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Professional and Lay Leaders Fall Retreat

  • Lake Williamson Christian Retreat Center Carlinville, IL (map)

Presentations by Rev. Matthew L. Becker, Ph.D.

Matthew Becker, a native Oregonian, is a graduate of Concordia University, Portland, Ore., Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo., and the University of Chicago. After teaching Christian theology a Lutheran University in Portland, he has taught systematic and historical theology at Valparaiso University since 2004. Tenured since 2007, he recently was promoted to full professor. Between 2007 and 2009 he was the director of Valparaiso’s study-abroad program in Reutlingen, Germany. He is a rostered ELCA Minister of Word and Sacrament. Dr. Becker has written numerous articles, encyclopedia entries, and essays on modern Christian theology, focusing especially on German-Lutheran Protestantism, as well as on issues and problems in the area of science and theology. In addition to his book-length analysis of the life and work of the Erlangen theologian, Johannes von Hofmann (The Self-Giving God and Salvation History, T&T Clark, 2004), Dr. Becker has also published an introduction to Christian theology (Fundamental Theology, Bloomsbury, 2015, with an afterword by Martin E. Marty), and he has edited a collection of essays on several important nineteenth-century figures (Nineteenth-Century Lutheran Theologians, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016). On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, he wrote the introduction to the new Arabic edition of the Augsburg Confession and Small Catechism, which was edited by Dr. Mitri Raheb and presented to the translator of the project, Bishop Munib Younan, who is the former president of the Lutheran World Federation. Dr. Becker is currently editing and translating the six-volume critical edition of the works of Edmund Schlink, one of the most important twentieth-century Lutheran theologians. The first volume of that project (The Coming Christ and Church Traditions and After the Council, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) was published in 2017. The second volume, Schlink’s 830-page Ecumenical Dogmatics, will be published in 2020. Dr. Becker’s 2017 article in The Cresset, “Christ in the University: Edmund Schlink’s Vision,” won the 2018 Associated Church Press Award of Excellence for a theological or scholarly article (all media platforms). In addition to his scholarly work, Dr. Becker also keeps an irregular blog, “Transverse Markings: One Theologian’s Notes” ( He and his wife, Detra, and their son, Jacob, live in Valparaiso, Indiana, where they are active in Christ Lutheran Church (ELCA).



2:00 PM Registration

5:00 PM Dinner

7:00 PM Welcome/Orientation

7:15 PM PRESENTATION I— The World of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)

8:30 PM Worship (Eucharist)

9:15 PM Fellowship (Fireside Room)


7:30 AM Breakfast

8:45 AM Morning Prayer

9:15 AM PRESENTATION II— Following Bonhoeffer Following Jesus: Part One of Discipleship

10:30 AM Break

10:45 AM Bishop’s Hour

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM Free Time

5:00 PM Dinner

6:30 PM PRESENTATION III— Following Bonhoeffer Following Paul: Part Two of Discipleship

7:45 PM Evening Prayer

8:15PM Fellowship

WEDNESDAY, September 19, 2018

7:30 AM Breakfast

9:00 AM PRESENTATION IV— Bonhoeffer’s Theology of the Cross for Today

10:15 AM Break

10:45 AM Worship (Eucharist)

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM Check-out Time

Engaging Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Discipleship, Live Together, and the Theology of the Cross

Presented by
Dr. Matthew L. Becker, Ph.D. Professor of Theology, Valparaiso University

For many Christians, the study of church history is not purely an academic exercise or simply an effort merely to understand the past for its own sake, nor is it even undertaken solely to learn how the past has shaped the future. Rather, Christians study church history so that they might gain wisdom and insight for living faithfully as followers of Christ in the present.

While history probably does not repeat itself, it does seem to offer up echoes or rhymes (to use the old cliché), and when that happens, attention to past parallels or historical echoes and rhymes might prove instructive. The insights and ideas from Christian theologians who went through periods that echo or parallel our own might assist us, renew us, and realign us for our own time and circumstance.

What might Christians today learn from the example and teaching of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), perhaps the most famous Lutheran theologian of the twentieth century? Might we gain wisdom and insight by engaging his ideas and concerns from a time and place that seem to have at least a few disturbing semblances to our own?

After briefly describing the life and world of this “theologian under Hitler,” Dr. Becker will examine more closely Bonhoeffer’s understanding of Christian discipleship, his notion of “life together,” and his theology of the cross. Each presentation will include time for Q&A and small-group and plenary discussion.

Earlier Event: September 17
Synod Office Hours
Later Event: September 18
Synod Office Hours