Tuesday, August 21, 2012

SI & NIU: Censorship by Omission Revised & Expanded

Site Publisher Note: Please refer to the Revised and Expanded version of this article at my primary blog In Defense of the Gospel.

Sharper Iron (SI) is infamous for a history of castigating and besmirching Fundamentalism at virtually any opportunity. SI has never posted and, therefore, cannot produce even one article from its Front Page that is thoroughly positive on Fundamentalism and uplifting for the fundamentalist. SI has never allowed for a blog, that is unapologetically positive toward Fundamentalism, to appear in its Blogroll. SI never passes on an opportunity to heap lavish praise and run interference on behalf of the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism, its star personalities and conferences.

SI’s leadership beginning with Aaron Blumer to Jim Peet, Joel Tetreau, Joe Roof, Larry Rogier, Susan R, JayC and a small, but aggressive pack of vocal SI members historically gang-tackle any participant who tries to present an apologetic for Fundamentalist concerns or take on the doctrinal aberrations, ecumenical compromises, cultural relativism and worldliness of the “conservative” evangelicals. SI is a willing participant in and a conduit for the influences of the new wave of non-separatist evangelicals in and around fundamental circles. SI’s double standards, bias and favoritism is obvious to any objective observer.

And SI can’t figure out why they have alienated and driven off almost every person who might participate on behalf of a truly good and balanced Fundamentalism? 

For over two months it has been widely known that Dr. Matt Olson and Northland International University (NIU) lauded a Charismatic Church. On July 2, 2012 Matt Olson from his personal blog posted “Confidence in the Next Generation.” In the article Olson stated, “I have great confidence in this next generation. They get what matters most. This was evidenced in my visit Sunday to Grace Bible Church in Philadelphia…”

What is the Crux of the Controversy?
The Grace Bible Church (Philadelphia, PA) is a member of CJ Mahaney’s family of Sovereign Grace Churches. It is a Charismatic Church. NIU’s current Articles of Faith and doctrinal statements in its Undergraduate and Graduate Handbooks explicitly state the university’s rejection of, and opposition to the “modern Charismatic movement.”1 From his blog Matt Olson announced that an NIU graduate/staff member, Greg Dietrich, will be in the membership of this Charismatic church and would be on NIU’s payroll. All of this has been fact checked and documented here at IDOTG, by Don Johnson at his blog (an oxgoad, eh) and the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI) Proclaim & Defend blog.

SI once alleged that it “is a fundamentalist place....  that SI is about how fundamentalists see the world.”2  The story of NIU president Matt Olson praising and initiating a fellowship with a Charismatic church is highly relevant to a wide cross–section of believers in fundamentalism. So, why didn’t SI carry its own report of this widely known development?

The liberal mainstream media heaps lavish praise on liberalism, but besmirches and demonizes conservatism. The mainstream media protects their liberal friends by refusing to report on and/or will censor negative stories about them. SI is no different than the liberal mainstream media when it comes to praise, bias, censorship to protect and favoritism on behalf of non-separatists in “conservative” evangelical circles and/or the new wave New Evangelicals circulating in fundamental circles.
SI’s media style is the first cousin of liberal mainstream media bias!
For the nearly two months after publication of Matt Olson’s public praise for the SGM Charismatic church nothing appeared at SI. The external pressure on SI, however, was begun through the initial blog articles of the NIU/Charismatic connection by Pastor Don Johnson in Getting What Matters Most at his blog an Oxgoad, eh?.  I followed Don’s article with the current on-going series of articles on Matt Olson and NIU at this blog. The presence of Don Johnson’s blog article and my series alone did not move SI to bring this major doctrinal discussion to their site.

On the morning of Friday, August 31st the FBFI entered the Olson/NIU Charismatic discussion. Once the FBFI’s Proclaim & Defend blog published Don Johnson’s Questions for Matt Olson and NIU3 SI no longer had any excuse for the stories non-appearance at its site and could not claim ignorance of the issue. Within minutes a link to the FBFI’s Proclaim & Defend appeared in SI’s Filings, and a comment thread was opened. Predictably certain members of SI’s leadership and its membership immediately gang tackled Don with impunity.  SI is not about to allow for, tolerate or let go unchallenged critical commentary of a person or ministry that is pursuing the same non-separatist evangelicalism they are.

Until the Proclaim & Defend article Questions for Matt Olson and NIU appeared it was purely another example of Censorship by Omission at SI. It’s just that simple.

On the other hand, as fast as Matt Olson can issue statements (on the current controversy and questions) SI has those articles posted on their site post-haste. Case in point was Dr. Olson’s Sept 3 article from his personal blog.4  That article was in SI’s Filings before daybreak the same day. What do you suppose the chances are that SI would add to their Filings a critical review of Matt Olson’s recent statements from this or Don Johnson’s blog?

SI’s censorship of the NIU/Charismatic issue and critical reactions to the issues was predictable. SI’s subsequent media support of Matt Olson’s attempts to dismiss, ignore or legitimize a serious contravention of NIU’s doctrinal statements is consistent with their objective to advance non-separatist evangelicalism, advance the agenda of and protect compromising men who circulate in and around fundamental circles. SI’s moderators (“referees”) do not provide for or guarantee an even playing field in the forum. A perusal of the Olson/NIU Filing’s thread of August 31st demonstrates the absurdity of any claims of unbiased moderation and fair treatment at SI.
SI has NEVER been fair to or a friend of authentic Fundamentalism! 
Sharper Iron IS a pseudo-fundamentalist site!
If you do not appreciate the slant of media bias at Sharper Iron you would do well to refrain from propping up the site through your participation.


1) Is NIU “Opposed to and Reject[ing of] the Modern Charismatic Movement?” and Questions for Matt Olson and NIU

2) That statement has since been revised to a nearly unrecognizable form.

3) Questions for Matt Olson and NIU, FBFI’s Proclaim & Defend blog.

4) What Matters Most: How We Draw the Lines, Part 3. Matthew R. Olson blog. (accessed Sept. 3)

Site Publisher’s Addendum:
Some are asking why nothing is coming from SI contributors Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran on the NIU/Charismatic church connection. Earlier this week I read a noteworthy premise for their silence. At an oxgoad, eh Pastor Brian Ernsberger wrote,
Based upon the track record of the above-mentioned men (Bauder, Doran, Jordan, et. al.,) they have no reason to denounce what Matt Olson has said and done. These men have, to one degree or another, opened up avenues to evangelicals without much in the way of warnings. So why would they denounce a fellow who is pursuing those same avenues?”
Related Reading:
Attacks on Motive Do Not Belong”... at SI?

SI,“You LIE!”

SI May Fit the Description of Being PSEUDO- FUNDAMEMTALIST 

Censorship by Omission: Haddon Robinson

Site Publisher’s Appeal:
Have you ever wondered whether or not you should be participating at SI? SI’s history of its leadership’s bias, playing favorites, double standards, besmirching non-favored persons, fellowships and doctrines as well as badgering dissenting SI members is indisputable. Beginning with its first site publisher and continuing through today with Aaron Blumer, SI has been a platform for castigating Fundamentalism with the broad-brush and advocating on behalf of a compromising, non-separatist evangelicalism. I urge you to consider ceasing any participation at or support of the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron.


  1. Thank you for bringing this issue up. I check you site at times and look forward to you taking the place of SI in the future.

  2. Sorry I am so late in posting your comment. I appreciate the encouragement. As for SI, whether or not either or both of my blogs take its place is not an issue for me. I know there are many folks who appreciate what I am offering at my blogs. What I would like to see is SI fold and go away all together.

    Yours faithfully,