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Topics - Mbecker

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Your Turn / LCMS Pastor Distrusts His Local Newspaper Reporting
« on: January 30, 2022, 01:12:15 PM »
Not sure what to make of this LCMS pastor's views, but I suspect his distrust of the reporting in mainstream newspapers (including his local small-town newspaper) reflects at least 80% of the GOP today. He seems to be driven by a politics of fear, to say the least. I wonder how he would respond to an LCMS-Christian who is a virologist and an expert on the efficacy of these covid19 vaccines? I'd also like to learn more about where he has heard about people dying from these vaccines. In any case, the article draws attention to a significant problem (widespread distrust of mainstream newspaper reporting) that is further fraying the civic fabric, even in small-town Minnesota....

Matt Becker (who reads the NWI Times every morning, along with the NYT, and generally trusts the reporting he reads...)

Your Turn / Valpo's Christmas Message
« on: December 22, 2021, 08:25:35 PM »
The 2021 Christmas message from our university's new president seems to hit all the right notes. I'm grateful for his Christ-centered, street-smart leadership.

Matt Becker

Your Turn / European Christian Art and Architecture - July 2022
« on: July 30, 2021, 11:10:26 AM »
Given that this organization is called the American Lutheran PUBLICITY Bureau, I would like to publicize an upcoming European tour that I am co-leading with my Lutheran-Christian colleague, Dr. Gretchen Buggeln. Please feel free to share this information within your congregations, family, and circle of friends.

European-Christian Art and Architecture - July 2022

I would like to invite you to join my colleague, Dr. Gretchen Buggeln, and me on a special tour through Germany, France, and England in July 2022. Assuming that travel restrictions will be lifted by then (and all tour participants properly vaccinated), we will depart for Germany on July 17, 2022, and return to the US on July 30. Travelers on the tour will experience the history of European Christianity (early, medieval, and modern), Christian art and architecture, as well as contemporary European cuisine and culture. The tour will visit museums and cathedrals in such places as Cologne, Trier, Reims, Paris, Chartres, London, and Coventry. Along the way, the group will experience a Rhine-River cruise, a visit to a champagne cave, and guided tours of Versailles, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Oxford. Participants will have free days to explore Paris and London on their own. The price of the tour includes roundtrip airfare, ground transportation, lodging in 4-star hotels, all breakfasts, most dinners, local tour guides, all entrance fees, and “color commentary” by Professor Buggeln and yours truly. (Dr. Buggeln teaches art history and the humanities in Christ College, while I teach modern Christian theology and church history in the College of Arts and Sciences.) Each morning of the tour will begin with an optional devotion and “mini-lecture” on a theme for the day.

While the tour is sponsored by the Alumni Association of Valparaiso University, anyone is welcome to join and participate with us.

For more information, go to:

You may also contact me via my university email address:

So far, 20 people have registered for the tour. Space is limited to 36 total.

Matt Becker

Your Turn / Dr. Richard Baepler+ (1930-2020)
« on: November 25, 2020, 12:44:38 AM »
Rev. Dr. Richard Baepler, founding dean of Valpo's honor college and a long-time member of Valpo's theology dept., died on Nov. 19, following complications from the covid virus.

While Dick had already retired when I arrived in '04, he still frequented the campus and attended theo dept. get-togethers and other events. For more than a decade, on most Friday afternoons, we made a point of rendezvousing at a local watering hole, initially at a place that served excellent martinis (Dick's favorite beverage on such occasions) and more recently at Ironwood Pub, just off campus. I learned so much from Dick through the years. (Out of the blue one afternoon, he gave me his volumes of an eighteenth-century edition of Gerhard's dogmatics, along with several other Lutheran classics.)  He was a true gentleman-scholar. IMO, he represented the best in the LCMS's mid-twentieth-century version of Christian-Lutheran humanism, informed by a path-opening exegesis of Valpo's psalmic motto (in luce tua videmus lucem), a tradition that has become thinner and thinner over the past fifty years.

Dick's father, Walter, was president of the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America from 1952 to 1956. He was also president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Illinois from 1953 to 1958. Old-timers might have a copy of Walter's centennial history of the LCMS, A Century of Grace: Missouri Synod 1847-1947 (CPH, 1947).

In addition to teaching theology, Dick also taught in the law school. A lifelong scholar, he received his bachelor’s degree from St. Paul’s College in Concordia, Missouri, a master’s degree from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, and a doctorate in theology from the University of Chicago. So we had a few institutions in common. For many years, Dick was also an assistant pastor at Faith Lutheran Church, here in town, where he remained an active member in his retirement. (My first contact with him came by way of a phone call in '88. I was just starting my graduate studies at the U. of Chicago. Apparently, Norman Nagel had given Dick my name as a potential candidate for a call to Faith at that time. For several reasons that I will not mention here, I told him that I could not and should not be considered for their call list.) In addition to the U. of Chicago, Dick also studied at the universities of Hamburg and Erlangen. (He studied under Thielicke at the former and under Elert and Althaus at the latter. One of his closest friends was Ed Schroeder, a sem classmate and German-Lutheran fellow-traveler, who also has recently died.) Dick married his wife, Simone, in 1954, in her native Paris, France. (He once told me that, over the years, they were able to travel to every French protectorate in the world.)

Dick joined Valpo's theo dept. that same year, 1954. Twelve years later, Valpo's most influential president, O. P. Kretzmann, appointed Dick to be the founding dean of Christ College, our honors college. In 1979, Dick became vice president for academic affairs.

In his retirement, he authored several articles and three books, Flame of Faith, Lamp of Learning: A History of Valparaiso University, Witness to his Generation: Selected Writings of John Strietelmeier, and Keeper of the Dream: O.P. Kretzmann.

Our interim president put it just right this week in a notice to faculty, students, and alumni: "Professor Baepler’s faithful devotion to Valpo exemplified the spirit of the University in every way. Through his various positions, he modeled service and leadership to countless members of the University and surrounding community, and he will be deeply missed."

May Dick rest in God's peace, and may God's perpetual light shine upon him.

Matt Becker

Your Turn / Seeking One More Tour Participant
« on: February 23, 2020, 01:22:28 PM »
As of today, 33 people have registered for my July 2020 tour (July 12-25) of churches and museums in NW Germany, NE France, and England. One of those travelers, a retired Lutheran pastor, is hoping one more male individual will register. Right now, this pastor is registered as a single, but he would prefer to have a roommate. So, I'm putting the word out to try to find someone to fill that 34th spot and become this person's roommate. This pastor is a close friend of mine. He has an excellent sense of humor. He's a good soul....

The tour, which is co-led by my colleague Dr. Gretchen Buggeln, will focus on the history of Christian art and architecture. We will visit cathedrals, churches, chapels, and museums in such places as Cologne, Trier, Aachen, Reims, Paris, Chartres, London, and Coventry. Along the way the group will experience a Rhine River cruise, a visit to a champagne cave, a Seine River cruise at night, and guided tours of Versailles, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Oxford. Participants will have free days to explore Paris and London on their own. The price includes airfare, all ground transportation, four-star lodging, all breakfasts and most dinners, all entrance fees, on-site guides, and color commentary by Gretchen and yours truly.

Here's the link to the tour brochure:

Feel free to forward or share this info with others.

The deadline for registering is April 28.

Matt Becker

Your Turn / Do Sinners Need to Be Saved from God?
« on: November 01, 2018, 11:57:08 PM »
Over on another ALPB FO thread, David Garner made a passing assertion that I thought would surely elicit a response from those in this discussion who are students of the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. So far, no one has posted anything in reply.

Since his statement deals with an important theological/ecumenical issue that goes beyond the focus of that other thread, I'm taking the liberty of starting a new thread here on the basis of David G's comment:

"I look at this much like the theological discussion between Orthodox Christians and other Christians about atonement.  Call it penal substitution, call it "Western anthropology" -- none of that matters.  What we reject (and where I think we find common ground with Lutherans, at least those who take the Confessions seriously) is we are not saved from the Father.  We are not saved from God Himself." You can read the full post here:

As someone who tries to take the Lutheran Confessions seriously (I read from them daily and have taught them at the university level for nearly 25 years), I am struck by these assertions, namely, that "we are not saved from the Father" and we "are not saved from God Himself."

These are truly tricky matters, but I wonder if David's assertions don't assert too much? Or, put slightly differently, do they not rub against some Scriptural and confessional texts that seem to teach otherwise? Do not the Scriptures and Confessions teach that in a very important sense, we do in fact need to be "saved from God," namely, from God's wrath and judgment, just as we need to be saved from our sins, death, the power of Satan, hell and damnation?

This seems to be a consistent theme in the Scriptures. Just this morning I read from the psalms how Moses, God's chosen one, "turned away God's wrath from destroying" the "fathers" of Israel (Ps. 106.23). Those fathers surely needed "saving from God" in that situation. Thank God for Moses! See the many other OT passages that refer to God's wrath that burns hot against sinners, even against God's own people (e.g., Ex. 32.10-12; Num. 1.53; Dt. 9.7-8; Ps. 2.5, 12; Ps. 78.21; Is. 59.18; etc.). The Gospels also refer to the wrath of God (e.g., Lk 21.23; Jn 3.36; etc.), from which people need to be saved or delivered. Paul, too, taught about the wrath of God that is leveled against sinners, including ultimately Jesus, "the greatest sinner" (Luther) (cf. Rom. 1.18; 2.5; 3.5; 3.25; 5.10-11; 9.22; 2 Cor. 5.21; Eph. 5.6; etc.) "The law brings wrath" (Rom. 4.15). See also Rev. 6.16 and several other similar NT passages. We are by nature "children of wrath" (Eph. 2.3). The wrath is coming (Col. 3.6). Because of our sins, God is our enemy (Rom. 5.10). Thank God, Jesus delivers us from God's coming wrath (1 Thess. 1.10; cf. 1 Thess. 5.9). "Since we are now justified by [Christ's] blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For while we were enemies [we were enemies of God, and God was our enemy] we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life" (Rom. 5.9-10). That surely sounds like Paul is teaching that we need to be saved from God, i.e., from God's wrath. Cf. Heb. 2.17; 1 Jn. 2.2; 1 Jn. 4.10.

The Lutheran Confessions, too, teach that we need to be saved from God's wrath, i.e., from God's anger and judgment against sinners. "For as long as God terrifies us and appears to be casting us into eternal death, human nature cannot bring itself to love such a wrathful, judging, and punishing God.... For the law always accuses and terrifies consciences.... Therefore, because people cannot by their own powers live according to the law of God and because all are under sin and guilty of eternal wrath and death, we cannot be set free from sin and be justified through the law. Instead, what has been given us is the promise of forgiveness of sins and justification on account of Christ, who was given for us in order to make satisfaction for the sins of the world, and who has been appointed as the mediator and propitiator" (Apol. IV.36-41). All people are "under sin and subject to eternal wrath and death" (Apol. IV.62; cf. SD V.20: all "are subject to God's wrath, to death and all temporal afflictions, and to the punishment of the fires of hell"; cf. FC SD XI.60). The human creature apart from Christ is to be regarded "as a child of wrath" (FC Ep I.12). The greatest evil is "to be a victim of eternal wrath and death" (Luther, as quoted in FC SD I.62).

"Therefore, Luther concludes, we are 'by nature children of wrath' [Eph. 2.3], of death, and of damnation, if we are not redeemed from them through Christ's merit" (SD FC I.6). Just as we need to be redeemed from death through Christ's merit, so we need to be redeemed from God's wrath and damnation, i.e., from God. "When a human being is justified through faith (which the Holy Spirit alone bestows), it is truly a rebirth, because a child of wrath becomes a child of God and is therefore brought from death to life" (FC SD III.20; cf. Eph. 2.5).

While God is not the cause of sins or the cause of wrath or condemnation (cf. FC SD XI.81), God's wrath and judgment are real consequences of sin and evil, as is spiritual death, eternal wrath, and hell. In view of these realities, it is appropriate to say that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are saved from God through the God-Man for God. This is what makes Christ the propitiator of God's wrath, and thus the mediator and reconciler between God and sinners. Apart from Christ and his propitiation, human beings are the enemies of God and God is the enemy of sinners.

Much more could be written in this regard, but I'll leave it at this. I need to return to Schlink, who also stresses that an ecumenical dogmatics needs to take seriously just how much of a problem and threat God is for us in view of evil, our sins, our death, the coming wrath, and divine damnation. We do, in fact, need to be saved from God through the God-Man for God. Thank God for the propitiation of the Son of God and for the working of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father.

Matt Becker

Your Turn / Edmund Schlink's Ecumenical and Confessional Writings
« on: March 09, 2017, 01:18:49 PM »
Given that this is a forum of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, I hope those who frequent this site will not be too upset if I give some publicity to a new book on Lutheran theology that I've edited, introduced, annotated, co-translated, and indexed, namely, volume one of the projected six volumes in the Edmund Schlink Works project. Schlink (1903-84) was one of the most important confessional Lutheran theologians of the twentieth century.

Part One of this first volume contains his principal ecumenical writings from the fifties and sixties, when he was a leading member of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. Part Two contains his reflections on the Second Vatican Council, where he had been the official observer from the Protestant Church in Germany. He never missed a session during the entire council. This 557-page book is titled Ecumenical and Confessional Writings: The Coming Christ and Church Traditions and After the Council. It was published in January by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Among the essays in the first part are "The Structure of the Dogmatic Statement as an Ecumenical Issue," "The Christology of Chalcedon in Ecumenical Dialogue," "The Expanse of the Church according to the Lutheran Confession," "The Cultus in the Perspective of Evangelical-Lutheran Theology," "Law and Gospel as a Controversial Issue in Theology," "Apostolic Succession," "Christ—The Hope for the World" (which he delivered at the Second Assembly of the WCC in Evanston), "Transformations in the Protestant Understanding of the Eastern Church," "The Significance of Eastern and Western Traditions for Christendom," and "Ecumenical Councils Then and Now."

Among the chapters in the second part, on Vatican II, are: "The Conciliar Awakening of the Roman Church," "The Resolutions of the Council," "The Self-Understanding of the Roman Church," "The Council and the Non-Roman Churches," "The Council and the Non-Christian Religions," "The Council and the World," "Scripture, Tradition, Teaching Office," "Pope and Curia," and "The Mystery of Unity."

For more details, go here: Perhaps you could order this book for your local church-related college library or your congregation's library, or maybe you'll consider giving it as a gift to that special pastor or priest in your circle of friends.

I hope to have volume two, Schlink's 830-page Oekumenische Dogmatik, finished in 2019. Because of the smaller type in this volume, the English translation (which will also include my introduction and annotations) will likely be close to 1000 pages. It is the most substantial and ecumenically significant dogmatics text published in the twentieth century by a Lutheran theologian.

Volume Three will be a new annotated translation of his book on baptism (the major influence on the WCC's BEM document). Volume Four will be an annotated translation of the fourth, completely revised edition of his book on the Lutheran Confessions (Fortress translated the third edition, omitting many footnotes). Volumes Five and Six will contain translations of his sermons, addresses, and other writings (e.g., his essay on a Lutheran theology of music).

Here endeth the commercial.

Matt Becker

Your Turn / Reformation 500 Tour (Oct 24-Nov 6, 2017)
« on: March 09, 2017, 12:32:31 PM »
I'm pleased to report that more than 100 pilgrims have registered to participate in the Reformation 500 trip that I will be leading in Germany between Oct 24 and Nov 6, 2017. You might recall that tour participants will be in Wittenberg on Oct 31 and will be attending the special service in the Castle Church that day (which will include music by Valpo University's chorale). We will also hear the chorale again when we worship at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig on All Saints Sunday.

I'm still hoping to entice an additional apostolic number of people to join this special tour. Would you mind publicizing the trip in your congregation's newsletter or Sunday bulletin? Feel free to download the brochure (see the link below).

While many Valpo alumni have registered to go, the tour is not limited to them. It is open to anyone who wants to experience places connected with Dr. Luther (and J. S. Bach) in the context of the 500th Anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. Feel free to forward this message to friends and family. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at my Valpo email address.

Here's the link:

Matt Becker

Your Turn / Reformation 500 Tour (Oct 24 - Nov 6, 2017)
« on: February 02, 2016, 05:49:47 PM »
I'm pleased to report that more than 60 pilgrims have registered to participate in the Reformation 500 trip that I will be leading in Germany between Oct 24 and Nov 6, 2017. You might recall that tour participants will be in Wittenberg on Oct 31 and will be attending the celebration services that afternoon and evening in both churches. Valpo University's chorale will be the featured choir at the evening service in the Castle Church. We will also hear the chorale again when we worship at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig (on All Saints Sunday).

I'm still hoping to entice additional travelers to join me on this special tour. Would you mind publicizing this trip in your congregation? Feel free to download the brochure (see the link below). At the very least, perhaps you would consider including the pertinent info in your church's Sunday bulletin.

While many Valpo alumni have registered to go, the tour is not limited to them. It is open to anyone who wants to experience places connected with Dr. Luther (and J. S. Bach) in the context of the 500th Anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. Feel free to forward this message to friends and family. And if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at my Valpo email address.

Matt Becker

Here's the link:

Your Turn / Our Children's Church
« on: November 06, 2014, 03:47:32 PM »
Some of you who frequent this online forum might be interested in attending this upcoming conference:

Dr. David Benke is the keynote speaker.

Matt Becker

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