Several days ago, I posted my position on the conversion of a Lutheran pastor to Eastern Orthodoxy. My words were strong and my rhetoric vigorous. I stand by what I said.
I want also to make the following points clear. While the action of embracing Eastern Orthodoxy is a turning away from the Gospel purely preached, and hence a turning away from Christ, I do not want to leave anyone with the impression that I believe the Eastern Orthodox Church is not Church, or that anyone who joins that Church is no longer a Christian, or that the pastor who converted is no longer a lover of, and believer in, Jesus Christ. I believe that his actions were deceitful and sinful, and I entrust him to the mercy of Christ.
Ironically, and tragically, while the Eastern Orthodox Church believes itself alone to be Church, even to the point of declaring that the Eucharist in our churches is not the Lord’s Supper, nor our pastors legitimate or valid servants of Christ, and our salvation in doubt, because our clergy have not receive the so-called "apostolic succession," we Lutherans, who are truly catholic in our confession of the Church, never have, and, as long as we remain true to our confession, never will regard the EO as not being Church. This may appear to some to be a contradiction, a mystery, a puzzlement. But it is only so to the extent that we do not properly understand, and confess, that there exists truly one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. As always, Hermann Sasse is profoundly helpful on this point, and offers these poignant remarks: