March 30, 2020

Archival Series: May the “Northland Heart” Perpetuate

Introduction (March 2020): Bob Jones University (BJU) has been set on much the same course that ultimately ruined the former Northland Baptist Bible College. BJU alumni look on with sadness as Steve Pettit and Sam Horn have converted the university into something almost unrecognizable. It is difficult to gather how the current BJU administration believes they can succeed with essentially the same changes that brought down Northland. Near the time Northland closed its doors former faculty member Dr. Dana Everson wrote what amounted to Northland’s obituary. We believe his thoughts are applicable to what is fast becoming the “tragedy” of BJU.

After a while, one runs out of adjectives to describe the tragedy of Northland. This recent news of SBTS’s decision NOT to bring the school under its wings after all is yet another embarrassing blow to the ministry.* I was not expecting the Southern Baptist support to be an improvement anyway, but their rejection of accepting the school as a gift seems to affirm the hopelessness of bringing the college into financial and ministry solvency.

One grief is added to another for those of us who felt a deep loyalty to what the school stood for in its best years. Was the school ever perfect? None of us believed that. But the overall direction, humility, and sincere attempt to be Biblical were consistent qualities over most of its existence.

The rapid ruin of the school brings to mind images of the Hindenburg. The fact that the disaster might have been prevented or at least delayed had there been honesty and a willingness at the top level 4-5 years ago (cf. Jeroboam in 1 Kings 12:8) to hear counsel from scores of pastors, alumni, and staff brings to mind images of the Titanic.

I hope no one will respond by saying “well, fundamentalist/conservative Baptist ministries are failing everywhere because they have become irrelevant, old-fashioned, or legalistic.” Northland and most of its supporting churches had much life and refreshing ministry as evidence of its heart and faithfulness to the Scriptures. I saw this first hand for over 12 years and continue to see this in Northland alumni in our own local church and school ministry.

These images may seem overinflated to those watching Northland Baptist Bible College’s demise from the outside. However, Northland had a lot of wonderful ministry for most of its years as an independent Baptist college. Thousands of people who have been trained, inspired, and encouraged by the school’s ministry are now seemingly watching the last faint pulses of the “Northland Heart.”

Hopefully, alumni and former faculty and staff who have transplanted the “Northland Heart” into themselves, and into their ministries and will perpetuate that kind of Biblical attitude till the Lord returns.

“Lord, in your mercy please bless and protect other schools and their leadership, which are doing your work with integrity and a right heart!” 

No doubt there will be last-gasp attempts to salvage the ministry, but unless the LORD by some miracle sends wholesale revival, R.I.P. Northland Baptist Bible College.

Dr. Dana F. Everson
Originally publish April, 2015.

*NIU a Gift? Thanks, but No Thanks!

Previous articles by Dr. Everson, on the tragedy that has become NIU:

Questions Answered on the Changes at NIU: An Insider's Report, Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

For Dr. Everson’s philosophy of music please see Sound Roots, his dissertation in book form.

Current Reading on the Changing of BJU

BJU Lurches Further Into Evangelicalism
“This is Not Your Fathers BJU,and Neither is BJU

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