[quote="jnpl1185, post:6, topic:246647"]
The ELCA in the U.S. also has bishops and maintains that they have apostolic succession through their relations with the Episcopal Church in the US.
Most Lutherans do not think that Apostolic Succession is necessary, though, due to the belief that Christ is "wherever two or three are gathered in His name" and the Church is "wherever the Gospel is preached and the sacraments rightly administered". In other words, most Lutherans believe it does not matter who touched whom, but whether their beliefs and teachings reflect those of the Apostles as handed down through scripture.
I think one area that still separates us. It appears that Luther redefined the term "church" to suit himself. In doing so, he departed from what the Apostles taught about the nature of the Church.
It is true that the Church founded by Christ is found where the gospel is preached, and the sacraments are rightly administered, but there is also much more to what defines the Church than these two characteristics.
The Church is not at liberty to abandon that which was passed down to us from the Apostles.
St. Irenæus (Adv. Haeres, IV, xxvi, n. 2) says: "Wherefore we must obey the priests of the Church who have succession from the Apostles, as we have shown, who, together with succession in the episcopate, have received the certain mark of truth according to the will of the Father; all others, however, are to be suspected, who separated themselves from the principal succession".
“For, since ye are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, ye appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order, by believing in His death, ye may escape from death. It is therefore necessary that, as ye indeed do, so without the bishop ye should do nothing… he who does anything apart from the bishop, and presbytery, and deacons, such a man is not pure in his conscience” (Letter to the Trallians, Chs. 2, 7). “See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop… It is well to reverence both God and the bishop. He who honors the bishop has been honored by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Chs. 8, 9). “Do nothing without the bishop; keep your bodies as the temples of God; love unity; avoid divisions; be the followers of Jesus Christ, even as He is of His Father” (Letter to the Philadelphians, Ch. 7). “Now it becomes you also not to treat your bishop too familiarly on account of his youth, but to yield him all reverence, having respect to the power of God the Father, as I have known even holy presbyters do, not judging rashly, from the manifest youthful appearance [of their bishop], but as being themselves prudent in God, submitting to him, or rather not to him, but to the Father of Jesus Christ, the bishop of us all… I exhort you to study to do all things with a divine harmony, while your bishop presides in the place of God… neither do anything without the bishop and presbyters” (Letter to the Magnesians, Chs. 3, 6, 7). “Let us be careful, then, not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God… For we ought to receive every one whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household, as we would do Him that sent him. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself” (Letter to the Ephesians, Chs. 5, 6).