On occasion I get sent some sort of quiz or survey which is supposed to tell me what denomination I am most in agreement with or whom I am most in agreement with on the sacraments. I take the survey and often don't like any of the answers for some of the questions and when I'm done the survey tells me that I agree with the Eastern Orthodox with the LCMS coming in second. I love my Eastern Orthdox brothers and sisters but I think that these surveys are poorly constructed. I'm kind of a 16th century, Book of Concord, confessional Lutheran and maybe that's my problem. Maybe the surveys are written for people who are actually alive today and apply to what is going inside the head of the average church-goer.
This isn't meant to bash the EO, but I thought I would provide some reasons that I am not in agreement with the EO on a number of significant issues and perhaps it will help people write better surveys.
I love icons and I love incense but I think there is a problem when these things become central to worship--they turn into something which you couldn't have worship without. The pre-Nicean church fathers all seemed pretty opposed to both of these things. I don't think that means we can't have these things but it seems strange to me that something which the early church condemned would turn into something that you can't worship without.
I do not believe people should pray to icons or to departed saints. The Scriptures do teach that the saints pray for us on earth but there is no promise given that they hear our prayers. If we want to give a message to a saint we should pray to God who hears our prayers. I love the Jesus Prayer and think it is good to commemorate the lives of the saints but find that all the prayers to the saints distract from the Lamb on the Altar. I love most of the EO liturgy and all the chanting is awesome.
In regards to the Eucharist, I do believe that deification takes place through it (I think this is why the Eucharist survey said I was Eastern Orthodox). I think that Lutheran concept of the mystical union is compatible with this idea. I have to admit that I am somewhat confused as to what the Eastern Orthodox believe happens during the Eucharist. I've read numerous Eastern Orthodox writers trying to understand their position and sometimes find contradictory statements. As I understand it, the EO liturgy teaches that the Eucharist is a propitiatory sacrifice. I reject the idea that the Eucharist is a propitiatory sacrifice.
My own understanding of the relationship between Scripture and tradition probably puts tradition on a higher level than most Lutherans would put it (which is probably another thing that messed up the survey) but I'm not as confident in tradition as the Eastern Orthodox are. I agree that Scripture should be interpreted within the church and not as some individualistic exercise. I agree that consensus in interpretation is important but I don't think it is always attainable. Sometimes it seems that there was a pretty strong consensus about something in the early church that was overturned. Either the interpretation was correct or incorrect--it did not become correct or incorrect over time.
I'm pretty Western or Lutheran or Augustinian or Chestertonian or whatever you would like to call it when it comes to original sin. I believe that man is guilty of the sin of Adam. Like Chesterton I believe this is the only part of Christian doctrine which can really be proved.
My understanding of justification is completely Lutheran as well (you would think something like that might make it into a denominational survey). Justification doesn't occupy a very central place in EO theology and I've heard that the Lutheran understanding is acceptable within the EO church but the entire approach is different.
I really enjoy reading Eastern Orthodox books but the asceticism is a bit too extreme for me. It often seems that you can't be a real hardcore EO, unless you are part of some monastic community. They seem to be engaging in what Colossians 2 refers to as "self-made religion." I'm pretty convinced of the Lutheran understanding of vocation.
So, if anyone sends me a survey and the survey says that I am EO--don't be scared or don't get your hopes up. They wouldn't want me anyhow. The Lutherans are stuck with me. Besides, I'm German how can I help it.