But the Anglicans and some Lutherans claim to be apostolic churches. from a pure historical vantage, there is some validity to these claims
Lord have mercy on me, what I am about to write is probably going to offend at least a few people, though this is not
Strictly speaking, "apostolic succession" is something that can only exist within the Church. for the perpetuation of the Priesthood and the Apostolic faith go hand in hand, and in turn diffuse the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church through sequential time, down through the ages to the present day.
It is true, that much of the form
of this perpetuation of the Priesthood does exist outside of the Orthodox Church - the "laying on of hands". It also needs to be said that the maintanance of this form is more scupulously observed by some churches than it is others (for example, it is strictly adhered to by the non-Chalcedonians and Roman Catholics; not so well by the Anglicans, and even less so by the Lutherans.)
According to the strict interpretation (or put more precisely, application
, since the teaching itself is quite unambiguous) of the Canons and the dogma of "no salvation outside of the Church" (which is certainly an Orthodox doctrine), the interior reality of Apostolic Succession does not exist
in schisms or heresies.
However, to be fair, I will qualify the above by saying that as a matter of fact the Church has recognized (in hindsight) situations which do not always fit neatly into the categories of the Holy Canons; for example there have definately been situations where two (later recognized by the universal conciousness of the Church) local Orthodox Churches have not been in communion with one another - no one would argue either was deprived of the grace of the holy mysteries. This, combined with the possibilities
of what the secret
ministrations of our merciful God might
do for those innocently labouring under the yoke of heretical/schismatical leaders (or otherwise alienated from the Church of Christ), give some grounds for a little agnosticism toward the invisible condition/destiny of those professed Christians who are not joined to the Orthodox Church.
Yet, even with those "irenic" qualifications/speculations in mind, we should take instruction from the fact that the Orthodox Church never
receives converts from schisms/heresies in an unqualified
manner. Thus, when the Church has received certain
classes of converts from heterodoxy in various ways (up to and including, in certain cases, receiving heterodox/schismatic clergy in their orders), it's always been understood that She is supplying/correcting by Her grace and authority whatever is deficient or lacking in the rites they received in their previous confession.
With this in mind, even the most lenient outreach to the heterodox is forced to recognize that save in the most formal/exterior way, no "Apostolic Succession" can be said to exist outside of the Church (since even the most optimistic hopes on our part, cannot claim to know
as a matter of fact
that the charisms/mysteries of the Church, exist amongst those who are ostensibly separated from the Church of Christ - particularly when this separation is not simply a matter of ecclessiastical politics, but extends to the realm of doctrine, the very way in which we love God with our mind.)