A Concordia Pitches a No-Hitter. The Final Score: 0-34

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Not that long ago I read through a Concordia University’s glossy biannual magazine. I was struck by how little Jesus there was in it. I went back and took another look. I saw no Jesus. I downloaded it and did a search. Zero Jesus. Zero. By comparison, the word innovation, or one of its derivatives, was used 34 times. That’s right. Thirty-four. Luke 12:34 comes to mind: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” There’s a systemic problem when Jesus can’t be found in the span of thirty pages of a university claiming “Lutheran” as a core theme.*

My point is not to pick on any particular Concordia. My point is to emphasize the importance of electing people to our Synod boards and commissions who expect to find Jesus on every page. District Conventions begin in four months, and the National Convention the following year. Now is the time to be working on nominating solid Lutherans to fill positions in the Concordia University System and the University Boards of Regents. Our campuses need to be alive in Christ, in print and in practice. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7).

*The previous issue mentioned Jesus twice—once, to his credit, by the President of the University, and once in a blurb about a book written by an alumnus. Twelve months, sixty pages, Jesus twice.

About Scott Diekmann

Scott is a lifelong LCMS layman. Some of his vocations include husband, dad, jet driver, runner, and collector of more books than he can read. Oh, and also chocolate lover. He’s been involved in apologetics for over a decade, is on the Board of Regents at Concordia Portland, and is a column writer for the sometimes operational Around the Word Journal. He’s also written for Higher Things Magazine, The Lutheran Clarion, and has been a guest on Issues Etc. as well as the KFUO program Concord Matters.


A Concordia Pitches a No-Hitter. The Final Score: 0-34 — 41 Comments

  1. Did my M.Div. Grad thesis on history of the Concordias and the development of precisely this problem–the theological watering down and secularizing of the theology/religion courses and specifically of the primary catalogs–including “purpose” statements and introductory descriptions found therein. The reason for the existence of at least some of the schools has become quite muddy over time. The problem has only accelerated in some cases, it would seem.

  2. I’ll bet you can read how many players are on the football team, how basketball recruiting is progressing, but no count on pre-sem and commissioned minister students, too. Sports is innovative, but Jesus is old-hat. Train teachers? Train pastors? No, we’re into moving that ball down the field, filling the stands, and rah, rah, rah!

    And when you do find the number of pre-sem and commissioned minister students, the numbers won’t be very big.

  3. You are absolutely right. We sent two of our children there and if I had it to do over I would probably keep my money in state. They are expensive and I found little about Jesus with every visit. I would love to see us cut ties with a couple of the most liberal; take any monies from selling them off; and hire Lutherans to teach at the ones that we retain. I have heard, however, that one major problem is finding enough Lutheran teachers with doctorates to teach. Of course, having Wesley worships and Roman prayer candle altars in the chapels could confuse one’s identity as Lutheran even with good teachers.
    I do think we improved the boards the last few elections, but we have a very long way to go in taking back our educational institutions.

  4. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Many thanks to Mr. Scott Diekmann for his observations. Please note his plea:

    We need to keep “working on nominating solid Lutherans to fill positions in the Concordia University System and the University Boards of Regents.” And we need to keep electing the same to those positions. Anyone who is a congregational member of the LCMS can nominate; only rostered delegates will be able to elect.

    Nomination forms for 2016 convention are now available here: http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=1192

    Get to work, folks! The deadlines will be upon us before you know it . . . and don’t forget that your Circuit Forums are coming up this Fall, where you can send overtures to District. Keep track of the mailings from Secretary Hartwig, and you won’t miss a deadline.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  5. Those of us who speak out about problems in our Synod and her institutions must also put ourselves forward for positions where we can be part of the solution. I’m grateful to Mr. Diekmann for his leadership!

  6. @LadyM #3
    I have heard, however, that one major problem is finding enough Lutheran teachers with doctorates to teach.

    They exist; the confessional sort aren’t wanted. If they were, there would be enough of them.

    [Our congregations are told the district “can’t find” the conservative pastors the congregations want; but there are “candidates” who can’t be placed “because congregations don’t want them”… Strange?] 🙁

    CTX greatly enlarged UT’s organ program… by dumping their (doctoral candidate) organ and choir teacher, just before tenure. {We don’t need an organ teacher; nobody wants an organ or choirs to sing classical Lutheran music.}

    Jon Eifert is GOOD! I hope someone in Ft Wayne, where he is now, appreciates that.

  7. The following quote is from The Harvard Crimson, “Harvard’s Secularization
    How a college lost its faith”(March 8, 2006):

    “Ironically, the Crimson shield—the University’s logo and the ostensibly eternal distillation of its identity—has undergone significant change since the University’s birth back in 1636.

    Back then, it wasn’t just about “Veritas.” It was “Veritas pro Christo et Ecclesia;” not just Truth, but Truth for Christ and Church.

    What exactly happened to “Church”? And where did Christ go?”

    Many of the large universities in the US were begun by Christians. Sadly, the LCMS is just now catching up to this trend.

    “Indeed, Harvard’s “Rules and Precepts” of 1646 hold that “the maine end of [a student’s] life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life…the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning.”

    Once Christ Jesus is relegated to the religion department, then it is over. If not mistaken, universities were begun by the Church in the so-called ‘dark ages’ in Europe. Luther and Melanchthon taught on a campus. We need learned men and women, knowledgable in all the pursuits of a university, to make the confessional and Biblical connections of Faith and Scripture with living our various vocations in the world in service to our neighbor.

    Thank-you, Mr. Diekmann for your pithy and precise article.

    P.S. The Crimson article can be found here:http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2006/3/8/harvards-secularization-harvard-has-never-been/ In my opinion, the writer began well, but ended up the same way as the Harvard is today, yet it is good critique.

  8. “I have heard, however, that one major problem is finding enough Lutheran teachers with doctorates to teach”: they’re around, just not always wanted for a variety of reasons. Others, especially in STEM, do better outside the academy.

  9. It is not just in our colleges that Jesus is getting shut-out. In many of our LCMS churches, there’s a lot of “God talk,” but not much “Jesus talk.” Lots of “Christian,” but not much Christ. Visit the websites, read the newsletters, look at the sermon series, and Bible class topics, and you’ll see what I mean.

    When graduates of our seminaries start preaching and teaching like Baptists, let alone Emergent types, I get frightened. Where are the elders in these congregations?

  10. @helen #6
    I had a crazy thought about that. Wouldn’t it be cool to see the theologically-sound pastors who are without pulpits (the issue which was brought up here not too long ago about pastors not being able to get jobs-the actual nomenclature for it escapes me at the moment) find positions teaching in these colleges and universities until a call to a congregation becomes available to them?

  11. I just finished reading Walther’s 1848 Synodical Address. One thing stands out. If we think that putting the right people in office, if we think being more politically savvy than the liberals, if we think through by-laws and overtures and elections we can win back Synod or our universities then we will have failed before we ever started. The Word is the only power we have to combat this evil.

    “Our chief battle would soon center about the execution of manufactured, external human ordinances and institutions and would swallow up the true blessed battle for the real treasure of the Church, for the purity and unity of doctrine.” CFW Walther

    This is why I support ACELC. They get it. Why do so many not, or is there truly that much apathy in our day? 🙁

  12. @Joe Strieter #9

    The process is to replace the elders with Enthusiasts that can be easily led and manipulated. Once the elders are replaced, they become the perpetuating power once the pastor leaves… so that any new, confessional pastor that sadly happens into their congregation, is either devoured or twisted into their image.

    In the last Battle for the Bible, the catechized laity rose to the occasion and fought against the unfaithful shepherds to retain the LCMS as a confessional Lutheran church body. The enemy took notice, and isn’t making the same mistake twice. The laity have now gone through a couple generations of very poor catechesis, and on the whole are no longer equipped to mount the same campaign they did a couple generations ago. This generation is just as likely to follow the Enthusiasts off the cliff, because they’ve been taught to feel their way through doctrinal matters, rather than objectively and Biblically think. This generation is not only incapable of re-constituting the Lutheran Confessions (say, like the first generation Reformers,) nor are the able to rally and preserve them (say, like the second generation Reformers.)

    Confessional, Biblical Lutherans are already in the minority among us. If it makes you feel any better, my friends in other communions are describing a very similar phenomenon in their circles. The 20th century taught many would be tyrants, churchly or otherwise, that an ignorant and emotional electorate is much easier to control– just stoke the fires of passion, and you can get the mob to do whatever you wish. The Machievellian leaders with their power, however, care not that the people perish for their lack of knowledge.

    If you poke your head behind the curtain, brace yourself for what you’ll see. It will drive you to drink… and not in moderation.

  13. I ran into the same situation when our daughter was looking at colleges and Gettysburg College was on the list. During the tour I asked about the tie in to the seminary and religious community on campus and was told that it’s not really any big deal. I suppose that’s OK in an ELCA based school but I would expect more diligence in the Concordia system.

  14. @Brad #13

    No doubt about it–in my experience the Elders have been replaced by Enthusiasts–you have described the situation perfectly. As a friend of mine told me recently, when the liberals threw out Systematics at the Seminary, then Exegesis ruled the day, and an “anything goes” mentality ensued. We are still paying the price for that.

  15. I am not surprised since this is Portland we are talking about. It has been a LINO (Lutheran in name only) college for years. I would not send my kid to Portland nor would I encourage anyone to go there. Just the opposite, I would tell them to go some place else. Even 30-40 years ago Portland had a very poor academic reputation and it has only gotten worse. Now in addition they have become a Christ-less college.

  16. @J. Dean #11
    Wouldn’t it be cool to see the theologically-sound pastors who are without pulpits find positions teaching in these colleges and universities …

    Wouldn’t it be cool to see some of these theologically sound Pastors (w/PhD’s;w/o pulpits) get jobs in our colleges/universities and stay there to improve the “Lutheran” level?

    Some have been adjuncts [full schedule, half pay, or partial schedule, less], for a few semesters. Then the university cut the religion requirement in half, and let them go again.

    There are nevertheless a few good professors left on campus. They got tenure before Lutheranism went out of style in the Administration (of the campus and the synod).

  17. @GaiusKurios #16

    Not Christ-less… just more soft-core Pentecostal / charismatic. The academic rigor seems to have improved toward adequate, though.

    It’s certainly not the place to send your child if you want them to get a Lutheran education, or an education in a Lutheran atmosphere. It is, however, roughly commensurate with it’s peer Evangelical/Nazarene colleges in the Northwest (though Seattle Pacific University (conservative Methodist) and Whitworth in Spokane (conservative Calvinist or Presbyterian, I think) are much better rated schools.)

    The most Lutheran university in the Northwest, is actually run by the Benedictines.

  18. @GaiusKurios #16

    Since you mentioned Portland I decided to look at their website. Here’s the link to “Spiritual Life” on their site:


    I then clicked the links on the left side of the page: Opportunities and Campus Pastor.

    Lots of Small Groups and student-led ministries. The Campus Pastor is the executive director of Transforming Campus Ministries (TCM). His wife serves Lutheran Hour Ministries as Ministry Advancement Officer for the Northwest region.

  19. If I knew a young man who was thinking about going into the pastoral ministry, here is what I would recommend. Go to a secular university that has an excellent Classics department or Near Eastern languages department or excellent German department. Major in one of those three areas and take as many classes as possible in the other two language areas. That way they would be well prepared to enter the seminary. Stay away from any of the “religion” classes as they will be liberal garbage.

  20. @GaiusKurious #21

    Good call. I might also suggest, that such a young man also get an undergraduate degree in something he can make a living at, because pastoral ministry in the LCMS these days is a crap shoot… and that M.Div., regardless of how rigorous it is, is just about worthless in the working world.

  21. Brad,
    Good point! You do have to be prepared to earn a living because the pastorl ministry in the LCMS is a crap shoot.

  22. Some places Lutheran ministers who are on CRM status and looking for work might check into are large hospital chaplaincies. My limited stays have always included a – what is that now Pr. Rossow- MethoBaptiCostal (?) guy who creeps me out just a little. I am fairly sure he is on the institution’s payroll. Yes, my own minister visits, but so does this guy. Wouldn’t it be lovely if instead people were hearing the comforting words of Scripture from someone who has it right? I’m just saying that M.Div. is not entirely worthless. I don’t know the logistics of the call and all, but a Lutheran in that office would be better in my humble opinion.

  23. @LadyM #25
    I don’t know the logistics of the call and all, but a Lutheran in that office would be better in my humble opinion.

    Depends on who is hiring. M D Anderson cancer hospital in Houston was funded by a Lutheran. They had a group which trained hospital chaplains, all sorts, but I believe the training was done by Lutherans, who were on staff.

  24. @LadyM #25


    I didn’t mean that an M.Div. is worthless– just meaningless to most of the working world. It is one of the three great professional masters degrees that take 3-4 years to complete, and qualifies a person for professional service in a field (the others are Medicine and Law.) Most other master’s degrees pale in comparison to the rigor of these three, just in terms of sheer academic units… since most of the others can be accomplished in 18-24 months (MBA, etc.)

    Chaplaincy gigs are hard to land, and they tend toward pastors who are much more liberal and squishy. In the military, while chaplains tend to all souls, they are protected by certain laws and regulations against violating their ordination vows. These protections don’t exist, by and large, in institutional chaplaincy (i.e., hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, and even some corporations) so the chaplains they hire often posses the least doctrinal conviction possible, so that they blend in equally not only with other Christian sects, but with other religions altogether. They actually teach this kind of practical syncretism in the required CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) courses most pastors/chaplains are forced to take, before they will be considered for institutional chaplaincy.

    That’s not to say there aren’t some very good chaplains out there– I know several. Most of the faithful ones I know, are volunteers, so that their paychecks aren’t tied to the institution they minister in. Some are paid, but only a pittance (religious ministry is not a priority for institutions, whose bottom lines are driven by other business motivators,) and others are military chaplains, struggling to be faithful in a DOD system that is increasingly hostile to religion, particularly orthodox Christianity. I know a couple that work for fire departments and police departments, but they again almost all volunteers.

    I do think chaplaincy is a good place for pastors to serve others, especially if they find themselves without a parish– it is a specialized ministry, almost always involving a transient population in crisis, and receives very little regard by the average parish pastor (most of my chaplain buddies are “looked down upon” by their local “regular pastors.”) But chaplaincy is unlikely to be a livable wage, and always a challenge when the chaplain’s pay is received from a secular organization.

  25. @Brad #27 Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I was just speaking from personal experience and compassion for the CRM guys who struggle daily to make a living. It is heartbreaking to me that the Lord’s servants are treated so shabbily.

  26. @LadyM #28

    Indeed– it is our public shame. I personally think we must seek every avenue to both highlight this problem among us, and help these dear brothers survive. To my mind, we need to:

    1) Get the message out, by speaking of it and denouncing it, everywhere we can (especially in our congregations, circuit meetings, district meetings/conventions, and at Synod gatherings. The Seminaries must also be preparing their wards for the realities they will be facing, even as they take their student loan payments to pay their own faculties…)

    2) Refuse to let bureaucratic process be an excuse for inaction. We can and must let our due process take its course, but never allow it to bury the problem– and these people– under endless deliberation. Meaningful action must be taken, and we must not be silent until it is.

    3) Highlight and resolve the doctrine and practice issues that actually underlie the abuse of our pastors. We cannot be silent, until the Synod at large acknowledges that our internal Cold War has been creating real human casualties– the suffering and destitution of faithful shepherds, that is on our own hands. If we don’t deal with this, from congregations to districts to Synod, the pipeline that chews up and spits out confessional pastors will only continue its grisly work.

    4) Adopt a CRM pastor. If our districts would publish the list of local CRM pastors that are not under discipline for cause, then the local congregations could designate “mission funds” for their care. Perhaps rather than sending money for some ridiculous project of the month, or another great laser light show, we could take seriously the care of our vulnerable neighbors in our midst. (Or, relative to the chaplaincy discussion above, perhaps local congregations could pitch in to support a CRM pastor in a volunteer chaplaincy ministry, to get confessional pastors into hospitals, fire departments, etc..)

    My thoughts, anyway… for whatever they are worth. Blessings to you.

  27. @Brad #29
    1) Get the message out, by speaking of it and denouncing it, everywhere we can …

    [And then be prepared to be accused of “resentment” and “bitterness”, even by confessional Pastors, who would rather not be reminded of the facts, (especially those “confessional” pastors who have forced their brothers out, which, I hope, includes nobody here).]

    …local congregations could pitch in to support a CRM pastor in a volunteer chaplaincy ministry, to get confessional pastors into hospitals, fire departments, etc..)

    Local congregations could….
    As I mentioned the other day, one congregation sponsored a CRM as a missionary to an area which needed a church.

  28. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Let me add something to my comment above (comment #4) . . .

    There is a reason that I have been saying that “these are betters days in the LCMS.” I have been keeping a “scorecard” on the “theological-commitments” of LCMS officers and board members ever since I was ordained and began observing the national and district organizations. By “theological commitments,” I don’t mean academic credentials (such as Master’s Degrees or years of higher education teaching experience or peer-reviewed publications/research or tenure). I mean bona fide commitment to the official theological standards of the LCMS.

    “These are better days in the LCMS” because more and more officers and board members are being elected–or appointed–whose theological commitment align with the official theological standards of the synod.

    The recent election process for the synod’s “flagship” university, Concordia University-Chicago, is proof of that. All three candidates for that position were top-flight theologians and all have impeccable theological commitments. Not one of the candidates was a “sop” thrown into the hat to appease the quasi-Lutherans in the LCMS.

    How did this happen? According to my “scorecard,” the vast majority of the Board of Regent members of CU-Chicago have “theological commitments” which align with the standards of the synod–and when they realized that, and a vacancy appeared, they banded together and put together a “call list” of solidly Lutheran leaders with solid theological commitments. The majority of the electors fell in line with this action, thus electing Dr. Daniel Gard, a Rear Admiral (Lower Half) in the US Navy, former Professor at the Fort Wayne seminary, to the flagship in the Concordia University System.

    For CU-Chicago, this is what President Ralph Bohlmann used to call a kairos, i.e., an opportune time to make headway. We should not let this opportunity pass.

    You folks who read this blog are literate and theologically aware. You are precisely the same folks who should be responding to the Official Announcements in the Lutheran Witness and the Reporter with respect to faculty and staff openings at the CU schools.

    Here is the general web-page of announcements for job openings in the Concordia University System, broken down into individual schools: http://cusapps.cus.edu/JobPostView.aspx

    If you don’t subscribe to the print or electronic versions of the Reporter or Lutheran Witness, you can do so here: http://www.lcms.org/resources/publications

    Every month, new job openings for various positions appear in the last pages of the Reporter and Lutheran Witness. You should be reading through these listings and thinking about people who might be qualified (including yourself); then send those potential candidates a copy of the listing and encourage them to apply.

    Although the process is designed for application, you may also “nominate” people by sending a letter (or email message) to the dean listed in charge of the process, or even to the president of the institution. The dean or president may then–at his/her discretion–send an invitation to the candidate to apply, although such an invitation never implies a preference.

    The “nomination” option is important for those whose theological commitment to the call may prevent them for nominating themselves, which sometimes happens with our rostered church-workers who are sensitive to the charge of “self-promotion.” If you know such persons, and see a position for which they are fully-qualified, you can also do the church a great favor by personally encouraging them to apply.

    Why might you send the application or nomination to the president? Look at the LCMS bylaws: Each educational institution shall state policies and procedures related to faculty appointments, employment contracts, contract renewal, contract termination, faculty organization, modified service, sabbaticals, and dispute resolution within the Concordia University System’s Standard Operating Procedures Manual for Dispute Resolution. Except as otherwise provided in these bylaws, the board of regents on recommendation of the president of the institution shall appoint all full-time members of the faculty. The terms and conditions of every appointment shall be stated in writing and be in the possession of both the institution and the prospective faculty member before the appointment is consummated. Limitations of academic freedom because of the religious and confessional nature and aims of the institution shall be stated in writing at the time of the appointment and conveyed to the person being appointed. Faculty members, full- and part-time, shall pledge to perform their duties in harmony with the Holy Scriptures as the inspired Word of God, the Lutheran Confessions, and the Synod’s doctrinal statements.

    So although the dean and his committees are involved in the search, the president is the ultimate “filter” through which all full-time faculty appointments must be approved. He is the single most important person in the process, which is how it should be. By the way, this is the process for university faculty. The seminary faculty have a completely different process, and that is off-topic for this post anyway.

    Sometimes all it takes is one synodical convention to change the composition of a CU Board of Regents–and even though the president may not change, the openness to faculty with solid “theological commitments” will change.

    So . . . look at the Concordia Universities . . . look at their presidents . . . look at their Regents . . . look at recently appointed full-time faculty members (especially the theological faculty or those with theology degrees). If they show evidence of strong “theological commitments,” send in those applications—send in those nominations–and encourage likely candidates for faculty and staff positions. Even if there is little evidence of strong “theological commitments” in a particular university, e.g., the original post by Mr. Scott Diekmann, you can still apply or encourage qualified persons to apply. Sometimes the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways. . . . 🙂

    I would say, looking at my “scorecard” that is based on the evidence of recent full-time faculty appointments and presidential elections, that the most promising institutions right now are CU-Chicago, CU-Wisconsin, CU-Seward, and CU-Irvine.

    I invite the other CU institutions to “boost their rankings” on my “scorecard” by following the named institutions’ examples–by appointing full-time faculty and presidents with strong “theological commitments,” and of course equally strong academic credentials.

    The rest of you have work to do. 🙂

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  29. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    This very recent video from the synod offices talks about CU-Chicago’s 150th anniversary. It just appeared on the synod’s website this week or last week:


    Although it includes a brief fund-raising message for the anniversary fund to benefit church-worker students, it is mostly about how CU Chicago is moving forward in the desire to strengthen its Lutheran identity and service to the church. This will be heartening and encouraging for all readers of this blog, and for parents, pastors, and others who are an influence on present and upcoming college students.

    Make sure you view it, think about it, and pray for our Concordia universities in this time of kairos.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  30. @Martin R. Noland #31

    A good call to action, Pr. Noland. I don’t know who our people with the best theological commitments and academic credentials are. Is there a list of such people? It would be an interesting addition to our Synod roster listings, to include all our rostered folks with advanced degrees (Th.D., Ph.D., D.Min., etc.,) and perhaps a very short bio. “Doctors of the Church,” so to speak…


  31. @Brad #33

    Dear Brad,

    Your suggestion is a good one. I have made my own lists, using the Lutheran Annual, and old-fashioned eye-skim/hand-written notes over the years. Purpose of such lists were to find potential speakers for conferences that I help organize or advise. The LCMS synodical offices have access to such lists too, drawn from synod databases.

    But the real intent of my comments were to encourage readers to apply themselves, or to encourage people whom they know personally, who have the listed qualifications and who are also solid Lutherans and LCMS members.

    So for example, there is an LCMS guy I know who has a PhD in physics, a solid Lutheran, and is presently working in industry. Someday he may retire, or may have to retire early (industry often offers early retirements instead of forced layoffs). When he is available, and there is a matching opening in a CU school, he will be a perfect match. Another LCMS guy I know has only a B.S., but because of his work opportunities (and native brilliance) has worked to the top of his field. A CU school would “go gaga” to get him, if he is ever available and interested.

    Anyone who has a PhD (or equivalent) automatically has the necessary credentials to teach at the college level–although sometimes the qualifications ask for more, but the search committees can’t always be picky–the PhD is the terminal degree and it means the most for accreditation and other purposes. Persons who have an M.A. or M.S. in their field may also be qualified, if there are no PhD’s available, and if their other academic, publication, or research credentials are strong.

    CU schools don’t just advertise for faculty. They also have job listings for staff members. For those positions, Masters or Doctors degrees are usually not required. In those cases, looking at the specific qualifications is the most important.

    So, folks, look at the monthly listings (e.g. Reporter, August 2014, p. 11 “Notices – Positions” and Lutheran Witness, September 2014, pp. 26-27, “Notices – Positions”), and think about yourself, and people you know who might fit–and apply or get them to apply. If everyone works on this, we can really make a difference. Our children and grandchildren will be the ones who ultimately benefit–as will the church at large.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  32. @Brad #33
    It would be an interesting addition to our Synod roster listings, to include all our rostered folks with advanced degrees (Th.D., Ph.D., D.Min., etc.,) and perhaps a very short bio. “Doctors of the Church,” so to speak…

    Wouldn’t that embarrass all the “fearless leaders”, who are called “Dr.” (and relish it!) because they gave a commencement speech somewhere!? 😉

  33. @helen #35

    HA!! I appreciate my honorary doctorates (and the good hearted people/organizations who conferred them) but until my earned doctoral work is done, I have a hard time even listing them… let alone, presenting myself as “Dr.” Still have a couple years to go, I think…

    Though I’ve often wanted to wear a bow tie, and ride around in a blue police call box…


  34. @Brad #36
    …until my earned doctoral work is done, I have a hard time even listing them… let alone, presenting myself as “Dr.”…

    Gott sei dank! (and you, too) 😉

    Interesting also, as a leftover from the “no theologian” years would be the correlation between the PhD and the CRM. 🙁 Some of our brightest have been forced out of Synod altogether.

    When Higher Things was at San Antonio, I enjoyed meeting and eating with a web acquaintance and a few friends who brought their friends. The web acquaintance confessed to not knowing an unjustly designated CRM. I looked around the table and introduced him to three CRM’s, plus a “civilian” who’d just been laid off. I hope Will Weedon (the web acquaintance) remembers and helps to build a fire under those who will otherwise delay until time limits knock the CRM off the roster.

  35. @helen #38

    I don’t know what that correlation would be, between those pastors who hold doctorates, and those moved away to the CRM limbo. I’ve often heard mostly support in my area for doctoral work… not much on the negative side, though I certainly don’t tout it much.

    I do think, however, theological degrees in general, and even the advanced ones, seem to be proliferated without much in the way of standards or rigor… and you can craft them be almost anything you want them to be. Hence you can find a “Dr.” with a theology degree, who has never studied Hebrew or Greek, knows nothing of Church History, and could just as likely be a rank heretic. And unfortunately, if you want a theological degree with a prestigious name behind it (like a Yale or Harvard Divinity School,) I don’t think it’s possible to graduate from there without becoming a heretic.

    So, I suppose, the degrees are nice window dressing… or perhaps, lend a little more social credibility to one’s teachings. If those teachings are heterodox, they will find play in a heterodox community… hopefully the same is true of the orthodox.

  36. Dear Brad,

    Let me elaborate on the business about theological degrees, from your comment #39.

    With regard to the “Dr.” designation, that can mean a lot, or almost nothing. Here is how it works out:

    “D.D.” – an honorary degree, for a lifetime of service to the church, along with some special dedicated service, e.g., a district president who served faithfully in that office for thirty years, selflessly, with much benefit to the church. This degree indicates nothing about academic abilities or accomplishments.

    “D.Min.” – a relatively new degree, I think invented in Canada in the late 1960s. It is in some institutions a form of certification of what others would call “continuing education” for pastor. In those cases, it means the pastor has been working on his “tools” for ministry and service to the church. In other institutions, it involves considerable study in specific areas of pastoral theology, e.g., missions, evangelism, counseling, etc. In these cases, it involves a good bit of training in related fields, such as anthropology, sociology, psychology, etc. So there is a wide degree of variance in the academic substance found among “D.Min.” degrees, which has to be judged on the basis of the program and institution that offered it.

    “Ph.D.” or “Th.D.” – these are the traditional doctoral programs for theology in the USA. Graduates of the program are expected to be conversant with the entire field of knowledge in their discipline (e.g., Old Testament), know how to use all the significant tools and resources, and be able to teach all required courses in that department when called on. So, ideally, a seminary would have five PhDs, one for each dept. (Systematics, Historical, Old Testament, New Testament, Pastoral), and each professor could teach all courses in his area. Demonstration of the ability to publish is required through submission of lengthy essays and a dissertation. Demonstration of the ability to defend a position is required through an oral exam at the end of study.

    As to the possibility of graduating from the Liberal Protestant Divinity schools, I did. But you have to be a cooperative sort of fellow, and not go in expecting to convert anyone to your position. And they cannot expect to convert you either. There used to be more tolerance in previous years, because they all billed themselves as “ecumenical schools.” But now since the feminists, Liberation Theologians, and gay-agenders have taken control of most of these schools, “political correctness” is the dominant theme.

    The main key to getting a degree in these schools is finding a sympathetic and tolerant doctoral advisor. If you treat him or her well, he or she will do the same to you. And you both will learn many things in the process. The wise doctoral professor sees his proteges as learning experiences–many give them credit in the books they write.

    The best advice I can give to a budding doctoral student is to talk to one of LCMS theologians who teach at our seminaries or universities–and who have the degree in the field you are interested in. They know the current playing field; they have access to the journals; they go to the academic conferences; they might even know a couple of doctoral professors who would be good mentors for you.

    All for now.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  37. @Martin R. Noland #40

    Thank you for the clarifications, Pr. Noland. As always, I appreciate your insight.

    Perhaps some day I can buy you a frosty or warm beverage, and bend your ear. Until then– blessings to you.

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