You Should Be Defrocked

You should be defrocked

About T. R. Halvorson

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose, North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the Editor of LutheranCatechism.com.

Comments

You Should Be Defrocked — 39 Comments

  1. And there’s the crisis of conscience for every Confessional LCMS pastor and lay person, not least of whom are those in the districts in question.

    I would say, however, that Confessionals abandoning the field too early, grant the liberals exactly what they want: the synod, with all its resources, now at their disposition. We need to stand up and raise such a ruckus that the liberals will know we’re not leaving without a bloody, knock down, drag out fight.

  2. @Brad #3
    Your not very LIBERALLY loving!
    Where’s your tolerance, diversity and political correctness. Your need to take leadership from our congress in DC; they know how to get along with the opposition – give in!

  3. Ah, Erich, tis a sad truth. I was born a brawler, and I think I’ve got at least one more good bar fight left in me.

    As the contemporary sage Toby Keith once sang, “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.”

    😉

  4. Gently, gently, softly now, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Let Pres. Harrison speak: be quick to hear.

    Kyrie Eleison

  5. We must not send money until this is fixed. It is crass and effective. I will push for this at every parish. I am in contact with

  6. Gregjgrose,

    We have waited for five years for President Harrison to speak and he hasn’t said a word other than to exonerate his own Matthew Becker – Pastor Rob Morris in Newtown.

  7. Pr. Rossow,

    It would seem to me, that as Confessionals leave the Synod, the concentration of liberals intensify, and they become more likely to be elected into positions of control over the seminaries, mission programs, and the funds. The more of us who leave, strengthen the grip of the liberals who remain.

  8. Brad and Nicholas,

    I understand that and agree. My question is this. “In the grand scheme of things, what do any of these things have to do with the ability to have a synod of confessional churches?”

    In other words, what is a seminary? What is a mission program? If there were a new synod of churches for the sake of the truth of the Gospel, would they not be able to create a place where students were taught how to be pastors? Would they not be able to send missionaries?

    Actually, both of those things are broken in the LCMS. The St. Louis Sem now promotes small group ministry and contemporary worship in the chapel during the regular chapel service time and our mission program has become primarily a distribution system for goodies (that actually do little good for the actual delivery of word and sacrament) and our missionaries have become glorified tour directors for visitors from America who want to feel like they have done some sort of mission work.

    As I said on a private string, put together the libraries of five confessional pastors and you have 90% of the books needed to properly train a young man to be fit for the ministry.

  9. Never forget what Dr. Martin Luther said.
    THE INDIRECT BENEFITS OF HERESIES

    Error and heresy must come into the world so that the elect may become approved and manifest. Their coming is in the best interests of Christians if they take the proper attitude toward it. St. Augustine, who certainly was sufficiently annoyed by wretched sectaries, says that when heresy and offense come, they produce much benefit in Christendom; for they cause Christians industriously to read Holy Scripture and with diligence to pursue it and persevere in its study. Otherwise they might let it lie on the shelf, become very secure, and say, Why, God’s Word and the text of Scripture are current in our midst; it is no necessary for us to read Holy Scripture. But now we are made vigilant and watchful by the heretics and their offense, and because of the conflicts and controversies we understand God’s Word better than we did before.

    (Weimar Edition 47, 264 — Erlangen Edition 44, 54 f — Revised Halle or Walch Edition published at St. Louis

  10. Pr. Rossow,

    You’ll get no argument from me on those points. However, there is a practical reality to the time, sweat, blood, and labor which must necessarily be poured out to build something new. The heretics understand this well, which is why they seek to corrupt and usurp the good work of generations past. The micro synods understand this too, knowing first hand how hard it is to do in our day, what those like Walther did in his day.

    I do not disagree with you. Once the synod is irretrievably lost to the heretics, we must enter into the hard labors of faith, in building a new fellowship. But until then, it galls me to yeild the seats our fathers built, to the asses of heretics.

  11. Except that – given that this is given in mathematical terms – the second set of equations is not correct. This should be expressed as set theory (a Venn diagram) not a logical equation.

    Becker may be a member of the set LCMS, but he is not equal to the (whole) LCMS. Both Becker and I (or, more properly my church) may be members of the set LCMS with neither being equal to the other.

    Moral: don’t let theologians do math.

  12. I don’t know the exact question that “Dispute Resolution” was asked to resolve in the Becker case. (I sat on a dispute resolution panel some years ago that was asked to rule on excommunications carried out by a congregation. The excommunications were overturned (unanimously) based on a Constitution and Bylaws that were not followed. The question of whether or not there were scriptural reasons for excommunication was not at issue.)

    I do know that Confession of the Synod (Article II) and Objectives (Article III), as stated in our Constitution, were not served by the outcome of the Becker case.

    “The Synod, under Scripture and the Lutheran confessions, shall–1. Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith (Eph. 4:3-6; 1 Cor. 1:10).” (Article III Objectives, 1)

  13. @Paul Blase #20

    Becker may be a member of the set LCMS, but he is not equal to the (whole) LCMS.

    This exposes that you presuppose membership in the set is along demographic lines. That would lead to the immediate and patent absurdity that you point out. A set defined demographically having a single member never will be equal to a set defined demographically having multiple members.

    So, rather than presuppose absurdity, it might work better to question, what is the basis of set membership? As to what are the terms being asserted to be either equal or unequal to each other.

    In the expression, Becker = LCMS, one man, Becker, cannot equal many men, LCMS, demographically. But the decision shows that they are equal if set membership is doctrinal stances. The set of doctrinal stances held by Becker is now known to be equal to the set of doctrinal stances of the LCMS.

    Many a reader, defined as You, which also is singular taking persons on a case-by-case basis, holds to a set of doctrinal stances that are not the same as those of Becker. And since we now know that Becker’s set and LCMS’ are equal, You now knows that his set of doctrinal stances does not equal the LCMS’ set.

    That in turn means that You, when compared to LCMS, is heterodox. Doxa, opinion or belief, i.e, doctrinal confessions, not demos, people.

    Moral: Don’t let mathematicians do theology.

  14. One other thing to take into consideration–not a “trump card”, mind you!: The blossoming Confessional Lutheran churches around the world who would also be thrown into confusion by a mass exodus from Missouri by Confessionals. With whom would they be in fellowship? To whom would they continue to look for doctrinal leadership?

    My hope is that before very long, (and even now in *this* crisis) we hear more and more from some very courageous brothers (and sisters) in many different places questioning what the bleep is going on here, and why the bleep are we letting such a travesty of confession take place. The “center of gravity” of confessional Lutheranism in the world has been (despite all our problems in the same time frame, and with some important exceptions) the LCMS, and it still is. I do believe that that is changing, and, as sad as it makes me with respect to us, it’s exciting, also. But the change hasn’t happened entirely, yet. And that is why Harrison, we, and many others are still fighting to avoid “losing” the LCMS, each with the wisdom we have as to *how*.

  15. @T. R. Halvorson #22

    “The set of doctrinal stances held by Becker is now known to be equal to the set of doctrinal stances of the LCMS.”

    does this mean the same as:

    “After reviewing all of the available evidence, they concluded that it is perfectly acceptable for an LCMS pastor to make a public argument in favor of the ordination of women to the pastoral office and that such a public argument is not grounds for expulsion from the roster of pastors in the LCMS”

    I don’t think that ordination of women is now a doctrinal stance.  The conclusion seems more narrow to me.  (I’m neither a mathematician nor theologian so I’m ready to learn.)

  16. @John Rixe #24
    I agree–the doctrinal position of the LCMS has not changed. Rev. Becker obviously teaches contrary to the doctrinal position of the LCMS, but as I have explained elsewhere, that alone is technically not sufficient grounds for expulsion under the LCMS Constitution. The Referral Panel did not exonerate him, it merely determined that the specific complaint before them did not meet the requirements to initiate formal proceedings.

  17. Jon and John,

    Since none of us have read the actual charges and conclusions, this is hard to draw conclusions from.

    However, what we do know, is that the Synod and at least one district have chosen to keep a known heretic on the clergy roster of the LCMS. Whether they are unwilling or unable to remove a wolf from Christ’s flock is nearly irrelevant. The declaration now before heaven and earth, is that the LCMS is a haven for heretics, where they may prey upon the faithful with impunity. That is our common disgrace, and the scandal of it stinks to high heaven.

  18. @Jon Alan Schmidt #25

    Your posts have been very helpful.  Could you further summarize for my simple, fevered brow:

    1.   Conventions have made resolutions saying women’s ordination is wrong.

    2.   Pr Becker has publicly argued in favor of women’s ordination.

    3.  The 3 NWD Circuit Visitors have concluded that making such public arguments is acceptable and not grounds for expulsion.

    Is their conclusion inconsistent with CTCR, CCM, Constitution, or By-law prior conclusions?  

  19. John,

    I think you meant that dismissively, rather than kindly. But I can assure you, I’ve been breathing deeply on a regular basis.

    The districts on the east coast have protected Synchretists, and defended their heresy. The Texas district has defended the Enthusiasm of 5/2, and promoted their heresy. The Northwest district has protected the known heretic Becker, and given him cover to teach his heresies from the pulpit and the lecture hall.

    This didn’t use to be the case in the LCMS. It is now. Without running down the list of false teaching LCMS pastors I’ve run into over the last decade, I think it is safe to say, that we are now indeed a safe haven for heretics… at least in some of its regions.

  20. @John Rixe #27
    Brad’s point is well-taken that none of us have seen the actual documentation yet, so to a certain extent, the discussion is speculative. However, based on how the DRP is supposed to work per the LCMS Bylaws, the only determination that the Referral Panel can make is whether to initiate formal proceedings for expulsion. The fact that they did not do so in this case does not entail that “making such public arguments is acceptable,” only that it is “not grounds for expulsion.”

    I have suggested that this seems to be consistent with the current LCMS Constitution and Bylaws. Article XIII only permits expulsion for acting contrary to Article II and Article VI. Doctrinal resolutions are not part of the Synod’s confession per Article II, and teaching strictly in accordance with them is not listed as a condition of membership in Article VI.

    The CCM issued an opinion last year asserting that doctrinal resolutions are, in fact, part of the Synod’s confession. That report is supposed to binding unless and until it is overturned by a convention. The Referral Panel in this case evidently did not abide by it, but it is possible that the complaint was filed before the CCM opinion came out.

    The CTCR has responded to Rev. Becker’s formal expressions of dissent from various LCMS doctrinal positions at least once, maybe more than that. Its determination was that his arguments do not warrant reconsideration of those positions by the Synod.

    Hope that helps.

  21. So the end result is that we, as In the LCMS, are going to allow a person that does not believe in the inerrant word of scripture to continue as a Pastor. Mr. Beckers views on women pastors and evolution are known to all. His disbelief in Genesis and other parts of the Bible are not hidden or denied. Many in the Indiana district have been trying for years to have his DP recall him from his protected position at Valpo University. Our DP either can’t or won’t do anything about it and the DP of the NW district won’t act upon it. Mr. Becker is his Pastor, working out of his district as a Missionary to Valpo University. It is shameful that our leadership has been failing us in this and many other areas, I just hope and pray that our faithful orthodox Pastors will continue to struggle and preach true doctrine.

  22. @Jack Darnell #32
    It is not really about what “we in the LCMS are going to allow”; it is about Rev. Becker’s refusal to acknowledge that he is no longer “walking together” with us and voluntarily resign from the Synod accordingly. Frustration is understandable, but ultimately, criticism directed at anyone else with respect to this particular incident is misplaced; our polity is just not conducive to coercion.

  23. Mr Schimdt, my apologies if I made it sound like “we” are to blame or have been lax in allowing Mr. Becker to continue in his ways. It would be in every ones interest if he would just recant his views or move on to other shores so to speak. Maybe I am to close to this issue, having lived in the area that he has been teaching and preaching in. Knowing that he has taught catacumens for several years as a fill in pastor. Maybe I just have a false impression that our elected Synod officers should be able to do more than they have. As a parishioner in a LCMS church and a member of our synod I feel some responsibility for this. truly blame and correction can both be laid at Mr. Beckers feet. Grace and peace, Jack

  24. @Pr. Mueller #23 – as a bystander (interloper, some would call) I have to commend your views about the international fallout (if that’s what it is) associated with the loss of confessional Lutheranism to apostate forces. In fact, this is exactly what has been happening to the the UMC, who unilaterally approved the existence of homosexual clergy and altar fellowship a few years ago. The more “confessional” among them (if you want to use that term) in African congregations said, “Wait, not so fast. We don’t agree with that!”

    One would like to think, optimistically, that many of these protestors are more “confessional” Methodists, who have grown in wisdom as the result of mission efforts in the past, are looking at Scripture more seriously than the Lefists among them in this country.

    I have more to say about all of this, but for later.

  25. @Brad #26
    No, you have it worded wrong. One district has chosen to keep that known heretic on the synod’s clergy roster. Actually one DP and 3 CV’s, acting with the authority given them (one might want to say “foolishly”) by that district and the synod.

  26. Btw, have any of the rest of you received a publication by the “Conference for Biblical Equality” in the last few days? I just found it in the stack of mail at my “up north” church. It’s all about how the “traditional” Missouri interpretation of the Scriptures as regards the “equality” of men and women, particularly in the church, is actually bad exegesis–half a dozen articles/essays. The timing is somewhat interesting, I must say.

  27. @Rev. David Mueller #36

    Pr. Mueller,

    I left that open, only because Dr. Becker continues to blaspheme inside a district other than the one that protects him on the roster. He also seems to be free to function as an interim pastor for congregations in the Indiana district.

    I would assume, that if the president of the district in which this heretic operates freely, was against him, he would speak publicly and regularly against him. He would seek to protect the congregations of his district, by publicly declaring Dr. Becker unfit for any pulpit in his region. Bylaws and DRP processes be damned– these are souls we’re talking about. That district president has the ability and obligation to preach and speak, too. Has he publicly condemned Dr. Becker, and forbidden as much as is in his power, any congregation in his district from allowing him to spew his vile heresies to their people?

    If not, then he is guilty, as well. If he has, then God bless him for his faithfulness.

  28. @Jon Alan Schmidt #25
    I appreciate your efforts to express what we do and don’t know precisely.
    It is certainly true that we don’t know the exact nature of the complaint.

    However, I don’t believe that we can conclude that it was only related to arguing for his views, some of which are out of step with our teaching. I am concerned about that for his sake, certainly, but it is not the biggest issue.

    I wonder whether the complaint was for teaching those views rather than just holding them? Dr. Becker has spoken of teaching them to his LCMS students, which is certainly public teaching. That is a bigger issue than his own difference with the LCMS, and there is no evidence that it is addressed by this decision OR by his ecclesiastical supervisor. Whether or not the decision of the review panel is technically correct, the larger issue is a very serious one, and requires action by his ecclesiastical supervisor, which does not seem to be ongoing or forthcoming.

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