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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

The World's Tactics Have No Place In the Church

The world’s tactics are shamefully on display and in full force in the controversy erupting at Concordia University Chicago (CUC). The controversy is this: A member of the Board of Regents (BOR) commented in Facebook on several threads, some in groups, on various hot-button topics. One such thread was over an LCMS CTCR Document on the Department of Defense’s change in policy to include women for Selective Service registration and forced service in the Armed Forces in active combat arenas. In that thread, the board member in question, Mr. Eric Hiller, defended the biblical worldview, and further elaborated, when questioned by others on the same thread, what the divinely ordained vocations of men and women are as revealed in Scripture. A group of former and current students, faculty, and staff petitioned the BOR to have Mr. Hiller removed stating that these comments were “sexist.” The BOR declined to do so at that time for reasons of which I am not aware (presumably lack of evidence).

But it appears that after the first push to remove him, a second push is now on. Mr. Hiller has since deleted his Facebook account. Despite not having a Facebook account, all the interaction has been saved by screen shots, and in many cases, the statements have been lifted from their original context. They are now being used to put pressure on the new President and the BOR to remove him again. This time, however, there are new tactics. Instead of following the process outlined in the By-Laws and in Scripture, the tactics of the world—doxxing and intimidation—are being employed. And so this group of former and current students, faculty, and staff have created a Facebook group, Concerned CUC Family, to gather support for their plea to remove Mr. Hiller. They have put together an online petition through the Web site Change.org. Even the local media has been brought into the mix—listing his personal and employment information. That article has helped to gather a mob of people from outside the CUC community to protest Mr. Hiller’s seat on the BOR.

You can review the comments yourselves. I will not defend Mr. Hiller’s, at times, bombastic rhetoric and off-color remarks, but the substance and content of his comments are not racist or sexist. And, I will defend that.

But the bigger issue here is how those who disagree with Mr. Hiller have chosen to deal with it. Instead of following the procedure stated in the By-Laws and in Scripture, they have resorted to the modus operandi of the world. They doxx. They intimidate. They employ straw men, poisoning of the well, and ad hominem fallacies to whip up mob support, so that those in positions of authority will do what is easy instead of what is right. They act contrary to what we have promised to do according to our confirmation vows and membership within the LCMS. And it is to our great shame that Christians would parrot the world simply because they disagree.

Here’s Luther in the Large Catechism on the Eighth Commandment (LC I, viii, 267—274):

267 People are called slanderers who are not content with knowing a thing, but go on to assume jurisdiction. When they know about a slight offense committed by another person, they carry it into every corner. They are delighted and tickled that they can stir up another’s displeasure, just as swine delight to roll themselves in the dirt and root in it with the snout. 268 This is nothing other than meddling with God’s judgment and office and pronouncing sentence and punishment with the most severe verdict. For no judge can punish to a higher degree nor go farther than to say, “That person is a thief, a murderer, a traitor,” and so on. Therefore, whoever presumes to say the same things about his neighbor goes just as far as the emperor and all governments. For although you do not wield the sword, you use your poisonous tongue to shame and hurt your neighbor [Psalm 140:3].

269 God, therefore, would have such behavior banned, that anyone should speak evil of another person even though that person is guilty, and the latter knows it well, much less if anyone does not know it and has the story only from hearsay.

270 But you say, “Shall I not say something if it is the truth?”

Answer: “Why do you not make your accusation to regular judges?”

“Ah, I cannot prove it publicly, and so I might be silenced and turned away in a harsh manner.”

“Ah, indeed, do you smell the roast?”

If you do not trust yourself to stand before the proper authorities and to answer well, then hold your tongue. But if you know about it, know it for yourself and not for another. For if you tell the matter to others—although it is true—you will look like a liar, because you cannot prove it. Besides, you are acting like a rascal. We should never deprive anyone of his honor or good name unless it is first taken away from him publicly [i.e. by the proper public authorities].

271 “False witness,” then, is everything that cannot be properly proved. 272 No one shall make public or declare for truth what is not obvious by sufficient evidence. In short, whatever is secret should be allowed to remain secret [1 Peter 4:8], or, at any rate, should be secretly rebuked, as we shall hear. 273 Therefore, if you meet an idle tongue that betrays and slanders someone, contradict such a person promptly to his face [Proverbs 10:31], so he may blush. Then many a person will hold his tongue who otherwise would bring some poor man into bad repute, from which he would not easily free himself. For honor and a good name are easily taken away, but not easily restored [Proverbs 22:1].

274 So you see that it is directly forbidden to speak any evil of our neighbor. However, the civil government, preachers, father, and mother are not forbidden to speak out. This is based on the understanding that this commandment does not allow evil to go unpunished.

You see here, that even if what Mr. Hiller said is false, that is, he is guilty of what he is being accused of, he is to be given his day in court, so to speak. Why have those accusing him of wrong doing not gone through the proper channels? Why have they resorted to the tactics of the world, instead of appealing to the authorities? Why is the worst construction placed on him? His Facebook profile was deleted after the first accusation when the BOR brought this to his attention. Is this not an seen as an act of contrition by Mr. Hiller? And why is that not enough? Is it because his accusers don’t simply object to his rhetoric but to the biblical witness and the good order God has ordained in it?

The point here is that if this were to be brought to the proper authorities, as it had been in the past, the result would not be a censure of what he wrote but perhaps only of how he wrote it. And that is not a removeable offense. And if the accusers are not willing to stand before the authorities to present the evidence of this, which clearly they are not because they have not followed procedure, then they should be silent. For the tactics of the world have no place in the church of Christ.

And lest anyone think the pot is calling the kettle black in this case, I appeal to the proper authorities to deal with this mob in the way that mobs are to be dealt with.

If these kinds of tactics within the church concern you, as they concern me (a CUC 2000 Alumnus), please contact President Dawn and the BOR to speak in defense of Mr. Hiller’s reputation and livelihood. ●

  • President Russell Dawn: russell.dawn@cuchicago.edu

  • CC: Board of Regents Chair: Dominic Salvino dsalvino@wideopenwest.com

  • CC: Board of Regents Vice-chair: Pastor Roger Gallup gallup57@juno.com

  • CC: Board of Regents Secretary: Jeff Schwartz jeff@issuesetc.org