Matt Olson: "to draw dividing lines that He has not drawn grieves Him, hurts the body of Christ"

What Matters Most: How We Draw the Lines

I can visit a church on Sunday morning, fellowship with believers, love what I am seeing, encourage fellow believers in what they are doing—and still choose not to join that particular local assembly. When we start separating over every belief and opinion we soon find ourselves standing all alone, criticizing the rest of body of Christ. I don’t think that is what God intended

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James K's picture

Are those the only options Alex?  TGC or what NIU used to be?  I both applaud and lament their changes.  Ignoring baptism as a clear NT teaching worth dividing over is problematic.

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.

Shaynus's picture

James, 

Almost everyone divides over baptism. Presbyterians mostly don't join Baptist churches, nor visa versa. That's one level of division: not joining another church out of a particularly important teaching in how churches operate. Institutions like schools can be more broad than churches because schools don't baptize (hopefully?). At BJU I was taught by a good number of Presbyterians. Is that wrong of BJU? I think Matt's point is only separate as much as you need to.

 

Ron Bean's picture

My error. I forgot to take my ginko.

 

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

SBashoor's picture

I read this post early this morning before any comments were posted. I thought then that it might be good to make some popcorn. Lots of fireworks over perceived spilled beans, I predict.

 

M. Scott Bashoor Happy Slave of Christ

Greg Long's picture

I completely agree with what Dr. Olson wrote!

Although I'm not sure it answers the question. SGM's web site clearly states:

One of the primary connections among Sovereign Grace churches is our commitment to a common Statement of Faith, which we summarize as evangelical, Reformed, and charismatic.

At the core of our doctrine is the gospel of Jesus Christ—the glorious truth that Jesus Christ died and was raised so that sinners would be reconciled to God. The gospel is our primary passion and the driving influence in our churches' preaching, worship, small groups, and outreach.

Surrounding this core is an emphasis on sound doctrine. We are committed to a Reformed doctrine of salvation (the doctrines historically known as TULIP), justification by faith alone, and the belief that Scripture is the sole infallible source of doctrine and authority.

Beyond this agreement on the general tenets of Reformed theology, there are areas in which we differ from many Reformed traditions, such as infant baptism, cessationism (the belief that some miraculous spiritual gifts have ceased), and some traditionally Reformed types of church government.

Finally, we want all these convictions to inspire a passion for the local church. We believe that local churches are to be the primary means of advancing the Great Commission, in addition to being the context where all believers are to grow in holiness, be equipped for service, and bear witness to the saving grace of God. (http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/about-us/what-we-believe.aspx)

This would seem to be contrary to NIU's Statement of Faith, and so I think the question about the relationship between the NIU employee and an SGM church is a valid one. And yet it's not really keeping me up at night. I don't run in NIU or SGM circles.

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

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Paul J. Scharf's picture

After standing up for Olson in principle on the other thread, let me clarify here. (I am not necessarily disagreeing with Olson, as I do not have time to offer a full critique of his writing, and I do not presume that this article is his complete teaching on the matter. On the surface, however, some of his statements do appear to be simplistic.)

I do not believe that the matter of separation/fellowship is an either/or, all-or-nothing situation, as many fundamentalists have made it. 

I was taught this at FBTS by Dr. Myron Houghton, who has a lecture on the levels of fellowship that is very helpful.

Dr. John Whitcomb has developed a similar concept that he calls "God's Truth Circles," which he is actually teaching on the radio right now. You can hear the first installment here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=831122029441

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Steve Davis's picture

I applaud Matt's attempts to clarify and articulate his thinking in the area of separation.

Alex:
It seems that Matt is trying to practice biblical Christianity as is TGC.

James K:
It's possible to disagree over mode if baptism and still enjoy some level of fellowship. I don't think Matt's ready to sprinkle babies or join a church that does (neither would I) but that doesn't necessarily prevent fellowship, encouragement, and appreciation of those doing God's work.

Greg:
There's no question that SGM is charismatic in some sense. But that is a far cry from being part of the Charismatic Movement. As I have stated elsewhere, I would disagree with some SGM theology and would not join a SGM church especially if other options were available. However neither would I separate from them.

Greg Long's picture

Steve, I absolutely agree with you. I am fully aware of the difference between SGM's small-c charismaticism and big-C Charismaticism. I have no personal issue with what Olson did. I'm simply saying that in light of NIU's doctrinal statement, Don's question is a legitimate one because SGM believes all the gifts are valid today. 

And if Olson gave an answer like you suggested, I would be satisfied. But I'm not sure Don would be. Smile

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

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Joel Tetreau's picture

So - How about a taxonomy of the Charismatic Movement

Maybe we'll call it, "Three Doves in the Air!"

Just kidding!

Straight Ahead! Smile

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;

Steve Davis's picture

Greg Long wrote:

Steve, I absolutely agree with you. I am fully aware of the difference between SGM's small-c charismaticism and big-C Charismaticism. I have no personal issue with what Olson did. I'm simply saying that in light of NIU's doctrinal statement, Don's question is a legitimate one because SGM believes all the gifts are valid today. 

And if Olson gave an answer like you suggested, I would be satisfied. But I'm not sure Don would be. Smile

You are a bright guy and I know that because you agree with me Smile I'm also glad it's not about satisfying Don. I don't think that will happen. I do not think Don is malicious with his questions although it seems some others are. But the sooner those who disagree with NIU's direction separate, if that's what they must do, the sooner NIU can get on with its mission, IMO speaking only for myself as someone gladly disconnected from mainline IFBdom and with no pony in this race.

Dave Gilbert's picture

Having read this, I can only comment on Matt's apparent attitude regarding the word of God and what people disagree over: I believe it was Augustine who wrote, " In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and in all things charity." I disagree with the core of this philosophy, if only to point out that Christ himself said," Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." ( Matthew 4:4 ) Every word is important.

 

In this present age of apostasy ( and only getting worse ), there appears to be people out there who espouse a doctrine of unity at the expense of the truths of Scripture...part of why I believe there are "denominations". To me, if everyone who professed Christ actually had the Holy Spirit living and working inside them, they would eventually arrive at an agreement on the things contained in Scripture. Now, I'm all too painfully aware of the battle between the fleshly old nature and the new one, but still, as believers grow in grace and knowledge, a consensus should still be reached at some point. *Sigh* 1 Corinthians chapter 3 should not be the rule of life for all the churches, with divisions and arguments. Sad

 

Now, for someone in Christ who is "valiant for the truth" ( Jeremiah 9:3 ) many of these issues matter, as Scripture only presents them one way. Some of them are hard to "flesh out", but I think that with enough time and persistence it can be done. IMO, for Matt to declare, "The mode of baptism, timing of the rapture, cessationist or non-cessationist positions, dispensational or covenant positions, church polity, style of music, philosophy of ministry—are NOT fundamentals of the faith." is not taking into account those that are serious about not only knowing Scripture as a whole, but obeying the Lord who gave it.

1) Mode of baptism is easy...immersion, and it's what Christ did when He first commenced His earthly preaching, as well as Acts 8:36-38.

2) Timing of "rapture"...not a difficult one, but one I'm sure I would offend by my conclusions.

3) Cessationist or non: Tough one, but I do believe in miraculous healing by the Lord even today...as for the rest of the gifts, I'll take a wait-see. Spirit-filled believers ( those who are walking holy lives completely pleasing to God ) seem ( to me at least, and I don't include myself in this group most of the time ) to be few and far between. Perhaps the gifts can only be realized through total submission to God in every area of our lives, and with respect to my personal life, I haven't chosen to do that much until recently.

4) Dispensational or Covenant positions: Wha? Beats me, as I've never studied either one and don't care to...although the word "covenant" strikes a biblical pose, as does the "dispensation of the fullness of times".

5) Church polity: Easy. Order is maintained by elders ( elder in the Spirit, otherwise known as bishops / pastors in their office ) and deacons, but essentially run well. People of differing talents are encouraged to practice them, and there can be any number of things going on during an assembly: Exhortation, singing, praying, preaching, teaching and so forth. Everyone is equal in standing and "has a vote", but women are to be silent in the church ( 1 Corinthians 14:34 ) ( dunno about during singing, however...I believe this passage refers to keeping silence during matters of teaching and other authority, as per 1 Timothy 1:12 ).

6) Style of music: Also easy...does it glorify the Lord and edify the body of Christ without provoking the flesh to "groove"? Then it's OK, IMO. New or old, "sacred" or "contemporary", as long as it downplays the flesh and up plays the Lord, it should be good to go. A rock and roll beat, however ( because it provokes the flesh ), is not the way to go, as I see it.

7) "Philosophy of ministry"...not sure I understand this as he states it. ministering should be done as Scripture indicates, using the talents we are given and done orderly in the churches. Preaching the gospel should be done outside the church, with new converts then being brought in, and teaching and other events should be done within the confines of the assembly.

 

I agree with him in these points:

 

" A disobedient brother is someone who is in clear violation of biblical teaching and one who after repeated confrontation continues in his sin. The Bible gives plenty of instruction on how to work through these situations in love and toward restoration (Galatians 6:1-5).

What do we separate over?

    The Christian should expose and separate from a false Gospel (Galatians 1:8,9). True
    The Christian should expose and separate from another Christian who continues to walk in disobedience (after following a biblical process for restoration, I Corinthians 5:9-13). True
    The Christian should separate from the world (This is another discussion that I would like to take up in the future because I find many people have a wrong view of  ”the world” I John 2:15-17). True, and I'm interested to see what his definition of "the world" is. If it doesn't include worldly, secular-style music with a beat used to provoke the flesh; Activities such as going to worldly movies and bars; Loud, obnoxious and attention-getting vehicles and clothing; Men and women who refuse to dress modestly and a whole host of other things that are, by association, worldly, then I will have to separate from him and people like him. Desiring worldly things in contradiction to denying the flesh is against God's will for our lives and should not be done ( Matthew 16:24 ). Take it from someone who has done this exact thing...I was not obeying God. Sad

 

1 John 2:15-17 ( KJV ):" Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. " Here we can see that it is important for the believer to divorce himself or herself from the world as much as possible to truly obey the Lord...and it has its rewards, I might add. Wink

 

However, to say that ( in essence ) the letter of Scripture is the only thing that matters and not the spirit that it is written in, is not being faithful to what is written on our hearts as genuine believers when we are converted ( Jeremiah 31:33 ), IMO. For now, perhaps I've misunderstood this article, but I've seen this type of article many times in the last 30 years, and the style of speech it contains seems to be developing a head of steam as I get older. It's been demonstrated by many who warn of worldly ways that this type of thinking is what eventually leads to outright ecumenism and apostasy. Separating to Christ as believers is what we are to do, but what we are separating to can have a huge impact on how we see Christ. It's important that we all separate to the same Christ ( the Scriptural one ), and not a false one.

 

Respectfully,

 

Dave.

Greg Long's picture

Dave, 

The Bible itself teaches us that some doctrines are more important than others. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 that the Gospel is of "first importance." Obviously that means there are other teachings that are not of first importance. If everything is of first importance than nothing is. This is the problem with contemporary fundamentalism--everything is held out to be of equal importance and if you don't agree with me exactly on every issue than I must separate from you.

Historically "fundamentalists" were those who held to the "fundamentals of the faith" such as the deity of Christ, virgin birth, etc. None of the things Dr. Olson mentions were considered to be the fundamentals of the faith.

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

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Dave Gilbert's picture

You must be using the NASB or something like it, as mine says, "first of all".  Wink While it's true based on 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 that the Gospel is first, it also says in chapter 3 regarding "foundations" that every man should take heed how he builds on it. It appears that these works are personal ones, with regard to obeying or not obeying God, but it could also be said that we should be careful how we build doctrine on top of Christ's sacrifice, so that our understanding of His word is stable and complete. Also with reference to 1 Corinthians, it says that they differed among each other and that the reason they differed was because they were yet carnal and walking as men ( in chapter 3 ). Perhaps that's the reason why so many believers have differences, as not all are growing in the Spirit at the same rate and many are carnal?

 

As for denominations, I'm still working on that one.

 

I'm very aware of the fact that believers can differ on things in Scripture, but what concerns me most is how many different things people disagree on and still claim to be saved and indwelt with the Holy Spirit. It's almost mind-boggling, and I've actually seen some false teaching creep in, things that are not supported by Scripture. However, I'm also aware of the exhortations in Philippians 2:2, Philippians 2:14 and 1 Corinthians 1:10 , so I realize that people can and often will differ on some things...subjects that will be enlightened by Scripture the more they read their Bibles and get to know the Lord through His word.

 

Dave.

 

On a side note, point 5 in my above post was meant to list 1 Timothy 2:12, instead of 1 Timothy 1:12.

J Ng's picture

Maybe it's the unspeakable elephant in the room, but it seems that between the named issues of baptismal mode, eschatological timing, or nature of spiritual gifts, the least defensible/controversial issue is that of single-version Onlyism (whether it's the King James, Septuagint, or the Vulgate). As we have witnessed in Fundamentalism over recent decades, not separating from an unbiblical Onlyism has only damaging consequences on the unity of the brethren. More than the other factors, it "grieves Him, hurts the body of Christ"

Brad Kelly's picture

I am curious as to why the issue of charismatic gifts is not a gospel issue. I am not saying that a charismatic necessarily disbelieves or cannot believe the gospel. But the gospel is summarized as:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures...

The gospel is historical revelation. Out of all the mere men in Scripture, why is the only named in the Apostle's Creed Pontius Pilate? It anchors our faith in history. We do not believe in a mythical demigod. We acclaim as Lord and God a real man who lived at a certain point in time. All of this is revealed, grounded, and settled in Scripture. It is historically examinable. The gospel has been revealed.

What is the point of apostles or tongues or other sign gifts? Don't they serve and function as forms of revelation?

At Northland Baptist Bible College I was taught about individual soul liberty and the priesthood of the believer. As a believer, Dr. Olson certainly has the freedom and responsibility to worship wherever he decides.

As president of Northland, however, I think Dr. Olson needs to be accountable for upholding the written standards of the school. Praising, endorsing, having a staff-member join, a church that is not in agreement with the written standards of the school is a problem.

Accountable to whom? Well if the board doesn't mind I am not sure what there is for anyone else to do about it. Except blog.

That always seems effective.
 

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Steve Davis wrote:
Alex: It seems that Matt is trying to practice biblical Christianity as is TGC.

Well Steve, no one is asserting he is not trying to do what he believes is biblical Christianity. The affectation that, "Matt is trying to practice biblical Christianity" implies those objecting are not. This kind of posturing actually makes no argument other than trying to claim some moral high ground without an argument.

But hey, if he is trying to practice biblical Christianity, here is a start. How about making NIU's policy reflect their new practice. Honesty and integrity in ministry is quite biblical.

 

Joel Tetreau's picture

It is a beautiful morning! I hope you all are encouraged in our Lord. He is so faithful, even when we have these little "internal Christian Family chats!" A quick thought before I say what I want to say. 

Sidebar - I appreciate you who are willing to think openly and go back and forth on a deal like this. I feel bad for the guys in our circles who say, "We hate blogs!" "You should hate blogs!" "Don't read blogs!" "Blog people are mean!" So - the cool thing is 1) They are usually ignored because they aren't willing to go back and forth with "the wee people!" and 2) They don't participate here....so we don't have to be burdened with the fact that they are burdened. Of course some of the guys who say that - have their own magazine or whatever so you can read what they think - about once a month. I've often wondered if having that approach to modern social media is like saying - from now on if you want to know what I think about this topic - you'll have to come to such in such church - I'll post a few thoughts on the door!  

The main point - In reading you guys - I get the sense that some of you think Matt is anything but open. You can hear him, read him, call him, text him, write him, email him, fax him - use your "air miles' and fly to him - of course you'll have to drive for a while if you don't fly into Green Bay. (And for you who have never been to Dunbar you have to go - you will then have a greater appreciation for how Hansel and Gretel could get lost in the forest!) The point is Matt is not hiding. At 6 foot whatever - (which is very tall if he were a Tetreau) - He's a big guy! Hard for the big guys to hide! He has been very open about how Northland on the one hand will never change yet how Northland on the other hand must change. Anyone in ministry that has experienced leadership for any length of time has to understand that dualism. Matt not only has been clear to the "outside world" (that would include we "blog people-group folk" (and Brad your last line made me laugh when in reference to blogging you noted, "that always seems effective!" - I don't know if you were trying to be funny - but I thought that was hilarious!) - so as I was saying, Matt not only has been clear to "we" on the outside - but most importantly Matt has been clear to staff, faculty, students, alumni (i.e. "Northland-Type People") about the "sharpened pencil approach" that NIU is taking these days. I"m not suggesting everyone who have been NIU "people" have necessarily have "buy-in" yet or ever. That always happens when a ministry sharpen's it's pencil! You will have people who like the duller pencil - there was great comfort in being what they knew. When one is challenged to change - well, "change for improvement" is often hard, especially if you don't see the need "to improve" as the leadership does. Looking at NIU's doctrinal statement - I don't think Matt and gang need to change anything. Some of you guys are saying the "implication" of NIU's view undermine's their belief system - real and written. I don't see that all. Here's the reality - you don't like Matt? - you don't like NIU? - fine, go somewhere else! There are plenty of schools that would take a view of separation that is more consistent with a Type A fundamentalism. For me and my house - we love Northland and if my kids believed God wanted them in a Christian College you better know that Northland would be a serious consideration. One of the reasons why historically the GARBC and the IFCA has been superior to other sub-groups within fundamentalism - is that those groups have worked hard to honor both "unity of the body" and "separation from error" at the same time. Other fundamentalist groups have emphasized "separation" almost to the "placing one's head in the sand" when it comes to the Scripture's teaching on unity in the faith. It seems to me that NIU is saying the same thing - "We will separate when a ministry is consistently violating the fundamentals of the faith - when a ministry is consistently "disobedient" to the faith - but we will not cut off all connection just because they may be "different."

One more point - to me it's a bit inconsistent for some of you to cry "foul" at NIU because of their willingness to reach out to some degree to those who are a bit more "open" to some modern form of "prophet" (which by the way is not equated to Scriptural authority in the same sense that the modern day Charismatic movement holds too - in all fairness!) - so you'll cry fowl when Matt reaches there - but many of you - if not most of you, you would have no problem with the Type A school of your choice reaches out to those who believe in or are connected to the King James Only heresy and you'll say, "well -it's OK because our Type A school is not KJV only - but we'll reach out to those kids and ministries who are KJV only." I would say that the KJV only heresy is frankly much more dangerous than CJ's view on a modern form of prophecy. I'm not saying Type A schools are wrong when they try to help kids who come in from Type A+ ministries with a bizarre Bibliology. OK - my "blah, blah, blah" internal alert just went off. That means I'm repeating myself and everyone (including friend and foe) is starting to gag!

Well - I need to look over the college football scores from the last 3 days, and then it's off to the office for a day of ministry - with God's people - some of them having a more active "pneumatology" than some of you could handle! A thrill! Of course the good news is that nobody confuses me with the "Minor Prophet Joel!" :) 

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;

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Quote:
Here's the reality - you don't like Matt? - you don't like NIU? - fine, go somewhere else!

Wake me up when the ad hominems are finished, someone, please. Yeah, its all about "not liking Matt and NIU". Good grief.

So for the rest of the readers who have not opted for ad hominems for their reality but wish to deal with the objections, those objections and concerns are coming from people who have invested their life and/or careers in NIU. They have a vested interest but oddly and discourteously they are told simply to go somewhere else if they don't like it. Jack Hyles and FBCH anyone?

To speak of them as if the true force of their concern is tantamount to not liking Matt or NIU is as offensive a form of condescension as it gets in my book. It steals any real consideration they, as esteemed Teachers, Students and Alumni along with other concerned fundamentalists, may have.

Don Johnson clearly documented the contradiction between policy and practice in another article.

Matt Olson isn't being disliked, Matt Olson's contradictions are being called into question. Those concerned acknowledge his gifts and leadership skills, that isn't being called into question nor is his likability, it is the contradiction in policy and practice.

Now, maybe Matt Olson will eventually say more and address these outstanding issues. It appears he is doing things incrementally which is how change goes. But those increments are away from their history to something else.

Charismaticism is not fundamentalism in any form. Its implications and consequences are anti-fundamentalist (even anti-conservative Evangelicalsm in its historical theological expression), even in its sorriest form of "continuationism light" (meaning magically the apostolic gifts can occur just in limited form though the Bible never presents any such polluted or diluted argument for this lukewarm version).

It is clear Matt Olson is redrawing lines for NIU but he needs to demonstrate some integrity and formally change their policy. What they will eventually be is despised by separatist fundamentalists instead of understood as different but with integrity. No, not aberrant fundamentalists but separatists fundamentalists.

But lest someone think separation over doctrinal distinctions beyond the gospel are not important, here is an institution that emphasis their distinctions without compromise. They are not antagonistic toward other groups who hold to basic doctrines but they separate from them.

Chafer Theological Seminary

On staff are some very qualified and esteemed men. But maybe they separate because they don't like other people. LOL.

No, they hold to convictions which have determined the course of their institution.

Maybe Matt simply holds things beyond elementary doctrines loosely and believes his call is to lead a successful institution. Fundamentalists historically aren't seen as romantics, rather principled people, though aberrant forms have gotten their noses rightly cut off.

NIU is one of two things, distinctive or Generic Evangelicalism. I believe Olson is opting for the latter. Can good come out of that? Obviously it can but that isn't the argument. The argument is about its distinctive history and its change from that.

 

 

 

 

Joel Tetreau's picture

Alex,

I don't think I have the energy to go back with you very much. So I'll answer you this one time.

OK...This has nothing to do with liking or not liking Matt. You don't have to be pained my man. This is hardly "ad hominem." I am comparing the charge with reality. That's all. If it pleases you - I'm willing to admit I'm defending NIU - I don't think you or Don or any of you who are charging them with "Generic Evangelicalism" are right. You don't have to like it, but don't tell me I'm not dealing with the attack. Also - I don't think I'm being unfair when I say, "if you don't like NIU" - "if you don't agree with NIU" - and "if you insist on demanding the expectations that some of you demand - send your kids somewhere else!" I'm being as honest as I know to be. And Alex if you really want to demonstrate "reality vs. ad hominem" I dare you to call Matt himself (by yourself) and ask if Tetreau is rightly picturing his view. Then you come back here and tell everyone I'm blowing smoke! (my guess is you won't do that - and you can crow "ad hominem" all you want!)

If I had to lead a school, and I had men like you and Don that wanted to influence or approve - you wouldn't be courted and I would have no qualms in telling you that. I wouldn't necessarily broadcast that publicly unless I had to. This is not "ad hominem" it is simply saying, "you guys are too different and have expectations we aren't living with - period!"

Alex - there's your break - go in peace - try!

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;

Alex Guggenheim's picture

You are not dealing with the objections. I will say it again. Don't let that pain you "my man". But your attempt to respond is acknowledged. Thank you.

P.S. The policy at NIU is that Olson's secretary fields calls of this nature and then they are assigned to a representative to answer so having Matt Olson personally respond to calls like this is both unlikely and an unreasonable expectation on his part. But no doubt, contacting NIU for an explanation is quite worth the while.

WilliamD's picture

Alex G. keeps challenging everyone to deal with the issue that he is raising and that is the integrity of Olson and NIU being called into question if Olson doesn't change their official policy statement. Here's my humble attempt to deal with it...

Ecclesiastical Separation
....Northland International University does not accept the philosophy, position, or practice of the National Council of Churches in America or the World Council of Churches. Further-more, Northland is opposed to Liberalism, Neo-Orthodoxy, New Evangelicalism, Hyper-Calvinism, and the Charismatic Movement.
2011-2013 Graduate School Academic Catalog, Northland Graduate School of Northland International University, p. 9, 

... Among the gifts listed in the Bible, we believe that sign gifts (miracles, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy) were temporary in nature and given to the church in its infant state before the completion of the canon of Scripture. Therefore, we reject the modern Charismatic Movement and the confusion it has brought. (Romans 12:6–8; I Corinthians 12:1–11, 13:8; Ephesians 4:11–12)
2011-2013 Graduate School Academic Catalog, Northland Graduate School of Northland International University, p. 12, 

...Ecclesiastically we are called upon to refrain from cooperation or alliances with groups which do not stand unashamedly for the truths revealed in the Word of God. Thus, we cannot accept the position reflected in the Ecumenical Movement, Neo-Orthodoxy, New Evangelicalism, or the various branches of the Charismatic Movement. We believe cooperation should be limited to those of like precious faith.

Is Matt Olson acting in contradiction to their stated position? The school's position is to reject the Charismatic Movement, to refrain from cooperation and alliances with the said movement and not to accept the position of the said movement. Here is Matt's latest statement: 

Matt Olson: "I believe that the same lines that I draw for an orthodox Christian faith are the same lines that I should draw for Christian fellowship."

He uses the word "fellowship". The question is...does he mean individual Christian fellowship or Ecclesiastical fellowship? Ecclesiastical fellowship would necessitate cooperation. Since he went to visit the church and did not even speak there, then he is not in violation of any of his own school's principles because nothing is happening on an ecclesiastical level. All Christians have liberty to fellowship individually regardless of someone else's scruples about it. If Alex, Don and the whole FBF want to make the words "accept and cooperate" = "fellowship" then Matt's integrity isn't in question and he doesn't have to change anything.  You all can define these things however you want, but if he hasn't engaged his school in cooperation with this movement, if he has not accepted their position, and if the school still stands in opposition to the movement as a whole, what has he done that contradicts it? He visited and said some good things about them....*shudder*....how aweful! 

Let's say, Alex is right...he is "clearly" moving away from the stated position. The more you keep nipping at his heels the faster you'll push him away. The FBF's behavior of bashing Calvinism (Sweate's speech a few years ago) and being silent about the Hyles heretics that they have been courting (Baptist Friends Conference) and then having the nerve to call him out on something like this....I wouldn't blame him for wanting to fellowship elsewhere. If he is going away from the NIU stated position, either he will announce that change sooner or later or he will leave. But I agree that if he leads the school to start cooperating with the "Charismatic Movement" then he needs to announce a change of position. 

Alex Guggenheim's picture

William

No, Olson has gone beyond visiting and saying something nice. He has sombody who is on staff with NIU, working for and representing NIU at a charismatic SGM Church in Philadelphia. He has partnered with a charismatic ministry. End story. It is not just saying nice things. The practice of partnering is in direct contradiction and conflict with NIU's policy

dgszweda's picture

I agree with Matt on the point that a lot of fundamentalists will be ashamed in heaven.  It is crazy the level of separation, when at the milisecond moment after your last breath you will be fellowshipping with that same brother in heaven.

Bert Baker's picture

The Holy Scriptures do teach only immersion for baptism.  So many of our predecessors in salvation gave their lives to be odedient

to our Lord in this way, that in itself makes it a big deal.

I personally believe that if one decides that the mode of baptism is not important, then he either does not know the Holy Scriptures

teaching on this, or is a compromiser or a coward.

Part of our Redeemer's statement, I believe, to 'fulfill all righteousness", included the mode,  This is certainly on a par with using

only unleavened bread for the Lord' Table.

WilliamD's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
William No, Olson has gone beyond visiting and saying something nice. He has sombody who is on staff with NIU, working for and representing NIU at a charismatic SGM Church in Philadelphia. He has partnered with a charismatic ministry. End story. It is not just saying nice things. The practice of partnering is in direct contradiction and conflict with NIU's policy

 

Ok, you're right. He should either abide by his own rules or change them

Don Johnson's picture

Joel, I'd like to address your comments primarily as you say a lot of things that have been said by others in one way or another. I think you are overstating the case about what I am trying to say with my article. I'll also address Matt's article that is the basis of this thread.

Joel Tetreau wrote:

I'm willing to admit I'm defending NIU - I don't think you or Don or any of you who are charging them with "Generic Evangelicalism" are right. You don't have to like it, but don't tell me I'm not dealing with the attack. 

Joel, where am I charging Matt/NIU with "Generic Evangelicalism"? I am asking questions. Matt's words and actions seem to be inconsistent with the Northland Statement of Faith. I am not proposing any course of action towards Matt/NIU, I am simply asking questions. Obviously I am concerned about the direction that it seems to me Matt/NIU seem to be headed, but my concerns could be allayed by some answers to my questions. Of course, other answers would likely heighten my concerns, but in any case all I am doing is posing questions. I am not making charges.

Furthermore, these questions are on the minds of many others who have had some interest in NIU in the past. Mike has identified himself as one of them, others have written me privately. offering the same kinds of questions. I don't think it is unreasonable to ask questions, even public questions, when a significant portion of the "NIU public" are concerned about what they perceive to be happening. You can say, as you did in another comment, #21:

Joel Tetreau wrote:

Here's the reality - you don't like Matt? - you don't like NIU? - fine, go somewhere else! There are plenty of schools that would take a view of separation that is more consistent with a Type A fundamentalism.

That's true, there are other schools (not sure about "plenty", but we'll leave that point...). However, a lot of the folks who have questions about NIU are alumni, people with a vested interest in the school. They aren't sure exactly what to make of the things they are seeing at NIU. They aren't sure they like it, but they aren't entirely sure they don't like it.

Shouldn't they get some kind of public assurance allaying their fears or else at least a candid confirmation of them? All very well to tell them to go somewhere else. But shouldn't they have the opportunity to know that the die is cast and the Northland they once knew is gone forever? Shouldn't they have some clarity on this point?

You also said in comment #21:

Joel Tetreau wrote:

One more point - to me it's a bit inconsistent for some of you to cry "foul" at NIU because of their willingness to reach out to some degree to those who are a bit more "open" to some modern form of "prophet" (which by the way is not equated to Scriptural authority in the same sense that the modern day Charismatic movement holds too - in all fairness!)

On the "charismatic credentials" of SGM, I acknowledge that they have a watered down view of apostles/prophets. They obviously get it that the true New Testament gifts of this sort imply some kind of direct authority to 'words from the Lord' given to real New Testament apostles and prophets. They are trying to back away from claiming full authority for present day "apostles"/"prophets". Why?

What benefit is there in having an "apostle" or a "prophet" today if he can't really speak for God? Isn't the authoritative message from God ​the distinguishing mark​ of apostles and prophets? If the SGM "apostles" and "prophets" carry no such authority, what is the point of having them?

From SGM's teaching on these subjects (have you investigated what they actually teach?), it seems that they believe some kind of authority rests in present day "apostles" and "prophets". Where do such men get such authority? Isn't it more than a little troubling that a modern church body would claim authority for its leaders in this way?

​Finally:

With respect to Matt's piece... someone said they thought I wouldn't be satisfied with it. Well, no, I am not. Here's why:

  1. It is not evident that Matt is answering my questions at all - he is writing the third in a series of articles on "what really matters" or some such theme. He doesn't address my article at all (not that I am anything or that he is accountable to me). But if he were addressing my article, wouldn't he at least make some reference to it?
  2. The substance of Matt's article does seem to confirm my fears about the direction Matt himself is headed, but it doesn't address the inconsistency of Matt's words and actions with Northland's doctrinal and policy statements. Are we to expect those doctrinal/policy statements to be changed in the near future?
  3. If those doctrinal/policy statements aren't changed, what is up with Northland continuing to employ someone who is (or will be) a member of a Charismatic church? Presumably Northland staff are required to affirm Northland's doctrinal/policy statements, are they not?

Again, Matt has no obligation to answer me. But a lot of people with vested interests in Northland would sure like to know for sure what are the answers to my questions.

An oblique, sort of on the same topic blog post doesn't really address the questions clearly and directly.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

DavidO's picture

we don't have to defend CJ's belief about modern prophecy . . . we would say it is wrong belief - but that doesn't mean we can't commend them for what is otherwise a healthy Christianity. You guys kill me with your doctrinal reductionism.

This is a masterpiece of non sequitur. You're really saying that insisting on agreement with a larger body of truth* rather than a more minimal body of truth is reductionism? I'd love to hear that explained, if you have time.

*which, by the way, is not what Don or the others are insisting on. They simply want Dr. Olson to explain how having a faculty or staff member attend a SGM church jives with their controlling documents. Easy-peasy, as the kids say, even if it wouldn't be the number one topic I'd address if in their shoes, but, ifs and buts . . .

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