The Americanization of Jesus Christ

The Americanization of Jesus Christ is my analysis on one of many things that has disturbed me for many years with Church Folk.

I’ve wanted to go into detail about this subject because it’s one of those simple things that no one seems to want to discuss, resolve or to speak truthful about. Although I use the name Jesus Christ I am not and would never use degrading language regarding Jesus Christ. I speak about the people you find standing in the pulpits and sitting in the pews across America and the world.

If you don’t understand what I’m talking about let me give you a quick example. Now when many of you see or hear the name Jesus Christ an image entered your head. If that image is like the one you see here, you have bought into the Americanization of Jesus Christ.

This is not Jesus Christ. It’s physically impossible for it to be.

This picture was painted by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Michelangelo was born on March 6 1475 A.D. and died February 18, 1564 A.D.

A.D. means after the death of Jesus Christ.

Now we do not know for sure the exact age of Jesus when He was crucified, but He was probably 33 years old. According to Numbers 4:3 it’s reasonable to conclude that Jesus began His earthly ministry at the age of 30. Since it went on for 3 1/2 years before Jesus was crucified, it is safe to say that He was in his early or mid 30’s at the time of His death and resurrection.

Here’s the million dollar question that I can’t understand why people especially Christians don’t bother asking or finding the answer.

If the picture displayed in your church, printed in your Bibles and embedded in your psyche is said to be a picture of Jesus Christ, when was it painted? Michelangelo was born 1,475 (One Thousand Four Hundred Seventy-Five) years AFTER the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

The answer is obvious; the man in this picture is not Jesus. I can actually stop here, but I want to go further.


Since childhood I questioned this and no one would take any time to answer this simple question.

When you passively accept the words from authoritative figures such as a minister, priest or elder as truth without questioning you are as much involved in its merit as he who speaks it.

You should never allow a lack of research dictate what could be the greatest tragedy of your life. The aversion to your questions should not discourage your desire for the truth. Until someone confronts the appalling silence and unchallenged acceptance of many people in the church world today we will never accomplish what we are commanded to do.

You may be thinking, “It’s just a picture, what difference does it make?”

It is just a picture and it can not save me. But what does the picture represent?

A misrepresentation can have great consequences. Misrepresentation leads to mischaracterizations and false accusations which opens the door to inaccurate perceptions of inferiority and inadequacy.

Recent history teaches us what can happen when you supply individuals with bad information and false representations… i.e. “The Case for the War with Iraq” and “palling around with terrorist”.

It’s not about an image believed to be Christ, but the image of Christ you believe in. When we as Christians, especially American Christians end the Santa Clausification of Jesus Christ just maybe we can do what he commanded us to do.

Why is it that the church is overflowing on Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas or when there’s a tragedy?

I’m finish with the subject at hand but want to add this one thing.

I heard this woman on the radio utter one of the most backwards thing I ever heard. It has only been a few days after Barack Obama won the Presidential election. It was obvious that she didn’t vote for him, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that she said that she’s a Christian and she was so scared for our country now.

I wish she could have heard my response, but it was just me in the car.

Who’s Your Jesus? What does Isaiah 43:1-7 tell you? Do not fear. Just read the entire chapter, because this already has gone longer than anticipated.

Last Word – Those who consider yourself Christian, ask yourself if you are living up to the root of the name. Be willing to engage in research and the true meaning of the Word.

All Christians receive the Old and New Testament as sacred writings, but they are not agreed about the meaning which they attribute to them. The book itself remains as at the first; the commentators seem rather to reflect the changing atmosphere of the world or of the Church. The division within the individuals within the church is reflective of their societal and environmental influences, the different points of view, to which their interpretation is narrowed or made to conform.

Never feel that you can not question authority.

Article References / Source of Inspiration:

CORRECTION: “The Head of Christ” was painted by Warner E. Sallman, who died in 1968, was a religious painter and illustrator whose most popular picture, “Head of Christ” . This is the image you may be more familar with,”Head of Christ,” created in 1940, was reproduced more than 500 million times, appearing on church bulletins, calendars, posters, bookmarks, prayer cards, tracts, buttons, stickers and stationery. Tens of thousands of wallet-size copies were distributed to servicemen during World War II. In the mid-1950’s, Sallman’s soulful, back-lighted Jesus with flowing, shoulder-length hair gazed out from the Inspira-Clock and the Inspira-Lamp, tie-in products intended for the pious Protestant home.

7 thoughts on “The Americanization of Jesus Christ

  1. Hey, this is a good topic. Once I became a Christian I realized the absurdity of that depiction of Jesus Christ. My great grandmother had a copy of that painting on her wall—between the ones of John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. Somehow between the painting and the Bible, the translation was lost—Jesus Christ, though the Son of God, was Jewish.

    Good post.

  2. cool off.

    what is the matter with you?

    It is an artists rendition of Jesus Christ, and since we have no actual photographs of him, we use interpretations such as this one?

    Why do you not understand that?

    1. Thanks for your comment Alex.

      Your comment is the point I’m getting at. Many people believe this is a picture of Jesus and that’s inaccurate. I’m sure you’re intelligent enough to know that this isn’t Jesus Christ, but the point I’m making is how we have Americanize everything to suit the purposes of White Americans. It’s not all White Americans, but many Americans both Black, White, Hispanic and Asian believe that this is The Image of Jesus Christ and I am pointing out how false it is to believe such.

      I’m not upset, but want to raise a question to make people think. Many will instantly get upset with me without thinking about the meaning of my question. I’m glad that you are not one of those individuals.

      Please continue to visit and comment.

  3. What neutral, secular, comtemporaneous evidence do you have that the man call Jesus who was depicted in the Greek Testament ever existed at all? Historically? What evidence do you have that would stand up in a court of law?

    If he did exist, he was a Jew. In Israel, jewishness was/is inherited through the mother. The tribe was/is inherited through the father. Therefore, a historical Jesus was a tribeless Jew.

    1. I absolutely agree with you that Jesus is a Jew. That’s the point of post. The Americanization of Jesus is the question or maybe the willingness to make him out to look more European.

      In response to your second question I ask you the same in return, what evidence do you have that Jesus does not exist? I respect your position and decision not to believe Jesus Christ is real, but as for me I believe different.

      The fact that a believer or non-believer can quote that he’s a Jew could be used as evidence or reference of his Earthly existence. But my God has given those who believe or does not believe in him free will. So you have every right to believe he does not exist, just as I believe he does.

      In the Holy Bible, Jesus instructs those who believes in him to love. This often referred to as the Greatest Commandment, but I’m probably not telling you something that you don’t already know. An aspect of the commandment to love is respect. It is because of Jesus I am not offended and can respect your point-of-view regarding the validity of his very existence. Since Jesus Christ is not bound by any Earthly laws or jurisdictions he’s not subject to legal prosecution. My evidence is bound by my belief that Jesus Christ died for the sins of man, was resurrected and is now at the right-hand of the creator aka God.

      Russ I want you to understand that you’re cool with me. Unlike many people who proclaim Christianity I believe that you don’t have to believe as I believe in order for me to appreciate or respect your point-of-view. I honestly appreciate your comments and thank you for raising valid questions. I welcome you to visit this more often and share with others. I’m quite sure we will find a common interest.

  4. See, for me, I don’t think it matters whether or not the individual existed. There’s proof in both ways. Many people claim their positions in both extremist views. Again, I love this site, but Religious Tolerance has a page on Historical Jesus. Many people believe that the deity known as Jesus inherited greatly from the myths of many other deities that were being absorbed at the time. There are numerous themes that are common between all religions.

    The question is, in reality, is does it matter whether he existed or not? If we take the loving, wholesome parts of the Christian’s Holy Bible, does it matter whether the text is without error and truly factual? Does it matter whether or not an individual died if the sacrifice, in essence and in practice, continues to make a difference in the lives of people?

    If enough people believe in something, it has an impact on the world, in the culture that surrounds us. Look at any media sensation. There is belief behind it. Because of the nature of such fads, however, it fades and dies. The powerful are not behind it. Ultimately, any opinion (true or not) has validity and power if enough people believe in it.

    In the path that I follow, we believe that we are, in essence, deities. We have the spark of the divine in all of us. By lending that spark to a unified presence, a unified being (that existed or no) we give the essence of our godhood to that deity, essentially bringing it to life.

    So, does it truly matter?

  5. I too don’t believe in a Jesus Christ but respect the people who believe and want to emulate all the good and loving things that the Christ figure stood for. I think their goal is for the highest good and will support them and myself in becoming a better person through whatever means serves the highest good. Therefore, even if I don’t believe in Jesus Christ or the biblical God, I will still support anyone who uses these icons on their path to spiritual evolvement.

    You may ask why I don’t believe in the biblical God, Jesus, etc. The doubt was there since childhood. I also saw how each culture and ethnicity throughout the planet always had a God in their own image/color. Until Christianity came along. Then, the God became a white man. I’ve always felt there was something wrong with that picture. Then when you throw in the blatant sexism and trivialization of most things female – especially menstruation – there is no way I would accept the message.

    When I began reading books by Barbara G. Walker, who knows the bible like her left and right hand, what she wrote resonated with me. My two favorite books by her are ‘The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets and The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. These are comments by Barbara G. Walker about the Jesus who was called Christos.

    Back on topic: Just as I don’t need to debate my ideas of spirituality with people of various religions, I expect them to at least show me the same level of courtesy. Christians notoriously do not show any level of courtesy or respect when they are around people who do not toe their line of worship. I am always pleased when I meet and greet the exception. A person who actually wants to work together and sees themselves as part of the whole family – understanding that many manifestations of that whole will show up in different religions and spiritual ideologies – which all serve the universal Highest Power of us all. When I meet people like this, I can take what I need and what is good from a christian service and leave the rest. Can I expect the same respect from most Christians. No.

    Thanks Tim for a brilliant article. You’re a good man. if you had a church I would certainly attend. And, sorry about the long winded rant.

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