Tom Krattenmaker in an op/ed at USA Today in discussing Evangelicals in sports, is of the opinion that “evangelicals in sports are ok if they just weren’t so evangelical.”
Having researched and thought about Christianity in sports for the better part of a decade, I am impressed by the good that’s done by sports-world Christians. Jesus-professing athletes are among the best citizens in their sector, and they commit good deeds daily in communities across this country.
These sports stars, like all Americans, have a right to express their faith.
Evangelical players and ministry representatives in sports aren’t out to harm anyone, of course. On the contrary, they see themselves as fulfilling the Bible’s Great Commission ("Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," Matthew 28:19). In this sense, their mission is pure altruism: They seek to share the gift of eternal life.
But there’s a shadow side to this. If their take on God and truth and life is the only right one — which their creed boldly states — everyone else is wrong.
No way, they actually believe that Jesus is the only way? Then they should just shut up. It’s great that they do good things for the community, aren’t getting arrested like some of their peers… but they need to stop talking about Jesus. Well they have the right to express their faith, but you know places like the NFL or NBA are just too diverse to tell other people they are wrong.
So I guess they need to shut up. At least that seems to be what Krattenmaker is saying. And to prove his point he refers to a Pew Forum poll that says 65% of American Christians believe that many religions lead to eternal life. There you go, let’s decide these things with polls. Let’s let our theology be determined by majority vote. Can I submit to you many people consider themselves Christian, but don’t have the foggiest what they believe or why. We simply have a culture who is biblically illiterate, even within the American Church, so polls like that do not surprise me in the least.
This is something I suspect that we’ll be hearing more and more from the world. Let’s continue to be winsome, as many of these evangelical sports figures are, but never forget what the Apostle Paul had to say about the proclamation of the Gospel…
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God, (1 Corinthians 1:22-24, ESV).
Regardless of whether people think we are narrow-minded or bigoted, we need to keep proclaiming it in love.
HT: Kevin DeYoung