Dr. Matthew Becker, on the roster of ordained clergy in the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, and Professor at Valparaiso University, publically teaches a variety of heresies against Scripture and the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. These heresies touch upon various doctrines: the office of public ministry, the order of creation, creation, the fall, sin, and of course, Scripture.
Since the first-mentioned heresies contradict Scripture, part of what he had to do, logically, was adopt from bygone days hackneyed attacks on the authority of the Word. The Word had to be changed in order to change those other doctrines. The attacks are so old, tired, and worn out that it would be boring, if it were not that they will drag our children to Hell.
Many have written to expose these heresies. They do an incisive job of refuting Dr. Becker point by point. My purpose here is nothing like that. The purpose of this post is limited to:
Christian assurance of Scripture
which is assurance from the autopisti of the Word
and how this is the watershed of the conflict
This is the watershed. It is very important to follow the trickles, streams, and rivers down the waterways. Theologians are doing that, and we should read the theologians. But as a layman who has seen this movie before in the American Lutheran Church of the 1960s, and who was fortunate enough to be confirmed by one of the devout theologians of that synod, The Rev. Dr. Casper B. Nervig, my perspective is that we must keep track of the watershed issue: the autopisti of the Word.
Yes, autopisti. This is what Dr. Becker denies. He denies what my confirmation pastor taught me, and what all orthodox Lutheran doctors, teachers, pastors, and public ministers have taught since the Reformation.
Before we can get to the normative authority of the Word, which is its authority to establish our teachings about various doctrines, such as sin, salvation, the means of grace, the office of public ministry, and so on, first we must get straight the causative authority of the Word. What causes the Word to have authority, to give us the assurance that it is the Word of God. Those other doctrines, absolutely essential to the purity of the Gospel, are down a ways from the watershed, in the areas of the Word's normative authority. The watershed is the causative authority of the Word.
Take a few steps to one side of the watershed, and water flows to the Pacific Ocean. Take a few steps to the other side of the watershed, and water flows to the Gulf of Mexico. It looks like mere feet, but destiny is oceans apart.
Therefore in this conflict, part of what we must do is clarify the causative authority of the Word, and rally all the faithful at the watershed. This is strategic. The rest is tactical. We already have the better tactics. Let's deploy them strategically.
Dr. Nervig spoke on the autopisti of the Word at the Northern Minnesota district pastoral conference, N.L.C.A., Bemidji, Minnesota, April 18, 1939. His presentation was published as, "Christian Assurance: An Exegetical Study of Romans 8:16," Journal of Theology of the American Lutheran Conference, pp. 337-51, (Danish Lutheran Publishing House, Blair, Nebraska, April, 1941). He said, pp. 345-47:
We can be assured that God's Word is true because Scripture itself has given us that assurance through the testimony of the Holy Spirit. In other words, God's word is self-assuring regarding itself. To the world that sounds presumptuous , but it is the sovereign authority of Scripture. This has been called the 'causative authority' of Scripture in distinction from the 'normative authority' of Scripture in matters of faith and life. J. T. Mueller says, (Christian Dogmatics, Concordia 1934, p. 121) 'The causative authority of the Holy Scripture is that by which it engenders and preserves faith in its own teaching through its very word' (Rom 10:17). 'Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.' This causative authority is exercised directly by the Holy Spirit through the Word bringing out a divine assurance (fides divina). That is the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
Of this Quenstedt writes: 'The ultimate reason by and through which we are led to believe with a divine and unshaken faith that God's Word is God's Word is the intrinsic power and efficacy of that Word itself, or the testimony and seal of the Holy Spirit, who speaks in and through Scripture, because the bestowal of faith . . . is a work that emanates from the Holy Spirit.' Hollaz writes as follows: 'By the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, is here understood the supernatural act of the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, attentively read or heard . . . by which he moves, opens, and illuminates the heart of man and incites it to faithful obedience.' (Quoted by Mueller, p. 121)
In support of this, notice that Paul writes to the Corinthians that his 'speech and preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit and power' (I Cor. 2:4,5). To the Thessalonians he writes that they received his word as the Word of God because the divine word 'effectually worketh in you that believe' (I Thess. 2:13,14).
Our assurance of the truth of Scripture is based on nothing outside of the Word itself. That Word, by the testimony of the Holy Spirit working through itself, gives the assurance that it is true. This is as it were the declaration of independence of Scripture in which it accepts no superior and not even a peer. It is sovereign, absolutely autonomous, containing within itself the assurance of its authority. . . .
This principle of Scripture comes to us from the Reformation. It received a clean-cut formulation in the early orthodoxy in the words of Joh. Gerhard, who spoke of this principle as 'quaedam principa, autopista kai anapodeikta, certissima et indemonstrabilia, quae non dependent ex aliis, sed alia ex ipsis.' (a certain principle, self-evident – or self-persuading – and independent of proof, most sure and beyond proof, which is not dependent on others but which others depend upon).
Having seen the 'autopisti,' the autonomous self-certainty of the Word of God we cease to look for any other proof to buttress our faith in its authority. This testimony of the Holy Spirit becomes then in fact identical with faith. Quoting Luther: 'We do not distinguish the Holy Spirit from faith, nor is He contrary to faith; for He is Himself the assurance of the Word, who makes us certain of the Word, so that we do not doubt, but believe most certainly and beyond all doubt that it is just so and in no respect whatever different from that which God in His Word declares and tells us' (Erlangen Edition, vol. 58, p. 153). If someone asks, 'How do you know that the Scriptures are true?' I answer, 'I know it is true because I believe it is true.' But 'I believe' does not mean 'It is my opinion' as that word is so often used. This I believe' is a certainty which I have from the Holy Spirit working in me through the Word; it is the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
It should hardly be necessary to call attention to it but let me remind you that in no way is this assurance to be defined as experience so that it becomes confused with the testimony of the human spirit. It is independent of our spirit grounded in God's word.
Now it is true that there is a certain human assurance regarding the truth of God's Word. It is called fides humana. Internally these proofs are, the unique harmony of its many books and authors, the sublime nature of its contents, the amazing prediction of future events, etc. Externally these proofs are its power to survive centuries of assault, its stupendous achievement in changing men as individuals and in fact whole civilizations, the faith of martyrs and others similar. These are scientific proofs of the divine authority of the Bible. But let us remember that the best that such proofs can do is to provide a sort of a human assurance, as Quenstedt says, they do not beget a 'divine, but merely a human faith; not an unshaken certainty, but merely a credibility or a very probable opinion' (quoted by Mueller, p. 123). They can be used by the pastor as a starting point with the hope of persuading the unregenerate to give God's Word a hearing, but beyond that these 'proofs' are totally helpless; after that God's Word and the Holy Spirit must create saving faith and assurance.
We cannot judge Dr. Becker's heart. We can judge only his confession. By his confession, he denies the autopisti of the Word. At the watershed, those few steps are what cause him to subject the Word to external tests of truth and reject the Word's sovereign independence. That's why, later, down the waterway, when dealing with the normative authority of the Word on creation, fall, sin, salvation, ordination, and so on, he is oceans apart from the Confessors of the Evangelical Lutheran faith.
 Matthew Becker, “A Case for Female Pastors and Theologians,” in A Daystar Reader (Portland, Ore.: Daystar.net, 2010), 126-140. Matthew Becker, “The Scandal of the LCMS Mind” (revised), in A Daystar Reader (Portland, Ore.: Daystar.net, 2010), 165-184.
 Matt Harrison, "Regarding a recent decision of a panel not to proceed with charges regarding a public false teacher in the LCMS," Witness, Mercy, Life Together, January 26, 2015. "When a public teacher on the roster of Synod can without consequence publicly advocate the ordination of women (even participate vested in the installation of an ELCA clergy person), homosexuality, the errancy of the Bible, the historical-critical method, open communion, communion with the Reformed, evolution, and more, then the public confession of the Synod is meaningless. I am saying that if my Synod does not change its inability to call such a person to repentance and remove such a teacher where there is no repentance, then we are liars and our confession is meaningless. I do not want to belong to such a synod, much less lead it. I have no intention of walking away from my vocation. I shall rather use it and, by the grace of God, use all the energy I have to call this Synod to fidelity to correct this situation." See also, Scott Diekmann, "Rev. Dr. Matthew Becker: Nature Interprets Scripture," Stand Firm, April 16, 2012.