Theology of Sport.docx - Theology of Sport By Jeremy R Treat Jeremy Treat is pastor for preaching and vision at Reality LA in Los Angeles and adjunct

Theology of Sport.docx - Theology of Sport By Jeremy R...

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Theology of Sport By Jeremy R. Treat Jeremy Treat is pastor for preaching and vision at Reality LA in Los Angeles and adjunct professor of theology at Biola University. Abstract: Sports have captured the minds and hearts of people across the globe but have largely evaded the attention of Christian theologians. What is the meaning of sports? There seem to be two polar responses: some dismiss sports as merely a game, while others worship sports as nearly a god. This essay argues that when viewed through the lens of Scripture, sports are more than a game, less than a god, and when transformed by the gospel can be received as a gift to be enjoyed forever. Whether in the pub or in the pew, there is one question you can always count on hearing: “Did you see that game?” Sports are prominent in culture and relevant to life, which is why the average sports show often spends as much time talking about ethics, racism, crime, and sexuality, as it does athletics. In many ways, sports are a microcosm of life. And yet, while sports have captured the minds and hearts of people across the globe, they have evaded the attention of theologians.1 Finding a scholar who has thought deeply and critically about sports from a distinctly Christian perspective is as likely in the church as a triple play on the diamond. This is a surprising phenomenon considering not only the prevalence of sports globally but also that historically many sports began and developed in overtly religious settings.2 Thankfully, there is a budding field of scholarship on religion and sports emerging today, and Christian theologians are finally getting into the game.3 What is the meaning of sport? There seem to be two polar responses: some dismiss sports as merely a game, while others worship sports as nearly a god. The first response minimizes sports as a childlike activity, good for passing time but largely insignificant for the deep matters of life. The second response deifies sports, expressing religious devotion and offering sacrifices of money and time at the altar of winning. When viewed through the lens of Scripture, however, we will see that sport is more than a game, less than a god, and when transformed by the gospel can be received as a gift. Since the discussion of theology and sport is rather new (at least for Christian theologians), this essay aims to provide a broad overview of a theology of sport, grounded in the unfolding narrative of redemption as revealed in Scripture. But first, let us acknowledge that we are not the first to talk about faith and sports, and therefore locate ourselves within the broader conversation by surveying the history of the church’s attitude toward sports.
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1. Faith and Sports in the History of the Church The church has always struggled to rightly understand the role of games in God’s greater purposes. The Apostle Paul seemed to appreciate sports, or he was at least familiar with them, using athletic metaphors such as running the race (1 Cor 9:24), fighting the good fight (1 Tim 6:12), and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16).4
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  • Spring '18
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