So this was something I’ve been thinking about over the past few weeks and it’s such a vast topic to get into. When it comes to race, where does the church come in? Should POC avoid Christianity? What does the church think about white Jesus? How can the church do better?
Colonial Christianity vs. Real Christianity
I’ve had so many discussions and debates about whether or not people of colour in general should even subscribe to Christianity. But one thing I can say is that not one person who has approached me on this issue had valid reasons for why POC shouldn’t follow Christ. This is not because their argument is poor, but because they don’t understand the difference between real and fake christians, which nullifies their argument. White man’s religion? Oh yeah, because a white religion is really able to begin with a Middle Eastern man amongst Middle Eastern people. Used in slavery to reinforce the subhuman narrative? Okay, but in order to do that, they had to take out 90% of the Old Testament and 50% of the New Testament. You see where I’m going here? There is a big difference between colonial Christianity and real, God-fearing Christianity.
For starters, real God fearing Christians know not to change anything that scripture says because the end of the bible leaves a curse to anyone who adds or removes any of scripture. So those who created the slave bible have racked up a lot of curses because they didn’t essentially lead people to God, but made themselves God/ superior and denied them a better understand of God through that. To that you may say, what about the many translations of the bible? Actually, it is those very translations that help us to see that the slave bible had so much removed because it doesn’t match up to the others well at all, and if any other translation is inaccurate, we are able to see it straight away through the same process. Every time the bible is translated it is not translated from another translation but from the original manuscripts, so it has a close to 100% translation accuracy. The only changes are for when there is no modern English word for the original word used, so they use the closest word to that to convey it, but leave some sort of mention of this in the footnotes.
Going into more depth on this, it’s also important to understand that the gospel had reached North Africa during the great commission where disciples were sent out to share the news of what Jesus had done. There exists the same biblical manuscripts found in Ethiopia a whole millennia before colonial missionaries ever touched African soil. That manuscript is also as reliable as the other manuscripts because preservation of scripture has always been extremely important to Christians of every generation. But with everything in this life, Christianity can be and has been used for a political agenda and then just dropped when it was convenient. I saw someone apply this argument:
“If I use a hammer to smash a window, do you blame the hammer or blame me for using it in such a way?”
So the depictions of Jesus as white are false. That’s the short answer at least. They are mainly there to reinforce white supremacist values, but most denominations don’t actually use them (I won’t mention the denominations that do because the goal here isn’t to tear other denominations down). The majority of the global church are aware that He wasn’t white and born in the Middle-East, but whilst acknowledging that they should never promote falsehoods about Jesus, they also don’t care much for his ethnicity. Anyone with a deeper understanding of Christian theology understands that Christians don’t obsess over Jesus’ earthly characteristics, but focus on his divinity (being God the Son) and His actions that lead to our salvation.
So, what I’m saying is, most Christians don’t even pray to or worship images of Christ because His image doesn’t save us.
A friend of mine called Tyra (in charge of Inside a Black Girls Mind – an amazing online magazine that you can check out here: https://www.insideablackgirlsmind.co.uk ) and I were discussing a debate that she sent me on ITV concerning depictions of Jesus. It’s actually what inspired this blog. A white artist was expressing solidarity with the black community by depicting Jesus in the last supper as a black man with a bullet wound rather than a stab wound. Whilst I get the vision, its a rather flimsy sentiment. What does that image do for me as a black person, or more specifically, a black believer? Am I meant to feel inspired because the Saviour looks more like me? All it made me feel is that black people are perceived as victims and points of pity rather than people to be heard. It gave off the vibe of “okay, we’ve depicted Jesus as black, so that undoes all of the negative racial problems within the western church”, but it doesn’t address them at all.
Black believers don’t need a black Jesus, they need brothers and sisters who are willing to listen, change, and fight with them for a better life.
Changes the Church Needs
I think that the church needs to be honest about the racial injustices committed by people who have claimed to be believers in the past. It’s so important that they acknowledge things that aren’t right or have dark origins, and abstain from creating a Eurocentric bible when the events of scripture did not occur in Europe at all. If we don’t announce the wrong, we can’t denounce the wrong, and every Christian knows that the body of Christ (Christians globally) have a standard that they MUST uphold and will be held to by God.