Among the Lutheran colleges and universities, what happened would fill a large book so we can't but touch on a few points here:
- The system was undone and the schools that fed the seminaries and provided church work students became primarily colleges for laity with a tentative religious connection and their mission changed. . .
- The costs of Lutheran colleges and universities mirrored the general explosive rise found among other private schools and even public institutions -- effectively pricing them out of the reach of much of the middle class especially when compared to the bargain prices of state sponsored schools. . .
- The Synod assumed responsibility for a huge debt common to all LCMS colleges and universities and stopped being an effective means of support for the annual cost of their operation. . .
- The Lutheran colleges and universities embarked on a necessary but very expensive capital projects program, even moving entire campuses from one location to another. . .
- The faculties became more diverse religiously and politically and the distinctive character of Lutheran institutions and the unique Lutheran identity was tested to its very limits. . .
- The focus of the administration of these schools shifted from institutional excellence and Lutheran integrity to fund raising (an essential task that eventually sucked all the air out of the boardrooms where their administration and regents met). . .
- The Lutheran colleges and universities developed their own constituencies and their connection to their church bodies that established and owned the campuses was weakened substantially. . .
- The course work on the typical Lutheran college or university had little to distinguish it from many other institutions in which political liberalism, progressive social advocacy, and a skepticism of religion and faith predominated. . .
Read here for one of the first steps in the quest to reclaim and renew Lutheran identity in the universities of the LCMS. It is a hopeful beginning to what will surely take a generation or more of renewed determination and patient effort. But it is a beginning. Thanks be to God for the willingness of both the university presidents, the President of the Concordia University System, and the Synod to make this first public statement of commitment toward the larger goal of reclaiming these schools for the church. Some will quibble that it is too little or too late but I am encouraged. While I am sad that Bronxville, a school close to my heart, was not yet ready to sign on, I am convinced that this will be even better for the schools in the long run than it is for the church. Lutheran is not a liability. It is an asset -- even on the campus of an institution of higher learning. Unless I am mistaken, it is on a university campus where Luther began.