be used to sell Tupperware or host American Idol tryouts, but in a university setting, it also has an academic purpose as well as a spiritual one. I don't think it is cause for alarm if someone is given the opportunity to speak- and if they espouse something the administration finds objectionable or inaccurate, then they are free to deal with this with the student body and the speaker in an appropriate manner.

In our every day lives, we use materials and study from resources authored by unregenerate men and women who are considered experts, and who is going to question the validity of that? Why shouldn't an educational institution avail itself of people who have earned their stripes in their field? Christian universities are not churches, and although they should be guided by Biblical principles, they are not founded for the same purpose as a church, and thus their operational methods will not be the same in every area.

I believe that thinking of 18+ young people as being little more than large children is wrong-headed. And if these young people are attending college without two brain cells to rub together or the ability to adequately discern truth from heresy, it's the parents who need to be paid a visit. Where is the discipling, mentoring, and training before these kids turn 18? And if, angels forfend, young men and women are into "hero worshipping' at the expense of truth, then they are idolaters at heart, and that's a problem that a university isn't responsible for nor is it really equipped to handle at the institutional level.

Ditto on getting rid of demerits. I graduated (not from Northland, btw) with 99 demerits (100 earned automatic expulsion) for things like walking through the dorm with my tennis shoes untied. Apparently loose laces were a sign of loose morals. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-confused002.gif[/img ]

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A Point of Clarification

gadietrich wrote:

Perhaps Mr. Thomas missed the part where Matt Olson said:

Matt Olson wrote:

This seminar is for experienced, mature pastors who are presently in ministry. We see this as appropriate in the academic context and the type of thing we have done in the past for the very same reasons.

I did not miss anything. I dealt with Northland's invitation to Bruce Ware in the first paragraph. This quote is from my second paragraph in which I moved on to another, but related subject, namely the use of conservative evangelicals in the chapel pulpit. I did not refer to Rick Holland by name, but that portion of the letter was my point of reference.

[color=gray ][size=10 ]Edited to fix quote tags- AB[/size ][/color ]

Steven Thomas

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niche

WilliamD wrote:
I wonder that if schools like Northland get to cozy with Southern Baptist and Non-Denominational colleges - will they lose students to those schools and end up dying due to lack of enough of a fundamentalist distinction? This is what I think some might fear who disagree with Northland on this.

I think this is an angle that many who appear to be "blurring the old lines" might be overlooking.
And it speaks to the question that has been on my mind for a while: even without the reaction factors, why is it worth the trouble to get a group together and fly out to CA to get to know the folks at Grace and then invite one of them to preach? I can't believe that the chapel pulpit schedule was running out of competent expositors (nobody asked me to preach there yet... and I'm not nearly so far away or so controversial Smile ).

You can find out everything you need to know about these folks by listening to their preaching and reading their writings (and what you find out as that, as the letter says, there is substantial agreement yet important differences). So after the visit and the chapel event, what do we know that we didn't know before? "Finding out..." doesn't seem to be an adequate motivation.

So I don't mean to be cynical, but I wonder, are the fundamentalist institutions that are forming closer ties to evangelicals simply unwilling to remain small and focused on their core constituency?
Maybe, since that constituency is shrinking, holding on to the niche is a losing proposition. But if that's the case, I'd love to see NIU (and the folks in PA who have Dever coming to speak in a few months) just come out and say: "Hey, we want to keep growing and we just can't find enough students among dyed-in-the-wool fundamentalists anymore, so we're reaching across the old boundaries."
But as William suggested, I think this will not work as a growth strategy.

So you can probably see that the burning question for me remains "Why bother?"

As for Bruce Ware, that one actually makes complete sense to me. Sure, bring in an expert on a topic. But the chapel at Northland and other fundamentalist institutions has generally not been a venue for diversity--not a place to sample the thinking of "people who are not us." It hasn't been that kind of forum. Rather, I think the chapel pulpit has generally been seen as a place where you highlight examples--showcase the finest (or at least those deemed "safe"), so to speak.
Perhaps I'm way off on that. I didn't attend NBBC. But we certainly got that impression at BJU.

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What is Leadership?

While I do agree with Don that NBBC should have expected some backlash, I really think that at the end of the day, this is ultimately a good example of leadership by Olsen and the school.

You can sit and be safe by avoiding all kinds of controversy, or you can do what you think is best by exposing your students and staff to viewpoints that differ from yours. Holland and MacArthur aren't the same kind of Fundy that we are, but I'd rather have been challenged and come to the right decisions than spend my life parroting lines that I know I can't believe or support (which is something that I have already gone through personally). Ware is supposedly a world class scholar in his field (Open Theism?), but since I don't know what he taught on at NIU I really can't comment on that. I'd support his speaking to the D.Min as well.

-----------
"It is not because the culture is always changing...but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us...that the church can never stand still." - M. Horton

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The chicago way will not die.

The chicago way will not die. The mentality that it is best for the young people to just sit down, shut up, and believe what you are told by the veterans of the mob wars is still all too real.

Too many make decisions based on fear under the disguise of biblical faithfulness. I am glad Northland is moving away from the neofundamentalism of yesteryear and instead moving toward actual historic fundamentalism.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Amen to Susan

Susan R wrote:
I believe that thinking of 18+ young people as being little more than large children is wrong-headed. And if these young people are attending college without two brain cells to rub together or the ability to adequately discern truth from heresy, it's the parents who need to be paid a visit. Where is the discipling, mentoring, and training before these kids turn 18? And if, angels forfend, young men and women are into "hero worshipping' at the expense of truth, then they are idolaters at heart, and that's a problem that a university isn't responsible for nor is it really equipped to handle at the institutional level.

I think you are hitting on a long-standing, deep-seated problem within fundamentalism. We really have come a long, long way, but there is still a lot further to go in some quarters. By the time a young adult graduates from high school and goes off to a fundamentalist college, he or she should already be somewhat prepared for life and should be excited about learning new information at a very high level (worth $15,000+ per year[? ]), sorted through a Biblical worldview.
He should not need to be told things like when to go to bed and when to get up. This isn't the military, and "because we said so" is not a good enough reason to have such a rule. (Perhaps institutions also need to become rigorous in their entrance requirements.)
The same applies to "pulpit fellowship." If I can turn on my radio or MP3 player and hear world-class teaching at the touch of a button, why would I want to invest a life savings into hearing mediocre (or worse) chapel speakers and teachers -- such as inadequately-trained evangelists and pastors who are important to the school's constituency.
Technology is changing all this. It is not so much that today's students are more sophisticated -- it is simply that they have more options and many of them are not going to put up with this kind of thing any longer at today's costs.

Pastor Thomas states: "Some hastily applaud and justify these moves by pointing out the shameful fact that our institutions have used chapel sessions to expose our students to the worst that fundamentalism has to offer (poor theology and worse exegesis)."

I would add, let's not be too hasty in dismissing the harm that this has caused in the lives of young people or the damage it has brought to fundamentalism's reputation.

The views I express are purely my own. However, I am happy to promote the great ministries with which I work: I minister for www.SermonAudio.com/Whitcomb. I do freelance writing for www.RegularBaptistPress.org. I speak through www.IMISOS.org.

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James K wrote: The chicago

James K wrote:
The chicago way will not die. The mentality that it is best for the young people to just sit down, shut up, and believe what you are told by the veterans of the mob wars is still all too real.

You're kind of losing me on what the mob wars have to do with anything here.

James K wrote:
Too many make decisions based on fear under the disguise of biblical faithfulness.

I wonder how you could know that? I mean, I don't doubt it happens, but how do you know how "many" have done this?

James K wrote:
I am glad Northland is moving away from the neofundamentalism of yesteryear and instead moving toward actual historic fundamentalism.

I think it's fair to say that historic fundamentalism had a different focus--anti-modernism vs. anti-evangelicalism. And I would agree that, as a focus, this was much healthier. On the other hand, it might be naive to suppose that we can sort of turn back the hands of the clock as though the neo-evangelical movement never happened. It did happen, and so the simplicity of the pre-NEA and pre-Billy Graham days of fundamentalism are truly beyond reach now. There's no putting that paste back in the tube.

Susan wrote:
Where is the discipling, mentoring, and training before these kids turn 18? And if, angels forfend, young men and women are into "hero worshipping' at the expense of truth, then they are idolaters at heart, and that's a problem that a university isn't responsible for nor is it really equipped to handle at the institutional level.

I don't really disagree with this except that we have to deal with what is. Schools have to train the students they have, not the students they ought to have. And it's a solid observation that younger folks tend more toward hero worship than older ones. You tend get a little more skeptical by the time you're 40. So we shouldn't be too quick to dismiss the "Schools need to be careful who they hold up as examples for the adoring fans" argument.

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"The Meeting" fascinates me

"The Meeting" fascinates me

Quote:
Since we get many questions concerning John MacArthur and where he is in regard to fundamentalism, we decided that the best way to address this was to meet him face to face. In April of this year, Les Ollila, Doug McLachlan, Sam Horn, and I went to California and sat down with Dr. MacArthur, Rick Holland, and Phil Johnson (Executive Director of Grace to You). We had an excellent visit and found that while we did not agree on everything, we did agree on the most substantive issues of life and ministry. While we realize we function in different circles and with different constituencies, we appreciated what they were doing. I invited Rick to visit our campus to see what we were doing at Northland, meet with our Bible faculty, and speak in chapel. This was an opportunity to get to know one another and discuss significant issues of our day.

Questions / Comments:

  • "we decided that the best way to address this was to meet him face to face". Comment: I would think that one could know quite a bit about John MacArthur by just reading his books and following his ministry.
  • " ... went to California ...". From a businessman's perspective you would think they could set up a meeting without the expense of traveling. You know each group in a conference room with a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycom ]Polycom .
  • This is would like to see fleshed out
    • "while we did not agree on everything" - as in like what!
    • "we did agree on the most substantive issues of life and ministry" - ditto
    • "discuss significant issues of our day" - ditto

    As to Don's blog post ( http://www.sharperiron.org/filings/11-23-10/17090 ]filing here ):

    • Some have seen that Don's comments are "condescending and obnoxious". I don't see it that way. I think he raised some good points like - what changed since 2005? (with links back to the old S/I)
    • As to "It is simply unbelievable that you didn’t see a huge negative reaction coming". No negative reaction from me, but I can see why many would react the way that apparently they have!
    • I can see the value of having Ware speak to D Min students. At that level you would think they would be able to sort out the wheat from the chaff of any conversation.
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WilliamD wrote: I wonder that

WilliamD wrote:
I wonder that if schools like Northland get to cozy with Southern Baptist and Non-Denominational colleges - will they lose students to those schools and end up dying due to lack of enough of a fundamentalist distinction? This is what I think some might fear who disagree with Northland on this.

Quite the opposite WilliamD. The "schools like Northland" are ALREADY losing students to other colleges and universities by the droves because they do NOT expose their students to a more diverse view of the whole of conservative Christianity and give them an environment in which to fail, pick themselves back up and try again. That's why the Liberty Universities and Cedarvilles continue to set new attendance records while Pillsbury closes and multiple other similar schools are on life-support in the face of dropping enrollment (Names redacted to avoid unnecessary controversy). They get it.... albeit sometimes imperfectly and in some cases in ways that deserve some brotherly confrontation, but they seem to understand where today's generation of college-aged students are living.

The Southern Baptist colleges are by and large gone. Corrupt. They saved some of their seminaries, but lost their colleges. I can't think of one original SBC college where I'd fit theologically. The failure of the fundamental colleges and universities to reach out and include a broader definition of "fundamentalism" (aka "historic") has forever stunted their ability to have a leadership role in the direction of evangelicalism in general (as they once did.) It's a shame.

Today, fundamentalist colleges/universities fight for a shrinking pool of available candidates who would even consider attending there and in order to attract a loyal following, they define themselves too frequently with narrow, extraBiblical positions that appeal only to people who already sing in their own choirs. If fundamentalism represents TRUTH, why should we not be using it to challenge the thinking of others rather than retreat to our high-walled palaces and waiting for the inevitable? Can it not stand up to the pimply-faced emergent kid who walks on campus with "Velvet Elvis" under his arm? Do we not have scholars who can pick apart deconstructionism and hyper-Calvinism and social gospel revivalists? How can we expect to make an impact when we are more concerned about purity in the puddle than making waves in the ocean?

And on another note, whether or not Olsen was naive (or even manipulative) requires a level of insight and judging with which I'm not comfortable. How frequently have I, when on the defensive, tried to explain my rationale for something and ended up inaccurately articulating my heart and motivation. Leaders are human and prone to pride, paranoia and simple mistakes. I don't understand the rush to pin Olson's motivation to the wall by virtue of a single letter. Johnson seems like a weak and pathetic choice to try and do so for those who seem so inclined.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

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Jim Peet wrote: "we decided

Jim Peet wrote:

  • "we decided that the best way to address this was to meet him face to face". Comment: I would think that one could know quite a bit about John MacArthur by just reading his books and following his ministry.

    As to Don's blog post ( http://www.sharperiron.org/filings/11-23-10/17090 ]filing here ):

    • Some have seen that Don's comments are "condescending and obnoxious". I don't see it that way.

As for the first point -- Actually, you will find the "in person" John MacArthur to be quite different than in his books. While his books come off rigid and at times harsh, in person he is warm, expansive and reasonable. I think it was an excellent idea to talk to John, Rick and Phil in person -- all of whom are immensely intelligent and interesting men. In addition, one of the problems in fundamentalism has been that we tend to talk "over" each other in the form of books and open letters rather than "to" each other.

On the second item -- I really find that stunning, Jim. Seriously, you don't find a palpable difference in the tone of Johnson vs Olson?

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

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Stunned? Answering

Dan Burrell wrote:
On the second item -- I really find that stunning, Jim. Seriously, you don't find a palpable difference in the tone of Johnson vs Olson?

  • Yes I see I difference in the tone
  • And no, I didn't find Don's comments "condescending and obnoxious" nor do I find him "weak and pathetic"

Suggest you interact with his views (whether you agree with him or not)

On these two I agree with Don:

  • "It is simply unbelievable that you didn’t see a huge negative reaction coming" (Like I said early ... no negative reaction form me!)
  • And Don's comparison of NBBC circa 2005 versus today.
    • Whether the change is good or bad, for better or for worse
    • It is a change

* I would be ok with John Mac speaking at my own church!

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Dan Burrell wrote: If

Dan Burrell wrote:
If fundamentalism represents TRUTH, why should we not be using it to challenge the thinking of others rather than retreat to our high-walled palaces and waiting for the inevitable? Can it not stand up to the pimply-faced emergent kid who walks on campus with "Velvet Elvis" under his arm? Do we not have scholars who can pick apart deconstructionism and hyper-Calvinism and social gospel revivalists? How can we expect to make an impact when we are more concerned about purity in the puddle than making waves in the ocean?

Amen, good thoughts, Dan.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

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Just thinking...

"We did not see that having these speakers would be a significant problem."

"It is simply unbelievable that you didn’t see a huge negative reaction coming".

These are two entirely different issues. I don't "see" a problem with it either, although I might "foresee" others having a problem with it. Perhaps this whole line of interpreting Olsen's letter is skewed.

The views I express are purely my own. However, I am happy to promote the great ministries with which I work: I minister for www.SermonAudio.com/Whitcomb. I do freelance writing for www.RegularBaptistPress.org. I speak through www.IMISOS.org.

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Words Mean Things...

Dan Burrell wrote:
And on another note, whether or not Olsen was naive (or even manipulative) requires a level of insight and judging with which I'm not comfortable. How frequently have I, when on the defensive, tried to explain my rationale for something and ended up inaccurately articulating my heart and motivation. Leaders are human and prone to pride, paranoia and simple mistakes. I don't understand the rush to pin Olson's motivation to the wall by virtue of a single letter. Johnson seems like a weak and pathetic choice to try and do so for those who seem so inclined.

Dan,

The choice of words used by Olson in this letter is what I am basing my agreement with Don's point on. Supporting the recent choices of Olson at Northland is another issue. Olson's intentions, even in this letter, perhaps are commendable. But to say "we did not see" or "knowing now that these decisions might be confusing, misunderstood, or miscommunicated" (as though there was no possible reason to anticipate negative reaction) is bordering on impossible, especially in light of the specific events that Don highlighted when Les Ollila withdrew from the God-Focused conference because of Holland's inclusion as a speaker. A friend who was intimately involved at Positive Action at that time shared details of the situation at that time that included the decision to have Ollila withdraw being initiated by Olson himself.

Again, I am not disputing whether or not this is the right direction for Northland. What I am disputing is whether or not the situation is being represented accurately by Olson. If he believes that was the wrong decision back then, fine- Man up and say so. But don't go all Casablanca on us and say that you're shocked, shocked to find gambling going on at Rick's.

An aside- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27845030/ns/us_news-life ]Stephen Jones is a model of what good leadership can (and should) do in situations like these:

Stephen Jones, wrote:
Consequently, for far too long, we allowed institutional policies regarding race to be shaped more directly by that ethos than by the principles and precepts of the Scriptures. We conformed to the culture rather than provide a clear Christian counterpoint to it.

In so doing, we failed to accurately represent the Lord and to fulfill the commandment to love others as ourselves. For these failures we are profoundly sorry. Though no known antagonism toward minorities or expressions of racism on a personal level have ever been tolerated on our campus, we allowed institutional policies to remain in place that were racially hurtful.

"We were wrong" is hard, but it is sometimes what is needed. This Northland issue may not rise to the same level as BJU racist issue, but it is a similar admission that I believe is called for if Olson wants to maintain personal and institutional integrity.

Greg Linscott
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marshall, MN
http://www.facebook.com/greglinscott

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Not the issue

Greg Linscott wrote:
Again, I am not disputing whether or not this is the right direction for Northland. What I am disputing is whether or not the situation is being represented accurately by Olson. If he believes that was the wrong decision back then, fine- Man up and say so.

For me, that is not the issue at all. Not being a Northland grad or anything, maybe I just don't have a dog in the hunt. But to me this is a teachable moment to evaluate the substance of where fundamentalism has been and where it is going -- in terms of the question of which is more important: theology and Biblical content, or separation (which in theory is supposed to be based on theology and content, but has often been pushed to center stage, with theology becoming a political football).

The views I express are purely my own. However, I am happy to promote the great ministries with which I work: I minister for www.SermonAudio.com/Whitcomb. I do freelance writing for www.RegularBaptistPress.org. I speak through www.IMISOS.org.

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Can we correct the spelling

Can we correct the spelling error on Dr Olson's name?
Should be

olsOn

I know it may not be that big of a deal, but it is a bit distracting probably to most that attended N under him.

Thanks

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Somewhat in Agreement, Paul...

Paul,

The problem I see is with this situation is if changes in Fundamentalism are needed, leaders implementing them while simultaneously appealing that they are keeping things the way they always have been does no one any good.

Greg Linscott
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To the critics...

Perhaps Northland's critics could help us understand their position better by taking a moment to answer the following questions:

1. In what way did Rick Holland's chapel appearance hurt the cause of biblical Christianity?

2. How does a public denunciation of Rick Holland and Bruce Ware better advance the cause of the gospel?

3. How does completely sealing off fundamentalism from the rest of conservative Christianity promote a healthier fundamentalism?

4. Why do you feel that indoctrination is the best educational model? In other words, how will a "see no evangelical, hear no evangelical" approach to education improve the quality of the graduates?

Just wondering.

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Name spelling fix

Daniel wrote:
Can we correct the spelling error on Dr Olson's name?
Should be

olsOn


Fixed now. Thanks for pointing it out. I'm not one of the regular editors, but I try to fix these when I know about them (names are harder, since you have to know them first).

Dave Barnhart

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your questions are not exactly what the controversy is about

Brandon Crawford wrote:
Perhaps Northland's critics could help us understand their position better by taking a moment to answer the following questions:

1. In what way did Rick Holland's chapel appearance hurt the cause of biblical Christianity?

I am not sure we are in a position to evaluate this question. In criticizing Matt's letter, I am not really dealing with the appearance of Rick Holland at Northland, even though I disagree with it... and my disagreement isn't based on "hurting the cause of Biblical Christianity"... you are assuming too much in asking the question the way you do.

Brandon Crawford wrote:
2. How does a public denunciation of Rick Holland and Bruce Ware better advance the cause of the gospel?

How am I denouncing them? I am criticising Matt's letter, not them.

Brandon Crawford wrote:
3. How does completely sealing off fundamentalism from the rest of conservative Christianity promote a healthier fundamentalism?

Sealing off... I don't think that is what I would be advocating. But the issue for fundamentalists and evangelicals for the last 60 years has been ministry cooperation. Can we work with a brother given his positions vis a vis separation from error or worldliness? Apparently Matt believes he can work with, say Rick Holland and MacArthur in spite of the worldliness of the Resolved Conference and their connections with charismatics. That's fine, Matt can make his own decisions about that. But the rest of us have a right to evaluate our relationship with Matt based on his associations, no? And so we are.

And Matt appears to be surprised about it! Unbelievable.

Brandon Crawford wrote:
4. Why do you feel that indoctrination is the best educational model? In other words, how will a "see no evangelical, hear no evangelical" approach to education improve the quality of the graduates?

Just wondering.

Again, you are assuming some things by your question, so you are attempting to make us say something we are not by asking your question that way.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Don's Criticism

Don's criticism is substantially right. Doesn't really matter if you like him or his tone or his position. It boils down to this:

- To say that they are surprised by backlash seems remarkably naive.
- To say that they are not really changing seems to be remarkably disingenuous.

I say "seem" because I am happy about the changes and would very much like to give them the benefit of the doubt. However, I find it difficult to swallow the spin that things are as they always were since I was a student there myself and having persons such as Holland, Ware, and Simien was out of the question according to the lectured positions on separation when I was there. Call it what you will, but most reg'ler folk call it "change."

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Glad to see this

I'm thrilled that the leadership has such a great desire to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit and Biblical frameworks for discipleship. This is SO refreshing in Fundamentalism!

Bruce

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Brandon's questions

Brandon Crawford wrote:
Perhaps Northland's critics could help us understand their position better by taking a moment to answer the following questions:
1. In what way did Rick Holland's chapel appearance hurt the cause of biblical Christianity?
2. How does a public denunciation of Rick Holland and Bruce Ware better advance the cause of the gospel?
3. How does completely sealing off fundamentalism from the rest of conservative Christianity promote a healthier fundamentalism?
4. Why do you feel that indoctrination is the best educational model? In other words, how will a "see no evangelical, hear no evangelical" approach to education improve the quality of the graduates?

I'm not sure if I'm exactly among the critics (I think I'll claim "Still not entirely clear on the whole chapel speaker thing"). But the questions are pulling at me so...

#1 - In my view, the impact is very indirect if any. My own concerns have to do with fundamentalist identity, which I believe has an important role in "the cause of biblical Christianity." But there are many important roles. But the event is significant both from the standpoint of the recent history of fundamentalism and also the institutional history of Northland.

#2 - I'm not sure anybody's asked for a "public denunciation." I wouldn't personally see why that would be necessary. But if indeed, as the letter says, there are important differences--properly valuing those differences may not be well served by chapel engagements. The case can certainly be made that they are well served, but given that this is a departure from fundamentalist practice over the last several decades, it's not unreasonable to expect this kind of reaching out to be preceded by publicly making a really strong case for it.

#3 - Several possibilities come to mind. For one, this has been the status quo for a good long time now, so those arguing for maintaining that kind of distance are not reaching for something new. I'm not sure "completely sealing off" accurately describes how things have worked, but sealing off to the extent that chapel--and usually course instructors--do not include non-fundamentalists has been the norm. It's pretty easy to make the case that in the environment of the 40's & 50's, that was essential to the health of fundamentalism. It's harder to make that case now since there seem to be more evangelicals now who do not fit the "new evangelical" mold.

#4 - I don't really know what you mean by that one. We all know that these guys are seen and heard by all. The controversy is about (a) what we are communicating and (b) what kinds of increased influence we are opening up to by these adjustments to the old boundaries. (I guess there are some who really do want to avoid books, conferences and everything else the CE's touch. In my view, that's impossible so whether it's good or bad is moot.)

Personally, I think the landscape has changed enough that some redrawing of lines is inevitable. But there are alot of ways to mess that up and I'm not clear on what there is to gain in some of these recent events.

It seems clear though that everybody's going to have to get used to a period of boundary murkiness. It's just where the movement is now, and I don't see any end to that on the horizon.

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This is a change

This IS a change. But sadly, it's a change without acknowledgment of or repentance over the legitimate problems they are addressing. Which means it won't be Biblical change. There is no humble heart of repentance. Apart from that, it's just changing the externals.

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I agree with the first 4 words

Louise Dan wrote:
This IS a change. But sadly, it's a change without acknowledgment of or repentance over the legitimate problems they are addressing. Which means it won't be Biblical change. There is no humble heart of repentance. Apart from that, it's just changing the externals.

I agree with the first 4 words! (and not the remainder)

I appreciate Dr Olson's letter. My observation is that as we pray, as we study the Word and seek to follow Him; that there will be differences of opinion about the application of the Word. One may differ with Dr Olson (as my friend Don Johnson did). It is change (as http://bobbixby.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/we-are-changing-we-are-not-chan... brother Bixby notes on is blog ).

For me, I have great confidence in the leadership team at Northland (although I still can't bring myself to call it an International University!)

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The issue is...COMMON SENSE!

I have posted on the thread regarding Don Johnson's statement on this matter.

My final summary was:

Quote:
Matt Olson, Les Ollilla, Doug McLachlan, and others must be naive as to the real ministry results and consequences of some of John MacArthur's beliefs and ministry, as seen by those here in Southern California and the West coast. He has a good ministry in many respects but the increasing negative consequences is a concern to many. Why do these classic Fundamentalists feel a need to have association with this ministry? Why travel to Grace Community for a meeting? Mac Arthur may be viewed as a big name and influential preacher in some circles. However, the concerns increase as you cross the Rockies and with those more familiar with all aspects of the ministry and results.

As convictions erode and institutions change, it is never clear cut denials and open change of practices. It is always gradual undercover change and a gradual minimizing of convictions without any direct assertions. It is here a little and there a little until all of a sudden a there is realization that there has been a real change that has taken place. Some Fundamentalists are not Paranoid just experienced.

As to the endorsing of KJVO and some considered Hyper Fundamentalists. Just don't do it!! That has no bearing on the right or wrong of other endorsements and associations.

As for those calling the statements by Don Johnson as arrogant and condescending: NONSENSE! That was the old continued accusations of the Neo Evangelicals whenever such issues were raised. By contrast they hoped to be seen as loving and humble as they advocated their compromise. I have lived through some of that.

Rick Holland is not only on the staff at Grace Community church, he is the driving and organizing leadership behind the ResolveConference for youth and young adults. This is a conference that pushes Reformed theology conviction within the context of extreme hard driving music imported from our contemporary amoral youth culture.

What was said to the students of a college or university when he is invited to speak in chapel?

Many posters here are very quick to give accolades to what is obvious compromise. The same old arguments heard over and over again in the sixties and seventies from the Neo Evangelicals who had left, and were leaving Fundamentalism, are still being trumpeted but now by a new generation. Some are; Fundamentalism is exclusive, losing their youth, closed minded, not accepting good men who have Biblical ministries, will accept right wing extremists, etc.

The reasons for my comments involve the ministry of John MacArthur and were given in two posts on the thread regarding Don Johnson's reply.

The issue here is the acceptability of the ministry of John MacArthur. That is so because Rick Holland is on John's church staff and Rick Holland's invitation followed a visit to him.

I am getting the impression that many who are Fundamentalist leaders today are just plain naive. This appears the case with Northland and also with Calvary Sem. who have invited militant Reformed Baptist Mark Dever to speak.

Some of what are being labelled CE's may say much that is good, and have much that we can benefit from in their writings and messages. However, they also are off the mark sufficiently to be a danger in influence if Pastors and other leaders give the impression of endorsements through invitations to speak. The admonitions of Acts 20:17-35 give us a mandate and duty to be ever diligent and discerning. I can fellowship with many I would not invite to speak or be associated with in ministry.

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One other comment

The message by Matt Olson is mush served with Chop Stix to eat it. Reminds me of other letters I have read written by some other college Presidents as they sought to placate the alumni and donors while moving away from the schools historic stand. Unintended consequences lie ahead.

Obama transparency at work.

Someone should read or reread Dr. Rolland McCune's book "Promise Unfufilled: The failed strategy of Modern Evangelicalism."

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Explain Yourself

Bob T. wrote:
Unintended consequences lie ahead.

Hi Bob,

Kindly explain what unintended consequences lie ahead.

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thanks and clarifications

To those who answered my questions, I thank you. And you are right, my questions did have some huge assumptions in them. Chief among them were the following: (1) That the mission of fundamentalism is to preserve and propagate the historic Protestant faith; and (2) So long as the decisions of a fundamentalist leader remain consistent with that mission, he should not be criticized on the WORLD WIDE WEB.

The changes at Northland are a legitimate subject for discussion. However, I don't think it serves our cause at all to lace our posts with sarcasm or unnecessarily harsh language. Matt Olson has not introduced Northland's student body to unorthodox teaching or encouraged the students to extend Christian fellowship to unbelievers.

Privately, some may feel compelled to talk to Matt Olson about these issues. But let's not be too critical on a public forum like this one. Publicly, let's either show him our support or remain silent.

P.s. If you are reading this and don't think my words apply to you, they probably don't.

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Brandon Crawford wrote: To

Brandon Crawford wrote:
To those who answered my questions, I thank you. And you are right, my questions did have some huge assumptions in them. Chief among them were the following: (1) That the mission of fundamentalism is to preserve and propagate the historic Protestant faith; and (2) So long as the decisions of a fundamentalist leader remain consistent with that mission, he should not be criticized on the WORLD WIDE WEB.

I thought it was only the "cultural fundamentalists" whose leaders were beyond criticism.

Brandon Crawford wrote:
The changes at Northland are a legitimate subject for discussion. However, I don't think it serves our cause at all to lace our posts with sarcasm or unnecessarily harsh language. Matt Olson has not introduced Northland's student body to unorthodox teaching or encouraged the students to extend Christian fellowship to unbelievers.

That is not what I am criticising him for in this instance. I am criticising him for playing politics and offering up a disengenuous letter to the WORLD at large.

Brandon Crawford wrote:
Privately, some may feel compelled to talk to Matt Olson about these issues. But let's not be too critical on a public forum like this one. Publicly, let's either show him our support or remain silent.

Right, move on, move on, nothing to see here. The new Babtist gurus have spoken and must not be subject to criticism. Might harm their fragile egos, you know.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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And you wonder

Why people leave Fundamentalism?? I do not... with all of the sniping at Matt Olson, Northland, etc. It does not surprise me at all.

Personally, I think it is great that they have invited Rick Holland and Bruce Ware. Exposure to different viewpoints is not a sin.

I am also glad that they went personally and met face to face with MacArthur, Holland, and Phil Johnson. I have never met MacArthur or Holland, but I have met Phil and he is a Christian gentleman and I appreciate his contributions to the body of Christ in a larger context.

Did those of you who disagree with Matt Olson and NIU read that they admit upfront that there are some areas of disagreement?

Last time I checked there is such a thing called amicable disagreement - fundamentalists sometimes do not know what this means.

I can hear now, "Oh no, Northland is going liberal because they had Ware and Holland in to speak"

Nothing could be further from the truth....

It is about time a fundamentalist institution quit living in the 1950's and I am glad that they are not catering to the opinions of everyone out there.

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Righter than thou

Bob T. wrote:
I am getting the impression that many who are Fundamentalist leaders today are just plain naive. This appears the case with Northland and also with Calvary Sem. who have invited militant Reformed Baptist Mark Dever to speak.

Bob:

You have it right. These leaders are naive and you are discerning?. I mean why would anyone want to fellowship with a militant Reformed Baptist or with those who import music from "an amoral youth culture"? It's all so clear. Shame on them. Surely the Bible speaks to that and I will let you know when I find it.

Steve

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The family heads carve out

The family heads carve out their territories, and if you ever cross them, watch out. Beg for forgiveness and kiss the rings all you who wish to see scripture rule over culture.

By the way, did McCune ever write a follow up to Promise Unfilfilled regarding fundamentalism and its failures?

The new media has stripped the family heads of their power. They don't control the information anymore so they can't control the people.

Don and Bob help make my point better than I possibly could. On this day of thanksgiving, I thank you both.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Is the corresponding

Is the corresponding "Filings" thread that had Johnson's letter being censored or are the links broken?

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

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I can't think of one original

I can't think of one original SBC college where I'd fit theologically.

North Greenville University - probably closer than you think Dan

Bruce

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Drive by shots...

James,

I think I understand you're basic point, but I'd like to appeal to you to not just take random shots at people or deliberately try to provoke argument by poking people in the eye verbally. Maybe we've reached the point where nothing good can be accomplished in forums like this, but I am not sure everybody agrees with that.

Dr. McCune was very clear in his critique of the problems within Fundamentalism and caught a good bit of flack from the kinds of people you are lampooning. We'd all be better served by sticking to the subject at hand and not taking random shots at people.

DMD

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Filing link to Don Johnson's post on Northland is broken

Jay C wrote:
Dan, I do think that the Filings thread is wonky. We've already noted it in the Admin forum, but that's all we can do until Aaron checks into it. Thanks for the note though.

***** Forum Director Comment ******
I have tried to access that filing every which way in the last hour .... without success

We did not close it ... did not censor it ... just a broken link

Aaron will look into it
******************************

-----------
"It is not because the culture is always changing...but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us...that the church can never stand still." - M. Horton

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Good on ya', Drs. O, et al!

I don't know all the details here, but from what I can read it sounds like you're doing some great things at Northland.

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DMD wrote: Maybe we've

DMD wrote:
Maybe we've reached the point where nothing good can be accomplished in forums like this, but I am not sure everybody agrees with that.

Thanks for the vote of confidence. ;)

One thing's for sure: as the level of vehemence rises, the value of discussion falls. When we start declaring things to be obvious, we (perhaps unintentionally) we insult the intelligence of everyone who has a different opinion, which can only move a discussion toward more heat and less light.

In the long run, I don't think there's much profit in judging whether MO's letter is disingenuous or naive, etc. But we have some thinking to do about where the "lines of separation" ought to be in fundamentalist ministries in the present and future. We all know that "evangelicalism" is a moving target. So it stands to reason that the distinctions of the past are not always going to be valid.
The important questions have to do with what factors should determine fellowship/non-fellowship/separation on the scene today. The underlying biblical principles don't change, but applications have to continually adapt.

I think we owe it to NIU--and everyone else--to have some patience as they try to do that, whether we agree with their conclusions or not. I think the letter shows that they are not completely sure they've got it right either. But they're trying. I would personally be more conservative (because I still can't figure out what there is to gain as far the chapel pulpit goes), but application is complex work.

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How We Manage Things...

Aaron wrote:
In the long run, I don't think there's much profit in judging whether MO's letter is disingenuous or naive, etc.

I respectfully disagree. Even when changes are necessary, there are wrong ways to implement them. I brought up BJU and the interracial dating policy earlier. When BJIII lifted the ban on national television, he did so in a way that was ultimately insufficient, as indicated under Stephen's administration when a clear admission of the wrongness of the policy was articulated. When churches have done things like make changes in translations used from the pulpit, wise leaders don't just randomly and haphazardly abandon the KJV, then claim that they have stood where they always have, or didn't anticipate such a negative reaction when fallout occurs. They teach about the issues, or communicate among members, or prepare materials people can refer to.

Let's think about this. If Matt Olson and the Northland administration genuinely thought there would be no occasion for fallout with the Holland invitation, why did they feel the need to initiate the meeting with MacArthur, Holland, and Phil Johnson previous to the invitation being extended? At the very least, if they discovered in their meeting that they had been misinformed in their perceptions of the people at Grace Community Church, they should have realized that their constituency did not have the benefit of being in the same meeting as they were.

There is ample evidence to conclude that they should have been clearly aware that this would be an issue among some of their supporters- namely, the events surrounding the God-Focused Conference in 2005 and the fact that they set up a meeting with the three from GCC that ultimately led to the invitation. MacArthur has hardly been toiling in obscurity lo, these many years. If you believe that they made the right choice in inviting Holland, fine. But a good leader needs not only to be able to make bold changes when needed, but anticipate and take responsibility for the consequences of implementing those changes. The first may have been done, but it seems evident to me by the letter here that the second area is lacking.

Greg Linscott
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marshall, MN
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The problem here is that the

The problem here is that the landscape is riddled with Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries that began well and had very Biblical foundations but have changed significantly. The history of this in North America is constant and very long, going back to very first such institutions. This degenerative course continues to our very day.

In many of these cases you will find letters and continued statements by school Presidents insisting that there is no change and that the position remains the same. This is has often been said when the President and others in the institutions have a desire for change and meetings and events continue with the purpose of bringing about change. There is often dissatisfaction with things and positions of the past. The desire for change is almost always a sincere belief that some things have been, or are inadequate and a new perspective would actually be more Biblical. History shows that there are always unforeseen consequences that bring additional changes not seen as part of the original plan.

It is good and natural that many question such an event as a school chapel speaker of high visibility and having key association with a ministry that is viewed by the schools constituency as problematic and contrary to the schools traditional history of ministry orientation.

There are of course many posters on SI who are always for most any change within the sphere of Fundamentalism. These often offer the reasons and viewpoints as expressed in the past by the historic New Evangelicals (to me the parallels are uncanny). While they want to avoid any such New Evangelical label, and often profess to be more enlightened Fundamentalists, a check of their present church affiliations and /or other ministry associations has shown that these posters are in no way oriented toward biblical Fundamental practice in their present ministry. These are former Fundamentalists by educational background, and perhaps ministry, but really are not now so. This thread does have posters who may be so oriented. This is why some no longer post at SI and have labeled it by spirit and membership to be Pseudo Fundamentalist at best and possibly merely young New Evangelicals looking back as they seek to justify their compromises and present ministry and associations.

This viewpoint may account for the many congratulatory posts regarding the changes taking place at NIU while change is denied. The visit to MacArthur and the subsequent invitation to Holland represent a huge change in viewpoint. One only need to look at Cedarville University to see how rapidly and stealthily change does occur in schools. Such change always brings degenerative elements.

There are of course good changes that can be a desire to conform to a first premise, clear Biblical principle. This is seen in BJU changing its racial policy. Such clear scriptural principle is not in play here.

It is not trivial or Paranoid for the alumni and constituency of NIU to express concern. Fundamentalists are often not Paranoid just experienced.

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Greg Linscott wrote: Even

Greg Linscott wrote:
Even when changes are necessary, there are wrong ways to implement them. I brought up BJU and the interracial dating policy earlier. When BJIII lifted the ban on national television, he did so in a way that was ultimately insufficient, as indicated under Stephen's administration when a clear admission of the wrongness of the policy was articulated.

This is an important point. When Dr. Jones said that the interracial dating policy was no big deal and then dropped it unceremoniously, he left out an acknowledgment of the many people who had been hurt by that policy. Students and staff in otherwise good standing were kicked out, losing benefits, income, credits, and so forth. What may have been no big deal to him was a very big deal with very big consequences to the underlings affected by it with no power to speak against it.

Northland is doing the same thing. SOMETHING has changed with music, enough that their music director is quitting because of it. And their conservative music policies of the past have affected people negatively (as well as their demerit system). Or are they saying they never kicked a student out for disagree with their earlier music standards? Was no staff member forced out because they started walking down this very road a few years before Northland decided to follow?

They are making changes because there was something WRONG with their old positions.

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This is what leadership does

Matt,

Well my friend....your view look very familiar. Welcome to the hill! I should have warned you to wear your helmet and body armor - especilly in the back! Yes the arrows will come and the sad thing here is that the arrows will be coming mostly from "the brethren....or brethreim." Your friend spoke true....don't worry about the naysayers. You've heard from God, he's given you a target - press forward my man, with faithful determination! Straight Ahead! God bless you as you plow forward in obedience to His call. Remember the words of Elijah to his servant in 2 Kings 6, "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

To the rest of you,

uh....for the record.....this is what leadership looks like! Leadership does not take a poll as to what is popular. Leadership asks the question, "what is right?" Then leadership follows in that direction - no matter the cost. Some of you "arm-chair QB's" would have doubted the Pilgrims move, especially in that the first winter they lost about 50% of the team. History I think is fairly clear the Pilgrims made the right move. I'm confident history and God's view of Matt Olson and our friends at Northland University will demonstrate the rightness of this direction. It's takes great faith and great courage to make any move, especially when you know you're going to get these kinds of questions/shots. This is why most of us will never be placed in this kind of a leadership position - we are unable or unwilling to take the kind of shots leadership demands.

Matt is fairly clear in his public address here - Northland is not changing it's values or even it's identity - the alteration is only by way of mission. Every ministry has to update it's mission - even if the values, vision, objectives, and goals stay the same. This is what happens when we grow. A ministry that never upates it's mission, never raises it's eyes to take a fresh look at the vineyard - has it's face in the dirt and will grow increasingly unwise in the harvest!

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Baptist Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

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Update

The previously broken link several mentioned is working now.

LD wrote:
SOMETHING has changed with music, enough that their music director is quitting because of it.
Unconfirmed.

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Question for Joel

Quote:
uh....for the record.....this is what leadership looks like! Leadership does not take a poll as to what is popular. Leadership asks the question, "what is right?" Then leadership follows in that direction - no matter the cost.

Joel,

If it is just a "updating of mission," why even publish the letter? If this is what leadership looks like, why even glorify the naysayers with a response? Why say "that having these speakers (was) a significant problem (with some)?" If this is the right "change in mission," as you say, it needs to be explained. It ought not be excused. That is exactly what was done in this letter. Olson is trying to appeal to "we had no idea that this would cause such a kerfluffle" instead of saying something like:

"You know, when we looked at the situation objectively, we came to the conclusion that our similarities outweighed our differences, and frankly, we find more in common with men like MacArthur than we do people like Jack Schaap or even Clarence Sexton. This is where we are, and we believe it is consistent with where we have always wanted to be. These decisions were made because we believe it is valuable for friends to get to know each other better. May it be more so in the days that lie ahead."

Instead, they try to smooth things over so no one is offended, while making subtle tweaks behind the scenes. That may be a kind of leadership, but it's not one I can admire.

Greg Linscott
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marshall, MN
http://www.facebook.com/greglinscott

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Bruce Ware

Does anyone know what Bruce Ware will be specifically teaching? What is the specialty subject?

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Couple of Questions and a thought

Much fuss has been made over NIU 'changing it's positions' and not expecting a backlash. NIU doesn't really play politics or get involved with a lot of the issues that seem to be important to the IFB community, as far as I know. They didn't get really involved with the interracial thing, the Pensacola tapes, or even the whole KJV controversy. The school stayed out of the Dead Right fray as well, and I don't think that we have any staff/faculty on this site.

NIU's strength is that they want to stay out of all of that and focus on what they do. So when Olson says that he didn't anticipate this level of backlash (vitriol is how I'd put it, judging from comments here), I'm inclined to believe him. NIU is way up in the sticks, and really does keep to itself. With the Internet making the world flatter, it's quite likely that they are getting drawn into the spotlight on things that they really do think aren't a big deal. So I believe that Olson was right. That being said, Greg's note that they should have expected some backlash is legit.

I guess the actual comparison isn't the BJU interracial dating policy as much as when Bush came to visit the school. Multiple people confirmed that when Presidential Candidates campaign in SC, they go to BJU. BJU invites candidates that they agree with, usually Republican. But when the word go out about Bush going, people started using the interracial thing as a stick to beat not just Bush, but also the school. Of course, the policy was wrong, and they should have changed it long before Bush ever came, so that was a factor as well.

@Greg:
You said:

Quote:
Let's think about this. If Matt Olson and the Northland administration genuinely thought there would be no occasion for fallout with the Holland invitation, why did they feel the need to initiate the meeting with MacArthur, Holland, and Phil Johnson previous to the invitation being extended? At the very least, if they discovered in their meeting that they had been misinformed in their perceptions of the people at Grace Community Church, they should have realized that their constituency did not have the benefit of being in the same meeting as they were.

Two points-

1. If you want to pin down the actual positions of some high level churches and ministries on the East Coast, do you send a letter or place a phone call? You might initially to start the conversation, but at some point you're going to realize that the conversations, if they go well, are going to get into the nitty gritty and become really detailed. If that's the case, then it does make more sense to speak in person - because there are things that you can discuss and learn and gauge in person rather than trying to discern tone and attitude, say, in an online discussion board.

2. We're making this sound like Olson just decided to up and call Holland and invite him over for cookies and tea. I doubt very highly that that happened. High level meetings like this just don't happen because of one phone call.

@Bob T.

Quote:
The problem here is that the landscape is riddled with Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries that began well and had very Biblical foundations but have changed significantly. The history of this in North America is constant and very long, going back to very first such institutions. This degenerative course continues to our very day.

Bob, just because an institution implements a policy change or invites a person that you don't agree with hardly means that they're destined for theological liberalism. BJU and NIU have done things that I disagree with, but I'm not about to storm the gates and demand changes more to my liking. To be honest, since you're not an alumnus, I wouldn't expect you to understand the school's thinking.

@ Louise Dan

Quote:

Northland is doing the same thing. SOMETHING has changed with music, enough that their music director is quitting because of it. And their conservative music policies of the past have affected people negatively (as well as their demerit system). Or are they saying they never kicked a student out for disagree with their earlier music standards? Was no staff member forced out because they started walking down this very road a few years before Northland decided to follow?

They are making changes because there was something WRONG with their old positions.


Or maybe their old positions were wrong and NIU wants to be more in line with Scripture. How do we know that the music director is "quitting"? How do you know that maybe he decided he wanted a different, better paying job?

Assumptions are dangerous things, you know.

As for your post:
1. Have they? I never disagreed with the conservative standards. I still don't.
2. I don't know that. Neither do you.
3. Again, I don't know that, and neither do you. Furthermore, if someone tells you that they left over music, I can almost assuredly tell you that it wasn't about music - but a heart attitude of this is wrong, I disagree with the school, and I'm going to do what I want to do anyway. That's not a music issue. That's a sin issue.

I need to get going, but I am more and more convinced that this is nothing more than the sound and fury, signifying nothing other than an opportunity to throw rocks at positions one disagrees with like music, Lordship, higher education, SharperIron, etc. NIU is not beholden to anyone other than their Board, and I'm sure the Board had no problems with this that they didn't already resolve.

-----------
"It is not because the culture is always changing...but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us...that the church can never stand still." - M. Horton

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Big Truths

I have been reading Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God (Crossway, 2009) by Bruce Ware to my two precious daughters, ages 12 and 11. It's good. Very good.

Perspectives on the Doctrine of God: Four Views (edited by Bruce) is good. I needed Bruce to help me navigate through these deep waters.

I am wondering if the same topic that is attracting me is the same topic attracting Matt . . .

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link broken, music change unconfirmed?

Aaron Blumer wrote:
The previously broken link several mentioned is working now.

Still not working for me. I'm getting a 404 error.

LD wrote:
SOMETHING has changed with music, enough that their music director is quitting because of it.
Unconfirmed.[/quote]

Here is what Matt said in his letter:

Quote:

Our Music Philosophy: Philosophically, it is unchanged. Let me say it again... unchanged. What we have always been trying to do, and will continue to do into the future, is to make sure Northland’s practice of music (as with every aspect of the Christian life) is built principally on clear teachings from the Bible rather than on reactionary, extra-biblical reasoning that has proven to be troublingly insufficient when exported to cultures beyond American borders. We believe the Bible is sufficient to bring us to right and God-honoring positions regardless of time and culture. Even though we haven’t changed our music at a philosophical level, we are changing our music on a missional level. Where you will see changes is in our intent to expand our training to prepare students for worship and music globally. This only makes sense because, as you may have noticed, Northland International University has become more and more an international, global ministry with a passion to take the gospel where it is not proclaimed. Over 41% of the world’s population is still without a Gospel witness. This has become our students’ burden. Our Director of Fine Arts, Kevin Suiter, has recently informed us he does not believe he can take us forward in this way and thus has announced his plans to move on. We wish Kevin and Grace the best and thank them for the investments they have made here.

How much more confirmation do you need?

This is another example of what I am complaining about. This is an attempt to make changes while claiming no changes are happening. It is purely political.

And not very well done politics at that.

[Note - emphasis in quotation added. ]

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Relationship

letter wrote:
Kevin Suiter, has recently informed us he does not believe he can take us forward in this way

It's not clear to me what this means in relation to music philosophy, since Dr. O says it has not changed. So it's the "philos change --> music guy resignation" link I'm calling unconfirmed.

Don, I think you've made your take on the whole thing quite clear. Of course, you're entitled to make your case, but let's try not to repeat the same criticism over and over, eh?

(The link... yes, it's broken again. Not having a good day with the database! It worked for a while. Back to the drawing board.)

Edit: the continuing saga of the broken link. It's working again now. Seems Jay's posting of his church doctrinal statement was a bit too much for one comment. There's probably a comment max length field somewhere we haven't set!

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Point unclear

Jay C. wrote:
@Greg:
You said:

Greg Linscott wrote:
Let's think about this. If Matt Olson and the Northland administration genuinely thought there would be no occasion for fallout with the Holland invitation, why did they feel the need to initiate the meeting with MacArthur, Holland, and Phil Johnson previous to the invitation being extended? At the very least, if they discovered in their meeting that they had been misinformed in their perceptions of the people at Grace Community Church, they should have realized that their constituency did not have the benefit of being in the same meeting as they were.

Two points-

1. If you want to pin down the actual positions of some high level churches and ministries on the East Coast, do you send a letter or place a phone call? You might initially to start the conversation, but at some point you're going to realize that the conversations, if they go well, are going to get into the nitty gritty and become really detailed. If that's the case, then it does make more sense to speak in person - because there are things that you can discuss and learn and gauge in person rather than trying to discern tone and attitude, say, in an online discussion board.

2. We're making this sound like Olson just decided to up and call Holland and invite him over for cookies and tea. I doubt very highly that that happened. High level meetings like this just don't happen because of one phone call.

Jay,

I am not sure what point you are trying to make. I am not saying that the meeting was spur-of-the-moment-incidental (which is what "cookies and tea" sounds like to me when you used the phrase). I am not criticizing the fact they saw the need for the meeting. I clearly understand why they thought that meeting was a good idea.

What I am having trouble understanding/believing is why they thought that other people in their constituency, who didn't have any of the benefit of the meeting, would have immediately reached the conclusions held by Olson and co. just because Olson and co. decided to implement the"mission changes" they did. The perception of differences (even if only slight) between Fundamentalists of the variety of Northland and Grace Community go both ways. It is not good leadership to assume people will follow unquestioningly when you yourself had questions that required thinking through.

Greg Linscott
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marshall, MN
http://www.facebook.com/greglinscott

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Dr. Doran, my comment about

Dr. Doran, my comment about McCune's book wasn't meant as a shot at McCune but a response to a "made man" who referred to it.

I am glad many within fundamentalism actually are committed to the authority of scripture instead of the authority of their respective family heads.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Bob T. wrote: The problem

Bob T. wrote:
The problem here is that the landscape is riddled with Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries that began well and had very Biblical foundations but have changed significantly. The history of this in North America is constant and very long, going back to very first such institutions. This degenerative course continues to our very day.

Yes Bob T., and the landscape is equally littered with destroyed churches, broken lives and not a few Christian colleges, universities and seminaries that elevated issues that you find sacred that were or are indeed extra-Biblical and at least simple traditions. Using your reasoning, churches and colleges would still be segregated (hey, it was PREACHED) in much of America. I wish people like you would have squalled with the same level of vehemence over "institutions" which gladly propagated racism from our shores to the missionfields. (And BJU's apology not-withstanding, the stigma of those positions is alive across the South and remains unrepented in many churches because of the previous influence.) You have no problem making music a standard for separation when there is no sound hermeneutic that demands it as practically practiced by your types. You sniff at the evangelistic pragmatism of Hyles-Schaap (as you well should) and yet swallow the camels of your hyper-fundamentalist roots. And then when someone calls you on it, you cop an attitude of theological superiority while denying others the opportunity to explore, question, converse, debate and interact with others who might see things slightly differently.

I am convinced that much of the preoccupation with Calvinism is due to the shallow teaching that many (and in some circles and parts of the country, most) have been taught as it relates to the Gospel. Far more souls will be in hell because of the revivalist theology of Finney-through-Hyles than those who see issues of election, sovereignty and Lordship in Scripture. Your clan twists the words of MacArthur as surely on Lordship as you did on the "Blood" controversy and then wants to deny others the opportunity to hear him personally explain and expound and even defend what he has written. MacArthur is not some sort of conservative evangelical/fundamentalist pope to most of those who have arisen to his defense. At the same time, those of us who have personally interacted with Phil Johnson, John MacArthur and Rick Holland know just how off base you are in your characterizations of them and what they believe about Salvation, the Blood and Lordship.

Like Olson's letter, no man's sermons or books are a complete explanation of the issue at hand -- they are simply an attempt to move us toward greater clarity. As someone pointed out earlier, in today's modern media, those of your stripe have lost the bully-clubs of intimidation, ostracization and isolation that used to be used with the zeal of Amish shunners. Many of us, who are as deeply committed to the fundamentals as you claim to be will simply not sit back and let someone else do our thinking for us nor will we be kept from exploring, asking questions and challenging the conclusions. We are actually DRAWN to men like Olson and Tetreau and others who believe that such interactions will teach us, not ruin us. After reading the responses of those who want to pretend that this is really an issue of Olson's communication and not his audacity in treating his students like scholars and grown-ups, I wonder if you think we both smoke and inhale that which is the stale substance of academic and theological constipation. We will read, we will question and we will consider while using the fundamentals of Scripture (not a movement or institution) we will also discern. In doing so, this generation of fundamentalism may well own their faith and doctrine in ways that the previous generation never did.

You sell men like Kevin Bauder short as he articulately points out differences and calls for closer examination of evangelical tenants. They also provide impact and perspective. How can we be expected to produce men of Bauder's skill if we only permit indoctrination and not interaction with those who, while still brothers, have reached different conclusions.

I keep saying to myself that I will not respond again on this thread and yet I keep doing so. Hopefully, I'll keep my word from here on out.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

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Bob T. wrote: This is why

Bob T. wrote:
This is why some no longer post at SI and have labeled it by spirit and membership to be Pseudo Fundamentalist at best and possibly merely young New Evangelicals looking back as they seek to justify their compromises and present ministry and associations.

Yes Bob, this is a very teachable moment. Many have quit posting here only to continue lobbing grenades at SI. The problem is that these other "made men" must protect their territory. Many of them have blogs, written books, have blogs, and have even written books and don't cease to tell you that they have blogs and have written books. They cannot put forth a scriptural defense of their beliefs, so they retreat. These men say there is a lion in the street when in reality there isn't one.

The bottom line though is that the ability to muscle people into conformity is losing. When given the option of the soteriology of the MacArthur/Holland types or the conditional salvation type of those who actually believe Ryrie's position on the matter, well, the issue is clear: believe the scripture and identify with those not ashamed of the gospel of Christ and turn from the conditional gospel of others.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Defending Matt's leadership & open letter - response #2

Greg,

Very good questions my man. I love it when you get all "energetic!" You remind me of me - It's fun to see the passion - bravo! Hey, this thread reminds me of the days when Janz would hire the cartoon guys - and then we'd go from holding hands around the fire to shooting at each other. Man....those where the days! Then everybody would make up, we'd have this group hug, until someone would talk about beer, Type B fundamentalism and CCM.

OK.....to your questions -

Yeah - on the one hand you're right. There is a sense in which he may have been better to not write the letter at all. So that's why I called him this morning. (Did you Greg....did you call? I bet you didn't call! I bet you if you did call, he'd love it. Everyone likes you Greg, call him!) I'll let him say things his own way. However, without violating private conversation, let me put my personal "Tetreau-touch" to why I think.....President Olson does what he does here:

1. Remember these are my words - as I listen to Matt, it seems like we have an expansion of the mission there in Dunbar. Have you been to Dunbar? Other than Northland people, do you know how many people live in Dunbar? 2 - One guy named Guss and his twin brother Russ -they are these bearded snow plow drivers paid by the county. That's it. Do know how many times Guss and Russ have been witnessed to by the Northland Ministry People Group? So that being the case, Matt and company are wanting to expand the net beyond the twins. Well...when you do that, you have to think broader than Dunbar. Who do we reach and how do we do that without violating God's Word? The expansion is really all connected to the mission of building into leaders God honoring character and effective ministry skills. So every now and again, institutions that care about how they're doing things - they bring in new tools, they expand the list of partners with new leaders. It's not "un-natural" here. This is normal. However this time, Matt and company have reached over and expanded a portion of their partnership to a circle that is a little diffent than some are used to. So does that mean Matt, Dr. O, Doug, etc....these guys have forsaken the Scriptures and it's teaching conserning responsible koinonia, ministry and discipleship? I think not. All that to say this is what it looks like to me - He's made it clear they're not changing "who" they are. They're not even changing "what" they do. They're simply making alterations in route to accomplish a better Biblical path to what they already do well.

2. The reason (my guess) Matt explains all of this publically is probably for his friends - i.e. those that assume the best of Matt, but may have a question or two. Perhaps the Northland family of current and former graduates, students, etc.....had a question or two and Matt saw this as an opportunity to simply communicate the "why's" or the "what's" of these decisions. Writting an open letter on a forum or two is a quick way to get the word out. Look even if Matt had not invited a brother from the MacArthur world and another from the SBC world, he still would need to communicate all that he did because of the approach to the discipline issue (which is like a breath of fresh Canadian air to the partched and dying of those stuck in the desert sun without water - thank you very much!) When you lead through even an expansion of "mission" you communicate before, during and after. Nothing senister here - as a matter of fact communication is an act of consideration.

3. It's not inconsistent to say both (1) Here's an expansion on our mission and (2) Wow...we were surprised by some of the response to this so we will review with you publically some of what our thinking was privatly. Any leader that has lead for any length of time has had to do this......It is responsible. You simply cannot know everything that will happen ahead of time - Matt works for God....He is not God.

4. Any time you introduce change of any level, it often shakes up people. Oh brother, do I know this one. So, you continue to lead. You try to help friends that might be unsettled. You encourage people to listen primarily to what you are saying, instead of what others are saying, you are saying....which is sort of what I'm doing Greg, so let me stop and just challenge you and other other "brethreim" here and encourage you guys to ask Matt yourself!

You really ought to call Him. He's a nice guy - I'm sure he'd love to talk to you. Besides you're just in the state next door. You could go see him - I know for a fact the Wisconsin schools love the Minnesota pastors.

Straight Ahead!

My best to Sid!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Baptist Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

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Joel Tetreau wrote: Other

Joel Tetreau wrote:
Other than Northland people, do you know how many people live in Dunbar? 2 - One guy named Guss and his twin brother Russ -they are these bearded snow plow drivers paid by the county. That's it...You really ought to call Him. He's a nice guy

Completely agree on both counts, especially the latter. (granted, it is a small campus, but he takes the time to memorize every student's name. I don't think he once asked me my name, and when I was there we had talked a number of times. Talk about a nice guy.)

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What does niceness have to do with the price of tea in China?

I personally affirm the niceness of Matt, but what does that have to do with anything being discussed here. As far as I know, even his harshest critics have not accused him of non-niceness. And, or course, there's politics going on. Let's be real. We all do politics and measure and contemplate the effect of our public decisions. The very statement, "I don't play politics" is playing politics. We all do politics. Perhaps we "play" it in the sense that we are calculating and disingenuous, but most leaders do politics in the sense that they ponder the ramifications of what they are going to say and do. Nothing wrong with that.

My own take on the letter I've already expressed on my blog, but in my opinion this is a case of bad politicking. Not immoral. Not dishonest. Just typical of Northland's "aw shucks" approach to any time they happen to get flack. But it was politicking or there would have been no letter in the first place. Leaders write public letters for specific reasons and for a specific hoped-for effect. Whether or not they got the effect they want depends on how well they "played politics." And most commentators or going to play politics in how they spin the letter. On the one hand, all the critics will spin it as deviant and sinister. On the other hand, Matt's friends spin the letter as a stroke of genius and the negative effect as martyrdom for good leadership.

Matt is nice, I agree. And I'm not willing to assign a bad motive because I have gotten to know him personally and respect him. But, I'd be dishonest if I didn't think that the letter was not helpful and does give fodder to anyone who wants to see a conspiracy theory. NIU will never be able to placate its harshest critics in hyper-separatism, but they could at least garner the respect of both friend and foe for a direct style of communication.

My good friend Joel has said that this is fearless leadership, but I don't see it that way. Fearless leadership states things as they are and doesn't bother to preempt criticism with statements of month-long fasts, lots of prayer, and "we're not playing politics" rhetoric. As one has already pointed out, Billy Graham did the same thing. Are we supposed to give pause to all criticism of Graham because he prayed about it? I don't even practice that kind of leadership style with the people in my church.

Normal readers of that letter see
1. An admission or announcement of Change
2. An attempt to say that there is no change
3. Defensive posturing with the prayer claims, etc.
4. An an 'Aw, shucks! I didn't realize this would be such a big deal, guys!' nice guy shrug.

That's my take on it. And, personally I think everyone should refrain from disagreeing with me because I have spent a great deal of time in prayer over this and I have peace about it. Plus, you should also hesitate to refute me when because I refuse to play politics. I'm just trying to serve God and stay out of it all. That's why I posted.

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Todd Wood wrote: Does anyone

Todd Wood wrote:
Does anyone know what Bruce Ware will be specifically teaching? What is the specialty subject?

He will be team teaching a course with Andy Naselli on "Models of Sanctification." The schedule is accessible at http://ni.edu/schools/graduate-school/course-schedule/dmin-course-schedule/ here .

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Andy Naselli?

Now that's scandalous!

(That's a joke.)

@Joel,

I haven't called him, and I don't plan to. I know he's nice- I met him back in Concord, NH when I lived in Maine. He hasn't offended me personally, so there's nothing we need to resolve that way. I haven't felt the need to contact him any more than I felt the need to call John Piper when he brought in Rick Warren or Voice or Albert Mohler when he signed the Manhattan Declaration or Ron Hamilton when he went to Pastor's School. These are public matters being handled in public fashion, and Matt Olson, nice as he may be, made a statement and chose words. Those words are now being evaluated. Frankly, if he or other Northland administrators are reading this, I believe it is a valuable service being provided to them, should they take advantage of it, because they have the opportunity to further consider how their public statement is being evaluated by others, most of whom will not call, either.

I might feel differently about calling if I had students there from my church, or children enrolled there, or if I was a graduate. As it stands, I will continue to watch and evaluate and take it into account as I have opportunity to recommend such institutions. Northland is one of many options, and circumstances like this affect how people prioritize their options.

Greg Linscott
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marshall, MN
http://www.facebook.com/greglinscott

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thanks

Thanks gadietrich for the link. You sparked my interest to click over on to NIU. Teaming with Andy on Sanctification . . . hmm, that would be very interesting. I didn't realize that Bruce specialized in models of sanctification. And I wonder if Andy and Bruce have been connected in other venues? Writings?

My family Baptist heritage in the late 19th century had a good dose of Finney. The doctrine of sanctification is in complete disarray in the I-15 Corridor.

Looking over the NIU DMin requirements, I am interested. One of these years in the future, when my kids are out of the house, I would like to write a 150 page paper related to God and Gospel issues here in my area.

NIU needs to utilize Bruce for a class on the Trinity. The Trinity is the loving, holy Center of glory.

et

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Salient Points

Quote:
Jay,

I am not sure what point you are trying to make. I am not saying that the meeting was spur-of-the-moment-incidental (which is what "cookies and tea" sounds like to me when you used the phrase). I am not criticizing the fact they saw the need for the meeting. I clearly understand why they thought that meeting was a good idea.

Greg,

I'm not feeling well and wasn't horribly clear in that post; so I apologize for that. My point there - and I should have made this clearer - is that I'm surprised that so many would seem to think that this meeting between Olson, Mac, Holland, and Johnson just happened entirely out of the blue. Maybe that's naivete at work on my side; I personally think we *should* cooperate on some level with them...esp. since most IFB institutions are already using Mac and TMS books as Seminary and College texts. (Well, I don't know that about NIU, but I DO know that is true for BJU).

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there seems to be this idea that we need to avoid the MacArthur orbit at all costs, and I just don't see that as either practical or desirable. So this idea that NIU and Mac would even have meetings isn't as horrible as some want to make it out to be.

What I didn't mention, and I think you later did, is what is the benefit for making NIU's making this decision? Did NIU just decide that perhaps this is an opportunity to reach out for more students? Did they decide they should try to broker an actual "peace treaty" between the two uneasy "sides" of the Fundy world? Is Olson just the world's biggest MacArthur fan ;)? If I had to guess, I'd assume that there is other stuff going on that we aren't aware of yet - maybe TMS is going to start supplying some teachers for NIU's Seminary program or something - and that this will make more sense once the dust settles and the last of the pronouncements are made.

Quote:
What I am having trouble understanding/believing is why they thought that other people in their constituency, who didn't have any of the benefit of the meeting, would have immediately reached the conclusions held by Olson and co. just because Olson and co. decided to implement the "mission changes" they did. The perception of differences (even if only slight) between Fundamentalists of the variety of Northland and Grace Community go both ways. It is not good leadership to assume people will follow unquestioningly when you yourself had questions that required thinking through.

Good point(s). I mentioned before that being willing to take a hard position and defend it is a sign of good leadership, but you're right in that if Olson et al just expected everyone to assume this was OK, then they were naive - and a quick perusal of SI would have made that clear. So in that regard, Don's blog post was spot on.

Oh, and Bob Bixby? Stop making so much sense. Smile

-----------
"It is not because the culture is always changing...but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us...that the church can never stand still." - M. Horton

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The Rhetoric is the Real Issue

Bob Bixby wrote:
I personally affirm the niceness of Matt, but what does that have to do with anything being discussed here. As far as I know, even his harshest critics have not accused him of non-niceness. And, or course, there's politics going on. Let's be real. We all do politics and measure and contemplate the effect of our public decisions. The very statement, "I don't play politics" is playing politics. We all do politics. Perhaps we "play" it in the sense that we are calculating and disingenuous, but most leaders do politics in the sense that they ponder the ramifications of what they are going to say and do. Nothing wrong with that.

My own take on the letter I've already expressed on my blog, but in my opinion this is a case of bad politicking. Not immoral. Not dishonest. Just typical of Northland's "aw shucks" approach to any time they happen to get flack. But it was politicking or there would have been no letter in the first place. Leaders write public letters for specific reasons and for a specific hoped-for effect. Whether or not they got the effect they want depends on how well they "played politics." And most commentators or going to play politics in how they spin the letter. On the one hand, all the critics will spin it as deviant and sinister. On the other hand, Matt's friends spin the letter as a stroke of genius and the negative effect as martyrdom for good leadership.

Matt is nice, I agree. And I'm not willing to assign a bad motive because I have gotten to know him personally and respect him. But, I'd be dishonest if I didn't think that the letter was not helpful and does give fodder to anyone who wants to see a conspiracy theory. NIU will never be able to placate its harshest critics in hyper-separatism, but they could at least garner the respect of both friend and foe for a direct style of communication.

My good friend Joel has said that this is fearless leadership, but I don't see it that way. Fearless leadership states things as they are and doesn't bother to preempt criticism with statements of month-long fasts, lots of prayer, and "we're not playing politics" rhetoric. As one has already pointed out, Billy Graham did the same thing. Are we supposed to give pause to all criticism of Graham because he prayed about it? I don't even practice that kind of leadership style with the people in my church.

Normal readers of that letter see
1. An admission or announcement of Change
2. An attempt to say that there is no change
3. Defensive posturing with the prayer claims, etc.
4. An an 'Aw, shucks! I didn't realize this would be such a big deal, guys!' nice guy shrug.

That's my take on it. And, personally I think everyone should refrain from disagreeing with me because I have spent a great deal of time in prayer over this and I have peace about it. Plus, you should also hesitate to refute me when because I refuse to play politics. I'm just trying to serve God and stay out of it all. That's why I posted.

This is where criticism ought to be made, from all sides. I made some similar points on a different thread. My problem with the letter is just that, with the letter. The changes themselves are of course open to discussion, but the rhetoric of the letter should be alarming to all readers. If I were to identify the single greatest problem in Fundamentalism, it would be the unwillingness of leadership to be honest and open. Rather, manipulative tactics, calculated lying, and deflection are the norm. This letter reeks of "man of God" justification for actions as a forestallment of further criticism. Also, as others have noted, there is certainly much more change going on than Olson wants to admit. Your music director (or whatever his title was) doesn't part ways with you over no change in your philosophy of music. If he didn't expect serious criticism, he's stupid. I think he's lying, or at least fudging the truth. I don't mind the content of the changes, but the leadership style seems no better to me than that of the oft-abused "hyper-fundamentalists." The point is that you don't have to be KJVO, bash MacArthur, or have bus ministries to engage in rotten leadership. The supposedly sane or main-stream Fundamentalism does the same, just smoother.

My Blog: www.sacredpage.wordpress.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

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Nice Response #3

Did I say Matt was nice? I don't think I said he was nice. My boys just told me the other day that the etymology of "nice" somewhere means "foolish" or "ignorant." That being the case I will reserve my calling anyone "nice," as long as I can help it. If I called Matt "nice" i apologize!

I respect my good friend Bob. I don't think he's right on this one point.....He needs to pray a bit longer! Smile

I stick with my original view. Matt demonstrates leadership in both the direction he plows (notice the pun "plow," very nice...opps....I said "nice") and in the way he responds to those for whom decisions have "hurt." The reason I differ with Bob here is that one can be both assertive in leadership while at the same time seasoned with a touch of sensitivity and care for others, hence Matt takes the time to communicate to some who might be confused or otherwise hurt. You can do this. I'm not saying Bob never does that, but I would say Matt does that well here.

You can lead and at the same time reach out to those in your sphere who might not understand a decision or two. Yes, this is a different approach than some of us would take. Matt's older than many of us, and perhaps their is a wisdom lesson we could learn from Matt in this episode. I'm taking notes as I watch Matt deal with this. There are some good lessons for all of us who are priviledged with the task of ministry leadership.

BTW - some of you seem to be saying you think Matt and Northland has been two-faced on this issue. I think Greg made the point earlier that he was suspecious because several years ago a decision was made to distance themselves from Rick. Now they've come to a different conclusion. Can a ministry not change it's view on a leader or a ministry without their motives being questioned? It's almost like you're saying these guys are trying to be one thing with one group and another thing with another group. There is no way on this planet that you guys can make that judgment call - No way. I just don't see that with Northland at all. Perhaps Matt is doing more "explaining" than some of you would.....but I really don't think this demonstrates something of a disingenuine approach to explain publically, decisions made in private by the leadership on the inside. Also, I'm not ready to call into question Matt's linking the season of prayer and fasting with all of this. Furthermore, Matt isn't linking his season of prayer and fasting with issues that were as clearly anti-Scripture as Billy Graham's ecuminical evangelism was. I don't think that's a fair analogy. It's OK to differ with the decision or even to say your take of Scripture would lead you to make different decisions. Prayer is a legitimate part of decision-making both as individuals and ministries. I'm actually including this component to "prayer" in my work on "Decision-Making Process of the NT church." Yes Northland is not a church, it is a ministry that reaches out to churches. Matt's bringing this out just explains the attitude that he and the leadership of Northland had when they were making these decisions.

Hey, it's OK some of you are bothered here (I think someone used the word "alarmed"). I get it - while I am not "alarmed" you've made your points well at to why you are alarmed. I'm sure Matt understands.

I leave you guys with two final thoughts - (1) I would hope that it would take much more than a disagreement with these few issues to view Northland as suspect here. It's fine to disagree with Matt. You guys have the right to do that. He would probably disagree with many of the decisions you've made in your ministry - but we'll never know because God hasn't given any of us the audience Matt's been given - which I'm grateful for. (2) This is a far better approach to disagreement than we've had from others ("too bad - get over it!"). I would much rather have a leader who explains what's happened than a leader to say, "I'll not answer your questions."

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Baptist Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

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anything left to say?

Maybe a couple comments:
I've seen lots of "politics" at its worst and little "politics" that even attempt to be biblical. Matt and the Norhtland staff have tried. They've not had many good examples to follow, have they!?
Could Matt and the Northland staff have communicated better beforehand? Again, maybe. But they weren't obliged to seek permission. If their constituents, former students, etc. don't initiate personal conversation it leaves everyone shooting in the dark (and guess who gets hurt the most?).
Is this the first step toward the "dark side" (ha)? Doesn't have to be--but the fighting fundamentalists HAVE driven away individuals and institutions over non-essential issues. The "bullies" tolerate very little noncomformity. And they usually exert a pressure that is "politics" at its worst. No wonder so few stay around to endure the mudslinging.
Norhtland, in my estimation, has always exemplified a kind and humble fundamentalism. They are teachable. Doesn't have anything to do with Matt being a "nice guy" or not. It's just their track record.
Finally, who has mentioned prayer? Who has prayed for Matt (and the staff) on a daily basis concerning this issue?
Well, this is Post # 73, I think. We're probably way past "done".

gdwightlarson

"You can be my brother without being my twin."

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unwillingness of leadership?

I don't smell it in this letter.

Here is what I am smelling.

I am smelling at how troublesome it can be for fundamentalist leaders to try to get together with those outside their respective camps.

It seems, there are men at Northland who have been exploring and perhaps some of them newly discovering that they might not be too far apart from brothers outside of their ministry circles, like Rick Holland, etc. - men who hunger for scriptural exposition, appreciate baptist heritage (Spurgeon, etc.), yet operate within a dispensational framework, and who actually do strive for a tone of humility before the Saviour.

Sometimes, we are shocked that others are not discovering the same things that we are discovering, or at least shocked that they are not at least allowing us to discover.

I am also smelling a "standing without apology" but also a yearning to grow in grace and knowledge.

We are all on different paths. I think of Paul rebuking Peter for his dissimulation. But if Paul were here, I don't know if he would be rebuking Matt Olson for an aggressive pride (my way or the highway) man of God syndrome. But I do offer up my prayers for the men of Northland tonight. Let them be free from the fear of man, specifically the fear of their constituency. And let them grow in one fear alone. The fear of the Lord.

And this is a process . . . often messy.

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To: Dan Burrell I have read

To: Dan Burrell

I have read many empty diatribes through the years and experienced some really stupid and nonsensical personal attacks. I would rate yours as among the best. Since I do not know you and have never named or addressed you on SI or in any other media, I can only guess that such an attack was initiated by something I said stepping on your toes.

First, before attacking someone have some sense of who they are and what they believe.

Dan Burrell stated:

Quote:
Using your reasoning, churches and colleges would still be segregated (hey, it was PREACHED) in much of America. I wish people like you would have squalled with the same level of vehemence over "institutions" which gladly propagated racism from our shores to the missionfields.

Did you not read what my post said?

Quote:
There are of course good changes that can be a desire to conform to a first premise, clear Biblical principle. This is seen in BJU changing its racial policy. Such clear scriptural principle is not in play here.

I was saved while serving in the US NAVY. I have no so called Fundamentalist roots you alluded to. I was stationed in Virginia in 1958. I was brought up in So. Ca. I was shocked by the Jim Crow laws. I have a along story about a black buddy and I that went on liberty together.

I pastored here in So. CA. starting in 1977. As our church grew I brought on a black Associate Pastor. We also had a black Deacon. We had a very multi ethnic church with Asian, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, and Black members and attenders. We had a black and white mixed family. Race and ethnic issues were subservient to our unity in Christ and attendance based on our Bible teaching and evangelism. People in the area looking for Expository teaching with doctrinal emphasis often chose our assembly of believers. I have never supported BJU. I still do not recommend them or several other schools. So I consistently have spoken against racial segregation since becoming a Christian and made an actual difference in church ministry.

After the NAVY I attended Biola College (University) from 1962 to 1966 I became a Fundamentalist just before and during attendance at Central Baptist Seminary, Minneapolis, when Doc Clearwaters was there. I graduated from there then also from NW Baptist Seminary, Tacoma, then also Fuller Seminary. Also, from John Marshall Law School. I have done additional study in history at the Univ. of Washington and USC. I also served on the Faculty of Talbot Sem. of Biola U.teaching theology and NT for a time. I have repented. I would not do so again. I am probably not a person with Fundamentalist roots just proclaiming traditions as you seem to allude to.

I have Pastored in So. CA for many years. I am familiar with John MacArthur and have had conversations with him. I also very personally knew some of the faculty at Masters Seminary.
However, perhaps you are not fully familiar with the issues involved with the LSG issues of MacArthur. You seem to lump those who had criticized his teaching on the blood of Christ with those are opposed to his brand of the LS Gospel. Many from Talbot, Dallas, Western, Central, and Calvary Seminaries have opposed the LS Gospel Earnest Pickering opposed it and wrote against it. Earl Radmacher has also. As for the Doctrine of "the blood" I have always held that the blood of Christ is that which speaks of His death and the word blood in scripture is used of violent death from the time of Cain and Able. I was also taught this by Dr. Rolland McCune at Central Seminary. This is essentially what MacArthur teaches and is today the mainstream evangelical teaching.

Many who oppose the Hyper Lordship MacArthur gospel do so for very definite Biblical reasons. I am also quite sure that I know exactly what MacArthur believes. I have also had interaction with Masters Seminary graduates on this subject and with some people in churches in this area and in the Seattle area where church splits occurred over the militancy of Reformed soteriology, including the LS gospel, as pushed by Masters graduates. I was involved in the IFCA for a time. John MacArthur is still a member. However, in response to John's 1988 book the IFCA appointed a committee which brought in a statement titled The Nature of Saving faith. It was a rebuke of the MacArthur position and agreed to by 93% of the members. The statement is available at the IFCA website and lists the committee members. They were all seminary professors but one, including Robert Thomas of Masters. We had Robert Thomas give a five part lectureship in our church some years ago. It was on Bible translations.

There has also been some distress caused by those trained in the Masters College counseling program, and the Seminary, as they have spoken of mental illness as a myth(see the book Biblical Counseling edited by MacArthur pages 374-376). Pastors of conservative Evangelical churches, have many concerns about the graduates of Masters.

Those who oppose the MacArthur Hyper LS Gospel are not necessarily of some right wing or KJVO Fundamentalists as you appear to have assumed as part of your diatribe. You attempt to classify me with some I have very little in common with.

You, Dan Burrell, further said:

Quote:
You have no problem making music a standard for separation when there is no sound hermeneutic that demands it as practically practiced by your types. You sniff at the evangelistic pragmatism of Hyles-Schaap (as you well should) and yet swallow the camels of your hyper-fundamentalist roots. And then when someone calls you on it, you cop an attitude of theological superiority while denying others the opportunity to explore, question, converse, debate and interact with others who might see things slightly differently.

How do you know I have no problem making music an issue for separation? As far as I can recall I have never posted on SI or elsewhere about music. Then you talk of sniffing at Hyles-Schaap but then swallow the camels of my Hyper Fundamentalist roots? Where are those roots? The US Navy? That statement is so without fact or reason that it is just nothing but an inappropriate attack upon another. Then you talk of avoiding discussion. I have discussed on SI since almost its inception. I am one of the few who have taught at a graduate level and still post on here. I may also be the oldest poster. How about you?

I think the bottom line here is that you made a post that is nothing but a personal attack on another poster. The attack was compounded by the fact of its total ignorance of the one you were attacking. It is further compounded by the fact that I have never mentioned your name or posted about you in ant post of mine.

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To: Dan Burrell. A

To: Dan Burrell. A continuation.

Dan Burrell also said:

Quote:
I am convinced that much of the preoccupation with Calvinism is due to the shallow teaching that many (and in some circles and parts of the country, most) have been taught as it relates to the Gospel.

Actually the problem today is the preoccupation with Calvinism by some seminary graduates and by some novices who have latched onto Calvinism of the post Dort type which includes Regeneration before faith and limited atonement. In my years of ministry and teaching I have always had good relations and fellowship with many who called themselves Calvinists. Most were Dispensational Calvinists of the Central, Dallas, Talbot, Western CB Seminary type. Most were moderate 4 point Calvinists. A few were 5 point. However their Calvinism, or even a Reformed soteriology, never became an issue. It was not the Capstone of all they believed or taught. However, today a militant Calvinism has emerged. It is an obsession that is promoted at the T4G, the Desiring God conferences, and Shepherds conferences. As I said earlier, it has effected some churches. It has also prospered because some who should be concerned are not sufficiently aware of the issues. I have had men say; Oh MacArthur didn't say that. Then when I show them what he said in writing they then say; I don't think he means it that way. The same goes for John Piper. One Calvinist said on here the problem is an absence of theology. Actually the problem is the absence of a Biblically based theology instead of reverting to the Platonic, Augustinian, Reformed theology of Europe which is the pre printing press philosophical theology of the Clergy who had a monopoly on the scriptures. With Bible printing and distribution a more Biblical exegetical theology emerged that again recognized Israel and a literal kingdom.

I found it interesting that Dr. Warren Vanhetloo, who had a THM from Calvin Seminary refused to call himself a Calvinist. He called himself a Biblicist. I am not a Calvinist or Arminian. I am a Bible believer and seek a theology only from the scriptures.

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Huh?

I'm not clear on what Calvinism has to do with any of this.

What is clear... and interesting to me: there seems to be two general schools of thought (or maybe three)
1) The changes are not a big deal but the communication style is way off
2) The communication style is not a big deal but the changes (or a subset of them) are ill advised
3? Both the changes and the communication style are bad

That about cover it? Maybe we should close the thread now. :)
I guess I'm sort of in #2 (subset). Though I'm not wild about the communication style, I do believe leaders--as Bob has pointed out--invariably engage in a certain amount of politicking in sense of "reaction/damage control." And when you sit down to write some communication, you have alot of options in terms of what you emphasize, what you choose to leave unsaid, etc. You're not going to say everything there is to say (who would read all that?) so you choose what you think will be most helpful and try to word it in a way that you believe will be most helpful.

Needless to say, doesn't always turn out as expected/hoped.

Actually, just realized #4...

4) Both the changes and the communication style are good

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One final post -- somewhat off topic.

I know I said (at least to myself) that the last 2 posts would be my final, I'm not going to let Bob T. distract anyone who reads this thread into thinking I'm on some sort of vendetta of a personal nature. I've never heard of Bob Topartzer prior to this thread. My response to him was not personal in intention. But whether or not he wants to admit it, he does indeed represent a "constituency" what I characterized in my previous post. Perhaps not on a personal level as he seemed to take it, but virtue of his communication.

Anyone who has been around fundamentalism any time at all recognizes the arguments, tactics and methods of people like him and Don Johnson (in this specific thread.) I don't know Matt Olson personally and have never been on the campus of Northland though I have hired their graduates, known their faculty and been touched by their ministry for decades. So I should not be seen as defending a friend either.

My purpose is writing on this at all is because I know that there are myriad people who frequent this board who, like me, do not want to abandon our fundamentalist heritage or identity. It is to you whom I am writing.

Nothing will cause us to abandon our theology; we simply don't fit with evangelicalism either. But we also don't fit in an angry movement that constantly assumes the worst in others and every little decision of change seems to be met with vitriol and hostility. People like Bob and Don and a host of others seem to remind us at every opportunity that "our type" really isn't welcome here. This is strange because many of "our type" grew up in fundamentalism -- indeed a fundamentalism that did and would tolerate variations. I remember hearing Clearwater speak in the same conferences as Hyles and Rice. Saw Falwell with Vick and Roloff. Remember hearing even Southern Baptists preach at Independent Baptist conferences. Then I wake up to reality where the movement has become so politicized, so "camp and institution oriented", so strident and smug that eating our own and any red-headed cousins is just a matter of "defending the faith."

When those I referenced in the previous paragraph -- not all of them "young fundamentalists" anymore -- come upon this sight and see someone like Matt Olson being castigated by the branch of fundamentalism that is being represented by guys like Johnson and Topartzer and quite a few others, they think there is no hope. They imagine what might happen to them and do not want to be put in a position to receive the stinging blasts of those so confident that they are always right. I know this. I talk to them all the time. They write me privately and call me. And as they share their confusion, concerns and questions, they often reference "Sharper Iron."

I've been in a chair like Matt's for many a year. Both from a pastoral perspective and in a relatively high-profile association perspective. I understand perfectly what it is like to receive the constant barrage of second-guessing and criticism. And as Joel Tetreau pointed out, it is a price of leadership. But that doesn't mean it still doesn't frustrate, cause pain and eventually wear one out. I will also confess that eventually, it about ate me up. It just becomes overwhelming. That's probably a spiritual or character flaw on my part however and I'm sure someone will soon point that out.

But I mean seriously, we're going to compare Olson to Billy Graham and his ecumenical compromise because he mentioned that he had prayed and fasted? Had Matt not mentioned that he'd prayed and fasted over his decisions, I'm quite confident that someone would have said, "See....there is absolutely no evidence that he prayed and fasted over this change of course." He simply can't win for losing. So Kevin Suitor is leaving. I served on the board of another college where Kevin did the same thing during my tenure. Kevin's a fine guy, but he has a narrow perspective. But his leaving does not mean that what Olson did was wrong. Does every time a church member leaves call into question the leadership of the Pastor? (And the answer to that is "yes" in the minds of some, btw.)

I'm at a unique position in my life. (I'm not going to trade resumes and backgrounds like Bob did. Bob....you win. Your spiritual resume and background is far more unique and substantive than mine. And while you deny having "fundamentalist roots", you are most definitely grafted into a tree that has them and that's OK. I grew up on that tree and am probably one of the biggest nuts it ever produced.) At this time, I am unencumbered in a way that I have not known in 25 years of ministry. I represent no one but me. I'm don't represent a church or an association and the schools for which I work have an aura of academic freedom that does not require me to walk in lockstep with them -- how refreshing. So, when I saw Matt Olson being pilloried by innuendo and second-guessed by the familiar faction of fundamentalism, I decided to speak up.

Not because I think for one second that I will change any minds. I gave up on that a long time ago. But because I want Matt to know that though he will hear from far more critics than supporters in all likelihood, some of us understand and are happy to see him thoughtfully reassessing things. And even though he might receive more positive feedback, human nature is to focus on the verbal wounds, not the shoulder pats. And to those who are tempted to read caustic and critical rhetoric on sites like this and want to walk away even though you don't know where you might fit, -- don't. You won't be happy in the Evangelicals or Southern Baptists or other places either. If you are ever in a position when the guns are turned on you, you will survive and you will learn things. You are needed. And sometimes you'll be reminded that the traditionalists are right and the progressives are wrong and make sure you learn those lessons as well. In fact, they are probably more right on the core issues than many in the evangelical, emergent, world is. But we need fresh eyes, a renewed commitment to the Gospel and most of all -- those who will not waiver on the fundamentals.

I wish I could write like Joel Tetreau. He's always so stinking....dare I say it...."nice". I'm more pointed. Joel is smarter and more spiritual than me. I'm sure Bob and Don and those folks are convinced of their rightness and they are probably quite nice people. I've invited some of them to dinner before, but they almost always decline. I think that's sad. I bet I might have learned something from them. But rest assured, you are not alone. You belong in fundamentalism. Please don't leave.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

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To Dan Burrell

As I said in my prior post on your prior posting:

I

Quote:
think the bottom line here is that you made a post that is nothing but a personal attack on another poster. The attack was compounded by the fact of its total ignorance of the one you were attacking. It is further compounded by the fact that I have never mentioned your name or posted about you in any post of mine.

Of course, I have now mentioned you in my answering your attack on me.

Now you have broadened your attack to a whole "branch of Fundamentalism" that I and some others allegedly belong to because of what we have said regarding this issue at NIU. IMHO your last posts appear inappropriate and speak more of you than those you are attacking.

You state you have roots in Fundamentalism. If you were brought up by a Christian family that attended Fundamentalist churches that is a great privilege and heritage. I am sorry you felt you needed to make posts on this subject as you have. I am sure you most likely have had a good ministry through the years and still do.

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what the fuss is about

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I'm not clear on what Calvinism has to do with any of this.

Somebody brought it up, "as per usual" as my kids say.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
What is clear... and interesting to me: there seems to be two general schools of thought (or maybe three)
1) The changes are not a big deal but the communication style is way off
2) The communication style is not a big deal but the changes (or a subset of them) are ill advised
3? Both the changes and the communication style are bad...

Actually, just realized #4...

4) Both the changes and the communication style are good

I lean to number 3, because I think it is petty politicking to try to play to the crowd you are offending by telling them nothing has changed.

But of course, I do see these changes as significant and wrong for a number of reasons, many of which have already been brought up in this thread.

I think that fundamentalists generally agree that there are good and sufficient reasons for withdrawing from, withholding fellowship, refusing to cooperate with men who are in fact born again believers.

There is an attempt by some to define fundamentalism as simply people who believe the fundamentals, but history has demonstrated that isn't what fundamentalism was about. If it were, the neo-evangelicals would have had no one to withdraw from in the 1950s and 1960s.

Lately, there is an attempt to define it as people who believe the fundamentals and separate from apostates only (something the neos wouldn't do). But this really isn't adequate either, or else we wouldn't be having this discussion at all today.

I think it is significant for an institution that once withdrew from working with Rick Holland to now reverse course and work with Rick Holland. All have to admit that is an about face. To argue, therefore, that this new stance is not a change is simply ludicrous. You look foolish doing so.

And more to the point, what we should be asking of Matt Olson is what is different between the withdrawal from the earlier meeting with Rick Holland and the present cooperation with Rick Holland. What has changed? Was the earlier withdrawal right or wrong? What do these new approaches (with music, chapel platform, adjunct faculty) mean for the relationship with broader fundamentalism?

This letter makes it look like Matt is somehow wanting to retain his relationships with fundamentalist churches (a source of students) while going forward with changes that up till now have not been acceptable to those fundamentalist churches.

We need a much better statement than this if Matt hopes that fundamentalist pastors are going to continue to send students to Northland.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Posts: 660
Meanwhile, back to reality...

This discussion has lost all sense of proportion.

Inviting Bruce Ware to teach in the NIU grad school seems like it was a purely academic move, and one I wholeheartedly commend.

Inviting Rick Holland to NIU chapel will not be the downfall of fundamentalism, nor will it be its cure-all.

If I only read the thread and not the original letter, I would suspect that MacArthur himself was coming to teach for a week on justification and sanctification. Where's the beef, guys?

There are men teaching all throughout fundamentalist schools with advanced degrees from Master's. Does not this have much more affect on things long-term than the impact of one chapel message? Let's get real here.

Also, to the critics of these moves, I only hope you will keep the same watchful eye on the chapel of your alma mater the next time they bring in a "fundamentalist evangelist" who is known for his illustrations, use of crowd control, mishandling of Scripture, cowboy rope tricks, etc., etc. (Don't get me started on the Olympic high-jumping songleader, the guy who said it is wrong to read commentaries, the guy who said God actually forgets our sins... ... ... ...)

Finally, could we please cut the drama? Some of us actually don't care who is offended, who is going to call the president, etc. Also, the next time you are tempted to leave a 5,000-word post, remember that most of us are not going to read it.

There -- I feel so much better ;)

The views I express are purely my own. However, I am happy to promote the great ministries with which I work: I minister for www.SermonAudio.com/Whitcomb. I do freelance writing for www.RegularBaptistPress.org. I speak through www.IMISOS.org.

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#4

Thanks, Aaron, for not omitting this category.

Don, you have concerns. You have lots of questions. Go hash it out with Matt.

(As far as separation from persistently sinning and unrepentant professing believers, I am in a several weeks series on Sunday mornings with my church family in I Corinthians 5. We are hashing things out.)

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And I doubt Matt is a blogger . . .

so perhaps find some other way to discuss with him your questions.

grace and peace,
Todd

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Quote: Lately, there is an

Quote:
Lately, there is an attempt to define it as people who believe the fundamentals and separate from apostates only (something the neos wouldn't do). But this really isn't adequate either, or else we wouldn't be having this discussion at all today.

I think it is significant for an institution that once withdrew from working with Rick Holland to now reverse course and work with Rick Holland. All have to admit that is an about face. To argue, therefore, that this new stance is not a change is simply ludicrous. You look foolish doing so.

The original fundamentalists did exactly what you are moaning against. They reluctantly but finally did retreat, or separate. Those of us who decide to read history have seen that as well. We will not simply shut off our minds and let the made men inform us. It was the neofundamentalists who first redefined fundamentalism. That disaster hopefully is coming to an end.

As for the "about face", I don't mind if a person changes their mind, as long as it is a principled decision based upon God's word. Northland has decided to publicly associate with those who are clear about the gospel. You conditional salvation types will not convince us the course is wrong when you are so easily confused about the nature of saving faith.

The chicago way is dying.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

James K's picture
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Paul, I stopped reading your

Paul, I stopped reading your post when I reached the 3,000th word. Just kidding, great post. I have always wondered how some people try to justify hating on having these guys speak in chapel, but not complaining that the profs in the school sat under these men for their degrees. How many fundies went to Trinity, Master's Seminary, Dallas, or an SBC school? Reality, a sphere many refuse to live in.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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The Music

Quote:
we are changing our music on a missional level. Where you will see changes is in our intent to expand our training to prepare students for worship and music globally
I'll let others better qualified speak and write to other points in the OP.

Leaving aside the questions of rock and contemporary Christian music, I ran into the situation 12 years ago. Because, normally Russian music is written in a minor key and Russians will sing at a slower tempo than Americans. These two musical qualities troubled some American missionaries. These folks weren't familiar with Russian culture before they went over.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

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Rob Fall wrote: Quote: we

Rob Fall wrote:
Quote:
we are changing our music on a missional level. Where you will see changes is in our intent to expand our training to prepare students for worship and music globally
I'll let others better qualified speak and write to other points in the OP.

Leaving aside the questions of rock and contemporary Christian music, I ran into the situation 12 years ago. Because, normally Russian music is written in a minor key and Russians will sing at a slower tempo than Americans. These two musical qualities troubled some American missionaries. These folks weren't familiar with Russian culture before they went over.

This is what I was wondering. Is this the kind of thing he is talking about? Also, Asian musical scales--Don't they have a completely different scale?

Russians LOVE the minor key. Smile And they love poetry done as specials during the service--at least that was my experience when I was around a lot of Russians a few years back.

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James K][quote wrote: The

James K ][quote wrote:

The chicago way is dying.

What is the Chicago way? To which group are you alluding?

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