September 28, 2012

Dr. Clay Nuttall: Moderate Evangelicals

Ecumenical evangelicalism is alive and thriving. Like a pack of wolves, the left leaners are devouring the stable theology of the right. There appears to be some kind of death wish on the part of those who feel driven to erase a theology that is biblical by merging it with all kinds of aberrations. This ecumenical activity is willing to set aside important doctrine in order to draw people together. Their argument is that only love, the gospel, unity, or any such singularity is all that matters, along with getting people together; as long as you have the central doctrines, whatever they are, you can trash the rest of the text. This is done by stealth and the redefining of such things as the gospel itself.

Defining the main players is easy; they regularly confess their participation in print. Placing them in categories is another matter altogether. There is no single category where everyone holds to the same views. Terms like atheist, agnostic, infidel, apostate, modernist, liberal, or neo-orthodox is one thing; dealing with evangelicalism, neo-evangelicalism, conservatism, and fundamentalism is something else altogether. Trying to sort them all out is like trying to pick up mercury. In general, each designation does have some major things in common; but none of these is equal to the others.

When individuals try to straddle the theological fence between liberal and conservative, they are most often referred to as moderates. This position of compromise gives credence to the views of both sides. It always means, however, that they have to give up something to the right of them. You cannot hold two contrasting views at the same time; one of them will have to be damaged or disrespected. Part of this problem comes from the desire to be tolerant. We ought to respect others in that they have a right to a view, but that does not mean they are right. The moderate, however, sees tolerance as allowing a broad range of theological positions with a focus on just a few things that are often unstable in themselves.

Recently, discussion has centered on a group called conservative evangelicals. The term alone admits that not all evangelicals are conservative, so this designation is an effort to build a bridge between two divergent positions. It is true that there will be some common ground between them, but they are two distinct views. In light of the forgoing discussion, those who stand in between the two views are really moderate evangelicals.


The moderate position has to surrender something. One cannot hold to a theology that is biblical and blink at the error of another. We don’t have to attack the persons who hold them, but we are obligated to state the contrast of biblical doctrine and to reject error. An example of this is what happened with the invention of progressive dispensationalism. Admittedly, it was an effort to build a bridge between standard dispensationalism and covenant theology, but that is impossible. The gulf between them is as wide as the Atlantic Ocean, and it is impossible to bridge the two. In this case, the moderates had to give up something. While they continued to claim to be dispensational, they departed from the true meaning of the word and developed something new. This, of course, leaves serious questions for them to answer; but this is the nature of the moderate position.

What brought them to this place? Why would anyone want to be caught in the middle? One of the reasons is an insatiable lust for intellectualism. The pseudo-intellectuals have painted fundamentalists and dispensationalists as being a little less than bright. The truth is that some of the finest minds we know are in the ranks of historical dispensationalists; many of these trusted scholars, however, have not felt the need to appease those on the left of the discussion. It is a serious flaw to “want to be like them” so much so that you would walk away from, or be embarrassed about, key doctrines of the faith, because you end up joining the moderates’ choir singing “the time of rapture is not something to separate over.”

I am frequently asked why so many of our young men are following the pied pipers of theological error. Immature students are apt to be fooled quite easily by intellectual gurus. They reveal their passion by repeating telltale buzzwords and questionable theological pretzels such as a “misguided kingdom theology.” Like their mentors, they are quick to discard such important parts of the theological puzzle such as cessationism and to adopt such things as the replacement theory. This not only identifies spiritual immaturity, but also shows that they have had poorly-taught biblical theology in their seminaries. The real bombshell, though, is the absence of the one biblical hermeneutic that would have prevented them from gulping their minds full of doctrinal error. This ministry tragedy can be placed at the feet of the moderates.


Every doctrinal error and theological diversion comes from an erroneous hermeneutic. This is the heart of the moderate problem. The one biblical hermeneutic is exact; it is mathematical. Letting the text speak for itself will bring us to common conclusions. This process would exclude any moderate. On the other hand, the hermeneutical system used by moderates actually lets them conclude anything they wish - and they do. So why would anyone who is committed to a theology that is biblical, established by a biblical hermeneutic, want to hold theological hands with the moderate?

It is one thing for the authors of the “theological error of the month” to ignore the one biblical hermeneutic. Their bad hermeneutical habits go way back to the Jewish rabbis, Origen, Clement of Alexander, Thomas Aquinas, and – surprise! - to Luther and Calvin. To argue that some of them were right some of the time is to argue for the value of a stopped clock. It is true that some of them claimed to own a literal hermeneutic, but their writings tell us otherwise.

The most disturbing thing about this subject is that there are so few people among us who really understand what the plain, normal, consistent, literal hermeneutic is and fewer yet who actually use it. Using the biblical system will not let you agree with the wayward theological ideas that are being fed to young minds these days by the moderate evangelicals.


The liberal mind infects the moderate mentality. It will focus on form instead of content and meaning. It loves complication that creates a smokescreen for the infusion of human reason into biblical text. Such thinking is so well practiced that it is hard to peel the layers off. This is where the biblical system of interpretation is so valuable. When you are following the biblical system, it is impossible to arrive at the many theological errors that exist and are even now being created. On the other hand, there is real joy in knowing that we are allowing the text to speak for itself. Leaning on the grammar, the context, and the historical setting of the text will produce that purity of doctrine that our Lord desires us to have.

SHEPHERD’S STAFF – September 2012

A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. Shepherd's Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address,

Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D.Min

Site Publisher’s Commentary:
Dr. Nuttall’s timely article is much appreciated.  Within the article we read a clear definition of a “moderate,” or as I have identified, new wave New Evangelicalism of Matt Olson, Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran and Tim Jordan. 
“Erase a theology that is biblical by merging it with all kinds of aberrations…. Their argument is that only love, the gospel, unity, or any such singularity is all that matters…. Straddle the theological fence between liberal and conservative…. The desire to be tolerant…. An effort to build a bridge between two divergent positions.”
Over the last several years we have examples of how Bauder, Doran, Olson and Jordan and their followers (at sites like Sharper Iron) will tolerate, allow for, ignore and excuse the doctrinal aberrations, ecumenical compromise and cultural relativism of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals to have fellowship and cooperative ministry with them.

September 25, 2012

What REALLY Matters Most: Personal Convictions

We have been discussing the series by Dr. Matt Olson titled, What Matters Most. Parts One, Two and Three appeared over the past week or more.  Last week we considered a very disturbing image of NIU students under faculty supervision doing a blasphemous RAP interpretation oJesus Loves Me.

Today we are going to review and discuss Matt Olson’s What Matters Most: Personal Convictions.  The challenge of theological musing is often discovered by asking, “What is not being said?” Dr. Olson’s lines of demarcation pose little trouble and are widely practiced within separated, fundamental Christianity. While it is beneficial that Dr. Olson produced his own personal paradigm it still begs that question, so what?

Dr. Olson’s musings provide no guidance on or assurance of his direction or the direction of NIU. Consequently, he gives no assurance to constituents who are asking, “Exactly what will NIU graduates believe and stand for?”

Within his series What Matters Most Dr. Olson speaks of “hard lines” (issues of orthodoxy), “dotted lines” (functional distinctives) and “space we allow” (matters of personal conviction). Because energy is expended and honesty is demonstrated in putting together descriptors and explanations appreciation for Dr. Olson’s efforts is in order. But significant questions, thus far, remain unanswered. Questions like:

1. In specific areas of doctrine where is the line that will not be crossed or tolerated?1 
2. How can the President of a well-known, separated, fundamental institution so openly disregard the printed positions of the institution as to retain an influential staff member who is a member of a charismatic, Sovereign Grace church?
3. Why is it acceptable for the president of a fundamental Baptist institution, which long has claimed to be dispensational and culturally-conservative, to promote the contemporary-culture and reformed ministry like T4G by taking students, hosting reunions and posting pictures from the event? 
4. Why would the president of a Baptist Bible College allow ‘Bible Chapels’ to be planted by faculty members?
Fundamentalist leaders have demonstrated grace throughout their generations (“the point” alluded to by Dr. Olson). It is certain that “law of kindness” must always be remembered and every generation must live-out the rejoicing required when the gospel is preached (Phil. 1:18). It is a well-known fact that the Drs. Bob Jones (Sr, Jr, III) of BJU have long associated graciously with those identified with differing denominations, differing eschatological schools of thought and differing sotereological positions. Dr. R.V. Clearwaters, long a champion of fundamentalism in the mid-west, was once associated with the non-denominational Northwestern Schools, serving in their seminary. Dr. Ernest Pickering, a well-known Baptist champion, once led, loved and served the IFCA. But all of these men were willing to annunciate and practice their particular theological and denominational distinctives while unapologetically attacking the worldliness represented by the musical styles, dress standards and recreational choices of the New Evangelicals.

Dr. Olson has not provided a statement or a model that would re-assure separatists. It’s not what he’s saying; it’s what he is not saying that raises the most concern and questions. Here are a few things he is not addressing and questions he is not answering:
1. Is there any musical form that would be inappropriate for contemporary worship?
2. Is it appropriate for students at a fundamental Bible College to exhibit Charismatic worship practices during chapel services? 
3. Is it appropriate for Bible College students to hang-out to perform and record RAP videos at the home of faculty members.
Several persons sent me a link (unsolicited) to the Sept. 11, 2012 chapel at NIU. I along with several others viewed the video several times. The video is no longer accessible at the NIU website.2 Had you seen it you would have the sound of CCM. You would have seen a student raising his hand and waving it about as the Charismatics do? One of the young men also appeared to nearly break into a dance to accompany his raised waving hand. In last week’s Focus conference you see more students worshipping in the Charismatic style.

The musical form of Matt Olson’s great “vision” is being fleshed out as he described two years ago for what he wanted the chapel time to be like? The music performed in NIU's chapel today have been described to me by professional Christian musicians as “mediocre and banal.” They went on to say that the chapel music was, “insipid, immature, somewhat depressing and not at all uplifting.” This “grand example” of “hymns,” as Matt Olson calls these songs in his prayer, is a poor substitute for Northland’s chapel music of five to six years ago or more.

NIU students performing a RAP interpretation of Jesus Loves Me and Chapel videos are revealing a sad commentary of what happened to the faculty and student body once Northland’s leadership took a tolerant view toward CCM and RAP behind closed doors, yet tells the public they have not changed. Maybe you have wondered if there are any music faculty left at NIU that would show the students why this behavior is inappropriate.   Dr. Dana Everson, former NIU music faculty member, answered that question in the previous article.  He wrote,
I think most of those who would have tried to teach the utter inappropriateness of this music have left the institution.  The former musical conscience seems to be gone; replaced with the new interpretation of worldliness and free grace.” (See, NIU Students Performing New “Jesus Loves Me” and Its Blasphemy)
On Romans 14
The language Dr. Olson is using about tier separation and dotted lines sounds like evangelical reasoning, much like Chuck Swindoll’s Grace Awakening.3 My impression is that Dr. Olson is using straw man arguments to tear down and replace in order to accommodate his new trajectory for NIU. Romans 14 is referring to Judaizers and the OT law. Romans 14 is definitely NOT dealing with the compromises that he and others at NIU are participating in. The Bible is clear on the cessation of the first century sign gifts, what the NIU statements refers to as the “modern Charismatic movement” and is, therefore, not a Rom. 14 area. The Bible is clear on godly music vs. fleshly music and is, therefore, not a Rom. 14 area.
Liberty cannot be used as a cloak to excuse the flesh! The point of grace is that it teaches holiness!
We all are in need of a Grace Awakening, but the Bible’s kind of grace.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” (Titus 2:11-13).
Later we will discuss another installment from Dr. Olson’s What Matters Most series.  We will, furthermore, be posting articles on subjects related and that speak to what is becoming of Northland.


1) Matt Olson and NIU have already crossed a hard line set down in NIU’s Articles of Faith and student Handbooks. Those statements demand that NIU faculty, staff and students “reject and oppose the modern Charismatic movement.” Yet, Matt Olson praises one of CJ Mahaney’s SGM Charismatic churches, its pastor and will have a paid NIU employee in the membership of that church. See, Is NIU Opposed to and Reject[ing of] the Modern Charismatic Movement?

2) Where the NIU chapel of Sept. 11 once appeared you will see a blank screen with a note stating, “Not Available, The clip you are looking for has been removed.” In any event, the song service of most any NIU chapel today is as described above, “mediocre, banal, insipid, immature, depressing and not at all uplifting.”

3) The Closing of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College
Furthermore, the viewpoint espoused in his [Swindoll’s] book finds a sympathetic audience with some fundamentalists who have become ‘bent out of shape’ with what they view as the pettiness of certain segments of fundamentalist thinking. We are afraid that, given the impetus by the writing of Swindoll, some are about to ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’.” (Dr. Ernest Pickering: Are Fundamentalists Legalists?)

September 21, 2012

Northland Students Perform New “Jesus Loves Me” Recording and It’s Blasphemy!

We are continuing with an important sub-section in the series What REALLY Matters Most. In his November 2010 Open Letter Northland International University (NIU) president Dr. Matt Olson declared that in the area of music philosophy, “NIU is unchanged!” We have in past articles seen video evidence that NIU has changed drastically in the area of music performance. Matt Olson wrote that the goal of NIU will be to, “make sure Northland’s practice of music…is built principally on clear teachings from the Bible….1

Today, I am presenting a new video recording that challenges the claim NIU’s music philosophy is “unchanged” and that clear teachings from the Bible are behind the practice of music at NIU.

The video was recorded this semester at the home of, current NIU Academic Chair for Communications, Mr. Brock Miller.2 Communication professors Lydia Stewart and Rachel Trach were also at this gathering. (See photo to right) The occasion of the video was a fellowship for Communications department students. The participants in the video were described by students on their FaceBook pages as students who are proud to display their, “rapping skills, beatboxing skills, attempting to harmonize, . . . Yeah, Communications majors have it all!”

Had this been a one-time matter, there would be real disappointment. The video is, however, much like the behavior in NIU’s chapel with the song/dance routine to What is This Feeling from the Broadway play WICKED.3 Do the sensual chants of RAP measure up to our mandate to sing and make melody to the Lord? You have just seen students, at the home and under the supervision of NIU faculty, disparaging the name of Jesus.
Can anyone honestly say that the conduct of the students in this video is “God-focused?”
How can any Bible-believing Christian justify the behavior of these students in light of Romans 12:1-2? Faculty members were present at this event! If worship is an “all the time lifestyle,” how could they allow for, condone and/or participate in such conduct?

Readers, this is a very serious matter!  Our children once learned to love Jesus. On their parents’ knee they reverently, sweetly, and sincerely sang “Jesus Loves Me.”4 In Sunday school committed children’s workers lead them to sing that cherished hymn in praise to Jesus, the One who loves them. But now these students are using the same song in a sensual, base and vulgar way. How does this happen?

We sent our young people off to a training school like Northland for them to learn discernment. Instead, they learned it is acceptable to denigrate that which is holy, to thrust their hips and bounce their bodies like the children of Israel before the golden calf, to laugh at the old standards and those who taught them. Worse yet is the fact that these students are rehearsing their worldly styles in the backyard of the Academic Chair for Communication, a man charged with the spiritual task of leading music in the chapel hour.  Would Northland be honest enough to put this kind of conduct in a video presentation when they visit our fundamental churches to recruit students?

Without a disciplinary guideline and absent a carefully presented philosophy of music the NIU administration can do little to correct the behavior of these students, even if the administration had a mind to. The administration talks about counseling, explaining and leading young people as they seek to conform them to the image of Christ.  Yet, as this video shows, the young people gather at the home of the Chair of the Communications department and allows their mouths to expose what is in their hearts with apparently no fear of recrimination.  The Bible says, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man,” (Matthew 15:11).  The students do not demonstrate the beginning of wisdom, which is the fear of the Lord (Ps. 111:10).

There was a time when Dr. Les Ollila instructed youth workers to avoid worldly methods by saying that “Noah didn’t hire the Nile River Nine” to gather a crowd. Dr. Ollila taught those who came to Northland to watch where someone’s feet are pointed instead of listening to their claims.
Sadly, these students feet are pointing toward blasphemy and there doesn’t appear to be a faculty member, including Dr. Ollila, willing to redirect or stop their journey!
This group around the bonfire would make Dr. Ollila’s representation of the “Nile River Nine” singing, “Does Anyone Here Want to go to Heaven, Say I Do!,” look tame.5

This video is another sad revelation of what happened to the faculty and student body once Northland’s leadership took a tolerant view toward CCM and RAP, yet tells the public they have not changed. The students know the real position of the administration on such matters.  It was only a matter of time before this would start to come out in the open. And it is only a matter of time until this kind of behavior is seen in the chapel hour and on ministry tours.
That which is practiced in private soon becomes a public pollutant!
Music faculty members who had enough discernment to see what was just ahead left Northland or were essentially forced out by Matt Olson. This video confirms their worst fears of what could become of music standards at NIU.


(Jan. 18, 2013) To All Readers, I highly recommend that you consider the following on NIU:

Is NIU Opposed to the Modern Charismatic Movement?

From the FBFI Proclaim & Defend blog, Questions for Matt Olson & NIU

Site Publisher Addendum:
NIU has done away with the demerit system. Even if there was a demerit system in place this behavior IMO would not be an issue for student demerits or discipline of faculty at the new Northland International University.

1) Is NIU “Unchanged?”

2) Mr. Miller’s home is one of the on campus duplexes. Brock Miller also leads the singing in chapel.

3) Chapel- Fall 2010, NIU. This and the video above establishes an on-going pattern of the NIU administration’s tolerance for and acceptance of the world’s music. Here you see Dr. Wynne Kimbrough, dean of students, with another student four off stage (student) dancers performing the duet lead role from Wicked, What is This Feeling, Loathing.

4) Jesus Love Me as it was originally written to be played, sung and enjoyed.

5) Frequently, when Les Ollila was illustrating against worldliness, he would say,
Noah didn’t hire the Nile River Nine to jump out from behind the Ark and sing, ‘Does anybody here want to go to heaven!’”  What you catch them with is what you keep them with.  If you catch them with worldly entertainment, you’ll be forced to keep them with the same.  Noah was blessed of God for his obedience.  We need to follow Noah’s example.
That is nearly verbatim of what hundreds of pastors heard Les preach.  He’d always sing the “anybody here want to go to heaven” thing – memorable, convicting and typically penetrating observation from Dr. Ollila.

September 19, 2012

What REALLY Matters Most: Functional Distinctives

In recent articles we have been considering a number of disconcerting issues with Northland International University (NIU).  Pastor Don Johnson made significant contributions to this issue from his personal blog an oxgoad, eh and with Questions for Matt Olson & NIU at the FBFI’s Proclaim & Defend blog. We began this new series What REALLY Matters Most and then Monday with WRMM: Where the Lines are Drawn to discuss the shifting sands and new trajectory of the former Northland Baptist Bible College. Dr. Matt Olson has been reacting, in article form, from his personal blog. Very little in precise terms has been forthcoming in answer to the questions many people have regarding the changes at NIU. We do, however, have some items to consider from Dr. Olson’s What Matter Most series part four, Functional Distinctives.

In the first of his What Matters Most series Dr. Matt Olson wrote, “I have found Al Mohler’s ‘Theological Triage’ very helpful as I process my own thoughts.”  In this, the fourth in his series, Matt Olson is applying Mohler’s triage.
If everything we believe is important, but not equally so, it might even be a good idea to develop at least a two-tier doctrinal statement:

  1. A statement of faith that would clearly delineate an orthodox position. 
  2. A statement of functional distinctives that would give necessary clarity and guidance for the healthy operation of a church or organization.
Both of these doctrinal statements should include what is necessary, but not more than what is necessary.
First, that excerpt indicates to me that the current Articles of Faith and Handbook doctrinal statements will be edited or eliminated very soon. That means more of what made the former NBBC a distinctively Baptist, fundamental and separatist college is going to be erased from its present state.

Second, I am not comfortable with isolating or compartmentalizing the doctrines of the Bible. As such, some will assign rank to doctrines according to levels of importance and thus create various “levels of fellowship” based upon their personal interpretation and understanding of the importance of the various doctrines we differ on. The end result is a package deal that seems reasonable; there is an appearance of equanimity, but really very little by way of what the Bible actually says. This is how Dr. Kevin Bauder could post a 24 part Now, About Those Differences series (with barely a difference noted) apart from any serious attention to Bible passages and yet be praised for an erudite understanding.

It is interesting that Dr. Olson writes that “The church . . . . will need to decide upon the functional distincitives . . .” and uses the future tense.  While church planters and church plants wrestle through the work of defining doctrinal and functional distinctive, it is expected that seasoned pastors and college presidents would annunciate their convictions and uphold the doctrinal standards and functional distinctives passed along to them by their board, their constituencies and their predecessors.  A leader in the forefront needs to be standing on a foundation not seeking to find his place and state where he has landed. It seems that Dr. Olson is a work in progress rather than being a work product.

The functional distinctives of NIU have been widely known and published since its founding.  Those who can read and have had associations with the leadership of NIU were quite convinced by the practice and the philosophy of the leadership that it was a Baptist school that stood against new-evangelicalism, CCM and the charismatic movement.  All of NIU’s positional statements say this!  Yet, in practice, they have been planting churches that are not Baptist, inviting promoters of new-evangelical fellowship and CCM music and now subtly endorsing and cooperating with Charismatics by allowing staff members to join CJ Mahaney’s SGM churches while the president sends social-media high-fives to NIU graduates who understand the “main thing.
What they are doing in practice at NIU is speaking so loudly that one cannot hear what they are saying!
Under those circumstances parents who send their son/daughter to NIU have no assurance of what kind of young person they are going to get back.  Will he/she comeback a tongues speaking Charismatic?  Will he/she come home with a Covenant/Reformed view of the church? Will he/she come home having embraced the Rock-n-Roll sounds of CCM?  Will he/she come back to you from NIU a compromising New Evangelical? 

Because NIU president Matt Olson is not upholding Northland’s doctrinal standards and/or functional distinctives all of these are definite possibilities.  Parents need to be aware of and prepared for any or all of those outcomes for their son or daughter if they send them to NIU.


Related Reading:
Is NIU Unchanged?

Dr. Les Ollila used to say, Our Children Learn Not Only What We Teach Them, but by What We Tolerate

September 17, 2012

What REALLY Matters Most: Where the Lines are Drawn

In recent articles we have been considering a number of disconcerting issues with Northland International University (NIU).  Pastor Don Johnson made significant contributions to this issue from his personal blog an oxgoad, eh and with Questions for Matt Olson & NIU at the FBFI’s Proclaim & Defend blog. We began this new series What REALLY Matters Most on Friday to discuss the shifting sands and new trajectory of the former Northland Baptist Bible College. Dr. Matt Olson has been reacting, in article form, from his personal blog. Very little in precise terms has been forthcoming in answer to the questions many people have regarding the changes at NIU. We do, however, have some items to consider from Dr. Olson’s What Matter Most series part three How We Draw the Lines.

We recognize that Matt Olson is a sincere servant of the Lord, but we believe he is wrong for introducing and we cannot accept the new philosophy, practices and trajectory he has introduced to Northland International University (NIU). In previous articles we have discussed NIU president Dr. Matt Olson lauding a Charismatic church.1 We recently posed a series of questions for Dr. Olson. Included were the following:

Will NIU move away from a Dispensational hermeneutic and embrace a Covenant hermeneutic? 
Will NIU open its chapel music to the kind of music featured at the Resolved conference? 
Will NIU change its Handbook doctrinal statements and Articles of Faith to allow for open acceptance of the Charismatic churches and pastors?
It appears Dr. Olson has answered these as fully as we can expect. From part three, How We Draw the Lines he wrote,
The mode of baptism, timing of the rapture, cessationist or non-cessationist positions, dispensational or covenant positions, church polity, style of music, philosophy of ministry—are NOT fundamentals of the faith.”
IMO, that sentence is as close to a complete answer to a specific question as anyone should expect. It suggests that the theology and practice of the modern Charismatic movement will no longer be a point of debate or departure for NIU. In Part 3 Dr. Olson also wrote,
I can visit a church on Sunday morning, fellowship with believers, love what I am seeing, encourage fellow believers in what they are doing—and still choose not to join that particular local assembly.”
When Matt Olson wrote Confidence in the Next Generation he was heaping lavish praise on the ministry of a church, whose theology is contrary to the university’s official doctrinal position.  With that created confusion, a colossal conflict of interest and many questions have been raised as a result.

If Matt Olson had simply attended a service because some graduates were there, and he happened to be in the vicinity, there would be no problem whatsoever. I suspect some of us have been to the homes of family and we went along with them to a church that we might have some reservation with over doctrine or styles of worship. Following the service, however, I don’t think we would post a glowing report of that church and its ministry on our FaceBook page.

Dr. Olson, furthermore, says he will, “encourage fellow believers in what they are doing.” What they are doing at the Grace Bible Church includes teaching that the 1st century miraculous sign gifts are active and should be sought after today. When Brother Olson enthusiastically praised this SGM affiliated Charismatic church he went way beyond encouraging fellow believers. In light of NIU’s published doctrinal statements on the Charismatic movement the college president should not be making statements such as those for the SGM Grace Bible Church.

Dr. Olson says he can, “choose NOT to join that particular local assembly.” Where Matt Olson happens to attend church on a given Sunday is not necessarily, in and of itself, an issue for grave concern. When he attends and lauds a church that believes, preaches and defends a doctrine that is opposed and rejected by NIU that IS a problem and IS the crux of this particular controversy. Furthermore, an NIU staff member, Greg Dietrich has joined that particular Charismatic local assembly and according to Matt Olson the university will be paying him a salary. If I were to have been to and lauded a Charismatic church, who’s been affected or influenced? You take a university president lauding a Charismatic ministry and you have pastors, parents and students confused and conflicted! Especially confused when they can read the following statements in official NIU publications.

“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.) 
Those statements have not been yet explained, edited or eliminated. Through four articles (to date) in Dr. Olson’s on-going series, What Matters Most what one finds conspicuous by its absence is any mention of NIU’s Articles of Faith or its doctrinal statements on the “modern Charismatic Movement.” Is it merely an oversight that the university president makes no reference whatsoever to NIU’s official position on the “modern Charismatic movement?”

Brother Matt Olson surely understands that what he says and any action he takes can influence a great many impressionable young people at NIU. Because of what he has said over the past 2+ years and what changes he has initiated at NIU some parents and pastors decided that they do not want their children under that kind of influence and removed them from the student body.

I will close with an extended commentary from Dr. Ernest Pickering (1928-2000). Prayerfully consider what this Fundamentalist pastor and theologian shared with the NT church.
I, with others, was involved in the original conflicts over ecumenical evangelism. Some of us raised the first cries against the principles of the “new evangelicalism.” We have labored for years to defend our young people, our churches and our educational institutions against the watered-down theology and middle-of-the-road philosophy held by many of those with whom you would have us unite. The arguments we hear now we recall very vividly hearing thirty years ago from those who wanted us to move beyond the “fundamentalist-modernist controversy” to a more “centrist” position. The new evangelical movement began years ago with what one astute observer aptly called a “mood.” Moods are difficult to define sometimes, but they nonetheless can be real and potent forces. Theirs was a mood of toleration, an acceptance of widely varying theological concepts - a mood of “broadmindedness.” We fear such moods since we have seen, within our lifetime, their final outcome - a full-blown movement steeped in compromise. We believe we sense such a mood abroad today among those who, in all sincerity no doubt, think we should broaden our bases and reshape our image.2
And that “mood of toleration, and acceptance of widely varying theological concepts” is back in vogue, back among us today at schools like NIU.3 Like others before them NIU’s final outcome [will be a] “full-blown movement steeped in compromise.” That is, of course, if NIU does not fold just as Pillsbury Baptist Bible College did for a similar mood swing that Matt Olson has NIU on today.4


Please continue with this series at Functional Distinctives

1) Is NIU Opposed to and Reject[ing of] the Modern Charismatic Movement?

2) Dr. Ernest Pickering: Should Fundamentalists & Evangelicals Unite? An evaluation of Edward Dobson’s book, In Search of Unity (emphasis added). And not long ago some of the men at SI had the nerve to suggest that the practice of separatism by Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson and Tim Jordan is no different than that of Dr. Ernest Pickering. In fact those men, and a willing Internet conduit SI, are the primary forces behind the push for the new wave of “New” Evangelicalism making in-roads into once Baptistic, separatist churches and colleges.

3) The Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale) chancellor Tim Jordan has already hosted Mark Dever and Haddon Robinson both of whom (among other issues) teach at the New Evangelical Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Next will be D. A Carson who is a founding council member of The Gospel Coalition. CBS is well down the path of full blown compromise. See, CBS to Host Haddon Robinson and Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran to Join Mark Dever at Lansdale: Is This a Fundamentalism Worth Saving?

4) The Closing of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College 

Suggested Related Reading:
Dr. Ernest Pickering, “A Mood of ‘Broadmindedness’:” The New “New” Evangelicalism

September 14, 2012

What REALLY Matters Most?

In recent articles we have been considering a number of disconcerting issues with Northland International University (NIU).  Pastor Don Johnson made significant contributions to this issue from his personal blog an oxgoad, eh and with Questions for Matt Olson & NIU at the FBFI’s Proclaim & Defend blog. We have been discussing what really matters most in regard to the shifting sands and new trajectory of the former Northland Baptist Bible College. Dr. Matt Olson has been reacting, in article form, from his personal blog. Very little in precise terms has been forthcoming in answer to the questions many people have regarding the changes at NIU. We do, however, have some items to consider from Dr. Olson’s What Matter Most series. At the conclusion of What Matters Most (Part 2) Dr. Olson wrote, “Yes, when it comes to Christianity in the fullest sense, it IS all about the gospel!”

We must understand at least two things about this new phraseology, “It IS all about the gospel?” First, When Matt Olson, Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder, et. al., speak of or write terms such as, “It’s all about the GospelGospel-Driven separation, Gospel-centric fellowship,” at the very core they refer to unity around Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel.1

Second, the “It’s all about the Gospel” mantra is how men who claim allegiance to biblical separation, claim to be “militant” separatists ultimately legitimize working in cooperative ministry with non-separatists, theological extremists and ecumenical compromisers. If it’s only or all about the gospel they can fellowship and cooperate with men who believe, preach, practice and defend aberrant theology, cultural relativism and ecumenical compromise.

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,” (Phil. 1:27).
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. We can put our stamp of approval on counterfeit Christianity. If they’re preaching the gospel… no matter what else is going on in those ministries, no matter what endorsements and involvements they have with liberal unbelieving religion, no matter what ecumenical reach they may have, no matter what distortions they may have, no matter what tolerance for the intolerable…we can embrace all of that and say that’s fine, that’s good they’re preaching the gospel. This verse makes it very clear that there is a lot more than that…. (Dr. Bob Jones, III: The Faith of the Gospel, Part 4)
Because Dr. Olson says, “It IS all about the gospel,” he can praise the church, men and ministry of the Grace Bible Church, which is a member of CJ Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries.3 When Dr. Olson praised the ministry of the Grace Bible Church he:

1) Was acting in contravention to the current NIU Articles of Faith and Handbook doctrinal statements, which calls on NIU staff and students to reject and oppose Charismatic theology.4
2) Put a stamp of approval on a counterfeit form of Christianity.
3) In his capacity as NIU president he put the university’s stamp of approval on a counterfeit doctrine. 

Families who once attended, once sent or presently have children at NIU are asking legitimate questions. In the previous article we consider Dr. Doug McLachlan’s President’s Page: Philosophy of Ministry5 published in 1998 Dr. McLachlan wrote,
Covering our beliefs, hiding our theology by masking our identity and camouflaging our name may indeed attract a larger crowd (most contemporary consumers think little of “brand loyalty”), but it has great potential to jeopardize and weaken our doctrine, our truth-claims. It produces an environment where beliefs tend to be minimized, changed and in some cases even abandoned as irrelevant to mission, unimportant to ministry….One of the reasons our name ‘Baptist’ still has merit is because it identifies for honest seekers who we are and what we believe.”
Northland, you are no longer the “Baptist Bible College.” Who then are you? what are your “truth-claims?” What exactly do you believe?


Please continue with this series at Where the Lines Are Drawn

Kevin Bauder wrote, “Both fundamentalists and evangelicals believe, preach and defend the [same] gospel.” You would be hard pressed to identify any of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals that do not believe, preach and defend the Lordship Salvation (LS) interpretation of the gospel. There are, however, hundreds of Fundamental Baptist pastors that reject Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel. They absolutely reject LS as a false, non-saving message that corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).
2) Dr. Bob Jones, III: The Faith of the Gospel, Part 4

3) CJ Mahaney’s SGM is an association of Charismatic churches. In the event you are unsure of what it means to be a Charismatic (aka, “non-cessationist”) in theology you would believe the 1st century miraculous sign gifts such as tongues, prophecy and miracles of healing are in operation and should be sought after today.

4) 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 which it has brought. (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; 13:8; Ephesians 4:11-12).” 

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…. Furthermore, Northland is opposed to Liberalism, Neo-Orthodoxy, New Evangelicalism, Hyper-Calvinism, and the Charismatic Movement.” 

Therefore, 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. (1Thessalonians 4:16–17; Revelation 3:6–19, 19:11–16, 20:1–6, 11–15; 21:1–8).”

5) Dr. Doug McLachlan: The President’s Page: Philosophy of Ministry

Related Reading:
Dr. Olson, Would You Kindly Tell Us...?

The Closing of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College