Brothers 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.