Ironic Timing to Promote Concordia University System Sunday, by Pr. Rossow

The Concordia University System (CUS) is a mess from the standpoint of hiring faculty, program expansion and confessing the faith to the world. Money and growth have been placed above confessional integrity.

As we reported last week, an internship at Planned Parenthood (an abortion mill) was advertised as a part of the curriculum at Concordia, Chicago. I therefore found it ironic that the synod sent out a solicitation today via email for LCMS congregations to have a CUS Sunday on April 27.

Like many congregations we stopped recognizing these special Sundays years ago so we won’t be doing anything for CUS Sunday just as we don’t do anything for Armed Forces Sunday, Valpariaso Sunday, LLL Sunday, LWML Sunday, etc. For that matter we don’t have a Brothers of John the Steadfast Sunday either. If we were in that practice however, this might be the year that we would skip CUS Sunday given how our universities are out of fiscal control and out of confessional control.

For sure our Concordias do many things well. In general, the theological departments are in good shape and speaking of Concordia, Chicago, we have several teachers on our Day School staff from River Forest and are very pleased with them. As a matter of fact, our parish constitution that we rewrote a few years ago requires that we hire (call) only rostered teachers onto our staff, which means they must come from a system school. (By the way, classical education is a fine alternative and in many such schools there are excellent teachers which come from outside the CUS system and yet are confessional Lutheran. I know of a Lutheran school on the east coast with many fine teachers from Hillsdale College in Michigan and other fine schools outside the system.)

But with all the good things at our Concordias come some disgusting things that are just not acceptable. Since I have been in the Chicago suburbs for the last twenty years most of my examples are from our local Concordia but there are also issues at other Concordias. The examples that come to my mind include Concordia, Portland tolerating the unscriptural teachings of Dr. Matthew Becker for years (women’s ordination being chief among them), the recent issue with Planned Parenthood at Concordia Chicago and of course the example of the faculty members of Concordia, Chicago signing the Bill Ayers petition a few years ago. (click here for more on this story.)

As I pointed out in the posts I wrote on this a few years ago here on BJS, it was not just a matter of supporting Bill Ayers the former terror bomber, but worse still was the fact that the petition was pagan and humanistic. It is not acceptable that we have professors, teaching at Concordias, representing our institutions, who profess humanism, paganism and false doctrine.

Another example I am painfully aware of is the case of one of the former principals who served our parish. It does not involve the drama and distaste of abortion mills, heretical theological professors, and petitioners in favor of pagan humanism but it is nonetheless just as troubling. Several years ago, before he was our principal, he decided to get his masters in education and since he was a faithful, confessional Lutheran he decided to get it from Concordia, Chicago. Much to his dismay, he completed the entire course work without ever having a LCMS professor and having had only one Lutheran professor and he was a liberal ELCA guy.

Why are there so many examples of programs and professors like this in our Concordias? The opinion of many of those who have wrestled with this over the years is as I said above – the idolizing of growth and money. In an effort to make money to keep so many universities and colleges afloat, our Concordias have resorted to adding programs and professors so fast that we do not have the ability to make and keep them confessionally Lutheran. I see why it happened and I even sympathize with the administrators who have led us to this place but it is detestable and needs to get cleaned up.

Since the Planned Parenthood debacle was discovered we have learned that it was just one student who did an internship and then somehow the abortion mill got on to the next internship publication list. I am glad to hear it was contained but you see, this is far bigger than just one internship. The issue is that there is a professor at Concordia that allowed this and so is most likely teaching pagan humanism to every student he comes in contact with. There were seven professors who signed the Bill Ayers petition. This is not an isolated problem. This is simply the tip of the iceberg. We have idolized money and growth in our CUS system beyond what we can control and supervise.

If you have been reading BJS on these matters you also know the story of the Kilcreases, Jack and Bethany. They are confessional, faithful Missouri Synod Lutherans with excellent qualifications for academia and yet they have not been able to get hired by our Concordias.

Oh for the days when the worst thing to come out of the CUS was a book like James Pragman’s text teaching the functionalist view of the ministry (Traditions of Ministry, CPH, 1983). At least Dr. Pragman, one of my professors and a gentleman for whom I have a lot of respect except for this particular matter, was within the LCMS fold and his questionable doctrine of the ministry was within the pale of what we could debate, discuss and amend as needed in the family of God. Now we have outright pagans teaching in the name of CUS and passing on who knows how much humanist trash and heathenism to students in the name of Concordia.

Speaking of my days at Concordia, Seward with James Pragman, as I recall there were no non-rostered professors in any of the departments. I never had a non-rostered professor. The argument is though, that we have needed to grow all sorts of satellite programs and the like in order to remain competitive and to make enough money to support the church worker programs. That is the death move. That is the moment of compromise and idolatry.

I am not faulting the people who sent out the invitation to have a CUS Sunday. They are only doing their job. I do hope however, that the irony is not lost on them and their supervisors and I do hope this situation can get cleaned up fast.

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.


Ironic Timing to Promote Concordia University System Sunday, by Pr. Rossow — 24 Comments

  1. >>there were no non-rostered professors in any of the departments. I never had a non-rostered professor.

    I’m not sure if it is still the case, but just a few years ago a professor and department chairman at Seward told me that only LCMS members can be voting members of the faculty at Seward. Non-LCMS members can only be adjunct, and he said there are very few of them, used only when an LCMS member for a particular subject or class cannot be found.

  2. That was my experience at Seward thirty five years ago but it may be just by happen-stance. Unlike Chicago, Portland, Mequon, etc, Seward does not have a readily available few million people to suck into money-making programs to prop up the institution. If they did, they may go the way of all humanist flesh of the other Concordias.

  3. Actually Seward has a satellite campus in Lincoln and they are a significant provider nationwide of graduate education degrees in the secular market—what some might call a “cash cow” that helps make up for the lack of Synodical subsidy. The gentleman I spoke with indicated that the preference for LCMS members, and not allowing non-LCMS members to be voting faculty, was a purposeful decision to maintain the LCMS character of the institution. Likewise, when I was Director of Communications at Mequon my department placed advertisements for open positions, and there was also very much a preference there for LCMS members to fill positions on all levels. Many people are surprised that due to a Supreme Court decision decades ago religious institutions ARE allowed to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion. At Mequon we would first place ads in several hundred LCMS church bulletins and newsletters in the vicinity. These were not only free but also resulted in a very high number of LCMS members working at CUW as secretaries, cooks, maintenance people, etc. in addition to mostly LCMS faculty. This helped create a great working atmosphere. When I served on the former LCMS Board for Communications Services our board was quite surprised to find a number employees in that department who were not LCMS members. We initiated a policy that all new hires for that department must be LCMS—doesn’t matter if they’re “just” a secretary, graphic designer, etc. Of course now the department is directly under the President so I assume this policy has continued.

  4. I have two questions I’d like to ask in a true inquiring spirit.

    What would be the negative aspect, if any, of observing Armed Forces Sunday? Honestly, I am just curious.


    As a faithful LCMS father with two children who will be attending college (God-willing) in just a few years, is there a Concordia university that can be recommended, excluding the aformentioned Chicago and Portland schools? It sounds like Seward may be the way to go with what has been discussed here. Are there any others in the system that are worth looking in to?


  5. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet is the science departments of many of our Concordias are teaching theistic evolution- if not, outright, Darwinian evolution. It is as though the science departments are separate entities unto themselves.

  6. Jay M.

    There is certainly nothing wrong with promoting support for our brothers and sisters in the armed forces and nothing in and of itself wrong with an Armed Forces Sunday.

    The issue is that years ago when these things first started they came with a full, alternate liturgy for each of these Sundays and that in part led to the growth of Contemporary Worship in our synod. Also, there started to become so many of these things that it was almost comical. Every Sunday you could have another emphasis and that would really start to take its toll on the primacy of the liturgy and the church year.

    Back before I became a true confessional and liturgical Lutheran, my parish was doing more special Sundays like this than it was doing the minor feasts and observances of the church year.

  7. Jay M.

    I really am not endorsing or rejecting any one school. I do not know the theology department at Seward. I know the theology department at Chicago is really solid and pretty good at Mequon. Other than that, I do not know that much to say one Concordia of the other is better than another. Seward apparently does not have as much of this loosey goosey hiring mentality as others.

  8. At Concordia Ann Arbor, there are still two pages on their website promoting the “Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling”:

    And one page promoting the “Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory”:

  9. @Pastor Tim Rossow #10

    Thanks for the perspective, Pastor. I certainly see where you are coming from. I’m a fairly new Lutheran (received into the Synod Maundy Thursday 2013) and I had no idea that those “special” Sundays had any relation to the spread of CoWo. I am a Navy man myself and our local church celebrates Armed Forces Sunday, but we do not use an alternate liturgy for it, thankfully so. The recognition is certainly appreciated but I agree with you that it should never take away from the Feast Days of the Church.

    Thanks for the perspective on the Concordias as well. I will definitely be keeping my ear to the ground on that in the next few years…

  10. Jay M,

    Thanks for your service.

    Glad to have you as a Lutheran and as a BJS reader. We get a fair number of military folks. My guess is because you are good to go with the rough and tumble nature of the straight-forward discussion here at BJS.

  11. @Pastor Tim Rossow #15

    Pastor, we certainly have our share of frank discussions in the Navy, that’s for sure. I am very glad to be here. BJS and Worldview Everlasting were both very instrumental in my families’ conversion from Roman Catholicism. I am indebted to you all for this.

    And thank you for the kind words. The service is my pleasure and honor, trust me…

  12. @Pastor Tim Rossow #10

    Back before I became a true confessional and liturgical Lutheran, my parish was doing more special Sundays like this than it was doing the minor feasts and observances of the church year.


    How will our children know about about the actual church year if the church does more observing of the minor American holidays than the actual observances of the church?

  13. Nicholas,

    The Concordia AA website is not “promoting” a gay and lesbian association. If you look at the page, it lists groups where you can utilize a couseling degree. It would seem to me that we would want LCMS trained people couseling gays and lesbians in order to discuss the faith and attempt the help them change their lives.

  14. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    First, thanks to Pastor Rossow for keeping this issue on the “front burner.” He has been a pastor in a Chicago suburb for many years (I think since the late 1990s), so has had a “up-close and personal” perspective on the affairs of CUS-Chicago. And it is not just him, but also a large network of pastors and laymen in the Chicago area that are concerned that CUS-Chicago remain close to the LCMS, both theologically and relationally.

    Second, if you have not seen the articles in the Lutheran Clarion on the subject of CUS, they are worth reading and even for printing out for your files. This subject will come back to the 2016 convention in some form, due to action taken at the 2013 convention. So printing them out and filing these articles will help you have facts, numbers, and analysis in one place for reference.

    Here are the Lutheran Clarion links with citation for the past two years on this topic:

    Kevin Vogts (pastor; former CU-Wisconsin staff), “Our Concordia System,” pp. 1-7:

    Bob Kuhn (LCMS 6th VP for SE Region; formerly Chairman of LCMS Board of Directors), “Issues and Overtures for the 2013 Convention,” see heading “Concordia University System,” pp. 3-4:

    Christian Preus (LCMS Board of Directors member; attorney), “Concordia University System: It’s Time for Change,” pp. 1-2:

    Martin Noland (pastor), “How Fares Concordia,” pp. 7-10:

    Third, don’t forget you can use the Search function on this website to locate a variety of BJS articles over the years. Just type in “CUS” or “Concordia University” in the search window, which is just above the “Featured Items” heading in the right-sidebar.

    By the way, the “short list” for President of CU-Chicago looks very good. Any one of them would be an asset to that college and our synod in that position. Also, the appointment of Dr. Dean Wenthe to President of the CUS is outstanding. Things are looking up, folks–but let’s not rest on our laurels!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  15. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I have been reading the March 2014 issue of First Things today. It has an excellent and thoughtful article on the growing secularization at Brigham Young University titled “Keeping Faith in Provo.” The author (presently BYU faculty) describes the secularization process at work on his own campus. The forces at work at BYU are hammering almost every university with a Christian or religious founding. You can read it here if you subscribe:

    Barnes and Noble should still have copies in their magazine rack.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  16. Lydian Archer :
    The Concordia AA website is not “promoting” a gay and lesbian association. If you look at the page, it lists groups where you can utilize a couseling degree. It would seem to me that we would want LCMS trained people couseling gays and lesbians in order to discuss the faith and attempt the help them change their lives.

    This comment is disingenuous. If you follow the links to the “Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling,” you will see that it is an organization which promotes and “affirms” homosexuality, transgenderism, and homosexual relationships:

    It teaches directly against the Bible’s position on this matter, as well as that of the LCMS, with which CUAA is affiliated.

    Take your dishonesty elsewhere.

  17. I have a question: If the wels is willing to spend 30% of its yearly budget on a three tier worker training system, with 300-400 thousand members,why cant lcms? By this I mean a high school, Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw MI, Luther Preparatory in Watertown WI Martin Luther College in New Ulm MN, and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon WI.

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