Soli Deo Gloria. To God alone goes the glory. This is the motto of the beloved school we call home. But in recent times, there have been a great deal of questions of what does it mean to be a Christian school. I did a great deal of thinking on Pat Sorrells’ article of his belief in the failure of the school to uphold the mission, which reads, “The purpose of Concordia College is to influence the affairs of the world by sending into society thoughtful and informed men and women dedicated to the Christian life.” There is no denying that Concordia is a Christian school based in Christian morals. But we do not have all Christians at this school. One of the wonderful parts about Concordia, and the United States as a whole, is that we have such a mix in terms of religion alone. My concern with Pat’s argument is that it assumed all member of the Cobber nation are Christians, and that simply is not true
Recently, our campus has dealt with the notorious “It’s ok to be white” posters, to which we as a campus we are not standing united on. Now the question rises, “how does this have to do with Concordia being a Christian college?” It has everything to do with it. As Christians, we believe by the teachings of the prophets, such as Moses, and the direct teachings of Christ himself. One of those direct teachings is love thy neighbor, and more importantly, love thy enemy. This is a hard teaching, for Christians and non-Christians alike. We have gotten so involved in our own personal agendas, political or otherwise, we have forgotten one of Christ’s most important teachings. Christ calls all of us to love each other and love our enemies most of all. Both as a Catholic, and as a moderate Republican, I feel alienated from Concordia. When I first arrived on campus last year, I felt a sense of belonging I had not felt before in an establishment of education. I felt closer to God than I had ever felt before. In fact, being part of the Concordia Christmas Concerts, and singing Dr. Rene Clausen’s Prayer of St. Francis was a big part of rekindling my faith. I do not feel that in these past couple of weeks. No one in particular is to blame for that feeling. But to a sense, I believe we have lost our way of what it means to be a school founded on the teachings of Christ.
The danger of Pat’s arguments is that it has the underlying notion that to be a full member of Concordia and to live the Concordia Mission, one must be a Christian. I adamantly disagree with that. Since a very early age, I have been exposed to Christianity. My father holds a PH.D in Theology and teaches at a sister school in Montana, Carroll College. My family is devoutly Catholic, and regularly attends mass every week. But even in their devoutness to God, I have experienced many different religions, many of which they introduced me to. I have participated in Passover Seders, celebrated Hanukkah with Jewish friends, prayed with Buddhists, and talked about the Virgin Mary with Muslims. I have friends and family all across the religious spectrum. Would I consider them any less morally sound or corrupt because they do not believe in Christ? Of course not, they are just as worthy of the Kingdom of God (this of course is in my religious beliefs, some of my dear friends do not believe in God) as any other Christian I have met. I have friends who are atheists who are some of the most morally righteous individuals I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Certainly, we should always be devout to the foundations and principles of our school, but one does not need to be a Christian to believe in the mission of our school.
My final point is this; Simply because we are a Christian school does not mean everyone needs to be Christian. We founded our country on the idea of religious freedom. Our mission is not about being a Christian, it is about upholding the ideals that Christ taught humanity. One can appreciate those teachings without being a Christian, in a similar way one can appreciate the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed, or the wisdom of Siddhartha Gautama, or the teachings of Moses, without being part of that religion. What our mission comes down to is sending forward good people into the world to make changes. If we can do that, then I consider our mission a success.