“The influence of New Evangelicalism is spreading like wild fire among many denominations, churches, and movements. The “fundamental” movement is no exception. Fundamentalism was supposed to be a movement based on separation, and the “movement” began many colleges and seminaries to train believers to stand against modernism and liberalism. It is evident that many of these “fundamental” colleges are now moving to a New Evangelical position, as the next generation of leaders take over. One such example is Northland International University, located in Dunbar, WI. My wife is a graduate, and we have observed the slow but consistent change of direction at Northland. Under the new leadership of President Matt Olson, the school recently changed it’s name from Northland Baptist Bible College to the more generic Northland International University. The previous name clearly identified Northland from New Evangelical and secular colleges, the new name bears not one hint of a separatist, Baptist college. When alumni spoke up with concerns about a change towards New Evangelicalism, they were assured that nothing had changed. In November of 2010, NIU President Matt Olson issued an open letter to pastors and alumni regarding more changes at Northland. (http://www.sharperiron.org/article/open-letter-from-dr-matt-olson-of-northland-international-university ) After justifying these new upgrades to Northland, by stating he and the staff had fasted and prayed for 40 days, Olson laid out three new changes.
“The first change was the removal of the demerit system at Northland, which will now be replaced with “the Way of Discipleship”, which in Olson’s mind, focuses on a more “grace” oriented approach. This is the “grace” that Chuck Swindoll and other New Evangelicals have been redefining for years, which says rules and standards are evil and preaches grace as a license to live like the world. I’m sure carnal, worldly students will love this approach, much like they do at Liberty and Cedarville.
“The second change was in NIU’s music department. In order to “prepare students for worship and music globally,” NIU is changing their music on a “missional level.” These changes are needed to, as Olson states, “take the Gospel where it has not been proclaimed.” There are 2 glaring problems with this reason of compromise. First, NIU is not commissioned to take the Gospel anywhere, that authority and ordination was given to churches, not para-church “ministries”! Secondly, music is not the God-chosen method of evangelizing the world, preaching is! The head of NIU’s music department, Kevin Suiter, resigned after this change was announced. Once again, a compromise in music, is always an indication of movement toward New Evangelicalism.
“The third, and most frightening change, was in regard to NIU’s chapel speakers and faculty. In October of 2010, Rick Holland, the Executive Pastor at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, where John MacArthur is senior pastor, spoke in Northland’s chapel. Holland heads up the ecumenical “Resolved” conferences, where charismatics and CCM are glorified. (www.resolved.org ) The website features MacArthur on a rock-concert-like stage, with drums in the background, speaking in faded jeans and untucked shirt, in classic New Evangelical worldliness. MacArthur is well known for his Calvinistic teachings, Lordship salvation, and downplaying the importance of the blood of Christ. Olson defended the move, by explaining after a face to face meeting between MacArthur and NIU administration, they “agreed on the most substantial issues of life and ministry.”
Olson also stated that southern Baptist professor Bruce Ware would be teaching graduate level courses at NIU, because of his expertise and experience. The compromise within the SBC is well-documented and remains strong to this day.
These changes at Northland and other “fundamental” parachurch institutions should be known and warned against by pastors and local churches. Pastors and parents must stop blindly sending their children to their alma mater out of loyalty to men, and become vigilant for the truth!
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