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.