September 4, 2012

Sharper Iron: Censorship by Omission (Revised & Expanded)

This week we are taking a break from the series on the changes at Northland International University. We will return with new articles on developments there later this month. Today, I want to begin with the first of two articles on Sharper Iron.
Sharper Iron (SI) is infamous for a history of castigating and besmirching Fundamentalism at virtually any opportunity. SI has never posted and, therefore, cannot produce even one article from its Front Page that is thoroughly positive on Fundamentalism and uplifting for the fundamentalist. SI has never allowed for a blog, that is unapologetically positive toward Fundamentalism, to appear in its Blogroll. SI never passes on an opportunity to heap lavish praise and run interference on behalf of the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism, its star personalities and conferences.

SI’s leadership beginning with Aaron Blumer to Jim Peet, Joel Tetreau, Joe Roof, Larry Rogier, Susan R, JayC and a small, but aggressive pack of vocal SI members historically gang-tackle any participant who tries to present an apologetic for Fundamentalist concerns or take on the doctrinal aberrations, ecumenical compromises, cultural relativism and worldliness of the “conservative” evangelicals. SI is a willing participant in and a conduit for the influences of the new wave of non-separatist evangelicals in and around fundamental circles. SI’s double standards, bias and favoritism is obvious to any objective observer.

And SI can’t figure out why they have alienated and driven off almost every person who might participate on behalf of a truly good and balanced Fundamentalism? 

For over two months it has been widely known that Dr. Matt Olson and Northland International University (NIU) lauded a Charismatic Church. On July 2, 2012 Matt Olson from his personal blog posted “Confidence in the Next Generation.” In the article Olson stated, “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…”

What is the Crux of the Controversy?
The Grace Bible Church (Philadelphia, PA) is a member of CJ Mahaney’s family of Sovereign Grace Churches. It is a Charismatic Church. NIU’s current Articles of Faith and doctrinal statements in its Undergraduate and Graduate Handbooks explicitly state the university’s rejection of, and opposition to the “modern Charismatic movement.”1 From his blog Matt Olson announced that an NIU graduate/staff member, Greg Dietrich, will be in the membership of this Charismatic church and would be on NIU’s payroll. All of this has been fact checked and documented here at IDOTG, by Don Johnson at his blog (an oxgoad, eh) and the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI) Proclaim & Defend blog.

SI once alleged that it “is a fundamentalist place....  that SI is about how fundamentalists see the world.”2  The story of NIU president Matt Olson praising and initiating a fellowship with a Charismatic church is highly relevant to a wide cross–section of believers in fundamentalism. So, why didn’t SI carry its own report of this widely known development?

The liberal mainstream media heaps lavish praise on liberalism, but besmirches and demonizes conservatism. The mainstream media protects their liberal friends by refusing to report on and/or will censor negative stories about them. SI is no different than the liberal mainstream media when it comes to praise, bias, censorship to protect and favoritism on behalf of non-separatists in “conservative” evangelical circles and/or the new wave New Evangelicals circulating in fundamental circles.
SI’s media style is the first cousin of liberal mainstream media bias!
For the nearly two months after publication of Matt Olson’s public praise for the SGM Charismatic church nothing appeared at SI. The external pressure on SI, however, was begun through the initial blog articles of the NIU/Charismatic connection by Pastor Don Johnson in Getting What Matters Most at his blog an Oxgoad, eh?.  I followed Don’s article with the current on-going series of articles on Matt Olson and NIU at this blog. The presence of Don Johnson’s blog article and my series alone did not move SI to bring this major doctrinal discussion to their site.

On the morning of Friday, August 31st the FBFI entered the Olson/NIU Charismatic discussion. Once the FBFI’s Proclaim & Defend blog published Don Johnson’s Questions for Matt Olson and NIU3 SI no longer had any excuse for the stories non-appearance at its site and could not claim ignorance of the issue. Within minutes a link to the FBFI’s Proclaim & Defend appeared in SI’s Filings, and a comment thread was opened. Predictably certain members of SI’s leadership and its membership immediately gang tackled Don with impunity.  SI is not about to allow for, tolerate or let go unchallenged critical commentary of a person or ministry that is pursuing the same non-separatist evangelicalism they are.

Until the Proclaim & Defend article Questions for Matt Olson and NIU appeared it was purely another example of Censorship by Omission at SI. It’s just that simple.

On the other hand, as fast as Matt Olson can issue statements (on the current controversy and questions) SI has those articles posted on their site post-haste. Case in point was Dr. Olson’s Sept 3 article from his personal blog.4  That article was in SI’s Filings before daybreak the same day. What do you suppose the chances are that SI would add to their Filings a critical review of Matt Olson’s recent statements from this or Don Johnson’s blog?

SI’s censorship of the NIU/Charismatic issue and critical reactions to the issues was predictable. SI’s subsequent media support of Matt Olson’s attempts to dismiss, ignore or legitimize a serious contravention of NIU’s doctrinal statements is consistent with their objective to advance non-separatist evangelicalism, advance the agenda of and protect compromising men who circulate in and around fundamental circles. SI’s moderators (“referees”) do not provide for or guarantee an even playing field in the forum. A perusal of the Olson/NIU Filing’s thread of August 31st demonstrates the absurdity of any claims of unbiased moderation and fair treatment at SI.
SI has NEVER been fair to or a friend of authentic Fundamentalism! 
Sharper Iron IS a pseudo-fundamentalist site!
If you do not appreciate the slant of media bias at Sharper Iron you would do well to refrain from propping up the site through your participation.


LM

Please continue to “Attacks on Motive Do Not Belong...” at Sharper Iron?

Footnotes:
1) Is NIU “Opposed to and Reject[ing of] the Modern Charismatic Movement?” and Questions for Matt Olson and NIU

2) That statement has since been revised to a nearly unrecognizable form.

3) Questions for Matt Olson and NIU, FBFI’s Proclaim & Defend blog.

4) What Matters Most: How We Draw the Lines, Part 3. Matthew R. Olson blog. (accessed Sept. 3)

Site Publisher’s Addendum:
Some are asking why nothing is coming from SI contributors Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran on the NIU/Charismatic church connection. Earlier this week I read a noteworthy premise for their silence. At an oxgoad, eh Pastor Brian Ernsberger wrote,
Based upon the track record of the above-mentioned men (Bauder, Doran, Jordan, et. al.,) they have no reason to denounce what Matt Olson has said and done. These men have, to one degree or another, opened up avenues to evangelicals without much in the way of warnings. So why would they denounce a fellow who is pursuing those same avenues?”
Related Reading:
SI,“You LIE!”

SI May Fit the Description of Being PSEUDO- FUNDAMEMTALIST 

Censorship by Omission: Haddon Robinson

Revised and republished from the Sharper Iron: In the Iron Skillet blog.

15 comments:

  1. I have boycotted SI for years and encourage every pastor I can to tune out the MSNBC of Fundamentalism. With friends like SI who needs enemies?

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    1. Evangelist:

      In Chicago we have a saying among White SOX fans. "Friends don't let friends become CUBS fans." In this application, "Friends don't let friends become Sharper Iron fans."


      LM

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  2. Lou,

    The comparison of the liberal media coverage in the political sphere with the coverage of issues regarding fundamentalism is a great one. While the controversies in American politics between liberals and conservatives certainly are important, the issues of Biblical doctrine and separation are of eternal significance. I am glad to be named among them that will not be not silent in day of compromise. Any "practicing" separatist Baptist need not look for consistency in places like Sharper Iron.

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    1. I believe the analogy is valid and it is verifiable by comparison of the two. They are "first cousins."


      Lou

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  3. I don't believe Sharper Iron will be too critical of the direction that Matt Olson is taking Northland. Most of them would see it as a step in the right direction, that is, away from fundamentalism and toward new evangelicalism.

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    1. That is what many have seen all along with and do see as the obvious bent of SI. And it IS the new wave of "New" Evangelicalism that SI has been an enabler of and a conduit for.

      Thanks,


      LM

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  4. In the article above I wrote, “SI has never allowed for a blog, that is unapologetically positive toward Fundamentalism, to appear in its Blogroll.”

    I have been on SI for this for at least two years. Neither Aaron Blumer nor his predecessor Jason Janz has ever allowed for any blog that is positive toward Fundamentalism to appear in its Blogroll. Let me dare SI to add Don Johnson’s an oxgoad, eh blog to its Blogroll.

    SI has blogs there that are openly hostile to Fundamentalism: Paleoevangelical, Bob Bixby. SI hosts Steve Davis’s blog, which is hostile to Fundamentalism and Davis has gone over to the Evangelical Free Church. Why doesn’t SI host a Fundamentalist blog?


    LM

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  5. To All:

    Classic example of SI and its bias, I refer you to SI and New Evangelical Reasoning


    LM

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  6. Hello Lou,

    Why should I care what Olson/Northland does? I'm not sending my kids there (for lots of reasons).

    Also, can you explain why publishing a front page article that is "thoroughly positive on Fundamentalism and uplifting for the fundamentalist" is a meaningful meristic to measure SI against?

    Thanks,

    David Oestreich

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    1. Dave:

      If you don’t care about NIU, that’s fine. There are, however, many, many alumni who care deeply because the changes have taken NIU far, far away what it once was and stood for. There are many pastors and parents who have young people enrolled at NIU right now who care deeply about the radical changes that Matt Olson and the administration are putting into affect. These sent their children to NIU under the impression it was going to remain committed to its historic Baptistic, separatist roots. NIU has drifted far from those markers. Concerned parents are either pulling their children out or if the student is an upper classmen, they are riding it out to graduation.

      On SI: I have addressed you previously on that question. It is very simple: SI has referred to itself as a site for and about Fundamentalism. Why then haven’t they ever posted any one article on the Front Page that is positive toward Fundamentalism and uplifting for fundamentalists? Simple answer: The claim to be for and about Fundamentalism was/is a fa├žade. Instead, SI has a long history of demonizing, besmirching and castigating fundamentalism with a broad brush. From Kevin Bauder to Blogroll blogs like Peneses and paleoevangelical SI is a conduit for revisionist history, trashing fundamentalism, character assassination and advocating for non-separatist evangelicalism, and in some cases New Evangelicalism such as that of Steve Davis,* another SI Blogroll contributor.

      SI has NEVER been fair to or a friend of authentic Fundamentalism!

      Sharper Iron IS a pseudo-fundamentalist site!


      LM

      * “SI is a Fundamentalist Place?” The Facade & Veneer Is Stripped Away

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  7. To Dave O,
    Why should we care about NIU? Because there was a time when fundamental Baptist pastors/churches sent their youung people there so as to see them continue in their church's footsteps to further maturity in Christ as God was leading them to higher education. As a pastor, there have been three Northland graduates come out of our church (one of which was hired on at Northland and worked there for years before leaving over what has changed at Northland) and one who has one year yet to go. He will not be returning to Northland. He has looked at what has transpired since he was last on campus (2007/2008 school year) in disbelief at what has been allowed. So yes, I care about what is going on at NIU. And yes, I have had a conversation with Dr. Olson expressing, at that time, my concerns (not threats, just concerns about Rick Holland and the like back in the fall of 2010) with what was going on. I was brushed off with no care whether or not we would continue support of NIU. I was stunned with the nonchalance that Dr. Olson had concerning my concerns given the fact of the tie we had as a church to NIU. I am not angry, nor do I hate Dr. Olson. His actions grieve me.

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  8. Lou:

    Matt Olsen is putting out feelers to the Charimatic crowd because he is looking for students. He has taken the University from the Fundamentalist brand and has nowhere else to go but to Conservative and Charismatic Evangelicals (SGM; Southern Baptists, and compromising GARB churches). The problem with his plan is that it will not work. Northland had it good until they bit the hands that fed them. Now he is looking for new hands, and they already have their schools. Rejection of Biblical separation has its own pre-filled bag of unintended consequences. How sad!

    Tod Brainard
    Editor
    The Projector

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  9. Pastors Ernsberger & Brainard:

    I appreciate the concerns and opinions you expressed.


    LM


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  10. Lou, in my comment I am drifting a bit off the specific topic (NIU) but looking at a bigger picture,so if you wish not to post that's fine.
    As you look at SI you find that they will seemingly gladly jump on a Jack Schaap (I am by no means condoning Schaap's actions) for his downfall and some will even say, hey, saw this coming with Schaap's sermons/books on marriage, sex, etc. So I am pushed to ask SIers, are you saying this same thing about Mark Driscoll? You have Schaap on the extreme right of fundamentalism and you have Driscoll on the left of fundamentalism within evangelicalism (I would put him brushing liberalism as far as his beliefs are starting to be expressed in reference to the book of Esther), both men are foul in their speaking about marriage and sex. Very little was said at SI about Driscoll's book on marriage and sex and very little is being said about his upcoming series on the book of Esther when it concerns his perverted views. How some can identify problems in Schaap and not see those same problems in Driscoll is very strange to me.
    Driscoll is and has been unfit for ministry since he started, yet he continues to be accepted by many both within evangelicalism and by some would be fundamentalists.

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  11. I've been kicked out having been rounded upon by the pack. My sin? To criticise John Piper and to call him a blind guide and apostate.

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