Some time ago I posted the most popular blog I’ve ever done (not that any are all that popular, by most standards – and it only continues to get so many hits because of the interest so many people seem to have with the title). While putting together the pictures of Jesus on the yesterday’s post, I was tempted to revisit the Black Jesus, but believe that this is an entirely different issue than what I was addressing with the ‘avatars’ (although I do believe that the head shot of Jesus I used is a type of avatar in itself, with its cherubic northern European features).
What a coincidence when today my news feed led me to this excellent article by Yoknyam Dabale over on Black Star News. He does a much better job communicating the point I so sloppily made in my story about the “Black Jesus”:
I would say, the Black Christ is an attempt from African Christians to make Christ relevant; they wished to experience Christ in their own language and in the image in which God created them, along side acknowledging Christ’s presence among those who don’t look like them. One must understand that, this Jesus of Nazareth that the gospel talks about is no “White man”, the reason why the White, pale Jesus is pervasive is due to the fact that, as a friend nicely expressed, “those in power define who your God is and what that god must look like”, through the work of colonization/globalization and world mission, Western Christians enforced Christ as a “White man”, that legacy still have a presence amongst Africans.
Those who are opposed to portraying Jesus as a Black man must not be aware of the history of Christianity on the continent of Africa. In order for Jesus Christ to be presence amongst all people, He should not be a distant White man who seems very disconnected with the reality of the African world.
Again, why do some ‘traditional’ Christians critique some Africans,who like to see Christ as a black man, when they have no problem portraying him is a non-Jewish white European with Western values? We (and this means just about everyone who even considers Jesus today, theist or not) has co-opted Jesus and remade him into whatever our personal experiences, our personal world views and the doctrines of dead men have cooked up. The majority of Christians certainly are either unaware or indifferent to the historical Yeshua (who we know very little about).
I don’t think there is much wrong in having distinct personal images of Christ – I seriously doubt if there is any other way to contemplate anything linked to the divine – but perhaps Christians should seriously consider their religion’s own relativistic qualities before they criticize others for not adhering to the ‘truth’, whether it be about Jesus’ skin color or the theologies of other faith traditions.