Is there Academic Freedom at our Concordias? By Pr. Tim Rossow

Six of our Concordia Chicago professors signed a petition supporting the person and educational theory of Marxist-anarchist William Ayers. We contacted the president’s office and in a part of his reply he stated that “there is nothing in the Limits of Academic Freedom statement that they sign…which would serve as a basis for ordering them to delete their names” from the petition. This response is confusing. Here is what the LCMS synodical handbook says about full-time members of the faculty of our Concordias (Section, p. 156).

(a) The terms and conditions of every appointment shall be stated in writing and be in the possession of both the institution and the prospective faculty member before the appointment is consummated. Limitations of academic freedom because of the religious and confessional nature and aims of the institution shall be stated in writing at the time of the appointment and conveyed to the person being appointed.

(b) Ordinarily candidates for full-time teaching positions shall be rostered members of the Synod. When laypersons are employed infull-time teaching positions, they shall pledge to perform their duties in harmony with the Holy Scriptures as the inspired Word of God, the Lutheran Confessions, the Synod’s doctrinal statements, and the policies of the Synod.


The handbook is clear that academic freedom can be limited by the confessional nature and aims of the institution (paragraph a above). Even if it is not, as apparently is the case according to President Johnson, every teacher is to pledge their commitment to the Lutheran Confessions and the Synod’s doctrinal statements (section b above).


We assert that supporting an unrepentant murderer and his philosophy of education that is rooted in and thrives on questioning authoritative claims, orthodoxy and dogma is in direct violation of the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.  


Are we wrong? Your comments, criticism and questions on this matter are welcome.


Pastor Rossow



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.


Is there Academic Freedom at our Concordias? By Pr. Tim Rossow — 7 Comments

  1. Once again we see liberalism run amok within the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Let us not reprimand those who violate God’s Word by failing to support their government, rather they engage in acts of insurrection. For by reprimanding such as these, we would be guilty of being judgmental.

    It is tripe such as this that has gotten our beloved synod in the mess it presently finds itself.

  2. In case you folks didn’t know it, most, if not all, EdD-types are social-engineering quasi-marxist dopes. The sad thing is that the Concordia system is filled with them as well as a host of other “social scientists.” In many cases, they are brought on Concordia faculties with a masters degree (usually MEd) with the promise that they will pursue a “doctorate.” Here’s the real kick in the cajones, though: usually the Concordia for which they work pays their tuition. In other words, the CU system pays for their so-called academic qualifications which have nothing to do with the liberal arts but, instead, social activism, pop-psychology, and other scams masquerading as academic disciplines. Still worse, over time, these social engineers get administrative positions.

    I hate to break the news to you all: the Concordia system hardly provides “higher” education. Most are struggling to stay afloat financially, which means lowering admission standards as well as student evaluations. Most lack any semblance of being the liberal arts college/university they typically claim to be. Most do have some really great qualified academic professors, but they are rare.

  3. The problem is the leadership! Most of the leadership in the CUS is academically unqualified to lead an academic institution. Still worse, most are children of the 60s and 70s.

    Lack of funds is also a pressing problem. The Concordias used to be subsidized heavily by synod. Now that they are not (since the 90s) they have to compete in the higher ed marketplace. And let’s face it, church workers aren’t exactly competitive people. What’s the percentage of the faculty at each Concordia that spent any time doing graduate work as a full time student in a real university? I bet it’s less than 30%

  4. Asserting our “academic freedom” in the Church’s schools is something like asserting our “freedom of speech” from the pulpit. The proper definition is everything, AND everyone knows that it is unacceptable (to God, by virtue of our vows, and to people, by virtue of our mutual trust)to try to play fast and loose with definitions. *sigh*

  5. The strongest professors are in the theology departments of the CUS. Perhaps they need to educate the rest of the faculty.

  6. Isn’t it ironic that during the week that we Lutherans celebrate the Reformation and the confessions Dr. Luther and others made we have professors at one of our Lutheran Universities confessing support for an antichrist?

  7. I know that some of the universities have made some staff changes in the last 10 years as many on the faculties are retiring. I pray things are becoming better. My own encounter with the teaching program in our CU system was pretty dismal. I received very good marks and learned very little about the Confessions, our Synod, or Scripture, and this was less than 10 years ago. I was taught a lot about diversity, multiculturalism, self-actualization, and the like.
    Although, I wonder: How much of what we do not like about the education departments is required for accreditation? The support of Ayers is troubling to hopes for improvement.

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