Moody Bible Institute President, COO Resign Amid Board’s ‘Unanimous Decision’ for ‘New Season of Leadership’

CHICAGO — The president and COO of Moody Bible Institute have submitted their resignations amid controversy over the direction of the historic institution, and in light of the board’s “unanimous decision” for “new leadership.”

The Moody Board of Trustees accepted the resignations of President Paul Nyquist and COO Steve Mogck on Wednesday, according to an email sent to students by Chairman Randy Fairfax. Nyquist, a former pastor and president of the church planting organization Avant Ministries, had served at Moody since 2009.

“As you know, the Board of Trustees has been discussing issues related to widespread concerns over the direction of Moody. Today, we accepted the resignations of President Dr. Paul Nyquist; Chief Operating Officer Steve Mogck; and the retirement of Provost Dr. Junias Venugopal,” he wrote.

“Let there be no mistake that the Board of Trustees holds these three men in high regard for their ethical, moral, and spiritual leadership. They are godly, honorable men to whom we entrust to the Lord and offer our deep gratitude for their years of faithful service to Christ and to Moody. However, we are unanimous in our decision that it is time for a new season of leadership. I ask that you be in prayer for them and their families,” Fairfax said.

According to reports, some students and staff expressed disappointment following an announcement in November that Moody would be closing its Spokane, Washington campus, discontinuing certain offerings and cutting faculty. While some said that the changes were due to decreasing enrollment, Moody outlined on its website that it was “repositioning the ministry for kingdom impact.”

“As we continue to face challenging ministry trends and financial demands over the next decade, Moody’s Executive Team along with the Board of Trustees and leadership have been prayerfully discerning how to strategically reposition our key ministries to build on our more than 130-year legacy of equipping people with the truth of God’s Word,” Nyquist said in a statement at the time.

“We are proactively making these strategic changes now to ensure our long-term viability and sustained growth,” he explained.

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While it is unknown as to all of the concerns that were discussed by the board that resulted in the decision for new leadership, an open letter to Nyquist that was published by the Moody Standard expressed worriment over the announced changes, stating that they were creating a “culture of fear” at the Bible institute.

“If the rumors and distrust persist on this campus, it may very well be because these decisions, by being postured on some vague spiritual ‘high ground,’ have actually engendered a culture of fear in the very organization tasked with bringing ‘the Word to life,'” read the letter, written by faculty who wished to retain their anonymity.

“From this point forward, Moody’s financial issues may not be because of the secular culture or disinterested Christian youth, if these are indeed the true culprits, but because our staff, students, alumni, and donors have too many questions about our current directions and little to no trust in our current leadership,” it stated.

Moody Radio host Julie Roys also recently published an article asserting, among other allegations, that the school was not being vigilant to root out liberal professors, that it had allowed an official to violate Moody’s bylaws and that it was “fostering an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.” She was fired this past weekend, and her statements were refuted as being “misleading.”

Prior to the most recent controversy, some had questioned Moody’s decision in 2013 to nix a longstanding rule that prohibited faculty from smoking and drinking. Students still may not do so while enrolled at the institution. Moody Publishers released three books earlier this year from 1997 graduate Joe Thorn of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, who is known for his love of cigars, and has also unabashedly acknowledged his affinity for heavy metal, horror movies and bourbon.

Moody Bible Institute was founded in 1886 by Dwight Lyman “D.L.” Moody, a respected evangelist whose heart was for the purity of the Church.

“God will not accept a divided heart. He must be absolute monarch. There is not room in your heart for two thrones,” he once stated. “… There is not room for any other throne in the heart if Christ is there. If worldliness should come in, godliness would go out. The road to Heaven and the road to Hell lead in different directions. Which master will you choose to follow? Be an out-and-out Christian. Him only shall you serve. Only thus can you be well pleasing to God.”

“Understandably, there are many questions at this time,” Chairman Fairfax wrote in his email Wednesday. “Please know that we are working diligently through everything, and will stay in regular contact with you first, our Moody family, and with our many partners and friends as well.”

“I ask for your prayers for the Board, our interim leadership team, and the entire Moody community during this next season.” he requested. “God has been faithful to Moody since 1886, and we continue to seek His favor as we move forward.”

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  • Paul Lee

    Moody’s slow ‘March to Liberalization’ continues!

  • Jim Simpson

    Smoking and drinking are indeed items of concern. Purity issues are important to be discussed. Standards that are higher than society are not unreasonable. As an 82 graduate- we couldn’t have beards or go to movies back then- yet we have managed to graduate and enter into ministry just fine..

    • cadcoke5

      Some of the things mentioned do not indicated any sort of moral decay at Moody. I.e. they are not purity issues. Smoking, or even things like healthy eating are not mentioned in scripture as moral issues. They may be foolish, and otherwise not advisable, but that is a different thing.

      In regards to things like movies, the typical modern movie, which may have been rated X in the 50s, is correctly considered a moral wrong. But, that is not true of all movies. Perhaps the college was right to seek to discourage a movie-going culture they saw in their students at the time. But, it is certainly not a moral wrong to drop that prohibition.

      Growing a beard? Of course, nothing against that in the bible. This was clearly a image or cultural thing at Moody at the time, and can be changed and should not raise any moral concerns.

      Strong drink is often spoken against in the bible. And since there was no distillation at the time, that means it is straight wine or beer that is being spoken against. More typically, fermented wine was heavily diluted before consumption, to a point where it would not even be considered an alcoholic beverage by modern definitions. So, that does concern me if strong drink is being considered OK for either students or staff.

      • Jim Simpson

        I’m too old to just let your comments go without my reply.

        I’m disappointed that you missed the only point I was making- that “Believers and colleges setting standards that are higher than society are not unreasonable.” That was it – nothing more… A comment about softening the standards alongside the seemingly liberalism of the staff. That was it.

        Interestingly- You found my lead remark and my closing statement worth dissecting. Without knowing you who are and where you sit in the whole issue of drinking (Do you have a beer when you come home, go out for MNF?), it feels like you are very comfortable participating. I will defend a position that We- as Christians, are light and salt, and stand apart from society. Daniel & his 3 friends showed this- and this example does not need to be downplayed, and nor it it a proof text… it is simply a great example of “To be in the world and not of the world.”

        You analyzed my comments (without knowing more from where they have originated), so here is where I come from: After 24 years in the Navy I think I have a fair assessment of Alcohol and Smoking and living close to the edge. A softening of my values would have led to ruin, so I chose not to drink. It’s also hard to hold the Bible in one hand and a cigarette and a beer in the other. I find that those who try give up on one or the other.

        My current ministry as a “biker chaplain” allows me access into a world that not many view. But we Christian bikers have earned he right to be there, not by acquiescing and participating with them, but being something more than what they are and do… How wonderful it is to be the Gospel to them and minister from out of darkness into the light. To “participate with them” would be to disqualify myself from being Jesus to them. I don’t attend the party atmosphere of a Sturgis type rally, but I do make myself available to come alongside and minister to their needs as a friend and chaplain.

        Now you know more about me- How does your views on this issue play out in your ministry? Can you sit and smoke and drink alongside others as you open the Bible? Or would you hold using off until hanging out in a more secure atmosphere? I’m interested in knowing more about you, and where you have developed your lifestyles and opinion.

        And while I know others will look and laugh and say- see? those guys can’t even agree among themselves! If you can come out west coast (SoCal), drop on in for a stay. It’s riding weather almost every day, making for good ministry opportunities!

        • getstryker

          A very ‘telling’ comment – thank you brother! May God Bless you and yours.

        • cadcoke5

          I am afraid I was not clear in all of my comments. While part of it was in reply to your comment, other parts were more directed at the article and the general subject.

          My main intent in my reply was to point out that some of the criticisms in “loosening” of standards at the college was about things that are not purity issues. In regards to your initial message, it does look like we disagree in regards to smoking being a purity issue. I would not consider smoking to even be an issue of enslavement to something, if a person smokes a cigar once a week. Though, at some point it clearly does become an enslavement and perhaps a type of intoxication.

          I agree with you that Christians, and any Christian organization, must have Godly moral standards, which are going to be far above what the world has.

          I think Colleges can have other kinds of standards that are not purity or moral issues. E.g. (I am choosing something not mentioned in regards to Moody) requiring male students to wear a coat and tie on campus when classes are in session. However, if that standard were to change, and “business casual” be the new standard, I don’t think it is correct to consider it a lowering of the purity standards of the college.

          I think smoking is one of those kinds of things. Not a moral wrong, but wise to avoid. Publishing a book by someone who smokes a cigar is not an indication to me that Moody has lowered moral purity standards. Though, perhaps, some of the other criticisms of Moody may be signs that they are lowering moral standards. Though, I am hesitant to state it more strongly, without being closer to the situation.

      • Roy

        The bottom line is “Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world, If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
        And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 Jn 2:15-17)

      • Chet

        Can’t disagree, brother, but you might consider God’s written Word as Holy Bible. Islamists always refer to their source book as Holy Quran. We Holy Bible believing Christians and Jews ought to do no less.

    • Roy

      But there is a difference between growing a beard and smoking. Smoking harms the body as a scientific fact. Our body houses the Holy Spirit and therefore we are destroying the temple which we are.

  • Dianne

    2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when THEY will NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE; but after their own LUSTS shall they HEAP to themselves teachers, having itching ears;”

    I certainly will be praying for Moody Bible Institute. What has occurred their is a shame….😔