Christ

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Icon of Christ in a Greek Orthodox church
Christ is the English term for the Greek word Χριστός (Christós), which literally means "The Anointed One." The Hebrew word for Christ is מָשִׁיחַ (Mašíaḥ, usually transliterated Messiah).

The word may be misunderstood by some as being the surname of Jesus due to the frequent juxtaposition of Jesus and Christ in the Christian Bible and other Christian writings. Often used as a more formal-sounding synonym for Jesus, the word is in fact a title, hence its common reciprocal use Christ Jesus, meaning The Anointed One, Jesus.

Followers of Jesus became known as Christians because they believed that Jesus was the Christ, or Messiah, prophesied about in the Tanakh (which some Christians refer to as the Old Testament). The majority of Jews reject this claim and are still waiting for the Messiah to come (see Jewish Messiah). Most Christians now wait for the Second Coming of Christ when they believe he will fulfill the rest of the Messianic prophecy. The area of Christian theology focusing on the identity, life, teachings and works of Jesus, is known as Christology.

In the New Testament

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In the New Testament it says that a saviour, long awaited, had come and shall return, and it describes this saviour as the Christ (Greek τοῦ Χριστοῦ, tou Christou, ὁ Χριστὸς, ho Christos).

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Etymology

Further information: chrism
The spelling Christ in English dates from the 17th century, when, in the spirit of the Enlightenment, spellings of certain words were changed to fit their Greek or Latin origins. Prior to this, in Old and Middle English, the word was spelled Crist, the i being pronounced either as [i] (see IPA pronunciation), preserved in the names of churches such as St Katherine Cree, or as a short i, preserved in the modern pronunciation of Christmas.

The term Christ appears in English and most European languages, owing to the Greek usage of Christos in the New Testament as a description for Jesus. In the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, it was used to translate into Greek the Hebrew Mashiach (Messiah), meaning "[one who is] anointed." The Jewish tradition of "The Messiah" understands "The Messiah" to be a human being – without any overtone of deity or divinity.[1]

The Greek term is cognate with Chrism, meaning perfumed oil. Christos in classical Greek usage could mean covered in oil, and is thus a literal and accurate translation of Messiah (just as Saul the King was anointed with oil when he was proclaimed king). The Greek term is thought to derive from the Proto-Indo-European root of ghey-, which in Germanic languages, such as English, mutated into gris- and grim-. Hence the English words grisly, grim, grime, gizm and grease, are thought to be cognate with Christ, though these terms came to have a negative connotation, where the Greek word had a positive connotation. In French, the Greek term, in ordinary usage, mutated first to creŝme and then to crème, due to the loss of certain 's' usages in French, which was loaned into English as cream. The word was used by extension in Hellenic and Jewish contexts to refer to the office, role or status of the person, not to their actually being an oily person, as a strict reading of the etymology might imply.

Christian mainstream view

Further information: Jesus
In most Christian thinking, Jesus is the incarnation of the Logos—the divine Word of God—as described in the first chapter of the Gospel of John (1:1–18).

Many Christians believe that there is no ontological distinction between God and Jesus (holding that Jesus is the second person of the Holy Trinity), and that Jesus did not lose his divinity in the incarnation, but rather took on humanity.

Distinctions among "Jesus," "Christ," "God," "Trinity"

Jesus and Christ refer to the same person whom Christians believe is God's son, who died on the cross to miraculously save his followers from their sins, and who rose from the dead on the third day after his death and later ascended into heaven where he sits at the "right hand of God the Father."

Jesus

According to Matt. 1:20-21 , an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph, at the time Mary's fiancé, told him that what was conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit, that she would give birth to a son. The angel instructed Joseph to "give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." The name Jesus, the Greek form of Joshua, which means the LORD saves.[2]

Christians believe Jesus has no earthly biological father, and that Mary, his mother, was a virgin who was "conceived by the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:26-37 ), and therefore Jesus was God's son. (See Virgin Birth of Jesus.) Christians believe the virginity of Mary is important for two reasons: She was sexually pure; and she was not pregnant already.[3]

Christ

Christians worship Jesus as savior and Lord, believing Jesus is the Christ, the "Son of the Living God." They believe Jesus is "the anointed one" as predicted in the Hebrew Scriptures. The apostle Peter, in what has become a famous proclamation of faith among Christians since the first century, said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16 ), thereby affirming that Jesus is The Christ, and that he was God's son.

Often, Christians use the names "Jesus" and "Christ" interchangeably according to Christian understanding. (See above for a decontextualized understanding of Christ.) Some may refer to "Jesus" when emphasizing his human nature in an event in the New Testament, and refer to "Christ" in discussing his divine nature.

God

The name "God" YHWH (Hebrew: Yodh-He-Waw-He, יהוה ), often transliterated as Yahweh, is the name most often used for God in untranslated Hebrew scriptures, appearing more than 6700 times and usually translated as the LORD (cf. Adonai) in most English Bibles.[4] In some cases, it is transliterated to function as a name as in Jehovah as found in the American Standard Version, the Darby Bible and the New World Translation or Yahweh as found the Jerusalem Bible.

YHWH, the name of God or Tetragrammaton, in Phoenician (1100 BC to AD 300), Aramaic (10th Century BC to 1st century AD) and modern Hebrew scripts.
The specific name "Living God," as used by the apostle Pater in the foregoing example, is also used in Psalm 84:1-2 , "My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God." Jesus often addressed God as Father. The Psalmist in Psalm 84:3 revered God "Lord of hosts, my king and my God."

Trinity

The Holy Trinity is a term used since about the third century to denote one God in three Persons – God as Father, God as Son (Jesus Christ), and God as Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit. Today the doctrine of the Trinity is orthodox among most Christian churches and denominations.

Gnostic Christ

The gnostics generally believed not in a Jesus who was a Divine Person with a human nature, but in a spiritual Christ who dwelt in Jesus. Through the spiritual path of gnosticism, followers of these schools believed that they could experience the same knowledge, or gnosis. Their theology was or is dualistic and premised upon demigods, salvation for the elect, and the actions of an unknowable, formless God who takes human form. This was considered heresy by the Early Church as per the first Ecumenical Council, which occurred at Nicaea in 325 A.D., although condemnation of the belief existed well before.

Esoteric Christian tradition

See also:
For the Rosicrucians there is a distinction to be made between Jesus and the Christ.[5] Jesus is considered a high Initiate of the human life wave (which evolves under the cycle of rebirth) and of a singularly pure type of mind, vastly superior to the great majority of the present humanity. He was educated during his youth among the Essenes and thus prepared himself for the greatest honor ever bestowed upon a human being: to deliver his pure, passionless, highly evolved physical body and vital body (already attuned to the high vibrations of the 'life spirit'), in the moment of the Baptism, to the Christ being for His ministry in the physical world. Christ is described as the highest Spiritual Being of the life wave called Archangels and has completed His union ("the Son") with the second aspect of God.

Christian Science

In the theology of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, the religion's founder, wrote in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, that "The invisible Christ was imperceptible to the so-called personal senses, whereas Jesus appeared as a bodily existence. This dual personality of the unseen and the seen, the spiritual and material, the eternal Christ and the corporeal Jesus manifest in flesh, continued until the Master's ascension, when the human, material concept, or Jesus, disappeared, while the spiritual self, or Christ, continues to exist in the eternal order of divine Science, taking away the sins of the world, as the Christ has always done, even before the human Jesus was incarnate to mortal eyes."[6] Eddy wrote that while Jesus, as a material man, was not the exact ontological or quantitative equivalent to God, he thoroughly embodied the spiritual sonship of God's nature. In Christian Science, the Christ, or divine manifestation of God, continues forever to enlighten humanity and to destroy sickness, sin, and death.

Islamic view

Main article: Islamic view of Jesus
Muslims recognize Jesus Christ (Isa) as the messiah and prophet of God. In Islam he is considered a Muslim and his second coming is expected to occur among Muslims.

Muslims believe in his miraculous conception and birth, but not as the son of God. Jesus would also lead Muslims in the final victory over those that disbelieved him or misidentified him as the son of God, what is considered as the highest sin in Islam, and against the antichrist [see Book of hadith by Imam Bukhari]. Muslims also believe that Jesus was neither crucified nor dead but was raised to Heaven by God while still living.

Expansions and appropriations of "Christ"

"Christ" has taken on such power and significance as a theological, religious and devotional term that it has been appropriated and expanded by various theologians and religious writers so as to take it beyond the Christian context, in which "Christ" refers strictly to Jesus as the Messiah of prophecy.

One belief is the idea or concept that "Jesus became Christ," i.e., his "flesh was transformed to spirits." By taking a spiritual and good path through life, Jesus was reunited with his true holy nature, (redeemed) and preserved forever in God. In this view, this psychic force is often called "the Christ," or sometimes "Christ consciousness," drawing a separation between God (whose nature is incomprehensible in Christian theology) and the Holy Spirit, which can be experienced through Jesus and is therefore compatible with our humanity. Matthew Fox sometimes speaks of "the Cosmic Christ."

In Eastern religious traditions, "God" is often described by both, personifications (deities) which are manifestations of particular aspects of God's power, and incarnations (avatars) of God in mortal form as in case of Siva or Vishnu who are considered as "The Father" in Hinduism. In these religions, "the Christ" is akin to these personifications. A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who coined the phrase 'Krishna Consciousness,' held Jesus' teachings as non-different from the Hindu, Vedic scriptures, and others such as Paramahansa Yogananda often wrote about a "Christ Consciousness" interchangeably with "Krishna Consciousness."

Contemporary usage and other theories

Modern Christian non-denominational organizations such as the True Worshipper Ecclesiastical Association (TWEA) use the respective connotations of the names "Jesus" and "Christ" in a more expansive and complementary way. For example, the doctrinal treatise, entitled The Landscape of Truth describes Jesus as the eternal saviour of that which is pure in humankind, while the Landscape describes the Old Testament priestly designation "anointed one," i.e., "Christ," as being the only one who can stand in the eternal Most Holy Place of the Jewish Temple, which represents the eternal fulfilled soul of God and his purified worshipers in the savior, the Christ.

The use of "X," derived from Chi, the Greek alphabet initial, as an abbreviation for Christ (most commonly in the abbreviation "Xmas") is often misinterpreted as a modern secularization of the term. Thus understood, the centuries-old English word Xmas, is actually a shortened form of CHmas, which is, itself, a shortened form for Christmas. In fact, the use of "X" to represent the full word goes back to the earliest days of Greek Christianity.

According to Tom Harpur, a former professor of Theology at the University of Toronto who denies the historicity of Jesus, the Christian usage of the term Christ derives from Egypt. Harpur has argued that the application of the term Christ to Jesus derives from the Egyptian use of the term Karast (covered in cooking oil) to describe Horus, who Harpur also alleges that much of the descriptions of Jesus are copied from. 'Chrestus' is a similar Greek name, which Suetonius confused for 'Christos.'

Slang usage

The interjection "Christ!" is often used as a sign of surprise or anger, without a direct religious reference — that is, as an exclamation. It is sometimes elaborated, as in "Christ on a Cracker!" Many Christians find this usage blasphemous, as they believe it violates the Commandment against taking the Lord's Name in vain. However, for those who believe in Christ, it might also be regarded as a kind of prayer (specifically, a pious ejaculation,[7] recognized by Eastern Orthodox tradition as legitimate). Common euphemisms that have arisen for this usage include "For crying out loud!" (US) and "Crikey" (UK, Aus.), used as an alternative by people reluctant to swear using the actual name.

See also

References

1. ^ [1] "The Jewish Messiah: The Criteria." Jews for Judaism.
2. ^ Footnote to Matt. 1:21 in NIV
3. ^ Piper, John. "Christ Conceived by the Holy Spirit," Desiring God, 1984. Online: [2]Resources from the ministry of John Piper. Accessed 09-26-2007
4. ^ God#Names of God#Names of God
5. ^ Max Heindel, The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception (Part III, Chapter XV: Christ and His Mission), November 1909, ISBN 0–911274–34–0
6. ^ Science and Health 334
7. ^ Definition: piously repeated words or phrases that are probably uttered more from habit than with great meaning. Examples: "Thy will be done" or "May Allah be praised" when spoken casually without much if any thought.
  • Harpur, Tom, The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light. Toronto: Thomas Allen Publishers, 2004.
  • McDowell, Joshua and Don Stewart, Handbook of Today's Religions, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983.
  • Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 1957.
  • Strobel, Lee. Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus (1998)

External links

Christ may also refer to:
  • Jesus, the central figure of Christianity, as well as a prophet in Islam.
  • Norman Christ, Columbia University physics professor
  • Christ., an electronic musician (note the period).

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