[1) I understand that at least one of the predecessor bodies (prior to LCA) had the Histoic Episcopate or Apostolic Succession. I've met several fine, old pastors ordained by bishops who had this excellent and now lost mark of the church. I'm thinking it was the Augustana strand? Maybe not, but I'd love to hear who did and why it was kabashed.
2) A great thesis, I think, could be done on the relative ecclesiologies and theologies of the ALC vs LCA - not in compettiton, just comparison. For it seems to me I was always told that the ALC was more conservative and the LCA more liberal. However, from historical perspective - the limited view I have -- it seems that the finer point is that, as we know, the ALC was more congregationalist and LCA more hierarchical. As such, it seems to me and I would love to hear some discussion on this -- the ALC was actually more susceptible to cultural shifts and trends as a congregationalist polity because each congregation could, in many ways, go their own way (a bit overstated, I know, but without central authroity and oversight whose interpretaton is correct?). The LCA, on the other hand, with its structure of bishops and some sort of palpable unity would actually slow down the integration of cultural shifts and preserve more of the tradition (truly conservative in the sense Luther and even Christ were).
What say you? I'm leaving for camp today, so I'll probably not have access to this discussion til Friday night, but I still would love to hear some thoughts!
Regarding the historic episcopate: Actually, no. This is a common misunderstanding. The Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church (commonly called Augustana Synod) never did have an understanding of itself as having any kind of historic episcopate. Although they were a Swedish-based ethnic synod (the only Lutheran option for Swedish-Americans), they did not view themselves as simply the daughter church of the Church of Sweden. George Stephenson's description of the Augustana Synod as "a daughter" is true in the sense that they shared an ethnic kinship, but not much more than that. In fact, there was often strong resistance against identifying their group in such a way. When Archbishop Nathan Soderblom from Sweden visited the US in the 1920s, he was welcomed by the Augustana Synod for ethnic reasons, but the content of his preaching was heavily criticized by many within the Augustana Synod, claiming he was preaching essentially a Unitarian understanding of Christianity. And what is even more telling is that Soderblom presented a pectoral cross to the then-president of the Synod (Brandelle, I think). They accepted the cross, but with the explanation that in doing so they did not adopt any kind of understanding of the role of a bishop or apostolic succession of bishops. But they did acknowledge it as a sign of friendship. Having said this, there were some isolated voices in the Augustana Synod who wanted to adopt such an understanding, but they were definitely a minority. If I remember right, I think there were a few pastors who went to Sweden to receive ordination from Swedish bishops, but this practice was not mainstream.
Regarding the LCA as "liberal" and TALC as more "conservative," in some ways those generalizations hold truth, but I think it's more complex than that, and it all depends on what one means by those descriptions. The LCA tradition was more Americanized in general, and they weren't all that involved in the theological disputes that happened among more Midwestern-based Lutheran synods. Hence, they were less doctrinally rigid, content to affirm subscription to the Lutheran confessions as a basis for church fellowship rather than requiring explanatory theses beyond that. But when we think about "liberals," which tradition did Mark Hanson come out of? He came out of TALC! I say this not to single out Mark Hanson, but simply to demonstrate that there were "liberal" and "conservative" elements in both of those groups. And by the way, if I'm not mistaken, I think that TALC actually approved the use of the title "bishop" before the LCA did.