The above video is from First Things magazine’s 2013 annual Erasmus Lecture delivered by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain. His presentation is entitled “On Creative Minorities” where he focuses on how Jeremiah 29 saved Jewish civilization by inventing the world’s first and oldest creative minority and how Christians in the West can learn from their Jewish counterparts. It’s under an hour long and well worth the listen.
I had heard a lot of good things about Rabbi Sacks from N.T. Wright and hearing him for the first time I was certainly not disappointed. As a Christian I found myself at the end of his sermon, and I will call it a sermon because he essentially preached scripture, saying, Amen! It was a brilliant and timely message for the persecuted Western Church. For those of us in Ghana and other parts of the global south where Christianity is more or less comfortably thriving, there are many things to learn from this message even though we are not particularly under threat.
We need to see ourselves as a creative minority in the Jeremiah sense and not fall prey to the hubris of cultural dominance. The Church was once on top in the West but know they are no longer. In Ghana Christians enjoy a different form of cultural dominance but we should not congratulate ourselves and think it will last. We need to constantly live in the world as people who are not of it. Without that mentality Christianity will also falter here too. It probably will not happen in our life time or even in two successive generations but the societal shifts that occurred in Europe several centuries ago have finally taken its toll on Christian faith in the West. I do not want the mistakes of our generation to haunt future generations of believers in the Lord in this country.