From Dr. Matthew Becker:
Today (July 1) I received official notice that President Linnemann has decided
"to initiate formal proceedings under Bylaw 2.14.6 and request [my]
expulsion from Synod." As an automatic result of this action, I am on
"suspended status" under Bylaw 2.13.4.
According to Bylaw 2.14.6c, I have 15 days to appeal my suspension.
Nevertheless, I have told President Linnemann that I will not appeal his
decision. Having suffered through those three previous heresy
trials--which burdened nearly 17 of the past 26 years of my ministry--my
family and I have come to the point of saying, "Enough! No more!"
Consequently, on July 15, I will be removed from the LCMS.
Yesterday I began to make inquiries into the process for becoming
rostered in the ELCA. Later this summer my family and I will be joining
Christ Lutheran Church (ELCA), here in Valpo.
While some will characterize this as a victory, it is a small one and a sad one. It is small because while Dr. Backer has certainly been a visible and vocal challenge to positions of the Missouri Synod, he is not the only voice of dissent nor will the challenges to our rather uncomplicated history of positions taken on the basis of Scripture and the Confessions disappear when he joins the ELCA. Yet it is a turning point because for too long we have assumed that there is no backbone to our confessional stance and no consequence for those who publicly teach in opposition to it. I for one do not believe that a diversity in which direct conflict with our stated position is helpful to us but diminishes both our internal unity and external witness. The LCMS has no thought police but when people enter the pulpits and classrooms of our Church as servants of the Church, it is the barest minimum of expectation that their teaching will be consistent with the stance of our Synod. If it is believed that we as a Synod are in error, there are provisions for dissent and for calling the Synod to review and change our position.
It is sad because no one wants something like this to end like this. Dr. Becker is by all means a gifted, talented, and effective teacher and on many points his teaching is exemplary. I for one never wanted this to end with his leaving but with his agreement to teach in accord with the historic and consistent framework of our Synod's stance on such things as the ordination of women, the historicity of creation and Genesis' record, and other areas with which Dr. Becker has raised question or voiced disagreement. Repentance from wrong is never defeat but the ultimate victory of God and His Spirit working through His Word. It was my hope that this would resolve by this gifted teacher determining both to affirm and to teach in a positive manner consistent with the stance of the Missouri Synod. That this has not happened is of great disappointment to me and, I suspect, to many others. While there are some in our Synod who want to clean house and create and exodus of those who cannot teach and preach in accord with the public, historic, and consistent position of Synod on these and other controversial issues in the modern Christian world, I would prefer that we as a Synod came to one mind joyfully and willingly to confess with one voice the changeless Christ for our changing world, the truth that is steadfast and enduring, and the Word that speaks the same truth yesterday, today, and forever. This could have been such an occasion and it still might be, the grace of God still at work!
In the end, however, I suspect that Dr. Becker stated what many who opposed him also felt -- enough... no more... When division and dispute become the consuming passion of a Christian people, the witness of that people is tainted internally and externally and we can no longer give ourselves fully and wholly to the task the Lord has set before us. So, while sad that Dr. Becker chose to leave rather than teach consistently with the positions of the Synod in which he has lived for 53 years, I believe that this is one story that needs a closing. Dr. Becker has promised to pray for the LCMS and we can do no less than to pray for him and his family and for the day when we shall unite in common confession and in uncommon confidence in the Word of the Lord that endures forever and in the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified in which alone there is salvation for any and all who will believe.