April 24, 2014

Dan Patz Responds to a Woman Preaching in the NIU Chapel: A Critical Review

Dr. Lina AbuJamra Preaching at NIU
Northland International University (NIU) president Daniel Patz posted an article at his blog on April 23.  His article is titled, “College Chapel and ‘Women Preachers’.”1 Apparently Mr. Patz was responding to concerns raised on the NIU FaceBook page and IMO the previous IDOTG article, A Woman Preaches in NIU’s Chapel. The issue was Dr. Lina AbuJamra in the NIU chapel preaching a Bible message to the student body.2 The Patz blog article attempts to clarify what happened at NIU.

Before publishing this response to the Patz article I consulted several pastors for their reaction to his article.  What follows is a compilation of their thoughts with mine in a critical review of the Patz article.

There are several points to debate with Mr. Patz:
1. NIU seeks to simultaneously to define their chapel music ministry as a time of gathered worship and their speaking time as a “convocation.”  Those who follow the regulative principle on worship universally recognize that a key element of New Testament “worship” is the exposition and declaration of God’s word.  If the 1st part of the chapel is “worship,” then it follows that the bible-teaching part is worship.  I Timothy 2 provides instruction for the assembling of believers when involved in worship.  It is spiritually cavalier to assume that a Christian college chapels “worship” time should not be governed by the regulative principles of worship.
2. A Christian College is a place where “life touches life” in order to disciple the next generation of Great Commission servants. What is modeled is what is molded!  Those who would have their daughters move into a life of service with a meek and quiet spirit, adorning the gospel would do well to beware of NIU.  Their chapel speaker was irreverent, “the sexy part,” less than lady-like and certainly not the model of a meek and quiet spirit one would expect to mold future evangelicals. 
3. The contents of the chapel message reflected a feel-good, Schuller-esque, experiential theology.  Dr. Lina actually told the students “God spoke to her.”  If this is a model of NIU’s new hermeneutic, it's frightening to say the least.
Further issues with the Patz article include:
1. Mr. Patz wrote, “I shared with Dr. AbuJamra my position on women and preaching; she agreed and told me that she would not preach.”  Why does someone have to tell a female about their position on female preachers if she does not preach? It’s clear that Dan Patz knew and recognized her as being a “preacher.” What pastor/Bible college president has to tell a single lady missionary “do not preach” when they invite a woman to present her mission field and/or ministry? This was not about Dr. AbuJamra presenting her ministry, very little of that was clearly given, only slightly mentioned.

2. Mr. Patz went on to note that her message did “bless many students and staff.”  With that claim we have New Evangelical pragmatism: the ends (blessings) justify the means (a woman preaching).

3. Whether teaching, presenting or preaching we have her stating, “...I work part time in the ER. The rest of the time I teach God’s Word, and I write. I didn’t see that coming, but ya know that’s kind of the sexy part of saying it…” Totally inappropriate and disgraceful, yet no mention of it by Mr. Patz.
The Patz article is a continuation of what the compromised evangelicals at Sharper Iron (SI) wrote to legitimize and/or excuse having a woman preaching in the NIU chapel service. Mr. Patz, for example, wrote, “I do agree that the tone and direction of her testimony was more than I anticipated and expected.” What was presented from the pulpit in chapel was far, far beyond a testimony. Dr. AbuJamra made a very brief mention of her testimony within the first three minutes of her sermon, but for the balance she was preaching to the student body. If this were a man, in those pants, instead of a female there would be no question, did “hepreach or not? “He” preached!

Mr. Patz comes close to, but ultimately sidesteps admitting that this was “preaching.”  Mr. Patz at least knew her reputation as that of a preacher, and went forward with having her. He had to ask her not to preach. He knew and now he’s trying to do damage control.

The article by Mr. Patz does not clear up what took place in chapel nor does it acknowledge the wrong, and there is no genuine repentance for it.  This was wrong and needs to be admitted as such.


I encourage all guests to read Don Johnsons We're Not Comfortable, So Heres a Statement About Something in which he reviews the Dan Patz article.


2) Lina AbuJamra, Failure is Your Friend
Lina AbuJamra preaching Failure is Your Friend is now available at Sermon Audio.

Related Reading:


  1. Lou,

    1 Timothy 2:11-15, "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."

    Even a quick examination of these verses will find several areas of great concern with what happened at NIU. A woman is to learn in silence in all subjection to a man and is never to instruct a men by grasping away from him his God-given authority. The raising of a defense such as "this isn't a church" or "she really wasn't preaching" are poor answers to the wrong questions. The text demands an answer to this question: Did she or did she not use the Scriptures to instruct men concerning the Faith? Yes! Finally, were her actions, mannerisms. posture, words, and apparel representative of "holiness with sobriety"? No!

  2. Mr. Pat'z comments were shared with the faculty and staff on Wednesday prior to his blog posting, after questions were discussed on Northland's Facebook page on Tuesday. Your article appeared on Wednesday, so its not at all clear that his statement is "in response to your article". Also note that the incident was not hidden, but was livestreamed on Tuesday to anyone who wanted to watch it, making your claim to have "revealed" the event rhetorical posturing, or at best, sloppy journalism. Shouldn't we expect better from someone appointed by God to preserve and defend the truth against falsehood?

    1. While I appreciate your concerns, you are mistaken. My original article, on the woman preaching in the NIU chapel, was posted on Tuesday, April 22 @ 3:30pm. Furthermore, SI did not run their Filing, in which the SI leadership supports women speaking in NIU’s chapel, until Wednesday, April 23 @ 11:39am. Logically Mr. Patz was, therefore, on Wednesday morning responding to, addressing the faculty, staff and Miss AbuJamra (even prior to posting at his blog) to my article. The only public article available at the time addressing what had taken place in NIU’s chapel.

      Furthermore, I don’t recall suggesting the event was hidden. I was made aware of and watched the replay video on the NIU site, on Tuesday, shortly after the chapel was finished.

      I’ll give you benefit of the doubt on “revealed,” but I will say that had I not revealed NIU having a woman preaching in chapel it, in all likelihood, would have gone unnoticed.

      I believe you mean well in raising your concerns with me. I trust you have reconsidered your reaction, and that I might have gained your confidence.


  3. Thanks for responding. Please bear with me; I'm not trying to be obstreperous, but the gravity of the subject, and your role as defender of the Gospel, demands accuracy.

    It doesn't necessarily follow logically. The administration at Northland was responding directly to questions raised on their Facebook page more than two hours before the IDOTG article was posted. Mr. Patz shared his statement with Staff and Faculty on Tuesday morning, in response to questions that had been raised by alumni and others. Claiming that Mr. Patz was responding to your posting rather than to concerned alumni would take more than the assertion that your blog was the cause. The only evidence offered is a qualifier(Clearly), which can't support the warrant. The issue is one of influence; you're suggesting that Northland's President jumped because you published, and that's a big claim.

    The use of "revealed" presupposes that the event was hidden. Otherwise, the use of "revealed" would be nonsensical. In asking the reader to agree with the term "revealed," we're implicitly being asked to agree with the characterization of the event as "hidden." Its a common rhetorical device used by journalists to frame the story as a conspiracy and themselves as the hero. Its about themselves rather than the story.

    We might claim that the event would go unnoticed had the article not been published on the blog. I can grant that had you not published, readers would not have read about it in THIS blog. But its a stretch to claim that it would have gone unnoticed had IDOTG not published. It was already being noticed and discussed on other venues. You could claim that it MIGHT have gone unnoticed by those who read IDOTG, but that would assume that your readers rely only upon this blog for news, and that's doubtful. Again, its a point of rhetorical positioning, and entirely self-referential.

    These are common tactics used by journalists to sway readers: framing a report of an event as a revelation of a coverup; positioning themselves as the champion for daring to reveal it, and overstating their importance to their readers and the influence of their report on future events. But as I asked at the top, doesn't the gravity of the issue, and your calling to speak on behalf of truth, warrant something better than rhetorical flourishes and journalistic conventions?

    1. I want to continue to address your concerns. On the “unnoticed” comment, I would edit that to read, “largely unnoticed.” In part I am firm in my conviction that the female preaching in chapel would go unnoticed by the general Christian community at large, including pastors and parents of former/current NIU students for several reasons. One of those follows.

      In February 2013 NIU officially participated in the CCM/Rock (OshKosh, WI) “I am Redeemed” concert tour. I viewed numerous concert photos myself, and posted images from the event, that included Matt Olson bringing a devotional, Trevor Gearhart acting in an official capacity moderating a Q&A for Citizen Way band, and other images depicting NIU students working the display table(s) for the CCM band(s), Big Daddy Weave in particular.

      Once I posted this article NIU Plunges Headlong… with links to those pictures on FaceBook they were purged post-haste. There’s more to that story, but suffice it to say that NU has taken steps to hide, bury, cover-up what is going on. That CCM/Rock concert wasn’t the first time NIU sought to purge, bury images/videos from the Internet to keep others from seeing what was going on.

      Again I want to encourage you to email me. If you want to know how I can arrive at some very firm positions about this and previous issues with NIU email me. I do not need to know your identity, use a generic email.



  4. Brother: You have made a compelling case. I have adjusted the article above to address your legitimate and well said concerns. There is one other significant and related matter. I'd like to share that with you, but it must be done off line. If you will email me I will share this other significant factor with you. indefense06@gmail.com

    KInd regards,


  5. Brother: I have done some additional research. At the NIU Facebook page I note that Scott Dunford (Vice President of Advancement & Global Opportunities) posted a comment about the woman preaching in chapel. He was asking folks with concerns to discuss it with him off line. That appeared on Tuesday, April 22 @ 6:17pm. It was followed later with replies. Two points:

    1) My article was up 3 hours prior.
    2) Were there additional comments posted prior to Scott’s 6:17pm comment. He appears to be responding to concerns that may have already appeared there. Is it possible that prior to his 6:17pm comment on the FaceBook page prior comments were purged/removed?

    With NIU’s history of buying images and text from previous controversial events in its recent history it seems to me a very real possibility that it may have been done again here.


    1. Brother: You wrote, “The administration at Northland was responding directly to questions raised on their Facebook page more than two hours before the IDOTG article was posted.”

      I don’t intend to get much more into this, but at NIU’s FaceBook I looked again and the comments at FaceBook that you suggest were being responded to by the admin (Scott Dunford) do not appear at the NIU FaceBook site. There I see, in chronological order, Scott posting his response to comments, but as the first comment in the thread. How can that be when you say that Scott was responding to comments at FaceBook? Comments had to appear for Scott to first read and then respond to, but those previous comments, as far as I can tell, are not there. Were they there, and if so, where did they go? Or was Scott responding to comments that were on line somewhere else on FaceBook?

      My friend Pastor Brian Ernsberger posted the following at Don Johnson’s blog, “I do credit Dan with not removing stuff off websites once people saw it and started raising questions like the previous administration did

      That’s true as far as the NIU site itself goes, but at FaceBook it seems to me that comments may have been purged, just like used to happen under the Matt Olson administration.

      If you can link me to the comments at FaceBook that still appear there prior to Scott’s response I’d appreciate that.

  6. Thought I’d share some of the comments posted at the NIU FaceBook page. These are reactions to Dr. AbuJamra preaching in the NIU chapel. These were directed to Scott Dunford NIU’s VP of Advancement & Global Opportunities.

    Scott, she taught the students in John 21, and her message even had four points. Do you recognize that?

    It seems strange that the school would "advertise" the event here on FB; have it streaming and available afterwards online; but not be willing to discuss it. How exactly would you characterize the chapel speech-act? Was it a testimony? Was it addressing "a particular topic"? How is reading, explaining, and applying Scripture the way she did not considered "preaching"? Even if you considered it teaching instead of preaching, 1 Tim. 2:11-13 specifically mentions a woman should not teach a man. Is Northland exempt from obeying that since it is a college and not a church?

    Scott, women have occasionally given testimony during chapel (Works of God chapels, post-mission trip chapels, etc), but Lina herself said during her "address" that she thought she was the first woman to "speak in chapel" and slipped by calling what she was doing a "sermon." Something isn't jiving.

    I would be interested to hear NIU’s perspective and distinction between “preaching” and a “testimony & book update” as well as discuss the present NIU administration’s seeming desire to continue a process of redefinition that has been publicly ongoing for the past 2 years.

    Scott, you have already made the NIU position clear with the public Facebook posts. I am just publicly posting our sadness at the direction the school has taken.

    Wow...this obviously isn't the Northland I graduated from 10 years ago