Tuesday, October 04, 2005

What Color Is Jesus--A case study in jazz theology (part 4)

"Jesus Is Black," said James Cone in 1975 as he interpreted Matthew 25. "Christ's blackness is the American expression of the truth of his parable about the Last Judgement: "Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me." "The least in America are literally and symbolically present in black people. To say that Christ is black means that black people are God's poor people whom Christ has come to liberate. And thus no gospel of Jesus Christ is possible in America without coming to terms with the history and culture of that people who struggled to bear witness to his name in extreme circmustances." "Christ is black, therefore, not because of some cultural or psychological need of black people, but because and only because Christ really enters into our world where the poor, the despised, and the black are, disclosing that he is with them, enduring their humiliation and pain and transforming oppressed slaves into liberated servants. Indeed, if Christ is not truly black, then the historical Jesus lied." "My point is that God came, and continues to come, to those who are poor and helpless, for the purpose of setting them free. And since the people of color are his elected poor in America, any interpretation of God that ignores black oppression cannot be Christian theology." Fellow listeners, what are you hearing? (quotes taken from, "God of the Oppressed" by James Cone)


Blogger Phil said...

So is Jesus black from the American perspective, within the American context? Or is He poor? Or mentally handicapped?

I don't disagree with the ideas or the logic that you're putting forth, in fact within a limited context, I agree with it. But I fear that putting a finiteness on Christ (from a spiritual perspective) does two things:

1) Makes Him concrete; gives Him a face and an identity that it's hard to get 2,000 years removed.

2) It also limits Him. Yes, Jesus is black, but He's also white and red and yellow and all the other colors, because it's our business to see Him reflected in every person we come in contact with.

I don't mind saying that Jesus is black, but I don't want to limit Him to only being black.

If that riff makes any sense at all.

11:27 AM  
Blogger voixdange said...

I'm not sure I agree with everything Mr. Cone says here, but much of it rings true.

12:15 PM  
Blogger jazztheo said...

Phil--I like your riff, I'm just not sure we're playing the same song. You seem to be addressing who Jesus was. But in order for us to love Him Matthew 25 style doesn't he need a face?

Angevoix--what doesn't ring true?

12:27 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

He does need a face. You're absolutely right, jazztheo.

I just don't want to limit that face. To love Matt25 style, my perspective of Jesus has to widen to include everyone I come in contact with.

It has to be the face of my wife when she ticks me off, and my daughter when she won't listen to me, and the homeless man asking for money, and my coworker and the lady behind the counter.

Maybe I should ask this question, reflecting my blog from a couple of weeks ago: Am I not seeing race as an issue here because race isn't a factor for me? I'm asking that with all humility, trying to see a different perspective.

12:39 PM  
Blogger voixdange said...

I warned you that you are too deep for moi over here on this blog.
Is he talking about the color of Christ actual skin, or a state of mind? A lot of people call my pastor Black, even though he has blue eyes and blond hair and is a Celt. The children I work with argue about whether or not I am Black or "light skinned." which I think is hilarious, because if you know how I live I am so Euro Centric it is ridiculous... as far as food taste, music,etc...

btw, I absolutely love the last paragraph.

4:21 PM  
Blogger jazztheo said...

Phil I love your heart!

My next post will address the question as to whether or not Jesus is still black in America, because I do think that it is a noble goal to include everyone you come int contact with. But that begs the question, "Who do we come into contact with?"

As I wrote about a previous post, "Jazz theology in black and white," this approach to theology is assumes race as a factor and doesn't ignore it. Jazz is a race soaked philosophy and musical style. One only needs to read the geneaology of Jesus to see that there was a concerted effort by God to grant the world with a mixed-race messiah. And the dominant Jewish culture would have noticed that.

let's keep the dialogue going.


9:29 PM  
Blogger jazztheo said...


Cone is specifically referring to life in America in 1975 and that if we wanted to find the Jesus of Matthew 25 then we must find ourselves amongst the decendants of slaves in this country.

But you raise an interesting question about state of mind...I must ruminate a bit, that's kind of deep!

by the way, is your thumbnail and actual picture of you?

9:34 PM  
Blogger voixdange said...

No, like my pastor, I am a Celt. Blond hair, green eyes. I changed my profile pic once I put the link to my church on my site. There are just too many wackos out there.

6:53 AM  
Blogger jazztheo said...

Wacko's...I can only imagine.

Being a Celt, have you read, "The Celtic Way of Evangelism?"

3:27 PM  
Blogger voixdange said...

No, but if you recommend it I can always add it to the stack.

5:15 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home