September 21, 2012

Northland Students Perform New “Jesus Loves Me” Recording and It’s Blasphemy!

We are continuing with an important sub-section in the series What REALLY Matters Most. In his November 2010 Open Letter Northland International University (NIU) president Dr. Matt Olson declared that in the area of music philosophy, “NIU is unchanged!” We have in past articles seen video evidence that NIU has changed drastically in the area of music performance. Matt Olson wrote that the goal of NIU will be to, “make sure Northland’s practice of music…is built principally on clear teachings from the Bible….1

Today, I am presenting a new video recording that challenges the claim NIU’s music philosophy is “unchanged” and that clear teachings from the Bible are behind the practice of music at NIU.

The video was recorded this semester at the home of, current NIU Academic Chair for Communications, Mr. Brock Miller.2 Communication professors Lydia Stewart and Rachel Trach were also at this gathering. (See photo to right) The occasion of the video was a fellowship for Communications department students. The participants in the video were described by students on their FaceBook pages as students who are proud to display their, “rapping skills, beatboxing skills, attempting to harmonize, . . . Yeah, Communications majors have it all!”

Had this been a one-time matter, there would be real disappointment. The video is, however, much like the behavior in NIU’s chapel with the song/dance routine to What is This Feeling from the Broadway play WICKED.3 Do the sensual chants of RAP measure up to our mandate to sing and make melody to the Lord? You have just seen students, at the home and under the supervision of NIU faculty, disparaging the name of Jesus.
Can anyone honestly say that the conduct of the students in this video is “God-focused?”
How can any Bible-believing Christian justify the behavior of these students in light of Romans 12:1-2? Faculty members were present at this event! If worship is an “all the time lifestyle,” how could they allow for, condone and/or participate in such conduct?

Readers, this is a very serious matter!  Our children once learned to love Jesus. On their parents’ knee they reverently, sweetly, and sincerely sang “Jesus Loves Me.”4 In Sunday school committed children’s workers lead them to sing that cherished hymn in praise to Jesus, the One who loves them. But now these students are using the same song in a sensual, base and vulgar way. How does this happen?

We sent our young people off to a training school like Northland for them to learn discernment. Instead, they learned it is acceptable to denigrate that which is holy, to thrust their hips and bounce their bodies like the children of Israel before the golden calf, to laugh at the old standards and those who taught them. Worse yet is the fact that these students are rehearsing their worldly styles in the backyard of the Academic Chair for Communication, a man charged with the spiritual task of leading music in the chapel hour.  Would Northland be honest enough to put this kind of conduct in a video presentation when they visit our fundamental churches to recruit students?

Without a disciplinary guideline and absent a carefully presented philosophy of music the NIU administration can do little to correct the behavior of these students, even if the administration had a mind to. The administration talks about counseling, explaining and leading young people as they seek to conform them to the image of Christ.  Yet, as this video shows, the young people gather at the home of the Chair of the Communications department and allows their mouths to expose what is in their hearts with apparently no fear of recrimination.  The Bible says, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man,” (Matthew 15:11).  The students do not demonstrate the beginning of wisdom, which is the fear of the Lord (Ps. 111:10).

There was a time when Dr. Les Ollila instructed youth workers to avoid worldly methods by saying that “Noah didn’t hire the Nile River Nine” to gather a crowd. Dr. Ollila taught those who came to Northland to watch where someone’s feet are pointed instead of listening to their claims.
Sadly, these students feet are pointing toward blasphemy and there doesn’t appear to be a faculty member, including Dr. Ollila, willing to redirect or stop their journey!
This group around the bonfire would make Dr. Ollila’s representation of the “Nile River Nine” singing, “Does Anyone Here Want to go to Heaven, Say I Do!,” look tame.5

This video is another sad revelation of what happened to the faculty and student body once Northland’s leadership took a tolerant view toward CCM and RAP, yet tells the public they have not changed. The students know the real position of the administration on such matters.  It was only a matter of time before this would start to come out in the open. And it is only a matter of time until this kind of behavior is seen in the chapel hour and on ministry tours.
That which is practiced in private soon becomes a public pollutant!
Music faculty members who had enough discernment to see what was just ahead left Northland or were essentially forced out by Matt Olson. This video confirms their worst fears of what could become of music standards at NIU.


(Jan. 18, 2013) To All Readers, I highly recommend that you consider the following on NIU:

Is NIU Opposed to the Modern Charismatic Movement?

From the FBFI Proclaim & Defend blog, Questions for Matt Olson & NIU

Site Publisher Addendum:
NIU has done away with the demerit system. Even if there was a demerit system in place this behavior IMO would not be an issue for student demerits or discipline of faculty at the new Northland International University.

1) Is NIU “Unchanged?”

2) Mr. Miller’s home is one of the on campus duplexes. Brock Miller also leads the singing in chapel.

3) Chapel- Fall 2010, NIU. This and the video above establishes an on-going pattern of the NIU administration’s tolerance for and acceptance of the world’s music. Here you see Dr. Wynne Kimbrough, dean of students, with another student four off stage (student) dancers performing the duet lead role from Wicked, What is This Feeling, Loathing.

4) Jesus Love Me as it was originally written to be played, sung and enjoyed.

5) Frequently, when Les Ollila was illustrating against worldliness, he would say,
Noah didn’t hire the Nile River Nine to jump out from behind the Ark and sing, ‘Does anybody here want to go to heaven!’”  What you catch them with is what you keep them with.  If you catch them with worldly entertainment, you’ll be forced to keep them with the same.  Noah was blessed of God for his obedience.  We need to follow Noah’s example.
That is nearly verbatim of what hundreds of pastors heard Les preach.  He’d always sing the “anybody here want to go to heaven” thing – memorable, convicting and typically penetrating observation from Dr. Ollila.


  1. Ezekiel 22:26 --

    Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, AND I AM PROFANED AMONG THEM.

  2. 1 Peter 1:13-17
    13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

  3. Grieved Alumnus9/21/2012 10:10 PM

    I've had people tell me over and over again, "We'll KNOW when Northland goes too far . We'll be able to tell." I know what some will say. They will say that this isn't chapel, that this is a campfire thing that isn't "sanctioned" by the college. But the fact that the students were comfortable doing that with holy subject matter highlights a grave weakness growing at Northland: the inability to discern. They talk much about discernment, but they don't show it. They speak of training young people to know how to walk uprightly. But then you have this. I am deeply grieved for my alma mater. And music isn't even the primary issue I'm concerned with!

    Thanks Lou for bringing these things out. No one else wants to risk being blackballed by drawing attention to the inconsistencies abounding in what Northland representatives say publicly and what is going on privately.

    1. GA:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are one among many alumni and friends of the former NBBC who are saddened and grieved at the what NBBC has devolved into and IMO it has not yet hit rock bottom.

      "They will say that this isn't chapel, that this is a campfire thing that isn't 'sanctioned' by the college.."
      It happened at the home of Brock Miller a department head of the college and he was there. That in my mind means it was essentially a sanctioned, chaperoned event.

      I am hearing that the NIU leadership (not all) have a clear conscience about what is going on doctrinally and in practice. And including what the students did with Jesus Loves Me at Brock's home. IMO, it is a seared conscience that sees no wrong or blaspheme in this. Tragic!


    2. And music isn't even the primary issue I’m concerned with!”

      I would recommend this article by Ps. Steve Rogers from August 28, Exactly How Does NIU’s Music Remain “Unchanged?”

      Music is not the primary issue, but the new way of doing music at NIU is a window into the deeper issues of doctrine. I have never seen a church/college adopt the world’s music and NOT have already gone out of balance doctrinally. Matt Olson’s shift away from NBBC’s former doctrinal stand to praise a Charismatic church and have a paid NIU faculty in membership of that church is an obvious problem. There are a number other questions of doctrine that have been left unanswered by Matt Olson and the administration, such as:

      1) Will NI teach that the church is Israel?

      2) Will NI move away from a Dispensational hermeneutic and embrace a Covenant hermeneutic?

      3) Will NI open its chapel music to the kind of music featured at the Resolved conference?

      4) Will NI continue to establish Bible, Chapel and Community Churches or will they begin to plant Baptist Churches?

      5) Will NI accept the apostleship of the Sovereign Grace Ministry leaders?

      6) Will NI students continue to be encouraged to attend T4G events?

      7) Will NI change its Handbook doctrinal statements and Articles of Faith to allow for open acceptance of the Charismatic churches and pastors?

      8) Will NI students who leave their dispensational, Baptist heritage to become leaders in Charismatic “Continuationist” churches continue to be lauded?


  4. Grieved Alumnus9/21/2012 10:27 PM

    Upon reflecting, I do want to add that what bothers me about the video clip actually isn't the video itself. College students are not known for incredible discernment. That's part of what Bible college is supposed to be for. Its where they are supposed to learn it. Maybe as a result of this those students will learn something about what is appropriate and what is not. What bothers me is the doubt that anyone will set them straight as to the real reason WHY that behavior is inappropriate. Is there any leadership there that has the discernment to teach them, "Hey, it was wrong because you matched the character of a holy God with common silliness and a (weak) imitation of dance beat." (That's the true definition of profanity, by the way: it is taking that which is holy and making it common. I learned that while a student at Northland.)Is that what those students will learn?

    Or will they learn, "Hey, that video got us in trouble. Don't post stuff like that!"

    That's what bothers me more. College students aren't perfect, and they are stretching their wings away from home, away from family, away from their churches. The hope is, however, that they are in a place that will give them guidance. Any halfway observant person ought to have at least a pause in their mind as to whether or not Northland is giving good guidance to these needy college students.

    1. Dana Everson9/22/2012 6:35 PM

      I think most of those who would have tried to teach the utter inappropriateness of this music have left the institution. The former musical conscience seems to be gone; replaced with the "new" interpretation of worldliness and free grace.

  5. Wow. As another alumnus of Northland Baptist Bible College (I dd NOT go to NIU), this grieves me to the core. I always thought my college would be the one that stayed true to Biblical principles. How can anyone say this is unchanged? In my day, veggies tales didn't pass because it had too worldly of a beat. And even that didn't bother me because we were being taught to strive for the best...not how close can I get to the world and still be okay, but how far away. "In the world, but not of it."

    I don't understand. I would have thought, "Dr. Ollila would die if he knew what was going on" and yet it seems like he is defending it. NBBC was a spiritual greenhouse for me. I almost left to go to a more liberal college, but in the end knew that would be feeding my flesh. I am so sad to see that they now have become that liberal college that I am so glad God protected me from going to.


    1. You wrote, "I don't understand. I would have thought, "Dr. Ollila would die if he knew what was going on" and yet it seems like he is defending it."

      The #1 question, the most confusing issue in all of this at NIU is what has happened to and with Les Ollila. Watch the bonfire video again and then read this article quoting Les Ollila,

      Our Children Learn Not Only What We Teach Them, but by What We Tolerate

  6. Lou,

    You wrote, "There was a time when Dr. Les Ollila instructed youth workers to avoid worldly methods. . ." In a strange twist of timing the Livecast of NIU's Friday, September 21st during FOCUS week with Dr. Tim Jordan effectively taught the student body that avoidance of worldliness is NOT to be a consideration in walking in God's truth. See it here the whole message should be viewed to completely understand what is and isn't being said though.

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  8. Lou:

    The camel's nose got in the tent some time ago with weak stands and lots of "its all about the gospel" talk. Now the camel is at home in the tent. MacArthur's students have posted similar videos with Mac actually be-bopping along with the students. If J Mac does it, its alright!
    Comparing ourselves among ourselves they became fools. "When the enemy comes in like a flood, lift up a standard!" NIU students act like the world (lifting up the standard of the enemy of Christ). In addition, Tim Jordan has lost all credibility as a "gospel preacher." He is preaching conformity with the culture. The founder of the Projector had Tim pegged back in 1996. His father, who is now in glory, would be so ashamed of his son's current stance. It is a slow motion demolition at NIU. We pray that some will separate rather than go down in the collapse.

    Tod Brainard

    1. Ps. Brainard:

      Appreciate your multifold commentary. "it's all about the gospel" has been the mantra of Matt Olson, Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder, Tim Jordan, et., al. Each of them are on the same trajectory to one degree or another. Like you I see Northland collapsing. Unless they can attract a significant number of non-separatists, Charismatics, and compromised churches to funnel students the college's day are numbered. They will either wind up closed down like Pillsbury, or become what Liberty. I suspect the former and slowly dwindle in student population, cut staff for loss of revenue and need until it is no longer attractive to any students. If somehow they repent and reverse course back to what Northland once was, it is too late just as it was for Pillsbury. They have to stick to this new course and live or die with it. What a shame that a once fine institution is being dismantled for the sake of being trying to be stylish.


  9. Lou,

    I just posted an article entitled "Incompatible Gospels: The Misfit of Lordship Salvation and Gospel-Centric Fellowship" at my Faith, Theology, and Ministry blog at that some of your guests may be interested to read.

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  11. Pastor Turbett:

    Thanks for your contribution to this discussion.

    I appreciate your recognizing that NIU has shifted not just in methodology, but its theology is being reshaped as well.

    You wrote, “Pillsbury’s early demise leads me to think, and please forgive me, that we were delivered from an agonizing decline as I see happening at NIU. If not for a committed turn around from its present trajectory…

    You might remember that Pillsbury, with Dr. Robert Crane, attempted a turn around. The damage, however, had been done, alumni abandoned Pillsbury over Potter's hard moves to the left and the school could not be recovered. Matt Olson’s resolve to change NIU, and his refusal to acknowledge or address legitimate questions indicates to me that he has no intention of making any kind of course correction.

    You also mention the evangelical schools- Northwestern, Bethel, Cornerstone, and Wheaton. I am not familiar with the current status of all of those, but assuming they are open, I don’t believe Northland will be taking its place among them. IMO, due to significant declines in student enrollment, the loss of a great majority of alumni support and its remote location NIU is headed for closure just like Pillsbury. Its closure will spare us, and the church of Jesus Christ, from seeing another agonizing decline with NIU taking its place among new evangelical schools like Wheaton and Liberty.

    Kind regards,


  12. God bless Tod Brainard!

  13. I'm an '03 grad of NBBC (not NIU) - this video has broken my heart and I am within 1 inch of sending back my diploma. Personally, I think we saw things coming in my upperclassmen years - athletics and entertainment was overemphasized above godliness and holiness, Tim Jordan preached a very subtle neo message (and the carnal students embraced it whole heartily), and then there was the PR group sent out to advertise the school - something Doc O said we would never do. Northland has lost its heart I'm afraid and regret to say.
    Pastor Phil Hunt
    Stanfordville Baptist Church
    Hallstead PA

    1. Pastor Hunt:

      Your feelings are shared by many of the NBBC alumni. There is a wide spread sense of having been betrayed by Matt Olson and the NIU board. As you mention with Tim Jordan and as it is with Matt Olson it was all very subtle at first. If word of the subtle neo messages and doings had reached pastors and parents this might have had a different, better outcome. "Something Dr. Ollila said we would never do." Sadly, that Dr. Ollila may have never been sincere in the first place, but most suspect he simply laid down for all of these radical changes rather than resist the downgrade or depart in protest.

      In any event, NIU is far, far removed from what it once was. Its heart and distinctives have been shed for the allurement of the worldliness, doctrinal aberrations and compromises of this "new wave New Evangelicalism" that plagues the NT church. Very sad.

      Yours faithfully,


  14. I am also a former graduate of Northland Baptist Bible College (1995) and deeply disappointed in the failure of those who taught me and molded me to be a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is amazing at how quickly a school can move away from its roots and, what once made it a significant training ground for future leaders, can no longer be recognized as foundational in any of its core values. One can say that we are still what we once were, but those who have had the chance to observe the transformation must shout out in agreement that there has been a change. And let us emphasize that this change has led to movement away from what was once at the core. Are you what you once were NBBC? No! And what a slippery slope you are on. Could you be restored? I believe that could still happen but it would require great humility. My concern many years ago was that academic acceptance by others was becoming the new goal (and ultimately the new god). In a sinful world where we all must be on guard to not see ourselves as more than we are, it appears that the heart of a servant has been cast aside in the name of acceptance and pragmatism. The first maintains as its focus the heart of Christ. The latter focuses on the heart and the name of man. Let us all strive to learn from history and maintain as our goal the glory of the Lord.

    Pastor Jason D. Smith
    Rose Park Baptist Church
    Holland, MI

    1. Pastor Smith:

      You have echoed what I hear in private emails from quite a few graduates of the former NBBC. Very sad and tragic what NIU has become under Matt Olson's leading. What is also disconcerting is Les Ollila going right along with much of what he once decried from the platform of the NBBC president's office, on speaking engagements and in the college chapel pulpit. Ask him today and he bristles so I am told by a few men that have tried to speak to him about what has become of a once fine school.

      Yours faithfully,


  15. I remember listening in chapel to a message by Ollila where he preached Lordship Salvation openly. I'm sure the message is in the archives and could be found. He preached that there certainly had to be more to it than just believing the Gospel and that sacrifice was involved. The passage was on the Philippian jailer. I was about to stand a leave the chapel but decided to remain calm and listen to the message again to make sure I heard him right.

    1. If you have a real good idea of when that message was given I'd like to know. It would explain why he and Olson would welcome Rick Holland to the NIU chapel pulpit, who at the time was John MacArthur's executive pastor.

  16. I am familiar with the situations both at Pillsbury and at NIU. The goings on at NIU is something I have been following. Just a few comments.
    The trajectory between both schools is very similar. There are definite differences to be sure, but there are also clear and inarguable similarities. That is a whole other conversation.
    In my opinion the changes at NIU towards being more “open” to other groups is at least in part a business decision.
    I think what Dr. Everson said in his interview was correct.
    Regarding the comment about the budget deficit and the one comment by someone saying Northland’s camp should be excluded. I believe traditionally when reporting to the outside world, everything falls under the NIU umbrella so I would guess the budget shortfall stated would include the camp.
    Some of the changes at NIU have been very abrupt and some have been very subtle. Some have been drastic and some have been minor. That said, it is incredibly naïve of NIU administration to make all of these changes after having taught and preached a certain way for 35+ years and then get irritated when questioned about such changes. The NIU administration can’t be for years and years in days past be out in the public preaching about what NIU is about and in Dr. Olson’s and Dr. Ollila’s case relatively recently state NIU remains “Unchanged” and then be frustrated when challenged about how the “Unchanged” is in fact changing. They can’t have it both ways. I have hear some people wonder if NIU would get to the point to where they go tired of hearing these questions from their traditional base they would just simply turn left. I think that is happening.
    NIU is trying to bring in new evangelical churches and groups while at the same time trying to convince their alumni and core constituency they are still the same. NIU is trying to have their cake and eat it too. Besides the philosophical issues and compromise required to make such happen, it is a horrible business model. Pillsbury tried it. Tennessee Temple made a run at it. One of those schools closed and the other has about 20% of the students it once had.
    I once counted NIU as an organization that “got it.” They worked very hard at being in the IFB circles while generally avoiding the usual IFB negative trappings. However at this time I can no longer recommend NIU. Part of that is from feeling “betrayed.” That is a strong word, but as I stated above for 35+ years NIU was a certain way, but now . . . . I know of people that put their heart and soul into that ministry because they believed in it and in the leadership, but so many of those people have been cast aside. Also part of my reason in saying so is who knows where NIU is going to end up? Are they an IFB school, but changing their program to accommodate new evangelicals? When is an institution that is “Unchanged” going to stop changing? When will the craziness stop and what is NIU going to look like when it does? The NIU leadership needs to grow a pair and come out and say what they are about. And they need to spare everyone the subtle, almost double-meaning verbage while they are at it.

  17. Speaking of feeling betrayed or however you want to define it, what about all the many, many people who have donated money to NIU over the years. They gave money to NIU because they believed in the leadership, the mission, AND in the philosophy of ministry.

    Would those people have donated at all or as much if they knew NIU was going to change like this?

    I know people that have given money to NIU who are very frustrated and disappointed. They supported NIU financially, their prayer and general support, sending their kids there, and even their own physical labor on campus.

    The fact of the matter is NIU is handling this whole process in an epic fail manner.

    Their attitude towards their historical core base is "Thank you for your concern, but this is the way we are going to go. If you don't like it then it is your problem."

    Communication & implementation 101 fail!

  18. So, are people withdrawing their votes, or are you manipulating the results? Last night when I went to bed, there were 49 votes, with those in favor of the change strongly leading. Somehow we are now down to 44 votes with a dead-even tie. Maybe you weren't liking the results so much?

    1. Normally, I delete rubbish such as this with a chuckle, but I thought, "such absurdity, why not give him/her a moment of shame?"


    2. Northland closed. Are you happy now?

    3. Yes, definitely. Under Matt Olson NIU became a blight and open sore on the cause of Christ.

  19. Went to NBBC for years with my children to summer Family Camp, plus the winter Heart Conferences. Loved every minute of it, couldn't wait until the next event. Breaks my heart to see what is happening, just can't believe it. After seeing these videos and hearing/reading what is happening, I'll never set foot on NIU campus.