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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: pr dtp on May 28, 2017, 10:20:22 PM

Title: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: pr dtp on May 28, 2017, 10:20:22 PM
http://www.cu-portland.edu/news/message-concordia-university-portland%E2%80%99s-board-regents   
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Charles Austin on May 28, 2017, 10:39:44 PM
Our Doc Yak teaches there. Ask him.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on May 29, 2017, 08:10:13 AM
Interesting!  The request to consider independent status comes from the LCMS national board of directors.   My recollection is that this request has been made in the past by the board of regents of Concordia Portland, and was not granted.  So why the 180?

Several items in that consideration, I would think, include:
a) board structure and selection of board members - no more members chosen by the national LCMS convention
b) presidential selection - no more "prior approval panel" and mandatory participation by the national LCMS leadership
c) property - the property would be owned by the local college without (I guess) a "reversionary" clause whereby property after closure goes to the national LCMS
d) debt - debt is held completely locally - this impacts Line of Credit and loan arrangements; what about existing debt to the LCMS, if any?
e) call and roster status for workers - maybe if and as the college maintains some other status with the LCMS (RSO) that would be possible; otherwise calls would be (?) through the district in which the college is located

Thinking out loud, if there are few students who are in programs leading to LCMS roster status (ordained or commissioned) attending Concordia Portland, maybe the LCMS BOD is going toward a more mission/charter driven thematic for its colleges.  They were begun as pastor/teacher training institutions and have morphed substantially through the later 20th century.  Some, such as Seward, River Forest and Wisconsin, still have substantial church work enrollment.  Others don't.  It's fair if that's the background to allow for independence.  Of course, there are both financial and in some sense doctrinal considerations. 

Dave Benke

Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: John_Hannah on May 29, 2017, 11:03:14 AM
Interesting!  The request to consider independent status comes from the LCMS national board of directors.   My recollection is that this request has been made in the past by the board of regents of Concordia Portland, and was not granted.  So why the 180?

Several items in that consideration, I would think, include:
a) board structure and selection of board members - no more members chosen by the national LCMS convention
b) presidential selection - no more "prior approval panel" and mandatory participation by the national LCMS leadership
c) property - the property would be owned by the local college without (I guess) a "reversionary" clause whereby property after closure goes to the national LCMS
d) debt - debt is held completely locally - this impacts Line of Credit and loan arrangements; what about existing debt to the LCMS, if any?
e) call and roster status for workers - maybe if and as the college maintains some other status with the LCMS (RSO) that would be possible; otherwise calls would be (?) through the district in which the college is located

Thinking out loud, if there are few students who are in programs leading to LCMS roster status (ordained or commissioned) attending Concordia Portland, maybe the LCMS BOD is going toward a more mission/charter driven thematic for its colleges.  They were begun as pastor/teacher training institutions and have morphed substantially through the later 20th century.  Some, such as Seward, River Forest and Wisconsin, still have substantial church work enrollment.  Others don't.  It's fair if that's the background to allow for independence.  Of course, there are both financial and in some sense doctrinal considerations. 

Dave Benke

From whence does this come?  The press release makes it appear to be initiated by the Synod, at least at the Concordia University System (CUS) level.  It could have been Portland initiative or even a mutual decision to consider.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 29, 2017, 11:35:50 AM
It probably doesn't mean anything much, but I've tried finding mention of this on LCMS.com and other LCMS related internet sites and come up empty.  Perhaps it is too new a development for the LCMS news.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: John_Hannah on May 29, 2017, 12:37:02 PM
It probably doesn't mean anything much, but I've tried finding mention of this on LCMS.com and other LCMS related internet sites and come up empty.  Perhaps it is too new a development for the LCMS news.

They're probably off today for the holiday.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: John_Hannah on May 29, 2017, 12:40:57 PM

Thinking out loud, if there are few students who are in programs leading to LCMS roster status (ordained or commissioned) attending Concordia Portland, maybe the LCMS BOD is going toward a more mission/charter driven thematic for its colleges.  They were begun as pastor/teacher training institutions and have morphed substantially through the later 20th century.  Some, such as Seward, River Forest and Wisconsin, still have substantial church work enrollment.  Others don't.  It's fair if that's the background to allow for independence.  Of course, there are both financial and in some sense doctrinal considerations. 

Dave Benke

Even the Midwestern Concordias with a higher number of students committed to church vocations don't have a high percentage of their student body as potential church workers.  I doubt that any of them have more than 5% headed for church vocations.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Charles Austin on May 29, 2017, 02:00:05 PM
So can the synod just boot a Concordia out of the family?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: John_Hannah on May 29, 2017, 02:21:20 PM
So can the synod just boot a Concordia out of the family?

I don't know how it works.  Each one may be a bit different, but each one is owned by the Synod.  In the 1970s the synod closed, St. John's in KS, St. Paul's in MO, Concordia in Oakland, CA, and Concordia Senior College, in IN.  St. John (and, I think, Oakland) were sold.  St. Paul's was lent to a local High School association to use and Ft. Wayne was given to the Seminary in Springfield, IL.  We will have to see how this might play out if there is any change proceeding from this consideration.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Matt Staneck on May 29, 2017, 05:46:02 PM
Someone in the know shared that the charitable interpretation of this press release is that it is not exactly correct. That is, if one comes away with the understanding that the synod independently asked CUP to explore this possibility.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on May 29, 2017, 06:09:32 PM
so is this fake news?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 29, 2017, 06:27:50 PM

"Concordia University Portland has been presented with a request by the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod to consider becoming an independent Lutheran university."

That seems to fit with the charitable interpretation "that the synod independently asked CUP to explore this possibility."
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Matt Staneck on May 29, 2017, 06:40:21 PM

"Concordia University Portland has been presented with a request by the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod to consider becoming an independent Lutheran university."

That seems to fit with the charitable interpretation "that the synod independently asked CUP to explore this possibility."

FWIW, I've been told directly that this isn't correct.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 29, 2017, 06:46:46 PM
Oh, okay. I misunderstood.

So, what's the charitable or other interpretation? What is correct?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Charles Austin on May 29, 2017, 07:16:30 PM
And why would the college declare and post something that is not true?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Matt Staneck on May 29, 2017, 07:40:27 PM
And why would the college declare and post something that is not true?

This was my question. The whole thing feels bizarre. Hopefully just a poorly worded press release.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 29, 2017, 08:50:01 PM
Before we decide that someone is lying or that someone is being unfair to someone else perhaps we can wait until more information has been released and the situation has become clearer.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: pr dtp on May 29, 2017, 08:54:44 PM
And why would the college declare and post something that is not true?

This was my question. The whole thing feels bizarre. Hopefully just a poorly worded press release.

M. Staneck

So this source is saying the board of trustees misspoke?  Your being too vague about what isn't correct about the press release.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Matt Staneck on May 29, 2017, 09:34:21 PM
Not trying to be vague, trying to leave space for this being a big misunderstanding. When I saw this press release my initial reaction was that this was scandalous. When I heard another version of events and then saw this thread I figured it was worth sharing that there may be another side to this. Or that (hopefully) it's just a poorly worded press release.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Charles Austin on May 29, 2017, 09:41:40 PM
Press releases of this sort are rarely "poorly worded." Words on releases of such a magnitude are usually scrutinized by top officials or even by lawyers.
The statement from the college says:
"Concordia University Portland has been presented with a request by the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod to consider becoming an independent Lutheran university."
A simple statement. Not hard to understand.
A more complete release would have said how that "request" came from the LC-MS and would have described the procedure to be followed and the possible impact on the school.
The fact that the statement is so belief suggests it is an "official communique" rather than a press release.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Matt Staneck on May 29, 2017, 09:45:43 PM
Fair enough, Pr. A.

Since I had heard two things that were (seemingly) in obvious contradiction with each other I was trying to find a charitable middle.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on May 29, 2017, 10:06:19 PM
Dear friend of my wife's and mine is the board chair at Portland, Gloria Edwards - tremendous Christian leader who is the former head of the LWML, and has served on tons of Missouri Synod boards including the Synod's Board of Directors.  So here's something sent out to Portland Alumni, giving more information, above her name:

Dear Concordia Alumni,

On behalf of Concordia University Portland’s
Board of Regents, thank you for your service to
the University and the students entrusted to us.

The Board of Regents convened today, Friday, May
26th, to discuss a number of important items,
including the appointment of an interim
president which was carefully and thoroughly
considered. Interviews were conducted and
background documents were gathered and reviewed
by all Regents. In light of the following
information, the process for selection of an
interim president was discontinued.

The meeting also included a proposal put forward
by the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod to
consider an organizing structure independent of
the LCMS. Over the past decade, the Church and
Concordia University Portland's leadership
have had an ongoing discussion regarding the
need for greater capitalization and financial
support. This current proposal has a number of
potential advantages for both entities.

The Board unanimously decided to move forward
with an exploratory process to research, in
greater detail, the opportunities associated
with this proposal. The regents will make a
decision only after carefully assessing our
options in terms of  what is best for the
students, faculty and staff, and the ability of
the University to continue to fulfill its
mission in an increasingly complex and competitive marketplace.

The Board recognizes that there may be some
concerns about any potential shifts in
organizing structure, and we want to assure you
that Concordia will remain a Lutheran
university, committed to our mission, ministry,
and core values, as we continue to weigh all options.

As part of this request, the Church has also
requested President Schlimpert delay his
retirement to help shepherd the exploration of
the option to operate independently. The Board
unanimously supports this decision, and is
thankful for President Schlimpert's
willingness to delay his retirement until we
have successfully navigated this exciting phase.

Faculty and staff will have an opportunity to
hear more in person and by WebEx on Wednesday,
May 31 at 9 a.m. As we embark on the process of
prayerful consideration we thank you for your
prayers, your support and your patience.

For His students,


Dr. Gloria Edwards, Chair
Concordia University Portland
Board of Regents
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Matt Staneck on May 29, 2017, 10:13:01 PM
I think this letter provides helpful context. It sounds like CUP has been discussing this for a while, perhaps even with synod involved, and the latest development is that synod actually presented an idea.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: John_Hannah on May 30, 2017, 06:58:13 AM
It looks as though the proposal is being undertaken as a possibility with mutual (LCMS & CUP) interests considered.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Richard Johnson on May 30, 2017, 09:02:01 AM
I wonder if there are issues here that are in some way parallel to those outlined by Brad Everett at Concordia, Edmonton, in the March 2013 Forum Letter? Basically declining Lutheran enrollment, declining synodical financial support, and the need to disaffiliate in order to boost potential fundraising from other sources?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 30, 2017, 09:04:20 AM
I'm curious if their independence from the LCMS - if it should occur - would be along the lines of Valparaiso University?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Charles Austin on May 30, 2017, 09:29:50 AM
Richard writes:
and the need to disaffiliate in order to boost potential fundraising from other sources?

I comment:
Or to "diversify" and expand teaching and the campus experience in ways that might not be acceptable within the LC-MS? Also an impact on fund-raising and enrollment.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: John_Hannah on May 30, 2017, 09:36:03 AM
I wonder if there are issues here that are in some way parallel to those outlined by Brad Everett at Concordia, Edmonton, in the March 2013 Forum Letter? Basically declining Lutheran enrollment, declining synodical financial support, and the need to disaffiliate in order to boost potential fundraising from other sources?

Certainly, declining Lutheran enrollment has been a longstanding problem due to demography in the Northwest; not many Christians, let alone, Lutheran Christians.  I think synodical financial support is nil or next to it; again a longstanding problem for all the Concordias.  I don't know anything about potential fundraising there.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on May 30, 2017, 09:57:09 AM
I'm curious if their independence from the LCMS - if it should occur - would be along the lines of Valparaiso University?

Certainly that's a question.  What's involved to me in terms of response are:
a) will the board be chosen either by internal appointment or election at the district/regional level, without national LCMS board election?  That would be what "independence" from the LCMS electoral process might look like
b) will the board remain 100% LCMS?  Again, with local appointment and a percentage that fits into the Synodical RSO requirements, that might change.
c) will presidential succession be independent of the current procedure for CUS colleges?  That would again allow something like a selection that occurs in an LCMS Recognized Service Organization, which does NOT mandate an LCMS rostered person to be the agency CEO. 
d) will faculty selection be independent of the current procedure for CUS colleges?  If an RSO, then the faculty could remain with a call to service through the institution
e) what does the RSO status mean for a college?  Basic agreement with the doctrinal positions of the LCMS, but with more latitude in terms of board, faculty and leadership selection and succession.

So with zero insider knowledge, that might be where this is headed.  It's not the same as Valpo, but has some similarities.

As to the economic/financial features, I'm not dealing with those in this post.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 30, 2017, 10:56:33 AM
It would be interesting to know how much money Concordia, Portland actually receives
each year from the LCMS.   

It would be helpful to know which Concordia University has the least amount of students
studying  for full-time work as pastors, teachers, DCE's in the LCMS.


Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 30, 2017, 11:24:37 AM
The Concordia University System has been in place for 25 years.  This effort has attempted
to keep the preparation of full time church workers in the LCMS as a high priority.   However,
that goal does not imply that our current Concordia University System is still a teacher and
preacher factory.  Seward, River Forest, and St. Paul probably are the biggest feeders to
supply our Lutheran Elementary  Schools with Synodically trained teachers. 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 30, 2017, 11:33:26 AM
The shift from preparing church-workers to providing higher education generally is a major shift in purpose. The shift from being part of a church body to being an independent entity is a shift in identity.

The underlying question for those involved in sorting through how all this is going to work is, what is a Lutheran university? What does it mean to say that a university is Lutheran?

Look at some other activity besides higher education. If my congregation does a car wash, as the youth group sometimes does, well, in what sense is it a Lutheran car wash? The cars are not washed any differently in particularly Lutheran way. But the whole activity is done by and for a real, flesh-and-blood, visible group of Lutheran people. The fact that it is affiliated with my congregation is critical to the nature of the enterprise. If a bunch of kids organized an independent Lutheran car wash, well, the independence of it calls into question the Lutheranness of it, since it is unclear how a car wash in and of itself can be Lutheran. 

To say an institution can be Lutheran without being affiliated with an actual Lutheran church body is to render Lutheranism an abstraction. Certainly one could not claim a university was Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican without at least having that designation be a two-way understanding between the university and an actual church. Even if the affiliation is loose or in name only, it makes a big difference. Evangelicals can have independent universities, but then they typically have a statement of faith and some governing body that makes sure nobody teaches anything contrary to it. Do any independent Lutheran universities have that kind of dynamic, such that the instructors must believe, teach, and confess Lutheranism?

If I said that Purdue University is an independent Lutheran university, what would prove me wrong other than the fact that Purdue doesn't self-identify as such?

Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on May 30, 2017, 11:49:05 AM
The shift from preparing church-workers to providing higher education generally is a major shift in purpose. The shift from being part of a church body to being an independent entity is a shift in identity.

The underlying question for those involved in sorting through how all this is going to work is, what is a Lutheran university? What does it mean to say that a university is Lutheran?

Look at some other activity besides higher education. If my congregation does a car wash, as the youth group sometimes does, well, in what sense is it a Lutheran car wash? The cars are not washed any differently in particularly Lutheran way. But the whole activity is done by and for a real, flesh-and-blood, visible group of Lutheran people. The fact that it is affiliated with my congregation is critical to the nature of the enterprise. If a bunch of kids organized an independent Lutheran car wash, well, the independence of it calls into question the Lutheranness of it, since it is unclear how a car wash in and of itself can be Lutheran. 

To say an institution can be Lutheran without being affiliated with an actual Lutheran church body is to render Lutheranism an abstraction. Certainly one could not claim a university was Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican without at least having that designation be a two-way understanding between the university and an actual church. Even if the affiliation is loose or in name only, it makes a big difference. Evangelicals can have independent universities, but then they typically have a statement of faith and some governing body that makes sure nobody teaches anything contrary to it. Do any independent Lutheran universities have that kind of dynamic, such that the instructors must believe, teach, and confess Lutheranism?

If I said that Purdue University is an independent Lutheran university, what would prove me wrong other than the fact that Purdue doesn't self-identify as such?

What do you mean by identity?  To use your analogy and then make it real - Recognized Service Organizations, for several hundred in the Missouri Synod and X amount of Social Service Organizations in the ELCA, are agencies - including some solely with the service of educational purpose - that are identified as Lutheran Organizations, by themselves and by those who use their services.  RSO LCMS agencies are Lutheran and affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.   Their identity is Lutheran. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 30, 2017, 12:28:32 PM
The shift from preparing church-workers to providing higher education generally is a major shift in purpose. The shift from being part of a church body to being an independent entity is a shift in identity.

The underlying question for those involved in sorting through how all this is going to work is, what is a Lutheran university? What does it mean to say that a university is Lutheran?

Look at some other activity besides higher education. If my congregation does a car wash, as the youth group sometimes does, well, in what sense is it a Lutheran car wash? The cars are not washed any differently in particularly Lutheran way. But the whole activity is done by and for a real, flesh-and-blood, visible group of Lutheran people. The fact that it is affiliated with my congregation is critical to the nature of the enterprise. If a bunch of kids organized an independent Lutheran car wash, well, the independence of it calls into question the Lutheranness of it, since it is unclear how a car wash in and of itself can be Lutheran. 

To say an institution can be Lutheran without being affiliated with an actual Lutheran church body is to render Lutheranism an abstraction. Certainly one could not claim a university was Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican without at least having that designation be a two-way understanding between the university and an actual church. Even if the affiliation is loose or in name only, it makes a big difference. Evangelicals can have independent universities, but then they typically have a statement of faith and some governing body that makes sure nobody teaches anything contrary to it. Do any independent Lutheran universities have that kind of dynamic, such that the instructors must believe, teach, and confess Lutheranism?

If I said that Purdue University is an independent Lutheran university, what would prove me wrong other than the fact that Purdue doesn't self-identify as such?

What do you mean by identity?  To use your analogy and then make it real - Recognized Service Organizations, for several hundred in the Missouri Synod and X amount of Social Service Organizations in the ELCA, are agencies - including some solely with the service of educational purpose - that are identified as Lutheran Organizations, by themselves and by those who use their services.  RSO LCMS agencies are Lutheran and affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.   Their identity is Lutheran. 

Dave Benke
That simply begs the question. I get that institutions can and do call themselves Lutheran and are known that way by their clients. My question was what, apart from simply self-identifying as such, makes an independent Lutheran organization Lutheran?

An RSO is not entirely independent. RSO's have a clear connection to a flesh and blood church body, the people doing the recognizing that makes the organizations "recognized." They start (or stop) being "recognized" as such by an official act of an ecclesial body.

If I started, say, a health clinic (or a hospital, school, or soup kitchen  or whatever) as an independent Floopy health clinic, I would expect someone to ask, "What makes it Floopy?" And if I answered, "It's a Floopy clinic because it is identified as a Floopy Organization by those running it and by those using their services," I wouldn't expect a lot of people nodding and saying, "Ah, I see." I would expect them to persist with questions like, "How is it different from the public health clinic across town? Why should I prefer a Floopy clinic to a non-Floopy clinic?"

For many people "Lutheran" doesn't mean anything more than "Floopy." But even those of us in the know on what "Lutheran" means attach the words to a church or at the very least to Confessions. Without that connection to a church or relationship to the Confessions, what makes an independent Lutheran university Lutheran, again, apart from simply calling itself by that name?

Purdue doesn't call itself Lutheran, but apart from the name, what isn't Lutheran about it? What is it lacking? If it did call itself 
"Purdue Lutheran University" but changed nothing else whatsoever about itself as currently constituted and operated, would it legitimately be a Lutheran university? If an independent Lutheran university decided to become an independent non-Lutheran university, what would it have to acquire or divest itself of other than a name?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 30, 2017, 12:48:38 PM
That simply begs the question. I get that institutions can and do call themselves Lutheran and are known that way by their clients. My question was what, apart from simply self-identifying as such, makes an independent Lutheran organization Lutheran?


The answer is, "Nothing."


There are "Lutheran" congregations who are not affiliated with any Lutheran church body. Prior to becoming an independent congregation, Zion Lutheran Church in Worland, Wyoming, was affiliated with the UCC. (Before that, they were E&R). Those initials were printed on their sign, but in small letters. It made it difficult for the ALC (and I imagine the LCMS) congregation in town to tell folks that Zion was not Lutheran.


What was Emanuel Lutheran Hospital in Portland, Oregon, when I was growing up, is now Legacy Emanuel Hospital. I don't know how much it was connected with the Lutheran congregations or any Lutheran denomination when "Lutheran" was in its name. (Our Oregon Synod offices are located on their campus.)


The ALC and LCA had different polities in regards to such organizations. In the ALC, Lutheran parachurch groups, like camps, nursing homes, schools, etc. were owned and managed by separate corporations. Often the corporation members were Lutheran congregations or individual members of congregations. In the LCA the ownership and management was the synods. In the ALC, these separate corporation could solicit money directly from congregations and individuals. In the LCA, monies were to come through the synods. The ELCA has gone more towards the ALC model.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Charles Austin on May 30, 2017, 01:22:16 PM
Actually, were I an outsider and uninformed about identities, I think I would be more drawn to the "Floopy Health Clinic" rather than the "Lutheran Health Clinic," 'cause it sounds like the former would be more fun than the latter.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on May 30, 2017, 01:49:07 PM
The shift from preparing church-workers to providing higher education generally is a major shift in purpose. The shift from being part of a church body to being an independent entity is a shift in identity.

The underlying question for those involved in sorting through how all this is going to work is, what is a Lutheran university? What does it mean to say that a university is Lutheran?

Look at some other activity besides higher education. If my congregation does a car wash, as the youth group sometimes does, well, in what sense is it a Lutheran car wash? The cars are not washed any differently in particularly Lutheran way. But the whole activity is done by and for a real, flesh-and-blood, visible group of Lutheran people. The fact that it is affiliated with my congregation is critical to the nature of the enterprise. If a bunch of kids organized an independent Lutheran car wash, well, the independence of it calls into question the Lutheranness of it, since it is unclear how a car wash in and of itself can be Lutheran. 

To say an institution can be Lutheran without being affiliated with an actual Lutheran church body is to render Lutheranism an abstraction. Certainly one could not claim a university was Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican without at least having that designation be a two-way understanding between the university and an actual church. Even if the affiliation is loose or in name only, it makes a big difference. Evangelicals can have independent universities, but then they typically have a statement of faith and some governing body that makes sure nobody teaches anything contrary to it. Do any independent Lutheran universities have that kind of dynamic, such that the instructors must believe, teach, and confess Lutheranism?

If I said that Purdue University is an independent Lutheran university, what would prove me wrong other than the fact that Purdue doesn't self-identify as such?

What do you mean by identity?  To use your analogy and then make it real - Recognized Service Organizations, for several hundred in the Missouri Synod and X amount of Social Service Organizations in the ELCA, are agencies - including some solely with the service of educational purpose - that are identified as Lutheran Organizations, by themselves and by those who use their services.  RSO LCMS agencies are Lutheran and affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.   Their identity is Lutheran. 

Dave Benke
That simply begs the question. I get that institutions can and do call themselves Lutheran and are known that way by their clients. My question was what, apart from simply self-identifying as such, makes an independent Lutheran organization Lutheran?

An RSO is not entirely independent. RSO's have a clear connection to a flesh and blood church body, the people doing the recognizing that makes the organizations "recognized." They start (or stop) being "recognized" as such by an official act of an ecclesial body.

If I started, say, a health clinic (or a hospital, school, or soup kitchen  or whatever) as an independent Floopy health clinic, I would expect someone to ask, "What makes it Floopy?" And if I answered, "It's a Floopy clinic because it is identified as a Floopy Organization by those running it and by those using their services," I wouldn't expect a lot of people nodding and saying, "Ah, I see." I would expect them to persist with questions like, "How is it different from the public health clinic across town? Why should I prefer a Floopy clinic to a non-Floopy clinic?"

For many people "Lutheran" doesn't mean anything more than "Floopy." But even those of us in the know on what "Lutheran" means attach the words to a church or at the very least to Confessions. Without that connection to a church or relationship to the Confessions, what makes an independent Lutheran university Lutheran, again, apart from simply calling itself by that name?

Purdue doesn't call itself Lutheran, but apart from the name, what isn't Lutheran about it? What is it lacking? If it did call itself 
"Purdue Lutheran University" but changed nothing else whatsoever about itself as currently constituted and operated, would it legitimately be a Lutheran university? If an independent Lutheran university decided to become an independent non-Lutheran university, what would it have to acquire or divest itself of other than a name?

What you say about "institutions" could also be applied to wider designations, such as denominations or affiliative denominational groups.  So, to put the spike in the chest of the perpetrator, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can self-identify as "Lutheran," and have all kinds of theological, doctrinal and practical linkages to that word, but are they as a denomination "Lutheran?"  Certainly your friends on other forums would say "Not a chance."    They'd say the same thing about the Lutheran World Federation.  And many of those interlocutors would also impale the LCMS on the same spike, and call for stouter or changed leadership to hew the True Lutheran Line.

So what's a guy to do?  His institution is going to be connected to the word Lutheran, is going to have less rather than more political/electoral supervision from The Home Bureau.  Can he remain underlying-ly, undying-ly Lutheran?  How?

My suggestion would be a connection a bit less overt, like Recognized Service Organization status.  We're with you, but we get to pick our own leaders and we get to set a course consistent with our core mission, which you have said by allowing us this status is also an aspect of your core mission, values and doctrine, all of which are (at this time) "Lutheran." 

That's about the best a guy would do.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 30, 2017, 02:06:55 PM
Speaking of Master Plans for the campus of Concordia Seminary, St Louis.

They have been given approval to demolish Fritz and Metzger Halls which
were built in 1960  as dormitories to each house 44 men.  During my 1st year
on campus I lived in Metzger Hall.  The big bonus for seminarians:  It was
air-conditioned.  After my first year, I got married and we rented a home
in Richmond Heights.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on May 30, 2017, 02:26:46 PM
What makes Valparaiso University a Lutheran school?

What makes the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau a Lutheran institution.

Can we start the American Floopy Publicity Bureau?

Pax, Zip+
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 30, 2017, 02:29:22 PM
The shift from preparing church-workers to providing higher education generally is a major shift in purpose. The shift from being part of a church body to being an independent entity is a shift in identity.

The underlying question for those involved in sorting through how all this is going to work is, what is a Lutheran university? What does it mean to say that a university is Lutheran?

Look at some other activity besides higher education. If my congregation does a car wash, as the youth group sometimes does, well, in what sense is it a Lutheran car wash? The cars are not washed any differently in particularly Lutheran way. But the whole activity is done by and for a real, flesh-and-blood, visible group of Lutheran people. The fact that it is affiliated with my congregation is critical to the nature of the enterprise. If a bunch of kids organized an independent Lutheran car wash, well, the independence of it calls into question the Lutheranness of it, since it is unclear how a car wash in and of itself can be Lutheran. 

To say an institution can be Lutheran without being affiliated with an actual Lutheran church body is to render Lutheranism an abstraction. Certainly one could not claim a university was Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican without at least having that designation be a two-way understanding between the university and an actual church. Even if the affiliation is loose or in name only, it makes a big difference. Evangelicals can have independent universities, but then they typically have a statement of faith and some governing body that makes sure nobody teaches anything contrary to it. Do any independent Lutheran universities have that kind of dynamic, such that the instructors must believe, teach, and confess Lutheranism?

If I said that Purdue University is an independent Lutheran university, what would prove me wrong other than the fact that Purdue doesn't self-identify as such?

What do you mean by identity?  To use your analogy and then make it real - Recognized Service Organizations, for several hundred in the Missouri Synod and X amount of Social Service Organizations in the ELCA, are agencies - including some solely with the service of educational purpose - that are identified as Lutheran Organizations, by themselves and by those who use their services.  RSO LCMS agencies are Lutheran and affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.   Their identity is Lutheran. 

Dave Benke
That simply begs the question. I get that institutions can and do call themselves Lutheran and are known that way by their clients. My question was what, apart from simply self-identifying as such, makes an independent Lutheran organization Lutheran?

An RSO is not entirely independent. RSO's have a clear connection to a flesh and blood church body, the people doing the recognizing that makes the organizations "recognized." They start (or stop) being "recognized" as such by an official act of an ecclesial body.

If I started, say, a health clinic (or a hospital, school, or soup kitchen  or whatever) as an independent Floopy health clinic, I would expect someone to ask, "What makes it Floopy?" And if I answered, "It's a Floopy clinic because it is identified as a Floopy Organization by those running it and by those using their services," I wouldn't expect a lot of people nodding and saying, "Ah, I see." I would expect them to persist with questions like, "How is it different from the public health clinic across town? Why should I prefer a Floopy clinic to a non-Floopy clinic?"

For many people "Lutheran" doesn't mean anything more than "Floopy." But even those of us in the know on what "Lutheran" means attach the words to a church or at the very least to Confessions. Without that connection to a church or relationship to the Confessions, what makes an independent Lutheran university Lutheran, again, apart from simply calling itself by that name?

Purdue doesn't call itself Lutheran, but apart from the name, what isn't Lutheran about it? What is it lacking? If it did call itself 
"Purdue Lutheran University" but changed nothing else whatsoever about itself as currently constituted and operated, would it legitimately be a Lutheran university? If an independent Lutheran university decided to become an independent non-Lutheran university, what would it have to acquire or divest itself of other than a name?

What you say about "institutions" could also be applied to wider designations, such as denominations or affiliative denominational groups.  So, to put the spike in the chest of the perpetrator, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can self-identify as "Lutheran," and have all kinds of theological, doctrinal and practical linkages to that word, but are they as a denomination "Lutheran?"  Certainly your friends on other forums would say "Not a chance."    They'd say the same thing about the Lutheran World Federation.  And many of those interlocutors would also impale the LCMS on the same spike, and call for stouter or changed leadership to hew the True Lutheran Line.

So what's a guy to do?  His institution is going to be connected to the word Lutheran, is going to have less rather than more political/electoral supervision from The Home Bureau.  Can he remain underlying-ly, undying-ly Lutheran?  How?

My suggestion would be a connection a bit less overt, like Recognized Service Organization status.  We're with you, but we get to pick our own leaders and we get to set a course consistent with our core mission, which you have said by allowing us this status is also an aspect of your core mission, values and doctrine, all of which are (at this time) "Lutheran." 

That's about the best a guy would do.

Dave Benke
I don't think I have any friends on other forums who aren't also your friends.

The key, though, is that whether we agree with a particular application of the word "Lutheran" to a church body, it actually is connected to a church body. It is precisely because we disagree on what a Lutheran church is or looks like that we have multiple denominations calling themselves by that name. But it is a name that applies a church, a specific mission of a church, or a confession of faith.

Let's say my church has a large parcel of land that was once intended to be a cemetery but which never got used as such and is now in the middle of a city. The community loves the space and doesn't want it to be developed, so the church agrees to turn it into park called St. Paul's Lutheran Park. How can a park be Lutheran? Well, it can, sort of, in the sense that is it connected to or associated with a Lutheran church. It is Christians and churches that are or aren't Lutheran, not parks. Either that or doctrinal pronouncements. But nobody goes to feed the Lutheran ducks, fly a kite on the Lutheran lawn, or jump in the Lutheran leaves. The difference between St. Paul's Lutheran Park and the Anytown Public Park would strictly be some association with St. Paul's Lutheran Church.

And the same is true of universities. It is a Christians and churches and doctrinal pronouncements that are or aren't Lutheran, not universities. Universities derive their Lutheranness, if any, from their relationship to a Lutheran church. Which is what makes the idea of an independent Lutheran university so interesting to me.

In the example above of the park, suppose we wanted to start an independent Lutheran park, one not associated with St. Paul's or any flesh and blood church. What would make the park Lutheran? Or the parking garage that serves it Lutheran? It seems to me the same thing applies to universities. If a mission of the church is largely indistinguishable from a mission of the secular kingdom of the left, as in Purdue, in what sense it is really a mission of the church?

Below are some resources I've been alerted to that address some of these questions, though without really examing the the issue of Lutheranness in a sense that is independent of Lutheran churches.

http://www.cu-portland.edu/sites/default/files/pdf/Here%20I%20Study%20Booklet_100806_final.pdf

http://www.cu-portland.edu/sites/default/files/pdf/Here%20I%20Work%20Booklet_2014_lowres.pdf

 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on May 30, 2017, 04:54:06 PM
The shift from preparing church-workers to providing higher education generally is a major shift in purpose. The shift from being part of a church body to being an independent entity is a shift in identity.

The underlying question for those involved in sorting through how all this is going to work is, what is a Lutheran university? What does it mean to say that a university is Lutheran?

Look at some other activity besides higher education. If my congregation does a car wash, as the youth group sometimes does, well, in what sense is it a Lutheran car wash? The cars are not washed any differently in particularly Lutheran way. But the whole activity is done by and for a real, flesh-and-blood, visible group of Lutheran people. The fact that it is affiliated with my congregation is critical to the nature of the enterprise. If a bunch of kids organized an independent Lutheran car wash, well, the independence of it calls into question the Lutheranness of it, since it is unclear how a car wash in and of itself can be Lutheran. 

To say an institution can be Lutheran without being affiliated with an actual Lutheran church body is to render Lutheranism an abstraction. Certainly one could not claim a university was Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican without at least having that designation be a two-way understanding between the university and an actual church. Even if the affiliation is loose or in name only, it makes a big difference. Evangelicals can have independent universities, but then they typically have a statement of faith and some governing body that makes sure nobody teaches anything contrary to it. Do any independent Lutheran universities have that kind of dynamic, such that the instructors must believe, teach, and confess Lutheranism?

If I said that Purdue University is an independent Lutheran university, what would prove me wrong other than the fact that Purdue doesn't self-identify as such?

What do you mean by identity?  To use your analogy and then make it real - Recognized Service Organizations, for several hundred in the Missouri Synod and X amount of Social Service Organizations in the ELCA, are agencies - including some solely with the service of educational purpose - that are identified as Lutheran Organizations, by themselves and by those who use their services.  RSO LCMS agencies are Lutheran and affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.   Their identity is Lutheran. 

Dave Benke
That simply begs the question. I get that institutions can and do call themselves Lutheran and are known that way by their clients. My question was what, apart from simply self-identifying as such, makes an independent Lutheran organization Lutheran?

An RSO is not entirely independent. RSO's have a clear connection to a flesh and blood church body, the people doing the recognizing that makes the organizations "recognized." They start (or stop) being "recognized" as such by an official act of an ecclesial body.

If I started, say, a health clinic (or a hospital, school, or soup kitchen  or whatever) as an independent Floopy health clinic, I would expect someone to ask, "What makes it Floopy?" And if I answered, "It's a Floopy clinic because it is identified as a Floopy Organization by those running it and by those using their services," I wouldn't expect a lot of people nodding and saying, "Ah, I see." I would expect them to persist with questions like, "How is it different from the public health clinic across town? Why should I prefer a Floopy clinic to a non-Floopy clinic?"

For many people "Lutheran" doesn't mean anything more than "Floopy." But even those of us in the know on what "Lutheran" means attach the words to a church or at the very least to Confessions. Without that connection to a church or relationship to the Confessions, what makes an independent Lutheran university Lutheran, again, apart from simply calling itself by that name?

Purdue doesn't call itself Lutheran, but apart from the name, what isn't Lutheran about it? What is it lacking? If it did call itself 
"Purdue Lutheran University" but changed nothing else whatsoever about itself as currently constituted and operated, would it legitimately be a Lutheran university? If an independent Lutheran university decided to become an independent non-Lutheran university, what would it have to acquire or divest itself of other than a name?

What you say about "institutions" could also be applied to wider designations, such as denominations or affiliative denominational groups.  So, to put the spike in the chest of the perpetrator, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can self-identify as "Lutheran," and have all kinds of theological, doctrinal and practical linkages to that word, but are they as a denomination "Lutheran?"  Certainly your friends on other forums would say "Not a chance."    They'd say the same thing about the Lutheran World Federation.  And many of those interlocutors would also impale the LCMS on the same spike, and call for stouter or changed leadership to hew the True Lutheran Line.

So what's a guy to do?  His institution is going to be connected to the word Lutheran, is going to have less rather than more political/electoral supervision from The Home Bureau.  Can he remain underlying-ly, undying-ly Lutheran?  How?

My suggestion would be a connection a bit less overt, like Recognized Service Organization status.  We're with you, but we get to pick our own leaders and we get to set a course consistent with our core mission, which you have said by allowing us this status is also an aspect of your core mission, values and doctrine, all of which are (at this time) "Lutheran." 

That's about the best a guy would do.

Dave Benke
I don't think I have any friends on other forums who aren't also your friends.

The key, though, is that whether we agree with a particular application of the word "Lutheran" to a church body, it actually is connected to a church body. It is precisely because we disagree on what a Lutheran church is or looks like that we have multiple denominations calling themselves by that name. But it is a name that applies a church, a specific mission of a church, or a confession of faith.

Let's say my church has a large parcel of land that was once intended to be a cemetery but which never got used as such and is now in the middle of a city. The community loves the space and doesn't want it to be developed, so the church agrees to turn it into park called St. Paul's Lutheran Park. How can a park be Lutheran? Well, it can, sort of, in the sense that is it connected to or associated with a Lutheran church. It is Christians and churches that are or aren't Lutheran, not parks. Either that or doctrinal pronouncements. But nobody goes to feed the Lutheran ducks, fly a kite on the Lutheran lawn, or jump in the Lutheran leaves. The difference between St. Paul's Lutheran Park and the Anytown Public Park would strictly be some association with St. Paul's Lutheran Church.

And the same is true of universities. It is a Christians and churches and doctrinal pronouncements that are or aren't Lutheran, not universities. Universities derive their Lutheranness, if any, from their relationship to a Lutheran church. Which is what makes the idea of an independent Lutheran university so interesting to me.

In the example above of the park, suppose we wanted to start an independent Lutheran park, one not associated with St. Paul's or any flesh and blood church. What would make the park Lutheran? Or the parking garage that serves it Lutheran? It seems to me the same thing applies to universities. If a mission of the church is largely indistinguishable from a mission of the secular kingdom of the left, as in Purdue, in what sense it is really a mission of the church?

Below are some resources I've been alerted to that address some of these questions, though without really examing the the issue of Lutheranness in a sense that is independent of Lutheran churches.

http://www.cu-portland.edu/sites/default/files/pdf/Here%20I%20Study%20Booklet_100806_final.pdf

http://www.cu-portland.edu/sites/default/files/pdf/Here%20I%20Work%20Booklet_2014_lowres.pdf

Maybe I understand what you're trying to say.  So what is being said in the Portland booklet is that the independent Lutheran universities are Lutheran and independent.  And perhaps Portland will be joining them, as opposed to the universities now affiliated with the LCMS, the ELCA, the ELS and WELS.  And those that are independent are considered in that list to be Lutheran. 

You're wondering (I guess wondering) whether when they're listed as "Independent" they are still "Lutheran" and how we would know if they're not connected to some denominational doctrinal pronouncement - ie a churchly pronouncement.  Do those independent universities have doctrinal pronouncements?  I know they have doctrinal pronouncements at some of the individual ones under the heading "Lutheran Identity," Concordia Bronxville being one.  And they went through their statement of Lutheran Identity with the CUS Board when I was still on the Concordia BOR, with great skill and adeptness lining up that their statement of Lutheran Identity was their own and yet connected to the LCMS.  That to me is what an independent or quasi-independent Lutheran university would do as well.

Finally, what was going on in Wittenberg 500 years ago?  Didn't what became the Lutheran movement come out of an academic environment?  In that case, the university and its professors led the Church when it came to doctrinal positions, pronouncements and teaching, not the other way around, no?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 30, 2017, 05:36:52 PM
In our recent LCMS history we had only  two theologians who became Synodical
President after serving as a seminary professor and then as a seminary president.
Both Dr. J.A.O. Preus and Dr. Ralph Bohlmann were excellent theologians with a
PH.D.

Bishop Benke raises an important point about the lack of input from our theologians
at both our seminaries and universities.  Every 3 years the LCMS has a political
convention.  Instead it might be prudent to have a theological convocation for the
laity and pastors every 3 years and anticipate an audience of 10,000 people from
our congregations.

Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 30, 2017, 06:17:05 PM
When and where theology is the queen of the sciences, and the church over-arches the state, academia, and general culture, there is really no way to distinguish a secular university from a Christian university. That's how it was 500 years ago.

When and where Christian theology is taught as one subject among many, the teachings merely descriptive of what some people believe rather than encountered/lived within a community of faith, there is also no way to distinguish a secular university from a Christian university. That's how it too often is today.

Mailings from Valpo, an excellent school, make clear that Islam and Muslims are every bit as much a part of the mission and purpose of the place as Christians. That's fine if the mission and purpose of the place is purely secular. But if so, in what sense is it Lutheran? Why not just go to Purdue? But if the mission and purpose of the place is a natural aspect of church, what church? And what is churchly about it if it is for Muslims as much as for Christians?

Clarity of purpose is crucial. If we started something for the purpose of training church-workers but no longer use it for that purpose, fine. If we started something for the purpose of educating the laity in a specifically Lutheran environment and are no longer doing that, also fine. We can alter the purpose or sell the institution and do something else. But if we alter the purpose, we ought to be very clear on why we're doing what we're doing, because otherwise mere institutional momentum causes us to do things in the name of the church expensively and redundantly, because they are things already being done just as well and in the same basic environment by the state.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Weedon on May 30, 2017, 06:25:54 PM
I think it's the difference between a university that values and remembers its Lutheran heritage, but that regards it no longer as its mission to shape a Christian worldview (from the Lutheran perspective) in its students and through that lens help them understand their vocations in this world; and one that still regards it as its mission to shape that Christian worldview in all that study there so that they redeem the time since the days are evil.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 31, 2017, 07:23:15 AM
Mailings from Valpo, an excellent school, make clear that Islam and Muslims are every bit as much a part of the mission and purpose of the place as Christians. That's fine if the mission and purpose of the place is purely secular. But if so, in what sense is it Lutheran? Why not just go to Purdue? But if the mission and purpose of the place is a natural aspect of church, what church? And what is churchly about it if it is for Muslims as much as for Christians?

This is why I asked my question earlier.  If Portland patterns itself after Valpo their identity changes significantly, especially in terms of the priority of the Christian identity and message.  Given Portland's history with the LCMS, I wouldn't expect it to transform over night.  It would continue to look and act much as it did before.  However, like Valpo it would eventually change and become more like a secular university.  Once the synodical restrictions were fully removed it would determine its direction from other sources. 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on May 31, 2017, 08:55:37 AM
Mailings from Valpo, an excellent school, make clear that Islam and Muslims are every bit as much a part of the mission and purpose of the place as Christians. That's fine if the mission and purpose of the place is purely secular. But if so, in what sense is it Lutheran? Why not just go to Purdue? But if the mission and purpose of the place is a natural aspect of church, what church? And what is churchly about it if it is for Muslims as much as for Christians?

This is why I asked my question earlier.  If Portland patterns itself after Valpo their identity changes significantly, especially in terms of the priority of the Christian identity and message.  Given Portland's history with the LCMS, I wouldn't expect it to transform over night.  It would continue to look and act much as it did before.  However, like Valpo it would eventually change and become more like a secular university.  Once the synodical restrictions were fully removed it would determine its direction from other sources.

What is striking over time, Don, is the morphing of the entire Concordia system into what it is today in terms of course offerings, identity in their regions/states, and durability of programs.  Back at the dawn of time when I went through Concordia Milwaukee, all the Concordias were what we would call junior colleges.  Except they weren't that at all.  What they were was six year schools that began in high school.  Then after that sixth year, or first form (Prima), the male student headed off to the seminary. 

That's completely gone, and has been for many years.  So as each and all of the Concordias became four year schools and coeducational, the morphing continued.  The concept that each and every course is taught in the Christian manner, Lutheran specific, at the Concordias is in my opinion pretty much a dream.  Tens of thousands of the students are in online courses, and tens of thousands have zero interest in becoming preachers or teachers in the Missouri Synod "system," which exists only at a threadbare level. 

I'm sure this can and would be argued by Concordia system current leaders.  But as a guy who went through the system from ages 14-27, what we have today bears in my opinion no resemblance to what I experienced, at what could be called, especially when you add in the Senior College at Ft. Wayne, the zenith of our academic pastoral preparation and spiritual formation.  Lutheran Identity was not then a subset or a desired goal, it was the assumption that was worn with ease and with grace by those in leadership, and passed on to the students as a blessing and as a "given" for engaging the world vocationally.

So - one man's opinion - cut loose more of the Concordias, and hone in on The Big Three (Seward, RF, Wisconsin) plus One Seminary as the way to aspire to the mission of providing vital Lutheran Christian training through the 21st century. Students would and could come through that "system" wearing their Lutheran Christianity with ease and grace in an ever-changing world.  That's what I would do if I were king.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 31, 2017, 09:19:35 AM
So - one man's opinion - cut loose more of the Concordias, and hone in on The Big Three (Seward, RF, Wisconsin) plus One Seminary as the way to aspire to the mission of providing vital Lutheran Christian training through the 21st century. Students would and could come through that "system" wearing their Lutheran Christianity with ease and grace in an ever-changing world.  That's what I would do if I were king.

I have heard this entertained in the past and I think that it has been discussed in more recent times, especially when it was feared that the trends in California would spread outward.  I think it is worth exploring, for I agree with you that the Corcordias have long since become more universities with a Christian character and less 'feeder' schools for church work professions.  I'll confess, though, I wouldn't necessarily want to be on the task force charged with determining which stayed and which ones were cut loose, especially when it came to the seminaries.  The politics here would bring a lot of heat to the discussion. 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 31, 2017, 09:32:40 AM

What is striking over time, Don, is the morphing of the entire Concordia system into what it is today in terms of course offerings, identity in their regions/states, and durability of programs.  Back at the dawn of time when I went through Concordia Milwaukee, all the Concordias were what we would call junior colleges.  Except they weren't that at all.  What they were was six year schools that began in high school.  Then after that sixth year, or first form (Prima), the male student headed off to the seminary. 

That's completely gone, and has been for many years.  So as each and all of the Concordias became four year schools and coeducational, the morphing continued.  The concept that each and every course is taught in the Christian manner, Lutheran specific, at the Concordias is in my opinion pretty much a dream.  Tens of thousands of the students are in online courses, and tens of thousands have zero interest in becoming preachers or teachers in the Missouri Synod "system," which exists only at a threadbare level. 

I'm sure this can and would be argued by Concordia system current leaders.  But as a guy who went through the system from ages 14-27, what we have today bears in my opinion no resemblance to what I experienced, at what could be called, especially when you add in the Senior College at Ft. Wayne, the zenith of our academic pastoral preparation and spiritual formation.  Lutheran Identity was not then a subset or a desired goal, it was the assumption that was worn with ease and with grace by those in leadership, and passed on to the students as a blessing and as a "given" for engaging the world vocationally.

So - one man's opinion - cut loose more of the Concordias, and hone in on The Big Three (Seward, RF, Wisconsin) plus One Seminary as the way to aspire to the mission of providing vital Lutheran Christian training through the 21st century. Students would and could come through that "system" wearing their Lutheran Christianity with ease and grace in an ever-changing world.  That's what I would do if I were king.


Exactly, the Concordia Jr. College, Portland, that my wife and I attended, had a high school on campus. There were about 180 college students. As I recall, there were only two tracks: pre-seminary which was completed at the Sr. College in Fort Wayne (although I didn't); or education, most finished at Concordia, Seward. We received an A.A. degree. That school no longer exists. Now there's Concordia University Portland. The high school moved to a different campus. According to their website, total enrollment is 7,182 (2015). There are 20 degree programs. Although, Education is a primary emphasis with the availability of M.Ed. and Ed.D. degrees.


Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Charles Austin on May 31, 2017, 09:35:09 AM
I went to a church college. But unlike the LCMS, our church colleges were not primarily to train teachers and preachers.
At my college, the faith and "Lutheranism" were constant presences. Chapel was held daily and attendance at least three times a week was required. I believe a certain number of religion courses were required of all students. The campus pastor was very visible and the Lutheran Student Association was active. The campus pastor wrote occasionally for the school newspaper.
Only a handful of us - maybe 20 out of 800 students - were headed for seminary and there was a "pre-the" curriculum that included additional religion courses and Greek. (You could major in religion, but I didn't. Majored in English.)
Not all professors were visibly "Lutheran," but some were and you saw them in church on Sunday.
The atmosphere on campus was clearly Christian and Lutheran. What else would one want in a church college? Is the new "model" Liberty University or Brigham Young where all students, no matter what their faith, must sign certain agreements to act certain ways, where certain scholarly roads are blocked?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: John_Hannah on May 31, 2017, 10:27:55 AM
Mailings from Valpo, an excellent school, make clear that Islam and Muslims are every bit as much a part of the mission and purpose of the place as Christians. That's fine if the mission and purpose of the place is purely secular. But if so, in what sense is it Lutheran? Why not just go to Purdue? But if the mission and purpose of the place is a natural aspect of church, what church? And what is churchly about it if it is for Muslims as much as for Christians?

This is why I asked my question earlier.  If Portland patterns itself after Valpo their identity changes significantly, especially in terms of the priority of the Christian identity and message.  Given Portland's history with the LCMS, I wouldn't expect it to transform over night.  It would continue to look and act much as it did before.  However, like Valpo it would eventually change and become more like a secular university.  Once the synodical restrictions were fully removed it would determine its direction from other sources.

What is striking over time, Don, is the morphing of the entire Concordia system into what it is today in terms of course offerings, identity in their regions/states, and durability of programs.  Back at the dawn of time when I went through Concordia Milwaukee, all the Concordias were what we would call junior colleges.  Except they weren't that at all.  What they were was six year schools that began in high school.  Then after that sixth year, or first form (Prima), the male student headed off to the seminary. 

That's completely gone, and has been for many years.  So as each and all of the Concordias became four year schools and coeducational, the morphing continued.  The concept that each and every course is taught in the Christian manner, Lutheran specific, at the Concordias is in my opinion pretty much a dream.  Tens of thousands of the students are in online courses, and tens of thousands have zero interest in becoming preachers or teachers in the Missouri Synod "system," which exists only at a threadbare level. 

I'm sure this can and would be argued by Concordia system current leaders.  But as a guy who went through the system from ages 14-27, what we have today bears in my opinion no resemblance to what I experienced, at what could be called, especially when you add in the Senior College at Ft. Wayne, the zenith of our academic pastoral preparation and spiritual formation.  Lutheran Identity was not then a subset or a desired goal, it was the assumption that was worn with ease and with grace by those in leadership, and passed on to the students as a blessing and as a "given" for engaging the world vocationally.

Dave Benke

I also started in "Sexta" (as the Freshman H.S. class was known).  That whole system and effort was a remarkable and unique contribution to the church.  It is indeed long gone.  Since 1977.  All attempts to make the present day Concordias appear to perpetuate or replicate that system do not fool me; they are simple fantasy.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 31, 2017, 10:44:01 AM
Mailings from Valpo, an excellent school, make clear that Islam and Muslims are every bit as much a part of the mission and purpose of the place as Christians. That's fine if the mission and purpose of the place is purely secular. But if so, in what sense is it Lutheran? Why not just go to Purdue? But if the mission and purpose of the place is a natural aspect of church, what church? And what is churchly about it if it is for Muslims as much as for Christians?

This is why I asked my question earlier.  If Portland patterns itself after Valpo their identity changes significantly, especially in terms of the priority of the Christian identity and message.  Given Portland's history with the LCMS, I wouldn't expect it to transform over night.  It would continue to look and act much as it did before.  However, like Valpo it would eventually change and become more like a secular university.  Once the synodical restrictions were fully removed it would determine its direction from other sources.

What is striking over time, Don, is the morphing of the entire Concordia system into what it is today in terms of course offerings, identity in their regions/states, and durability of programs.  Back at the dawn of time when I went through Concordia Milwaukee, all the Concordias were what we would call junior colleges.  Except they weren't that at all.  What they were was six year schools that began in high school.  Then after that sixth year, or first form (Prima), the male student headed off to the seminary. 

That's completely gone, and has been for many years.  So as each and all of the Concordias became four year schools and coeducational, the morphing continued.  The concept that each and every course is taught in the Christian manner, Lutheran specific, at the Concordias is in my opinion pretty much a dream.  Tens of thousands of the students are in online courses, and tens of thousands have zero interest in becoming preachers or teachers in the Missouri Synod "system," which exists only at a threadbare level. 

I'm sure this can and would be argued by Concordia system current leaders.  But as a guy who went through the system from ages 14-27, what we have today bears in my opinion no resemblance to what I experienced, at what could be called, especially when you add in the Senior College at Ft. Wayne, the zenith of our academic pastoral preparation and spiritual formation.  Lutheran Identity was not then a subset or a desired goal, it was the assumption that was worn with ease and with grace by those in leadership, and passed on to the students as a blessing and as a "given" for engaging the world vocationally.

So - one man's opinion - cut loose more of the Concordias, and hone in on The Big Three (Seward, RF, Wisconsin) plus One Seminary as the way to aspire to the mission of providing vital Lutheran Christian training through the 21st century. Students would and could come through that "system" wearing their Lutheran Christianity with ease and grace in an ever-changing world.  That's what I would do if I were king.

Dave Benke
I agree in a purely fiscal sense that if we want schools with some semblance of their former purpose need to reduce the number of schools dramatically. Too often we retro-fit purposes to suit conditions on the ground rather than alter the situation on the ground to suit our purposes.

So we have two seminaries. Originally there was a reason for that. Married, second career guys weren't going to be able to jump right into "the system" and keep up. Now the seminaries have the same purpose. And if they were both operating in the black and close to capacity we could say, hey, two is better than one, and three might be nicer than two. But that isn't the reality. We have to face the fact that we currently have two seminaries doing the job of one.

Obviously institutions can't open and close on a whim based on one year's or really even several year's worth of data. There needs to be enough stability to withstand the ups and downs in the short to medium term. But if the long term trend doesn't lend itself to needing two seminaries, we have to make hard decisions. And the decisions really are hard. Tradition, loyalty, emotional attachment, convenience- those are all real and very good things. They don't and shouldn't automatically lose as though they are weak arguments. One you have an institution, a culture gradually grows up around it. In the deliberations on whether to go back to one seminary I think it is perfectly valid (not necessarily a winning argument, but a valid thing to argue) to say that we should make it work as long as we can make it work for the sake of all the side-effects of culture that have grown up around the two seminaries.

But what usually gets argued is that having two seminaries is a mission-critical aspect of running a denomination. No it isn't. Never was. They did not arrive in Missouri and say, "We need to be sure we have at least two seminaries." The two-ness of our seminary system is an accident of our history, not anything critical in and of itself. A good question to ask about a seminary or a college (or really any institution) is; if we didn't already have this, would we start it now? If we only had one seminary today, would we feel the need to start a second one? If we didn't have a university in, say, Austin, would we work to put one there? If the answer is yes we would, the discussion about what to do with the one we have now is basically over. We keep doing what we're doing. But if the answer is no, we wouldn't build a new seminary or college if we didn't already have one, then the discussion of what to do with the one we have begins. And it could end in any number of places, from changing the purpose of it and retooling, selling it off, trying to find the funds to keep it the same, or whatever. But at least you have a legitimate discussion. What irritates me is when people try to short-circuit that legitimate discussion by delegitimizing the question in the first place, which is what we do when we argue that some good side-effect is actually central, e.g. that having two seminaries is necessary so there is no real issue on the table.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 31, 2017, 11:08:43 AM
One of the sad statistics concerns the LCMS elementary schools.  For the past several
decades, the faculties of most Lutheran schools have staffed less than 50% LCMS trained
teachers.  Our 10 Concordia Universities are not attracting many students who want to
 teach in the classrooms of our Lutheran elementary schools.  Seward and River Forest
have traditionally been the "Teacher Factories".  Is anyone concerned that we no longer
are filling our Lutheran schools with Lutheran teachers?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: pr dtp on May 31, 2017, 11:42:56 AM
Irvine and Portland both have excellent teacher's programs.

I know, the school at my present church had them, and my present preschool director (a former teacher) has an M.A. Education from Irvine. 

A lot of their peers have found their vocation in the public schools, not just because of finances, but because of the mission.  That is, they see the kids who most need to know about God being the ones in the Public Schools, (as well as their fellow teachers)  One such lady has had knives pulled on her, students assigned a police officer to accompany the student everywhere on campus (per judge's order)

To say that the only reason for turning out teachers is to teacher our kids, in our schools, shows a worldview that is neither Christian nor more precisely, Lutheran/Evangelical catholic. We need our universities training people in all vocations in all places.  And in the process, revealing to students the depth of God's love for them. 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 31, 2017, 11:55:13 AM
Dear Justified Sinner:   You probably missed the point of my post.
I strongly believe that Lutheran Schools need Lutheran Teachers.
When a faculty starts to fall below the 50% marker, there are some
valid concerns.

Bottom Line: I have personally seen teacher graduates of Seward and
River Forest go into the public school system for higher salaries.  In the
meantime Lutheran Schools need Lutheran Teachers.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: LCMS87 on May 31, 2017, 12:03:09 PM
One of the sad statistics concerns the LCMS elementary schools.  For the past several
decades, the faculties of most Lutheran schools have staffed less than 50% LCMS trained
teachers.  Our 10 Concordia Universities are not attracting many students who want to
 teach in the classrooms of our Lutheran elementary schools.  Seward and River Forest
have traditionally been the "Teacher Factories".  Is anyone concerned that we no longer
are filling our Lutheran schools with Lutheran teachers?

There are many other factors involved in the statistic you identify.  The reality is that we have far, far more LCMS trained teachers than those we have teaching in our elementary schools. 

Many are no longer teaching, or are teaching for far better salaries in public schools.  Various congregational policies, insufficient wages, family issues, etc. are involved in causing LCMS trained teachers not to continue in the vocation for which they were trained.  Wages are an important factor, but often seem to be the final straw.  The teacher would have continued if other issues weren't present.  And of course, these factors have little if anything to do with the Concordia University System. 

I am concerned that we are no longer filling our Lutheran schools with Lutheran teachers, but you can train all the teachers you want and it won't change things if you haven't addressed the retention issue. 

(My wife is an elementary education graduate of one of our Concordias, as are my two sisters.  All of them taught in LCMS parishes after college.  One of the three currently is teaching in a Lutheran elementary school, though with reductions in enrollment she doesn't have a position next year.  The other two have been out of the teaching profession for more than two decades.  Many of my wife's friends from college years also trained in elementary education.  At least two thirds of them are no longer in Lutheran schools.  The retention problem may even have something to do with attracting students to prepare for the profession.) 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Eileen Smith on May 31, 2017, 12:22:09 PM
One of the sad statistics concerns the LCMS elementary schools.  For the past several
decades, the faculties of most Lutheran schools have staffed less than 50% LCMS trained
teachers.  Our 10 Concordia Universities are not attracting many students who want to
 teach in the classrooms of our Lutheran elementary schools.  Seward and River Forest
have traditionally been the "Teacher Factories".  Is anyone concerned that we no longer
are filling our Lutheran schools with Lutheran teachers?

What might be considered the flip side, speaking from the East, many of our Lutheran schools are filled with a good number of non-Lutheran children -- other Protestant denominations, Roman Catholic, and even Muslim.  In some of the cities parents are looking for an alternative to public schools   Quite honestly, I don't think our schools out here could exist if we depended on the Lutheran population.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: LCMS87 on May 31, 2017, 12:27:57 PM
And the Lutheran teachers currently serving might well be sufficient if enrollment was limited to children from Lutheran homes--not that I'm suggesting we implement such an idea.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mark Brown on May 31, 2017, 12:29:12 PM
So - one man's opinion - cut loose more of the Concordias, and hone in on The Big Three (Seward, RF, Wisconsin) plus One Seminary as the way to aspire to the mission of providing vital Lutheran Christian training through the 21st century. Students would and could come through that "system" wearing their Lutheran Christianity with ease and grace in an ever-changing world.  That's what I would do if I were king.

I have heard this entertained in the past and I think that it has been discussed in more recent times, especially when it was feared that the trends in California would spread outward.  I think it is worth exploring, for I agree with you that the Corcordias have long since become more universities with a Christian character and less 'feeder' schools for church work professions.  I'll confess, though, I wouldn't necessarily want to be on the task force charged with determining which stayed and which ones were cut loose, especially when it came to the seminaries.  The politics here would bring a lot of heat to the discussion.

Here is the thing that I've never understood about the Concordia System, and this is a problem in Lutheranism in general.  Why did the LCMS never attempt to build at least one "competitive" university.  The Calvinists did/do this quite well, and they are all well run institutions.  But, if you are an academically striving Lutheran student, who would like to consider a Lutheran church school, you really don't have a viable option.  The Concordia's (gross generalization warning) are not competitive institutions academically.  There are various "in the Lutheran tradition" places, but they are not really Lutheran in the sense of an active mission to form students.  Grove City wants to form Calvinists.  Wheaton wants to form Evangelicals.  Baylor wants to form Baptists.  And they are all serious about that to the point of strong core curriculums, faculty decisions and chapels.  And those are just the tip.  Lutherans?  Not so much. 

Looking at this as a parent more now and less as a student, I encourage Big State U Engineering.  If the kid insists upon humanities, one of the competitive Calvinist places.  You get the academic prep without the leftist whack-a-doodle formation (or at least sidestep most of it).  And the degree is in general accepted.  Both things - real Christian formation in a living tradition and academic rigor - can go together.  As the whack-a-doodle spreads, Christian colleges might be the only true place for real education.  It would be nice to have one Lutheran option.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: pr dtp on May 31, 2017, 01:10:59 PM
Dear Justified Sinner:   You probably missed the point of my post.
I strongly believe that Lutheran Schools need Lutheran Teachers.
When a faculty starts to fall below the 50% marker, there are some
valid concerns.

Bottom Line: I have personally seen teacher graduates of Seward and
River Forest go into the public school system for higher salaries.  In the
meantime Lutheran Schools need Lutheran Teachers.

dear Mr. Likeness,
I understand what you are saying, and I disagree with the premise that the primary teachers we are to be training are for our schools, to teach our kids.
The lady I mentioned above had a call to a big Lutheran school, with a competitive income (even before the benefit of the housing allowance )  Not all Lutheran schools offer below poverty line salaries.  And not all Lutheran teachers go into public schools for the money.  IN fact, the money still isn't that great.  Not compared to the educational debt incurred.

She found her vocation teaching in a public school, where her children are often raised by one parent while the other is in the state penitentiary nearby.  Where she is challenged and threatened with assault regularly.  This is as valid a call as any in our system, and it is a place where our universities need to be training people to go and serve. That is part of what a Christian university should be doing, as opposed to the hoarding you suggest.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 31, 2017, 01:23:46 PM
So - one man's opinion - cut loose more of the Concordias, and hone in on The Big Three (Seward, RF, Wisconsin) plus One Seminary as the way to aspire to the mission of providing vital Lutheran Christian training through the 21st century. Students would and could come through that "system" wearing their Lutheran Christianity with ease and grace in an ever-changing world.  That's what I would do if I were king.

I have heard this entertained in the past and I think that it has been discussed in more recent times, especially when it was feared that the trends in California would spread outward.  I think it is worth exploring, for I agree with you that the Corcordias have long since become more universities with a Christian character and less 'feeder' schools for church work professions.  I'll confess, though, I wouldn't necessarily want to be on the task force charged with determining which stayed and which ones were cut loose, especially when it came to the seminaries.  The politics here would bring a lot of heat to the discussion.

Here is the thing that I've never understood about the Concordia System, and this is a problem in Lutheranism in general.  Why did the LCMS never attempt to build at least one "competitive" university.  The Calvinists did/do this quite well, and they are all well run institutions.  But, if you are an academically striving Lutheran student, who would like to consider a Lutheran church school, you really don't have a viable option.  The Concordia's (gross generalization warning) are not competitive institutions academically.  There are various "in the Lutheran tradition" places, but they are not really Lutheran in the sense of an active mission to form students.  Grove City wants to form Calvinists.  Wheaton wants to form Evangelicals.  Baylor wants to form Baptists.  And they are all serious about that to the point of strong core curriculums, faculty decisions and chapels.  And those are just the tip.  Lutherans?  Not so much. 

Looking at this as a parent more now and less as a student, I encourage Big State U Engineering.  If the kid insists upon humanities, one of the competitive Calvinist places.  You get the academic prep without the leftist whack-a-doodle formation (or at least sidestep most of it).  And the degree is in general accepted.  Both things - real Christian formation in a living tradition and academic rigor - can go together.  As the whack-a-doodle spreads, Christian colleges might be the only true place for real education.  It would be nice to have one Lutheran option.

I've been out of the system for a while, so it's hard for me to know just how strong the universities are in terms of Lutheran identity.  When the Concordia university structure was put in place it seemed like the direction was going to be making the various schools more viable by opening them up to a much wider variety of programs with the intent of attracting a greater variety of students.  When I was at Concordia-St.Paul back in the 80's the pre-sem population was significant.  I suspect it's a fraction of its former size now, even though CSP undoubtedly has a much larger enrollment.  Now it seems the various Concordias are known - or want to be known - more for other programs like pharmacy (Concordia-Wisconsin). 

I hear what Peter is saying about the seminaries, but wonder if each institution still serves a somewhat unique purpose in the synod that would be lost if the two were combined.  And would combining them necessarily increase the number of overall students we attract?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 31, 2017, 01:36:35 PM
Adequate salaries for Lutheran elementary school teachers will always be a challenge.
Some of our urban and suburban Lutheran school principals make an effort to know
exactly what the salaries are in the public elementary schools in their area.  They try
to be competitive with their salary scale.  Obviously, the Lutheran schools need to offer
a good salary to their teachers if they hope to retain them.    It is an admirable task for
a congregation to adequately support their teachers on a financial basis.   
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Daniel L. Gard on May 31, 2017, 01:41:07 PM
This is an interesting conversation. I am thankful that it has drifted from speculation about Portland - speculation that is devoid of facts. I would suggest prayer and awaiting official comments about what this all means.

Two quick issues. First, I disagree with an assertion that the Concordias are not competitive academically. None are Ivy League. Nor has that ever been the mission of the schools. But within our mission of higher education grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ these are exemplary institutions.

Second, the lack of Church work students cannot be blamed on the Concordias not attracting them. The fact is that we do not set a young person on the path to a Churchly vocation. That happens in the home, the parish and perhaps the Lutheran school. By the time they begin a college search they may already be locked onto a different secular vocation. Vocational formation begins at a very young age. It is an easy thing to blame the colleges when we all fail to shape the next generation while they are young.

One pastor complained that the Concordias are not wall-to-wall Church work students. I asked him how long he had been in his parish "13 years". And then I asked him how many kids he had sent to any Concordia in any Church vocation. The answer was "None". That is the problem.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 31, 2017, 01:57:49 PM
President Gard is correct about the home, the parish, and the Lutheran School
as the places where future church workers are encouraged to consider the
possibility.   Parents are an important part of the process to encourage their
children to serve the Lord as a pastor or teacher.  When a local Lutheran parish
is alive and healthy, it becomes a fertile field for planting the seed to be a church
worker.  Pastors can have a tremendous impact on guiding students in their
confirmation classes to consider being a pastor or teacher.  The same is true of
those teachers in a Lutheran elementary school who instruct 7th and 8th graders.

Bottom Line: Parents, Pastors, and Teachers are on the front line and should actively
encourage the possibility of becoming a full-time church worker.

Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on May 31, 2017, 02:16:28 PM
 a lot of PK's became pastors in the olden times...
I wonder if you asked present day pastors if they hoped or would be happy, if their kids became pastors, what would be the greatest number of responses... 

my GUESS is that many would not be as pleased or pleasantly surprised as in the old days of those following in their footsteps vocationally... 

in fact, I wonder, with burnouts and parishes that are souring experiences ... many might discourage their kids from become pastors or teachers...  or am I wrong?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on May 31, 2017, 02:22:43 PM
no... let us not argue women's ordination... but, if the LCMS had WO, the number of students studying for the pastoral ministry might be different... if it is roughly 50% in the ELCA and more than a few in the NALC, LCMC ... that might also explain some of the numbers...

are women keeping up the numbers in those church bodies that allow WO or since they are present in significant numbers is the recruiting of men become not so important ...  ??
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: James_Gale on May 31, 2017, 02:29:19 PM
I went to a church college. But unlike the LCMS, our church colleges were not primarily to train teachers and preachers.
At my college, the faith and "Lutheranism" were constant presences. Chapel was held daily and attendance at least three times a week was required. I believe a certain number of religion courses were required of all students. The campus pastor was very visible and the Lutheran Student Association was active. The campus pastor wrote occasionally for the school newspaper.
Only a handful of us - maybe 20 out of 800 students - were headed for seminary and there was a "pre-the" curriculum that included additional religion courses and Greek. (You could major in religion, but I didn't. Majored in English.)
Not all professors were visibly "Lutheran," but some were and you saw them in church on Sunday.
The atmosphere on campus was clearly Christian and Lutheran. What else would one want in a church college? Is the new "model" Liberty University or Brigham Young where all students, no matter what their faith, must sign certain agreements to act certain ways, where certain scholarly roads are blocked?


My college experience in many respects matched yours.  I am grateful for all that Gustavus Adolphus College gave me as a student.  I have served the College's governing board now for 17 years and counting. 


Our ties to the church remain important.  But they are different; noticeably looser.  Into the 1960s, Gustavus was the Minnesota college of the Augustana Synod.  The church provided more than half of the College's operating funds.  (Unfortunately, this led College leaders to devote little effort to fundraising, viewing the church as the College's endowment.)  The church today provides no direct financial support, although involvement by congregations, pastors, and others in the church remains of great value to the College.


We still have daily chapel services.  Attendance has been voluntary since well before I arrived in 1979.  Attendance today is depressingly small.  Many of us regret the diminished influence of the church and the faith on the College's daily life.  But we all realize that we can't simply go back in time.  Gustavus once was the Minnesota college of the Swedish Lutheran church.  The pastors, professors, students, and staff nearly all came from Swedish Lutheran congregations.  The ties between church and College were close to seamless.  That's no longer the case.  So we have had no choice but to transform into something different--a College that still is Lutheran, but less pervasively so.


You end your post with this:  "What else would one want in a church college? Is the new "model" Liberty University or Brigham Young where all students, no matter what their faith, must sign certain agreements to act certain ways, where certain scholarly roads are blocked?"

You don't seem to recognize that whatever its approach, a college blocks, or at leasts make difficult, "certain scholarly roads." At Gustavus, you'd be hard-pressed to find a scholarly road such as those blazed and paved by Liberty and BYU.  From my perspective, the right question is not whether a college blocks any roads, but whether it actually educates in line with what it promises.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mark Brown on May 31, 2017, 03:01:44 PM
This is an interesting conversation. I am thankful that it has drifted from speculation about Portland - speculation that is devoid of facts. I would suggest prayer and awaiting official comments about what this all means.

Two quick issues. First, I disagree with an assertion that the Concordias are not competitive academically. None are Ivy League. Nor has that ever been the mission of the schools. But within our mission of higher education grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ these are exemplary institutions.

Second, the lack of Church work students cannot be blamed on the Concordias not attracting them. The fact is that we do not set a young person on the path to a Churchly vocation. That happens in the home, the parish and perhaps the Lutheran school. By the time they begin a college search they may already be locked onto a different secular vocation. Vocational formation begins at a very young age. It is an easy thing to blame the colleges when we all fail to shape the next generation while they are young.

One pastor complained that the Concordias are not wall-to-wall Church work students. I asked him how long he had been in his parish "13 years". And then I asked him how many kids he had sent to any Concordia in any Church vocation. The answer was "None". That is the problem.

I'm not saying Ivy League.  I'm just saying that we don't have one in the Princeton Review list of ~380.  We top out on the US News in the 20's on the regional lists.  The admissions scores are all minimally selective.  None of that is a reflection on the education provided.  And as Pr. Engebretson said, the focus has been on vocational fields (i.e. Pharmacy, Education).  But you are telling me that out of a 10 colleges system, we couldn't make one into a highly competitive place?

This has an impact on your second assertions.  I agree that a Churchly vocation probably starts in the home.  But I have seen myself Grove City take people without much if any of a churchly background and send them on the Westminster Seminary.  And these were not academic non-entities, but often the best students.  I've seen the same thing with high school friends who went to a couple of other places (Wheaton and Steubenville) where a church vocation was the last thing on their minds.  College, especially for bright kids, is the kairos time to persuade on life philosophy and vocation.  A philosophy major could go to law school, med school, business school or seminary (or just make coffee at Starbucks).  We just completely ignore that.   

There are all kinds of margins for people agreeing to follow, saying send me, to a church vocation.  Financial, academic, holiness, philosophical, and others, and we basically say we don't want to call on any of those margins.  We only work on the sociological vocational line, and we are treading the Mendoza line at that.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on May 31, 2017, 03:04:57 PM
no... let us not argue women's ordination... but, if the LCMS had WO, the number of students studying for the pastoral ministry might be different... if it is roughly 50% in the ELCA and more than a few in the NALC, LCMC ... that might also explain some of the numbers...

are women keeping up the numbers in those church bodies that allow WO or since they are present in significant numbers is the recruiting of men become not so important ...  ??

FWIW, when I was at PLTS 25-30 years ago, women were just reaching 50% of the student population of the 8 independent ELCA seminaries.  Today the total student population of the ELCA seminaries (of which there will be only 7 in the fall, 3 of which are, or will soon be, graduate schools of ELCA universities) is less than half of what it was then, and that includes the significant numbers of students matriculating via distance learning. 

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mark Brown on May 31, 2017, 03:49:42 PM
no... let us not argue women's ordination... but, if the LCMS had WO, the number of students studying for the pastoral ministry might be different... if it is roughly 50% in the ELCA and more than a few in the NALC, LCMC ... that might also explain some of the numbers...

are women keeping up the numbers in those church bodies that allow WO or since they are present in significant numbers is the recruiting of men become not so important ...  ??

FWIW, when I was at PLTS 25-30 years ago, women were just reaching 50% of the student population of the 8 independent ELCA seminaries.  Today the total student population of the ELCA seminaries (of which there will be only 7 in the fall, 3 of which are, or will soon be, graduate schools of ELCA universities) is less than half of what it was then, and that includes the significant numbers of students matriculating via distance learning. 

Pax, Steven+

I'll say what my mom used to say.  "Admitting women is a temporary institutional financial solution".  What she meant by that was yes, you get an immediate uptick in enrollment which keeps an institution solvent.  Mom would continue is a very un-PC way.  She'd say, "the system reacts.  Frist, less men go into the field, second, wages go down, and third you end up at a lower point than where you started."  Of course she'd continue with the assertion that the way the LCMS would solve it would be "by admitting any warm male body. They will just pass the buck to the trusting congregations.  But at least when it falls apart, we won't have to undo WO." 

I can't tell you how many times I heard that spiel from her.  And of course 15 - 25 year old me wouldn't believe it.  It went against everything I was taught by my secular education.  I think I even once used the phrase "false consciousness".   I never realized I grew up with Cassandra as my mom.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mbecker on May 31, 2017, 06:05:00 PM
Mailings from Valpo, an excellent school, make clear that Islam and Muslims are every bit as much a part of the mission and purpose of the place as Christians. That's fine if the mission and purpose of the place is purely secular. But if so, in what sense is it Lutheran? Why not just go to Purdue? But if the mission and purpose of the place is a natural aspect of church, what church? And what is churchly about it if it is for Muslims as much as for Christians?

This is why I asked my question earlier.  If Portland patterns itself after Valpo their identity changes significantly, especially in terms of the priority of the Christian identity and message.  Given Portland's history with the LCMS, I wouldn't expect it to transform over night.  It would continue to look and act much as it did before.  However, like Valpo it would eventually change and become more like a secular university.  Once the synodical restrictions were fully removed it would determine its direction from other sources.

Having taught at CUP for a decade (1994-2004), and having been a student there in the early '80s, and having kept in touch with a few faculty there since I left for Valpo, I have some perspective on the place. (I helped to write the chapter on the history of Concordia, Portland, in the centennial book I co-edited with long-time CUP faculty member, Hans Spalteholz.) Having now taught at Valpo for more than a decade, I am in a better position than most to compare the two institutions. My sense is that Valpo is far more church-related than CUP has been in the past three decades (since the retirements of Spalteholz, Reinisch, Scheck, Wohlbrecht, Brandt, and esp. Pres. E. P. Weber). There's no comparison between the variety and amount of church-relation programming and activities that Valpo carries out in a typical year (e.g., ILS, twice-a-year "stole and scroll," the large church-relations staff and their new digs, the centrality of the Chapel of the Resurrection at the heart of the campus, two campus pastors, SALT, summer church-related conferences, annual church-related lecture series, the six two-year Lilly post-doctoral fellowships and the weekly Lilly-Fellow colloquium that discusses issues in church-related higher education, etc.) and what CUP has done over the course of many years. Valpo's theo dept is several times larger than CUP's, despite CUP having a larger student body (made up of mostly online and commuter students).

Although Valpo's "church-relatedness" gets tested each year in multiple ways, there are structures in place at Valpo that keep that "relatedness" alive and flourishing, whereas CUP has very limited ways and means of maintaining its ecclesial relationship, even through its formal and historic ties to the LCMS.

As I have shared in another online forum recently, I suspect that current LCMS leadership sees no real long-term benefit from CUP in terms of professional church worker graduates, that current LCMS leaders remember a history of theological headaches that former theo faculty at CUP gave them, and, most importantly, that these same LCMS leaders would prefer to consolidate the synod's higher-education resources into one or two universities over which these leaders can still exert some theological influence. I doubt that the LCMS will get much $$ from a disengagement with CUP, but maybe a little. And these days, the LCMS needs all the financial help it can get. On the other hand, CUP doesn't want to have to fill a presidential vacancy under the current LCMS set-up, risking that the person called to that position would be someone of Harrison's stripe. If the CUP board can hold on to the current pres. for a little while longer, and get unhinged from the LCMS rules, then it will be in a better position to call someone of its own choosing. It can also move farther away from the classic liberal arts heritage of its past 100 years and move more in the direction of a business-savvy, profit-driven model of higher education, one that favors online instruction, a large adjunct faculty, and a limited full-time faculty.

While Valpo and many other church-related universities face anti-Christian pressures, particularly in the area of curriculum requirements, CUP seems to be succumbing to even greater pressures. CUP's administrative ties to the Lutheran ethos are slim and getting slimmer. The current administration seems not to have much interest in or use for the classic liberal arts, which used to be at the heart of CUP's mission as a "church-related liberal arts college" in the Lutheran tradition. It is hard for me to see how CUP will maintain its Lutheran character and church-relatedness by becoming unhinged from the LCMS. It doesn't have the same history or ethos as Valpo does (whose own church-relatedness, as I mentioned, does get tested now and then). Theology will get more and more marginalized in the CUP curriculum. Theology is already excluded de facto from several of its majors/programs, many of which are taught entirely online by outsourced, adjunct faculty who have no ties to the ethos and tradition of the institution.

Back in the day, I may have welcomed this kind of CUP disengagement from the LCMS, if someone like an E. P. Weber were in place as prez, the BOD had strong ties to all of the regional Lutheran churches, and the institution's policies favored a strong liberal-arts curriculum that had a central place for required courses in Christian theology. But I see this development, under current conditions, as a major shift away from CUP's Lutheran character and mission as a church-related liberal-arts university.

Matt Becker
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Rob Morris on May 31, 2017, 09:32:57 PM
This is an interesting conversation. I am thankful that it has drifted from speculation about Portland - speculation that is devoid of facts. I would suggest prayer and awaiting official comments about what this all means.

Two quick issues. First, I disagree with an assertion that the Concordias are not competitive academically. None are Ivy League. Nor has that ever been the mission of the schools. But within our mission of higher education grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ these are exemplary institutions.

Second, the lack of Church work students cannot be blamed on the Concordias not attracting them. The fact is that we do not set a young person on the path to a Churchly vocation. That happens in the home, the parish and perhaps the Lutheran school. By the time they begin a college search they may already be locked onto a different secular vocation. Vocational formation begins at a very young age. It is an easy thing to blame the colleges when we all fail to shape the next generation while they are young.

One pastor complained that the Concordias are not wall-to-wall Church work students. I asked him how long he had been in his parish "13 years". And then I asked him how many kids he had sent to any Concordia in any Church vocation. The answer was "None". That is the problem.

I'm not saying Ivy League.  I'm just saying that we don't have one in the Princeton Review list of ~380.  We top out on the US News in the 20's on the regional lists.  The admissions scores are all minimally selective.  None of that is a reflection on the education provided.  And as Pr. Engebretson said, the focus has been on vocational fields (i.e. Pharmacy, Education).  But you are telling me that out of a 10 colleges system, we couldn't make one into a highly competitive place?

This has an impact on your second assertions.  I agree that a Churchly vocation probably starts in the home.  But I have seen myself Grove City take people without much if any of a churchly background and send them on the Westminster Seminary.  And these were not academic non-entities, but often the best students.  I've seen the same thing with high school friends who went to a couple of other places (Wheaton and Steubenville) where a church vocation was the last thing on their minds.  College, especially for bright kids, is the kairos time to persuade on life philosophy and vocation.  A philosophy major could go to law school, med school, business school or seminary (or just make coffee at Starbucks).  We just completely ignore that.   

There are all kinds of margins for people agreeing to follow, saying send me, to a church vocation.  Financial, academic, holiness, philosophical, and others, and we basically say we don't want to call on any of those margins.  We only work on the sociological vocational line, and we are treading the Mendoza line at that.

I am a Grove City grad, one who went on to an M.Div. at Gordon-Conwell. Though my reasons had nothing to do with the theological faculty at Grove City (long story - I was a Business and Communications double-major), I can share my observations.

For starters, Grove City is non-denominational, not Calvinist. Theology faculty are multiple different denominations and viewpoints. Chapel services are non-denominational. That said, their strongest theology professors are/were Calvinist (T. David Gordon was a campus favorite when I was there; probably still is - and would deserve to be). Every student had to take some core courses, including a theology/Christian thought overview (if memory serves, this was Humanities 201 or 202). Because it isn't a publish-or-perish institute, all of these were taught by tenure-track professors, never pawned off on a TA/Adjunct.

I had friends who weren't considering theology/Christian thought at all, loved the Humanities course, made that their major, then went on to Westminster or RTS (both of which I think are Calvinist affiliated), or who went to Trinity or Gordon-Conwell (both non-denominational) though often pursuing a Calvinist accreditation/ordination. Of course, in many non-LCMS denominations you can be ordained without going to one of their denomination-run seminaries.

What's the cash value of all this? I have advocated for it before: I personally don't think we need LCMS-affiliated undergrad institutions at all (with many apologies to those serving in those roles - no offense intended, I just don't think it's a necessity). I definitely don't think we need two half-full seminaries - one should be plenty. I think we need to fund chairs/professorships at the top Christian colleges and seminaries. I think we then need to formalize a path for the students who are being mentored by those professors to become rostered in the LCMS. Other denominations already do this (Adventist and Episcopal churches both did this at Gordon-Conwell)

Seriously, even with the small amount, percentage-wise, the LCMS kicks to the CUS schools, how many tenured positions could we fund? 10? 20? More? How many young people could be mentored in the direction of full-time Lutheran church work by these professors?

It's undoubtedly influenced by the fact that I am not an alum of anything named Concordia except for a single semester of post-grad work to meet colloquy requirements. It's just as undoubtedly a pipe dream. But if we really want bright, engaged and engaging young men and women to take up leadership roles in our church, wouldn't it make sense to go where the bright, engaged and engaging young men and women are... rather than hope they come to us?

And since the most formative influences tend to be the professors who mentor, not the infrastructure, why continue to fund so much infrastructure nationwide?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 31, 2017, 09:38:44 PM
Second, the lack of Church work students cannot be blamed on the Concordias not attracting them. The fact is that we do not set a young person on the path to a Churchly vocation. That happens in the home, the parish and perhaps the Lutheran school. By the time they begin a college search they may already be locked onto a different secular vocation. Vocational formation begins at a very young age. It is an easy thing to blame the colleges when we all fail to shape the next generation while they are young.

One pastor complained that the Concordias are not wall-to-wall Church work students. I asked him how long he had been in his parish "13 years". And then I asked him how many kids he had sent to any Concordia in any Church vocation. The answer was "None". That is the problem.

This is a good point.  I suspect the reasons that more students are not generated by the home, parish and school is varied.  I have often wondered if part of this concerns how the current generation views the church as compared to previous generations.  I also wonder if the status and treatment of the pastor in today's church compared to previous generations influences PKs away from the ministry.  Looking back on my own path I know that I was encouraged by my parochial school teacher and pastors, and this was in the 1970's when we were going through a rough patch in our synodical history.  However, the events in St. Louis did not impact my parish and the pastoral staff remained unified.  The divisiveness brought on by the 'worship wars' was still years in the future.  So much has changed since those days.  Is it that pastors are not adequately encouraging young men to pursue the ministry, or is it that young men view the ministry differently than they once did?  Or is it a bit of both? I agree that we cannot lay the blame at the foot of the Concordias.  They only receive what we send to them. 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 31, 2017, 10:12:05 PM
In 2013, Concordia University, Ann Arbor began an alliance with Concordia University Wisconsin.
The President of CUW is  also the President of CUAA.  How long this arrangement will be needed
is not known.  Both of these universities have a large and beautiful campus. This is a peculiar
situation yet it bailed out Concordia, Ann Arbor at the time.  To keep 10 Concordia Universities
open is going to take plenty of financial gymnastics.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on May 31, 2017, 10:24:16 PM
This is an interesting conversation. I am thankful that it has drifted from speculation about Portland - speculation that is devoid of facts. I would suggest prayer and awaiting official comments about what this all means.

Two quick issues. First, I disagree with an assertion that the Concordias are not competitive academically. None are Ivy League. Nor has that ever been the mission of the schools. But within our mission of higher education grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ these are exemplary institutions.

Second, the lack of Church work students cannot be blamed on the Concordias not attracting them. The fact is that we do not set a young person on the path to a Churchly vocation. That happens in the home, the parish and perhaps the Lutheran school. By the time they begin a college search they may already be locked onto a different secular vocation. Vocational formation begins at a very young age. It is an easy thing to blame the colleges when we all fail to shape the next generation while they are young.

One pastor complained that the Concordias are not wall-to-wall Church work students. I asked him how long he had been in his parish "13 years". And then I asked him how many kids he had sent to any Concordia in any Church vocation. The answer was "None". That is the problem.

I'm not saying Ivy League.  I'm just saying that we don't have one in the Princeton Review list of ~380.  We top out on the US News in the 20's on the regional lists.  The admissions scores are all minimally selective.  None of that is a reflection on the education provided.  And as Pr. Engebretson said, the focus has been on vocational fields (i.e. Pharmacy, Education).  But you are telling me that out of a 10 colleges system, we couldn't make one into a highly competitive place?

This has an impact on your second assertions.  I agree that a Churchly vocation probably starts in the home.  But I have seen myself Grove City take people without much if any of a churchly background and send them on the Westminster Seminary.  And these were not academic non-entities, but often the best students.  I've seen the same thing with high school friends who went to a couple of other places (Wheaton and Steubenville) where a church vocation was the last thing on their minds.  College, especially for bright kids, is the kairos time to persuade on life philosophy and vocation.  A philosophy major could go to law school, med school, business school or seminary (or just make coffee at Starbucks).  We just completely ignore that.   

There are all kinds of margins for people agreeing to follow, saying send me, to a church vocation.  Financial, academic, holiness, philosophical, and others, and we basically say we don't want to call on any of those margins.  We only work on the sociological vocational line, and we are treading the Mendoza line at that.

I am a Grove City grad, one who went on to an M.Div. at Gordon-Conwell. Though my reasons had nothing to do with the theological faculty at Grove City (long story - I was a Business and Communications double-major), I can share my observations.

For starters, Grove City is non-denominational, not Calvinist. Theology faculty are multiple different denominations and viewpoints. Chapel services are non-denominational. That said, their strongest theology professors are/were Calvinist (T. David Gordon was a campus favorite when I was there; probably still is - and would deserve to be). Every student had to take some core courses, including a theology/Christian thought overview (if memory serves, this was Humanities 201 or 202). Because it isn't a publish-or-perish institute, all of these were taught by tenure-track professors, never pawned off on a TA/Adjunct.

I had friends who weren't considering theology/Christian thought at all, loved the Humanities course, made that their major, then went on to Westminster or RTS (both of which I think are Calvinist affiliated), or who went to Trinity or Gordon-Conwell (both non-denominational) though often pursuing a Calvinist accreditation/ordination. Of course, in many non-LCMS denominations you can be ordained without going to one of their denomination-run seminaries.

What's the cash value of all this? I have advocated for it before: I personally don't think we need LCMS-affiliated undergrad institutions at all (with many apologies to those serving in those roles - no offense intended, I just don't think it's a necessity). I definitely don't think we need two half-full seminaries - one should be plenty. I think we need to fund chairs/professorships at the top Christian colleges and seminaries. I think we then need to formalize a path for the students who are being mentored by those professors to become rostered in the LCMS. Other denominations already do this (Adventist and Episcopal churches both did this at Gordon-Conwell)

Seriously, even with the small amount, percentage-wise, the LCMS kicks to the CUS schools, how many tenured positions could we fund? 10? 20? More? How many young people could be mentored in the direction of full-time Lutheran church work by these professors?

It's undoubtedly influenced by the fact that I am not an alum of anything named Concordia except for a single semester of post-grad work to meet colloquy requirements. It's just as undoubtedly a pipe dream. But if we really want bright, engaged and engaging young men and women to take up leadership roles in our church, wouldn't it make sense to go where the bright, engaged and engaging young men and women are... rather than hope they come to us?

And since the most formative influences tend to be the professors who mentor, not the infrastructure, why continue to fund so much infrastructure nationwide?

Boom - thanks for "calling the question," Rob, in a way that's honest and helpful.

Dave Benke

Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 01, 2017, 12:17:25 AM
Once theology is one subject among many but not an over-arching framework for understanding the other subjects (art, chemistry, etc.) the basic purpose for a university will get supplied by an unspoken dogma of some other kind. Universities will exist for the purpose of job training and become strictly utilitarian from an economic standpoint. Or they will exist to transmit culture without the "cult" that is that the root of culture (as Neuhaus so often pointed out). Or they will exist with a sort of "art for art's sake, knowledge for knowledge's sake" purpose that ends up in the worship of creature rather than Creator. Or they will exist for the sake of "social progress" with nobody daring to ask what exactly is the goal whereby we determine whether something counts as progress or regression.

The anti-Christian pressure Dr. Becker talks about comes from the fields related to sociology (including most majors that end in "studies"), which do not see themselves as one subject among many but as the organizing principle of all the subjects, like theology used to be. These sociology-related fields operate like a false religion. The prof at the center of the bruhaha at Evergreen State was a biology teacher. He was advised by the police to stay away from campus because he dared go against the "studies" majors, who demand that all the subjects conform to their sociological understanding of the world. Piano performance majors do not insist that chemistry majors share their understanding of Bach's harmonizations. But "studies" majors do insist that chemistry majors share their understanding of race, whiteness, systemic oppression, colonial structures, etc. In other words, where theology vacates its role as organizing principle, sociology with all its attendant heresies and idolatries fills the vacuum.

The modern situation calls for universities with their original mission, which in our context means universities willing to be counter-cultural and in some ways opposed to the sacred cows of mainstream academia. Lutheran universities could do and be that, but not if they're too ashamed of the Gospel. A recent Valpo mailing re-interpreted their entire motto "In Thy Light, We See Light" to assure the prospective student that the student's understanding of the truth, whatever that may be, is the light Valpo wants to go by. Crazy. Sad.

Valpo is a fine secular university. One can learn about Lutheranism there, and engineering, and music, just like a pretty decent public university. They have Lutheran campus pastors, just like many public universities. What Valpo lacks is Lutheranism as the organizing principle behind its raison d' etre, the thing that gives context, relevance, and order to all the subjects taught. Like at any public university, sociology has replaced theology at Valpo. Theology is one subject. Sociology is more than that. A math major can go through Valpo or a public university unscathed by Lutheran dogma, but not unscathed by lgbtq dogma. That leaks out of the gender studies department and into all of campus life. At public universities, diversity and inclusion coordinators see to that, who don't necessarily teach with expertise in any particular art or science but rather meddle in all the disciplines with their worldview.

And Valpo is not much different, I would guess. Any random prof of this or that subject could easily deny this or that article of the Augsburg Confession under cover of academic freedom. But if they publicly and forcefully denied the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declared Islam a false and destructive religion, or promoted the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum, all of which would fall well within the bounds of Lutheran teaching, well, they might survive with their job but they would certainly stir up a hornet's nest. Because Valpo is more concerned about its secular academic reputation, which is good but which depends upon the approval of the priests of sociology, than it is about the Augsburg Confession being presented as true. Which is a bummer, because it wouldn't have to be that way.   

 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: John_Hannah on June 01, 2017, 08:42:33 AM
Having taught at CUP for a decade (1994-2004), and having been a student there in the early '80s, and having kept in touch with a few faculty there since I left for Valpo, I have some perspective on the place. (I helped to write the chapter on the history of Concordia, Portland, in the centennial book I co-edited with long-time CUP faculty member, Hans Spalteholz.) Having now taught at Valpo for more than a decade, I am in a better position than most to compare the two institutions. My sense is that Valpo is far more church-related than CUP has been in the past three decades (since the retirements of Spalteholz, Reinisch, Scheck, Wohlbrecht, Brandt, and esp. Pres. E. P. Weber). There's no comparison between the variety and amount of church-relation programming and activities that Valpo carries out in a typical year (e.g., ILS, twice-a-year "stole and scroll," the large church-relations staff and their new digs, the centrality of the Chapel of the Resurrection at the heart of the campus, two campus pastors, SALT, summer church-related conferences, annual church-related lecture series, the six two-year Lilly post-doctoral fellowships and the weekly Lilly-Fellow colloquium that discusses issues in church-related higher education, etc.) and what CUP has done over the course of many years. Valpo's theo dept is several times larger than CUP's, despite CUP having a larger student body (made up of mostly online and commuter students).

Matt Becker

Do you still sponsor the annual Liturgical Conference?

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on June 01, 2017, 08:44:46 AM
This is an interesting conversation. I am thankful that it has drifted from speculation about Portland - speculation that is devoid of facts. I would suggest prayer and awaiting official comments about what this all means.

Two quick issues. First, I disagree with an assertion that the Concordias are not competitive academically. None are Ivy League. Nor has that ever been the mission of the schools. But within our mission of higher education grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ these are exemplary institutions.

Second, the lack of Church work students cannot be blamed on the Concordias not attracting them. The fact is that we do not set a young person on the path to a Churchly vocation. That happens in the home, the parish and perhaps the Lutheran school. By the time they begin a college search they may already be locked onto a different secular vocation. Vocational formation begins at a very young age. It is an easy thing to blame the colleges when we all fail to shape the next generation while they are young.

One pastor complained that the Concordias are not wall-to-wall Church work students. I asked him how long he had been in his parish "13 years". And then I asked him how many kids he had sent to any Concordia in any Church vocation. The answer was "None". That is the problem.

I'm not saying Ivy League.  I'm just saying that we don't have one in the Princeton Review list of ~380.  We top out on the US News in the 20's on the regional lists.  The admissions scores are all minimally selective.  None of that is a reflection on the education provided.  And as Pr. Engebretson said, the focus has been on vocational fields (i.e. Pharmacy, Education).  But you are telling me that out of a 10 colleges system, we couldn't make one into a highly competitive place?

This has an impact on your second assertions.  I agree that a Churchly vocation probably starts in the home.  But I have seen myself Grove City take people without much if any of a churchly background and send them on the Westminster Seminary.  And these were not academic non-entities, but often the best students.  I've seen the same thing with high school friends who went to a couple of other places (Wheaton and Steubenville) where a church vocation was the last thing on their minds.  College, especially for bright kids, is the kairos time to persuade on life philosophy and vocation.  A philosophy major could go to law school, med school, business school or seminary (or just make coffee at Starbucks).  We just completely ignore that.   

There are all kinds of margins for people agreeing to follow, saying send me, to a church vocation.  Financial, academic, holiness, philosophical, and others, and we basically say we don't want to call on any of those margins.  We only work on the sociological vocational line, and we are treading the Mendoza line at that.

The best effort the Missouri Synod ever undertook in the modern era was the Senior College at Fort Wayne.  Although it was set up as a specialized school for pre-seminary male students, its course offerings produced a bachelor of arts with concentrations/majors in five or six arenas.  A significant portion of the student body did not go on to the seminary, and instead went to graduate school or into the work force in those areas of concentration.   And often those grad schools, based on the requirement of the Graduate Record Exam, were to Ivy League or other top shelf universities.  So the rigor of the academic model at the Senior College, the stockpiling of high-quality teaching talent, and the select-out process of the "system" which had been weeding out students since the first year of high school all conspired together to make the Senior College our best ever church-body-sponsored effort.  It would, in that era, not have been "graded", I don't think, as to its top-shelfness.  But it had that mojo.

The goal was that students, who were viewed as potentially going into the ordained ministry, be allowed, encouraged and in a sense given no other option than to become able critical thinkers.  It was in pretty much every regard what The Classical Educational model attempts today.

The two ways in the Missouri Synod that this model could be undertaken would be
a) to allow a number of the Concordias to go their own way, and focus on the three schools with critical mass to allow them the time to develop such a model as a core principle of their institutions
b) to allow a number of the Concordias to go their own way and then build one new institution solely on that model

An existing or potentially existing independent Lutheran college/university could attempt that as well, but it would have to be done from inside their already-existing programs.

That's pretty big thinking and I don't think it's church-politically possible, or that a board would take the risk.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on June 01, 2017, 08:59:07 AM
Yes, Bp Benke, Amen to your analysis of the Senior College AND to that end I also edit and change your first true statement to read:  The WORST effort the Missouri Synod ever undertook in the modern era was the CLOSING/DESTRUCTION OF the Senior College at Fort Wayne.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mark Brown on June 01, 2017, 09:05:29 AM
This is an interesting conversation. I am thankful that it has drifted from speculation about Portland - speculation that is devoid of facts. I would suggest prayer and awaiting official comments about what this all means.

Two quick issues. First, I disagree with an assertion that the Concordias are not competitive academically. None are Ivy League. Nor has that ever been the mission of the schools. But within our mission of higher education grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ these are exemplary institutions.

Second, the lack of Church work students cannot be blamed on the Concordias not attracting them. The fact is that we do not set a young person on the path to a Churchly vocation. That happens in the home, the parish and perhaps the Lutheran school. By the time they begin a college search they may already be locked onto a different secular vocation. Vocational formation begins at a very young age. It is an easy thing to blame the colleges when we all fail to shape the next generation while they are young.

One pastor complained that the Concordias are not wall-to-wall Church work students. I asked him how long he had been in his parish "13 years". And then I asked him how many kids he had sent to any Concordia in any Church vocation. The answer was "None". That is the problem.

I'm not saying Ivy League.  I'm just saying that we don't have one in the Princeton Review list of ~380.  We top out on the US News in the 20's on the regional lists.  The admissions scores are all minimally selective.  None of that is a reflection on the education provided.  And as Pr. Engebretson said, the focus has been on vocational fields (i.e. Pharmacy, Education).  But you are telling me that out of a 10 colleges system, we couldn't make one into a highly competitive place?

This has an impact on your second assertions.  I agree that a Churchly vocation probably starts in the home.  But I have seen myself Grove City take people without much if any of a churchly background and send them on the Westminster Seminary.  And these were not academic non-entities, but often the best students.  I've seen the same thing with high school friends who went to a couple of other places (Wheaton and Steubenville) where a church vocation was the last thing on their minds.  College, especially for bright kids, is the kairos time to persuade on life philosophy and vocation.  A philosophy major could go to law school, med school, business school or seminary (or just make coffee at Starbucks).  We just completely ignore that.   

There are all kinds of margins for people agreeing to follow, saying send me, to a church vocation.  Financial, academic, holiness, philosophical, and others, and we basically say we don't want to call on any of those margins.  We only work on the sociological vocational line, and we are treading the Mendoza line at that.

I am a Grove City grad, one who went on to an M.Div. at Gordon-Conwell. Though my reasons had nothing to do with the theological faculty at Grove City (long story - I was a Business and Communications double-major), I can share my observations.

For starters, Grove City is non-denominational, not Calvinist. Theology faculty are multiple different denominations and viewpoints. Chapel services are non-denominational. That said, their strongest theology professors are/were Calvinist (T. David Gordon was a campus favorite when I was there; probably still is - and would deserve to be). Every student had to take some core courses, including a theology/Christian thought overview (if memory serves, this was Humanities 201 or 202). Because it isn't a publish-or-perish institute, all of these were taught by tenure-track professors, never pawned off on a TA/Adjunct.

I had friends who weren't considering theology/Christian thought at all, loved the Humanities course, made that their major, then went on to Westminster or RTS (both of which I think are Calvinist affiliated), or who went to Trinity or Gordon-Conwell (both non-denominational) though often pursuing a Calvinist accreditation/ordination. Of course, in many non-LCMS denominations you can be ordained without going to one of their denomination-run seminaries.

What's the cash value of all this? I have advocated for it before: I personally don't think we need LCMS-affiliated undergrad institutions at all (with many apologies to those serving in those roles - no offense intended, I just don't think it's a necessity). I definitely don't think we need two half-full seminaries - one should be plenty. I think we need to fund chairs/professorships at the top Christian colleges and seminaries. I think we then need to formalize a path for the students who are being mentored by those professors to become rostered in the LCMS. Other denominations already do this (Adventist and Episcopal churches both did this at Gordon-Conwell)

Seriously, even with the small amount, percentage-wise, the LCMS kicks to the CUS schools, how many tenured positions could we fund? 10? 20? More? How many young people could be mentored in the direction of full-time Lutheran church work by these professors?

It's undoubtedly influenced by the fact that I am not an alum of anything named Concordia except for a single semester of post-grad work to meet colloquy requirements. It's just as undoubtedly a pipe dream. But if we really want bright, engaged and engaging young men and women to take up leadership roles in our church, wouldn't it make sense to go where the bright, engaged and engaging young men and women are... rather than hope they come to us?

And since the most formative influences tend to be the professors who mentor, not the infrastructure, why continue to fund so much infrastructure nationwide?

A fellow Grover.  I didn't know that.  Yes, GCC is formally non-denom, but man, your experience of the place must have been significantly different.  The entire theology faculty was various forms of Calvinist.  (There might have been 1 Arminian who mostly kept quiet.)  The chapel, mandatory, would occasionally have outside voices, but 95%+ of the time it was the Presby/Calvinist Dean, the theology department, guests like people from RC Sproul's Ligonier ministries and the faculty/admin in that same tradition - even the engineering faculty that were my main teachers.  It was always nice to see one of them pop up in Chapel.  A couple of them would start each class with prayer.  And picking up Peter Speckhard's chain, that theology was the organizing principle of the entire college. It was the question hanging in the air even when you were studying the Carnot cycle in heat transfer. 

What is that worth?  Can you replace it with a solitary voice here and there?  I'd agree that loosely affiliated, vocationally aimed, undergraduate institutions are not necessary.  If it is just about information and certification, big state u does that fine.  I'd also agree that two one third full seminaries are tough, and we should probably confront the fact that enrollment is not jumping up even to my class level any time immediately.  But I would tend to think that having one place that is a jewel would be very worth it, if not necessary.  In liquid modernity, you need a mother-house so to speak.  You need a way to actually build and replenish those mentors you talk about.  And depending upon what other people have built to help you build a core competence is a poor strategy.  Like IBM outsourcing the operating system.  If one is reduced to holding up the Episcopal church as a good example to follow?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mark Brown on June 01, 2017, 09:45:25 AM
This is an interesting conversation. I am thankful that it has drifted from speculation about Portland - speculation that is devoid of facts. I would suggest prayer and awaiting official comments about what this all means.

Two quick issues. First, I disagree with an assertion that the Concordias are not competitive academically. None are Ivy League. Nor has that ever been the mission of the schools. But within our mission of higher education grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ these are exemplary institutions.

Second, the lack of Church work students cannot be blamed on the Concordias not attracting them. The fact is that we do not set a young person on the path to a Churchly vocation. That happens in the home, the parish and perhaps the Lutheran school. By the time they begin a college search they may already be locked onto a different secular vocation. Vocational formation begins at a very young age. It is an easy thing to blame the colleges when we all fail to shape the next generation while they are young.

One pastor complained that the Concordias are not wall-to-wall Church work students. I asked him how long he had been in his parish "13 years". And then I asked him how many kids he had sent to any Concordia in any Church vocation. The answer was "None". That is the problem.

I'm not saying Ivy League.  I'm just saying that we don't have one in the Princeton Review list of ~380.  We top out on the US News in the 20's on the regional lists.  The admissions scores are all minimally selective.  None of that is a reflection on the education provided.  And as Pr. Engebretson said, the focus has been on vocational fields (i.e. Pharmacy, Education).  But you are telling me that out of a 10 colleges system, we couldn't make one into a highly competitive place?

This has an impact on your second assertions.  I agree that a Churchly vocation probably starts in the home.  But I have seen myself Grove City take people without much if any of a churchly background and send them on the Westminster Seminary.  And these were not academic non-entities, but often the best students.  I've seen the same thing with high school friends who went to a couple of other places (Wheaton and Steubenville) where a church vocation was the last thing on their minds.  College, especially for bright kids, is the kairos time to persuade on life philosophy and vocation.  A philosophy major could go to law school, med school, business school or seminary (or just make coffee at Starbucks).  We just completely ignore that.   

There are all kinds of margins for people agreeing to follow, saying send me, to a church vocation.  Financial, academic, holiness, philosophical, and others, and we basically say we don't want to call on any of those margins.  We only work on the sociological vocational line, and we are treading the Mendoza line at that.

The best effort the Missouri Synod ever undertook in the modern era was the Senior College at Fort Wayne.  Although it was set up as a specialized school for pre-seminary male students, its course offerings produced a bachelor of arts with concentrations/majors in five or six arenas.  A significant portion of the student body did not go on to the seminary, and instead went to graduate school or into the work force in those areas of concentration.   And often those grad schools, based on the requirement of the Graduate Record Exam, were to Ivy League or other top shelf universities.  So the rigor of the academic model at the Senior College, the stockpiling of high-quality teaching talent, and the select-out process of the "system" which had been weeding out students since the first year of high school all conspired together to make the Senior College our best ever church-body-sponsored effort.  It would, in that era, not have been "graded", I don't think, as to its top-shelfness.  But it had that mojo.

The goal was that students, who were viewed as potentially going into the ordained ministry, be allowed, encouraged and in a sense given no other option than to become able critical thinkers.  It was in pretty much every regard what The Classical Educational model attempts today.

The two ways in the Missouri Synod that this model could be undertaken would be
a) to allow a number of the Concordias to go their own way, and focus on the three schools with critical mass to allow them the time to develop such a model as a core principle of their institutions
b) to allow a number of the Concordias to go their own way and then build one new institution solely on that model

An existing or potentially existing independent Lutheran college/university could attempt that as well, but it would have to be done from inside their already-existing programs.

That's pretty big thinking and I don't think it's church-politically possible, or that a board would take the risk.

Dave Benke

I'd tend to agree on the church-political possibility, and the judgment that it would be perceived as risk.  Although that is the problem.

If I was starting the fly-wheel and given magical dictatorial power, I would probably start an honors program at Concordia-WI focused on the humanities, and I'd pick one, probably Ann Arbor because it is under the control of WI, and turn it into a great books curriculum.  Exactly the pearls that the secular universities even good ones are abandoning for ideological/theological reasons, I'd grab and hoard and promote the hell out of to parents.  The age of kids picking where they go (unless they are taking all the loans) is over.  I've already told my 8th grader "this is the type of thing I will pay for".

At this point I don't think we are even talking about the future, we are talking now.  What is needed are places committed to excellence because of the theology.  That looks like a risk, but look at the alternatives.  Vocationally oriented schools that do the same thing as Big State U, but more expensively.  Schools "in the Lutheran tradition" which like to fundraise, but have zero commitment to that tradition where it doesn't intersect with various *-studies.  Weak networks of "mentors" whose actual paycheck comes from someone else and who have little institutional support.  Those look like much bigger risks to me.

But then again I'm a nobody.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 01, 2017, 10:23:56 AM
If a Concordia has the same purpose as a secular school, then they should go their own way with an emphasis also on "their." I don't want to get a mailing asking for the names of my youth group members, appealing for support, or asking to put a flyer in the bulletin, etc. from a school that has gone its own way. Doesn't mean I oppose such schools, just that I don't think it appropriate to treat them differently than other schools.

So if, say, Concordia Chicago went its own way, fine. We have a lot of RF grads here at St. Paul's and it would still be a part of our congregational culture. As is Valpo. But so is Purdue a big part of our congregational culture. Between the main campus and the extension here in Hammond I would guess Purdue is a bigger presence in the lives of our students and congregation than Valpo or RF despite both of those schools being less than an hour away. So if RF went its own way, I would treat it the same way I treat Purdue or Valpo. Fine school. Go there with my blessings if you want. But sending you there as opposed to anywhere else isn't part of our congregational mission.

What has irked me about Valpo's drift apart from the LCMS is their selective sense of separateness and independence. I get their mailings as an alum, as a pastor, and as a prospective parent and now as a parent. They go back and forth about whether they are "us" or whether they are going their own way, usually depending on whether they want money or whether they want to endorse things contrary to Christianity. Quasi-relationships usually don't work because they operate on a one-way expectation of loyalty. People who break up, who go their separate ways, don't have to dislike each other, but they ought not try to dwell in some middle ground between being together and breaking up. For the LCMS, Valpo is like an ex-girlfriend who is a perfectly nice person; everything is fine except it sometimes gets a little awkward because when it suits her she sort of acts as though the relationship were still on.

It is a good school. I'm happy my daughter is going there in the fall. I went there. Three of her four grandparents went there. Most of her aunts and uncles, some of her cousins, and a great many of her great aunts and uncles, second cousins, etc. went there. The town itself is where my wife and I grew up and where three of her VU grad grandparents still live. But I don't think she is going there for any church-related reason. Apart from our family history and geography I don't think Valpo would have been on her list of schools to consider. And why would it be? Because it is a good school? So what? There is no shortage of good schools. Because it is more affordable? Not true. Because the weather in Valpo is so desirable? A matter of taste, I guess- it definitely offers a little something for everyone, climate-wise. 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 01, 2017, 10:33:17 AM
It would, in that era, not have been "graded", I don't think, as to its top-shelfness.  But it had that mojo.

The goal was that students, who were viewed as potentially going into the ordained ministry, be allowed, encouraged and in a sense given no other option than to become able critical thinkers.  It was in pretty much every regard what The Classical Educational model attempts today.

I think this is a key distinction. The "mojo" we want does not necessarily coincide with what gets good grades from U.S. News and World Reports rankings. If it did, we would simply use the schools as high up on those lists as we could. Valpo is, in terms of being graded on its top-shelfness, probably a better school today by far than it was when O.P. Kretzmann was president. But it had way more mojo back then. Now it has really nice facilities, well-regarded programs, etc. but the spirit that made it what it was merely haunts the place rather than animating it still.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on June 01, 2017, 10:49:43 AM
Valpo has also made an impact with their basketball team.  They have become an NCAA
Tournament entry on a frequent basis.  The Drew family put Valpo on the basketball map.
Now they have been admitted to the Missouri Valley Conference which is a huge upgrade
for their basketball aspirations.  Great to see Valpo on the national basketball stage.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mbecker on June 01, 2017, 10:58:50 AM
Having taught at CUP for a decade (1994-2004), and having been a student there in the early '80s, and having kept in touch with a few faculty there since I left for Valpo, I have some perspective on the place. (I helped to write the chapter on the history of Concordia, Portland, in the centennial book I co-edited with long-time CUP faculty member, Hans Spalteholz.) Having now taught at Valpo for more than a decade, I am in a better position than most to compare the two institutions. My sense is that Valpo is far more church-related than CUP has been in the past three decades (since the retirements of Spalteholz, Reinisch, Scheck, Wohlbrecht, Brandt, and esp. Pres. E. P. Weber). There's no comparison between the variety and amount of church-relation programming and activities that Valpo carries out in a typical year (e.g., ILS, twice-a-year "stole and scroll," the large church-relations staff and their new digs, the centrality of the Chapel of the Resurrection at the heart of the campus, two campus pastors, SALT, summer church-related conferences, annual church-related lecture series, the six two-year Lilly post-doctoral fellowships and the weekly Lilly-Fellow colloquium that discusses issues in church-related higher education, etc.) and what CUP has done over the course of many years. Valpo's theo dept is several times larger than CUP's, despite CUP having a larger student body (made up of mostly online and commuter students).

Matt Becker

Do you still sponsor the annual Liturgical Conference?

Peace, JOHN

Yes, I used the abbreviation for it in the above quote: ILS = Institute for Liturgical Studies.

Matt Becker
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: John_Hannah on June 01, 2017, 11:40:44 AM
Thanks, Matt; yes, ILS.  Dave Benke is right about the Senior College.  It was decades in the making, well thought through venture.  The alumni are grateful for the quality of education and pastoral formation.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on June 01, 2017, 12:15:40 PM
It would, in that era, not have been "graded", I don't think, as to its top-shelfness.  But it had that mojo.

The goal was that students, who were viewed as potentially going into the ordained ministry, be allowed, encouraged and in a sense given no other option than to become able critical thinkers.  It was in pretty much every regard what The Classical Educational model attempts today.

I think this is a key distinction. The "mojo" we want does not necessarily coincide with what gets good grades from U.S. News and World Reports rankings. If it did, we would simply use the schools as high up on those lists as we could. Valpo is, in terms of being graded on its top-shelfness, probably a better school today by far than it was when O.P. Kretzmann was president. But it had way more mojo back then. Now it has really nice facilities, well-regarded programs, etc. but the spirit that made it what it was merely haunts the place rather than animating it still.

The mojo doesn't necessarily coincide, but when it's full mojo including (which doesn't get talked about as much) the recruiting end of things, the rankings will go up.  In the back then day, the students who came into "the system" were arguably (and I would make that argument) better prepared and better selected - often by their pastor, often by the family who would send their highest end children (as opposed to the middle ages nobility who would send the dumbest child into the clergy just to keep the peace) - for academic and pastoral success.  Nobody is going to have an objective measurement for that, but I would contend that it's part of the mojo.  Because in the highest ranked colleges/universities, the self-select is toward the "keep out the non-performer" end of the spectrum.  Indeed, only super-performers are eligible.

So does the pastor or the family leadership say to Son #1 who's banging out those straight A's in high school - you'd make a wonderful pastor?  Or do they say, "Buddy, you're going to make us all proud - and maybe even rich."

Dave Benke

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on June 01, 2017, 12:30:23 PM
Today, many of the best and brightest boys in suburban high schools are told by
their parents to pick a career that pays off financially.  These Honor Roll students
with high ACT and SAT scores are being programmed to enter elite universities and
get an diploma that means something.   As pastors we have to promote the concept
that the pastoral ministry deserves the best and brightest young men we have. Our
Lord should not get the leftovers, but the cream of the crop.

Bottom Line:  When you are having heart surgery, do you want a surgeon who got
all A's in Medical School  or someone who skated through the program with a C average?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: RevG on June 01, 2017, 12:37:25 PM
The Ivy League comment above made me think of the senior college and all that I've heard like the amazing GRE scores as Pastor B attests to.  I think that was Missouri's best shot and that ship has probably passed for good.  I don't see how a strict LCMS school could attain that level of intellectual robustness today given our built-in limits of what, for lack of better term, could be called fundamentalism.  My sense is that the desire for the Concordias to be more Lutheran is really just a desire for them to be more like bible colleges. 

I don't think I've liked a post more on here than Robert Morris' post above.  I am a Concordia-NY grad and also a Concordia Sem grad and I'm probably less the norm but I would not be heartbroken if either institution closed or went in a completely non-LCMS or non-Lutheran direction. Institutional loyalty can be a dangerous thing especially in a fledgling denomination with fewer and fewer persons who bear the name Lutheran.  Sometimes it can be hard for us to imagine or even think that God can work outside of such things but he can and does.

I serve across from a Concordia that has had financial issues for the majority of my life on this earth despite increased and record enrollment year after year.  I know that it's considered a second tier school by many.  I have friends who were told this by employers when they interviewed.  So I don't know nor do I pretend to know what's best for the future but I get an empty feeling when I think of it just being another college in the area without anything Lutheran about it.  I do hope John Nunes will make a positive impact and Lord knows he's got quite the task ahead of him. 

Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on June 01, 2017, 12:42:04 PM
Today, many of the best and brightest boys in suburban high schools are told by
their parents to pick a career that pays off financially.  These Honor Roll students
with high ACT and SAT scores are being programmed to enter elite universities and
get an diploma that means something.   As pastors we have to promote the concept
that the pastoral ministry deserves the best and brightest young men we have. Our
Lord should not get the leftovers, but the cream of the crop.

Bottom Line:  When you are having heart surgery, do you want a surgeon who got
all A's in Medical School  or someone who skated through the program with a C average?

I'm looking for good hands and quiet hands and keen eyesight.  Don't want somebody who's edgy and blurry.  Someone who demonstrates grace under pressure with a knife.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 01, 2017, 12:52:26 PM
Focus on the aptitude of the students and recuiting the cream of the academic crop also speaks to the purpose of the place. It made sense when the school was preparing pastors and when people expected their pastor to be like a Rabbi or scholar in residence.

But if the purpose is to be a university serving the church, well, medium-ish students also benefit from a good education. So if the goal is to wow the world or hone the best of the best for service, then of course it will exclude second tier students. But if the goal is simply to educate people in light of God's Word, the school will try to accept as many as can reasonably be expected to learn and benefit.

The same dynamic often comes into play in school sports. What is the purpose of a Lutheran school (really at any level) fielding a soccer team or a basketball team? If it is to win games, build a reputation, and crank out top atheletes, then a lot of people will get cut and a lot of great athletes who maybe have a fringe-ish relationship with Lutheranism will get recruited. But if the purpose of the team is to augment the educational experience of the students, build individual character and school spirit, have fun, get exercise, learn teamwork-related life lessons, etc. then a lot of clumsy people will get at least some playing time and the team will rarely be any good. 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: D. Engebretson on June 01, 2017, 12:56:25 PM
Institutional loyalty can be a dangerous thing especially in a fledgling denomination with fewer and fewer persons who bear the name Lutheran.  Sometimes it can be hard for us to imagine or even think that God can work outside of such things but he can and does.

"Fledgling" usually describes something or someone who is young and inexperience or underdeveloped.  I don't think that would describe the LCMS.  Although our numbers are down from the peak years back a couple or more decades ago, we still seem to be a significant presence among other church bodies, here and abroad. 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 01, 2017, 12:58:49 PM
Institutional loyalty can be a dangerous thing especially in a fledgling denomination with fewer and fewer persons who bear the name Lutheran.  Sometimes it can be hard for us to imagine or even think that God can work outside of such things but he can and does.

"Fledgling" usually describes something or someone who is young and inexperience or underdeveloped.  I don't think that would describe the LCMS.  Although our numbers are down from the peak years back a couple or more decades ago, we still seem to be a significant presence among other church bodies, here and abroad.
I noticed that too, but thought Scott probably meant "struggling" when he typed "fledgling." I make that kind of mistake a lot when I'm typing along quickly.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mark Brown on June 01, 2017, 01:13:44 PM
It would, in that era, not have been "graded", I don't think, as to its top-shelfness.  But it had that mojo.

The goal was that students, who were viewed as potentially going into the ordained ministry, be allowed, encouraged and in a sense given no other option than to become able critical thinkers.  It was in pretty much every regard what The Classical Educational model attempts today.

I think this is a key distinction. The "mojo" we want does not necessarily coincide with what gets good grades from U.S. News and World Reports rankings. If it did, we would simply use the schools as high up on those lists as we could. Valpo is, in terms of being graded on its top-shelfness, probably a better school today by far than it was when O.P. Kretzmann was president. But it had way more mojo back then. Now it has really nice facilities, well-regarded programs, etc. but the spirit that made it what it was merely haunts the place rather than animating it still.

The mojo doesn't necessarily coincide, but when it's full mojo including (which doesn't get talked about as much) the recruiting end of things, the rankings will go up.  In the back then day, the students who came into "the system" were arguably (and I would make that argument) better prepared and better selected - often by their pastor, often by the family who would send their highest end children (as opposed to the middle ages nobility who would send the dumbest child into the clergy just to keep the peace) - for academic and pastoral success.  Nobody is going to have an objective measurement for that, but I would contend that it's part of the mojo.  Because in the highest ranked colleges/universities, the self-select is toward the "keep out the non-performer" end of the spectrum.  Indeed, only super-performers are eligible.

So does the pastor or the family leadership say to Son #1 who's banging out those straight A's in high school - you'd make a wonderful pastor?  Or do they say, "Buddy, you're going to make us all proud - and maybe even rich."

Dave Benke

Dave Benke

Peter, I'd argue that you can't have that mojo you want if you don't have a highly selective place or one that is seen in that realm.  If you have one highly selective, you can run a separate place with the mojo you want that isn't as selective.  But, if you don't have the selective place, those students go elsewhere to the detriment of the entire project.  (Is this a moral or Christian thing? No.  "The Gentiles Lord it over them...", but it is true.  The high flyer can learn that lesson when they hit the parish, or they can attempt to opt out of learning it entirely by trying to become a professor.)

As far as what parents are saying. I can tell you what I tell my sons.  There is no other job like it.  Once you do it, you can't do anything else because it gets into your bones.  But if you think you could do something else, you might try that.  The other parents I've discussed this with would be more negative.       
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: RevG on June 01, 2017, 01:24:30 PM
Institutional loyalty can be a dangerous thing especially in a fledgling denomination with fewer and fewer persons who bear the name Lutheran.  Sometimes it can be hard for us to imagine or even think that God can work outside of such things but he can and does.

"Fledgling" usually describes something or someone who is young and inexperience or underdeveloped.  I don't think that would describe the LCMS.  Although our numbers are down from the peak years back a couple or more decades ago, we still seem to be a significant presence among other church bodies, here and abroad.
I noticed that too, but thought Scott probably meant "struggling" when he typed "fledgling." I make that kind of mistake a lot when I'm typing along quickly.

Yes, my bad.  Thanks for your grace in understanding. :o
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: mariemeyer on June 01, 2017, 01:45:53 PM
Institutional loyalty can be a dangerous thing especially in a fledgling denomination with fewer and fewer persons who bear the name Lutheran.  Sometimes it can be hard for us to imagine or even think that God can work outside of such things but he can and does.

"Fledgling" usually describes something or someone who is young and inexperience or underdeveloped.  I don't think that would describe the LCMS.  Although our numbers are down from the peak years back a couple or more decades ago, we still seem to be a significant presence among other church bodies, here and abroad.

In what way is the LCMS a significant presence among other church bodies?  Where is this true?

Marie Meyer
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Charles Austin on June 01, 2017, 02:07:02 PM
I was wondering that, too. It seems to me that one of the distinctions of the LCMS is that it keeps itself apart from other church bodies.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on June 01, 2017, 02:41:58 PM
I perceive that the Anglican Communion of North America holds the LCMS with some regard.  Attended a luncheon/discussion on youth ministry hosted by the Coptic Orthodox Church and there was Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist, ACNA clergy folk and me in attendance.  The ACNA pastor was quite pleased to meet me and had very nice and positive things to say about the dialogues that are held periodically throughout the year.  I was happy to meet him too.  We shared much in common. 

Jeremy
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mbecker on June 01, 2017, 03:25:20 PM
Once theology is one subject among many but not an over-arching framework for understanding the other subjects (art, chemistry, etc.) the basic purpose for a university will get supplied by an unspoken dogma of some other kind. Universities will exist for the purpose of job training and become strictly utilitarian from an economic standpoint. Or they will exist to transmit culture without the "cult" that is that the root of culture (as Neuhaus so often pointed out). Or they will exist with a sort of "art for art's sake, knowledge for knowledge's sake" purpose that ends up in the worship of creature rather than Creator. Or they will exist for the sake of "social progress" with nobody daring to ask what exactly is the goal whereby we determine whether something counts as progress or regression.

The anti-Christian pressure Dr. Becker talks about comes from the fields related to sociology (including most majors that end in "studies"), which do not see themselves as one subject among many but as the organizing principle of all the subjects, like theology used to be....

The modern situation calls for universities with their original mission, which in our context means universities willing to be counter-cultural and in some ways opposed to the sacred cows of mainstream academia. Lutheran universities could do and be that, but not if they're too ashamed of the Gospel. A recent Valpo mailing re-interpreted their entire motto "In Thy Light, We See Light" to assure the prospective student that the student's understanding of the truth, whatever that may be, is the light Valpo wants to go by. Crazy. Sad.

Valpo is a fine secular university. One can learn about Lutheranism there, and engineering, and music, just like a pretty decent public university. They have Lutheran campus pastors, just like many public universities. What Valpo lacks is Lutheranism as the organizing principle behind its raison d' etre, the thing that gives context, relevance, and order to all the subjects taught. Like at any public university, sociology has replaced theology at Valpo....

And Valpo is not much different, I would guess. Any random prof of this or that subject could easily deny this or that article of the Augsburg Confession under cover of academic freedom. But if they publicly and forcefully denied the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declared Islam a false and destructive religion, or promoted the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum, all of which would fall well within the bounds of Lutheran teaching, well, they might survive with their job but they would certainly stir up a hornet's nest. Because Valpo is more concerned about its secular academic reputation, which is good but which depends upon the approval of the priests of sociology, than it is about the Augsburg Confession being presented as true. Which is a bummer, because it wouldn't have to be that way.   

I hope now that Peter's daughter will be a student on our campus he will spend more time here than he obviously has, given how misguided his perception of the institution is. I have no idea what mailing he received, but it doesn't match any I have seen from our marketing people. All of the materials I just now picked up from their office stress Valpo's church-relatedness. For example, one piece begins with the following quote from O. P. Kretzmann: "Essentially a University is a voluntary association of free men and women in a community which is dedicated to a twofold task: the search for truth and the transmission of truth, free and unbroken, to those who are born later in time" (1940 Inaugural Address). After an explicitly Lutheran faith-based introduction by our current president, the document quotes the Valpo motto in both English and Latin: In Thy Light, We See Light; In Luce Tua Videmus Lucem. The document immediately proceeds to state this: "Scholarship, freedom, faith, and service--the ideals of Valparaiso University's mission--are embodied in our motto. The University's Lutheran heritage and character are reflected in these ideals. As Valparaiso University plans thoughtfully, these ideals provide the foundation and guidance necessary to determine the path most appropriate for the future success of our students, our alumni, and our community as a whole. Valparaiso University will continue to look forward, but our hearts always will remain true to our Lutheran tradition. It is upon that tradition that we will build and strengthen to ensure the sustainability of a vibrant University community. This is our future in Thy light."

Notice: "Thy light," not "my light" nor "your light" nor "the world's light."

What Peter would hope for in a church-related university is at odds with a classic Lutheran model that goes back to Wittenberg. Unlike Peter's model, which is really a Christomonistic, theology-of-glory Reformed vision--one that fits with the ethos of Calvin College or Wheaton--Valpo's model is a paradoxical one, which takes seriously important distinctions and tensions, e.g., between law/creation and gospel, between Creator and creature, between the infinite and the finite, between the freedom of the gospel and free inquiry, between faith and service, between faith and learning, between Christ and culture (dialectically related but neither identified with one another nor separated from each other), between the kingdom of the left hand of God and the kingdom of the right hand of God, between confessional commitment and ecumenical openness. Whereas Peter's model would seek something like a "Christian mathematics," "Christian astronomy," "Christian chemistry," "Christian physics," and so on, a Lutheran model operates out of a paradoxical vision (ala Bob Benne's book) that is grounded in justification by grace through faith alone in Christ alone and that recognizes and explores the above distinctions and tensions. It seeks truth in God's creation on its own terms and doesn't try to "Christianize" any of the secular disciplines. To one who holds to a Reformed vision of higher education (or a Roman-Catholic one), similar to Peter's apparent model, a place like Valpo looks "secular," but it is really simul seculari et sacramenti, simultaneously "secular" and "incarnational/sacramental." Valpo's Lutheran model fits with the theology of the cross, not with Peter's Reformed model, which is a version of a theology of glory.

It is clear to me that Peter hasn't spent much time on our campus. I doubt he's been in a theology class here since his student days. As far as I know, he's never met with our theology department or had any extensive discussions with either of our campus pastors or with the director of church relations or with anyone else in the large church-relations staff. I don't recall ever meeting Peter at one of our bi-annual Stole and Scroll events. I wonder if he even reads Valpo's "The Cresset," which regularly publishes articles that clearly demonstrate concern for relating the academy and the Christian church/faith and that often provide a Lutheran perspective on culture. The Easter 2017 issue prints my own professorial lecture on Schlink's vision of "Christ in the University," a vision that is clearly at odds with Peter's. He might benefit from a year-long participation in our Lilly Fellow colloquium, which meets nearly every Mon during the academic year and is led by Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass. (I participated in it this past year, since I served as a mentor to one of our fellows, a post-doc systematic theologian from Notre Dame. The other post-docs come from Baylor, University of Virginia, and Notre Dame.) Come spend a full week with us, Peter, or a couple of weeks. If you can't do that, then read Bob Benne's chapter on Valpo in his book, "Quality with Soul: How Six Premier Colleges and Universities Keep Faith with Their Religious Traditions" (Eerdmans, 2001). Or read Schwehn's "Exiles from Eden: Religion and the Academic Vocation in America" (Oxford, 1993). If anything, Valpo's ties to the Lutheran churches have deepened since the appearance of Benne's and Schwehn's books. Worth noting also is the fact that for the past decade all new tenure-track faculty must participate in a week-long theological seminar at our Cambridge University study center in Cambridge, England. This retreat has been led by Schwehn himself. (I participated in it with him in 2005; my cohort continues to get together for food and fellowship and Christian reflection, as we did last week). More recently, George Heider and Fred Niedner have led it. George is in my cohort. Fred recently wrote a marvelous essay for all new faculty that sets forth the Valpo vision of faith and culture in paradox. That essay centers on the lowly incarnation of Christ and the theology of the cross (and what that means for the limitations of human knowledge and the need for reverent humility across all university disciplines).

Peter, have you visited with any of Valpo's church-relations staff in their new offices (paid for by a multi-million-dollar gift from an ELCA pastor and his wife, both alumni)? Have you attended Stole and Scroll? The Liturgical Institute? How about any of the recent symposia in Christ College, our honors college? Have you recently attended any one of the eleven weekly chapel services in the Chapel of the Resurrection? What secular university has a chapel the size of ours, right smack in the center of campus? Or one that offers as much Christian programming as ours? Or that places important Christian symbols in prominent places across the campus? Or one that requires all undergraduates to take a course on the Christian tradition? Or that requires all students majoring in the arts and sciences to take an additional upper-division theology course? One that has the level and quality of Christian art housed in its on-campus art museum (as that which appears in our Brauer Museum)? Or that favors the music of Bach and other Christian composers in its many musical offerings? BTW, who do you think has largely funded the new buildings on campus over the past 20 years? Lutherans! With names such as "Christopher" and "Duesenberg" and "Helge."

Peter's vision is too narrow, too Reformed, and too blind to the myriad ways in which Christ and culture impact each other paradoxically, dialectically, creatively on Valpo's campus. Instead of projecting his own prejudices and speculative feelings and hunches onto Valpo and thereby creating a Valpo of his own imagination, he should spend more time on the actual campus, interacting with faculty and staff and administrators. I hope that during his daughter's time here, he'll at least stop by my office for a face-to-face chat now and then. I'd love to show him around the place. (Yes, I know he graduated from VU, but he clearly doesn't know what's really presently happening.)

Matt Becker
P.S. Peter's observations about sociology also do not capture the reality on the ground here. When he comes to visit me, I hope he'll also go down the hall to have a chat with the head of our sociology dept. She's a practicing member of our ELCA congregation. Her husband teaches Hebrew and OT in the theo dept. The other full-time sociology prof here is very active in our Roman-Catholic campus ministry at St. T's. Just the other day she recommended that one of her criminal-justice majors minor in theology. These faculty members stress the deep connection between Christian faith and vocation/service that Valpo rightly highlights.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on June 01, 2017, 04:08:24 PM
The LCMS is the lead partner in the International Lutheran Conference.  It's easy to see this as an inter-Lutheran partnership without a ton of pop, because many of the partners are small to tiny synods or denominations around the world.  However, there is a global sweep to their existence and to the partnership.  Secondly, there are other Lutheran bodies which are headed in a direction other than the LWF, or which have kind of a dual direction in their dialogs, one with the LWF and one with the LCMS.  (Madagascar/Mekane Yesus might be two of those).  In addition, among conservative liturgical Protestant groupings, the LCMS is seen as a partner.  In these latter cases, there is almost never a chance for actual church fellowship because of the way the LCMS views altar/pulpit fellowship as the end of a long, long process. 

In the overall scheme of life, these may seem like smallish potatoes, but they are representative of a grouping of churches that seeks to be conservative in Biblical hermeneutics, conservative in moral values, and sacramental in worship.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Charles Austin on June 01, 2017, 04:49:38 PM
Bishop Benke makes good points, as usual.  If the LCMS could find ways to bring itself into collegial dialogue in larger circles, that would be something.  But it seems to have a hard time being in places where it cannot control and or dominate.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: gan ainm on June 01, 2017, 04:53:58 PM
Thanks be to God that He can make good wine from sour grapes.

Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 01, 2017, 05:38:27 PM
Once theology is one subject among many but not an over-arching framework for understanding the other subjects (art, chemistry, etc.) the basic purpose for a university will get supplied by an unspoken dogma of some other kind. Universities will exist for the purpose of job training and become strictly utilitarian from an economic standpoint. Or they will exist to transmit culture without the "cult" that is that the root of culture (as Neuhaus so often pointed out). Or they will exist with a sort of "art for art's sake, knowledge for knowledge's sake" purpose that ends up in the worship of creature rather than Creator. Or they will exist for the sake of "social progress" with nobody daring to ask what exactly is the goal whereby we determine whether something counts as progress or regression.

The anti-Christian pressure Dr. Becker talks about comes from the fields related to sociology (including most majors that end in "studies"), which do not see themselves as one subject among many but as the organizing principle of all the subjects, like theology used to be....

The modern situation calls for universities with their original mission, which in our context means universities willing to be counter-cultural and in some ways opposed to the sacred cows of mainstream academia. Lutheran universities could do and be that, but not if they're too ashamed of the Gospel. A recent Valpo mailing re-interpreted their entire motto "In Thy Light, We See Light" to assure the prospective student that the student's understanding of the truth, whatever that may be, is the light Valpo wants to go by. Crazy. Sad.

Valpo is a fine secular university. One can learn about Lutheranism there, and engineering, and music, just like a pretty decent public university. They have Lutheran campus pastors, just like many public universities. What Valpo lacks is Lutheranism as the organizing principle behind its raison d' etre, the thing that gives context, relevance, and order to all the subjects taught. Like at any public university, sociology has replaced theology at Valpo....

And Valpo is not much different, I would guess. Any random prof of this or that subject could easily deny this or that article of the Augsburg Confession under cover of academic freedom. But if they publicly and forcefully denied the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declared Islam a false and destructive religion, or promoted the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum, all of which would fall well within the bounds of Lutheran teaching, well, they might survive with their job but they would certainly stir up a hornet's nest. Because Valpo is more concerned about its secular academic reputation, which is good but which depends upon the approval of the priests of sociology, than it is about the Augsburg Confession being presented as true. Which is a bummer, because it wouldn't have to be that way.   

I hope now that Peter's daughter will be a student on our campus he will spend more time here than he obviously has, given how misguided his perception of the institution is. I have no idea what mailing he received, but it doesn't match any I have seen from our marketing people. All of the materials I just now picked up from their office stress Valpo's church-relatedness. For example, one piece begins with the following quote from O. P. Kretzmann: "Essentially a University is a voluntary association of free men and women in a community which is dedicated to a twofold task: the search for truth and the transmission of truth, free and unbroken, to those who are born later in time" (1940 Inaugural Address). After an explicitly Lutheran faith-based introduction by our current president, the document quotes the Valpo motto in both English and Latin: In Thy Light, We See Light; In Luce Tua Videmus Lucem. The document immediately proceeds to state this: "Scholarship, freedom, faith, and service--the ideals of Valparaiso University's mission--are embodied in our motto. The University's Lutheran heritage and character are reflected in these ideals. As Valparaiso University plans thoughtfully, these ideals provide the foundation and guidance necessary to determine the path most appropriate for the future success of our students, our alumni, and our community as a whole. Valparaiso University will continue to look forward, but our hearts always will remain true to our Lutheran tradition. It is upon that tradition that we will build and strengthen to ensure the sustainability of a vibrant University community. This is our future in Thy light."

Notice: "Thy light," not "my light" nor "your light" nor "the world's light."

What Peter would hope for in a church-related university is at odds with a classic Lutheran model that goes back to Wittenberg. Unlike Peter's model, which is really a Christomonistic, theology-of-glory Reformed vision--one that fits with the ethos of Calvin College or Wheaton--Valpo's model is a paradoxical one, which takes seriously important distinctions and tensions, e.g., between law/creation and gospel, between Creator and creature, between the infinite and the finite, between the freedom of the gospel and free inquiry, between faith and service, between faith and learning, between Christ and culture (dialectically related but neither identified with one another nor separated from each other), between the kingdom of the left hand of God and the kingdom of the right hand of God, between confessional commitment and ecumenical openness. Whereas Peter's model would seek something like a "Christian mathematics," "Christian astronomy," "Christian chemistry," "Christian physics," and so on, a Lutheran model operates out of a paradoxical vision (ala Bob Benne's book) that is grounded in justification by grace through faith alone in Christ alone and that recognizes and explores the above distinctions and tensions. It seeks truth in God's creation on its own terms and doesn't try to "Christianize" any of the secular disciplines. To one who holds to a Reformed vision of higher education (or a Roman-Catholic one), similar to Peter's apparent model, a place like Valpo looks "secular," but it is really simul seculari et sacramenti, simultaneously "secular" and "incarnational/sacramental." Valpo's Lutheran model fits with the theology of the cross, not with Peter's Reformed model, which is a version of a theology of glory.

It is clear to me that Peter hasn't spent much time on our campus. I doubt he's been in a theology class here since his student days. As far as I know, he's never met with our theology department or had any extensive discussions with either of our campus pastors or with the director of church relations or with anyone else in the large church-relations staff. I don't recall ever meeting Peter at one of our bi-annual Stole and Scroll events. I wonder if he even reads Valpo's "The Cresset," which regularly publishes articles that clearly demonstrate concern for relating the academy and the Christian church/faith and that often provide a Lutheran perspective on culture. The Easter 2017 issue prints my own professorial lecture on Schlink's vision of "Christ in the University," a vision that is clearly at odds with Peter's. He might benefit from a year-long participation in our Lilly Fellow colloquium, which meets nearly every Mon during the academic year and is led by Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass. (I participated in it this past year, since I served as a mentor to one of our fellows, a post-doc systematic theologian from Notre Dame. The other post-docs come from Baylor, University of Virginia, and Notre Dame.) Come spend a full week with us, Peter, or a couple of weeks. If you can't do that, then read Bob Benne's chapter on Valpo in his book, "Quality with Soul: How Six Premier Colleges and Universities Keep Faith with Their Religious Traditions" (Eerdmans, 2001). Or read Schwehn's "Exiles from Eden: Religion and the Academic Vocation in America" (Oxford, 1993). If anything, Valpo's ties to the Lutheran churches have deepened since the appearance of Benne's and Schwehn's books. Worth noting also is the fact that for the past decade all new tenure-track faculty must participate in a week-long theological seminar at our Cambridge University study center in Cambridge, England. This retreat has been led by Schwehn himself. (I participated in it with him in 2005; my cohort continues to get together for food and fellowship and Christian reflection, as we did last week). More recently, George Heider and Fred Niedner have led it. George is in my cohort. Fred recently wrote a marvelous essay for all new faculty that sets forth the Valpo vision of faith and culture in paradox. That essay centers on the lowly incarnation of Christ and the theology of the cross (and what that means for the limitations of human knowledge and the need for reverent humility across all university disciplines).

Peter, have you visited with any of Valpo's church-relations staff in their new offices (paid for by a multi-million-dollar gift from an ELCA pastor and his wife, both alumni)? Have you attended Stole and Scroll? The Liturgical Institute? How about any of the recent symposia in Christ College, our honors college? Have you recently attended any one of the eleven weekly chapel services in the Chapel of the Resurrection? What secular university has a chapel the size of ours, right smack in the center of campus? Or one that offers as much Christian programming as ours? Or that places important Christian symbols in prominent places across the campus? Or one that requires all undergraduates to take a course on the Christian tradition? Or that requires all students majoring in the arts and sciences to take an additional upper-division theology course? One that has the level and quality of Christian art housed in its on-campus art museum (as that which appears in our Brauer Museum)? Or that favors the music of Bach and other Christian composers in its many musical offerings? BTW, who do you think has largely funded the new buildings on campus over the past 20 years? Lutherans! With names such as "Christopher" and "Duesenberg" and "Helge."

Peter's vision is too narrow, too Reformed, and too blind to the myriad ways in which Christ and culture impact each other paradoxically, dialectically, creatively on Valpo's campus. Instead of projecting his own prejudices and speculative feelings and hunches onto Valpo and thereby creating a Valpo of his own imagination, he should spend more time on the actual campus, interacting with faculty and staff and administrators. I hope that during his daughter's time here, he'll at least stop by my office for a face-to-face chat now and then. I'd love to show him around the place. (Yes, I know he graduated from VU, but he clearly doesn't know what's really presently happening.)

Matt Becker
P.S. Peter's observations about sociology also do not capture the reality on the ground here. When he comes to visit me, I hope he'll also go down the hall to have a chat with the head of our sociology dept. She's a practicing member of our ELCA congregation. Her husband teaches Hebrew and OT in the theo dept. The other full-time sociology prof here is very active in our Roman-Catholic campus ministry at St. T's. Just the other day she recommended that one of her criminal-justice majors minor in theology. These faculty members stress the deep connection between Christian faith and vocation/service that Valpo rightly highlights.
Okay, I will regard the above post as in invitation to share the various mailings and correspondences I have in order to demonstrate the truth of my claims, though in some cases I'll need to get permission.

Dr. Becker's guesses about me, my contact with Valpo, and my observations about mailings are nearly all provably wrong. His is the company line and the only perspective he has of Valpo. 

As for a few specific facts, I have in fact been to Christ College symposia in recent years. I have been to a couple of weekday chapel services (both embarrassingly bad) and some Sunday services there in the past several years. I do read the mailings, sometimes even including the Cresset when it looks interesting. I have read Benne's book and even corresponded a little with him on these matters. I think perhaps Dr. Becker ought to contact him to see if his view of Valpo has remained as positive as it was, or even if Dr. Becker is understanding Benne's points. I attended the theological conference organized by John Nunes just before he left, and had regular one-on-one meetings with him for the few years he was there, at which we talked many times about matters related to Valpo.

I very much doubt the marketing people have run the mailings I'm talking about past Dr. Becker (the text of which does not match what he posted upstream) and would not find it surprising that the mailings they do run past him meet his approval. If he saw the particular mailing I'm talking about (and will share soon) before it was mailed, he ought to be deeply ashamed of himself.

When Valpo announced they would be getting a female ELCA chaplain, I nominated someone who would have been really good. I was friends one of the people on the selection committee. I know how much the sociological, feminist, lgbtq-related identity politics agenda trumped the theological in that decision.

The hypothetical but practical illustration of my point upstream is one Dr. Becker does not and cannot address: Any random prof of this or that subject could easily deny this or that article of the Augsburg Confession under cover of academic freedom. But if they publicly and forcefully denied the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declared Islam a false and destructive religion, or promoted the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum, all of which would fall well within the bounds of Lutheran teaching, well, they might survive with their job but they would certainly stir up a hornet's nest. I'd be very interested to hear his take on that point.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mbecker on June 01, 2017, 07:10:34 PM

When Valpo announced they would be getting a female ELCA chaplain, I nominated someone who would have been really good. I was friends one of the people on the selection committee. I know how much the sociological, feminist, lgbtq-related identity politics agenda trumped the theological in that decision.

The hypothetical but practical illustration of my point upstream is one Dr. Becker does not and cannot address: Any random prof of this or that subject could easily deny this or that article of the Augsburg Confession under cover of academic freedom. But if they publicly and forcefully denied the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declared Islam a false and destructive religion, or promoted the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum, all of which would fall well within the bounds of Lutheran teaching, well, they might survive with their job but they would certainly stir up a hornet's nest. I'd be very interested to hear his take on that point.

I served on the call committee that called Pr. Cox. None of what you describe was ever a part of our deliberations. She is an excellent law-promise theologian and evangelical-catholic pastor. She is particularly well-liked by students, not for any "identity-political" reasons but because she's a faithful, caring Lutheran-Christian pastor. We're blessed to have her minister among us.

I know of no faculty member at VU who has or would publicly deny "this or that article of the AC under cover of academic freedom," but then VU is not a Christian congregation and most faculty members stick to their areas of scholarly expertise. Having served on the tenure and promotion committee at the university, I know it would be difficult for a faculty member to receive tenure if he or she spoke out publicly and regularly against the university's core Christian values. I know of at least one faculty member who was recently denied promotion because he could not reconcile his own academic work and teaching with some of those core values. In any case, VU is an academic community that is grounded in the Lutheran tradition of scholarship, freedom, and faith. Free inquiry is absolutely essential for such a university, as is the fostering of mutual respect and civility.

As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario, I can't imagine why a faculty member at VU would feel the need to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declare Islam a false and destructive religion, or promote what you describe as "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum." The one so denying, declaring, and promoting would likely be acting contrary to central values of our academic community and would come in for strong criticism on those grounds. There are compelling theological reasons, too, for why such actions would be criticized. The vocation of professor is different from that of an ideological propagandist. Such a denial and declaration and promotion would certainly be possible for any faculty member to make at VU, but I suspect most all of my colleagues recognize that their vocation of professor does not include such behavior.

Matt Becker
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 01, 2017, 07:29:14 PM
One mailing of the kind I charitably assume Dr. Becker never okayed before it was mailed was from the past winter and aimed at prospective students. It is a very nice sort of 12"x12" coffee table book about the whole Valpo experience. In the section explaining that it is a Lutheran university it says:

Valpo is an independent Lutheran University, where students from a variety of religious traditions come together to learn from each other. Join the conversation. Exchange beliefs. Expand your understanding. Share the common pursuit of truth, not one common truth.

The Lutheran faith is part of Valpo and here for you. Additionally, the diversity of backgrounds, beliefs, and passions here will inform and inspire you in the search for YOUR truth.
 

Borrowing from another discussion, if you replaced the word Lutheran with the word Floopy in that statement it would make the exact same amount of sense. Heck, you could replace Lutheran with Hindu and nothing about this description of Valpo would change. The Hindu faith is there for you, and it, among other things, will inspire your search for your truth. Same as at Purdue.

This particular mailing was 52 glossy pages, a full color, photo-laden introduction to the Valpo experience and featured zero, yes, zero images of the Chapel of the Resurrection. How is that even possible? It is the tallest, biggest, and really the only architecturally interesting building on campus. To take 52 pages of photos of VU and not include the chapel is an amazing logistical feat. To do so in a mailing meant to share the Valpo experience with prospective freshmen, well, okay, that's a gutsy call, sort of like making a tourism brochure of Green Bay, Wisconsin and forgetting to mention Lambeau Field. But okay, a university brochure doesn't have to feature a picture of a chapel. But then the claim that the Christian faith is the animating purpose for the community rings somewhat hollow.

My sister has corresponded with President Heckler concerning this very brochure, and received a lengthy and thoughtful reply from him explaining the decision not to feature the chapel in the brochure. But his point to her, like Dr. Heckler's response to me, seemed to assume that her concerns were based on limited contact with the place, as though she just saw this one brochure and shot off an angry letter. That isn't at all the case. He invited her, as Dr. Becker invited me, to come spend a day there, as though going there would disabuse us of the unfortunate and wrong impressions we've gotten of the place. But in neither case is that response on point or even true. We're both there quite often.

I've shown up to chapel services on a whim when I was in town. They were sad. Last year when Valpo hosted, as they do every year, the national Lutheran grades school basketball tournament, they knew two things. One, they knew virtually all if not all of the schools were LCMS. Two, with 64 teams (32 boys', 32 girls' teams), that's about 600 or so mostly LCMS 8th graders plus lots of parents and coaches. So they knew they'd have a full chapel for the opening of the tournament on Friday and for church on Sunday. What did they do? For the opening they held a sort of informal pep rally in the chapel, and on Sunday they held an ELCA-sponsored service at the chapel. Smooth.

To his credit, President Heckler seems very committed to maintaining the Lutheran ethos of the place, and he is very responsive to concerns. And there is a lot of good about Valpo. When I filled in for John Nunes and led a session of his Christ College seniors class I met several extremely sharp, dedicated Christian folks, some of them seminary bound. I think Christ College is an excellent program. In honor of my daughter I went to the bookstore and bought a VU decal for my car. I'm not ashamed of the place. I simply think it could be so much more and so much better if it weren't ashamed to be what it ought to be.   
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 01, 2017, 07:51:44 PM

When Valpo announced they would be getting a female ELCA chaplain, I nominated someone who would have been really good. I was friends one of the people on the selection committee. I know how much the sociological, feminist, lgbtq-related identity politics agenda trumped the theological in that decision.

The hypothetical but practical illustration of my point upstream is one Dr. Becker does not and cannot address: Any random prof of this or that subject could easily deny this or that article of the Augsburg Confession under cover of academic freedom. But if they publicly and forcefully denied the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declared Islam a false and destructive religion, or promoted the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum, all of which would fall well within the bounds of Lutheran teaching, well, they might survive with their job but they would certainly stir up a hornet's nest. I'd be very interested to hear his take on that point.

I served on the call committee that called Pr. Cox. None of what you describe was ever a part of our deliberations. She is an excellent law-promise theologian and evangelical-catholic pastor. She is particularly well-liked by students, not for any "identity-political" reasons but because she's a faithful, caring Lutheran-Christian pastor. We're blessed to have her minister among us.

I know of no faculty member at VU who has or would publicly deny "this or that article of the AC under cover of academic freedom," but then VU is not a Christian congregation and most faculty members stick to their areas of scholarly expertise. Having served on the tenure and promotion committee at the university, I know it would be difficult for a faculty member to receive tenure if he or she spoke out publicly and regularly against the university's core Christian values. I know of at least one faculty member who was recently denied promotion because he could not reconcile his own academic work and teaching with some of those core values. In any case, VU is an academic community that is grounded in the Lutheran tradition of scholarship, freedom, and faith. Free inquiry is absolutely essential for such a university, as is the fostering of mutual respect and civility.

As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario, I can't imagine why a faculty member at VU would feel the need to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declare Islam a false and destructive religion, or promote what you describe as "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum." The one so denying, declaring, and promoting would likely be acting contrary to central values of our academic community and would come in for strong criticism on those grounds. There are compelling theological reasons, too, for why such actions would be criticized. The vocation of professor is different from that of an ideological propagandist. Such a denial and declaration and promotion would certainly be possible for any faculty member to make at VU, but I suspect most all of my colleagues recognize that their vocation of professor does not include such behavior.

Matt Becker
I wasn't talking about Pr. Cox, I was talking about the first woman chaplain they had. And yes, positions relative to feminism, homosexuality, etc. were indeed a part of the deliberations. Simply the fact that the money for the position was donated on condition that the ELCA chaplain be female showed the identity politics in place. And there was no chance they were going to end up with a female chaplain not on board with the progressive agenda.

Several teaching faculty signed an online petition objecting to bringing a Chick-Fil-A to Valpo. They were coming out publicly and forcefully in favor of gay marriage, since their only objection to Chick-Fil-A was that the owner of the chain had donated to conservative efforts against gay marriage. Why did they feel that need to sign such a petition? Why do you not accuse them of acting contrary to the central values of the academic community and speaking on matters outside their area of expertise? Yet you assume someone doing the same thing on the other side of that issue would be out of line. A particular revisionist view of gay marriage is a central value of academic life, but a traditionally Christian view is not? Support for #blacklivesmatter, despite its stated goal of undermining the traditional family, is not contrary to the central values of academic life, but coming out against that is not? Simply affirming that male/female is binary is somehow outside the purpose and values of a unversity, but insisting that it is not a binary but rather a spectrum is somehow within and part of that purpose and those values? This is what I mean by sociology replacing theology as the over-arching principle. Whether one teaches math or music, favoring the lgbtq agenda is central to academic life; opposing it is anamthema or otherwise inappropriate because it has nothing to do with math or music. I get that such is the case in academia generally. It doesn't have to be that way at a private school like Valpo. But it is, and that is a shame.


"The vocation of professor is different from that of an ideological propagandist." Yet professors of many fields propagandize for gay marriage, for a spectrum rather than binary understanding of male/female, for the truth of Islam, and for #BlackLivesMatter all the time. Apparently progressivism is non-ideological and not propaganda, but disagreeing with progressivism is ideological propagandizing. That's because progressive sociology is a religion, and all religions condemn their heresies.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Voelker on June 01, 2017, 08:19:31 PM
As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario, I can't imagine why a faculty member at VU would feel the need to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declare Islam a false and destructive religion, or promote what you describe as "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum." The one so denying, declaring, and promoting would likely be acting contrary to central values of our academic community and would come in for strong criticism on those grounds. There are compelling theological reasons, too, for why such actions would be criticized. The vocation of professor is different from that of an ideological propagandist. Such a denial and declaration and promotion would certainly be possible for any faculty member to make at VU, but I suspect most all of my colleagues recognize that their vocation of professor does not include such behavior.
Agreed. Yet the rest of this paragraph suggests otherwise.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Rob Morris on June 01, 2017, 09:15:15 PM

A fellow Grover.  I didn't know that.  Yes, GCC is formally non-denom, but man, your experience of the place must have been significantly different.  The entire theology faculty was various forms of Calvinist.  (There might have been 1 Arminian who mostly kept quiet.)  The chapel, mandatory, would occasionally have outside voices, but 95%+ of the time it was the Presby/Calvinist Dean, the theology department, guests like people from RC Sproul's Ligonier ministries and the faculty/admin in that same tradition - even the engineering faculty that were my main teachers.  It was always nice to see one of them pop up in Chapel.  A couple of them would start each class with prayer.  And picking up Peter Speckhard's chain, that theology was the organizing principle of the entire college. It was the question hanging in the air even when you were studying the Carnot cycle in heat transfer. 

What is that worth?  Can you replace it with a solitary voice here and there?  I'd agree that loosely affiliated, vocationally aimed, undergraduate institutions are not necessary.  If it is just about information and certification, big state u does that fine.  I'd also agree that two one third full seminaries are tough, and we should probably confront the fact that enrollment is not jumping up even to my class level any time immediately.  But I would tend to think that having one place that is a jewel would be very worth it, if not necessary.  In liquid modernity, you need a mother-house so to speak.  You need a way to actually build and replenish those mentors you talk about.  And depending upon what other people have built to help you build a core competence is a poor strategy.  Like IBM outsourcing the operating system.  If one is reduced to holding up the Episcopal church as a good example to follow?

I also didn't know you were a Grover. While I was there, the chapel transitioned from Dean Morledge to Dean Keehlwetter and they expanded what could count as chapel requirements, including two midweek short services, one evening praise service, and the lengthy weekend service. I remember a roughly equal blend of contemporary style and traditional style, though I don't remember anything out of the hymnal except hymns - no liturgy that I can recall. The most formal chapel services were still Calvinist (and were the ones I least attended - why attend a 40-minute service if you get the same credit for a 20-minute one?), but the rest was basically broad-tent evangelical. That's what I was at the time and I don't remember anything pushing my buttons too much. I do wonder what my impression would be now. I did just see that one of their newest Theology profs was a classmate of mine at G-CTS, so I can guess.

Thing is, conservative protestant Christianity in America is heavily Calvinist period. Even the Southern Baptists have leaned toward Reformed Baptist positions. Pull the ten most popular bloggers or authors right now and seven or more will be Reformed or Reformed Baptist (your Kellers and Pipers and DeYoungs and Challies and Hortons and Carsons and on and on). This was true at Grove City. This was true at Gordon-Conwell. Unless Lutherans put some intentionality into entering the broader conversation, it will remain true.

I agree that one flagship institution could and should be maintained by the synod. To me, though I deeply valued my time at Fort Wayne, there is no question that in terms of facilities, of history, and of logistics, that combined uber-seminary would be the St. Louis campus. I would not envy whomever needed to shepherd the Synod and the institutions through that change.

I still think that, with a flagship in place, funding professorships at a number of targeted locations would go a long way and give a lot more bang for the buck than the current system.

I should add - since good friends worked in the administration at Gordon-Conwell and one served on the ATS accreditation committee, I am certain that the LCMS pattern of two years' classwork-one year of vicarage-final year of classwork is the envy of all the ATS-accredited schools. As of a few years ago, all of them were scrambling for ways to provide hands-on experience and still maxed out at a lesser version of the Fieldwork required at our seminaries with nothing approaching the vicarage year. It is a blessing for our pastoral formation and for our congregations.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on June 01, 2017, 10:15:03 PM
Today, many of the best and brightest boys in suburban high schools are told by
their parents to pick a career that pays off financially.  These Honor Roll students
with high ACT and SAT scores are being programmed to enter elite universities and
get an diploma that means something.   As pastors we have to promote the concept
that the pastoral ministry deserves the best and brightest young men we have. Our
Lord should not get the leftovers, but the cream of the crop.

Bottom Line:  When you are having heart surgery, do you want a surgeon who got
all A's in Medical School  or someone who skated through the program with a C average?


If churches paid pastors what cardiologist get, we'd probably have the brightest and best people seeking that vocation. New pastors who fret whether or not they will make enough to make their student loan payments may not devote their full attention to the pastoral ministry. Finances are one of the most stressful elements in a marriage.


Also, students in Medical school who aren't passing the grade wouldn't graduate or be able to pass the boards should they squeak by.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mbecker on June 01, 2017, 11:40:00 PM
As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario, I can't imagine why a faculty member at VU would feel the need to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declare Islam a false and destructive religion, or promote what you describe as "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum." The one so denying, declaring, and promoting would likely be acting contrary to central values of our academic community and would come in for strong criticism on those grounds. There are compelling theological reasons, too, for why such actions would be criticized. The vocation of professor is different from that of an ideological propagandist. Such a denial and declaration and promotion would certainly be possible for any faculty member to make at VU, but I suspect most all of my colleagues recognize that their vocation of professor does not include such behavior.
Agreed. Yet the rest of this paragraph suggests otherwise.

For a professor to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage is to engage in propaganda, an action that is not conducive to liberal learning in the give-and-take setting of a university classroom or lecture hall. For a professor to publicly and forcefully deny the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter is to engage in propaganda, an action that is not conducive to liberal learning in a university setting. For a professor to declare Islam a false and destructive religion is an act of bigotry, an action that is not conducive to liberal learning in a university setting. For a professor to promote "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum" is to promote a confused ideological construct, the content of which is unclear and susceptible to criticism from multiple scholarly perspectives.

I cannot imagine any VU professor in the natural or social sciences or in the humanities (including philosophy and theology) engaging in the above behaviors. The role of a professor in a liberal arts college is different from engaging in such propaganda. The vocation of a professor is to ask hard questions, to examine and evaluate relevant data carefully and critically, to inform students about contrasting perspectives on the data, to help disclose prejudice and ignorance, to highlight complexity and ambiguity in the data and received traditions of scholarly inquiry, to allow for student discussion and debate, to help students think more deeply and critically about received prejudices and presuppositions, to further intellectual inquiry, to pursue elusive truths, to pass on received wisdom with humility and grace, etc.

At least this is how I have viewed my vocation as a scholar and teacher for the past quarter century.

Matt Becker
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on June 02, 2017, 12:21:22 AM
Thanks be to God that He can make good wine from sour grapes.


Do you have any biblical reference for your statement?


Huh? Isaiah 5 has God destroying the vineyard that produced rotten grapes when God expected good grapes. God didn't make wine out of the written grapes.


Jesus made wine from water, not sour grapes.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 02, 2017, 12:52:56 AM
As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario, I can't imagine why a faculty member at VU would feel the need to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declare Islam a false and destructive religion, or promote what you describe as "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum." The one so denying, declaring, and promoting would likely be acting contrary to central values of our academic community and would come in for strong criticism on those grounds. There are compelling theological reasons, too, for why such actions would be criticized. The vocation of professor is different from that of an ideological propagandist. Such a denial and declaration and promotion would certainly be possible for any faculty member to make at VU, but I suspect most all of my colleagues recognize that their vocation of professor does not include such behavior.
Agreed. Yet the rest of this paragraph suggests otherwise.

For a professor to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage is to engage in propaganda, an action that is not conducive to liberal learning in the give-and-take setting of a university classroom or lecture hall. For a professor to publicly and forcefully deny the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter is to engage in propaganda, an action that is not conducive to liberal learning in a university setting. For a professor to declare Islam a false and destructive religion is an act of bigotry, an action that is not conducive to liberal learning in a university setting. For a professor to promote "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum" is to promote a confused ideological construct, the content of which is unclear and susceptible to criticism from multiple scholarly perspectives.

I cannot imagine any VU professor in the natural or social sciences or in the humanities (including philosophy and theology) engaging in the above behaviors. The role of a professor in a liberal arts college is different from engaging in such propaganda. The vocation of a professor is to ask hard questions, to examine and evaluate relevant data carefully and critically, to inform students about contrasting perspectives on the data, to help disclose prejudice and ignorance, to highlight complexity and ambiguity in the data and received traditions of scholarly inquiry, to allow for student discussion and debate, to help students think more deeply and critically about received prejudices and presuppositions, to further intellectual inquiry, to pursue elusive truths, to pass on received wisdom with humility and grace, etc.

At least this is how I have viewed my vocation as a scholar and teacher for the past quarter century.

Matt Becker
Fine. But then why do you not similarly condemn professors who speak out in favor of gay marriage or condemn the traditional position as homophobic? Why, when professors encourage or participate in silly, nutjob protests for some movement are they just being professors, but when then they speak out on the other side of the exact same controversial movement they're suddenly just propagandists? The answer is because on campus the controversies aren't actual controversies; only one side is permissible.

Why is there room on a campus for a professor (of any dicsipline) to speak out forcefully for your ELCA (and utterly novel in human history) view of marriage, as those VU teachers who signed an anti-Chick-Fil-A MoveOn.org petition did, but not room on campus for a professor to speak out forcefully for my LCMS and traditionally Christian view of marriage? That you call a binary understanding of male/female a confused ideological construct shows me that you don't ask hard questions, you ask easy questions with cliche, popular answers by dismissing the counter positions as ideological propaganda (propaganda being a subject you seem to know zero about, btw). It is an illiberal environment you're describing as liberal, unless by liberal you simply mean politically liberal.

You, Matthew Becker, confess the Athanasian Creed, yet refuse to admit that in so doing you're publicly declaring Islam, which at its heart utterly refutes and rejects the Athanasian Creed, to be a false religion. You can't bear the idea of an actual clash of ideas, so you insist everyone hold to their own ideas only to the extent that the ideas never clash. You call the enforced uniformity of opinion on controversial matters to be a matter of free and open inquiry, which it manifestly is not. To think Islam false is not to be mean or hateful to Muslims, it is to disagree with them on serious theological, Trinitarian controversies. You can have an environment in which Christians argue forcefully for Christianity and Muslims argue forcefully for Islam, but not if you rule out from the get-go any declaration that the other side is wrong. Ironically, you rule from the get-go that my position is wrong in order to preserve an environment in which nobody gets called wrong.

What I appreciated about John Nunes is that, while he probably disagreed with me and agreed with you on a lot of matters, his classroom and discussions were never places where my position was dismissed as ideological propaganda or beneath serious, scholarly discussion. He would think one side right and the other wrong, but both sides always had a place at the table as long as they had any merit whatsoever. Your idea of a university is nothing like that. A university by your reckoning is a place where the revisionist position is considered unarguably correct.   

Where theology is the queen of sciences, only those positions that theological inquiry has already ruled out are out of bounds. Where sociology reigns, those positions that get in the way of progressive deconstruction are simply ruled out of bounds, as you have done with the traditional view of male/female, marriage, and family. You haven't made any arguments; you've denounced heresies. And the heresies in your world always seem to be the traditional Christian view.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 02, 2017, 12:54:19 AM
Thanks be to God that He can make good wine from sour grapes.


Do you have any biblical reference for your statement?


Huh? Isaiah 5 has God destroying the vineyard that produced rotten grapes when God expected good grapes. God didn't make wine out of the written grapes.


Jesus made wine from water, not sour grapes.
Biblical reference is that all things are possible with God. All he said was that God can make good wine from sour grapes. Are you suggesting that God can't do that or simply chiming in to say Amen to a manifestly true statement?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on June 02, 2017, 01:50:46 AM
Thanks be to God that He can make good wine from sour grapes.


Do you have any biblical reference for your statement?


Huh? Isaiah 5 has God destroying the vineyard that produced rotten grapes when God expected good grapes. God didn't make wine out of the written grapes.


Jesus made wine from water, not sour grapes.
Biblical reference is that all things are possible with God. All he said was that God can make good wine from sour grapes. Are you suggesting that God can't do that or simply chiming in to say Amen to a manifestly true statement?


What's the evidence that it's a true statement? If the Bible is the source of our truth, and it's not found there, why would we claim that it's true? There appears to be many things that God could do, but doesn't. God could have saved Jesus from dying on the cross, but didn't. God could have healed by father from his terminal cancer, but didn't.


Since you state that all things are possible with God, wouldn't it stand to reason that God could bless same-sex marriages? Or bless a woman's decision to have an abortion? Or bless female clergy and the congregations they serve?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Voelker on June 02, 2017, 02:07:50 AM
As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario, I can't imagine why a faculty member at VU would feel the need to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declare Islam a false and destructive religion, or promote what you describe as "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum." The one so denying, declaring, and promoting would likely be acting contrary to central values of our academic community and would come in for strong criticism on those grounds. There are compelling theological reasons, too, for why such actions would be criticized. The vocation of professor is different from that of an ideological propagandist. Such a denial and declaration and promotion would certainly be possible for any faculty member to make at VU, but I suspect most all of my colleagues recognize that their vocation of professor does not include such behavior.
Agreed. Yet the rest of this paragraph suggests otherwise.

For a professor to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage is to engage in propaganda, an action that is not conducive to liberal learning in the give-and-take setting of a university classroom or lecture hall. For a professor to publicly and forcefully deny the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter is to engage in propaganda, an action that is not conducive to liberal learning in a university setting. For a professor to declare Islam a false and destructive religion is an act of bigotry, an action that is not conducive to liberal learning in a university setting. For a professor to promote "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum" is to promote a confused ideological construct, the content of which is unclear and susceptible to criticism from multiple scholarly perspectives.

I cannot imagine any VU professor in the natural or social sciences or in the humanities (including philosophy and theology) engaging in the above behaviors. The role of a professor in a liberal arts college is different from engaging in such propaganda. The vocation of a professor is to ask hard questions, to examine and evaluate relevant data carefully and critically, to inform students about contrasting perspectives on the data, to help disclose prejudice and ignorance, to highlight complexity and ambiguity in the data and received traditions of scholarly inquiry, to allow for student discussion and debate, to help students think more deeply and critically about received prejudices and presuppositions, to further intellectual inquiry, to pursue elusive truths, to pass on received wisdom with humility and grace, etc.

At least this is how I have viewed my vocation as a scholar and teacher for the past quarter century.

Matt Becker
Professors certainly ought to do a good number of those things mentioned in the second paragraph (though there is that decidedly odd “…to help disclose prejudice and ignorance”; never mind that), but what is missing from that list is teaching. A professor, one hopes, professes something other than method (though getting students to learn to use these methods is certainly part of their task), and takes actual positions and conclusions having strong support from their own study, positions and conclusions drawn from the data, properly handled and considered, no matter whether those conclusions fall in step with institutional orthodoxy.

The very best teachers I have had over the years demanded rigor of us, demanded that we examine the data and follow where it goes, but were also clear that they believed that they were right on (at the least) their reading of things, and taught what they believed to be the truth concerning the topic at hand. This didn’t mean that they asked us to parrot back their opinions (those who tried that with them learned it would always backfire), but it did mean that they were open to alternate readings, even readings with which they might violently disagree, politically or otherwise, if those readings fit the data and the arguments for those differing readings didn’t fall apart under scrutiny. They were always open to be corrected, to adjust their understanding of things, to continue learning. Yet they had no fear of stating that they were right and others were wrong; the possibility of being mistaken didn’t keep them from believing that truth(s) were anything but “elusive”.

The case made here, however, is for professors to avoid defending positions unless they are in line with institutional orthodoxy. In those cases where institutional orthodoxies turn out not to be repeated, professors are found not to fit the bill because this position is propaganda, that stance is bigotry, and this other holding of theirs is promoting a confused ideological construct. No matter that they might have come to those positions, not because they fell prey to some ideology, but because that is where the data led — they’re propagandists, bigots, and confused in their thinking. Some questions cannot be asked; some territory is off-limits and must not be surveyed because the work has been already done, the map is certain, and that’s that. Full Stop. A sure sign that an ideology reigns in an institution is when there are predetermined-by-fiat outcomes for (some) paths of inquiry, and automatic judgments given for those who do not embrace those outcomes.

Sorry for the length of this reply; it’s late, and the week has been long. And +++ for Peter's post.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Charles Austin on June 02, 2017, 03:43:38 AM
Peter writes:
Where theology is the queen of sciences, only those positions that theological inquiry has already ruled out are out of bounds.

I comment:
To claim theology as a "science," is in itself a problem.
   Then there is the broader problem of science itself. The current National Geographic series, "Genius," a biography of Albert Einstein, shows how in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, "science," as instituted in the great European academies, was locked down and taught as a body of certainty.
   Einstein not only challenged that certainty - that "scripture," if you will - but proved that much of the foundation of that certainty was wrong.
   "Science" had ruled "out of bounds" things that Einstein's inquiries would prove to be true.
   Peter posits a "theological science," locked down and certain about everything under the sun. This is not scripture, this is a warped view of scripture and all of God's revelation.
   What "theological science" do we proclaim?
   That "science" of those whose world view is expressed in Genesis?
   That "science" of the Israelites on the way to the Promised Land?
   That "science" of Joshua?
   That "science" of the Israelite kings and prophets?
   There are, we believe, certainties in the faith, but those things we have generally grouped in the category of "science" are not in them.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: gan ainm on June 02, 2017, 06:38:09 AM
Thanks be to God that He can make good wine from sour grapes.


Do you have any biblical reference for your statement?


Huh? Isaiah 5 has God destroying the vineyard that produced rotten grapes when God expected good grapes. God didn't make wine out of the written grapes.


Jesus made wine from water, not sour grapes.

Have you read about Paul?


Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on June 02, 2017, 08:49:06 AM
Thanks be to God that He can make good wine from sour grapes.


Do you have any biblical reference for your statement?


Huh? Isaiah 5 has God destroying the vineyard that produced rotten grapes when God expected good grapes. God didn't make wine out of the written grapes.


Jesus made wine from water, not sour grapes.

Have you read about Paul?

Which Paul are you talking about, Gan? There's bound to be at least seven Pauls according to modern scholarship. DeuteroPaul is significantly different from HexaPaul. I saw a scholar refer to DodecaPaul, but c'mon, can anyone take that seriously? I am very firm in drawing the line at SeptaPaul. We cannot be tolerant of Scriptural deviants!

Jeremy
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mark Brown on June 02, 2017, 09:42:56 AM

A fellow Grover.  I didn't know that.  Yes, GCC is formally non-denom, but man, your experience of the place must have been significantly different.  The entire theology faculty was various forms of Calvinist.  (There might have been 1 Arminian who mostly kept quiet.)  The chapel, mandatory, would occasionally have outside voices, but 95%+ of the time it was the Presby/Calvinist Dean, the theology department, guests like people from RC Sproul's Ligonier ministries and the faculty/admin in that same tradition - even the engineering faculty that were my main teachers.  It was always nice to see one of them pop up in Chapel.  A couple of them would start each class with prayer.  And picking up Peter Speckhard's chain, that theology was the organizing principle of the entire college. It was the question hanging in the air even when you were studying the Carnot cycle in heat transfer. 

What is that worth?  Can you replace it with a solitary voice here and there?  I'd agree that loosely affiliated, vocationally aimed, undergraduate institutions are not necessary.  If it is just about information and certification, big state u does that fine.  I'd also agree that two one third full seminaries are tough, and we should probably confront the fact that enrollment is not jumping up even to my class level any time immediately.  But I would tend to think that having one place that is a jewel would be very worth it, if not necessary.  In liquid modernity, you need a mother-house so to speak.  You need a way to actually build and replenish those mentors you talk about.  And depending upon what other people have built to help you build a core competence is a poor strategy.  Like IBM outsourcing the operating system.  If one is reduced to holding up the Episcopal church as a good example to follow?

I also didn't know you were a Grover. While I was there, the chapel transitioned from Dean Morledge to Dean Keehlwetter and they expanded what could count as chapel requirements, including two midweek short services, one evening praise service, and the lengthy weekend service. I remember a roughly equal blend of contemporary style and traditional style, though I don't remember anything out of the hymnal except hymns - no liturgy that I can recall. The most formal chapel services were still Calvinist (and were the ones I least attended - why attend a 40-minute service if you get the same credit for a 20-minute one?), but the rest was basically broad-tent evangelical. That's what I was at the time and I don't remember anything pushing my buttons too much. I do wonder what my impression would be now. I did just see that one of their newest Theology profs was a classmate of mine at G-CTS, so I can guess.

Thing is, conservative protestant Christianity in America is heavily Calvinist period. Even the Southern Baptists have leaned toward Reformed Baptist positions. Pull the ten most popular bloggers or authors right now and seven or more will be Reformed or Reformed Baptist (your Kellers and Pipers and DeYoungs and Challies and Hortons and Carsons and on and on). This was true at Grove City. This was true at Gordon-Conwell. Unless Lutherans put some intentionality into entering the broader conversation, it will remain true.

I agree that one flagship institution could and should be maintained by the synod. To me, though I deeply valued my time at Fort Wayne, there is no question that in terms of facilities, of history, and of logistics, that combined uber-seminary would be the St. Louis campus. I would not envy whomever needed to shepherd the Synod and the institutions through that change.

I still think that, with a flagship in place, funding professorships at a number of targeted locations would go a long way and give a lot more bang for the buck than the current system.

I should add - since good friends worked in the administration at Gordon-Conwell and one served on the ATS accreditation committee, I am certain that the LCMS pattern of two years' classwork-one year of vicarage-final year of classwork is the envy of all the ATS-accredited schools. As of a few years ago, all of them were scrambling for ways to provide hands-on experience and still maxed out at a lesser version of the Fieldwork required at our seminaries with nothing approaching the vicarage year. It is a blessing for our pastoral formation and for our congregations.

They made attending chapel easy, so I did. It was better than going back to the dorm for 10 mins of nothing. And I got a kick each morning in the Reformer window at the downgrading of Luther to "bottom tier" and the elevation of Melanchthon - very Reformed.  As it turns out I could never swallow the I of TULIP and so stayed Lutheran.  Although with a deep respect for that Confessional Reformed tradition.  They take philosophy (and hence the humanities) seriously while we Lutherans just don't.  And it shows.

I'm a St. Louis grad, and a cradle LCMSer, so I get what you say about St. Louis being the natural "one".  But, I really think that it is a spiritual test.  One that I assume we will fail.  Ft. Wayne could take in the St. Louis sem whole (St. Louis could do the same to Ft. Wayne).  Facilities really don't enter.  The question is do we hold on to the history and that plot of ground in Clayton, or do we sell it, the proceeds of wish would provide a generous endowment to continue to teach pastors now and well into the future.  I know the Dale Meyer has been busy vacuuming out ever last dollar in the Synod during his tenure.  But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 02, 2017, 09:48:26 AM
Peter writes:
Where theology is the queen of sciences, only those positions that theological inquiry has already ruled out are out of bounds.

I comment:
To claim theology as a "science," is in itself a problem.
   Then there is the broader problem of science itself. The current National Geographic series, "Genius," a biography of Albert Einstein, shows how in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, "science," as instituted in the great European academies, was locked down and taught as a body of certainty.
   Einstein not only challenged that certainty - that "scripture," if you will - but proved that much of the foundation of that certainty was wrong.
   "Science" had ruled "out of bounds" things that Einstein's inquiries would prove to be true.
   Peter posits a "theological science," locked down and certain about everything under the sun. This is not scripture, this is a warped view of scripture and all of God's revelation.
   What "theological science" do we proclaim?
   That "science" of those whose world view is expressed in Genesis?
   That "science" of the Israelites on the way to the Promised Land?
   That "science" of Joshua?
   That "science" of the Israelite kings and prophets?
   There are, we believe, certainties in the faith, but those things we have generally grouped in the category of "science" are not in them.
I was going by old phrasing that groups things as arts and sciences. But whatever. We can avoid the confusion by using the phrase "queen of subjects, disciplines, or courses of study." Right now that title is held by sociology and its related fields, many of which end in "studies." And whereas that wouldn't have to be the case at Valpo, it is because Valpo chooses to be just like a good secular university rather than different.

And before we go down that rabbit hole again, no, the presence of vibrant Lutheran ministries does not make Valpo different from Purdue or Hillsdale, or Butler or wherever else one might go. Nor does preparing students to search for their truth, make a difference in the world, be leaders, give back, etc. All universities do those things, or at least try.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: mariemeyer on June 02, 2017, 09:53:17 AM

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer



 

Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Richard Johnson on June 02, 2017, 10:07:24 AM

If churches paid pastors what cardiologist get, we'd probably have the brightest and best people seeking that vocation.

Brightest, maybe; best, not likely.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: D. Engebretson on June 02, 2017, 10:13:13 AM
Since we are talking about what is tolerated or not tolerated on a modern university/college campus today, might we consider the recent situation of Prof. Bret Winstein at Evergreen State College as a kind of case study? Based on news reports from other institutions over the last few years this incident seems to be indicative of a growing trend of intolerance for anything that does not support the 'party line' of the institution.  Prof. Weinstein was eventually forced to hold his classes off campus for fear of his own safety after refusing to participate in a "no-whites day" at the Olympia, Washington school.  There appears to have been no support for this professor from top leadership.  It appears that there is a tendency on secular campuses, at least, for a growing sense of intolerance for those who do not cooperate with whatever trendy movement is popular.  Again, take the issue with nearby Notre Dame University and the staged walk out on VP Pence as he was beginning to speak to the graduates.  If a university is about the free exchange and discussion of ideas and concepts, why this unwillingness to allow it?
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Weedon on June 02, 2017, 10:20:26 AM
Consider as well the case of Anthony Esolen at Providence.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mark Brown on June 02, 2017, 10:26:52 AM

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on June 02, 2017, 10:53:05 AM
Thanks be to God that He can make good wine from sour grapes.


Do you have any biblical reference for your statement?


Huh? Isaiah 5 has God destroying the vineyard that produced rotten grapes when God expected good grapes. God didn't make wine out of the written grapes.


Jesus made wine from water, not sour grapes.

Have you read about Paul?


Yes, he whined about Judaizers. What was sour about him? He was a good, faithful, law-keeping Pharisee. He wasn't one of the drunks or gluttons or sinners or tax collectors or prostitutes that Jesus hung around with.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: mariemeyer on June 02, 2017, 10:57:20 AM

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

I make it a habit to read the Concordia Theological Journal and Dale Meyer's daily devotional thoughts. To suggest that he or Journal articles think of individuals as "statistics" or people groups as "studies departments" is  judgment that deserves re-thinking.

Marie Meyer
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on June 02, 2017, 11:02:59 AM
Thanks be to God that He can make good wine from sour grapes.


Do you have any biblical reference for your statement?


Huh? Isaiah 5 has God destroying the vineyard that produced rotten grapes when God expected good grapes. God didn't make wine out of the written grapes.


Jesus made wine from water, not sour grapes.

Have you read about Paul?

Which Paul are you talking about, Gan? There's bound to be at least seven Pauls according to modern scholarship. DeuteroPaul is significantly different from HexaPaul. I saw a scholar refer to DodecaPaul, but c'mon, can anyone take that seriously? I am very firm in drawing the line at SeptaPaul. We cannot be tolerant of Scriptural deviants!

Jeremy


It is clear that Luke's portrayal of Paul in Acts is a bit different from the autobiographical information in Paul's letters. Even among authentic pauline letters, there are some differences from the early letters and the later ones. Shouldn't we expect Paul to grow in faith as we expect that from all believers?


One can also denote differences in Paul depending on who is studying him. I think Luther read and interpreted Paul out of Luther's own experiences of being burdened by the Law. (It's not so clear that Paul felt that burdened.) Calvin read and interpreted Paul out of Calvin's experiences. So do we.


I have a book called: Four Views on the Apostle Paul, © 2012. There are essays byThomas Schreiner (Reformed View); Luke timothy Johnson (Catholic View); Douglas Campbell (Post New Perspective View); and Mark Nanos (Jewish View). One's own background colors the Paul we see.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on June 02, 2017, 11:07:33 AM

If churches paid pastors what cardiologist get, we'd probably have the brightest and best people seeking that vocation.

Brightest, maybe; best, not likely.


But we could then have a more rigorous board examination and weed out the less-than-best folks as Medical Boards do. On the other hand, even the best doctors need to carry malpractice insurance. Even the best can make mistakes.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on June 02, 2017, 11:21:12 AM

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

I make it a habit to read the Concordia Theological Journal and Dale Meyer's daily devotional thoughts. To suggest that he or Journal articles think of individuals as "statistics" or people groups as "studies departments" is  judgment that deserves re-thinking.

Marie Meyer

I'm not picking up on Mark's comment either.  My reading through the years has been that St. Louis is singing "From Galilee's High Mountain", encouraging engagement with the world/culture, and Ft. Wayne is singing "The World Is Very Evil/The Times Are Waxing Late," encouraging a more counter-cultural keep your hands off posture toward the world.  To be fair, that's a generalization, but it's there (in my opinion).   Both are "global" perspectives, when it comes down to it.  One, however, can produce a bunker mentality.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mbecker on June 02, 2017, 11:48:15 AM
As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario, I can't imagine why a faculty member at VU would feel the need to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declare Islam a false and destructive religion, or promote what you describe as "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum." The one so denying, declaring, and promoting would likely be acting contrary to central values of our academic community and would come in for strong criticism on those grounds. There are compelling theological reasons, too, for why such actions would be criticized. The vocation of professor is different from that of an ideological propagandist. Such a denial and declaration and promotion would certainly be possible for any faculty member to make at VU, but I suspect most all of my colleagues recognize that their vocation of professor does not include such behavior.
Agreed. Yet the rest of this paragraph suggests otherwise.

For a professor to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage is to engage in propaganda, an action that is not conducive to liberal learning in the give-and-take setting of a university classroom or lecture hall. For a professor to publicly and forcefully deny the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter is to engage in propaganda, an action that is not conducive to liberal learning in a university setting. For a professor to declare Islam a false and destructive religion is an act of bigotry, an action that is not conducive to liberal learning in a university setting. For a professor to promote "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum" is to promote a confused ideological construct, the content of which is unclear and susceptible to criticism from multiple scholarly perspectives.

I cannot imagine any VU professor in the natural or social sciences or in the humanities (including philosophy and theology) engaging in the above behaviors. The role of a professor in a liberal arts college is different from engaging in such propaganda. The vocation of a professor is to ask hard questions, to examine and evaluate relevant data carefully and critically, to inform students about contrasting perspectives on the data, to help disclose prejudice and ignorance, to highlight complexity and ambiguity in the data and received traditions of scholarly inquiry, to allow for student discussion and debate, to help students think more deeply and critically about received prejudices and presuppositions, to further intellectual inquiry, to pursue elusive truths, to pass on received wisdom with humility and grace, etc.

At least this is how I have viewed my vocation as a scholar and teacher for the past quarter century.

Matt Becker
Professors certainly ought to do a good number of those things mentioned in the second paragraph (though there is that decidedly odd “…to help disclose prejudice and ignorance”; never mind that), but what is missing from that list is teaching. A professor, one hopes, professes something other than method (though getting students to learn to use these methods is certainly part of their task), and takes actual positions and conclusions having strong support from their own study, positions and conclusions drawn from the data, properly handled and considered, no matter whether those conclusions fall in step with institutional orthodoxy.

The very best teachers I have had over the years demanded rigor of us, demanded that we examine the data and follow where it goes, but were also clear that they believed that they were right on (at the least) their reading of things, and taught what they believed to be the truth concerning the topic at hand. This didn’t mean that they asked us to parrot back their opinions (those who tried that with them learned it would always backfire), but it did mean that they were open to alternate readings, even readings with which they might violently disagree, politically or otherwise, if those readings fit the data and the arguments for those differing readings didn’t fall apart under scrutiny. They were always open to be corrected, to adjust their understanding of things, to continue learning. Yet they had no fear of stating that they were right and others were wrong; the possibility of being mistaken didn’t keep them from believing that truth(s) were anything but “elusive”.

The case made here, however, is for professors to avoid defending positions unless they are in line with institutional orthodoxy. In those cases where institutional orthodoxies turn out not to be repeated, professors are found not to fit the bill because this position is propaganda, that stance is bigotry, and this other holding of theirs is promoting a confused ideological construct. No matter that they might have come to those positions, not because they fell prey to some ideology, but because that is where the data led — they’re propagandists, bigots, and confused in their thinking. Some questions cannot be asked; some territory is off-limits and must not be surveyed because the work has been already done, the map is certain, and that’s that. Full Stop. A sure sign that an ideology reigns in an institution is when there are predetermined-by-fiat outcomes for (some) paths of inquiry, and automatic judgments given for those who do not embrace those outcomes.

Sorry for the length of this reply; it’s late, and the week has been long. And +++ for Peter's post.

One of the aims of a liberal education is to liberate students from ignorance and prejudice. That aim is near the core of liberal teaching. There's nothing "odd" about it.

Please read my brief list again. It describes what is meant by the word "teaching" at a liberal-arts university. Included in that list are aspects that imply "professing," e.g., examining data carefully via lecture and discussion, informing students about contrasting perspectives on the data, passing on received wisdom, etc. I said nothing about "avoiding defending positions unless they are in line with institutional orthodoxy," whatever that phrase means. There's a big difference between "presenting a variety of perspectives and weighing their respective strengths and weaknesses" and "defending a given position as the only right and true one and denying those that are contrary to it."

All perspectives ought to be open for investigation in a university and the criteria for evaluating each of them needs to be delineated as much as possible. The latter necessity often occurs only in the course of classroom discussion. Each of the issues Peter raised is routinely examined and evaluated, even debated, in my theology classes. All perspectives on those issue are welcome in the classroom, where they will be carefully analyzed and debated, and some will perhaps even be rejected by a majority. At some point in the discussion or in the course of presenting a variety of positions on a given issue, I may also share my own perspective and why I hold it, but in doing so I will try to be very careful so as not to shut down the learning process. This concern is particularly important in the humanities (which includes religious studies and theology), where many issues and questions do not lead to easy "black-and-white," true/false answers. An openness to students and their varying perspectives is crucial for professors in these fields of study. Of course my students know or learn on Day One that I am a former LCMS pastor and practicing ELCA Christian, so they have a hunch about many of my views already. No need to hit them over the head "publicly and forcefully."

Matt Becker
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on June 02, 2017, 11:51:22 AM
There is a bit of rivalry between the Seminary in St. Louis and the Seminary in Fort Wayne.
For the most part it has been a friendly one rather than a hostile one.  Today, both are
enduring declining enrollment.   This roller coaster has seen plenty of ups and downs.
As previously stated the Springfield/Fort Wayne campus was at one time intended for
second career students, while the St. Louis Seminary was for the men who went through
the "System."  Today, both seminaries are competing for the same students and have
similar faculties.   

What are the deciding factors to pick one seminary over the other in the 21st century?
You would have to ask those who will be First Year Seminarians next September.  My
guess is that there is not a simple answer, but rather a complex answer based on
personal preferences and individual needs.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on June 02, 2017, 12:21:24 PM
There is a bit of rivalry between the Seminary in St. Louis and the Seminary in Fort Wayne.
For the most part it has been a friendly one rather than a hostile one.  Today, both are
enduring declining enrollment.   This roller coaster has seen plenty of ups and downs.
As previously stated the Springfield/Fort Wayne campus was at one time intended for
second career students, while the St. Louis Seminary was for the men who went through
the "System."  Today, both seminaries are competing for the same students and have
similar faculties.   

What are the deciding factors to pick one seminary over the other in the 21st century?
You would have to ask those who will be First Year Seminarians next September.  My
guess is that there is not a simple answer, but rather a complex answer based on
personal preferences and individual needs.

Back in the day the rivalry took place in the sports arena, when there were more "robust" enrollments.  In football, each seminary's intramural all-stars would meet for the annual flag football tussle.  Our captain one year was Jon Wuerffel.  We won decisively.  You may have heard of Jon's son, Danny, who won the Heisman in 1996.  In hoops, the varsities met for a time, and then didn't for a time, because there was too great a differential between the two programs.  One of our Atlantic District pastors emeritus, Jim Zwernemann, holds the all-time St. Louis scoring record, gained at the expense of the Springfield Seminary.  By my time, our intramural all-stars took on their varsity.  Still no contest.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Voelker on June 02, 2017, 12:50:49 PM
I said nothing about "avoiding defending positions unless they are in line with institutional orthodoxy," whatever that phrase means.
And here we get to the heart of the problem: it is clear that your ideological blinkers are strong and effective. Were they not, that phrase would be clear to you as a high-sky day, and that this really is your position. The paragraph with which I began ("As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario...") clearly delineates some aspects of Valpo's institutional orthodoxy, things not to be said, questioned, or perhaps even thought. Peter is entirely right: for you, things not in line with institutional orthodoxies are heresies, things which are unable to be thought, and you cannot for a moment understand ("I can't imagine") how anyone might agree with or hold them, because they are not Right Thought — there is something wrong with someone spouting them, for to hold them is to be a propagandist, a bigot, or mentally impaired. This is not how the Academy has traditionally functioned, but it is how dissidents were dealt with under Stalin's heirs.

Your fear of "shut[ting] down the learning process" leaves your students with method, and nothing more. A useful method, to be sure — differing positions should be examined and investigated, and learning to deal critically and logically with texts, facts, and arguments is essential — but one that does not give the tools to do more than agree that one take on a matter is less strong than some others. What is missing here is an understanding that perspectives are merely another piece of data, and have no value in and of themselves except as another angle from which to view something; while in some cases we might not be able to see clearly just what the truth of something is (in the "black-and-white" sense), we can substantially narrow things down after subtracting, among other things, the prejudices that those differing perspectives bring to the table. If all you have or end up with are "perspectives" and "views"...then there's no point in helping your students examine varying perspectives, unless your job is simply to help students practice proper method. if that's the case, then by all means, keep at it.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Matt Staneck on June 02, 2017, 12:52:58 PM

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

This comment is way off.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Voelker on June 02, 2017, 01:13:32 PM

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

This comment is way off.

M. Staneck
Seconded.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mbecker on June 02, 2017, 01:29:40 PM
I said nothing about "avoiding defending positions unless they are in line with institutional orthodoxy," whatever that phrase means.
And here we get to the heart of the problem: it is clear that your ideological blinkers are strong and effective. Were they not, that phrase would be clear to you as a high-sky day, and that this really is your position. The paragraph with which I began ("As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario...") clearly delineates some aspects of Valpo's institutional orthodoxy, things not to be said, questioned, or perhaps even thought. Peter is entirely right: for you, things not in line with institutional orthodoxies are heresies, things which are unable to be thought, and you cannot for a moment understand ("I can't imagine") how anyone might agree with or hold them, because they are not Right Thought — there is something wrong with someone spouting them, for to hold them is to be a propagandist, a bigot, or mentally impaired. This is not how the Academy has traditionally functioned, but it is how dissidents were dealt with under Stalin's heirs.

Your fear of "shut[ting] down the learning process" leaves your students with method, and nothing more. A useful method, to be sure — differing positions should be examined and investigated, and learning to deal critically and logically with texts, facts, and arguments is essential — but one that does not give the tools to do more than agree that one take on a matter is less strong than some others. What is missing here is an understanding that perspectives are merely another piece of data, and have no value in and of themselves except as another angle from which to view something; while in some cases we might not be able to see clearly just what the truth of something is (in the "black-and-white" sense), we can substantially narrow things down after subtracting, among other things, the prejudices that those differing perspectives bring to the table. If all you have or end up with are "perspectives" and "views"...then there's no point in helping your students examine varying perspectives, unless your job is simply to help students practice proper method. if that's the case, then by all means, keep at it.

WJV,
Please, tell me what you think my "ideology" is? And can you provide a brief summary of Valpo's "institutional orthodoxy," things not to be said, questioned, or perhaps thought? Apparently you know Valpo and me better than I do, so please enlighten me and free me from my blindness....

None of us can escape being perspectival. You can't jump over your own shadow. Your comments, too, would be opened to careful analysis/criticism, if shared in a Valpo classroom.

My classes are not just about method. The one course I teach most often, "The Christian Tradition: Conflict and Consensus," is largely a set of arguments about what constitutes "the Christian tradition." Students read from the Bible and from my book, "Fundamental Theology." Throughout the semester, students research a topic that they then debate at the end of the course. The students pick the five or six research/debate topics at the beginning of the term, e.g., the Bible does not condemn gay marriage, Christians and Muslims worship the same God, Christians should support the #blacklives movement, women may be ordained to the pastoral office, the theory of evolution is compatible with Christian doctrine, Christians should support physician-assisted suicide, Christians should support genetically-modified crops, and so on.

Each of the debates sets forth both "pro" and "con" evidence and argumentation. After each debate, the class as a whole evaluates the evidence and arguments. We also take a vote to see which side of the debate was more persuasive and then discuss why that was the case. Often, students who personally favor one side of the debate are forced to argue the opposite position, like a good lawyer might have to do in a court of law. Some tell me that their views on the subject became more complicated over the course of the term. (They have to meet with the opposing team three or four times in the semester.) A few end up changing their minds. Nearly all tell me at the end of the term that the project/debates is a worthwhile learning activity. I tell them that they are participating in a venerable academic tradition, the disputation.

M. Becker
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on June 02, 2017, 01:36:15 PM
I said nothing about "avoiding defending positions unless they are in line with institutional orthodoxy," whatever that phrase means.
And here we get to the heart of the problem: it is clear that your ideological blinkers are strong and effective. Were they not, that phrase would be clear to you as a high-sky day, and that this really is your position. The paragraph with which I began ("As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario...") clearly delineates some aspects of Valpo's institutional orthodoxy, things not to be said, questioned, or perhaps even thought. Peter is entirely right: for you, things not in line with institutional orthodoxies are heresies, things which are unable to be thought, and you cannot for a moment understand ("I can't imagine") how anyone might agree with or hold them, because they are not Right Thought — there is something wrong with someone spouting them, for to hold them is to be a propagandist, a bigot, or mentally impaired. This is not how the Academy has traditionally functioned, but it is how dissidents were dealt with under Stalin's heirs.

Your fear of "shut[ting] down the learning process" leaves your students with method, and nothing more. A useful method, to be sure — differing positions should be examined and investigated, and learning to deal critically and logically with texts, facts, and arguments is essential — but one that does not give the tools to do more than agree that one take on a matter is less strong than some others. What is missing here is an understanding that perspectives are merely another piece of data, and have no value in and of themselves except as another angle from which to view something; while in some cases we might not be able to see clearly just what the truth of something is (in the "black-and-white" sense), we can substantially narrow things down after subtracting, among other things, the prejudices that those differing perspectives bring to the table. If all you have or end up with are "perspectives" and "views"...then there's no point in helping your students examine varying perspectives, unless your job is simply to help students practice proper method. if that's the case, then by all means, keep at it.


When the truth is the truth, the proper method will discern it. Truth is able to stand up to examination. College should be a time students learn to think critically, not just blindly accept what a professor says.


Someone wrote about his apologetics course and the professor said, "You defend God like you defend a lion. You get out of the way."
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: LCMS87 on June 02, 2017, 02:06:07 PM

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

This comment is way off.

M. Staneck

My reaction was that Pr. Brown's characterization of our two seminaries resonated with my perceptions over the past decade or so.  Clearly that's not a uniform conclusion.  One thing that seems clear from Pr. Benke's response above, though, is that however we might characterize it, individuals of diverse opinions believe there is a discernible difference in the way our two Seminaries approach culture.

My own evaluation is that in regards to being in the world but not of the world my alma mater tends toward blurring the line between the two, whereas the seminary my wife and I support financially and in which we have encouraged students to enroll guards somewhat more carefully against becoming of the world.

Unfortunately it's difficult within the strictures of an online forum and the eighth commandment to engage in a full discussion of the reasons why I've come to this conclusion.  I'd only say that it involves engagement with the Concordia Journal and Concordia Theological Quarterly, presentations by faculty from both seminaries, along with the programs they sponsor and the publications they send out.  In other words, mine is a considered opinion even if you believe it to be erroneous.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Matt Staneck on June 02, 2017, 02:25:06 PM
I could've been more specific. I especially took issue with this comment: "Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments." This conclusion(?) is baseless.

I don't deny that CSL thinks globally (I really have no way to compare to Fort Wayne since I didn't go there but I very much like President Rast). But I think CSL attempts to think globally in the way that Lutheranism is a global confession. CSL is by no means above improvement (and even correction), but it's baseless to say that it processes human beings into statistics. I went to St. Louis recently and I keep in touch with faculty and current students. Send your money wherever you want, but the above presented idea is not true.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Voelker on June 02, 2017, 02:25:20 PM
Please, tell me what you think my "ideology" is? And can you provide a brief summary of Valpo's "institutional orthodoxy," things not to be said, questioned, or perhaps thought? Apparently you know Valpo and me better than I do, so please enlighten me and free me from my blindness....
You yourself lay out some things your ideology, whatever it might be, will not countenance:
As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario, I can't imagine why a faculty member at VU would feel the need to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declare Islam a false and destructive religion, or promote what you describe as "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum." The one so denying, declaring, and promoting would likely be acting contrary to central values of our academic community and would come in for strong criticism on those grounds.
I could guess to what other items and areas would also fall into this fenced-off region, but there's no way to be sure unless one is part of the Valpo community, which I am not. All that is addressed here is what you yourself have claimed falls within Valpo’s no-man's land. What we have been given are some of the contours of the ideology to which you’re blind; not enough of the whole has been revealed to properly categorize it. I’m in no place to figure out just which ideolog(y)(ies) hold you captive; perhaps listening to a few of Žižek’s lectures would aid self-diagnosis.

None of us can escape being perspectival. You can't jump over your own shadow. Your comments, too, would be opened to careful analysis/criticism, if shared in a Valpo classroom.
Well, yeah. No claim for an aperspectival position here, and of course my comments, if shared in a Valpo classroom, would be “opened to careful analysis/criticsm.” Who would think or want otherwise? What was claimed, however, is that there is nothing special about a particular perspective or particular person's perspective, other than it exists and influences how things are read or seen, and then accounted for adequately (thus, "perspectives are merely another piece of data"). That someone else has another perspective than mine, however, doesn't make theirs or mine special because they are perspectives; recognizing differing perspectives simply points out how we come at the problem from alternate directions, and help us round out the data we have to work with — what we know, what we’ve missed, what we may still have yet to determine. Recognizing perspectives is merely a tool in sussing out the truth of things.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mark Brown on June 02, 2017, 02:58:12 PM

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

I make it a habit to read the Concordia Theological Journal and Dale Meyer's daily devotional thoughts. To suggest that he or Journal articles think of individuals as "statistics" or people groups as "studies departments" is  judgment that deserves re-thinking.

Marie Meyer

Let me make an LCMS observation and an elaboration on my statement.  The observation is that everything in LCMS politics eventually becomes personalized.  Saying that you think St. Louis' approach is out of step with the needs of the current environment is taken as an attack on Dale Meyer.  And who could attack Dale Meyer.  I happen to read Concordia Journal cover to cover when it comes.  I used to occasionally listen to those devotional thoughts.  Yes, Dale Meyer is a very personally warm guy.  He personally would never devolve people to statistics or process.  But my point is not about Dale Meyer as a person.

The elaboration on the statement is this.  There are times to cast away stones, and times to gather stones together.  St. Louis' approach, the H. Richard Niebuhr approach of Christ and Culture, is to cast away stones.  You take people who are fully formed in the faith, send them to a different culture, and let them figure out through interaction how to believe, teach and confess what they do, in that other culture's idiom.  In the process what you hope to eventually do is form a true native, as the sent one is never going to be a true native.  The presuppositions to that approach are: a) a sending culture that is able to produce and form someone and b) a receiving culture that in some sense "has ears to hear".  The Ft. Wayne approach, as far as I can intuit from reading their journal and observing its graduates, is the gathering of stones together.  You gather a group who believe, teach and confess the same things together, but who might not fully know what that means, or are at different points of maturity.  Through their life together, which should be salt and light, the pagans will see their good deeds and praise the Father.  There is still cultural interaction, but it is done by the community gathered in the midst attempting to live its life in the midst of a more hostile world, not by a casting away of a stone.  The presuppositions of that approach are: a) a sending culture that is weak enough it isn't sure of forming disciples itself, so it needs some separation and b) the culture that you are in the midst might have individuals who will over time hear, but is largely hostile or has rejected your witness.  St. Louis is apostolic (formed by Christ himself) and Christendom based - solid formation/expectation of hearing.  Ft. Wayne is Augustinian/Benedictine/pseudo-monastic and built for a time of dissolution.

When you send a half formed person into a cultural dissolution what happens is not St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 confident faith, not Dale Meyer's personal warmth, what happens is a struggle to comprehend both what I believe, teach and confess and what the culture is telling me.  And the way that is done today is by numbers.  The first thing that greets a seminarian in a new call is the LCEF statistical summary for the area they have been called to.  The pastoral min suggestions both in sem and by the immediate books everybody grabs (usually Rainer but not limited to his) are here is how you categorize.  The secular culture is all about ID-politics.  And when you are not sure who you are, it is very easy to confuse absorbing with translating, acceptance with discernment of gold from dross in the culture.

I think it is a time to gather stones together.  I think people who are pushing a casting strategy are either nostalgic, in denial or hopelessly optimistic.  In biblical terms I'd say they are letting their "innocent as doves" overpower their "shrewd as snakes".  But then being the one counseling being snake-like I would not expect a warm welcome. 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Weedon on June 02, 2017, 03:15:44 PM
Mark,

Could you explain what you mean by this sentence a little more. I'm not sure I'm tracking with your argument here, and I'm intrigued by what are postulating:

The presuppositions of that approach are: a) a sending culture that is weak enough it isn't sure of forming disciples itself, so it needs some separation

TIA!
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: LCMS87 on June 02, 2017, 03:22:23 PM
I could've been more specific. I especially took issue with this comment: "Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments." This conclusion(?) is baseless.

I don't deny that CSL thinks globally (I really have no way to compare to Fort Wayne since I didn't go there but I very much like President Rast). But I think CSL attempts to think globally in the way that Lutheranism is a global confession. CSL is by no means above improvement (and even correction), but it's baseless to say that it processes human beings into statistics. I went to St. Louis recently and I keep in touch with faculty and current students. Send your money wherever you want, but the above presented idea is not true.

M. Staneck

Pr. Staneck, I appreciate your clarification.  I could have been clearer as well.  The sentence to which you reacted didn't factor heavily in my response.  Indeed, I took it to be hyperbole, extending an apparent tendency to its typical eventual conclusion in our culture.  My response was in connection with Pr. Brown's general thesis in the post quoted and his earlier one which Dcs. Meyer excerpted.

One thing this discussion has brought into stark clarity for me for the first time is the place of campus infrastructure in any consideration of going to a single seminary.  For the most part, the land and buildings have nothing to do with the decision.   Whichever seminary was "closed" the faculty and staff of the other could be moved into the now vacant campus and you'd have the Theological Seminary in St. Louis or the St. Louis seminary in Ft. Wayne.  From what I gather, whatever were to be done regarding the educational program, it would be most fiscally advantageous to sell the Clayton campus and retain the one in Ft. Wayne.  Obviously that decision would require real expertise, not my impression.  But doing such a thing wouldn't necessarily mean closing Concordia Seminary and retaining Concordia Theological Seminary.  If a decision were made to have just one seminary, my guess is that some kind of merger would be likely, with some faculty and administrators taking calls to parishes or other institutions, or retiring.  The single seminary would be some sort of hybrid of the previous two.  And it would likely have a character distinct from either of our current seminaries.     
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on June 02, 2017, 03:59:09 PM

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

I make it a habit to read the Concordia Theological Journal and Dale Meyer's daily devotional thoughts. To suggest that he or Journal articles think of individuals as "statistics" or people groups as "studies departments" is  judgment that deserves re-thinking.

Marie Meyer

Let me make an LCMS observation and an elaboration on my statement.  The observation is that everything in LCMS politics eventually becomes personalized.  Saying that you think St. Louis' approach is out of step with the needs of the current environment is taken as an attack on Dale Meyer.  And who could attack Dale Meyer.  I happen to read Concordia Journal cover to cover when it comes.  I used to occasionally listen to those devotional thoughts.  Yes, Dale Meyer is a very personally warm guy.  He personally would never devolve people to statistics or process.  But my point is not about Dale Meyer as a person.

The elaboration on the statement is this.  There are times to cast away stones, and times to gather stones together.  St. Louis' approach, the H. Richard Niebuhr approach of Christ and Culture, is to cast away stones.  You take people who are fully formed in the faith, send them to a different culture, and let them figure out through interaction how to believe, teach and confess what they do, in that other culture's idiom.  In the process what you hope to eventually do is form a true native, as the sent one is never going to be a true native.  The presuppositions to that approach are: a) a sending culture that is able to produce and form someone and b) a receiving culture that in some sense "has ears to hear".  The Ft. Wayne approach, as far as I can intuit from reading their journal and observing its graduates, is the gathering of stones together.  You gather a group who believe, teach and confess the same things together, but who might not fully know what that means, or are at different points of maturity.  Through their life together, which should be salt and light, the pagans will see their good deeds and praise the Father.  There is still cultural interaction, but it is done by the community gathered in the midst attempting to live its life in the midst of a more hostile world, not by a casting away of a stone.  The presuppositions of that approach are: a) a sending culture that is weak enough it isn't sure of forming disciples itself, so it needs some separation and b) the culture that you are in the midst might have individuals who will over time hear, but is largely hostile or has rejected your witness.  St. Louis is apostolic (formed by Christ himself) and Christendom based - solid formation/expectation of hearing.  Ft. Wayne is Augustinian/Benedictine/pseudo-monastic and built for a time of dissolution.

When you send a half formed person into a cultural dissolution what happens is not St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 confident faith, not Dale Meyer's personal warmth, what happens is a struggle to comprehend both what I believe, teach and confess and what the culture is telling me.  And the way that is done today is by numbers.  The first thing that greets a seminarian in a new call is the LCEF statistical summary for the area they have been called to.  The pastoral min suggestions both in sem and by the immediate books everybody grabs (usually Rainer but not limited to his) are here is how you categorize.  The secular culture is all about ID-politics.  And when you are not sure who you are, it is very easy to confuse absorbing with translating, acceptance with discernment of gold from dross in the culture.

I think it is a time to gather stones together.  I think people who are pushing a casting strategy are either nostalgic, in denial or hopelessly optimistic.  In biblical terms I'd say they are letting their "innocent as doves" overpower their "shrewd as snakes".  But then being the one counseling being snake-like I would not expect a warm welcome.

I like this, and agree with your assessment as far as it goes.  We, the oldsters, entered the seminary at St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 Confident Faith (which sounds like hair tonic or shaving cream), having been raised inside the walls for (in my case) 16 years prior to entering the seminary.  The percentage of students in that category now would be slimmish.  I don't have a problem with, then, gathering stones together for bonding to the wonderfully dynamic doctrinal corpus in our possession.

The down side of taking unformed/half-quarter-formed students and indoctrinating them and inoculating them against the world, however, is that they become more than faith-holders against the tide. 
They become indoctrinees, ideological wards of the counter-culture, tending toward the stiff and standoffish for fear of touching the unclean, purveyors and articulants of the bylaw change and the hyper-fine-tuned theological opinion as the cure-all.  Purposeful disengagement can then become the default strategy. 

Jesus, in this picture, was the other Guy, the One in trouble specifically for failing to live up to the standoffish standards, the impure Pure Son of God.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mark Brown on June 02, 2017, 04:03:41 PM
Mark,

Could you explain what you mean by this sentence a little more. I'm not sure I'm tracking with your argument here, and I'm intrigued by what are postulating:

The presuppositions of that approach are: a) a sending culture that is weak enough it isn't sure of forming disciples itself, so it needs some separation

TIA!

Lutheranism in American in the 20 - 40 year old range that would send someone to seminary, that would then send them to pastor or be a missionary, is not a strong identity.  What are the most recent survey numbers - 30-50% of the people in are pews, high younger, don't believe what we teach on foundational things?  When Mark 10 comes up (Oct 2-8, proper 22, Matthew 19 conveniently gets skipped!), don't you know that you are going into that pulpit and preaching a word that is rejected by many in the pews?  Some flagrantly?  Confirmation (on my mind because ours is this weekend), confirmation instruction used to be serious in the sense that parents would force children to memorize or do the homework and take the tests.  And people would come out of the woodworks to enroll their kids.  Today, you don't have the woodworks, you will not get parents forcing homework like schoolwork and you better schedule the time such that it doesn't interfere with anything more important, which is almost everything.  I could continue the litany.  And this is not meant as a complaint.  It just is.  Or at least it is in places that haven't been deeply and intentionally shepherded over the past 40 years.  If the seminaries were taking in people as Lutheran as as 22 yo Dale Meyer, a sending strategy makes sense.  We should trust Dale Meyer to incarnate to an alien culture.  But they aren't, and they won't be.  Biblically we aren't dealing with Timothy's, but with John Mark's.   As Paul eventually realized, you can't just throw a John Mark at an alien culture.  When the church identity or culture is that weak, you withdraw a little.  You ensure that there is a core that can strengthen and encourage each other, that grows together.   You send John Mark to travel with Peter, and in his age after writing the gospel he can go to Alexandria.  Because we are weak, we need a generation to relearn what it means to be a disciple.  And the longer we want to pretend that we are strong, we fritter away what strength is left.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Weedon on June 02, 2017, 04:08:01 PM
Mark,

Thanks for the explanation. I get what you are saying now.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mark Brown on June 02, 2017, 04:13:14 PM

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

I make it a habit to read the Concordia Theological Journal and Dale Meyer's daily devotional thoughts. To suggest that he or Journal articles think of individuals as "statistics" or people groups as "studies departments" is  judgment that deserves re-thinking.

Marie Meyer

Let me make an LCMS observation and an elaboration on my statement.  The observation is that everything in LCMS politics eventually becomes personalized.  Saying that you think St. Louis' approach is out of step with the needs of the current environment is taken as an attack on Dale Meyer.  And who could attack Dale Meyer.  I happen to read Concordia Journal cover to cover when it comes.  I used to occasionally listen to those devotional thoughts.  Yes, Dale Meyer is a very personally warm guy.  He personally would never devolve people to statistics or process.  But my point is not about Dale Meyer as a person.

The elaboration on the statement is this.  There are times to cast away stones, and times to gather stones together.  St. Louis' approach, the H. Richard Niebuhr approach of Christ and Culture, is to cast away stones.  You take people who are fully formed in the faith, send them to a different culture, and let them figure out through interaction how to believe, teach and confess what they do, in that other culture's idiom.  In the process what you hope to eventually do is form a true native, as the sent one is never going to be a true native.  The presuppositions to that approach are: a) a sending culture that is able to produce and form someone and b) a receiving culture that in some sense "has ears to hear".  The Ft. Wayne approach, as far as I can intuit from reading their journal and observing its graduates, is the gathering of stones together.  You gather a group who believe, teach and confess the same things together, but who might not fully know what that means, or are at different points of maturity.  Through their life together, which should be salt and light, the pagans will see their good deeds and praise the Father.  There is still cultural interaction, but it is done by the community gathered in the midst attempting to live its life in the midst of a more hostile world, not by a casting away of a stone.  The presuppositions of that approach are: a) a sending culture that is weak enough it isn't sure of forming disciples itself, so it needs some separation and b) the culture that you are in the midst might have individuals who will over time hear, but is largely hostile or has rejected your witness.  St. Louis is apostolic (formed by Christ himself) and Christendom based - solid formation/expectation of hearing.  Ft. Wayne is Augustinian/Benedictine/pseudo-monastic and built for a time of dissolution.

When you send a half formed person into a cultural dissolution what happens is not St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 confident faith, not Dale Meyer's personal warmth, what happens is a struggle to comprehend both what I believe, teach and confess and what the culture is telling me.  And the way that is done today is by numbers.  The first thing that greets a seminarian in a new call is the LCEF statistical summary for the area they have been called to.  The pastoral min suggestions both in sem and by the immediate books everybody grabs (usually Rainer but not limited to his) are here is how you categorize.  The secular culture is all about ID-politics.  And when you are not sure who you are, it is very easy to confuse absorbing with translating, acceptance with discernment of gold from dross in the culture.

I think it is a time to gather stones together.  I think people who are pushing a casting strategy are either nostalgic, in denial or hopelessly optimistic.  In biblical terms I'd say they are letting their "innocent as doves" overpower their "shrewd as snakes".  But then being the one counseling being snake-like I would not expect a warm welcome.

I like this, and agree with your assessment as far as it goes.  We, the oldsters, entered the seminary at St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 Confident Faith (which sounds like hair tonic or shaving cream), having been raised inside the walls for (in my case) 16 years prior to entering the seminary.  The percentage of students in that category now would be slimmish.  I don't have a problem with, then, gathering stones together for bonding to the wonderfully dynamic doctrinal corpus in our possession.

The down side of taking unformed/half-quarter-formed students and indoctrinating them and inoculating them against the world, however, is that they become more than faith-holders against the tide. 
They become indoctrinees, ideological wards of the counter-culture, tending toward the stiff and standoffish for fear of touching the unclean, purveyors and articulants of the bylaw change and the hyper-fine-tuned theological opinion as the cure-all.  Purposeful disengagement can then become the default strategy. 

Jesus, in this picture, was the other Guy, the One in trouble specifically for failing to live up to the standoffish standards, the impure Pure Son of God.

Dave Benke

True, disengagement could become a standard, but it is one that I just don't fear at all.  But then I took Dr. Robinson's Western Monasticism.  There is a stock phrase about out culture - "you will be made to care."  When the Little Sisters of the Poor have held headlines for a while, you get the sense of why I don't fear disengagement.  Either the Spirit or Satan won't let it happen.  We may long for it, but it won't happen just because if we are living what we say we believe, teach and confess, we are going to be a light shining in a dark place.  You can't hide a city on a hill.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on June 02, 2017, 05:07:04 PM
Bishop Benke hinted at some LCMS history that might interest our younger posters.

Carl and Leonard Wuerffel were brothers.  (Leonard was a professor at St. Louis Seminary)

Leonard had a son named Chuck who attended Concordia Jr. College Milwaukee
and went on to become a Lutheran school teacher.  Chuck looked like Charles Atlas and
was in excellent physical condition.  When he was in the swimming pool at Concordia
he really made waves.  He was an acolyte for Dean Bill Ackmann

Carl had two sons. Ted and Jon , who went to Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and
became ordained pastors.  Ted was really into vocal music.

Jon had a son named Danny who won a Heisman Trophy while playing college football
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on June 02, 2017, 05:41:05 PM

"But what will a confessional synod need more in the days ahead?  A nice leafy grove surrounded by wealth and respectability trying to keep up appearances with worn clothes, or a slightly downscale place with a chip on its shoulder but a clear mission to take on the world in every way possible?  The second fits who we are and the times better.  The first is weeping over Babylon the fallen."

The above suggests that the St. Louis seminary under the leadership of Dale Meyer does not have a clear mission to take on the world.  IOW, does St. Louis not think globally in terms of the mission Christ entrusts to His Bride, the Church?

marie meyer

I guess I would say that St. Louis' "thinking globally" is the problem.  When I say take on the world, I mean it in the sense of "the devil, the world and our sinful nature".  Or the sense of Athanasius contra mundum.  Or Benedict. Which all go back to Jesus turning down all those kingdoms.  None of those who "took on the world" were doing so from some "thinking globally" statement.  They were doing, in their place, what they could, against the temptations to bow down to temporal power and glory.  Each was an intensely personal and time bound choice.  Like Lot and his wife fleeing Sodom.  That is something that preaches in every individual's life.

St. Louis is very H. Richard Niebuhr-esqe.  It "thinks globally" in the Christ and culture sense.  Individuals become statistics and people groups and eventually *-studies departments.  It all makes sense from a c-suite.  But it doesn't preach.  It doesn't have that kairos moment.  So it tends to be the longer path to acceptance of whatever culture you engage.     

I make it a habit to read the Concordia Theological Journal and Dale Meyer's daily devotional thoughts. To suggest that he or Journal articles think of individuals as "statistics" or people groups as "studies departments" is  judgment that deserves re-thinking.

Marie Meyer

Let me make an LCMS observation and an elaboration on my statement.  The observation is that everything in LCMS politics eventually becomes personalized.  Saying that you think St. Louis' approach is out of step with the needs of the current environment is taken as an attack on Dale Meyer.  And who could attack Dale Meyer.  I happen to read Concordia Journal cover to cover when it comes.  I used to occasionally listen to those devotional thoughts.  Yes, Dale Meyer is a very personally warm guy.  He personally would never devolve people to statistics or process.  But my point is not about Dale Meyer as a person.

The elaboration on the statement is this.  There are times to cast away stones, and times to gather stones together.  St. Louis' approach, the H. Richard Niebuhr approach of Christ and Culture, is to cast away stones.  You take people who are fully formed in the faith, send them to a different culture, and let them figure out through interaction how to believe, teach and confess what they do, in that other culture's idiom.  In the process what you hope to eventually do is form a true native, as the sent one is never going to be a true native.  The presuppositions to that approach are: a) a sending culture that is able to produce and form someone and b) a receiving culture that in some sense "has ears to hear".  The Ft. Wayne approach, as far as I can intuit from reading their journal and observing its graduates, is the gathering of stones together.  You gather a group who believe, teach and confess the same things together, but who might not fully know what that means, or are at different points of maturity.  Through their life together, which should be salt and light, the pagans will see their good deeds and praise the Father.  There is still cultural interaction, but it is done by the community gathered in the midst attempting to live its life in the midst of a more hostile world, not by a casting away of a stone.  The presuppositions of that approach are: a) a sending culture that is weak enough it isn't sure of forming disciples itself, so it needs some separation and b) the culture that you are in the midst might have individuals who will over time hear, but is largely hostile or has rejected your witness.  St. Louis is apostolic (formed by Christ himself) and Christendom based - solid formation/expectation of hearing.  Ft. Wayne is Augustinian/Benedictine/pseudo-monastic and built for a time of dissolution.

When you send a half formed person into a cultural dissolution what happens is not St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 confident faith, not Dale Meyer's personal warmth, what happens is a struggle to comprehend both what I believe, teach and confess and what the culture is telling me.  And the way that is done today is by numbers.  The first thing that greets a seminarian in a new call is the LCEF statistical summary for the area they have been called to.  The pastoral min suggestions both in sem and by the immediate books everybody grabs (usually Rainer but not limited to his) are here is how you categorize.  The secular culture is all about ID-politics.  And when you are not sure who you are, it is very easy to confuse absorbing with translating, acceptance with discernment of gold from dross in the culture.

I think it is a time to gather stones together.  I think people who are pushing a casting strategy are either nostalgic, in denial or hopelessly optimistic.  In biblical terms I'd say they are letting their "innocent as doves" overpower their "shrewd as snakes".  But then being the one counseling being snake-like I would not expect a warm welcome.

I like this, and agree with your assessment as far as it goes.  We, the oldsters, entered the seminary at St. Paul's Fowler's Stage 5 Confident Faith (which sounds like hair tonic or shaving cream), having been raised inside the walls for (in my case) 16 years prior to entering the seminary.  The percentage of students in that category now would be slimmish.  I don't have a problem with, then, gathering stones together for bonding to the wonderfully dynamic doctrinal corpus in our possession.

The down side of taking unformed/half-quarter-formed students and indoctrinating them and inoculating them against the world, however, is that they become more than faith-holders against the tide. 
They become indoctrinees, ideological wards of the counter-culture, tending toward the stiff and standoffish for fear of touching the unclean, purveyors and articulants of the bylaw change and the hyper-fine-tuned theological opinion as the cure-all.  Purposeful disengagement can then become the default strategy. 

Jesus, in this picture, was the other Guy, the One in trouble specifically for failing to live up to the standoffish standards, the impure Pure Son of God.

Dave Benke

True, disengagement could become a standard, but it is one that I just don't fear at all.  But then I took Dr. Robinson's Western Monasticism.  There is a stock phrase about out culture - "you will be made to care."  When the Little Sisters of the Poor have held headlines for a while, you get the sense of why I don't fear disengagement.  Either the Spirit or Satan won't let it happen.  We may long for it, but it won't happen just because if we are living what we say we believe, teach and confess, we are going to be a light shining in a dark place.  You can't hide a city on a hill.

OK as far as you go, Mark.  But a) being a City on a Hill includes, as with the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have an NYC hq in the Bronx, engaging those in the area, not running and hiding from them or avoiding them as actually or potentially impure.   And b) an ordained person ideologically trained to disengage is also leading a flock of folks in that direction, not just on the moral issues, but as a default position vis a vis the world in which the congregants are enmeshed.   Let's take the Mennonites in my neighborhood.  What they have done over time is to take positions with NYC or in neighborhood organizations to bring service to those living in East New York.  Their mind-set/life-set/value base is very well-defined and is, I would say, counter-cultural.  Their way of explaining and exploring that with other people is to assist, for example, in running our community garden, where our day care kids plant tomatoes.  It doesn't have to be St. Peter's or People of the Way's garden.  We can engage through gardening.

As to the outcome, of course, the Light that shines is not ours, but Christ.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Weedon on June 02, 2017, 05:56:11 PM
Bishop,

I don't think that Mark was advocating disengaging from those in the area and he explicitly said there can be no running and hiding: "You will be made to care." I honestly don't know who any of these pastors are who advocate disengagement. To move back to the monastic movement again, it is utterly falsification of history to portray it as retreat from society to keep one's self from being untouched by impurity. The great monastics, particularly of the West, were above all evangelists. They sought to spread the Gospel and actively went forward to do so. They just knew that it couldn't be done outside of that community gathered around the wells of the Coming Kingdom. They literally lived from the Mass and the Office, and drew strength from brothers (or sisters) who joined them in planting bits of order into the midst of the chaos. The order being, above all, a taste of the future kingdom itself to which they were inviting and summoning the world into which they went, knowing that it was a world that would often hate them, seek to wipe them out, and ideologically never welcome them. It was okay. They lived from the end and to the end they invited, they engaged, if you will.

P.S. Said another way, they weren't into building bridges. They offered folks the ride of their life in a divine transporter to the age to come. Beam me up, Scotty! Or rather, come with us to where the future kingdom is beamed down to us!!!

P.S.S. If we thought like the monastics we'd realize that the task of evangelism and the task of planting communities nurtured in the Mass and Office are one in the same. Evangelism is the invitation to feast on this life that is pouring in through them. Without that community at the core you're only inviting folks into a "go out and get some more club" which I have termed missiolatry.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Harry Edmon on June 02, 2017, 07:02:40 PM
From BJS (http://steadfastlutherans.org/2017/06/concordia-university-portland-news/) from Pastor Joshua Scheer:


A recent announcement by the Board of Regents of Concordia University Portland has drawn some attention.  Apparently there are discussions about the University becoming independent, separate from the LCMS.  Upon this announcement I found some folks on Facebook immediately take to accusation and suspicion that there is a power play at work and that Team Harrison is up to no good.  This is no surprise as the recent zombie-resurrection of Jesus First as “Congregations Matter” has signaled that many liberals in the Synod are not interested in truth or charitable interpretations of situations, but instead upon politically crafted attacks upon the Harrison administration.  Despite huge agreement in measures passed at the 2016 Convention, these folks want to be a vocal and radical minority hiding under a supposed concern for congregations.  No doubt the same old voices will raise the same old uncharitable interpretations of the Harrison administration.  They will also likely blast away at groups like the United List that simply lends its faithful record and approval to candidates for offices. The will of congregations was made known in 2016 as they through their delegations elected the folks we have now.  An attack upon the delegates decisions is not supporting congregations but is actively fighting against them.  We don’t have the United List running the LCMS but the folks duly elected by the Synod Convention (representing all the congregations of the Synod).  Don’t mistake “sour grapes” and class warfare (power politics) for actual concern here folks.

One of our writers here at Steadfast wrote about the strategic importance of these kind of potential changes in the Concordia University System last Fall.  Thank you to Mr. Tim Wood for his insight and vision to help open up some out of the box thinking with his post.  These laymen we have here at Steadfast are great guys, loving the true confession of the Faith in both their congregations and also their synod.  Thanks be to God for such gifts.

I asked the communications department of the LCMS for a statement and they graciously provided one to me (available to anyone that asks) and I print it below:

Quote
COMMUNICATION AND RESPONSE TO RECENT STATEMENTS MADE BY CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY- PORTLAND
No decision, proposal or recommendation has been made by Concordia University System or by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod regarding any significant changes at Concordia University – Portland.
Under Synod Bylaws, Concordia University System’s Board of Directors (CUS) would have to make a recommendation to the LCMS Board of Directors concerning certain types of major changes, such as a divestiture or sale, before any changes could occur. If such a recommendation were to be made by CUS, no action would be taken unless both the LCMS Board of Directors and one of either the Concordia University Portland (CUP) Board of Regents or the Council of Presidents voted to accept the recommendation.
The recent CUP Facebook posting and other communications sent out by CUP’s Board of Regents concerning possible changes in ownership and governance reflect the fact that CUS President, Rev. Dr. Dean Wenthe, and CUP President, Dr. Charles Schlimpert, recently met to discuss how they might work together to meet complex challenges that are facing campuses like CUP in this turbulent environment that currently characterizes university education. Rev. Dr. Wenthe invited Dr. Schlimpert to meet with him in St. Louis to discuss these challenges, particularly in the area of ongoing capitalization. They discussed a variety of ideas on how they might explore potential solutions that would benefit both CUP and the LCMS, but no definite proposals were made. However, CUS President Rev. Dr. Wenthe and CUS Board Chairman Dr. Gerhard Mundinger supported Dr. Schlimpert’s suggestion that he would be willing to postpone his retirement in light of the potentially significant changes that could occur with respect to CUP.

I think this is a good time to let the folks of Concordia Portland and the Concordia University System work this one out for the good of everyone involved.  It’s also time to stop interpreting everything in the most uncharitable way to the Harrison administration.  The 2016 Convention did some great things, including electing good folks who care about faithfulness throughout the Synod (that most certainly includes congregations!).

Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Mbecker on June 02, 2017, 08:11:01 PM
Please, tell me what you think my "ideology" is? And can you provide a brief summary of Valpo's "institutional orthodoxy," things not to be said, questioned, or perhaps thought? Apparently you know Valpo and me better than I do, so please enlighten me and free me from my blindness....
You yourself lay out some things your ideology, whatever it might be, will not countenance:
As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario, I can't imagine why a faculty member at VU would feel the need to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declare Islam a false and destructive religion, or promote what you describe as "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum." The one so denying, declaring, and promoting would likely be acting contrary to central values of our academic community and would come in for strong criticism on those grounds.
I could guess to what other items and areas would also fall into this fenced-off region, but there's no way to be sure unless one is part of the Valpo community, which I am not. All that is addressed here is what you yourself have claimed falls within Valpo’s no-man's land. What we have been given are some of the contours of the ideology to which you’re blind; not enough of the whole has been revealed to properly categorize it. I’m in no place to figure out just which ideolog(y)(ies) hold you captive; perhaps listening to a few of Žižek’s lectures would aid self-diagnosis.

None of us can escape being perspectival. You can't jump over your own shadow. Your comments, too, would be opened to careful analysis/criticism, if shared in a Valpo classroom.
Well, yeah. No claim for an aperspectival position here, and of course my comments, if shared in a Valpo classroom, would be “opened to careful analysis/criticsm.” Who would think or want otherwise? What was claimed, however, is that there is nothing special about a particular perspective or particular person's perspective, other than it exists and influences how things are read or seen, and then accounted for adequately (thus, "perspectives are merely another piece of data"). That someone else has another perspective than mine, however, doesn't make theirs or mine special because they are perspectives; recognizing differing perspectives simply points out how we come at the problem from alternate directions, and help us round out the data we have to work with — what we know, what we’ve missed, what we may still have yet to determine. Recognizing perspectives is merely a tool in sussing out the truth of things.

I wrote that I couldn't imagine why a faculty member would "forcefully" argue in public for the positions Peter identified, not that a faculty member couldn't do so. Again, nothing is fenced off on Valpo's campus, as far as I know, no "no-man's land," as far as topics go. We do, however, get concerned when people act uncivilly and contrary to accepted canons of behavior in an academic community.

Didn't my list of student-chosen debate topics from recent semesters put to rest the notion that there are "fenced-off topics" on Valpo's campus? Or that students wouldn't be exposed to contrary arguments about those topics?

I agree with your observations about perspectives and am glad to know that you recognize that your views are just that, a perspective--as are mine.

M. Becker
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on June 02, 2017, 11:00:48 PM
From BJS (http://steadfastlutherans.org/2017/06/concordia-university-portland-news/) from Pastor Joshua Scheer:


A recent announcement by the Board of Regents of Concordia University Portland has drawn some attention.  Apparently there are discussions about the University becoming independent, separate from the LCMS.  Upon this announcement I found some folks on Facebook immediately take to accusation and suspicion that there is a power play at work and that Team Harrison is up to no good.  This is no surprise as the recent zombie-resurrection of Jesus First as “Congregations Matter” has signaled that many liberals in the Synod are not interested in truth or charitable interpretations of situations, but instead upon politically crafted attacks upon the Harrison administration.  Despite huge agreement in measures passed at the 2016 Convention, these folks want to be a vocal and radical minority hiding under a supposed concern for congregations.  No doubt the same old voices will raise the same old uncharitable interpretations of the Harrison administration.  They will also likely blast away at groups like the United List that simply lends its faithful record and approval to candidates for offices. The will of congregations was made known in 2016 as they through their delegations elected the folks we have now.  An attack upon the delegates decisions is not supporting congregations but is actively fighting against them.  We don’t have the United List running the LCMS but the folks duly elected by the Synod Convention (representing all the congregations of the Synod).  Don’t mistake “sour grapes” and class warfare (power politics) for actual concern here folks.

One of our writers here at Steadfast wrote about the strategic importance of these kind of potential changes in the Concordia University System last Fall.  Thank you to Mr. Tim Wood for his insight and vision to help open up some out of the box thinking with his post.  These laymen we have here at Steadfast are great guys, loving the true confession of the Faith in both their congregations and also their synod.  Thanks be to God for such gifts.

I asked the communications department of the LCMS for a statement and they graciously provided one to me (available to anyone that asks) and I print it below:

Quote
COMMUNICATION AND RESPONSE TO RECENT STATEMENTS MADE BY CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY- PORTLAND
No decision, proposal or recommendation has been made by Concordia University System or by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod regarding any significant changes at Concordia University – Portland.
Under Synod Bylaws, Concordia University System’s Board of Directors (CUS) would have to make a recommendation to the LCMS Board of Directors concerning certain types of major changes, such as a divestiture or sale, before any changes could occur. If such a recommendation were to be made by CUS, no action would be taken unless both the LCMS Board of Directors and one of either the Concordia University Portland (CUP) Board of Regents or the Council of Presidents voted to accept the recommendation.
The recent CUP Facebook posting and other communications sent out by CUP’s Board of Regents concerning possible changes in ownership and governance reflect the fact that CUS President, Rev. Dr. Dean Wenthe, and CUP President, Dr. Charles Schlimpert, recently met to discuss how they might work together to meet complex challenges that are facing campuses like CUP in this turbulent environment that currently characterizes university education. Rev. Dr. Wenthe invited Dr. Schlimpert to meet with him in St. Louis to discuss these challenges, particularly in the area of ongoing capitalization. They discussed a variety of ideas on how they might explore potential solutions that would benefit both CUP and the LCMS, but no definite proposals were made. However, CUS President Rev. Dr. Wenthe and CUS Board Chairman Dr. Gerhard Mundinger supported Dr. Schlimpert’s suggestion that he would be willing to postpone his retirement in light of the potentially significant changes that could occur with respect to CUP.

I think this is a good time to let the folks of Concordia Portland and the Concordia University System work this one out for the good of everyone involved.  It’s also time to stop interpreting everything in the most uncharitable way to the Harrison administration.  The 2016 Convention did some great things, including electing good folks who care about faithfulness throughout the Synod (that most certainly includes congregations!).

I don't think there's been any chirping about Matt Harrison on this board, Harry, when it comes to what's going on at Concordia Portland.  Having been involved in congregation, school and camp closings in the Atlantic District over a quarter century of time, what happens when difficult decisions get made is that the arrows are aimed at the leader even when there are all kinds of other issues and personalities in play.  Recognizing that is part of taking the leadership vocation, and I believe Matt understands that fully. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 02, 2017, 11:18:23 PM
From BJS (http://steadfastlutherans.org/2017/06/concordia-university-portland-news/) from Pastor Joshua Scheer:


A recent announcement by the Board of Regents of Concordia University Portland has drawn some attention.  Apparently there are discussions about the University becoming independent, separate from the LCMS.  Upon this announcement I found some folks on Facebook immediately take to accusation and suspicion that there is a power play at work and that Team Harrison is up to no good.  This is no surprise as the recent zombie-resurrection of Jesus First as “Congregations Matter” has signaled that many liberals in the Synod are not interested in truth or charitable interpretations of situations, but instead upon politically crafted attacks upon the Harrison administration.  Despite huge agreement in measures passed at the 2016 Convention, these folks want to be a vocal and radical minority hiding under a supposed concern for congregations.  No doubt the same old voices will raise the same old uncharitable interpretations of the Harrison administration.  They will also likely blast away at groups like the United List that simply lends its faithful record and approval to candidates for offices. The will of congregations was made known in 2016 as they through their delegations elected the folks we have now.  An attack upon the delegates decisions is not supporting congregations but is actively fighting against them.  We don’t have the United List running the LCMS but the folks duly elected by the Synod Convention (representing all the congregations of the Synod).  Don’t mistake “sour grapes” and class warfare (power politics) for actual concern here folks.

One of our writers here at Steadfast wrote about the strategic importance of these kind of potential changes in the Concordia University System last Fall.  Thank you to Mr. Tim Wood for his insight and vision to help open up some out of the box thinking with his post.  These laymen we have here at Steadfast are great guys, loving the true confession of the Faith in both their congregations and also their synod.  Thanks be to God for such gifts.

I asked the communications department of the LCMS for a statement and they graciously provided one to me (available to anyone that asks) and I print it below:

Quote
COMMUNICATION AND RESPONSE TO RECENT STATEMENTS MADE BY CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY- PORTLAND
No decision, proposal or recommendation has been made by Concordia University System or by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod regarding any significant changes at Concordia University – Portland.
Under Synod Bylaws, Concordia University System’s Board of Directors (CUS) would have to make a recommendation to the LCMS Board of Directors concerning certain types of major changes, such as a divestiture or sale, before any changes could occur. If such a recommendation were to be made by CUS, no action would be taken unless both the LCMS Board of Directors and one of either the Concordia University Portland (CUP) Board of Regents or the Council of Presidents voted to accept the recommendation.
The recent CUP Facebook posting and other communications sent out by CUP’s Board of Regents concerning possible changes in ownership and governance reflect the fact that CUS President, Rev. Dr. Dean Wenthe, and CUP President, Dr. Charles Schlimpert, recently met to discuss how they might work together to meet complex challenges that are facing campuses like CUP in this turbulent environment that currently characterizes university education. Rev. Dr. Wenthe invited Dr. Schlimpert to meet with him in St. Louis to discuss these challenges, particularly in the area of ongoing capitalization. They discussed a variety of ideas on how they might explore potential solutions that would benefit both CUP and the LCMS, but no definite proposals were made. However, CUS President Rev. Dr. Wenthe and CUS Board Chairman Dr. Gerhard Mundinger supported Dr. Schlimpert’s suggestion that he would be willing to postpone his retirement in light of the potentially significant changes that could occur with respect to CUP.

I think this is a good time to let the folks of Concordia Portland and the Concordia University System work this one out for the good of everyone involved.  It’s also time to stop interpreting everything in the most uncharitable way to the Harrison administration.  The 2016 Convention did some great things, including electing good folks who care about faithfulness throughout the Synod (that most certainly includes congregations!).

I don't think there's been any chirping about Matt Harrison on this board, Harry, when it comes to what's going on at Concordia Portland.  Having been involved in congregation, school and camp closings in the Atlantic District over a quarter century of time, what happens when difficult decisions get made is that the arrows are aimed at the leader even when there are all kinds of other issues and personalities in play.  Recognizing that is part of taking the leadership vocation, and I believe Matt understands that fully. 

Dave Benke
I think Harry was talking about Facebook, not this board. But it is nice to have the official line. I didn't see anything on Facebook except reactions to reactions, but the whole topic brings up some good discussion points regarding larger issues regardless of the actual details of the Portland goings-on.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: RevG on June 03, 2017, 12:01:30 AM
Bishop,

I don't think that Mark was advocating disengaging from those in the area and he explicitly said there can be no running and hiding: "You will be made to care." I honestly don't know who any of these pastors are who advocate disengagement. To move back to the monastic movement again, it is utterly falsification of history to portray it as retreat from society to keep one's self from being untouched by impurity. The great monastics, particularly of the West, were above all evangelists. They sought to spread the Gospel and actively went forward to do so. They just knew that it couldn't be done outside of that community gathered around the wells of the Coming Kingdom. They literally lived from the Mass and the Office, and drew strength from brothers (or sisters) who joined them in planting bits of order into the midst of the chaos. The order being, above all, a taste of the future kingdom itself to which they were inviting and summoning the world into which they went, knowing that it was a world that would often hate them, seek to wipe them out, and ideologically never welcome them. It was okay. They lived from the end and to the end they invited, they engaged, if you will.

P.S. Said another way, they weren't into building bridges. They offered folks the ride of their life in a divine transporter to the age to come. Beam me up, Scotty! Or rather, come with us to where the future kingdom is beamed down to us!!!

P.S.S. If we thought like the monastics we'd realize that the task of evangelism and the task of planting communities nurtured in the Mass and Office are one in the same. Evangelism is the invitation to feast on this life that is pouring in through them. Without that community at the core you're only inviting folks into a "go out and get some more club" which I have termed missiolatry.

I appreciate your articulation here. So true.

To your last paragraph I like that word "missiolatry".  What you describe has been bothering me for a while and the light bulb went on a few months ago when I was at a presentation given in that vein.  It's a confusion of discipleship with missiology.  It equates discipleship with making more disciples.  It thins discipleship out and makes it one dimensional.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Voelker on June 03, 2017, 01:47:41 PM
Please, tell me what you think my "ideology" is? And can you provide a brief summary of Valpo's "institutional orthodoxy," things not to be said, questioned, or perhaps thought? Apparently you know Valpo and me better than I do, so please enlighten me and free me from my blindness....
You yourself lay out some things your ideology, whatever it might be, will not countenance:
As to the rest of your hypothetical scenario, I can't imagine why a faculty member at VU would feel the need to publicly and forcefully deny the validity of gay marriage or the benevolence of #blacklivesmatter, declare Islam a false and destructive religion, or promote what you describe as "the idea of male/female as a binary per Genesis and not a spectrum." The one so denying, declaring, and promoting would likely be acting contrary to central values of our academic community and would come in for strong criticism on those grounds.
I could guess to what other items and areas would also fall into this fenced-off region, but there's no way to be sure unless one is part of the Valpo community, which I am not. All that is addressed here is what you yourself have claimed falls within Valpo’s no-man's land. What we have been given are some of the contours of the ideology to which you’re blind; not enough of the whole has been revealed to properly categorize it. I’m in no place to figure out just which ideolog(y)(ies) hold you captive; perhaps listening to a few of Žižek’s lectures would aid self-diagnosis.

None of us can escape being perspectival. You can't jump over your own shadow. Your comments, too, would be opened to careful analysis/criticism, if shared in a Valpo classroom.
Well, yeah. No claim for an aperspectival position here, and of course my comments, if shared in a Valpo classroom, would be “opened to careful analysis/criticsm.” Who would think or want otherwise? What was claimed, however, is that there is nothing special about a particular perspective or particular person's perspective, other than it exists and influences how things are read or seen, and then accounted for adequately (thus, "perspectives are merely another piece of data"). That someone else has another perspective than mine, however, doesn't make theirs or mine special because they are perspectives; recognizing differing perspectives simply points out how we come at the problem from alternate directions, and help us round out the data we have to work with — what we know, what we’ve missed, what we may still have yet to determine. Recognizing perspectives is merely a tool in sussing out the truth of things.

I wrote that I couldn't imagine why a faculty member would "forcefully" argue in public for the positions Peter identified, not that a faculty member couldn't do so. Again, nothing is fenced off on Valpo's campus, as far as I know, no "no-man's land," as far as topics go. We do, however, get concerned when people act uncivilly and contrary to accepted canons of behavior in an academic community.

Didn't my list of student-chosen debate topics from recent semesters put to rest the notion that there are "fenced-off topics" on Valpo's campus? Or that students wouldn't be exposed to contrary arguments about those topics?

I agree with your observations about perspectives and am glad to know that you recognize that your views are just that, a perspective--as are mine.

M. Becker
Thank you. I'd ask you to consider, though, that for someone to "act uncivilly" could well include, in what you have described, merely taking a stand on one of the issues you mentioned that is in contradiction to what is accepted. For that to be uncivil, or against codes of behavior, is to, intentionally or not, force suppression of those who do believe or think in those ways, as they will, more often than not, avoid causing trouble for themselves.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Harry Edmon on June 05, 2017, 08:46:22 AM

I don't think there's been any chirping about Matt Harrison on this board, Harry, when it comes to what's going on at Concordia Portland.  Having been involved in congregation, school and camp closings in the Atlantic District over a quarter century of time, what happens when difficult decisions get made is that the arrows are aimed at the leader even when there are all kinds of other issues and personalities in play.  Recognizing that is part of taking the leadership vocation, and I believe Matt understands that fully. 

Dave Benke
I agree with you about this forum and Matt Harrision on this topic.  For this forum I thought the interesting part was the quote from the communications department of Synod.  It gave some more background on how the whole topic got started.   I quoted the whole BJS article so everything was presented in context.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Benke on June 05, 2017, 09:38:45 AM

I don't think there's been any chirping about Matt Harrison on this board, Harry, when it comes to what's going on at Concordia Portland.  Having been involved in congregation, school and camp closings in the Atlantic District over a quarter century of time, what happens when difficult decisions get made is that the arrows are aimed at the leader even when there are all kinds of other issues and personalities in play.  Recognizing that is part of taking the leadership vocation, and I believe Matt understands that fully. 

Dave Benke
I agree with you about this forum and Matt Harrision on this topic.  For this forum I thought the interesting part was the quote from the communications department of Synod.  It gave some more background on how the whole topic got started.   I quoted the whole BJS article so everything was presented in context.

Got it.  The last sentence carries some freight:  However, CUS President Rev. Dr. Wenthe and CUS Board Chairman Dr. Gerhard Mundinger supported Dr. Schlimpert’s suggestion that he would be willing to postpone his retirement in light of the potentially significant changes that could occur with respect to CUP.  Any time the leadership transition process is derailed, there's something going on, and for the various parties that would have to be involved in "significant changes" having already met is a sign that there will be some more chapters to this story in the nearish future.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: scott9 on June 15, 2017, 01:59:21 PM
Our Doc Yak teaches there. Ask him.

As an update, I just received word that I am approved to be a (full) Professor of Theology at Concordia University in Ann Arbor. We will be moving there in July.  We will miss the students, faculty, and staff at CU-Portland but very much look forward to serving at CU-Ann Arbor.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: revjagow on June 15, 2017, 02:11:11 PM
Our Doc Yak teaches there. Ask him.

As an update, I just received word that I am approved to be a (full) Professor of Theology at Concordia University in Ann Arbor. We will be moving there in July.  We will miss the students, faculty, and staff at CU-Portland but very much look forward to serving at CU-Ann Arbor.

May God bless you richly in your call and give you peace in this time of transition.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Michael Slusser on June 15, 2017, 02:17:01 PM
Our Doc Yak teaches there. Ask him.
As an update, I just received word that I am approved to be a (full) Professor of Theology at Concordia University in Ann Arbor. We will be moving there in July.  We will miss the students, faculty, and staff at CU-Portland but very much look forward to serving at CU-Ann Arbor.
Felicitations! I'm glad they realized what an asset you would be to them.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on June 15, 2017, 02:45:36 PM
Congratulations to Dr.Yak.   It is my understanding that Concordia University Ann Arbor
is still under the Presidency of Dr. Patrick Ferry of Concordia University Wisconsin.  He
has done amazing work with both of these campuses.   He is one of the outstanding
leaders in our Concordia University System.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Jim Butler on June 15, 2017, 02:46:46 PM
Our Doc Yak teaches there. Ask him.

As an update, I just received word that I am approved to be a (full) Professor of Theology at Concordia University in Ann Arbor. We will be moving there in July.  We will miss the students, faculty, and staff at CU-Portland but very much look forward to serving at CU-Ann Arbor.

As an alumnus of CUAA (although it was CCAA in my day), I congratulate you on your new position! I'm sure you will be tremendous blessing to the students and your colleagues on the faculty.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: scott9 on June 15, 2017, 08:59:50 PM
Thanks, guys.  I appreciate it and look forward to the new opportunities at CUAA.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: James_Gale on June 15, 2017, 10:29:01 PM
Our Doc Yak teaches there. Ask him.

As an update, I just received word that I am approved to be a (full) Professor of Theology at Concordia University in Ann Arbor. We will be moving there in July.  We will miss the students, faculty, and staff at CU-Portland but very much look forward to serving at CU-Ann Arbor.


First, congratulations!


Second, and much more importantly, any truth to the rumor (which I am starting here) that the teaching position is secondary to a new position (Lutheran chaplain, perhaps?) with the Michigan football team? 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: Dave Likeness on June 15, 2017, 10:37:41 PM
The Michigan Wolverines have no realistic hope of winning the Big Ten Football title
as long as Coach Urban Meyer remains at Ohio State.  Coach Jim Harbaugh is a good
interim coach for the Wolverines until some else comes along.   Chaplain Yak knows
that and expressed that opinion during the interview during a conference call with
President Patrick Ferry.
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: James_Gale on June 15, 2017, 11:19:08 PM
The Michigan Wolverines have no realistic hope of winning the Big Ten Football title
as long as Coach Urban Meyer remains at Ohio State.  Coach Jim Harbaugh is a good
interim coach for the Wolverines until some else comes along.   Chaplain Yak knows
that and expressed that opinion during the interview during a conference call with
President Patrick Ferry.


Fake news! 
Title: Re: I don't understand? Concordia Portland asked to be independent?
Post by: scott9 on June 16, 2017, 01:08:16 AM
Our Doc Yak teaches there. Ask him.

As an update, I just received word that I am approved to be a (full) Professor of Theology at Concordia University in Ann Arbor. We will be moving there in July.  We will miss the students, faculty, and staff at CU-Portland but very much look forward to serving at CU-Ann Arbor.


First, congratulations!


Second, and much more importantly, any truth to the rumor (which I am starting here) that the teaching position is secondary to a new position (Lutheran chaplain, perhaps?) with the Michigan football team?

I can neither confirm nor deny such a rumor.

But I did just buy a week's worth of khakis...