Names of Christ across Christian Religions

This was published in 2014 as part of a university course assignment. It has not been updated since that time, as evidenced by the color selection in the charts.

Beginning with my project on General Conference, I decided to compare the usage frequency of names of Christ across religions. I looked at the official Vatican website, the National Association of Evangelicals website, the United Methodist Church website, and the North American Lutheran Church website. I kept my numbers for General Conference, which is kept on the church’s website. While this doesn’t seem to be directly similar, this provides the best cross section of formal usage in the LDS church.

I used the General Conference corpus to get data for the LDS church. For the remainder of the churches, I used the site search feature of Google to get the numbers. Occasionally, I had to do some qualitative adjusting to weed out results that were irrelevant to the data needed. I also did some math to make sure that titles weren’t double counted, e.g. Jesus was not counted twice under both ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Christ Jesus.’

A table that uses very poor color choices to show positions of different names for Christ. There are six columns with ten names for Christ each in order of the frequency.

Column 1: Mormon
God, Lord, Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus, Savior, Lord Jesus Christ, Almighty, Son of God, Redeemer.

Column 2: Catholic
Jesus, Christ, God, Lord, Jesus Christ, Lord Jesus, Creator, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Redeemer.

Column 3: Baptist
God, Jesus Christ, Lord, Savior, Lord Jesus Christ, Christ, Creator, Lord Jesus, Christ Jesus, Savior Jesus Christ. 

Column 4: Evangelical
God, Jesus Christ, Lord, Savior, Christ, Jesus, Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus Christ, Creator, Son of God.

Column 5: Methodist
Christ, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Lord, God, Savior, Creator, Christ Jesus, Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus Christ.

Column 6: Lutheran
God, Jesus, Christ, Jesus Christ, Savior, Lord, Lord Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus, Lord Jesus, Lord God.
Chart showing frequency of name usage for Jesus Christ by Mormons, Catholics, Baptists, Evangelicals, Methodists, and Lutherans

Unsurprisingly, all churches had different names that ranked in the top ten. Some names were used within the top ten across all churches, while others were used in only one church. A few names were used in all but one church. ‘Lord Jesus’ is an example of one of these. It appears in the top ten ranking of every church but the LDS church. (For reference, it doesn’t show up in the complete rankings until 19th, so still in the top twenty, but not nearly as frequent as the other churches use it.)  ‘Jesus’ is not in the top ten of the Baptist church, but only barely, coming in at 11th on the complete rankings. However, this is a contrast to the other churches where the name ranks first or second in half of the other churches. ‘Savior’ is also a word that appears in five out of the six churches, not showing up in the Catholic list until 16th.  There are also words unique to religions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church to have ‘Almighty’ in its top ten list, falling as far as 19th in the Baptist list. Baptists however have the unique distinction of being the only church with ‘Savior Jesus Christ’ in the top ten. Due to the nature of the search, this may be due to the frequency of the phrase “our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” which was difficult to have it not appear in the searches. ‘Creator’ also appeared in more than half of the churches’ top ten lists. ‘Christ Jesus’ and ‘Son of God’ appeared in half of the lists. ‘God,’ ‘Christ,’ ‘Lord,’ ‘Jesus Christ,’ and ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ were used in all of the churches.

The Catholic Church and Methodist church were both surprising insofar as ‘God’ wasn’t listed as the top name. In fact, both ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’ ranked higher in the Catholic Church, and four other titles ranked higher in the Methodist church. I was also slightly surprised to find that ‘Christ Jesus’ didn’t rank in the top ten for Evangelicals, because I had always perceived that as an Evangelical phraseology.

To look at frequencies within this top ten list, I assigned each position in the list a certain number of points: the most frequent name received ten points, second most frequent received nine points, etc. This allowed me to see which names were used most frequently overall without regard to religious group. In general, it appears that if a name was used frequently, it was used frequently across the spectrum, whereas if a name was used less frequently, it was generally used less frequently across the spectrum.

A list of names for Christ using in the same awful colors as the previous table. 

List is as follows: God, Christ, Jesus Christ, Lord, Jesus, Savior, Lord Jesus Christ, Lord Jesus, Creator, Christ Jesus, Son of God, Almighty, Redeemer, Savior Jesus Christ, Lord God
Top names for Christ used across all denominations

Besides the frequencies, what was also interesting was the words that didn’t appear in certain churches, or even at much lower frequencies. Old Testament names (Holy One of Israel, God of Abraham, Lord of Hosts, Jehovah, etc.) were much less frequent in all churches but the Catholic and LDS churches. However, this is possible that it was due more to sample size, rather than to actual differences in religious discourse. Creating a larger corpus of for each religion may eliminate or enhance these dissimilarities.

Finally, I sorted the frequencies into six different categories: words with zero occurrences, words with 1-10, words with 11-100 occurrences, words with 101-1000 occurrences, words with 1001-10,000 occurrences, and words with more than 10,000 occurrences.

Chart info in caption and in following paragraphs.
Chart showing frequencies of usage. Red representing words with zero occurrences; orange for words with 1-10, yellow for words with 11-100, light green for words with 101-1000, dark green for words with 1001-10,000, and blue for words with more than 10,000 occurrences.

This showed some surprising things. First of all, Mormons and Catholics both use a wide variety of terms across varying usage levels. While there are some used much more frequently than others, they still use many different terms with very few or no terms used not at all. Baptists, Lutherans, and Methodists are similarly spread out across terms, but as not much to the same extent, as one third to one half of the words don’t appear at all (though this could be due to the size of the corpora). Evangelicals, however, are an anomaly. They use a few names often and the rest rarely or not at all.

Overall, different Christian religions use different names for Christ at different frequencies, something I’d hypothesized to be the case. These differing frequencies can be the result of different emphases within the churches concerning the role of Christ. It would be helpful to do this again with larger amounts of data from ‘official’ church sources to better determine the ‘official’ frequencies. Once that is done, it would be interesting to compare them to unofficial sources for each church to see if the frequencies stayed the same among members. If this is the case, would a member from one church shift the frequency of their title usage when they convert to a different religion? There is definitely room for further research on this topic.

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