Vision of Christ unique to one's faith
The Rev. Joanna Harader, pastor, Peace Mennonite Church, 615 Lincoln St.:
As a teenager, I went to see "Jesus Christ Superstar." Milling around the stage before the performance was the classic Jesus figure: flowing brown hair, full beard. So I was not expecting the man with short blond hair who walked onstage representing the son of God.
Of course, I had not yet seen Salvador Dali's "Sacrament of the Last Supper" with the beautiful blond Jesus. Nor had I seen Chinese or African or Aboriginal images of Jesus. And I most certainly had not seen the images in the recently released "Art that Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ and More."
I would argue that, like literary depictions, visual depictions of Jesus are more theology than history. So are they inaccurate? Are they misleading? Well, that depends on the image. And on your theology.
Mine is an incarnational theology. I believe that Jesus is God become flesh. God entering our humanity in order to make possible the fullness of human-divine relationship. If the purpose of the incarnation is to allow us to relate to God on an intimate level, then art that reincarnates Christ for different cultures in different times is vital.
I am told by Barbara Yoder, a church member and art historian, that Rembrandt, who had Mennonite associations, painted many depictions of Christ. His earliest work presents a Jesus who is glowing, otherworldly. In his later work, you can scarcely discern the Christ figure from the crowds of people surrounding him.
In some ways, the most theologically accurate depictions of Christ are the ones where he (or she) is most like us - the art that lets us know we are not God-forsaken people, but God-surrounded people.
- Send e-mail to Joanna Harader at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images stir memories of Savior's love for us
The Rev. Alan Estby, associate and campus pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church, 2104 Bob Billings Parkway:
We have no portrait or picture of Jesus taken when he physically lived on planet Earth.
We do have a portrait of Jesus given in Isaiah 53:2-5: "For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
"Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed."
I have a visual depiction in the form of a picture of my wife, children and grandchildren in my office. Seeing the pictures have no value until my heart, mind and soul remember all of the love I have received from them.
Visual depictions of Jesus are only valuable when our heart, mind and soul remember the love we have received from our God through his son, Jesus. This picture of Jesus tells us the truth about our God and his love for the salvation of all people.
- Send e-mail to Alan Estby at email@example.com.