The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is blessed with university leadership that seeks to reflect the confession and practice of the church. The presidents of the Concordia University System (CUS), meeting in Peachtree, Ga., in October 2014 and in Asheville, N.C., Feb. 9, 2015, have endorsed the following identity statement and its protocols as a means to demonstrate their support for the Christian teaching, Lutheran confession and practice of the church. Pastors, congregations and parents are urged to support these faithful presidents and send students as well as financial assistance so that their mission as institutions of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod might flourish and display the truth that all true knowledge and learning is rightly ordered in relation to God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.
While some have noted the drift of colleges and universities away from the churches that gave birth to them, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod can give thanks for such a clear and forthright expression of solidarity with the church. Such commitment by the presidents is distinctive and, by God’s grace, will recommend their institutions not only to members of the church but to those publics that are seeking such a full and transparent commitment to the integration of the finest in university education with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Lutheran Identity Standards for CUS Institutions
As educational institutions of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the colleges and universities of the Concordia University System confess the faith of the Church. The Concordias uphold the teachings of sacred Scripture and its articulation in the Lutheran Confessions. This includes the biblical teaching that Jesus Christ — true God and true man — is the sole way to God’s mercy and grace; that at the beginning of time the Triune God created all things; that life is sacred from conception to natural death; and that marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred gift of God’s creative hand — over against the reductionistic assumptions of many in our culture who view men and women as only transitory and material beings.
As educational institutions of the LCMS, the Concordias are committed to providing an excellent, robust curriculum in the liberal arts and professional studies, which together equip students for various vocations of service to church and society. As C.F.W. Walther wrote, “As long as and wherever the Christian church flourished, it always and everywhere proved itself to be a friend and cultivator of all good arts and sciences, gave its future servants a scholarly preparatory training, and did not disdain to permit its gifted youth at its schools of higher learning to be trained by the standard products of even pagan art and science.” [i]
Accordingly, the colleges and universities of the Concordia University System affirm and promise to uphold these identity standards:
- Identity statements
The institution’s mission statement (and/or vision statement) clearly identifies it as a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) institution, as do the institution’s primary print and electronic publications.
- Governing board
All of the institution’s regents are active members in good standing of LCMS congregations (Bylaw 126.96.36.199 – 4).[ii]
- Senior leadership
The president and the senior leaders over academics, student life, admissions and athletics are active members in good standing of LCMS congregations, and all faithfully participate in worship and religious activities on campus and in their local congregations.
Each tenure track or continuing-level faculty search is given optimal exposure among members of congregations of the LCMS to identify faculty who are qualified in their respective academic disciplines and are members of LCMS congregations.
Ideally, all faculty members are active members of LCMS congregations. When academically qualified LCMS members are not available, faculty members will be Christians who affirm, at minimum, the content of the Ecumenical Creeds and are members of Christian congregations. All faculty members promise to perform their duties in harmony with the truths of Holy Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, and the doctrinal statements of the LCMS (cf. Bylaw 188.8.131.52.2).
The majority of the full-time faculty are members of LCMS congregations. In cases where this standard is not met, the institution will develop a plan to reach this minimum standard and submit it to the CUS.
The institution has an ongoing faculty and staff development program required of all faculty, senior administrators and senior staff members that clearly explains the tenets of LCMS higher education and what it means to be a faculty, administrator or staff member at a CUS institution. Adjunct or part-time faculty members engage in a similar faculty development program that likewise explains the fundamental tenets of LCMS higher education and what it means to be a part-time faculty member at an LCMS institution.
- Theology faculty
All theology faculty (full-time and part-time) are active members in good standing of LCMS congregations and fully affirm the theological confession of the LCMS. As the LCMS Bylaws indicate, all full-time theology faculty receive prior approval from the CUS Board of Directors before being appointed or called (Bylaw 184.108.40.206).
- Academic freedom and responsibility
All full-time faculty acknowledge their acceptance of the CUS statement of Academic Freedom and Responsibilities. All faculty, both full- and part-time, pledge to perform their duties in harmony with Scripture, the Confessions and the Synod’s doctrinal statements (Bylaw 220.127.116.11.2).
- Faith and learning
In accordance with the doctrine of the two kingdoms, all faculty strive to faithfully bring Lutheran theology into interaction with their various academic disciplines while respecting the integrity of those disciplines. Likewise, in other campus arenas, faculty, staff and administrators will seek to apply Lutheran theology within their campus vocations.
- Required theology courses
The institution requires two to three theology courses for an undergraduate degree, typically in Old Testament, New Testament and Christian doctrine. Because these courses are directly related to the theological identity of CUS institutions and to the identity formation of graduates, these theology courses will normally be taken at a CUS institution. Exceptions to this will be approved by the institution’s called theological faculty.
- Preparation of church workers
The institution provides resources to recruit, form, nurture and place students preparing for professional church work in the LCMS (e.g., pre-seminary, pre-deaconess, deaconess, Lutheran teachers, DCEs, DCOs, DPMs, etc.). Specific programs vary by campus.
- Campus ministry
The institution offers regular opportunities for worship that reflect the confession of the church. Faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to participate in these services. The institution calls a campus pastor or chaplain, who is a Minister of Religion—Ordained of the LCMS, who oversees the worship life of the community, organizes opportunities for Christian service and witness, and provides pastoral care for students.
Assessment of institutional commitment to Lutheran identity
Each institution will submit an annual written report to the CUS Board of Directors describing, with evidence, how the institution meets the 10 Lutheran Identity Standards. The report will be endorsed by each respective Board of Regents and will be shared with the campus community.
October 18, 2014
[i] Walther, C.F.W., “Forward to the 1875 Volume: Are We Guilty of Despising Scholarship,” in Selected Writings of C.F.W. Walther: Editorials from “Lehre und Wehre,” trans. August R. Suelflow (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1981), Pages 124-125.
[ii] For purposes of clarity, this document is using “member” inclusively to include both laypersons whose membership is in a local congregation and called ministers of the Gospel who are themselves members of Synod.
Posted Feb. 24, 2015 / Updated March 3 and July 15, 2015