An Episcopal Church minister in Virginia declared in a sermon that God “became Michael Brown,” the black teen who was shot and killed by a police offer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Sarah Kinney Gaventa, associate rector at St. Paul’s church in Ivy, Virginia, was preaching last Sunday about Peter’s confession of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
“In our Gospel today, standing in a center of Roman power, a town named after Caesar, Jesus asks his disciples who people say he is. Peter gets the answer right – the Messiah, the Son of the Living God,” she said.
“The God we love came to disrupt the power structures of the world that tells 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.”
The remarks were spotlighted by Rob Schilling, who hosts “The Schilling Show” radio program on WINA in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In a commentary published at Barbwire.com, Schilling wrote: “Gaventa’s final remarks caused silent outrage, as she equated Michael Brown to Jesus, implying that Brown, like Christ, was a sacrifice for our sin,” he wrote.
He said Gaventa’s “confused contention that God became Michael Brown and other such false teachings of the social gospel were forewarned throughout the Bible, but perhaps most concisely in 2 Peter 2:1-3: ‘But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.’
“God did not become Michael Brown, and Michael Brown was not a sacrifice for our sin. Only Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, and only His blood can atone for our sin,” Schilling said.
Hear Gaventa’s remarks:
Gaventa cited a number of recent shootings of black men by law enforcement officers.
“We don’t know exactly what happened between (officer) Darren Wilson and Michael Brown; we have not yet heard the full story. But the shooting has tapped into underlying feelings of injustice about how black men are treated by police all over our country and those concerns are certainly backed by data,” she said.
“I think the problem of racism is so deeply ingrained in us that we aren’t even aware of our bias. We shoot unarmed young black men, we suspend young black boys because deep down, we are afraid of them. Call it white privilege, call it systemic racism, whatever it is, we are infected,” she said.
The Aug. 9 shooting of Brown by officer Darren Wilson, which sparked nearly two weeks of sometimes violent upheaval in the St. Louis suburb, is under investigation by both the St. Louis County prosecutor and the Justice Department. The Ferguson Police Department says Brown, a suspect in a strong-arm convenience store robbery minutes before the incident, struggled to get the officer’s gun and was fatally shot attacking him. Brown’s accompanying friend claims the 6’4″ nearly 300 pound 18-year-old, who was unarmed, was raising his hands in surrender when he was killed.