Church must remember Jesus was 'not white', says Welby

(Photo: Unplash/Robert Nyman)

It's important to remember that Jesus was "not white", the Archbishop of Canterbury has said. 

Archbishop Justin Welby shared some of his favourite pictures of Jesus on Twitter over the weekend, including depictions of a black Jesus, as he invited his followers to share some of their own. 

In the caption to the post, he reminded followers that Jesus was Middle Eastern. 

"Jesus was Middle Eastern, not white. It's important we remember this. But the God we worship in Christ is universal, and the hope he offers is good news for us all," he said. 

It follows comments he made during an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday in which he discussed the diverse ethnic depictions of Jesus around the world. 

"You see a black Jesus, a Chinese Jesus, a Middle-Eastern Jesus - which is of course the most accurate - you see a Fijian Jesus," he said.

"Jesus is portrayed in as many ways as there are cultures, languages and understandings.

"And I don't think that throwing out everything we've got in the past is the way to do it but I do think saying: 'That's not the Jesus who exists, that's not who we worship,' it is a reminder of the universality of the God who became fully human."

The Archbishop has spoken out on race and the Church in the last few weeks in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests around the world following the death of George Floyd. 

He said the Church of England needed to "set its house in order" on racism, and on Friday said statues and memorials in churches should be reviewed and put "in context". 

"Some names will have to change .... and some will have to come down," he said. 

In the last few weeks, the Church of England has announced the creation of a commission to address racism and apologised for historical ties to slavery.