Christianity Today, a well-known magazine recognized for its progressive stance, faced significant backlash on Christmas Eve due to its assertion that Jesus Christ was “born in Asia” and identified as “Asian.” This controversial statement was published on X as part of their promotional efforts for a thought-provoking “photo essay” article titled “How Asian Artists Depict Jesus’ Birth From 1240 to Present.”
Jesus was born in Asia. He was Asian.
The artists in this photo essay bring him back to Asia—but not to ancient Israel.
These nine artworks "proclaim the expansiveness of Christ’s kingdom." https://t.co/qGmeOo79Ak
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) December 24, 2023
The article in question, begins “Jesus was born in Asia. He was Asian. Yet the preponderance of Christian art that shows him at home in Europe has meant that he is embedded deeply in the popular imagination as Western.” The article takes aim at the European portrayals of Jesus, or those who “may object to depicting Jesus as anything other than a brown male born into a Jewish family in Bethlehem of Judea in the first century, believing that doing so undermines his historicity. But Christian artists who tackle the subject of the Incarnation are often aiming not at historical realism but at theological meaning.”
Needless to say it received a massive ratio online:
Jesus is a Jew. It’s necessary for our salvation that he is a son of David, from the tribe of Judah, and born in Bethlehem.
Stop this nonsense.
He isn’t European, Asian, Palestinian or black.
He’s a Jew—the king of the Jews and therefore the saviour of the world.
— Samuel Sey (@SlowToWrite) December 25, 2023
What nonsense. Jesus was born in the Middle East and was Jewish.
— Renatta Michele Oxendine (@RenattaOxendine) December 24, 2023
Was he gender fluid too?
— Heather Champion (@winningatmylife) December 24, 2023
The article proceeded to commend the Muslim perspectives on Christ, despite the fact that Islam strongly opposes depictions of their own prophet Mohammed. The article acknowledges that Muslims in the medieval and early modern periods created numerous remarkable examples, whether driven by economic reasons, their own faith’s reverence for Jesus, or simply out of curiosity and attraction. Additionally, Hindu and Buddhist artists also made significant contributions in the 20th century, as stated in the article.
According to The New Republic, the newly appointed editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, Russell Moore, recently expressed his concern that evangelical Christianity is leaning too far towards the right.
Moore, who had been at odds with other evangelical leaders for years, resigned from the Southern Baptist Convention in 2021. His open criticism of Donald Trump, whom many evangelical Christians embraced, was cited as a key point of contention.
Throughout history, various cultures have depicted the nativity family and Jesus Christ in art, incorporating elements of their own culture, race, or ethnicity.
While Jesus holds a universal significance in the Christian faith, it is important to recognize that he was a historical figure with a specific ethnic background – he was Jewish. His customs, traditions, and education in the temple were all rooted in Judaism during that time period.