USA Today Writer Offended By Christians In Sports

Tom Krattenmaker would prefer Tim Tebow and other Christians involved in sports to keep their beliefs to themselves. Krattenmaker, a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors and author of the new book Onward Christian Athletes, writes in a recent USA Today opinion piece that although Christians “have a right to express their faith,” he is offended that Christianity exclusively states that Jesus is the only way to God.

In all fairness to Mr. Krattenmaker he does seem conflicted. He writes…

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.

and…

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.

The biggest problem, according to Mr. Krattenmaker, is the exclusive claims of Jesus. And he’s more than a bit bothered that Christian athletes use their notoriety to promote these claims. For example he is particularly upset by Tim Tebow, the Florida Gators’ Heisman quarterback, and his father, Bob Tebow, whose ministry espouses what the article labels as a “far right theology.”

What does the ministry believe that earns this “far right” label? You guessed correctly if you answered, “They believe that Jesus is the only way to have your sins forgiven and have eternal life.” In other words Tom Krattenmaker is upset that the Tebows (and other athletes) believe in historic, biblical Chritianity. And he thinks that others should be upset as well…

But should we be pleased that the civic resource known as “our team” — a resource supported by the diverse whole through our ticket-buying, game-watching and tax-paying — is being leveraged by a one-truth evangelical campaign that has little appreciation for the beliefs of the rest of us?

A Few Observations
First, Mr. Krattenmaker is shockingly inconsistent. Think about it. In an article stating that he doesn’t like it that evangelicals say other religions are wrong because as Christians they think that they have exclusive truth in Jesus, he states that he knows that Christians are wrong and he knows that because he has exclusive truth in pluralism. In Mr. Krattenmaker’s world everyone is entitled to their own beliefs except Christians who believe that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.”

Second, he seems to hold Christians to a standard that he doesn’t hold others to. He doesn’t like it that Christians use the platform that sports provides them to share a message that is counter cultural (that Jesus is the only way to God). But couldn’t one say the same thing about films or music. Don’t actors (think George Clooney and Susan Sarandon) and singers (think Bono) routinely use their notoriety to espouse opinions that are not necessarily held by the majority of Americans? The great thing about America is that if a person’s politics or religious beliefs offend you, then you can simply choose to not support them.

Third, if you are a Christian, you might as well get used to being out of step with the culture’s beliefs. And there’s no part of Christianity more unAmerican than the belief that Jesus is the only way to God. Everyone is fine that you believe in Jesus and that Jesus “works for you,” but many get downright nasty when you say that Jesus is the only Savior and the only hope for salvation. But that’s what orthodox (think biblical) Christianity has taught for centuries. It’s not a secret and neither is it a crime.

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