NEWS – An Open Letter from Concordia University, Portland. Queer Straight Alliance now chartered as club on campus.

A new “Open Letter” has hit the web today.

It’s an open letter from Concordia Portland President Schlimpert to the “Concordia Community” in which he states that the Queer-Straight Alliance charter has been approved and several new steps towards inclusiveness are being introduced.

The letter concludes with: “We look forward to furthering Concordia’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, fulfilling our ongoing mission to prepare leaders for the transformation of society“.  Think about that language in relation to the measures that are now policy at this Concordia.  How does it relate to the “common goal” expressed by the Concordia University System of:

While each institution is unique, all 10 campuses approach learning from a Lutheran context. The common goal is to develop Christian leaders for the church, community and world.

I want to know the Lutheran context that allows for this approach to learning at Concordia Portland.

Steadfast covered this all the way back in 2010.  Since then much has happened, including the charter being removed and now being granted again.

Here is the text of the new “Open Letter”:

As a Christian university, in the spirit of respect, love, and humility, Concordia University-Portland accepts the charter as proposed by the Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) club. We remain committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we support all students, particularly people from groups who have historically been marginalized.

In addition to the approval of the charter, the university will immediately take the following steps:

  • Enhance our equity initiatives by dedicating a safe space program, with staffing, for LGBTQ+ students.
  • Invite all members of the QSA club to meet in person with the president.
  • Facilitate trainings in supporting LGBTQ+ students for all faculty, staff and administration.
  • Convene a diverse group of community and church leaders to foster a sustained dialogue around LGBTQ+ issues.
  • Re-open the discussion around the club and events policy.

We look forward to furthering Concordia’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, fulfilling our ongoing mission to prepare leaders for the transformation of society.

Charles Schlimpert, Ph.D.
President

Now compare that with these statements of Synod available on the Concordia University System:

Higher Education: Statement of Purpose (1986 Convention)

The colleges, universities and seminaries of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod exist to supply the higher education services needed to accomplish the mission of the church.

Strongly committed to the Lutheran concept of vocation, synodical colleges and universities are liberal arts institutions which provide a Christ-centered spiritual and value-oriented environment for men and women who will be Christians in the church and in secular occupations.

The objectives of the Synod include the recruitment and education of professional church workers. Therefore, central to the system of synodical higher education is the preparation of those who are called to serve through preaching, teaching and related vocations. Professional preparation for the pastoral ministry is the special assignment of the Synod’s seminaries.

Concordia University System: Mission and Purpose (1992)

Concordia University System builds national identity, enables cooperative endeavors and enhances the strength of the colleges and universities of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod as they engage students of diverse ages and cultures in quality, Christ-centered, value-oriented, Lutheran higher education for lives of service to church and community.

Goals:

To transmit Lutheran values more effectively.
To provide enhanced quality education to college students.
To attain efficiencies in operation of the campuses.
To capitalize the schools and System.

Here is the Lutheran Identity Statement of 2014 that Concordia Portland has signed onto:

Lutheran Identity Standards for CUS Institutions (2014)

As educational institutions of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the colleges and universities of the Concordia University System confess the faith of the Church. The Concordias uphold the teachings of sacred Scripture and its articulation in the Lutheran Confessions. This includes the biblical teaching that Jesus Christ — true God and true man — is the sole way to God’s mercy and grace; that at the beginning of time the Triune God created all things; that life is sacred from conception to natural death; and that marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred gift of God’s creative hand — over against the reductionistic assumptions of many in our culture who view men and women as only transitory and material beings.

As educational institutions of the LCMS, the Concordias are committed to providing an excellent, robust curriculum in the liberal arts and professional studies, which together equip students for various vocations of service to church and society. As C.F.W. Walther wrote, “As long as and wherever the Christian church flourished, it always and everywhere proved itself to be a friend and cultivator of all good arts and sciences, gave its future servants a scholarly preparatory training, and did not disdain to permit its gifted youth at its schools of higher learning to be trained by the standard products of even pagan art and science.” [i]

Accordingly, the colleges and universities of the Concordia University System affirm and promise to uphold these identity standards:

Identity statements
The institution’s mission statement (and/or vision statement) clearly identifies it as a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) institution, as do the institution’s primary print and electronic publications.

Governing board
All of the institution’s regents are active members in good standing of LCMS congregations (Bylaw 3.10.5.2 – 4).[ii]

Senior leadership
The president and the senior leaders over academics, student life, admissions and athletics are active members in good standing of LCMS congregations, and all faithfully participate in worship and religious activities on campus and in their local congregations.

Faculty
Each tenure track or continuing-level faculty search is given optimal exposure among members of congregations of the LCMS to identify faculty who are qualified in their respective academic disciplines and are members of LCMS congregations.

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.

The institution has an ongoing faculty and staff development program required of all faculty, senior administrators and senior staff members that clearly explains the tenets of LCMS higher education and what it means to be a faculty, administrator or staff member at a CUS institution. Adjunct or part-time faculty members engage in a similar faculty development program that likewise explains the fundamental tenets of LCMS higher education and what it means to be a part-time faculty member at an LCMS institution.

Theology faculty
All theology faculty (full-time and part-time) are active members in good standing of LCMS congregations and fully affirm the theological confession of the LCMS. As the LCMS Bylaws indicate, all full-time theology faculty receive prior approval from the CUS Board of Directors before being appointed or called (Bylaw 3.6.6.1).

Academic freedom and responsibility
All full-time faculty acknowledge their acceptance of the CUS statement of Academic Freedom and Responsibilities. All faculty, both full- and part-time, pledge to perform their duties in harmony with Scripture, the Confessions and the Synod’s doctrinal statements (Bylaw 3.10.5.6.2).

Faith and learning
In accordance with the doctrine of the two kingdoms, all faculty strive to faithfully bring Lutheran theology into interaction with their various academic disciplines while respecting the integrity of those disciplines. Likewise, in other campus arenas, faculty, staff and administrators will seek to apply Lutheran theology within their campus vocations.

Required theology courses
The institution requires two to three theology courses for an undergraduate degree, typically in Old Testament, New Testament and Christian doctrine. Because these courses are directly related to the theological identity of CUS institutions and to the identity formation of graduates, these theology courses will normally be taken at a CUS institution. Exceptions to this will be approved by the institution’s called theological faculty.

Preparation of church workers
The institution provides resources to recruit, form, nurture and place students preparing for professional church work in the LCMS (e.g., pre-seminary, pre-deaconess, deaconess, Lutheran teachers, DCEs, DCOs, DPMs, etc.). Specific programs vary by campus.

Campus ministry
The institution offers regular opportunities for worship that reflect the confession of the church. Faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to participate in these services. The institution calls a campus pastor or chaplain, who is a Minister of Religion—Ordained of the LCMS, who oversees the worship life of the community, organizes opportunities for Christian service and witness, and provides pastoral care for students.

Assessment of institutional commitment to Lutheran identity

Each institution will submit an annual written report to the CUS Board of Directors describing, with evidence, how the institution meets the 10 Lutheran Identity Standards. The report will be endorsed by each respective Board of Regents and will be shared with the campus community.

October 18, 2014

_____________________

[i] Walther, C.F.W., “Forward to the 1875 Volume: Are We Guilty of Despising Scholarship,” in Selected Writings of C.F.W. Walther: Editorials from “Lehre und Wehre,” trans. August R. Suelflow (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1981), Pages 124-125.

[ii] For purposes of clarity, this document is using “member” inclusively to include both laypersons whose membership is in a local congregation and called ministers of the Gospel who are themselves members of Synod.

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.

Comments

NEWS – An Open Letter from Concordia University, Portland. Queer Straight Alliance now chartered as club on campus. — 69 Comments

  1. @Martin R. Noland #11

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Here are some more thoughts added to my comment #11 above. I did some reading today in the 2016 Convention Proceedings on the topic of University Education (pp. 171-177). I remembered from that convention that synod adopted some excellent resolutions pertaining to the problems related to the CU-Portland issue.

    Res. 7-01A was adopted (pro 927; con 43) to adopt a Lutheran identity statement that covers just above every imaginable area where Lutheran and Christian identity impacts campus life and study. Dec. 1, 2017 was the first deadline for the mandated annual report from each board of regents to the Concordia University System Board (CUS) and President of Synod on this subject. I didn’t see anything in this Resolution that specifically addressed the matters of campus life, such as clubs, except that under “Faith and Learning” it states “faculty, staff, and administration will seek to apply Lutheran theology within their campus vocations.” So whatever members of the faculty, staff, and administration approved this club, they would be in violation of their agreement under Resolution 7-01A.

    Resolution 7-02A (pro 731; con 48) addressed governance structures and specifically approved a bylaw revision that states “Boards of regents may meet as a “committee of the whole” with advisory groups (e.g., a foundation board; the CUS board) to seek input, but no votes shall be taken at such meetings.” (i.e., Bylaw 1.1.1.2.9). This appears to address the complaint I heard a number of years ago (mentioned above) that the CU-Portland Foundation board was meeting with the Regents and votes were taken during such meetings. So–maybe–that practice at CU-P has been discontinued. I hope so!

    Resolution 7-03A (pro 768; con 38) strengthened the authority of the CUS with respect to the individual colleges, and notes that the CUS board will “assist the President of the Synod in monitoring and promoting the ongoing faithfulness of Concordia University System colleges and universities to Article II of the Constitution of the Synod” (i.e., bylaw 3.6.6.5 (g) ). So I expect that CUS board members will be investigating the CU-Portland issues, and reporting their findings to the president of the synod, and eventually to the synod at large.

    Therefore, if anyone has information that would be helpful to the CUS board at this time with regard to the situation at Concordia, Portland, please send it to the CUS, care of Dr. Dean Wenthe, President of the CUS. I am sure that, in time, Dr. Wenthe and CUS will be giving us a full report of the situation at Portland and what CUS intends to do about it.

    Resolution 7-02B notes that one of the reasons for these resolutions was the secularization of Concordia College, Edmonton, Alberta in 2012 and 2015. The three resolutions I have outlined were intended by the convention in 2016 to prevent that sort of loss.

    Our Concordias are worth keeping. They are the results of decades of donations by laymen, personal sacrifices by faculty and staff, and they have many alumni today–with bonds of good will–throughout the USA. It can take over a century to create a college of any effect or significance. We should not “let them go” just because of one wimpy administrator, one erring faculty member, etc. We should not “let them go” without a legal fight to retain what we can retain for future educational outreach in that region.

    Our colleges are classified as “regional universities” by those who classify colleges. If we lose Portland, what is left for Lutheran youth of that region? If we have to pare down a college or two, in size, in offerings, or whatever, in order to make them financially viable AND doctrinally orthodox, then let’s do that! But let’s not lose them entirely. They are too big of a capital asset, too big of a pedagogical asset (i.e., the faculties), and too big of a “good-will” and cultural asset to lose entirely. That may be a big task, but we are a big synod, and always have had big aspirations. Are we going to “wimp out” now, just because of one administrator’s failure to do his duty for his church?

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  2. @Martin R. Noland #50

    I’m not sure ALL of the “Concordias” are worth keeping.
    Seems like we’ve had un-Lutheran news from Portland long enough to realize it isn’t LCMS oriented. [elca, maybe]

  3. Extended patience in the defense of false doctrine is no virtue. Extended patience in the defense of sin is no virtue, either.

  4. This is the perfect time to take bold action and actually fix the problem in the LCMS. Most of the colleges in the Concordia University System are LINO (Lutheran in name only). For example, beside Portland; Bronxville, Selma, Austin and others are really LINO colleges. Close down all but one or two colleges. Make them truly church worker colleges. Discard all other unnecessary degrees and offerings (e.g. nursing, business, etc.) Have them train church works and customize the course offerings that will truly reflect a strong Lutheran course offering. The synod needs to commit to the one or two remaining Concordias and provide financial support to make college education of church workers affordable.

  5. There is a need for a good, solid Lutheran education in secular subjects. I think the idea that we should retreat when we are to storm the gates is misplaced. It also seems to stem from the idea that only if a person has a career in church work, is his life’s work a calling. I disagree with that, because anything we do that is honorable and done for the glory of God is a calling. We serve Him also by doing any activity that helps us to be stewards of the earth, to use our minds to learn and discover, and so forth. I say emphatically that we should not retreat. Let’s replace the administrations of those drifting colleges with solid, faithful people.

  6. @GaiusKurios #53

    There was a time when I would have agreed with this approach. It was between 20 and 30 years ago when I was a student at one of our Concordias. At the time, the desire to expand offerings and diversify in search of the almighty dollar to promote institutional security and stability was at its height. I had run-ins at that time with the administration over the issue.

    But times have changed, drastically.

    The problem at our Concordias is not the expanded course offerings. In fact, in many ways, this could be a, “What men did out of a faithless desire to seek worldly stability for the colleges, God will use for the good of society and the glory of the Gospel,” type thing.

    The fact is that the philosophy and underlying worldview of an institution will always be reflected in the teaching that occurs.

    The real problem with our Concordias is that in some cases it appears that the underlying Christian view of the world and the social and ethical distinctives that derive from it have been undermined and in that sense, our faith has been “hidden under a bushel.”

    It is fear and faithlessness that causes us to shrink back from expressing our Lutheran and Christian distinctiveness in the world that eschews these things. Fear and faithlessness causes us to attempt to preserve the worldly/man-made institutions that we have created instead of using them to accomplish the purposes for which God entrusted them to us. This was the concern with the trajectory I saw as a student in the 1990’s. It has continued and is bearing the fruit which has given rise to this discussion.

    However, in the current socio-political context, retreating is not an option.

    IF we are to the point where we are unwilling to let our light so shine before men that they will see our good works and glorify God, then the Concordias ought to be shut down. But there no benefit to retreating to a position of only offering church worker programs. It will merely delay the inevitable and signifies surrender. If we are going to take that route, I believe we should simply shutter the entire enterprise – from the International Center through the Seminaries through the Colleges. If we are going to retreat in this way, we would do better to disband the corporation that is the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod and call it a night. At least we would be honest with ourselves – – we have given up the fight.

    Merely consolidating in an effort to strengthen the financial stability and longevity of the institutions is merely another way to idolize the institution. It does not address the real issues that give rise to the problems we are seeing. Ultimately, a consolidation and focus on only church-work vocations will cause an intensification of the very temptations that led to the current circumstance.

    Insulating ourselves and pulling back from society will be a clear indication that WE, OURSELVES, have stopped seeing the Christian worldview as relevant to the other programs and disciplines that are taught at our schools – just at the time when the world needs to see and know that our faith DOES impact how the doctor, and the lawyer, and the physical therapist, and the nurse, and the accountant, and all the other vocations and careers our students will embark upon. Christianity changes how we approach those things. It isn’t a mere “addon,” and it certainly isn’t something that should be perceived as separate from every-day life. Christianity is fundamental to how we view the world and engage in the everyday tasks of life.

    While it may seem a little harsh, we have to face facts and attempt to see clearly the landscape. We can no longer avoid the truths spoken by Jesus that, “A bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good.” And, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

    If we are hearing blasphemies and all manner of support for what God calls evil affirmed, supported, and promoted by those who have been given the authority by our beloved Synod to administer the affairs of her official institutions, it is a reflection of the reality that we have not been careful and discerning with regard to whom we give the authority to administer those affairs.

    If we continue to think in worldly terms and focus on outward glory and success, the size of our membership, the financial viability and organizational strength of our institutions; If we continue to decide on who should be entrusted with authority on the basis of the number of degrees a person holds and the things that the world acclaims as important markers of “success,”; if we continue to ignore and deny the importance of the things that God says are the fruit of faith; things like humility, care and attention to the current vocation and calling a person has (i.e., faithfulness), peace, gentleness, self-control, those who show by their life that they have crucified the flesh with it’s passions and desires; if we continue to look highly upon those who by their affect, demeanor, their “Type-A” peronality, etc. show that they are glory seekers and “career groomers” and not faithful servants; if we continue to appoint those who fail to see that they are under a yoke not to a board, not to a committee, not to the people they need to please in order to get re-elected or re-appointed, but rather know that they are under a yoke to Christ to do His work and His will ACCORDING TO HIS WORD; if we continue to seek after the outward health and well-being of the organizations and man-made institutions rather than USING those institutions as instruments in our efforts to seek first the Kingdom of God and living according to the righteousness that He bestows, trusting that He will supply all that is necessary to accomplish His purposes out of his great abundance;

    IF WE DO THESE THINGS…. then, we will continue to see the types of circumstances at CUP as well as the recent fiasco over a prominent journal article grow in number and compound in complexity as our beloved Synod, her members, and the members of her congregations, bear the judgement of God and our once faithful Synod becomes marginalized in God’s work of the Gospel and our lampstand is ultimately removed.

    These circumstances as well as the ongoing bickering and infighting we experience as wolves in sheep’s clothing continue to come among us and instigate division by departing from the pattern of sound words and those who seek to “start new” in addition to our continued efforts to coddle those who stubbornly refuse to submit to the clear teachings of God’s Word as we “discuss” their viewpoints while judgment is held in abayance; these things are only the outward surface indications that we are in a battle for the very soul of our Synod.

    It is only by God’s Grace that our lampstand has not already been removed. It is hopefully not too late for Him to cast out the Ashirim and altars to Baal that have been set up in our midst and restore us to Himself without sending in the Babylonians, or worse, the Assyrians.

    But in all of this we need to realize where many of those Ashirim and altars reside – they not only reside in the board rooms and back rooms of our institutions – they not only reside in the hearts of others with whom we disagree. The fact is, they reside in our own heart and are clung to by our own minds. As we pray for God to remove them, we also pray against ourselves, that our own heart and mind would be changed and we would be enlivened in faith to dig in and do the hard work that lies ahead as we seek to be faithful, even unto death.

    Until we are willing to pray in this way against ourselves and our own idols with a willingness to apply ourselves to the hard work which God puts into our hands – unless and until we, ourselves, are willing to submit to Him and His will where He shows us we have been wrong change our own course of action, we have no reason to expect any other change to occur either.

  7. @M. Dent #56

    You wrote in response to Gaius Kurios –

    But there (is) no benefit to retreating to a position of only offering church worker programs. It will merely delay the inevitable and signifies surrender. If we are going to take that route, I believe we should simply shutter the entire enterprise – from the International Center through the Seminaries through the Colleges.

    You may request of Norm Fisher – my e-mail addy – if you would like to take any discussion out of the “public” realm, as it were.

    What I highlighted above is at the heart of matters. But as I read and re-read, I did not see a solution forthcoming in what you wrote. Perhaps I was a bit dull and simply missed it . . . my bad . . . please forgive me . . .

    The “Concordia’s” are both a blessing, and a potential curse, as Portland’s recent actions show. That my boots were on the ground in the ’70’s, A2 in the early 80’s and the Fort from ’82-’86 notwithstanding, I would hate to see a reversion to nothing but church workers colleges. We are, or should be, far better than that in providing for all of the young adults in our midst – especially in this present cultural milieu.

    But I do hold that we are spread too far and wide. And – it being to our doctrinal detriment, as Good Brother Noland pointed out. The nonsense at CUP is just that – nonsense. Yet the question hangs in the air – what to do?

    I would hold Schlimpert needs to retire, or move on. And if the DP will not step up, per his Divine Call, and correct matters proactively and at once, SP Harrison should. This is not a moment for schwaffling. Let CongMat prattle on – I am not concerned for the then SP’s butt-hurt in getting waxed on 7/13/10. I am concerned for the Concordia’s, and our young people.

    Is Father Noland correct? Yes. Is brother Gaius? I confess one would find it hard not to lean in that direction, but as I thought it all through – not all our young folk are, or will be, “called” to serve the Church officially, but they can/should be “in the atmosphere,” nonetheless. For a host of reasons!

    Should a few be closed, as suggested by Fr. Noland? Yes. I know there are those losing money and being subsidized by the others. Subsidizing those which are internally under-funded is not in and of itself a bad thing – but when one of the Concordia’s is intentionally driven off the rails, as in this case, the response must be immediate, and drastic to the same extent as is this major breach in fellowship and doctrine.

    Culturally, the whole alphabet soup of sexual aberrations is a matter of fact. But that is not the present issue. What must be done about Portland – is.

    And it need not be, nor should it be, enmeshed in all of the usual convention resolutions which – in a congregational polity, often bog matters down. The mechanisms are there to deal with Portland as needs to be done. I agree with Gaius that this is a good time to examine the whole system. I most vigorously disagree with CongMat and their whole agenda – they are divisive, and the reasons many for not wanting them in the mix at all – especially given their most recent “problems” online. I am trying to put the best construction on all of that, but the timeline they present simply ain’t working!

    So, I ask – “What is – specifically – your proposed solution?”

    Pax Domini –

    Rev Jeff Baxter
    Pastor Em.

  8. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Just to make clear, in my previous comments on this blog post, I was not advocating or suggesting that we close ANY Concordia university or college. I was suggesting that some of them may need to be restructured, in order to assure that they are financially viable and theologically orthodox. Such restructuring may involve “paring them down”, i.e, reducing what each school offers in terms of degrees, majors, and programs.

    A long, long time ago (20 years or so), I suggested in a LOGIA FORUM article that instead of making all the CUS schools four-year institutions, that some could better serve the synod and community by being two-year liberal arts schools, providing lower-division (freshman and sophomore) transferable requirements for the state schools in which they are incorporated, as well as whatever church-work training the CUS might determine they would best at. This proposal was ignored, though I had at least one private-and-heated rebuttal by a CUS administrator. CUS has, as a rule, let each college offer whatever church-worker training program, degree, or program that it wants.

    My concern at the time, and still is, that the financial numbers don’t add up. I looked at the synod’s budget and assets and revenues, also the same for the CUS schools, based on the existing Statistical Handbooks, Convention Workbooks and Proceedings (available conveniently for me at CU-River Forest, while I served neighboring Oak Park at the time).

    I then asked myself the question, based on existing numbers of church-worker students and LC-MS liberal arts students, what the cost would be to educate them (in mid 1990s dollars), and then compared that with existing sources of funding. My conclusion was that if all the schools were four-year colleges, there was no way that they could exist without either constant deficit spending (then either going broke or having to be bailed out by synod or districts) OR passing the costs onto students and parents, resulting in tuition, fees, room, and board far above public colleges, and even above the median for private colleges and prestige universities. The actual result, twenty years later, is the latter.

    If some or most of the schools were two-year (as was the case before the early 1980s), then the colleges could operate more or less “in the black” and the costs to students and parents would be about the same level as public colleges.

    I have no idea how this would all work out now, since I have not kept up with the numbers. But it is obvious that synod has recognized the problem with church-worker student debt in recent convention resolutions, but it has not done anything to reduce the debt problem at its source.

    The other option to “paring down” offerings at each school is to simply reduce the number of schools. That would then force students who don’t live in the Midwest to go to school there, because our Midwest schools are the most viable ones. I don’t like that option and never have, not because I don’t like the Midwest (I love it!!! Go Cubbies! Go Cards!) but because it is a move backwards for many synodical regions. I am originally from (and now returned to) the West Coast, where Lutheranism is hardly known and definitely misunderstood by the general populace. We need at least one college in each region, even if it is small, if we and our college-paying-parents can afford it.

    Just to make clear, that I am not in favor of closing any Concordia University school, unless it is clear that it is financially non-viable. Everything else simply requires fixing.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  9. @jb #57

    I don’t want to be perceived as ignoring your question, but I will need to be brief in my response.

    The reason you didn’t perceive a “solution,” is because, frankly, I didn’t offer one. At least not a tidy simple solution in the way that we Americans like to solve problems.

    I did hint at one of the major problems we have in our thinking and actions as “members” of Synod that has contributed to the problem – namely – the politicizing of churchly offices and a worldly mentality of “success” when it comes to dealing with matters of church organization which includes seeking after “fix-it” type “solutions”.

    My contention is that, unless and until we are ready to deal with that reality in repentance and a change of heart, mind and action, anything we do will be a band-aid approach.

    As to what I believe should/must/ought to be done or changed in order to be considered faithful stewards of God’s gracious and bounteous gift of the 10 colleges and 2 seminaries, I’m wise enough to know that sitting behind a keyboard in front of a computer screen, it is not a part of my vocation and I lack the information necessary to propose any sort of realistic “fix.”

    At the same time, I also know that our current patterns of action and behavior have produced a situation where statements which bear little resemblance to the truths of Holy Scripture being spoken, written, and otherwise promulgated by those whom WE, collectively, through the processes and policies of our Synod and the decisions WE have made and allowed to be made in our name, have placed into office – and that for this we will be called to account.

    What’s more, I fear that, just as the faithlessness of Israel cost them the earthly kingdom which God had promised on oath to Abraham, the price to be paid for our own lack of faithful administration of these great and glorious gifts of God may very well be the continuation of the man-made institution of our beloved Synod and her related organizations, at least in any way that is of use and utility to God and His work of the salvation of souls which must remain our utmost priority.

    (and yes… for me, that’s brief. LOL)

  10. I simply can’t wrap my brain around the idea that a four year college would experience much heavier expenses for each course than a two year college. I also don’t think we should abandon the students halfway through their degree. Perhaps you can explain this.

  11. @M. Dent #59

    MD – Never, ever mention, nor apologize, for NOT being brief to a preacher! LOL

    Thank you for your response. Well put. We are the Church Militant, and will remain so until Our Lord’s glorious return. It is what it is.

    Brother Martin – forgive me for putting words in your mouth. My bad.

  12. @Pat #60

    Dear Pat,

    The key factor in weighing expenses versus revenue in colleges is the student per faculty ratio. Lower division (freshman and sophomore) courses that are required for all students, or for many majors, have a larger number of students per class. Upper division courses (junior and senior) that are elective, or available only to students in those majors, have fewer numbers of students per class.

    Any college student or graduate who has attended a large public college since the 1950s can tell you that most of their lower division courses were in classes of 100 to 300 students. Most of their upper division courses were in classes of 5 to 20 students. A little bit of math will tell you that the college receives 20 times as much revenue to offer the lower division course with 100 students compared to the upper division course with 5 students, and its cost is about the same, i.e., one professor.

    Many colleges and universities have stretched their profit-margin even farther by having graduate students teach the lower division courses, because graduate students are paid MUCH LESS than tenured faculty. It keeps everyone happy, because the university gets more money, graduate students get a prestigious teaching job even before their degree, most of the students don’t know any better, and the tenured faculty don’t have to grade so many papers or interact with so many lower classmen. I believe the US graduate students rebelled in recent years, and maybe unionized, so we will see how that goes.

    As to abandoning the students half-way through their degree, that is not at all my intent. Students would be counseled in the application process to decide what “track” they will take. If they are deciding to be an LCMS teacher, then they sign up for the Concordia Teacher Track and later take the upper division courses at a four-year Concordia in another state. They then move through the “system” with their cohort of future teachers. If they are deciding to be in a non-church-work major, then they sign up for the Liberal Arts track (often called the College of Arts and Sciences in some schools) and later take the upper division courses at a four-year public college in the same state. This is pretty much the system that the LCMS had in place before the 1980s, when it converted all of its schools to four-year schools, plus adding Masters degrees at former two-year schools (Masters degrees are even more expensive, due to the student-faculty ratio).

    Obviously, the Liberal Arts track would mean that the two-year Concordia will not be able to offer a track to every major offered in the public colleges. But if CUS were to go with this plan, it could distribute its offering of majors across all of its campuses. So, let’s say, Irvine could offer an engineering track, Seward could offer an agriculture track, Chicago could a offer business track, and Bronxville could offer a marketing track.

    Frankly, I don’t believe that my plan would work politically, so I am only explaining it, not trying to get it adopted. I got so much grief when I originally proposed it twenty years ago that I gave up on it, almost immediately. One CUS Administrator told me in response to my LOGIA FORUM article, “You will never teach in a CUS school, and I will make sure of it!” Teaching at a CUS school was never my dream or intention, though I might have considered it if I was called. I just wanted our schools to be affordable and to have the maximal religious impact on the synod and their regional communities.

    I hope this helps a bit! 🙂

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  13. Dear JB,

    No problem brother. It is very easy to get confused when you follow a long train of comments. I often get “derailed” myself. Sorry, bad pun! 🙂

    Thanks for your faithfulness, JB!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  14. What is so difficult about this? Suspend them, students and admin alike. Some will repent, some will not.

  15. Because this is a reflection of the lack of church discipline in our Synod’s congregations. Why should we be at all surprised? At the root of it all is lack of love..

  16. I’m not a fan of the idea of “paring down” the selection of degrees offered, nor am I a fan of trying to make the Concordia University System simply a pipeline for future church workers. Seems like an extremely narrow scope that will neither accomplish the mission to prepare for lives of service to church and community, nor will it keep them financially solvent, or even doctrinally sound. In my opinion, we need faithful Christians in both the secular vocations and in vocations supporting the church. We can do both. A couple things need to happen, I agree that discipline needs to be exercised where university administrative leadership chooses to violate the scriptures to serve the state. One of the uncomfortable questions we may need to be asking ourselves though is whether the synod and our membership provides adequate financial resources so that the university is not beholden to a state that is becoming more and more hostile to our confession of faith. I don’t know the answer to the question, but it needs to be asked.

    I am also curious as to case law regarding this type of issue. Will have to do some digging. It sounds like initially the CU-Portland had cracked down on the activity and then backed off. Does anyone have an inside track on what kind of legal advice may have been given over this? I have to assume that came into play. Just curious.

  17. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    As to my twenty-year old proposal for the CUS schools mentioned in my comments above, I finally found the citation. It is: Martin R. Noland, “Whither Concordia?” LOGIA 6 no. 3 (Trinity 1997): 71-72.

    Back issues are no longer available of that issue, either in print or electronic format. I see that the CD containing all issues is also no longer available, but I think that is because the editors or Luther Academy are planning to issue it in the 25 year format, but I won’t say that for sure.

    As to the matter of “church discipline,” first you need to remember that disciplinary authority has been distributed in our church-body among the president and middle-level supervisors. Unlike the Pope, the LC-MS President cannot step directly into the middle of a problem in just any agency, organization, congregation, or school in our fellowship, or hold just anyone personally accountable for heresy or malpractice. He has a defined circle of officers and agencies that he holds accountable directly. All the others are under other mid-level supervisors or boards.

    Second, the issue of what to do when those mid-level supervisors or boards do not uphold the doctrine of the synod was highly contested at the 2016 convention. Until 1989, the President of the Synod could step in when there was failure of mid-level supervisors to act or to act properly in matters of doctrine. From 1989 to 2004, the Praesidium (Presidents and 5 VPs) did this as a group. In 2004, the provision for the review of mid-level supervisors’ doctrinal discipline by the upper-level supervisors (President or Praesidium) was removed entirely. I might remind you that this vacating of upper-level authority (i.e., national or synod authority) in matters of doctrine happened during the tenure of President Kieschnick.

    This issue of doctrinal oversight was the “big drama” of at the 2016 convention. The final result was Resolution #12-14, which was unanimously supported by every member of the Council of Presidents (COP), as was stated by the COP Chairman, the Rev. Ken Hennings. But since that time, the website “Congregations Matter” has reported that three district presidents have expressed their opposition to Resolution #12-14 in writing. So the politics go on, and on, and on, led by a few district presidents who do not appear to be in agreement with the national convention.

    On this issue of doctrinal discipline and the role of the synod president, I highly recommend an upcoming article in the Lutheran Clarion authored by District President John Wille, titled “A White Paper on 2016 LCMS Resolution #12-14 ….” It gives all the data, authorities, and history that I can’t give in a short comment like this. I think it is the paper he gave to the LCA conference last week and will be in the March 2018 issue. Once published it will be available for free online here: http://www.lutheranclarion.org

    I hope this helps a bit.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  18. Number of times LGBTQ is mentioned in the Open Letter: 3.
    Number of times Father, Son or Holy Ghost is mentioned: 0.

    Has something been replaced?

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