Has Northland Drifted Away From Fundamentalism?

Perhaps this isn't a popular topic to bring up, but I wanted some opinions from the larger fundamentalist community on NIU. I have heard some disconcerting things about Northland, both from alumni who are close friends and from other fundamentalist bloggers, such as Lou Martuneau's In Defense of the Gospel blog. The concerns of my alumni friends echo the very issues Lou brings up in this important blog post here -

http://indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com/2011/01/is-niu-unchanged-northland-baptist.html

Lou also has a number of other blog posts chronicling his concern with Northland's direction; all of which can be found at his site. Let me reiterate, his concerns echo the very things my friends have mentioned to me. I am well aware Lou is a sharp critic (perhaps that word is too kind?!) of SharperIron. Let's leave that aside. I'm not interested in ad hominem arguments against Lou's character - that isn't the issue.

Is there a problem at Northland? Should fundamentalists be concerned? Should fundamentalists speak out? I would not recommend this college to any teenager at my church. What say you?

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Jay's picture

Is exactly the right term to use, and I'm angry as well.

The double standard espoused by Mike, Lou, and to a lesser extent, Don is amazing. There's no avoiding the fact that the men who hold to this position clearly have one set of standards for one set of Fundamentalism and another for 'their' Fundamentalism. They canot delineate any objective (Scriptural?) parameters for why NIU is compromised. It just is because they feel that way.

BJU can (and I'd argue, does) enjoy blanket immunity because they are an 'educational institution' (and one, by the way, that enjoys VERY close ties with the FBFI - where all three of our esteemed colleagues are on the board). NIU recruits prospective students at a concert (which is well within thir duties as AN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION), and they are marked and avoided because of their compromise.

It's very clear now that there are two Fundamentalisms - one of which is self-perpetuating and revolves around Greenville, SC and one of which everyone else is outside of.

Mike, your comments are a perfect example of why the FBFI is dying. And exactly why it should.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

Gents,

Perhaps this is a good time to rethink the approach to the comments here. I think Mike has been very gracious in his approach, even though he strongly disagrees. He has talked about the issues without turning personal. Others, not so much.

Mike is right that having opera singers at BJU or political speakers is of an entirely different issue. Having been to a few operas at BJU, I was never under the impression that they were there joining hands in religious pursuits. I would think only unreasonable people don't understand that difference, even if they disagree. And Mike even conceded that on Steve Green it was a good point.

But here's the rub: You complain about how other people view you and your liberty,and you espouse your views in no uncertain terms. But then you are unwilling to grant Mike the same opportunity to state his views, even though he has done so clearly and without any indication of personal animus.

Jay, you talk about Mike being the reason the FBFI isn't growing. I personally don't think that's true. But I would suggest that your approach is the reason many are skeptical of the young fundamentalists. You did not show any grasp of the issues that these men are concerned about, or just ignored them, and instead went on what seems very close to a rant about your personal preferences. You decry Mike for having no objective standard, but you didn't offer one. (Not to mention the fact that Mike has, in many places, defended his views.)

So I would encourage people to imitate the grace of Mike here. Be clear in your views, but don't be personal. Slow to anger and slow to speak, speech seasoned with salt, and a soft tongue is perhaps a better way to go about it.

 

Greg Linscott's picture

Larry,

I am not trying to focus on just Mike. Even you, to some degree, reflect that perspective that it is "obviously" an entirely different issue, and that it is foolish that anyone would see a problem. I am here telling you that it just isn't the case with people who don't have the connection or sympathy with BJU that some of you do. Others see things like the art gallery, unregenerate artists like we have previously mentioned, or having politicians like Roman Catholic Alan Keyes a few years ago quite inconsistent. I am not saying I am one of them, by the way- only observing that those aren't just the perspectives of a few crackpots on the fringes. There are several crackpots... Smile

It was the comment that everyone... any thinking person assumes that BJU is right in what they do that I found incendiary. To this point: I will observe that there are very few other schools in Fundamentalism that have political candidates address the student bodies. We never did at Faith. Not once- and there would be plenty of that kind of opportunity in a school with the first presidential caucus in the nation, and all the candidates looking for face time.

Again, this is not to get into that point, specifically- only to say that while some may not agree, BJU is given latitude on this. I am sincerely looking for an answer to this question- what makes NIU's situation different? Why can they not be given some latitude and still be considered "Fundamentalist" even though you may not frequent them like you did before?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

GregH's picture

I see a double standard but I am not sure it a BJU vs NIU thing. I think that a small orbit just has always had an unnatural and illogical fixation on music. It leads to some strange decisions. 

Someone else made a point a few weeks ago. BJU would never bring in Steve Green the singer but they bring in Steve Green the Hobby Lobby guy. Tell me how much sense that makes. For some reason, there is latitude on many things but not on music, or at least Christian music. You can bring in opera singers who are not Christian but you can't associate with the CCM singers who not only are Christians, but are theologically and philosophically close to you.

For people like me on the outside, it doesn't make any sense to be that way. But then on top of it, most people with ties to that that thinking are starting to see the glaring weaknesses of traditional arguments against CCM. And thus, the whole house of cards collapses. That is why that little tribe is shrinking more every year.

Jay's picture

That might be true, but Mike is clearly excusing the appearance of Mr. Green at BJU as no big deal due to it's educational nature. Yet he has repeatedly emphasized that the problems at NIU revolve largely around their ~ recruiting efforts ~ as an educational institution. That's why I spent so much time trying to figure out Mike's exact objection to NIU.

It used to be that churches provided enough students to Christian schools and universities that the schools did not have to market themselves outside of those realms. Those days have changed. I'm not happy about NIU's marketing plan, but I can't figure out a better one. Maybe they should try something else that isn't as incendiary...but what? Would he prefer they go the PCC, Cedarville, or (heaven forbid!) Liberty Univ. route?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Mike Harding's picture

Greg,

 

If MBBC has Scott Walker in to address the assembly on some political, social, moral issue, everyone realizes that this is a civic event. No kind of Christian identity is being inferred or assumed by anyone.  If MBBC had Pearlman in to do a violin concerto for an artist series, it is considered purely an educational event.  There is no conferring of Christian status and none is assumed.  However, when religious institutions join in purely religious causes, then the principles of religious separation are assumed.  This has always been the case.  Even in a church when the mayor of the town shows up, you would recognize the mayor publicly and perhaps allow the mayor to give a word of greeting.  I think everyone knows that no Christian confirmation is being conferred.  Chapel preachers, Bible teachers, Christian concerts are to be judged by Christian principles of ecclesiology, theology, and the like.  I would grant the same understanding to any institution across the board.  That is why I actually agreed with you that you had a legitimate point with the Hobby Lobby guy.  I don't know much about the company other than what I hear in the news.  I am endeavoring to be consistent with all parties concerned.  I apologize for coming across as arrogant.

Pastor Mike Harding

Larry's picture

Moderator

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Greg,

Isn’t it obviously different? If you have ever sat through an opera at BJU (or anywhere for that matter), you would quickly see that it isn’t religious teaching. I am not sure how reasonable person could dispute that. I heard Alan Keyes at BJU, along with Pat Robertson, and some others back in the day (and shook Nancy Reagan's hand in 1980 and missed Ronald Reagan's hand by about two people). And I am confident that no one would have confused their speeches with religious instruction or ecclesiastical common cause.

Now, I am not saying they should they have done it. I am not defending it. And I am willing to see how people could disagree about whether they should do it. I do not see how there is any room to disagree about whether it is religious or ecclesiastical in nature. My point was about how Mike was being treated. I think it was wrong.

If I were to answer your question about NIU being different I would say this: BDW is a Christian group making specific claims about Christianity and worship. None of that is true about opera singers or political speeches. (And that’s not to say that any or the parties (DBW, NIU, or BJU) should do or not do what they do.)

I think NIU can be given lots of latitude and still be called fundamentalist. I am not sure Mike disagrees. Perhaps ask him directly if he thinks NIU can be given lots of latitude and still be fundamentalist.

 

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Jay's picture

Larry-

1. I did try to discuss this whole issue objectively with Mike. I also started a thread to try and establish some kind of objective and Scriptural music standards. I also asked that Greg, Don, and Mike move to that thread because the topics were similar. I understand his objections very well. I reiterated them and disengaged when we couldn't come to agreement. At no point in those posts did I 'rant' or attack him personally. I would appreciate it if you would go back and re-read the posts again.

2. Did I say that the FBFI was dying because of Mike? No, I didn't. I could have said that if I'd wanted to. On the contrary, I *explicitly* commended Mike a few weeks ago for trying to interact with us on this website. I still feel that way, although I do disagree with him stronger than I usually would. It was not and is not my intent to blame Mike for any of this. My intent, as I stated, was to note the double standard. I will not back off of that assessment at this point.

If anyone here would like to discuss this with me, PM me and we can set up a time to talk on the phone. I do need to go, though, and will be back online much later tonight or tomorrow.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
That might be true, but Mike is clearly excusing the appearance of Mr. Green at BJU as no big deal due to it's educational nature.
Jay, my friend, you are just not being honest now. On the previous page, post #54057, Mike conceded that Greg "probably had a good point" on it. That is not "clearly excusing it."

Again, I am not defending or attacking either institution. My primary goal here was simply to encourage some to step back and speak with a softer voice for a bit. Or to put it differently, quit acting like a fundamentalist who attacks everyone who disagrees with him.

 

Mike Harding's picture

Jay,

 

I would not prefer that they go to Cedarville, PCC, Liberty, etc.  Also, in fairness I would hope you would hold me accountable only for what I am writing, not what others are writing.  I did not excuse the Hobby Lobby guy.  It may well be that you men are right on that issue.  BJU certainly is not perfect and they are not the standard.  There are other institutions that I love that have been broadening their platforms as well.  I think we all need to be much more careful.  Since this conversation has gone beyond the bounds of Christian civility, I will endeavor to graciously bow out. 

Pastor Mike Harding

Larry's picture

Moderator

Jay, I don't want to get in a back and forth. I have no skin in ths game, and I don't really want to get involved in it. My comments were specifically directed at the demeanor that appeared to be headed in a negative direction and I was encouraging some caution and care about it.

I haven't read your comments elsewhere, so I can't go back and reread them. Smile I hesitated to get involved here at all. My comments were very specific, directed at the comments of Greg (on the last page who broke out "arrogant") and you on the top of this page (who accused Mike of having a double standard) and claimed you were incensed. I think there are probably more important things if we are going to get incensed, but I believe the approach you were took there was too harsh, and I was encouraging some rethinking of the way it was headed. I still encourage that.

Quote:
2. Did I say that the FBFI was dying because of Mike? No, I didn't.
Again, I reference the comments in the first post on this second page where you said, "Mike, your comments are a perfect example of why the FBFI is dying. And exactly why it should." If you want to make a distinction between Mike and Mike's comments, I guess you can, but I think that would be a hard thing to do, since Mike's comments represent Mike. But more than that, I found it to be an unproductive way to engage the conversation.

Quote:
My intent, as I stated, was to note the double standard. I will not back off of that assessment at this point.
To the issue of double standard, I will just comment quickly. Again, I have no desire or compulsion to either attack or defend anyone or any institution involved in this. But I think "double standard" is often employed by people who don't understand the standard or don't agree with it. If you disagree with the educational vs. ecclesiastical distinction, fine. But they are two  different standards, aren't they? To have someone in for educational or political purposes is different than having someone in for religious or ecclesiastical purposes. It is not a double standard to have two different purposes and employ different standards for different purposes.

Don Johnson's picture

Astonishing. And on Good Friday, no less.

I'll follow Mike out of this thread as well.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Greg Linscott's picture

I apologize for coming across as arrogant.

And I apologize if "breaking out" the term (as Larry observed) is perceived as inappropriately harsh. I thought the conversation was getting interesting, but I apologize if I have offended (which I immediately tried to acknowledge and explain). Civilty does not preclude passionate expression, especially among brothers (which I perceive Larry, Mike and Don to be. Jay, being an Eagles fan, not so much...).

At the same time, I did use the term intentionally. I do think that sometimes BJU alumni assume that the BJU way is naturally the reasonable and accepted position. Right or wrong, not everyone does it the way BJU does, and some of those reasons are not just because they lack funding or a sense of culture that BJU alumni have bestowed upon them during their time there. They might have actually thought through a position that reached a different conclusion.

Even in a church when the mayor of the town shows up, you would recognize the mayor publicly and perhaps allow the mayor to give a word of greeting.

I have preached to a state senator who narrowly missed being the GOP gubernatorial nominee of Minnesota the last election cycle. I have a former mayor and current town councilmen amongst our church membership. I have never given them any more recognition than I would an immigrant laborer from the Turkey Valley plant. Why should I? Does James 2 not apply today?

But again, I understand Fundamentalism to accommodate more than one position on matters such as this.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jay's picture

Jay, being an Eagles fan, not so much...

See, this is why I love Patriots fans so much.  They're not passionate at all, and they're certainly not brothers, right Greg? Smile

Quick thoughts.

1. I have no objection to BJU or NIU or Faith or TMS (or whomever) inviting their own guest speakers, whether it's political, social, philosophical, theological or whatever purpose.  It's their right to do so.  We can also sit here, as is our right, to respond and disagree with those invitations.  We can even do so angrily and/or ignorantly.

2. I missed Mike's post (#54057) because I was replying to what Greg wrote in his post in my post (#54051).  So if I had seen that, I would have altered what I wrote.  It's now too late to go back and do so, but I wanted to explain that I'd missed it and that it would have altered what I said, because I misunderstood him.  Was I angry about the double standard?  Yes, although I haven't taken the time to explain why yet because I didn't have the time or opportunity to write everything out (although at this point, I doubt that there's anyone who would interested in listening).

3. I do still see, very much, a double standard here on the music thing.  I think that the music thing is largely propagated and defended by men in the FBFI orbit (as I've noted in the Opinions of the FBFI thread), so I pulled them into this discussion, and I did that intentionally.  I'm fairly sure that they haven't thought through the ramifications of where their musical arguments have to take them.

4.  Yes, I do mean to draw a very clear distinction between what Mike said and Mike as a person.  If that wasn't clear, forgive me that wrong.

5.  Greg wrote:

At the same time, I did use the term intentionally. I do think that sometimes BJU alumni assume that the BJU way is naturally the reasonable and accepted position. Right or wrong, not everyone does it the way BJU does, and some of those reasons are not just because they lack funding or a sense of culture that BJU alumni have bestowed upon them during their time there. They might have actually thought through a position that reached a different conclusion.

Yes, that is competely right.  And before someone writes me off as 'ignorant' or 'unaware'...I've been there and have a Master's from there.  But what do I know?  I'm just a 'young fundamentalist' (whatever that term means).

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture

Editor

As I recall, there was an extremely frank discussion on SI recently about Faith and Cederville, prompted by an article by Kevin Bauder. That conversation didn't devolve as this one has. Why . . . ?

Can we not discuss separation without becoming hostile?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Haven't been following this thread but got some email regarding tone here... And a quick peruse does suggest it might be time for a--to borrow from Joel T--kumbaya break. 

So, on three, deep breaths, everyone. 1... 2...

Greg Linscott's picture

TylerR wrote:

As I recall, there was an extremely frank discussion on SI recently about Faith and Cederville, prompted by an article by Kevin Bauder. That conversation didn't devolve as this one has. Why . . . ?

Can we not discuss separation without becoming hostile?

As I recall, there have been some points in the conversation you reference that prompt statements like this:

Your note seems to be a thinly veiled criticism of the FBFI vs. the GARBC.

Just sayin'.

And Blumer- two guitars? I bet there's bongos obscured behind the flames...

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Greg Linscott's picture

If you disagree with the educational vs. ecclesiastical distinction, fine. But they are two  different standards, aren't they? To have someone in for educational or political purposes is different than having someone in for religious or ecclesiastical purposes. It is not a double standard to have two different purposes and employ different standards for different purposes.

Larry,

FWIW, I do understand your point above to Jay. I didn't use the "double standard" term, I don't think, but I do think that I hinted at inconsistency in the latitude. Again, I understand that the examples cited from BJU (like unregenerate opera singers) aren't the same thing as a ministry partnership. However, they are things some people have disagreements with them over. What I am trying to figure out is not the double standard of opera singers or political speakers or Hobby Lobby Guy vs. CCM bands, but why people can disagree with one approach and yet still deem the institution "in the circle," but the other disagreement obviously puts the other's fundamentalism in question.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

CAWatson's picture

Rather than discussing subjective actions that Olsen has done (rock concerts, musical shifts, visiting professors at the doctoral level - doctoral, not undergraduate), perhaps we should be asking a more pertinent objective question: 

 

Why would NI retain a professor/administrator (the man is on their website, and his profile lists his church) whose church's doctrinal statement (and probably his own, but I haven't asked him personally) is in open disagreement with NI's doctrinal statement? The other issues, to me, are ancillary symptoms. This one issue is an objective problem - because it is a problem on paper. NI is not acting in accordance with its doctrinal statement (and it is a problem that to my knowledge, they have not yet openly addressed) - which leads me to think that they have three options:

1. Remove the offending professor/administrator

2. Change their doctrinal statement to reflect their more open position

3. Retain the professor and the doctrinal statement and live with the contradiction. 

Larry's picture

Moderator

why people can disagree with one approach and yet still deem the institution "in the circle," but the other disagreement obviously puts the other's fundamentalism in question.

I suppose you would have to ask the people who believe this, but if I understand what you mean by your question, I imagine their answer would be that these are apples/oranges types of comparisons. And if that is their answer, I think they are right. Whatever we might say about the merits of either approach, they are not the same types of questions, it seems to me. However, I am out of touch (blind, one person said) and relatively apathetic about this kind of stuff so I am not the person to ask.

Andrew K.'s picture

CAWatson wrote:

Rather than discussing subjective actions that Olsen has done (rock concerts, musical shifts, visiting professors at the doctoral level - doctoral, not undergraduate), perhaps we should be asking a more pertinent objective question: 

 

Why would NI retain a professor/administrator (the man is on their website, and his profile lists his church) whose church's doctrinal statement (and probably his own, but I haven't asked him personally) is in open disagreement with NI's doctrinal statement? The other issues, to me, are ancillary symptoms. This one issue is an objective problem - because it is a problem on paper. NI is not acting in accordance with its doctrinal statement (and it is a problem that to my knowledge, they have not yet openly addressed) - which leads me to think that they have three options:

1. Remove the offending professor/administrator

2. Change their doctrinal statement to reflect their more open position

3. Retain the professor and the doctrinal statement and live with the contradiction. 

It's a fair question. However, I'm going to tweak it a bit: If your question is truly the relevant one, then why does the emphasis consistently seem to be on the subjective actions? What does it suggest about the state of the movement that what people appear to care about most is--let's say bring it up once more--the music.

神是爱

Jay's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:
What I am trying to figure out is not the double standard of opera singers or political speakers or Hobby Lobby Guy vs. CCM bands, but why people can disagree with one approach and yet still deem the institution "in the circle," but the other disagreement obviously puts the other's fundamentalism in question.

Mike's point was that there were a few things, but the BDW recruiting trip seemed to be the real issue when I pushed him on it, because that was the thing that kept coming up.  That double-standard with who's 'in' and who's 'not' - and the statement that BJU should get a degree of 'latitude' because they are an 'educational institution' - was what triggered my post (#54061). 

Again, the double standard I was referring to is what Greg references in bolded portion of his quote above.  I wasn't talking about bringing in Opera singers or politicians to speak.  NIU/BJU both have the right to invite whomever they want.

CAWatson brings up a good point that someone at NIU ought to reply to, I do not think that the professor in question is 'charismatic' to the extent that most of us would (I doubt he speaks in tongues or would agree with a second 'blessing' of the Holy Spirit), so is is actually fair to say that he's in disagreement with the NIU DS?  More to the point - and I'm not trying to attack CA here - how can we know that the professor is, actually, charismatic if he doesn't talk about the subject, teach on it, or write about it?  Are we just assuming that his 'charismaticism' is the same kind of charismaticism broadcast on TBN?

AndrewK is right as well.  Anytime I've seen stuff about NIU (especially at blogs), the 'backbreaker' always seems to be either the 'Resolved' conference association with Holland (emphasis on the Resolved and not as much on Holland) OR now this BDW concert.  I don't understand the subjectiveness of that, and I'm frustrated at their inability of our non-CCM users to articulate better principles and standards.  If your position is that solid, why not engage the questions?  This isn't a recent development, as a brief search through the SI archives will demonstrate.

Larry - I have asked the people that believe this.  They do not respond to those questions.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:
Again, though- where does that disobedience rate? You are a BJU alumni in good standing. Your education included training from men who viewed paedobaptism as legitimate.  I see that as something that "does not please the Lord." Obviously, since you have also sent children there and cooperate with professors from the school, you allow for differences there that you would not allow for in your church. Is the Biblical case for music, in your mind, more obvious and actionable than the one for modes of baptism?
(Emphasis added) This is such an important point. One of the issues so-called young fundamentalists cannot comprehend is the appearance among fundamentalist leaders that cultural fundamentalism is more important than doctrinal fundamentalism. In other words, more concern is expressed over things with which fundamentalists feel uncomfortable (outside of the normal comfort zone) than over things that are blatantly doctrinally errant. For this reason, music can be a cause for calls of separation while KJVOism, unbiblical and divisive anti-Calvinistic attacks and (in this example from Greg) paedobaptism get a pass because these latter folks look and act and sound like the mythical fundamentalist prototype while Big Daddy Weave doesn't.

 

While I personally agree with those who define music as inherently moral (apart from the lyrics), I also acknowledge that the doctrine provided in scripture by which to evaluate this issues is far less dogmatic than the doctrine provided in scripture by which we evaluate bibliology, soteriology and baptism. Furthermore, the issues represented in these four doctrines, even if there were the same level of clarity present on all fronts in scripture, are not equal in importance. So, it is hard to understand why the clearer and more important doctrinal breaches are winked at while the lesser and more obscure doctrinal breaches become monumental issues other than by measure of the level of external similarity.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Joel Shaffer's picture

I have been watching this post for a while now.  Aren’t we really debating the changes that happened with  Northland/Music  whether it is an Absolute or a Conviction, or Preference?  Correct me if I’m wrong, but Don and Mike see this issue at the least as a conviction that they will not compromise on.  Those who see it more as a preference issue (I realize that I am generalizing too much) are trying to point out the inconsistencies of the conviction/absolute position and are getting frustrated because the conviction/absolutes side are only acknowledging a few not all of the inconsistencies pointed out. 

 
Here’s the problem.  Those who hold the Northland/Music changes as a conviction or an absolute will never change their mind because it will defile their conscience.  Nor should they. When Romans 14:5 states, “Let every man be convinced in his own mind”  as much as I will debate the issues at hand, I’m not going to try to make someone say uncle about an area in which they hold so strongly.  By the way, I realize the context of this verse is the weaker brother and by no means am I insinuating that those who hold the Northland/Music changes as the weaker brother.  I respect these men as Godly leaders within their spheres of Fundamentalism

Sadly, I also realize that I will never have the opportunity to break bread and fellowship with these Christian brothers until we reach heaven because of my views on music.  I regularly use gospel hip-hop to teach doctrine to at-risk teens and young adults in our inner-city ministry. I did not make this decision lightly.  I agonized through many different texts of scripture and considered arguments that were different than my own.  But in the end, since to them my view on music is considered a compromise of holiness, I am guessing I’d be considered the disobedient brother.    As much as I appreciate Fundamentalism and its emphasis on the doctrine of separation, it is a double-edged sword when it comes to applying the doctrine of separation.

As for Northland and Matt Olson, there are enough stripes of fundamentalism around that have no problem with the changes.  For instance, I see that Matt Olson is speaking at the 2013 national GARBC conference.   http://garbcconference.org/conference-speakers/    Many fundamental Baptist churches in the GARBC, especially in states such as Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana (which consist of almost half of its 1200 churches) would not have a problem with the music changes that took place at NIU.       

Greg Linscott's picture

Aren’t we really debating the changes that happened with  Northland/Music  whether it is an Absolute or a Conviction, or Preference?

I don't think so, though I suppose it's somewhat related. What I think is being debated (again) is what constitutes adherence to Fundamentalism. In my observation and experience (and reacting to what you have just said, Joel) , there are those who concluded long ago that organizations like the GARBC stopped being Fundamentalist, for similar reasons as we are discussing here with Northland. I mean, if we're honest, it's why even a very conservative school like Faith has kind of been on the fringes over the years- because of its continued association with the GARBC. 

Perhaps what we are seeing here is further fracturing and re-defining. Is "true" Fundamentalism the one that can give latitude on a wide range of issues as long as we have a general sense of unity on Bible versions and music, or is it one that unites around doctrinal non-negotiables, but recognizing latitude in cultural issues and practices? That may be an over-simplification (especially taking into account Chris Watson's very legitimate point regarding the specific matter at hand), but I think that generally that is where the tensions lie in the larger conversation.

Sadly, I also realize that I will never have the opportunity to break bread and fellowship with these Christian brothers until we reach heaven because of my views on music.

You know, that is lamentable. From your perspective, how would you envision venues of fellowship where pastors or churches could fellowship, each holding strong but contrasting approaches to music?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

TylerR's picture

Editor

I think you've hit the nail right on the head. I have been trying to say the same thing a few times here, but haven't been able to get it right!

Maybe I'm different than most folks, but I would never break fellowship with somebody on secondary issues. I would never not have lunch with them, grab coffee, email or even not visit their church. Perhaps some people would, but that's not me.

On an ecclesiastical level, there would be limited interaction but I certainly wouldn't speak ill of somebody for divergence on secondary issues. For example, if I decided I didn't like XYZ Bible College because of their stand on music, I would just stop carrying their promo material or have their reps visit church. I certainly wouldn't preach a sermon entitled "Why XYZ Bible College Compromises!"

I personally like listening to James White (Reformed, 5-pt Calvinist apologist). I use clips from some of his debates in our apologetics class at church. I wouldn't have him preach at our church (a small problem with his view on limited atonement!) but he is a good guy.

My point Joel, is that the reaction from fundamentalists who disagree with you on second-tier issues should be firm but polite - not hostile. If this hasn't been your experience, then shame on us all.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Ron Bean's picture

Sadly, I also realize that I will never have the opportunity to break bread and fellowship with these Christian brothers until we reach heaven because of my views on music.

I agree that this is a sad situation. When we realize that separation and division are essentially the same thing, do you suppose that the Lord is pleased with divisions in the Body of Christ over issues like this?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Joel Shaffer's picture

 I mean, if we're honest, it's why even a very conservative school like Faith has kind of been on the fringes over the years- because of its continued association with the GARBC.

 

Perhaps what we are seeing here is further fracturing and re-defining. Is "true" Fundamentalism the one that can give latitude on a wide range of issues as long as we have a general sense of unity on Bible versions and music, or is it one that unites around doctrinal non-negotiables, but recognizing latitude in cultural issues and practices?

Interesting that you mention the further fracturing and re-defining and that you mention Faith.  Faith (which has long been associated with the GARBC) will be hosting the FBFI conference this summer and then you have Matt Olson (whom has long been associated with the FBFI) speaking at the GARBC.  

You know, that is lamentable. From your perspective, how would you envision venues of fellowship where pastors or churches could fellowship, each holding strong but contrasting approaches to music?

Unfortunately, I don't have much hope for this to ever happen on a larger scale unless certain fundamentalists stop believing that a person like me is a disobedient brother because of my contrasting view on music.   In Grand Rapids, I fellowship with several pastors within the GARBC.  Some have contrasting views on music than my own, but they are not viewing me as the disobedient brother.  It is how they are applying separation.  

  

 

Jay's picture

From your perspective, how would you envision venues of fellowship where pastors or churches could fellowship, each holding strong but contrasting approaches to music?

Well, what the Scripture teaches might be a good start: Smile

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(Philippians 2:1-8 ESV)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  (John 13:34-35 ESV)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
(Romans 12:10-16 ESV)

At the end of the day - if I *truly* love my brothers and sisters in Christ, then I'll understand that my preferences about music aren't as important as their desire to praise the Lord (well, within reason).

We have three praise groups in our church I attend.  One likes to come from a more 'metal' type background, because that's what the leader came out of.  One comes from a more 'bluegrass' background.  One...well, they come from a few places.  We also have a pianist and a bunch of "pianist-trainees"...girls (well, mostly girls) that are in the rotation because they need to learn how to accompany the songleader.  All of them have their music vetted by the Pastor (if it's new - stuff that has already been checked is fine), and then we use it as long as there are no serious objections.  The church also takes things like decibel levels and appropriateness for corporate worship in mind (is the song singable for the congregation?). 

There are times when Pastor and I joke about 'inward groaning' when it comes to certain groups because it's not the music "that we like" and we want to keep the music that we like in 'heavy rotation' (mostly hymns and choral stuff for a church setting).  There are more than a few services where I've gritted my teeth and listened to their noise (and Pastor does tell them it was noise after the service was over).

At the end of the day - when I weighed the principles that the Bible taught me and stopped thinking so hard belonging to the right kind of churches - I found that I'd come out of the 'cultural' Fundamentalism and into a place more like where Joel comes from.  That was painful, because it cost me dearly, and it cost me in ways that I would have never expected it to. But that was a sacrifice that I *had* to make in order to live according to what God's word was revealing to me.  I have been asking these questions - and have repeatedly done so - because it would be a lot easier for me to go back to the cultural fundamentalism that I've grown up in and enjoyed for so long.  I'd LIKE to go back to that.

My loyalty, however, must be to the word of God.  That's where I wound up where I did, and I found it to be a far more exciting place to be than the well-fitting and enjoyable clothes of cultural fundamentalism.

I think I've said enough now...but that's the point behind all the questions.  I'm not some libertine that's demanding my 'rights' to 'my music'.  I'm just trying to synthesize what the cultural fundamentalists taught me with what the Bible taught me, and I'm upset and yes, even angry, that I helped facilitate unnecessary divisions in the Body of Christ over the very ancillary issues of whose music is better.   I'm angry that we are turning around and destroying organizations and churches over music that, as far as I can tell, is really more about pleasing ourselves and not about pleasing the Lord with music.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Greg Linscott's picture

Is this kind of what you're envisioning, Jay?  :)

‘Orthodox lite’ services draw ritual-hungry evangelicals

AKRON, Ohio — When a new Antiochian Orthodox church opened up and drew families from several evangelical churches, it created a minor buzz around town.

 

At the Evangelical Free church, it also created another service.

“I’ve been caught off guard by other shifts in church trends,” says EV Free pastor Brian Fitzgerald, 44. “Not this time.”

 

In a defensive maneuver, his church soon added an Orthodox-style service to cater to people who want more ritual and a feeling of connection to historical tradition.

“It’s the same sermon, same worship songs in many cases, just done in a more liturgical style,” Fitzgerald says. “I don’t mind changing the packaging for people. It freshens it up for them and for me.”

Link To Full Story

 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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