I hesitate to blog on this subject, because I am not sure that it will be helpful. But it has sort of illumined for me something that I didn't understand, and it might for others as well. In hopes that it will bring light and not heat, I'll risk it. In a discussion that took place off the Orthodox-Lutheran Dialog list and which was posted on it, an erstwhile Lutheran, currently Orthodox noted:
"Orthodox do not believe this and do not really have a hidden or invisible Church ecclesiology that allows someone to be a true Christian in an untrue Body."
Which, I can only assume, means that he does not see how Lutherans can even BE Christians. It's not a matter of a "purer" faith, but of leaving falsehood and embracing THE faith, to him.
What this helps me understand, I think, is how some Orthodox can seem so danged persistent in pushing their point of view. To them, it is precisely a matter of salvation. Not, of course, that they mean that being Orthodox guarantees salvation; being certain of salvation is as anathema to the Orthodox as it is to the Roman Catholic. That would be, to their ears, the sin of presumption and pride. I've heard at times Lutherans described as "neurotic in their need for assurance."
I write this not to slam the Orthodox. I disagree with them about certainty of salvation, of course, because for the believer there is certainty *in Christ* while there is no security in *self.* The Blessed Apostle John is utterly clear on this: "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:13 Nevertheless, because when we are treating with each other, it helps to understand where the other person is coming from. If there is a certain urgency in the way that some Orthodox address us, I believe it comes from their conviction that we are not Christians.
It's almost like dealing with the Southern Baptists all over again. It makes me rejoice more than ever in the glory of Walther's Thesis XX in Law and Gospel: "In the sixteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when a person's salvation is made to depend on his association with the visible orthodox Church and when salvation is denied to every person who errs in any article of faith." When Lutherans dialog with Orthodox, we tend to begin with the assumption that we are talking to fellow Christians. We need to know that this assumption is not universally shared by those speaking to us.