Unintended Consequences

Will Underwood, an occasional BJS reader and member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, emailed me, offering some insightful comments regarding the recent failure to discipline the Rev. Dr. Matthew Becker for his adherence to, and teaching of, false doctrine. I asked Will if he’d be willing to share his thoughts with all of you as well. Here’s what he had to say.
–Scott Diekmann


Thank you Scott, for the privilege and encouragement to step up to the mike. Here is a story I am compelled to share in connection to the Dr. Becker account, as to where the LCMS *could* be headed, and perhaps other Christian churches as well, it not for God’s grace.

As I see it, acquiescence to those who are bold and public in their expressions of false doctrine, as if they were giving the finger to the treasures our churches have contended for over the centuries, is, in another arena, a dereliction of duty, a giving of aid and comfort to the enemy. This other account describes the gruesome consequences when several senior overseers failed to check and to discipline one of their own.

Lt. Col “Bud” Holland, a renowned aviator, piloted a B-52 bomber into the ground at Fairchild Air Force Base, near Spokane, WA on June 24th, 1994.

Fairchild B52 Crash


An introductory paragraph from the official accident report, hints at the awful root cause; the full report is available here:


Aircraft maintenance, weather and aircrew medical condition were not factors in this accident. The board focused on the airmanship and historical flying behavior of the crew. Several senior officers described the pilot as a professional, knowledgeable, aviator. Some crew members related their belief that the pilot was the most experienced and knowledgeable pilot in the wing. However, many of the same individuals gave the board examples of the pilot’s airmanship that they characterized as excessively aggressive and often in violation of existing regulations. Some crew members refused to fly with the pilot because of his lack of air discipline. In its investigation of a more than three year period, the board found several instances of the pilot flying in violation of USAF, ACC, and FAA regulations. In spite of performance characterized by poor airmanship, wing leaders took no significant corrective action. During this three year period, there were four wing commanders, three vice wing commanders, three operations group commanders (or equivalents) and five squadron commanders.

Another description of this event was written a Maj. Tony Kern, titled, “Darker Shades of Blue: The Rogue Pilot”, also available here:


Both accounts paint a picture of a tragic incident where a rogue aviator killed himself and three other experienced pilots. It is heartbreaking because for years prior, this pilot was also charged with setting the standards for other pilots. It is appalling because his own superiors should have grounded him long before, but could not or would not.

To me the parallels between the untouchable Lt. Col. Bud Holland and Dr. Matthew Becker are eerily similar, especially the lack of effective discipline by the overseers of both of these men.

I know God will do whatever is necessary to preserve His Church. It seems to me, looking back on my own life and on the accounts of His people throughout history, sometimes the discipline is painful, especially when we’ve forgotten to listen to him.

I’d like to offer an observation that much of American Christianity resembles the church in Laodicea. God loves us enough to give us an accurate diagnosis and the best remedy, without an appointment or copay!

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

Rev 3:15-19 ESV

I share these thoughts in this forum because I have seen some of the damage caused by my own sinful pride and arrogance and I’ve seen these sins in others wreck things near and dear to me.

Thank you, contributors of this forum, for your help to strengthen the visible and the invisible church; my heart aches for the struggles you are enduring. I pray God purifies and keeps all of Missouri close to Him and for President Harrison and his leadership team; also for my synod as well. And I pray what I’ve written may be pleasing and acceptable to my Rock and my Redeemer, trusting also in His promise that His word will not return empty but will accomplish the things He intends for it.

Thank you for reading,
Your servant in Christ,

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against both foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

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