A few of my readers have converted to Eastern Orthodoxy or find it a viable alternative to Anglicanism. It appears that a number of Lutherans are also attracted to it.
However, Lutheran pastor Mark Henderson from Australia (a former Anglican) cautions against making such a move in ‘Orthodoxy in the West: the Eastern Rite Mainline?’
Pastor Henderson says:
According to Fr Gregory Jensen, an academic and priest of the ‘Orthodox Church in America’ (the denomination with Russian immigrant origins that former Lutheran scholar Jaroslav Pelikan joined) Eastern Orthodoxy in North America on the ground – as opposed to how it appears from behind the rose-coloured spectacles of prospective Protestant converts – is rapidly becoming as liberal as the Protestant mainline churches many of those converts are fleeing. So much so that he says the Orthodox Church in all its ethnic branches in the US looks increasingly like ‘the Eastern-Rite Mainline’.*
How so? Support for abortion and gay marriage runs disturbingly high among the laity, politicians of Orthodox background publicly support positions which stand in stark contradiction to the Church’s moral teaching and priests are ‘not effectively communicating the [Christian] moral tradition’, thus surrendering the laity to the forces of secularisation and cultural barbarism. Not to mention, and Fr Gregory doesn’t, but anyone who keeps a ‘weather eye’ on the Orthodox Church will know, that the various sexual and financial scandals among the Orthodox hierarchy in the US have clearly demoralised many of the devout clergy and laity.**
Asterisks indicate footnotes in the original post.
Pr Henderson observes (emphases mine):
… most articulate Orthodox – especially Western converts – that I have come across have a strong animus against the Christian West, with Augustine being their favourite whipping boy. In their eyes the great North African Father is to blame not only for Roman Catholicism but also, by way of reaction, for Luther and hence ‘Protestantism’ (and in speaking about ‘Protestantism’ the Orthodox tend to make no distinction between a snake-handling Pentecostal and a confessional Lutheran, thereby only displaying their ignorance of the heritage of the Christian West after the Reformation).
A big part of Orthodoxy’s problems, in my view, stem from the reality that it is not actually a ‘confessional’ church, but a ‘big tent’ church. The question for Orthodoxy now is just how big is its tent, given that they now have their own vocal and prominent proponents for recognition of the right to abortion, women’s ordination and even revision of the church’s teaching on homosexuality?
Finally, I think we are witnessing yet another confirmation of Dr Sasse’s [a prominent Lutheran theologian of the 20th century’s] prescient observation of 50 or so years ago that in the modern world all the great Christian communions will face the same theological problems, without exception. The obvious moral for small ‘o’ orthodox Western Christians in all of this – especially Lutherans – who might think that Constantinople offers a safe haven from the destructive winds of modernism that have wrought such havoc in our own churches, is to look before you leap into the Bosphorus.
His post is well worth reading in its entirety.
Before changing denominations, know what you are getting into.