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]]

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Daystar — An Open Letter to District President Linnemann — 72 Comments

  1. T. R. Halvorson :@Reverend Mo #14

    …But first, he had to overturn Scripture. And to do that, he had to reject by simply ignoring the autopisti of Scripture.

    Being a simple layperson, the term “autopisti” stumped me. I Googled it, and one of the few English language selections offered was your blog, which explained this concept thoroughly. As a bonus, it will shore up my formerly weak apologetics of the source of Scriptural authority and for that I thank you.

  2. @Jan Payne #1

    So glad you benefitted.

    I am a weird duck for that word. It was taught to me by my confirmation Pastor, The Rev. Dr. Casper B. Nervig. But once you’ve learned it, everything becomes simple.

    And I really do believe that autopisti is the overlooked center of the whole controversy.

  3. @T. R. Halvorson #3
    Hello TR,
    As for his academic teaching, not much we can say, that is a VALPO thing. BUT, as an ordained pastor, he can certainly state all opinions and practice, but he must and should always have a disclaimer, this is false teaching. If he was just a PROF, well, do what you will, once again, that is a VALPO thing.

    Even as I study at Wheaton College, all know I am a LCMS pastor, and my theological confessions and training trump all. Now if I sway and become evangelical, well, I hand over my collar and I walk away. Perhaps some would hope that?

    But in fact, it only strengthens my resolve that LCMS response to Scripture is still the most solid there is available.

    If I thought gay marriage, women’s ordination, etc. is proper and right by Holy Scripture, well, ELCA, here I come.

    As of now, no way.

  4. FYI, I did a spreadsheet on the signers of the letter thanking Linnemann. Of the 57 signers,

    No information on 17 of them – mostly women

    32 have a “no current position” status

    7 are serving parishes

    32 graduates of St. Louis (including 5 CQ), 2 from Springfield, 2 from Ft. Wayne, 2 (teachers) from River Forest

    32 graduated before 1980.

    22 from NW district, 3 from Indiana, 1 from CA-Nev-Hi, 4 from Fl-GA, 1 from Rcky Mt, 1 from Neb, 1 from NoWisc, 2 from English, 2 from So, I from Atlantic, I from Mich, 1 from SELC, 1 undetermined.

    2 didn’t look like they were LCMS – Valpo people.

    Of the seven who signed the letter questioning DP Linnemann, 5 are serving parishes, all are from the NW district, one graduated before 1980. Four graduated from SL, 2 from FW. (no information on one of the signers.)

  5. Lil Spilde :

    Of the seven who signed the letter questioning DP Linnemann, 5 are serving parishes, all are from the NW district, one graduated before 1980. Four graduated from SL, 2 from FW. (no information on one of the signers.)

    wait… what?? Is this a different letter? Usually I pay attention and can find things. This one is new to me. What is it?

  6. Here is the link:

    ((editor: link removed until we get permission to publicize this Open Letter))

  7. @Lil Spilde #7

    Awesome! I know Pr. Dan (kinda). I worked with his dad a bit when I was living in North Dakota. Great guy. Even have a couple of CD’s of Dave singing with Mike and Dan. Nice to see the son stand up for the faith. I notice that the other son, Mike, is also out there, in Portland. I sure hope he signs the letter, as well. Maybe someday due to demographic changes (in the clergy) we can change that god-awful culture in the Northwest.

  8. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #8

    Yes, I try to do that, reading the ‘originals’. (gee, that almost sound Biblical…) I remember the dust up last spring(?) about the St. Louis oath, Pr. Wilken raising a question, 30+ pastors attacking him, then 30+ pastors defending him. Copied and read both of those. See who says what, and how. There is a reason I know LCMS politics well. Heck, I believe I understand the currents better than the majority of pastors in my district. I try to stay well informed. (I even read other Lutheran blogs, but this one Pr. Peters are the only ones I comment on, and I am a member here)

    I have even been learning and thinking about how you have no Elders at your congregation. I was shocked at first, but I am getting it now. Thanks for allowing a lay person to dsicuss the deeper issues.

  9. Thanks, Norm. I was specifically curious why Atlantic District President Benke has not added his name to Carol Schmidt’s. He apparently wants to be closely associated with her and Professor Becker — and he seems to like having his name included on the editorial board of The Daystar Journal… Why do you suppose he wouldn’t join his friends in this attempted smack-down of President Harrison? Hmmm… 😉

  10. @Nicholas #15
    Thank you for the link. No wonder President Harrison is fit to be tied, when rostered clergymen remain in the LCMS for decades while teaching this kind of trash:

    “For the final time, the content of the letter of the ELCA teaching theologians reflects my basic view toward homosexuality. I would rephrase the letter in parts to read as follows:

    • I too affirm the authority of the Scriptures, but the seven biblical texts that are frequently cited on the issue of homosexuality are not directly pertinent to the 21st-century discussion because some of them condemn specifically homosexual rape, deal with questions of “clean and unclean” that are not normative in the Christian community, do not take into account issues like “sexual orientation,” and presuppose that all would agree with a particular interpretation of what “nature” teaches.
    • Both heterosexual and homosexual persons are expected to express sexual intimacy within publicly accountable, lifelong, and monogamous relationships. This has long been the expectation for heterosexual couples, and therefore is an appropriate expectation for homosexual couples as well.
    • I recognize that the unity of the church is based on one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, and that within this unity, faithful members may disagree on individual items of theology and Christian ethics.”

  11. • I recognize that the unity of the church is based on one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, and that within this unity, faithful members may disagree on individual items of theology and Christian ethics.”

    This statement makes it sound like it is a parlor discussion rather than LCMS rostered pastors teaching contrary to the stated position of the synod they represent when performing the duties of their office. If these pastors agree with the ELCA’s positions, then let them go teach confirmation classes in ELCA parishes rather than put on the LCMS mantel while leading our youth astray. It is hard enough for parents to keep the devil at bay without having their own pastors attacking the kids in confirmation class.

  12. @Mrs. Hume #18
    Dear Mrs. Hume,
    In “one” sense, I do agree, members may disagree, ponder, study, argue with, complain about, etc. No on said God’s Word is easy.

    But you hit it on the head, pastors and those that preach the Word that we all agree to follow cannot deviate from God’s Word, period.

    Yes, good pastors will work with the flock when they stray.

    When the pastor strays, that is a big difference.

    If so, then “walk away.” Plenty of places in “Canaan” to go. You have made your ordination vows a mockery.

  13. Mrs. Hume :

    • I recognize that the unity of the church is based on one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, and that within this unity, faithful members may disagree on individual items of theology and Christian ethics.”

    This statement makes it sound like it is a parlor discussion rather than LCMS rostered pastors teaching contrary to the stated position of the synod they represent when performing the duties of their office. If these pastors agree with the ELCA’s positions, then let them go teach confirmation classes in ELCA parishes rather than put on the LCMS mantel while leading our youth astray. It is hard enough for parents to keep the devil at bay without having their own pastors attacking the kids in confirmation class.

    Within what unity? To claim that it is based on one faith and then in the same sentence to say the faithful disagree on what the one faith is… Well, he must take us to be fools to buy that nonsense.

    Of course, like many deceitful (and deceived?) leaders, he would probably claim his point is too nuanced for us rustic rubes to grasp…

  14. Within what unity? To claim that it is based on one faith and then in the same sentence to say the faithful disagree on what the one faith is… Well, he must take us to be fools to buy that nonsense.

    YES!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Of course, like many deceitful (and deceived?) leaders, he would probably claim his point is too nuanced for us rustic rubes to grasp…

    Right, but of course the 14 year olds in confirmation class are much more sophisticated than their parents, so they will play it on them. These bad actors are hardly to be pitied.

  15. [I love what you’ve done with this place ( 🙂 ), but Where did the “quote” feature go?]

    Mrs. Hume wwrote: “These bad actors are hardly to be pitied.”

    Yes. Our concern should be focused on those who are being misled by “these bad actors,” including their accomplices who hide behind bylaws and refuse to do their job of protecting the sheep: “For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.”

    I thank God that President Harrison at least is teaching us to guard against their sin, providing the much needed public reproof.

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