A majority of the board of regents of Concordia University Texas, under the leadership and influence of the board chairman and the university president, threw off the control, doctrine, and ownership of the university by LCMS on November 8, 2022. Without authority, they amended the university’s governing documents, denied any control of the synod’s school by the synod, denied the right of the synod to elect and appoint members to the board of regents, and declared that they alone would determine the extent to which they would retain the doctrine of the synod.
This past summer, the synod in convention overwhelmingly adopted Resolution 7-03, “To Call Concordia University Texas Leadership to Repentance,” Today’s Business, First Edition, 68th Regular Convention, pp. 139-141, which says:
Resolved, That the Synod in convention affirm CCM Op. 23-3006 in its entirety; and be it further
Resolved, That the Synod in convention affirmatively conclude that the CTX BOR members who voted in favor of the April 4, 2023 action that affirmed the CTX BOR’s purported separation have acted in direct conflict with the Constitution and Bylaws, as well as CCM Op. 23-3006; and be it further
Resolved, That the Synod in convention affirmatively conclude that the CTX president and those CTX administrators who have advocated for and supported the purported separation have acted in direct conflict with the Constitution and Bylaws; and be it further
Resolved, That the Synod in convention encourage the appropriate ecclesiastical supervisors to investigate and to determine any appropriate disciplinary action that should be taken against the CTX president and any member of the CTX BOR who is a rostered church worker; and be it further
Resolved, That the Synod in convention encourage the President of the Synod, LCMS BOD, the CUS and its board, and the appropriate district presidents to take all appropriate actions to address this situation; and be it further
Resolved, That the Synod in convention call upon the CTX president, those CTX administrators who have advocated for and supported the purported separation, and the CTX BOR to submit to the governance of the Synod as laid out in the Constitution and Bylaws; and be it further
Resolved, That the Synod in convention call upon the CTX president, those CTX administrators who have advocated for and supported the purported separation, and the CTX BOR to repent for having broken the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Commandments, and to apologize publicly for the illegitimate and wrongful purported separation; and be it finally
Resolved, That the President of Synod stand prepared to grant holy absolution to those who repent and want to do better by rescinding their actions resulting in reconciliation and restoration.
In Lutheran theology, the Fourth Commandment is the fount of temporal authority. Father and mother are the archetype of authority. The synod is the parental organization in relation to the university. For the university to throw off synodical authority is like a rebellious child against his or her father and mother. A sustained and relentless rebellion reaches the scale of an incorrigible child. We find these teachings especially in the Small Catechism and the Large Catechism, but also in many other confessional and theological writings of the Lutheran church.
In Lutheran theology, theft is not only a taking of another’s property by outright robbery in the street. It also happens by a fine show of right through crafty legal papers and courtroom arguments. Luther teaches how swivel-chair robbers prevail in the temporal realm. They
dress and adorn everything so that the law must favor their side. They keep the property with such title that no one can complain or lay claim to it. … [The property] is awarded … and confirmed with deed and seal and declared to have been acquired by princely title and honesty.”
Show, semblance, and pretense can be based on amended articles of incorporation, revised bylaws, and deed language or silence, particularly when those amendments, revisions, and omissions are not authorized by the principal’s directions. Well does Luther call this “swivel-chair robbery.” He says under the Seventh Commandment in the Large Catechism:
Some are also called swivel-chair robbers, not picklocks and burglars [who] snatch away easy money, but they sit on the chair at home and are styled great noblemen and honorable, pious citizens. They rob and steal in a way assumed to be good [or, under a good pretext].
Thus, moral theft can escape secular legal consequences. But it is moral theft nevertheless.
Concordia University Texas illustrates what Luther teaches. It has filed a complaint in Texas state court seeking a declaration that it is free of the authority of its parent synodical organization, that it alone chooses its regents, and that it alone absolutely owns all the property of the university with no equitable or reversionary interest in the synod. You can access and read a copy of the complaint at this link. The endnote lists my essays and interviews about the context leading up to the filing of the complaint.
On one level, it is a finely crafted complaint. It is minimal, superficially sufficient, and thus appears obvious. Let us recall Proverbs 18:17.
The first one to plead his cause seems right,
Until his neighbor comes and examines him.
We can call CTX’s complaint minimal. We can have a type of admiration for CTX’s wisdom in how it has pleaded its case, the type Jesus described for the unjust steward in Luke 16. He said, “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Injustice understands its generation and craftily maneuvers it. But under the standard of Proverbs 18:17 and the Eight Commandment, we also can call CTX’s complaint cherry picked. It is deception by half-truth, a breach of the Eight Commandment. It will be necessary for the synod’s answer to respond to the cherry picking that makes CTX’s complaint swivel-chair robbery, rebellion, and deception.
A concluding curiosity of the complaint is its lack of understanding of Lutheran theology and the constitution of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. We believe that Christ created the church and local congregations AND the office of public ministry to deliver the word of reconciliation. For example, see the explanation of the Third Article of the Creed in the Small Catechism (“even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers) and Article V of the Augsburg Confession (“That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted.”). Consistent with this theology, the members of the synod as an unincorporated association are not just the congregations as pleaded by CTX, but also the rostered clergy of the synod. Once more CTX exhibits is defection from Lutheran identity by omitting the clergy from being members of synod in its complaint. While complaining in its motion to dismiss the federal case that the synod has failed to join an indispensable party (Concordia University Texas Seeks to Avoid Federal Jurisdiction), it commits that very fault in its own case by omitting the rostered clergy.
 Concordia, 393-394.
 Concordia, 385, slightly altered in accord with Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans. F. Bente and W.H.T. Dau.
 I have written about the context leading up to this stage in the following essays and articles:
- The Sovereignty of Nebulous Ethos at Concordia Texas, Brothers of John the Steadfast, June 16, 2023.
- Two Simple Questions about Concordia Texas Throwing Off the Bylaws of the LCMS, Brothers of John the Steadfast, July 10, 2023.
- Supporting the CTX Rebellion: Is Congregations Matter Sleep Walking?, TRHalvorson.com, July 24, 2024.
- Fox Guarding the Henhouse at Concordia University Texas, TRHalvorson.com, July 28, 1023.
- Open Arms in Missouri, Brothers of John the Steadfast, August 1, 2023.
- Complaint Filed in LCMS v. Christian, Bannwolf & Concordia University Texas, Brothers of the John the Steadfast, September 7, 2023.
- LCMS v Concordia University Texas: Some Related Documents, September 12, 2023, Brothers of John the Steadfast, September 12, 2023.
- LCMS v. Christian, et al. and 1 Corinthians 6, Brothers of John the Steadfast, September 19, 2023.
Pastor Todd Wilken has interviewed me about the context leading up to this stage in the following episodes of Issues, Etc.
- 1731. An Attempt by Concordia University Texas to Reject the Governance and Oversight of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod – Tom Halvorson, 6/22/23.
- 1952. An Update on Concordia University Texas’ Attempt to Reject the Governance and Oversight of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod – Tom Halvorson, 7/14/23.
- 2123. The 68th Regular Convention of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod – Mark Stern & Tom Halvorson, 7/31/23.
- 2142. Votes at the 68th Regular Convention of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod about Concordia University Texas and the Concordia University System – Tom Halvorson, 8/2/23.