LCMS Inc. – Please Stop Touting the Pagan Growth of the Concordias, by Pr. Rossow

The sprawling headline across the top of the most recent Reporter (November 2014), the official newspaper of the LCMS, brags “CUS Enrollment Hits Record 36,250 Still Climbing after 22 Years.” What do you suppose my 86 year old mother in rural Iowa thinks when she reads that headline? She is proud that the university system that she sent her son to almost 4o years ago is still a great source of pride for us LCMS’ers.

Sorry Mom, it’s just pagan growth. No reason for pride in this statistic. No doubt there are a lot of good things going on in the Concordias but this number is not one of them. The brightest light lately was the election of strong confessional leader Dr. Daniel Gard as the president of Concordia Chicago. He has a huge hill to climb and adding students is not helping. It is only making the universities more pagan. Here are just three of the reasons why I say that.

First is a story of a former principal from our day school here at Bethany Lutheran in Naperville, Illinois. About 15 years ago he decided to earn his masters of education. He wanted to get it from a Lutheran institution so he enrolled at Concordia Chicago. In his entire program he had one Lutheran professor and he was not even LCMS. He was ELCA. A Lutheran principal takes the high road to get his masters in education from a Concordia, despite the numerous opportunities he had in the Chicago-land area, and he does not get a Lutheran education even though CUC was started and operated for most of its history as an LCMS teachers college.

Secondly, there was the discovery a few years ago of the 8 CUC professors who signed the petition in favor of terrorist and fire bomber Bill Ayers. It is noteworthy that the petition was not just a personal endorsement but was an endorsement of the pagan humanist philosophy of education taught by Ayers and his students. You can see the BJS story on this and related stories by clicking here.

In the third place there is the professor up for tenure at Concordia Chicago who endorses the transgender life. BJS writer Scott Diekmann gives that chilling account of paganism thriving at the Concordias. You can read it by clicking here.

Just for good measure we can throw in the support for the LBGT agenda at Concordia – Chicago. You can read about it here.

My mother would not approve of all of this. Imagine sending your child off to a Concordia for an education and having all of these issues and not being sure how many pagan professors they will have. We can never be insulated from the world but this is not what Walther and the boys had in mind when they started the Concordias.

Did I mention that despite the big headline on the 22 years of growth at the Concordias, buried on page 8 of the Reporter is the fact that church work student enrollment continues to shrink.

Is it worth celebrating that the CUS is growing in enrollment? Not in the least. The CUS is growing in paganism. The Concordias are growing their enrollment by growing their program so that they can grow their income. They are not only growing pagan they are doing it for money.

I have hope for CUC in the long run thanks to its new president but please LCMS Inc., in the meantime stop touting this pagan growth.

It’s OK to be small if it is for the cause of being faithful.

Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s will to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).

No man can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24).

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

LCMS Inc. – Please Stop Touting the Pagan Growth of the Concordias, by Pr. Rossow — 71 Comments

  1. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Pastor Rossow’s main point in his post is well-thought out and needs to be heard, i.e., numerical growth of students in the CUS system is not really a measure of anything significant, unless there is concomitant quality of Lutheran teaching there.

    Our congregation in Evansville submitted an overture to the convention that became Resolution 5-01A, and is now a Task Force to review the Lutheran identity of the CUS schools (see http://www.lcms.org/convention/taskforceupdates/resolution-5-01A ). Their first report is due to the president of the synod at the end of 2015. We’ll have to wait until then to see how things are really going–system-wide.

    I can explain a few things about Concordia University-Chicago (CUC), since that is my college alma mater, and I served as a parish pastor in Northern Illinois District for most of my career. When I attended CUC (1976-79), it probably had more professors sympathetic to John Tietjen and Seminex than any other school in the system. Many of these professors were members at Grace Lutheran, River Forest, which had a long history of liberal influence, and during my years at CUC was pastored by F. Dean Lueking.

    This was offset by the Presidency of Dr. Paul Zimmerman at CUC, who brought in some fresh young talent in faculty and administration who were also conservative theologically: Steve Hein, Paul Schrieber, Bob Schaibley, Herbert Sims, Rich Fischer, George Lange, Wallace Schulz [later Speaker of the Lutheran Hour], Robert Rahn [later Director of Lutheran Heritage Foundation], Al Wingfield, and others.

    After Grace-River Forest left the LCMS, I was among those pastors asking the CUC faculty who were members at Grace to join a local LCMS congregation, not only out of principle, but also for the example they were setting for their LCMS students. Most of the CUC faculty at Grace resisted and protested, even when a resolution to this effect came to the NID convention floor. Since they had tenure at CUC, there was not much that could be done apart from expulsion from the synod. My previous post on the LCMS Dispute/Expulsion System explains why that would have been a fruitless endeavor. So that is some sort of gauge of the loyalty to the LCMS–and to the Lutheran faith–of some of those older faculty members.

    There is always retirement–and that has resulted in a more conservative theology faculty at CUC, not associated with Grace, River Forest (at least to my knowledge). But the growth of other faculty departments has led to a lessened influence of the theology faculty. It used to be that the theologians were seen as leaders in the campus community–now they are just one department among many–I think that change happened during the Heider presidency.

    That may change with a new president. I have confidence that Dr. Gard will lead in a positive direction on that campus–he will have many obstacles. He deserves all the support we can give him.

    Each CUS campus has a different story, with twists and turns, with achievements and obstacles, even a few hushed scandals over the years. The CUS campuses will do better, if district and synod delegates pay attention to the election of Regents, and to resolutions that deal with their administration.

    As to what the synod should do as a whole with its universities, we need to wait for the 2015 report, then we can make some intelligent decisions in 2016 based on good data, and hopefully some sound recommendations.

    Whatever decisions we make as a synod, the education and formation of church-worker students at a reasonable cost to them and their families should be our top priority in the CUS. I have said that before, and I will say that again, no matter what CUS administrators do or say against me. I have been “whacked” for my support of the church-worker function in the CUS too, not just for my opposition to: church-growth-movement, Evangelical wannabes, Tietjen-Seminex sympathizers, woman’s ordination, charismatic movement, Jesus First, gay agenda, syncretism, open communion, modernist-theology, etc.

    Even though I have been “whacked” numerous times, I still love and support my synod for the sake of the many faithful believers in it, both clergy and laity, both deaconesses and teachers, both church musicians and DCEs, etc.

    As to the hypocrites and false teachers and evil people, they can be found in every church (http://www.bocl.org?AC+VIII ). They cannot be eliminated, but they can be managed . . . 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  2. Martin,

    Say what you want about the wheat and tares but the tares should never be teaching at a school run by the LCMS. No excuse!

    Would you ever allow a pagan teaching pagan philosophy in your Lutheran Day School? Of course not. This is not different.

  3. @Pastor Tim Rossow #2

    Pr. Rossow,

    I think you’re spot on. At least in the local congregation (and hopefully at our affiliated local schools) we have the sense to know that pagans and heretics teaching our children is unacceptable– and if we function within the Scriptures, we can call such folks to repentance, or expel them if they refuse to repent.

    Pr. Noland,

    I am sympathetic to the reasons why you defend the synod, and why you remain and labor for the faithful still here. It is very much the reason I still labor for the congregation and district in which I find myself, fully aware that sin and hypocrisy have infiltrated us deeply. I have no polyanish illusions about the purity of the church on earth expressed in our institutions.

    However, a difference between the local parish and the larger synod seems to emerge, when the latter repeatedly demonstrates an inability or unwillingness to deal with errorists. The fact that tenure can stop the excommunication of a heretical synod professor is an inexcusable indictment of the synod as a whole– a public scandal that we have abrograted the laws of God with our human traditions. If it were a singular event, it would be awful… but it is not. We have whole societies of pastors, congregations, and synod/district leaders leading rebellion against the Scriptures and our Confessions, teaching it in our schools, and moving to overthrow the synod (or to re-work it into their image.)

    Respectfully, I can see little difference in the arguement that posits we should endure the unrepentant, public, scandalous errorists shaping the life of our Synod for the sake of the faithful souls still here… from the same argument made by the Romans for why Lutherans should just sit and suffer with the Petrine errorists for the sake of the faithful in their camp. Lord knows they need pastors, and we seem to have an abundance (with a combination of hundreds on the CRM lists, and hundreds of “permanently non-calling” congregations.)

    So, who was right? Walther, in attempting to flee from or purge from the Church its errorists, or the Romans who argue for unity over error?

  4. I must side with the “American Luther.” In our society today a Concordia is still better than a public university. The colloquy system has failed us miserably, as seen by the recent Supreme Court decision. We cannot stop the disintegration of our beloved synod; any more than the prophets of the OT could stop God’s anger against the Israelites. Humanism and secularism has infected the church at every level. Education in our Concordias is based upon the principles of Dr Dewey. We have embraced the prowess of the public intelligenstia so as to be relevant. We pass out condoms to save people from aids, we change our congregational names to COMMUNITY Church, we stand in church to hear the pastor laud the new BAPTIST music minister. Yes, there are many faithful pastors and congregations, but the disease of SIN is like a massive stroke of EBOLA upon us. So will you stay the course to support the LCMS, or should I say preserve your pension and benefits? Who will go and proclaim the truth from the mountain tops? Who will be the Watchman on the tower? Wallace Schultz as LCMS VP did this and look what we did to him? Lord Have Mercy!

  5. When the decision was made to turn the Concordias into 4
    year Universities, then the curriculum expanded to help educate
    other vocations besides church workers. This resulted in the
    de-emphasis of Lutheran theology as the lynch pin of the entire
    curriculum and faculty.

    Today, Concordia Wisconsin is training pharmacists because this
    is one of the hot new professions. Educating full-time church
    workers is now low on the totem pole. We as a Synod will never
    return to the days of only church worker students attending our
    Concordias.
    .

  6. @Pastor Dave Likeness #6

    Sorry Mom, it’s just pagan growth.

    Perhaps we need to boost church worker programs up the totem pole, but isn’t it good to also love and welcome pagan students?  See comments 27 and 42, pg 1.

  7. John R,

    Pagan students of course. Pagan professors – never! (And yet our Concordias are filled with pagan professors speaking on behalf of Concordia LCMS all sorts of horrific things.)

  8. What is clear from reading these comments is that we are a synod divided. Whoop! Big news there. Some think the Concordias should be primarily for church worker formation; some, for evangelism; some, for a “better” liberal arts education. However, what Pr. Rossow says in #2 above still holds true for whichever purpose one may believe they should strive to accomplish. No pagan should be teaching in an LCMS university! And if pagans are the only ones who can be found to teach a certain subject, then we ought reconsider offering that degree. It’s a simple solution. Go Lutheran, or go home.

  9. @Pastor Tim Rossow #2

    All new hires and contractors should subscribe the Confessions and pass a competency exam on what they mean and how they are applied. In fifty years, there would only be such people on staff and faculty.

    There would still be tares according to the correct definition of that, but that would be a different issue.

    If fifty years is too long, then the whole thing would have to be torn down and rebuilt. I would not bet on the rebuilding, so I would not do the tearing down.

  10. I agree with everything Pastor Rossow said except for the use of the word “pagan.” The word has a specific meaning. I don’t believe we have any Druids or witch-doctors teaching in our colleges. There is the legitimate problem of what do when there is not a LCMS teacher available. The universities have a huge amount of professors. Being non-LCMS does not make you a pagan. Surely we would want to fill in the gaps with Christians but not in positions of major influence.

    A problem mentioned by Dr. Noland is the problem of tenure. It takes time to change the faculty and the culture. There are also rules of accreditation. Going about against the rules could invalidate all of our degrees and your degrees. The present theological faculty at River Forest is a result of years of patient struggle by sincere Confessional leaders. Let’s support our good new leaders and let them know we support what they are attempting. The future, under God’s grace, depends on it.

    ” May God bless our beloved Synod.” This was once a common phrase among us. May it be so again.

  11. John Rixe :
    @Pastor Dave Likeness #6
    Sorry Mom, it’s just pagan growth.
    Perhaps we need to boost church worker programs up the totem pole, but isn’t it good to also love and welcome pagan students?  See comments 27 and 42, pg 1.

    It may or may not be good to love and welcome pagan students John. It depends on how you love and welcome them. If by love and welcome them, you mean encourage pagan practices in the name of “diversity,” and facilitate willful sin, then no, we shouldn’t love and welcome them. Even if we love and welcome them in a Biblical fashion, history has demonstrated that as Christian universities grow bigger and more diverse, they become less Christian.

  12. @Scott Diekmann #13

    Good point. I don’t think anyone favors encouraging pagan practices.

    And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (‭Luke‬ ‭5‬:‭30-32‬)

  13. Instead of spinning my wheels on Steadfast these last few years I’ve been pro-active in the congregations on my area. I’ve found that the most effective battles are fought in the fields and not the halls. The big emphasis has been the routing out the marginal, ineffective, middle of the road, country club mentality with no firm idea of what the Word of God implies and that the Word is the ONLY way to combat local and district nonsense. Most of the problems that have been combated with excerpts of scripture and applications of the WORD. For some reason quoting the Bible has a tendency to hush the opposition. In other words the people need to be cathecised. They need to be grounded in the Word. Here the battle for our congregations has been from the ground up, where it seems the CHURCH started.

  14. I may be incorrect, but it appears that you are calling anyone who does not agree with a very narrow conservative viewpoint “pagan”, and as an actual pagan i must protest. Paganism is not necessarily humanist (i certainly am not),it is does not necessarily promote bi gay or transgender, nor do they necessarily promote liberal politics(which from where i am sitting is just as oppressive as its conservative Christian counterpart). THAT is the actual point of “paganism”, it is not an oppressively enforced mindset glorifying human sacrifice.
    My grandfather was Lutheran, grandmother was Methodist..and i wouldn’t even think about entering a Luthern college. As an actual pagan, what on earth would be the point?
    There isn’t one. The people you are addressing, are not actual pagans but people entering your college for political reasons.

  15. Erika :
    I may be incorrect, but it appears that you are calling anyone who does not agree with a very narrow conservative viewpoint “pagan”, and as an actual pagan i must protest. Paganism is not necessarily humanist (i certainly am not),it is does not necessarily promote bi gay or transgender, nor do they necessarily promote liberal politics(which from where i am sitting is just as oppressive as its conservative Christian counterpart). THAT is the actual point of “paganism”, it is not an oppressively enforced mindset glorifying human sacrifice.
    My grandfather was Lutheran, grandmother was Methodist..and i wouldn’t even think about entering a Luthern college. As an actual pagan, what on earth would be the point?
    There isn’t one. The people you are addressing, are not actual pagans but people entering your college for political reasons.

    Erika,

    You say you’re an “actual pagan,” can you tell me what that means?

  16. I cannot speak to the history of the CUS I can only speak of my personal experiences as a parent of a CUAA student.
    I would first like to address the addition of programs, my daughter is a biology major. I was glad when I saw they expanded to include a pre med / pre Profesional program because it meant that a Concordia was a possibility for her. We live in the country and there are no local lcms schools, so this was her first opportunity to attend a Lutheran school since we had moved when she was 9.

    I would like to share with you a few of our experiences. The first is what I refer to as the eyes wide open difference. When we had the joy ( sarcasm ) of going through all of our college tours only two were private one CUAA the other a Catholic university. Shortly into our tour at CUAA we came to the chapel, the tour guide hadn’t really gotten the opportunity to know us yet, but she stopped and gave us the explanation that the chapel was in the center of the campus for a reason, and that at Concordia, “Christ first in everything”, was not just a saying. It was right out there not something hidden. In contrast when we attended the tour at the Catholic university, we were told because we are a catholic school you do have to take one religious class, but we have lots to choose from and we aren’t here to pressure you into anything any path you choose is fine. My point with that is at CUAA they were very upfront about the focus of the campus.

    My daughter even being a biology major is required to take several religion classes, this last semester her class, as she described, was similar to an in depth confirmation class. Her professor is a lcms pastor. While for her she considered it as a good refresher, for some it was their first exposure to what we believe. With the expansion of some of the sports programs there are more attending who are from a different background but these kids are also required to take basic Bible, like everyone else. I think we can look at these students as a mission field, while simultaneously shoring up our children.

    Pastor Rossow,
    I do appreciate that you did say that good things are happening in our CUS. I also agree we need to watch and hold accountable those we place in charge of shaping these young minds, otherwise all too quickly we could become like that Catholic university backing away from our beliefs.
    As far as dwindling numbers in enrollment for church work, I think that speaks to dwindling numbers of Lutheran Schools. Most of my Lutheran school teachers I had, went to a Lutheran school. However my dad never went to a Lutheran school till seminary. People tend to go into what they have been exposed to in their lives.

    Ultimately I think the priorities need to be training our children at home before they leave for school, praying for our students at our schools, and praying for the faculty.

    These are just my two ( or three) cents.

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