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With a cover letter dated 28th September 2001, the research paper below was sent to ELCA bishops, seminary presidents, veteran Church Council members, and a few other ELCA officials. The research paper contains email correspondence from Professor Michael Root in which admits when he became aware of important research which undermines Called to Common Mission (CCM). Professor Root's correspondence also contains his admission that CCM paragraph 11 is not correct. Finally, the research paper demonstrates in detail how Professor Root's qualifications to his admissions lack both academic and intellectual credibility.

Called to Common Mission - Your Complicity in Grand Deception?

(by Pastor Mark D. Menacher, PhD)

Over one year ago on the eve of the Episcopal Church's vote on Called to Common Mission (CCM), an unintended e-mail exchange transpired between Professor Michael Root at Trinity Lutheran Seminary and myself via the Episcopal Church. That correspondence and my subsequent research in light of it has led me to the unpleasant realization that the members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and particularly the voting members of the ELCA's 1999 Churchwide Assembly, have been wrongly led to believe via CCM paragraph 11 that the Lutheran Confessions refer to the provisions for unity with the Episcopal Church as prescribed by CCM. Such a notion is false.

You and other leaders in the ELCA have been informed in the accompanying cover letter of the material facts contained in this paper. Therefore, this paper serves the purpose only of offering you the relevant details to understand how and to what extent the ELCA has been wrongly led to believe a depiction of history which has been invented to conform to narrowly defined ecumenical pursuits.

The paper begins with the unintentional correspondence between Professor Michael Root and myself. This correspondence provides a brief summary of the research which undermines CCM paragraph 11. This correspondence also allows Michael Root to inform you of what he knew about this research and when he knew it. The subsequent, detailed portion of the paper demonstrates not only Professor Root's poor level of scholarship in relation to CCM paragraph 11 but also his intentional efforts over against the Episcopal Church to camouflage the fundamentally flawed nature of CCM.

It may be possible that the information presented here at this time is new to you. This may be quite understandable. From the highest echelons of the ELCA, the inaccuracies of CCM paragraph 11 have been propagated around the ELCA. For example, in a question and answer session on 11th February 2000 the ELCA's presiding bishop, H. George Anderson, referred specifically to Article 14 of the Apology to the Augsburg Confession and stated "that the ecclesiastical and the canonical polity of the church ... means the historic episcopate of that day."1 The witting or unwitting dissemination of this inaccuracy is in the ELCA by no means isolated to this incident.

You now know that statements like that given above are false. The material presented in this paper will help you understand how false they are. Henceforth, you may choose complicity in a grand deception which, according to Luther, would turn the ELCA into an idolatrous church of the devil, or you may act as a Lutheran and promulgate the truth which makes Lutherans eleutheros (Greek for "free," cf. John 8:31-38) by publicly denouncing CCM, by refusing to comply with its provisions, and by working for its immediate repeal.

CCM - Important New Research

On the 29th June 2000, the author of this paper sent an e-mail message to the Presiding Bishop's Office and to the ecumenical officers of the Episcopal Church. With a subject heading of "CCM - Important New Research" the text of that message was as follows:

I apologize for this form of communication, but I would be most grateful if you could consider the following newly found historical research in relation to "Called to Common Mission" (CCM) paragraph 11.

Perhaps the single greatest point of persuasion for Lutherans in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to accept the provisions of CCM is the notion in CCM paragraph 11 that an "historic episcopate" resembles in some way the "ecclesiastical and canonical polity" which Lutherans supposedly "desire to maintain" as per Article 14 of the Apology to the Augsburg Confession (AC). Please consider the following points:

One, in 1530-31 when the Apology to the AC was written, the "ecclesiastical and canonical polity" which it was "our deep desire to maintain" could have referred only to the medieval Roman church of the Pope and only to bishops having received papal confirmation. It could not have referred in any way to the English church established by Henry VIII nor to any of its Anglican daughter churches nor to any other ecclesial or denominational expression existent in history.

Two, in 1530-31 when Philip Melanchthon drafted the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, the notion of "episcopal succession" was not operational. In a sense, "episcopal succession" was "rediscovered" and advanced by a certain Johannes Gropper (1503-1559) between 1538-1540, partly in response to the Reformation and partly as a means to reform the Roman church from within.2

Three, when the idea of "episcopal succession" started to gain currency in 1538-40, it is interesting to note the sentiments of the Lutheran Reformers. In 1539, the author of the AC and its Apology, Philip Melanchthon, stated,

"This testimony is cited by one, so that it will be thought firstly what the church might be, and the spirit is separated from the carnal opinions, which imagine the church to be a state of bishops and bind it to the orderly succession of bishops, as the empires consist of the orderly succession of princes. But the church maintains itself differently. Actually, it is a union not bound to the orderly succession but to the Word of God."3

Similarly, in 1541 Martin Luther himself stated,

"In the church, the succession of bishops does not make a bishop, but the Lord alone is our bishop."4

Clearly, the Lutheran Reformers rejected the concept of "episcopal succession" as it would be developed in both Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions.

Four, the Anglican understanding of "episcopal succession" may have gained currency in England through Martin Bucer who had close dealings with Johannes Gropper in 1540.5 However, this would only underscore the development in England of an "episcopal succession" separate from the one revived under the Papacy. Regardless of either development, Philip Melanchthon again in 1559 rejected the notion of the church being bound to the orderly succession of bishops.6

This bit of research shows that contrary to CCM paragraph 11 no Lutheran confessional foundation exists for a Lutheran church to accept "episcopal succession" in any form. This research is going to gain currency in the ELCA, and as a result the supposed Lutheran confessional underpinnings in support of CCM will evaporate. When this starts to happen, CCM as an agreement will begin to unravel in the ELCA, unless it is enforced in some tyrannical fashion. If this should prove the case, then the ELCA itself will unravel.

Please take the possible ramifications of this research into account as the Episcopal Church considers CCM at its upcoming General Convention.

Menacher Refuted

On the 30th of June 2000, the recipients of this original e-mail message as well as the author of this paper received an e-mail reply from Canon Robert Wright, a member of the Episcopal Church's CCM drafting team. With the subject heading of "Menacher Refuted" that reply contained an e-mail response written on the 29th of June 2000 by Professor Michael Root, also a member of the ELCA's CCM drafting team and by this time a member of the faculty of Trinity Lutheran Seminary. That message read:

To those who read Mark Menacher's Comments on the Historical Work of Georg Kretschmar

The historical work of Georg Kretschmar cited by Pastor Menacher is certainly important. While it is new to him, the article he cites has been known at least to some of us who support CCM since its publication five years ago. It is one of an important series of articles by Kretschmar on the history of episcopacy, now collected in the book: Das bischoefliche Amt (see citation at end of these comments).

The credibility of Menacher's argument that Kretschmar's historical work undercuts CCM faces one massive stumbling block: Kretschmar has not only endorsed CCM, he is himself a bishop in episcopal succession, Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia and Other States. In the "Nachwort" to the book mentioned above, he notes with thanks that at the reorganization of the Lutheran Church in Russia following the fall of communion (sic), Harald Kalnins, the first new bishop, "was consecrated [eingesegnet] at his entrance into office in the tradition of the apostolic succession - according to the order of the Latvian church out of which he came. We have maintained this and anchored it in the church order" [p. 348].

Menacher draws the wrong conclusions from Kretschmar's historical work because of his misinterpretation of CCM. Kretschmar's work is fascinating in showing that, within the context of the Reformation, only in the late 1530s did an argument develop on the Catholic side that tied the validity of ministry to episcopal succession. This development was linked to the republication of the works of Irenaeus in the 1520s. Menacher is thus correct that Apology 14 is not addressing episcopal succession in a narrow and isolated sense. It states the desirability of the traditional episcopal office without any specific reference to succession (although succession was, of course, practiced within that office, even if little theoretical weight was placed on succession per se). What Menacher fails to see is that CCM is part of a wider ecumenical development (BEM, the Niagara Report, Porvoo, Waterloo) that has been able to move beyond old dichotomies precisely by again seeing the episcopal office more comprehensively. An unbroken succession of episcopal consecrations is not to be isolated and made the one strand upon which alone hangs the validity or non-validity of ordained ministry. Because Menacher reads into CCM such a crude theory of episcopacy, he concludes that the absence of succession as a theme in 1530 means that the Apology and CCM are simply talking about different things. The strength of CCM is precisely that it does not isolate succession and thus incorporates an understanding of the episcopal office that has important structural similarities to that declared desirable by the Apology.

Similarly, the texts he cites from Luther and Melanchthon were directed against arguments that bound the very being of the church to episcopal succession and thus made episcopal succession necessary to salvation. If CCM did any such thing, it should be opposed by Lutherans. But it does not. Not only are both churches clear about the fact that episcopal succession is not necessary to salvation nor essential to the church as church (paragraph 13 of CCM), the mutual recognition of all ELCA ministries without any form of re- or supplemental ordination demonstrates this in deed. As a former student of Kretschmar's, Dorothea Wendebourg of Tuebingen, has demonstrated in detail, the Reformers sought "energetically" to maintain some form of episcopal office in the Lutheran churches in the Holy Roman Empire even after the development of objectionable arguments in its favor in the late 1530s. As she notes: "The persistence and the degree of readiness to compromise with which they sought to achieve this end is indeed striking" (p. 60 of article cited at end of these comments). They failed in this endeavor because of the peculiar status of bishops within the political order of the Empire. The Reformers (sic) opposition to certain arguments in favor of episcopacy was not an opposition to episcopacy itself.

In January 1996, at a conference in Delray Beach, Florida, Kretschmar explicitly endorsed CCM. He stated: "The reception of the practice of the 'apostolic succession of the bishops' is no concession, but an enrichment and sign for fellowship in Christianity not only between Lutheran churches and the churches of the Anglican communion, but far beyond that" (p. 29 of paper cited at end of these comments). Here Archbishop Kretschmar has drawn the right theological conclusion against the background of his own important historical work.7

Menacher Not Refuted - CCM is Wrong

On the 30th of June 2000, the author of this paper responded to Canon Wright and sent copies of that response to the Episcopal Church's officers cited above. With the subject heading of "Menacher Not Refuted - CCM is Wrong," that message read:

I am grateful to Michael Root and to Canon Wright for the commentary which has been passed to you. Although I am aware of Georg Kretschmar's own opinions and positions in relation to "episcopal succession", as well as his standing in the Ev.-Lutheran Church in Russia and Other States (ELCROS), Kretschmar's support for an "episcopal succession" does not diminish the Lutheran Reformers' rejection of it. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

The difference between Kretschmar and some American theologians is that Kretschmar maintains his opinion even though his own research does not support his position. CCM, on the other hand, tries to make associations between the Lutheran Confessions and Anglican practice which did not and do not exist. There is a fundamental difference between a Lutheran understanding of "episkope"8 and bishops in tactile "historic succession." CCM seeks wrongly to remove these distinctions.

Again, as Kretschmar indicates, the notion of "episcopal succession" was not operational in 1530—31 when the Apology to the Augsburg Confession was written. When it was "rediscovered" around 1538—40 both Melanchthon and Luther rejected the notion of it.9 Therefore, "episcopal succession" is not the "ecclesiastical and canonical polity" which Lutherans "desire to maintain", strictly speaking or otherwise.

With respect to paragraph 11, CCM is thus wrong and misleading. As such, many Lutherans in the ELCA have mistakenly put their faith in CCM. When the point I am making gains currency in the ELCA it is highly likely that CCM will begin to unravel in the ELCA, unless it is tyrannically enforced. Again, if this proves to be the case, the ELCA itself will unravel. Contrary to Kretschmar's understanding of it, such enforcement of CCM would show "episcopal succession" to be anything but a "band of love."

I wish to thank you for your time, and I will take it from this correspondence that this information has been conveyed to the relevant persons in the Episcopal Church in the USA before its General Convention.

CCM Paragraph 11 in Historical Context

Before considering the merits and demerits of Professor Root's reply to the Episcopal Church, it may be helpful at this point to review the text of CCM paragraph 11:

"Historic succession" refers to a tradition which goes back to the ancient church, in which bishops already in the succession install newly elected bishops with prayer and the laying-on-of-hands. At present The Episcopal Church has bishops in this historic succession, as do all the churches of the Anglican Communion, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at present does not, although some member churches of the Lutheran World Federation do. The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886/1888, the ecumenical policy of The Episcopal Church, refers to this tradition as "the historic episcopate." In the Lutheran Confessions, Article 14 of the Apology refers to this episcopal pattern by the phrase, "the ecclesiastical and canonical polity" which it is "our deep desire to maintain."

In relation to this key paragraph in CCM, the majority of Professor Root's comments to the Episcopal Church are not germane to the argument. This shall be illustrated by the following four main points.

First, the concept of "new" in this author's original e-mail message to the Episcopal Church refers primarily to the introduction of Kretschmar's research into the public debate on CCM. If this research were widely known in the public arena, opponents of CCM would have made reference to it long ago. Whether Wright's referral of the initial e-mail message to Root indicates any newness of this material to the Episcopal Church is unclear.

Second, regardless of Root's opinion that "CCM is part of a wider ecumenical development (BEM, the Niagara Report, Porvoo, Waterloo)," the vast majority of churches in the Lutheran World Federation (over 90%) do not have an "historic episcopate." More obviously, though, CCM as an agreement pertains only to the ELCA and to the Episcopal Church. Consequently, the "wider ecumenical development" is not particularly applicable to the specifics of CCM, especially to those contained in CCM paragraph 11.

Third, Root's attempt to attenuate Melanchthon's and Luther's rejection of "episcopal succession" by interpreting it in relation to CCM paragraph 13 is subterfuge. Contrary to Professor Root's assessment, the terminology used by both Melanchthon and Luther refers unmistakeably to the "pattern" of "episcopal succession" (cf., CCM paragraph 11), with little or no emphasis upon its ecclesial nature or its salvific value (cf., CCM paragraph 13). Furthermore, Root's subterfuge cannot conceal CCM's central condition that the ELCA will be in "full communion" with the Episcopal Church only when it has been determined that both churches share a "ministry of bishops in the historic episcopate" (CCM paragraph 14).10 Thus, contrary to Melanchthon, this process will begin after the ELCA as a church has bound itself to an orderly succession of bishops (cf., CCM paragraph 16), and it will be completed, contrary to Luther, after all the ELCA's bishops have been made bishops by bishops in succession (cf., CCM paragraph 18).

Finally, Root's citation of Dorothea Wendebourg raises a number of problems. The following three items shall be addressed.

One, when Wendebourg speaks about the Reformers' "persistence and the degree of readiness to compromise" in relation to the office of bishop,11 she refers primarily to the political motivation of the Reformers to retain the office of bishop as an entity within the Holy Roman Empire. As Wendebourg comments, "One did not want to place oneself outside the legal structures of the empire."12 Furthermore, if the Reformers had been given the choice they would have preferred theologically to retain the established relationship with the ecclesial estate of the bishops rather than allow the functions of the episcopal office to be assumed by the secular princes.13

Two, in the paragraph immediately following the quotation cited by Professor Root, Wendebourg (in the version German at least) indicates that when the notion of "apostolic succession" had been "rediscovered" and had become a marginal topic in rapprochement negotiations, the "Wittenberg Reformers reacted to it with a sharp rejection: With the theory of apostolic succession in the episcopate, the church would be made dependent upon the succession of the bishops."14 No amount of word games can diminish the fact that CCM now makes both the ELCA's unity with the Episcopal Church and the ELCA's constitutional existence "dependent upon the succession of the bishops."

Three, in the second paragraph after the aforementioned quotation Wendebourg then cites Article 14.1 of the Apology to the Augsburg Confession and explains how the Reformers desired to maintain the constitution and ranks of clergy in the church. From the context of this and the preceding paragraphs, it should be clear from Wendebourg's article, which Root cites, that the Reformers' desire to retain various ranks of clergy as per the Apology did not include any desire to accept the "pattern" of "episcopal succession" as CCM paragraph 11 states.

At this point, one should note that in its totality the material in Wendebourg's article not only redresses Professor Root's misappropriation of Wendebourg's research, but more importantly it corroborates independently the position of the author of this paper as conveyed to the Episcopal Church in his e-mail communications of June, 2000.

Unfortunately, Professor Root's misapplication of Wendebourg's research is not isolated to his response to the Episcopal Church. Elsewhere, Wendebourg indicates that she is both aware of and disapproves of what is apparently Professor Root's practice of citing her in ways which run contrary to her historical research. Furthermore, Wendebourg rejects Root's assumption that due to the change in political circumstances since the Reformation period Lutheran churches today are somehow bound to accept the medieval episcopal order, including the so-called "historic episcopate." According to Wendebourg, the Lutheran Reformers were necessarily obliged to break with the then existent ecclesial order precisely to maintain "apostolic continuity."15 Finally, Wendebourg understands the single office of ministry in Lutheran churches as being not only legitimate but also as having developed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.16 As part of this development, when the Lutheran Reformers began to ordain pastors regularly in 1535, candidates for the ministry of Word and Sacrament were ordained to the office of pastor as bishops!17

From the preceding points, it is hard to know what one should make of Professor Root's response to the Episcopal Church. As his response seems to contravene the most basic principles of intellectual and academic integrity, it is hard not dismiss it as pure sophistry. However, before any conclusions are drawn, it is time to address the main topic of this paper.

CCM and Kretschmar's Research

The next portion of this paper will concentrate both upon Kretschmar's published research as cited above and upon what Professor Root should have learned from it.18 For the sake of thoroughness, at least six points should be made regarding Root's treatment of Kretschmar's research in relation to the nature and text of CCM paragraph 11. These points raise a number of important questions.

First, Root boasts that he has known of Kretschmar's article in Heubach's Festschrift for a considerable period of time, perhaps as long ago as 1995. Despite this, CCM appears to have been drafted without regard to Kretschmar's historical insights. If Kretschmar's research was not new to Root, why then did he not make his knowledge of it widely known in order to facilitate a more balanced and historically accurate discussion on CCM?

Second, in his response to the Episcopal Church Root acknowledges an awareness of the fact that "episcopal succession" was "rediscovered" around 1538-40 by Johannes Gropper.19 From the chronological order of events, it would seem rather obvious that if the concept of "episcopal succession" was not operational in 1530-31, then the Reformers could not have been referring to it as the "ecclesiastical and canonical polity" which they "desired to maintain" as per the Apology. That being the case, how and why could Root as one of CCM's drafters sanction the present text of CCM paragraph 11?

Third, unlike Kretschmar's portrayal of events Root seems to avoid Melanchthon's 1539 rejection of "episcopal succession" as the rejection of the polity advanced by the "carnal opinions, which imagine the church to be a state of bishops and bind it to the orderly succession of bishops."20 The "carnal opinions"of Melanchthon's day stand unmistakably close to those today who advance "episcopal succession" as part of an "organic" understanding of the church and of its unity. So, how has one so well versed in ecumenical matters as Root apparently failed to make this rather simple conceptual association as it impinges upon CCM?

Fourth, Root should have gleaned from Kretschmar's essay that Gropper's formulations on "episcopal succession" were anti-Protestant in nature.21 The same applies to the polity of Anglican churches, especially since 1662. Otherwise, their so-called "historic catholic episcopate" would not be the primary obstacle to unity between Anglican and non-historic episcopally ordered churches.22 With this knowledge, why has Root as a Lutheran theologian helped to engineer an agreement whose primary goal is to oblige the ELCA to accommodate and then to administer against its own clergy this anti-Protestant polity of the Episcopal Church (cf., CCM paragraph 13)?

Fifth, having read Kretschmar's work Root should also be aware that the "ecclesiastical and canonical polity" practiced by the medieval Roman church included a seven layer understanding of the office of ministry in which ordination to the priesthood was the seventh and generally accepted final step.23 Later, Kretschmar also points out that the "first post-medieval church order in the west in which the three-fold office and apostolic succession were assumed" was that established in the Ordinal to the first Book of Common Prayer (1549-50) by Thomas Cranmer. Cranmer was heavily reliant upon Martin Bucer for his concepts, and notably, Bucer had worked closely with Gropper around 1540.24 Thus, from Kretschmar's research it would seem obvious that Anglican ecclesial polity represents a variant form of the Roman "episcopal succession" already rejected by the Reformers. Moreover, because Leo XIII in the papal Bull Apostolicae Curae (1896) declared all Anglican ordinations since 1550 (since Bucer's activities in Britain) to be "absolutely null and utterly void,"25 why has Root not acknowledged that "historic episcopacy" in the Anglican sense is doubly rejected and thus doubly removed from the medieval Roman polity mentioned in Article 14 of the Apology.

Finally, when confronted specifically with Kretschmar's research in relation to CCM paragraph 11 Root reluctantly admits, "Menacher is thus correct that Apology 14 is not addressing episcopal succession in a narrow and isolated sense. It states the desirability of the traditional episcopal office without any specific reference to succession (although succession was, of course, practiced within that office, even if little theoretical weight was placed on succession per se)." The importance of Root's astonishing admission and of his weak qualification to this admission needs to be elucidated in three ways.

One, contrary to Root's interpretation presented to the Episcopal Church, CCM paragraph 11 speaks of "episcopal succession" only "in a narrow and isolated sense." CCM's definition of "historic succession" as "a tradition which goes back to the ancient church, in which bishops already in the succession install newly elected bishops with prayer and the laying-on-of-hands" is (to use Root's own terminology) "a crude theory of episcopacy." Furthermore, if "episcopal succession is not necessary to salvation or essential to the church as church," as Root claims, and if this succession can be interpreted to suit the fancies of any given church (cf., CCM paragraphs 13, 15), then such an "episcopal succession" would seem to be so narrow and so isolated as to have no inherent value whatsoever.26 Clearly, the attempt made in CCM paragraph 11 to collapse the complex, medieval Roman ecclesiastical and canonical polity into such a crude, mechanistic, and meaningless "pattern" of "episcopal succession" is neither historically nor intellectually credible.

Two, even if it could be proved historically that "succession was ... practiced within that office" regularly, and Kretschmar indicates that it was not,27 it should be recalled that Article 14 of the Augsburg Confession and its Apology speaks primarily and specifically about the orderly or regular calling of ministers and not about their orderly or regular succession. As Kretschmar indicates in the very first paragraph of his article, the concept of "apostolic succession" was not a matter of controversy in the first decades of the 16th century. "The Wittenberg Reformers, at least until the time of the Imperial Diet at Regensburg in 1541, had neither affirmed nor rejected it. They knew of the concept just as little as their contemporaries. Also, the Lutheran Confessions were not taking issue with this ancient ecclesial conception."28 Contrary to Root's apparent way of thinking it would seem rather obvious that for something to be practiced it must be done so consciously and deliberately. Again, to borrow a few of Root's own words, "the Apology and CCM are simply talking about different things."

Three, as CCM paragraph 16 makes clear, the unity sought between the Episcopal Church and the ELCA is to be achieved not according to the "ecclesiastical and canonical polity" which existed under the Roman Pontiff in 1530-31 but instead according to the principles of the 1662 Preface to the Anglican ordination rites (Ordinal). Notably, this Preface is firmly anchored in the 1662 Act of Uniformity, and through this Act the attempt was made to eradicate all "non-Anglican" forms of Christian expression in England and Wales. Still today, all Anglican churches are bound by the same intolerant principles of this Preface. Consequently, CCM now requires the ELCA to adopt and to share an episcopalian "ecclesiastical and canonical polity" which was restored and enforced for decades through "the cruelty of the bishops"29 of the Church of England.30 Viewed in this light, the whole of Called to Common Mission runs contrary to both the letter and spirit of Article 14 of the Apology to the Augsburg Confession. Most importantly, however, such enforced uniformity even with exceptions in "unusual circumstances" in no way reflects what Jesus meant when he prayed "that they might be one" (John 17: 11, 22).

To conclude, although the historical details presented above clarify and correct the content and nature both of CCM paragraph 11 and of Professor Root's response to the Episcopal Church in June of 2000, none of these facts compares with Professor Root's own admission "that Apology 14 is not addressing episcopal succession in a narrow and isolated sense. It states the desirability of the traditional episcopal office without any specific reference to succession..." Moreover, Professor Root's pallid qualification attached to his admission that such a "succession was, of course, practiced within that office" is incompatible both with the wording of CCM paragraph 11 and with the realities of the historical research which Professor Root claims before the Episcopal Church to have known for many years. Unfortunately, the only "episcopal succession" practiced at the time of the writing of the Apology to the Augsburg Confession appears to have developed chiefly through the present practice of some ELCA scholars who project this succession back into a time when it was not a concept and who distort or ignore the Reformers' clear rejection of "episcopal succession" when it later became a concept.

Professor Root's scholarship in relation to CCM as cited above is certainly creative, but it is not correct. As a result of his scholarship, many members of the ELCA - particularly the voting members of the ELCA's 1999 Churchwide Assembly - have been wrongly led to believe through CCM paragraph 11 that the Lutheran Confessions refer to and thus endorse "historic episcopacy."31 As a further result of his scholarship, the Episcopal Church on the eve of its 2000 General Convention was also wrongly led to believe that the agreement upon which it was voting was not fundamentally flawed. Such scholarship is neither historically nor intellectually credible or acceptable, and the intentionality of its perpetration raises potentially serious ethical concerns.

Your Complicity in Grand Deception?

You now have fully informed yourself of the deceptive nature of the core aspects of CCM. The matter of "historic episcopacy" as advanced in CCM cannot be dismissed as an esoteric rite which will affect virtually no one in the ELCA. Instead, the inaccuracies in CCM strike at the foundation of the ELCA itself. Luther admonishes,

They must themselves admit, whether they like it or not, that the church of Christ neither lies nor deceives... Therefore the holy church cannot and may not lie or suffer false doctrine, but must teach nothing except what is holy and true, that is, God's word alone; and where it teaches a lie it is idolatrous and the whore-church of the devil."32

By putting the legal principles of episcopalian religious intolerance before the promises of the gospel and by putting the sinister statutes of the seventeenth century English kingdom before the rightful dominion of Christ, the ELCA has created for itself a crisis of untold proportions. The introduction of "historic episcopacy" into the ELCA has transformed the ELCA into an institution of "historic hypocrisy."

At the beginning of the Reformation, things were very different. When the young monk, Martin Luther, appeared before the Emperor Charles V, the nobility, and the ecclesial authorities at the Imperial Diet at Worms in 1521, Luther confessed that his conscience was held captive to the Word of God (capta conscientia in verbis dei). Luther continued his confession by saying that if he could not be convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by clear reason (nisi convictus furero testmoniis scripturarum aut ratione evidenti), then he would stand firmly in his refusal to submit to the temporal authorities arrayed against him.33 Being held captive by God's word as the word of truth gave Luther his freedom, something which he had already begun to demonstrate as early as 1517-1518 when he began to change the spelling of his name from Luder to Luther to reflect the Latin and Greek words,\ eleutherius and eleutheros, respectively, for "free."34

The truth in Christ is what makes Christians free. The freedom offered by the truth in Christ is what makes Lutherans Lutheran. If you choose to support the inaccuracies and fallacies in CCM, then you choose to be an accomplice to what is arguably the greatest act of deception ever cultivated by an ecclesial denomination in the history of North America. If that should be your chosen path, then you separate yourself not only from the Lutheran church, but according to Luther you separate yourself primarily from the Christian church.


  1. H. George Anderson, at Lodi, California, on 11th February 2000. To the matter at hand, H. George Anderson is recorded as saying, "So structure is included then as you know when Melanchton wrote his Apology to the Augsburg Confession two weeks after the actual presentation of the document. On Article XIV he described what he assumed would be possible. He said, 'We earnestly desire,' and he uses the word 'desire' three times in that short description of Article XIV, 'We desire that the ecclesiastical and the canonical polity of the church, we accept the (garbled),' and that means the historic episcopate of that day. All I want to do here is to say here today is that in the Confessions it is very hard to (missing word - say?) that at Augsburg there was any opposition to the concept of historic episcopate, even more rigorous than what we've now been talking about with the Episcopalians." I am grateful to Mr. Jim Lindberg for a typed transcript of a recording of the entire session of which this is a small segment. I have added italics, some punctuation, and suggested wording for clarity. Return
  2. Georg Kretschmar, "Die Wiederentdeckung des Konzeptes der "Apostolischen Sukzession" im Umkreis der Reformation," in Kirche in der Schule Luthers - Festschrift für D. Joachim Heubach, ed. B. Hägglund and G. Müller (Erlangen: Martin-Luther-Verlag, 1995), pp. 248-253; henceforth cited as "Kretschmar." Originally, this reference was placed here in the body of my e-mail message. Hereafter, all similarly placed references in the e-mail messages have been transferred to endnotes and are distinguished by the phrase "Original Citation." Return
  3. Melanchthons Werke in Auswahl, ed. von Robert (Gütersloh: Stupperich, 1951), 1: 330, 16-23. Original Citation. Cf., Kretschmar, pp. 252-253. Return
  4. Luthers Werke, (Weimar: Herman Böhlaus Nachfolger), WA 53: 74. Original Citation. Return
  5. Cf., Kretschmar, p. 254. Original Citation. Return
  6. Cf., Kretschmar, pp. 265-266. Original Citation. Return
  7. At this point Professor Root provided the following references: Georg Kretschmar, Das bischoefliche Amt: Kirchengeschichtliche und oekumenische Studien zur Frage des kirchlichen Amtes (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999). Georg Kretschmar, "The Concordat of Agreement in the Light of Apology 14." Unpublished paper delivered at Conference in Delray Beach, Florida, January 1996. Dorothea Wendebourg, "The Reformation in Germany and the Episcopal Office." In Visible Unity and the Ministry of Oversight: The Second Theological Conference held under the Meissen Agreement between the Church of England and the Evangelical Church in Germany (London: Church House Publishing, 1996): 49—78. Original Citations. Return
  8. Although not originally included in the e-mail message, it is important to note that in his Exhortation to All Clergy Assembled at Augsburg for the Diet of 1530 Luther posits the function of "episkope" in the office of pastor. "If it were left up to the endowment bishops and suffragran (sic) bishops, the church would long since have perished a hundred thousand times... The bishop's office will, I daresay, remain with the pastors and preachers." Luther's Works (American Edition), Career of the Reformer IV, ed. Lewis W. Spitz (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1960), 34: 45. This does not mean, however, that the Reformers rejected forms of supracongregational "episkope." The Reformers considered oversight in the form of Visitationen to be "useful and necessary" for Christendom. See Dorothea Wendebourg, "Die Reformation in Deutschland und das bischöfliche Amt," in Die eine Christenheit auf Erden (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 2000), pp. 202-205. Whereas Root refers to the English version of Wendebourg's article in his response to the Episcopal Church, this paper has been written with reference to the German version. The bibliography to Wendebourg's collection of essays (p. 262) indicates the same article first appeared in both languages as per the reference given by Root now situated above in note 7. Return
  9. Cf., Georg Kretschmar, "Die Wiederentdeckung des Konzeptes der "Apostolischen Sukzession" im Umkreis der Reformation," in Kirche in der Schule Luthers (Erlangen: Martin-Luther-Verlag, 1995), pp. 248—253. Original Citation. Return
  10. In relation to the Concordat of Agreement, Root readily talks about accepting an "historic episcopate" as a condition for unity with Anglican churches generally and with the Episcopal Church specifically, see Michael Root, "Conditions of Communion: Bishops, the Concordat, and the Augsburg Confession," in Inhabiting Unity - Theological Perspectives on the Proposed Lutheran-Episcopal Concordat, ed. E. Radner and R. R. Reno (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), pp. 65-66. Notably, this condition in the Concordat became a "gift" to be "freely" accepted in CCM (paragraph 18). Thus, CCM as an agreement suffers from chronic subterfuge. Return
  11. In its entirety, this quotation from the German version of Wendebourg's article reads, "Denn es ist ja auffällig, mit welcher Hartnäckigkeit, mit wieviel Kompromißbereitschaft auch sie nach Mitteln und Wegen suchten, dies Ziel zu erreichen." See Wendebourg, Die eine Christenheit, p. 216. Return
  12. Wendebourg, Die eine Christenheit, p. 216. Return
  13. Wendebourg, Die eine Christenheit, pp. 205-209, 214-215. Return
  14. Wendebourg, Die eine Christenheit, p. 216. Although Wendebourg seems to employ the term "apostolic succession" in a moderately ontological way, in the primary source material to which she refers Melanchthon speaks plainly of the "pattern" of "successionem ordinariam" (see p. 216 note 92). Return
  15. Dorothea Wendebourg, "Das Amt und die Ämter," Zeitschrift für evangelisches Kirchenrecht (Sonderdruck), March 2000, 45: 1, 30-37, especially 35 note 106. Return
  16. Wendebourg, ZevKR, 45: 1, 35-36 note 109. Return
  17. Wendebourg, ZevKR, 45: 1, 15-16. Already in 1533 Luther was seeking to dissolve the Roman clerical hierarchy and to return parity to the episcopal office of pastor. According to Luther, Christ "has begun again to destroy their chrism and private mass [sacramental consecration/ordination and sacramental mass], to assist in removing such offense from the kingdom of God, and to assure and make available to the church once again the call or true consecration and ordination to the office of the ministry, as it possessed it from the beginning, but which the great bishops arrogated to themselves alone and took away from the small bishops or pastors. This is and must be our foundation and sure rock: Where the gospel is rightly and purely preached, there a holy, Christian church must be." See Luther's Works (American Edition), Church and Ministry IV, ed Martin E. Lehmann (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), 38: 211. Return
  18. Unfortunately, Root's misrepresentation of Wendebourg's research makes the credibility of his reportage of Kretschmar's unpublished thoughts unreliable. Therefore, it would be unfruitful to speculate on what Kretschmar might have meant by such reported comments. Apart from that, whatever Kretschmar's current opinions on "episcopal succession" may be, they have no bearing on the Reformers' rejection of it. Kretschmar himself makes this abundantly clear. Return
  19. See Kretschmar, pp. 248-253. Return
  20. Kretschmar, p. 252. Return
  21. Kretschmar, p. 251. In light of Wendebourg's research, the question arises whether Gropper's "rediscovery" of "episcopal succession" emerged as a means to counter the recently developed Lutheran practice of ordaining pastors as bishops. If so, then episcopal succession would be a central element of the Counter-Reformation. Return
  22. Generally, Episcopalians consider non-historic episcopally ordered churches, like the ELCA, to be inferior to their own. According to Arthur Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury 1961-1974, Protestant churches without an historic episcopate are incomplete. "(1) With the lack of the historical structure, the sense of worship as the act of the one historic society has been lost. ... (2) With the defective sense of worship as the act of the historic society, there grows easily a false emphasis on the place of human feelings in worship and in religion generally. ... (3) With defect in life and worship there is defect in the presentation of truth. By its attempt to make a 'nude' appeal to Scripture, Protestantism has failed to find a centre of unity and authority in doctrine" (Arthur Michael Ramsey, The Gospel and the Catholic Church [London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1936], pp. 197-200). Furthermore, according to the Lambeth Conference of 1948, for Anglicans it is impossible either "to declare the sacraments of non-episcopal bodies null and void" or "to treat non-episcopal ministries as identical in status and authority with the episcopal ministry" (Richard A. Norris, "Episcopacy," in The Study of Anglicanism ed. Stephen Sykes and John Booty [London: SPCK, 1988], p. 307). Thus, without the "historic episcopate" non-historic episcopally ordered churches are considered in classic episcopalian thought to be defective and not fully part of the body of Christ. Return
  23. In 1533, shortly after the writing of the Augsburg Confession, Luther rejected the seven layer "ecclesiastical and canonical" structures of the Roman church and sought the abolition of the Roman practice of consecration in the church. Luther writes, "When I again deal with the subject at a later date, I shall further attack the entire consecration in the papacy, for they have seven consecrations before they consecrate a person as a private priest, namely, doorkeeper, lector, exorcist, acolyte, subdeacon, deacon, priest, and after that there is the high consecration of bishops and the pope. ... Therefore, we also want to have the seventh consecration abolished, which the papists have separated from the office of the ministry and have destroyed with their private consecrations, and we want to have the office of the ministry confirmed so that in this way all seven consecrations with their dissembling should not lead us astray with regard to the offices of Christ and the church. Our consecration shall be called ordination, or a call to the office." See Luther's Works, 38: 213-214. Return
  24. See Kretschmar, pp. 233, 254, 276-277. Return
  25. See Paul F. Bradshaw, "Ordinals," in The Study of Anglicanism, ed. Stephen Sykes and John Booty (London: SPCK; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), pp. 152-53. Return
  26. With respect to interpreting biblical texts, and the same would apply to other ecclesial writings, Luther states, "The lies would not be so crude and the disgrace so great if they have discordant and dissimilar interpretations to a single word in different passages, or dissimilar interpretations to various words in a single passage. But when they give dissimilar and contrary interpretations to a single word in a single passage, in a single sentence, they are (if you will pardon the expression) soiling themselves and clapping the devil naked into the pillory. For no language speaks in that manner. A child would have to say that it is impossible." See Luther's Works (American Edition), Word and Sacrament III, ed. Robert H. Fischer (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1961), 37: 165. Return
  27. Kretschmar, p. 231, note 1. Return
  28. Kretschmar, p. 231. Return
  29. Apology to the Augsburg Confession - XIV.2, in Theodore G. Tappert, ed., Book of Concord (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), p. 214. Return
  30. With respect to the development of Anglican religious intolerance, especially after 1660, see: John Miller, Popery and Politics in England 1660-1688 (Cambridge University Press, 1973). David Ogg, England in the Reign of Charles II, 2nd edition, vol. 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956). Michael R. Watts, The Dissenters: From the Reformation to the French Revolution (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978). John T. Wilkinson, 1662 - And After: Three Centuries of English Nonconformity (London: The Epworth Press, 1962). Return
  31. Congruent with CCM paragraph 11, David Yeago in a recent edition of the Lutheran Forum argues, "We must say No to polemics, which claim to represent true Lutheranism, but obscure the clear endorsement in our Confessions of that body of practice now called the historic episcopate as a bond of communion between the Churches: 'On this matter, as we often testified at Augsburg, we desire with the greatest eagerness to preserve the polity of the Church and the degrees of office in the Church, even if these were established by human authority. For we know that the Church's order was set up by the Fathers in this way, as the ancient canons describe, by a good and helpful plan (Apology XIV. 1)'. " (David Yeago, "Gospel and Church: Twelve Articles of Theological Principle Amid the Present Conflict in the ELCA," Lutheran Forum, Spring 2000, 34: 1, 21-22). Return
  32. Luther's Works (American Edtion), Church and Ministry III, ed. Eric W. Gritsch (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966), 41: 214. Return
  33. Luther, WA 7: 838, 4-9. Cf., "Address of Doctor Martin Luther before the Emperor Charles and the Princes" in Deutsche Reichstagsakte-Jüngere Reihe (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1962), 2: 555, 16-22. Return
  34. Bernd Moeller and Karl Stackmann, "Luder-Luther-Eleutherius: Erwägungen zu Luthers Namen," in Nachrichten der Akamemie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen. I. Philologisch-Historische Klasse, (Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1981). Return


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