Saturday, June 16, 2007

European Jesus Vs. African Jesus



Recently, a painting portraying Jesus as black caused a bit of an uproar among traditional Christians on the grounds of accuracy. Jesus wasn't African or the product of a race that is black, therefore any portrayal of Jesus as black is inaccurate. Some claim even "dangerous," hence the attempt to get the paintings of black Jesus banned.

While I don't believe Jesus was black (based on his ethnicity and heritage), I do believe we Westerners need to hold the accuracy mirror up to our own faces. We can cry "inaccuracy!" all day long at the paintings of black Jesus, but what have we said about European Jesus? You know, fair-haired, light eyes, white-skinned Jesus? Isn't that the predominate picture of Jesus that hangs on the walls and minds of most Christians emmersed in Western Civilization? Where's the movement to ban Him? Jesus may not have been African, but He surely wasn't European either (and don't even get me started on American Jesus...OY). He probably had dark hair and eyes with dark olive-colored skin. You know, kind of like a 1st century Middle-Eastern Jew? Fancy that!

Now, why is our false western portrayal of Jesus' physical attributes any better than the false African version? Why is it acceptable to make Jesus white when He wasn't, but unacceptable to make Him black when He wasn't? It's a bit hypocritical. I don't like to play the race card, but such hostility aimed toward "Black Jesus" suggests a form of latent racism.

Racism aside, there is an even more significant issue that runs deep beneath a controversy as superficial as the skin color of Jesus. The deeper issue is the distortion of Jesus. There's an old saying that goes:

"God created man in His own image, and ever since, man has been trying to return the favor."

Whether it's manipulating Jesus' physical attributes to mirror our own or slanting His teachings to fit our politics and ideologies, mankind continues to try and control Jesus by making Him more like us, instead of submitting ourselves to making mankind more like Jesus.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's completely different to portray Jesus as white than to portray him as black. Jesus could never have been black, not only because of ethnicity as you say, but because the bible says black races are cursed. The messiah would never come through an accursed race! There is alot of evidence to support that Jesus was indeed white--look at the blessing on western civilization and the curse that hovers over others. Any depiction of Jesus as black is a blasphemous attempt to demean Him.

Tia Lynn said...

Well, thank you for coming out from under your white hood long enough to prove my point about latent racism, only you didn't really unmask your hood did you ANONYMOUS? What's blasphemous is trying to use Jesus' skin color to give supremacy and tyrannical justification to ANY race.

gordo said...

Funny...all the Bible has to say on the subject is that (to paraphrase) he wasn't much to look at

Isaiah 53:2 "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him."

So who cares?

Incidentally he probably looked more like Osama Bin Laden....

Tia Lynn said...

haha. Too true Gordo.

William said...

Well, I guess that Jesus didn't die on the cross either then, Anonymous, since the Bible clearly says,"cursed is anyone who hangs from a tree." To believe God loves certain races more than others is also wrong. I suppose you are referring to the curse in which NOAH curses Canaan because Ham saw Noah naked (Cannan was Ham's decendent). NOAH cursed him, not God!

catrina said...

Well the afore mentioned comment from A only proves how ignorant some people can be. In order for any of us to be here, Adam and Eve's DNA had to have all genetic races in them. A and E's children must have looked like a rainbow. There is no such thing as different races, we are all of the same race, (human race) only differences in the amount of melanin in the genes. I could go on and on, but I challenge anyone who has ?'s to go to www.AnswersInGenesis.org and check it out. There is more than enough scientific proof to debunk the evolutionary stupidity of Annon

Marissa said...

I totally agree. Jesus definitely wasnt white but you can see more where that argument comes from. Chances are Adam and Eve were very fair skinned. Darker skinned people came as a result of the flood and the tower of Babel. However, the nations were already divided by the time Jesus came to earth so he was most likely pretty dark skinned. Also, the Roman Catholic Church are the ones who depict Jesus like that (fair hair, light eyes). Most Christians know better

Anonymous said...

True, all races are human, but there are DIFFERENT RACES. God has cursed certain segments of humansin the form of race. Anyone who reads the bible knows that God was very concerned with race, as He called Israel to annihilate many of them. I'm not a "racist." I don't think we should wipe out black races. Since we are under the new covenant, genocide is no longer allowable, but we must admitt that black races have been cursed. Any sugar-coating of that fact erodes OT scripture. God follows the rules of his own curses and would not let His son come through an accursed race. That was my only point.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way Marisa, while you are correct that Adam and Eve were white (the original Arians), Catholics cannot be credited for Jesus' white depiction. The Catholic Church is a cult and many evangelicals, like myself, believe Jesus was white and portray him appropiately in art. I don't know what Christian stores you shop at or what movies you watch, but I've never seen a black or dark-skinned Jesus. The tradition of Jesus' depiction should be kept intact and not altered by fringe minorities in search for validity.

Marissa said...

Oh, and by the way anonymous, its mariSSa not Marisa. Now, I do not know why I am even bothering with someone who doesnt even have the guts to put their name behind what they are saying, but I will do it anyway. Jesus wasnt depicted as being white until western art really became popular and especially during the Renaissance. Artists who are famous for white paintings of Jesus are Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raffaello Santi, all of who claimed to be Catholic. Today, its Hollywood that makes those movies. Even Mel Gibson claims to be Catholic. Now, at my church and every other Calvary Chapel, we are taught that Jesus most likely looked of Middle Eastern descent because of the genealogy ascribed to him in the Gospels. Most likely, a bronze-skinned person, typical of the Levant region. Now I agree with you that Jesus was not of African descent but he didnt look like Brad Pitt either.

musicmommy3 said...

Wow Tia, what a firestorm. :):):)

I completely agree with Catrina. I think that the rainbow of colors on the earth all came from Adam and Eve. Hence, it is my OPINION that Adam and Eve were in the middle somewhere-neither black nor white. I wasn't there so I don't know. As for the color being a curse thing...I have NEVER seen that in the Bible anywhere.
As far as the Jewish/race thing...I wouldn't call the Jews a race. I would call them a people group.

Mandi Ord said...

Hey Tia!
This is all really just a joke right? You or Will posted this "Anonymous" (albeit, in bad taste) comment just to get a little dialogue going, right? You can't tell me that there is someone out there that really believes such rot. If so, and they are a Christian who would truly like some answers and not just to argue a point from a place of pride (and some obvious deception probably past down from a long lineage of prejudice), I would agree that they need to check out www.answersingenesis.org and challenge what they have been taught.

Tia Lynn said...

Mandi I wish I could tell you it was a joke! At this point, I wish it was. Ever since my blog link got put onto Mike Huckabee's site, I've been getting all kinds of weird comments and e-mails. Someone (atleast they left their name) dissed my Tony Campolo post, too! I've gotten all kinds of e-mails about this Jesus post-it's very strange.

William said...

Wow, Tia! Why do you always have to start a fight? Haha! Thank you for being so thought provoking and unashamed to share your beliefs and opinions whether they are right or wrong (I for one think they are all right!).

catrina said...

Well I must say one last thing on this topic. God uses the humble to shame the wise. Jesus was a descended from Rahab a prostitute, and David an adulterer and murderer, yet friend of God. The gentiles who were not Gods' chosen people were redeemed and adopted as heirs to the riches and glory of heaven. Moses a man who could not speak eloquently was used to lead. There were people groups cursed by God, but not because of their race. I absolutely do not believe in different races, only people groups. My mother is puerto rican, which is a mix of black island people that mixed with people from spain who explored and settled the island. Her father looks like a black man, my father's father was a full fledged German, who married a dutch, I ask you what RACE am I? Hispanic,? Black?, White? Egypt, Rome, Germany were all "cursed" if you ask me, and besides our thoughts are not his thoughts, our ways are not his ways, we in our arrogance think that as believers we are the blessed ones, yet I wonder what the lord thinks of our righteousness. In Africa where the land and people are "cursed", the believers there live a christian walk that I can only hope to aspire to. The people see miracles, love the lord with all their might, because that is all they have to give. I am humbled by their devotion to the same God that I claim to love. These people are truly the blessed ones. In so many of these so called cursed lands the believers there are more of what I long to be,and they ravish the heart of God. Yes they pay consequences for their sin, and that has resulted in the wars and genocides of these lands, and their lack of godliness has produced misery,but I tell you the truth when I say that the throne of God will be surrounded by these "cursed" people of a "different" race, because they are the ones who understand and live out what the scripture says " Christ in me is to live, to die is to gain."

Tia Lynn said...

So true Catrina. I am so tired of hearing that places like Africa are somehow more in sin than the rest of us. A lot of their suffering also results not only from their sin, but from the hand of the rich industrialized nations that keep the poorest countries in interest-clad debts (which leave no money for healthcare or education) and establish trade laws that keep Africans from fairly profiting off their agriculture. People like Annonymous can think as highly as they want about their "curse-free" white skin, but in the end, whatever we neglect to do unto the least of these, we neglect to do unto Jesus Himself.

Tonya said...

Adam and Eve were the "original Arians"????HUH????

I guess someone was there with a camera. I must have missed that issue of National Enquirer.

sheesh Tia! Way to get something started:):):)

Tia Lynn said...

Yeah, it's a gift. :)~

maura said...

I applaud the responses to anonymous. I had heard there were people that held these beliefs but have never had one in our cyber-midst. Anonymous, I challenge you to have the courage of your conviction and reveal yourself. Good news, you don't have to worry about people in white hoods trying to kill you.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why you people are so offended at my annonymous choice. I didn't do it because I am ashamed. I did it because I don't have a blog or a website to sign in with. My name is Paul, originally from Oklahoma, and I came across this blog when I googled the topic of Jesus' race. Your below the belt assertions that I somehow support the KKK only prove you don't have good reading comprehension skills (Tia Lynn and Maura), which would explain your simplistic views of scripture. I clearly stated:

"I'm not a "racist." I don't think we should wipe out black races. Since we are under the new covenant, genocide is no longer allowable..."

All of your indignant reactions just further prove your post-modern PC brainwashed upbringings.

Saying darker skinned people exist a result of a curse that still hovers over them even today, will offend some, but that doesn't change the fact that it is true. Even MARISSA (there I spelled it right, your majesty) acknowledged blacks came as a result of the tower of babel and the flood---two punishments (aka curses) from God!! I didn't say that other races couldn't be saved, or that they should be discriminated against, it just makes a mockery out God's Word to portray Jesus as black or dark skinned when those people groups at the time of Christ were shunned pagans.

maura said...

Paul, I am so glad you decided to come out of the closet,it seems that you have trouble spelling anonymous.
It also seems, since you mentioned it twice, that you are disappointed that God forbids genecide under the new covenant.
Apparently, bubba is alive and well in Oklahoma.
I'm done wasting my time on misguided small minded views that would be cured by one Geography/History class.

Richard said...

Wow. That anonymous dude completely redirected the original point of your post, which I thought was so true, about all of us trying to distort Jesus, not only his skin color, but his teachings and character. Cultural, political, and denominational differences between christians are fine (in my view anyway), but there is a tendency to transform Jesus to our way of thinking, in essence, alienating anyone who has a different view....hence all the intolerance of other denominations in the church today.

Peter said...

I personally enjoy different artistic portrayals of Jesus. The physical exterior depicted in art is rarely ever trying to reflect an actual physical exterior, but an abstract or spiritual interior. So is the case when artists choose to portray jesus as black, or in some other unfamiliar, slightly uncomfortable light that is foreign to popular society at large. The contention is not "Jesus was an African man," the message often relays that Jesus represents all people who have been oppressed, suffered, and outcasted-whether they be men, women, jews, arabs, blacks, whites, hispanics, or asians.

Tia Lynn said...

Peter, I totally have a non-romantic crush on you! That was so well put. Thank you for weighing in!

Candice said...

I think the painting issue has more to do with tradition. The church has a long history of portraying Jesus in a certain way, a longstanding tradition. The fact that now there are all these people trying to alter that is an attack on tradition, which is really an attack on the church at large. It's a form of persecution against the precepts of the church. Just another sign of the times.

Tia Lynn said...

Challenging the inaccurate depiction of Jesus as a fair-haired white man is an attack against the church and a sign of the times?

First off, man-made traditions (even those of the Church) are expendable and, if inaccurate or harmful, should be altered.

Secondly, to equate altering the depiction of Jesus in art as "persecution" proves the point that Christians in America (myself included) have no idea what REAL persecution is.

Mandi Ord said...

You know, about "tradition"...
"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on HUMAN TRADITION and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:6
There is a great deal of deceptive philosophy and tradition that needs to be torn down in each one of our lives just so we can truely begin to see who Christ is. Our only hope for real revealation of Him comes in finding Him in The Word and using that sword to cut away or "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

Joseph said...

Interesting dialog you have going on. I am a black pastor of an incredible multiracial and multicultural church (including some one who came out of the movement that "Anonymous" is probably a part of called the Israelite Identity). Tia, I appreciate your candor and willingness to tackle some of the sacred cows of Christendom. As far as people like anonymous go, it is probably not a wise use of time to attempt to make them see a different perspective. They are white supremacists cloaked in the garb of false religion.

Tia Lynn said...

Thanks for weighing in Joseph. There's always hope for people-even people blinded by racism. I know I have adhered to many beliefs and opinions that I am horribly ashamed of now. Had it not been for wise god-loving people challenging me, I would never have had a change of heart...Everyone should get that opportunity to reevaluate. :)

aanhuanu said...

With all do respect Greger Mendel said dark skin is dominiant white skin is recessive,== what did God say? He created the original people first in the light of the sun. How are black people cursed!
The first man came from nothing O=66 trillion years ago, the true immaculate conception, johnny reb, the newcomer, says christ came immaculately 2009 years ago. Go and get a late pass children your dark skinnded fore fathers and mothers deserve an apology, you have cursed your black ancestors out of sheer ignorance!!! I have never been cursed nor any of my family,WE thrive with hardly any regard from whites, we are blessed in the face of the curse of white lies.THe black moors save white europe from their misconception of christ they were calling on christ to build forth them and the keepers of the conscience the original people used math!let's think how can the black be cursed and father of civilization, first kings Aha father of math, kufu builder of pyramids, ptah hotep first book of wisdom 3,500 bc were is this bibical curse? only in th minds of uninformed and deceived whites

Flametreekennels said...

Then who are descendents of the Israelite, they were people of color, the bible fortold what will happen to Jesus relatives who denied him to the cross and the Gentiles(Greeks/romans), the arab nation descendents of ishmael are known as middle east because thats where they are modernized "wild donkey, fighting there brother" Jesus was hung on a tree, real Jews were separated across the world and are subjected to the Gentiles, he wasnt african becuz african is a greek word named after a greek. People who are described as black match the description of Isreal, thrown into prison we will be put down until we accept God because our ancestors disobeyed God Jesus, may God have mercy on us all, blacks are mixed up like a can of sardines, if we know that the gentiles were refered mainly to european dominant culture. We were to be taken to egypt in ships like it was prophecied in dueteronmy and we live in Babylon. Egypt is state of slavery please pray for Jesus people we will be subjected revardless He First Loved us he is Love i need Jesus and were all apart of Gods body