Professor of Theology
Arts and Science Building 314
A native of Salem, Oregon, I 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 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, 2015), which serves as an introduction to Christian theology as an undergraduate discipline. I have also edited several books, including the award-winning God Opens Doors (2000) and 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 American Edition of the collected works of Edmund Schlink, one of the most important theologians of the twentieth century. This five-volume project will be published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht between 2016 and 2021.
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). 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).
The epigraph to the published edition of the 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.
I was ordained into the Lutheran ministry in 1989, and have served as a pastor or interim pastor to congregations in Illinois, Indiana, and Oregon. 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.
My wife and I were married in June 1993. We have a seventeen-year-old son.
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.
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)
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).
- Conflict and Consensus in the Christian Tradition
- Issues in Modern Christian Theology
- The Christian Doctrine of Creation
- Christians in Nazi Germany
- Luther and Bach
- The American Academy of Religion
- The American Society of Church History
- International Bonhoeffer Society
- Lutheran Historical Conference