I have interacted with many Africans who hold the position that Christianity is a “Whiteman’s religion.” Some of the movements like Rastafarianism, Mungiki, Dini ya Musambwa, Legio Maria, African Divine Church, and other sceptics that you meet in towns hold on to these views. And the majority of those who embrace African Traditional Religion hold to the same view of Jesus as white. Sadly, the lack of facts has led to the rejection of Christianity by many people.
I recently interacted with a Rastafarian who believed that black people are the once who were enslaved in Egypt and that Moses was sent to deliver them. He argued that this slavery happened in the 1600s, which showed much ignorance of history. The Bible is alleged to be a Whiteman’s book. This thought is birthed from the reality that enslavers of Africans did twist scripture to justify slavery. Amazingly though, it was through proper study of the Bible that set Africans free from bondage. It was from the biblical truth that all men are equal before the sight of God that was the catalyst to set slaves free (Genesis 1:26-27, Acts 10:34, Acts 17:26, Romans 2:11, Galatians 3:28).
The scriptures have been used for good or bad throughout the centuries. In our era, it’s used for bad to enslave people’s minds by wrong interpretations. One example of this would be “schools of deliverance,” within Nairobi. Another example of how people use the wrong interpretation of the scriptures to enslave others is denying Christ his rightful place in our lives and lifting the voices of pastors and bishops. Many people have become loyal to their pastors and bishops to the extent that what God says in his word matters less. It is no longer God says, but my pastor or bishop says. Therefore, the Bible has been used by many people for various kind of selfish interest. Sadly people rebel against the Bible, Christianity, and even Jesus because of the wrong interpretation of the scriptures and say the reason it is bad is that it is a white man’s religion.
Several reasons can be given against this assertion of Christianity as a “Whiteman religion.” All the reasons are based on verifiable facts.
Jesus Was Not White
There is no Biblical or historical ground to base the argument that Jesus or even the Jews were white people. It is a lazy argument as the evidence is all around to prove otherwise. Abraham, the founder of the Jewish race, was from Ur which is modern-day Iraq (the home of brown people) and was initially settled by Nimrod, son of Cush who was an African. The areas of Cush include present-day Sudan, Ethiopia and Southern Egypt. The Jews also intermarried with the very brown people of Egypt during their 400 years of slavery since there was no prohibition of inter-ethnic marriage by then. Exodus 12:38 says, “A mixed multitude also went up with them,” showing that people of different skin colours were Jewish. Two of the twelve tribes of the Israelites were a mixture of Africans and Jews. Ephraim and Manasseh were these two tribes. These two tribes were a mixture because Joseph married an Egyptian woman (Genesis 41:51-52; Numbers 13:4-15).
The narrative that Jesus and even the Jews themselves are a bunch of white men is not based in reality. This “white Jesus,” story has gained strength due to the bitterness that slavery and colonialism brought mixed with the backlash to the bad morals that the West is currently trying to push in Africa. This bitterness and backlash is right in that it was wrong what happened, but the enemy is not a “white Jesus,” the enemy is sin and incorrect interpretation of the Bible. If we continue to make the enemy a “white Jesus” and a “white man’s religion” then we will miss the only opportunity to be saved from eternal damnation (John 14:6, Acts 4:12).
Blacks were part of Christianity before missionaries in Africa
Blacks were part of the church from the very beginning. Christianity did not initially come to African through slave masters. Africans interacted with Christ in person! We have Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21) who carried the cross of Jesus on his way to Crucifixion. Cyrene was located at Eastern Libya. In Acts 2:10, we had Africans from Egypt and Libya at Jerusalem during the Day of Pentecost, where three thousand people gave their lives to Christ. In Acts 8:26-39, we encounter the Ethiopian Eunuch who gave his life Christ after being preached to by Philip.
The first Christians were, therefore, a representative of the entire known world, including Africa. Christianity thrived in Africa during the early centuries of the faith. By the year 200 AD, there were many local churches in Egypt. There are stories of African Christians being martyred around Carthage, which is present-day Tunisia as early as 180 AD. African Christians were martyred for refusing to recognize the Roman emperor as a god. Coptic and Ethiopian Christians trace their origins back to Apostle Mark, who was the first apostle of Egypt and was martyred for his faith in Egypt. Although vigorously persecuted for their faith, Christianity never stopped its growth in Africa.
Christianity is not a “white man religion.” Such belief will cause you to miss out on the only one who can save you (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). Christianity existed before the coming of white people in Africa. God is not racist; he sent his son for all people of every race (John 3:16, Romans 10:12, Galatians 3:28). God has revealed himself to all people on the earth (Romans 1:18-20), and those that receive his Son as Saviour will get to see him in glory (2 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Corinthians 4:15, John 1:14, Ephesians 3:16, Luke 2:14, Philippians 2:10-11).