Response from Dr. Georg Kretschmar, Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia and Other States (ELKRAS)

[NB – All typographical errors are original]

Our Reference: 151/G23 St. Petersburg, March 25 [2002]

Dear Rev. Menacher, dear brother in the Service of our Lord,

yesterday I received your engaged letter of March 12 against the agreement of the ELCA with the Episcopal church.

You asked for help, as you said in the fight against this agreement. This help I can not give you. But you sent also an offprint of your article in the journal "Logia" that comes back sometimes to my own articles about the topic of "Apostolic succession".

Therefor a feel obliged to answer you.

Six years ago I was invited by the ELKA to the consultation about the "Concordat of agreement" in the Delray Beach, Florida, also Professor Dr. Dorothea Wendebourg. I was asked to give a paper with the subject: The Concordat of Agreement in the light of apology 14. I explained of course, that Melanchthon could not have in mind the practice of ordination called "Apostolic succession", when he wrote down the 14th article of Apology of the Augsburg confession. But I concluded this to be an analogy to the language of the struggle about the Adiaphora, now it could be God's will to ask from us the confession to accept this patristic tradition of ordination because of the unity of the church.

This tradition was really refound in the 16th century in the Latin church and was not an invention; in the Eastern church, now the orthodox, has never been any doubt about this tradition. Gropper may not be the only one in that time, who found this concept in the church fathers, especially St. Irinaios. He used it as an argument against the Lutherans. His conclusion has been that the necessary reformation of the church should be designed with the bishops of medieval tradition, not without them or against them. The Lutheran reformers, of course, rejected this argument in a new historic find. But this didn't make invalid the emphasis of Melanchthon in apology 14, reformers didn't create a new church, they wanted to retain whatever we got and practice in the church given for them, the Medieval church. Outside the very specific general situation in Germany they could continue like in Sweden or in England.

I can not see it "grand deception" to recite article 14 of the apology in the document CCN. When the reformers formulated the principle Sola Scriptura that remains even if we find many things in the scripture, that the reformers didn't see.

In the second part of your paper you point to the many bad aspects of history in the Anglican church of the 17th even 18th century. You may not have in mind that in the same centuries you could list a lot of very bad actions of the Lutheran churches. In the country where I was born, in the time of the 17th to the 18th century the Lutherans felt to be persecuted in many areas. But there have been other areas where the Princes were Lutheran, and where the Roman Catholics felt to be persecuted. Of course, it is possible to make a distinction and to explain a lot but in any way we stay in a given History and it would be good to see one another through spectacles of the sense of forefathers.

The church, where I have to serve now, didn't betray the reformation, when we accepted apostolic succession with the new beginning after perestroyka in the Soviet Union, like our neighbor churches in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and the Finnic and Swedish churches.

God bless you. Sincerely yours,
D. Georg Kretschmar,

Written at dictation.
(With many apologizes for possible mistakes)
A. Vishnevskaja