From here... and here... and here... and even YouTube:
It is not often that a sermon attracts national attention. And it is especially rare these days for an unorthodox, not to say heretical, sermon to attract national attention--they happen so frequently!
But the blogosphere and even major media outlets are buzzing over the sermon delivered last Sunday by the Rev. Sarah Kinney Gaventa, Associate Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ivy, Virginia. The appointed text for that Sunday dealt with St. Peter's confession in response to Jesus' question, "Who do you say that I am?" And Peter responded, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Somehow, Ms. Gaventa managed to jump from one of the richest texts in the four Gospels to the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, earlier this month. After listing other cases in which unarmed black men have been shot by law enforcement officers, Ms. Gaventa denounced “systematic” racist white behavior in education, social media, and law enforcement—chalking it up to an “infection” of “white privilege.”
But she was just getting warmed up.
Gaventa’s final remarks reportedly outraged the congregation, when she equated Michael Brown to Jesus, implying that Brown, like Christ, was a sacrifice for our sin:
The God we love came to disrupt the power structures of the world that tell us what we are worth. He is a living God, who loved us so much and was so grieved by our inability to love him and one another, that he was willing to become human.
He became Michael Brown. He became the victim of our sin, so we wouldn’t have to sacrifice each other any more. His sacrifice should have been the last. His sacrifice was enough for us. And yet, here we are.You can listen to the complete sermon (8 minutes, 48 seconds) from last Sunday, August 24, 2014.
Personally I blame the state of theological education in Episcopal seminaries, and the Episcopal Church in general, which has been confused (at best) about the Atonement of Jesus Christ for decades!
Just for the record, contra Ms. Gaventa, Jesus was (and is) the unique incarnation of the eternal second Person of the Trinity, the Son. He became incarnate not merely to be a teacher and the prophesied Messiah of the Jewish people, but to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Jesus did not die as the victim of our sins; he died as the unique, once for all, sacrifice for our sins (I Peter 2:24a, 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:8). His atoning death, agreed upon by in advance by God the Father and God the Son (Acts 4:27), paid the penalty for our sins and removed the barrier that separated sinful humans from a holy God.
Will the Episcopal Church ever recover sound theology? Apart from a miracle and a revival sent by God, no. Ms. Gaventa is only living out the kind of confusion regarding the Incarnation and Atonement of Jesus Christ that is routinely taught in the seminaries of the old-line denominations today--seminaries which have a disdain (and even contempt) for biblical and traditional Christian understandings of these doctrines.