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Response to Filatov and Stepina on Lutheranism in Russia

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I have been reading the book Religiya i obshchestvo: ocherki religioznoi zhizni sovremennoi Rossii recently published by Letny Sad. If my understanding is correct, the publication of this book was financed by Keston Institute and it claims to be an 'Encyclopedia of religious life in Russia today'. Most of the chapters are by the editor of the book, the Moscow sociologist Sergei Filatov. I was particularly interested in the chapter 'Katoliki i katolitsizm v Rossii', having a longstanding concern with Catholic-Protestant relations, and also of course the chapter 'Rossiiskoye lyuteranstvo'.

For the last 25 years I have been closely involved in church life in Latvia and, through the will of Providence, with the regeneration of the Lutheran Church in Russia. Any information about Lutheranism, including scholarly work on the subject, is of course extremely important for me, especially when it deals not just with practical aspects of the revival of a traditional confession in the Russian Federation, but also with individual personalities and their involvement in bringing this revival about.

The chapter 'Rosiiskoye lyuteranstvo' describes the complex process of the revival of Lutheranism in Russia, but also deals with the identity of Lutheranism in the difficult and troubled conditions in Russia today. It is true that there are three, five, perhaps more types of Lutheranism involved, including the Finno-Scandinavian type (supported by some of the American Lutherans), the very liberal West German type, and the 'new Russian' ('novorossiiskoye') Lutheranism (as I call it), which is asserting its independence both from narrow nationalism and from western superliberalism, while at the same time working out a new synthesis of the Reformation heritage in the difficult conditions in our country. Here I agree with the sociologists who wrote this chapter: for Russian Lutheranism to achieve theological independence it will need more trained theologians from amongst the Russian Lutherans themselves.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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