The Gospel Coalition: Can God Save a Fundamentalist School?

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Jim's picture

From Bruno's church site:

 

http://www.harborhawaii.org/faq/

 

What do you mean that you’re “theologically conservative but also socially progressive?” Like a bunch of Bible-school graduates with tattoos?
Well, sort of. What it means is that we have an unshakeable commitment to the supremacy of God, the inerrancy of his Word, and the exclusive salvation he offers through his Son, but we don’t come with the baggage that often accompanies those beliefs: legalism, judgmentalism, and isolationism. We believe there are many secondary issues (like drinking alcohol, consuming popular media, and yeah, getting tattoos) which should be left to individual conscience and not dictated by written or unwritten church standards.

Matthew Richards's picture

Jim wrote:

From Bruno's church site:

 

http://www.harborhawaii.org/faq/

 

What do you mean that you’re “theologically conservative but also socially progressive?” Like a bunch of Bible-school graduates with tattoos?
Well, sort of. What it means is that we have an unshakeable commitment to the supremacy of God, the inerrancy of his Word, and the exclusive salvation he offers through his Son, but we don’t come with the baggage that often accompanies those beliefs: legalism, judgmentalism, and isolationism. We believe there are many secondary issues (like drinking alcohol, consuming popular media, and yeah, getting tattoos) which should be left to individual conscience and not dictated by written or unwritten church standards.

 

I like that too, Jim.

Marsilius's picture

I can understand Chris Bruno's happiness over what is going on at Northland. It is becoming what he already is, apparently. And who could not understand his pleasure over that. The message also gets clearer all the time: fundamentalist institutions are not Gospel centered. If they desire to become Gospel centered, they will eventually cease to be fundamentalist.

 

 

Jim's picture

Marsilius wrote:
.... fundamentalist institutions are not Gospel centered. If they desire to become Gospel centered, they will eventually cease to be fundamentalist.

 

Speechless!!

handerson's picture

My problem with the piece--and one I voiced over at TGC--is the presumption that fundamentalism is somehow NOT about the gospel while evangelicalism is. (The title alone reeked of judgment.)  I'll be one of the first to admit that I don't hold to many of the applications that I grew up with in fundamentalism, but that is a different conversation entirely. Ironically, what young former fundamentalists seem to misunderstand is that the gospel is larger than ANY subculture. Simply moving from one group to another does not mean that you've become "gospel-centered." Even evangelicals have their shibboleths. Want to see legalism? Try being Arminian at TGC.

All that to say, I appreciate the gospel-pulse of Northland as much as I appreciate it anywhere--even among those more conservative than I am. But I will also object to legalism where ever I find it as well--even in those who are more progressive than I am.

mmartin's picture

Let me echo what several others have said but in more succint terms: This article is seriously flawed.

The title and much of the content reeks of judgement and arrogance.

It flippantly dismisses an entire group as backward idiots.

It suggests the method of scripture interpreted by the old Northland as wrong or out of focus, but now it is doing it "correctly." So, all of the previous graduates where taught incorrect scripture? All of the same graduates that became pastors and missionaries around the world were taught wrong?

It states that rules and regulations were once at the center of Northland which is patently misleading - as others have stated. In what way was NIU over the line with its focus on externals?

The author suggests it was bad for Northland to practice separation, but then states he was going to separate himself from NIU.

Question: Why would the previous constituency want to continue supporting Northland if this is the new kind of attitude towards them? If this is the attitude directed towards them and is coming out of the new "gospel centered" philosophy, why should they care about NIU anymore?

To summarize, the mood from this article suggests the attitude that those in the new way get it right. Those supporting the old way, including Dr. Ollila, they got it wrong and is now the reason for NIU's troubles.  It isn't the recent radical, I mean "Gospel Centered" changes that are the problem, it is the old traditionalists that are the problem.

Greg Long's picture

Appreciated the article and hope NIU doesn't walk back the recent changes.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Don Sailer's picture

How many of you would like to see a president selected from the MacArthur orbit?

For those who agree with the changes at NIU, who would make a good president?

Greg Linscott's picture

I don't affirm all the recent decisions and direction, but what about someone from Calvary Lansdale? I'm not exactly sure how they've done with enrollment and such, lately, but it seems to me that positionally, they would be a similar fit to where Northland is aiming, and might have the best chance at maintaining a connection to at least an element of the existing constituency (Tim Jordan seems like a personality many who don't agree with all of his recent applications still like and respect). Someone from Colonial/Shepherd's in NC (Bookman, Pettegrew, Burggraff, Davey...) might be another place to look and recruit for the same reasons as Lansdale.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

mmartin's picture

Does anybody know the number of students at NIU?

Jay's picture

I'd second Greg's post.  Someone from Calvary Bap. Seminary or maybe the Seminary in Virginia Beach would be good.  Burggraff would be excellent as well.

"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

dlhanson's picture

mmartin wrote:

Does anybody know the number of students at NIU?

Full time undergrad degree seeking students --- Fall enrollment

2011  427

2010  499

2009  480

2008  479

As reported to the federal government and available at the IPEDS (part of the National Center for Education Statistics) webpage.

 

 

Greg Linscott's picture

Jim wrote:

Merge with The Master's College and Seminary. Become the Northern campus.

Why?

  • Basically represents the position of Northland (and this is not a criticism)
  • The Master's College and Seminary is solid and has strong enrollment 
  • Share administration, faculty, etc ... 

 

But what's the upside for them, Jim?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

juitdeflesch's picture

I was told they dipped below 400 this year.

 

John Uit de Flesch

handerson's picture

I appreciate NUI's willingness to evaluate their practices and change where necessary. It takes courage to follow where God is leading them and I applaud their humility to follow in obedience despite the fallout they may face. 

Having said that, I can't escape the reality that the TGC article perpetuates the unhelpful rhetoric that I see in my generation. Soooooo many GEN X &Y who were raised in fundamentalism shift toward conservative evangelicalism without really working through their baggage. They see another movement and run to it with all the enthusiasm with which their fathers refuse to move past established fundamentalist mores. And both feel more spiritual than the other. It worries me that my generation thinks we are maturing when often we may be simply exchanging one set of issues for another. 

iKuyper's picture

My suggestion for Northland is to relocate. Move closer to a major city--closest is Milwaukee. This will create more ministry opportunities and students will have more recreational options--what's there to do in Dunbar? The Milwaukee-Chicago metropolitan area could use a conservative Christian undergraduate school. The only one in the area would be Moody. Or....maybe partner or MERGE with Moody! MBI is theologically conservative, they have a balanced approach to music (they have a sacred music major!), and have good ties with other conservative evangelical institutions. Moody Bible Institute of Milwaukee! I could see this happening!

NIU, hire me for president! Smile

Ecclesia semper reformanda est

iKuyper's picture

handerson wrote:

Soooooo many GEN X &Y who were raised in fundamentalism shift toward conservative evangelicalism without really working through their baggage.

handerson,

You may be right, but the flip side is also true--Many of us gen x and y'ers have worked through the issues, considered all things theological and practical, and decided to move on.. At least give some of us the benefit of the doubt..

iK

Ecclesia semper reformanda est

Jim's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

Jim wrote:

Merge with The Master's College and Seminary. Become the Northern campus.

Why?

  • Basically represents the position of Northland (and this is not a criticism)
  • The Master's College and Seminary is solid and has strong enrollment 
  • Share administration, faculty, etc ... 

 

But what's the upside for them, Jim?

  • For Northland ... survival
  • For Masters ....  expand scope of ministry
Greg Linscott's picture

I get the appeal for Northland. I don't see the upside for Masters, though. With some of these suggestions, it sometimes seems that "we" in fundamentalism have this idea of Evangelicals with limitless resources who can ride in to save the day. But given the nature of the finances, the remote location, and disgruntled constituency, I don't see the upside that there would have been when MacArthur & co. took over the GARBC-approved Los Angeles Baptist College in the mid-1980s (GARBC constituency more open to MacArthur influence, ideal geographical location). Same with iK's suggestion- if Moody really wanted to start an extension campus in Milwaukee, what would be the upside of taking the assets of an isolated campus in Northern Wisconsin to do so- why not just bypass Northland and do it themselves?

What made Northland appealing for many was its positioning (doctrinal, practical) in an IFB context. It made some of the other things less imposing (isolated campus, comparative lack of access to off campus work and housing). Someone might be able to pull it off up there (I mean, they make the NFL work in Green Bay), but it's not going to be a quick and easy fix, and just because someone has the perceived capabilities to keep Northland on life support doesn't mean that they will be easily convinced that it's worth the effort and expenditure of their resources. Conservative Evangelicals may seem to have more people, but they have been affected by downward economy, loss of young people, and other things that "we" have, too. Realistically, what's going to happen to Master's and GCC in a few years when MacArthur's age catches up with him? 

This crosses over into topics on other threads, but I will observe that I am observing that perception of untapped money and resources (and lack of money and resources here in "Fundamentalaria") is driving some to hop fences as much as anything. Danger, Will Robinson.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jay's picture

Honestly, I don't really expect NIU to survive.  Yesterday, I saw that Lou Martuneac said that NIU should receive no "benefit of the doubt anymore".  I've seen similar statements in different places by others that make it clear they will not support NIU at all any more in any way because of the changes they've made over the last few years.  

Mike Harding, Dr. Aniol, and others in the 'cultural' / 'traditional' IFB seem to have elevated traditional music to to the point where separation is necessary over it, so I don't think they'll be interested in helping Northland without changing the school to suit their goals and views.  If attendance at traditional IFB bastions like BJU is down, which it appears to be, then I doubt highly that Pastors will send their church families towards a college that is largely perceived as having 'left' Fundamentalism when there are schools that are still solidly 'Fundamental' (whatever that means) to support.  I don't think that any conservative evangelicals are seriously interested in helping the school because they'd rather steer their students to TMC, TMS, SBTS or other schools that they know better.  So I really don't see any 'hope' for the school, but I've been wrong before.

That being said, God is great and mighty.  Maybe He will intervene and make a way where I don't see it.  I hope He does, because NIU closing it's doors would be a tragedy - not just for 'Fundamentalists' or 'Conservative Evangelicals', but for the Body of Christ.  And that, I think, is something we can all agree on.

g

 

Edited to correct "Durning" to "Harding."

"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

Moody won't gain any programs from NIU until the academic programs are aligned with regional accreditation - which is likely why Moody doesn't already have their own Phd program.

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

Greg Linscott's picture

iKuyper wrote:
Greg, For the same reasons Moody and Michigan seminary merged a few years ago http://www.moodyministries.net/crp_PressReleaseDetail.aspx?id=44750 Of course it would benefit Northland more and I dont think MBI would mind that.. One thing MBI would gain is a DMin program..

I knew that they had done that, iK. And in that case, they gained a usable campus setting, at least. But if they take your suggestion (moving to Milwaukee), they have to oversee the sale of a campus- a long, painful process I watched here in Minnesota with Pillsbury, and that finding a buyer in isolated Dunbar would be just as difficult for if not more so, I suspect. It would make more sense just to grow their own program if that was what they really wanted to do (especially with the accreditation issue someone just mentioned).

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Steve Newman's picture

It seems doubtful to me that anyone would want to buy their present campus in such an isolated spot. After all, if PBBC can't sell it's buildings, what would NIU do?

Don Sailer's picture

I had the same thought about what Jim said about merging with Master's Seminary.

How about Liberty Baptist Bible College?

Instant accreditation as a school of Liberty University.

Focus remains solely on ministry and missions. They could still have their own sports teams, etc.

 

Or we could let the Green family do for NIU what they did for ORU.

 

Whatever NIU does, the president needs to be a mover and shaker in the wider body of Christ - someone the current students can embrace.

 

 

Ron Bean's picture

If NIU continues on its current course, (and it seems by today's chapel message by Bob Bixby http://new.livestream.com/northlandu/chapel that they are being encouraged to do so). the critics have their opinions pre-set.

If NIU survives, they will say it's because they have compromised and sold out.

If NIU fails, it will be because they have "failed to please God".

To repeat an illustration, we're in a leaky boat and no one wants to admit the reality. Why are our fundamentalist churches generally stagnant and failing to hold the attention of the younger generation? Why are our fundamentalist schools shrinking? Why is the Christian Day School movement shrinking?

If we don't have any answers, we can always get out our sermons on the last days and being the remnant.

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

iKuyper's picture

Good point, Chip.

Moody doesnt have a PhD program because it wants to be a ministry training school. Not that PhDs dont prepare one for ministry, but you know what I mean Smile

Ecclesia semper reformanda est

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