June 19, 2013

Q&A Session with Dr. Les Ollila

Here is Dr. Ollila sharing his decision on what has caused him to step away from a ministry that he was a part of for 30 years. While many diverse opinions will be formed, it is well for all to remember to encourage a person when they are going in the right direction. The spirit of the prodigal’s father is the Spirit of our God and needs to be our spirit as well.


  1. When Dr. Ollila said he always trusted Dr. Olson’s heart and Dr. Olson told him, “This is not what’s happening, this is not where we’re going, this is not what we’re doing.” This same thing is happening in fundamental churches. Pastors, who once claimed to be fundamentalist, begin to change the content of their message. Church members start asking questions but the pastor always responds, “This is not what’s happening, this is not where we’re going, this is not what we’re doing.” But it is what’s happening and they’re deceiving their own congregation as Matt Olson did to many at NIU.

    Deuteronomy 11:16 - Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;

    Also, Dr. Ollila said that you bloggers make him sick. I am thankful for those bloggers who are willing to stick their neck out and stand for truth for righteousness sake.

  2. Thanks for posting this, Lou. It was good to hear Doc. O speak for himself. It hurts to hear Doc. O speak as he did. I do desire to twist or reinterpret his words but when I hear someone who should know better, say, "I trusted the heart of so-and-so," I grieve at the blunder. Jeremiah spoke so clearly, "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?" I am not advocating a cynicism within Christianity but there are boundaries for our trust in others. Doc. O spoke of loyalty and was critical of any who has not been in a position to be loyal, yet my loyalty to others is again, bound by the constraints of my loyalty to the truth. Fundamentalism has been accused (and in some circumstances rightly so) of blind loyalty to personalities which have ended up greatly hurting the cause of Christ. The loyalty I have to my friends, to leaders of organizations of which I am a part, to my church family, etc., should never trump my loyalty to the truth. There will be times I must speak the truth in love and stand up in opposition to those who I have been loyal to when those persons go in directions which are clearly not right.
    Doc. O has come to that place...finally. I would hope in time he will change his thoughts about us "bloggers." To my knowledge there are only three who have asked questions of what's going on at NIU; you, Lou, Don Johnson, and myself. I don't believe any of us have been overly critical or harshly judgmental of what's been taking place. We've asked questions...with no response. We've raised concerns...and have others call us names. The last couple of months have shown we were right...but none of us are gloating, we are grieved. A once fine institution will in all likelihood follow in the footsteps of PBBC and close their doors. A terrible closing chapter to what was a great book, the story of Northland. Doc O, you are in our prayers.

  3. I actually am very glad that you posted this. I found that, in my mind, he answered things a lot better than I was expecting based on the review posted here a few days ago. I loved looking into the heart of Dr. Ollila once again.

    He gave us the answers to where he was during all of the changes. He told us that he isn't in agreement and that isn't where he would have gone. He told us that he feels he was used. He told us that in retrospect he should have left when he left the presidency.

    Listening to this is like a balm on my heart. I'm happy with the public answer to his personal positions.

    Next up...now that he resigned again from Northland, who is going to host the question and answer with Olson?

  4. Lou,

    I'm all for restoration and encouraging a brother who has erred. However, Doc O's is not just going in the right direction, it must be noted, he is just now returning from a wrong direction. As such, should someone who is just now starting back towards the Father be promoted in a leadership ministry position to pastors and NT church members as an example? Perhaps Doc O should get back in a local church position under a pastor and accountable to a church body for some time instead of "starting a 501-C3." There is safety in the local church, it's God's ordained institution for this dispensation.

    I also find the misdirection about the Rick Holland/John Mac issue by referring to Hyles once again, to be evidence that there may not be a militant separatist conviction there. Easy prayerism and Lordship Salvation are both, another Gospel. Anyone that wants to know about John Mac and the CCM at Resolved knows. To know about the pragmatism of the Hyles "circus" and not know about the Holland/Mac "circus" would defy logic.

    It sounds to me almost like the politicians who don't want to have to be accountable so they choose not to be informed. That way, any action can be justified by ignorance, plausable deniability. I think the phrase is "leading from behind." Which is no leadership at all.

    Lastly, the old idea of either Calvinism or Arminianism being the choices has been well debunked and I think Doc O knows it. We are not called to either, we are to be Biblicists. He's not a simpleton as he claims. I have been blessed by Bro. O's ministry over the years, but the lack of clarity and separation as he said, in his last mile, should give pause to any pastor promoting this new ministry as authoritative on leadership issues and methodology in these days of compromise. To me, the whole session did communicate a subtle but evident, "move on, move on, nothing to see here" spirit. The repentance Doc O was so adamant about in his Hyles reference needs also to be demonstrated in this case. According to Pauline doctrine in II Corinthians, an understanding of separation (Chpt 6) leads to the practice of repentance (Chpt. 7). Repentance is for believers as well, including ministry leaders. My prayers are with Doc O.

  5. Lou,

    As someone who has spiritually invested in people who still have ties to NIU, I came away with this impression.

    Dr. O was very explicit in lamenting his disappointment in the one group of believers who he sees as mistaking his actions in claiming that they were borne out of his tacit approval of the changes  rather than understand they were solely based on his loyalty to the institution.  It was expressed that people should have privately talk with him rather than partaking in all the public banter about "Where is Les?"  But something major is missing.

    Is he not concerned about the other group who also mistook his actions as approval of the changes?  What about those still tied to NIU because they too saw his actions as approval, but rather than chide him for it they bought into all the changes.  Is he now going to talk with each one of them individually and make sure they understand the facts or is the posting of a video onto the Internet from this conference supposed to settle the matter?

    The same thing is true for those still involved with the camp side of the ministry.  They are leading people astray.  People who themselves will be loyal to the camp and college despite all the changes after all the current evangelists are gone.  Those evangelists will all have a convenient change of ministry preceded by a good natured dusting off  by their ministry friends.  What about the few people led down a path of compromise who never are led to understand what went wrong, why it is wrong, and why the spiritual leaders they trusted and followed chose to stay so long?

    "Call Les," we were told.  I can't.  I don't have his number, but I do have some people that I love that I wish he would sit down and visit with about NIU.  Help them to have their hearts lifted from Northland too, Les.

  6. Chuck Phelps, Rick Arrowood and Les Ollila took a big risk by doing this conference, and the Q&A in particular. If Les had gone to Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder or Tim Jordan for this kind of event that would have been for me a very ominous sign.

    Sadly, some of those of us on the right are rightly accused of attacking rather than embracing during times of trouble. Biblically balanced ministries need the spirit of Paul and of Barnabas if we would help a John Mark become profitable. To me, we encourage the guy when he's going right, admonish (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15) the guy when he's going wrong, and ultimately mark, avoid (Romans 16:17-18) and separate when he is far gone. It doesn't seem that complicated. If we are looking for a Shiboleth, we'll never be satisfied.

  7. "Easy prayerism and Lordship Salvation are both, another Gospel. Anyone that wants to know about John Mac and the CCM at Resolved knows. To know about the pragmatism of the Hyles "circus" and not know about the Holland/Mac "circus" would defy logic."

    These two things are not like each other. Some music you disagree with at a youth conference and a soteriology that requires repentance are not the same as immorality of the sort that is frowned on even by most pagan and a view of the KJV that makes people who claim to have been abducted by aliens seem sane.

  8. Lou,
    I'll address you, because it seems unadvised to try to engage, exhort, or edify an invisible person. I'm not sure when you started allowing anonymous posts. Nevertheless...

    I was not equating music with soteriology. My point was, that there is just as serious "separation" issues with JMac as with Hyles. At one time, Doc O recognized them, and practiced separation from Holland/JMac, just as he did with Hyles.

    Let me repeat, I believe they (JMac & Hyles) both promote unBiblical soteriology, as I stated. Thus, for Doc O to justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior, to me, completing negates the whole premise of the Conference and even the credibility of Doc O's other messages.

    However, even if you throw out the soteriology of both, both are pragmatists about ministry. JMac and Christian Rock, Hyles and the circus promotions. Both are employing the works of the flesh to accomplish the work of the ministry.

    Doc O said that Christian Rock was not sinful. That's JMac's position, the resolved conferences demonstrate such. That's NIU's current position.

    If it's not sinful, then is it spiritual, Doc? We don't know, because there was no follow up and the only explanation we got was that it's not as bad as going to Hyles.

    The "clearing" that Paul spoke of in II Cor. 7:11 was missing, all I heard was justification for pragmatism. Ironically, the constant referring to authority as justification for silence,...is one of the main corruptions of Hyles. How sad.

    1. Ps. Rogers: I appreciate what you've shared here. As for allowing anonymous, many I do not allow. Some I do if I feel it is something noteworthy or ought to get a reasoned response. Some who post as "anonymous" are known by me and have reason to remain anonymous. I tried to leave this one more open than most I have in the past.


  9. Lou,

    A revisiting of this great article by Pastor Ketchum, "Has God Changed The Old Paths For A New Radical Center?" (previously posted here at IDOTG) might help some to see the danger in explanation by Doc O, especially his endorsement of JMac.


  10. Lou

    Didn't Doc O further that which you've been warning of when he once again heaped lavish praise on John MacArthur, ignoring the compromise, during his public justification of his role in the NIU downfall? The fact that Doc O has once again mainstreamed himself into fundamentalism without being challenged about such a relationship w JMac, is signal to me that pragmatism is saturating fundamentalism.

    1. Ps. Rogers:

      I appreciate your input on this issue. Admittedly, I was very troubled by Doc O’s lavish praise for John MacArthur. It is no secret that I, as well as many many pastors/teachers, know and understand that JMac teaches a false gospel known as “Lordship Salvation.” Lordship Salvation (LS), as JMac teaches it, corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21). If I were to ever meet Dr. MacArthur in person my primary goal would be to recover him to repentance from the works based system he has for 20+ years advocated to the church of Jesus Christ. That Doc O can laud JMac as he did causes me to wonder if he (Doc O) is in whole-hearted agreement with JMac’s LS interpretation of the gospel, or does not know what LS is.

      That said I don’t know if I’ll ever understand how Doc O can go from what he once preached and believed on issue like CCM and evangelicalism, quitting NIU over its compromises and within days going on stage and closes by praising a man who essentially bridged the gap between separatist fundamentalism and New evangelicalism for many of our young and/or impressionable people.

      JMac occasionally sounds like he’s committed to biblical separatism, but I see in his ministry a pattern of cooperation with and host to a significant number of men of aberrant theology and practices (Piper, Mahaney, et. al. ). He writes Charismatic Chaos and then for years cooperates with and promotes the ministries of Charismatics John Piper and CJ Mahaney. JMac put those men in front of untold thousands of impressionable young people. His own church, through Rick Holland, created the Resolved (CCM/Rock) concert.

      I am straying. In the Q&A my approach would have been to begin with a question about the meeting with JMac. On Doc O’s reply I would have honed in on why the reversal on JMac in light of Doc O’s long time stand against the very kind of non-separatist evangelicalism (worldliness) that epitomizes the ministry of John MacArthur.

      Finally, I do agree that as long as a man is moving in the right direction we need to encourage that direction.


  11. A revisiting of this great article by Pastor Ketchum, "Has God Changed The Old Paths For A New Radical Center?" (previously posted here at IDOTG) might help some to see the danger in explanation by Doc O, especially his endorsement of JMac.