CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.
           I dreamed I stood upon a hill, and, lo!
           The godly multitudes walked to and fro
           Beneath, in Sabbath garments fitly clad,
           With pious mien, appropriately sad,
           While all the church bells made a solemn din --
           A fire-alarm to those who lived in sin.
           Then saw I gazing thoughtfully below,
           With tranquil face, upon that holy show
           A tall, spare figure in a robe of white,
           Whose eyes diffused a melancholy light.
           "God keep you, strange," I exclaimed.  "You are
           No doubt (your habit shows it) from afar;
           And yet I entertain the hope that you,
           Like these good people, are a Christian too."
           He raised his eyes and with a look so stern
           It made me with a thousand blushes burn
           Replied -- his manner with disdain was spiced:
           "What!  I a Christian?  No, indeed!  I'm Christ."

(Definition from The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce)

Christian was first used as an English word in 1526 originated from the Latin word christianus. In 1779 it was borrowed from cretin the French word crétin, medieval inhabitants of remote Alpine valleys used the word synonymously as one would use the word human. Because of the lack of iodine in their diets many people in remote areas of Switzerland contracted severe thyroid diseases including goiters and congenital idiocy. Deserving of pity the local Priests referred to these unfortunates as Christians, or as in, 'at least they are human'

Beginning as a struggle to shape and define their identity and faith the first Christians were a diverse group of early followers. First called Christian in Antioch 1 the word appears in Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:14-16

The origin of the word remains obscure and is composed of the word Christ, meaning annointed one in Greek and the ending designating partisans of or followers of. Jews initially referred to the earliest followers as the sect of the Nazarenes and seemingly thought of Christians as a Jewish group outside of those who didn't accept Jesus as the Messiah.

It is implausible that the followers of Jesus originated the term among the first Christians because most referred to themselves as saints 2 3 4, the Way 5 6, brothers7 8 9, and frequently throughout the Gospels as well as the New Testament as disciples 10 11.

The term was used as a mocking remark by Agrippa in Acts 26:28; as an admonishment in 1 Peter 4:14-16 and apparently in disparagement of the small sect of first followers. The ancient historians of Rome also used the term this way. In Annals 15:6 Tacitus refers to the Christians as people despised for their evil deeds and in Lives of the Caesars Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus calls them a new and evil supersition.

If it was used as a term of ridicule and scorn for the first followers of Jesus in Antioch, most likely Roman officials coined the word to differentiate the Christian group from Judaism. It has also been conjectured by biblical scholars that Christian was used to designate the Christian movement hostile toward Agrippa. Regardless as to where the term began it is agreed upon by most scholars that it was first use was as a pejorative. However, by the end of the first century of the common era the expressed acceptance of the word among Christians is seen as a comforting sign of God's glory.12 13 14


Take our Word For It:

The Oxford Companion to the Bible, 1993

A common name for kings of Denmark and Norway (ten, so far), including, most notably:

Also see liveforever's excellent Monarchs of Denmark node.

My personal definition of a christian is

"Someone who attempts to follow the teachings of Jesus"

This definition is a broad one and incorporates those who go to church every Sunday and sing in the choir, to those who have never been in a church in their lives but feel that the teachings of Jesus make sense

The essence of what Jesus taught he summed up as follows:

"You must love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second equally important commandment is that you love your neighbour as yourself. All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)

A believer in miracles, angels, and demons
In castles of Reason with enchanted gardens
In statues that bleed and paintings that weep
In infinite wrath, and infinite mercy
In unyielding justice and prodigal sons
In robes of rich colors and garments of sackcloth
In the last who come first, while the mighty are humbled
In fanfares of trumpets and pealing of bells
In silence and fasting and prayers for the world
In drawing the sword and turning the cheek
In Nature as sister, child of the same Father
In Christ the Redeemer, and brother, and friend
In a Man on a cross with a crown made of thorns
In a God that is found in the breaking of bread
In a world with no sickbeds, no graveyards or prisons
In a Lord of the living, not of the dead
"Why do you seek Him here? Go, He is risen."

Chris"tian (?), n. [L. christianus, Gr. &?;; cf. AS. cristen. See Christ.]


One who believes, or professes or is assumed to believe, in Jesus Christ, and the truth as taught by Him; especially, one whose inward and outward life is conformed to the doctrines of Christ.

The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Acts xi. 26.


One born in a Christian country or of Christian parents, and who has not definitely becomes an adherent of an opposing system.

3. (Eccl.)


One of a Christian denomination which rejects human creeds as bases of fellowship, and sectarian names. They are congregational in church government, and baptize by immersion. They are also called Disciples of Christ, and Campbellites.


One of a sect (called Christian Connection) of open-communion immersionists. The Bible is their only authoritative rule of faith and practice.

⇒ In this sense, often pronounced, but not by the members of the sects, krIs"chan.


© Webster 1913

Chris"tian (?), a.


Pertaining to Christ or his religion; as, Christian people.


Pertaining to the church; ecclesiastical; as, a Christian court. Blackstone.


Characteristic of Christian people; civilized; kind; kindly; gentle; beneficent.

The graceful tact; the Christian art.

Christian Commission. See under Commission. --
Christian court. Same as Ecclesiastical court. --
Christian era, the present era, commencing with the birth of Christ. It is supposed that owing to an error of a monk (Dionysius Exiguus, d. about 556) employed to calculate the era, its commencement was fixed three or four years too late, so that 1890 should be 1893 or 1894. --
Christian name, the name given in baptism, as distinct from the family name, or surname.


© Webster 1913

Chris"tian, a. --
Christian Endeavor, Young People's Society of. In various Protestant churches, a society of young people organized in each individual church to do Christian work; also, the whole body of such organizations, which are united in a corporation called the United Society of Christian Endeavor, organized in 1885. The parent society was founded in 1881 at Portland, Maine, by Rev. Francis E. Clark, a Congregational minister.


© Webster 1913

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