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American Jesus

And here we have perhaps the most blatantly idolatrous picture of the American Jesus that I have seen thus far. This image seems to communicate a few essential features of the American perversion of the image of Christ in contemporary imagination.

1) A Gnostic Christ

The Christ pictured here is translucent, ascended, floating in the clouds above the world of chance and change. This is the Christ of gnosticism, a disembodied, spiritualized fiction that has nothing to do with the incarnate Lord who becomes truly human and walks among us. This Christ stand above us and outside of our time and space and thus he can take no action in our time and space, except to be bless and sanctify our agendas. This is the Christ of America: a Gnostic Christ.

2) An Uncrucified Christ

One of the most striking elements of this depiction is the absence of scars on the body of Christ. No holes in his hands, no crown of thorns, no spear-wound in his side. There is not a hint that this Christ was crucified. This Christ sis above in the heaven, untouchable by suffering and death. The American Jesus will always be a Christ without the cross, a Christ without discipleship, a Christ with no cost and no substance. This is the Christ of America: A Christ uncrucified.

3) A Caucasian Christ

Of course, like most of the western renditions of Christ, here we have someone who looks a hell of a lot more like Colonel Custer than the Jew from Nazareth. Yet again we see Christ’s incarnate Jewish humanity stripped away in a Nazi-esque theologizing that identifies Christ with our particular volk. This is the Christ that legitimated the slaughter of Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans and the interment of Japanese citizens. This is the Christ of America: a neo-Aryan Christ who is just like us.

4) A Nationalized Christ

And of course, the obvious. The draped American flag which covers the body of the Lord is perhaps the most striking and horrifying image in this rendition. In place of the robe stained with his own blood (Rev. 19:13) we have an American flag wrapping an uberman who conquers in the name of Uncle Sam. There is no trace here of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). This is the Christ of America: a Christ who conquers in our name, who fulfills our agendas, who does not suffer, who does not empty himself, who does not humble himself, who would never say “Father, forgive them.”

This is the Christ of America, an idol created in our image and likeness. The church’s allegiance to this Jesus is the machination of antichrist and the death of true discipleship. May God forgive us and have mercy on us.

4 Comments

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Halden, I just found the guy that created this photo. Isn’t it a joke? I mean you haven’t seen this in any sanctuaries have you?
    Here’s his link:
    http://totalobscurity.typepad.com/flagorama/flaggin_4_god/index.html

    Friday, October 27, 2006 at 7:04 pm | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    I found it through another site, so I didn’t know it’s origin. However, there’s really nothing in this picure that hasn’t been depicted in serious images propagated and distributed by Christians.

    I’m a bit relieved to know that it’s a joke, but I think that all the points of critique that I make are relevant to the American concept of Jesus. And I do have OTHER pictures of actual merchandise that I haven’t posted yet. We’ll save that for another day when I’m feeling ornery.

    Friday, October 27, 2006 at 8:19 pm | Permalink
  3. Aaron G wrote:

    a few months ago I did a series on “Jesus for the Crowds” where I looked at similar popular images of Jesus.

    Have you read Richard Fox’s book and Jesus in America?

    Monday, November 6, 2006 at 1:49 pm | Permalink
  4. Halden wrote:

    I’ve seen it, but I haven’t picked it up at this point. There’s always so much to read…

    Monday, November 6, 2006 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

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