The Eastern Orthodox Church,〔(【引用サイトリンク】url=http://www.answers.com/topic/eastern-orthodoxy )〕 officially the Orthodox Catholic Church,〔see section Catholicity of the Orthodox Church〕 also referred to as the Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Orthodoxy, is the second largest Christian Church in the world, with an estimated 225–300 million adherents.
The Eastern Orthodox Church is one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, teaching that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission to the apostles,〔Holy Bible: ; ; 〕 and practicing what it understands to be the original faith passed down from the Apostles.
United in communion with the Latin Church before the East–West Schism in 1054, and with the Oriental churches for the first quarter of its history, Orthodoxy spread throughout the Roman and later Byzantine Empires and beyond, playing a prominent role in European, Near Eastern, Slavic, and some African cultures. Its most prominent episcopal see is Constantinople.
Orthodoxy has no Papacy or bishopric of similar authority. The commonly-used but unofficial designation "Eastern" derives from its geographical relation to the "Western" churches, now known as the Roman Catholic Church, and from Constantinople being the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Almost from the very beginning, Christians referred to the Church as the "One, Holy, Catholic (from the Greek καθολική, or "according to the whole, universal") and Apostolic Church". The Orthodox Church claims that it is today the continuation and preservation of that same Church.
A number of other Christian churches also make a similar claim: the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Assyrian Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. In the Orthodox view, the Assyrians and Orientals left the Orthodox Church in the years following the Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431) and the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451), respectively, in their refusal to accept those councils' Christological definitions. Similarly, the churches in Rome and Constantinople separated in an event known as the East–West Schism, traditionally dated to the year 1054, although it was more a gradual process than a sudden break. The Church of England separated from the Roman Catholic Church, not directly from the Orthodox Church, for the first time in the 1530s (and, after a brief reunion in 1555, again finally in 1558). Thus, though it was united to Orthodoxy when established through the work of Saint Augustine of Canterbury in the early 7th century, its separation from Orthodoxy came about indirectly through the See of Rome.
To all these churches, the claim to catholicity (universality, oneness with the ancient church) is important for multiple doctrinal reasons that have more bearing internally in each church than in their relation to the others, now separated in faith. The meaning of holding to a faith that is true is the primary reason why anyone's statement of which church split off from which other has any significance at all; the issues go as deep as the schisms. The depth of this meaning in the Orthodox Church is registered first in its use of the word "Orthodox" itself, a union of Greek ''orthos'' ("straight" "correct" "true" "right") and ''doxa'' ("glory" as in Doxa Patri, "Glory to the Father").
The dual meanings of ''doxa'', with "glory" or "glorification" (of God by the Church and of the church by God), especially in worship, yield the pair "correct belief" and "true worship". Together, these express the core of a fundamental teaching about the inseparability of belief and worship and their role in drawing the Church together with Christ. The Bulgarian and all the Slavic churches use the title ''Pravoslavie ((ブルガリア語:Православие))'', meaning "glorifying correct", to denote what is in English ''Orthodoxy'', while the Georgians use the title ''Martlmadidebeli''. Several other churches in Europe, Asia, and Africa also came to use ''Orthodox'' in their titles, but are still distinct from the Orthodox Church as described in this article.
The term "Eastern Church" (the geographic east in the East–West Schism) has been used to distinguish it from western Christendom (the geographic West, which at first came to designate the Roman Catholic communion, later also the various Protestant and Anglican branches). "Eastern" is used to indicate that the highest concentrations of the Orthodox Church presence remain in the eastern part of the Christian world, although it is growing worldwide. Orthodox Christians throughout the world use various ethnic or national jurisdictional titles, or more inclusively, the title "Eastern Orthodox", "Orthodox Catholic", or simply "Orthodox".〔
What unites Orthodox Christians is the catholic faith, whose vessel is Holy Tradition, inspired through the operation of the Holy Spirit. That faith is expressed most fundamentally in Scripture and in worship, and the latter most essentially through the mystery of Baptism and in the Divine Liturgy. The faith lives and breathes by God's energies in communion with the Church. Inter-communion is the litmus test by which all can see that two churches share the same faith; lack of inter-communion (excommunication, literally "out of communion") is the sign of different faiths, even though some central theological points may be shared. The sharing of beliefs can be highly significant, but it is not the full measure of the faith.
The lines of even this test can blur, however, when differences that arise are not due to doctrine, but to recognition of jurisdiction. As the Orthodox Church has spread into the west and over the world, the church as a whole has yet to sort out all the inter-jurisdictional issues that have arisen in the expansion, leaving some areas of doubt about what is proper church governance. And as in the ancient church persecutions, the aftermath of modern persecutions of Christians in communist nations has left behind both some governance and some faith issues that have yet to be completely resolved.
All members of the Orthodox Church profess the same faith, regardless of race or nationality, jurisdiction or local custom, or century of birth. Holy Tradition encompasses the understandings and means by which that unity of faith is transmitted across boundaries of time, geography, and culture. It is a continuity that exists only inasmuch as it lives within Christians themselves. It is not static, nor an observation of rules, but rather a sharing of observations that spring both from within and also in keeping with others, even others who lived lives long past. The Holy Spirit maintains the unity and consistency of the Holy Tradition to preserve the integrity of the faith within the Church, as given in the Scriptural promises.〔Holy Bible: ; 〕
The shared beliefs of Orthodoxy, and its theology, exist within the Holy Tradition and cannot be separated from it, for their meaning is not expressed in mere words alone. Doctrine cannot be understood unless it is prayed. To be a theologian, one must know how to pray, and one who prays in spirit and in truth becomes a theologian by doing so. Doctrine must also be lived in order to be prayed, for without action, the prayer is idle and empty, a mere vanity, and therefore the theology of demons. According to these teachings of the ancient church, no superficial belief can ever be orthodox. Similarly, reconciliation and unity are not superficial, but are prayed and lived out.
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