September 7, 2018

BJU’s Subtle Rejection of Ecclesiastical Separation: Is This Northland All Over Again?

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (DBTS), a ministry of Inter-City Baptist Church, will hosts its annual E3 Pastors Conference this October. The guest speakers include two Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) pastors Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Rick Holland, host pastor Dr. David Doran and Bob Jones University (BJU) Executive Vice-President Dr. Sam Horn.

LtR: Doran...Dever, Bauder...
It is not particularly newsworthy that Dr. Dave Doran is sharing his platform with (SBC) preachers. For example in 2011 Dave Doran and Kevin Bauder participated with Dr. Mark Dever at the now defunct Calvary Baptist Seminary’s Advancing the Church conference. On the other hand, Dr. Sam Horn, BJU’s Dean of the School of Religion and the Seminary, sharing a platform with SBC preachers is something new.

Dr. Richard Caldwell is a man whose roots run deep in the SBC. There is, however, a connection between Sam Horn and SBC pastor Rick Holland. Sam Horn got his D.Min. (2007) from John MacArthur’s Master’s Seminary. In April 2010 Northland International University’s Matt Olson, Sam Horn, Les Ollila and Doug McLachlan traveled to the Grace Community Church (GCC) to meet with John MacArthur, Rick Holland and Phil Johnson. It is my understanding that Sam Horn orchestrated this meeting. After a day of discussions the Northland men came away finding no reason not to have fellowship with them. An invitation was extended to GCC’s then executive pastor, Rick Holland, to speak in Northlands chapel.1  This confirmed a new alliance for NIU with the so-called “conservative” evangelicals.

Who is Rick Holland? You can find a brief up-to-date biography at the DBTS site. Rick Holland was Executive Pastor to Dr. John MacArthur and served as the college pastor at Grace Church. He was the director of the doctor of ministries program and a faculty associate in homiletics at The Master’s Seminary. Rick was also the founder and executive director of the controversial Resolved Conference2. He has degrees from The Master’s Seminary (M.Div.), and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (D.Min.).

For BJU Sam Horns participation in the E3 Pastors Conference is much more than the University hosting the vocal group Cantus (a male ensemble partially comprised of practicing homosexuals) for an artist series, more than hosting new-evangelical Billy Kim and his Korean Childrens Choir, and more than an ambivalent dress-code change. This is BJUs leader of ministerial training sharing a platform, in joint ministry, with SBC pastors.

Dr. Sam Horn
Dr. Sam Horn operates in an official capacity as BJU’s Executive VP for Enrollment and Ministerial Advancement, Dean of the School of Religion and the Seminary. Sam Horn represents and speaks on behalf of Bob Jones University. If Dr. Horn were only the VP for Enrollment his appearance at DBTS might not be quite so problematic. Dr. Horn, however, has oversight of BJU’s Division of Bible and the Seminary. The Seminary and Bible faculty answer to him. Make no mistake, Dr. Horn’s appearance at the E3 Pastors Conference is a departure from BJU’s legacy as a separatist institution, which raises the stakes of compromise to an unprecedented level with serious implications for BJU’s School of Religion and the Seminary.

Dr. Horns appearance is about the future of BJUs Bible graduates, their theology and practice.  Pastors who have ministerial students at BJU now, or contemplating sending your Bible majors in the future, risk seeing them swept into the broader sphere of a so-called “conservative” evangelicalism.

One might reasonably ask in light of the upcoming joint ministerial fellowship of Sam Horn and Rick Holland at DBTS: How long will it be before BJU president Dr. Steve Pettit invites Rick Holland, Mark Dever, John Piper or Al Mohler4 to BJUs chapel pulpit?

BJU has embarked on a departure from ecclesiastical separation. Since the installation of Dr. Steve Pettit as president followed by Dr. Sam Horn as an executive vice president, BJU becomes increasingly unrecognizable to the purpose and philosophy upon which it was founded. Is this Northland all over again?5

Yours faithfully,


Update (March 2020) The worst fears for BJU have been realized. See-
This is NOT Your Fathers BJU

Has Hope for BJU to Reverse Course Been Dashed?

BJU Lurches Further Into Evangelicalism

Site Publisher Addendum: Is There a Second Definition for “Separation” in Academic Contexts? See the comment thread below for this related discussion.

1) NIU Presents Executive Pastor of GCC to its Student Body

2) The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness by Dr. Peter Masters
Resolved is the brainchild of a member of Dr John MacArthur’s pastoral staff [Rick Holland], gathering thousands of young people annually, and featuring the usual mix of Calvinism and extreme charismatic-style worship. Young people are encouraged to feel the very same sensational nervous impact of loud rhythmic music on the body that they would experience in a large, worldly pop concert, complete with replicated lighting and atmosphere. At the same time they reflect on predestination and election. Worldly culture provides the bodily, emotional feelings, into which Christian thoughts are infused and floated. Biblical sentiments are harnessed to carnal entertainment. (Pictures of this conference on their website betray the totally worldly, show business atmosphere created by the organisers.)”
3) A Failure to Stay the Course
     Give particular attention to the addendum attached to this important article.

4) What Does Al Mohler and John Piper Share in Common?  Rick Warren!

5) Northland International University Closes: A Continuation of the Pattern of Demise