Concordia Irvine Employs Pagan Priest Despite Faculty Outcry

SonsOfRaYes, you read that correctly.

 

No, this is not a joke.

 

The powers-that-be over at Concordia University Irvine (CUI) have hired an active pagan who once publically renounced the doctrines of Christ Alone and Scripture Alone, and who believes, “Religious pluralism is an asset not a liability.” He is the current Executive Director of CUI’s Master of Arts in International Studies: Africa, which puts him in a position of substantial influence over the program, his colleagues, and CUI’s unsuspecting students.

This controversial cleric is Dr. Salim Faraji, a man whose career reflects his opinion that spiritual diversity is a strength. He previously served in Unitarian Universalist and United Methodist Churches; he is currently a licensed preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal Church; and he was both initiated in the Mami Wata tradition of Ghana and as a priest in the Sacred Order of the Sons of Ra.

If you take a quick look online, you can see that Ra is the falcon-headed sun deity whom the ancient Egyptians worshiped as creator, who was later merged with the gods Horus and Amun. According to Faraji, Ra is also the creative power behind all things, and has both a goddess wife and a son. Though to be fair, the “wife” is really just Ra’s feminine qualities, and the “son” merely represents the divine union between the two—meaning, they don’t seem to be actual persons, but rather expressions of the harmony, balance, and love of Ra. Regardless, this remains a far cry from the Christian Trinity.

Additionally, Faraji has claimed there is a direct connection between Amun-Ra and Jesus, with the Bible supposedly assimilating beliefs from Afrikan spirituality all over the place. Yet the New Testament clearly makes a distinction between the one true God who revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ and all other deities. The latter have been called “false gods” and “demons” at least since St. Paul (1 Cor. 10:19-22; Gal. 4:8), labels that apply to Ra as well. Equally, identifying foreign deities with the God of Israel and/or worshiping them is strictly forbidden throughout the Bible.

But here is where things get really interesting. Whatever the circumstances were behind the hiring of Faraji at CUI (one could envision a scenario in which he failed to disclose his pagan and pluralistic leanings—though that would still speak volumes about the administration’s incompetence when it comes to vetting its faculty), what appears virtually inexcusable is the decision to retain him after his beliefs were made known. After we asked around, faculty (who were pretty tight-lipped about the whole affair) let it slip that various professors expressed their concerns to the school’s administration about having hired a non-Christian. And what was the response to these conscientious objectors? They were first ignored, and then rebuffed. That’s right, the administration actually hardened their decision to bring Faraji on board CUI’s faculty.

This was not done without some attempts at damage control, however. Whereas Faraji’s Facebook page had Previously contained material that revealed his questionable and problematic views, much of this has since been scrubbed. (The first attachment above used to be accessible online as well, but magically disappeared about a week ago.) It is difficult to interpret this as anything other than a willful attempt to deceive.

Now we know some of you are thinking. “No way. Concordia Irvine would never do something like this—something so clearly at odds with the teachings of Scripture and the doctrines of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.” That’s what we thought, too, until we did some simple searching online. In fact, Faraji has said, posted, and published so much (some of it as recent as last year), and his affiliations are so recent (there is no indication he is no longer a pagan priest), that any excuse along the lines of “Oh, that’s what he used to think and believe, but he has since repented and now holds traditional Christian beliefs” seems naïve at best or disingenuous at worst.

The good folks over at CUI claim to be “guided by the Great Commission of Jesus Christ and the Lutheran Confessions.” Yet how can this remain true when the administration is employing a known pagan whose work serves to contradict and undermine the gospel? Are we really to believe that Faraji won’t affect the faith of anyone he interacts with on campus? Is this the sort of mentor for which parents are sending their children and their dollars to CUI?

If you find this troubling, then consider adding your voice to ours and making a few calls and sending a few emails. Because if this is allowed to stand, there is no reason to think CUI won’t defy its own heritage and behave like a secular institution on other matters as well.

 


Comments

Concordia Irvine Employs Pagan Priest Despite Faculty Outcry — 86 Comments

  1. After we asked around, faculty (who were pretty tight-lipped about the whole affair) let it slip that various professors expressed their concerns to the school’s administration about having hired a non-Christian. And what was the response to these conscientious objectors? They were first ignored, and then rebuffed. That’s right, the administration actually hardened their decision to bring Faraji on board CUI’s faculty.

    Maybe the CUI president and administration need to be schlonged.

  2. Dear BJS,
    It would “for sure” be much easier, expedient, witnessing, etc. to only hire LCMS teachers at a LCMS institution. It might make hiring harder, oh well.
    And if a teacher or professor does renounce their faith, they are removed.
    If they err in speaking for the faith, they are suspended for it; till they recant.
    Yes, we only call and ordain LCMS men…what happens after that, not part of this article.
    Perhaps we only hire LCMS workers.
    Wonder if we can do that? Legally??
    Maybe something to discuss at the convention????

  3. Dear BBJS,
    Realistically, the chaplain of the Concordia should speak out with a load and clear voice, a loud and clear witness and denounce all error. He perhaps cannot fix it, but he can certainly denounce with a strong voice.

  4. @Pastor Prentice #52

    It would “for sure” be much easier, expedient, witnessing, etc. to only hire LCMS teachers at a LCMS institution. It might make hiring harder, oh well.

    When I went to an ELC school (in the Dark Ages) the most unusual hire was a coach who was LCMS.
    IOW, if Lutheran institutions wanted to hire Lutheran faculty, I think they are out there. [Pr. James May could probably recommend an African, if that was needed.] Lutherans are educated above the average.

    IF hiring a pagan priest is CUI’s version of “diversity” I guess it’s just as well that “Lutheran” receded into the background when they started playing “university”.

  5. Dear BJS,
    Wheaton College posted a very good Q and A on their Facebook (I linked to it from mine), concerning Prof. Hawkins.

    As a Pastor in the LCMS, and I think all LCMS Pastors stand behind them, may our CUCs learn a lesson.

  6. @Carl Vehse #51

    On the surface, this seems so impossibly outrageous that parents, alumni, congregations, districts, synod should just cease to provide any financial support to CUI until this matter is investigated and resolved.  I will contact my congregation’s mission committee for such a freeze.

    “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”   2 Cor 6

  7. For whatever one would think of unionism clouding a clear Confession, it is still an order of magnitude below a clear violation of the First Commandment. That CUS no longer thinks it will be judged by God for this willful rebellion, nor the synod for its embrace of syncretism, is what should really terrify folks…

    CUS employing a pagan priest also shows forth an unbelief in the dangerous reality of the demonic. The demons are real, do real harm, and are actively bent on the destruction of Christians, the Church, and the world. Bringing such a devotee of demons into a Christian university is not only taunting God to judgment, but ridiculously dangerous.  – Pastor Brad

    This is no exaggeration, people.   We need to be in prayer for the CUI students.

  8. @Brad #45: “That CUS no longer thinks it will be judged by God for this willful rebellion, nor the synod for its embrace of syncretism, is what should really terrify folks…”

    Not a problem. Just follow the established Purple Palace rite–demand that CUI dismiss the pagan, then apologize to the world on a video for opposing syncretism. It’s called the “Newtown flip-flop.”

  9. Seeing as to how this man has publicly repented of his past pagan practices and has publicly affirmed his commitment to the Trinitarian faith, Brothers of John the Steadfast would best serve us all by removing this false accusation.

  10. Leaving aside the question of whether Salim Faraji has repented, I do not understand why CUI has a Master of Arts in International Studies and needed to bring in leftist activists to teach. I might expect this sort of thing on a state university campus but I think it’s beyond the scope of what a small Lutheran university needs or can afford.

    One of Faraji’s colleagues, Josephine Akosua Adomako Ampofo, had Michel Doortmont comment on her Facebook page, “Also whether CUI’s understanding of ‘activist scholar’ is the same as yours. Enjoy!”
    1 · October 29 at 12:14pm

    Josephine Akosua Adomako Ampofo “Michel I am sure diff people at CUI understand it differently buy it doesn’t matter cos it’s my meaning that counts”

  11. Dear BJS Bloggers,
    Mr. Vehse makes a good point about what was called “cases of discretion” in the Benke case. But we shouldn’t help the advocates of syncretism by affirming the authority of the CTCR report that President Kieschnick invoked as justification for what he and Benke did. The CTCR report in the 2001 convention workbook was only a report, not a doctrinal resolution, so “once in a lifetime cases of discretion” never had any authority, though the CCM tried to give it that. The Dispute Resolution Panel had to follow the CCM in the Benke case. I have opposed the binding authority of the CCM since 1992, and so did my friend Harold Olsen. We will be discussing this issue and many more at the upcoming LCA conference in Fort Wayne, Jan 18th: see Captain Diekmann’s post today here at BJS.
    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  12. What I learned working on a task force is that the ONLY words of any report (CTCR, Workbook” that become official are the EXACT words quoted in PASSED resolutions. I may not fully understand it… in that I am not 100% on the authority of the Whereas statements, but the Resolved carry weight. And just because a resolution says a report is a good idea and we should follow its model, does not mean that the report details are strictly followed. Similar to the difference between ‘should’ and ‘shall’, and in parliamentary procedure, that is a huge difference.

    As for this particular topic (because some of these are culturally cross related), I would encourage convention voters (and delegates who serve on floor committees) to reject certain overtures coming up. That flavor of a few, which appear to come form colleges and liberal districts, seem to call for academic freedom, letting Boards of Regents determine their own size and composition. The wording could get them out form any oversight form the convention or SP. If you think we have challenges correcting mistakes now, it will only get worse. Enough with this free-wheeling independent attitude. We need to encourage tighter bonds, servanthood, and quite frankly, God pleasing obedience.

  13. @Jason #64

    Enough with this free-wheeling independent attitude. We need to encourage tighter bonds, servanthood, and quite frankly, God pleasing obedience.

    Or, since they are downplaying “Lutheran” perhaps the CUS “universities” should arrange to pay their debts to Synod and leave altogether. For the number of students who actually are Lutheran, we might have ONE school that provided a Lutheran education.

    Of course, if we had a school that provided something better than the nearest state university, we might have more Lutheran students!

  14. @Nicholas #33

    There are articles about a lot of things – that does not equate to knowledge. For example, in the Tamir Rice case, I read a lot of ARTICLES and COMMENTS that told me why it was ok to shoot a child, and watch him bleed out, even to the point of resisting efforts to offer first aid. When it comes to “the souls of black folk,” there is a certain tone deafness that permeates the Synod, even a callousness. You won’t confess it, because you are in the position of dominance. God sees it, and the saints in places like Gary, IN, Detroit, MI, and Ferguson, MO, are living through it.
    My pastor told me that it would be best for my soul to treat places like this with caution, so I don’t visit here often. Since God is in control, and there are several good men at CUI who know how to pray, whatever needs to be corrected will be corrected, by the grace of God. If you spend as much time praying as you do murmuring, then trust in the LORD and do good, dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. The energy that you expend in complaining hasn’t accomplished anything, has it?

  15. This incident along with other fairly recent events (cf. Concordia University Chicago) begs the question, should the LCMS be shutting down these LINO colleges? The LCMS needs only one college for the preparation of full time church workers. If you add up the number of church work students at all the Concordias there are enough for one university. The resources of the LCMS should be devoted to preparing full time church workers and not siphoned off by the nightmare at CUI and the problems with the other Concordias.

  16. We’d be well advised to check Concordia’s constitution, charter, and bylaws. It may well be that they are violation thereof.

  17. @Joe Strieter #70

    The employment of an alleged pagan priest as a professor/executive director at CUI doesn’t seem to fit with the identity statement endorsed by CUS presidents in February 2015:

    “Ideally, all faculty members are active members of LCMS congregations. When academically qualified LCMS members are not available, faculty members will be Christians who affirm, at minimum, the content of the Ecumenical Creeds and are members of Christian congregations. All faculty members promise to perform their duties in harmony with the truths of Holy Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, and the doctrinal statements of the LCMS (cf. Bylaw 3.10.5.6.2).

    The majority of the full-time faculty are members of LCMS congregations. In cases where this standard is not met, the institution will develop a plan to reach this minimum standard and submit it to the CUS.”

    http://blogs.lcms.org/2015/cus-identity

  18. @John Rixe #68

    I received the following email this morning:

    Dr. Faraji is not a pagan priest. He is a young man who recently has disavowed much of what he wrote in his early career and now expresses a traditional Christian faith. During my interview with him, Dr. Faraji confessed to me that he believes that Jesus Christ is his Lord and Savior and through faith in Him all Christians receive the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and salvation. Dr. Faraji also confessed to me, and to other administrators at Concordia, that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that the only way to the Father is through Him. Dr. Faraji also expressed to me his strong pro-life and pro-traditional family convictions, condemning abortion and same-sex marriage.

    Dr. Faraji is currently in Accra, Ghana, with eight Concordia graduate students, assisting them in their internships and coursework. In Ghana, Dr. Faraji is being assisted and supported by Dr. Paul Finn, the president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana, a churchbody in fellowship with the LCMS.

    Concordia University Irvine employs only Christian faculty and staff members and remains committed to the Great Commission of Christ Jesus, to the Lutheran Confessions and to the doctrines and practices of the LCMS.

    Thanks again for sending me your email.

    In His service,

    Kurt Krueger
    President, Concordia University Irvine

  19. According to the Dec. 11th article:

    “After we asked around, faculty (who were pretty tight-lipped about the whole affair) let it slip that various professors expressed their concerns to the school’s administration about having hired a non-Christian. And what was the response to these conscientious objectors? They were first ignored, and then rebuffed. That’s right, the administration actually hardened their decision to bring Faraji on board CUI’s faculty.”

    Yet on Jan. 4th we are told that President Krueger stated:

    During my interview with him, Dr. Faraji confessed to me that he believes that Jesus Christ is his Lord and Savior and through faith in Him all Christians receive the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and salvation.

    These two excerpts conflict with each other. Which one is true and which one is false? Did CUI hire a non-Christian, or did CUI hire a former non-Christian?

  20. Did BJS try to contact CUI administrators to get their perspective before publishing the article?  We seem to have done a lot of wheel spinning the past 3 weeks.

    I agree that the links in the article are alarming. I hope Dr Fajari has the opportunity to loudly and publicly confess his new faith in Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father.

  21. @John Rixe #74

    No contact was made prior to publishing this article. I personally have tried multiple times to contact the administration at CUI asking for a statement of clarification on this situation. If indeed this man has become a Christian (let’s not call “African Methodist Episcopal” orthodox), then we all can rejoice in that. I would assume fruits of repentance in such a case would be some kind of public statement recanting previous works which were contrary to the Christian Faith and are still used to undermine it.

    There is still the questions of when the conversion happened, before or after his hire, and what kind of relations there have been between administration and faculty, which could be rather troubling.

  22. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #75

    I would assume fruits of repentance in such a case would be some kind of public statement recanting previous works which were contrary to the Christian Faith and are still used to undermine it.

    Amen and Amen.  This is essential for credibility.

  23. @John Rixe #76
    Dear John,
    I do not think a public apology is “technically” required, this man does not have a call, like us pastors. He has spoken with his pastor I bet, and leadership it sounds like, now all we can and should do is take him for what he is by “his works” and expression of faith that he gives.

    I pray this young man follows the guide of the Holy Spirit and remains faithful to Christ, albeit, would be nice for him to be a catechized LCMS young man.

  24. As late as May 20, 2013, Dr. Salim Faraji, was being recognized as the co-founder of the Sacred Order of the Sons of Ra-Temple of Amen-Ra, and his presentations can be found in this Sacred Order of the Sons of Ra website.

    According to a September 3, 2015, I Have A Plan website about Rev. Dr. Salim Faraji:

    “He also presents a ministerial background having completed his Master of Divinity at the Claremont School of Theology and is currently a licensed preacher at Christ Our Redeemer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Irvine, CA and a practicing African Traditional Priest who has been initiated in the Akan traditions of Ghana, West Africa and the Sacred Order of the Sons of Ra-Temple of Amen-Ra, Los Angeles, CA.”

    According to an email from President Krueger, when interviewed Dr. Faraji, who is now in Ghana with eight Concordia graduate students, stated that he was a Christian. With these websites noted above, it is not clear when Dr. Faraji became a Christian.

    It does appear that at the same time he was a licensed preacher at an African Methodist Episcopal Church Faraji was a practicing pagan priest in the traditional Akan religion and the Sacred Order of the Sons of Ra Temple of Amen-Ra.

  25. This begs the question, even if he did become a Christian, why was he hired? Are there not LCMS people who could have filled this position? I want to hear a fuller explanation of exactly what he believes on such things a justification, holy communion, baptism, role of women in the church, etc.

  26. @Pastor Prentice #77

    Not an apology but a public witness (confession) of what he currently believes and what he condemns.  As Dr Strickert points out, there is plenty of current material available regarding Dr Fajari’s pagan teachings but nothing from him that I can find regarding his Christianity.  This is still very confusing.  Of course I accept the good comments from Dr Krueger at face value, but something (anything) directly from Fajari would do much to fix the overwhelmingly bad impressions we get from his internet material.  I join in your prayers for him.

  27. Hmm, don’t we also have a problem of not selecting ‘elders’ who are new converts? How well does Dr. Faraji understand Christianity? at least the Lutheran/LCMS doctrines… Things may be permissible, but NOT all things are beneficial. I applaud Dr. Faraji’s shedding of paganistc ways. But this still doesn’t pass the smell test. This wasn’t that good of a hire.

    Counter point would be VP Nabil Nour. He become LCMS and was a pastor for a good long time BEFORE he was elected 5th VP. He is established in our beliefs and can be entrusted to help lead our denomination.

  28. Dr. Krueger is a good man and a faithful LCMS Lutheran. I believe it is fair to wait until there is a more formal response from Concordia to alleviate any concerns some of us have concerning Dr. Faraji’s very recent pronouncements against our Lord occurring in several different forums. I too am glad if he has repented from his sinful views and has had the scales fall from his eyes.

  29. In a Facebook post from November 22, 2015 Faraji claimed that the Hebrews were “descendants of ethnic kingdoms indigenous to Africa”: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=998914713500941&id=100001472643748

    If he believes this, then he denies the historical veracity of the Bible, which states that the Israelites are descended from Abraham (who came from Ur of the Chaldeans) and were only in Egypt from the time of Joseph to that of Moses.

    Holding to views of the origin of the Israelites which contradict the Biblical record is outside the parameters of genuine Christian faith and belief.

  30. Here’s the thing…. regardless of whether he is a sterling LCMS Lutheran *at present*, as recently as less than three years ago he was promoting all kinds of vile and demonic beliefs. For sure if he has repented of such sins and false doctrine, praise God.

    But he is now put in such a position of leadership, including leading students in mission projects, after only *3* years. That’s not even the length of a traditional undergraduate program. My congregation’s youth confirmation program is longer. With all the anti-gospel writing this man has produced, I look forward to his providing, in very short order, what his current beliefs are in fact.

    Regardless of whether he is as confessional as Chemnitz, it is a very poor showing of the university to put such a man so new to the faith in such a leadership position, if or no other reason the offense it causes many.

  31. @Paul #84

    I don’t see anything about the Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) program that would require professors to be ordained. “You can choose to study and focus your experience in one of the following concentrations: International Development, International Business, Global Public Health, or International Education.” I don’t see that any of that requires professors to be ordained.

    From that description, I would surmise that he is NOT leading students on mission trips or teaching them theology.

    I do not, however, see the point of having an MAIS program at CUI.

  32. I realized in my response my brain worked at a quicker pace than my fingers typed. The thought I intended to share was based on this section of Krueger’s response:
    >Dr. Faraji is currently in Accra, Ghana, with eight Concordia graduate students, assisting them in their internships and coursework. In Ghana, Dr. Faraji is being assisted and supported by Dr. Paul Finn, the president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana, a churchbody in fellowship with the LCMS.
    >
    My intention was to say:
    But he is now put in such a position of leadership, including leading students overseas, regardless of whether that is in mission projects or in painting dorm rooms, after only *3* years. I don’t believe that is enough time for some one to be point in a leading position of any kind, especially considering his anti-Christian views of only three years ago.

    I was NOT intending to say his position ought be filled by an LCMS clergyman. But it ought be filled by someone with more that a rudimentary concept of Biblical truth, especially given his leadership of students.

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