Does Jesus’ Skin Color Matter?

I am somewhat humored when people debate Jesus Christ’s skin color. Not very long ago a man decried the belief in a “white” Jesus, as this is merely a form of “white supremacy.” Now, I doubt Jesus was white or black, considering He was a Galilean Jew. Regardless, I would have liked to ask the man decrying Jesus’ “whiteness” if he was living his life for Jesus. While it is doubtful Jesus was either white or black, it is certain He was not American, European, or African. He was neither Republican nor Democrat. No group of people can ever lay claim to Jesus as if He was some sort of beast to be tamed.

Let’s say Jesus was either white or black, does it matter? Either way He calls you and I to repent of sin (our sins might be quite different, but it is still sin). He commands us to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; furthermore, to love our neighbor as ourself (see Luke 10:27). He calls us to take up our cross and follow Him; to forgive those who have sinned against us; to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors; and to treat others the way we want to be treated. None of these are color or ethnic issues. Regardless of His skin color, are we obeying Him and abiding in Him?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes seven “I am” statements:

  • I am the bread of life (6:35)
  • I am the light of the world (8:12)
  • I am the door (10:9)
  • I am the good shepherd 10:14)
  • I am the resurrection and the life (11:25)
  • I am the way, and the truth, and the life (14:6)
  • I am the true vine (15:1)

No matter the tone of His pigmentation, Jesus makes some radical declarations. Furthermore, His color is not important. Rather, it is His being that is of utmost importance. He is the living God who took on human form. We relate to Him not because of our skin color but His humanity. And taking on our humanity He paid the penalty for our sins on the cross—the sins of persons of every color and culture.

For me, I do not care what color Jesus was, nor do I care that He was a Jew. These make no difference to me whatsoever. I am just grateful that He loves us and died for us, no matter our color or ethnicity. Perhaps someone reading this is convinced Jesus was either white or black. Either way, the real issue is this: Are you yielded to Him? And is He your Savior?

Problems with Critical Race Theory Infecting the Church

Before addressing some of the problems with Critical Race Theory (CRT) infecting the church, allow me to first define what I mean by the church. What is the church? Is it those who adhere to Roman Catholicism? Is it white evangelicals who believe in a “white man’s” religion? Heaven forbid! The church is comprised of followers of Jesus Christ who believe that He is the God-Man (fully God and fully man) who bore the sins of humankind, and was raised from the dead, and gives eternal life to all who turn from sin and believe on Him. Thus, the church is made up of people of every color, tribe, and nation. Understanding this is of supreme importance.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” ~ Revelation 7:9-10 (ESV)

When CRT (i.e., various ideas about “systematic racism,” the evils of “whiteness,” the false dichotomy of the “oppressors and the oppressed,” etc.) infects the church, such infection creates major theological problems that must not be ignored. The issue is not simply that churches are poisoned but that the very Gospel of Jesus Christ and biblical theology are distorted and denied.There are five particular problems I will address concerning Critical Race Theory in the church: 1) The philosophical aspect; 2) the image of God; 3) the perception of authority; 4) sin; and 5) the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

First, from a philosophical perspective, the very infrastructure of CRT is founded on Marxist ideas. Marxism is an extremely secular-materialistic and atheistic philosophy. Wherever you find Marxism, you will find division, rebellion, and lust for power. How ironic whenever Marxists accuse other systems as being these. Marxism is godless and ruthless to the core (listen to anyone’s account who has suffered under communistic regimes). To try to mix such ideas with Christian teachings is like trying to mix oil and water. The apostle Paul gives followers of Christ a stern warning:

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. ~ Colossians 2:8

The next issue is crucial, as we consider the image of God. What is the image of God? Is it dependent on intellect, ethnicity, gender, or morality? What does the Bible say?

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. ~ Genesis 1:27

For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. ~ James 3:7-9

Again, what is the image of God? The image of God is the human race. This includes men/women, adults/children, black/white, European/African, gay/straight, Christian/atheist, Democrat/Republican, the wise/foolish, the kind/cruel, etc. The issue here is not about right or wrong, but whether certain groups of people are superior or inferior to others. There are behaviors and attitudes that are wrong; however, the person him/herself is still created in the image of God. CRT tends to view “whiteness” as morally inferior, etc. However, by trying to deal with racism, it only perpetuates it. CRT simply seeks to turn the hourglass upside down, not to break it altogether.

Third, consider the perception of authority. CRT equates authority with oppression, but is authority always wrong and oppressive? Are those under authority, by default, oppressed? Is corruption and abuse of power limited to one type or group of people? Authority itself is not bad. In fact, God is the one who has established levels of authority, from the home to government. Indeed, authority can be—and often is—abused, but the same can be said of most things. Nevertheless, authority is intended to serve good purposes.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by GodTherefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. ~ Romans 13:1-4

Even in the home, God has ordained the family structure with the man being the head (see Eph. 5:23), and churches have pastors, elders, deacons, and overseers (see 1 Tim. 3:1-13). Authority is meant to be good; however, too often it is misused. But is the perversion of authority limited to one certain group of people? Is it limited to color, gender, or even religion? Admittedly, there is abuse of authority in many churches, but are congregations to rise up and do away with pastors and the like? My point is this: it is not simply black or white husbands, pastors, leaders, city officials, government officials, etc. Each is intended by God to be beneficial to those who are under the authority. For CRT to view authority as wrong and oppressive is to kick against what God Himself has ordained. Unfortunately, the human heart has a natural propensity for perverting anything good. This brings us to the next problem.

CRT makes a moral distinction between the “oppressed and the oppressors.” The “oppressors,” by default of the color of their skin, and since they have had such an influence on society, are by nature racist, oppressive, barbaric, and brutal. On the other hand, the vices of the “oppressed” are viewed simply as a result of the “oppression.” However, it is here where the infection of CRT begins to directly affect the Gospel. Perversion, corruption, brutality, etc. are not issues of color but of the heart of every human being which is infected by sin. Furthermore, sin stems from the perverse and evil desire of being independent of God and His rightful Kingship.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. ~ Romans 1:28-32

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”….  The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  ~ Romans 3:9-18, 22-23

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all menbecause all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.~ Romans 5:12-17

So, for whom did Jesus Christ die? Let us be very careful here. Jesus died for sinners, and it is only sinners who can be redeemed. Did Jesus die for blacks and whites? Of course He did. Then what does this reveal? It reveals that each of us are sinners. Furthermore, only human beings made in the image of God are redeemable. Fallen angels are sinners, in the technical sense of the word; however, they are neither made in the image of God nor are they redeemable.

For CRT to be true, then there must be superior and inferior people. If this is the case, then what is the significance of the image of God? If whites are sinful by default, and others are sinful due to oppression of whites, then what exactly is original sin? Do the latter truly need a Savior? And if they do not, then how can they be redeemed, since Christ died for sinners?

It is true, racism and oppression are real. But to create a dichotomy between blacks and whites, and to treat as though one has a monopoly over oppression and brutality, is to deny what the Bible actually teaches. Whether you go into a predominantly black society or white, you will find corruption, oppression, deception, and brutality. At the same time, you will witness people made in the image of God whom Christ died for. May the Holy Spirit use His holy scalpel of truth to cut out the deadly infection of the deceitfulness of CRT.

Polarization and the Stripping Away of Our Humanity

On their album, Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd has a song entitled, “Us and Them”. The lyrics begin with, “Us and them / And after all, we’re only ordinary men.” This reminds me of a part in Homer’s, The Iliad, when Hector, the noble hero of the Trojans, was home with his family before his upcoming dual with Achilles, the champion of the Greeks.

While the book celebrates the Greek warriors, this scene takes us into Hector’s home, loving on his family, although knowing he might not return to them after the fight. What struck me about this, when I read it in college, was the reality of persons in war. On each side are dads, moms, sons, and daughters. The vast majority do not want to be there, but are there because of duty—for “love of God, King, and country.”

While their cultures might be different, their humanity is very much the same: intellect, emotions, passions, dreams, ambitions, love, affections, fear, etc.

One of the dangerous consequences being recognized, due to modern technology and social media, is polarization. While technology is not fully to blame, it has, indeed, confounded matters. No longer is it simply disagreeing or being divided. It has become demeaning, demonizing, and dehumanizing enmity. We have the Left/Right, liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican, black/white, etc. Mind you, I am not at all promoting pluralism or ecumenicalism, nor am I endorsing complete individualism and autonomy. However, we are becoming a society that strips away the humanity of persons who are not like us and/or who do not think like us.

Some foundational doctrines in Christian theology concerning people are: 1) Created in God’s image, 2) original sin, and 3) Redemption.

First, all people are made in God’s image, and He has placed us in the time and place as He sees fit.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. ~ Genesis 1:27 (ESV)

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us. Acts 17:26-27

Second, the suffering we see in our world is rooted in original sin; that is, because the first couple sinned, sin is now passed on from generation to generation. We often view racism, violence, perversion, etc. as the problems; however, these are merely symptoms of the “spiritual disease” each of us is infected with.

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” … For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ~ Romans 3:10-12, 22-23

Third, God has a genuine love for fallen humanity and has made redemption possible for all people who are willing to repent of sin and believe on His Son.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. ~ Romans 5:8-10

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9

Although sin has distorted our desires and perception, it has not eradicated our humanity and worth to God. Yet, how easily—especially with social media—we can slander and demonize others. Regardless of ethnicity, color, or beliefs, we are all but ordinary people. We work, play, love our families, and want to survive. Mind you, none of this is meant to ignore crime or injustice; however, we can be so malicious, injurious, and even murderous with our tongues and posts. The distance from verbal harm to physical harm is not far at all. In fact, Jesus explains:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. ~ Matthew 5:21-22

We are also told,

No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? ~ James 3:8-11

Yet, consider the way people slander, accuse, and dehumanize others on social media. How brutally nasty people can be towards others whose views are different. Too often a distinction is not made between the person and the view. So, going straight for the jugular, so to speak, honest dialogue is not permitted and the person’s humanity is trampled on. As a result, there is no consideration that the other is a person with a past full of various experiences. Furthermore, this is someone’s son, daughter, parent, etc. Dangerously worse still, God’s image, love, and redemption are denied a person. In the end, such polarization makes us like beasts, monsters, and devils ourselves.

We can fight to the death for our opinions, perceptions, and convictions; yet, the Bible tells us:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

Strangely, whenever we seek to dehumanize others, we dehumanize ourselves, too. Sadly, the more our climate becomes polarized, the more our humanity is stripped away.