Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Lunchroom Lutherans: The die has been cast.

(Dr. Matthew Becker)

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Omnipotent,
the Omnipresent, and the only Redeemer of the world.
To Him do we cling for truth, love, and mercy. Amen.

This is the third and final (?) post about the renegade "pastor" who has been teaching things that contradict Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, mocking our President, Pastor Matt Harrison, and refusing to recant. Because he and his supporters have been quite open with his identity, it is now no longer necessary to keep his identity private. The person I have been referring to in this series of blog posts is Dr. Matthew Becker, a professor at Valparaiso University. Lately, he has been accused of failing to defend the LCMS position, that the first three books of Genesis are a  "historical record."

Because Dr. Becker just can't seem to keep his hands out of the cookie jar, after the latest accusation by the district president of the Montana District, his very own district president of the Northwestern District, Pastor Paul Linnemann, finally worked up the courage to approach Dr. Becker. Because of his refusal to recant his teachings, according to the accusation, Pastor Linnemann asked Dr. Becker to resign as pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Dr. Becker refused because he believes that resigning is an admission of guilt. Because of his insistence on heresy and almost downright blasphemy, as well as openly contradicting the teachings of the LCMS, thereby defiling the beliefs and the faith of many of its members, Pastor Linnemann finally had to force his hand in the name of the of the Synod and of the Christian faith as we teach it. He told Dr. Becker that he was suspended as pastor of the LCMS. This suspension was the proscribed procedure when the leaders of the Synod are in the process of expelling a pastor who has strayed and refuses to repent. He was given 15 days to respond to his suspension, starting 1 July 2015.

These 15 days were a final opportunity for him to recant his heresies and blasphemies, before he is officially expelled from the Synod as a pastor. In response to his suspension and the July 15 deadline, Dr. Becker decided  instead, according to his blog, that he would rather take his family and join a local church within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, a.k.a. ELCA. In doing this, as ELCA is only not in fellowship with LCMS and teaches doctrine contrary to that of LCMS and Scripture, Dr. Becker has in fact excluded himself from the LCMS. In other words, if he indeed joins a church within ELCA, he is automatically expelled as a pastor and but also excommunicated as a member of LCMS by "self-exclusion."

While Dr. Becker's choice to be removed from the LCMS as a pastor and a member is sad and disappointing, it is not at all surprising. I have noticed that so many people contradict LCMS teachings in belief and in practice, only to leave the LCMS for ELCA or ELCA-supported churches. These individuals often are educated and very worldly, with strong beliefs in individualism. While having a fine mind is great and can be a benefit to one's church, one's community, and one's Lord, it becomes a problem when one's brain or one's desire to assimilate into the godless American culture leads them astray from the truth – – the truth that most of them had been taught since childhood by parents, relative, pastors, and teachers. This is exactly what has happened with Dr. Becker. While he is very gifted and educated, he allowed his own scholarship and kowtowing to decadent society to abandon the principles and beliefs that he swore when he was ordained to not only respect but to teach and practice.

Some may say that the LCMS has been losing people. On the one hand, because many people within the LCMS has become very comfortable with their lives, they often neglect their stewardship with their neighbors. This is not just a problem with the LCMS, but with most church denominations lately. Because Christianity has been such a stronghold in American society, we stopped working hard, and we instead try to condemn people to hell or focus on music and mere social activism. Stewardship, fellowship, and charity have taken back seats. This is why Christianity and the morals within our beautiful faith have lost so much ground in this country. While Christians are finally starting to wake up after the latest Supreme Court decision, they need to start getting up and getting back to work. When we are too busy worrying about football games and brunches and so forth, we are basically allowing people like Dr. Becker, to believe that while God does everything, he knows everything better.

On the other hand, I will agree with what one pastor has said about the decline in membership in today's society with churches – – especially evangelical churches. This pastor suggests that while the numbers may say that church attendance and in the percentage of people professing the Christian faith are declining, the number of true Christians has stayed the same. It is only the number of those leaving who were pretending to be Christian that is on the rise. By those who are pretending to be Christians, I mean those who only go to church to make friends, to make business contacts, because of cultural reasons, to listen to music, or because our parents or spouses expect us to. This may sound harsh to many, but if those are the only reasons you are going to church, you are not a Christian; you are a Churchian. A Churchian is someone who goes to church simply as a practice. They don't follow the beliefs of the church, they don't read Scripture, they don't pray, and they don't live out the Christian faith in their lives. Because of this country's increasing persecution of Christians and mockery of the faith and even Jesus Christ, Churchians have less of a reason to attend church. Therefore, they will certainly use Sunday as a day of rest or recreation, but when asked, they will no longer say that they are Christian but that they are "spiritual." Well, guess who is also "spiritual"? Satan! And his demons! And his demons believe in God, and they even know Scripture. But that does not mean they are Christians. All that means is they know what Christians believe in (or say they believe in), and they know ways that they can trap committed Christians. Just look in the book of Matthew chapter 4. Satan tried to tempt Jesus into throwing himself off of a high point because of what Scripture says. May be that is what happened to Dr. Becker. Maybe, Satan put doubts into Dr. Dr. Becker's head so that he could twist and turn Scripture into a way that is more popular with those who believe in cheap grace.

I have said this before, and I will say it again: a church is like a club, and a club has rules. It does not matter if you don't like the rules or disagree with them. You follow them because the rules usually define the club. In other words, remove the rules, and you destroy the club. If you do not like the rules, find another club. Those rules are clearly defined in Scripture, in the Book of Concord, and in the official statements of the LCMS. Dr. Becker was well aware of these rules before he was ordained and especially when he was ordained because he was in a pastoral position, according to his own blog, for 26 years. If he had any doubts, he should have spoken to a pastor, or gone to counseling. Instead, he decided to rebel against the very institution that ordained him and, by our own tithes and offerings, pay his salary when he preaches at a church.

Most people knew that this was going to happen with Dr. Becker. Deep down inside, he knew this was going to happen. He was given many chances to recant and to keep his contrary beliefs to himself, but he openly defied our doctrine. I will say that I am glad that Dr. Becker has the insight to join ELCA as I am certain that there are some pastors still within the LCMS, and I know at least one, that are against LCMS teachings, yet they will not leave the LCMS. On the one hand, Dr. Becker will now be given an opportunity to further lead others astray within ELCA (yet that will not be an arduous task considering that it is ELCA), but on the other hand, he will no longer be able to lead those in the LCMS astray. Truly a blessing in disguise. While we pray for Dr. Becker and for his family as they sadly find themselves departing from an institution they have known most or all of their lives, Scripture clearly demands that there be church discipline when someone openly speaks against Scripture and will not repent. Pastor Linnemann, Pastor Forke of the Montana District, and the President of the Missouri Synod, Pastor Matt Harrison, have served us and our Lord well by calling heresies and blasphemy what they are, giving Becker a chance to change his ways, and finally disciplining him. This sends a strong message: times may change, but God remains the same.