That view was contested by Fox News host Megyn Kelly while critiquing a Slate.com column titled “Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore.”
“Jesus was a white man, too,” Kelly said, launching a national discussion about history, tradition and just how white Christmas should be.
Her statement drew responses from impassioned rebukes to scholarly rebuttals.
“It’s just an incorrect statement,” Jacobsen said. “It’s an ignorant statement, not an intentionally false statement.”
Wrote Jonathan Merritt in The Atlantic: “If he were taking the red-eye flight from San Francisco to New York today, Jesus might be profiled for additional security screening.”
If this is so obvious, though, why does a Google image search for “Jesus” reveal countless pictures of a European man with straight hair, fair skin and, often, blue eyes? Why is that the prevalent image in America, from stained glass windows to movies to children’s books?
The first pictures of Jesus appeared several hundred years after his death, Blum said. Some depicted him in animal form, as a lion or a lamb. Blum said that from about 700 to 1500 A.D., various Jesus images proliferated throughout Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa — including hosts of black Jesus pictures.
“People in every culture portray Jesus looking like people they knew,” said Jacobsen. “They depict him as one of their own.”
Dillaman, the pastor, has a book that offers Bible images from different world cultures — a last supper where everyone is Thai; images of Jesus as Chinese or African.
“All these ethnicities are trying to capture Jesus in their own skin, if you will,” he said.
But in humanity’s yearning to identify with the holy, another path gets overlooked.
“Our calling is to know God as he is and to love God with all of our being and be conformed to the image of Christ,” Dillaman said, “rather than to make him look like us.”