Sunday, February 23, 2014

Son of God and Images

Last week, as part of an ongoing research project, I attended a church where mine was the only white face in an all black congregation of several thousand.  As part of his sermon, the minister attempted to make an argument that Jesus was black.  While I thought the argument was weak, I really don't care enough about the skin color of Jesus to take up the argument.

However, the minister also criticized that point.  If the skin color of Jesus doesn't matter, why have paintings of him where he is white?

Why, indeed.

For those of us who agree with this argument (hat tip:  Aquila Report) and with that expressed by James Packer in his wonderful book Knowing God, that images of Jesus -- including both paintings and movie images -- violate the second commandment, the white Italian Jesus is a problem, and we would note that part of the problem involves the tendency of image makers to re-make God in our own image.  In fact, both the criticism and the solution offered by the minister last week point to that problem:  a tendency in all of us to want to make God look or be like ourselves.  As a result, I agree with the minister last Sunday that white images of the Son of God are not proper, but I would argue against the notion of exchanging one violation of the second commandment (Jesus as white) for another (Jesus as black).

And, for the same reason, I will also not see the movie.

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