Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Fundamentalism, Separation, Charismatics, and Northland

Before we get into the post, I want to do some housecleaning here.  Four things.  First, our book, A Pure Church, is to the printer, final proofs approved now for over a week.  You can still get a pre-publication price here (less for multiple copies).  It's a good book, worth reading and owning.  Second, we have the Word of Truth Conference, our fourth annual, and we will be starting a new topic or issue and a new book.  The title is I-Magination:  The God of Truth Replaced in a Day of Apostasy.  We've got some excellent material coming together.  It is November 7-11 this year, Wednesday to Sunday.  Why not give it a shot?  More details will be coming for you.  It's beautiful in Northern California that time of the year.  Let us know in advance if you're going to come.  And then third, we've just downloaded more sermons on our church website with series on 1 Corinthians, Luke, 2 Kings, and Exodus (Dave Sutton).  Four, before the election, I will do a multi-part series talking about the candidates and how I'm going to vote, and why, so stay tuned for that. Now for the post.


Northland International University in Dunbar, WI is a self-professing fundamentalist Christian organization, that was once Northland Baptist Bible College, supported by many fundamentalist churches, where is Northland Camp and Conference Center and their annual Heart Conference, where the speakers and attendees are almost exclusively fundamentalists.  The president of Northland is Bob Jones University graduate, Matt Olson.  Recently Matt Olson visited a Sovereign Grace Church (SGC) in Philadelphia that he reported in glowing terms at his blog.  This particular article and the activity of Olson was dissected at the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship blog, Proclaim and Defend, by Don Johnson in light of Northland's statement of doctrine and practice.  The Johnson post was answered by Olson, and a huge discussion ensued at SharperIron (here and here).  If you were to read everything to which I linked (which will likely not want to do--it will take a very long time), you would be up on what has happened.  The Johnson post does the best to present what occurred.

What this whole incident shows me is how messed up fundamentalism is.  There is no way to be a fundamentalist and be obedient to Scripture.  No way.  That should be the concern here.  They can't be consistent with what the Bible teaches.  This is not to say, however, that you should be an evangelical---they are even worse.  You can be an independent, Bible-believing church, and have plenty of fellowship both in and outside of the church, without being either a fundamentalist or evangelical.

This Northland situation shows where fundamentalist "unity," separation, and politics will get you.  Sovereign Grace Churches are Charismatic (Johnson quotes from their doctrinal statement).  Olson says he was there to fellowship with this Sovereign Grace church, and that they had what matters most.  He said, "They get what matters most" and "they focus on Christ in all they do."  There are so many problems with Olson's attempt on how we get along and how we separate that it would take 5 or 6 posts to deal with them, he is so far off (read A Pure Church for a clear, biblical presentation).  I wanted you to see how things were and where they are headed with fundamentalism.  They now fellowship with Charismatics.  They are on their way to being like evangelicals on this.

What Johnson is pointing out is true, but it becomes difficult for the FBFI (Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International) because of their former president's appearance with Jack Schaap at Clarence Sexton's Baptist Friends conference.  A lot of fundamentalists are heavily under the influence of the SGC song writers.  The trap of Charismatic influence and the SGC come from the acceptance in Together for the Gospel and John MacArthur, both who fellowship and promote C. J. Mahaney.  Bob Kauflin of SGC leads the singing at the Together for the Gospel conference that major fundamentalist leaders attend.

I think that fundamentalist leaders see that this is where everything is headed and that nothing that they teach can combat fundamentalism from arriving where evangelicals are.  Some are moving there already.  I expect others to join.


d4v34x said...

Dr. John Vaughn is still President (and CEO!) of the FBFI.

I think that fundamentalist leaders see that . . . nothing that they teach can combat fundamentalism from arriving where evangelicals are.

Not, apparently, Vaughn, Harding, and (D not P) Johnson.

What this whole incident shows me is how messed up fundamentalism is.

Actually, it shows the same to anyone who is looking. Although some of the messed-upedness you see might be different from that I'd see.

Steve Rogers said...

Bro. B,

Messed up is right! It all gives me such a headache...then I get out my Bible and remember what a blessing to have God's absolute source of truth, and a flock to proclaim it to.

My wife, sister, and father in law are NIU grads. I was in that circle for some time, fundamentalism the movement, that is. I'm glad that the Bible now determines my fellowship and practice of separation. As you said, there is still plenty of that available in and outstide of the local NT church.

I warn others against NIU, not because they've left fundamentalism, but because they've left NT truth.

Movements will always end up in "messes" because they are just different "Babels" that men build in order to justify disobedience to God's Word. They strive to accomplish God's Work man's way and thus the mess! The mess of Babel lives on in fundamentalism...

Bill Hardecker said...

I don't think we have seen the end of the sinking ship of fundamentalism. It's so sad for so many to want to save a ship that wasn't divinely built. It is sad but the true: the glue that binds many "fundamentalists" isn't the Bible, it's actually CCM. Think about it.

Lance Ketchum said...

Although I agree that Fundamentalism has always been theologically ambiguous, the problem with NIU is that they are disloyal to their own doctrinal statement. The epitome of hypocrisy is when you draw people to your institution with a particular orthodox doctrinal position and then lead them astray by your own heteropraxy.

Steve Rogers said...

Bro. Ketchum,
I know what you're saying, they should just be honest and change their doctrinal statement. However, NIU under Matt Olson is not just being disloyal to their doctrinal statement, but more importantly to the Word of God. The WOG stands against charismaticism, and thus the WOG demands separation from that unBiblical teaching. If Olson said, "our doctrinal statement now includes that we believe charismatic bibliology and pneumatology"... should we then not warn against that compromise? Being consistent in unBiblical faith and practice, does not make one no longer a compromiser, just an ethical compromiser.

Steve Rogers said...

Bro. Bill,

I think CCM holds a lot of everybody together. It is the glue of ecumenical worship and end time apostasy, that's for sure. Fundamentalists just don't separate over it any more, cause it's not on their man made list of separatable doctrines. The young and restless fundamentalists have just begun to be more consistent with the movement's foundational philosophy of doctrinal reductionism.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Olson maybe thinks that he is being consistent with his theology, even though it contradicts his doctrinal statement. If the body is all believers, he can't very well separate from these people who "get what matters most," i.e. they're saved, that's enough. Fundamentalism teaches people that you're better if you reduce doctrine to get along. People who don't do that are the bad people. So these SGC, who are dumbing doctrine even more, are even gooder.

Steve Rogers said...

Even gooder...I've got to use that one!:)

Correct me if I'm wrong, the cessation of apostolic office and sign gifts and revelation is not one of the five fundamentals, is it? If so, then Olson could justify the fellowship w, even though NIU doesn't believe in continuation of them. It's not a fundamental doctrine, right? Like Baptism, music, etc.
Now, if Olson and NIU were Biblicists, then they would be in trouble. Well, any of us that operate outside of that conviction are in trouble, maybe not with a movement, but with the Master!

Anonymous said...

Below is a web site that is asking Matt Olson to explain the new direction that Northland is headed. Matt is right when he stated that he is seeking to catch up with the alumni. I’ve also included my comments below. I wish Northland would publicly apologize to all of their alumni that they sought to discredit through name-calling, but I am glad to know that Northland finally gets it. Breaking fellowship with other Bible-believing Christians is a sin. I’m glad that Matt Olson is leading Northland back into historic fundamentalism and healthy fellowship with all who lift up the name of Jesus and who are together for the Gospel.


Matt Olson is following many of Northland's alumni into historic fundamentalism. That's right, into historic fundamentalism. Today's modern "fundamentalism" is a mere shell of what thriving, healthy fundamentalism looked like in the early 1900s. Then, men and women from many denominations banded together around the fundamentals of the faith. Denominational distinctives, though important in each denomination, were not barriers to fellowship and unity. This is the direction Matt Olson is going. Northland is removing the unbiblical "separation" barriers that it had erected between itself and other Bible-believing denominations such as the Baptist General Conference, Conservative Baptist Convention, Evangelical Free Church of America, etc.

This movement out of the fringe and back into historic, fundamentalist Christianity is a breath of fresh air. I know, because as the grandson of the founder of Northland, I took this step in the early 80s. Sure, Northland's leadership at the time called me names, such as "new evangelical." But I knew that I was actually walking down the path of historic fundamentalism. More importantly, I knew I was obeying God and no longer calling "unclean" what God had called "clean." It wasn't that hard of a step because the Patz family was never in the camp that Harold Patz led Northland into. BJU style fundamentalism was not our history as a family! And separating from Billy Graham was unheard of.

So things are changing now, but for the good. Northland is returning to the Patz family roots. Harold Patz has watched his children and their spouses live devout lives for Christ in the denominations mentioned above. And Harold Patz, Les Ollila, and Matt Olson have seen the light. When your own kids are serving Christ faithfully in denominations once renounced, it creates dissonance. Thankfully, God has used this dissonance to wake up the leadership at Northland. Now, perhaps, Northland can become the school that God intended it to be. One that is in line with the founder and his family. One that reflects the glory of God and the unity of the saints. May God be praised.


Don Sailer

Lance Ketchum said...

So, Mr. Sailer, are saying Matt Olsen is merely a puppet of the next generation of the Patz family who are demanding these changes that are more in alignment with your theological positions?

Doulos said...

Just reading through some of your older posts...per this discussion:

Kent Brandenburg said...


It seems people can shoot from the hip and if they are near the target, it counts as a bullseye. It's where we're at with truth now.