Daystar — An Open Letter to District President Linnemann

Found over on theDayStarJournal this morning:


We wish to commend you for following the Synod’s Constitution, Bylaws, and standard operating procedures in the case of Dr. Matthew Becker. We would not know about this case had not the Synod President made it a public matter on January 26 on his personal Facebook page and then later on a synodical website. We trust that you have acted appropriately in this matter. From what we can tell, we believe the panel of circuit counselors, which was formed by a blind draw, carefully considered the original charge against Dr. Becker and evaluated the evidence of the case in the light of the conditions for holding membership in the Synod. We trust that the panel acted appropriately in this matter.

According to the Synod’s Bylaws and standard operating procedures, the panel’s decision ended the matter and no publicity was to be given to the case. But publicity has indeed been given to the case by President Harrison and then on various social media websites.

We are extremely offended by the actions of President Harrison in this matter. Not only did he speak publicly about the case at the recent North Dakota District Convention, he has now also posted public comments on his personal Facebook page and on a synodical website. In these venues he has publicly written:

“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.”

Later in the same thread that follows beneath his initial Facebook post, President Harrison makes clear that he is referring to Dr. Matthew Becker at Valparaiso University.

President Harrison cites no evidence for all of these charges nor does he define the criteria by which the accused is to be judged.  The accused, furthermore, is given no opportunity to speak in his defense.  This is not only a miscarriage of justice, it borders on slander.  President Harrison has clearly gone beyond the Constitution, Bylaws, and standard operating procedures (which require that no publicity is to be given to such settled cases) in order to visit his own judgment on the matter.

Professor Becker has clearly sworn to teach according to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.  Our understanding is that the charge against him had to do with a single issue (not the multiple items in President Harrison’s laundry list), namely, the ordination of women. That is an issue that is not directly addressed in the Lutheran Confessions. While Professor Becker and many others in the Synod disagree with some synodical documents, insofar as they set forth less than persuasive interpretations of Scripture or inadequate theological understandings, these are indeed matters of biblical interpretation and exegesis, and do not touch on the articles of faith or basic Christian doctrine.  The Synod realizes that consciences are not to be bound by synodical resolutions passed by majority vote, so it provides the opportunity for conscientious dissent. Furthermore, it does not limit the time for that dissent.  Professor Becker has respectfully expressed his dissent on the synodical resolutions concerning six-day creationism and the ordination of women. He continues to discuss these matters with his peers, as is allowed and encouraged by synodical bylaw. In other conservative Lutheran church bodies these issues are clearly discussed and debated.  However, in the LCMS, at this time, a mere invitation to discuss these and similar issues is met with threats of censure and dismissal.

If President Harrison seeks more power to overturn the present synodical Bylaws so that he can impose his own opinions on the Synod, will we, as Lutherans, again have to deal with a new pope? President Harrison has said, in effect, that if he cannot visit his own judgment on a teacher like Professor Becker, he does not wish to belong to such a synod or to lead it.

The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod is more than its present leader.  According to its Constitution, the Synod is advisory to its members (congregations and rostered church workers). It is made up of many pastors, teachers, church workers, and laity who also have the God-given good sense to make judgments on the doctrine and life of the Synod. The panel that acted to end the case against Professor Becker was made up of just those people. Let us respect their judgment and move on.

With all respect,

In Christ,                                                                 cc:  President Matthew Harrison

Rev. Dr. Robert Schmidt
Deacon, Dr. Douglas Morrison
Dot Nuechterlein
Rev. J. L. Precup
Rev. Ty Miles
Rev. Robert Martinek
Rev. Douglas Johnstone
Rev. Paul Schmidt
Rev. Thomas Van Der Bloemen
Rev. Richard Hill
Rev. John Hannah
David Domsch
Rev. Bill Warren
Elizabeth McAdams
Deaconess Lisa Polito
Jean Ziegler
Mark Woodworth
Rev. Roger Stuenkel
Rev. Dale Krueger
Lani Sanders
Rev. Dale Koehneke
Rev. Ron Biel
Marilyn Maxner
Rev. Dr. Warren Schumacher
Rev. Dr. Herb Hoefer
Rev. Dell Schomberg
Judy Schomberg
Rev. Mark Gause
Rev. Timothy Hartner
Linda Kuhlmann, (CM)
Gary Koopmann
Karen Wrye (CM)
Richard Wrye (CM)
Rev. Dr. Frederick Niedner, Jr.
Dr. Mel Piehl
Rev. Nolan Bremer
Rev. Gary Weier
Rev. Robert Stuenkel
Rev. Norman Porath
Rev. Richard Patt
Rev. William Shimkus
Rev. Arnold Voight
Karin Schmidt
Eric Bohlmann
David Crisi (CM)
Rev. Thomas Schoenborn
Rev. Karl Wyneken
Ann Murphy
Rev. Thomas Myhre
Atty. Myron Allenstein
Rev. Paul Doellinger
Rev. Dr. Richard Baepler
Rev. Robert Burke
Joyce NItz
Rev Dennis Schmidt
Dr. Elizabeth Goodine
Rev. Adam Kegel
Dr. Don Soeken
Rev. Mark Lieske
Rev. Joel Nickel
Carol Schmidt
Rev. Don Mullfinger
Georgia Schubert
Atty. Dan Lorenz
Rev. William Oelkers
Rev. Dr. David Albertin
Rev. Dr. John Scheck
Rev. Dr. Hans Spalteholz
Christa Spalteholz
Rev. Ed Scott
Rev. Dr. Harold Kitzmann
Rev. Dr. Erhart Bauer
James Riedl (CM)        ((new Feb 13th))
Geoffrey Balke
Rev. Dr. Norman Metzler      ((newly observed Mar 2nd))
Rev. Dr. Raymond Waetjen
Rev. Jerry Groth

[If you are a member of the LCMS or a member of an LCMS congregation, and you wish to add your name to this list of signatures, please contact Dr. Robert Schmidt at: [email protected]]

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