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Matthew Becker

Matthew-Becker

Matthew Becker Professor of Theology matthew.becker@valpo.edu 219.464.6695 Arts and Science Building 314

BIOGRAPHY

I am a native of Salem, Oregon, and have taught at Valparaiso University since 2004. Before coming to Valpo, I taught at Concordia University, Portland, Ore. (1994-2004). My main academic interest is modern Christian theology, although I regularly teach courses that attempt to engage the Christian tradition in its breadth and scope (especially the history of German-Lutheran theology). I also teach in our two-semester freshman program.

I am the author of The Self-Giving God and Salvation History: The Trinitarian Theology of Johannes von Hofmann (T&T Clark, 2004), which explores an important nineteenth-century Protestant theologian, and Fundamental Theology (Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, 2015), which serves as an introduction to Christian theology. A revised edition of this book will be published in 2023. I have also edited several books, including Nineteenth-Century Lutheran Theologians (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016), a work that explores important thinkers from Schleiermacher to Soederblom. I am currently serving as the editor and principal translator of the five-volume American Edition of the collected works of Edmund Schlink, one of the most important theologians of the twentieth century. The first volume, Ecumenical and Confessional Writings (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017), contains his most important essays and addresses, as well as his reflections on the Second Vatican Council. The second volume, which will be published in 2022, is Schlink’s large Ecumenical Dogmatics, one of the most important summaries of the Christian faith that has been written in the past half century.

I have authored several journal articles and book chapters in the area of modern Christian theology, including two chapters for the book Twentieth-Century Lutheran Theologians (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013), and a chapter on Schlink in Generous Orthodoxies (Pickwick, 2020). My essay on liberal Protestantism and German National Socialism will appear in The Churches in Nazi Germany (Little, Brown [forthcoming]). I have also written encyclopedia articles for such reference works as the New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology, the Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions, and the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception. In addition to my more formal writing, I also keep an irregular blog, “Transverse Markings: One Theologian’s Notes” (matthewlbecker.blogspot.com). I am also the online editor of The Daystar Journal (thedaystarjournal.com).

I was ordained into the Lutheran ministry in 1989 and have served as a pastor or interim pastor to congregations in Illinois, Oregon, and Indiana. Between 2000 and 2004, I was the secretary of the Northwest District of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. For two years (2007-09) I was the director of Valparaiso University’s study-abroad program in Reutlingen, Germany. Since 2009, I have been an editorial adviser to the journal Lutheran Quarterly. In 2018 I became a rostered minister in the ELCA and have been called by its Indiana-Kentucky Synod to teach theology at Valpo.

My wife and I were married in June 1993. We have one son.

The epigraph to the published edition of the 1983 Jefferson Lecture (The Vindication of Tradition) by the most famous person to have taught at Valparaiso University, Jaroslav Pelikan, is a quote from Goethe’s Faust (here translated): “What you have inherited from your fathers, acquire it in order to make it your own.” Following Pelikan’s own example, I have tried to make this aphorism the motto of my work as a teacher and scholar.

EDUCATION

Ph.D., (2001), The University of Chicago

M.A., Religious Studies (1990), The University of Chicago

M.Div., (1988), Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo.

B.A., (1984), Concordia University, Portland, Ore.

CONTRIBUTIONS

Editor and Translator, Edmund Schlink Works, vol. 1: The Coming Christ and Church Tradition and After the Council (V&R, 2017)

Editor, Nineteenth-Century Lutheran Theologians (V&R, 2016)

Author, Fundamental Theology: A Protestant Perspective (Bloomsbury, 2015)

Contributor, Twentieth-Century Lutheran Theologians (V&R, 2013)

Author, The Self-Giving God and Salvation History (T&T Clark, 2004)

Co-Editor, God Opens Doors (LCMS, 2000)

INTERESTS

My main academic interest is modern Christian theology, although I regularly teach courses that attempt to engage the Christian tradition in its breadth and scope (especially the history of German-Lutheran theology).

COURSES TAUGHT

  • Conflict and Consensus in the Christian Tradition
  • Issues in Modern Christian Theology
  • The Christian Doctrine of Creation
  • Christians in Nazi Germany
  • Luther and Bach

MEMBERSHIPS

  • The American Academy of Religion
  • The American Society of Church History
  • International Bonhoeffer Society
  • Lutheran Historical Conference