As I sit and watch the Washington Redskins play the New Orleans Saints I can’t escape the theological questions raised by this simple game. So I thought I would see if any bloggers out there are interested in contributing to a series of post on the NFL and Christian theology.
Before you dismiss this as being another bad excuse to talk about Tim Tebow consider some of these questions:
Does God care about football? Is there anything in his created order that he ignores completely? How can we know that God has no interest in the outcome of football games, even if for reasons different than our own? How do these questions relate to broader questions concerning God’s sovereignty over events in the world as well as questions regarding human freedom?
How can we as Christians who follow the teachings of a non-violent Christ find enjoyment in a game that creates a culture of violence? Is the physicality of football redeemable? Are there forms of acceptable violence?
Does the NFL infringe on Sunday as a holy day for Christians? Is it idolatrous to skip a worship gathering to go to watch football?
How should Christians think about the money system of the NFL? Is it just for people to make so much money playing a game?
Does the NFL teach us anything about race? How should we think about race relations in the NFL as juxtaposed with the church? Is it odd that Sundays are the most segregated day of the week in churches but people of various races could care less who sits next to them to watch the game? Why is this? Also, should the Redskins change their name? The Chiefs?
If you’d be interested in contributing a post to nearemmaus.com answering one of these questions or a question of your own please leave a comment. If we can get five or more people to participate I will host a blog conference on the subject here. I hope to hear from you!
Would you take a post on football-as-liturgy? If so, I’d happily contribute one! I can elaborate more on what I have in mind if need be….
I’m in. Huge football fan. Huge jesus fan. Pastorjosephphillips.com
Abram: that would be awesome.
Okay–will you let me know as things progress, i.e., if the series moves ahead? I’d enjoy writing more about that!
Brian, I’ve been milling over something similar for a while. Count me in.
Jeremy and Joseph, what topic(s) would you like to address?
I heard once that golf is a metaphor for Christian living .. if that’s true perhaps American football can also be made to fit.
Having just witnessed the Paralympic Games’ incredible effect on changing the way the Brits view people who are disabled, I am sure that football can be used as well to challenge and change attitudes to those more closely reflecting the values of the kingdom of God.
Brian, I’m a huge football fan and would love to contribute to something like this.
I could contribute a couple of things, I guess we’ll see what everyone else wants to write on. Since I grew up in the South, I could make some sociological/theological comments on how your team affiliation in the SEC works as a stand in for denominational affiliation and fan devotion in the SEC is a religious activity (football stadium as temple, quarterback/head coach as priest, etc). I realize this isn’t about the NFL per se, but college football in some ways outdoes the NFL in devotion (at least in the South).
Economically, the NFL is structured along socialist lines, so there’s probably some good commentary in that.
I would argue as well that while football is physical, it is not violent, at least in a way that is antithetical to Christ’s teaching of non-violence. Some players make it violent, but that is more related to the heart behind their activity rather than the actual physical activity. Aggressive physical competition is not violent per se.
If God is the author of life it is an false ‘theology’ that God has no part in violence, given that rejection of Him invariably leads to violence and death.
Verses such as ‘the soul that sins shall die’ [Eze 18:4], and the ‘wages of sin is death’ [Rom 6:23] show this clearly. Likewise, the shedding of blood is also the explicit cost of redemption ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.’ [Lev 17:11].
Clearly we see peace and love in God, and violence and death in man, but the violence and death we see in man is evident precisely because God’s Holiness demands it. Saying God’s nature is non-violent is kind of like arguing ‘light has nothing to do with darkness’. The absence of light is darkness, just as the rejection of God demands death. God’s nature is both.
This is never more clear than Christ’s DEATH on the CROSS, where God’s supreme act of mercy was also infinitely violent.
Do you want to contribute something?
What topic would you like to address?
Those all sound great. You can write more than one post if you’d like!
See writing guidelines here: http://nearemmaus.com/2012/09/10/the-nfl-and-christian-theology-contributor-guidelines/
I would love to write something for this series. Let me take a few days and sort some ideas out and I’ll get back to you with something. Love the concept!
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