A Christian (pronunciation: /ˈkrɪʃtʃən/ or /ˈkrɪstjən/) is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. "Christian" derives from the Koine Greek word Christós (Χριστός), a translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mashiach.

While there are diverse interpretations of Christianity which at times conflict, they're united in believing that Jesus has a unique significance. The term "Christian" is used adjectivally to describe anything associated with Christianity, or in a proverbial sense "all that's noble, and good, and Christ-like."

According to a 2011 Pew Research Center survey, there were 2.2 billion Christians around the world in 2010, up from about 600 million in 1910. By 2050, the Christian population is expected to exceed 3 billion. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey Christianity will remain the world's largest religion in 2050, if current trends continue.

Today, about 37 percent of all Christians live in the Americas, and about twenty-six percent live in Europe, twenty-four percent of total Christians live in sub-Saharan Africa, about thirteen percent in Asia and the Pacific, and one percent of the world's Christians live in the Middle east and North Africa. About half of all Christians worldwide are Catholic, while more than a third are Protestant (37%). Orthodox communions comprise twelve percent of the world's Christians. Other Christian groups make up the remainder. Christians make up the majority of the population in 158 countries and territories. 280 million Christian live as a minority.

Christians have made a myriad contributions in a broad and diverse range of fields, including the sciences, arts, politics, literatures and business. According to 100 Years of Nobel Prizes, a review of Nobel prizes awarded between 1901 and 2000 reveals that (65.4%) of Nobel Prizes laureates identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference.

Etymology

The Greek word Χριστιανός (Christianos), meaning "follower of Christ", comes from Χριστός (Christos), meaning "anointed one", with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership. In the Greek Septuagint, christos was used to translate the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Mašíaḥ, messiah), meaning "[one who is] anointed." In additional European languages, equivalent words to Christian are likewise derived from the Greek, such as Chrétien in French and Cristiano in Spanish.

Early usage

The first recorded use of the term (or its cognates in additional languages) is in the New Testament, in , after Barnabas brought Saul (Paul) to Antioch where they taught the disciples for about a year, the text says: "[...] the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." The second mention of the term follows in , where Herod Agrippa II replied to Paul the Apostle, "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." The third and final New Testament reference to the term is in , which exhorts believers: "Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf."

Kenneth Samuel Wuest holds that all three original New Testament verses' usages reflect a derisive element in the term Christian to refer to followers of Christ who didn't acknowledge the emperor of Rome. The city of Antioch, where someone gave them the name Christians, had a reputation for coming up with such nicknames. However Peter's obvious endorsement of the term led to its being preferred over "Nazarenes" and the term Christianoi from 1 Peter becomes the standard term in the Early Church Fathers from Ignatius and Polycarp onwards.

The earliest occurrences of the term in non-Christian literature include Josephus, referring to "the tribe of Christians, so named from him;" Pliny the Younger in correspondence with Trajan; and Tacitus, writing near the end of the first century. In the Annals he relates that "by vulgar appellation [they were] commonly called Christians" and identifies Christians as Nero's scapegoats for the Great Fire of Rome.

Nazarenes

Another term for Christians which appears in the New Testament is "Nazarenes" which is used by the Jewish solicitor Tertullus in Acts 24. Tertullian (Against Marcion 4:8) records that "the Jews call us Nazarenes," while around 331 AD Eusebius records that Christ was called a Nazoraean from the name Nazareth, and that in earlier centuries "Christians," were once called "Nazarenes." The Hebrew equivalent of "Nazarenes", Notzrim, occurs in the Babylonian Talmud, and is still the modern Israeli Hebrew term for Christian.

Modern usage

The Latin cross and Ichthys symbols, two symbols often used by Christians to represent their religion.

Definition

A wide range of beliefs and practises is found across the world among those who call themselves Christian. Denominations and sects disagree on a common definition of "Christianity". For example, Timothy Beal notes the disparity of beliefs among those who identify as Christians in the United States as follows:

Although all of them have their historical roots in Christian theology and tradition, and although most would identify themselves as Christian, a large number of wouldn't identify others within the larger category as Christian. Most Baptists and fundamentalists (Christian Fundamentalism), for example, wouldn't acknowledge Mormonism or Christian Science as Christian. In fact, the nearly 77 percent of Americans who self-identify as Christian are a diverse pluribus of Christianities that are far from any collective unity.

Linda Woodhead attempts to provide a common belief thread for Christians by noting that "Whatever else they might disagree about, Christians are at least united in believing that Jesus has a unique significance." Philosopher Michael Martin, in his book The Case Against Christianity, evaluated three historical Christian creeds (the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed) to establish a set of basic assumptions which include belief in theism, the historicity of Jesus, the Incarnation, salvation through faith in Jesus, and Jesus as an ethical role model.

Hebrew terms

Nazareth is described as the childhood home of Jesus. Many languages employ the word "Nazarene" as a general designation for those of Christian faith.

The identification of Jesus as the Messiah isn't accepted by Judaism. The term for a Christian in Hebrew is נוּצְרי (Notzri—"Nazarene"), a Talmudic term originally derived from the fact that Jesus came from the Galilean village of Nazareth, today in northern Israel. Adherents of Messianic Judaism are referred to in modern Hebrew as יְהוּדִים מָשִׁיחַיים (Yehudim Meshihi'im—"Messianic Jews").

Arabic terms

In Arabic-speaking cultures, two words are commonly used for Christians: Naṣrānī (نصراني), plural Naṣārā (نصارى) is generally understood to be derived from Nazareth through the Syriac (Aramaic); Masīḥī (مسيحي) means followers of the Messiah. The term Nasara rose to prominence in July 2014, after the Fall of Mosul to the terrorist organisation Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The nun or ن— the first letter of Nasara—was spray-painted on the property of Christians ejected from the city.

Where there's a distinction, Nasrani refers to people from a Christian culture and Masihi means those with a religious faith in Jesus. In a few countries Nasrani tends to be used generically for non-Muslim Western foreigners, e.g. "blond people."

Another Arabic word at times used for Christians, particularly in a political context, is Ṣalībī (صليبي "Crusader") from ṣalīb (صليب "cross") which refers to Crusaders and has negative connotations. Notwithstanding Salibi is a modern term; historically, Muslim writers described European Christian Crusaders as al-Faranj or Alfranj (الفرنج) and Firinjīyah (الفرنجيّة) in Arabic" This word comes from the Franks and can be seen in the Arab history text Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh by Ali ibn al-Athir.

Asian terms

The most common Persian word is Masīhī (مسیحی), from Arabic.,Other words are Nasrānī (نصرانی), from Syriac for "Nazarene", and Tarsā (ترسا), from Middle Persian word Tarsāg, additionally meaning "Christian", derived from tars, meaning "fear, respect".

The Syriac term Nasrani (Nazarene) has additionally been attached to the Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala, India. In the Indian subcontinent, Christians call themselves Isaai (Hindi: ईसाई, Urdu: عیسائی‎), and are additionally known by this term to adherents of additional religions. This is related to the name they call Jesus, 'Isa Masih, and literally means 'the followers of 'Isa'.

In the past, the Malays used to call the Portuguese Serani from the Arabic Nasrani, but the term now refers to the modern Kristang creoles of Malaysia.

The Chinese word is 基督 (pinyin: jīdū tú), literally "Christ follower." The two characters now pronounced Jīdū in Mandarin Chinese, were originally pronounced Jīdū (基督) in Cantonese as representation of Latin "Christus". In Vietnam, the same two characters read Cơ đốc, and a "follower of Christianity" is a tín đồ Cơ đốc giáo.

Japanese Christians ("Kurisuchan") in Portuguese costume, 16–17th century.

In Japan, the term kirishitan (written in Edo period documents 吉利支丹, 切支丹, and in modern Japanese histories as キリシタン), from Portuguese cristão, referred to Roman Catholics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries before the religion was banned by the Tokugawa shogunate. Today, Christians are referred to in Standard Japanese as キリスト教徒, Kirisuto-kyōto or the English-derived term クリスチャン kurisuchan.

Korean still uses 기독교도, Kidok-kyo-do for "Christian", though the Greek form Kurisudo 그리스도 has now replaced the old Sino-Korean Kidok, which refers to Christ himself.

Russian terms

The region of modern Eastern Europe and Central Eurasia (Russia, Ukraine and additional countries of the ex-USSR) have a long history of Christianity and Christian communities on its lands. In ancient times, in the first centuries after the birth of Christ, when this region was called Scythia, the geographical area of Scythians - Christians already lived there. Later the region saw the first states to adopt Christianity officially - initially in Armenia (301 AD) and in Georgia (337 AD), later in the Great Russian Principality (Kyivan Rus, Russian: Великое княжество Русское, ca 988 AD). People of that time used to denote themselves Christians (христиане, крестьяне) and Russians (русские). Both terms had strong Christian connotations. It is additionally interesting that in time the term "крестьяне" acquired the meaning "peasants of Christian faith" and later "peasants" (the main part of the population of the region), while the term "христиане" retained its religious meaning and the term "русские" began to mean representatives of the heterogeneous Russian nation formed on the basis of common Christian faith and language, which strongly influenced the history and development of the region. In the region the "Pravoslav faith" (православная вера - Orthodox faith) or "Russian faith" (русская вера) from earliest times became almost as known as the original "Christian faith" (христианская, крестьянская вера). Also in a few contexts the term "cossack" (козак, казак - free man by the will of God) was used to denote "free" Christians of steppe origin and Russian language.

Demographics

As of the early twenty-first century, Christianity has approximately 2.4 billion adherents. The faith represents about a third of the world's population and is the largest religion in the world. Christians have composed about 33 percent of the world's population for around 100 years. The largest Christian denomination is the Roman Catholic Church, with 1.17 billion adherents, representing half of all Christians.

Christianity remains the dominant religion in the Western World, where seventy percent are Christians. A 2011 Pew Research Center survey found that 76.2% of Europeans, 73.3% in Oceania, and about 86.0% in the Americas (90% in Latin America and 77.4% in North America) described themselves as Christians.

According to 2012 Pew Research Center survey if current trends continue, Christianity will remains the world's largest religion by year 2050. By 2050, the Christian population is expected to exceed 3 billion. While Muslims have an average of 3.1 children per woman—the highest rate of all religious groups. Christians are second, with 2.7 children per woman. High birth rates and conversion were cited as the reason for the Christian population growths. A 2015 study found that approximately 10.2 million Muslim converted to Christianity. Christianity is growing in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Muslim world, and Oceania.

Percentage of Christians worldwide

Notable individuals

Christians have made a myriad contributions in a broad and diverse range of fields, including the sciences, arts, politics, literatures and business. According to 100 Years of Nobel Prizes, a review of Nobel prizes awarded between 1901 and 2000 reveals that (65.4%) of Nobel Prizes laureates identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference.

According to Scientific Elite: Nobel Laureates in the United State by Harriet Zuckerman, a review of American Nobel prizes awarded between 1901 and 1972, 72 percent of American Nobel Prize laureates identified a Protestant background. Overall, Protestants have won a total of 84.2% of all the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, sixty percent in Medicine, and 58.6% in Physics awarded to Americans between 1901 and 1972.