February 28, 2011

SBC Decides Against Expelling Members of Pro-Homosexual Baptist Alliance: What is the “Militant” Separatist to Do?

The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee decided earlier this week that a church’s membership in a pro-gay Baptist group does not automatically disqualify it from being part of the conservative Baptist denomination.”1
It is compelling irony that on the very day that the Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale) Advancing the Church conference closed news of the SBC decision on homosexuality is published. This news stirs a few questions. Questions that must be directed to SBC pastor Dr. Mark Dever and self-described separatists who featured, shared the Lansdale platform with and ministered in a cooperative effort alongside him.
•Does the Bible have enough to say about homosexuality to compel Dr. Dever to obey the Lord’s commands and withdraw from the SBC?

•Will Drs. Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder and Tim Jordan tolerate, allow for, ignore and/or excuse this news and Dr. Dever if he does not separate from the SBC?

•Will Drs. Doran, Bauder and Jordan admonish Dr. Dever as a brother to separate from the SBC as openly as they embraced and legitimized his ministry and associations at Lansdale last week?

•Will Drs. Doran, Bauder and Jordan offer justification for having featured and shared a platform with a non-separatist SBC pastor?

•Will Drs. Doran, Bauder and Jordan, realize they have erred, then apologize for having featured and ministered alongside SBC pastor, Dr. Mark Dever?

•Will Drs. Doran, Bauder and Jordan repent for reaching out to, featuring, ministering with and thereby endorsing the ministry of Dr. Mark Dever?

•Will Sharper Iron and Brother Kevin Mungons rethink and publicly recognize that the kind of separatism that Drs. Doran, Bauder and Jordan are currently practicing is contradictory to that of Dr. Ernest Pickering as he defined it in Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church?2
The SBC remains a liberal denominational structure. While some rooting out of liberalism has been accomplished within SBC schools, at the core the SBC allows for elements and persons that are a near anti-God sub-culture to operate and spread influence within the New Testament church.

Does the decision to allow for pro-homosexual rights churches to remain in the SBC qualify as direct disobedience to the Word of God? Will this decision from the SBC Executive Committee,3 finally be enough for Drs. Doran, Bauder, Jordan and Matt Olson to cease from reaching out to, featuring and worse exposing the impressionable among us to non-separatist, compromised, erring brothers?
LtoR: Doran, Jordan, Dever, Bauder, Harbin

Is this decision from the SBC finally enough for a segment of men in fundamental Baptist circles to finally live in fidelity, without partiality, to the God-ordained mandates to “admonish, withdraw from, mark and avoid” alleged “conservative” evangelicals and their fellowships? To withdraw from men that can remain within, allow for, minister along side and financially support the SBC in the wake of decisions such as this latest? (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15 Romans 16:17-18)


Photo by Darrell Goemaat/Baptist Bulletin. Used by permission.

1) The Christian Post.

2) Dr. Ernest Pickering, “The Separatist Cause is Not Advanced by Featuring Non-Separatists?”
“With the prayers and admonition of God’s people those men (Doran Bauder, Jordan, Olson) might be recovered and reverse course before much longer. I am hopeful they will one day repent and invest the balance of their lives undoing the damage they are presently doing to authentic biblical separatism. The kind of militant, consistent, balanced separatism that Dr. Ernest Pickering defined in Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church.”
3) SBC Executive Committee

Site Publisher’s Note:
It was my intention this morning to begin a series of short summary articles in regard to the embracing and cooperative ministry efforts with so-called “conservative” evangelicals. Because of its timeliness, this news from the SBC will be the first in this series to summarize the waning of authentic biblical separatism that has been taking place in recent months. Once I conclude this series of summary articles I will be moving to a discussion of how the Gospel figures into the convergence of self-described separatists with the non-separatist evangelicals.

February 25, 2011

Archival Series: Your First Step Won’t Be Your Last: Avoiding the Path to Compromise

Few people walk away from the faith suddenly. Usually it is an incremental series of compromises that eventually tear down the absolute authority of Scripture.”1

A Christian does not go to bed one night in fidelity to the Scriptures and wake up in the morning a full-blown compromiser. If compromise is going to happen, it will happen over time. The first step of compromise is the hardest. Who hasn’t faced the choice to remain true to biblical principles or to take the easy road of compromise? The Spirit of God pricks our consciences when we face those choices. You know the voice; Scripture comes to mind, and if we listen, it protects us from making wrong choices. If we have taken that first step of compromise, subsequent steps become easier to take. The term “slippery slope” is a very good way to describe the road to compromise and modernism. Set one foot on the slope of compromise, and you’ll find the rest of the downhill slide quick and easy.

You’ve heard the expression—“One foot over the grave and the other on a banana peel.” In a small way, that statement illustrates the threat of the Church Growth, Seeker, and Emergent Church movements we find ourselves confronted with today. Those ministries are the “grave” in that they are led by men who run roughshod over the Word of God. The “banana peel” is listening to them. There is a strange allurement and attraction with cults and compromising ministries. Today, you may hold the high ground with both feet fixed on the absolute authority of the Bible. However, once you decide to keep an open mind about the philosophy and practices of organizations like Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek and Rick Warren’s (Purpose Driven) Saddleback churches and the movements they represent, you will have hung one foot over an open grave and placed the other on the banana peel.

The Law of Gravity: It is easier to get pulled down into compromise than it is to pull the compromiser up to the high ground you occupy. If only out of curiosity you begin to interact with compromisers, to read them, and to begin a dialogue with them, you may be on your way to becoming one of them. You might like to learn who and what these movements are, if only to understand and refute them. Your motive may be good—you intend to hold your own ground—but that is not usually the way it works. Stand a 200-pound man on a chair and a 125-pound eighth grader on the ground. Let them clasp hands and see who wins the tug-of-war. You might think you have enough spiritual muscle to resist the force of gravity, which is the magnetic attraction of the Church Growth and Emergent movements, but we have seen enough examples of those who succumbed to the appeal to realize that anyone can be pulled down the road of compromise. If you show an interest in compromise, the compromisers will become interested in you.

How does one start down the road of compromise? For most, it probably starts with some disappointment or disillusionment. For others, it may be the attraction of what appears to be a successful, exciting, and vibrant ministry or organization.

In any working environment, even Christian ministries, there is the possibility that someone you trust and appreciate might one day let you down. I spent eight years on two different Bible college faculties. I loved my students, prayed for them, and poured my heart and soul into them. It would be na├»ve of me to think that I never rubbed one of my students the wrong way and offended him or her. Careless words and an insensitive heart are some ways I may have disappointed or discouraged a young person. If you’re out there, and I offended you, I want to make it right. Any Christian in a position of leadership, who truly cares for those in his care, should want to right any offense. There is no such thing as the perfect job or ministry because there are no perfect people. Because you interact with imperfect people, you will run into disappointment. There is never too much water that has run under the bridge to restore fellowship and to rekindle your joy in the Lord.

I have spent many years in both full-time ministry and the secular workplace. It does not take long to learn that you are going to meet with discouragement in either sphere. I have been gainfully employed on Monday and unemployed on Tuesday. Twice in the last 25 years, I have known what it is like to wonder where the next paycheck is coming from. My wife and I have been in the grocery store with a short list, hoping we would not have to leave anything behind once we discovered our total at the checkout. I have looked at my wife and children and reminded God that they need to see Him work on their behalf and provide for them through me. Then reassuring truths like the following come to mind:
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread,” (Ps. 37:25).

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” (Matthew 6:31-33).
There will be times of fear, concern, and worry; but they are also times of rich blessing from God. The trials that come in life are not easy to go through. Who hasn’t questioned God at one time or another when trials and difficulties have come? God is in the trials; He is teaching you things to build you into what He wants you to become for Him and His glory. The Lord is with you in the trials. He has blessings on the other side waiting for you; you would miss them if you decided to cut and run from the lesson God has for you. Lest anyone think I am some kind of spiritual giant who is impervious to worry and fear, let me tell you this: More than once, I have been afraid, I have worried, I have questioned God. But there is one thing I did not do: I did not quit!

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the bills are high,
When you want to smile, but have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out.
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Author Unknown

Don’t let those inevitable trials and disappointments that come in life and ministry turn your head. Don’t get caught up in the thrill and excitement of the Church Growth & emergent movements you see reported in various media. Big things don’t necessarily mean good things. Don’t measure success or blessing the way man does. Who wouldn’t want to have—or be part—a large following? If all of us were honest, we would admit that we would get more excited about preaching to (or being part of) a crowd of 10,000 than to a crowd of 10. That is the flesh speaking to us, and if you are like me, it can sound pretty good. We all need to remind ourselves that with God, whether it be 10 or 10,000, it’s all the same to Him.

I have had the privilege of preaching at state-of-the-art venues where more than 3,000 were in the service. I have also had the privilege to preach in a 10-foot by 12-foot room under a sheet-metal roof with only a candle to light my Bible so three souls (through an interpreter) could hear the “wonderful words of life.” There I was, standing on a cold concrete floor, preaching from a Bible so poorly lit I could hardly make out the words. I don’t remember the text from which I preached or even what I said that night, but I still remember thinking to myself, The preachers back in America don’t get to do this.
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example,” (Phil. 3:17).
Preacher boys and Christian young men and women: Why don’t you decide to become the type of Christian who might be the example for other Christians to follow? I am not talking about turning into a high-minded, puffed-up, pharisaical snob. Set out to become a man or woman who, above all things, wants to please God with his or her life. While you are growing and maturing into that kind of example, look for and mark those among you who set an example you can follow and pass that example on to those who will one day follow you.

Young people, you’ve got it all ahead of you. Don’t listen to the voices and movements of compromise. Keep close to the Lord Jesus Christ! He is the living Word of God! When men compromise the Word of God, they compromise their allegiance to Jesus Christ, whom they claim as Lord and Savior. Don’t listen to men who have already caved in and made the compromise.
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus,” (2 Tim. 1:13, emphasis added).

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers,” (Titus 1:9, emphasis added).

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession,” (Heb. 4:14, emphasis added).
In personal life, professions, or ministry, any one of us might prefer the easy road rather than to face trial, struggles, and frustration. Many of us can look at our lives and find times when compromise might have been convenient and even a possibility we considered. Hold fast! Don’t do it! Stand firm! Don’t quit!

In seasons of life, there will be times when the wind will howl and the waves will crash. In those tempests, you will hear the calls to give in, to take an easier road. Oh, but listen for a familiar voice! You have heard His voice before. “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). The winds will cease, the seas will calm, the clouds will part; and there will be sunshine again. Walk with Him, talk to Him, and trust in Him. “Hold fast” to the doctrine and to your profession of the One who gave Himself for you.

Young people, there are godly men and women in Bible believing churches and Bible colleges and interacting with you at some blog sites who love you and want to see you go on to experience the best God has for you. If you take that first step of compromise today, you will wake up tomorrow morning ready to take the next step. With each successive step, your “first love” (Rev. 2:4) will eventually become a hazy memory, wiped away by a gradual slide into the shallow, murky waters of the modern church growth and marketing culture.

Keep those movements and their advocates at arms’ length. Do not listen to them. Do not read them. If you want to understand what these movements stand for, consult someone who can counsel you from the Word of God. From a balanced biblical perspective, you can be shown just how far the Church Growth and Emergent movements have drifted from the moorings of Scripture.

The work of God that will count for eternity has been done and will be done by Christian men and women who did not quit, who did not compromise, and who did not retreat when the testing came.

Yours faithfully,

Lou Martuneac

Originally published at Sharper Iron, (May 23, 2007). Reproduced by permission.

1) Dr. Mike Harding, a thread comment from Sharper Iron under, Are You REALLY a Fundamentalist?

For Related Reading See:
Al Mohler Signs The Manhattan Declaration: Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism?

John Piper to Feature Rick Warren at 2010 Desiring God

From D.A. Carson’s For the Love of God, volume 2, Jan. 23 entry:
One of the most striking evidences of sinful human nature lies in the universal propensity for downward drift. In other words, it takes thought, resolve, energy, and effort to bring about reform. In the grace of God, sometimes human beings display such virtues. But where such virtues are absent, the drift is invariably toward compromise, comfort, indiscipline, sliding disobedience and decay that advances, sometimes at a crawl and sometimes at a gallop, across generations.

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, and obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.

We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated
.” (bold added)
Site Publisher Addendum (2/25/11):
The original publication of this article was in part a reaction to the announcement by Joe Zichterman that he had joined the membership of the Willow Creek Community Church. He has since moved on to Multnomah University. Please see, The Joseph Zichterman Issue. There are of course elements in this article that have a clear application to the current craze among some self-described separatists to embrace, minister along side and host non-separatist evangelicals in Fundamental churches and their educational institutions.

February 21, 2011

Coming Tomorrow, The Separatist Cause...

To coincide with this weeks Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale) Conference, Advancing the Church I am posting a new article. Come back tomorrow for, The Separatist Cause is Not Advanced by Featuring Non-Separatists.   For related reading on the convergence of Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism at Lansdale see Ps. Brian Ernsberger’s Dead Man’s Curve at The Parsings of a Preacher. Until tomorrow, for your consideration, the following is my (revised and expanded) September 2010 announcement that Dr. Kevin Bauder and Dr. Dave Doran would be joining SBC pastor Dr. Mark Dever on the platform at Lansdale.

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Questions have now been answered about this statement from the *Central Seminary Ethos Statement on Fundamentalism, “For this reason, we believe that careful, limited forms of fellowship are possible.”

Dr. Mark Dever will be the keynote speaker at the Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale) Conference Advancing the Church in 2011. Dr. Dave Doran and Dr. Kevin Bauder are joining Dever on the platform.

Dave Doran, of course, has already hosted three evangelicals in his pulpit and seminary. Will Kevin Bauder soon be opening the classrooms of Central Baptist Seminary to the evangelicals? To date he finds no significant differences that might give him pause. “Careful, limited forms of fellowship...?” This is only the beginning of what will be greater forms of compromise for the sake of fellowship with the evangelicals.

The magnetic attraction for men like Bauder and Doran to the so-called “conservative” evangelicals is Calvinistic soteriology in the form of Lordship Salvation. Lordship Salvation is the so-called “pure gospel” rallying point. Because of that point of agreement Bauder and Doran have shown a growing willingness to tolerate, allow for and excuse the aberrant doctrine, worldliness in ministry and **ecumenical compromises of the evangelicals.
Anyone believing this cooperative fellowship with Dever is going to be the full extent “limited form of fellowship,” is mistaken.
Mark Dever is just the latest step toward greater compromise of genuine biblical separatism for expanding the boundaries of limited fellowship. Dever is the bridge that will take Bauder, Doran and those they are seeking to influence to completely embrace the entire T4G/Gospel Coalition community. This step toward Dever is a baby-step. Compromise is a learned behavior. It typically progresses this way: Crawl, then Walk, then Run. Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran have, in my opinion, just about outgrown the crawling stage.

It is timely to repeat the prophetic commentary of Dr. Gerald Priest who in reacting to Bauder’s incendiary Let’s Get Clear on This noted,
“Kevin has been quite lavish in his praise of conservative evangelicals while castigating so-called fundamentalists. Yet he has spent very little time warning us about the pitfalls and problems of conservative evangelicalism…. What I fear is that we may be allowing a Trojan horse into the fundamentalist camp. And after a while, if we keep going down this track, any significant difference between conservative evangelical and the fundamentalist institutions may disappear.”
That is exactly what we are witnessing in these days. The Trojan horse is being brought into the fundamentalist camp and it is Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Tim Jordan, and NIU president Matt Olson that are holding the gate open and leading it in. All doubt has been removed on the bent of these men toward closing ranks with evangelicals. Is this a fundamentalism worth saving?


*See- Cogitations Stemming From the Central/Bauder Ethos Statement

**The reaction from Bauder and Doran to Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration was to dismiss it as merely an “occasional inconsistency, single episode” (KB), merely “a wrong decision based on bad judgment.”(DD)

February 16, 2011

The RAP on Mark Dever: What is the “Militant” Separatist to Do? (continued)

The first installment of this series was The RAP on Mark Dever: What is the “Militant” Separatist to Do? We reviewed Dr. Dave Doran’s personal reasons for insisting there is no need for him to justify his cooperative ministry effort on the platform with SBC pastor Dr. Mark Dever at the Feb. 22-25 Leadership Conference at Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale). I also provided a transcript of an interview Dr. Mark Dever conducted with RAP, Hip Hop artists Shai Linne and Curtis “Voice” Allen. We considered the revelation that Mark Dever has embraced and is promoting the RAP, Hip Hop culture. We also documented Dr. Dave Doran’s personal, “biblical justifications for and biblical boundaries of ministerial cooperation and fellowship.” Dave Doran asked,

Do Mark Dever and CBTS obscure the distinction between the church and the world by denying the transforming power of the gospel, by embracing worldly approaches for the church’s growth and/or worship, or by failing to articulate and practice genuine church membership and discipline?”
Brother Doran answered, “No.” From the transcript of the Dever/Linne/Allen interview at 9Marks, however, we now know that the correct answer is, “Yes” to the bolded portion above.

Following are select excerpts from Mark Dever’s interview with RAP artists Linne and Allen.
“I’ve listened to this [RAP, Hip Hop] for a few years anyway and you gave me your Atonement album and I loved that.”

“The rhyming, I love words, and the complexity of the rhyming, it’s dazzling. Forget Jesus in this; I’m artistically interested. Then as I understand it I’m fascinated. It has the Gospel clearly…It is more theologically dense than any other kind of music I’ve ever heard. I love Bach’s oratorios, but this beats them as far as theological density.”

“I can testify as one Beethoven lover that I have listened to this [RAP] music on and off, with all the rest of my music, for a few years. But the last three days just only listening to this, and listening to it again and again, I liked it when I began, I like it even more now.”

“Get [Storiez] for one of your ministers who works with children in your church, and I bet you’d encourage them.”

“Felix…is one of our members here [Capital City BC] and did some rapping for us in one of our member’s meetings...and I would say it was well received by our congregation.”
These quotes show that Dever’s admiration for RAP, Hip Hop is not an “occasional inconsistency…a single episode,” nor merely “a wrong decision based on bad judgment.”5 No, Dever has “for a few years” been personally listening to, encouraging and promoting this form of worldly pop culture into his personal life and ministry.
Significant doctrinal differences are certainly more serious than differences of cultural philosophy. But I would argue that differences of philosophy of culture are more dangerous because they are more subtle. Allow me to explain. If someone in my congregation is exposed to an argument for infant baptism or the continuation of sign gifts, I can fairly easily point him to exegetical and theological reasons we do not hold to such doctrines. But if someone in my congregation is exposed to sacred music that is fleshly, it is much more difficult to demonstrate why that music is fleshly because expression of abstract emotion (that’s what music is) is difficult to articulate.6
If Dave Doran and Kevin Bauder are on the platform at Lansdale next week tacit endorsement of and legitimacy is given to Dever’s affinity for and promotion of RAP. This is the kind of “mixing and mingling” that has not been seen in sixty years, but with Bauder, Doran, Matt Olson (at NIU) and Tim Jordan leading the way, a convergence with non-separatist evangelicals is coming into vogue. This kind of fellowship and cooperative ministry with non-separatist evangelicals will not end with Mark Dever at Lansdale. Greater compromise is sure to follow.

One of Brother Doran’s guiding principles for necessitating separatism is “embracing worldly approaches for the church’s growth and/or worship” that, furthermore, “obscures the distinction between the church and the world.” Let’s Get Clear on This, Mark Dever’s long time personal embrace and promotion of the RAP, Hip Hop medium in the NT church is a CRYSTAL clear case that the biblical boundary has been crossed. Unless Dever removes himself from the Lansdale conference, is excused from it, or repents Dave Doran has one option if he is to be faithful to his own principles for biblical separatism as he defined them. So, what is a self-described militant, biblical separatist to do?

In the days leading up to the February 22nd opening of the Lansdale conference we will anticipate whether or not a man who claims personal “militancy” in separatism, who has stated in black and white terms his convictions for ministerial cooperation and fellowship will hold to his convictions in principle and in actual application.

In his 1995 article, In Defense of Militancy, Dave Doran wrote,
It is difficult for most of us to handle the relational pressure that comes from being a separatist without a strong, compelling belief that it is not just an option, but the right thing to do.”7
Could Dave Doran be under relational pressure? Just as it was in 1995 “separation is not an option, but the right thing to do.” It’s the right thing to do today just as it was sixteen years ago. This week Brother Doran has to decide if he will be a militant separatist as he defined it. Or will he opt to appear with SBC pastor Mark Dever at Lansdale and thereby confirm he has become another whose voice for and commitment to militancy in the defense of biblical separatism that has waned?
It seems to me that those who want to rid contemporary Fundamentalism of its alleged belligerence should watch the pathway carefully. The last group of people to take that path found it to be a winding road which ends up in a theological wasteland.”8
It becomes increasingly clear that Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder, Matt Olson, Tim Jordan are well down that “winding road” and seeking to influence this and the next generation of impressionable young people to join them there.


For related reading see, Is Northland International University, “Unchanged?” NBBC Position Statement on Contemporary Issues in Christianity and for reading on the convergence of Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism at Lansdale see Ps. Brian Ernsberger’s Dead Man’s Curve at The Parsings of a Preacher.

5) Quoting Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran respectively. With these comments they each dismissed Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration, which gave Christian recognition to the deadly enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18). See- Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration: Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism?

6) Scott Aniol, Is Music a Separation Issue? Preserving the Truth Conference, Jan. 2010.)

7) Dr. David Doran, In Defense of Militancy, Sentinel 11:2, Spring 1995.

8) Ibid.

Following are additional examples that reiterate and reinforce what we have considered from Mark Dever in his interview comments above.
“But there’s one access pass Mark Dever has lacked since his growing up days in rural Kentucky, one elusive audience and language he has not commanded, one world to which he is a stranger. Da ‘hood. Da block. Da peeps. Now, Mark and the Merita brothers at 9Marks are taking it to the street, the hip hop generation. They’re teaming up with Lamp Mode recording artists to produce a new holy hip hop cd called ‘The Church: Called and Collected.’ That’s gonna be hot–the 9 marks set to hip hop. Coming June 8th.” (Mark Dever Trying to Earn His Ghetto Card, Thabiti Anyabwile, May 5, 2010.)
Moving ahead to June 2010 to The Church Called and Collected, which is based on Mark Dever’s What is a Healthy Church? (9Marks of a Healthy Church) See, Ecclesiology Meets Hip Hop at The Gospel Coalition’s Between Two Worlds blog.
“Justin Taylor over at [The Gospel Coalition’s] Between Two Worlds has a post on the new album by LampMode that covers Mark Dever’s Nine Marks of a Healthy Church…. I believe that solid Christian hip-hop music is today’s hymns.” (Bryan Thornton, Voice of the Sheep, “The Church” is Hip-Hopping Good)

February 14, 2011

The RAP on Mark Dever: What is the “Militant” Separatist to Do?

In January Brother Don Johnson posted something i don’t understand1 at his blog an Ox Goad, eh. This article included an e-mail by Dr. Dave Doran published at his personal blog, which he had previously sent to Dr. Rick Arrowood. Doran’s article (01/24/11) was under the title, Arrowood, Dever and Me.

Dave Doran was reacting to Rick Arrowood’s open letter in which, among related subjects, he expressed concern about Doran’s intention to share a platform with Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) pastor Dr. Mark Dever at the Feb. 22-25 Leadership Conference at Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale).2 While some men may appreciate certain elements of Mark Dever’s ministry, many more have deep reservations about any degree of public ministry cooperation with him, as with many of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals. In Doran’s e-mail, which you can read for yourself in black and white, Doran offers his reasons for participating.

That said, let me offer my thinking about why I don’t believe my speaking there needs to be justified…. The shortened version is simply the answer to these questions:
(1) Do Mark Dever or CBTS extend Christian recognition and fellowship to those who deny the Faith?

(2) Do Mark Dever and CBTS oppose the granting of Christian recognition and fellowship to those who deny the Faith?

(3) Do Mark Dever and CBTS obscure the distinction between the church and the world by denying the transforming power of the gospel, by embracing worldly approaches for the church’s growth and/or worship, or by failing to articulate and practice genuine church membership and discipline?
I suppose someone could disagree with me about these, but my answers to these questions are, respectively, no, yes, and no. (bold added)
Those are Dr. Doran’s personal reasons for insisting there is no need for him to justify a cooperative ministry effort on the platform with Mark Dever at the Lansdale conference. Immediately following his three questions Doran added further explanation. Pay particular attention to the underlined portion as we move ahead.
“Since I believe that Christian fellowship and recognition is limited to those who embrace the Faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), that we cannot ignore or disregard God’s commands about separation (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Thess. 3:6-15), and that the distinction between the church and the world must be guarded (1 Cor. 5; 1 John 2:15-17), these are the biblical justifications for and biblical boundaries of ministerial cooperation and fellowship.”(underline added)
Are there any concrete reasons why militant, biblical separatists should avoid a cooperative ministry with Mark Dever? Does Mark Dever embrace any “worldly approaches for the church’s growth and/or worship?” Is there a clear “distinction between the church and the world [that] must be guarded?”

Mark Dever at SBTS
I have listened to and transcribed an interview with RAP artists Shai Linne and Curtis “Voice” Allen.3 Mark Dever hosted and conducted the interview. Pastor Dever’s comments included the following:
“I’ve been listening to both of your music, actually for some time, but a lot lately getting ready for this interview.”

“Is it expositional rapping… With you [Shai] the music is so word heavy that its almost like I’m attending a conference and just hearing an incredibly artfully given sermon.”

“In trying to get more of your music to listen to I am encountering a problem. CD’s seem to be disappearing.”

“It’s [Shai’s music] lyrically more intense…more complex, dense.

“I’ve listened to this [RAP/Hip Hop] for a few years anyway and you gave me your Atonement album and I loved that. Shai asked, “What is it that you [Dever] loved about that?” Dever replied,

“The rhyming, I love words, and the complexity of the rhyming, it’s dazzling. Forget Jesus in this; I’m artistically interested. Then as I understand it I’m fascinated. It has the Gospel clearly…. It is more theologically dense than any other kind of music I’ve ever heard. I love Bach’s oratorios, but this beats them as far as theological density.”

In discussing RAP being used in congregational music Dever said, “Christopher’s brother who is a member of our church who is going to uhhhh, let’s explore this idea of using this music congregationally.”

Christopher (unknown last name) speaking, “One of Shai’s songs, “Jesus is Alive,” in a Philadelphia concert and everyone knowing the words and singing that together…” Dever, “Yeah, I was singing along with it…I’ve heard it enough.”

“I can testify as one Beethoven lover that I have listened to this [RAP] music on and off, with all the rest of my music, for a few years. But the last three days just only listening to this, and listening to it again and again, I liked it when I began, I like it even more now.”

“[The Atonement] is a wonderful CD...If you’re listening and you haven’t listened to any of this [Christian hip hop music], that would be a great place to start [listening to it]. Something similar would be Curtis Voices’s Not Guilty.”

“I just want to give a word of testimony about Storiez one of your most recent ones Shai. That’s amazing, it’s very fun and clear. For people who have any kind of dim view about the medium [RAP/Hip Hop] I think listening to your stories is a very bright, cheerful, in a really fun rhyming way. I would say it’s a five stars out of five stars kind of success.

“I haven’t shared it with my wife yet because she wouldn’t give it back. So, I’m going to share it with her soon after I finish listening to it a few more times.”

“Get [Shai Linne’s Storiez] for one of your ministers who works with children in your church, and I bet you’d encourage them.”

In the Q&A after the formal interview closed you hear Dever say, “Felix…is one of our members here [Capital City BC] and did some rapping for us in one of our member’s meetings...and I would say it was well received by our congregation.”
These are not the comments of a man dabbling with, uncertain over, exploring or researching RAP and Hip Hop.
The interview comments are Mark Dever’s RAP sheet on the RAP, Hip Hop movement within the New Testament church.
The Mark Dever, Shai Linne, Curtis Allen interview is all one need hear to understand that Dever has embraced and is encouraging a carnal form of worship in the church that you would be exposed to in a worldly RAP concert.
“Indeed, a far better quality Calvinism still flourishes in very many churches, where souls are won and lives sanctified, and where Truth and practice are both under the rule of Scripture. Such churches have no sympathy at all with reporter Collin Hansen’s worldly-worship variety, who seek to build churches using exactly the same entertainment methods as most charismatics…. The new Calvinists constantly extol the Puritans, but they do not want to worship or live as they did.”4
In explaining why his sharing the platform with Mark Dever at Lansdale needs no justification Dave Doran wrote,
Do Mark Dever and CBTS obscure the distinction between the church and the world by denying the transforming power of the gospel, by embracing worldly approaches for the church’s growth and/or worship, or by failing to articulate and practice genuine church membership and discipline?”
Doran says, “No.” We now know, however, that the correct answer is, “Yes.” Mark Dever has embraced a worldly approach for the church. So, what is a self-described “militant” separatist to do? What does the separatist do who staked out “embracing worldly approaches for the church’s growth and/or worship” as the “boundaries of ministerial cooperation and fellowship?” Dave Doran wrote,
“The distinction between the church and the world must be guarded.... these are the biblical justifications for and biblical boundaries of ministerial cooperation and fellowship.”
We will continue this discussion in the next.


Please proceed to Part 2

For related reading on the convergence of Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism at Lansdale see Ps. Brian Ernsberger’s Dead Man’s Curve at The Parsings of a Preacher.

1) something i don’t understand

2) Dr. Rick Arrowood, Answering Questions About the Changes We Are Seeing in Fundamentalism
“Who really is changing as we see this new wave of picking and choosing, applying and justifying, defending and mitigating, ‘mixing and mingling’? If it is right for us to ‘platform fellowship’ with new-evangelicals and those in the SBC, why have we not had them preach in our colleges, seminaries and fellowships over the past sixty years? A Southern Baptist teaching theology in a fundamentalist church, college or seminary has his roots in Southern Baptist soil, and when transplanted temporarily to a fundamental church or school brings that soil with him.”
3) Christian RAP: Shai Linne/Voice Interview, Posted at 9Marks October 1, 2009.

4) Dr. Peter Masters: The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness
“A final sad spectacle reported with enthusiasm…is the Together for the Gospel conference, running from 2006. A more adult affair convened by respected Calvinists [including Mark Dever], this nevertheless brings together cessationists and non-cessationists, traditional and contemporary worship exponents, and while maintaining sound preaching, it conditions all who attend to relax on these controversial matters, and learn to accept every point of view. In other words, the ministry of warning is killed off, so that every error of the new scene may race ahead unchecked. These are tragic days for authentic spiritual faithfulness, worship and piety.”

February 11, 2011

Archival Series- A Pure Church or a Pure Gospel: Does it Really Matter?

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Several new articles are being prepared for publication next week at IDOTG. The first is a major article addressing one of the star personalites of the so-called conservative evangelicalism. Plus a related, short series to follow on biblical separation. This archived article A Pure Church or a Pure Gospel: Does it Really Matter first appeared on June 13, 2010.

In his July 2010 article There is a Difference and It’s a Name Changer Evangelist Gordon Phillips noted,
Kevin Bauder Discussing: Al Mohler’s “Occasional Inconsistency?” Dr. Bauder’s remarks on Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration (MD) reveals a drift toward compromise under the banner of tolerance. A drift very similar to that of another self described biblical separatist who determined signing the MD was merely a “wrong decision based on bad judgment.” In the thread Evangelist Gordon Phillips contributed a comment that I excerpted and added to the main article. He wrote,

I disagree with Dr. Bauder that Dr. Mohler was inconsistent to his own principles in the matter. On the contrary, I believe that Dr. Mohler revealed to us his principles by signing the MD.”
Afterward Brother Gordon developed additional commentary in regard to Kevin Bauder Discussing: Al Mohler’s “Occasional Inconsistency?” With his additional commentary, that serves as a companion article, I am welcoming Evangelist Gordon Phillips, a first time guest contributor.

I [Gordon Phillips] recently ran across this statement from Dr. Kevin Bauder,
It has been suggested that we practice ecclesiastical separation because we are concerned about the purity of the church. Strictly speaking, that is not true. We practice ecclesiastical separation because we are concerned about the purity of the gospel. Christian fellowship and unity are created by the gospel, and they cannot exist where the gospel is denied. (Thinking About the Gospel,
Part Five: The Gospel and Christian Fellowship, In the Nick of Time blog, accessed June 7, 2010.)
In reading those words I initially sensed that it may contain an intentional, but very subtle swipe at the work of one of his renowned predecessors at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Ernest Pickering. Dr. Pickering’s book, Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church, would be considered a primer for this generation on the Biblical principles and historical context that are the foundations of Fundamentalism’s belief and practice of ecclesiastical separation. Now if Dr. Bauder’s words were only that, it would be sad to see but not worth mentioning. There, however, appears to be more to be concerned about in his statement than just what may be a veiled swipe at Dr. Pickering’s work.

Have we and do we as Fundamentalists practice ecclesiastical separation because of concerns for a pure church or a pure Gospel? Does it matter which it is and is there any appreciable difference between the two?

Is it possible this may be a purposeful narrowing of the definition of ecclesiastical separation, which if widely adopted by Fundamentalists would result in a paradigm shift in our practice of and fidelity to the God-given mandates?

For his part, Dr. Pickering in his book acknowledges his complete agreement with this statement from Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ book, The Basis of Christian Unity,
My contention is that the teaching of the New Testament is quite clear about this, that there is an absolute foundation, an irreducible minimum, without which the term Christian is meaningless, and without subscribing to which a man is not a Christian. That is “the foundation of the apostles and prophets”—the doctrine concerning “Jesus Christ and him crucified” and “justification by faith only.” . . . Apart from that there is no such thing as fellowship, no basis of unity at all. (p. 182.)
While there may be wide agreement that belief in the cardinal doctrines of Jesus Christ and salvation are an irreducible minimum for recognition of someone being a Christian and, therefore, the beginning point of Christian fellowship and unity, are they a sufficient enough basis in and of themselves for fellowship and unity? It would seem that nature itself would instruct us that irreducible minimums, though true and real beginning points, are hardly points from which most things properly function.

Dr. Fred Moritz in Contending for the Faith writes,
To this point, Jude has emphasized the theological nature of New Testament faith. God has revealed Himself to men in His Word. Christians must earnestly contend for that faith and stand against those who pervert God’s grace and deny God’s Son. But that is not all there is to Bible Christianity. New Testament Christianity also demands an intimate walk with the Lord. (p.133)
If there is more to fellowshipping with someone other than that they are barely within the irreducible limits of being a Christian, ecclesiastical separation that is concerned with the purity of the Gospel seems to fail in acknowledging that fact. I see at least two possible gaps created by focusing on a pure Gospel as opposed to a pure church. First, it seems that it would encourage far ranging fellowship and unity with all groups and sects within professing Christianity. While it is true that all professing believers would by default be on record concerning the Gospel, we are not even remotely rowing in the same direction after that point. If the Gospel is important, and it is, then what is built upon it after we are saved must be important too. If not, then just being saved would be an acceptable end to itself. Secondly, if ecclesiastical separation is focused on the purity of the Gospel, then it would seem that believers could join with non-believers in endeavors under a larger religious banner where the purity of the Gospel is perceived to not be at risk.

Dr. Al Mohler, Jr. of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary appears to say exactly that in explaining why he could with a clear conscience sign The Manhattan Declaration (TMD). He wrote,
I signed The Manhattan Declaration because it is a limited statement of Christian conviction on these three crucial issues, and not a wide-ranging theological document that subverts confessional integrity. I cannot and do not sign documents such as Evangelicals and Catholics Together that attempt to establish common ground on vast theological terrain. I could not sign a statement that purports, for example, to bridge the divide between Roman Catholics and evangelicals on the doctrine of justification. The Manhattan Declaration is not a manifesto for united action. It is a statement of urgent concern and common conscience on these three issues — the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and the defense of religious liberty.

My beliefs concerning the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches have not changed. The Roman Catholic Church teaches doctrines that I find both unbiblical and abhorrent — and these doctrines define nothing less than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But
The Manhattan Declaration does not attempt to establish common ground on these doctrines. We remain who we are, and we concede no doctrinal ground. (Why I Signed the Manhattan Declaration, Nov. 23, 2009, (accessed June 7, 2010)
Meanwhile, fellow conservative evangelical, Dr. John MacArthur cited his primary concern over the purity of the Gospel as why he could not sign the same document.
Here are the main reasons I am not signing the Manhattan Declaration, even though a few men whom I love and respect have already affixed their names to it:

Although I obviously agree with the document’s opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion. . . the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills:
the gospel [emphasis JM]. The gospel is barely mentioned in the Declaration. . . Yet the gospel itself is nowhere presented (much less explained) in the document or any of the accompanying literature. Indeed, that would be a practical impossibility because of the contradictory views held by the broad range of signatories regarding what the gospel teaches and what it means to be a Christian.

The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different
gospels. . . Thus for the sake of issuing a manifesto decrying certain moral and political issues, the Declaration obscures both the importance of the gospel and the very substance of the gospel message.

In short, support for The Manhattan Declaration would not only contradict the stance I have taken since long before the original “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document was issued; it would also tacitly relegate the very essence of
gospel truth to the level of a secondary issue. That is the wrong way—perhaps the very worst way—for evangelicals to address the moral and political crises of our time. Anything that silences, sidelines, or relegates the gospel to secondary status is antithetical to the principles we affirm when we call ourselves evangelicals. [Emphasis added except where noted otherwise] (The Manhattan Declaration, Nov. 24, 2010 (accessed June 7, 2010)
Though these two men came to different conclusions about TMD, they both primarily considered the same matter in their individual decisions--the purity of the Gospel. Now the purity of the Gospel should be an important consideration in whether to sign or not to sign such statements; however, a statement of belief or unbelief in the Gospel within a document should not be the only consideration. The Scriptures command us not just to avoid being linked to unbelief, but also to associations with unbelievers. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14) It appears that neither man believed that by signing TMD he or anyone else would be in an unbiblical union with unbelievers. For his part, Dr. Mohler believes he remains who he was before he signed it, and Dr. John MacArthur affirms as much by still giving those that signed it his respect. Biblically, however, we are to keep ourselves pure; we are not to be partakers of other men’s sin.

Finally, the Apostle Paul reminds us that the ministry of the Gospel is more than delivering a pure Gospel to the lost. The ministry of the Gospel must be in power, in spirit, and in much assurance. (1 Thess. 1:5) These necessary things fall within the concerns of a pure church, but they can be off the radar screen when we reduce our concern to a pure Gospel. I intend to concede no Biblical ground away from a pure church to retreat to a position of a pure Gospel. I trust others would be willing to join me in holding this ground as

this narrow definition has all the appearance of a subtle attempt to sell a repackaged, Evangelical-style ecclesiastical separation to Fundamentalists.

If it is, buyers beware because they are trying to sell us a lemon.

Gordon Phillips and his family reside in Harvey, North Dakota and he administers the Faith, Theology & Ministry blog.

For related reading, continue to:
Al Mohler Signs The Manhattan Declaration, Part 2: Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism?
Al Mohler Signs The Manhattan Declaration: Is This a Clear Case for “Gospel-Driven Separation?”

February 8, 2011

Old and New Fundamentalism Explored

The following is an article by Dr. Thomas Nieman, from the Northwest Baptist Assistance Ministries Weekly Update, October 23, 2010. Reprinted with permission.
Dear Men,

We continue to face issues as fundamentalists that are cyclical. Recently I re-read a message that was preached by a friend of mine at a conference in 1987. My brother pastor, John Kain, is now with the Lord—yet his message is timely in view of those who are once again trying to change or redefine the faith. I give you the substance of that message:

Pastor J. M. Kain

“At the end of 1985, Fundamentalism is in the process of profound change. Both the condition and the process will become more obvious as we near the end of the century, but we are certainly at the end of an old era and the beginning of a new.” (Truman Dollar, “Can Fundamentalism Survive” Fundamentalist Journal, December 1985, p. 74)

In the September 2, 1985 issue of Time magazine a half-page picture of a large tree appeared. It is included in a lengthy article entitled “Thunder on the Right—The Growth of Fundamentalism.” Though it is not possible to reproduce the picture in this publication, let me describe its message. The tree was pictured growing out of an open Bible. The large trunk was labeled “American Conservative Prot­estantism.” Extending from the large trunk were several branches. Moving from left to right, they were labeled as follows: Pentecostals; New Pentecostals; Mainline Evangelicals; Southern Baptists (straight up the center); Non-mainline Evangelicals; and the last branch on the right divides into two – with the one closest to center labeled New Fundamentalism, and the most extreme right branch, of course, is labeled Old Fundamentalism. The caption under the drawing reads: “Out of an unshakable Bible faith grow seven branches of the Protestant right, including Falwell’s New Fundamentalism.” . . . It seeks to shed the reputation for bigotry and cultural narrow­ness without giving an inch on the Bible issues.” (Richard N. Ostling, “Thunder on the Right: The Growth of Fundamentalism,” Time, 2 September 1985, p.50)

Throughout the Time article a clear distinction is drawn between Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. In the above quotation, our attention is drawn to a New Fundamentalism in contrast to the Old Fundamentalism… It is my assignment for this conference to examine the “New Fundamentalism” to find how it may differ with the “Old Fundamentalism.”

It is apparent that the objectives of those espousing a “New Fundamentalism” are:
1. That the Old Fundamentalists and the Evangelicals should come together into closer cooperation.

2. That assent to the traditional fundamentals of doctrine be sufficient ground for closer cooperation.

3. That we adapt a stance that is more comfortable and less offensive to permit a broader base of cooperation.

4. To “deny” the radicals or extremists from both groups that stand in the way of broader participation.

5. To practice the policy of “co-belligerence.” . . . “Co-belligerency” represented the position that it is permissible for Christians to cooperate with people of other or no religious convictions in order to attain some desired political goals. It is extremely difficult for churches to engage in co-belligerency without compromising their identity.
While Dr. Jerry Falwell is identified as the “leader” of a “New Fundamentalism” in the aforementioned Time magazine article, much of the articulation of this new position has come from the pen of Mr. Edward Dobson. . . .He is also author of a recent book entitled In Search of Unity—An Appeal to Fundamentalists and Evangelicals.*

In appealing for cooperation between the Old Fundamentalists and the Evangelicals to bring about a New Fundamentalism, it is wise for us to inquire into their past. Why did they originally develop as two separate positions? There were issues that divided us in the past—are they no longer relevant?

Another area of marked difference has been the emphasis on personal separation. The Old Fundamentalist insisted that sound separated living should characterize the Christian who holds a sound doctrinal position. Those who founded the Evangelical movement found this position offensive. Richard Quebedeaux writes that “. . . they were no longer convinced that the world is that bad after all—at least, not as bad as the fundamentalists had maintained.”(Richard Quebedeaux, Worldly Evangelical, p.13 )

Writing further on evangelicals, “. . . they would have to become respectable by the world’s standards. And in this effort the evangelicals have been most successful.”(Ibid)

He further observes, “. . . evangelicals have become harder and harder to distinguish from other people. . . . Furthermore, evangelical business people, professionals, and celebrities gradually found it necessary (and pleasant) to travel the cocktail-party circuit . . ..”

The Old Fundamentalism did not move into cooperation solely on the basis of agreement on basic doctrines. For the sake of brevity, let me mention but one illustration. They have historically declined cooperation with Pentecostals even though they might have been in agreement on the fundamentals.

The Word of God has always proved to be offensive to fallen man. In fact, the Christian is exhorted: “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach,” Hebrews 13:12-13.

The search for a message without reproach has proved disastrous to Evangelicals. There is no reason to believe that the New Fundamentalism can embark on this journey without eventually arriving at the same destination.

We share the concern expressed by Dr. Pickering: “Many of our young pastors and leaders are not schooled in the Biblical principles and historic context of our separatist movement.” (Ernest Pickering, “Should Fundamentalists and Evangelicals Seek Closer Ties?,” The Baptist Bulletin, March 1986, p. 36) He further observes, “In many cases our separatist churches and schools have failed to give our youth a structured, Scriptural and historical defense of our position.” (Ibid) [End of Kain article]

Many of the men who receive this note are younger. They do not know of the move to rename Fundamentalism in the past. So the refusal to defend historic Fundamentalism and to accept the Conservative Evangelical nomenclature is confusing. Those of us who are older have seen some of these cycles in previous times.

Thankfully, some men are not simply accepting the new calls to jettison the historic faith. If you would like to be on a mailing list or check out some blog sites, check out the following.

• A blog site developed by Pastor Brian Ernsberger: Parsings of a Preacher

• Shepherdstaff2@juno.com This is a regular mail out from Dr Clay Nuttall. Simply ask that your name be added to his mail list.

• Pastor Lou Martuneac has developed a blog site [In Defense of the Gospel] that examines many of the writings of those who purport to be the leaders in these times.

I will attempt to give more information to you as available.

I lament that many good men are so busy that they are not aware of the current battles. Hopefully, we can help each other to be more effective for our blessed Lord.

Your fellow servant,

Thomas Nieman

Site Publisher’s Addendum:
*For an answer to Edward Dobson’s In Search of Unity see Dr. Ernest Pickering’s Should Fundamentalists and Evangelicals Seek Closer Ties? There are remarkable similarities to what Dobson called for in 1985 to what men like Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson and Tim Jordan are headed toward themselves today and trying influence others to embrace with them. Both calls for unity are answered by Dr. Pickering.

Are We Recognizing the “NEW” New Evangelicalism? This article includes select excerpts from Dr. Ernest Pickering’s, The Tragedy of Compromise. This is a vital read in a day of loosening militancy and shifting applications of biblical separatism being introduced to this and the next generation by apologists, for so called conservative evangelicalism, operating within Fundamentalist circles.

February 3, 2011

Northland International University’s Music Department to be Dissolved

A major change has been announced at Northland International University (NIU). In his Open Letter to Friends in the Ministry Dr. Matt Olson wrote, “Our Music Philosophy: Philosophically, it is unchanged. Let me say it again... unchanged.” He went on to note that,
Our Director of Fine Arts, Kevin Suiter, has recently informed us he does not believe he can take us forward in this way and thus has announced his plans to move on. We wish Kevin and Grace the best and thank them for the investments they have made here.”
We are now learning that news of the Suiter’s departure was merely a precursor to what has just taken place at NIU. On Monday, January 31 NIU informed the faculty, staff and students that the Music Department will be disbanded and reorganized. Music will no longer be offered as a major at NIU.

To break the news about changes to the music program a meeting was called for the music majors and minors on Monday. According to NIU faculty who were there this meeting was conducted by VP for Academic Affairs Antone Goyak. Students were assured that they could finish their degrees if they wanted, but he did not offer a plan for how that would happen. Presently it is uncertain whether any qualified music faculty will stay on to finish those needing to complete degrees.

Some NIU staff and faculty leaving NIU have signed the intent not to return. Kevin and Grace Suiter, as well as voice teacher, Shelli Beeman left of their own volition. Other music faculty members have been notified they will not be retained for the 2011-2012 school year. It appears nearly the entire music faculty is departing, one way or another, over the new way of doing music at NIU. To date, I have not ascertained whether faculty/staff departures are with immediate effect or with closure of the current academic semester.

The change at NIU calls for the Music program to be offered through the Bible Department, converting it to a minor and/or an emphasis on philosophy and song writing, rather than a degree program. Dr. Olson’s intention is to implement this change with the Fall 2011 semester.

Music is one of the highest cost majors for small Christian colleges to provide. Its remote location is one of NIU’s biggest challenges to a music program. Largely because of NIU’s remote location it would never be able to offset the cost. No real adjunct or part-time teacher base exists such as can be found and utilized in a city. The ratio of 1 to 1 for lessons is cost prohibitive. There is little opportunity for concert revenue. Larger schools like BJU and PCC located in more densely populated regions are able to infuse funds into their music department by selling tickets to big events like concerts and artist series.

Others indicate there are additional reasons, beyond cost cutting, for the change in the Music Department. It may be that NIU wants to make music instruction accessible to all students. The change in Fine Arts at NIU has not touched the Speech program.

There are colleges where students once were taught a conservative philosophy of music that focused on uplifting the Lord and not the performer or the personal listening tastes of the hearers. Today they have become an environment where music has no moral quality, style is supposedly unaddressed in the New Testament, and institutional standards are a hindrance. Is it possible NIU is on that track?

John MacArthur (Calvinism, Lordship Salvation), Rick Holland (LS, CCM, Resolved), Bruce Ware (compromised SBC theologian), Wayne Simien (CCM and dance), Broadway’s WICKED song and dance routines in chapel, disbanding and realigning the Music Department to accommodate differing cultures. Are these the signs of a Baptist, separatist Christian college committed to its roots, or of changes in philosophy, trajectory and practice to what evangelicalism has to offer to impressionable undergraduates; your young people? (See, Is NIU “Unchanged?”)

Significant changes are being made and put into affect at NIU. There are important questions that every parent and pastor of a current or perspective student might consider asking the NIU administration. You might contact NIU Music Department faculty to ask questions you may have.

Parents and pastors sending their young people to NIU is a sacred stewardship. Imagine the shock and disappointment to find those same young people, in as little as one semester, were changed from the views their parents and pastor spent years cultivating.


On Feb. 4th Dr. Antone Goyak e-mailed to all students a copy of NIU’s new music program, which is known as, Emphasis in Church Music. I have been forwarded a copy of NIU’s Statement of Vision: Enriching Christ’s Church with His Word through Music, which you may download from the link provided. In a cover e-mail Dr. Goyak wrote, “This brief communication relays a summary of what has already been communicated to those involved in our Music programs.”

For additional documentation verifying the changes at NIU see, Northland Int’l. University’s Convergence with Evangelicalism: What Does it Mean for Impressionable Students?