Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Cubs lose--again! Another postcard from 'The Windy City'

I have been reading the sports pages! I know, wonders never cease! Actually, it was the headline that caught my eye: "'God has definitely a hand in the Rockies rise,' team manager says."

The man in question appears to be Dan O'Dowd, the team manager of the Rockies.

Now, that's about all I know of the Rockies, but the article (USA Today, May 31 2006) makes for fascinating reading. Apparently, Playboy magazine is banned from the Rockies' locker room--part of the basis, it seems, for the opinion that this is a more Christian baseball team.

I'm not questioning whether some of the team members are genuine believers, but allow me a moment to ask: Is God really interested in baseball? Is the fact that the Cubs have consistently done so poorly for the best part of a century mean that God put a hex on the team (something about a billy-goat and a curse pronounced by a William Sianis when told he and his goat had to leave)? And the fact the Red Sox won the World series in 2004, does this mean that a similar curse on them had now been lifted? Certainly, it's the folklore in the Windy City, and billboards still play on the curse theme.

It's useful (and superstitious) to blame bad players and bad management on a shaman-pronounced curse on people, singularly or collectively. And, to put it the other way around, it's equally superstitious to think that good things (more money, better jobs, my team winning) is an indication that God has pronounced a blessing. Does this mean that God is happy with (as I read in this article) a player making $22 million a year?

That the relative outcome of a baseball team is part of God's decree, his sovereign control in providence of everything that happens, is beyond question. But to suggest that the fortunes of a baseball team are indicative of answered prayer is, well, a stretch to say the least. Mounting a biblical argument that it really is God's will for this team or that to win would be a difficult thing to do; but you're welcome to try.

And, if you were wondering about the Cubs-Reds game we attended? The Cubs lost!

I think I heard a billy-goat in the third innings!


Anonymous said...

Is God interested in baseball?

Baseball is a Trinitarian sport: It stands above/outside time (no clock!), three strikes, three outs, three bases, 300 is the benchmark for a successful batting average, three times three innings, and Babe Ruth's number was "3"! Hmm . . .

Derek Thomas said...

Dear "anonymous"

Augustine would, I think, have been gald to hear this, given his penchant of seeing 'three' in more places than Starbucks Cofee houses! But alas, I think his hand is overplayed. Besides, we all know that cricket is the game played in heaven.

Unknown said...

My wife, Mimi(daughter of your congregation's Bo and Marty Bowen), and I swam at Auburn University, and while I can't comment on whether our national championships were answers to prayer or not, I would claim that personal performances in the pool were answered prayers. Perhaps it is the same in baseball, and therefore, the more players on a given team you have praying for victory to the glory of God through good at-bats and few fielding errors, the greater the "chance" of team victory!

On another note, I am being asked to read "Across the Spectrum" by Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy ( in a Discipleship class at our church. I am keenly aware of Boyd's Open Theism, but it is claimed that the book is an unbiased look at both sides of several controversial topics within evangelical Christian orthodoxy. Do you or Dr. Duncan have any thoughts on this book? Would you recommend another such book that deals with the same issues? Thanks for your faithfulness to sound Biblical teaching and preaching. I look forward to visiting on Father's Day weekend and the weekend to follow.

Tommy said...

As a lifelong Cubs fan and a minister of the gospel I concur.

But, there was a day back when that the Cubs fielded a couple of players by the names of Law and Grace. Just a coincidence? Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

I knew it, Augustine was a baseball fan!

Derek Thomas said...


I'm sure what you say is true, I'm just a tad doubtful when it comes to professional sport.

On Open Theism: The claim that any book is "unbiased" is of course, a clanger in itself. Open Theism is, not just a denial of the traditonal Calvinistic doctrine of God; it is at worst a denial of Christian theism, all the Mollinistic sophistry notwithstanding! There! How's that for an unbiased statement?

I'd recommend the following:

Paul Helm, Book Review: The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence, Modern Reformation, November/December 1999, Vol. 8, No. 6.

Paul Helm, “The Philosophical Issue of Divine Foreknowledge,” in The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will, vol. 2, edited by Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce A. Ware (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), pp. 485-97.

Paul Helm, The Providence of God. Contours of Christian Theology, (Downers Grove: Ill. InterVarsity Press, 1994).

and John Frame, No Other God: A Response to Open Theism Phillipsburg, NJ: Presybterian & Reformed, 2001

Looking forward to seeing on Father'd Day!