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"there has only ever been one perfect man, the Lord Jesus, and we killed him. I only missed a putt."

Berhard Langer on the 1991 Ryder Cup

Sport, faith, life

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Brian R Bolt, Grand Rapids, Calvin College Press, 2018. ISBN 978-1-937555-30-6

The back cover of the book states: “Sport can train us, educate us, change us for better or for worse but that is really not the point. First and foremost, sport is part of a truly abundant human life, like that Jesus Christ offers for those of us who love to play… We need to play sport the way we live life: depending on our creator in every moment and in every action. That means learning how to love God and neighbor better, how to turn away from thoughts and actions that dishonor God and harm ourselves and others, how both to be wary of our own desires and to delight in the good things that God has made”.

The author cleverly states “The importance of sport is really its unimportance” making the point that a game, at the time, demands everything we have but ultimately is not that important. As the legendary Irish Rugby captain Bill McBride once said: “It is very important who is going to win but very unimportant who has won”.

I loved Bolt’s suggestion that to participate in sport is like walking through the wardrobe into the land of Narnia. I liked his analysis of Christians “using sport” or trying to Christianize it, concluding: “Our desire to use sports to promote and control a particular message does not honor the integrity of sport or the integrity of our faith”. Rather, “resting in God’s delight in sport means acknowledging that we are honoring the game, authentically competing, and getting a taste of the freedom that comes for those in Jesus Christ.

His analysis of the Tebow phenomenon is good – but mainly relevant to the USA reader. His discussion of Sunday sport and his attempts to provide a Christian attitude to competition were, I felt, disappointing.

That the book is only 90 pages long means that it is inevitably superficial in its treatment of some of the big issues in sport.

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