Thursday, February 10, 2011

Becker's Not So Thinly Veiled Disdain of Scaer and Murray

Dr. Matthew Becker reveals his not so thinly veiled disdain for Missouri's right in his latest post defending the work and theology of Werner Elert.  You can read his post and judge for yourself, but his lack of any scholarly respect for Dr. David Scaer of CTS-Ft. Wayne and Dr. Scott Murray, pastor and synodical vice president is quite transparent.  For example, he refers to Murray's book on the law, which was based, I think, on his doctoral work, as a "shallow and mistaken study." Dr. Lawrence Rast provides a more positive review in a 2005 CTQ article. He then cuts them down again at the end of his article by noting two other men as "better scholars."  Dr. David Scaer remains one of Missouri's greatest scholars, and I think that Becker could have acknowledged his theological acumen with a bit more graciousness. 

His admiration for Missouri's former left and current theologians of the ELCA seems far greater than anything he would offer for those in Missouri, at least those who seem to him to be on the right of the spectrum.  I continue to wonder, given his disdain of these scholars and the obvious direction the Synod is taking under President Harrison, why he doesn't feel compelled to move over to a denomination more sympathetic to his convictions.  Does he hold out hope that the denomination will one day officially embrace his views on women's ordination and evolution?  Given that close communion itself has been memorialized and discussed at conventions for the last 41 years without moving away from the original point, I suspect his hopes for change in these other spheres, if they are there, are not encouraging.  So does he remain simply to complain and cut down from the side and remain a kind of 'thorn' in Missouri's side?  I don't know.  Perhaps future posts might reveal his full vision as a theologian within Missouri.

Postscript:  I find it interesting that the theologian Becker chose to 'defend' also wrote a significant piece of scholarship, published by CPH in 1966, which has been used for years as a foundation of the close communion practice in Missouri.  The book is Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries.  I wonder what Dr. Becker thinks of this work since I would imagine that his fellowship preferences are probably much broader than Missouri's.

Also, I have to compliment Dr. Becker for his recent willingness to assist a vacant parish in Michigan City, Indiana as a supply pastor.  The parish lost its young pastor to an unexpected and sudden death.  Immanuel Lutheran Church's website with Becker can be found here.  Despite my differences with Dr. Becker's theology, I always respect an ordained academic who is willing to serve the church as a pastor as well as a scholar. 

No comments: