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Sunday, May 17, 2009

All for God's Glory Humiliation

2007 Master's: "I just believed it was his time, kind of like I did with Payne Stewart in 1999. I felt like God spoke to my heart that [Zach Johnson] was going to be the one to take that trophy home and use the platform for God's glory."

2009 Master's: "I felt like God spoke to my heart that [Zach Johnson] was going to be the one to totally fail to even make the cut and use the platform for God's humiliation."'

10 comments:

  1. Gene, do you roll your eyes when authors thank their spouses in the acknowledgments? I mean, think of all those unfinished books that are caused by nagging spouses!

    And when the people who win a Grammy or Academy Award thank all their fans "who made it possible," are you going to blog on all those people in subsequent years if they don't win? And put words in their mouths saying, "My fans let me down this time"?

    If there's one thing this world has too much of, it's star athletes trying to downplay their own abilities and praise God instead. Mock away!

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  2. But there was nothing in this post about an athlete thanking God!

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  3. Right, I didn't click on the link. I thought you were quoting the athlete.

    For others who were confused, here is the story:

    The day before Johnson won the tournament April 8, J.B. Collingsworth, president of the Marriage and Family Matters ministry, sent the golfer a text message of Psalm 16:8: "I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

    "I just believed it was his time, kind of like I did with Payne Stewart in 1999," Collingsworth told Baptist Press. "I felt like God spoke to my heart that he was going to be the one to take that trophy home and use the platform for God's glory. I sent him the same Scripture verse that I gave Payne, and that's the only other time I've ever done that."
    So Gene, explain again your problem? The guy said he felt the golfer would win--and he sent him the text before it happened! Unless he's lying about it being only the 2nd time he'd ever done that, I don't see what your problem is.

    Are you sure that no one can ever sense when God is going to do something?

    If he sends text messages and makes bogus predictions 4 years out of 5, OK call him a charlatan. But I don't see what your problem with this story is. The Christian Bible is full of people doing amazing things and then attributing it to a demonstration of God's glory.

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  4. The problem I have is that this principle is applied very selectively: when some (typically evangelical) Christian does something notable, that is evidence of the hand of God at work. But when an atheist does the same thing, that is never cited as evidence that God was having an off day. And when the Christian notable later fails at something, that, too, is passed over in silence.

    I actually think this kind of talk works to the detriment of the acceptance of Christian ideas, since for every instance of a Christian doing something notable, the person one is trying to persuade can think of a number of cases in which a Christian came up short or a non-Christian did even better. No, I'm with Augustine here: worldly success and/or failure has no bearing on the case for or against Christianity. (BTW, he was responding to the pagans who blamed the adoption of Christianity and the neglect of the pagan gods for the sack of Rome in 410.)

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  5. And, by the way, I don't look askance at all such testimonies. For instance, in recording his album What's Going On, Marvin Gaye said something like "I felt God moving through me." I believe him, as I only have to listen to "What's Going On" or "Mercy, Mercy Me" to hear the evidence of that for myself. If Johnson had said that he suddenly felt some mystical communion with the divine and therefore played the best golf of his life, I'd be more sympathetic. But if he just attributes it to his faith, then what happened to his faith when he failed to make the cut this year?

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  6. Gene,

    You are a moving target here. In the beginning I was defending the athlete, then you said you weren't talking about him.

    So I clicked on the post and saw that your quotations referred to the minister who said he felt something and that he thought the athlete would win, so he sent the guy a text message before the win and his "prediction" came true. Unless he's lying, he is 2/2 when he gets such feelings.

    I don't know why his feelings don't count when Marvin Gaye's do.

    But anyway, now you are back to criticizing the athlete, not the preacher, so I will stop.

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  7. Gene:

    I realized I am being unclear. In the beginning, I thought that quote you put in your post was from the athlete himself, and that you were taking out "I" and putting in "[Zach Johnson]." I.e. I didn't realize it was a third party referring to Johnson.

    So then when you said, "I never criticized someone for thanking God!" I thought you were referring to this aspect of my confusion.

    If you go and reread what you actually quoted, that seems very similar to your latest concession where you explain the type of statement that would not have bothered you.

    So are you mad at the preacher's quote, or are you mad at what Johnson said (not featured in your post) when he won and got the "platform" to talk about Jesus?

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  8. OK I just went and skimmed the entire article you linked to, Gene. I think what has happened here is you latched on to a story that doesn't make the point you intend. Maybe Zach Johnson said some non-Augustinian things when he won, and you have now tried googling and linked to this particular story, thinking it was good enough.

    But this particular story doesn't make the point you think it does. I agree sometimes Christian athletes may state things that upon reflection they would admit aren't quite right.

    This doesn't seem to be one of those times. The reason it was a demonstration of "God's glory" is that the guy came out of obscurity to beat Tiger Woods.

    Look, there are Bible stories where a prophet will tell pagans to dump a bunch of water on something and then set it on fire. So they all see the power of Jehovah.

    If I try it now and it doesn't work, does that prove the impotence of Jehovah? Of course not, because I wouldn't be so silly as to tell a bunch of atheists, "Watch this guys!"

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  9. I introduced the athlete here since you brought that up. As far as the reacher being "2 for 2", did he voice these predictions anywhere in public before Payne and Johnson won?

    Perhaps I can make my point clearer: When Marvin Gaye produces absolutely the best music of his career, and tells us "I was inspired by God in this effort," and I hear that music and can detect a sublime aspect to it, I have no problem with his statement. What I do have a problem with is the routine attribution of one's successes to one's faith in God, along with the corresponding failure to attribute one's bad days to one's lack of faith in God. Gaye testifies that he had a particularly intense and unprecedented experience of the sacred while recording that album, and the result backs him up. Johnson reported no such experience, and simply asserted that his win was due to 'God'. But we should expect that any good golfer will occasionally have very good tournaments, and we see that atheist golfers periodically have just such outlier performances.

    We can explain why Gaye never again hit the heights he did with What's Going On by his own testimony -- he never again felt such a mystical communion. But when Johnson flatly attributes his winning the Master's to "God," how can he explain his failure to make the cut this year?

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  10. To repeat, Gene, I have no idea what Zach Johnson said. The quote you provided in this blog post is from his pastor. I followed the link you provided, and I didn't see a single quote attributed to Johnson.

    I'm not denying that Johnson may have said something susceptible to the criticism you are making here, but that's not what you quoted (or mocked).

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