World Magazine quotes from and comments on a USA Today article about Christian athletes. The writer is apparently "shocked! shocked!" to discover that these Christians believe what Christianity has always taught — and has only just now discovered it himself.
Of course if something is true ["Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6 ESV)], then something else is apt to not be. If the Pew survey is accurate in its assessment of the views of a lot of American Christians, then Christians in this country aren't thinking it through.
But Jesus’ representatives in sports aren’t just practicing faith. They are also leveraging sports’ popularity to promote a message and doctrine that are out of sync with the diverse communities that support franchises, and with the unifying civic role that we expect of our teams. Typifying the exclusive creed taught by many sports-world Christians is the belief statement published by Baseball Chapel, which provides chaplains for all major- and minor-league baseball teams. Non-believers in Jesus, the ministry declares, can look forward to “everlasting punishment separated from God.” ....But then Krattenmaker stumbles on and stumbles over the claims of Christian gospel exclusivity:
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.
…It’s not just non-Christians who might have a thing or two to say about this exclusive theology. According to a December 2008 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life, 65% of American Christians believe that many religions can lead to eternal life. Our pluralism is a defining and positive reality of American life — but not one that is much valued by those who define the faith coursing through the veins of sports culture.
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