LCMS Liberals Write “An Open Letter to Pr. Dan Gilbert of the Northern Illinois District of the LCMS,” by Pr. Rossow

The Northern Illinois District (NID) just concluded a fairly conservative convention as the NID goes including a call for Matthew Becker to repent. Apparently that got liberals in the LCMS worked up. Here is a letter they wrote to President Gilbert.

An Open Letter to Pr. Dan Gilbert, President of the Northern Illinois District of the LCMS

Dear President Gilbert,

In your address to the 2015 District Convention you said that, in all likelihood, most congregations in your District are declining numerically. On an average, three congregations per year are disbanding. You also mentioned that, according to one projection, the LCMS will go from its current 6000 congregations to 1,000 in 30 years time. You also pointed out that the average age of our members is probably above 60. In your concluding statement you said that the possibility of a congregation closing was dreadful and that the possibility of thousands of LCMS pastors with no flock, no call, and no income is staggering.

Given how dire the condition of the church is in your district and elsewhere, we are dismayed that you permitted Resolution 1-5, “To Call the Rev. Becker to Repentance and Implore the N.W. District President, the Rev. Paul Linnemann to Continue Exercising Ecclesiastical Discipline,” to come to the floor of the 2015 Northern Illinois District Convention. As far as we know, there has been only one official, outstanding case against Dr. Becker, and this case was recently dismissed by a Referral Panel in the Northwest District. That panel, comprised of three circuit counselors who were chosen by blind draw, concluded that the facts in that case (having to do with Dr. Becker’s support for the ordination of women) did not constitute a basis to expel him from the clergy roster of the synod. The Referral Panel’s decision not to proceed against Dr. Becker terminated the matter. Period.

May we remind you of Synod Bylaw 2.17.5.3:

Whether made by the district president or the Referral Panel, if the determination is not to initiate formal proceedings, the district president shall in writing so inform the accuser, any other district president involved, and the involved member, which shall terminate the matter.

That any of us knows about this case is the result of the inappropriate action of President Harrison to have given publicity to it at the recent North Dakota District Convention. Only in the wake of President Harrison’s public remarks (which were widely shared on the internet) and his now infamous Facebook posting, which went directly against the spirit and letter of Bylaw 2.17.5.3, did people throughout the synod become aware that Dr. Becker had been cleared of this charge against him. Obviously, the Referral Panel did not think that Dr. Becker’s views on the ordination of women form a sufficient reason to expel him from the clergy roster.

Dr. Becker is not guilty of advocating false doctrine. He has merely published some writings in which he levels criticism against the synod’s practice of restricting the office of pastor to men. He has followed the process of dissent in our synod, a process on which the synod has placed no time restrictions. Moreover, Dr. Becker’s dissent does not rise to the level of rejecting any of the articles of faith, as these are clearly exhibited in the Lutheran Confessions. In fact, we think that the biblical and confessional content of Dr. Becker’s dissent ought to be discussed more fairly and given greater consideration within the Synod than it has been so far.

It was totally inappropriate for you to allow Rev. Roger Gallup, a member of the floor committee that brought this resolution to the floor, to give a special address to the convention in order to publicly accuse Dr. Becker of being a false teacher. Rev. Gallup even boasted that the entire floor committee that brought the resolution to the NID convention was unified in labeling Dr. Becker a false teacher. That committee had no standing, legitimacy, or authority to make such a public judgment against a member of the synod from another district. If individuals have concerns about Dr. Becker’s public teaching, these concerns should be conveyed to Dr. Becker himself and to Dr. Becker’s district president, who alone has ecclesiastical supervision of Dr. Becker.

May we remind you of Synod Bylaw 2.16.3c:

Even if the alleged violation of Article XIII of the Constitution is considered to be “public,” this provision of Matthew 18:15 shall be followed. The reputation of all parties to the matter is to be protected as commanded in the Eighth Commandment.

We have learned that no one from the NID ever met face-to-face with Dr. Becker to discuss their concerns with him privately. Dr. Becker’s reputation has certainly not been protected in your district. He was publicly attacked at your district convention, behind his back, and without any prior communication with him. And now your attack against Dr. Becker has been widely shared on the internet. We believe that you and your district have broken the Eighth Commandment. Rev. Gallup’s speech and the resolution against Dr. Becker are slanderous. Neither that speech nor that resolution should have ever been allowed at your convention.

Many people within our synod are putting the worst construction on Dr. Becker’s dissent (“He’s guilty of false teaching!”) rather than putting the best construction on it (“He’s trying to lead us to study the Scriptures and the Confessions more carefully and to evaluate current synodical practices and resolutions in light of the Scriptures and the Confessions!”). Like many professors at Christian colleges and universities, Dr. Becker is daily faced with young people who have given up on the church and may also be in the process of losing their faith. It is estimated that less than 10% of the Millennial Generation have any regular connection with church. Research has also shown that young people are particularly turned off by what they consider to be the anti-science, anti-women, and anti-gay positions of the church.

Dr. Becker shares with you the sadness that if this generation is not reached with the Gospel, such a failure will have eternal consequences for them and devastating results in our congregations. He questions not the essential doctrine of the church concerning God’s creation, our sin, Christ’s work of atonement, salvation by grace through faith alone, the means of grace, and the ongoing work of the Spirit. Rather, he challenges those peripheral, problematic positions of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, that are not clearly settled in the Scriptures and that have been decided merely by majority votes at synod conventions.

In your message to the delegates at the NID convention, you said that the definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Thus, you advocate New Starts – New Believers. Many of us believe that now is also the time to revisit previous convention resolutions that we think are misguided and even harmful to Christ’s mission in the world today, especially as the mission relates to our children and grandchildren.

In Christ,

The undersigned,

Rev. Dr. Robert Schmidt
Deacon Dr. Douglas Morrison
Rev. Bill Warren
Dr. Don Soeken
Rev. Arnie Voight
Rev. Tyrus Miles
Rev. J. L. Precup
Rev. Dr. Hans Spalteholz
Dr. Elizabeth Goodine
Rev. Dale Koehneke
Rev. Paul Schmidt
Elizabeth McAdams
Marie Steinbeck
Rev. Richard Hill
Rev. Adam Kegel
Rev. Gary Koopmann
Rev. Roger Stuenkel
Rev. Dale Krueger
Rev. Richard Patt
Rev. Robert Martinek
Rev. Dell Schomburg
Rev. Dr. Norman Metzler
Rev. John Hannah
Atty. Myron Allenstein
Rev. Robert Burke
Dr. Jerrald Pfabe
Rev. Edward Scott
Rev. Dr. Christian Just
Rev. Thomas Van der Bloemen
David Domsch
Rev. William J. Meyer
Dr. William Oehlkers
Rev. Harold Hitzmann
Carol Schmidt
Ann Murphy
Tim Ihssen (CM)
Rev. Don Mulfinger
Georgia Schubert
David Crisi (CM)
Rev. Karl Wyneken
Rev. Douglas Johnstone
Rev. Nolan Bremer
Rev. Jerry Groth
Vida Stanton

 

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

LCMS Liberals Write “An Open Letter to Pr. Dan Gilbert of the Northern Illinois District of the LCMS,” by Pr. Rossow — 240 Comments

  1. “The pastor serves the royal priesthood by preaching Christ’s Word and
    administered His sacraments. The royal priesthood, in turns, serves the
    neighbor just as Christ has served us. This service is not only in the Christian
    congregation where the royal priesthood prays for and supports the pastor but
    most especially in the world where God has placed His people in a variety of
    vocations. Here the royal priesthood passes on the Gospel that it has received in
    the divine service as Christ is confessed and His people give reason for the
    hope that is within them (I Peter 3:15). It is within the various stations of life
    where God’s priests live that they do what priests are called to do as they speak
    the word of God to others, speak to God on behalf of others in prayer, and offer
    themselves as living sacrifices on behalf of the neighbor.”
    (VOCATION AND EVANGELISM, Texas Confessional Lutheran Conference Brenham, Texas 4 August 2001)

  2. DIRECTOR OF CHRISTIAN OUTREACH
    As a Director of Christian Outreach, you are a valuable member of an outreach-oriented ministry team. Your primary function is to stimulate, educate, mobilize, and support parishioners in witnessing, evangelizing, and assimilating new members. You might also serve in a mission congregation or develop cross-cultural outreach in the United States or on a foreign mission field.
    – LCMS.org

  3. So we have heard from the Texas Confessional Lutherans (which must be an outstanding group since they had me speak at one of their gatherings a few years ago) and the LCMS website.

    I am waiting for anyone to post a NT Scripture that exhorts lay people to evangelize.

    Anybody?

    As I said above, I encourage my members to evangelize. I am not opposed to it. I just think we all need to take a step back from the romantic/anti-authoritarian era we are in and ask the question – “Do the Scriptures place as high a priority on lay evangelism and on creating a church mission around evangelism in general, as the LCMS has done in the last 30 years?”

  4. @Pastor Tim Rossow #157

    Your point is well taken, Pr. Rossow. In the rush to flatter everyone as a minister, we’ve often sent people out with a lot more thrust than vector (to borrow an old parlance from a former life.) Rather than encouraging folks to live out their vocations in the light of Christ and their Baptism, we turned them into ill-equipped and ill-educated missionaries that were ripe for both becoming and making enthusiasts.

    I am unaware of a Lutheran missionary movement before the 20th century, that put so much evangelistic weight upon the laity, with so little doctrinal formation. But then, I don’t think history will look kindly upon 20th century Lutheranism as anything terribly faithful to either Scripture or the Confessions.

  5. Alright Tim, I’ll take your bait: Matthew 5:14-16. Jesus calls us all to purify and enlighten.

  6. @Pastor Tim Rossow #157

    “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

    “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

    Also, the parable of the unmerciful servant.

  7. Bob,

    That as close as I have ever seen but that is still an exhortation to do good works and let people see them and then you credit God. The light there is not “sharing” the Gospel but doing good works.

  8. @Pastor Tim Rossow #162

    Pastor,
    Yes, I agree. My meaning is only that when we forgive others as God has in Christ forgiven us, our neighbor may very likely ask why we are so willing to forgive them. Then, aren’t we supposed to tell them something on the order of “because Christ has forgiven me”? I believe I am correct in thinking that it is the Holy Spirit that does the converting, right?
    I also agree that it is not my vocation to go about the neigborhood seeking out people I think need to be converted. That is not what “evangelize” means; to me anyway. I think you are correct in saying that everyone is NOT a minister. The ministers are ministers. There does seem to have been a lot of emphasis on “the laity teaching” rather than “teaching the laity”.

  9. @Pastor Tim Rossow #161

    I agree with you completely, but people often use I Peter 3:15 as a reference. My response, for the record, has been “Yes, we should be ready to RESPOND with the gospel if people ask, but that’s not the same as saying that every Christian is called to be an active evangelist/missionary.”

    To say that every Christian is called to be an evangelist/missionary is to completely miss Paul’s point about the diversity of the body of Christ in I Corinthians. Not everybody is called to the same thing.

  10. @J. Dean #166

    OK J. 🙂
    For what it’s worth, I also agree with those Texas Confessional Lutherans. I don’t think what you said and what they said are mutually exclusive. Do you?

  11. @Brad #158

    Your point is well taken, Pr. Rossow. In the rush to flatter everyone as a minister, we’ve often sent people out with a lot more thrust than vector (to borrow an old parlance from a former life.) Rather than encouraging folks to live out their vocations in the light of Christ and their Baptism, we turned them into ill-equipped and ill-educated missionaries that were ripe for both becoming and making enthusiasts.

    Quite right! Superb comments! And to tie all of this back to the original topic of Becker and his theology, just imagine how “ill-equipped” and even dangerous those individuals are who were taught false doctrine by this man and are now out “evangelizing.”

    Pastors are called to teach and we are all called to watch out for false teachers.

    The synod as a whole has eroded in its tolerance of false doctrine and seems to attempt to mask that erosion with enthusiasm based outreach. My vocation isn’t to convert. I do believe the Holy Spirit has that one “for action.”

  12. @Alan Turley #84

    #84 from Alan Turley “Evan as the church is dying”

    Why does one say the church is dying. That is the same as saying Christ is dying.(again?)
    Just because a membership in a particular building/place is changing does not
    equate to shrinking/dying or a growing/living church. Only the faithful are members of the
    living body of Christ (church). Let us use the Word to fend of the evil that attacks the church
    and be faithful to God’s Word so the faithful may survive.
    Hebrews 4:12
    12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the
    division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart
    Matt. 18:20
    :20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
    The church is every where, living and living in abundance (God’s abundance, His will, His way).

    Peace and Joy in Christ, Randy

  13. @Randy Yovanovich #168

    Thanks, Randy– and you’re quite right about tying the risk back to the original article. That we haven’t curtailed false teachers like Becker, results in whole lists of pastors and parishioners who will sign letters defending him and his false teachings. For every false teacher we allow to prosper among us, there are many who are twisted and contorted by their false teaching into advocates of the same.

    Blended with our new found enthusiast strain in the LCMS, we end up with thousands of pseudo-evangelists, exponentially propagating the errors of the heretics. We don’t have to look far afield to know where this leads… as anyone who has had conversations with the energized and falsely catechized parishioners of the ELCA, UCC, TEC, etc., will demonstrate. They are out trying to put a Christian face on the devolution of marriage, sexual deviancy, evolution, and a host of other unbiblical concepts, persecuting everyone who gets in their way (several cases in point taken just from the ranks of military chaplains, one of which is reported here: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/03/17/showdown-navy-forces-chaplain-to-choose-between-faith-and-job/)

    Making everyone a minister, and sending them out with legalistic exuberance to convert the world with false doctrine, is like watching a fungus spread through clouds of spores…

  14. @Brad #170

    Blended with our new found enthusiast strain in the LCMS, we end up with thousands of pseudo-evangelists, exponentially propagating the errors of the heretics.

    Pr Brad

    Are you denigrating the efforts of DCO’s and outreach committees?  Is it just unfaithful congregations that are involved?

  15. @Brad #170

    They are out trying to put a Christian face on the devolution of marriage, sexual deviancy, evolution, and a host of other unbiblical concepts, persecuting everyone who gets in their way.

    Pr Brad

    I must lead a sheltered isolated life, but are there thousands of LCMS pseudo-evangelists running around doing this stuff?  This is news to me.

  16. Alan,

    You trolls just can’t stay away. Let me pay you some attention so you have a little candy to keep you around for a few more rounds.

    I never said anything close to “laymen should not evangelize.” I said that there is no Scriptural exhortation for laymen to evangelize.

    BTW – I am still waiting for you to show me one. Also, have you read Walther’s pamphlet on the duties of the church yet? You can find it here. Give it a read and you will have a much better understanding of the priorities of the church.

    http://www.lutherquest.org/walther/articles/cfw00005.htm

  17. @John Rixe #172

    John,

    Nope– said nothing about DCO or outreach committees. My point was that when a false teacher has an audience, he makes disciples in his image. When that pattern is complimented with an enthusiast ecclesiology that sends laity out to evangelize (I think the term of art is discipleship, or discipling, particularly through small group ministries,) they will do so with the tools given them by their false teacher. This in effect amplifies the reach of the false teacher far beyond the range of his own voice, as he/she now motivates the drones he/she has created.

    As for your other note on the lay involvement of falsely catechized members of ELCA, UCC, TEC, etc., and particularly their efforts to promulgate various false doctrines publicly under the mantle of their respective church bodies, I would only offer that I’ve seen many of them. The ELCA university in our neck of the woods is an excellent example, promoting evolution, sexual deviancy, abortion, gay marriage, and a host of other aberrations as authentically Lutheran/Christian teaching… while persecuting students who dare contest them.

  18. Priorities of the church:

    “Another major duty of a Synod that wants to be and remain an Evangelical Lutheran Synod is that it not seek its own glory, but only the glory of God, being intent not so much on its own growth, but rather on the growth of Christ’s kingdom and the salvation of souls. You see, dear brethren, we are assembled here not for our own sake. We are in the faith, and by this faith we hope to be saved! But there are still many millions who have no faith!  This is why we are here—so that we might bring salvation to as many people as we possibly can, so that the sad situation in Christendom and the corruption of the poor, blind heathen might be remedied. Only for this reason does our gracious God allow Christians to live on earth, that they might bring others to the saving faith. Otherwise God would immediately take a Christian to heaven as soon as he is converted.”  
    [emphasis mine]

    CFW Walther
    Essays for the Church
    CPH: 1992
    II:262

  19. @Brad #177

    Thanks for the clarification.  I misread your comment to indicate thousands of LCMS pseudo-evangelists.    Your comment #170 makes sense. 🙂

  20. As long as we are quoting Walther. Here are the tactics he lays out for how to bring others to saving faith (from the aforementioned pamphlet on the duties of the church):

    G. Of the Performance of the Duty of the Congregation to Do Its Part in Building Up, and Fostering, the Church at Large

    º 62. The congregation should see that gifted boys and young man be consecrated to the service of the Church and that they be enabled to prepare themselves for such service, 1 Cor. 12:7.

    º 63. The congregation should make provision that the Bread of Life be broken to such of its brethren in the faith as suffer spiritual want and should therefore support those who are performing this work of love, Acts 11:21,22.

    º 64. The congregation should zealously engage in the work of Bible distribution, 1 Thess. 3:27; Col. 4:16; cp. 1 Thess. 1:8.

    º 65. The congregation should join in the work of bringing the Gospel to those who still sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to the poor heathen and Jews, Matt. 28: 18-20 (“Teach all nations”); 1 Pet. 2:9 (“Ye re a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”); 2 Cor. 11:8; cp. Acts 13:1-5.)

    º 66. The congregation should be ready to unite with the Ev. Lutheran congregations of this country when there is opportunity for such union and this tends to serve and promote the glory of God and the upbuilding of His kingdom, Eph. 4:3-6 (“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”); 1 Cor. 12:7 (“The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal”). Cp. Acts 15.

  21. @Pastor Tim Rossow #157
    I think I agree with you in general on this, but one of Dr. Walther’s favorite passages, 1 Peter 2:9, is pretty much on point as an encouragement to laymen to share the gospel. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” An exhortation to praise God to your neighbor is certainly an exhortation to evangelize, at least in a general sense.

  22. @John #181

    John,

    My apologies for stepping into your and Pr. Rossow’s discussion, but I couldn’t help wondering if the confusion of this thread is coming from the cloudy use of the term “evangelism.” To my reading, I think many folks are using it synonymously with the word or phrase “to witness” based in the concept of martyrdom (bearing witness.)

    I think I’ve observed a common use of the term “evangelism” for conversion in many non-Lutheran circles, particularly those with a low view of the pastoral office and the Sacraments. Such churches put much higher emphasis on the conversion of the unbeliever through personal testimonies and personal internal movement leading to decisions. In this sense, using evangelism as a synonym for attempts at conversion is contrary to a Lutheran understanding that it is God who converts the sinner through His Means of Grace.

    However, in so far as evangelism is being used as a synonym for witness (being ready at all times to give an answer for the hope that lies within us, so to speak,) it is complimentary to the Lutheran doctrine of vocation, in which every Christian bears witness to Christ in and through the daily duties they are given, and the neighbors that God brings across their daily path.

    Not sure if that was helpful, but I think the amorphous definition of “evangelism” is a likely culprit in such confusion.

  23. @Brad #182

    Yes, this is helpful.  I understand the pastor’s exclusive role in publicly teaching the gospel and administering the sacraments.  In terms of “witnessing”, is there any difference in the roles of pastor and layman?  Thanks.

  24. John,

    Here are the facts.

    There is no exhortation for lay evangelism in the New Testament.

    Everyone can and should talk to others about Jesus as they are gifted. Some are more gifted than others by the Holy Spirit for this but anyone can talk about Jesus.

    The way the Bible talks about this (John – this is the rest of the Peter passage) is that we are to to do good works, turn the other cheek, so that people will notice and give glory to God. When they ask us why we are different we tell them about Jesus.

    This does not excuse us (both lay and clergy) from talking about Jesus even when someone does not ask.

    My main point in this is what Brad gets at, conversion is from God. My neighbor’s salvation does not depend on me but upon God. The Bible does not talk about evangelism like the LCMS and Evangelicalism has done for the last 40 years.

    I repeat, there is no exhortation for laity to evangelize. That simply means that we have our priorities out of order. See Walther’s duties. He has the priorities correct.

  25. Perhaps I can bring in a question relating to the letter?

    If I were to have an occasion to ask a few questions of proponents of this letter, could you help provide some? I’m thinking of some genuine thought provoking or revealing questions. I know it would be hard for me not to get very snarky, so I’m looking for some wise counsel in that regard. Any ideas?

    I also know that getting a straight answer from folks with a wishy washy epistimology is like nailing jello to the wall, but a persistent clarity and focus of questioning at least helps my train of thought. I would like to be a focused and clear barking dog rather than that slobbering, yellow toothed poodle you see in the buick as you walk by to get your groceries. (apologies to poodle and buick lovers).

  26. Pastor R, ironically it seems I might not have been clear in my question to BJS. I’m asking for some wisdom from you all as to some questions I could have pre formulated if I have an occasion to cross paths with proponents behind this letter. For instance, questions pertaining to several of the points asserted in the letter of discussion above.

  27. @Pastor Tim Rossow #185

    Okay, divergent definitions. I guess I don’t hang out with enough American Evangelicals. 😉 I was going more to the etymology of the word–speaking a good message, or if you prefer, the Good News. (Or to go elsewhere in Peter, “the reason for the hope that you have in you.”)

    If evangelism equals converting, then the New Testament never assigns that to the ordained either. It belongs to the Holy Spirit alone who calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies, working as he promises through the word, even when you and I speak it, and the sacraments. He can use clergy, laity too, but he’s the one who does the converting.

  28. @John Rixe #193

    My point is that Walther directs his instructions to “congregations” not to ministers (Pastors only).

    I find it interesting that he calls on pastors to be stewards and servants not masters, overlords, dictators, bosses etc.

  29. And it’s a slap in the face of those like my family and I, who left the ELCA and returned to the LCMS to escape from the very same false teachings that Pr. Becker is promoting. And for those who should have removed him from the pastoral roster, their failure to do so implies that their doctrine in no more sound than that of Pr. Becker. Is the LCMS just the ELCA dressed up in a Confessional sheep’s clothing?

  30. @Chuck Braun #197

    No, we’re not just the ELCA in confessional clothing. However, we are in an existential struggle to remain confessional, while the tides of the world and false teachers try to pull us into that apostate vortex in which lies the remains of the ELCA.

    The passion surrounding this struggle in the LCMS is warranted, especially by those who know by experience where this path leads. It’s a fight still worth waging.

  31. @Chuck Braun #197

    “Is the LCMS just the ELCA dressed up in a Confessional sheep’s clothing?”

    I’m afraid it is in some corners and in others it’s the pig of American Evangelicalism smeared with a little Lutheran lipstick. Yet, there are still a growing number Confessional Lutherans. The only question is how long we can in good conscience remain in synod with so many who confess false doctrine.

  32. @LW #196

    I respectfully disagree with you. I believe Dr. Becker has opened up a discussion that we need to have. I am not espousing or rejecting his ideas here. I am simply saying that rather than point accusatory fingers at him and calling him a false teacher, we should instead address the issues at hand. I am particularly perplexed by a couple of Dr. Becker’s comments in the section of his article that begins with the heading “A few further comments,” especially:

    “1. No one has ever engaged me in extended theological discussion about the specific exegetical and theological conclusions I have drawn in my public essays on female theologians and pastors.”

    Why haven’t we?

    “2. I fail to see how holding to the opinion that the Scriptures do not clearly prohibit qualified women from serving in the pastoral office constitutes a basic error in church doctrine or a ‘sin’ of which one needs ‘to repent.'”

    I have the same questions. Is this “tradition” or is this “doctrine”? Will someone lose their salvation because they attend a church that is served by a female pastor? Will a female who becomes a pastor lose her salvation? Is agreement on this topic necessary to “walking together,” or can this dissent be tolerated? Why doesn’t this discussion fit under Article X of the Formula of Concord?

    “10. Finally, I remain open to dialogue with those who disagree with me. If I have erred in my exegesis and dogmatic reasoning, I would appreciate being shown specifically where I have committed error. I willingly and joyfully submit myself to the Lord’s own correction. The initial assertions that Luther set forth in his 95 Theses are ones I believe and try to put into practice every day. The Lord knows my heart, my sins, failures, weaknesses. I thus begin every day with the sign of the cross and the words, ‘Preserve me, O Lord, for in thee I take refuge. You are my Lord; I have no good apart from thee.'”

    It would appear that Dr. Becker invites anyone who is TRULY concerned about this to advance his or her opinions and interpretations of the Word of God to wrestle over and to study and to discern what the Scriptures actually say. How many of you who stand pointing an accusing finger at him have actually put forth their reasons for believing him to be a false teacher?

    I would remind all of us again that about 500 years ago, a professor at a university was accused of being a false teacher by the church, and today we hold him in very high regard, and chose to name our tribe of Christianity after him. Have a care that you are VERY certain in your position. Search your heart for the reasons this is so important to you. See Dr. Becker through the eyes of Jesus on the cross. Ask yourself if this is what the Lord is calling you to do.

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