More on the Becker Situation

The Rev. District President Terry Forke, of the Montana district, sent this email to Pastors and lay delegates of Montana District:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing to inform you that the case of Dr. Matthew Becker, (on which so much time was spent at our convention), has been brought to a conclusion. President Linnemann decided to suspend him, and Dr. Becker writes, in the blog post cited below, that he will not appeal the suspension.

Since Dr. Becker has made it public, (in this blog post) I am now free to clarify matters, about which I could not speak at the convention. I am the one who brought charges against Dr. Becker, but, due to confidentiality issues, I could not reveal that. For the past 27 months I have been working with President Linnemann and Dr. Becker at trying to bring Dr. Becker to repentance. I know that some of you were concerned about whether anyone had actually talked to either or both of them. I did spend hours with both of them separately and together. I went through Genesis 1-3 verse by verse. I addressed specific confessional texts. I want to assure you that every effort was made to deal gently, yet forthrightly with the brother. I did ask him to repent, face to face. In addition we carried on conversation through numerous letters and emails.

Knowing all this, and knowing that you were really struggling with trying to do the right thing, made the convention a very emotionally difficult time for me. I believe the convention made wise and pastoral decisions, two of which, 5-03 and 5-04 are now moot. Nonetheless, through those resolutions you made the good confession that the Word of God is true, and that the false confession must be confronted.

Earlier today I wrote both Dr. Becker and President Linnemann. I will be praying for their strength of faith and their commitment to the confession of the true Word of God as found in the Lutheran Confessions. I ask that you do the same.

“There is no other name, under heaven, given among men, by which we are to be saved.”

PS At this point, (Betty has this information in her computer), I cannot contact the lay delegates to the convention. I would appreciate it if you would give a copy of this letter to your delegate. Thanks.

In His Service,

Terry Forke
President Montana District LCMS
Pastor, Trinity Harlowton

“Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23)

“Therefore everything in the Christian church is so ordered that we may daily obtain full forgiveness of sins through the Word and through signs.” (Large Catechism)

 

About T. R. Halvorson

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose, North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the Editor of LutheranCatechism.com.

Comments

More on the Becker Situation — 37 Comments

  1. My dear friend Kathy Forke would appreciate prayers for her eldest son Terry…
    BTW, she had no idea any of this was going on…

  2. All the LCMS districts should admire and emulate the Montana District. My district convention was lackluster and took on no big issues — except the perennial ‘women’s role in the church’. Give it up – there will never be women pastors in the LCMS.

    Thank you Pastor Forke and the LCMS Montana District for defending God and the Bible.

  3. I read the the word “suspend” and “repent” but I did not read the word “excommunicate.” Why not?

  4. @ Tileman hesshusius

    Probably because he is excommunicating himself.

    “Later this summer my family and I will be joining Christ Lutheran Church (ELCA), here in Valpo.”

  5. @Andy #5
    If you are referring to you and your family joining an Elca church, I pray for you that you would reconsider.

  6. @Tileman hesshusius #4

    I read the the word “suspend” and “repent” but I did not read the word “excommunicate.” Why not?

    Because in Missouri Synod corporate polity, the district president, as a corporate officer, is limited in his ecclesiastical supervision authority to suspension and carrying out a Dispute Resolution Panel decision to expel a member of the Synod.

    The authority and responsibility of excommunication remains with each member congregation and its pastor.

    In Becker’s case, it appears he will be leaving the congregation before they could conduct the excommunication process. Of course that congregation, as a member of the LCMS, should have come under the ecclesiastical supervision of the Indiana DP for their unrepentant failure to excommunicate Becker over the past few years.

  7. Who is Becker’s pastor and why didn’t he practice doctrinal discipline? It is also very telling that DP Forke (He deserves many thanks) filed the charges against Becker and that DP Linnemann, whose responsibility it is, did not file the charges. Very interesting case, indeed, and just the tip of the iceberg as the Good Ship Missouri plods along in treacherous waters with some keeping a good watch and others asleep on watch. Lord, have mercy, and God be given the glory for keeping faithfulness and a true confession.

  8. “For the past 27 months I have been working with President Linnemann and Dr. Becker at trying to bring Dr. Becker to repentance…”
    Wow took 27 months for this to happen yet it takes a voter’s meeting with the District President’s approval to allow to get rid of a pastor without any Scriptural basis. And during these 27 months he still preached and taught false doctrine. Yet District President’s will see fit to inform pastors that they need to find work when their churches fire them in a blink of an eye. Both the Indiana and NW district presidents should be suspended for allowing this to drag on and on and on.

  9. I have a question – were the charges against Dr. Becker by President Forke based on his views on women pastors, or on his views on creation including his support of evolution, or both?

  10. Thanks. On ALPB most the conversation has been about women pastors in regard to Dr. Becker. I should have gone back to the source.

  11. @Walter Troeger #9

    Yet District President’s will see fit to inform pastors that they need to find work when their churches fire them in a blink of an eye.

    I wish rather, that there was some discipline for DP’s and churches which fire Pastors “in the blink of an eye” [or force them to resign…same thing]
    publicly admitting that they have “no Lutheran reason” and the ousted Pastor is free to find another call in the LCMS.
    [With no help from the DP, of course.]

    [Subsequently, some few churches bring destruction down upon their own heads… and I feel sorry for the pewsitters who never knew what happened. (But then I reflect that they didn’t try hard to find out or to stop the travesty either.)]

    But I’m a one note band, and nobody is interested…till it happens to them.

  12. Excerpted from Matthew Becker’s blog:

    “Last April the Rev. Terry Forke, the Montana District President, initiated this latest case….

    “… last week [approx. June 21-23, some 8 weeks after the April charge] Rev. Paul Linnemann, the NW District President, asked me to resign from the LCMS.”

    “After a few days of thinking over and praying about his request, I let him know on Friday [June 26] that I could not in good conscience resign.

    “Today [Wednesday, July 1, per Bylaw 2.14.5.3 no more than 60 days after the DP received the charge] I received official notice that President Linnemann has decided “to initiate formal proceedings under Bylaw 2.14.6”

    It’s not clear if the two-month investigation about proceeding with formal charges was done by DP Linnemann or by a Referral Panel. In any case, it is curious that at the end of that time a request for Becker’s resignation was made. The Bylaws have nothing about such an option, especially when it appears that the notice of suspension and commencement of formal proceedings was all but written prior to the rejection of the request.

  13. What a relief it is that Becker will soon be off our clergy roster. Allowing him to stay on the clergy roster affirmed his defiance of Scripture. I read the linked post by Becker and he keeps going back to saying, that he is acting compliant with the confessions and the LCMS constitution, when many have already pointed out to him that his teaching is in defiance of scripture. He keeps saying he is right but he is just doing the old heresy two step.

    I feel so much better that finally, finally the supervisors in our synod have been able to remove him from teaching our children his false doctrines.

  14. @Mrs. Hume #16

    I don’t think this has any effect on his teaching position at Valpo. Hopefully his writings will no longer be circulated as widely around our synod.

  15. Thank God for giving Pr. Forke and Pres. Harrison courage over the last twenty-seven months of what had to be a difficult situation. Yes, it took a long time…but the job got done. Pr. Forke is to be commended for sticking true to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions–no surprise, there–as he never wavered in his desire to bring the erring Matthew Becker to repentance. Likewise, we have no reason to pile on Pres. Harrison. As Pr. Wilken said on another post, I concur….I’m a Harrison cheerleader and think he’s brought being a theologian back to the office of the LCMS Presidency. He’s stated several times that dealing with heterodoxy and schisms in our synod will take some time and effort. And, it has. Yet, thanks be to God, for the return of true, Confessional efforts at bringing more doctrinal consensus to unity in our beloved synod.

  16. @Carl Vehse #7

    Does anyone know what congregation Becker actually held memebership at? He did not hold membership at Immanuel, Michigan City. If he maintained a “distance” membership in a NOW Dist. congregation–which I suspect was the case, the Indiana DP didn’t have jurisdiction over his congregation. The whole IN/NOW situation was foolish, to be sure. It is a problem that needs to be addressed.

  17. Rev Mueller @ #18
    As Carl has shown, he was interim pastor from 2010 – 2014. What is wrong with the DP of Indiana to allow Becker to be pastor at that church? The Indiana DP bares a large responsibility for allowing Becker to poison the souls of people in Michigan City with false teachings. Why did not the DP of Indiana take any action against Becker?

  18. @Carl Vehse #25

    So if they can go after Becker then they can go after Niedner. What are they waiting for. A friend of mine went to Valpo and heard Heresy out of Niedners mouth on a daily basis.

  19. Niedner’s ecclesiastical supervisor is Indiana District President Dan May. As in Becker’s case, there will need to be a lot of publicly available documents and publications pushing a heterodox position, especially aimed at members of the Missouri Synod. And photographs or videos of his co-officiating in unionistic worship or communion services.

    If all those are available and some member is willing to file a complaint after meeting Niedner several times at his own expense (and putting his own pastoral call and the welfare of his congregation at risk), then yes, I think Niedner could be ousted in a decade or so. With the synodical convention and the quincentennial filling the next two years, one should not expect any action to begin until sometime in 2018 (unless district convention business gets in the way).

  20. @David Rosenkoetter #18

    Becker, from ALPB this morning:
    “Pres. Linnemann’s decision to suspend me was not made in a vacuum. You might recall that several districts passed resolutions that referred to both me and him. You might also recall that these district resolutions were the direct result of President Harrison’s Facebook remarks about me (which were quoted in the resolutions). Pres. Harrison’s remarks were used in these resolutions to apply pressure to Pres. Linnemann.

  21. @Alan Turley #31

    The witch hunt worked!

    If you want to consider him a “witch”, your privilege!
    A Lutheran, he is not. If he will not repent, it’s best that he go where his misplaced ‘faith’ takes him.

  22. “They [the fifth-column media] don’t get religion.”

    It interferes with their leftist agenda.

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