I am looking for advice regarding the issue of sharing my faith with the Heterodox, especially Protestant people who live nearby and are my good friends.
Over the last ~ 3 years, I have made a number of attempts to talk about Orthodoxy with several of my good, old friends, people whom I know pretty well, and whom I like, and who know and like me. All of these attempts were uniformly a total bust. What I mean is this: not only did I fail to make Orthodoxy attractive to these people, but I also got an impression that my own understanding of our Church, of Her doctrines, and my own belief in these doctrines is progressively diminishing when I am trying to work as a "preacher."
What I see is that Protestant Americans - older and younger, laity and clergy (I tried to talk about Orthodoxy with one Presbyterian and four Baptist ministers), invariably lose interest and avoid me after my attempts to preach to them. Maybe not always entirely avoid, but certainly avoid in anything that is about the Orthodox faith. The point of breakdown comes when they hear from me that we, the Orthodox, believe that the Church is ONE and that they, these Protestant people, are NOT in it.
And it's not like I failed to stress that I do consider them Christians, or even that I do consider them better Christians than myself. They hear this message from me - but the statement that only the Orthodox Church is actually the One, true, original, unadulterated, Christ's, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, visible, tangible, with Her hierarchy and Her Holy Mysteries, with Her uniquely possessing the fullness of faith - makes my Protestant friends COMPLETELY uninterested in ANY further dialogue.
A couple of my friends totally broke all ties with me - stopped answering my messages and never write or call or otherwise seek a new conversation with me. A few others continue to talk with me, but do not talk about anything religious and - unfortunately - sometimes seem to treat me with this special tenderness and care, showing a kind of "this guy is nice, but oh boy, he is not quite sane" attitude. And NONE, NOT A SINGLE PERSON ever attempted to argue rationally, to offer a number of statements proving that this idea that we, the Orthodox, are the only Church, is false. They simply do not consider this idea worthy of arguing with. Something like, perhaps, an idea that the Moon is made of green cheese. Who would argue with that, and what for?
Is it that the folks I happened to talk with are especially comfortable in their faith? They, indeed, look happy; some have great families, other (students) do not have families yet but have a wonderful circle of friends, great relationships with their congregations. But what then - should I specifically look for those who are hurt, mistreated by their Heterodox congregations, and preach only among those? I don't think that this would be fair...
Or maybe I should not talk about Orthodoxy at all? My wife would certainly be thrilled. She sincerely considers talking about religion an idiotic thing to do. I get punches from her for this stupid preaching virtually every day...
Maybe I display some signs of - well, maybe not a total hypocrite, but of an insecure person who tries to prove something to somebody because he himself has doubts? As some of you perhaps know, I do have doubts, I do have a "beef" sometimes with parts of our Orthodox theology that I believe to be antiquated because of their apparent contradictiion to science, and I especially dislike some figures whom certain (particularly Russian) jurisdictions canonized. So, yes, I am a bad Orthodox. But I really never noticed myself that these doubts that I have "spill over" and get visible by my Heterodox friends with whom I converse about Orthodoxy... I sincerely believed that this was not the case...
Anyway, I would be grateful for your comments and insights, as always.