Archbishop of Canterbury Encourages Rethink of White Jesus

June 29 2020

Image of Archbishop of Canterbury Encourages Rethink of White Jesus

Picture: Canterbury Cathedral via. The Church Times

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Justin Welby the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of England's most senior Bishop, caused controversy last week by suggesting that there should be a rethink of the portrayal of Jesus as white. It has been suggested that this might include the removal of paintings and sculpture contained in Churches that depict Jesus as a such. The Church of England owns half of all of Britain's Grade I listed buildings and a significant collection of historic artworks. His statements were made as part of a larger piece which explained that the Church would be reviewing historic monuments to slave traders with an eye for removal.

Press reports have quoted the Archbishop's interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

Asked if there had to be rethink on the white image of Jesus, Welby said: “Yes of course it does, this sense that God was white … You go into churches [around the world] and you don’t see a white Jesus. 

“You see a black Jesus, a Chinese Jesus, a Middle-Eastern Jesus – which is of course the most accurate – you see a Fijian Jesus.”

Most crucially, it seems that Welby did not go as far as suggesting that all historic depictions should be removed:

“Jesus is portrayed in as many ways as there are cultures, languages and understandings. And I don’t think that throwing out everything we’ve got in the past is the way to do it but I do think saying: ‘That’s not the Jesus who exists, that’s not who we worship,’ it is a reminder of the universality of the God who became fully human.”

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