mustardseedguy asked: I was talking to this guy at my job. He said every time I say “Jesus” I make a white man smile. He told me that Jesus wasn’t His real name, but it was Hey-sus. He hands me a book titled “a Chronology of the Bible” I skimmed through It. It’s basically about how “the white man” took who Jesus really was, and used It to their advantage or something, and how It was really written by African Americans. I was too angry to keep paying attention. He also said I have blinders on. Help. I’m just so angry right now.
Unka Glen answered: The book you mentioned was written by a guy named Yosef ben-Jochannan. He advocates a theory of Afrocentrism, saying that most of the world religions, including Judaism (and by extension Christianity) come from Africa, and that much of Western Philosophy and thought comes from Africa as well.
Speaking as a man with a degree in History, all this would be fascinating, if it was true. Alas, it isn’t. Ben-Jochannan claims, for example, that Aristotle visited the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, and he stole his ideas from there. The only problem with that theory is that the Library of Alexandria didn’t exist in Aristotle’s lifetime. Such are the perils of wanting something to be true, and trying to make history fit.
But here are the things we know for sure:
— Racism, as we know it today, can’t be shown to exist in the ancient Biblical and Mediterranean world. Almost no indication of negative stereotypes connected to skin color have been found in ancient literature, the closest I’ve ever heard of was a Roman account of Ethiopians apparently having superpowers because they had touched the sun, and been turned black, but still lived. Futhermore: “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
— This author, ben-Jochannan, donated his works to the Nation of Islam, which you will recall, has some rather extreme ideas about race, that even most orthodox Muslims would not agree with at all.
— If you meet someone wound up on this guy’s writing, ask them to read a book called “Not Out Of Africa” by Mary Lefkowitz, who breaks down some of these historical inaccuracies.
— Jesus was not called “Hey-sus”, that’s the Spanish translation of His original name, just like Jesus is the English translation of His name. His mother called Him Yeshua.
— The Gospels tell us that Jesus traveled with His family to hide in Egypt, and He grew up there. He knew it as home, and managed to successfully blend in with the local population. As Egypt is on the continent of Africa, there’s already a strong enough connection between Jesus and Africa.
— The Gospel spread throughout Africa, by divine intervention, even before the book of Acts was written. You’ll recall the interaction between Phillip and a member of the royal Ethiopian court (Acts 8:26-40). By contrast, it took somewhere between 300 and 400 years for Christianity to make its way as far as the then-primative tribes of England.
— In every respect, people of African and Middle Eastern heritage have more of a historical claim to Christianity than any Westerners do. By very early accounts, we even have the Apostle Thomas planting churches in India. White Man’s God, my @$$.
As for the way to respond to this guy, I think I might say something like this:
“You were mistaken when you said I called Jesus by the wrong name. I call Him ‘Lord’ because that’s who He is to me, my Lord, the one who leads me. He’s not your Lord, and I can tell, because nobody would be led by God to act as insultingly or as dismissively as you’ve acted towards me.
It doesn’t matter if I know the name His mother called Him, it matters that HE knows MY name (John 10:3). I’m not wrong to call Him:
- My Savior
- Lamb of God
- Alpha and Omega
- Prince of Peace
- Image of God
- Light of the World
- Son of the Most High God, or
- The only One in the world with the power to save YOUR crusty butt
You know ABOUT Jesus, but you don’t know Him. I know Him, and though I’m not worthy of Him, He has claimed me as His own. I am His. He and I are, step by step, figuring out what that’s going to be. You are not invited to be a part of that process, you have no vote, no power, no input, no influence. Jesus and I are working all that out just fine without you.
If you want me to school you on how to hook that up for yourself, so you aren’t caught captive by every “hollow and deceptive philosophy” (Colossians 2:8) that comes along, I’d be happy to help. Otherwise, if you want to talk out of turn, and repeat more of that poorly researched mess to me, you can kick rocks.”