Justin Welby

In an interview on Friday, the head of the Church of England said the west in general needed to question the prevailing mindset that depicted Christ as a white man in traditional Christian imagery.

Thus the Archbishop of Canterbury. The second paragraph is in a sense a non sequitur because if, as he rightly says:

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

what on earth could be wrong with seeing a white one in a country where the majority population is white? Still, in the current climate, it is no wonder his words have been seen by some as virtue-signalling to the BLM trend. This interpretation is all the more plausible in the light of his comment about statues and imagery in chg

 “Some names will have to change. I mean, the church, goodness me, you know, you just go around Canterbury Cathedral, there’s monuments everywhere, or Westminster Abbey, and we’re looking at all that, and some will have to come down. But yes, there can be forgiveness, I hope and pray as we come together, but only if there’s justice.”

Of course, real cultural sensitivity might have cautioned the Archbishop of a Church which broke up much of the stauary and art inherited from the Middle Ages, against mentioning that subject, but maybe it’s an example of that “white privilege” we hear so much about that he failed to virtue signal here; a rare missed opportunity, perhaps?

In fact, he specifically did not say that statues in Canterbury Cathedral would be taken down, and he avoided any reference to the way in which the Church might have benefitted from the money of slave-traders and owners in the past; one would like to think that was because of the self-evident absurdity of the idea. Fortunately, in these ecumenical times, the Catholic Church will not be asking for its property back.

Reading the Archbishop’s words, as opposed to the selective use of them by the media and his critics, he’s stating what, in other contexts would be called “the bleeding obvious.” Jesus comes in all colours because all of us tend to visualise Him as one of us, and He is, of course, one of us. Most people know this, and it fails to exercise most of us most of the time; which invites the question of whether the Archbishop was well-advised to stray into this area?

Jesus was incarnate, died and rose again to save all who will receive Him. We are incarnational creatures and we imagine in colour, even in white. It would be wiser to concentrate on this truth.