Unsettling Beliefs in the Faculty at Concordia, Mequon Says Former Adjunct Professor, by Pr. Rossow

We have documented several concerns about our Concordias here on the Brothers of John the Steadfast website, including faculty at Concordia – Chicago signing a petition in support of terror-bomber and humanist educator William Ayers, the establishment of a gay and lesbian support group at Concordia – Portland and more recently the use of small groups and a chapel band at Concordia Seminary – St. Louis. Now we have a former adjunct professor sharing some candid thoughts about the theology of the faculty at Concordia – Mequon.

I worked as an adjunct philosophy instructor at Concordia, Mequon, WI–just before I completed my PhD at Marquette U.  I was not Lutheran, but was frankly more theologically orthodox than a segment of the faculty there.   When I was hired, I was told it was because my M.A. in Theology was from Fuller Seminary.  That made my resume “go to the top of the stack.”  I was shocked.  I’m far more conservative than Fuller Seminary:  I hold to the inerrancy of the Bible, men only as pastors, and all the standards of the early ecumenical creeds.  Fuller is notiorious for undermining biblical orthodoxy.  I’m glad I was hired, but astonished as well.  The Concordia faculty was split between those who were faithful to the Lutheran confessions, and those who were working quietly to change the LCMS view of Scripture, ministry, and certain elements of theology and doctrine.  One adjunct was a Presbyterian woman, who held some very unsettling beliefs.  I worried about the students, and wondered why I, as the outsider, was more concerned than the LCMS people themselves.

(Comment #26)

I am not surprised by this comment. I am greatly appreciative of commenter Ron taking the time to share his experience. Before offering support for and commentary on Ron’s experience I do want to say that there are many good things going on at Concordia – Mequon. I have had interaction with one of the theology professors over the years and I am convinced he is solidly confessional. I have also heard others offer glowing support for the President, Rev. Dr. Patrick Ferry, as a supporter of all things good and confessional. So what gives with Ron’s experience?

Among other problems, it is clear to me that our Concordias have outgrown their ability to supervise doctrine. Maybe more accurately, the pace at which they have grown has raced ahead of the ability to properly supervise the doctrine in the lecture hall. I believe our Concordias have put growth of program and thus tuition income ahead of preservation of the Gospel, or at the very least, allowed them to stand side by.

There is no greater concern for a Lutheran college, university or seminary, than to preserve and pass on the pure Gospel. This priority should always be number one and that is just not happening in our Concordias based on the things we have reported on this website. In order to grow their programs, they have taken on adjunct faculty that do not espouse the full doctrinal position of the LCMS. There is no reason why every last professor in every last department should not be fully trained in LCMS doctrine and practice, installed with an oath to that doctrine and then held to that standard. Of course, the response is, but we do not have that kind of resources in the LCMS. If that is the case then we cannot afford, for the sake of preserving the Gospel, to have the Concordias that we do and at the size at which we currently maintain them.


Comments

Unsettling Beliefs in the Faculty at Concordia, Mequon Says Former Adjunct Professor, by Pr. Rossow — 47 Comments

  1. I have also had some experience with Mequon. A son of the congregation stated that there was total open communion in the campus church. His example was on Ash Wednesday his two roommates, one a Catholic and the other a Mormon were allowed to commune but he than refused! He also refused to attend the campus church and chapel because of the openness of the services so chose to go off campus to a more faithful pastor and congregation. When he approached the campus minister/chaplain he was told that there were far too many people attending to make sure every one was an LCMS member. There was no statement in the bulletin and there was no statement made before the service or the Communion! He said that so much of what he heard in theology classes was not what his pastor [that would be myself] had taught him in Confirmation and through Bible classes and sermons.

  2. As I am not a product of the CUS, I really do not know much about it other than what I have heard. In the past, the good ole days, what kind of theological supervision existed for the CUS? I am thinking that all CUS presidents should be confessional, ordained pastors of the LCMS. Would this be too much to ask?

    Kiley Campbell

  3. I am a seminary student and a 2009 graduate of Concordia University Wisconsin. I find some of the assertions here to be at least mildly inaccurate. Following my graduation I have visited my alma mater several times, and I have maintained contact with several theology professors whom I have grown to respect greatly.

    During my years there, and as far as I am aware to this day, the following statement was printed in every bulletin for services with the Sacrament of the Altar:

    Concordia University Wisconsin, as a school of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), practices close communion. If you are not a member of an LCMS congregation, we ask that you speak with the pastor before communing. The Lord’s Supper underscores a precious oneness that we hold dear. We are grateful for the oneness that transcends denominational lines, yet we maintain the practice of close communion because oneness in doctrine is also witnessed in this celebration.

    Needless to say, while there certainly are cases where students commune who ought not, this is by no means fostered or encouraged by the Campus Pastor.

    I served on the Worship Committee for three and a half years and worked closely not only with the Campus Pastor but with other members of the theology department. There are certain practices with which I do not agree, such as contemporary worship, that are a part of campus life. Yet there was never occasion for me to doubt the confessional stance of the Campus Pastor, or any of the members of the theology faculty.

    I will, however, be the first to admit that among the rest of the faculty, there are those who are either not Lutheran (there are several Roman Catholic and Protestant faculty) or who are Lutheran, who hold heterodox views. Most, from what I observed, understand that they are not there to teach theology. Some do make their views known, and this is without a doubt cause for concern.

    Yet there are also faculty who are not theology profs who make their confessional Lutheranism very well known.

    I simply want to make clear, without any doubt, that the theology faculty of Concordia University Wisconsin are good, orthodox, confessional, and faithful teachers of, and for the church.

    -Andrew S.

  4. According to the post, “Ron” is an adjunct professor at CUW. Has this been substantiated? Or are we to take a casual poster to another stream who identifies himself only as “Ron” simply at his anonymous word…. especially given the serious nature of the accusations?

  5. @Rev. Roger D. Sterle #1

    Rev. Roger D. Sterle :
    I have also had some experience with Mequon. A son of the congregation stated that there was total open communion in the campus church. His example was on Ash Wednesday his two roommates, one a Catholic and the other a Mormon were allowed to commune but he than refused! He also refused to attend the campus church and chapel because of the openness of the services so chose to go off campus to a more faithful pastor and congregation. When he approached the campus minister/chaplain he was told that there were far too many people attending to make sure every one was an LCMS member. There was no statement in the bulletin and there was no statement made before the service or the Communion! He said that so much of what he heard in theology classes was not what his pastor [that would be myself] had taught him in Confirmation and through Bible classes and sermons.

    While I did not attend CUW, I graduated from CUC in 2009, and they faced many of the same challenges as CUW.
    1. There is no way for the campus chaplain/other celebrant to know who every non-Lutheran student is at the school. It simply cannot be done because there are so many students (undergrad, grad, etc.). If I recall correctly, there was always either an announcement or statement in the narthex of the chapel stating that the college practices closed communion (Similar to the one mentioned by Andrew in post 3).
    2. Outside the Theology Department, the college may not be able to find orthodox LCMS members who are qualified to teach at the university level. Sure, they reserve the right to fire a non-LCMS professor if an LCMS candidate presents, but most of the time they can’t do that in the Science, Math, English, etc. Departments. For example, while a few members of the English Department at CUC were orthodox LCMS, all but one of them were raging feminists!
    3. If CUW is anything like CUC, they require Theology professors to be rostered LCMS church workers. Theoretically, they are held accountable by some combination of the Department chairmen, University president, Board of Regents (I’m not sure the exact mechanism). Obviously, those people do not and cannot (and, dare I say, should not) attend every session of every theology class. They have to trust the professors to remain as confessional as when they were called and assume that any problems will be brought to their attention (see Matthew 18). If this doesn’t happen, then they don’t know there is a problem. Yes, it is possible that a potential professor might hide his heretical beliefs until after he is hired; there is the same possibility that a seminary student will hide his heterodox beliefs from the faculty until he has been ordained. It is not the university’s fault that the professor deceived them, any more than it is the seminary’s fault that the seminarian deceived them. It comes down to the response when the deception is discovered.
    That being said, I am wondering what the former adjunct professor did when he discovered that theology faculty members disagreed with the LCMS views on Scripture and the ministry. Did he confront them? Did he tell the department chairman? Did he tell the president?

  6. @Andrew #3
    Andrew,

    I called the ex-student and he will stand by what I have printed of our conversation. He did admit that he saw the statement only once–and tied that with a visit from a Synodical higher up. COuld this student be mistaken? There is always that possibilty. Would this student plain lie–never! I don’t believe that he has any dishonest bones in his body.

  7. @Rev. Roger D. Sterle #7

    Again, I can only repeat what I have already said: in three and a half years of serving on Worship Committee and personally seeing nearly every bulletin for chapel services during that time, every service we had with Holy Communion had the statement I posted printed at the top of the page under the Sunday of the Church Year and the setting of the Divine Service that was to be used that morning. That is the truth of the matter, pure and simple.

    Also, I do not believe that Ron has said that any of these faculty with heterodox views were theology professors. That was another point I wish to clarify. If Ron could clarify this as well, I would be most appreciative in order to avoid false perceptions or insinuations from information not given.

    From what I can recall, I took about ten theology classes during my time at CUW. There was not a single instance in which anything was taught by the professor that conflicted with our Synod’s doctrinal stance. Rest assured, though there be doctrinal issues with other faculty members, the honorable theology department members are not one of these.

    -Andrew S.

  8. I believe that the Biblical way to handle this situation (according to Matthew 18) is to contact the Chairman of the Theology Department and the Campus Pastor before posting this topic.
    The Chairman is the Rev. Dr. Nathan R. Jastram and the Campus Pastor is Rev. Steven N. Smith. If you go to the CUW website, you can obtain their phone numbers and links to their e-mail. Going to the source before posting might be something to keep in mind before pursuing other controversial topics also. Otherwise, everything is essentially hearsay.

  9. Ever notice how many times people express a disdain for “contemporary worship” and yet have it forced upon them by their pastors? I mean really. Are we training pastors to now watch the bottom financial line and pull out all stops regardless of what the people want to make sure they fill those pews and pay those bills? If our seminaries are waffling at all on any matter of doctrine including this push toward Willow Creekism, they should lose their funding and should be exposed. Why oh why when there a thousand or more heretical churches dotting our land do we not hold fast to what the Bible clearly says as a beacon of refuge of truth to those who are going to be wounded at heart and need doctrinal therapy?

  10. @Our God Reigns #9
    When we do what everyone else is doing, soon we will be no different than they. Could this be one of the reasons why the LCMS has shrunk in these last few years. If the CW service at Particular Lutheran Church is basically no different from 1st Ave Whatever church, but they do it so much better, than I would of a matter of course, expect people to go to the better entertainment.

    Liturgical worship, in my most humble opinion, has more Scripture contained in its words than does any CW service.

    That’s my story and I am sticking to it. 🙂

  11. @Andrew #8

    Andrew, you stated so far twice on this thread that CUW mentions closed communion in its bulletin for chapel. That is fine in the event they do mention it–fine, to an extent. Does theircommunion statement define closed communion or does it leave it up to the student or adjunct prof or other faculty menber, etc. to interpret it? Most Confessional statements I have seen define it with a reference from the Lutheran Confessions and, often, Holy Scripture.

    If there is no definition, then students who are not Confessional can assume and interpret as they so choose. I would hope that the theological faculty at Mequon would pass communion statements and other university-wide theological stances under their doctrinal review.

    Whether we are at a local congregation or Concordia university, we are never above the explicit definitions of the Sacraments stated in the Lutheran Confessions. Instead, we should expect them and should ourselves read them thoroughly.

  12. Dear Concerned Seminarian,

    “Outside the Theology Department, the college may not be able to find orthodox LCMS members who are qualified to teach at the university level. Sure, they reserve the right to fire a non-LCMS professor if an LCMS candidate presents, but most of the time they can’t do that in the Science, Math, English, etc. Departments.”

    To the contrary, we are out there and many of us would love to work at a Lutheran college. But hiring LCMS people and/or orthodox Lutherans is simply not a priority, so we have to take positions at other colleges.
    I have a Ph.D. in history from Boston College and my husband has a Ph.D. in theology from Marquette. We currently teach at a Roman Catholic college.

    Bethany Kilcrease

  13. @Steve #5
    Steve, I fully understand your concerns about my anonymity. Granted, no accusations or charges against an individual or a coporate body should be taken at face value. To do so would be to indulge in, at best, hearsay.

    However, I’m not making a charge against anybody. I described, accurately, my own experience at Concordia, Mequon. I enjoyed the campus very much, and loved the students. At the time, Gene Veith was Dean (which should indicate the the problem is not of recent origin). It was a privilege for me to meet him, and speak with him now and then. He suggested I think about contributing a volume to a series of books he was editing at the time. He wrote a kind letter of recommendation for me, which I still have. While speaking with him, he was nice enough to tell me that I had “served Concordia very well.”

    My intent in posting was not at all to make libelous remarks about a university for which I experienced much affection. Reading the comments on this board provided me the first opportunity I’ve had to discover that my experience at Concordia was not especially unique.

    The man who hired me certainly did extoll Fuller Theological Seminary. While at Fuller, incidentally, a Mormon bishop delivered the Finch Lectures to their School of Psychology. This pales in contrast to the relativistic work of Charles Kraft in World Missions, or Jack Rogers infamous and inept attempt to establish Fuller’s own mistaken notion of biblical authority in the history of the church. I digress. The man who employed me at Concordia very clearly told me that my background and degree from Fuller were the reasons my CV “went to the top of the pile.” Sitting with other faculty around the table in the small faculty room, it was interesting for a non-Lutheran to learn of the dichotomy at Concordia, Mequon. There was no mistaking it whatsoever. Other faculty spoke with me at length about it. Certainly, I didn’t have the chance to speak with all of them. Still, my most surprising day there was the first, when I had to hide my incredulous reaction to the reasons given for hiring me. I was tempted to say, “Are you serious?” Clearly, the assumption was that I would complement the newer agenda.

    Teaching philosophy, I did present substantial material related to God, revelation, natural theology, etc. I had several students who mentioned that they were “pre-sem,” which I took to mean pre-seminary. They offered interesting comments about objective and subjective justification within the context of our discussions of free choice, determinism, and the problem of evil. My classroom was nicely situated, in the sense that it was on the lower level of the former convent, not far from the student lounge. This gave me a chance to stay and speak further with students. The brightest “pre-sem” student spoke with me a bit about the LCMS. He was impressed with my own strong stand on biblical inerrancy, subscription to the early ecumenical creeds, my views concerning women in ministry, and so on. He, at least, found me to be closer to historical orthodoxy than others he thought should have known better. All of this was new to me. Stunning, actually. I was quite naive about it all, fresh from a doctoral program.

    Yes, I’m a “former” adjunct, because I live in California now, where, after publishing a book, I still teach philosophy. My one care is for the Church of Christ, and that it hold fast to the Word of God in a postmodern world bent on equalitarianism in all things intellectual and spiritual. As an afterthought, one of my colleagues in the Graduate School at Marquette is now an LCMS pastor–still in Wisconsin. He and I commiserated many times on campus about the deterioration of theology in all the traditional Reformation churches. He was ordained in the ELCA, but has since jumped to the LCMS, and is now in a quandry again. Thank you for your comments, which are certainly very understandable and very valid. Without putting my personal information on a blog, I don’t know what else I can do to persuade you that I’m nothing more than an anonymous, former adjunct professor and an apparent loose cannon making unsubstantiated, baseless charges. God bless…..

  14. @Bethany Kilcrease #12
    I admit I can only go off of second-hand information from the professors at CUC, but I recall them saying that the university has difficulty finding qualified LCMS professor in the non-theology departments and that they would prefer rostered LCMS professors to whom they could extend a call. Have you tried applying at any of the CUS schools and are you on the roster?

  15. “Among other problems, it is clear to me that our Concordias have outgrown their ability to supervise doctrine. Maybe more accurately, the pace at which they have grown has raced ahead of the ability to properly supervise the doctrine in the lecture hall. I believe our Concordias have put growth of program and thus tuition income ahead of preservation of the Gospel, or at the very least, allowed them to stand side by.”

    That may be true.

    Thoughts on the matter.

    There is also a serious decline in church work candidates at some Concordia’s which explains a shift in focus.

    I know from my Concordia experience ten years ago, my brothers experience a few years later and people I have been in contact with, that confessional Lutheranism is taught to some extent even to non church work people.

    It was certainly drilled into me, I only wandered off the reservation later because I foolishly believed that all pastors were confessional.

  16. @Ron #13
    Ron,
    I’m not trying to denigrate what you said and experienced, but I am wondering if you could have misunderstood what the person who hired you meant. You said that, “The man who employed me at Concordia very clearly told me that my background and degree from Fuller were the reasons my CV “‘went to the top of the pile.'” Just looking at the context (an interview for an academic position), my first reaction is that the university was impressed by the academic program at Fuller, and that was the reason he chose to hire you to teach philosophy. Not knowing anything about the “dichotomy” at Mequon, I would assume that your historically orthodox faith would have been an added bonus!

  17. @David Rosenkoetter #11
    I would think that since the Chapel has always had a display with Dr. Barry’s “What About” pamphlets at the entrance to the chapel, including the one on our Synod’s communion practices, that is the definition for the understanding of closed communion. Also, given that the display needed to be restocked several times a year, the pamphlets were quite popular and far from collecting dust.
    Furthermore, Elements of Biblical Theology, the required class for Church Work Majors, and Christian Faith, the required class for all other undergraduate students, both explicitly address Holy Communion and the Scriptural and Confessional basis for the practice of closed communion. Granted, I only took Biblical Theology, but having discussed this matter with several other faculty who teach Christian Faith, as well as friends who took it, I have never come across any ambiguity regarding the understanding of the communion practice. I do know quite a few LCMS and non-LCMS students who disagreed with the practice, but by all means they knew what the practice of the University was, and they abided by it.

  18. I am a product of Valparaiso University. Let’s see: A woman pastor, official recognition and financial support of a gay/lesbian student club, mandatory theology classes that view the bible as just another boring history book (Historical/Higher Criticism dominates) , theology professors who do not believe in God, etc. I would imagine that the Concordias have most, if not all the same issues.

    And how many current and former Concordia University students have converted to the LCMS as a result of their college experiences?

    If the Concordias do not further the cause of confessional Lutheranism, then why should the LCMS even bother having them? Sell them! Think about all the “cool” state of the art LCMS Lutheran student centers that could be built next door to the state school campuses. Think about all of the grade schools throughout the country that can be built/revitalized.

    Many people are not aware that even Harvard was originally a Christian school, so the relentless secularization of Christian universities is not just an LCMS problem.

    Related reading: http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/08/18/and-then-they-are-all-mine-the-real-agenda-of-some-college-professors/

  19. It sounds to me like our Concordias are simply a microcosm of our Synod.

    “There is no reason why every last professor in every last department should not be fully trained in LCMS doctrine and practice, installed with an oath to that doctrine and then held to that standard.”

    1. The vast majority of professors at CUNE are members at a LCMS congregations and/or ministers of religion-ordained or commissioned.

    2. Define fully trained.

    3. Do you include all adjuncts in this? It would almost be very difficult, especially with the growth of online courses. However, all adjuncts in theology at CUNE are LCMS ministers of religion-ordained.

    RE: communion at Concordias. Many large congregations have communion statements that a visitor may ignore. Do pastors at large congregations like Bethany speak with every visitor or do you trust them to read the statement and abide by it?

  20. The fact that this argument is even happening demonstrates why I did not go to a Concordia. I graduated from HS in 2001 and then attended a Catholic university, despite my LCMS membership.

    My chosen field was special education- something I could not learn at a Concordia. I had been interested in church work, but learned very quickly that even if I got a special education degree somewhere else and was colloquied into the the LCMS teacher roster, I would only face higher debt and unemployment. Still wanting to pursue church work, I considered a career in general education. A little research told me that this would also likely lead to unemployment, as well as earning a degree from a second rate school system. I also quickly discovered that the Lutheran aspect to the Concordias is more about bickering, politics, and a fight between those misguidedly trying to reclaim their grandfathers’ synod and those not born into it. The above debate, as well as the others linked, demonstrate (quite sadly) that nothing has changed.

    Why on earth would I (or anyone) waste time at a university where theologians that spent more time screaming about homosexuals and political postures than teaching me how to effectively reach out and minister to those in my classroom and community? Why would I attend a school that offered academics that have been watered down in the name of ‘pure doctrine’ and simple lack of concern about the quality of education provided?

    Instead, I went to a school that taught me both Catholic doctrine and modern, widely accepted (and professionally necessary) academics. I took classes from the medical school, bio-mechanical engineering department, history, psychology, and theology departments for fun. I was exposed to a variety of opinions, theories, and belief structures that were different from my own and different from Catholic beliefs, but was always aware that I was attending a Catholic university. I ate lunch with seminarians and novice members of religious orders. Every dormitory had at least one priest. Mass was offered every morning, noon, and evening at various places around campus. Our campus ministry programs were so successful and purposeful that we had people from the (inner city) community around campus join us regularly for Mass, Bible studies, and service projects.

    The education I received was of the highest quality and I use every bit of it in my professional life (which has never been cursed by unemployment.) I’ve grown in faith both as a Christian and Lutheran. I continue to grow due to my close relationships developed with the strong campus ministry team, faculty who were clergy, and friends. I can now understand, describe, defend, and profess my Lutheranism to myself, my God, and my own group of Erasmuses. All of this is true without an LCMS presence at the university.

    I remain to this day an active member of my Lutheran congregation.

    So do the Concordias need close? Do they need to be under a closer watch from an empty-pocket synod? It seems like it could go either way. If they want to pull their heads from the sand academically and become competitive, therefore educating all of us who would have liked to have gone into church work, then they should remain open. If they want to truly be a bastion of Lutheran thought, teachings, and training then they- together with the synod- should get busy on that and stop politicking and whining about each other. The best thing about these options is that they work synergisticly. Perhaps they should be tried.

  21. Considering Valpo is indepednat, and from the various stories coming form that intstitution, I am in the camp that says we should “abondon” that university. I am uncomfortable the financial support the LC-MS and others within have given to the school.

    As for our CUS, yes, yes, a microcosim of synod. But here we at least have some authority and control over what goes on. Hopefully we can promote what we believe in. What and how do we wish to train our future church leaders? I does matter how we conduct ourselves, and how we are seen by all. Do we look credible? Are we putting our best foot forward? Are we giving our best back to God?

  22. I’ve noticed one item in this article, hasn’t been addressed yet. So, me being me….I’ll ask.

    Could someone, anyone, explain to me the fascination with Fuller University? I’ve seen so much written on this, both w/in the WELS (Church & Change & it’s ever changing traveling tent show) and in the LCMS (assorted or sordid, your pick). Why? Why would this be in any way, shape or form, beneficial or echt for any foundational Lutheran organization, let alone a center for primary, secondary, or Sem- education?

    Just looking at all the ugly, that those who graduate/ed from here, spew, why would this ever be considered, profitable & not leaven…or quite frankly, worse?

  23. @Jason #22
    Jason,

    There is no LCMS contributions to VALPO. If they received anything from the LCMS it would come only from individual congregations.

  24. @James #19
    Just going off my experience at Concordia University Chicago:
    – Woman pastor- Nope; the closest we ever came to that issue was the question of lay readers and female readers. Our campus chaplain may have been a tenor, but he was also a father.
    – Gay and lesbian student club- Nope, or at least not while I was there
    – Theology classes viewing the Bible as just a historical book- No; we actually had the exact opposite. We learned about Historical Criticism in the mandatory New Testament/Old Testament classes, but we also learned why it was wrong.
    – Theology professors who do not believe in God- as far as I know, all our theology profs believed in God and were all rostered. In fact, all but 3 of them were pastors: There was 1 deaconess in charge of the deaconess program and 2 DCEs in charge of the DCE program. Of course, the Spanish professor was also (technically) part of the Theology/Theological Languages/Foreign Languages Department, and I’m not sure about her beliefs, but she only taught Spanish.

    I don’t know how many students converted to Lutheran as a result of their time at CUC, but I would be surprised if no one did.
    As for “furthering the cause of confessional Lutheranism,” CUC definitely did that; at least part of the reason I’m so confessional now is because of the Theology faculty at CUC.

  25. When (semi-angrily!?) asked in my district interview why I had not attended a Concordia institution in my undergraduate years, I replied: “because I wanted an education.”

  26. Concerned Seminarian,

    “Have you tried applying at any of the CUS schools and are you on the roster?”

    I signed up on the database, but despite openings in my field, I never received a response. My husband directly applied to Concordia – Chicago, but they never even responded to his letter and materials.

    Bethany Kilcrease

  27. By the way, I also know solid LCMS people with Ph.D.s in the sciences from my time in Boston. None of them work at LCMS schools.

  28. Having attended a Concordia myself, it seems odd to me that there has been no mention here of the stark reality that the colleges are just not important to Synod Inc. In parallel to the seminaries, the colleges receive basically nothing from the synod financially and therefore have sought out other forms of income – ever expanding programs, worshiping at the altar of intercollegiate athletics, etc. I think it would be wise to consoldiate down to three or four schools that are faithfully Lutheran Institutions that are dedicated to strong academics and orthodox Lutheran teaching.

    Will it happen? That will happen about the same time we realize it is poor stewardship to operate two seminaries, both in the middle of the country.

    I would like to see the seminaries consolidated down to one and push some from each of the seminary faculties down into a leaner university system. Sell off the other universities and do a few things well, instead of many things poorly (in reference to our colleges, not our seminaries).

  29. I am the chair of the Department of Theology and Philosophy at Concordia University Wisconsin. I want to thank the anonymous former adjunct philosophy instructor, “Ron,” for his concern for pure doctrine and integrity at LCMS universities, and in the same spirit invite him to set aside whatever doctrinal differences he may have with the pure doctrine contained in the Lutheran Confessions so that he could become a member of the LCMS.
    The concerns that “Ron” has of CUW come from many years ago, and are quite unspecific. The major charge is that he was favored in the hiring process because he had a degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. The implication is that if one favors a candidate with a degree from a particular institution, then one also must favor the doctrinal aberrations of that institution. This is a logical fallacy, and it is surprising to see someone with a doctorate in philosophy make such a mistake.
    CUW is committed to the “inerrancy of the Bible, men only as pastors, and all the standards of the early ecumenical creeds,” just as “Ron” is. Not only that, but we are also committed to the Lutheran Confessions and teach according to the doctrinal resolutions of the LCMS. The administration takes its responsibility to supervise teaching seriously. The theology faculty includes only ordained LCMS pastors who are deeply committed to Scripture and the Confessions. Although some non-Lutheran Christians are hired to teach in other departments, all promise not to advocate anything contrary to LCMS teaching.
    I do not doubt that mistakes are made by professors or students as they struggle to understand the Word of God. We are all sinners and saints at the same time. Orthodoxy is in a continuous struggle against heterodoxy. By God’s help, CUW will continue to be a place where students learn the truth of Scripture and the Confessions.

  30. I went to Concordia- Ann Arbor. The 4 ordained professors (and 1 ordained emeritus) who taught religion classes were/are rock solid and an under-appreciated blessing to the university.

    I cannot speak highly of the rest of the institution surrounding these men. In an effort to speak the truth in love and keep the 8th commandment I will only say that despite those godly men from whom I learned so much I cannot in good conscience recommend my alma mater to anyone, period.

  31. @Tom #29
    Tom,

    The seminaries only receive about 2% of their total budget needs from Synod. The rest comes from tuition and fund raising.

  32. @Bethany Kilcrease #27
    Is your husband an ordained pastor? If not, then they would not have hired him. Otherwise, I don’t know why they didn’t respond to either of you.
    I didn’t catch your answer to my second question: are you on the roster?

  33. Concerned Seminarian,

    No, he’s not. Well, there goes a Lutheran academic career I guess. No, what’s the roster? In any case, it’s all irrelevent now. I wouldn’t leave my current tenure-track position for a Concordia unless my husband also got a job and, well, see above.
    In any case, the point still stands that I am convinced the derth of LCMS professors is not because there are not enough qualified confessional Lutherans out there, but rather because hiring confessional Lutherans is not a priority.

    Bethany Kilcrease

  34. @Concerned Seminarian #17

    Thanks for your good reply. No, there was no mistaking the meaning behind his stated esteem for Fuller Seminary. Yes, they had a good academic program. I was there after Dave Hubbard retired, and Rich Mouw was elevated from provost to president. In any case, the comments to me were not directed at the academic virtues of Fuller. There were other well qualified applicants. What he appreciated was the diversity at Fuller. Not long after I was hired, other faculty told me that I’d been hired by one of the people who was attempting to open things up at Concordia.

    By this time, Fuller faculty had already published books arguing that Paul had contradicted himself on the issue of women in ministry. Paul King Jewett had written Man as Male and Female, and other pieces, that were notorious. Somehow, Dr. Jewett knew that Paul was still a bit confused when it came to reconcling his rabbinnic background with freedom in Christ. We were glad to discover St. Paul finally managed to figure it out.

    Starting with Dave Hubbard (for whom my mom had work years earlier at Westmont College in Santa Barbara), Fuller at first drifted and then dashed away from biblical inerrancy. In one of my New Testament classes, after hearing of the various “contradictions” and “errors” in the text, asked the professor how he could go back to his congregation and tell them there were errors in scripture. The answer was that it isn’t our job to do that, and to interfere with personal piety. In the same class, while reading Pauline passages, another student said, “I really don’t like Paul. He’s so rude.” (It wasn’t tongue in cheek.) A second New Testament professor told us that the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus simply could not be taken literally. The reason he used to justify this was that Jesus ate fish during one of those appearances. He said, “And we all know what happens to food at the end of the digestion cycle.” Since its was unseemly that the resurrected Jesus would have to use the bathroom, the accounts of his appearances couldn’t possibly be taken literally. In the old Reformed Journal, Rich Mouw wrote a short piece in which we he described how he’d prayed to Mary when he was in a European cathedral (this was before he was hired at Fuller). These illustrations come to me on the spur of the moment, but there are many, many others.

    Much of this was well known, or should have been. I suppose I was surprised that a Concordia school would consider that particular part of my academic experience as making me especially suitable for Concordia. I’d actually gone in to the interview well prepared to provide reasons why I’d like be hired in spite of it. No need, as it turned out.

  35. @Sue Wilson #31

    Nathan, thank you for your kind reply. Once again, I was not bringing a charge against anybody. I mentioned the comment about Fuller because it was the first remark that I found a bit surprising. What I was told about Concordia itself came from faculty members there at the time. The fact that the man nice enough to hire me admired Fuller Seminary is not a premise in any syllogism I’ve attempted to provide. Only if I’d provided a formal valid argument, including a properly placed middle term, would there be anything for you to critique in that sense. Of course, this is what I taught your students at Concordia, too. Thus, there was no formal fallacy, although it’s an odd thing to need to say.

    Forgive me, but it does sound as though you’re trying to “poison the well” by accusing me of ineptitude in the discipline of logic. I’m not sure that’s the most effective way to extend an invitation to me to become a member of the LCMS. Enclosing my name in scare quotes each time you use it appears to imply a certain distain on your part. I regret it if that’s the case. That is, however, my real first name. When you describe my concern for pure doctrine, and again enclose in quotation marks a few doctrines I’d mentioned, I’m afraid it comes across in a somewhat condescending manner. Although you didn’t say it in so many words, let me assure you that I’m not a self-righteous heresy hunter who’s pretending to be an expert on LCMS doctrine. On the other hand, over the course of my two year M. A. in Theology, I did (and continue to) read extensively in the areas of church history, soteriology, exegesis, hermeneutics, and systematic theology. Twelve units of Greek and sixteen of Hebrew didn’t hurt.

    I simply shared what I experienced when I was an adjuct at Concordia. Perhaps things are much different now. If you say so, I’m very glad and grateful. That would be wonderful. Or, perhaps the faculty who offered their comments to me were not being truthful. That, of course, would not be an attractive possibility. What I can tell you is that the dichotomy at Concordia was very real when I was there. What I did find to be consistently true of your campus is the warm and cordial atmosphere from which I benefitted. This is something I hope has not changed since I was there.

    God bless,
    Ron

  36. @Bethany Kilcrease #36
    “Being rostered” means that you are a church worker (Lutheran schoolteacher, DCE, deaconess, pastor, etc.). The reason I asked is because I seem to recall that when it comes to hiring professors, being a rostered member of the LCMS (as opposed to a member of an LCMS congregation) was considered favorable according to my theology prof. Dr. Jastram may be able to shed some more light on that.

  37. @Tom #29
    One thing comes to mind:
    I can’t speak for every CUS school, but CUC gave me an excellent education. The Theology, Theological Languages, and Music Departments were all very good and employed very intelligent and qualified professors. The other departments were not as strong, I don’t know how many schools there are that do everything very well. CUC’s strengths were: Theology, Music (more instrumental than vocal), and Education. There were other things that they did not do as well (Math and Science, for example). I’m sure that if you look at the other CUS schools, you will notice the same thing: They do a few things really well (among others Theology), and they are somewhere between marginal and good in everything else. The point isn’t to have perfect programs in everything; it’s to provide a good education to the students in key areas (specifically church work-related vocations) and supplement that with other programs to bring in income to support those church work programs. That is one reason why CUC has so many local grad. students in education programs: Their tuition helped pay for my pre-sem grant.

  38. Finally, it seems to me that this particular blog is much ado about nothing. Pr Rossow, I would encourage you to be a bit more discerning when doing these types of blogs. Simply restating the memories of one adjunct professor at CUW is not a good method of information gathering. I have no problem with you challenging happenings at any Concordia (I may even agree sometimes), but this was a waste of time. Additionally, it allowed a few individuals to post here who seemed to just want to bash the poor quality of education at the Concordias. A quality of education with which they really have no experience.

    (*It’s annoying typing thoughts sometimes without checking….I leave out words as I did in #44.)

  39. MPC,

    Very good questions.

    My point about fully trained is that the Concordias are getting too big and it is all being done for the sake of money. Can they all be fully trained as it is right now? Of course not. That is my point.

    When I attended Concordia, Seward in the late 70’s, everyone of my professors in every discipline was a graduate of a Concordia or colloquized. The on campus enrollment was around 1,100. I do not think it is much different now?

    I do recognize just about everyone who communes at Bethany. We even have a couple of non-Lutheran spouses who have asked to come up to the altar for a blessing during communion. My point in bringing that up is that we have inculcated a spirit of closed communion in our communion. Our statement in the bulletin is very specific. It states that only those confirmed in the LCMS can commune. Others are to speak to the pastor. Hardly a week goes by that we do not have an LCMS member come and speak to us.

    TR

  40. “It states that only those confirmed in the LCMS can commune. Others are to speak to the pastor. Hardly a week goes by that we do not have an LCMS member come and speak to us.”

    I was never confirmed in the LCMS, but in the WELS. I am a member in good standing at an LCMS parish. Does this exclude me from the Lord’s Supper at Bethany?

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