Daniel Patz: "We will be a conservative evangelical school with a history of fundamentalism that shapes how we act, live, and love"

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Jay's picture

Well, now we're going to find out just how strongly Fundamentalists / Fundamentalism sees Conservative Evangelicals as a threat or enemy...with NIU as the stakes.  Are they enough of a threat that we'd rather see the school shut down/fail?  Or can we actually cooperate with them and keep the school going?

"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

They definitely need a media team to spin this statement ...

Why must there be a Northland? Why keep a school in the middle of nowhere with poor surrounding jobs, small churches, and cold weather? Why Northland when you have Moody, Wheaton, Cedarville, Boyce, Cornerstone, Trinity, Liberty, and many other high quality Christian colleges and universities? Because we are not those places. 

  • "middle of nowhere"
  • "poor jobs"
  • "cold weather"
  • Not among "high quality Christian colleges and universities"
Mike Harding's picture

Jay,

 

I read Dan' entire statement twice. I think he is endeavoring to be completely transparent as to their direction. I commend him for that.  One of his goals is to be a place for those who desire to leave the fundamentalist orbit for the conservative evangelical orbit.  Those who agree with that direction now have a school with which that they can identify.  As a pastor of our church, I am in more agreement with BJU and MBBC.  Those are the schools that I will recommend first. I don't think I am obligated to save Northland.  It didn't need saving ten years ago when it was clearly a fundamentalist school.  I don't think that I could ever consider the former supporters of Northland as sectarian legalists, hyper-separatists, or those who modeled the wicked manifestations of fundamentalism: Men for instance such as Marty Vaughn, Sam Horn, Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, and Les Ollila.  For decades Northland had already separated itself from the wicked manifestations of the Hyles form of fundamentalism.  I have no ill-will toward the school.  I trust that they will follow through on their new agenda, and I am sure they they will accomplish much for the gospel.

Pastor Mike Harding

Dave Doran's picture

To frame the matter as you've framed it, Jay, is not very helpful. While not discounting all of the spiritual benefits connected to a Christian education, academic institutions sell a product and if the credibility of that product has been damaged, it takes many things and time to regain the confidence of those who are being asked to promote and/or purchase the product.

Daniel could do everything right and might not be able to overcome the damage that has been done. That would not be an indictment of him. It would not be an indictment of the conservative evangelicals who are slow to trust this new edition of NIU. It would not be an indictment of fundamentalists who lost confidence in NIU. It would simply be reality in a sin-cursed world where things don't always work out the way we'd like them to work out.

Practically speaking, why would someone who doesn't agree with conservative evangelicalism (whatever that is--since no one seems able to define it nor arrive at some clear circumference for it) promote a school which articulates within its own vision a rejection of fundamentalism? That doesn't really make sense, does it?

Just so I'm not misunderstood here, I'd say the exact same thing with the labels reversed. I don't fault my "conservative evangelical" friends for not promoting schools which would teach their students that their home church is wrong. That would be unwise pastoral leadership. The local assembly is more important than any educational institution, so congregations should encourage young people to attend schools which will strengthen the church, not empty it.

I'm glad Daniel is communicating clearly. I am grateful for it. A clear vision will draw and energize people that agree with that vision. Others will not be comfortable with it and won't be drawn to it. That's the way life is. A vision alone, though, is not enough. Intention must be translated into reality. NIU has some hard work to do to rebuild and translate this vision into concrete expression. I have no hesitation in saying that I'd rather see it succeed as a conservative evangelical institution than fail. I also don't hestate to say that the challenge right now isn't about conservative evangelicalism vs. fundamentalism; it's about a viable, credible education. 

This is about a school, not fuzzily defined movements. 

 

Edited to reflect Dave's intention as reflected in a subsequent post.

DMD

Don Johnson's picture

Dave Doran wrote:

To frame the matter as you've framed it, Jay, is very helpful. 

Hi Dave, I agree with your post, but I am wondering if you overlooked a "not" in this sentence, since you seem to be taking issue with Jay's statement.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Dave Doran's picture

Yes, Don, there should be a not in that sentence (and a knot in my head!). I tried to edit it but can't do so for some reason.

DMD

Robert Byers's picture

Posted without comment (but not without reason)

 

"Through the halls of Temple U

Hear the Savior's call,

Send the Gospel to all people,

Show them Christ is all.

~~~

Temple U, Temple U

Colors red and white

A distinctive Christian school

Giving truth and light."

Ron Bean's picture

Could it be that there are many born-again Bible believing Christians who love Christ and love the Gospel, who hold steadfastly to the fundamentals of the Christian faith and have no association with those who do not hold to those fundamentals, who have little knowledge of or use for terms like fundamentalist or conservative evangelical, and who don't even know that "we" exist?

Could it be that the Body of Christ is bigger than fundamentalism?

Could there be life outside "The Village"?

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

mmartin's picture

Good comments by Mike Harding and Dave Doran.

 

Jay, to your point the cooperation goes both ways, not just the fundamentalist side cooperating with the evangelical side.  Having said that, I doubt that will be a reality in the case of an organization like Northland.  Northland has opened the door to two very different constituent groups.   As Dave Doran said, "Practically speaking, why would someone who doesn't agree with conservative evangelicalism (whatever that is--since no one seems able to define it nor arrive at some clear circumference for it) promote a school which articulates within its own vision a rejection of fundamentalism? That doesn't really make sense, does it?"

 

I felt Daniel's vision was generally well written, except for the parts as noted by Jim above.  To me the biggest issue is not the words on paper about a vision, but how that vision will be implemented.  What will reality be like?  As an illustration Northland recently said they were not going to separate over music.  Saying that and starting their own rock band are two different things. 

 

I would not send my kids to Northland anymore, but that doesn't mean I want NIU to fail.  I do want it to stop putting on a charade telling everyone everything is OK when it is not.  I do want it to have a reality that matches-up with its words.  I do want it to have well thought out and rational reasons for what it is doing.  I want it to have leadership integrity.  Mr. Doran's point about the work NIU has ahead to regain the credibility of a product that has been damage cannot be overstated.

 

Words are one thing, reality is another.  Time will tell.

JohnMatzko's picture

There's no reason for me to comment on the substance of the statement, but the dreadful prose certainly grabbed my attention.  Daniel Patz is in desperate need of a copy editor.  The second sentence in the sample below isn't even a sentence.  When my students hand in stuff like this, I suggest they read what they write out loud to themselves. 

"There is a need for a seriously happy, passionate training ground for ministry that provides a bridge-ministry to those in fundamentalism moving to conservative evangelicalism. People formerly or currently connected with BJU, Maranatha, Pillsbury, Clearwater, etc are filled with godly people, but people who no longer embrace the old cultural fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is our history. We own it and love it, even if we lay aside aspects of it. I have a heart to bless that form of Christianity while being faithful to our convictions that has (what I think is) a healthy understanding of the body of Christ (versus secondary separation) and Christian liberty (versus legalistic structure). We want to love and appreciate the past while confidently obeying God's leading for us into the future."

Joel Tetreau's picture

Several of you seem to get irritable when ideas are not perfectly built or do not professionally flow with logic and symmetry from point to point. I also see with the last comment some of us struggle when a writer fails in the area of syntax. I don't know that I'll be a help to you there. I also do not have the aid of a copy editor - of course I did have one for my book and that was amazing! For you I add a few random "happy" thoughts that will push your ability to handle such unorganized argumentation to the limit - you may not want to read this because this is even more random than I usually post - which is ..... nevermind.

So I'm grateful for the statement as is.

Churches like the one I lead will rejoice in the statement made by Daniel (even though apparently Daniel did not have the editing help some readers wanted). NIU was and still is one of our first choices of institutions because the ethos and philosophy is very similar to what congregations like SVBC believe is a right spirit, theology, approach to a variety of issues that Daniel brings up in his article here. The only real difference here is that I would not be too quick to give up the term fundamentalist. I believe that NIU's view and SVBC's view is frankly more historically consistent with what fundamentalism was initially and when fundamentalism was/is most Biblical, healthy, etc.....the reality is however, in the eyes of most believers today right and left, that reality is missed. The majority of the ones making the most "noise" about fundamentalism will want to send their kids to an institution that verbalize a certain sub-cultural loyalty to "cultural fundamentalism." Matt has been clear - now Daniel adds to that clarity - NIU no longer has "the heart" :) to do that.

I think this is as clear as anything that has been written, spoken, etc...... Having said that - I remain a supporter and defender of NIU and for the record I also remain a supporter of Matt Olson. I'm not on the bandwagon of those who seem to know Matt was disingenuous or even derelict in his duty, leadership, etc.... Often times the one that leads the charge, the one with the courage to lean forward in the foxhole - or to even come out of his foxhole is the one that takes the hit. In my mind, Matt "took one for the team." He was been and was willing to lay his reputation on the line and lead Northland through the change that he believed was right and that he believed the majority of the Northland family believed was right. I just told Matt the other day I am confident God has great things in store for Matt by way of future ministry. I have massive respect for Matt - he is who he is. I have less respect for leaders who privately would say to Matt or I - oh yeah we agree with you - but as soon as the Type A hoards begin to howl, you tuck your tail in between your legs and run the other way. (There was some emoting with that statement - I apologize for the temporary bust of emotion - I have that in check now - we continue......)

Sure we know some things now the supporters and antagonists did not know a few months ago - we are now understanding that some (I'm guessing a vocal few) did not agree with "this or that" - but it sounds as if the majority of "stake holders" were and are in a agreement with the direction by Matt and now by Daniel. In my view what Daniel wrote is nothing that wasn't already being said by Matt. Of course some of the brothers couldn't hear what Matt was saying (at least in my view) because Matt was saying it. Now that Daniel is saying it a little different some of the brethreim are now saying, "Oh......I get it!" or "Wow that's so clear." To be honest I'm not sure how you couldn't have got it before.....but I'm (sort of) happy you get it now. 

Also for the record, it doesn't bother me (at all) that Dr. O or Mike Harding will not be in Northlands corner (as it were). I'd be surprised if Dr. O becomes hostile against NIU just because he no longer is attached to the school. Even if he has disagreements I'm confident he will not become antagonistic. I'm also confident that NIU will not become hateful towards Les. That's not part of the NIU heart! Oh yes - back to my point. They (guys like Harding, et al) and their ministry should support those schools that reflect their philosophy. For example - hypothetically - Let's say there is a ministry out there that believe's that "strumming a guitar" is dangerous musically (or spiritually - like it messes with one's righteous affections) then you probably don't want to go to NIU - of course you might have difficulty in the majority of churches across the planet - but that's another issue entirely.  

Actually I would say the same Mike has said in reverse. No as much as I love BJ and Maranatha, those aren't my first choice of learning institutions if you are headed into undergrad ministry preparation......however if you choose to go to either Greenville or Watertown you have our blessing, our prayers, our hopes and we might even help you with your bill. You see even though some of you BJ/MBBC supporters are hostile towards those of us with the NIU/SVBC view, we aren't hostile towards BJ or Marantha. Why? Well -  just because Stephen or Larry Oats might be a tad more conservative than we are at SVBC, they are not our enemies! Those brothers are brothers. We're actually friends and frankly the few difference we might have in our view are very slight. Those that want to make the NIU/SVBC position as an enemy view against the BJ/Marantha position are schismatic. You are dangerous and frankly I don't think you are healthy to the body of Christ. The views are different but frankly not that different! How in the world we have allowed an ethos of separatism to make these two positions into  a"hostile relationship" is bizarre and maybe more than that.

This direction of Northland can actually be a help to Bob Jones and Maranatha (and maybe even Faith). Leaders and college students that are uncomfortable with the direction of NIU can most certainly head off to Greenville or Watertown. For you saying NIU will die because it's no longer as conservative - there is no way you can know that. First, you are not an apostle - (unless you SG - which most of you are not!) Second, other examples have played out differently. Pillsbury died after it went from a Type A view to a type C view back to a type A view (Bob actually may have been a B+ on the Tetreau scale - not that that matters at all). My guess is with some of the issues that Dr. O mentioned in the "Phelps gathering" we will begin to see a variety of institutions merge or close. In the end that may have little to do with exactly where you end up on the "Tetreau Scale" but in many cases has more to do with how the institution continues it's relations with alumni, friends both old and new, etc......Of course an institution moving philosophically will "warm the hearts" of some and "tick off" others.

I am prayerful that not only does NIU "make it" I pray that God's rich blessings fall on the institution. Perhaps another discussion that could be had here - as the cloud of dust finally begins to settle (hopefully) is what was all of this? Was it really about one institution? I don't think it was. I believe this was a manifestation of what's happening nationally and even internationally.

Straight Ahead!

jt

ps - I warned you all - random thoughts!

 

 

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;

Robert Apps's picture

I lament that Northland traded in their biblical fundamentalism-  all for Big Daddy Weave and 'Pizza and Praise'.

Robert's church website is www.odbc.org.au. 

Joel Tetreau's picture

Robert,

Lament not my brother........

They did not trade their biblical fundamentalism for Big Daddy or his Pizza.

They traded cultural fundamentalism for Big Daddy and his Pizza.

That's a big difference from God's perspective.

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;

mmartin's picture

Joel,

 

Are "cultural fundamentalism" or Big Daddy and Pizza Praise the only two options?

 

Seems to me there are other options available.  Just because one doesn't like the former that must mean a leap over to the latter.  Neither of these two choices are the best.

James K's picture

Northland only offers a subpar quality to institutions such as Boyce and TMC.  It might come down to affordability.  If Northland is smart, they will undercut the cost of the other institutions so they can have that as a selling point.  Adopt the WalMart strategy.

Frankly, given what Cedarville just did, that school is in much better shape to help conservative baptistic types.

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

mmartin's picture

Joel,

 

Your thoughts on Bixby's comment about Olson and NIU organizing the Big Daddy Weave concert against the wishes of the board? 

Not sure that falls into the category of "taking one for the team" and "lead(ing) Northland through the change he believed was right?"

 

Of course none of us knows the future of Northland, but regarding your point if Northland does "die," it won't be because it isn't now Type A conservative or because of its Redeemed band.  It will be because people don't know it or trust it anymore, or as Daniel Patz alluded to himself, why should people go to another version of Moody in the middle of nowhere when they can go to Moody that is somewhere.

Joel Tetreau's picture

OK - I really, really didn't want to do this - but you will drag me until I answer this question - so no there are other options than (1) Hang with the cultural fundamentalists alone or (2) embrace Big Daddy.

A third option is the one I'm taking - walk with big or small daddy, mama, bubba and anyone else going the same way I am. Actually I still like some of cultural fundamentalism (don't tell anyone I actually said that) - I have not handed my brain over to it's control - I have rejected some of it - yet I'm also not ready to wave my "oh I love all that conservative evangelicalism has to offer" flag either. I pick and choose as I want to. A Baptist here, A Bible church guy there, a Fundamenalist on my right hand, an Evangelical on my left, A Southern Baptist in front of me, a Presbyterian behind me, etc......I personally - I probably would not be looking to hang with Big Daddy - now that's not enough for me to cut my ties or support to Matt, Daniel, NIU or anyone else. I'm just saying - it's not the group I'd want to introduce the student body too. I personally would choose a different group - if at all possible.

One more paragraph of thought,

I'm not going to comment on Bob's comments about what was said or not said, agreed up or not agreed upon from inside the new board or the old board. Two reasons why 1) I'm not comfortable commenting in a situation like this where there is the variety of things being said by those that were there, partially there and not there. Another way of saying that is I don't like to comment on discussions or the back and forth decisions of groups that afterwords become something of a "he said - she said." 2) Over the years I've served on several ministry boards that have had to make controversial decisions - I personally am not comfortable commenting directly on issues that can only really be fully understood by board members that were there and have the minutes to prove or demonstrate what was or was not said.  

Great questions everyone - 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;

Don Johnson's picture

I suppose that's ok, being the looser sort as you are...

But Bixby is declaring very publicly that the BDW concert was not just an event that Matt sent recruiters to, but indeed that NIU was hand in glove in planning and promoting the event in question. I think the desire to hush the thing up when it happened was a problem, but if what Bixby says is true, it was an even bigger problem than it first appeared. It makes things look even worse than they did before.

mmartin asking you the questions is pertinent in light of your strong statements in support of Matt in the post higher up the thread.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Anne Sokol's picture

referring to D.P.'s vision.

will limit my thoughts b/c  if I say any more, it will be shredded here Biggrin

Dan McGhee's picture

Our young people are at Northland Camp as I type. Yesterday my Assistant Pastor (who is there with the group) told me that there is a great spirit among the camp staff. I, for one, appreciate Daniel Patz' articulated vision and can support it 100%. And, my guess is that I'm not alone in this... Time will tell if enough new supporters will come forward to keep the school viable.  

DavidO's picture

Mike Harding wrote:
{Northland] didn't need saving ten years ago when it was clearly a fundamentalist school.

I wonder if that's causation or merely correlation.   Perhaps the leader back then was simply more charismatic or some other (melange of) less obvious factor(s).

I actually hope for the best in their move toward confessionalism, if they're serious about it and can pull it off.  A school doesn't seem to me to be the place for it, especially so far downstream from its origins.  Then again, NIU is essentially a brand new school as of now.    

And if they stick with the New Hampshire (which is more than fine with me), that in itself would, I'd think, turn away much of the non-/anti- calvinist contingency.

Pastor Doug H's picture

I feel like I’m watching the Toyota commercial: Husband “we want big”, wife “not that big’; husband “we want red”, wife “not that red”….

Dan says: (“We want big, but not that big”)
Why Northland when you have Moody, Wheaton, Cedarville, Boyce, Cornerstone, Trinity, Liberty, and many other high quality Christian colleges and universities? Because we are not those places.”

Then he says: (“We want red, not that red”)
There is a need for a seriously happy, passionate training ground for ministry that provides a bridge-ministry to those in fundamentalism moving to conservative evangelicalism.  People formerly or currently connected with BJU, Maranatha, Pillsbury, Clearwater, etc are filled with godly people, but people who no longer embrace the old cultural fundamentalism.

I think NIU has several problems going forward, and they really don’t have to do with being F/or CE but practicality:
1. INTERNET COURSE DEGREES: Liberty has built theirs up, Maranatha is developing theirs and Piedmont has had theirs up and going for several years.  NIU shut down their internet offerings a couple of years ago.  Cost is going to be the driving force for the hybrid education 2 yrs at local Community College then 2 yrs of on-line courses, all the while the student continues to be developed by a local church.
2. LOCATION: Drive the E/W 80/90 corridor or the N/S 81/95 corridor, then ask why do I need to drive 5+ hours off the corridor to the middle of nowhere?
3. PIPELINE:  A bridge is fine but it simply gets you from point “A” to point “B”.  The Parents, pastors and churches that are in the Cedarville, Cornerstone, Liberty, Wheaton Camps aren’t going to change now to NIU.   IMHO a “happy, passionate training” bridge school to CE isn’t necessary because of the existence of BBC, Masters, and Piedmont.
4. LEADERSHIP: Cornerstone has a Stowell, Cedarville just brought on a solid man (and Bible Chair), Masters has Mac.  Northland/Patz must get this part right or Dan can write all the letters he wants..

Now my ‘hobby horse’, please just simple say we are loosening the rules to reflect our new attitude, but this comment “Christian liberty (versus legalistic structure)” fails to recognize IMHO 2 things; 1) Legalism is a nonbiblical word that has historically meant you must do X,Y, or Z to be saved.  2) Having a set of rules in place does not make one legalistic.  There were two thoughts I always heard expressed by Doc O and Northland students that we had come through our church (90’s early 2000’s) “take the high road” and “yes, some of our rules are not found in the Bible, but they help us maintain a certain level of order”.

dgszweda's picture

I wonder if Northland is really opening a new front for "Young Fundamentalists"?  There are a large number of young people (and yes they are currently attending schools like BJU), who don't espouse to the beliefs of this cultural fundamentalism, but don't want to abandon it entirely.  They also aren't quite ready to jump to Moody or Wheaton.  They want to shake the culture but keep with the foundation.  I think Northland offers that type of attraction.  When I was at BJU, the school was filled with these people, but because they didn't have much alternative, they went to BJU.  I also wonder if this is really such a departure for Northland.  This change has been going on for some time, and the graduates are mostly aware of this change.  Most of the people I know who are graduating Northland (just graduated) were fine with the direction and really didn't see it as such a massive change as many outsiders see it as.  In fact that is what attracted them to the school.  I know I am only speaking by my experience and not concrete numbers here.

Jay's picture

dgszweda wrote:
  I also wonder if this is really such a departure for Northland.  This change has been going on for some time, and the graduates are mostly aware of this change.  Most of the people I know who are graduating Northland (just graduated) were fine with the direction and really didn't see it as such a massive change as many outsiders see it as.  In fact that is what attracted them to the school.  I know I am only speaking by my experience and not concrete numbers here.

dgszweda,

I would heartily agree with you - I really don't think that this is "the unexpected quantum leap" that some are making it out to be.  NBBC was always like this - but it looked like the normal IFB culture that many here agree with and hold to, so it was never noticed.  If there are some that graduated from NIU and went more 'rightward' (which isn't the term I'd like to use, but I don't have another), my guess is that most of them came from more 'rightward' churches in the first place and are more comfortable with the 'rightward' side of things than what the school taught.  But again, that's my experience.  Of the alumni that I am aware of, less than five were shocked or dismayed at the change. The rest of us (again, that I've seen) were comfortable or happy with it - there's probably 35+ of us. 

Drs. Doran and Harding-

Appreciated your posts – thanks for sharing.

I think that I’m slightly talking past you both here.  When I wrote what I did in the first post, I was thinking specifically of a few vocal men in ‘fundamentalism’ that have been very quick to advocate separation from conservative evangelicals (and completely agree with Dr. Doran that neither group is clearly defined).  There are a few who have capitalized on the NIU issue as an opportunity to burnish their own blog or credentials by pointing out every wart or wrinkle to defend “Fundamentalism” (whatever they mean by that).  Those are the people that I was aiming at, not men like you.

Pastors and men like you who had supported NIU in the past, through prayers, financially, ‘talking up the school’ to others, or some other means that I can’t think of right now, have every right to be upset or concerned by this (as you see it) unwelcome change in philosophy.  As a NIU alumnus, I am heartened by the changes that I see, and it is not because I ever felt as though NIU was a ‘sectarian legalist’, ‘hyper-separatist’ or those who modeled ‘wicked manifestations of fundamentalism’ – I have never felt that way and do not feel that way now.   To be completely honest, I’m not sure where those charges came from and wish that whoever wrote them would repent of their foolishness.  As a matter of fact, if it were not for the form of fundamentalism that I saw modeled by Drs. Ollila, Von, Horn, and Doran in classes at Northland (I never got the chance to meet Dr. Bauder personally, although I’d happily lump him in with that group), I probably would not be a Fundamentalist at all.  I might have even walked away entirely when I went through my own deep waters a few years after graduation…but I don’t know that for sure and am beginning to digress.  I personally am grateful to the school and all of those men because they built a Biblical foundation that has served me well, even some ten plus years later (and counting).  Along the way, I made some changes in the way that I would live and would perform ministry, and it was because of that base they laid that I could make changes that I felt were for the better.  From what I can tell, NIU is doing the same.

To recommend colleges or universities to potential students is no small task, especially in light of the fact that many thousands of dollars will be spent and that those who graduate from the school will be themselves pastors, missionaries, teachers, and evangelists that will influence others eternally.  I personally would heartily recommend NIU for Biblical training, and will continue to do so, the same as I would recommend DBTS, Central, Landale or Master’s (and I’m sure there are other schools as well).  Being an NIU alumnus, I might have a harder time recommending MBBC, but that stems more from the old school rivalries than it does any real philosophical difference that I’m aware of.

I guess my real question – and this is off topic, but it might make things clearer – why is there a ‘divide’ between the ‘conservative evangelicals’ and ‘fundamentalists’, especially if both groups are so ill-defined?  I wrote an article a few years ago about the importance of unity, and to see people lining up to take sides because they are ‘not of us’ (in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 1, not 1 John 2) disturbs me greatly, because it as an unwarranted (perhaps sinful) attitude of division, strife, and/or factionalism (as far as I can tell).  As best I know – and maybe this is only because of where I’ve been – the Christianity of MacArthur, Ollila, Harding, Vaughn, Jones and others is the same thing across the board when it comes to matters of doctrine (although not in how that would present itself in a church setting).  So why the controversy or quarreling?  Isn’t it enough that there are believers all over the nation that are busy doing the work of the Master?  Is this just a case of some falling into classic 2 Thessalonians 3:11-15, Titus 3:9-11, and 2 Peter 3:17-18  behavior?

In any case, I’ve written enough now and need to be heading towards other tasks.  My questions are more rhetorical in nature, so please don’t feel as though I’m trying to paint you into a corner or broadbrush you unnecessarily; I mean no animosity towards either of you.  Thanks again for the interaction.

"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

dgszweda's picture

Jay,

 

Time will tell, but I think your statement:

"I wrote an article a few years ago about the importance of unity, and to see people lining up to take sides because they are ‘not of us’ (in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 1, not 1 John 2) disturbs me greatly, because it as an unwarranted (perhaps sinful) attitude of division, strife, and/or factionalism (as far as I can tell)."

 

Is what is frustrating young people.  The risk is that unity trumps everything, so you need to find that balance.  Will Northland find a unique balance?  I don't know.  But I can tell you there are a ton of young people in fundamentalism frustrated by the overwhelming focus of separation and the lack of drive toward unity.  We all know the pitfalls that unity can bring, but I think there is a drive for a more balanced approach.  They want the drive for unity, but also strong separation, they just want the line drawn a little different.  I think we fool ourselves in thinking that BJU and MBBC are filled with students that are just fully aligned with BJU and MBBC or other institutions.  Because that is not the case.  Time will tell and we will see.  I grew up all my life in fundamentalism and went to a fundamentalist institution, but I "jumped the fence" a few years ago to become a member at a church outside of the fundamentlism wrapper, and it wasn't as evil as people made it out to be.  The gospel is taken significantly more seriously and in some ways separation is greater in some conservative evangelical circles than it was in fundamentalism (and I was a member in some of the smallest and the largest fundamentalism churches, not some country 1611KJV church).  The difference is that the focus is on separation where the line is drawn Biblically.  We are filled in our church with kids from the area public universities, even though we have absolutely no youth, or college and career classes and even though our shortest sermons are over an hour long.  There is no explanation, except that young people are yearning for hearing the gospel, growing in the Word, separating on the Truths, but not dealing with the cultural baggage or the pressure to look exactly like each other.

Michelle Shuman's picture

Keep in mind this was an official statement posted on NIU's website.  Sometime a little review on our own part will catch sentences that absolutely don't make any sense: "People formerly or currently connected with BJU, Maranatha, Pillsbury, Clearwater, etc are filled with godly people, but people who no longer embrace the old cultural fundamentalism."  He should have at least had one of their English professors proof read it before they put it on the website.

 

Michelle Shuman

Dave Doran's picture

The reason people keep fighting over labels and groups is because people keep insisting on using labels and forcing people into groups. Daniel did it in his release. Jay did it in his post. I had to do it in response to Jay.

As I've advocated in other places at other times, since the labels no longer are accurate they are no longer helpful to the discussion. As I hinted at above, what does conservative evangelical mean? Originally it seemed to stand in contrast to the evangelical left (or post-conservative evangelicalism). IOW, it was an evangelical who was not abandoning evangelicalism. But fundamentalists (and post-conservatives) decided to give it their own meaning, something like an evangelical who is almost a fundamentalist. :) 

I've also advocated over at my place that the usual list of conservative evangelicals does not really distinguish between those who reject the principles of the original New Evangelicalism and those who still embrace them. That, from my perspective, is the real sticking point for me. Some folks labeled as conservative evangelical are exactly where Henry, Ockenga, and the early Billy Graham were. That is not historic fundamentalism.

DMD

Mike Harding's picture

Jay,

 

Thanks for your response and explanation. 

Pastor Mike Harding

Jay's picture

Yes, I agree with you - using 'conservative evangelical' does not delineate between the two, and as far as I can tell, is simply an attempt to group and shame some that one may not agree with.  That's my theory as to why there is the resistance to defining the term (or fundamentalist, for that matter).  Personally, I'm trying to avoid using those terms anymore, because there's two groups defined in the Bible - believers and nonbelievers.

Again, thanks for the interaction.  I hope that the GARBC conference goes well for you and that everyone there is encouraged.

"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

Joel Tetreau's picture

Don and others,

So let me say this again - maybe with one more notch of clarity. I'm not commenting on what Bob said because I've actually now heard from other leaders who were "there" who have a different take than what Bob has given. That doesn't mean (at least in my mind) that one or more are being dishonest. It means that like what often happens in a situation like this, we have different views of what was said or not said behind closed doors. Because I was not there, and because I'm getting a different story from multiple sources that have at least first and/or second hand story - why in the world - or how in the world can I comment with certainty. I can't - so I won't - at least for now. 

Don - I don't think this is because I'm a "looser" (BTW - Don congrats - I've been called many things before on SI - but you are the first to call me a looser - that makes you a winner [or wine-er] or something!) - it is because I'm being careful Don.....at least on this occasion. As far as dancing around the issue - I don't dance. I'm a Baptist. My feet don't work that way. It's one of the reasons I'm looking forward to a glorified body - I'll finally be able to dance.  

One shout out to Dave and Jay - I appreciated the back and forth between you men. Dave and Jay - my opinion (for whatever that's worth), the vast majority of men who I interact with who would hold the CE label (as I often do as regional coordinator of IBL West) - are indeed doing that because 1) they do reject some of the baggage that they think they see with the fundamentalist label - but 2) they do indeed reject the main of evangelicalism because they are in fact more conservative than the typical evangelical. They would almost to a man reject the original stand of Henry, Fuller, Archer, Ockenga, etc......because of it leading to a compromised evangelicalism. These men are not trying to save liberalism by way of scholarship. They are not trying to infiltrate - except perhaps those guys that are struggling against error inside a group - like the white hats w/i the SBC - who frankly have won battles. To me this is more like the historical fights of the first generation of fundamentalism than newevagelicalism. I do agree with you that a precise definition that is universally agreed upon (fundamentalist, evangelical, etc.....) is anything but a reality.

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;

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