When is the last time you saw a picture or painting of Jesus? What did he look like? What kind of hair did he have and how long was it? What was the color of his skin?
For too many centuries Christianity has held tightly to the Euro-Jesus. The white skinned, blonde haired, blues eyes Jesus.
Where Christianity has spread throughout the world, racism has all too often followed closely behind. Few ethnic groups can claim foul from this cultural aftershock more than our black brethren.
We may say "Well they're just paintings, it's not a big deal. It doesn’t matter what colour he was." But paintings and images have a powerful impact on our perception of reality. What message does it send and what impression does it give children around the world about their messiah when they see him being "owned" by a certain race and bound to a strictly-enforced racial profile?
This is not an unexplained phenomenon. Since the days of the Roman Empire, Christianity has changed from a humble Jewish following of a man preaching loving foreigners and people of all backgrounds into an ethnocentric pyramid, where white men sit at the top holding an icon of a white God.
Christianity has even at times become less of a religion and more of a political statement which says, "God is white! So accept our dominance on earth as well…"
Now, in our modern world, reality has finally caught up and overtaken antiquated deception. While it is impossible to prove what colour Jesus was (unless we unearthed a 2000 year old Polaroid photograph of the famous rabbi) we have to be open to the possibility that he may have not only have been a man of color. He may have been a black man.
As our Aryan portrayal of the Messiah comes to a screeching halt, I often hear an emotional response from white Christians. When presented with the theory that their saviour was black white Christians often say, "He may not have been white, but he definitely wasn't black!"
But why couldn't it be possible? The Bible says that black people lived among the Israelite ranks. We know this because an entire book - The Song of Solomon - was essentially love poetry about the beauty of King Solomon’s black wife! As I meticulously explain in my book, this same black bride could have been Jesus' ancestral grandmother.
This detail alone leaves open the possibility that Jesus may have been black. Yet for over one thousand years of Christian history we almost never see black people portrayed in the biblical narrative (in literature or theatrically) despite how prominent they were in the Bible. Just one example of this is the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt: "The Israelites traveled from Rameses to Succoth, about 600,000 soldiers on foot, besides their families. An ethnically diverse crowd also went up with them, along with a huge number of livestock, both flocks and herds." Exodus 12:38 (HCSB)
The Hebrews weren’t the only slaves that left Egypt for the Promised Land. You can bet that former black slaves intermingled with the Israelites at some point in this epic journey.
The blunt truth
But that's really not the point, is it? The point is that this racially dogmatic culture within Christianity should not exist. Neither should it encourage scepticism towards the idea that Jesus was black.
The white-centric view is historically flawed. The assumption that Jesus was white deserves far more scepticism than the proposal that he was black.
It is far more likely, both geographically and genetically, that he was black rather than white. That is the blunt scientific truth.
But why do science and reason have to jolt us into this reality? Shouldn't our religion's thirst for truth and love for all people naturally guide us away from these flawed Caucasian-centric assumptions of our messiah? Shouldn't we be the ones fighting racism?
Have we forgotten that we were once victims of racism when the Romans threw us into coliseums to be eaten by lions because we claimed that our Jewish Messiah was the true Lord above the Roman Empire’s mythical Caucasian gods? We have forgotten that. We were once victims. Now we are the oppressors. It's spiritual Stockholm syndrome.
Our religion is finally on trial for crimes against humanity, hypocrisy, racism, and yes, even mass homicide. God is the judge, the world is the prosecution, atheists are the jury, and we are the defendant.
Despite our incriminating track record it's not too late to change the jury's mind about us. If we truly embrace who Jesus really was and what he really taught, make that the core of our belief system, finally let go of this racial territorialism and stop resisting and being offended by the possibility that he could have been a black Jew among the many black Jews that lived in those times, then Christianity would no longer be seen by so many as a racist, dogmatic and murderous "white European killing machine".
We would go back to being the following of a humble dark-skinned Jewish rabbi who just so happened to be the physical manifestation of God himself to bestow grace and mercy to the whole world. All colours included.
Mark Wayne is the author of Jesus is black, get over it.
Get more articles covering news, culture, faith and apologetics in every print issue of Premier Christianity magazine. Subscribe now for HALF PRICE (limited offer)