Pastors’ conference speaker claims Jesus was ‘xenophobic,’ later affirms He was sinless
Kevin Cosby apologizes, feels ‘awful’ to have offended some
Nov 16, 2012
WITNESS Correspondent

ORLANDO (FBW) – After asserting Jesus was “xenophobic” in a Nov. 12 sermon at the Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference, a prominent African American pastor has clarified that he believes Christ was sinless and apologized for causing offense.

Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church in Louisville, Ky., preached Nov. 12 at the Florida Baptist Pastors Conference held at First Baptist Church in Orlando. His assertion that Jesus was xenophobic stirred controversy, for which he later apologized. Photo by Joni B. Hannigan
“Please convey my deepest regret and apology for that confusion because I was not by any means trying to infer that Jesus had sinned,” Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church in Louisville, Ky., told Florida Baptist Witness in a Nov. 14 interview. “He is the sinless Savior who cannot redeem me if He has sinned. He was without sin.”

Cosby said he should have made explicit in the sermon that he believes Jesus was without sin.

“Tell them [pastors’ conference attendees] I’m very sorry and I’ll do a better job when I preach it the next time of clarifying that what I meant was that He was wrestling or tempted,” he said. “I really do believe that He was tempted in the area of race.”

Cosby, who preaches widely across the Southern Baptist Convention, said he preached the same sermon once previously to an African American audience and it was well received.

On Nov. 15, Cosby contacted the Witness to offer a further clarification, saying that in the sermon he did not meet his obligation to communicate clearly.

“To make myself clear to the pastors, to be clear is my responsibility,” he said in a second interview. “So for that I regret, and if I offended anyone, I sincerely apologize for that.”

Following the sermon delivered at First Baptist Church in Orlando during the last session of the pastors’ conference, several participants independently raised concerns about the sermon with the Witness. Each expressed the concern that Cosby seemed to imply Jesus sinned.

After reflecting on the matter for several days, Jeff Stading, pastor of Bayless Highway Baptist Church in Starke, took to his Twitter account Nov. 15 with a series of tweets. “Am I wrong or does Dr. Cosby come awfully close to painting Jesus as a sinner?” he asked.

Cosby preached on Jesus’ encounter with a Canaanite woman in Matthew 15, asserting Jesus was “xenophobic,” having an irrational fear of people who were different than Him, but overcame His negative feelings about non-Jews with the woman’s help.

“I hate to stir anyone’s theological sensibilities,” he said in the sermon. “I want to suggest something to you that might be disturbing. That is, based on this text, Jesus was xenophobic.”

When the woman came to Jesus asking Him to help her demon-oppressed daughter, “He was totally unresponsive to the needs, the legitimate needs of a hurting woman,” Cosby said.

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