For the Record

Matthew Becker

Back in the spring of 2011 an LCMS pastor forwarded to me an email that he had sent to his district president (English) and the President of the Synod (Pr. Matthew Harrison), but not to my district president (Northwest). In this email the pastor accused me of publicly teaching false doctrine. This individual, who is a 1996 graduate of the Fort Wayne Seminary, holds that anyone who publicly offers reasons for the ordination of women to the pastoral office is guilty of committing a public sin and needs to repent of it. At the time, I was surprised that this brother, whom I did not know and with whom I subsequently had one brief meeting, did not write to me privately or seek to meet with me face-to-face but chose instead to send his email to the people he did. He later told me that because he thinks I am guilty of committing a public sin, our Lord’s teaching in Mt. 18 does not apply.

The NW District President, Rev. Paul Linnemann, who has the sole responsibility for my ecclesiastical supervision, investigated this matter carefully and engaged me in extended discussion. We also met with members of the Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations. Eventually, President Linnemann formed a referral panel to investigate and act upon the accusation against me, something he can do according to LCMS bylaw. The purpose of this Panel was to examine the accusation, my public writings on the ordination of women, and written statements from both my accuser and me. The three members of the Referral Panel, each a circuit visitor in the NW District, were chosen by blind draw. To this day, I do not know who they are. I learned later that they met in the fall of 2014 and, for whatever reason, determined not to initiate formal proceedings to expel me from the Synod. According to the Synod’s bylaws, the decision of the Referral Panel was final. It terminated the matter. I was informed of this decision on the day before Thanksgiving 2014. Also informed were the pastor who had brought the charge, the President of the Synod, and the English District President.

But President Harrison did not and does not accept the decision of the Referral Panel or the relevant actions of the NW District President in this matter. Instead President Harrison chose to criticize the decision of the Panel publicly at the convention of the North Dakota District Convention earlier this year. He further publicized his criticism of me and the Referral Panel on his personal Facebook page.

Aside: In his Facebook post President Harrison refers to my participation in the installation of one of our campus pastors several years ago. I had served on the search committee that recommended this individual to be called as pastor, and I knew that I would be working closely with her during her time of service at our university. For example, we both were going to be working together as co-chaplains in one of our university’s dorms. I wanted her to know that I fully supported her pastoral ministry and did not want to suggest anything different from that, which I believed would have been the case had I refrained from officially praying for her at her installation. So, after she was installed, I was invited to join several other clergy—including at least one other vested LCMS pastor and several other pastors whose roots are in the LCMS—to offer public prayers on her behalf, something I was glad to do. A picture of this time of prayer was later made public. I stand by what I did that day. I do not think God was displeased with those prayers for this servant of God or by my participation in them.

To show support for the actions of the Referral Panel and the NW District President, a group of individuals published an open letter to the latter, which you can read here..

In the wake of President Harrison’s Facebook remarks, his supporters in two districts (the Southern Illinois District [SID] and the Northern Illinois District [NID]) prepared convention overtures that called upon me to repent of my “false teaching.” (Preceding the vote on the resolution at the NID Convention, an LCMS pastor publicly compared me to a knife-wielding murderer.)

At its last meeting, the Council of LCMS District Presidents apparently spent considerable time discussing President Harrison’s public comments about me, the Referral Panel’s decision, the NW District President’s ecclesiastical supervision of me, and my teaching. A summary of that discussion has now been published in this month’s The Reporter (the official newspaper of the LCMS).

That same issue of The Reporter also contains an account of the proceedings of the SID Convention. The online version of The Reporter includes an article on the NID convention. Prior to these two district conventions no one from either the SID or NID ever communicated with me about their concerns regarding my teaching. While an NID pastor, whom I do not know, did send me an email message a week or two before the NID Convention—which merely invited me to speak with him about unspecified theological issues—there was nothing official about that message, certainly nothing about a proposed convention overture against me and my teaching. This same pastor had also left a garbled voice message on my office answering machine, but I did not receive that message until a couple of days after the NID Convention (I was away from my office during our spring break.) Neither message made much sense to me until I saw the NID resolution and learned that this pastor had been on the district floor committee that brought the resolution to the convention delegates.

Several concerned LCMS church workers and laity have now signed an “open letter” to the District President of the NID. You can read that letter here. I believe the content of this letter also speaks to the SID resolution.

It is clear to me that the pastor who leveled the original accusation, President Harrison, and others who think as they do, cannot envision that individuals who share the same corporate confessional commitment, as given in Article II of the Synod’s Constitution, could come to different conclusions about how the explicit teaching of the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions ought to be applied to practical matters about which the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions are silent, ambiguous, or outdated.

In my view, the purpose of the Synod itself is defeated when individuals, even a majority of them, as at a synodical or district convention (hardly a useful venue for serious theological discussion and resolution), insist on exegetical and theological opinions that go well beyond the explicit teaching of the gospel and all its articles, as these are exhibited in the Lutheran Confessions. The danger here is that some want to add convention resolutions and statements to our “corporate confession,” which are neither necessary nor fitting to our evangelical pattern of doctrine (“the gospel and all its articles”).

Hence, the importance of Article VIII of the Synod’s Constitution:
“All matters of doctrine and of conscience shall be decided only by the Word of God. All other matters shall be decided by a majority vote. In case of a tie vote the President may cast the deciding vote.”

The individuals who are accusing me of false teaching on the ordination of women have simply assumed that because a Synod convention has approved, even repeatedly so, doctrinal resolutions that prohibit the ordination of women to the pastoral office (by majority vote, it needs to be stressed, which is the only way for a convention to approve anything), they have confessional standing. Why? Because such resolutions must be de facto in conformity with the Word of God. Why else would the Synod approve them? Yet no real discussion is allowed as to whether or not the Word of God actually supports these resolutions, because such a discussion or debate would be predicated on the assumption that the Synod’s earlier convention decisions might not have been correct or clear or binding for all time. But according to the mindset displayed by President Harrison, the recent COP statement on ecclesiastical supervision (see the March issue of The Reporter), and the majority of delegates at the SID and NID conventions, the Synod’s resolutions have to be correct and infallible, since the Synod has found them to be so.

The practical outcome of this mindset is that there can be no theological disagreements within the Synod. Everyone must agree on every theological and exegetical point in every resolution that the Synod has ever set forth or will set forth in the future.

For example, any attempt at convincing synodical members to rethink the theological and exegetical issues involved in the practice of ordaining women to the pastoral office (that is, any attempt to follow the dissent process, as the Synod allows, at least in principle—a process on which the Synod places no time restrictions), is now to be interpreted and judged to be a violation of the Synod’s confessional basis and an attack on Article II. And an attack on the Synod’s resolutions is now to be understood as an attack on Scripture itself. Thus, such an “attacker”—who is publicly compared to a knife-wielding murderer—must be expelled from the Synod.

I object to this mindset. As a theologian who serves within an independent Lutheran university, my vocation is to serve the church, including the tiny section that is known as the LCMS. Part of that service involves raising questions to the church (and to others) and offering solutions to problems. Theologians who serve the church have the responsibility to criticize the church, its traditions and practices, when these necessarily conflict with the truth and freedom of the gospel and the clear articles of faith. In other words, on occasion it might be necessary for the theologian to put the church, its beliefs and practices, into a position of being questioned and examined and even criticized, out of a concern for the truth, the truth of the gospel, Christian freedom, and the mission of the church. “Discernment begins within the household of faith” (1 Pet. 4.17).

The essays I have written on the issue of the ordination of women and the comments I have posted online about this matter have been published on the basis of this concern.

It’s difficult for me not to draw attention to how earlier Christians defended the institution of slavery and the subordination of people of color to whites in the United States, a practice that parallels the subordination of women to men in many conservative churches, including the LCMS. The practice of slavery in the US, at least until its official abolition after the Civil War, was premised on a theological position that was widely held in the South, i.e., the cornerstone of slavery were biblical passages that were understood to support “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition” (to quote Alexander Stephens, the Confederate Vice-President).

While my accusers in the LCMS will give lip service to a theoretical equality between men and women—to that extent, at least, they have been influenced by modern interpretations of Gen. 1:26 and Gal. 3:28 and by a post-Enlightenment political philosophy that stems from the Declaration of Independence (“all men are created equal”) and its interpretation by feminists and others since the eighteenth century (“men” = “all people”)—their understanding of certain biblical passages leads them to conclude that in actual practice “the roles” of women in the church (and society) are different from those of men. These accusers defend the notion that there is a practical inequality between men and women, that women are beneath men, that they come after men and ought to follow men submissively. In the view of my accusers, God has designed the subordination of women right into creation itself—and the gospel and its announcement of reconciliation in Christ, which issues forth in the new creation in him, has absolutely no impact on this essential subordination within creation. In my view, female subordination to men as an “order of creation” is an ideological invention by men “to keep women in their place.” As such, that construct parallels the subordination of the negro to the white man as a “natural and moral condition.” Women are literally “inferior” (Latin: “ranked and positioned under”), and thus their “natural and moral condition” is to be “under” the “headship” of men, who are to “rule over” them. According to this view, the creation of woman was an afterthought of God; she is subordinate to the man. She is the first to be tempted by Satan, the first to fall into sin. She is “the weaker sex.” Moreover, women sin when they speak publicly in the church (“it is shameful for a woman to speak in church”). They are perhaps more inclined toward pride than men (“What! Did the word of God originate with you?”). They lack the intellectual gifts of men, a view that has been consistently defended by numerous Christian theologians up until modern times. They are to be silently submissive to their husbands/older men and have no authority over them. They will be saved, however, if they bear children.

While it might have been viewed as “natural” in the first century that a bishop or elder in the church would be a male (“the husband of one wife”)—given the patriarchal assumptions of that time—there is nothing in the text that indicates this specific command is binding for all time or needs to be applied today in the same exact way it was applied in the first century. In this sense it fits into the category of NT commands or admonitions that no longer apply today in the same way that they did in the first century or in subsequent ones, at least until recently, e.g., admonitions to slaves/masters, the admonition to “honor the emperor,” admonitions to refrain from food offered to idols, from eating blood, admonitions about hair length, female head coverings, etc. The assumption of female subordination to men, which is reflected in some NT commands and admonitions, is in tension with other biblical texts that set forth the evangelical pattern of doctrine (the key point, in my view). Moreover, the admonitions to women “to be silent” and to be subordinate to men make about as much sense in our day as do the exhortations to slaves and masters and the command to honor the dictator. Those who would insist on such legalistic obedience to the literal teaching of these admonitions today come across as defending a form of structural sexism within a church body like the LCMS. Such a defense not only places an unnecessary obstacle and stumbling block in evangelical outreach to people in our society (who generally accept the widespread modern notion that men and women are fully equal in the eyes of the Creator), but it also insists that female subordination is a truly essential element in the body of Christian teaching.

Let’s be clear: Some of the most vocal of my critics want to turn back the clock to the year 1900 or 1800. They not only want women to be silent in the church and no longer eligible to vote or exercise authority in congregations, a practice that has been officially allowed in the LCMS since 1969, but they want women to be subordinate to men in all aspects of human life and society. These accusers seem to want to do away with the 19th Amendment of the US Constitution. They think it is a sin for a woman to exercise any authority over men (e.g., in business, in politics, in government, in civic law, etc.). For these accusers, it is shameful for a woman to be a governmental leader, since a woman who “exercises authority over men” places herself in opposition to God’s creational ordering. These accusers also stress, in a way contrary to mainstream Christian theology, that God is in fact essentially “male.” Some of these accusers even appeal to the Roman Catholic idea, developed long after the formation of the New Testament, that since Jesus was male and had only male apostles, only men can represent him and the apostles in the church, as if women are ontologically incapable of serving as Christ’s ambassadors, of speaking and administering on his behalf, and of embodying his pastoral care for those he loves. These critics would rather flirt with a Donatistic understanding of the word and sacraments rather than concede that they might need to rethink their theological understanding of the subordination of women to men, which is the underlying reason for the admonitions for women to be “silent” and to refrain from “exercising authority over men.”

Today, we look with disdain upon the sentiments of Alexander Stephens about “the natural and moral condition” of “negroes,” which he supported by selective use of biblical quotations. How will future generations of Christians look upon those Lutheran Christians who today, in 2015, selectively use biblical quotations to support the “natural condition” of women as subordinate to men? Our church body has come a long way when it comes to racism; it still has a long way to go when it comes to sexism.

A few further comments:

1. Those who have officially acted against me have never engaged me in extended face-to-face theological discussion about the specific exegetical and theological conclusions I have drawn in my public essays on female theologians and pastors.

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.”

3. Theological disagreements among brothers and sisters in the Synod on matters that are not explicitly addressed in the articles of faith, as these are set forth clearly in the Lutheran Confessions, ought to be resolved by means of theological persuasion among peers. Before there is a sufficient theological reason for expelling a member of the Synod—at least in the matter of the ordination of women to the pastoral office—there has to be significant theological discussion at the level of face-to-face dialogue and peer discussion in the Synod, and yet this has not occurred.

4. Those who seek to expel me from the Synod appear to me to be engaged in schismatic behavior, since their actions imply that we are not “united in the same mind” of Christ and “in the same confession” of him. They seem to ignore the fact that I do in fact teach and preach in accord with the essentials of the faith, as these are explicitly exhibited in the Lutheran Confessions, that I seek to conserve and promote this true faith in accord with the evangelical pattern of doctrine (and not add extraneous or foreign elements to it). Not every theological disagreement among brothers and sisters is church divisive (cf. FC Art. X), nor ought all such disagreements lead necessarily to the expulsion of brothers and sisters from the same communion.

5. I am a baptized doctor of theology, rostered in the LCMS through the Northwest District (per that District President’s 2004 arrangement with the Indiana District President, which was not of my doing, but which I nevertheless accepted). I’m grateful for the vocation that has been given to me to serve the church as a professor of theology at Valparaiso University. As such, I am committed to the theological task, i.e., faith seeking understanding. The basis for such a task is Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions (which provide a correct exposition of evangelical, biblical doctrine). The vocation of making responsible inquiry into the Scriptures and the Confessions is part of the responsibility and freedom of a Lutheran theologian who is committed to the confessional basis of the LCMS. Such inquiry should over time only help to strengthen our Synod, its confession of the gospel, its theological understanding and practical decisions, and its mission in the world today.

6. I am a theologian in an independent Lutheran university that has historic ties to the LCMS. Founded by LCMS laity, Valparaiso University continues to be a community of learning that is “dedicated to excellence” and grounded in “the Lutheran tradition of scholarship, freedom, and faith.” I am grateful to have the freedom to pursue theological matters at Valpo. The Lutheran tradition celebrates the fact that universities exist in part to provide the space to ask hard questions, to explore complex issues, and to criticize beliefs and practices that may need to be criticized. I see my vocation similar to the householder “who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Mt. 13.52). Notice: the “new” is mentioned first by Jesus! While I seek to transmit what is worthwhile from the Christian tradition (“the living faith of the dead,” to quote Pelikan), there is also a sense in which a theologian is called to “pull out of his treasure what is new.” Perhaps “the new” is the result of new scientific research or new historical developments (e.g., the end of slavery in the US, social-political equality between men and women, more and more women who have a university education, etc.), or the outcome of deeper reflection on what is truly essential in the Christian faith and what is peripheral and perhaps even ephemeral. Please remember: the Protestant Reformation began in a university, precisely because a certain professor began to ask hard questions about long-standing church practices and the church’s teachings that accompanied those practices. And for that, he, too, was accused of advocating heresy.

7. Over the course of twenty years of teaching the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions in Lutheran universities, I have become convinced that there is no sufficient biblical or dogmatic reason today for excluding women as women from the pastoral office. In fact, to put the matter positively, there are many good, evangelical reasons for why qualified women should be encouraged to prepare for ordination into the holy ministry and other vocations of service in the church. “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them! (Num. 11.29). Look what Peter preached at Pentecost, when he interpreted Joel 2.28-32! By such gifting, the whole Body grows (Eph. 4.11-16). By such gifting, the powerful word of the Lord grows. I have tried to set forth in my essays the biblical and theological reasons that have led me to this conclusion about women theologians and pastors. I realize that this is merely my opinion, although I think it is shared by many throughout the LCMS. I have welcomed theological conversation and discussion about this opinion with my peers, but unfortunately some of my peers have seemed to me to be more inclined to seek my expulsion from the Synod than to engage me theologically as a brother in Christ and a member of the same household of faith. Too often, it seems, compassion and decency have been absent in the Synod, where chauvinism has frequently been confused for synodical loyalty and meanness of spirit has been mistaken for contending for the faith.

8. Does everyone in the LCMS have to agree exactly upon this question of the ordination of women to the pastoral office? Must we be in complete agreement on all matters of church practice for there to be true unity in the church? (For a negative answer to that question, see AC VII.) Perhaps we really do need to set up a magisterium, maybe a pope, and to establish a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the Inquisition) to make sure that such uniformity on this particular church practice is strictly maintained. That would not be a helpful development for the long-term mission of the LCMS. There must be room within the Synod for theological dialogue and even disagreement on matters that do not touch directly upon the central articles of our faith (“the true faith” that we are enjoined to conserve and promote). Our oneness is not in our agreement about every jot and tittle of humanly-devised traditions of men; our oneness is in Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, through the Holy Spirit who calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies and keeps us with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. Our unity is a gift of the Spirit (Eph. 4.3-6). Despite our theological disagreements, the church is one. And in this church we forgive those who sin against us as Christ has forgiven us, we put up with the imperfections of others, we bear in love the hurts and burdens of others, and we find our righteousness not in ourselves, not in our “purity of doctrine” or “perfect theology,” but in Christ alone who loves us and gave himself for us.

9. While “tradition” is an important and eminent dialogue partner, it does not and cannot have the last word in Christian-Lutheran theology. The appeal to “tradition” seems particularly weak in arguments for restricting the office of pastor to men only. If one explores the dominant rationale in the theological tradition for why women cannot be pastors, for why women must be “silent” in the church, for why they cannot exercise Christ-like authority in the church (an authority grounded in agape love and self-giving service), one repeatedly uncovers sexist arguments: Women must be subordinate and silently submissive to men in “the order of creation” because they are ontologically inferior to men, they are more prone to temptation and false teaching than men, they lack certain necessary intellectual gifts for pastoral ministry, they are the weaker sex. Their “natural and moral condition” is to be “under” the “headship” of men who are to “rule over” them. Frankly, if one starts with the legal “prohibitions” against women in the NT and the underlying subordinationist assumptions about women that are reflected in these admonitions, then one will indeed end up “baptizing” sexism.

I’d rather “baptize sexism” in a more radical way, by having it really put to death in the waters of baptism (Gal. 3.28). Why not begin with an examination of the nature of God within a social-egalitarian-perichoretic model of the Holy Trinity and the implications that such a model could have for our understanding of men and women in creation and in the church? Why not proceed to flesh out the implications of the gospel, baptism, the new creation in Christ, the nature of our Lord’s ministry, and the Spirit’s charismata for our understanding of both church and ministry? Why not acknowledge the creaturely and spiritual charismata (given in baptism) that God gives to both men and women in order to preach, teach, administer the sacraments, and provide pastoral care? Why insist on a sexist model of God and the holy ministry, when the Scriptures themselves open us up to an alternative social-egalitarian model (one which still fits within the dogmatic parameters articulated at Nicaea, Constantinople, and the other ecumenical councils)? Why insist that baptism really doesn’t make any significant difference for the service of men and women in the church?

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.”

Feast of St. Patrick 2015

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51 thoughts on “For the Record

  1. I do not find the argument that Matthew 18 does not apply to be very compelling. How is it possible for a person to conclude that your public behavior is equivalent to “public sin” unless the dialog, as outlined by Matthew 18, has first been completed? Alternatively, the person who would dismiss Matthew 18 could only rationalize his behavior by concluding that Matthew 7 does not apply, either.

  2. “I cannot and I will not recant!” Although putting on Luther’s robe is probably a dubious choice this response has a reasonably good basis in Lutheran tradition.

  3. Matt, Thanks for a very good rendering of what unity in Christ Jesus is all about. I recall the many who have been called false teachers who simply ask that one open the mind to what or where the Holy Spirit leading. I will keep you in my prayers that through your urging others might have an openness to study the Word of God without preconceived notions.

  4. I support your right to dissent in our Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod without fear of church discipline. Those who have signed on to “walk together” are forgetting the very policies and procedures outlined by our bylaws which encourage the study of Scripture alongside of what our Lord allows us to learn about ourselves and the world He created.

    If I were one of the Pharisaical Pfolks over at the Steadfast Lutherans site, I’d seriously have to consider whether or not history showed (on multiple occasions) that I was on the wrong side of the process here.

    God grant you the strength, endurance, and vigilance to continue the discussion.

    • So why do you remain in LCMS? Your position and Dr. Becker’s was rejected, I believe decisively, in 1969-74, and those principled people who believe as you do left in 1977. Pharisaical Pholks? I thought your sort was all about love. How loving was that characterization?

      • “Your sort”. That is great stuff. I am just a lay person but there was a time when people could disagree with doctrine and remain not just in the church but in the pulpit. I miss the LCMS but I do not miss people who put doctrine first.

        • You don’t miss people who put doctrine first? Doctrine is life. If you have no doctrine you have nothing to offer poor, lost sinners other than your “love” – which is meaningless without doctrine.

  5. Dr. Becker,

    I think the way you characterize the situation is unfair and inaccurate:

    “…the Synod’s resolutions have to be correct and infallible, since the Synod has found them to be so.”

    The point, it seems to me, is that we start with the premise that some things in the Scriptures, by the Lord’s design, are simply clear. The Synod’s resolutions in this case are correct because they are clearly in accordance with the Scriptures, particularly I Timothy 2 and I Cor. 11:3 (subordinationism?). We might find passages such as these unpalatable or puzzling, but they are quite clear and it is no more complicated than that. I suggest with this your premise undermined, the rest of your argument, is very weak.

    With that said, I will initiate conversation with you privately.

    +Nathan Rinne

      • Michael,

        What I mean is that in light of the reductionsitic egalitarian atomosphere that we reside (in which all complexities are flattened out in the name of “equality”) we might be puzzled.

        I hope that clarifies.


  6. Dr. Becker, what I don’t see here is any statement about why you want to be a pastor in LCMS and not in ELCA, which agrees with you and on several other issues on which you have dissented from the position of LCMS. Doesn’t it seem that you can walk in more complete fellowship with those who share your view than with those who do not? I am a Valpo alumnus myself. It seems to me that your statement that Scripture and the Confessions may be outdated reflects a prolegomenon unacceptable in LCMS–that current social and academic fashion trumps Scripture and the Confessions. Yes, the Confessions are silent on some of the issues you raise simply because they were not issues in 1530 or 1580. They are not silent on whether Scripture will ever lie to you (LC) or on whether Scripture is a pure source of doctrine (FC).

  7. “Prior to these two district conventions no one from either the SID or NID ever communicated with me about their concerns regarding my teaching. While an NID pastor, whom I do not know, did send me an email message a week or two before the NID Convention—which merely invited me to speak with him about unspecified theological issues…”

    Did I read this correctly? “No one…ever communicated with you”…..Except for someone — an NID pastor.

    Did you respond to this NID pastor?

  8. The sameness of the Trinity as to nature, power and attributes does not equate to an egalitarian-social-pericoretic concept of the Godhead. Even within the Trinity the Son ‘ proceeds’ from the Father from all eternity and the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son eternally.

    The Son is under the Father, not as to Nature, but as to relationship as this is reflected in the creation of Man and Women.

    To ignore the plain words of the Son in the gospel and as these words compose the articles of faith by which Christ articlulated His Person, Nature and Work is to be enamoured with ones own importance in conceitedness.

    It was by and was because of these articles of faith that Christ was murdered by the Sanhedrin and the Jewish church order of His day and ultimately by everyone of us, as this also includes the article on the Order of Creation, for who but an ignoramus would not consider that any woman who had attained to ’emancipation’ from men in serving as Priestesses( in cultic religions of the day), women of high standing divorcing their husbands,as Herod’s wife did to Phillip, Herod’s brother, and the Baptist publically condemned both for having committed adultery, because of which Herodius held a grudge against John the Baptist and looked earnestly for an occasion to have him murdered as she finally did at Herod’s birthday celebration, would not want even Jesus the Christ hung on a tree for teaching the Order of Creation.

    Historical Criticism of the Word of God and worldly wisdom aside if the plain truth offends you so be it but please have the integrity to renounce your ordination vow and attain fellowship with those who seek to kill souls as a matter of pride against the almighty as the devil does who proclaims, “Better to rule in hell that to serve in heaven”.

  9. Keeping with your slave metaphor, I guess those who say “Join the ELCA” would have said to the civil rights leaders: “Go back to Africa.”
    Some of us would rather fight than switch. There’s no way to say this without sounding a bit superior, but I believe the LCMS has the better hermeneutical tools to allow women to be ordained without falling into error. You should be happy that Dr. Becker has decided to employ that most Lutheran of questions in his synod: what does this mean?

    • “what does this mean?” Probably the most used phrase in the LCMS. So when we question scripture, that has been interpreted by man, we should not question whether it was done correctly and to what God’s intent was? That would be totally against what Martin Luther himself did. We should question, examine, and find the truth in each of us. To simply say what someone interpreted 300 years ago as absolute is wrong. It’s man’s interpretation. We should continue to examine and re-examine scripture to be sure of it’s intended message. Kudo’s to Pastor Becker for continuing to examine and question man’s thoughts, not God’s.

  10. I welcome and fully support Dr. Matt Becker’s powerful witness and irenic statement posted herein and prayerfully encourage him to continue his work through what must be a difficult time for him and all involved. As this seeming constant doctrinal Cold War has now been driven by internet psyops from the Synod’s highest level and promised kinetic action at the forthcoming synodical convention, I am reminded, as we all must surely know, that the possibility that “Here We Fall” may arrive yet again.

    Yes, like before, the hyper-conservative reactionary of the early 1970s, publicly shepherded by then Synodical president JAO Preus, driven on by the fanatical Herman Otten, et al, culminated in the firing of all but the so-called “faithful five” Concordia Saint Louis faculty and the ritualistic burning of Dr. John H. Tietjen and the remaining faculty on the altar of perceived Lutheran purity.

    It is not so much the replacement of love and Gospel with the aggressive, vague, unsubstantiated charges, ad hominem attacks, and on-line anonymous hyperventilating—couched as it sometimes is in ironic terms of brotherly concern and love, that bother me so much.

    It is not so much unsolicited invitations for the ‘heterodox’ to not-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out-to-the-ELCA attitude.

    It is not so much the snark. For example, a brief perusal of the Brothers of John the Steadfast website has one pastor enthuse:

    “New “Becker Rate” for the BJS National Conference. “In honor of the sad news of the recent decision in the case of Rev. Dr. Matthew Becker, we are going to revert to the $10 discount we offered for early registrations for the next six days (six days being an unholy number, short of the perfect 7).”

    Pastoral? Not so much.

    Nor is it the metastasizing hierarchical and centralized control and bureaucracy of a synod designed to be ‘advisory’ to congregations that methodically ignores its own Constitution and By Laws to enable politically-driven majority votes to add to its doctrinal rules. A magisterium of sorts is being organized, its tools will be purity tests, on site visits, and expulsion of those it considers heterodox or heretic for having or willing to discuss different, but not contradictory opinions, of the Symbols and the Word of God.

    What offends me most of all, as I see how people within the LCMS that I have spent my entire life within, have so often departed from the evangelical spirit so present during its period of greatest growth, and indeed from logic, led by men (of course) who fear, men who hunger, men who NEED their theological understanding, their worship style, to be of unquestionable uniformity not just to the Word of God, nor to the Symbols, but to their own derived collective opinion of what the Word of God and those Symbols say.

    In doing so, they repress the freedom of the Gospel, suppress academic debate, and ignore clear evidence of science. They damage reputations and careers. And simply hurt people.

    What attitude, what approach, is called for?

    1.10 Dispute Resolution of the Synod (2010 By Laws)
    1.10.1 . . . Parties are urged by the mercies of God to proceed with one another with “the same attitude that was in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). In so doing, individuals, congregations, and various agencies within the Synod are urged to reject a “win-lose” attitude that typifies secular conflict.

    Yes. The same attitude of Christ Jesus.

    Instead, their zeal for doctrinal purity overshadows, indeed tramples everything and everyone in their path. They need and will always need a target, an enemy, a scapegoat to drive from their 19th Century Waltherian village.

    If this battle within God’s church rages on, the LCMS will shrink into irrelevancy, until the last few standing self-proclaimed pure doctrinists form up into their last circular firing squad. To “sola fide, sold gratia, and sola scriptura” they will add “sola sola.”

    And they will be very proud of that accomplishment.

    Such an attitude toward their brother and sister Christians should not be tolerated in the Church of God. I want to see intellectual honesty and fresh exegesis instead of recycled proof texting. A focus on issues instead of winning. Humility instead of absolute certainty. I want to see prayerful person-to-person discussion instead of snark and innuendo. I want to see Christian love instead of hate and fear-mongering.

    All this energy directed against our brothers and sisters, should be focused on being God’s hands in the world offering the Good News. Instead of attacking their fellow Lutheran Christians, I would hope they prayerfully consider the issue of “satis est” and move on, and grow, and remain vital in a rapidly changing world.

    Dr. Mark G. Woodworth

    • Dr. Woodworth,

      Your comments cause all kinds of questions to arise in me, but I will try to zero in on what I think may be the most relevant points. First, Luther said that one cannot be a Christian without making assertions. Can I assume that you would say that if anyone is saved, it will be through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ?

      I understand your comment to be saying that Christians in the LC-MS have traditionally made far too many assertions that they should not have made. In order to help me better understand the positions of persons like yourself, could you mention perhaps what you see as three of the most egregious assertions the LC-MS in particular, or confessional Lutherans in general, have traditionally made?


      • Nathan:

        In a word, no, I will not state or debate any particular assertion. My opinion on any particular point would be just that, and of no value.

        My post presents only my overall frustration at the means by which many so-called confessional Lutherans have undertaken to deal with the moderate/liberal camp. As all involved are sinful human beings, no one, left or right, hold an absolute license on truth. There certainly should be, however, within Synod, a walking together, as on the road to Emmaus, not as “our way or the highway.”


        • Dr. Woodworth,

          Thanks for the kind reply. It seems to me that it is par for the course that confessional Lutherans are going to be perceived as being a narrow and ornery lot. Paul didn’t always seem so pleasant either, and of course Luther seems to have taken his cues from Paul. What I find most interesting is that if Confessional Lutherans are – as Walter said (another interesting question about this purportedly “triumphalist view” shared by John Gerhard: do we think that these men thought they *knew* that?) – the true visible church on earth (or did he assert that about just the LC-MS?) – then a man like Pastor Becker might be seriously underestimating his significance.

          It seems to me that there are all kinds of epistemological issues at stake here. I’ve written something on the my site today (it should be up on the Just and Sinner site later today on the patheos evangelical channel) where I struggle to put all of these issues in a wider context. The post as it is put forth is not really a direct challenge to Matthew Becker (and those who resonate with him), but I think it *may be*, at the very least, an indirect challenge (I don’t know enough about his full position to say). I’d be interested in your thoughts on the post, if you are willing to take a look at it and respond. It is at theology like a child and is called “Cultured Despisers Gonna Despise”: the Nature of Liberal “Evangelical” Theology Versus a Truly Biblical Theology”. I think clicking on my name should bring you right there.


          • I have briefly looked at your site. It is well done. I will try to spend more time reading your posts there. Thanks, Mark

    • In what subject did you get your doctorate? Was it Ad Hominem Rhetoric? How about making an argument without making me wade through all the snarky comments. Your sarcasm is distracting from whatever point your trying to make.

  11. Matt,
    Many of us in both the LCMS and ELCA continue to support you and your valued scholarly work. Hang in there!

  12. Mr. Ihssen,
    When you say “Some of us would rather fight than switch,” how do you envision such a “fight”? The rhetoric here is that such a challenge is not at all ‘irenic’ in spirit. Nevertheless, taken in a more metaphorical sense, do you envision the “fight” at the level of a national convention where decisions on the matters Dr. Becker proposes are ultimately decided, or do you envision the “fight” as an attempt to influence the grassroots in such a way that eventually the Synod is forced to capituate by popular pressure and threat of such things as withholding money, or do you envision another form of “fighting”?

    • Rev. Engebretson – how about a third option, something along the lines of those who disagree engaging in one dialog and with a mutual commitment to seek to be in the same mind as that of Christ?

      • That would be commendable, but Mr. Ihssen specifically used the words “some of us would rather fight than switch.” I was wondering what Mr. Ihssen meant by this. He did not use the word “dialog,” so I assume he hoped for a different approach.

        • Rev. Engebretson – fighting instead of switching requires parties on both sides who prefer to engage in that fashion. You can’t make doctrine through the force of political will and attempting to do so is counter to the directive to have the same mind as Christ. It is time for people in the LCMS to simply lock the traditional arguments in a closet and throw away the key and craft a new way to engage the difficult issues.

          • Mr. Mundinger,
            I wasn’t proposing a strategy of making doctrine through a force of political will. Personally I think the answer is better and more faithful catechesis, one parish at a time. Real change in the hearts and lives of people doesn’t happen by nationally crafted resolutions. It happens through catechesis using God’s Word. But again, the comment of fighting rather than switching was used specifically by Mr. Ihssen. I am still curious what *he* meant by those words.

          • Boys… And of course it is always just the boys… How about we rest on Sunday. Watch some college basketball. The Lords day I was tought.

  13. Rev. Engebretson – except in the context of this conversation, it has been all about making doctrine by the force of political will, ratified by majority votes on the LCMS convention floor.

    I do agree with the reference to better and more faithful catechesis. But, doing so, would also mean teaching the catechism and not additional “doctrine” with questionable support in Scripture and the Confessions.

    • John,

      “Rev. Engebretson – except in the context of this conversation, it has been all about making doctrine by the force of political will, ratified by majority votes on the LCMS convention floor.”

      Could you explain more specifically why you think this is a responsible statement. From my perspective, talking about us “making doctrine” is from the get-go problematic. Even in the more democratic church polity of the LC-MS, first of all, doctrine would not be voted on, where applications of doctrine conceivably might be (even as some of these practices might be later found to not be in accordance with pure teaching). If doctrine were “made”, that would be a sign, for many of us, that we are no longer dealing with the one holy Christian and Apostolic church.


  14. I suspect one of the reasons for seeing Missouri as a church body that “makes doctrine” is the feeling that we turn what is supposed to be simply “practice” into “doctrine,” such as WO. The idea is that we are taking adiaphora and adding that there is a definite dogmatic application (only men). The belief is that the question of who is a pastor is an ‘open’ question to be determined by the church in Christian freedom. But the LCMS in convention has not elected to see WO and other issues noted here as mere adiaphora. Also, even St. Paul applied conditions on who should or should not be in the public pastoral ministry (husband of one wife, not a recent convert, etc.). The question is about interpretation of doctrine – what Scripture says regarding this issue – not about the LCMS actually creating new doctrine out of nothing.

    • Don,

      Well said. Also, I think all of us know that WO is just the tip of the iceberg of the doctrines that many persons would like to change, perhaps even our dear Dr. Becker. There are many these days – perhaps some of us have noticed – that would turn on its head, thousands of years of Christian morality. I see all of this as being intimately connected with our doctrines about God and man (and I would love to get persons opinions on a new piece I have posted about the issues of homosexuality and transexuality in light of Christ’s eating with sinners here on the patheos religion site: – especially re-vamped to help us think about what Christian love in Indiana should look like). Again, I also refer persons to the post I mentioned above, trying to put liberal theology in its wider frame. Also, as related to issues of morality, here we are in another area where Kant really does Biblical teachings no service. With Kant, a natural law that might be in accordance with Scripture can at most be a strong conviction and not knowledge. And as the world moves on, so should the church (so we are told).


  15. Mr./Pr. Rinne

    “…Even in the more democratic church polity of the LC-MS, first of all, doctrine would not be voted on, where applications of doctrine conceivably might be…”

    In practice, the distinction that you have made is less than self-evident.

    “If doctrine were “made”, that would be a sign, for many of us, that we are no longer dealing with the one holy Christian and Apostolic church.”

    Do you suppose that might have been the concern that motivated the “44”?

    Rev. Engebretson –

    “The question is about interpretation of doctrine – what Scripture says regarding this issue – not about the LCMS actually creating new doctrine out of nothing.”

    I would say that the question is about the interpretation of Scripture. Doctrine isn’t really what Scripture teaches – it is what humans conclude that Scripture teaches. Given that Scripture is the “absolute” and that human ability to understand it is “flawed”, we must rely on discernment. In my opinion, “truth by majority vote” shuts the Holy Spirit out of the conversation.

    • Mr. Mundinger,

      “Do you suppose that might have been the concern that motivated the “44”?”

      Well, if it was, I don’t think they said as much. On the face of it, if I recall, their concerns were different. Or perhaps I have this wrong – what is your evidence for suspecting or believing this?

      As for your other answer to Pastor Engebretson, it seems to me that we are dealing with a different view of how to approach Scripture. While no one denies the reality of interpretation, some of us, like Melanchton, think the Loci method is good practice because of the assumption of its perspicuity. I realize that much of the church has “moved on” from such an antiquated and “fallacious” idea, but some of us still actually believe that it is true and the presence of 1000s of denominations, etc. does not necessarily have anything to say about its not being true. I’m ready to debate on this issue informed by my limited but not non-existent knowledge of current modern linguistic theory and modern metaphysical and epistemological theories if you are up for it. In short, I am saying that something more akin (but not identical to) Aristotle’s view of language and metaphysics is what the church has always, and should continue, to assume (as can be seen in the post that I did recently on patheos and referred to you above).


  16. To all,
    The one things I personally communicated to Pastor Becker was this, “we can differ”, but when we speak as Pastor, we should walk together of one voice.

    01) We may differ in the ordination of women, but we must and should speak of one mind together, as long as we stay in the LCMS. We can write papers in a theological setting of fellow theologians, but when we speak to the people we serve, we must walk of one mind,.

    Especially now with gay marriage rearing its ugly head. We know God is not happy with this, and it is a hard message, but we all must walk together. I know Pastor Becker is of same mind, marriage is only between a man and a women. We may want to affirm it because it would make life easy, but we cannot; God forbids it!

  17. I have this picture that will not leave me…

    Jesus of Nazareth doubled over in laughter at such a conversation. He is sitting among his disciples, many of whom (check it out) were women – the same who provided for his needs in life and at his death. Get over yourself, LCMS!

  18. As a member of the SID, I was not in support of our resolution specifically because it did not follow good Christian process in my mind. But based on the resolution that was presented, it does seem that some members of our district first had some extensive online discussion with you as to how and why they disagreed with your teaching on some points.

    Since Dr. Becker is in dissent with a long-standing Doctrinal Statement of Synod (specifically; “A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod” [Adopted 1932]), I presume he has followed the process for expressing that dissent. That process puts the responsibility on him, as dissenter, to present the reason for his dissent first to his peers, then to the Commission on Theology and Church Relations and then to the Synod in convention.

    Dr. Becker, at what point are you in that process? It is outlined clearly in our Synod’s Handbook, which you have agreed to follow as a member of Synod. Also outlined there is the process by which this doctrinal statement came into being. It is actually much more involved than a simple majority vote at convention. See below for the specifics;

    Doctrinal Resolutions and Statements (from LCMS Bylaws)
    1.6.2 The Synod, in seeking to clarify its witness or to settle doctrinal
    controversy, so that all who seek to participate in the relationships
    that exist within and through the Synod may benefit and may act to
    benefit others, shall have the right to adopt doctrinal resolutions and
    statements which are in harmony with Scripture and the Lutheran
    (a) Doctrinal resolutions may be adopted for the information,
    counsel, and guidance of the membership. They shall conform
    to the confessional position of the Synod as set forth in Article
    II of its Constitution and shall ordinarily cite the pertinent
    passages of the Scriptures, the Lutheran Confessions, and any
    previously adopted official doctrinal statements and resolutions
    of the Synod. Such resolutions come into being in the same
    manner as any other resolutions of a convention of the Synod
    and are to be honored and upheld until such time as the Synod
    amends or repeals them.
    (b) Doctrinal statements set forth in greater detail the position
    of the Synod especially in controverted matters. A proposed
    statement or a proposal for the development of such a statement
    shall be
    (1) submitted by the Commission on Theology and Church
    Relations or submitted to the Commission on Theology and
    Church Relations by a convention of the Synod (including
    that of a district), a faculty of the Synod, or an official district
    conference of ordained and/or commissioned ministers for
    evaluation, refinement, development, or recommendation,
    as the case may be;
    (2) submitted by the commission, if it acts favorably, to the
    colleges, universities, seminaries, congregations, and other
    members of the Synod for study and suggestions for no more
    than one year (failure by the commission to submit a proposed
    doctrinal statement within a year may be appealed to the
    Synod in convention through a proper overture);
    (3) refined further by the commission on the basis of suggestions
    (4) submitted by the commission to the Synod in convention
    for further consideration and possible adoption by majority
    vote; amendments shall require a two-thirds affirmative vote
    of those present and voting;
    (5) resubmitted to the congregations for ratification in its
    final existing form;
    (6) ratified and operative if a two-thirds majority of the member
    congregations which respond within six months registers an
    affirmative vote on a ballot supplied by the Secretary of the
    Synod for that purpose. Failure to ratify makes the statement
    inoperative, and this fact shall be reported by the Secretary
    to the members of the Synod through an announcement in
    an official periodical;
    (7) Such adopted and ratified doctrinal statements shall be
    regarded as the position of the Synod and shall be “accepted
    and used as helpful expositions and explanations” (FC SD
    Rules and Norm 10). They shall be honored and upheld (“to
    abide by, act, and teach in accordance with” [1971 Res. 2-21])
    until such time as the Synod amends or repeals them;
    (8) An overture to amend such an adopted ratified doctrinal
    statement shall follow the same procedure as listed in (1–6)
    (9) An overture to repeal such an adopted and ratified
    doctrinal statement shall require a majority vote of the Synod
    in convention in answer to an overture properly submitted
    and be subject to the procedure of congregational approval
    set forth in paragraph (6) above;
    (10) In the interim, those who submit overtures to amend or
    to repeal shall, while retaining their right to dissent, continue
    to honor and uphold publicly the statement as the position of
    the Synod, notwithstanding further study and action by the
    Synod in convention.

    1.8 Dissent
    1.8.1 While retaining the right of brotherly dissent, members of the Synod
    are expected as part of the life together within the fellowship of the
    Synod to honor and uphold the resolutions of the Synod.
    1.8.2 Dissent from doctrinal resolutions and statements is to be expressed
    first within the fellowship of peers and then brought to the attention
    of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations before finding
    expression as an overture to the convention calling for revision or
    recision. While the conscience of the dissenter shall be respected,
    the consciences of others, as well as the collective will of the Synod,
    shall also be respected.

  19. Pastor Jacobsen,
    The synod’s doctrinal position would be stronger if it did not include an insistence on “six-day creationism” and the teaching that only men may serve as pastors. I have expressed this dissent within the fellowship of peers and have brought it to the attention of the CTCR. While I respect the collective will of the synod, I retain the right of brotherly dissent.

    That’s where the matter lies.

    Matt Becker

    • Thank you for that clarification. I didn’t see above any mention of your dialogue with the CTCR on these two points. What was their response to your objections to these teachings? Do you intend to seek to submit theological overtures to the Synod that would alter the Synod’s stated position on these? (That would seem to be the next step in a dissent.)

  20. You folks have a Lutheran Taliban thing going on here with this fellow. I am glad I am in the ELCA.

    • Using the word “Taliban” is never helpful. It implies far more than what has happened here. The LCMS does allow discussion, dialog and dissent. It does not persecute, especially in a violent, physical manner (as would the Taliban). While Dr. Becker did not ultimately prevail in his goal of changing the synodical direction of the debate, it does not mean that he was not heard, and it does not mean that others did not consider and weigh his ideas, even if in the end they did not completely accept them.

  21. “The LCMS does allow discussion, dialog and dissent. It does not persecute, especially in a violent, physical manner (as would the Taliban).”

    Really Engebretson? The LCMS machinery does allow dialog and dissent to an extent that it wants to find out who and who say what so that the inquisition teams can harass and persecute them until they are sick and tired to leave on their own. How many Beckers have been expelled in the history of LCMS (not to count the seminex)? Dialog and Dissent process is a hypocritical show for the inquisition machinery!

    Really Prentice? “With one voice”? That sounds like a brainwash machinery in the LCMS. How do you expect people of different backgrounds and cultures to come together and speak theologically with “one voice” in agreement? That concept might be appropriate in the 1800-1900’s with the German immigrants living in their cultural bubbles. The LCMS “with one voice” molds people into cookie-cutters for theological comformity. LCMS is just another name for Taliban, and the Taliban leaders like Matthew Harrison, Mueller, Wohlrabe, Preus, Murray, Kuhn, Collver, those Midwest’s DP’s. It is a group of tyrannical pitbulls!

    Really Drew Newman? “Doctrine is life”? That sounds like a groups of German like-minded theologians gather at convention after convention to proof-text the Scripture, pick and choose their favorite biblical verse to support their ideologies, and then vote into constitutions and bylaws. The question now becomes, “Who and who can vote at the conventions?” The same group of German bigots graduated from CSL and FTW machinery get to control the ballots. LCMS is a cult!

    • Mr. Kim,
      Your rhetoric demonstrates why dialogue sometimes isn’t possible. It is deliberately inflammatory. Taliban, cult, bigots, inquisition – really? Your anger is quite transparent, as is your utter disdain for the LCMS and its leaders. To his credit I don’t ever remember Dr. Becker resorting to this kind of approach.

      • Was there ever a true “dialogue” going on in LCMS? There has not been a single true “dialogue” that I know in the last three decades! So why is there a dream, or a pursuit for a “dialogue”? FYI, I don’t resort to diplomatic rhetoric after being bitten twice in my mission work within the LCMS. As far as I know, there have been at least four cases in the last two years under the leadership of the lawless Matthew Harrison (and his cohorts). LCMS is known for harassing and persecuting people; and, from other denominations’ point of view (e.g., ELCA, PCUSA, UMC), LCMS is a shameful institution housing bigots and ignorant people (and this will be my counsel/publication to people who ask me about the LCMS). You don’t need to believe in my words. Do a survey in your neighborhood (i.e., the local Protestant congregations) and find out why people don’t want to step into LCMS congregations.

        There must be an investigation into the breach of the synodical dissent procedure by the SID, the NID, the Montana District, and those BJS’s. Moreover, Matthew Harrison (and his cohorts) and those DP’s must be disciplined for violating and circumventing the synodical bylaws/resolutions after the panel ruling (Fall 2014) and after the COP’s ruling (March 2015).

        • “…from other denominations’ point of view (e.g., ELCA, PCUSA, UMC), LCMS is a shameful institution housing bigots and ignorant people (and this will be my counsel/publication to people who ask me about the LCMS). You don’t need to believe in my words. Do a survey in your neighborhood (i.e., the local Protestant congregations) and find out why people don’t want to step into LCMS congregations.”

          Obviously your experience in the LCMS and mine are vastly different. However, your observations are not universal, at least not in the circles I have walked. Since 2010 I have been involved in post-graduate studies at an Episcopalian seminary. Not once did I sense from my professors or fellow students that my church body was “a shameful institution housing bigots and ignorant people.” As to my “neighborhood” I have received members from WELS as well as the ELCA in the last several years. But again, your experience is different than mine. That said, I still sense a huge amount of bitterness and vindictiveness in your approach to the LCMS. Labeling us as “bigots” and “ignorant” and spreading this opinion to those who you know certainly does not seem in keeping with the 8th commandment. But whatever. I have certainly been treated less than charitably as a minister both inside and outside the church in my nearly three decades of pastoral work. However, if I had your bitterness I would have to leave the church altogether.

          • I would also caution that many in the ELCA do not take such a disdainful look at the LCMS, and would rather reach out in compassion and generosity rather than continue a pattern of animosity. There are certainly those in the ELCA who do not possess gracious attitudes towards the LCMS generally, and there are also elements in the LCMS that treat the ELCA with disdain. However, I think we do better to be respectful and act out of the grace and mercy at least in small measure as the example of Christ demands.

  22. BTW, I still believe that Dr. Becker has handled his own situation with greater grace and charity than you have demonstrated here.

  23. Nice try! It was a nice try from you Engebretson for sugar-coating a rotten LCMS institution, reversing the cause-and-effect regarding my bitterness as a cause for a bigoted institution. Your psychoanalysis of my bitterness does not make LCMS’s ignorance and bigotry disappear from the public view: what has been there will be there since the 911 Yankee Stadium to the school shooting in Newtown CN. A bunch of Taliban LCMS pitbulls would show up at every tragedy and persecute who and who intend to cross the boundary of the closed community policy. In what corner of the world are you living in telling me that ECUSA and ELCA get along with the bigoted LCMS? From the top floor of Higgins Road in Chicago and of Second Avenue in New York to the local pews in the ECUSA and ELCA look at the arrogant and ignorant LCMS like disgusting radical fundamentalists harassing and scattering God’s sheep, especially on the issue of WO and closed communion. Even an outsider like David Coffin above noticed that LCMS behaves like a “Taliban” organization under a disguise label “the divine church.” It is a historical fact that at every tragedy and funeral and wedding, LCMS Pharisees and pitbulls preserved their doctrinal ideologies at all cost and disregard human value and dignity. And that very practice they called “pastoral care.” Anyone who has followed Dr. Becker’s writings his blog-site and on Daystar Journal would notice that my opinion about LCMS is not a one incidental opinion. It is so typical of a hypocritical LCMS mentality to run around and demand “grace” meanwhile it hurls insults, harasses and hammers people with their bylaws, resolutions, and ideologies. Worse, LCMS will brainwash people into believing that their bylaws, resolutions, and ideologies came straight from the Bible–but actually from their sickened lens of interpretation. Stop denying yourselves, you Engelbretson and your colleagues BJS’s, because yours is a “cheap grace.” LCMS is “white-washed” tomb that is full of poisons.

    Since LCMS has lost about 30,000 to 35,000 per year, it would not be a bad idea for me and for those who had suffered from LCMS pitbulls’ harassment since the Seminex to precipitate the down fall of the evil LCMS institution by publicizing through the web-media. To not publicizing about the LCMS evilness so that people wouldn’t fall into LCMS’s cultic scheme is a grave sin.

    • I am not going to get into some useless fight to defend the LCMS. You obviously disdain them. Got that. You want to do all in your power to discredit them. Got that. You believe the LCMS is some ‘evil power.’ Got that as well. It would appear that you probably have already long since left the LCMS. Why your hatred for the Synod and its leaders continues indicates your inability to let stuff go. Go ahead and do what you must. But responding to your negative and hate-filled reactions hardly seems a good use of time. I have interacted with Dr. David Benke, the one at the center of the 911 Yanke Stadium event to which you refer. He clearly seems to have moved on. No bitterness or hatred there. I suggest you do the same.

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