Southern Views

Coach Gene Chizik’s first public comment after winning the national championship of college football was “God was on our side tonight.” This kind of emotion just seconds after his team kicked a last second field goal to break a tie game is certainly understandable, but shouldn’t it at least be discouraged? Am I the only one who finds the notion of God taking sides in a football game (even one for the national championship and a half million dollar bonus for the coach) at least borderline blasphemous? Does one suppose the Oregon coach was on the other side of the field feeling that if he and his players had been more worthy of God’s favor they would have been champions? I doubt it. More likely he was thinking that when it mattered most, his team was not able to stop the Auburn offense on that last drive.

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Many of us can identify with the feelings that follow on the heels of a close call that ended well, like a narrowly avoided car crash, or a miraculous recovery from a dreaded disease. First there is blessed relief then, perhaps, a thought like “Why me?. Am I worthy of this grace? Is there a purpose to this event? Is God trying to tell me something?”  And so the thought forms that maybe this outcome is God’s work. All this is human, understandable and perhaps should be expected, but should it be voiced on national television after an athletic contest?

What theological notion of God includes Him intervening in a football game? What conceptual construct envisions a God who allows the Holocaust to occur but can’t stand the thought of Auburn losing an important football game? I’m absolutely certain that Coach Chizik doesn’t really believe that God chose Auburn over Oregon. My guess is that in the emotion of the moment he felt so blessed that he felt a need to express it someway. Nothing wrong with that, except I wish he had found a way to do so without the implication of God favoring one team over another. Maybe it’s time for athletes and coaches to give some thought to their post game quotes. Surely there is a way to express feelings of good fortune without implying, or stating outright, that God found you or your team more worthy, and, by implication, your opponent less so.

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4 Comments
  1. A phrase in that next to last sentence carries the piece and the day. “…give some thought to…” In our society today that could be, should be, the catch phrase for every facet of our daily lives. Just think of it this way: “Maybe it’s time for______________to give some thought to______________.” Just fill in the blanks. With a little honesty and compassion, I doubt you can go wrong. A fine, thoughtful piece Randy.

  2. Mike Williams

    Nice piece. You really hit the nail with this one. I’m afraid I take it further, though: why anyone can claim their God is the only God, their way is the only way, is pretty disturbing to me. That so-called “pastor” burning the Koran really sets me off. I was taught the Christian God is, by definition, love. His act doesn’t seem very loving to me, nor his willingness to consign something like two-thirds of humanity to eternal torture because by sheer chance they were born into a culture that didn’t share his religious beliefs. Of course rioting and killing people in response is nearly as bad. Just makes me think people ought to have a healthy dose of skepticism about any religion or ideology, along with a recognition that the beliefs and knowledge have been handed down for eons by people just as fallible, gullible and mistake-prone as themselves.

    1. Well said, Randy Conway! and the same to Tom Gibbs and Mike Williams. This is a point that needs to be made more often. I always flinch when someone proclaims they were saved by the grace of God… never considering the selfishness of such a statement.

  3. I must confess that in years gone by I used the phrase, “____happened for or to me by the grace of God”. I realized a number of years ago what a selfish and
    and self centered statement that was. I was saying that God gave me grace that was denied someone else as if I deserved a special favor. My motive was not self centered, I simply was trying to give God credit. One day a grieving widow asked me why God had not showed her the same grace that I had claimed. I have never said that since.

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