If He's Not a Heretic, Am I?
An Open Letter to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
It is with great confusion that I write this letter. I recently read that Rev. Dr. Matthew Becker has been exonerated of teaching false doctrine in the LCMS. He has been declared not a heretic. I want to rejoice in that decision, and if that truly were the case, I would certainly rejoice in it. However, I find that what he has been teaching and preaching is diametrically opposed to what I have been teaching and preaching, and what is believed, taught, and confessed at my congregation.
First, there is the count of women's ordination in the LCMS. I have long been taught and believe and now teach that the Office of the Holy Ministry is to be filled by men. This has nothing to do with any kind of hierarchy among the sexes. This has nothing to do with any ability or lack thereof in any woman, as not all men are cut out to fill this sacred office, either. It has everything to do with propriety and the conscience of the believer. To men, Jesus gave the authority to forgive and retain sins as validly as if it were God Himself doing it, because He is. (John 20:21-23) It follows, then, that these are the ones to whom it was given to administer the rest of the Sacraments, even as St. Paul says. (1 Corinthians 4:1) It should follow also that since the pastor is to speak with the voice of God, that since the Voice of God, Jesus, is male, perhaps the voice the Christian hears from the Altar be that of a man. Then, there's the line from the Augsburg Confession, a book to which Rev. Becker and I have both subscribed: "Of Ecclesiastical Order [our churches] teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called" (Augsburg Confession XIV, emphasis mine). This is what I have taught, but Rev. Becker teaches otherwise.
When you read Genesis 1, how to do read it? "Even and morning were the nth day," right? There has long be controversy that the day that Moses wrote about (at least in the first chapter of Genesis) isn't really a day, but refers to a period of time that is much longer than a day—an era or epoch, perhaps. Word studies conclude that the word day that Moses uses is nothing other than a day. There is a marvelous little book by Joel D. Heck, In the Beginning, God: Creation from God's Perspective, which goes into great detail what the Scriptures teach and we in the LCMS believe and confess regarding the Six-day Creation. However, Rev. Becker wants you to think otherwise. Included in his views on the creation comes also a favorable view of Darwinian (or perhaps Theistic) Evolution.
So, I have this question. Since Rev. Becker has been exonerated, I must conclude that he is not teaching false doctrine (as was stated in that previous article), and since he and I teach differently, am I teaching false doctrine? Do the Scriptures and Confessions say things differently than I have believed all along; am I wrong? If so, then I suppose charges of false teaching ought to be leveled against me.
Rev. Geoffrey A. Wagner, pastor
Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church - Elizabeth, CO