The Southern Illinois District Speaks on Dr. Becker

The Southern Illinois District in convention adopted the following resolution 79-17. Note that page and line numbers have been removed; the original with page and line numbers may be found here.

 

RESOLUTION 2-05B
REFERENCE – OVERTURE 2-05

To Call the Rev. Dr. Matthew Becker to Repentance, Implore the Rev. Paul
Linnemann to Exercise Ecclesiastical Supervision and Thank and Encourage
President Matthew Harrison

Rationale
At the recent North Dakota District Convention, Synod President Matthew
Harrison was questioned about the status of the Rev. Dr. Matthew Becker, a
rostered and ordained member of the Synod and a professor at Valparaiso
University. President Harrison reported to that convention that the results of a
complaint filed against Dr. Becker have left him remaining in good standing as a
member of the Synod. This was confirmed by Dr. Becker:

“The matter of the case against my teaching was terminated by three
LCMS circuit counselors from the Great Northwest (whose identities
are unknown to me), who acted at the behest of the NW District
President. 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”.
http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=5768.0 – accessed 1-30-
2015

Some days later, President Harrison posted the following to the Witness, Mercy
and Life Together blog on the Synod’s website, not referring to the Becker Case
specifically, but speaking in general,

“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.”
http://wmltblog.org/2015/01/regarding-a-recent-decision-of-a-panel-
not-to-proceed-with-charges-regarding-a-public-false-teacher-in-the-
lcms/ – accessed 1-30-2015

Dr. Becker filed an official dissent regarding the synod’s practice of restricting the
office of pastor only to men and from the synod’s position of interpreting the first
two chapters of Genesis to mean that God created the universe over the course of
six twenty four hour days, and that the natural law of evolution must be rejected.
The Commission on Theology and Church Relations responded to Dr. Becker’s
dissent which not only exposed his false teaching on those subjects, but also
revealed his rejection of the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures. The Commission
wrote,

“Dr. Becker’s dissent does not provide a sufficient scriptural or
confessional basis to support his claim that the doctrinal position of
the Synod is in need of revision on the issue of the ordination of
women to the pastoral office or on the issue of creation and evolution.
The theological basis for the CTCR’s determination is the evidence
provided in Dr. Becker’s essays that he is operating on the basis of an
understanding of the authority and interpretation of Scripture that is at
odds with the Lutheran Confessions (see, for example, the Preface to
The Book of Concord; FC Ep Summary, 2; FC SD Summary, 9, 20;
Ap XXIII, 71; Ap VII, 27; Ap XII, 106, etc.) and the scripturally and
confessionally-based position of the Synod as set forth in the Brief
Statement (see paragraphs 1-3) and A Statement of Scriptural and
Confessional Principles (see especially “The Infallibility of Scripture”
and “Historical Methods of Interpretation”). Statements such as the
following in Dr. Becker’s essays reflect a view of and approach to
Scripture that are clearly incompatible with the Synod’s doctrinal
position on the authority and interpretation of Holy Scripture”,
http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=1676 – accessed 1-
30-2015

the Commission quoted Dr. Becker and then responded,

“Of course a “figurative” interpretation of Genesis 1-9
(not to mention the many other passages in Scripture that
speak of God as creator, of the world as God’s creation,
and of the new creation) does entail a revision of the
traditional “creationist” manner of articulating the
doctrines of creation, anthropology, and sin, and many
Christians are deeply uncomfortable with such a
prospect. This “discomfort” is at least as great as the
discomfort many 16th-Century Christians must have felt
in view of the revision to traditional teaching that the
Copernican Theory entailed. As then, however, so also
now: such modification would not necessarily undermine
an orthodox understanding of creation, human beings,
sin, and grace. For example, scientific data about the
reality of physical death in the animal and plant
kingdoms prior to origin of human beings (e.g., fossils of
animals that lived long before the origin of human
beings) must lead those who interpret the Bible in light of
scientific knowledge to restate the nature of God’s good
creation prior to the advent of human sin (e.g., such a
good creation must have included the reality of death
prior to the existence of human beings) and the character
of the historical origin of sin (e.g., the advent of sin is to
be traced to the first hominids who disobeyed God’s will
but not necessarily to their having eaten from a tree in an
actual place called the Garden of Eden several thousand
years ago). (SLM, 12)

Statements such as these by Dr. Becker speak for themselves in
conveying his understanding of the authority and interpretation of the
Scriptures. As noted above, this understanding is clearly incompatible
with the Synod’s doctrinal position on the authority and interpretation
of Scripture. For this reason, the Commission affirms once again its
determination that Dr. Becker has not provided sufficient basis for his
claim that the position of the Synod is in need of
revision, and expresses once again its conviction that Dr. Becker is in
dissent from the position of the Synod not only on the specific issues
of the ordination of women to the pastoral office and the issues of
creation and evolution, but also on the more foundational position of
the Synod on which these positions are based: namely, the authority,
infallibility, and faithful interpretation of the Holy Scriptures
themselves.

The CTCR therefore appeals to Dr. Matthew Becker, by the mercies
of God, to reconsider his dissent and to reexamine, on the basis of
Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, his positions on the authority
of Scripture and the two issues concerning which he has expressed
dissent, even as the Synod expects him to honor and uphold the
doctrinal positions of the Synod.”
http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=1676 – accessed 1-
30-2015

While the CTCR appealed to Dr. Becker by the mercies of God to reconsider his
positions on the basis of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, it is clear that he
has not done so. In addition to those matters, Dr. Becker contends that the
Lutheran Confessions themselves contain theological ambiguity and error, to wit,
the Athanasian Creed. As stated by comments on his blog in discussion with two
pastors of the Southern Illinois District,

The Rev. BT Ball February 9, 2013 at 5:28PM
Dr. Becker-

“Whoever desires to be saved must, above all, hold the catholic faith.
Whoever does not keep it whole and undefiled will without doubt
perish eternally…This is the catholic faith; whoever does not believe it
faithfully and firmly cannot be saved.”

Do you confess that to be true or not?

Pastor Benjamin Ball
St. Paul, Hamel, IL

Matthew L. Becker February 9, 2013 at 8:09PM
Pr. Ball,
The Athanasian Creed errs when it implies that one is saved by a
mental work of believing this creed’s humanly-devised dogmatic
statements “faithfully and firmly.”

No Eastern Orthodox Christian will accept all of the formulations
within this historic western creed. Many statements in it need careful
clarification. Its conclusion is simply incorrect. The Athanasian Creed
muddles the gospel at precisely this point.

Pr. H. R. February 9, 2013 at 8:45 PM

Dr. Becker,

Members of our Synod agree to accept the Athanasian Creed “without
reservation” (Art. II of our Constitution). We are pretty up front about
that and have been for a long time. Perhaps it came up at your
ordination. If it didn’t (for example, if you wrote your own ordination
vows and didn’t use the ones in the TLH or LW Agenda), it certainly
did when you signed the Constitution.

I understand that you have deeply held convictions that run contrary
to this Confession of the faith. But I struggle to understand why you
continue to put yourself forward as a representative of our Synod
when you so clearly do not hold to our Confession on so many
weighty issues. It is not as though you are struggling with one or two
peripheral issues, unsure of where you stand, or sure the Synod has
erred in its stance on life insurance or gambling. You just flat our [sic]
deny what we require our ministers to swear to at their ordination.

I’ll give you this: it’s bold.

+HRC

Matthew L. Becker February 9, 2013 at 10:35 PM
HRC,

I was ordained on July 14, 1989. In that service I was asked the
following question, among several:

Do you accept the three Ecumenical Creeds…as faithful testimonies to
the truth of the Holy Scriptures, and do you reject all the errors which
they condemn?

I answered affirmatively. The three creeds (only one of which is truly
ecumenical) are faithful testimonies to the truth of the Holy
Scriptures, that is, the doctrinal truth of the Scriptures. I reject the
errors that the three creeds condemn.

They are faithful witnesses to the doctrinal truth of the Scriptures, but
they are not without theological ambiguity and error.

Our ordination vow is strictly limited to the doctrinal teaching of the
Holy Scriptures, that is, the doctrine of the gospel and all its articles.

THAT doctrine of the gospel, the doctrine of faith, is contrary to the
kind of legalistic approach to dogma and confessional writings that
you and Pr. Ball and other LCMS pastors seem to be asserting.

Pastors who serve churches of the Augsburg Confession are not bound
to many items that are taught or asserted in the confessional writings.
This includes the concluding paragraph of the Athanasian Creed. That
paragraph, literally understood, is contrary to the doctrine of the
gospel.

Our quia vow is to teach in accordance with the doctrinal content of
the Holy Scriptures, as that content is exhibited in the historic
confessions.

I continue to preach and teach in accordance with my ordination vow,
and I ask God to help me.”
http://matthewlbecker.blogspot.com/2013/02/one-more-response-to-
hrc.html – accessed 1-30-2015

Dr. Becker has stated regarding homosexuality,

“• 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.”
http://gottesdienstonline.blogspot.com/2010/12/useful-discussion.html
– accessed 1-30-2015

Synod Bylaw 4.4.5 states, “Each district president, in accordance with the
Constitution of the Synod, shall supervise the doctrine, the life, and the
official administration on the part of the ordained or commissioned ministers
who are members through his district or are subject to his ecclesiastical
supervision”. As such, the President of the Northwest District of the LCMS,
the Rev. Paul Linnemann, is charged with the ecclesiastical supervision of
Dr. Becker. While Dr. Becker’s public teaching, writing and dissent are
publicly known, there is no public evidence that President Linnemann has
exhorted Dr. Becker to repentance for his false doctrines. Dr. Becker, an
Ordained member of the Synod, has publicly advocated for the ordination of
women to the Pastoral Ministry. He has participated in the installation of an
ELCA clergy person. He has taught that committed homosexual
relationships are not sinful. He rejects the inerrancy of the Bible. He does
not affirm the creation account in the Scriptures as a historical event.
President Linnemann as the ecclesiastical supervisor of Dr. Becker is to
assist the Synod at large with fulfilling its first objective which is to
“Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith (Eph. 4:3–6; 1 Cor. 1:10).

WHEREAS: The Rev. Dr. Matthew Becker, an Ordained member of the
Synod, has publicly advocated for the ordination of women to the Pastoral
Ministry. He has participated in the installation of an ELCA clergy person.
He has taught that committed homosexual relationships are not sinful. He
rejects the inerrancy of the Bible. He does not affirm the creation account in
the Scriptures as a historical event, and

WHEREAS: Dr. Becker is a member of the Northwest District of the LCMS
under the ecclesiastical supervision of the Rev. Paul Linnemann, and

WHEREAS: It is the President of the Synod’s duty to see to it that all
District Presidents “act in accordance with the Synod’s Constitution, to
admonish all who in any way depart from it, and, if such admonition is not
heeded, to report such cases to the Synod”, (Article XI.B.2) and

WHEREAS: The President of the Synod “has and always shall have the
power to advise, admonish, and reprove. He shall conscientiously use all
means at his command to promote and maintain unity of doctrine and
practice in all the districts of the Synod”, (Article XI.B.3) and

WHEREAS: We confess, “All this has been said regarding secret sins. But
where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you
can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought
himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For
when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or
false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his
doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the
world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every
one may learn to guard against it.” (Large Catechism, 8th Commandment,
para.284), and

WHEREAS: Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “I have not come to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance” (St. Luke 5:32). Therefore, let it be

RESOLVED: That those with public knowledge of the Rev. Dr. Matthew
Becker’s false and divisive doctrines call him to repentance, and

RESOLVED: That in faithfulness to God’s Word and in Christian love the
Southern Illinois District of the LCMS in convention call the Rev. Dr.
Matthew Becker to repentance of his false and divisive doctrines and that
this be communicated to him through the Southern Illinois District
Secretary, and let it be further

RESOLVED: That the Southern Illinois District implore the Rev. Paul
Linnemann, President of the Northwest District, to exercise ecclesiastical
supervision of Dr. Becker, if he is not already doing so, seek Dr. Becker’s
repentance for false teaching, and lacking such repentance, begin the process
of Dr. Becker’s expulsion from the Synod in accordance with the Synod’s
Constitution and Bylaws, and that this be communicated to the Rev.
Linnemann by the Southern Illinois District President and let it be further

RESOLVED: That the Southern Illinois District encourage President
Matthew Harrison to exhort President Linnemann to do his duty for the sake
of our common confession of faith and our walking together as members of
the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, and be it further

RESOLVED: That the President of the Southern Illinois District, on behalf
of the Southern Illinois District, thank President Matthew Harrison and
commend him for his faithful leadership of the Synod, and give him such
encouragement, and be it finally

RESOLVED: That the Convention Chaplain lead the Convention in prayer
for a godly resolution to these matters.

Respectfully Submitted,
Floor Committee #2
Adopted 14 February 2015
79 Yea
19 Nay

About Scott Diekmann

Scott is a lifelong LCMS layman. Some of his vocations include husband, dad, jet driver, runner, and collector of more books than he can read. Oh, and also chocolate lover. He’s been involved in apologetics for over a decade, is on the Board of Regents at Concordia Portland, and is a column writer for the sometimes operational Around the Word Journal. He’s also written for Higher Things Magazine, The Lutheran Clarion, and has been a guest on Issues Etc. as well as the KFUO program Concord Matters.

Comments

The Southern Illinois District Speaks on Dr. Becker — 27 Comments

  1. Thank you, SID, for your carefully worded, pastorally submitted, and prayerfully adopted overture. Kyrie eleison!

  2. After reviewing all of the available evidence, they
    concluded that it is perfectly acceptable for an LCMS pastor to make a
    public argument

    I would note that there is a difference between making an argument, even a public one, in favor of a position, and actively advocating it. One problem that I see in the LCMS is that there is no good method for people to bring up points for debate without triggering sanctions. Suppose that one could argue that the Synod’s position on a 6-day creation is incorrect. How would one even bring the matter up for discussion without automatically being blown out of the water?

  3. OK, he repents, then what? Some of the pastors listed on this have called for such at other times, and we get a shallow, false “I am sorry” or silence.

    But I do like the talk of secret sins, as I formulate a resolution that will call on all CRM and removed from installed office men to have their sins available for public as they pertain to the office that they served and grievously destroyed a flock in the process of their sins.

    Yes, absolution and forgiveness can come, and with it love and support, but we have to get out of the dark days of passing the buck.

    Yes, yes…I did see the seek expulsion. We should do that for more men that make a mockery of the office they serve.

  4. A STATEMENT FROM THE COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS

    [Note: Meeting February 9-13, the members of the Council of Presidents (35 district presidents, 6 vice presidents and the president of Synod) adopted the following statement as a document which “speaks to the church on behalf of the COP.”]

    A STATEMENT OF ASSURANCE REGARDING ECCLESIASTICAL SUPERVISION

    “Sanctify them by Your truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

    In response to recently expressed concerns over maintaining sound doctrine in our synod as well as our need to follow the prescribed process for ecclesiastical supervision in our synod’s bylaws, we the Council of Presidents (comprised of the synodical president, vice presidents, and 35 district presidents of the LCMS), offer the following assurances:
    •We remain committed to the authority of the inspired, inerrant Scriptures as the only source and norm for our doctrine and practice and the Lutheran Confessions as a true exposition of the Scriptures. That commitment includes our solid affirmation of our Synod’s stances on such Biblical teachings as these: ◦In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth by the power of his Word, in six natural days. We reject the evolutionary hypothesis, including “theistic macro-evolution.” (Genesis 1; John 1:1ff.; Matthew 19:4-6).
    ◦Holy Scriptures elevates the dignity and equality of both men and women in the sight of God (Galatians 3:27–28; Ephesians 5:21–33). The Scriptures also teach that men and women have distinct and complementary vocations. The Scriptures limit the office of pastor to qualified men, while inviting sanctified women to serve in many capacities (1 Timothy 2; 1 Corinthians 14).
    ◦Marriage, instituted by God, is only between a man and a woman. Homosexual behavior, like all adulterous behavior, is sin against the Sixth Commandment (Matthew 19:4–6).

    •We pledge our on-going due diligence in maintaining sound doctrine and practice in our respective districts.
    •We promise to abide by and uphold the Synod’s bylaws guiding ecclesiastical discipline.
    •Along the way of doctrinal supervision, we will continue to seek restoration and repentance in a process which honors our synod’s constitution and bylaws.

    Responding to concerns in the Synod regarding the present process of ecclesiastical supervision and discipline, we, the members of the Council of Presidents, unanimously affirm the following:
    •The doctrinal integrity of our Council of Presidents as we carry out our role of ecclesiastical supervision;
    •The need for our present process of discipline to follow the existing bylaws of the Synod;
    •Our desire to evaluate the current procedure of discipline, leading to a more effective process.

    The Council of Presidents also cautions that members of Synod be careful in their analysis of matters of ecclesiastical supervision, especially in social media and blogs, lest we sin against the Eighth Commandment, marring reputations and making public what is required to be private.

    Finally, the Council of Presidents requests members of the Synod to pray for us as we carry out our role of ecclesiastical supervisors in accordance with the Scriptures, the Confessions, and our Synod’s Constitution and Bylaws.

  5. “But I do like the talk of secret sins, as I formulate a resolution that will call on all CRM and removed from installed office men to have their sins available for public as they pertain to the office that they served and grievously destroyed a flock in the process of their sins.” –Prentice [drooling?]

    Do you really believe that all CRM are 100% responsible for separation from their congregations? That they are the sole sinners, having “grievously destroyed a flock”?
    [I know personally, (yes, as “my Pastors”), men who have taken others’ sins upon themselves to avoid just such an outcome! And for reward they were slandered in rumors behind their backs, long after they were gone, when the perpetrators felt the need to excuse themselves of what they had done.]

    Pardon me, but we have had a belly full of such self righteous comment against CRM’s already!

    You really want to know about CRM’s? Buy Kornacki’s book!
    [Don’t be a cheapskate and read it on line.]

  6. “•Along the way of doctrinal supervision, we will continue to seek restoration and repentance in a process which honors our synod’s constitution and bylaws.” –COP

    This is not much comfort, given that we have by-laws and a system of “discipline” designed to protect the COP rather than the flock, indeed, to largely eliminate the pewsitter from a voice in the church, (beyond the blogs which expose and bother them so much).

    If they had said, “in a process which honors Scripture and the Confessions” we could hope for change.

    Remember the *th! Indeed, and remember the decade that made the *th a cover for evil, the whiteness on the stinking sepulchre.

  7. That’s it!

    I’m going to give you up for Lent. This is not at all good for my resolutions (flexible word, rev prentice) to be forgiving, (not that my secular life is much help either).

    Kyrie eleison!

  8. So how did you get this? I actively pay attention to all conventions. I am waiting to find info form Illinois. Did Pres. Scharr get reelected? I read their workbook and knew about this resolution. I am happy it passed, an by such a wide margin. Waiting to see their Proceedings to see how things went.

    Two District Conventions down, and both have been pretty good. Haven’t gotten to the bad districts yet, so it should be interesting.

  9. Dear Helen,
    There are good men on CRM and bad men. Good men removed, bad men removed. Congregations bad, men bad. It goes both ways, I know, I have been in the mix a few times in my life. And I DID NOT LIKE IT…

    Problem is this, it is all hidden in many cases.

    Perhaps we need a “show me the car fax”, nope, show me the “pastoral fax”. So to speak.

    I have supported some men down and out, only to be turned on by a few. Of course, in the end, God works it all out. And I will keep on helping, that is my nature. But it does wear you down each time.

    And yes, perhaps a call to Pastor Kornacki (I think I talked to him earlier sometime?).I’ll dig up the book.

    Helen, blessings on Lent too. I won’t turn you off.

  10. I have to be honest: while it is entirely possible for a person to repent upon confrontation, my personal experience with adamant and defiant people like Dr. Becker is usually that the “repentance” is but a shallow and brief one, with the heterodoxies (or even outright heresies) re-introduced, often in a more subtle, less obvious manner in order to avoid detection.

    Better in most cases to dismiss the monkey responsible for his mischief and send him to others of his ilk that are in agreement with him.

  11. Dear Helen,
    And I “may come off” as self-righteous to you and others perhaps, but I have spoken with words and action helping our down and out men in the ministry. Prayers for one, but monies as well, forsaking pay so others may be helped.

    God has been good to me, and as Pastor Rossow states in a mercy comment, I simply must and should be good simply because I can.

    So if there are any men in candidate status in need near me. Or men (and women in need), you know my email.

    Can I do more? You bet. I will fight for the pastor down and out, hurt by a congregation. I will help a pastor get on his feet, I have.

    I wish I can do more, but seems like the more I try, the more it turns at times. Oh well. Got a few years left to try.

    Yes, in a way, I do wish penance was part of our confession / absolution formula, I KNOW it is not.

  12. Now this district spoke. How about all the other districts? Will they join in unity and draft similair overtures? Will the Indiana District do the same?

  13. Probably already been said, but good resolutions are useless and even perhaps detrimental to orthodoxy if nothing is ever done with them, except to post them, “Hooray,” and see that the Synod, its officials do nothing. Thousands of pastors and laypeople are waiting for something to be done with blatant heresy.

  14. More rhetoric and words, but action is needed, according to God’s Word. Use the Office of Keys as our Lord taught. Rebuke the false teachers in our midst. These resolutions only add to the illusion of being Confessional while, in the meantime, false prophets carry on and lead more astray. It’s time for action, not words.

  15. In my opinion, Dr Becker has an agenda to transform the LCMS along the lines of the heretical ELCA, and he desires both credibility and a forum in which to expostulate on his liberal ideas. As such a forum would make Dr Becker a martyr as the enlightened progressive theologian against the institution of orthodoxy, he should not be given this opportunity. In his own words, devoid of confusion as to his meaning, his motives, and his positions, Dr Becker has already established his point of view. Dr Becker wants both the controversy surrounding himself and seemingly enjoys the confrontation which he himself initiated. Dr Becker should be excommunicated and fired, and I suggest he go elsewhere with his heretical views…perhaps to join ELCA, where I am sure he would be welcome. There is little doubt that he is even entertains the idea of recanting or changing his mindset. Goodbye…Dr Becker. The LCMS need not be subjected to a forum for you to defend your heresies.

  16. If Dr Becker does not like the teachings and beliefs of the LCMS then leave this synod. That solves every ones problem.

  17. Like it always has been, heretics do not want to leave. they want to promote their errors upon others. Dr. Becker will leave when the synod deals with him. Probably the last thing he will do is say something to the effect: “You can’t depose me, I quit and am joining the ELCA.” He wants to be a cause celeb and admired for his courage.

  18. Dear Helen,
    Oh yes, I will tell you, we had our Circuit Forum this past Sunday, no resolutions were brought forward. I did share some concerns with my brothers on some other men in the ministry I think we must be watchful of, but perhaps I joked, “I am getting older and with age, the filter of words comes off a bit.”

    But here is the kicker, those we worry about, we pray more for them.

    Blessings.

  19. I am a member of the LCMS but I agree with Dr Becker with regard to the matter of evolution. God created and God allowed evolution to be part of His creative process. The LCMS will turn off most intellectuals if this synod believes in a young Earth and no evolution. Check out Biologos: http://biologos.org/blog/author/collins-francis

  20. As for Dr Becker’s belief in homosexuality, my reading and understanding of Scripture is that while homosexuality is a reality, some people are born with homosexual tendencies, but for homosexuals and unmarried heterosexuals, celibacy is what God demands. Celibacy never killed anyone. Teaching people to abstain from sexual relationships outside of a hererosexual marriage is not like telling someone to abstain from eating. So I do not agree with Dr Becker’s views that the Bible finds homosexual marriage acceptable.

  21. @Scott Diekmann #22

    If I might chime in, as both a Lutheran and an engineer that has given this a LOT of thought lately.
    1) Lutherans make the claim that their faith is historical. If you listen – and I do – to the podcasts on “Issues, Etc.” featuring Dr. John Warwick Montgomery and Dr. Andrew Steinmann (whose book “From Abraham to Jesus, a Biblical Chronology” I highly recommend) you’ll several times hear something to the effect that if you could go back with a time machine you would see the actual events described in the Scriptures. You would, in fact, see Abraham, Issac, and the Ram; you would, in fact, see Moses parting the Red Sea; you would, in fact, see Jesus performing miracles, being crucified, and rising on Easter Sunday.

    Not only that, but we point to and are supported by the archeological evidence. We claim that Pontius Pilate actually existed – despite the various critical claims to the contrary – and smugly point to the “Pilate Stone” when it’s unearthed in Caesarea Maritima. We proudly point to each piece of evidence as it’s unearthed, whether buildings that may have been used by Peter or other early Christians or some minor fragment of papyrus that shows exactly how some Biblical interpretation is warranted.

    We also take great pride in smacking down mus-interpretations of Scripture, especially those that take verses out of context. Listen to a few podcasts of “Fighting for the Faith” for example after example. Scripture must be read in context, we say, and taken as a whole. Proper interpretation is important, and some parts must be read symbolically, some figuratively, and some literally. Some verses are descriptive, some prescriptive, and some merely poetic.

    All of a sudden, however, our whole approach to the Scriptures vanishes when we go back past Abraham. Suddenly, everything must be taken absolutely literally, even when it goes against every piece of physical evidence available. No attempt to figure out how to square the apparent dichotomy is permitted, even from those of us who understand the science and how to actually create things (even if not exactly ex nihilo). As an aside, I just finished reading “The Mind of the Maker” by Dorothy L. Sayers, a fascinating treatise on the nature of God as artist from the point of view of a professional writer. I wonder if those of us who are artists and engineers don’t sometimes have a better view of how God works than professional theologians.

    The cause of this dilemma is easy enough to spot. The church as been so traumatized by progressive secular humanism that it has developed a conditioned reflex. Unfortunately, this has also caused most theologians to permanently confuse science – which is a method of modeling the universe – with scientific humanism – which is a religion in and of itself, with the a priori assumption that there is no God and nothing beyond our direct experiences.

    See what is being said here: accepting “homosexuality” (actually, accepting the tenet that homosexual behavior is acceptable to God in the name of “love”, which is really quite different) and accepting “evolution” are both taken as damning evidence, nothing else to discuss.

  22. I’m not certain that I completely follow Paul, as I’m just a dumb theologian who has spent 40 plus years in the Scriptures (and dealing with errorists, I might add)and not an engineer. But if I follow Paul of Alexandria correctly his argument (at least in part) regarding the early chapters of Genesis are that they may be interpreted symbolically, allegorically, etc. because there is no scientific evidence for what happened “before Abraham”. (I assume that just perhaps Paul of Alexandria is referencing the creation account, but admittedly he doesn’t say this). The problem that Paul seems to have, in part, is that he is trying to divide the Scriptures into pre- and post Abraham. I guess he could have chosen a different personage or day, but in any event to divide Scripture inevitably leads to such atrocities as female clergy despite Paul of Tarus’s condemnation, macro evolution as an acceptable alternative to the creation account, despite Jesus’ testimony regarding creation. Over 40 years ago the St. Louis Seminary posited the same arguments under the shibboleth of “Gospel reductionism”. There truly is nothing new under the sun.

  23. That’s not what I said. Primarily, I’m somewhat frustrated because there’s no forum in which to discuss this topic reasonably; any attempt on this forum is either ignored or stomped on. My point is more on how Lutherans treat this issue and refuse to even discuss it – unlike almost every other topic to come up. No matter how one tries to explain or support an argument, it always boils down to “you’re questioning Scripture – go to Hell!”

    To some degree, yes – you must treat Scripture pre- and post- Abraham differently. Even Andrew Steinman does so in “From Abraham to Paul”. Abraham is the earliest point that we can definitively nail down in time. BTW, you are doing precisely what I’m complaining about. I never said anything about “Macro evolution as an alternative to the creation account.” Did I? You’re confusing science with scientific-humanism.

    Perhaps someone with the proper credentials could start a post here on Brothers where we can discuss matters like this: neutral ground where we can 1) frame the question properly on its own (without hijacking another’s post) and 2) ask theological questions and get actual answers. For instance, not speaking Hebrew, I would like to verify the translations of certain words.

  24. @Mike Strong #25

    Re Dr. Becker. (Whom I do NOT support). My reasoning goes like this: Becker and others will argue for acceptance of homosexuality based on love of neighbor (love being equated with acceptance) and the fact that Jesus never spoke against it. What Paul said in Romans and 1 Corinthians obviously (according to them) refers to sleeping around and not to a “committed relationship”, and Sodom and Gomorrah were nuked because they didn’t honor guests, not because of their sexual preferences. (I’m just echoing what an ELCA schoolmate of mine says – personally, I hold to the orthodox LCMS line). If you hold to a strict, literalistic reading of certain passages, and pick your translation properly, you can build a case for their argument. In order to argue against them, then, one must bring in other evidence, such as traditional Jewish values – which Jesus would hold to, the order of creation, vocations, and so forth.

    But, when the LCMS addresses the creation account, all of a sudden we throw out any additional evidence and insist on a strict interpretation of certain passages. Indeed, we throw out interpretations that we hold to be perfectly valid elsewhere! For instance, the Lutheran Study Bible itself points out that Hebrew genealogies such as those in Matthew usually leave out less important generations. But yet people cite the genealogy in Genesis 5 to attempt to date creation. I could go on, but you get the point.

    The end result is that because we insist on a certain interpretation in one place, despite perfectly legitimate arguments to the contrary, people like Becker laugh at us when we try to lay out complex arguments in other places.

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