Eric Metaxas, author of Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World and host of "The Eric Metaxas Show," is coming under fire online for declaring “Jesus was white.”
Metaxas made the statement in reaction to an announcement that the United Methodist Church had enlisted the help of academic and author Robin DiAngelo in producing a series of videos on "Deconstructing White Privilege."
DiAngelo is well-known for her 2018 book, White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, which discusses race relations in the U.S. She created the term “white fragility” in 2011 to describe defensive reactions that white people experience when they are placed in situations where they have to reflect on their race.
“Jesus was white. Did he have ‘white privilege’ even though he was entirely without sin? Is the United Methodist Church covering that? I think it could be important,” Metaxas tweeted in response to the UMC announcement shared by Neil Shenvi, an educator who is also a member of The Summit Church where Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear is a pastor.
Metaxas’ tweet quickly drew attention online from high-profile members of the Christian community such as Bernice King, daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., who is a minister and also serves as CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
“Jesus was not a white, American man. The U.S. flag is not a symbol for the Church or for Jesus. The National Anthem is not a holy hymn. Slavery was not a ‘necessary evil.’ The oppressor even tries to control the response to oppression. The truth will make us free,” she tweeted early Tuesday morning.
Rich Villodas, pastor of New Life Fellowship in New York City, tweeted alluding to Metaxas’ biography about the life of Deitrich Bonhoeffer: “This is what you call theological malpractice. When Jesus lived, White people didn’t exist. Why? Because ‘White’ was a category later created to assert dominance through illusory notions of superiority. Jesus knows nothing of this. Do better. Bonhoeffer is not pleased.”
Popular SBC Bible teacher and author Beth Moore tweeted: “You can have white Santa if you must. But you can’t have white Jesus. Nope. Sorry. Can’t. And here’s what I want to know. Why the heck do you want one?? Why can’t we just go with the Jesus we got?”
Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, a progressive Christian activist, author and fellow at the Center for American Progress, argued that Metaxas was conflating white supremacy with Christianity.
“I’d correct Eric Metaxas but I can’t think of one actual follower of Jesus who mistakes Eric’s white supremacy for Christianity,” he noted.
When Rich Stearns, president emeritus of World Vision USA, replied to Metaxas, noting that “Jesus likely looked like modern day Palestinians-not Scandinavian,” the talk show host shot back: “So it's about how you look? About the actual color of your skin? So most Jews today are ‘white’ & have ‘white privilege’ but some don't? Who decides? Are Stephen Spielberg & Woody Allen not white? My point is that these identities only seem to apply when woke people say they do.”
Metaxas noted in a later tweet: “I don't REALLY think of him (Jesus) as white, but I enjoy helping people think about how THEY think of him, and of other Jewish people, whom they believe have ‘white privilege.’”