Crossroads Conference: Q & A with Dr. Ollila

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Mike Verway's picture

"After 50 years in ministry, this is not how I expected to run my last mile." Les. Ollila

dmyers's picture

"I'm not hurt" followed by "You bloggers make me sick!  Get a life!"

Who is Olilla responding to?  Has Olson publicly attacked Olilla in his blog?  If so, I haven't seen that attack posted here at SI.  Have attacks on Olilla by others been posted here at SI?  If not, why is this Q&A here?

As an outsider watching this, this just makes Olilla look bad.  Charging unspecified others with personal agendas, controlling him, using him, taking advantage of his loyalty, "turn[ing] from biblicism to pragmatism," etc., *without any specifics whatsoever*.  This is just complaint and carping by innuendo and implication.  He repeatedly claims to have been ignorant of whatever unspecified changes he now disagrees with because he was traveling on behalf of the school.  Really?  He couldn't ask questions by telephone or e-mail?  Never?

Interestingly, for those who have said that CCM wasn't the issue, CCM is the only issue he actually identifies, though he acknowledges "CCM isn't a sin."

Steve Newman's picture

To dmyers, I certainly wouldn't assume the "bloggers" that were vexing were on the left, but on the right...

The interesting thing to me was listening to him speak about "PR people" at the school whom he felt had a lot to do with the change in direction. Also, that he hadn't been involved with the board for 8+ years. He felt "somewhat used" by those who had him put out statements that the school hadn't changed direction when it clearly had.

I respect that he didn't duck any questions and that he tried to handle things in as honorable way as possible.

At this point, I'll take the advice from the video and not speculate, but talk to primary sources as much as possible.....

Brad Kelly's picture

He repeatedly claims to have been ignorant of whatever unspecified changes he now disagrees with because he was traveling on behalf of the school.  Really?  He couldn't ask questions by telephone or e-mail?  Never?

It is a little bit perplexing that at one point he claimed to prescient enough to warn the "PR" guys that in 2 years the school would be closed, but then seem to claim shock and surprise at things that happened.

I am thankful that this was posted and for the questions that were asked and answered. I wish it would not have raised the further questions though. Still a lot of fog.

NBBC Class of 1998.

ChrisC's picture

on blogs… blog has been a word in dictionaries for more than a decade, and it's definitely not going away. so people just need to move on and interact with the world as it is and not as they wish it to be. informal publishing has been a thing for much longer than blogs. some people will publish disparaging nonsense in paper. that doesn't make it any better.

actually, a lot of the world has moved past blogs and on to twitter. even major outlets rely on tweets in their news cycle.

but i wonder whether some of ollila's statements put him outside of most of fundamentalism already. he praises middle-of-the road, but is there such a thing as a middle-of-the-road fighting fundamentalist?

is saying that ccm is "not sin" but also not welcome/wise/whatever (minute 12) a more welcome view in fundamentalism?

waning enrollment in christian education? he conveniently skipped over liberty university's growth.

overall, it sounded like a lesson in why not to be a yes-man

Jay's picture

Wow.  Doc O a 'yes man'?  You clearly don't know Doc. O.

I think Ollila was right to be angry.  He specifically mentioned the fact that many people were gossiping and slandering the school without any idea of what was going on - and that people were content to call other people 'for the scoop' instead of contacting the school directly.  He specifically mentioned the fact that there were times when he found out about changes at the school that he had not been informed of, and also mentioned that there were things that he was deliberately not informed of.  That's legitimate, and I'd be angry too, if it were me. 

If you were working to defend a place that you had put 30 years of your life into, and you were getting bad information from that place and then being called on the lies by constituents, I think you have every right to be angry, and angry in the right way.  While it was obvious Doc was angry on occasion, he didn't do or say anything that attacked or slandered another or anything that was sinful (at least that I noticed).  His reaction reminds me a lot of Peter's admonition in 1 Peter 2:21-25.  I have no doubt that there are some who wanted Doc to get up there and throw everyone under the bus or to come crawling with a "woe is me, I have sinned, please forgive me attitude", and I'm glad that he didn't do so.  He took the high and painful road to admitting where he saw the issues and some of his own shortcomings, which is a clear testimony to his character.

I'm also glad, in a way, that Dr. Olson resigned.  It's obvious now that there were clear communication problems (to be kind) at Northland, and I don't see any way that these kinds of issues could be discussed as long as he was there.  At the end of the day, all of this is stuff that should have been clearly communicated - especially to Doc O, since he was the chancellor - and as a result, NIU is in a real bind. 

I think Doc is right to warn the school of pragmatism in music and especially with the "PR people" that he mentioned.  If the consultants don't understand the heartbeat of the school or what it's trying to do, and they're telling the school to change based on ungodly principles instead of Biblical principles, then he should be at the head of the ship yelling and screaming and warning.  That's his responsibility, even if most of us weren't aware of it, and I credit him for doing that. 

The shots at bloggers, I thought, were warranted.  Especially when you read this drivel, posted so soon after the Q & A session:

In the question and answer time, most of us were disappointed that we didn’t have an opportunity to ask Dr. O some questions. This made the question and answer time appear somewhat synthetic and contrived.  Dr. Phelps was only able to ask a few of the really hard questions, and they appeared to be sanitized to the point that Dr. O’s answers were less than forthright.  The first question that was asked, “Are you still on Staff at Northland?”  The answer was brief, “NO!”  But the follow-up question never came.  “When did you sever your relationship with Northland and why did it take so long to do it?”  That was never asked...

 

The answer to Dr. Phelps question concerning Dr. O’s meeting with Dr. John MacArthur and Rick Holland back in [April] 2010, was put on the same level as going to the Hyles Pastor’s School or some other religious event.  In his answer, he heaped praise on Dr. MacArthur as being a godly leader, despite the fact that Dr. MacArthur preaches a “Lordship Salvation” gospel and despite the fact that his church polity is Elder Rule.

He likewise heaped praise on Dr. Olson for his leadership despite the fact that Dr. Olson is the reason that NIU is where it is today.  What surprised us the most was that Dr. O had no regrets about anything he did.   While we commend Dr. O for his clear-cut, passionate sermons, the time for passion was when the downgrade of the school became obvious...There were many lessons we could have learned from the demise of Northland, but sadly, we learned precious few of them today.

 

Dr. O made much of humor in answering his questions, which is a good way to direct people’s minds away from the real issue.  He also made much about being under authority, as if to say that his culpability in helping to destroy NIU as a strong, fundamental Baptist school was simply “being submissive to authority.”

 

Loyalty to leadership can be commendable, but culpability in compromise is not.

 

He pleaded ignorance on knowing what was going on and believed that he was being used and even acknowledged himself as being a simpleton on occasion, (which we know he isn’t) but not once did Dr. O apologize or show any remorse for his silence over the last three years as Chancellor, while Dr. Olson methodically changed the philosophy, as well as the direction of the school from being a strong, fundamental, Baptist Bible College to a weak, generic, New Evangelical school.  To that end, we went away disappointed.  

 

Nevertheless, we both wish Dr. O good success in his future ministry of “Building Leaders” for  tomorrow’s churches.   Personally, we believe that Dr. Ollila has time to repair the breach he has put in his own ministerial life.  Just because he’s made some serious mistakes, doesn’t mean that he’s out of the game.  He has something to contribute, if we let him do it.  He can still have a measurable impact on fundamentalism if we let him.  You Pastors have to decide that.  Like Fox News says, “We report, you decide.”

Dr. Lawrence Hufhand and Dr. Marc Monte

I appreciated Ollila's admitting that not all CCM is evil or pragmatic.  To even hear that kind of statement is a breath of fresh air to this CCM listener.  I was thankful that he could meet with Dr. MacArthur and have a solid day's exchange with them, and appreciate the ministry and work of GTY/GCC without having to couch it with all the standard warnings the 'conservative evangelicals'.

The big takeaway that I received from it is this - this issue is not going away.  The issue isn't even really about music - it's about acceptability, boundaries, and (yes) secondary separation.  Until "fundamentalists" (whatever that means anymore) can stop talking about "deviating from the standards" as signs of the upcoming Evangelical/Fundamentalist apocalypse and start dealing with the theological underpinnings of some of these standards, we're going to be fighting an endless civil war, with a lot of yelling and blogging and excommunicating without ever getting at the core of the issues.    Otherwise, we're just going to see more angry exchanges over those "compromising, liberal CCM types" or those "backwards and un-with-it conservatives/traditionalists".

The question is - who's going to do it?  Is anyone even willing?  And where can those kinds of debates occur?

The answers remain to be seen.

"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

Jim's picture

dmyers wrote:
Who is Olilla responding to?  Has Olson publicly attacked Olilla in his blog?  If so, I haven't seen that attack posted here at SI.  Have attacks on Olilla by others been posted here at SI?  If not, why is this Q&A here?

Answers as far as I know:

  • Has Olson publicly attacked Olilla in his blog? Response: No
  • If so, I haven't seen that attack posted here at SI. Response: N/A see above
  • Have attacks on Olilla by others been posted here at SI?  Response: Haven't seen any
  • If not, why is this Q&A here? Response twofold: 1.) Follow on to this filing; 2.) See about Filings: "SharperIron Filings are links to current Web wisdom and folly chosen for their likely interest to SI readers. (Per Web custom, we do not seek permission to link to content.) Views expessed are those of the linked sites and quite often not those of SI."
ChrisC's picture

Jay wrote:
Wow.  Doc O a 'yes man'?  You clearly don't know Doc. O.
you're right, i don't know him, and maybe yes man was too strong, but it seemed to me like he spent a fair amount of time talking about loyalty that was sometimes misplaced and/or less critical and discerning than it should have been.

i don't know who lawrence hufhand or marc monte are either, but it seems like they're upset that northland has not only left their fundamentalist roots but also their baptist roots. maybe the faction with loyalty to baptist polity and arminianism was bigger than i thought and why ollila decided to tell his story about that arminian who was actually a practicing hypercalvanist.

and maybe the pr folks that ollila didn't like were actually right, that northland needs to find an identity that can be marketed so people understand why they would want to survive –20°F when they could be in florida, south carolina, ohio or virginia instead of trying to be a middle-of-the-road hodgepodge that everyone can criticize.

Don Johnson's picture

I don't think you really understand what Dr O was talking about with that line. NBBC under his leadership was no hodgepodge. It was never perhaps as hard line on some areas of application as were some other fundamentalists, but it had a well defined testimony as a fundamentalist institution. The hodgepodge came after he stepped down as President.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

CAWatson's picture

ChrisC wrote:

and maybe the pr folks that ollila didn't like were actually right, that northland needs to find an identity that can be marketed so people understand why they would want to survive –20°F when they could be in florida, south carolina, ohio or virginia instead of trying to be a middle-of-the-road hodgepodge that everyone can criticize.

 

Chris,

 

Don't you realize? God never promised an easy path!

dgszweda's picture

While I greatly respect Dr. Ollila, I think the loyalty angle is a feel good, sappy statement.  A Christian Bible College is not a Biblical Institution, it is a recent construct by Christians, and God never promised that the "Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.  We don't owe our fidelity or loyalty to a man made institution or any man.  Our purpose is to by loyal to Christ, follow our convictions and do right.  When we start having other feelings that is when we go astray.  We are all called to full time service for The Lord, and whether that is in the secular institution of a public company or the secular institution of a Bible College, we shouldn't let loyalty to a man or the institution cloud our convictions.  These places will come and go, and men as well as leaders are but a vapor (50 years or not).  While it is very easy after working somewhere to have that loyalty develop, what this has further reinforced in me, is to not let that loyalty cloud my true loyalty. I think that Dr. Ollila's admonition is dead on here.

Pastor Doug H's picture

1. Doc O has not lost his self-deprecating humor.  Who knew he and A.L.F. were related.

2. The number of occurrences that happened around the time of his stepping down from presidency. (Patz money steeply declined, wife's health-which took him out of the loop for a year or more...)

3. Now Howard's words back in May make since, "we have to give more" in reference to the Patz family & money to the school

4. As to the "blogging" it seem to be a specific swipe, but also the undertow seemed to be blogging allows for IMHO "one can shoot their mouth off and not handle things one-on-one" (This one really seems to have hurt him)

5.  Liked the part about loyalty, even as he spoke he seemed to work very hard at not pushing Matt under the bus.  yes he was "chancellor" but put that in good context, that he no longer ran the show but accepted people's word for why things were being done. He definitely comes from the time when a "man's word meant something"...again I think this is where his disdain for blogging flows out of.

6. Good explanation on going to CA and meeting with John McArthur...

7. Certainly thinks PR people with no theological foundation, but driven by pragmatism was the death-nil.

 

 

dgszweda's picture

Just to further clarify, my previous statement, it is commendable that he did not try to throw people under the bus.  While you are working, being supported and being paid by an institution you need to support that institution.  He did a fine job of that.  After he left, he is not bad mouthing anyone.

 

A few further things though.  He made the classic mistake of staying on with good intentions while changes were being made under new direction.  Some of the harm that was probably done, was that by staying, it was assumed that he supported these things.  Obviously, it appears that this was not true.

 

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

This is the old "come out/stay in" discussion, and it isn't a new thing. The FBFI of today actually started as the FF, which was a part of the NBC. In the 1920s, they stayed in the NBC to try to exercise influence. In fact, they stayed in far longer than Doctor Ollila did, and in the face of far more significant battles than music and John MacArthur. Even to this day, there are factions in the FBF who remain in fellowship with those from whom they should probably separate, at least in my view. I have friends in the FBF who are exercising helpful influence, but the fact remains that there are problems that are not insignificant as Doc O pointed out. I am not sure of their motivations or what goes on behind the scene in terms of influence, but let's at least acknowledge the issue that historically, the exact moment of "come out" has been a matter of disagreement and wisdom, even among men committed to separation.

We should also remember that Dr. Bob Jones Jr was a vice-president of the NAE ten years after it's founding, long after the seeds of its own demise had been sown (actually in its founding). Again, the issues in the NAE were far greater than music or John MacArthur. Those complaining that Doctor Ollila did not come out fast enough should probably have the same complaint with Jones Jr. I don't know if they do or not. I simply point out that someone with what is generally considered to be impeccable fundamentalist credentials maintained fellowship with men like Okenga, Henry, and others for a period of time to exercise influence. Bob Jones Sr maintained his relationship with Billy Graham long after the seeds of his demise had been sown.

Interestingly, one of the people who wrote complaining about Doc O's participation at NIU and his Q&A continues to this day in ministry participation with D. James Kennedy's organization, alongside of men like Chuck Colson. And I haven't seen anyone pointing this out, calling for separation, or insisting on change, though perhaps it is going on behind the scenes. He continues to get invitations to speak at fundamentalist institutions. Now I don't insist that they (or anyone else) do what I do. And their failures do not lessen the importance of other people's failures (if indeed they be failures).

Now, what's the point? That the timing of "coming out" has not always been agreed upon, and those lambasting Doctor Olllila for his continued connection when they think he should have come out are missing the history that they profess to be a part of.

There is also the fact that institutional change is rarely a cliff, more often a sloping gentle hill. Let's assert up front that not all change is bad. But even when it is, it isn't always evident early on. It is entirely possible that Doc O was kept in the dark on some of this. Who knows ... Certainly not those with the loudest mouths about it, who weren't there to know. If Doc O says he didn't know about some of this, then who are we to say he was lying?

There is also a connection to the biblical role of leadership, which requires influence. When you have shepherded and devoted your to life to something for thirty years, it is worth trying to continue to influence it. And that often is not best done from outside, though sometimes it is. A "one-size-fits-all" answer is not workable, as seen in the inconsistencies even of the critics.

Which brings me to Doc O's point about bloggers, however, indelicately it might have been expressed. While there is much good about the new media, there is a real lack of accountability. Bloggers can say whatever they want, and they have the reins of the comment section, which many of them use freely to censor virtually all opposing views. Blogging can be a good thing. I do it myself, and I read others, and don't read some because I don't find them helpful. But it is true that some (not all, but some) bloggers are despicable in their attitudes and their actions, even when they are right. They should make us all sick. There needs to be great care and concern taken by bloggers because of the influence. Those who desire to teach will be held to a higher standard, and incur a greater judgment. So beware about your use of the virtual tongue, because it creates a great fire that cannot be put out.

Jim Welch's picture

I do appreciate Dr. O.  

This Q and A demonstrates that a 'cookie cutter' mentality does not need to exist within the framework of historic fundamentalism.  Dr. O's answers were his answers.  

I am hopeful for a fundamentalism with the IBF movement that can embrace a Chuck Phelps (with all the varying strong opinions about his actions/lack of actions with the incident in NH) and a Dr. Ollila (with positive statements about John MacArthur & and an honest view about CCM).  

I may have points of view that are variant from Phelps, Ollila, Olson, and others; but I will continue to give each of these men a wide path of liberty to follow Christ Jesus in their ministries.

Just for perspective, I was at Shepherd's Conference a few years ago and heard Dr. Mac minister the best message on Biblical separation that I had ever heard.  

Greg Linscott's picture

While there is much good about the new media, there is a real lack of accountability. Bloggers can say whatever they want, and they have the reins of the comment section, which many of them use freely to censor virtually all opposing views. Blogging can be a good thing. I do it myself, and I read others, and don't read some because I don't find them helpful. But it is true that some (not all, but some) bloggers are despicable in their attitudes and their actions, even when they are right. They should make us all sick. There needs to be great care and concern taken by bloggers because of the influence. Those who desire to teach will be held to a higher standard, and incur a greater judgment. So beware about your use of the virtual tongue, because it creates a great fire that cannot be put out.

I don't know how accurate this observation about "lack of accountability" really is. In this specific instance with Northland, how often have we heard the invitation/lament to "just call" one of the Os or someone with the institution, when doing so was really not going to address the wider concern? The institution could easily- easily- establish a measure of accountability to the naysayers and detractors by establishing and maintaining a voice on the same platform their perceived opponents do. 

Looking at another example- I'm not sure when BJU exactly decided they should do this, but for several years now they have had people serving in the role of "official spokesperson" or whatever the title they bestow on such people would be, whose job is to handle media relations. Their perception may still not be entirely favorable with every demographic across the country, but I think it could be said that their reputation has improved significantly over the last couple of decades because they have made an effort to communicate, correct misperceptions, and generally make an effort to "maintain accountability" with the news media, and even at times to engage them directly (BJ3's appearances on LKL come to mind).

Is it time for a place like Northland to consider hiring an "official blogger"? I don't know. But insisting on personal phone calls wouldn't have worked when BJU was embroiled in many of the national controversies that they have been over the years. They needed something more significant, and complaining about the injustice of the press or their bias or what have you may give vent to frustration, but really doesn't change or solve anything. But complaining about ambiguous "bloggers" without ever naming anyone specifically ultimately accomplishes nothing. Is the frustration with Lou Martuneac, Don Johnson, Kent Brandenburg, Bob Bixby, or Ryan Martin, for example? Each one commented on situations at hand at different points, and each one comes from a very different perspective. Each one has a voice that many people listen to and are to some degree influenced by. Is Doc O frustrated with them all? We really don't know, because he never gets specific or engages either people or their points. Instead, he attacks the vague windmills of nameless "bloggers"- the process and platform rather than the matters at hand.

If there is "no accountability," it is not because there is no opportunity for there to be so. I submit it is because there is an unwillingness to get acquainted with new ideas and engage on unfamiliar platforms. Like it or not, the day where you could control information by quarterly newsletters and personal representatives speaking in churches and setting up tables at conferences is gone. Those methods may not be completely irrelevant, but neither are they sufficient on their own. Institutions and individuals that ignore the opportunities of the new media and scoff at those who engage on it  do so to their own detriment.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Larry's picture

Moderator

Greg, My point accountability is only that there is no consequence for being wrong or being ungodly in demeanor or approach.

Greg Linscott's picture

Sure there are consequences. There are people I would not put in positions of leadership or influence, or listen to their speaking ministry, or purchase a book they have written, because of how they have represented themselves on platforms like this one. On the other hand, there are people who I have sought out because of the way they have handled themselves in this medium.

Looking at the wider internet- could someone like Tim Challies have the level of ministry he has today without the influence of the internet and blogs? Did Phil Johnson have the level of influence he currently has before Pyromaniac?  I suspect Kevin Bauder's influence has been enhanced to a great degree because of the benefits of internet interaction and distribution. Even Don Johnson's influence in the FBFI may not be what it currently is without his online presence. 

On the other hand, there are bloggers out there, who if they called you to set up a missionary deputation meeting, I suspect you would reject because you know about them and their demeanor from what they have revealed about themselves online. 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Joel Tetreau's picture

So I'm still chewing on what I've heard here. I have always loved Dr. O and will continue to do so. Without saying anything about Dr. O and this forum he was at and what he said or didn't say about NIU or Matt or Mac....Let me just point out a few "pre-comments."

1.  I can understand Dr. O's frustration with bloggers in general. This is a new approach to communicating ideas if you are from his generation. My dad and Les were buds back at BJ (in the 60's). Men from that era responded differently to institutional/leadership issues. Man - listening to Doc O talk about how one should be loyal to his institution reminds me of my Dad. My father - chancellor at IBC has worked with men with whom he loves and I'm sure with whom he from time to time disagrees - but I would never know that because he would never share that. That generation of leaders were taught to be loyal. Maybe to a fault. There is a sense in which that is commendable. So in "their" day only a few leaders with a national or regional voice would interact (on a certain level) by way of newsletters, etc.....each group would have it's "readership." The "Big Guys" would try to influence each other and both their specific "readership" and maybe the "readership" of others - but they would at least try to be respectful (unless they were in the midst of an internal associational war - like what happened in Minnesota) because they would see each other three or four or five times a year at this "Fundamentalist Big Shot Meetings" (board meetings, fellowship meetings, conferences, etc....). So in a sense these guys were held accountable because if they fought "unfair" they would loose friendships and even respect from this group of leaders/ministries/readership of that group.

OK - compare that with today. Any young or middle age or senior saint leader who may or may not have any leadership responsibilities and/or accountability now has been given a little key. All he has to do is put the key in, turn it and hit the "red" button and a cyber-relational "nuke" goes live and if he deems necessary - he detonates it. He has no worries about the damage done by "the blast" or even the "cyber nuclear fall-out" for his brother in Christ. Let's call him "bubba." You see "bubba" could care less about this hurting his national or regional reputation - what reputation? Who knows "bubba!?" So I understand what Dr. O is saying about bloggers being reckless. There is no question that each and everyone of us who engage in this kind of medium realize there is a dynamic and there is a layer of responsibility that goes beyond just a "one-on-one" conversation. We sometimes think we can say anything we would say if the conversation was just "one-on-one." I don't think we can do that. We have to consider that a wider audience is watching and reading.  

2.  So on the other hand....there is a sense in which the blog thing has leveled the field. It used to be that only a few could comment. Do you understand the power that gave those few leaders? Was that really healthy for those few leaders to wield that kind of power and influence? Let me help you - no, that was not healthy. In one sense Dr. O is asking for accountability - I get that and have commented "that's a far comment." However, to a degree blogging is a form of accountability for the national and regional leaders and their ministries. Back in the day, if a significant ministry wanted to black ball a (so-called) "rogue" member of the alumni, all they would have to do is send out a note - "so in so" is on the black list. Today (thankfully) national and regional ministries cannot do that (to the same degree with the same amount of freedom) - otherwise those rogue alumni will publish a blog and a web sight explaining that your institution should be renamed "Diotrephes University!" They might even sue you in court. That's accountability and there is a sense that this is a good thing (not the suing in court but the accountability). All of this places a real "check" on national and regional ministries violating their rightful place of influence.

3. In my opinion - with blogging putting more and more checks on national and regional ministries a benefit has been the rediscovery of the significance and authority and place of the local church. That's a thrill and is exactly as it should be.

Again notice I'm not commenting on anything Dr. O said or didn't say about Matt, NIU, etc......I'm still chewing and thinking on that. I will say I'm grateful that Dr. O worked hard at not directly attacking Matt. I'm wondering if there may have been an indirect shot at Matt - but I'm not ready to say that yet. Still thinking and listening carefully to what was said/not said.

Straight Ahead!

jt

 

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

Jay's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

I don't know how accurate this observation about "lack of accountability" really is. In this specific instance with Northland, how often have we heard the invitation/lament to "just call" one of the Os or someone with the institution, when doing so was really not going to address the wider concern? The institution could easily- easily- establish a measure of accountability to the naysayers and detractors by establishing and maintaining a voice on the same platform their perceived opponents do. 

Is it time for a place like Northland to consider hiring an "official blogger"? I don't know. But insisting on personal phone calls wouldn't have worked when BJU was embroiled in many of the national controversies that they have been over the years. They needed something more significant, and complaining about the injustice of the press or their bias or what have you may give vent to frustration, but really doesn't change or solve anything. But complaining about ambiguous "bloggers" without ever naming anyone specifically ultimately accomplishes nothing. Is the frustration with Lou Martuneac, Don Johnson, Kent Brandenburg, Bob Bixby, or Ryan Martin, for example? Each one commented on situations at hand at different points, and each one comes from a very different perspective. Each one has a voice that many people listen to and are to some degree influenced by.

If there is "no accountability," it is not because there is no opportunity for there to be so. I submit it is because there is an unwillingness to get acquainted with new ideas and engage on unfamiliar platforms. Like it or not, the day where you could control information by quarterly newsletters and personal representatives speaking in churches and setting up tables at conferences is gone. Those methods may not be completely irrelevant, but neither are they sufficient on their own. Institutions and individuals that ignore the opportunities of the new media and scoff at those who engage on it do so to their own detriment.

Greg and others,

I actually contacted NIU about this very issue when the kettle started to boil in March or April and asked why NIU wasn't directly responding to these allegations on blogs.  They told me (and I want to be careful here because they asked that I not disclose specifics) that they felt as though responding to the allegations of bloggers would distract them from their stated purpose of training servants for Great Commission living and that to respond to the bloggers would empower/embolden them.  I told them that I felt that not responding was damaging their reputation and empowering the critics, since there was no voice to rebut the foolishness/ignorance being espoused by some.  I also told them that to not respond in some way was shortsighted.

I can and will say this, though - Northland did approach at least one or two people (that I know of - it may have been more) and offered to bring them up to the school on NIU's dime to try and hash out the misunderstandings and confusion.  At least one person refused those offers and continued to blast NIU on their blog.

I do think that part of the problem is that NIU doesn't get the nature of blogging or that they need a communications person, but I'm not sure how to cut the Gordian knot either.  Maybe that's something that the Board and new President will figure out.

 

"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

mmartin's picture

Dr. Ollila said Olson brought PR experts to NIU. Yes, that is true. Some of them were in high positions.

Yet Olson & NIU could not possibly have mismanaged their communication, change implementation, & constituency management any worse.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Several more “one answer” questions were asked like, “Are you a Fundamentalist?”  Dr. O answered, “Yes,” and then went on to clarify his position on CCM and CCM style of worship and a couple other fundamental issues.

(Emphasis added)

This continues to be the crux of the issue, that self-proclaimed fundamentalist leaders are no longer clear on what the fundamentals are.

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

Matthew Richards's picture

I had never heard Dr. O before this and was pleasantly surprised by some of his answers.  I found his thought process impeccable on the idea of cooperating with Hyles vs MacArthur or conservative evangelicals.  When Garlock, Binney, and Hamilton were flocking to Hammond many here didn't see a problem with it.  I found it interesting that Dr. O believes that Hammond preaches "another gospel" of no repentance and that it is nothing to wink at.  I got tickled when Phelps said he didn't ever hear of anyone going to Pastor's School in Hammond and then all of a sudden he remembered it!  Hilarious.

I found it interesting that Phelps seemed a wee bit uncomfortable with Dr. O going on and on in a positive way about JMac.  He just had to get a dig in on Calvinists (which he always lumps in with hyper-Calvinists) in the name of "balance" by referencing something that happened at Northland back in the day.  In regular Fundy form it turns out that this was a dust up over hyper-Calvinism and not JMac's reformed theology.  Of course I am still waiting for Phelps to publicly apologize for misquoting JMac in that sermon at the FBFI 89th Annual Fellowship at Bethel Baptist in Schaumburg.  You can find the sermon here (it is still up and running on sermon audio) and Phelps obviously thought that JMac was a false teacher of "works salvation".  

All in all, I thought Dr. O was fair and balanced.  I see now why so many here speak so highly of him.  I couldn't help but think when he mentioned the word, "Circus", that he may have stumbled upon my old Bread & Circuses blog at some point in time Wink

Matthew

mmartin's picture

Matthew, yes, you are correct about Dr. O being fair and balance.  Of all the fundamentalist organizations I've been exposed to Dr. O & Northland were by far the most balanced when it came to explaining the purposes for rules, policies, and that the attitude of the heart was most important, not outward compliance.  Dr. O was about life touching life and a heart submitted to the Lord, not about following rules.

 

And yet so many people are perfectly content to now marginalize Dr. O and flush away his thirty-five years of life service to NIU.  They want NIU to get rid of its legalistic practices and be more gospel centered now than ever.  Those are things Dr. O and NIU never was (legalistic) and always was (gospel centered).  Dr. O and NIU were never characterized as being legalistic.  The Dr. O (& thus NIU) you saw in the video clearly presents a man who is all about the Lord, heart of a person (especially his), and the gospel.

 

So why are people willing to unnecessarily throw the baby out with the bath water and walk all over Dr. O's legacy and in doing so wreak senseless havoc on a once thriving institution.

 

It does not make any sense!  But hey, as one blogger said, there is more hope for NIU now than ever.  OK . . . . . . . . . . .

 

Meanwhile more long-time employees of NIU are resigning or are being let go.

sbradley's picture

As a graduate I always appreciated him during my time there.  Very loving, yet committed to the truth.  I totally get his point about loyalty.   I think it's easy to critique from the outside saying he should have jumped ship earlier, but after pouring so many years into that ministry wouldn't most good people want to stay and see if they could help it turn back around before leaving?  I appreciate him, and I hope the Lord blesses him in this hard time with good friends to uplift his spirit. 

mmartin's picture

Greg, your question about the character of the previous administration is a valid one.

I disagree with the directional changes of NIU. I also disagree with NIU putting on the Big Daddy Weave concert and being so quiet about it.  If anything it comes across as trying to hide the truth if not be outright deceitful.

Bob said that NIU was the driving force for this Big Daddy Weave concert and it was in direct opposition to the board.  What does that say then about the leadership integrity of Dr. Olson (because he was at this concert) and then the remaining board members that re-hired him?

I disagree with Bob about the new direction of NIU but  I respect his honesty here.

At the end of the day this NIU mess is not about music or standards or what side you are on.  It all boils down to trust and integrity. Can we trust the leadership to have integrity (see my point above)?  Can we trust anymore the word of NIU’s leadership about where they are going and how they will get there?  Can we trust NIU to be honest and open about what they are doing?  Can we trust NIU to not be borderline deceitful of what they are doing?  Can we trust NIU to have logical & rational reasons for their activities?  Are you willing to trust the current version of NIU with your child and $15,000/year of your hard earned money?

Since Bob brought up this issue and the comments about the BDW concert, I believe these are fair and reasonable questions.

Jay's picture

The Bixby article was submitted as a Filing this morning when I saw it.  Not sure if/when it will get put up.

"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

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