Roman Catholics talk about the 40,000 + Protestant denominations as justification for their church's authoritarianism and dogmatism... it's disappointing to hear Orthodox echo this. Why can't I point to the multiple overlapping "jurisdictions" of Orthodoxy in the US?
Because all Orthodox jurisdictions proclaim the same Orthodox faith.
While the question of what 40,000 denominations "justifies" might be open, the fact and problem of 40,000 denominations remains a fact. There is enormous disagreement upon such basic matters as what God is like, what is salvation and how is it appropriated, can it be lost and is it even important how one lives at all, the proper form, candidate, and nature and or necessity or not of Christian baptism, the proper balance between legalism and license (e.g. the so-called "lordship salvation" debate), whether one can be "saved" without belief in things like the Holy Trinity, and on and on from there. The 40,000 denominations issue is not the invention of apologists for the ancient churches, but demographic realities as described by contemporary sociologists. More disappointing than seeing what you claim is abuse of such statistics by some Roman Catholic apologist is seeing it not squarely faced as a problem by some (certainly not all) Protestant apologists.
I'm not sure they were under those delusions. Can you cite evidence for this from primary sources?
within a couple of hundred years we can count the major trajectories of Protestantism on our fingers; now there are over 40,000 denominations. I know of no reason to suppose this was anticipated by the early Reformers; respectfully, the very suggestion seems absurd to me.
I have no problem with constructive critiques of the West from the East. What I have is the underlying tone that somehow this justifies the wholesale abandonment of Western culture and its numerous benefits to the world, which is what I see many Orthodox proponents encouraging. This is ugly and bigoted.
That Orthodoxy entails wholesale rejection of Western culture is, along with your notion above that Orthodoxy affirms an "inerrant hierarchy" a misconception. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Rite_Orthodoxy
Perhaps as you advocate critics of sola scriptura are better off taking time and effort to aquaint themselves with what they presume to critique you might consider learning more about Orthodoxy before offering your own critiques.
Again, do you have a problem with freedom of conscience?
It is a cornerstone of our faith. Our unity is not "imposed" from above or based on as you supposed an inerrant hierarchy. We do not believe in forcing anyone to believe anything in any way, yet we do exhibit unity in our beliefs of our own free will, that is why most of us are Orthodox. As Frederica Mathewes-Green explains:
"From a Roman Catholic perspective, unity is created by the institution of the church. Within that unity there can be diversity; not everyone agrees with official teaching, some very loudly. What holds things together is membership. This kind of unity makes immediate sense to Americans: Whatever their disagreements, everyone salutes the flag, and all Catholics salute, if not technically obey, Rome’s magisterium. When Roman Catholics look at Orthodoxy, they don’t see a centralized, global institution. Instead, the church appears to be a jumble of national and ethnic bodies (a situation even more confused in the U.S. as a result of immigration). To Catholics, the Orthodox Church looks like chaos. But from an Orthodox perspective, unity is created by believing the same things. It’s like the unity among vegetarians or Red Sox fans. You don’t need a big bureaucracy to keep them faithful. Across wildly diverse cultures, Orthodox Christians show remarkable unity in their faith. (Of course there are plenty of power struggles and plain old sin, but the essential faith isn’t challenged.) What’s the source of this common faith? The consensus of the early church, which the Orthodox stubbornly keep following. That consensus was forged with many a bang and dent, but for the past millennium major questions of faith and morals have been pretty much at rest in the Eastern hemisphere. This has not been the case in the West. An expanded role for the pope was followed by other theological developments, even regarding how salvation is achieved. In the American church, there is widespread upheaval. From the Orthodox perspective, the Catholic Church looks like chaos. This is hard for Catholics to understand; for them, the institution of the church is the main thing. If the church would enforce its teachings, some adherents say, there would be unity. The Orthodox respond: But faith must be organic. If you have to force people to it, you’ve already lost the battle; that wouldn’t be unity at all. So we’ve got two different definitions of "unity." Is "unity" membership in a common institution or a bond of shared belief? The Orthodox take their cue from Christ’s prayer to his Father, "that they all may be one, even as we are one." What kind of unity do the Father and the Son have? They are not held together by an outside force; they are one in essence and have a common mind. If we are "partakers of the divine nature," as St. Peter said, then, the Orthodox believe, we’ll participate in that mind. That’s what makes us the "body of Christ," the church.Thus the Orthodox hesitate at a phrase like the pope’s "multiform fullness." Catholic diversity makes it easy for Catholics to embrace us: When they look at us, they see the early church. We fit right in. But when the Orthodox look at Catholics, we see an extra thousand years of theological development, plus rebellion in the pews. What kind of unity do Catholics have, at present, that we could enter? There are plenty of good reasons for the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches to talk. Discussion clears away misunderstanding, and common causes can benefit from the energies of both churches. But we can’t be fully united until we agree on what "unity" means." http://www.antiochian.org/node/17748