We heard several great preachers yesterday at the Festival of Homiletics. I mean really great preachers who preached the Gospel without fear. I want to highlight a speaker and an experience.
First, the speaker – Walter Brueggemann. He gave a great sermon and then a lecture on the idea of chosenness. The short version of this is that chosenness is equivalent to exceptionalism. And boy, did he rip the notion apart.
Here’s the four things that chosenness leads to:
Entitlement – Those that are chosen are entitled to things and people. They deserve it after all. Everyone else is just a second class person, at best.
Exclusion – if you aren’t part of the chosen group, then you don’t fit in, nor should you.
Extraction – the chosen have the right to everything because it is ordained by God, so deal with it.
Violence – when anyone points out how arrogant this whole notion is, violence is done to them. That violence could be physical, or it could be culturally, or verbally, or… The point is that when the privileged feel threatened, they will fight off the person threatening their privileged status.
I thought most of his insights were pretty on target. At the same time, I kept sitting in the audience with a thought that just wouldn’t go away – Here is a privileged man lecturing us on the evils of privilege. And making a good living off of it. That doesn’t change the truth behind what he says, but it does taint his message a bit.
The experience – We saw a great sermon by Rev. Dr. Rapheal Warnock, who is the Senior Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. It was a multi-cultural experience – we felt we had been transported into a Southern Baptist church. It was wonderful to experience that and more importantly to experience the challenge that these faithful people face. When we left, there were sheriff officers outside the church where the conference was occurring, providing security. No other speaker had this. Let that sink in for a minute.
Dr. Warnock’s message was about when prophets collide with profits. His message was on target and he had a target on his back. His message was one of integrity. He spoke about risking one’s life to proclaim the Gospel and here was evidence that this risk was a reality for him. The officers were outside, yet the people inside had no idea that there was a security detail. It was a powerful moment for me.