Why Christ’s Color Matters

Picture of Jesus with American flag

Picture of Jesus with American flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Radicalized Jesus always has a problem with Americanized Jesus. It reminds me of a speech given by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper where she made a distinction between the Christ of Calvary versus the Christ of Culture. Radicalized Jesus could speak to the economic situation and address the class issues as well. Radicalized Jesus would challenge the status quo and invite others to see how people on the margins and all working class peoples live. Americanized Jesus, on the other hand, stands with the status quo and protects the interest of the wealthy. We have visions and portrayals of Radicalized Jesus, but since many of them come to us in brown and black skin or with tattoos and locks, we tend not to take them seriously.

– Andre E. Johnson, professor of rhetoric, religion, and African American Studies at Memphis Theological Seminary, in a discussion of the book, The Color of Christ, by Ed Blum and Paul Harvey.

How has picturing Jesus as a white man shaped religious awareness in America? How has it been conscious or unconscious? And what difference does this history make in our supposedly “post-racial” times? You can find the full conversation “Mitt’s Jesus, Barack’s Jesus, and Why Christ’s Color Matters” over at Religion Dispatches.

How do you imagine Jesus? How does that shape the way you see the world? What does your image of Jesus say about what you value? What you overlook?


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