Why I Am Voting for Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison for Synodical President

When my congregation designated me its lay delegate to the Montana District Convention of the LCMS last year, I did not know that constituted me an elector for Synodical President. But I am very glad about it, because I have positive reasons to vote for Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison.

This is not intended as a criticism of the other candidates. I do not know nearly as much about them. But I have met Dr. Harrison, have read many of his writings, and have seen many of his doings as President.

Dr. Harrison has a long list of accomplishments in office. He has a specific plan for the future. While I have published a critique of that plan for its omission of anything focusing on improving the state of catechesis with the Small Catechism, I agree with all 6 points of his plan. I just want to see a seventh about the Catechism added.

Still, with all that, those are not my primary reasons for voting for him. My primary reason reaches way back in my life and way forward for my grandchildren.

I grew up in the American Lutheran Church when it had a formal quia subscription to the Book of Concord. [See Sections 3.20, 3.30, and 3.40, Handbook of the American Lutheran Church, Edition 1973.]

It also had a decent confession of inspiration, inerrancy and authority of Scripture.

The American Lutheran Church accepts the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as a whole and in all their parts as the divinely inspired, revealed, and inerrant Word of God, and submits to this as the only infallible authority in all matters of faith and life.

Id., Section 3.10

During the same era as the Seminex walkout in Missouri, the ALC was wound up in the same controversies about Scripture as were involved in the Seminex events. We just didn’t have a notable, galvanizing event like the walkout. Whereas, in the outcome, and as a whole, Missouri succeeded, the ALC failed. Defection from the doctrine of Scripture resulted in the destruction of my beloved ALC. Nearly everything you see wrong in the successor body, the ELCA, stems from that.

I am in Missouri now because of its strong commitment to the Lutheran confessions and the doctrine of Scripture. But every now and again we see symptoms in Missouri that could indicate a disease similar to what destroyed the ALC. When that happens, I take special interest because I don’t want to go through another synodical destruction. The destruction of the ALC has been terrible for me and my family.

During the presidency of Dr. Harrison, we have seen two notable symptoms. One was the case of Dr. Matthew L. Becker. The other was the case of a paper by Dr. Jeffrey Kloha about textual criticism and ongoing revisions of the Greek New Testament. Dr. Harrison got both of these cases right.

Dr. Harrison was vocal about what I will call the heresy of Dr. Becker and his ever-shrinking Word of God. He took a lot of flak for that. It was professionally risky to take the right public stance.

He had to do it. This was a matter of faith and unbelief, and hence a matter of spiritual life and death. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. His actions had nothing to do with any alleged doctrinolatry or bibliolatry. It was dogmatic, yes. Dogmatic for the sake of life and salvation. We confess, “The Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel.” Theologically and empirically, loss of the doctrine of the Word leads to unbelief in the Gospel and to death.

When a preliminary and provisional draft of Dr. Kloha’s paper was leaked, there were some who ran ahead of normal academic process and insinuated that Dr. Kloha was teaching heresy at the seminary. Dr. Harrison was not among them. Instead, he engaged with Dr. Kloha, the president of the seminary, and another theologian of competence and stature. The outcome was the publication of the final version of the paper that contains no false teaching.

From some, Dr. Harrison is taking criticism in the Kloha case. But it is as important to keep sound teachers as it is to rid the church of false teachers. It is as important to justify the innocent as it is to condemn the guilty.

Notice that these two cases had, in one sense, opposite results. In one case, Dr. Harrison opposed a false teacher, and that teacher is gone. In the other case, Dr. Harrison engaged, and then he was able to write to the Regents of the seminary that the professor’s paper contains no false teaching. Dr. Kloha stays.

But what is the same about both cases is that Dr. Harrison saw the magnitude of the cases, engaged in them, and exhibited sound discernment about whether a teaching was true or false. He took and stood his ground publicly in both cases.

This is part of the continuing success of Missouri where my beloved ALC failed.

I don’t know what the other two candidates would do, and that is not an innuendo of doubt. It is simply a case of not knowing. But what I do know is that what I’ve already got in Dr. Harrison is working. My farmer logic is, why change that? The ALC needed that, and because Missouri has it, the prospects for my grandchildren in Missouri still are good. That is too valuable for me not to go with what I know.

Because of what I know, I am happy to have a vote in the election, and happy to cast it for Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison.

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.


Why I Am Voting for Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison for Synodical President — 7 Comments

  1. Is it now acceptable within the LCMS to teach that Elizabeth, and not Mary is the author of The Magnificat? At the Lutheran Concerns Association conference in Ft Wayne in January of 2015 I personally and publically asked Dr Kloha if he had made any retractions to his teachings concerning the author of The Magnificat, and he denied making any such changes.

    You can call me uneducated concerning all the aspects of arriving at the conclusions, but for me Dr Luke’s writing “Mary said” (Luke 1:46) is my stand.

  2. @LEON #1

    At the risk of getting off track from the purpose of this post I will reply to your question: No.

    However, it is acceptable to acknowledge a few facts: SOME early biblical manuscripts contain the phrase..”And Elizabeth said.” Additionally, a few early fathers knew this and discussed it. Those are facts.

    Most importantly, we have the witness of most manuscripts (the vast majority) that read…”And Mary said.” Also we have the witness of the universal Church that Mary sang this hymn. The Church incorporated this hymn into her liturgy and made it her own as we acknowledge God’s blessings to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who bore the God-man, our Redeemer, Jesus. The Church, like Mary, will be called blessed by all generations.

  3. Count yourself blessed that you don’t reside in the Michigan District under President Meier. We sent our new associate Pastor to PALS; P. Meier indoctrinated them in 5/2. Worse, his new motto in our monthy Michigan magazine is “Start Anew with 5/2”. He is the worst.
    You should have seen his face at the District convention last June when he declared “nobody” would oppose the resolution to make prayer into a law, so he called for a voice vote. A whole chorus of ayes – then he asked for all opposed-same sign. I gave him a “NAY” which would awaken the dead (which his is by the way I my less than humble opinion).

  4. Dear Mr. Halvorson: As a friend of the aforementioned Dr. Matthew Becker (a marvelous human being) I must testify accordingly. The LCMS leadership—a virtual magisterium—is blind to the nuances of Scriptural intent. They cannot see that the opening chapters of Scripture were written in literary-poetic writing genre meant the answer the “why” questions about Creation, not the “how” ones. [Some folks at LCMS HQ ought to start reading works by Christian scholars like Francis Collins or Kenneth Miller, but I am fantasizing.] Applying the criteria of modern scientific writing to the biblical text is anachronistic and highly misleading. But they do not care to think any deeper than reflexive dogma. They devolving (no pun intended) into a fundamentalist sect with the credibility of flat earth adherents. They are willfully repeating the Galileo fiasco —with the same disastrous consequences for organized Christianity. That will be their legacy. God help them.

  5. @St. Reformed #4

    Thanks for your opinion. I’m sure that those sympathizing with your opinion will feel right at home in the ELCA along with Dr. Becker. You might want some tissues for your nose, by the way. Nosebleeds are common when you spend extended periods of time up on the high horse lecturing down to those who don’t find your errant Theology all that convincing.

  6. @Dennis Peskey #3
    While I do not support 5/2 and am concerned about its growth in the Michigan District, I do not think it appropriate to call President Meier the worst. I have met him on a few occasions and have learned much from this man of God.

  7. @Brandon Bettcher #6

    While I do not support 5/2 and am concerned about its growth in the Michigan District, I do not think it appropriate to call President Meier the worst. I have met him on a few occasions and have learned much from this man of God.

    Well, no, we have to consider where “5/2” comes from (and is not disciplined either). 🙁

    But if you are actively encouraging false doctrine in your district, at what point do you stop being a “man of God”?
    “Just asking.”

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