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


  1. Lou,

    Many fundamentalists are adapting the evangelical argument that the Gospel holds primacy over other inspired, doctrinal teaching. A current catchy trend is to take I Cor. 15:1-4 and say, see Paul says first, which means primacy. Not first, chronologically in NT Christianity, but primacy, the Gospel is the primary doctrine. In reality, Paul is not saying the Gospel is the premier doctrine to the exclusion of other doctrines, but that it is the first doctrine to be preached, and then other doctrines come after, not in importance, but in chronology in Christianity. These fundamentalists and evangelicals come to I Cor. 15 with a presupposition, and that leads them to a faulty interpretation and thus application of "first" concerning the Gospel. This then becomes a proof text for their reasoning to base separation ONLY about the Gospel. And as you put it so well, with many of them, even that is the reformed Gospel of Calvin, not Christ.

    I'd refer readers to Pastor Kent Brandenburg's post on this very trend.

    1. Ps. Rogers:

      Thanks for the commentary and link to Kent's article.


  2. Coming tomorrow- an archived article to bolster what we have considered here. Here is an excerpt.

    While publicly asserting they were not really changing anything essential, and while 'pushing the right buttons' so as to assure their long-time constituents that everything was all right, the president of this institution had a definite agenda in mind which did not coincide with the historic position of the college. It was the president’s intent to move the school away from the separatist Baptist position it had historically occupied.

    Sounds as if that could have been written this week; doesn't it? This article will demonstrate that NIU's current activity is not with historic precedent.


  3. ToAll:

    The archived article I referred to above will be delayed so that I can continue without interruption this new and current series, What REALLY Matters Most. Sorry for the delay and premature promo.