As someone who has been moving towards Orthodoxy from Protestantism, allow me to shed some light on why many Protestants fear conversion or are closed off to it. Before I do, recognize that I say all of this in love and I intend none of it for harm for either side. Just as I would ask Protestants to be self-critical and open to their flaws, I would ask that for some of the stuff I say that you sit and ponder on it rather than have a knee-jerk reaction against it. Again, I cannot stress how this isn't an attack against Orthodoxy at all, but merely why many Protestants move away from Orthodoxy:
1) They don't see any great social reformers - I can point to William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King Jr, and many, many others and show how Protestant Christians have had a major impact on their culture for social issues. For many Protestants, they can't do the same with the Orthodox. Admittedly, a lot of this is due to ethnocentrism and focusing solely on Western history, but along those same lines I would argue that in America, there haven't been that many Orthodox reformers. Now, my argument for this point is that Orthodoxy has always been relatively small in America and even Western Europe, so it's less likely to see great reformers; likewise, I look to the Manhattan Declaration and see that multiple Orthodox clergy signed it along with Roman Catholics and Protestants. But at the same time, I do think this is a valid criticism that many Protestants have, and it's a criticism that I've heard from two Orthodox priests.
If you look to recent times, who are fighting the New Atheists? Protestants and Roman Catholics. Who are (seemingly) creating the biggest areas for helping those in need? Protestants and Roman Catholics (the Southern Baptist Convention's disaster relief efforts generally rival that of the Salvation Army and they were on the scene in New Orleans and Greensburg, KS before anyone else; the Roman Catholics are renowned for their charities in helping the poor). Anecdotally speaking, more and more PhD candidates are not only Christians, but Protestant Evangelical Christians. It seems (again, appears; I'm not saying this is actually how it is) that Protestants and Roman Catholics are impacting the culture while the Orthodox congregants are still explaining to us why they celebrate Easter on a different day than the Western churches...
2) They don't see an evangelical movement - this ties in with the first one. I think all Christians, whether Orthodox or not, can agree that the ultimate solution to the problems of the world is Jesus Christ our God. Now, admittedly, the approach the Orthodox Church has to evangelism is actually part of what has attracted me, but it is what turns off many Protestants. They have this view that if people say a magic prayer that person is saved. They also think that "evangelism" means going door to door on a Saturday morning, giving a five minute Gospel presentation, and then asking for a decision. While I am absolutely against this style of evangelism, what I have noticed with many of my Orthodox friends is that they go the opposite direction and offer no evangelism! I think there has to be a balance, with the balance being more towards the Orthodox approach, which is that salvation is a lifestyle that we're drawn into. However, I honestly don't even see this from many of my Orthodox friends.
One thing I enjoy doing is going to Starbucks or some other sit-down place, crack open one of my philosophy books, and just start reading. It never fails that if you're reading a popular philosopher someone is going to talk to you about it. I admit, I used all of this opportunities to express my love for Christ and how He answers all philosophical questions. I didn't ask them to say a prayer, to come to church, or to fill out a decision card. I simply asked if they wanted to keep in contact. Many times they did. But anytime I started discussing the Gospel, my Orthodox friends became very...quiet. They admitted that it made them uncomfortable. Again, this is purely anecdotal, but I shared this with 'my' priest and he said that he sees this as a problem too.
3) There seems to be a lack of personal holiness in the laity - when I say "personal holiness," I mean right living and respected spiritual advice. The appearance is that in evangelicalism, anyone can write a book on spirituality and be listened to whether that person is dead on spot or far off in left field. Orthodoxy appears to be more shut off to the laity. For instance, let's assume someone is not a priest, but still has valuable things to say concerning spirituality. Many Protestants think that the Orthodox Church would be closed off to having that person write books on spirituality or anything else because that person isn't a priest. Now, I know this to be false, but not many Protestants do because to them they don't see any laity in the Orthodox Church attempting to lead reform or call people back to spirituality. Basically, there's not a Francis Schaeffer or a Peter Kreeft in the Orthodox Church (or at least it seems that way).
4) There are legitimate doctrinal differences - a lot of Protestants, myself included, have been raised to believe certain things and told that if we don't believe certain things, we're going to Hell. So a lot of us are left looking at doctrine x, and if we believe x then one side says we're going to Hell, but if we don't believe x the other side says we're going to Hell. Put yourself in that position and realize the absolute magnitude of it! Even if we remove Hell from the equation, the fact is one side says if we believe x we'll be fulfilled in Christ while the other side says x is a hinderance to walking with Christ. This requires a great leap for many Evangelicals and Protestants. In many cases, disagreeing on x could cost them their jobs or relationships with their family. Others admittedly risk more in simply coming to Christ, but it is still a great act of faith for a Protestant to convert to Orthodoxy and I don't think the cost for many of them should be minimized. It's easy to say, "They reject the doctrines of the Church!" But when you've been raised that way and have honestly sought the Holy Spirit and searched out an answer and still come up disagreeing with the Church, it's difficult to get over that. Likewise, how is it that we see the Holy Spirit working in the lives of Protestants if they do not belong to Him? Never forget that the Sacraments are meant for man, but that God can work beyond them.
5) They don't know the difference between Constantinople and Rome - a lot the reason most Protestants never look into Orthodoxy (and this is the main reason in my opinion) is it looks too much like Roman Catholicism. This one wasn't a hinderance for me, but I know it is for many other Protestants. If it looks like Rome, smells like Rome, and tastes like Rome, burn it...or at least protest(ant) it.
For me, the biggest inhibitions have been as follows:
1) Where I am in life, I'm simply not ready. I would have to give up a lot, plus my girlfriend (who will soon be my wife) is not keen on the idea of conversion...yet. She is slowly moving in that direction, but she isn't as advanced as I am. While it is acknowledged among us both that I am the spiritual head, I don't want to force her into the Church. Beyond that, however, to convert to Orthodoxy would ruin multiple friendships that I have and likewise force me to drop a few substantial scholarships. Truth be told, however, if I knew I was ready to convert and my soon-to-be wife were ready, nothing else would matter.
2) Doctrinally, I'm not there. There's still about two or three things where I have a disagreement and therefore could not honestly say that I'm in unity with the Church.
To me, there is no doubt that the Orthodox Church is the original Church, but that doesn't mean that it hasn't overstepped its bounds on a few issues. For the sake of civility and to keep this thread on track, I won't list the issues where that could potentially be the case. Besides, I'm not even sure that is the case; more and more I grow comfortable with the fact that I'm probably wrong. But it's still a lot to get over.
I will say, from an anecdotal perspective, that I am bothered by the lack of involvement in the laity and the lack of social reformers. But this is not, nor will it ever be, an excuse to avoid conversion. If anything, that's partly why I feel pulled to the Church, because I feel that God has given me talents and gifts that He would best use in His Church. I hope that doesn't sound arrogant and if it does please forgive me. I am merely reflecting on what God has done. But again, I feel comfortable expressing my frustrations about the laity because I know this is generally a shared concern among Orthodox clergy.
Again, I hope that none of what I said above offends anyone. I fear that it will and for that I apologize and ask for forgiveness. I love the Orthodox Church and I love the people in the Orthodox Church, flaws and all, for I am just as (if not more) flawed. And most of what I said above can also be applied to the Protestant Church, but it's easier to criticize a neighbor's house from your own backyard.
Good thoughts Theo. Others have already addressed much of what you said. I think your point about the lack of social reformers in Orthodoxy is very interesting. Even after becoming Orthodox, I continue to be passionate about social justice (not in the sense that it has become a political movement in and of itself, but rather truly concerned about the social values that Our Lord extolled). Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Gandhi, Dr. King, Mother Teresa, and Frederick Douglass are just a few of the people I view as my spiritual heroes.
But Orthodoxy does indeed have a rich history of social activism. When the Saints and Fathers of the Church defended pure doctrine, opposed idolatry, and fought for the Faith with the weapons of the Holy Spirit, they were most certainly effecting and changing society. And in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church we have twentieth-century martyrs such as Abuna Petros, whose love for the Gospel compelled him to oppose the demonic forces of fascism that were wreaking havoc in Ethiopia at the time: http://www.ethiopians.com/abune_petros.htm
I appreciate your insightful comments. You have mentioned many things that are worthy of thought and discussion.