Chair of Theology Faculty at Concordia, Mequon Offers a Reassuring Comment, by Pr. Rossow

Rev. Dr. Nathan Jastram, chair of the theology department at Concordia University, Wisconsin submitted the following comment on yesterday’s post about concerns at the campus. We thank Dr. Jastram for taking the time to respond and to do so in such an informative and gracious manner.

Even in light of his helpful response, I am still concerned that our Concordias have grown too large and mostly for financial reasons. When I attended Concordia, Seward in the late 1970’s, every single professor that I had from the science to the art department was a Concordia graduate. It was not perfect, but I had the sense there was a high level of control that the president was able to exercise over the faculty. What has changed?

Again, we thank Dr. Jastram for joining in the discussion and assuring us that the theological faculty is committed to confessional Lutheran theology. Here is his comment.

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.

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

Chair of Theology Faculty at Concordia, Mequon Offers a Reassuring Comment, by Pr. Rossow — 90 Comments

  1. helen :“Even non church work students” How condescending to future parishioners can they get!
    Guess IssuesEtc. is right; somebody really believes “you can’t teach lay people theology!”

    Helen touches on a point that almost always never gets mentioned in any discussion about the Concordia system. Where are the future Lutheran laity at the Concordias? Year after year I see the Concordias offer statistics like this: “There are 300 students enrolled here in church worker programs and 900 in other programs. There are 305 LCMS students, 250 RC, etc., etc.” Do the math. Pretty much everybody who is LCMS at a Concordia has church work on their mind. To be sure, some of them will eventually decide they don’t want to pursue a church career after all or will serve a few years and then leave professional church service. But the typical LCMS Concordia alum will be in church work. That means the typical parish will not have any elder or other church leader who learned their theology at a Concordia. Instead they will have learned their theology from the local evangelical radio station.

    What is interesting is that our Concordias have no problem trying to attract students who simply want to be faithful Baptist or Pentecostal or Methodist or RC lay people. They soak up our theology. I’ve taught a number of theology courses as an adjunct at a Concordia, and the theological objections have never come from the non-Lutherans, who usually seem eager to soak up as much of our theology as possible. Why is there not a proportionate number of students who simply want to be faithful LCMS lay people?

    It seems as if our pastors are telling the youth or our churches, “Go to a Concordia and learn how to serve the church.” Meanwhile, they tell the youth who aren’t interested in being a professional church worker, “As far as I’m concerned, you can go off to State U and learn to think like a heathenish child of the Enlightenment and probably lose your faith in the process.” Or perhaps the clergy are so caught up in a time warp that they think the laity are not given more than an eighth grade education and a little trade schooling. Or maybe the clergy are threatened by the idea of a laity well educated in orthodox theology.

    One of my very orthodox elders (with a masters from Yale) loves to say that people should be as educated in theology as in the secular subject they have undertaken “so that they know how to think Christianly about the world.” I wish that more people in the LCMS would have a similar attitude and make theological education of the laity a top priority. Too often the debate is between those who want our universities to become vocational colleges for church workers (and be parochial in the worst sense of that word) and those who don’t mind seeing our colleges morph into generic private colleges, perhaps with a little Lutheranizing streak. What a horrible choice the debate offers! But there is a better solution: even if only 5% of our youth with no interest in a church career ended up at a Concordia, what a blessing they could be, both to the universities and to their churches later on! They would ensure a greater Lutheran nucleus among the student population, they would make the Concordias more financially viable, they would help future church workers see things from a layman’s point of view, and they themselves would later make great lay leaders to help support sound doctrine in the local parish.

  2. @James Kellerman #51
    You make a good point, Dr. Kellerman. My younger brother started college this fall, and he is at a state university because he is interested in engineering. While I would have loved for him to attend a Concordia (especially CUC!), I don’t think any of the Concordias have a College of Engineering, meaning that he would be sunk.

  3. Rank92 Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN
    36 2010-2011 In-state tuition and fees: $7,496; Out-of-state tuition and fees: $7,496 5,175 81%
    Rank
    92 Concordia University Chicago River Forest, IL
    36 2010-2011 Tuition and Fees: $24,406 5,049 83%
    Rank
    92 Southwestern College Winfield, KS
    36 2010-2011 Tuition and Fees: $20,656 1,810 90%
    Rank
    95 Concordia University–St. Paul St. Paul, MN
    35 2010-2011 Tuition and Fees: $27,400 2,816 56%

  4. @Concerned Seminarian #52
    I am the son of an engineer, as my habit of constantly carrying a pen in my left shirt pocket (alas! sans pocket protector) attests. Given the fact that most lay people in the early days of the LCMS were urbanized, skilled, blue-collar workers and their children and grandchildren have tended to gravitate towards engineering and similar disciplines (which are largely the white-collar versions of their forebears’ work), it is a real tragedy that no Concordia offers an engineering major. We left that up to Valpo, and now that Valpo really isn’t in the LCMS orbit any more we have nothing with which to fill the gap, as some in my extended family have also sadly come to realize.

  5. Oops! Didn’t intend to post just yet.

    So, a student who is a member of the congregation to which I’m called wishes to enter a non-church work profession. He or she has a choice of schools with similar rankings.

    Bemidji State at $7,496 per year.

    CSP at $27,400 per year.

    Many in the area also go to the U of Minnesota ($11,293 per year) or the U of North Dakota ($6726 per year) if their area is, for example, engineering. Each of those schools has a good LC-MS chapel- University Chapel in Mpls or Wittenburg Chapel in Grand Forks- as well as many LC-MS congregations to which they can be directed. It they stay at Bemidji State they could continue to attend our services.

    So, please tell me again. Why should the student not go to Bemidji State at $7496 per year or the U of ND at $6726 per year instead of CSP at $27,400 per year?

    Thanks.

  6. @Concerned Seminarian #52
    I might add that there might be a way for the Concordias to train sound Lutheran engineers for the future. Increasingly there is an interest in engineers getting a B.S./B.A. through a 3/2 program since those who have studied the liberal arts in addition to engineering tend to do better financially in the long run than those who have studied only engineering and whose knowledge base is soon outdated. If the Concordias could offer the B.A. portion and schools such as Illinois or Purdue the B.S./engineering, it might be a reasonable way to combine the best of both worlds.

  7. @Rev. Don Kirchner #55
    I don’t think that there is anything wrong per se with attending a secular college and getting heavily involved in the local campus ministry. My father and mother both did it. That is why I didn’t ask to try to get 100% of our youth enrolled in a Concordia–or even 10%. But can’t we boost it higher than .01%?

    Of course, cost is a factor, and for some it is the decisive factor. Usually, however, there are ways to get around the cost, as anyone knows who has dealt with higher education long enough.

    But what is the value of a Concordia education? In addition to a daily worship life on campus, which I doubt most non-Concordia campus ministries have, students are able to study theology as a formal academic discipline. As the same elder I mentioned earlier has noted, most “Christian” academics have a graduate level understanding of physics or psychology or history, but a Sunday School understanding of the faith. They have been taught by their professors how to be a historian, but not how to think of history from a Christian point of view. Theology taught well helps students put the rest of their learning in proper perspective. Yes, there are intense Bible classes that could do the same thing, but it’s convenient to have it all wrapped up in one package called a university.

    That said, I think our Concordias could do a better job at serving the church at large through distance learning or creative arrangements (such as the 3/2 engineering program I mentioned above). Læret er livet (“doctrine is life”), as we Norwegians say, and I wish that more of our laity could be taught doctrine at a deeper level than eighth grade catechism.

  8. @Rev. Don Kirchner #55

    For my wife, as an example, she really wanted to go to a school that offered a Christian Lutheran environment and a smaller size. It was worth it to her.

    I worked with a man this summer at my other job, secular company. He had just graduated from CSP and went there because he had a basketball scholarship. He went in as an unbeliever and came out a Christian and an LCMS one at that. He was able to attend chapel regularly, be taken to church and was surrounded by a faculty who truly loved him in Christ.

    The arguments I am hearing for closing/consolidating CUS is not all that different from the arguments heard in many LCMS churches for closing down the schools. Hmmm let them get their education elsewhere we will handle the God thing. Yup that is really working:(

    I have said this elsewhere, many of my students have had NO background in Christianity, let alone Lutheranism. The schools like it or not are part of the mission of the LCMS. IF the CUS have drifted they can be righted instead of demolished.

  9. @ Rev. Don Kirchner #55

    I invested heavily in my children by having them attend a Lutheran grade school and a Lutheran High School. Now, one child is currently studying a major at a state college because the Concordias have a mediocre track record in that major (if that major is offered at all). Another child is pursuing a major that a Concordia offers but will attend a state school mainly because it offers a more in-depth program at half the cost.
    I figure that after 9 years of Lutheran K-8 and 4 years of Lutheran High School they should be well educated and well able to discern the differences. They’re going to have to be in the real world sometime, if not at 18, certainly by 22. By the way, both are involved in local LCMS churches near the state college campus. And, btw, my BA is from CUW.
    I think that for our Concordia campuses to be successful at the college level they must offer an exceptional education with exceptional instructors in their field, in an exceptional environment. If that can happen then cost is probably not much of a factor for enrollment. Enough people with the $ will be drawn to the campus and help it survive. Witness Hillsdale College or Ripon College as examples. And if it can survive, then it can also continue offering church worker majors. I happen to think that CUW is one of the schools that does this well. One thing is certain, the Concordia system cannot survive by only offering church worker degrees. There simply aren’t enough students, nor is there enough demand.

  10. @Rev. Don Kirchner #55

    I support how others have answered your post.

    Additionally, I would like to point out that $ 27, 000.00 is what it costs for a students who paid full price. Discounts at most smaller, private universities are really high. It would not be uncommon for someone to receive 40-50% discounts.

  11. @Luvable Lutheran #43
    “However, what if you are teaching math or biology or business…”

    A Lutheran professor can bring his faith to his vocation just as the rest of us laity should.
    I used my 18 hrs of religious ed. in public school science teaching. 🙂

    My major advisor had a pre-sem undergrad degree, because our school only offered pre-sem when he went, and ultimately a PhD in biology. He used both in our classes.
    I think his pre-sem course was excellent ‘substrata’ to sorting out the theory of evolution.

  12. @Concerned Seminarian #47

    I’m a little concerned about this, as well. I am a recent graduate of Concordia U. Texas at Austin, and ALL majors are required to not only take BOTH New and Old Testament, but also an additional 6 hours of religion courses, which, although left up to the student, usually include such classes as Lutheran Doctrine and Ethics.

    Funny how the bigger Concordias get the attention of being held open (Mequon, Seward) in the idea of liquidating the CUS, and yet they require less religion classes of their students.

  13. And I don’t disagree with how others have answered my posts. What I questioned was:

    “That means the typical parish will not have any elder or other church leader who learned their theology at a Concordia. Instead they will have learned their theology from the local evangelical radio station.”

    A classic false dichotomy. What’s wrong with an elder or other congregtional leader who learned their theology from the Small Catechism and continued learning at the congregational level and on their own?

    “What is interesting is that our Concordias have no problem trying to attract students who simply want to be faithful Baptist or Pentecostal or Methodist or RC lay people. They soak up our theology. I’ve taught a number of theology courses as an adjunct at a Concordia, and the theological objections have never come from the non-Lutherans, who usually seem eager to soak up as much of our theology as possible. Why is there not a proportionate number of students who simply want to be faithful LCMS lay people?”

    The question is based on a false premise. One can be quite a faithful LC-MS layperson without attending a Concordia.

    “It seems as if our pastors are telling the youth or our churches, ‘Go to a Concordia and learn how to serve the church.’ Meanwhile, they tell the youth who aren’t interested in being a professional church worker, ‘As far as I’m concerned, you can go off to State U and learn to think like a heathenish child of the Enlightenment and probably lose your faith in the process.'”

    That’s an absurd characterization of what our pastors tell students who go off to secular schools or what they are thinking when they wish them well as they head off to a secular school and work to set up the student with a chapel or congregation there.

    “Or perhaps the clergy are so caught up in a time warp that they think the laity are not given more than an eighth grade education and a little trade schooling. Or maybe the clergy are threatened by the idea of a laity well educated in orthodox theology.”

    That is simply nonsense.

    So, I am happy to hear the later reponse to my query. And I certainly rejoice in anyone who wishes to attend one of the Concordias and obtain further theological education, whether as a church worker or while pursuing a degree in a secular field.

  14. @Concerned Seminarian #47
    “Um, which part of “they have to take theology courses” didn’t you read…”

    What I read led me to conclude that “nonchurchworker” students got “intro to
    Luth. doctrine” plus a semester in Bible study which would be “on steroids” to cover the material or, more likely, a surface treatment. You may elaborate to correct me if I misunderstood.
    If they need “intro” they are not Luth. or their confirmation pastor didn’t do it…
    OR you mean BoC??? 🙂

    [Laity also do church work; sometimes (seldom) they even make a living of it. They are the people you will be serving, so wouldn’t you like them a little more knowledgable? They don’t all turn out like me; some of them have second thoughts and end up in collars!] 😉

  15. Rev. Don Kirchner :And I don’t disagree with how others have answered my posts. What I questioned was:
    “That means the typical parish will not have any elder or other church leader who learned their theology at a Concordia. Instead they will have learned their theology from the local evangelical radio station.”
    A classic false dichotomy. What’s wrong with an elder or other congregtional leader who learned their theology from the Small Catechism and continued learning at the congregational level and on their own?

    I’ll grant that there are more than two choices (learning theology at Concordia or from an evangelical radio station). But why are people in the LCMS so quick to write off the Concordia option? I’m sure that the average pastor can train his people well. But don’t you think that the Concordias have some extra resources the typical parish might not have? If not, why do we even bother sending future church workers off to the Concordias? We could just as well have a local pastor train them.

    “What is interesting is that our Concordias have no problem trying to attract students who simply want to be faithful Baptist or Pentecostal or Methodist or RC lay people. They soak up our theology. I’ve taught a number of theology courses as an adjunct at a Concordia, and the theological objections have never come from the non-Lutherans, who usually seem eager to soak up as much of our theology as possible. Why is there not a proportionate number of students who simply want to be faithful LCMS lay people?”
    The question is based on a false premise. One can be quite a faithful LC-MS layperson without attending a Concordia.

    You absolutely missed the entire point. I never said that one cannot be a faithful LCMS lay person without attending a Concordia! Read the paragraph again. I noted that lay people of OTHER confessions think our Concordias offer a great education and they are willing to shell out the big bucks to have us teach them sound theology. Why can’t we find ANY lay LCMS people who think the same way?

    “It seems as if our pastors are telling the youth or our churches, ‘Go to a Concordia and learn how to serve the church.’ Meanwhile, they tell the youth who aren’t interested in being a professional church worker, ‘As far as I’m concerned, you can go off to State U and learn to think like a heathenish child of the Enlightenment and probably lose your faith in the process.’”
    That’s an absurd characterization of what our pastors tell students who go off to secular schools or what they are thinking when they wish them well as they head off to a secular school and work to set up the student with a chapel or congregation there.

    Really? Then why do all the materials on Concordia Sundays always talk ad nauseam about church work and nary a word about how the future Lutheran layman might have a place at one of the Concordias? Why don’t I hear pastors say, “EVERYBODY should at least consider a Concordia education”?

    Now I know that no pastor speaks so callously or flippantly about those heading off to State U. But Reformation Day is a few days away and on my dad’s side I am largely Saxon, so I should be permitted to speak in Luther-esque Saxon hyperbole. Nonetheless, I am making a serious point amid the bombast: Why do we seem to lose so many of our young adults (70% or more) as soon as they leave for college? Why don’t we seem to recognize that college is four years of intense secularization and indoctrination into the Enlightenment worldview–and that the moralistic, therapeutic, deistic nonsense that most of our young people count as “faith” won’t stand up under the withering criticism of the Aufklärung? And if we do recognize that, why are so many campus ministries just about eating pizza and singing kumbaya when the students are facing crisis of faith after crisis of faith? (I’ll grant you that I know people who have entered the ministry after attending the campus ministries you mention at Grand Forks and Minneapolis, and they are a credit to those campus ministries. Not everything is rotten in campus ministry.)

    “Or perhaps the clergy are so caught up in a time warp that they think the laity are not given more than an eighth grade education and a little trade schooling. Or maybe the clergy are threatened by the idea of a laity well educated in orthodox theology.”
    That is simply nonsense.

    Of course, the clergy of the LCMS know that the average parishioner has more than an eighth grade education. But they don’t have a grasp of what higher education is really about today because most of them haven’t waded through the morass of deconstructionism and a whole other range of isms–unless they have gone on to grad school, especially in the humanities. They don’t understand how the whole point of higher education is to get students enlightened enough so that they can say, “I was brought up to believe such-and-such, but now that I have attended university, I am too mature to believe that nonsense anymore.” Clergy don’t understand how the university is spiritual formation and catechesis, but into an anti-Christian (in fact, anti-supernatural) dogma. And so for all intents and purposes LCMS clergy treat their parishioners as if they had had no further intellectual development other than what they had been taught in eighth grade.

    I am confident that most clergy are not threatened by lay people who are reading Luther, Walther, Veith, Sasse, Marquardt, etc. and who listen to “Issues, Etc.” And yet I know more than one or two who are. Thus, I don’t think that it is quite the “simple nonsense” you make it out to be.

    One final word. Yes, I have spoken in hyperbole, as I acknowledged above, but there is nothing hyperbolic about the low enrollment rates of non-church work LCMS folk in our universities. I have had to speak in hyperbole because nobody seems ever to have taken this topic seriously in our decades long discussion of what to do with the Concordias. And yet, as I pointed out, my solution would boost enrollment, help the financial picture, and be good for the church. Before Valpo veered off the deep end, it was a tremendous blessing for our church body. Many of my mentors when I was a child were Valpo grads and I’m sure my pastors were glad to have them in the church. Why can’t our Concordias do what Valpo did when Dau and company ran it?

  16. @helen #64

    helen :
    [Laity also do church work; sometimes (seldom) they even make a living of it. They are the people you will be serving, so wouldn’t you like them a little more knowledgable? They don’t all turn out like me; some of them have second thoughts and end up in collars!]

    I would love if my congregation were extremely knowledgeable in Lutheran doctrine. As imposing as it would be to walk into Bible class my first Sunday and see everyone holding a Greek New Testament, that would probably be a really great Bible class. Likewise, for as nerve-wracking as it would be if everyone in the congregation had read and understood the entire Book of Concord, I would welcome knowing that they could (and hopefully would) keep me accountable to the Confessions.

  17. “I noted that lay people of OTHER confessions think our Concordias offer a great education and they are willing to shell out the big bucks to have us teach them sound theology. Why can’t we find ANY lay LCMS people who think the same way?”

    We can.

    “Why don’t I hear pastors say, ‘EVERYBODY should at least consider a Concordia education’?”

    Because they don’t believe it because it’s not true?

    But then your ANY and EVERYBODY positions are mere hyperbole, in celebration of Reformation Day, right? 😉

  18. @Concerned Seminarian #67
    I would love if my congregation were extremely knowledgeable in Lutheran doctrine. As imposing as it would be to walk into Bible class my first Sunday and see everyone holding a Greek New Testament, that would probably be a really great Bible class. Likewise, for as nerve-wracking as it would be if everyone in the congregation had read and understood the entire Book of Concord, I would welcome knowing that they could (and hopefully would) keep me accountable to the Confessions.

    I love it that the members of the congregation to which I’ve been called acknowledge the gifts that God gave them in their baptism, that they renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways, that they confess the Baptismal Creed, that they hold all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God, that they confess the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from the Scriptures, as they have learned to know it from the Small Catechism, to be faithful and true, that they come to church to receive His gifts- to get forgiven- and that they then go out and be a neighbor, intending to live according to the Word of God, and in faith, word, and deed and to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death.

    And, although not one of them knows Greek, the Bible classes are really great. And, although not one of them has read and understood the entire Book of Concord, they can and do keep me accountable to the Word of God.

    Because, when their children don’t go to Concordia University, when others tell them that it is not enough to rely on the gifts of forgiveness as they have learned it from The Word of God, preached and taught to them and as explicated in the Small Catechism, when their sins and consciences oppress them, when their lives seem to be falling apart, when their spouse dies and they cry, it doesn’t make a lick of difference whether they know Greek or whether they have read and understand the entire Book of Concord. Instead, they are able to strengthen themselves and take comfort and say:

    “Nevertheless I am baptized; but if I am baptized, it is promised me that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.”

  19. @Helen #68
    Nice 😀 I wish I knew German, lol.
    Out of curiosity, are you near a CUS school? If not, I’m curious why they know Greek (not that it’s a bad thing, just unusual in my experience).

  20. @Rev. Don Kirchner #70
    I wan’t suggesting that the laity must be every bit as knowledgeable as their pastor; I was responding to the suggestion that only requiring non churchwork students to take 2 theology classes at CUC was somehow holding them back from being too knowledgeable.
    I wasn’t implying that you can’t have good Bible studies if the pastor is the only one who knows Greek and Hebrew; just that if others do, then they can critique your references to the original languages! (“Well, in Greek it says this.” “But pastor, that’s a perfect participle, not an aorist, so wouldn’t that actually mean this?”)
    Likewise, I don’t doubt that laity who haven’t read the entire BoC can hold their pastor accountable to his ordination vows. I just think that if they do read the Confessions, they can have a better understanding of what they are holding him accountable to. As an example, my in-laws was well-versed in the Confessions, and they have used this knowledge several times in questioning the way the pastor/congregation was heading. If they hadn’t known, they may not have been able to put together as persuasive an argument as they did.

  21. As the parent of a high school student, I view the Concordias like this: It’s probably spiritually safer to attend a secular university with a guarded stance about your faith, than to attend a supposedly likeminded organization with your guard completely down. So, if the Concordias are really orthodox and seriously LCMS Lutheran in all of their teachings, across all of their majors, then they would be wonderful places to attend college. And if they are not, then they would be more spiritually dangerous than secular universities.

    But here’s the kicker–I don’t know how to find this out. I don’t know what to believe about them. I don’t think that a campus visit would be sufficient, and I don’t know of any alternative except to consult with families whose children have attended there recently. I only know of one of those, which is not enough.

    I want to want to send my daughter to a Concordia. I don’t know how to find out whether that would be a good thing to do or not. It’s really quite a conundrum. And I don’t think that I am alone in this view.

  22. I would also like to know which secular universities have really good, effective, and active LCMS campus ministries to plug into. I know that the University of Wyoming is one of them.

  23. @Old Time St. John’s #73
    I think it’s a bit extreme to say that you will not send your daughter to a Concordia unless every faculty member is LCMS. I think it makes a little more sense to be guarded about the professors in every department except Theology until you know the professor. And, I personally don’t think you can get to college without learning to think critically about everything you hear.

    I can only speak from my experience, however. Here’s my experience at Concordia University River Forest (erm, Chicago) in the Pre-Seminary and Honors programs, majoring in Music and Theological Languages, with a minor in Theology. I took classes with almost every Theology professor (except an adjunct, the deaconess professor, the 2/3 DCE professors, and 1 prof. who was hired my senior year), and all of them were orthodox, confessional LCMS pastors/deaconesses/DCEs. The Music Department had mostly Lutheran professors, though I was uncertain about 1 or 2. However, since they did not teach anything theological, I could only go by the musical choices they made for Chapel, which were always spot-on (in my opinion).

    I only had a couple classes in the other departments, so I’m not speaking from experience about them (unless otherwise noted). My wife majored in English, and all but 1 of the English professors are raging feminists. The non-feminist, however, is a strong LCMS Lutheran layman. Likewise, the department chairwoman and a couple other profs. all are LCMS and attend chapel regularly. I think the same holds true in every other department, but I don’t know for sure. I do know that my Biology professor was an atheist and an evolutionist, but I don’t recall that ever coming up in class; I actually discovered that part in my Philosophy of Religion class, when Dr. Eschelbach said that he would be going to a bar with Dr. Whitesides and talking about those things with him. So, in conclusion, outside the Theology Department, not everyone is LCMS, but (in my experience) the majority are.

    Personally, I would actually recommend a Concordia over a secular university because the environment is (again in my experience) much safer. While there were things like underage drinking, illegal drugs, etc., that took place at CUC, the punishments were extremely severe when they were discovered, and (I don’t know this for sure but) they are less common or dangerous at a school like CUC (which is dry) than at a secular university (which may be wet).

  24. Concerned Seminarian :
    @Old Time St. John’s #73
    I think it’s a bit extreme to say that you will not send your daughter to a Concordia unless every faculty member is LCMS. I think it makes a little more sense to be guarded about the professors in every department except Theology until you know the professor.

    I agree, but I did not say this. What I said was that they should be LCMS in all of their teachings, a crucial distinction. It is far more damaging/risky to an LCMS student to have an LCMS college teach contrary to the LCMS than to have a secular college do so.

  25. @Old Time St. John’s #73

    One thing I forgot, but Dr. Kellerman (one of those excellent faculty members I mentioned ;-)) said earlier is that the Concordias offer a much better worship environment than a secular university. At CUC, at some points we had probably close to 15 different worship opportunities on campus. My last 2 years, I was in charge of organizing the prayer offices, and we had Matins/Morning Prayer twice a week and Compline/Evening Prayer twice a week, in addition to daily chapel, Wednesday Divine Service, and a couple more contemporary worship opportunities (1 Sunday evening and 1 during the week).

    As a note on the prayer offices, that was actually started several years before I attended CUC as floor devotions for a group of Pre-Seminarians who were all on the same floor in the residence halls. Eventually it moved to the chapel and became a ministry by the Pre-Seminary program for the campus community. I don’t know if they are still doing it the way that I did (I doubt it), but I’m sure it is continuing in some form.

    So there are a lot of worship opportunities at a Concordia which would not be possible at a secular university.

  26. @Old Time St. John’s #76

    Concerned Seminarian :@Old Time St. John’s #73
    One thing I forgot, but Dr. Kellerman (one of those excellent faculty members I mentioned ) said earlier is that the Concordias offer a much better worship environment than a secular university. At CUC, at some points we had probably close to 15 different worship opportunities on campus. My last 2 years, I was in charge of organizing the prayer offices, and we had Matins/Morning Prayer twice a week and Compline/Evening Prayer twice a week, in addition to daily chapel, Wednesday Divine Service, and a couple more contemporary worship opportunities (1 Sunday evening and 1 during the week).
    As a note on the prayer offices, that was actually started several years before I attended CUC as floor devotions for a group of Pre-Seminarians who were all on the same floor in the residence halls. Eventually it moved to the chapel and became a ministry by the Pre-Seminary program for the campus community. I don’t know if they are still doing it the way that I did (I doubt it), but I’m sure it is continuing in some form.
    So there are a lot of worship opportunities at a Concordia which would not be possible at a secular university.

    Before I answer, I have a question for you: Do you trust your daughter to be able to tell right from wrong in a university setting, or at least know whom she can ask if she has a question? If you do trust her, then I don’t think it matters where you send her; she will know how to separate the “chaff from the wheat.” If not, then I also don’t think it matters where she goes, but for the opposite reason.

    To answer your question, the Theology Department at CUC teaches according to LCMS doctrine in every respect. In the other departments, my experience was that no one taught things that were directly contrary to LCMS doctrine; they just might not have held LCMS beliefs, themselves.

  27. @Concerned Seminarian #78
    I quoted the wrong comment. I meant to quote:

    Old Time St. John’s :

    Concerned Seminarian :@Old Time St. John’s #73 I think it’s a bit extreme to say that you will not send your daughter to a Concordia unless every faculty member is LCMS. I think it makes a little more sense to be guarded about the professors in every department except Theology until you know the professor.

    I agree, but I did not say this. What I said was that they should be LCMS in all of their teachings, a crucial distinction. It is far more damaging/risky to an LCMS student to have an LCMS college teach contrary to the LCMS than to have a secular college do so.

    mea culpa

  28. Old Time St. John’s :I would also like to know which secular universities have really good, effective, and active LCMS campus ministries to plug into. I know that the University of Wyoming is one of them.

    NORTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY (1993-1997, 2000)
    NDSU has a solid Lutheran Student Fellowhsip group. Bible study was every Thursday night at the student union, with a dinner SUnday evenings. Campus pastor is the associate at the nearby LC-MS congregation (happned to be the vicar who taught my 7th grade confirmation class). I loved the Bible studies, and it was a major difference in in me leaving Civil Engineering to persue DCE. I stayed in town over summer, and went hiking with other who did so. Also played on the church softball team. Really got to be a part of a nice congregation. Campus ministry was active, and from there I got to the natila LSF Council and was eventually elected national President. So I would say it was supportive.

    UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA
    Had frineds there, and went to retreats. They have Wittenburg Chapel on campus. The students pretty much ran the place like a congregation. Campus pastro was nice guy, and the students got some hands on experience in being lay church leaders. One friend came with me and was LSF national Secretary the year I was President. UND probably has the better engineering programs than my NDSU. (Rev. Don Kirchner #55)

    NORTH DAKOTA STAE COLLEGE OF SCEINCE (1990-1993)
    Junior college in my hometown. Non existant campus ministry. It was basically the occasional time I would chat with our vicar when I saw him on campus. When I visit my parents, I can’t say I have seen any improvement.

  29. Concerned Seminarian wrote:

    “Before I answer, I have a question for you: Do you trust your daughter to be able to tell right from wrong in a university setting, or at least know whom she can ask if she has a question? If you do trust her, then I don’t think it matters where you send her; she will know how to separate the “chaff from the wheat.” If not, then I also don’t think it matters where she goes, but for the opposite reason.”

    So, the conclusion from Concerned Seminarian’s statement is that it doesn’t matter where “Old Time St. John’s” daughter goes to school.

  30. CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY – ST. PAUL (1997-1998)
    I have mentioned before about chapel life, which most church career students went to. The pastors who taught the pre-sems and the religion and theology courses I thought were solid and trustworhty. DCE and DCO programs I am not sure sure about their confessional nature. Nice people who ran their departments decent, but…. I didn’t finish DCE because I had been in college for so long, and I had a eprsonality conflict with the prpgram chair. We didn’t quite see the world the same way. I felt he wanted students to do things his exacting way to achieve his particular goals. I felt it severe enough to minimize the “each according to his gift” idea. Campsm ministry had tons of Bible studies. I went to the Tues. night DCE one. (obviously) Bu tthey did not do Lutheran Student Fellowship, even though the secular colleges almost begged them for their leadership and depth of insights. CSP is good for teaching, music and theater.

    UNIVERISITY OF MINNESOTA
    Had friends there, went to some of their events. John Pless was still campus pastor when I was at CSP, right before he went to CTSFW. Had regular adults attending worship, so to be a real congregation. Students could learn from observation and participation about congregational life and being leaders. Very active LSF group. One friend went on to national VP with me (yes, me and my frineds occupied all three offices that one year), and succeeded me as national president. Three other friends went to Fort Wayne and are now ordained. Pless was an active recruiter and got a number of men into seminary.

  31. @Rev. Don Kirchner #81

    That transition was happening when I was in the Twin Cities. I think I heard it that Rev. Kind was a former UM student, one of those Pless had recruited into the ministry. My college friends there spoke highly of him and were excited he was coming back.

  32. @Rev. Don Kirchner #82

    Rev. Don Kirchner :
    Concerned Seminarian wrote:
    “Before I answer, I have a question for you: Do you trust your daughter to be able to tell right from wrong in a university setting, or at least know whom she can ask if she has a question? If you do trust her, then I don’t think it matters where you send her; she will know how to separate the “chaff from the wheat.” If not, then I also don’t think it matters where she goes, but for the opposite reason.”
    So, the conclusion from Concerned Seminarian’s statement is that it doesn’t matter where “Old Time St. John’s” daughter goes to school.

    Yes and no. It does not matter in that you might get non-LCMS teachings at either place (but not in the Theology Department of a Concordia). It does matter in that you are less likely to get non-LCMS teachings at a Concordia.
    My point wasn’t that it doesn’t matter; it was that by the time she reaches college, OTSJ should trust his daughter to know right from wrong theologically, or at least be able to go to him, her home pastor, or her local pastor when she has a question. For that matter, it would be easier to do this at a Concordia since there are probably 6-12 ordained LCMS pastors on either the faculty or staff!

  33. My point wasn’t that it doesn’t matter; it was that by the time she reaches college, OTSJ should trust his daughter to know right from wrong theologically, or at least be able to go to him, her home pastor, or her local pastor when she has a question. For that matter, it would be easier to do this at a Concordia since there are probably 6-12 ordained LCMS pastors on either the faculty or staff!

    The question about how far along someone should be before attending college is a fair one, but I’m not sure that I agree that it applies in this particular way. I would regard a Concordia as an opportunity to relax about theological guardedness, while getting a good secular education. If relaxing your theological guard cannot safely occur there, then why wouldn’t I select a wholly secular school that has an excellent, theologically guarding, engaged/engaging LCMS campus ministry?

    I am well aware of the attacks on our theology that occur in the biological, theological, historical, geological, anthropological, and archeological departments of most modern universities. When my daughter goes to college, she will be well-equipped theologically. But these stressors to faith are significant, and I want to face that. I want my daughter to be either supported in dealing with those in an appropriate way by her local, informed, effective LCMS campus ministry, or not to have to deal with such indoctrination by virtue of having a faculty that teaches entirely in accord with LCMS teaching. So I’m trying to find out whether the Concordias are in the latter category or not.

    I take your points about having a significant number of LCMS faculty members, and also about excellent worship. I appreciate your bringing those up.

  34. @Concerned Seminarian #71
    Out of curiosity, are you near a CUS school?

    i live in austin, tx. CTX used to be adjacent to StPaul, Austin, but has ‘moved to the country’ 😉
    We have members/visitors from the faculty; one Greek student is a layman

  35. Old Time St. John’s :As the parent of a high school student, I view the Concordias like this: It’s probably spiritually safer to attend a secular university with a guarded stance about your faith, than to attend a supposedly likeminded organization with your guard completely down. So, if the Concordias are really orthodox and seriously LCMS Lutheran in all of their teachings, across all of their majors, then they would be wonderful places to attend college. And if they are not, then they would be more spiritually dangerous than secular universities.

    Actually, I would agree with your concern and say that it is something that the universities (and the churches who support them) ought to consider constantly. You remember that I praised the notion of one of my elders that a person should be as well educated in theology as in one’s secular field. By that he meant that someone holding a Ph.D. in history should have studied the equivalent amount of theology as if he had a Th.D. His reasoning is as follows. A history professor at a Christian college may have studied history at a Christian college and as part of the mix taken a couple of theology courses. He then had gone on to do grad work at Big State U or Ivy League U. He didn’t entirely buy the rationalist, anti-supernatural dogma at grad school and he didn’t stop attending church. But like most adults, he hasn’t progressed to a deeper knowledge of the faith than what he was taught in Sunday School and so most of his thought process is determined more by his grad school training than by his theology. Now he gets hired to teach history at Small Liberal Arts Christian College. For him, faith is a personal comfort, not a light that illuminates his entire world, including his vocation. Moreover, he has been trained by his grad school to be faithful to the academic consensus in his field. And thus, without ever really intending to be unfaithful to the church, he uncritically passes on something approximating the modernist or post-modernist understanding of history. That is why attending even Christian colleges can be a secularizing experience and why Christian colleges have often slowly been transformed into purely secular places, indeed places hostile to the Christian faith. And that is why I cannot dismiss your concern as unfounded.

    And yet it doesn’t have to be this way, just as a stint in a secular or non-confessional private university needn’t leave one trapped in unbelief. Ninety percent of the solution is just being aware of the problem. Students must realize that wherever they attend school, there will be some who will try to catechize them in the dogmas of Darwin, Freud, Russell, Derrida, etc., and urge them to receive the sacraments of frat party and fornication. They, their parents and their pastors will have to set up an alternate path of spiritual formation. Likewise, everyone who teaches (at any university but especially at a Concordia) will have to consider how they have been formed by their grad schooling and how they need to be more deeply catechized, especially in those areas that relate to their vocation.

    I would say that a number of our Concordias (including my own), though not immune to these problems, are at least reckoning with them. And thus I have not been pleased over the years to see the idea repeatedly expressed, “Close ’em all down except for one or two, and put a big sign out front that says, ‘Nobody but future LCMS church workers welcome.'” For one thing, it would ignore the secularization that occurred pre-1980, when our schools were almost exclusively devoted to training church workers (can anyone say, “Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne”?), and the inevitable temptation to secularization that would occur in the future even if they were once again exclusively church-worker training institutions. If our Concordias are not everything they ought to be, most of them are at least open to trying to do something about the problem. And I appreciate your efforts to make sure that they do.

  36. @helen #87
    I was wondering 🙂
    Funny enough, I think I may have attended your church way back in ’06 when I toured the Southeast with the CURF Wind Symphony. I remember we got to walk around CTX, played a concert either there or nearby, and I think we worshiped in the church next door that Sunday.

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t think it’s very common to have parishioners who know Greek if you aren’t close to a Concordia. German may be slightly more common, but in my experience most “young people” like me will learn Spanish, French, Chinese, in school, and then may not take another language as long as they live unless they decide to earn an advanced degree which requires German or Latin, etc. When I was taking the languages at CUC, my entire Hebrew class was in the Pre-Sem program and most of my Greek class was, too. I knew a deaconess student who took Greek, a DCE student who dropped Greek partway through the first semester, and another member of the class was the girlfriend (now wife) of my friend (who was also Pre-Sem and in the class).

    I’m not sure any more how we got on that subject, but… 😀

  37. @Jason #84
    Indeed. However, I wouldn’t state that Pless recruited. I’d say that catechesis and a nurturing environment at that congregation usually leads some men to consider the OHM. Some years, more men from that congregation enter the seminary than the nearby Concordia.

    For those inquring about good Lutheran campus ministries, look at the list of Christ on Campus chapters found on the Higher Things website. It might be a helpful resource.

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