Here is a letter that I received:
I have noticed that in almost all Christian writing, outside of the Gospels, the word “Christ” meaning “Messiah” is used in place of “Jesus” when referring to our Savior/Redeemer. I find that using the name of Jesus personalizes the God who engulfs me, knows me, and permits me to think and share myself with him. The word “Christ” leaves me cold. Why this neglect for the name (above all names) given by an angel? Is not Jesus God, through whom all good things were/are created? His disciples rejoiced in the fact that they could do wonderful things because of his name. Lk 10,17. Although he is God, his humanity must feel something over this neglect. I would.
Thank you for sharing this Frank, giving us a chance to think about it. I must admit that the name Jesus has a weaker effect on me than Christ, as if unjustly emphasizing His human nature. Since other people too may share one of these opposite ‘views’, we can infer that it is a matter of cultural differences according to time and place. You must have grown up in a place where people used mainly the Jesus name.
On the contrary in Greece the name Christ is prevalent, not only in literature, but also in every day use. When we say Christ, we don’t feel the distance of a God, but also His humanity. In your country, when you say Jesus most probably you don’t feel only the presence of a man, but also His godly nature. On the contrary, when I read texts that use mainly the word Jesus I feel some alienation, as if the author somehow diminishes His person.
The angel announced the name “Emmanuel” (which means, “God is with us”), a name that at least in Greece became actually a common name, almost without any reference to our Lord. “Jesus Christ”, the complete form of His name, is used also very frequently (just remember, for example, the so called “Jesus Prayer”).
A Trinitarian God can be a scandal for the mind of a common man, and if this God is even united with man in the person of Jesus Christ, the scandal becomes even greater. In the efforts of the Church not to betray and distort these mysteries of Christianity, the use of names is very important. Some “preference” for the name Christ can be explained, in my opinion, as a way to avoid heretic dangers, those who tend to understand Him rather as an enlightened man or a saint than God.