Christians (/ˈkrɪstʃən, -tiən/ (listen)) are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words Christ and Christian derive from the Koine Greek title Christós (Χριστός), a translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ).
While there are diverse interpretations of Christianity which sometimes conflict, they are united in believing that Jesus has a unique significance. The term "Christian" is also used as an adjective to describe anything associated with Christianity, or in a proverbial sense "all that is 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% of all Christians live in the Americas, about 26% live in Europe, 24% live in sub-Saharan Africa, about 13% live in Asia and the Pacific, and 1% 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 12% 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 Christians live as a minority.
Christians have made noted contributions to a 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.
|c. 2.4 billion worldwide (2015)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||63,150,000|
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 other European languages, equivalent words to Christian are likewise derived from the Greek, such as Chrétien in French and Cristiano in Spanish.
The abbreviations Xian and Xtian (and similarly-formed other parts of speech) have been used since at least the 17th century: Oxford English Dictionary shows a 1634 use of Xtianity and Xian is seen in a 1634-38 diary. The word Xmas uses a similar contraction.
The first recorded use of the term (or its cognates in other languages) is in the New Testament, in Acts 11:26, 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 Acts 26:28, 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 1 Peter 4:16, 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 did not 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 apparent 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 1st 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.
Another term for Christians which appears in the New Testament is "Nazarenes". Jesus is named as a Nazarene in Math 2:23, while Saul-Paul is said to be Nazarene in Acts 24:5. The latter verse makes it clear that Nazarene also referred to the name of a sect or heresy, as well as the town called Nazareth.
The term Nazarene was also used by the Jewish lawyer Tertullus (Against Marcion 4:8) which 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.
A wide range of beliefs and practices 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, many would not identify others within the larger category as Christian. Most Baptists and fundamentalists (Christian Fundamentalism), for example, would not 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.
The identification of Jesus as the Messiah is not accepted by Judaism. The term for a Christian in Hebrew is נוֹצְרִי (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 מְשִׁיחִיִּים (Yehudim Meshihi'im—"Messianic Jews").
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. Where there is a distinction, Nasrani refers to people from a Christian culture and Masihi is used by Christians themselves for those with a religious faith in Jesus. In some countries Nasrani tends to be used generically for non-Muslim Western foreigners, e.g. "blond people."
Another Arabic word sometimes used for Christians, particularly in a political context, is Ṣalībī (صليبي "Crusader") from ṣalīb (صليب "cross"), which refers to Crusaders and has negative connotations. However, Ṣalībī 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 name of the Franks and can be seen in the Arab history text Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh by Ali ibn al-Athir.
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, also meaning "Christian", derived from tars, meaning "fear, respect".
An old Kurdish word for Christian frequently in usage was felle (فەڵە), coming from the root word meaning "to be saved" or "attain salvation".
The Syriac term Nasrani (Nazarene) has also been attached to the Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala, India. In the Indian subcontinent, Christians call themselves Isaai (Hindi: ईसाई, Urdu: عیسائی), and are also known by this term to adherents of other 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. In Indonesian language, the term "Nasrani" is also used alongside with "Kristen".
The Chinese word is 基督徒 (pinyin: jīdū tú), literally "Christ follower." The two characters now pronounced Jīdū in Mandarin Chinese were originally used phonetically to represent the name of Christ. In Vietnam, the same two characters read Cơ đốc, and a "follower of Christianity" is a tín đồ Cơ đốc giáo.
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 16th and 17th 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.
In Thailand, the most common terms are คนคริสต์ (khon khrit) or ชาวคริสต์ (chao khrit) which literally mean "Christ person/people" or "Jesus person/people." The Thai word คริสต์ (khrit) is derived from "Christ."
The region of modern Eastern Europe and Central Eurasia (Russia, Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet bloc) has 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 Armenia (301 AD) and Georgia (337 AD), later Bulgaria (c. 864) and the Great Russian Principality (Kyivan Rus, Russian: Великое княжество Русское, c. 988 AD).
In some areas, people of that time came to denote themselves as Christians (Russian: христиане, крестьяне) and as Russians (Russian: русские). Both terms had strong Christian connotations. In time the Russian term "крестьяне" (khrest'yanye) acquired the meaning "peasants of Christian faith" and later "peasants" (the main part of the population of the region), while the term "христиане" (khristianye) retained its religious meaning and the term "русские" (russkiye) 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 term "Pravoslav faith" (Russian: православная вера - Orthodox faith) or "Russian faith" (Russian: русская вера) from earliest times became almost as known as the original "Christian faith" (христианская, крестьянская вера). Also in some contexts the term "cossack" (Russian: козак, казак - "free man" by the will of God) was used to denote "free" Christians of steppe origin and Russian language.
Nominally "Christian" societies made "Christian" a default label for citizenship or for "people like us". In this context, religious or ethnic minorities can use "Christians" or "you Christians" loosely as a shorthand term for mainstream members of society who do not belong to their group - even in a thoroughly secular (though formerly Christian) society.
As of the early 21st 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 70% are Christians. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey, if current trends continue, Christianity will remain the world's largest religion by the 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 Christian population growth. A 2015 study found that approximately 10.2 million Muslims converted to Christianity. Christianity is growing in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Muslim world, and Oceania.
|Middle East–North Africa||12,710,000||3.7|
According to a study from 2015, Christians hold the largest amount of wealth (55% of the total world wealth), followed by Muslims (5.8%), Hindus (3.3%) and Jews (1.1%). According to the same study it was found that adherents under the classification Irreligion or other religions hold about 34.8% of the total global wealth. A study done by the nonpartisan wealth research firm New World Wealth found that 56.2% of the 13.1 million millionaires in the world were Christians.
A Pew Center study about religion and education around the world in 2016, found that Christians ranked as the second most educated religious group around in the world after Jews with an average of 9.3 years of schooling, and the highest numbers of years of schooling among Christians were found in Germany (13.6), New Zealand (13.5) and Estonia (13.1). Christians were also found to have the second highest number of graduate and post-graduate degrees per capita while in absolute numbers ranked in the first place (220 million). Between the various Christian communities, Singapore outranks other nations in terms of Christians who obtain a university degree in institutions of higher education (67%), followed by the Christians of Israel (63%), and the Christians of Georgia (57%).
According to the study, Christians in North America, Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Asia Pacific regions are highly educated since many of the world universities were built by the historic Christian Churches, in addition to the historical evidence that "Christian monks built libraries and, in the days before printing presses, preserved important earlier writings produced in Latin, Greek and Arabic". According to the same study, Christians have a significant amount of gender equality in educational attainment, and the study suggests that one of the reasons is the encouragement of the Protestant Reformers in promoting the education of women, which led to the eradication of illiteracy among females in Protestant communities.
Christians have made noted contributions to a range of fields, including philanthropy, philosophy,:15 ethics, literature, business and economics, fine arts and architecture, music, theatre and medicine, as well as science and technology, both historically and in modern times.
Eastern Christians (particularly Nestorian Christians) contributed to the Arab Islamic Civilization during the Ummayad and the Abbasid periods by translating works of Greek philosophers to Syriac and afterwards to Arabic. They also excelled in philosophy, science, theology and medicine.
... Many of the scientists who contributed to these developments were Christians...
Virtually every major European composer contributed to the development of church music. Monteverdi, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, and Verdi are all examples of composers to have made significant contributions in this sphere. The Catholic church was without question one of the most important patrons of musical developments, and a crucial stimulus to the development of the western musical tradition.
Throughout his diary, Rogers abbreviates 'Christ' to 'X' and the same is true of 'Christian' ('Xian'), 'Antichrist' ('AntiX') and related words.
In modern times the name Christian [...] has tended, in nominally Christian countries, to lose any credal significance and imply only that which is ethically praiseworthy (e.g. 'a Christian action') or socially customary ('Christian name').
... The insights of Christian philosophy “would not have happened without the direct or indirect contribution of Christian faith” (FR 76). Typical Christian philosophers include St. Augustine, St. Bonaventure, and St. Thomas Aquinas. The benefits derived from Christian philosophy are twofold....
... .Catholic thinkers contributed extensively to philosophy during the Nineteenth Century. Besides pioneering the revivals of Augustinianism and Thomism, they also helped to initiate such philosophical movements as Romanticism, Traditionalism, Semi-Rationalism, Spiritualism, Ontologism, and Integralism...
... Christians has also contributed greatly to the abolition of slavery, or at least to the mitigation of the rigour of servitude.
... In the centuries succeeding the REFORMATION the teaching of Protestantism was consistent on the nature of work. Some Protestant theologians also contributed to the study of economics, especially the nineteenth-century Scottish minister THOMAS CHALMERS....
... According to Max Weber's analysis, Protestant Asceticism contributed to the rise of the capitalism in the West....
...It is clear enough without this that the contribution of Protestantism to modern economic development, which is, in point of fact, one of the most characteristic features of our modern world, is to be ascribed, not to Protestantism as a whole, but primarily to Calvinism, Pietism, and the Sectaries, and that even with them this contribution is only an indirect and consequently an involuntary one.
Christian, also contributed much to the world of music. A prolific composer, Bach regularly wrote sacred music, dedicating his efforts to the glory of God.
Many prominent Catholic physicians and psychologists have made significant contributions to hypnosis in medicine, dentistry, and psychology.
... the Christian contribution to science has been uniformly at the top level, but it has reached that level and it has been sufficiently strong overall ...
... . Many of the early leaders of the scientific revolution were Christians of various stripes, including Roger Bacon, Copernicus, Kepler, Francis Bacon, Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Pascal, Descartes, Ray, Linnaeus and Gassendi...
Arab Christians (Arabic: مسيحيون عرب Masīḥiyyūn ʿArab) are Arabs of the Christian faith. Many are descended from ancient Arab Christian clans that did not convert to Islam, such as the Kahlani Qahtanite tribes of Yemen (i.e., Ghassanids, and Banu Judham) who settled in Transjordan and Syria, as well as Arabized Christians, such as Melkites and Antiochian Greek Christians. Arab Christians, forming Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic communities, are estimated to be 520,000–703,000 in Syria, 221,000 in Jordan, 134,130 in Israel and around 50,000 in Palestine. There is also a sizable Arab Christian Orthodox community in Lebanon and marginal communities in Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. Emigrants from Arab Christian (including Melkite-Antiochian Greek Christians) communities make up a significant proportion of the Middle Eastern diaspora, with sizable population concentrations across the Americas, most notably in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and the US.The first Arab tribes to adopt Christianity were likely Nabataeans and Ghassanids. During the fifth and sixth centuries, the Ghassanids, who at first adopted monophysitism, formed one of the most powerful confederations allied to Christian Byzantium, being a buffer against the pagan tribes of Arabia. The last king of the Lakhmids, al-Nu'man III ibn al-Mundhir, a client of the Sasanian Empire in the late sixth century, also converted to Christianity (in this case, to the Nestorian sect). Arab Christians played important roles in al-Nahda movement in modern times, and because Arab Christians formed the educated upper class and the bourgeoisie, they have had a significant impact in politics, business and culture of the Arab world. Today Arab Christians still play important roles in the Arab world, and Christians are relatively wealthy, well educated, and politically moderate.Arab Christians are not the only Christian group in the Middle East, with significant non-Arab indigenous Christian communities of Assyrians, Armenians, Copts and others. Although sometimes classified as "Arab Christians", the largest Middle Eastern Christian groups of Maronites and often claim non-Arab ethnicity: a significant proportion of Maronites claim descent from the ancient Phoenicians.Candace Cameron Bure
Candace Cameron Bure (; born Candace Helaine Cameron; April 6, 1976) is an American actress, producer, author, and talk show panelist. She is known for her role as D.J. Tanner on Full House, which she reprised as D.J. Tanner-Fuller on Fuller House. She is also known for her work with Hallmark Channel, playing the role of Aurora Teagarden in Hallmark Channel's film adaptation of the novel series as well having starred in many of their Christmas films.
In 2014, she was a contestant on season 18 of Dancing with the Stars, finishing in third place. She also starred as Summer van Horne on Make It or Break It. She is the sister of actor Kirk Cameron, known for Growing Pains. From 2015 to 2016, she was a co-host of the daytime television talk show The View.Christian denomination
A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization, leadership and doctrine. Individual bodies, however, may use alternative terms to describe themselves, such as church or sometimes fellowship. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.
Individual denominations vary widely in the degree to which they recognize one another. Several groups claim to be the direct and sole authentic successor of the church founded by Jesus Christ in the 1st century AD. Others, however, believe in denominationalism, where some or all Christian groups are legitimate churches of the same religion regardless of their distinguishing labels, beliefs, and practices. Because of this concept, some Christian bodies reject the term "denomination" to describe themselves, to avoid implying equivalency with other churches or denominations.
The Catholic Church which claims 1.2 billion members – slightly over half of all Christians worldwide – does not view itself as a denomination, but as the original pre-denominational church, a view rejected by other Christians. Protestant denominations account for approximately 37 percent of Christians worldwide. Together, Catholicism and Protestantism (including Anglicanism, and other denominations sharing historical ties) comprise Western Christianity. Western Christian denominations prevail in Western, Northern, Central and Southern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas and Oceania.The Eastern Orthodox Church, with an estimated 225–300 million adherents, is the second-largest Christian organization in the world and also considers itself the original pre-denominational church. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church is itself a communion of fully independent autocephalous churches (or "jurisdictions") that mutually recognize each other to the exclusion of others. The Eastern Orthodox Church, together with Oriental Orthodoxy and the Assyrian Church of the East, constitutes Eastern Christianity. (There are also some smaller groups of Eastern Catholics which are in communion with the Bishop of Rome but have cultural and historical ties with other Eastern Christians and Byzantine Lutherans were newer group of Eastern Christianity and Protestant Lutheranism in Ukraine and Slovenia that accepts Byzantine Rite as the denomination's liturgy while retaining their Lutheran traditions.) Eastern Christian denominations are represented mostly in Eastern Europe, North Asia, the Middle East, Northeast Africa and mostly South India.
Christians have various doctrines about the Church (the body of the faithful that they believe Jesus Christ established) and about how the divine church corresponds to Christian denominations. Both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox hold that their own organizations faithfully represent the One Holy catholic and Apostolic Church to the exclusion of the other. Sixteenth-century Protestants separated from the Catholic Church because of theologies and practices that they considered to be in violation of their own interpretation. Generally, members of the various denominations acknowledge each other as Christians, at least to the extent that they have mutually recognized baptisms and acknowledge historically orthodox views including the Divinity of Jesus and doctrines of sin and salvation, even though doctrinal and ecclesiological obstacles hinder full communion between churches.
Since the reforms surrounding the Second Vatican Council of 1962–1965, the Catholic Church has referred to Protestant communities as "denominations", while reserving the term "church" for apostolic churches, including the Eastern Orthodox (see subsistit in and branch theory). But some non-denominational Christians
do not follow any particular branch, though sometimes regarded as Protestants.Christianity
Christianity is a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.Depending on the specific denomination of Christianity, practices may include baptism, Eucharist (Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper), prayer (including the Lord's Prayer), confession, confirmation, burial rites, marriage rites and the religious education of children. Most denominations have ordained clergy and hold regular group worship services.
Christianity developed during the 1st century CE as a Jewish Christian sect of Second Temple Judaism. It soon also attracted Gentile God-fearers, which lead to a departure from Jewish customs, and the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion. During the first centuries of its existence Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, and also to Ethiopia, Transcaucasia, and some parts of Asia.
Constantine the Great converted to Christianity and decriminalized it via the Edict of Milan (313). The First Council of Nicaea (325) established a uniform set of beliefs across the Roman Empire. By 380, the Roman Empire designated Christianity as the state religion. The period of the first seven ecumenical councils is sometimes referred to as the Great Church, the united full communion of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Oriental Orthodoxy, before their schisms.
Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon (451) over differences in Christology. The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism (1054), especially over the authority of the Pope. Similarly, in 1521, Protestants were excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church in the Protestant Reformation over Papal primacy, the nature of salvation, whether it was permissible to burn heretics, and other ecclesiological and theological disputes.Following the Age of Discovery (15th–17th century), Christianity was spread into the Americas, Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world via missionary work and colonization.There are 2.3 billion Christians in the world, or 31.4% of the global population. Today, the four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion), Protestantism (920 million), the Eastern Orthodox Church (260 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (86 million).
Christianity and Christian ethics have played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization, particularly around Europe during late antiquity and the Middle Ages.Christianity in India
Christianity is India's third-most followed religion after Hinduism and Islam, with approximately 28 million followers, constituting 2.3 percent of India's population (2011 census). The Christian faith was introduced to India by Thomas the Apostle, who supposedly reached the Malabar Coast (Kerala) in 52 AD. According to another tradition Bartholomew the Apostle is credited with simultaneously introducing Christianity along the Konkan Coast. There is a general scholarly consensus that Christian communities were firmly established in India by the 6th century AD, including some communities who used Syriac liturgies. It is possible for Christianity to have existed in the Indian Subcontinent as far back as the first century AD, in keeping with the belief of St Thomas's arrival.Christianity in India is made up of people from different denominations. The state of Kerala is home to the Saint Thomas Christian community, an ancient body of Christians, who are divided into several different churches and traditions. They are East Syriac Saint Thomas Christian churches: the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the Chaldean Syrian Church. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church, Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, and the Malabar Independent Syrian Church are West Syriac Saint Thomas Christian Churches. Saint Thomas Anglicans are in the Anglican tradition and are members of the Church of South India. Since the 19th century, Protestant churches have also been present; major denominations include The Pentecostal Mission (formerly Ceylon Pentecostal Mission), the Baptists, Church of South India (CSI), Evangelical Church of India (ECI), St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India, Believers Eastern Church, the Church of North India (CNI),Council of Reformed Churches of India (CRCI), the Presbyterian Church of India, Pentecostal Church, Apostolics, Lutherans, Traditional Anglicans and other evangelical groups. The Christian Church runs thousands of educational institutions and hospitals which have contributed significantly to the development of the nation.Christians are found all across India and in all walks of life, with major populations in parts of South India and the south shore, the Konkan Coast, and Northeast India. Indian Christians have contributed significantly to and are well represented in various spheres of national life. They include former and current chief ministers, governors and chief election commissioners. Indian Christians have the highest ratio of women to men among the various religious communities in India. Christians are the second most educated religious group in India after Jains.Roman Catholicism was introduced to India by the Portuguese, Italian and Irish Jesuits in the 16th century to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ among the Indians. Most Christian schools, hospitals, primary care centres originated through the Roman Catholic missions brought by the trade of these countries. Evangelical Protestantism was later spread to India by the efforts of British, American, German, Scottish missionaries. These Protestant missions were also responsible for introducing English education in India for the first time and were also accountable in the first early translations of the Holy Bible in various Indian languages (including Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, Urdu and others).Even though Christians are a significant minority, they form a major religious group in three states of India - Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland with plural majority in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and other states with significant Christian population include Coastal Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Kanara. Christianity is widespread across India and is present in all states with major populations in South India.Denzel Washington
Denzel Hayes Washington Jr. (born December 28, 1954) is an American actor, director, and producer. He has received two Golden Globe awards, one Tony Award, and two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for the historical war drama film Glory (1989) and Best Actor for his role as corrupt detective Alonzo Harris in the crime thriller Training Day (2001).Washington has received much critical acclaim for his film work since the 1980s, including his portrayals of real-life figures, such as South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in Cry Freedom (1987), Muslim minister and human rights activist Malcolm X in Malcolm X (1992), boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in The Hurricane (1999), football coach Herman Boone in Remember the Titans (2000), poet and educator Melvin B. Tolson in The Great Debaters (2007), and drug kingpin Frank Lucas in American Gangster (2007). He has been a featured actor in films produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and has been a frequent collaborator of directors Spike Lee, Antoine Fuqua, and Tony Scott. In 2016, he received the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the 73rd Golden Globe Awards.
In 2002, Washington made his directorial debut with the biographical film Antwone Fisher. His second directorial effort was The Great Debaters (2007). His third film, Fences (2016), in which he also starred, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.Early Christianity
Early Christianity, or the Early Church, covers the period from its origins (c. 30–36) until the First Council of Nicaea (325). This period is typically divided into the Apostolic Age (c. 30-100) and the Ante-Nicene Period (c. 100-325).
The first Christians were Jewish Christians, either by birth or conversion ("proselytes" in Biblical terminology). Important practices were baptism, which made one a member of the Christian community, and the communal meals, from which the Eucharist developed, the participation in Christs death and resurrection. Eventually, the inclusion of Gentile God-fearers lead to a departure from Jewish customs, and the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion.
A variety of Christianities developed throughout the 2nd and 3rd century, alongside a developing proto-orthodoxy, which eventually defined orthodoxy and heresy. Proto-orthodoxy developed in tandem with the growing number of Christians, which necessitated the devlopment of eccelsiastical structure.
Early Christians generally used and revered the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) as religious text, mostly in the Greek (Septuagint) or Aramaic (Targum) translations, but also developed their own Canon of the New Testament, which includes the canonical gospels, Acts, letters of the Apostles, and Revelation, all written before 120.Easter
Easter, also called Pascha (Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.
Most Christians refer to the week before Easter as "Holy Week"—it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Maundy and Last Supper, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In Western Christianity, Eastertide, or the Easter Season, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, ending with the coming of the fiftieth day, Pentecost Sunday. In Eastern Christianity, the season of Pascha begins on Pascha and ends with the coming of the fortieth day, the Feast of the Ascension.
Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts which do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars which follow only the cycle of the sun; rather, its date is determined on a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established two rules, independence of the Jewish calendar and worldwide uniformity, which were the only rules for Easter explicitly laid down by the council. No details for the computation were specified; these were worked out in practice, a process that took centuries and generated a number of controversies. It has come to be the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or soonest after 21 March, but calculations vary.
Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast called Easter in English is termed by the words for passover in those languages and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate passover. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, and include sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church, and decorating Easter eggs (symbols of the empty tomb). The Easter lily, a symbol of the resurrection, traditionally decorates the chancel area of churches on this day and for the rest of Eastertide. Additional customs that have become associated with Easter and are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades. There are also various traditional Easter foods that vary regionally.Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises church families that developed outside the Occident, with major bodies including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches (that are in communion with Rome but still maintain Eastern liturgies), and the denominations descended from the Church of the East. The Ukrainian Lutheran Church is also an Eastern Christian church that uses the Byzantine Rite. The term is used in contrast with Western Christianity (namely the Latin Church and most of Protestantism), although its scope has been one of continual discussion. Eastern Christianity consists of the Christian traditions and churches that developed distinctively over several centuries in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Malabar coast of South India, and parts of the Far East. The term does not describe a single communion or religious denomination. Some Eastern churches have more in common historically and theologically with Western Christianity than with one another. The various Eastern churches do not normally refer to themselves as "Eastern", with the exception of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East.
The terms "Eastern" and "Western" in this regard originated with geographical divisions in Christianity mirroring the cultural divide between the Hellenistic east and Latin West, and the political divide between the Western and Eastern Roman empires. Because the largest church in the East is the body currently known as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the term "Orthodox" is often used in a similar fashion to "Eastern", to refer to specific historical Christian communions. However, strictly speaking, most Christian denominations, whether Eastern or Western, consider themselves to be "orthodox" (following correct beliefs) as well as "catholic" (or "universal"), as two of the Four Marks of the Church listed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed: "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic" (Greek: μία, ἁγία, καθολικὴ καὶ ἀποστολικὴ ἐκκλησία).There are several liturgical rites in use among the Eastern churches (excepting the non-liturgical dissenting bodies). These are the Alexandrian Rite, the Antiochene Rite, the Armenian Rite, the Byzantine Rite, the East Syriac Rite and the West Syriac Rite.Eastern Orthodox Church
The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 200–260 million members. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Pope of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares ("first among equals") of the bishops.
Eastern Orthodox theology is based on the Nicene Creed. The church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, and that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. It maintains that it practices the original Christian faith, as passed down by holy tradition. Its patriarchates, reminiscent of the pentarchy, and autocephalous and autonomous churches reflect a variety of hierarchical organisation. Of its innumerable sacred mysteries, it recognises seven major sacraments, of which the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in synaxis. The church teaches that through consecration invoked by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the God-bearer, honoured in devotions.
The Eastern Orthodox Church shared communion with the Roman Catholic Church until the East–West Schism in 1054, triggered by disputes over doctrine, especially the authority of the Pope. Before the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, the Oriental Orthodox churches also shared in this communion, separating primarily over differences in Christology.
The majority of Eastern Orthodox Christians live mainly in Southeast and Eastern Europe, Cyprus, Georgia and other communities in the Caucasus region, and communities in Siberia reaching the Russian Far East. There are also smaller communities in the former Byzantine regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, Africa, and in the Middle East where it is decreasing due to persecution. There are also many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora, conversions, and missionary activity.Greek Orthodox Church
The name Greek Orthodox Church (Greek: Ἑλληνορθόδοξη Ἑκκλησία, Ellinorthódoxi Ekklisía, IPA: [elinorˈθoðoksi ekliˈsia]), or Greek Orthodoxy, is a term referring to the body of several Churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, whose liturgy is or was traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the Septuagint and the New Testament, and whose history, traditions, and theology are rooted in the early Church Fathers and the culture of the Byzantine Empire. Greek Orthodox Christianity has also traditionally placed heavy emphasis and awarded high prestige to traditions of Eastern Orthodox monasticism and asceticism, with origins in Early Christianity in the Near East and in Byzantine Anatolia.
Historically, the term "Greek Orthodox" has also been used to describe all Eastern Orthodox Churches in general, since "Greek" in "Greek Orthodox" can refer to the heritage of the Byzantine Empire. During the first eight centuries of Christian history, most major intellectual, cultural, and social developments in the Christian Church took place within the Empire or in the sphere of its influence, where the Greek language was widely spoken and used for most theological writings. Over time, most parts of the liturgy, traditions, and practices of the church of Constantinople were adopted by all, and still provide the basic patterns of contemporary Orthodoxy. Thus, the Eastern Church came to be called "Greek" Orthodox in the same way that the Western Church is called "Roman" Catholic. However, the appellation "Greek" was abandoned by the Slavic and other Eastern Orthodox churches in connection with their peoples' national awakenings, from as early as the 10th century A.D. Thus, today it is generally only those churches that are most closely tied to Greek or Byzantine culture that are called "Greek Orthodox".Jewish Christian
Jewish Christians were the original members of the Jewish movement that later became Christianity. In the earliest stage the community was made up of all those Jews who believed that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. As Christianity grew and developed, Jewish Christians became only one strand of the early Christian community, characterised by combining the confession of Jesus as Christ with continued observance of the Torah and adherence to Jewish traditions such as Sabbath observance, Jewish calendar, Jewish laws and customs, circumcision, Kosher diet and synagogue attendance, and by a direct genetic relationship to the earliest followers of Jesus.The term "Jewish Christian" appears in historical texts contrasting Christians of Jewish origin with Gentile Christians, both in discussion of the New Testament church and the second and following centuries. It is also a term used for Jews who converted to Christianity but kept their Jewish heritage and traditions.
First century Jewish Christians were faithful religious Jews; they differed from other contemporary Jews only in their acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. Those that taught that Gentile converts to Christianity ought to adopt more Jewish practices to be saved, however, were called "Judaizers". Though the Apostle Peter was initially sympathetic, the Apostle Paul opposed the teaching at the Incident at Antioch (Gal. 2:11-21) and at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:6-35). Nevertheless, Judaizing continued to be encouraged for several centuries, particularly by Jewish Christians.As Christianity grew throughout the Gentile world, Christians diverged from their Jewish and Jerusalem roots. Jewish Christianity fell into decline during the Jewish–Roman wars (66-135) and the growing anti-Judaism perhaps best personified by Marcion of Sinope (c. 150). With persecution by the Nicene Christians from the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, Jewish Christians sought refuge outside the boundaries of the Empire, in Arabia and further afield. Within the Empire and later elsewhere it was dominated by the Gentile based Christianity which became the State church of the Roman Empire and which took control of sites in the Holy Land such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Cenacle and appointed subsequent Bishops of Jerusalem.Kel Mitchell
Kel Johari Rice Mitchell (born August 25, 1978) is an American actor, stand-up comedian, musician, singer, and rapper. He is known for his work as a regular cast member of the Nickelodeon sketch comedy series All That, as the Invisible Boy in the 1999 Ben Stiller and Geoffrey Rush superhero satire film Mystery Men, his portrayal of Kel Kimble on the Nickelodeon sitcom Kenan & Kel, his role as Ed in the film and All That sketch Good Burger, as the voice of Dutch in the Disney XD cartoon Motorcity, and as Ray in the 2006 sequel to Like Mike, Like Mike 2: Streetball. He currently stars as Double G on the Nickelodeon series Game Shakers.Lynn Swann
Lynn Curtis Swann (born March 7, 1952) is an American football player, broadcaster, politician, and athletic director, best known for his association with the University of Southern California and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He served as the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition from 2002 to 2005. In 2006, he was the Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania.
Swann was born in Alcoa, Tennessee. He attended USC and played football as a wide receiver of the USC Trojans, where he was a consensus All-American. He was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 1974 NFL draft. With the Steelers, Swann won four Super Bowls, was selected to three Pro Bowls, and was named MVP of Super Bowl X. Swann was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.Persecution of Christians
The persecution of Christians can be historically traced from the first century of the Christian era to the present day. Early Christians were persecuted for their faith at the hands of both the Jews from whose religion Christianity arose and the Romans who controlled many of the lands across which early Christianity was spread. Early in the fourth century, a form of the religion was legalized by the Edict of Milan, and it eventually became the State church of the Roman Empire.
Christian missionaries as well as converts to Christianity have been the target of persecution ever since the emergence of Christianity, sometimes to the point of being martyred for their faith.
The schisms of the Middle Ages and especially the Protestant Reformation, sometimes provoked severe conflicts between Christian denominations to the point of persecuting each other.
In the 20th century, Christians were persecuted by various governments including the Islamic Ottoman Empire in the form of the Armenian Genocide, the Assyrian Genocide and the Greek Genocide, as well as by atheistic states such as the Soviet Union and North Korea.Persecution of Christians by ISIL
The Genocide of Christians by ISIL refers to the persecution of Christian minorities, within its region of control in Iraq, Syria and Libya by the Islamic extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Persecution of Christian minorities climaxed following its takeover of parts of Northern Iraq in June 2014.According to US diplomat Alberto M. Fernandez, "While the majority of victims in the conflict raging in Syria and Iraq have been Muslims, Christians have borne a heavy burden given their small numbers."On February 3, 2016, the European Union recognized the persecution of Christians by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as genocide. The vote was unanimous. The United States followed suit on March 15, 2016, declaring these atrocities as genocide. The vote was unanimous. On April 20, 2016, British Parliament voted unanimously to denounce the actions as genocide. A similar motion however failed in Canada when it was opposed by the majority of MP's in Justin Trudeau's Liberal government.Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire
Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire occurred intermittently over a period of over two centuries between the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD under Nero and the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, in which the Roman Emperors Constantine the Great and Licinius legalised the Christian religion.
The persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire was carried out by the state and also by local authorities on a sporadic, ad hoc basis, often at the whims of local communities. Starting in 250 AD, empire-wide persecution took place as an indirect consequence of an edict by the emperor Decius. This edict was in force for eighteen months, during which time some Christians were killed while others apostatised to escape execution.
These persecutions heavily influenced the development of Christianity, shaping Christian theology and the structure of the Church. The effects of the persecutions included the writing of explanations and defenses of the Christian religion.Saint Thomas Christians
The Saint Thomas Christians, also called Syrian Christians of India, Nasrani or Malankara Nasrani or Nasrani Mappila, are an ethnoreligious community of Malayali Syriac Christians from Kerala, India, who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. The terms Syrian or Syriac relate not to their ethnicity but to their historical, religious, and liturgical connection to Syriac Christianity. The term Nasrani was derived from Semitic languages like Syriac (نصرانی) and Arabic (نصارى) and refers to Christians in general.
Historically, this community was organised as the Province of India of the Church of the East in the 8th century, served by Nestorian bishops and a local dynastic Archdeacon. The Church of the East eventually declined in the 16th century due to outside influences like the Islamic invasion and the influence of the Catholic Church. The Schism of 1552 split the Church of the East into two factions, the independent Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church which is in full communion with Rome. Both the factions follow the East Syriac Liturgy of the historic Church of the East.
In the 16th century the overtures of the Portuguese padroado to bring the Saint Thomas Christians into the Catholic Church led to the first of several rifts in the community. The majority of Nasranis joined in formal communion with Rome, to form the Syro-Malabar Church which is distinct and separate from the Western Latin Church but is one of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The remaining group entered into a new communion with the Syriac Orthodox Church, to form an Oriental Orthodox (Malankara) Church. The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church follows the East Syriac Liturgy of the historic Church of the East, traditionally attributed to Saints Addai and Mari which dates back to 3rd-century Edessa. The Malankara Church follows the West Syriac Liturgy of the Syriac Orthodox Church, traditionally attributed to Saint James, and is an ancient rite of the Early Christian Church of Jerusalem. Since that time further splits have occurred, and the Saint Thomas Christians are now divided into several different Eastern Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, Protestant, and independent bodies, each with their own liturgies and traditions.The Eastern Catholic faction is in full communion with the Holy See in Rome. This includes the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. The Syro-Malankara Church were a minority faction within the Oriental Orthodox faction that joined in communion with Rome in 1930 under Bishop Mar Ivanios. The Oriental Orthodox faction includes the Malankara Orthodox Church and the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. The Malankara Orthodox Church is headed by the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan in Kottayam, India. Whereas the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church is an integral part of the Syriac Orthodox Church and is headed by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch in Damascus, Syria. Independents include the Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church and the Chaldean Syrian Church of India. The Marthoma Syrian Church were a part of the Malankara Church that went through a reformation movement under Abraham Malpan due to influence of British Anglican missionaries in the 1800s. The Mar Thoma Church follows a reformed variant of the liturgical West Syriac Rite. The Chaldean Syrian Church is an archbishopric of the Assyrian Church of the East in Iraq. They were a minority faction within the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, who split off and joined with the Church of the East Bishop during the 1700s.Saint Thomas Christians represent a multi-ethnic group. Their culture is largely derived from East Syriac, Hindu, Jewish, and West Syriac influences, blended with local customs and later elements derived from indigenous Indian and European colonial contacts. Their language is Malayalam, the language of Kerala, and Syriac is used for liturgical purposes. The Saint Thomas Christians are classified as a Forward caste by the Government of India under its system of positive discrimination.