The True Color Of Jesus Christ And Why It Matters


The historical Jesus does not resemble the man they still see in stained-glass windows in their churches, in Hollywood productions, or in their minds. Jesus was most likely a man with dark skin and brown eyes, more akin to a “Middle Eastern Jewish” or Arab man, as many academics and archaeologists today concur. A pundit previously remarked that the TSA might “profile Jesus for additional security screening” if he were traveling by plane today.

Some could respond with a forceful “So what?” One of the longest-running controversies in religion is the question of Jesus’ hue. I remember having heated arguments at barbershops and cookouts with armchair theologians who insisted that Jesus was Black based on verses like Revelation 1:14–14 (“The Bible said he had hair that was ‘white as wool’ and feet like “burnished bronze” so don’t tell me Jesus didn’t have an Afro!”). I grew up in a Black church with a massive portrait of a White Jesus hanging behind the pulpit.

Megyn Kelly, the former Fox News host, said in 2013 that Jesus “was a White man, too,” adding that “that’s a verifiable fact.” Her statement is difficult to forget. Afterward, she stated that her comments were humorous.

But this Easter, the question of Jesus’ skin tone is important for two main reasons. First off, while the conventional Nordic Jesus is still a popular image in many churches today, there has long been a movement in America to replace the White Jesus. Overt portrayals of the White Jesus are considered antiquated and even offensive by Biblical academics, churches of color influenced by “liberation theology,” progressive mainline churches, and many other Christian organizations. With the growing diversity of America’s population, an increasing number of Christians are calling for the appearance of a Jesus who looks like them.

But in other parts of the country, the White Jesus never disappeared. Because of the surge of White Christian nationalism, social media feeds are overflowing with images of the traditional White Jesus, sometimes seen wearing a red MAGA hat. In an effort to bring Christianity and patriotism together and strengthen the White Jesus, who is central to Christian nationalism, the former president is promoting a “God Bless the USA Bible” that contains passages from the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

Second, there has been a recent dispute over the identity of the historical Jesus. According to at least one biblical expert, the assertion made by certain opponents of the Israel-Hamas conflict that Jesus was a “Palestinian Jew” is false and feeds into the horrible historical history of “using Jesus against Jews once again.”

Not everyone wants to take part in this conversation. Some Christians roll their eyes when asked about the appearance of Jesus. Some people argue that the Easter story has nothing to do with the color or teachings of Jesus. They quote passages from the Bible such as Galatians 3:28–29: “You are all one in Christ Jesus; there is no such thing as a Jew or a Gentile, slave or free, or male or female.”

There are also individuals who identify as religiously neutral and question the need for race to be a factor in everything. As one irate commenter put it: “I’m so weary of people arguing over whether God is black or white, what color the twelve tribes of Israel were, or what color Jesus was. Personally, I don’t give a damn about what hue any of them were or are. To my knowledge, there are no biblical texts that make a big deal out of someone’s skin tone. Many of these discussions over the skin tone of Jesus lack a more balanced viewpoint from intelligent individuals on both sides. They say this here.

Why Some Claim That Jesus’ Race Is Irrelevant

Despite being dubbed “the most famous artist of the 20th century” by the New York Times, Warner Sallman is not regarded as a master of his trade. His reputation is based only on the “Head of Christ,” a magnificent picture. An estimated 500 million copies have been made of it for use in prayer cards, stamps, Sunday schools, and living room décor.

Sallman said that the picture had divine inspiration. One late winter night in 1924, he was a commercial illustrator and was having difficulty drawing a depiction of Jesus for an evangelical magazine. Dejected, he claimed to have woken up at two in the morning and went to bed without drawing.

He remarked, “Abruptly, as if it were on my drawing board, a picture of the Christ appeared to my mind’s eye.” Sallman was the son of Scandinavian immigrants, therefore his charcoal sketch, which he later transformed into an oil painting, depicts a light-haired, blue-eyed Jesus with Nordic characteristics. This is a classic example of what detractors refer to as the White Jesus. Midway through the 20th century, America saw the publication of this book amid a wave of extreme nationalism, record church attendance, and panic about the alleged Communist Party threat. During World War II, American soldiers received wallet-sized copies in the thousands.

According to Edward J. Blum, co-author of “The Color of Christ,” “it was so iconic that one American minister wanted every Christian to carry a small print of Sallman’s Christ in their wallets to combat ‘card-carrying members of the Communist Party.”

Since then, America has evolved. However, some contend that Jesus’ hue ought to remain unchanged or that it makes no difference whatsoever. Author and clergyman Christina L. Barr has experience in Republican Party politics. According to her, the meaning of Easter transcends all colors. Regardless of the color of their skin, she claims that all people are sinners and that Jesus died for them all.

Barr tells CNN that “heaven isn’t exclusive for the rich or the fair-skinned.” “Everyone is welcome in God’s arms.” According to Barr, some individuals who claim to want a Black or brown Jesus might only be interested in his pigmentation rather than his teachings.

She envisioned what it might be like if Jesus showed up in modern America dressed as a Black man in a blog for Black Tea News, the website where she serves as the CEO. She claimed that before Jesus began talking about renunciating sexual immorality and greed, there would be some initial excitement among the people.

“He would be labeled a bigoted coon and completely canceled by the time he offends abortion providers by claiming that God detests hands that shed innocent blood and chastises Americans for our covetousness,” the author claimed.

Others address the topic of Jesus’ hue from a more philosophical standpoint. In a column titled “Why Jesus’ Skin Color Doesn’t Matter,” Antony Pinol stated that it shouldn’t matter how Jesus is portrayed in modern artwork and icons—whether he is white, black, brown, Hispanic, or Middle Eastern. This is because Jesus’ physicality was only a vessel used to carry something far more important: the spirit of his father, God.

In an interview with CNN, Pinol stated that he understood people who believed a more accessible Jesus would be darker in complexion. He acknowledges that, as a White guy, he might not be aware of the obstacles to worshiping a White Jesus.

However, he asserts that it becomes more challenging for individuals to have a closer relationship with God when they get overly fixated on Jesus’ bodily attributes. He finds it irrelevant that Jesus is a different color.

It doesn’t fundamentally alter what Jesus stands for, the kind of message that is essential to Christianity, or what he demonstrated in his life and deeds, according to Pino. “His message would remain unchanged even if he were any other color.”