The uniqueness of Christ as the historical revealer, as the Word made flesh, and the mystery of Calvary [compel the affirmation that] God reveals himself in history, outside the Church as well as in it.

Archbishop Nathan Söderblom, Gifford Lectures, 1931

During his lifetime, Jesus' sphere of influence likely extended little beyond the boundaries of Galilee. Today, however, Jesus' impact is felt in every corner of the world. For centuries, Christian missionaries have fanned out across the globe. They have spread the Christian message to millions of people, established educational and literacy programs, healed the sick, and comforted the suffering. They have also been blamed for their participation in the colonial impulse that has, at times, brutalized the way of life of other cultures. But it is not solely, and perhaps not even primarily, as the inspiration for Christian missionaries that Jesus has become the Man Who Belongs to the World. It is through his ability to fascinate the human mind and inspire the human spirit that Jesus has transformed the spiritual landscape of our world. So we must return to the seemin Read More
The uniqueness of Christ as the historical revealer, as the Word made flesh, and the mystery of Calvary [compel the affirmation that] God reveals himself in history, outside the Church as well as in it.

Archbishop Nathan Söderblom, Gifford Lectures, 1931

During his lifetime, Jesus' sphere of influence likely extended little beyond the boundaries of Galilee. Today, however, Jesus' impact is felt in every corner of the world. For centuries, Christian missionaries have fanned out across the globe. They have spread the Christian message to millions of people, established educational and literacy programs, healed the sick, and comforted the suffering. They have also been blamed for their participation in the colonial impulse that has, at times, brutalized the way of life of other cultures. But it is not solely, and perhaps not even primarily, as the inspiration for Christian missionaries that Jesus has become the Man Who Belongs to the World. It is through his ability to fascinate the human mind and inspire the human spirit that Jesus has transformed the spiritual landscape of our world. So we must return to the seeming paradox with which we began: the life and teachings of a Galilean peasant born 2000 years ago continues to inform and animate the spiritual impulses at work in the world today.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Jesus Christ is the God of that Land

This painting represents the Mormon conviction that Jesus is the God of all the world, having revealed himself and his divine message not only in the ancient Middle East, but through a series of theophanies in the Americas.

Minerva B. Kohlhepp Teichert (1888-1976).
Springville Museum of Art.
20th Century
Oil on board
PMA:J99.1915.
© The Provincial Museum of Alberta.


[the Chinese] could certainly become Christians, since the essence of their doctrine contains nothing contrary to the essence of the Catholic faith

Matteo Ricci

The missionary work done in China during the sixteenth century illustrates both the tragic insensitivity to culture and the deep appreciation for another body of tradition and practice which can attend evangelical efforts. The first generations of Jesuits in the region were committed to bringing the forms of Counter Reformation Christianity to the East, which meant adhering strictly to the Roman Catholic liturgy, forbidding use of the Chinese vernacular in worship, and enforcing the use of Latin. With the arrival of Matteo Ricci in 1582, however, Christian missions in China took on a new sensitivity to the uniqueness of Chinese culture. Ricci took on the habit of a Buddhist monk, and later the garb of a Confucian scholar. He became renowned for his knowledge of Chinese literature and history; and throughout his work, he cultivated a deep respect for Chinese tradition, which he saw as nourishing his own Christian faith.
[the Chinese] could certainly become Christians, since the essence of their doctrine contains nothing contrary to the essence of the Catholic faith

Matteo Ricci

The missionary work done in China during the sixteenth century illustrates both the tragic insensitivity to culture and the deep appreciation for another body of tradition and practice which can attend evangelical efforts. The first generations of Jesuits in the region were committed to bringing the forms of Counter Reformation Christianity to the East, which meant adhering strictly to the Roman Catholic liturgy, forbidding use of the Chinese vernacular in worship, and enforcing the use of Latin. With the arrival of Matteo Ricci in 1582, however, Christian missions in China took on a new sensitivity to the uniqueness of Chinese culture. Ricci took on the habit of a Buddhist monk, and later the garb of a Confucian scholar. He became renowned for his knowledge of Chinese literature and history; and throughout his work, he cultivated a deep respect for Chinese tradition, which he saw as nourishing his own Christian faith.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Confucius

The resonance between Christian and Chinese thought is perhaps most evident in the similarity between Jesus' Golden Rule and Confucius' belief: "People should not do to others what they would not want others to do to them."

Artist unknown

PMA:J99.1982.
© The Provincial Museum of Alberta.


People of the Book, do not go to unwarranted lengths in your religion and get involved in false utterances related to God. Truly Jesus, Mary's son, was the messenger of God and His word - the word which He imparted to Mary - and a spirit from Him. Believe, then, in God and His messengers and do not talk of three gods.

Sura 4:171, The Qur'an

In the sacred scripture of Islam, the Qur'an, Jesus is the subject of ninety verses. Sixty-four of these lead us into the nativity story. There is a gentle piety in these passages. They celebrate the "divine mercy in birth and vocation" and from them we glimpse the roots of the "deep veneration with which the role of Mary and the nativity of Jesus are held in Islam." The Qur'an stresses that Jesus had a specific mission to the Jewish people. He stands in a long line of prophets who have called the human community back to the worship of God. There is a sense in the Islamic understanding that only Muhammad (570-632) as the "seal of the prophets" has a universal place in the family of the faithful, for he "belongs to all times and all places."
People of the Book, do not go to unwarranted lengths in your religion and get involved in false utterances related to God. Truly Jesus, Mary's son, was the messenger of God and His word - the word which He imparted to Mary - and a spirit from Him. Believe, then, in God and His messengers and do not talk of three gods.

Sura 4:171, The Qur'an

In the sacred scripture of Islam, the Qur'an, Jesus is the subject of ninety verses. Sixty-four of these lead us into the nativity story. There is a gentle piety in these passages. They celebrate the "divine mercy in birth and vocation" and from them we glimpse the roots of the "deep veneration with which the role of Mary and the nativity of Jesus are held in Islam." The Qur'an stresses that Jesus had a specific mission to the Jewish people. He stands in a long line of prophets who have called the human community back to the worship of God. There is a sense in the Islamic understanding that only Muhammad (570-632) as the "seal of the prophets" has a universal place in the family of the faithful, for he "belongs to all times and all places."

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Qu'ran Sura 26 and 27

The Qu'ran contains many passages lauding Jesus, the Son of Mary, as one of a line of prophets calling the human family back to God.

Qu'ran

PMA:J99.1983.
© The Provincial Museum of Alberta.


summer night in which evening glow flows into morning red
God's love blooms intense awareness of day and sun
on smouldering horizon at once hidden and revealed anguish subsides

Northern Night, Roger Vandersteene, omi

Roger Vandersteene (1918-1976) was born in Marke, Belgium, and came to northern Canada as a Missionary Oblate, arriving at St. Bernard's Mission in Grouard, Alberta, on 13 November 1946. For nearly thirty years he made his home in the Cree world, studying the language and folkways and discovering the Cree religious vision that inspired his poetic and artistic work. He often spoke of the transformation of his life and understanding through this lasting friendship. Vandersteene's quest was the building of what some have come to call a new religious reality, a spiritually powerful Cree church which does not simply unite Cree tradition and Catholicism but indigenizes Cree spiritual understanding in Catholicism, a "magnificent Cree formulation of Christian li Read More
summer night in which evening glow flows into morning red
God's love blooms intense awareness of day and sun
on smouldering horizon at once hidden and revealed anguish subsides

Northern Night, Roger Vandersteene, omi

Roger Vandersteene (1918-1976) was born in Marke, Belgium, and came to northern Canada as a Missionary Oblate, arriving at St. Bernard's Mission in Grouard, Alberta, on 13 November 1946. For nearly thirty years he made his home in the Cree world, studying the language and folkways and discovering the Cree religious vision that inspired his poetic and artistic work. He often spoke of the transformation of his life and understanding through this lasting friendship. Vandersteene's quest was the building of what some have come to call a new religious reality, a spiritually powerful Cree church which does not simply unite Cree tradition and Catholicism but indigenizes Cree spiritual understanding in Catholicism, a "magnificent Cree formulation of Christian life." In Fr. Vandersteene's view, a young missionary colleague noted, "if Jesus could be incarnated a Jew and be the Son of God he could as well have been incarnated a Cree and be the Son of God."

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Creation: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Vandersteine's visual vocabulary melded biblical narratives with the rich symbolism and lush natural settings of the Cree people.

Roger Vandersteine

Oil on canvas
PMA:J99.1975.
© The Provincial Museum of Alberta.


Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet.

Mark 7: 24-25

"This Cristo is not mine, it only stays with me," says Aida, arranging the offerings of flowers and photos around a sculpture of Jesus Christ. This statue, resting on the wall beside her sofa, appeared in her home years ago. Why and how it arrived is described by Aida, and others who speak of the statue, as a mystery. The mystery surrounding its appearance, and its tendency to glow, in both dark rooms and dark times in human experience, may have been the origin of its fame throughout Guadalajara, Mexico, but it is the miracles that have transpired as a result of offerings made in its presence, which have transformed the living room of this ninety-two-year-old devotee into a small pilgrimage site in its own right. Aida has an inexhaustible supply of miraculous accounts to relay concerning how the spirit vested in this Read More
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet.

Mark 7: 24-25

"This Cristo is not mine, it only stays with me," says Aida, arranging the offerings of flowers and photos around a sculpture of Jesus Christ. This statue, resting on the wall beside her sofa, appeared in her home years ago. Why and how it arrived is described by Aida, and others who speak of the statue, as a mystery. The mystery surrounding its appearance, and its tendency to glow, in both dark rooms and dark times in human experience, may have been the origin of its fame throughout Guadalajara, Mexico, but it is the miracles that have transpired as a result of offerings made in its presence, which have transformed the living room of this ninety-two-year-old devotee into a small pilgrimage site in its own right. Aida has an inexhaustible supply of miraculous accounts to relay concerning how the spirit vested in this statue has answered not only her prayers, but also the prayers of neighbours and strangers alike who have sought out its favours. This statue has thus drawn Aida into a complex of individual experiences of the divine. Apparent by the clarity and conviction with which she relays them, these experiences serve as an ever growing and nourished embodiment of her faith. Each person who enters through her door seeking divine intervention, who in turn offers up their own pain, suffering, passion, and wonder, becomes a part of Aida’s own story through significant events in which the Christ who has found a resting place in Aida’s home, and thus Aida herself, become participants.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Aida Villarreal and the Mysterious Cristo

Aida poses beside the statue of Christ which arrived at her home some thirty years ago and has been the focus of a local pilgrimage.

The Provincial Museum of Alberta

Photograph
PMA:J99.2032
© The Provincial Museum of Alberta.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe, using examples, some ways that Christ has brought meaning to lives in differing places and times in the modern world;
  • Identify Christ and His role in Muslim tradition.

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