The Orthodox Religion, refers to the Orthodox Catholic Church and more commonly is referred to in English speaking countries as the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is the world's second largest Christian Church, estimated to number 225 million members.
It is considered by its adherents to be the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ and his Apostles almost 2,000 years ago.
The Church is composed of several self-governing ecclesial bodies, each geographically and nationally distinct but unified in theology.
Each self-governing body, often but not always encompassing a nation, is led by a synod of bishops whose duty, among other things, is to preserve and teach the Apostolic and patristic traditions and related Church practices.
As in the Roman Catholic Church Eastern Orthodox bishops trace their lineage back to the Apostles through the process of Apostolic Succession. It is believed that Apostolic Succession also requires Apostolic Faith, and bishops without Apostolic Faith, who are in heresy, are no longer considered to have Apostolic Succession.
Orthodox Christians believe that the ultimate goal of every Christian is to become like God, to love perfectly, to become Like Christ within Jesus Christ. This process is called theosis or deification.
The term Orthodox translates from the Greek to mean correctly believing or correctly glorifying God and was adopted by the Church in order to distinguish itself from what was becoming a larger and larger body of non-orthodox Christian denominations. Several other ancient churches in Eastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa also use the term Orthodox, but are distinct from the Orthodox Church as described.
The Orthodox Church considers Jesus Christ to be the head of the Church and the Church to be His body. Thus, despite widely held popular belief outside the Eastern Orthodox cultures, there is not one bishop at the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The numerous Protestant groups in the world, if taken all together, outnumber the Eastern Orthodox, but they differ theologically and do not form a single communion.
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