In his article “College does not fulfill mission,” Pat Sorrells clearly states that he believes that Concordia should remove the phrase “dedicated to the Christian life” from its mission statement. His main points are that Concordia does not require mandatory chapel attendance (something he believes that Concordia should do) and that the religion department is damaging students’ faith more than strengthening it, thus making “dedicated to the Christian life” misleading.
If someone identifies with a certain denomination of Christianity, perhaps they would attend chapel or church as an expression of their faith. However, forcing people to do something that they do not agree with (or have doubts about) is not likely to make people believe a certain way, and could even drive people away further. Also, if individuals like Mr. Sorrells believe chapel attendance is so vital to Concordia’s mission statement, this would not stop them from personally attending chapel on a regular basis even if it were not required, and I invite him to do so. Second, the notion that the religion department is undermining people’s faith (intentionally or unintentionally) is absurd. Why would people who have devoted their lives to the teaching of religion try drive people away from their field of study?
On my first day of Religion 200, my professor addressed the class by saying that the purpose of his class was not to turn us into “good little Lutherans.” Instead, his goal was to address a diverse number of topics from different academic and theological perspectives. To disagree with what is taught by the religion department is fine, but to say that the religion department is trying to “provide [students] with enough doubt about their religious beliefs to make them into either deists, theists, or even atheists altogether,” as Pat Sorrells wrote, is simply untrue. The department provides information and perspectives that perhaps we have never heard before, and what we choose to do with that information is entirely up to us.
Lastly, he states that the way to live out the true meaning of the Christian life is to focus on the Bible and to “strive to live out [our] lives as closely to what Jesus and his followers outlined as possible.” I agree with this statement about Jesus. Jesus healed the sick free of charge, fed hungry people without expecting anything in return, and reached out to people who were looked at as being among the most sinful and unclean people imaginable on a daily basis. Whether or not someone believes Jesus is the Son of God is up to them, but these examples show the kind of life Jesus led. So if being dedicated to the Christian life as Jesus outlined with his actions means that we are to help others whenever possible and treat others with equal value and respect as ourselves, then I truly believe that Concordia does its best to instill that kind of life in its students–regardless of if everyone identifies as Christian or not.