Is he black or white? This is the vexed and emotive question concerning the colour of God that has divided opinion among those who profess faith in him. BRIGHT MHANGO wrestles with the issue.
The mere asking of this question is blasphemy to many pious minds, but they say God is all-knowing and, therefore, in a way we can conclude that God likes those who seek knowledge.
God made Adam who is somehow directly linked to Abraham and Abraham to David while Jesus is said to have come out of the house of David. Jesus was Jewish, so does that mean God is Jewish since Jesus is Godâ€™s only son?
What is the colour of God? Is he a white man or an African or the races in between?
A while back, the question was asked to some wheelbarrow peddlers in Mzuzu and it was interesting to hear the responses.
“I think God is a white man. Just look at what the white man invents. The white man does a lot of things that put him closer to God,” said Evance Gondwe.
“According to the Bible, Jesus was there before creation; it is written that the three agreed to create man in their image. There is no statement that said he was of this or that colour, thus to me, God is colourless,” said Scot Neba.
“They say I was created in his image, right? I am black, therefore, God is black, simple,” said Kondwani Tembo.
Last week, the question was put on Facebook and it also caused a storm. Some accused the reporter of being an atheist and a blasphemer, that he had smoked hemp, some stayed away from the â€˜temptationâ€™ in the question, but as usual protests donâ€™t send away issues and some took on the issue in a hotly contested thread.
Chimwemwe Msiska of Mzuzu agreed with one of the wheelbarrow pushers and said: “Seriously, never given it a thought, but he must be white because we know him through the white people.”
Another mind, Benard Jere, argued for a black Jesus: “The claim that Godâ€™s only son (Jesus) was a white man is not the absolute truth. I think thatâ€™s what the white man wants us to believe…. According to the Bible, King Solomon was kind of black. Jesus descended from King Solomon. Therefore? [He is Black]”
The other more radical view is held by many black consciousness sympathisers who argue that accepting a white God means that black people are second-class. Two of the more outspoken people with these views include Jamaicans Allan Hope and Hubert Mackintosh.
“The view that the only son of God was a Jew means that his father is a Jew too and where does that leave a black man?” said Peter Tosh in the 1970s.
Allan Hope disputes the portrayal by Catholics and Jehovahâ€™s witnesses in which Jesus is shown as a Caucasian with flowing blonde hair and blue eyes.
Hope says this perpetuates colour blindness among black people as they think that everything white is good.
Hopeâ€™s assertion is not to be ignored. In history, Hitler described Jesus as a white man who hated Jews and the result was that millions of Jews died in the infamous holocaust.
There is more in the colour of a person.
Another radical mind is British born Christopher MacFarlane (Macka B) who quotes Daniel 7:9 where Daniel describes God as he saw him in his visions saying “…the ancient of days took his seatâ€¦the hair of his head was white like wool.”
Many who argue for a black God quote this verse, saying only black people have woollen hair.
When all rebels have spoken, theologians have to put this into perspective.
Pastor Aubrey Mwasinga, president of Redeemed for a Purpose Ministries, said God is neither black nor white.
“The Bible says “God is a spirit” (John 4:24) In fact, when the Bible says you were created in Godâ€™s image, it does not talk about your physical body; it talks about your inner man, your spirit. What God was creating in His image and likeness in Genesis 1:26-27 was the spirit man, a man who just like God, cannot be seen with the human eye.
“The physical man, the body, was created later in Genesis 2:7 â€˜And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground…â€™ This physical body is the one that turned out to be black or white depending on environmental weather, and later genes mutated so that people born from those in weather that suited them to be white would be born whiteâ€¦,” said Mwasinga.
Pastor Solomon Mobolaji Adebayo, presiding pastor at Life Changers International in Lilongwe, also John 4:24, saying since God is not a man, questions of his colour do not arise since “you need to be a man with skin to have the pigment responsible for skin colour.”
Pastor John Chirombo of Assemblies of God (Dream Centre International Assembly) also trashed the question, saying colours do not apply in spiritual realms.
He said Jesus needed the skin colour he had because he had to take on the human form to fulfil the prophecies.
But if God created us in his own image, is he not like us?
“Being an image of God doesnâ€™t imply we are like God in everything…Come to think of it: God creates life, but human beings canâ€™t create life, does that imply that we are any less of Godâ€™s image? Some of these similarities we are trying to draw between man and God are just a mockery to the complexity of Godâ€™s being….,” said Chancellor College scholar, Lonjezo Sithole.
One British citizen, Frances Sinker, got in on the debate and argued that the quest to assert the colour of God is unanswerable, since God, whether the God of Islam, Christianity or other religions, is not a man, nor represented as a man.
“Allocating to him/her/it a colour is, therefore, inappropriateâ€¦ If you need to assign a colour maybe an awe-inspiring golden flame, too bright to look at,” said Sinker.
The debate went on and on. Some said the Bible cannot be questioned while others said the real question should be “What if God was black”.
Such is the nature of these questions but in the words of blogger Michele Travis: “Since the Bible does not tell us the colour of Jesusâ€™s skin, does it really matter? I donâ€™t think it does. After all, Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified for our sins.”