Those who know me know that I graduated in 2000 within a Biblical Counseling degree from,then Northland Baptist Bible College, now known as Northland International University. Those who knew Northland back then knew a different school than what is there now. Sure some of the same people are there but something is amiss. It was once a school that taught its students to stand for the faith which also included taking stands against New Evangelicalism, worldly standards including music, and compromise in doctrine.
Now today it appears that Northland is content to run into the the arms of the evangelicals and attempt to draw their students to the school. They now have allowed music that would have been banned just years ago. A trip has been taken with students to a “Christian rock” concert as part of a school outreach opportunity. Some members of the leadership including Dr Ollila have gone to meet with people like John MacArthur and decided that there is not that much that would separate them from cooperating with each other. There is now in my opinion an even bigger embrace of Reformed style theology and “Lordship salvation” that is tolerated by the school. Men like Dave Doran from Detroit Theological Seminary and Tim Jordan from Calvary in Lansdale, PA and Kevin Bauder still speak often at the school but have been supporters of people like Mark Dever and others in “conservative” evangelicalism.
Not only that but men like Dr, Ollila (who I still have much respect for) and Dr. Olson (now the president of NIU) continue, last I’ve heard, to maintain that nothing has really changed at the school.
I can understand a few things. One is the men who previously leaned toward Calvinism or New Evangelicalism have now found motivation and boldness to pursue that path more aggressively. They have thrown down the challenge to those who question their changes and have shown many the door meanwhile ushering in those who appreciate and support the new directives. The second thing is that this has caused a stir among those within Fundamentalism who were already weary of the encroach of compromise, Calvinism, New Calvinism, New evangelicalism, and the like. Those who may have stood with Northland back in the day now find themselves at times even ridiculed by those who embrace the change. Some say times have changed and people within fundamentalism have “matured” and are willing to build bridges for sake of the gospel. What I can’t understand is why they deny that things have changed? It is obvious.
The burning question is then this: Have things changed for the better? What exactly is this gospel that these men are so eager to embrace? The answer is the basically the Lordship Salvation gospel. Some might disagree but let’s think about this. If I were to ask these men to describe how a person is saved, what response would I get? What answer do you suppose I would get from a Calvinist such as Dave Doran? His writings can easily be found online and he makes his views quite clear. Would these men really think that they could find common ground with MacArthur if they really disagreed with him too much about Lordship salvation? Would they have been so eager to sit on stage with Mark Dever? Would they attend things like T4G if they really held a Free Grace view of the gospel? I think it is rather more like the old adage: Birds of a feather flock together. I would not even think of going anywhere near MacArthur or Dever, and I can’t even imagine sharing their positions or supporting their ministries. As much as these men may dance around the issue, when it comes down to it they respect the lordship view and look down upon the free grace view. I would like to hear even one of these men mentioned refute statement and give me a clear free grace message of salvation. Of course the minute they do, they would be at odds with those that they now seek fellowship with.
What can the average person learn from all this? We’ll first, let’s realize that no person or group of people is infallible. No one no matter how strongly doctrinal they may be now are immune 100% to drifting into error. It takes real work to study to show thyself approved unto God. Rightly dividing the Word of truth does not come easy. The second thing is that we should not under estimate our adversary. The devil seeks to cloud the clarity of the gospel in the minds of men. He has no problems using well meaning Christians to confuse other would be converts. Likewise the devil is glad to have believers be told to scrutinize their works to see if they are in the faith. Focus on performance takes one’s eyes off of the person of Christ and our position with Him seated in the heavenlies. Do we have to be mindful of our actions as believers? Sure, but we must do so while being filled with the Spirit in obedience to God’s Word. The fact is that all men must first come to Christ for salvation. The only way to receive salvation t is to accept Christ’s payment for our sin by faith. This is the gospel message. No amount of promising to obey Christ in the future has any bearing on salvation. The price was already paid by Christ’s shed blood. Salvation is also not something that we must wait around for to examine ourselves to see if by chance we just might be so lucky as to be one of the elect. The Bible clearly states that whoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. It would insult God to tell Him that we appreciate that He sent His Son to die for us but that we can’t believe it until He makes us believe it.
Despite the movement in Christian circles, let stay clear on the gospel above all things and make sure that there are still those willing to stand for the faith no matter what other men do no matter how well known or popular they are. One day in eternity we will answer to God for what we believe, not other men.