October 8, 2010

Northland Int’l University Presents Executive Pastor of Grace Community Church to Its Student Body

On Tuesday, October 5th Northland International University (NIU), formerly Northland Baptist Bible College, hosted Pastor Rick Holland, [former] executive pastor of John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church (GCC), and presented him in chapel to address its student body.

To verify I viewed NIU’s web site and called Northland. NIU’s site and a representative at NIU confirmed that Rick Holland spoke to the student body in chapel on Tuesday. From the Leadership page at the GCC website the following biography appears for Rick Holland.
In addition to his role as Executive Pastor, Rick serves as the college pastor at Grace Church. He is the director of the doctor of ministries program and a faculty associate in homiletics at The Master’s Seminary. Rick is also the founder and executive director of the *Resolved Conference. A native of Tennessee, he has earned degrees from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga (B.S.), The Master’s Seminary (M.Div.), and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (D.Min.). (bold added)
Does the appearance of Rick Holland signal a new direction for NIU? You can draw your own conclusion and furthermore view Northland’s line up for modules in their Doctor of Ministry program. There you will find names such as Dr. Bruce Ware who teaches at Southern Seminary and contributed a chapter to a new book For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper.

When a man’s shoes are pointed west, he is headed west; pointed east, he is headed east. When you look at a man’s friends, fellowships and conferences he attends; whom a man opens his pulpit, chapel ministry or seminary to, whom he shares platforms with, it tells you something about him. It tells something about an institution. It tells you what he and the institution is now or what they soon will be.

Names and labels can give an indication of where a man comes from, his heritage.  Names and labels can also indicate what direction a man and/or his ministry is headed toward. When a man or a Bible college changes or sheds a label it may indicate what he/it is headed toward or what he/it is headed away from. Not much different than a church that once had “Baptist” in its name, but dropping it for “community” church. It tells you something.

When Northland adopted its new name, Northland International University, it was IMO a sign telling the Christian community that Northland would be moving in a new and different direction, which is just now coming into full view.


Please continue to the second installment, NIU’s Convergence With Evangelicalism: What Does It Mean For Impressionable Students?

For an extended treatment of the changes that have been introduced at NIU please read, Is NIU “UnChanged?” Northland Baptist Bible College Position Statement on Contemporary Issues in Christianity

*“The new Calvinists constantly extol the Puritans, but they do not want to worship or live as they did. One of the vaunted new conferences is called Resolved, after Jonathan Edwards’ famous youthful Resolutions (seventy searching undertakings). But the culture of this conference would unquestionably have met with the outright condemnation of that great theologian.  Resolved is the brainchild of a member of Dr. John MacArthur’s pastoral staff [Rick Holland], gathering thousands of young people annually, and featuring the usual mix of Calvinism and extreme charismatic-style worship. Young people are encouraged to feel the very same sensational nervous impact of loud rhythmic music on the body that they would experience in a large, worldly pop concert, complete with replicated lighting and atmosphere. At the same time they reflect on predestination and election. Worldly culture provides the bodily, emotional feelings, into which Christian thoughts are infused and floated. Biblical sentiments are harnessed to carnal entertainment. (Pictures of this conference on their website betray the totally worldly, showbusiness atmosphere created by the organisers.)” The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness by Dr. Peter Masters. (bold added, italics his)


  1. IDOTG,
    What part of the gospel is not being defended with the invitation of Rick Holland?

  2. Rick Holland, pastoral staff at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church, which distinctives include the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel. Lordship Salvation is a man-centered, works based message that corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21). Northland has dropped the defense of the gospel by opening its doors for its students to be exposed to a purveyor of a false gospel. Clear enough?


    See- Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

  3. Hi Lou & Anonymous,

    Acts 20:28-31 speaks to this issue clearly.


  4. Kevl -

    Are you saying that John Mac and all those on the staff at Grace are "fierce wolves" seeking to destroy the flock? The implication from this passage is that these men who "come in" are clearly from without the church, and therefore must not be saved. I find that hard to swallow.


  5. Chad:

    Thanks for asking, I’ll jump in here. My position has always been that many of the LS advocates such as John MacArthur are born again, but have gone horribly wrong on the Gospel. In his fervor to answer the obvious reductionist heresy of Zane Hodges he changed the terms of the gospel into the LS works based man-centered message.

    So, I classify MacArthur, et. al., among those in Acts 20:30, “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”


  6. Chad,

    I think Lou answered well enough. However, I'll add that truth isn't judged by how acceptable it is. It is either accurate or it is not.

    The passage that I quoted describes the current situation. There are saved Christians in grave doctrinal error, and unsaved servants of the Advisory who are preying on the weaker Brethren, and effectively silencing those who know better.

    It is the Church's responsibility, and even more so the overseer's of the local assemblies to keep our doctrine and fellowship pure.

    I think of other passages that may inform our discussion of Acts 20. 1Tim 1:3-4 Tit 1:7-11 & 13. Col 2:8

    There are many other passages, but these speak of the error that Lou posted about. Allowing false teachers, be them saved or unsaved, to stand at our pulpits.

    The issue being addressed is not that John MacArthur or any in his organization (or other similar organizations) are saved or not. That issue is obviously most important, but not the topic of the article. The issue that IS being addressed is the terrible practice of throwing away doctrinal purity, for whatever reason.


  7. To All:

    An understanding of John MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation (LS) is why any appearance of approval or association with him and his pastoral staff is detrimental to young, impressionable Bible college students.

    It was no small, insignificant thing for NIU to seek association with John MacArthur and bring Rick Holland to the NIU chapel. The LS emphasis is a departure from and a danger to a proper understanding of the Gospel.


  8. I think I forgot the link for the sermon.

    The message can be heard at


    Go to 2008. It's called The Three Most Important Facts of Life and it's the first talk on the list.


  9. I will never forget the time I heard Rick Holland preach on Christ's substitutionary death on the cross for over 40 minutes only to finish the sermon with a call to receive Christ as Lord, and He will become your Savior. He could (and should) have told the room to believe in Christ's cross work for their sins. But that would have violated TULIP's L, which he had made a (subtle) point of emphasizing earlier. So instead they are all called on to receive Him as Lord, whether they are elect or no, but not to deal directly with His cross work: to eat His flesh and drink His blood, to look to His finished work to save them.

    This is a comment I made recently on another thread here. I am reposting it in this thread as it is about Rick Holland's method of sharing the gospel. His talk is very confusing and creates a dissonance in the mind because he wants non-synonymous words to mean the same thing.

    Here are two direct quotes I copied when I listened to this message in June of 2009:

    Come to Christ tonight. Believe who Jesus is and what He did tonight. Don't wait. We're not going to have a big altar call on Monday night and hold hands and sing Kum ba Ya. Come, I beg you, come to Christ tonight. I have every confidence that there are people here, and maybe you've never heard the gospel before, but even a greater confidence that there are people in this room who perhaps have grown up in a church, heard the gospel a THOUSAND times can recite the gospel themselves but have never embraced Jesus as Lord.

    Please, please, please receive, receive Jesus as Lord and He will become your Savior.

    Somehow, the obedience of believing Christ's shed blood for salvation is not enough obedience on your part to save you. Nor is recognizing God's right to judge you and to recon Christ's finished work to your account submission enough. You must also receive Him as Lord, or else you are not really saved.


  10. Jan:

    Thanks for the comments, especially citing Rick Holland’s LS preaching. In April 2010 NIU president Matt Olson along with Les Ollila, Sam Horn and Doug McLachlan went to MacArthur's Grace church to meet with JMac, Holland and Phil Johnson. They came away giving those men, and their LS message, a clean bill of doctrinal health. To make it worse, NIU’s president then hosted Rick Holland in NIU’s chapel to speak to the impressionable young people. There is no way that Matt Olson and Les Ollila do not know that men like Rick Holland preach LS. With their invitation to him they do not reject LS, but instead promoted this false teaching to their student body. NIU endorsed and legitimized Lordship Salvation.