Magazine article The Christian Century

An Interview with Dietrich Brauer: Russian & Lutheran

Magazine article The Christian Century

An Interview with Dietrich Brauer: Russian & Lutheran

Article excerpt

Dietrich Brauer, archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia, was born in Vladivostok, the child of Russian-German parents. He grew up in Moscow and attended Novosaratovka Theological Seminary. Besides serving as archbishop, he is pastor of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Moscow.

Was your family religious?

My family was essentially agnostic. In the Russian-German context, my family's relationship to religion was complicated. It was not possible to find a Lutheran community in the big city, and Orthodoxy was not particularly attractive. In our circle of friends, there were plenty of people for whom individual faith was significant, but community life was limited or absolutely impossible. I remember that as a child, I was impressed by the personal faith of the people around me.

How did you become attracted to the faith?

The rich heritage of Lutherans in Russia and the connection of our family with it, the testimony of faith from particular people, the study of the Bible and religious texts of the Lutheran church and the music of Bach-God used all of these to invite me to himself.

How would you describe Lutheranism in Russia?

The Lutheran Church in Russia is an ethnic church, but it is not a monoethnic church. Believers come from a variety of German areas and Finnish territories. There are Swedes, Dutch, Latvians, Estonians, Swiss, French and others. After the fall of communism, more than two million Russian-Germans returned to Germany. That in itself changed the character of Lutheran churches. Today Lutheran churches are no longer mostly ethnic churches, but are churches for all people.

What is your vision for the church now?

Lutheran churches in Russia have a big opportunity to be a church not of priests and charismatic leaders who know all the answers in advance, but of a living people, seeing God and his righteousness amidst all the unrighteous kingdoms; to be a church that is not looking backward, but is living here and now, with the perspective of eternity; to be a church that is not afraid to admit mistakes, but that has the courage to say what it thinks and show love to its neighbors. …

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