Jesus is not black. This is obvious to all who acknowledge Scripture as the highest authority; it’s also obvious to all who are properly Christian who may consider the Magesterium of the Roman Catholic Church as the highest authority. Jesus, God incarnate in human history, was a Jew of the line of David.
What color was Jesus the man? Probably a typical Jew of the first century in Judea. Perhaps “ruddy” as was King David; perhaps olive-skinned. But certainly not a black, sub-Saharan African. But the point is that Jesus was for all men, not just the Jews. To claim a particular ethnicity to the exclusion of all others is to entirely miss the point of God’s revelation to us in the actual, historical person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Which brings me to the unchristian “black theology” that has been taken up by Barack Obama’s long-time pastor and spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright. And perhaps passed on to Barack. Michael Gerson, in today’s WaPo, describes rather succinctly the problems with “black theology:”
…black liberation theology takes this argument a large step further — or perhaps backward. The Rev. Wright’s intellectual mentor, professor James Cone of Union Theological Seminary, retreats from the universality of Christianity. “Black theology,” says Cone, “refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him.” And again: “Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy.” And again: “In the New Testament, Jesus is not for all, but for the oppressed, the poor and unwanted of society, and against oppressors.”
But the deepest flaws in black liberation theology are theological, not political. Jesus did advocate a special concern for the rights and welfare of the poor and helpless. But he specifically rejected a faith defined by social and political struggle, much to the disappointment of his more zealous followers. The early church, in its wrenching decision to include gentiles as equals, explicitly rejected a community defined by ethnicity. No Christian theology that asserts “Jesus is not for all” can be biblical.
Does the man who is well-situated to becoming our next president believe that “Jesus is not for all?” Probably not. I don’t think that Barack Obama believes this, or, that he cares all that much about “black theology.” Or any theology, except for the theology of the Church of St. Barack of Obama.
Stated differently, Obama looks out for Obama. Period. Black theology is wrong, not Christian. Jeremiah Wright is wrong, not Christian if he believes in black theology. Based on recent performances, however, I’d have to guess that Wright is much more interested in the theology of Jeremiah Wright, radical rabble rouser of the South Side of Chicago. A man who appears to give little thought to what he says, so long as it keeps him in the spotlight.