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,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.)
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.
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.
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.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.
Certainty of FalloutMany 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.
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)