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.
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.