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.

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.


President Johnson Responds to STOP Program at Concordia, Chicago, by Pr. Rossow — 187 Comments

  1. @Jim #141


    You have made an assertion about the authority Dr. Johnson has as a CU president. I asked if you could link up any information that may be useful in correcting any misunderstanding of his duties, since I don’t know what those are and according to you Pr. Noland is willfully ignoring them. You respond with snark and a personal jab? If you want to be persuasive, and you are certainly trying to be, then perhaps you should cite the relevant LCMS bylaws so that those of us who don’t know them (like me), or perhaps are misunderstanding them, can learn something? From where I sit you aren’t making your case very well.

  2. To repeat, for those who are reading this:

    Johnson has all the authority he needs to do the right thing in this situation: cancel the workshops. He not only has the authority, he has the duty to exercise it, swiftly and conclusively.

    I urge people to contact Dr. Johnson directly and urge him to cancel these workshops:

    [email protected]

  3. Let’s see now. It appears that Pres. Johnson is between the proverbial rock and hard place. No matter what he does (or doesn’t do) it will get dicey for him. However, if he cancels this event, the protests and publicity will far outweigh the corresponding noises from those who oppose it should it go ahead.


  4. Hey Johannes,
    Let’s play a game. If I am civily taken to court, for violating the Civil Liberty laws, will any gain come from it? Not much, trust me. If I am sued, for such (as quite a few Christians have been in the UK) will anyone besides myself, be taken down with me? Nope.

    Not so, if CUC is, or if Presiden Johnson is, hence the sticky wicket & rock & hard place.
    Hence the importance of silence from St Louis.

    Would I still choose to stand by Sola Scriptura, no matter what bricks may fall on my head?
    Yep, but the only one I have to worry about is me, not so CUC.

  5. Jim,
    Did you re the linked post here, regarding this?

    You are most passionate about your info, however, where is the facts on paper? Where is the factual proof or your conviction? Near as I can figure, you’ve been quite kindly asked, for just about anything you’ve got.

    It was tough, researching what I linked, nasty business, to boot, but I did it for such as this.
    Where is the proof you’ve been asked for, as to the stand which you are so passionately speaking of? Before I send an email, I need proof on paper you have a leg to stand on, or at least to make sure I’m stand on terra firma.

  6. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Some questions are raised here regarding a CUS President’s authority. The relevant bylaw is LCMS bylaw

    (b) “He shall supervise, direct, and administer the affairs of the institution and all its departments, pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Synod and its boards and agencies and the policies of the board of regents.” There are tomes of rules, regulations, and policies that he HAS to follow. Most of it is there to protect faculty and academic freedom.

    (c) “He shall bring to the attention of the board of regents matters that require consideration or decision and make pertinent recommendations.” In other words, if the situation has not been faced before, then before acting he has to consult with his board, which meets quarterly. This is the normal way that Directors and Presidents work with their boards in the synod.

    (d) “He shall . . . be an ex officio member of all standing committees of the faculty and its departments with the exception of the standing hearings committee or of another standing committe to which the function of such a committee have been assigned.” Faculty committees are the most important authority for the operations of a CUS university, just as faculty committees serve in the same function in most universities. STOP is a standing committee, apparently. A president can’t simply tell these committees what to do arbitrarily, on his own authority.

    (g) “He shall delegate or reassign one or more of his functions to a member of the faculty or staff . . .” It could be that, based on previous practice, that the president had a representative on the STOP committee, and did not know about this activity until after it was announced.

    If persons on this blog are concerned about the STOP committee and its actions, they can be MOST EFFECTIVE by writing to the Board of Regents of CUC, who should take up the matter at their next scheduled meeting. Names of the Regents are found in the Lutheran Annual 2011.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  7. Thank you Pastor Noland,
    It is the Board of Regents, always was, is & will be, that any question regarding this, must be sent.

    That would kinda be the BOR, I referred to, besides President Johnson.
    No email address, for the BOR, I wager. Thank you again, for calling us all to books, me first & foremost.

    His Blessings to you this Lententide,

  8. Dr. Nolland, you keep suggesting that Dr. Johnson is helpless to CANCEL the workshops. You have been challenged, repeatedly, on your suggestions to that effect.

    Now, provide here PROOF that in fact Dr. Johnson has no authority to cancel the workshops.

    Further, you are quoting the Bylaws rather selectively, and adding your own glosses.

    Provide PROOF for your speculative glosses.

    Unless and until you provide PROOF that Dr. Johnson can not cancel these events, your assertions lack any merit.

  9. Jim,
    You compell Pastor Noland for proof/link, while disregarding the requests for your own?
    Really….believe me, if someone like me can, anyone can. You scrape the bottom of the barrel w/me.

    Well, how ’bout it Jim?

  10. @#4 Kitty #132

    > Admins please feel free to strike my comments from the discussion.

    And my comments on it as well, if Kitty’s comments are deleted. Kitty, thanks for the explanation.

  11. @T. R. Halvorson #133

    Hey TRH, thanks. One more point – this me’s a he, not the other kind. Sometimes I have SOME empathy for some of the subjects of this painful discussion, but I’m not going THAT far! : – )

  12. @Dutch #121

    Hi Dutch! Good to see you here again!

    I am sorry – I have tried to understand what you wrote – but I am not understanding.

    Could you clarify? Is this about my saying that thing is both a disorder AND a sin?

    God bless you and your family Dutch!

  13. Hey M,
    Good to chat with you too. No, it’s totally sin, sex sin is still sin.
    I think that Scripture kind of covers this all, quite well. I misunderstood what you said,
    sorry M.
    Blessings to you too.

  14. Is there a vital need here & is there a silent absence now? Yes. Is there a crisis w/in Denom’s over this, unless ya live under a rock, yes. Once the question is raised & discussions take place & directives made, is there going back?

    Nope, important to make one, based on the Solas, yes?

    This is a polarizing subject across the board. I know LCMS/WELS members who privately hold this type of lifestyle &/or advocacy are right & good. I do not.
    With this subject however, advocacy for LGBTQ issues,( 6 degree of separation rule applies), or worse…. silence w/o direction regarding it…puts many in a position they should not be in. No matter what side of the fence ya sit on!

    To advocate LGBTQ, directly or indirectly, is to not simply allow/turn a cold blind eye, to a sin….we allow sin, a sex sin, TO DEFINE another’s entire life.

    We allow the world to say ok & define someone’s entire life by this! Silence = condoning, by hook OR crook, to allow anyone, to let sin define a human life, is something none of us should sit by & allow. Sin, not just sex sin, but sin, in general. That ultimately, is the height of error. The world does that all on it’s own, w/o any help, we see it every day, in some way, don’t we?

    In no way, should any entity, of the LCMS or WELS (ELCA made their’s in MN) take part in, advocate or remain silent on this issue. Do we all need a plan? Not really, we have had one laid for us, in His Word. Mercy, w/o compromise/silence. Ignorance can only be plead once, & not one on either side of this issue, can plead it. I know I couldn’t, when the hard choices, to support a friend, & in doing so, ultimately support LGBTQ…I chose to say, “I can’t. I can’t pretend I don’t know & understand, & you/this is going somewhere I can’t walk w/you anymore. I love you, NO.” CK, no ‘but, if, or however’s’, not one.

    Easy choice, heartbreaking to say, but needs to be said, by all of us…at one point or another, on this or something else. We stand, or we will fall.

    Now, we pray, wait & watch.

  15. What we would have to believe, were we to accept Marty Noland’s speculations as true, is that the president of an LCMS university is merely a figurehead, a helpless puppet on a string pulled by the faculty, one whose job is to shake hands at graduation, post for pictures for the campus PR magazine and ask for money.

    Dr. Johnson has a duty to cancel the workshops. Will he shirk that duty? Will he cover his backside with some disclaimers? Or will he act responsibly and faithfully?

    It is sounding like it just going to more of the usual do-nothing CYA. He is after all approaching retirement age. No point in rocking anyone’s boat at this point.

  16. How can this topic generate so many posts yet no one mentions the recent front page article (last week) in the Chicago Tribune regarding state funding for faith based adoption organizations and the quotes from LCMS leadership representative Barbara Below? Seems the folks here won’t go after “one of their own.”

    And Jim, Concordia isn’t a dictatorial institution. Good leaders work with their people to come to the right conclusions. Your comments on this subject indicate you might have the tact of a sledgehammer.

  17. Jim (#66),

    Is it your assertion that the ONLY acceptable solution is to cancel the workshops? In other words, he must immediately do what you adamantly want him to do?

  18. What are the odds that President Johnson’s three directives and his introductory words at each session will completely reverse the agenda of the S.T.O.P. committee including the hard-core leftist feminist faculty members, and convince them to have a presentation fully in line with the Scriptural and confessional position of the Missouri Synod?

    Probably less than that of Coptic Christians doing some Christmas caroling in a Cairo shopping mall.

  19. @Carl Vehse #169

    Considering the amazing power of the Gospel, I wouldn’t put either of those possibilities out of reach!

    This is adding a little to what Johnson actually said, but I would assume he along with a least a few rostered faculty/staff members will attend the presentations.

  20. Carl Vehse :
    What are the odds that President Johnson’s three directives and his introductory words at each session will completely reverse the agenda of the S.T.O.P. committee including the hard-core leftist feminist faculty members, and convince them to have a presentation fully in line with the Scriptural and confessional position of the Missouri Synod?

    Why are we discussing President Johnson, and not the reverse?

  21. Sonja,

    Good point. I am researching that issue and may post on it. My initial research is showing that Below’s point is that the LCMS will not cut off aid in a knee jerk reaction without a thorough investigation. It looks like she was taken a little out of context in the article.

    BTW – John Johnson is one of our own. I took several classes from him at the St. Louis sem. We are concerned because he is one of our own but is not acting like it.


  22. “It looks like she was taken a little out of context in the article.”

    Yes, Chicago Tribune religiosity reporter Manya Brachear’s interpretation of what Barbara Below said and the subsequent (alleged) quote are not congruent. It appears that Brachear has a history of leftist bias in numerous columns according to a NewsBusters search

    For example, a June, 2009 column, pondered “Should gay flocks have their own churches?,” and in a sympathetic December, 2009, column about a pro-abortion nun, Brachear rhetorically asked, ” Do dissenters like [pro-abortion nun] Quinn strengthen the church?”

    If Barbara Below is to be discussed, it should be on the basis of considerably more substantiated quotes or writings from Below taken within the context.

  23. Yes, and indeed, Pres. Johnson has stated considerably more than and within the specific context, which is being discussed.

  24. Sonja,

    These are two different matters. Barb Below does not run LCFS and has no authority there. Dr. Johnson runs the university and has full theological authority there.


  25. Hey Sonja,
    Do you have a link for this article, in the Tribune?? I don’t live in IL, nor do I get/or read the Tribune.
    That would seem to be a “local/locale” issue, rather than a “National/Synodical” issue.
    One thing at a time, Sonja, one thing at a time.

  26. Pastor Rossow,
    It would be unfair, to not list a WELS error here. However, one of the below participants, is I believe an RSO, of LCMS, thru SWD.

    Siebert Foundation, “CHANGE OR DIE” Conference.

    A WELS, ELCA, and some might interesting LCMS churches, joint venture.

    Change or Die
    March 10, 2011
    Country Springs Hotel
    Waukesha WI
    Yep, it’s there too. And WELS doesn’t know what to do either, & if ya find the LCMS contributors, neither does the LCMS. At least the ELCA, is bold.

  27. @Pastor Tim Rossow #176
    Mrs. Below has been contacted directly. She will give a reply when she returns to the States. So one would ask for some patience until then.

    I also think that perhaps, even though there are “” around the quote, Barbara was a bit misquoted.

  28. @Sonja #167

    Perhaps the reason they feel ok bending the rules there and that no consequences will happen is the Lutheran New England Social Services Adoption Services has not just bent the rules but place a same sex couple in their “waiting families” section.

    Before anyone suggests its not LCMS the synod is presenting it as part of the LCMS when you go to the New England District under the Make a Donation part of the LCMS site. With headings about how this is a official “LCMS Ministry”.

    So either the adoption services are not truly LCMS and the LCMS Website is just misrepresenting when they claim they are or they are still ok with that sort of thing happening in adoption agencies affiliated with the synod.

    Its been this way at least 3/4 a year now. If in that time they cannot be delinked as from the make a donation page I have to conclude the folks at the top are Ok with it.

  29. @Pastor Tim Rossow #176

    Your comment re: Barb Bellow is correct. However what should be of concern is that the board of LCFS is solidly an LCMS team. I would assume the LCFS president has consulted on this matter since the discrimmination claim broke, and is quoted above Barb saying the LCFS will modify its policy.

    On the board I see 2 rostered lcms clergy. A District President, Congregation President, Circuit Councilor, Chairman of Board of Education, elders, decons, and lay.

  30. Dutch :
    Pastor Rossow,
    It would be unfair, to not list a WELS error here. However, one of the below participants, is I believe an RSO, of LCMS, thru SWD.
    Siebert Foundation, “CHANGE OR DIE” Conference.
    A WELS, ELCA, and some might interesting LCMS churches, joint venture.
    Change or Die
    March 10, 2011
    Country Springs Hotel
    Waukesha WI
    Yep, it’s there too. And WELS doesn’t know what to do either, & if ya find the LCMS contributors, neither does the LCMS. At least the ELCA, is bold.

    Dutch –

    I personally wrote a letter to Pastor Jeske about the offense this causes to my conscience. While I give Pastor Jeske credit for writing me back, I still disagree with his views on Church and Change and his unwillingness to recognize the offense it causes the majority of WELS.

  31. Perry,
    Did you notice, how all these things & issues, are linked? Loosely mind you, but I personally consider them linked.

    Thank you for sending that letter! Found out too late.

  32. Perry,
    I guess, “SKI” pulled out, of the Change or Die.
    It was also, Issues, Etc,
    second blog choice of the week.
    They are linked, change to culture or die….or the “Church, His Church”…dies. Church is a relative in definition now, but not really, not when it comes to our Lord, Heavenly Father, & the Holy Spirit. As I believe Pastor Wilken said, “the gates of hell, cannot prevail against it.”
    Change or Die…for or over what…exactly?
    CGM, LGBTQ/GLBTQ, relevency, or $$$$?
    Culture is non consistant, it offers no consistant sanctuary, least of which, from this realm.
    So…where is sanctuary to be found, from the “flavor of the month” topic, program, or directive? At a CUC, LCMS/WELS Church, RSO, etc?

    I know where I can find mine, even if no 4 walls & roof are available, but where do the lost who search to & fro find theirs? Isn’t this & others, linked now? Yes, they are linked.

  33. Folks,
    you can find the links & info, at Intrepid Lutherans. We are warned, not to be caught unawares, are we not?

  34. As I’ve said before, it’s sad that professing “christians” are happy to have their errant vocabulary enslaved to the world instead of God’s Word. As seen in “The gay invention” ( and faithful old Bible translations before the twentieth century errors, there’s no such thing as the “homosex-” fraud, and those who use it (including faithless Bible mistranslators mishandling arsenokoitai, men in coitus in 1 Corinthians 6:9 & 1 Timothy 1:10), merely show God’s Word is not their ultimate authority, rather the world for whom they whore, even if unwittingly, for God does not excuse sins of ignorance, rather having to cover them with The Blood of His Cross as He did Adam and Eve with the skins of the animals that had to die for their sins. God save us all.

  35. I am a product of Lutheran Education…graduating from a Lutheran College in Nebraska, teaching in the Lutheran system for many years and have been a life-long LCMS member. I am beginning to understand in my last 1/3 of my life that I am not even close to perfect…which includes my thoughts and actions…but wait, there is also no perfect church or no perfect doctrine, other than God’s Word, and no perfect Lutheran institution.

    I have also learned that Satan would love for God’s people to fight internally, put out fires from others and quickly lose sight of God’s purpose for HIS imperfect people. Now, CURF is not perfect but I know many of the professors and would gladly send my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren (when they arrive) to obtain an excellent christian education.

    My call and challenge to each of you who “blog” is respond (like I am) to focus more on God’s calling and mission and forget your own petty desires and thoughts that your interpretation of God’s Word is right and others are wrong. Being an “outsider of sorts” I’d love to sit with all of you in one room and share God’s word with each other and agree to walk out agreeing that God’s grace and mercy and Gospel are necessary for us AND the world and our response is to share that and NOT focus on each other’s inadequacies!!!!

    Let me know…I’d love to facilitate such a meeting. Are you up for it or are you going to sit and blog and complain?

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