President Johnson Responds to STOP Program at Concordia, Chicago, by Pr. Rossow

Dr. John Johnson, the president of Concordia University Chicago (River Forest) put out a memo in response to the proposed STOP program on the CUC campus. In the memo he states that it can be shared with all those concerned about the matter.

Here is what he says.

Date:                     March 2, 2011

From:                    Dr. John Johnson

Subject:               STOP EVENT

Today I met with members of the STOP committee.  This committee is a formal faculty committee which has been in existence for a long time at CUC (in fact, it pre-dates my coming here in 2004).  Its membership includes veteran LCMS faculty members.  It is designed to provide programs and events relating to issues surrounding prejudice and minorities.  For instance, the committee sponsors our annual Martin Luther King Day program, works with the Black Student Union, Latino Student Organization, etc.  In searching for program ideas, a member of the committee noted their concern that here, as elsewhere in today’s society, some young people were struggling with questions of sexual identity personally and that she felt not all such students on campus felt “safe” in sharing these concerns to faculty advisers or university counseling staff.  This apparently was the genesis of the event they planned.  I was told that some revised “Straight But Not Narrow” resources were engaged because one of our local Catholic colleges used them and evaluations were good.  Since the Catholic Church has a position on homosexual behavior not significantly dissimilar from ours, no further query into the organization was made by the committee.

I rehearse this to suggest that the “heart” of the committee was “in the right place” but their execution was less than desirable!

At any rate, I today issued three directives:

1. That the committee send out another communication to faculty, staff, and students correcting any impression that its educational session is, or was designed to be, one of advocacy of homosexuality.

I think their use of terms like “support” or affirm” were not defined as they should be—that is, relating to support of the person dealing with issues, not support of their lifestyle.  I also directed them to communicate very clearly to those speaking at the session that any statement in “support” of homosexual behavior should not be made.

2. That I personally, at both sessions, begin the event with a clear articulation of the position of the LCMS, i.e., that “homosexual behavior is contrary to God’s will” but individuals bearing this burden do so without “fear of recrimination and rejection by his/her sisters and brothers in Christ” (Res. 3-12A, 1992 LCMS Convention).

3. That no “safe spaces” will be indicated by those “stickers” referred to in the committee’s communication in university offices because of their design and wording.   They will not be permitted.

This is good news and bad news. It is good that Dr. Johnson has responded by setting important parameters around this event. The bad news is twofold. First, it is still alarming that Concordia faculty members would turn to such a clearly pagan and anti-Christian organization such as SBBN for resources that are just not necessary. As has been clearly pointed out in the comments on our first post on this matter, the daily preaching of the Gospel and the pastoral resources at the university are sufficient for dealing with this matter. Secondly, in our opinion, it is disappointing that President Johnson did not simply cancel the program. A confessional Lutheran university should have nothing to do with a group like SBBN other than to warn our young people to mark and avoid them for the good of their souls. Paul says this in Romans 16

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

This is now the second sad time in two years that Dr. Johnson has avoided strong leadership and instead allowed faculty members to wrongly establish the theological and cultural standards for the university in clear violation of Biblical morality. In 2009 President Johnson endorsed faculty members signing a petition in support of the terror-bomber, humanist and pagan William Ayersall in the name of academic freedom. The Concordia University system is spinning out of control. A passionate pursuit of size and influence on the culture is blurring our Concordia vision. May the Lord have mercy on us.

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