Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. –Proverbs 26: 4-5
As an evangelist my heart truly grieves for the tens of thousands of African Americans, in particular, and people of color worldwide, who believe Christianity is the “White man’s religion,” and consequently accept another, presumably a Black man’s religion. The vast majority of these people were born in Christian or Catholic nations, and more importantly, were exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But the defections continue despite respectable sources that refute such a notion.
The Greek historian Herodotus (considered the father of ancient European history) as well as the philosopher Aristotle, along with ancient art, artifacts, inscriptions discovered on monuments throughout the Holy Land, and the Scriptures, all present evidence that the Hebrews–including Jesus Christ–were dark or black in skin color. Why then has this notion that Christianity is the “White man’s religion” silenced those voices and why does it continue to sabotage the faith of so many today?
The answer in part could lie in the fact that atrocities like the Crusades, Inquisition, the slave trade of the Americas, and the colonization of Africa, committed over centuries by Europeans professing to be Christians, seemed to fulfill the notion. Additionally, two World Wars ignited by European fascists, Nazis and communists, coupled with the role the Church–both Catholic and Protestant–combined to create the seedbed for the deliberate and systematic perpetuation of the lie.
It is common knowledge that the victor in war writes the history. It follows that he who invents the printing press (one of the greatest inventions of the post-Millennial period) gets to print the history and textbooks, including the Bible with its relevant art. In other words, the ruling class, which has largely been Anglo-Saxon since Alexander the Great (353-320 B.C.), or for the last 2,300 years, has had the will and the means to change the glory of God into their own image.
Beginning with the Roman Catholics, who dominated Christianity throughout the Dark Ages and their saturation of the religious landscape with myriad statues and icons, specifically their “sacred art” from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance Periods, created the images of Jesus, Mary, the Apostles, the angels, even the Egyptians as Anglo-Saxons.
Skin Color is Moot
Equally culpable were the Protestants, whose theologians and scholars of the Reformed Churches, and the sacred art renditions of their Bible societies, likewise presented the people of the Bible as Anglo-Saxons. Interestingly, they did this despite their high regard for the Bible as the inspired, inerrant Word of God; and that in the face of a most critical instruction: “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view, even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.”–2 Corinthians 5:16.
This single passage of Scripture makes any discussion about Jesus’ skin color moot; this coupled with the commandment, “You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven…”–Exodus 20:4.
Church and religious leaders responsible for these deliberate misinterpretations of the people of the Bible should be indicted and called conspirators, because the Scripture quoted above clearly states that since the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, faith in Him for salvation has nothing to do with His skin color or nationality, or any particulars of His humanity. Salvation has only to do with faith in His redemptive work, which He accomplished on Calvary.
Psychologists are able to explain the power that such an “image assault” would exert on the human psyche. Clearly, it has engendered hostility among many people of color worldwide. Indeed, hatred for the messenger has encouraged many to hold contempt for the message. And while I must discuss these issues, my love for the brethren compels me to heed the wisdom of Solomon and “answer a fool according to his folly.”
I do this in the hope that some will reconsider their position and take a fresh look at the claims of Christ.
Stefan Benson is an evangelist and can be contacted at inner-citymissions.org.