August 28, 2012

Exactly How Does Northland’s Music Remain, “Unchanged?”

Recently we have been considering Dr. Matt Olson, as NIU president, praising one of CJ Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministry churches, a Charismatic church and its pastor, Ian McConnell. This is major doctrinal concern that we will return to later this week. Today, however, we are going to hear from Pastor Steve Rogers on a related issue.

Ps. Steve Rogers
Brother Greg Dietrich works for Northland’s Graduate School as the assistant director, and as the director of Northland Online. As Brother Martuneac documented in previous articles Greg will be in membership of the Grace Bible Church, a SGM outfit with the whole Charismatic sign gifts issue. Matt Olson lauded this church. Greg’s connection to the Charismatic Grace Bible Church is very strong. Northland, furthermore, will be paying Greg a salary while he is under the authority of that Charismatic church. Nobody should dispute that connection and the doctrinal problem there.

From his blog Bro. Dietrich details his current ties to both the continuationist Grace Bible Church and NIU simultaneously. Dietrich says he will put himself,
under the care of the elders at Grace Bible Church…. I… [will] be able to keep my job at Northland…. I will continue to direct our online program…with the graduate school. I’ll be adding to my job...some recruiting and retention efforts.”1
Currently, Greg Dietrich is giving credence to music that not too many years ago Dr. Les Ollila would have preached against and Northland would have banned from campus. Please note the link below to the NIU Staff member Greg Dietrich’s blog, 5Solas.2 Note how Greg heaps lavish praise on a new contemporary worship album. He says, “They have a very cool sound with a mix of rock, pop, and folk.” Then follow the link(s) to this new album for samples of “a very cool sound of rock, pop…” I found Greg’s blog while looking at the Grace Bible Church site. I wanted to see what articles were on Greg’s blog because they often will reveal ones true testimony. Now, we know the testimony of Greg and NIU. CCM’s rock music is tolerable and acceptable for NIU faculty, staff and students. After listening to the CCM/Rock Greg praises I believe many of us would like for Dr. Ollila and Matt Olson to explain:
Exactly how does Northland’s music remain... “unchanged?”
Someone might say, “This is a matter of Gregs personal preference and hardly a direct reflection on NIU.” Greg Dietrich is in an official leadership role at NIU. Even NIU’s new extremely watered down music policy says,
When it comes to music, two people equally dedicated to the Lord may not have the same musical preferences. All we ask is that your music not be in direct conflict with God’s character….3
So, a current NIU department head is openly and publicly promoting music that the artists, as well as he himself, describe as “very cool with a mix of rock, pop, and folk.” Indeed, as Dr. Everson’s interview4 demonstrated, there are multiple changes coming to fruition at the new Northland. IMO, after reviewing Greg’s music choices, the amorality of music position is one of them. These questions should be asked and honestly answered by Matt Olson and Les Ollila:
1) Is NIU going to agree with their own leadership that “rock and pop” are NOT in “direct conflict with Gods character” and therefore acceptable forms of Biblical music by all staff and students of NIU? Or, 
2) Is this, along with Olson’s praise of a Charismatic church, another example of NIU leadership claiming things remain “unchanged” while implementing such change in practice?
I am certainly just one of many pastors who are really disappointed that Northland has been taken over by the new New Evangelical mindset. I want to encourage other pastors and parents to understand the glaring chasm between what the NIU administration is claiming (faith) and what they are implementing (practice). I used to at least be able to expect Christ honoring music from Northland, now even that is suspect.

I think any integrity question goes to the entire school, administration, faculty, and staff. They should ask, “Am I going to continue to support and propagate the idea that Northland remains unchanged when there is ample evidence to the contrary?” Should we support a school when its administration does not even see it necessary to explain in precise terms or repent from such glaring deviation from its historic roots and authentic Biblical separation? IMO, for the NIU administration to be honest they have to say, “We have moved away from the form of biblical separation we once practiced at NBBC, and beyond the Gospel just about everything else is a non-essential and areas of preference and liberty.
This blurring of lines and graying of absolutes needs to end!
Separatists need to be separatists and let God deal with the school. The longer NIU’s charade continues the virus of new wave New Evangelical compromise will spread. Students, then families, then churches that remain attached to NIU will exhibit the symptoms and sadly, even more of this generation could lose sight of or even be inoculated against the vital doctrine of Biblical separation.

Pastor Steve Rogers
Grace Baptist Church

1) Greg Dietrich: A Life and Family Update
2) 5Solas
3) What is Northland’s Music Policy
The new policy has done away with the heart of NBBC’s previous policy on music, which stated,
We avoid music classified as ‘Contemporary Christian Music’- sacred music which is written or performed in a popular or worldly style. These styles include rock, Blues, Jazz, “big band,” rap, New Age, and other styles normally associated with worldly entertainment or dancing. We also avoid “pop” or rock arrangements. Some styles of secular music, such as classical music, marching band music, fun songs, or traditional folk songs may be appropriate for certain occasions. However, some styles, such as jazz, rock, rap, punk, dance band, or New Age are never considered appropriate.
4) Questions Answered on the Changes at NIU, Part Two

Related Reading:
Is NIU “Unchanged?”

Our Children Learn Not Only What We Teach Them But By What We Tolerate.”
Dr. Les Ollila said that over and over to the student body. With the change in philosophy and methods at NIU a different kind of teaching and wide ranging tolerance is being learned by impressionable students.
Dr. Bob Jones, III: The Faith of the Gospel
“If it’s all just about the gospel then we’ve missed the whole point of the gospel. There is the saving gospel, which introduces us to the faith of the gospel. And if we embrace the philosophy that it’s just about the gospel we can put our arms around about every wrong, unbecoming Christian behavior in all the world.”


  1. When they have already thrown the anchor over the cliff, it will not be long before the whole ship is over the edge.

  2. Thanks Lou, and Pastor Rogers,

    The board and admin of NIU needs to come clean on this issue of the unchanging change that has taken place in the practice of NIU. Their doctrine and practice must agree. Since practice has taken the driver's seat at NIU (which is quite contrary to what the Bible says), their doctrine must change in order to agree with where practice is taking them. Biblical doctrine ought to be in the driver's seat and practice happily on board in the back seat taking ques from doctrine to know what to do. Orthodoxy and heteropraxis don't work together.

  3. This endorsing of a Sovereign Grace ministry leads one to many wonderings. Such as, what influence has the sanitizing of SG music by Steve Pettit had on NIU? What influence has the acceptance of sermons, books, etc. by C. J. Mahaney had on NIU? There was a time within Fundamental circles that men of differing views who wrote books that we would read were given disclaimers. "This book is good in this area but..." This does not seem to be the practice much anymore which lends then credence to these men and their ministries.