Here we Stand

Yesterday, Reverend President Dr. Matthew Harrison posted a fantastic response to the inability of a panel of judges to carry out the charges against Reverend Dr. Matthew Becker. His confession is as follows:

When a public teacher on the roster of Synod can without consequence publicly advocate the ordination of women (even participate vested in the installation of an ELCA clergy person), homosexuality, the errancy of the Bible, the historical-critical method, open communion, communion with the Reformed, evolution, and more, then the public confession of the Synod is meaningless. I am saying that if my Synod does not change its inability to call such a person to repentance and remove such a teacher where there is no repentance, then we are liars and our confession is meaningless. I do not want to belong to such a synod, much less lead it. I have no  intention of walking away from my vocation. I shall rather use it and, by the grace of God, use all the energy I have to call this Synod to fidelity to correct this situation.

Matt Harrison

 

Most of us have seen these words and have either encouraged Harrison or watched others rebuke President Harrison’s words. So the question that has to be answered, “What do we do now? How should we act?”

I don’t know about any of you, but I know that my response is, “Here we stand.” Here is our confession. We stand, not because it is the orthodox thing to do, nor because it will keep our beloved LCMS united. No, we stand because that is what Scriptures gives us to do. As St. Paul says:

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:10-17).

We stand, not by taking a personal stance, as if an individual in the Church has done something against us personally. No, rather we stand by having the whole armor of God placed upon us in order that we may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  We are given the Word of God, not to have the appearance of orthodoxy, but to be faithful and to be protected against anything that the devil and the world will throw at us, including Matthew Becker’s false and destructive teaching. We stand because we have to stand against any man, woman, child, or angel that would preach a gospel contrary to the one that is handed over to us in Holy Scripture. For only Holy Scripture delivers the message of salvation that bring comfort to the terrified conscience. Only Holy Scripture comforts lost and condemned sinners.  Matthew Becker’s theology strips the Gospel of it’s saving power and that is what President Harrison is standing against. He is standing against a group in our church body that doesn’t care, or even worse, who agrees with Becker’s teachings.  President Harrison boldly proclaimed that we must call the false teacher to repentance and right now that is not happening.

 

So here is a message to everyone who doesn’t care about false teaching and preaching. Here is a message to those who encourage the destruction of the Gospel in order to make living in the world a little easier. Here We Stand. Here we stand to preach the Word, in season and out of season. Here we stand to preach the Law to kill and the Gospel to make alive. Here we stand to defend the terrified and comfort them in the the words of Holy Absolution. Here we stand to silence the voice of the devil and the opinions of this world. Here we stand, not by our own might, but by the grace of Christ. Here we stand because this is where Christ has placed us. He places us in Holy Baptism to receive His gifts and to love our neighbor.  Here we stand as the Lutheran Church, as Hermann Sasse said, “The Evangelical Lutheran Church us not an idea. It is a reality. It is not dumb, but speaks. For it would not be a church if it had not borne witness, if it did not continue to bear witness, to what it is-what it is particularly as a Lutheran Church” (Here We Stand 16). So, Here we stand with the saints who have gone before us. The devil be put to death, the old Adam drowned, and the world be silenced, for Christ speaks. Let us hear only His voice and no other, Amen.

About Pastor Chris Hull

Chris Hull is the Senior Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tomball,Texas. He was married to Allison Desiree Monk on June 3rd, 2006. They have been blessed with four boys, Lochlann Richard Patrick, Eamonn Julius Luther, Tiernann Thomas Walther, and Jamesonn Frederick Flacius. Pastor Hull graduated from Concordia University in River Forest, Il in 2006. He received his Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2010. He is currently in the STM program at CTSFW.

Comments

Here we Stand — 15 Comments

  1. Thank you for this Rev.Hull, as a laymen and not a life long Lutheran I am completely confused about the reason why anyone would want to cast our Confessions overboard. I sincerely hope that President Harrison keeps steadfast in this and gladly join with you in saying “Here we stand”.

  2. @Jeremy Royer #1
    I sincerely hope that President Harrison keeps steadfast in this and gladly join with you in saying “Here we stand”.

    It will do no good for Matt Harrison to “stand”, if he stands alone. Worse, he cannot lead if his own troops (or what should be his own) are shooting at him from the rear. Now is the time we will see if confessionals will pull together. I pray they do!

  3. You might as well have said, “Go get ’em, tiger!”

    Your sentiment is spot on, but you say nothing. “Here we stand.” Okay, well, there Becker stands, too.

    “Preach the Word.” Okay, well, Becker thinks he’s doing that, too.

    You’re not actually calling on pastors to do anything other than what they are already doing, and that’s precisely what landed us in this mess in the first place.

    Complacency is the problem: people “standing” and “preaching” without actually doing anything.

    Congregations should start passing resolutions banning both Becker and his D.P. from receiving Holy Communion at their altars.

    Circuits should pass resolutions stating that they will not tolerate their teachings, and that they are banned from participating in circuit events.

    Regional Pastors’ Conferences should pass resolutions stating that their pastors will not tolerate their teachings, and that they are banned from participating in regional events.

    It should just keep moving up the food chain.

    Stand your ground, yes, but don’t stand there doing nothing. Now is the time for Church discipline, not synodical discipline.

  4. @Reverend Mo #3
    Dear Mo,
    You do not need a congregational resolution to ban Pastor Becker or anyone from the Altar of the Lord that each Pastor is charged over.

    Pastor Becker is not allowed to commune at my congregation, not because the congregation says, it is because “I say.” A few others without mention as well. Now if he confesses of sin, then he may attend. Yes, the error seen would be discussed.

    If he then goes and persists after Confession and Absolution, he or anyone *saint/sinner we are), well, we must confess again, and the Lord knows full well of the error.

    We do not need resolutions to tell a pastor, “follow your call”. We do need discipline and brotherly rebuke when we fail and fall.

    Then, we in love rebuild.

  5. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #4
    Rev. Prentice,

    Yes, I agree that the exercise of the ban does not require congregational approval.

    However, I call for congregational approval so that the voice speaking against these men includes the congregations and is not just the pastors acting on their own. It’s a whole lot more powerful if Faith Lutheran Church in Westchester, IL declares that these men are banned from the altar than if the Rev. David L. Prentice, Jr. declares that these men are banned from the altar.

    It then becomes even more powerful if the circuit pastors band together, and the regional pastors, and the district pastors.

    Let the cry come from every corner and from pastor and congregation alike.

  6. @Reverend Mo #5
    Dear Mo,
    I know what you mean. Yet, my congregation stands by their pastor in my work at Faith. In essence, Faith Lutheran in Westchester declares what I declare.

    Now when you get to the Circuit and beyond? Well, I break down there. Our Circuit is a bit “searchng for a path” for how we relate. Different time and story there.

    Welcome to congregationalism.

  7. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #6
    “Therefore be it resolved: that Faith Lutheran Church affirms and supports her pastor in exercising the minor ban.”

    That would certainly work. But you know your people better than I do. I would just ask that you and others give it some serious thought.

    As to circuit level work and beyond, obviously it gets quite dicey. There are a lot of differing opinions in the LCMS.

    But such an approach is necessary. First, this is the organizational structure that we live under. This is how it’s supposed to work. I don’t love the LCMS, but I am faithful to my commitment to operate within the structures to which I voluntarily agreed to submit myself.

    Second, it will also serve as an opportunity to have mutual conversation and consolation with the brothers. Perhaps some are unaware of what is going on. Perhaps some are unsure how to react to this. Perhaps some agree with Becker and Linnemann. Whatever the case, good fruit can be borne. The ignorant can be informed. The wavering can be strengthened. The erring can be called to repentance.

  8. Question: what would happen if pastors rose up en masse and sent letters to HQ stating that they have refused communion to Becker? Would that have any bearing on things?

  9. I pastor a church in Westville, and live a few minutes down the road in Michigan City, where he was an “interim preacher” for years. My elders and I are in strong agreement that he is not to commune at our altar.

  10. J. Dean :
    Question: what would happen if pastors rose up en masse and sent letters to HQ stating that they have refused communion to Becker? Would that have any bearing on things?

    It sounds like you (and others here) desire to use communion as a weapon or a threat. Is that a wise tactic?

  11. Leah :

    J. Dean :
    Question: what would happen if pastors rose up en masse and sent letters to HQ stating that they have refused communion to Becker? Would that have any bearing on things?

    It sounds like you (and others here) desire to use communion as a weapon or a threat. Is that a wise tactic?

    We are not seeking to use Communion as a weapon. We are seeking to exercise Church discipline. This is John 20 and 1 Corinthians 5 in action.

    Furthermore, Holy Communion is a declaration of fellowship. Rev. Becker and Rev. Linnemann have demonstrated that they are not in fellowship with the LCMS, even though they maintain their membership in this body. As such, we as pastors are duty-bound to be stewards of the mysteries of God: not in a vindictive manner, but as a way of emphasizing the seriousness of what these men are doing. They do not believe as we believe. They do not confess as we confess. They are in open and impenitent denial of the Word of God.

    Every pastor ought to be discussing this with his congregation and with his fellow pastors.

  12. @Reverend Mo #11
    “Every pastor ought to be discussing this with his congregation and with his fellow pastors.” Yes! Nearly every time in the past that orthodoxy was threatened, there was a strong base of laymen to support the true shepherds. I urge you pastors, as Pr. Bolland alluded to on another thread, keep your laity informed! You will need our support in the battle.

  13. @J. Dean #8

    Mr. Dean,

    Without trying to sound the revolutionary, I think that would have limited if any impact. The odds of someone like Becker showing up in a Confessional Lutheran congregation are pretty slim. The statement would be a sabre rattling, for sure… but I don’t think it would create much of a stir.

    On the other hand, recognizing our congregational and democratic polity, if a number of congregations were to declare (or perhaps even other districts) that they were out of communion (i.e., out of pulpit and altar fellowship due to the grave sin of false teaching and heresy) with an entire district… that would get some attention.

    For example, if we can expect that the District President generally reflects the consensus and will of the district that elected him, why not declare a broken fellowship with an unrepentant district? The Atlantic District promotes and protects Syncretism; the Texas District promotes and protects Enthusiasm with 5/2; and the Northwest District promotes and protects the heretic Becker. If orthodox districts formally declare broken fellowship or communion with erring districts, I bet you’ll see the fur flying in a hurry.

    That will also force those erring districts (in each of their congregations) to wrestle with whether or not they wish to remain in their sin, or return to fellowship through repentance.

  14. Dear BJS,
    The one thing I think about is this:
    Rev. Dr. Becker views many things contrary to the confessional Lutheran stance,yet he is out in the open, wrong in my mind, but out in the open. What to do? Discussions underway.

    What is wrong are those so called pastors that get away with destroying the Church, and then they get pushed to another parish, to destroy it at a later date. This we must stop. They do things in darkness.

    Which is better? Both wrong, but I know what I believe is worse.

    Time to stand up for what is right. Here I stand!

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