Some time ago I read an article on the Antiochian website that discussed what in today's mindset is a very politically incorrect idea: that there is a 'true church'? Being a Protestant at one time I understand the objection to that idea. Moreover many are bothered by the claim "no salvation outside the church."
As I understand it the EOC means that it has the full truth. However this does not mean all non-Orthodox Christians will go to Hell. It means that they are lacking what we understand to be fullness of truth, and that a true relationship is part of salvation. What's more I understand that the Church definitely believes that some so-called members (people who effectively are [Orthodox] Christians in name and on paper only, but in spirit are about as far from Christ as they can get) will not be saved.
Is my understanding fairly representative of the Church's meaning?
The Orthodox teaching is that there is one true Church and that outside of this Church there is no salvation. This is not a negotiable belief.
As Fr. George Florovsky wrote, no salvation outside the Church is possible, because "salvation is
the Church". (I put the italics here, I am not sure if there are any in the original.)
But by saying "no salvation outside the church we do make statements about others' salvation
No, we don't. There exists today a "moderate" point of view in Orthodoxy that basically posits that people can be members of the Church in some way that we do not understand, and that is known only to God. Even the "stricter" point of view that insists that this is not the case is careful to admit that some kind of divine grace may well be at work in those outside the Orthodox Church and that God is merciful.
Personally, I align myself with the "moderate" belief because of my own experience. (I also don't think that we should automatically discount things that the "strict" camp has to say.) I don't lose any sleep over the belief that the Orthodox Church is the true Church. I don't know why this particular tenet of the faith should cause people scandal. Sixty years ago, many major Christian bodies thought that their particular brand of Christianity was the true one and that others were mistaken. Now that all of these Western confessions have in one way or another jumped on the relativist bandwagon, why is it so necessary for the Orthodox to imitate this fluffy, incoherent, modernist and arguably dishonest ecclesiology?