June 14, 2013

Matt Olson Resigns: What Bearing Does This Have on the Q&A With Les Ollila?

A live stream option has just been added for the conference with Dr. Les Ollila.  Go to Crossroads in Ministry and click on the Live Stream button.

By now many of you have learned that Dr. Matt Olson has resigned the NIU presidency with immediate effect. Yesterday, I sent a bulk email to many of my readers about the announcement. Since then I have read a number of reactions to and speculations about the roller coaster of Matt Olson and NIU these past few weeks. The only things we know for sure are that Matt Olson was let go, he was retrieved and then he resigned.

As for the impact on NIU of this latest twist in its leadership: I believe it hastens the day that NIU will cease to exist. These events mean more uncertainty, more upheaval and that is going to cause parents and their young people, prospective and returning who may have considered NIU, to look elsewhere for their education.

One recent Bible college graduate, whom I have know since his elementary school days, summed up what I think many of us feel. He wrote, “Northland is a mess of an organization as it appears from any outsiders vantage point.”

Others began to ask and speculate about what impact the Olson resignation has on the June 17 Crossroads in Ministry conference with Dr. Les Ollila. In my opinion, the Olson resignation puts more pressure on or freedom for Les Ollila to be transparent in the Q&A session at the conference.

In a previous article on Les Ollila and the Crossroads conference, which I am reposting in part below, another question for Doctor Ollila was recently submitted. 
Dr. Ollila: Is there anything you would like to say en masse to any alumni who have contacted you over the past four years with their concerns? Some received strong responses from you that nothing was wrong and we did not have the right to question leadership. We realize you can't respond to every alumnus individually. Would you take a moment to say something - anything - to those of us whose concerns did actually turn out to be accurate?”
Dr. Les Ollila remains the only question mark left from the former Northland Baptist Bible College. He did not participate in the 2013 graduation. Les was not on the platform. Les stood in the back and left before the graduation formally ended. Les Ollila is no longer part of the institution. Les was one of four men (Matt Olson, Sam Horn and Doug MacLachlan) who went to California to meet with John MacArthur, Phil Johnson and Rick Holland.  That event, in April 2010, was the first ominous signal that something was changing at NIU.  Dr. Ollila was on campus as chancellor personally observing NIU’s transformation under Matt Olson to non-separatist evangelicalism, an embrace of charismatic theology, and the infusion of CCM/Rock genre on campus.

To date the only public document on NIU from Les Ollila dates back to December 2010. Is Northland Changing? A Chancellor’s Perspective from Dr. Les Ollila. In that letter Dr. Ollila bolstered Matt Olson’s position that “NIU is unchanged,”2 and he strongly supported what Matt was doing at the time.

In the previous article I opened the thread to give readers an opportunity to submit questions, that if you were at the Q&A with Dr. Ollila you would personally like to ask him.  (See, footnote #1 below) You may submit more of your questions here.  Your submission must be in the form of a question and avoid making a personal statement.  Submit your question for Dr. Ollila and I will publish it at my earliest convenience.

Kind regards,


1) What Do We Know About the Northland Camp Ministry & Dr. Les Ollila?

2) An Open Letter from Dr. Matt Olson of Northland International University, Nov. 24, 2010


  1. I agree with you that Dr. Olson's resignation only hastens NIU's closure. According to Dr. Olson's statement on NIU's website it appears there still is conflict within the board about how the school is to be organized. Daniel Patz seemed to say the board is still trying to figure out the new direction of the school. NIU is now without a president, Kevin Priest, the Academic Registrar, is leaving (on his own accord apparently not because of the changes at NIU), as well as other long-time NIU faculty and staff due to budget cuts. All this is happening at a key time when families are getting ready for college in the fall.
    In my opinion I think there are some personalities on the board who are not easily given to working well with others in part because they are very passionate about NIU.
    To say things are a mess is a gargantuan understatement.

    1. Fwiw, NIU announced today, from their website, that Chairman Daniel Patz assembled a team of advisors and new board members. Regardless of staff departures (and there are many) and restructuring (again) I don't think there are any families still on the fence about Northland. All the cards are on the table now, face up. If you want want NIU has devolved into then you'll send your young person, If you want something more like what Northland once was then you'll seek another college. Still, IMO short of a huge cash infusion from the Patz family and/or former alumni the school is finished and the camp will go away as well.

      Anyway, my chief interest right now is the upcoming Q&A with Les Ollila.


    2. Back on the subject of Monday's Q&A session with Les Ollila. I have heard from a sizable number of folks on the Q&A. If I had to boil down the common denominator it is this- 1) They want Les asked undiluted questions about his final four years at NIU, starting with his joining Olson, Horn and McLachlan to meet with John MacArthur, Phil Johnson and Rick Holland. 2) They want Les to give unvarnished answers to every question.


  2. Does anyone know if Dr. Ollila's presentations at the Crossroads conference will be broadcast over the internet or posted on youtube?

    1. About two weeks ago I spoke to the conference hosts about this. They are not going to broadcast the conference. There will most likely be recordings made available after the conference closes.

      Two pastors who will be in attendance are going to write a review/report of the conference, addressing the Q&A in particular. Both of these men are going to send to me their reports for posting here at IDOTG. One or both will be posted here by the end of the day, June 17.

    2. Perhaps they changed their mind about broadcasting the conference. There is now a "Live Stream" button on the conference webpage, "http://www.colonialindy.org/crossroads-conference.html". That button links to Sermonaudio live webcast page for the conference.

  3. Lou,

    I read the release from Dr. Olson and Pastor Daniel Patz of the EFCA.  So NIU is now defined as a combination of "confessional Baptists and conservative evangelicals?"

    Here is to what I refer: "We are confessional baptists and conservative evangelicals.  We are biblical, historical fundamentalists.  We will die for the fundamentals and will separate against all apostasy.  We will, however, also pursue biblical unity and a love for the body of Christ—and not separate from those who hold to different interpretations on secondary or non-primary issues.  Northland will not embrace charismatic theology, seeker-driven methodology, or shallow views of liberty."

    I have a copy of the EFCA's What It Means To Be Free: A History of the Evangelical Free Church of America by Calvin B Hanson and published by Free Church Publications in 1990.  Here is an excerpt from the Introduction on p. 13: "Among the characteristics of the EFCA outlined in the booklet This Is the Evangelical Free Church, three have special appeal: inclusive but not exclusive, evangelical but not separatistic, ecumenical in spirit though not in structure."  The EFCA has never self-identify itself as aligned to Fundamentalism.

    Here also is something to consider concerning what Pastor Patz wrote concerning secondary issues and the significance of his statement's wording "will not embrace charismatic theology," (bold emphasis added) again from the book What It Means To Be Free, page 201 under the heading Spiritual Gifts: "But here again, the overriding distinctive of the EFCA statement of faith is the clarity with which it speaks to crucial issues and its silence on lesser matters which might unnecessarily divide believers.  This silence makes it possible for Christian holding differing views on minor areas of doctrine to worsip [sic] together in harmony.  There are, however, certain practices such as tongues that are permitted in one's devotional life, though not practiced in the public life of the church."

    The reason for this silence on certain doctrinal matters was in order to gain a merger between the Norwegian-Danish Association and the Swedish EFCA in 1950 and their divergent doctrinal statements.  The desire to be together was more important than certain doctrinal matters, matters that once were consider important enough to be spelled out in a statement of a faith.

    What we as genuine Fundamental Baptist have been alarmed about in the changes at NIU may in reality only be the influence of the EFCA being borne out in the organization.  Has there been a new silence on certain doctrinal matters once spelled out in NIU's statement of faith to "merger" an alliance with segments of the EFCA for the sake of organizational continuance?

  4. There is a link on Sermon Audio for a live broadcast of the conference today. http://www.sermonaudio.com/event_details.asp?EventID=co61413133623

  5. Thanks, as of Saturday they were undecided.