Address by Pr. Roger Gallup to Northern Illinois District Convention

Gallup_Roger-160HBrothers and Sisters in Christ,

On behalf of fellow committee member Pastor Chris Navurskis and myself, I want to thank President Gilbert and the committee for the opportunity to present an additional report on this important resolution and thank you, the delegates, for your attention.

We are grateful that, as already has been said, our committee – including members with diverse points of view on many subjects – agrees unanimously that Professor Matthew Becker of Valparaiso University is a false teacher.  For that unity we are very thankful and we believe it speaks well of our District.

Dr. Becker is open about his positions and publishes them on his web site.  The original overture from St. Paul’s Lockport has provided much evidence and simple Google searches provided even more evidence not only of Dr. Becker’s false teaching but also his advocacy of those positions.  The committee has not provided that material in the resolution but is prepared to offer examples if requested.  The committee’s only disagreement was whether or not this Convention should call him to repentance.

Some argue that a call to repentance would violate Matthew 18.  However, in the Large Catechism (284) Luther explains that Matthew 18 addresses only private sin:

“All of this refers to secret sins.  But where the sin is so public that the judge and everyone else are aware of it, you can without sin shun and avoid those who have brought disgrace upon themselves, and you may also testify publicly against them.  For when something is exposed to the light of day, there can be no question of slander or injustice or false witness.  For example, we now censure the pope and his teaching, which is publicly set forth in books and shouted throughout the world.  Where the sin is public, appropriate public punishment should follow so that everyone may know how to guard against it.”

A call for repentance is a warning that someone is going the wrong way, and a plea for change.  It does not ask for church discipline nor interfere with the dispute resolution process.  There is no call for removal from the roster.  We simply plead with a member of our fellowship to repent, change direction, and change his public false teaching.

Jesus’ public ministry began with a call to repentance, in Matthew 4:17,  “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”  A call to repentance is at the heart of our ministry toward erring brothers and sisters.

My friends, If you were to walk into your home and see a family member with knife in hand about to stab another unsuspecting family member, what would you do?  Would you remain silent and think “This is a law enforcement issue so I will say nothing and let them deal with it?”  Of course not.  You would yell at the top of your lungs “STOP.”  You would hope that in so doing, the person with the knife would not follow through, or that at least the potential victim would be warned.  If you did nothing you might lose two family members, one killed and the other imprisoned; but between the two the greater responsibility is to the innocent victim.

A false teacher in the church is someone who walks about with the dagger of his false teachings driving them into the hearts of other family members who are innocent victims.  Young people at Valpo who sit in his class and others who read his articles have a knife at their souls.  Can we remain silent?  Say “Oh, its someone else’s responsibility”?  We believe Scripture says no.  We are our brother’s keeper.  We must yell out Stop, Repent.  If not we may lose both the false teacher and his innocent victims.

If we recognize Dr. Becker as a false teacher, then in Christian love for him and for all the members of our fellowship, we are conscience-bound also to call him to repentance.  If not we neglect our responsibility not only to him but to our other brothers and sisters in Christ.  By a public call to repentance we warn others of his false teaching in the hope they will not be harmed.  We encourage the assembly to amend this resolution to include a call to repentance for Matthew Becker.

 

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

Address by Pr. Roger Gallup to Northern Illinois District Convention — 22 Comments

  1. Perhaps those who were there can verify this, but I heard that Pastor Gallup’s speech resulted in the NID convention passing a public call to Becker to repent by over a 90% majority.

    God be praised.

    Every LCMS district convention should do the same thing.

    May God grant Professor Becker genuine repentance and restore him to proper and faithful public confession of the Faith.

  2. and why would we shy away from church discipline? That is why the synod is in the mess it is in The minute we let churches join the Willow Creek Association, decidedly evangelical, we lost our strength and unity. But I am glad to see we are no longer gagged in addressing a heretic in our midst

  3. By the way, the resolution to call Becker to repentance passed with a very large majority and not even any real heated debate.

  4. CALL TO REPENTANCE? ARE YOU SERIOUS? REMOVE HIM NOW! Do you not know when we are being played?

  5. Persistence in false teaching is grounds for dismissal from a Divine Call to a congregation in the LC – MS. Why can’t the Council of Presidents remove such persons when other methods have failed to achieve a God-pleasing outcome?

  6. @mames #4

    Mames-
    The Southern Illinois District and the Northern Illinois District have both now passed resolutions calling Dr. Becker to repent of his false teachings. Neither district convention has the authority to remove him from the Synod. Christians have the authority to call sinners to repentance. This is what is happenening. No one is getting played.

    Perhaps President Linnemann will see the seriousness of his inaction as the synod is beginning to rise up to mark the false teacher in our midst and do his duty.

  7. Let me begin by saying I agree with Pastor Gallup, and I commend what he has said, BUT . . .

    So, we’ve now reached a point (and rightly) where a great many folks, both clergy and lay, are willing to call THIS false teacher to repentance for his public doctrine and practice? I’d like to suggest that there are a lot more issues than this one that need to be dealt with. This was the point of the ACELC’s Fraternal Admonition to our Synod (five years ago) – that we finally discuss and deal with these matters of doctrinal, Churchly import in a Scriptural, Confessional, and proper manner.

    What about all those people who rose up openly to support Matthew Becker – who criticized those of us who had the temerity and gall to speak up against this false teacher and his heresy? What about the many congregations even now (and that number is growing) that promote clearly unbiblical, unconfessional positions and practices? Why have so few been unwilling to stand up and be counted until now, when the matter is so obvious that even those who may even oppose the work of BJS are willing to stand up and be counted?

    What will it take before hundreds – even thousands – of us are willing to take a stand and demand that these matters be dealt with . . . and in a timely manner?

    I’m just sayin’ . . . .

  8. @Drew Newman #9

    Pastor Newman,

    As always, you make great points and have a spot-on analysis. I’d offer this reason as to why some are just now voicing their concern. The “Barking Dog” tactic is working. I think the ACELC and BJS serve a great purpose in this area. Some have questioned the methodology and effectiveness of consistently and tenaciously pointing out error, but that’s exactly what must happen. The “Barking Dog” tactic serves to warn others of the false teacher in our midst, it makes it difficult for members of the synod at all levels to completely avoid the issues, and finally it serves to make the false teacher realize that he can no longer fly below the radar.

    Becker is just one small piece of the equation. I say keep barking! I believe it’s working.

  9. Every district should issue a Call to Repentance and it should be done now. At our Elders Meeting today I brought up the topic of Matthew Becker and the question that kept coming up was, What Can We Do? I will be in contact tomorrow with my Pastor and ask that he consult our district president to get this process started. Can someone please share with me the process.
    I’d like to take this opportunity to thank BJS for their work, you our in my prayers.
    JR

  10. @Paul Becker #7

    Dear Mr. Becker,

    A person can only be removed from Synod through procedures set forth in the Bylaws. This is Constitution Article XIII.2. It is called “due process” in The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, 75 (Tappert, p. 333).

    I think that a strong case can be made that since Becker’s case was not “heard,” but terminated prior to a Hearing, that he can still be brought up on the same or similar charges without fear of double jeopardy. Since I don’t know exactly the nature of the charges or who brought them or when, I am just guessing. Someone could find an answer to this by formally requesting an opinion of the CCM.

    If someone were to bring charges again against Becker, it would the proper and wise thing to wait until he is in another jurisdiction (e.g., Indiana District) or until his eccelesiastical supervisor (Linneman) is not re-elected, resigns, or is removed from office. Otherwise the complainant would be sure to the get same result.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  11. @Martin R. Noland #12

    Marty, Marty, Marty . . . I love you, brother, as you well know, but officially allowing this nonsense to continue until Linneman leaves (will that be when hell freezes over?), or Becker get’s transferred to another District (is that likely to happen so long as Linneman is still DP?), does that really sound like a viable option when either of those things could take literally years, while the people of the Synod wonder why it doesn’t appear that anyone cares about such matters?

    I’m not saying President Harrison doesn’t care about such matters, for clearly he does, but I suspect there are a lot of folks out there thinking just exactly that, wouldn’t you say?

    Feelin’ the love – and the arrival of Spring – in Kansas City, I remain your devoted friend!

  12. Dear Drew,

    Thanks, Drew! I am just saying what the proper process would be for an individual to follow. The Synod in convention can do all sorts of things it hasn’t thought of before, so the Synod is limited not like the rest of us.

    For example, in Constituion VIII.B, Synod can call a special session, if two-thirds of the voting delegates present so decide. A special session is different from a regular session in parliamentary procedure. Special session deals only with the matter specified in the notice, so in the 2016 convention, if 66.7% of the present voting delegates call for a special session to deal with the Becker matter, then they could do that. I don’t think Synod has ever done that, and everyone would have to reschedule airline flights, work schedules, etc.

    But Synod would still have to follow procedure found in the Bylaws of Synod (Const. Art. XIII.2). If Synod did not follow its own Bylaws, Dr. Becker could sue for large amounts, providing him with probably the most posh retirement fund of any LCMS (or former LCMS) clergyman on this planet. If some folks want to provide Dr. Becker with such a posh retirement fund, then they can go ahead and violate the bylaws.

    It is never mentioned by those who think Adolph Brux was a hero, but he sued the LCMS for large amounts in his case, and won! He was acclaimed a hero at the University of Chicago, and the LCMS budget was set back for years, if not a decade.

    The alternative to that scenario is—-to change the Bylaws. I have said this before someplace–really all that has to be done is that, through Amendment of Bylaw 2.12, Becker be placed under a different ecclesiastical supervision along with all other persons in his particular situation, i.e., an LCMS clergy serving as a full-time, contracted/called/tenured professor of theology at a non-CUS college or university (in other words, professorship is his primary vocation, not parish-pastorate). This could be a new point under Bylaw 2.12, I would say between present 2.12.1.6 and 2.12.1.7.

    Since there are very few LCMS clergyman in this situation, I think it is entirely appropriate to place all LCMS clergy who are not CUS/LCMS seminary professors directly under the supervision of the Synodical President or his Praesidium as a group (i.e., the President with all the VPs in line of succession). If the Praesidium was responsible for supervision as a group, the President could appoint one of its members who had the most knowledge and experience in academia to supervise and communicate with this group of clergymen–in the present group that would be Dr. Scott Murray of Houston, I think. But I would still give the President the choice of whom to appoint to this function.

    Then, since the Becker case has not been “heard,” person(s) making charges could do so immediately after the 2016 convention, and the newly (re-)elected President and/or Praesidium would deal with the Becker case directly, with some other adjustments to the bylaws probably being necessary in the expulsion process.

    I think it makes sense for an LCMS clergyman who is full-time professor outside of CUS or the seminaries to have this sort of direct supervision because of the constant potential for damage, as Becker himself demonstrates. If such a professor does not like that supervision, he can always join the ELCA, which synod will allow just about anything except Lutheran orthodoxy.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  13. The Rev. Dr. Matthew Becker is a son of Missouri. He is more a son of Missouri than I a simple layman. We are both poor miserable sinners. We are both living testaments to the fact that a lot of bad can and does come out of Missouri. But Jesus has and can and does overcome that. Jesus has said and proven that He is more powerful than the gates of hell.

    Pray that Matthew and each and every one of us in the Missouri Synod will daily heed God’s call to repentance. Pray that Jesus will prevail against our hard hearts. Pray that this call to repentance by the NID will prepare Matthew’s heart and mind as well as our hearts and minds to return and receive the faithful promises of Jesus given in the Gospel. Pray that Jesus will pull this brother and every single one of us out of the pit of unbelief so that together in Him we may rejoice and praise God as we live in Christian unity. Pray that we may not reject Christ, His word, His forgiveness and salvation. And pray that we may go forth together always ready to give an account of the hope we have in Christ Jesus.

    And if Matthew hardens his heart and continues in his false teaching keep praying for him seven times seventy times. If he leaves the Church or is removed keep calling him to repentance and keep praying for him. Matthew’s soul is very precious to our Lord who gave His life for it.

  14. @Peter Slayton #3

    Hi Peter,
    Thank you for the update and all you do for BJS and Worldview Everlasting. I’d be interested, just in general terms, as to why some of the delegates were against the resolution. Did they think it still should stay private (misreading Matt.18/Large Catechism, Eighth Commandment paragraph 284) or were they against it for some other reason?

    Thank you.
    Diane

  15. Friends,

    I remember very clearly that during the DRP process surrounding President Benke of the Atlantic District and the public sin of Yankee Stadium, that Secretary of the Synod, Ray Hartwig repeatedly told those of us who were parties to the charges against the Atlantic District President that we were bound to keep all comments about the charges related to Benke private during the process. (This was a provision which we kept as complainants, but which Benke totally disregarded.) We were told that we could publicly write about the issues involved but that no commentary regarding the person of David Benke could be made publicly. However, when the process was over Hartwig said, we could say anything publicly about anything or any body related to the case to the entire Synod if we wanted to. The requirement for silence was for during the process.

    Respecting the matter with Matthew Becker the liberals can’t have it both ways. On the one hand they mistakenly believe that the ban on publicity continues after the matter has been closed, and on the other hand they want to insist that the decision of the NWD panel conclusively ends the matter. There’s just no pleasing these folks. I think they have the same DNA as the Democrats in Washington who simply can’t stomach anyone’s view other than their own.

  16. @Martin R. Noland #15

    Pr. Noland,

    I think your recommendation for faculty is wise. As one who may soon be in the same boat (theological faculty at an non-LCMS institution,) I would support such a measure.

  17. @LW #16

    “And if Matthew hardens his heart and continues in his false teaching keep praying for him seven times seventy times. If he leaves the Church or is removed keep calling him to repentance and keep praying for him. Matthew’s soul is very precious to our Lord who gave His life for it.”

    Yes, and keep praying for those Professor Matthew Becker keeps leading away from the Word. Their souls are also very precious to our Lord who gave his life for them. Pray that they will know to avoid his willful and persistent sins.

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