Concordia University, River Forest Faculty Members Sign Petition Defending William Ayers and the Value of Challenging Orthodoxy, Dogma and Authority, by Pr. Tim Rossow

This is a post about the church, not about politics. The two sometimes intersect, even in a denomination like the LCMS which has a quietist bent when it comes to politics. The two have intersected in a public petition that defends William Ayers, who has admitted to participating in violent anti-American terrorist acts and as recently as 2002 has said that he does not regret these past actions. At least three faculty members of Concordia University Chicago, an institution of the LCMS have signed the petition (see signature #’s 588, 1474 and 1589).

It is not our intent to speak to the political issues involved in this matter although your comments on the political side of this are welcome. The issue that involves the church here is the matter of the nature of our schools. I assert that the signing of this petition by Concordia University faculty members, is a clear sign that our colleges and universities are morphing into secular institutions.

If you read the petition you will see that it espouses a secular humanist theory of education and not a theistic approach. For sure, we need to challenge people to think and to reflect on various viewpoints, even in a conservative, Bible-believing, confessing university. But we do not need to espouse a theory of education that is anti-authoritarian, espouses freedom at all costs (even if it supports terror bombings) and is opposed to the concepts of dogma and orthodoxy.

My guess is that these faculty members are adjunct, probably “extremely adjunct” and so we may not need to fear that the heart and core “traditional” faculty of the university espouse this anti-authoritarian viewpoint. But that brings us to the point of this post. Our LCMS universities are no longer parochial. A former principal who served the day school at my congregation earned his Masters in Education from Concordia University a few years ago and in the entire course of his studies had only one professor who was a member of the LCMS!

The current new measures being applied in our church today supported by President Kieschnick and others have led us to a point in our university system where we have gone beyond a parochial structure in our colleges that can be properly and tightly controlled for Christian orthodoxy by the administration. For sure, President Kieschnick and our university presidents cannot control the decisions of the past in our LCMS that have taken away their subsidies and “forced” them to grow non-parochial programs in order to fund the university. That happened before President Kieschnick and other current leaders were elected. My point however, is that the current way of approaching matters in the church espoused by President Kieschnick and others, that focuses more on secular matters such as leadership, sociological principles of church growth, worship that is more in tune with the culture, and so forth, leads us to be more tolerant, prone to embrace a wide variety of ideologies, and is less parochial than a conservative, Bible-believing, confessing university ought to be.

If we need to expand secular programs in our universities beyond our ability to insure that our faculty can be properly led by the administration, then maybe we have a model of higher education that just flat out will not work. Anybody for smaller colleges that are truly parochial and focused on the work of the church – to train up church workers?

Pastor Rossow

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