The Washington Post has delivered another hot take this morning, this time dealing with religious symbology and artwork. You’ll be less than shocked to learn that the paper believes European depictions of Jesus are not only wrong, but that they are white supremacy in action. In fact, if you partake in such pieces of art, you might as well be yelling racial epithets.
Yes, nothing is out of bounds anymore. Not even your ability to worship God the way you want. Everything — and I mean everything — is racist.
This opinion came via an article entitled ‘The White, European Jesus of Western Imagination Is Fiction.’ Here are a few mind-numbing excerpts.
Opinion: The White, European Jesus of Western imagination is fiction https://t.co/eP3EJegRKU
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 4, 2020
The white, European Jesus of Western imagination is a fiction produced by those who could not imagine human perfection in any other form. “Whites simply couldn’t conceive of owing their salvation to a representative of what they considered an inferior race,” Robert P. Jones, chief executive of PRRI and the author of “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity” emailed me. “And a nonwhite Jesus would render impossible the intimate relationalism necessary for the evangelical paradigm to function: no proper white Christian would let a brown man come into their hearts or submit themselves to be a disciple of a swarthy Semite.”
The embrace of a Scandinavian Jesus is not just foolish but part of a broader historical amnesia. Jesus not only looked like a Middle Eastern Jew; this identity also made him part of an oppressed, dispossessed group. A sense of Jewish powerlessness was the social context for his ministry, and his teaching reflected it.
This seems to be assuming facts not in evidence. I’m pretty sure Christians, yes even those who painted Jesus in European form, were not only well aware he was an oppressed Jew, but were aware that him being so was a central aspect of his journey.
The fact that Europeans depicted Jesus in European form is more easily explained by the reality that such is all they knew. There was no Internet to go see what people from Judea looked like hundreds to thousands of years ago. This is why you often see Africans depict Jesus as not only black, but with very darkly toned skin as well. If you go to China, you will find Jesus depicted as Chinese in underground churches.
That is not “supremacy” on the part of anyone. Rather, it’s a result of cultural knowledge and a realization of the scripture that tells us we are all made in his image. Yes, Jesus was almost certainly an olive-skinned man with dark hair being a Jew from the region he was from. But that doesn’t make it wrong for cultures and Christians all over the world to see themselves in their Savior.
As to this author’s nonsense about Evangelicals not being able to worship a God that isn’t lily-white, anyone who is actually familiar with the movement knows that’s false. Evangelicals don’t see a “brown” Jesus as inferior. Quite the opposite. They see the Jewish people, which include a lot of “brown” people, and their state of Israel as uniquely chosen by God and worthy of protection. In fact, you are more often than not going to find people making the argument that Evangelicals place too much emphasis on Israel and the “brown” people there.
To give an example of how much of a non-issue this is, I’ll note that Evangelicals were the main thrust behind the support of The Passion of the Christ. Where was the outcry that Jesus wasn’t depicted as a European if it’s so important to their dogma? The answer is there was no outcry because the assertion that Evangelicals care about Jesus being seen as European is simply a lie. That’s not a thing.
In the end, the focus on Evangelicals in this man’s article strikes me as odd. If he wants to attack European depictions of Jesus, why would he go after the group that painted and created almost none of them? Depictions of Jesus are not even ideologically important to Evangelicals in the way they are to some other corners of Christianity.
But this guy’s article isn’t about a real discussion of history or facts. It’s simply an excuse to tie his already existent bigotry into a social justice mantra so he can attempt to excuse to proclaim his views as righteous.