Is Northland International University “Opposed to and Reject[ing of] the Modern Charismatic Movement?”
“I have great confidence in this next generation. They get what matters most. This was evidenced in my visit Sunday to Grace Bible Church in Philadelphia, where Ian McConnell serves as the pastor for preaching and vision. It was great to connect with some Northland alumni at Grace as well. Danny Adams (and his wife Becky [Dillabaugh]) serves as the the [sic] pastor for children’s ministries. Jesse Trach is currently an elder in training and being evaluated for pastoral ministry and Nathan Branine is attending Grace while making much of Jesus in the Philadelphia school systems. Come the beginning of September Greg Dietrich and his wife will be relocating to Philadelphia to attend Grace and work remotely for us at Northland.”1
Is it possible Matt Olson unwittingly endorsed the Grace Bible Church legitimizing sign gifts theology of the Charismatic Movement?Let us consider whether or not NIU’s board of directors faces a serious doctrinal problem? Each of the following paragraphs appear in Northland’s 2012-2013 Undergraduate and 2011-2013 Northland Graduate School Academic Catalogs.5
“The university’s position is not to cooperate with any organization or movement that is connected with apostasy or that places less than primary emphasis on the authority of the Word of God. 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. Furthermore, Northland is opposed to Liberalism, Neo-Orthodoxy, New Evangelicalism, Hyper-Calvinism, and the Charismatic Movement.” (Ecclesiastical Separation, p.9.)
“We believe God has given spiritual gifts to Christians to serve in and through the local church. Every believer has at least one gift, and the use of the gifts is always for the ultimate purpose of bringing glory to God. 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)” (Articles of Faith, p. 12.)
“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. (Romans 16:17; I Corinthians 6:19-20; II Corinthians 6:14-17; I Thessalonians 5:22; II Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15; I John 2:15, 17; II John 9, 10.) (Articles of Faith, p. 12.)
There is, however, another consideration. A current Northland staff member (Greg Dietrich) will remain employed by Northland while in Philadelphia and a member of this church. Northland will pay salary to a man who will be actively participating in and under the authority of a church that is advancing the Charismatic Movement.6
How can NIU include a member of a Charismatic church on its payroll when the application for and renewal of employment requires opposition to and rejection of the Charismatic Movement?Not so long ago Matt Olson and Les Ollila insisted NIU is “unchanged” in philosophy of music and theology. On Northland’s music philosophy Matt Olson wrote, “Philosophically, it is unchanged. Let me say it again...unchanged.” (An Open Letter from Dr. Matt Olson of NIU, Nov. 2010.) Dr. Ollila wrote,
“As we have attempted to responsibly adjust the way the vision and philosophy is applied in certain settings at our institution, the foundational principles and historic theological positions to which we have always been committed remain unchanged.” (Is Northland Changing? A Chancellor’s Perspective from Dr. Les Ollila, Dec. 2010. [bold added])
“We believe God has given spiritual gifts to Christians to serve in and through the local church. Every believer has at least one gift, and the use of the gifts is always for the ultimate purpose of bringing glory to God. Among the gifts listed in the Bible, we believe that sign gifts have ceased for today. Therefore, we reject the modern Charismatic Movement and the confusion it has brought. (Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 12:1–11, 13:8; Ephesians 4:11–12).... Thus, we cannot accept the position reflected in the Ecumenical Movement, Neo-Orthodoxy, New Evangelicalism or the various branches of the Charismatic Movement.8
This is a major change of a “historic theological position.”Matt Olson’s statements on the Grace Bible Church are a clear contradiction of published NIU doctrinal positions on the Charismatic Movement. Do the NIU Articles of Faith stand for something or will they be pushed aside? In my opinion, it is fair to ask Matt Olson, any NIU administrator and board member:
1) “Reject the modern Charismatic Movement and the confusion it has brought?
2) Are you: “Opposed to the Charismatic Movement?” 3) In doctrine is NIU “philosophically unchanged?” 4) Can you, in good conscience sign agreement with the NIU’s Handbook statements on Ecclesiastical Separation and the Articles of Faith on “spiritual gifts to Christians?”
Dr. Ollila: Do you stand by your Dec. 2010 Chancellor’s Perspective that NIU’s “historical theological positions…remain unchanged?
Does the convergence with a Charismatic church exemplify the kind of “Great Commission Living” NIU is teaching and preparing its student for?May the leadership of Northland International University be awakened to, repent of and reverse their course away from the new wave of New Evangelical compromise. I hope and pray that pastors, parents and college students will prayerfully consider how God would have them respond to the changes in philosophy, adjustments in application and deviation from historic theological positions of the former Northland Baptist Bible College.
Please continue this discussion at Part Two
“The organization of over 70 member churches grew out of the charismatic renewal of the 1970s under the leadership of Catholic Charismatic Larry Tomczak and has its roots in the Gathering of Believers (now Covenant Life Church) in Maryland. It was formally established in 1982 CJ Mahaney and Larry Tomczak were the co-founders of both Covenant Life Church and People of Destiny International (PDI), the former name of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Mahaney describes himself as a ‘former pothead.’ Both Mahaney and Tomczak withdrew from the Charismatic Catholic scene shortly before the creation of Covenant Life Church.”
6) At his personal blog 5Solas Greg Dietrich relates that he decided, “to move back to Philadelphia and put ourselves under the care of the elders at Grace Bible Church....” Greg is placing himself under the authority of a Charismatic church.
7) NIU Presents Executive Pastor of Grace Community Church to Its Student Body
8) NIU Faculty & Staff Handbook, 2010-2011, p. 6. Articles of Faith, paragraph 12, Accessed Tuesday, August 14, 2012, bold added.)