Having lived in New York State and the NY city area for about 20 years, I was a fan of the NY Giants for a long time. Amani Toomer played for the Giants when they earned one of their Super Bowl titles, and I may have damaged my vocal chords from cheering so loudly. But, I can’t say that I support his recent effort. Kurt Warner, the All-Pro quarterback, Super Bowl champ (MVP), and professing Christian, said that his preference is that his sons abandon their dreams of playing in the National Football League. This was prompted by the discovery of the bounty scheme and Jr. Seau suicide, among other things. Amani Toomer responded in this way (via Pro Football Talk):
I think Kurt Warner needs to keep his opinions to himself when it comes to this. Everything that he’s gotten in his life has come from playing football. He works at the NFL Network right now. For him to try and trash the game, it seems to me that it’s just a little disingenuous to me.
Toomer was defending his love for football, and I’m not going to debate his viewpoint. Neither do I make it a habit of supporting everything a Christian athlete says for the sake of our spiritual team. My problem is with the thought process that denies Warner the right to voice his opinion. That has overshadowed any redeeming qualities of Toomer’s position. For me, it always does. After all, just because an opinion is unpopular that doesn’t mean it’s without merit.
A blogger friend of mine, Bird Martin, had a rough time last week. She mentioned that while most people worship God for his love, she is attracted to his vengeance. What’s your initial reaction to that? I’m familiar with Bird’s insightfulness so I spent time to consider it. As I read the comments on her blog and how some Christians made her feel because of her honesty, all of a sudden a vengeful God didn’t sound so bad (of course, my approach at that point probably wasn’t in line with her thinking). At times it seemed that her deep insight was being reproached by platitudes. The Christian community is conditioned to react in full critical force when a sentiment is offered that is currently unpopular and gives the impression that such opinions should not be voiced. I tend to focus primarily on God’s love, but that doesn’t mean it’s somehow sinful or misleading to desire the fear aspect of God?
I’m reminded of the book Erasing Hell (Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle) I reviewed recently. The authors repeatedly ask the readers if we could love a God who sends people to hell. If we’re planning on going to heaven, we probably should find a way because God isn’t going to change. It brings up a great thought. Who are we to reject any aspect of who God is? Can we question his character? Do we have a right to say what parts of him are righteous and acceptable? Just one clip to prune the Divine and there we go creating God in our own image again.
Having read more of what Bird had written it became clear that she desired God’s vengeance on evil, not evildoers. Besides, there are many times in the Old Testament where God’s people declare their desire to see God pour out his vengeance on Israel’s enemies. Does that seem just as wrong as what Bird said? Sounds pretty much the same to me, except that death in the Old Testament was predominantly physical, not eternal. Still, it’s God’s vengeance in some form.
The best way to learn more about God is to be open to the notion that there are things about God that the Spirit has not yet decided to reveal to us. When Christians act as if they know all there is about God to the point where they’re offended when people step on their theological toes, they’re counting themselves out of further revelation and hampering the discovery process for God’s people. Remember the whole millstone picture Jesus painted for people who did that? My thinking is that the “God-believing children” doesn’t necessarily mean children, but those who have faith enough in Jesus to seek him out with humility and openness. So, if you find yourself guilty of hindering somebody’s ability to know more about God, be warned . . .
. . . ’cause I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like that.