February 11, 2020

Sam Horn in Historical Perspective: Northland & Bob Jones University

Previously we discussed Dr. Sam Horn departing Bob Jones University for John MacArthur’s The Master’s Seminary. We found that Sam Horn and the compromising evangelical, non-separatist school constitutes a very good fit. In the article we said, “...Sam Horn’s appointment to Master’s will lead to greater collaboration between so-called ‘conservative’ evangelicals and BJU.”1

In April 2010 then Northland International University (NIU) president Matt Olson along with Sam Horn, Les Ollila and Doug McLachlan traveled to John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church (GCC). There they met with MacArthur, Phil Johnson and Rick Holland. Following that meeting Northland invited Rick Holland (GCC executive pastor) to preach in Northland’s chapel (Oct. 2010). The significance here is that,

  1. Opened a new alliance between NIU and non-separatist, compromising evangelicals.
  2. Sam Horn orchestrated the meeting at Grace.2
Northland never recovered from that event and the subsequent compromises that followed. Moving forward we find BJU today on much the same trajectory, of embracing evangelicals including honoring them with a pulpit presence.  Most recent case in point: Gospel Coalition member and Piper’s Bethlehem Seminary faculty Andy Naselli in a prominent speaking role (Nov. 2019) on campus.3

With Sam Horn departing for Master’s will BJU reverse the drive toward evangelicalism and return to the university’s legacy as a fundamental, separatist institution? Since Steve Pettit assumed the presidency ecclesiastical compromise and embracing the spirit of pseudo-fundamentalism has continued unabated. All observable changes indicate the university is committed to much the same course that resulted in Northland’s demise.

The Northland/Bob Jones pattern is virtually the same, casting off its fundamental, separatist roots, and the common denominator is Sam Horn.

Bob Jones University is learning what the colleges learned the hard way when they took the road of embracing evangelicalism.  And that lesson is: You cannot turn a college to a hard right or hard left and expect to have your alumni with you.

Earlier we noted from the previous article, “Sam Horn’s appointment to Master’s will lead to greater collaboration between so-called ‘conservative’ evangelicals and BJU.”  As it turns out we don’t have to wait to very long. In March we’ll see BJU hosting another evangelical from Sam Horn’s newest employer, The Master’s Seminary. 

On Thursday morning we are going to see a new way in which BJU is moving closer to a form of new evangelicalism.


1) The Master’s University & Seminary Appoints Sam Horn President

2) Northland’s Convergence with Evangelicalism

3) This is Not Your Father’s BJU, Redux

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