In this episode we talk to Matthew Becker who used to be a minister in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), a conservative denomination of the Lutheran church that does not ordain women. We talk about Matt’s personal growth in the LCMS, how he came to question the more conservative doctrines of the denomination (specifically Creationism and women’s ordination), and the heresy charges and tribunals that he had to go through, which, ultimately, lead him to leave the LCMS all together.
Dr. Matthew Becker, M.Div., M.A., Ph.D. was born in Salem, Oregon, in 1962. He attended public schools there and graduated in 1984 from Concordia University, Portland, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the liberal arts. That same year he entered the Master of Divinity program at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. After receiving his Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary in 1988, he entered a doctoral program in theology at the University of Chicago. While a student in that university, he was privileged to study under such notable theologians as Brian Gerrish, David Tracy (his Doktorvater), and Martin Marty. During that time Dr. Becker also took courses at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.
In 1990 he earned a Master of Arts in Religious Studies degree from the University of Chicago. In 1996 he passed his doctoral examinations with the mark of “with distinction.” His dissertation, “The Self-giving God: Trinitarian Historicality and Kenosis in the Theology of Johann von Hofmann (1810-1877),” was completed in the summer of 2001. A revised version of this work was later published as The Self-Giving God and Salvation History: The Trinitarian Theology of Johannes von Hofmann (T&T Clark, 2004). This work examines the theology of one of the most important Lutheran theologians of the nineteenth century.
Dr. Becker was ordained into the Lutheran ministry in 1989. Until July 2015 he was a rostered clergyman in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS). He is currently seeking ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). For five years he was an assistant pastor and later associate pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, West Dundee, Illinois (1989-94). For two of those years he also served as an interim pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Chicago.
In addition to his academic responsibilities, Dr. Becker has served as the Secretary of the Northwest District of the LCMS (2000-4). Between Oct 2010 and March 2014 he served as the interim pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Michigan City, Indiana. Dr. Becker and his wife, Detra, were married in June 1993. They have a sixteen-year-old son, Jacob.