The impact potential of liberative black preaching on the "Beingness" of African descent persons in the black church context: the therapeutic dimensions of black preaching

F. Keith Slaaughter, Interdenominational Theological Center

Abstract

This dissertation presents liberative Black preaching (LBP) as an optimal homiletic model designed to function as a therapeutic intervention for African descent persons in the Black church context. Built upon the foundation of a Black theological anthropology, this dissertation addresses Black self-identity that is informed by a universal African woridview (UAW). The dissertation argues that there is a recognizable diversity of contextuality among White and non-White persons and that it is possible to qualitatively describe generalizable contours of experience among Black people in the United States based on the particularity of the culture and the Black encounter with racism/White supremacy. The thoughts and feelings that emerge from this cultural encounter are appropriate for Africentric theological reflection. Historical evidence of the unfolding of Black thought with reference to Black religiosity and spirituality is presented as a preamble to the construction of the liberative Black preaching model. The dissertation employs a mixed research method. A qualitative methodological paradigm is primarily employed, while quantitative tools are used in the data gathering process of the study. Variables were established as constitutive elements necessary for the construction of sermons that have therapeutic value for African descent persons through collection of data during “applied research experiences” in six different Black church settings over a two month period. Analysis of the data indicates a generally positive impact on the cognitive and affective processes of the hearers of LBP. The operating thesis of the dissertation asserts that liberative Black preaching~s concentration on counterbalancing the affects of White supremacy upon African descent persons can alleviate Black pain, ameliorate Black suffering and function therapeutically similarly to the way in which conventional pastoral counseling functions. The operating assumption reveals the significance of therapeutic intentionality with respect to sermon construction by Black preachers given the relative importance of the preaching moment in the Black church context. The opportunity for regular, systematic intervention in the form of LBP provided by the voluntary participation in weekly communal worship experiences proves critical in the process of attaining optimal health which is “the best possible [state of] emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual, and socio economic aliveness” for African descent persons.1 1 John T. Chissell, Pyramids ofPower: An AndentAfr/can CenteredApproach to Optimal Health (Baltimore: Positive Perceptions Publications, 1999), xxii.