November 14, 2010

Northland Int’l. University’s Convergence with Evangelicalism: What Does it Mean for Impressionable Students?

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

In September I announced and discussed Rick Holland, executive pastor of John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church, speaking in chapel to the undergraduate student body of Northland International University.1 In recent days I am hearing of and from pastors around the country who once they heard/read about Northland’s opening its student body for the ministry of Rick Holland have contacted the NIU administration, NIU’s president Matt Olson in particular.

Why Was Rick Holland Invited by NIU?
In my first article on NIU I wrote,

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.”
In April 2010 Matt Olson, Sam Horn, Les Ollila and Doug McLachlan traveled to the Grace Community Church (GCC) to meet with John MacArthur, Phil Johnson and Rick Holland.* After a day of discussions the NIU men came away finding no reason not to have and increase fellowship with them. Inviting GCC’s executive pastor, Rick Holland, to speak in chapel confirms a new alliance for NIU with evangelicalism. That decision means one of two things about the discussions in the meeting at GCC:
1) The Gospel was not discussed or,
2) NIU’s official position and the position of its leadership is that Lordship Salvation, as John MacArthur defines it, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
No one who understands that Lordship Salvation (LS) is a works based corruption of the Gospel, and that it frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21) would ever allow a man who preaches that message to speak in chapel to young people in Bible College.2 Those who recognize the danger and egregious errors of John MacArthur’s LS would have all the compelling biblical reason they need to “withdraw” from, “mark” and “avoid” the leadership of Grace Community Church (MacArthur, Johnson, Holland, et. al.)

The Influence of Impressionable Students
NIU’s administration will defend hosting evangelicals like Bruce Ware in the Doctor of Ministry program, suggesting the men enrolled are mature and established in the ministry. Maturity, however, does not guarantee immunity against error. NIU has, furthermore, presented Rick Holland to a student body of young impressionable undergraduates. Rick Holland is a preacher of LS’s works based, man-centered message. The worldly CCM/Rock culture of the Resolved conference3 is the brain child of Rick Holland. By allowing Rick Holland to preach in chapel before the undergraduate student body NIU endorsed and stamped its approval on his doctrine and practices. Exposing NIU’s undergraduate students to Rick Holland signals that NIU’s administration and board believes Lordship Salvation to be the Gospel, would defend Lordship Salvation as such, and furthermore finds the “extreme charismatic-style worship” of the Resolved conference to be acceptable.
Whom an institution reaches out to and endorses before its student body tells a great deal about what the institution is now or soon will be.
Certain guest speakers and lectures that NIU is reaching out to and presenting to its student body indicate that it is shifting in the direction of evangelicalism in doctrine and practice. When you open your arms and your pulpit to evangelicals you open wide the gate for Calvinism, Lordship Salvation, non-cessationism, ecumenical compromise and worldly methods of ministry all of which, to various degrees, evangelicals bring with them to your ministry and expose your people to. NIU is exposing the student body to men and methods that will influence them to become what evangelicals are in doctrine and in practice.
Many pastors and parents are under the impression that NIU is an Independent Fundamental (Separatist) Baptist Bible college. I do not believe parents are sending young people to NIU to have them put under the influence of Evangelicalism.
Certainty of Fallout
Certainly the NIU administration knew there would be fall-out from their decision to embrace and begin working in cooperation with evangelicals. I am also certain they anticipated the possibility there would be some loss of support and enrollment as a consequence. What I am also certain of is this: The new convergence between NIU and the GCC is not going to end with Rick Holland speaking in chapel. John MacArthur is the bridge to the more disconcerting men and movements in evangelicalism. In time NIU will be opening its chapel to them as well.

Concerned pastors are contacting Matt Olson about this obvious shift in direction for NIU. Pastors and parents are asking themselves if they can in good conscience continue their relationship with NIU. Some have decided to sever long-time relations with NIU and therefore will no longer send students to or host NIU representatives. Others are on the verge of similar decisions.

If a parent rejects Calvinism, Lordship Salvation, the world’s anti-god Rock culture in the form of CCM, ecumenical compromise and loosening standards of biblical separation they will pray for leading to a college where their young person will not be encouraged and/or influenced in the classrooms and chapel to tolerate, receive, adopt and become those things.

If you are one of the concerned over NIU’s new direction, you might pray for and contact the administration to encourage them to rethink and reconsider the path they now trod. IMO, this path is going to lead NIU, and of greatest concern, its students into expanded compromise of biblical truth in principle and application for the sake of fellowship with evangelicals.

A Closing Appeal to Elder Statesman:
Where are the men who are well-known, highly trained and respected in Fundamental circles? Why are the voices of men who recognize the dangers that lay before this and the next generation silent? You know what the problem is, where it is coming from and where this new trend of compromise will all end up. You have the answer from Scripture and a life of personal experience from which to draw and teach. Yet, you say nothing; why? Is there not a cause? Other men who identify with Fundamentalism are using the Internet to influence the young to follow them in a dangerous direction. Star personalities of Evangelicalism are on the Internet wooing impressionable young people. Like the Internet or not, fundamental believers are getting much of their theology reshaped by who and what they are reading on the Internet and the evangelicals own almost all of it.
“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears,” (Acts 20:29-30).
While you remain silent the next generation is being swept up by the current craze to embrace a brand of evangelicalism, which has at its root neo-evangelicalism and shows signs of resurgence. If the next generation drifts far off the pathway of fidelity to the Scriptures in principle and application and you wonder how it could have happened- look to your silence.


Please continue to the next in this series, Our Children Learn Not Only What We Teach Them, But By What We Tolerate

*Interesting to note that men who claim to be Fundamental Baptists and separatists are reaching out to Evangelicals, who disdain biblical separation in principle and/or application. Fundamentalists going out of their way to Evangelicals to increase fellowship and cooperation between them. Evangelicals are not moving toward, reaching out to Fundamentalists. This pattern of movement will be discussed in a future article.

1) NIU Presents Rick Holland, Executive Pastor of Grace Community Church to Its Student Body
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.”
2) Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

3) “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…. 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.)” (Dr. Peter Masters: The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness)


  1. "NIU’s administration will defend hosting evangelicals like Bruce Ware in the Ph.D. program..."

    I'm an undergraduate student at NIU reading your blog for the first time, and this is confusing. NIU doesn't even have a Ph.D. program that I'm aware of.

  2. Ben:

    Thank you for the note. I have made the correction to read Doctor of Ministry.

    FWIW, it does not give me joy to report on these direction changes at Northland, not in this or the previous article in October.

    Since this is your first visit I encourage you to search the Labels section for other subjects that may interest you.

    Kind regards,

    Lou Martuneac

  3. Lou,

    Can you qualify this statement, "In April 2010 Matt Olson, Sam Horn, Les Ollila and Doug McLachlan traveled to the Grace Community Church (GCC) to meet with John MacArthur, Phil Johnson and Rick Holland." Where did you get this information?

    Ben B.

  4. Ben:

    I would like for you to verify it for yourself. It will mean more to you if you do. Contact NIU on the phone and/or send an to e-mail to Dr. Matt Olson and ask him yourself.

    One question for you: When you verify for yourself it is true- what does this mean to you? Do you have concerns that NIU reached out to MacArthur, Johnson and Holland? And does it raise any concern for you that NIU subsequently presented Rock Holland in chapel to the undergraduates?



  5. Thanks for replying, Lou. You asked a loaded question, and I'm not sure I can answer it here. I would suffice to ask that maybe it isn't as big a deal as you are making it? If everyone is silent, maybe it's because MacArthur has more in common for fellowship than a Schaap would at Fist Baptist in Hammond? No one gets up in arms when they are let into the Fundamental camp and when well known fundamental brethren preach there. I would have more of an issue with them then I would with John MacArthur. A double-standard in our movement perhaps?

  6. Ben:

    Thanks for the reply.

    …maybe it’s because MacArthur has more in common for fellowship than a Schaap would at First Baptist in Hammond.”

    I’m sure they do. As I noted in the article, to welcome Rick Holland after the meeting at GCC means that NIU must have Lordship Salvation in common and sees no problem with the worldly charismatic style CCM at MacArthur/Holland’s Resolved conference.

    In any event, another college having Schaap in does not excuse or justify Northland having Rick Holland in. Of course appearances and direction indicate that NIU has embraced and will continue their movement toward evangelicalism. May I suggest you read my recent article titled, Excusing the Brother for the Sake of the Sister

    Did you call Northland to confirm?


  7. Thanks for the article and the commnets.
    To Ben,
    I too encourage you to contact Dr. Olson. If you have concerns about others (the men who speak of in connection with Schaap) contact them as well. We have too often spoken before getting all the info. That is not the case with Lou's article here, though. He is factual, accurate in his content and raises a worthy issue about the direction of NIU in the days to come.

  8. Disappointed:

    I understand what you wanted to alert my readers to and it is another troublesome sign for NIU that you linked to. It is disappointing.

    Nevertheless, I have to follow my conscience and therefore decided not to post it. Frankly, primarily because innocent undergraduates were pictured I wanted to protect them.

    Trusting you understand my sensitivity.


  9. Wow- first of all- it is truly heartbreaking, though not totally surprising to see this change of direction for Northland "whatever they call-it now".
    This is a long way from when we used to atend the "Heart Conference" every year in the
    80's, with such preachers as Monroe Parker, Ed Nelson, and others.
    I will contact them to ask many questions- where is Les on this? OK- and where is Brookside Baptist Church going? And even Bob Jones at this point? And where are the Patz's and others who poured there earthly treasure in to build this institution? makes me appreciate Maranatha, Hyles-Anderson, Crown, & others more.
    To equate Jack Schaap with MacArthur is preposterous. Just take a look at the fantastic line-up of speakers at the coming Pastor's School and you see where he stands. (the only thing they may have in common is that they have large churches.

  10. Cliff:

    Thanks for expressing your concerns.

    There are quite a few contacting Northland, Matt Olson in particular questioning his new direction for NIU, encouraging and praying for him to make a course correction.

    While I appreciate the concern you have for the course that Matt Olson has set for Northland I could never concur with any endorsement of the ministry and teaching of Jack Schaap. The issues with Schaap and 1st BC are too numerous to even begin detailing here and are not the subject of this article and thread.

    There are a few elements of MacArthur’s teaching I can appreciate, but it is a tragedy that he has through his Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel corrupted the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3). There is no middle ground on LS. Lordship Salvation is a works based, man-centered message and we have but only one choice “mark and avoid” him (Rom. 16:17-18).

    Kind regards,


  11. My dear brother, I must say that I regret your view of this so-called "Lordship Salvation." You are saying it is "man-centered" - which is absolutely false. Salvation is all of grace and Grace Community Church and MacArthur and Holland preach that consistently. You go back to "Lordship Salvation" time and again here and I fear you are committing an unfortunate danger of putting words in these mens' mouths. Please quote them where they refer to salvation as being "man-centered" and "works-based" as you claim they do.

    Now please, if you would interpret the supposed doctrine of "Lordship Salvation" as being these things you're mentioning - then this is your persuasion, and that is fine. It's somewhat invalid, since MacArthur, Holland, and Grace to You would claim there's "no such thing as" Lordship Salvation. They're saying that when you trust Christ - you claim him as Lord. That if you claim to trust Christ, but purpose in your heart that he is not your Lord, then that is not saving faith. You must excuse my ignorance for asking -- but for one in such staunch defense of the gospel, you surely don't disagree with this, do you?

    Again, though - let's be fair to your claims and to these men being accused over the blogosphere. Please bring forth actual quotes in which these men have claimed salvation to be works-based or man-centered, and I will humbly withdraw my opposition to your post as "sheer and unfortunate ignorance."

  12. Chris:

    I appreciate your concerns and will reply in brief.

    I do not put “works based and man-centered” into their mouths. Their teaching is what makes LS “works based and man-centered,” What comes out of their mouths on LS furthermore corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21). Because JMac, Piper, Holland use words (faith, grace, discipleship, repent) that are orthodox does not mean they define those terms the way the Scriptures do, i.e. in orthodox terms. Repentance has especially been redefined and twisted by LS men to float their LS theology.

    Now, if you want what comes out of their mouths, which I quote liberally. Please view the following of dozens of articles on LS at this blog. Or get a copy of my book for far more citations and examining their words in the light of Scripture. Contact ne via e-mail I have a tentative idea for how to I might provide you a copy-

    You may be one of many who has accepted LS without reading and considering what the LS advocates are saying with discernment especially upon your initial exposures. Many know MacArthur by name and based on his reputation many accept what he has written on reputation almost exclusively. Could a man who has written so many good and helpful things be wrong on the Gospel? That thought never enters one mind and that is one reason why the spread of LS has been so insidious. So much can seem so right, but when you dig into it you find it is antithetical to the Gospel of Grace. I’ll close with a quote from Dr. Ernest Pickering who in his review of MacArthur’s original TGATJ wrote,

    John MacArthur is a sincere servant of the Lord, of that we have no doubt.... We believe in his advocacy of the so-called lordship salvation he is wrong. He desperately desires to see holiness, lasting fruit, and continuing faithfulness in the lives of Christian people. This reviewer and we believe all sincere church leaders desire the same.... But the remedy for this condition is not found in changing the terms of the gospel.

    Kind regards,


    Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

    John MacArthur’s Discipleship Salvation

    How Does the Lordship Advocate Define Repentance?

    Lordship’s “Turn From Sin” FOR Salvation

    Can God-Given Faith Be Defective?

    John MacArthur’s Performance Guidelines for “Lordship” Salvation

  13. So, Lou -- just so we can be on the same page: You believe that someone can place their whole faith in Christ for salvation, while saying, "But you're not my Lord."

    Am I correct in this conclusion?

    I took the time to read two of the posts you linked to. Thanks for taking the time to do that. Of the two articles, the one that I found most intriguing is "Can God-Given Faith Be Defective?". Notably, the majority of this article is a quote, and so I'm not asking you to defend something that's not even yours; but just to clarify --

    1) The word and idea of 'defective' is being taken out of context. You seem considerably studious, so no doubt you've read MacArthur's work and would surely agree on this point. Even if you disagree with MacArthur, clearly "defective" does not simply mean that anyone who sins post conversion was never truly saved, as is implied in the rebuttal being quoted.

    2) Zeller practically admits that he must be taking it out of context, when he claims that MacArthur is contradicting himself in the same document by saying that "Christians can and do sin." It's unfortunate that the writer would not take the care to note that since MacArthur is pointing out that Christians still sin and are imperfect, then that is not what he is referring to by defective faith.

    3) Perhaps most egregious is the writer's closing point (or at least the close of the choice quotation) where he points out that Christ is the reason we persevere. If the writer of this article (and blog) would be so kind as to refer to the selected quote from MacArthur in this article, you would see that he says the exact same thing, when he refers to the God-given faith lasting forever, and quoting Philippians 1:6.

    Not to assume too much, but perhaps the original author is not familiar with Phil. 1:6, nor took the time to reference/meditate on it. It says, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

    Zeller seems to claim (and correct me if I'm wrong), that MacArthur claims that man's refusal to allow his own faith to fail is what secures a place in heaven.

    This is regrettable, as MacArthur clearly states otherwise, in the selected quote and elsewhere - that it is God-given faith and God who will continue to perfect the faith put into regenerated man (Rom. 8:28-29). Even the title of the article claims that MacArthur views faith as God-given, and even the selected quote begins with MacArthur saying salvation is all of God's work.

    Ultimately, brother - my confusion is that there seems to be a lot of slinging at MacArthur for claiming that salvation is man-centered and works-based, but even the selected portions with which he is quoted from seem to say the exact opposite.

  14. Chris:

    You asked, "So, Lou -- just so we can be on the same page: You believe that someone can place their whole faith in Christ for salvation, while saying, 'But you're not my Lord.' Am I correct in this conclusion?"

    Not at all. May I humbly suggest you get and read a copy of my book. Please also read some of the articles I wrote that I linked you to above.

    I'll let Zeller's articles stand on their own merit. There are expanded versions of them at his site.

    As for me, there is no "slinging at MacArthur", I go out of my way to recognize areas in which he has made helpful contributions, but he has erred terribly on the Gospel. I sling at what he is teaching, which is commonly known as Lordship Salvation because it corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3).


  15. Chris:

    Here is the complete article by George Zeller. He ask me to link you to it.

    John MacArthur's Position on the Lordship of Christ

  16. hey Lou, do you ever talk to these men that you are so strongly against? It would seem that you could very well be misleading all your fellow pastors and followers on this site without actually getting all the information. Another thing, where do you get all your information from?

  17. Lucas:

    That’s better than the first attempt.

    1) I am not against brothers in Christ. I am against many of the things they are trying to propagate and influence the next generation to allow for and/or embrace.

    2) Don’t you think that if I had misleading information on NIU, for example, that officials at NIU would have published a correction and/or contacted me to ask for a correction? Have you read his bulk e-mail to friends? No corrections, instead he acknowledges and attempts to justify the very actions I reported here. When you peruse my articles do you ever look for the footnotes where I document various issues? My series on Al Mohler and the Manhattan Declaration is heavily documented. When I cite Doran and Bauder it is from their blogs or conference recordings. FWIW, when I rarely find that I have erred I always make a clear correction.

    3) Where do I get my information from? The source in person, their blogs, web sites, staff persons, in print or audio/video, etc. Would it comfort you to know that I did have a cordial (multiple) e-mail exchange with Matt Olson last week? What we discussed is private, not for public consumption, but I did contact him to verify issues at NIU and he verified what I inquired about.



  18. 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.