Monday, December 14, 2009

Does He Shine in a Punt Return?

I'm not nearly as passionate about the Eagles as I am about the Phillies, but I have to say that DeSean Jackson is pretty amazing. That punt return last night was incredible; unfortunately my wife could not really appreciate it too much as she doesn't care for football at all.

Anyway, watching that punt reminded me of this quote from Richard Mouw in his book He Shines in All That's Fair:

"If God is glorified by his non-human creation -- which seems to be a fairly modest claim to endorse -- then it seems reasonable to assume that God takes delight in those non-human created phenomena (Psalm 104:31). And then it also seems to be quite plausible to assume that God takes delight in various human states of affairs, even when they are displayed in the lives of non-Christians...

Let me be concrete: I think God takes delight in Benjamin Franklin's wit and in Tiger Woods's putts and in some well-crafted narrative paragraphs in a Salman Rushdie novel, even if these accmplishments are in fact achieved by non-Christian people. And I am convinced that God's delight in these phenomena does not come because they bring the elect to glory and the non-elect to eternal separation from the divine presence. I think God enjoys these things for their own sakes."

That quote is all the more intriguing in light of Tiger Woods' recent downfall, but the book was written in 2001. Everything in me wants to agree with this statement; I am fairly certain that the pleasure I experienced in watching that punt return was a God-centered pleasure, and I am also inclined to think (though I'm less certain) that I took a God-centered pleasure in it because God took pleasure in it in some way, whether Jackson is a Christian believer or not.

Like I said, I want to agree with Mouw's statement. But is this, in fact, a biblical statement? Is there even one passage of Scripture which would explicitly say that God takes pleasure in the skill and abilities of people whose lives are lived in rebellion against Him? If there is one, Mouw didn't quote it in making this statement about Tiger Woods and Ben Franklin.

So what's your take on this? Leave a comment and let me know what you think...not just about sports skill, but any creative, cultural activity performed by Christ-rejectors.


  1. I'm wondering if this is more so a matter of vocation, rather than merely skill and ability. Does God delight in the success of a person, even a non-believer, in their given/called vocation? Is Jackson's ability to succeed in his vocation something that God delights in, or something that brings delight to others? I think so, and I think that we need not look at one specific passage in scripture, rather we must look towards a more comprehensive view of God's redemptive nature and purpose as revealed throughout scripture. A person can give glory to God through the use of their God given talents, and if Jackson is not a believer, this may be an example of or raise the question of can a person unknowingly give glory to God through the use of God given talents and abilities? That being said, I think God delights in the success and prosperity of his creation in their given/called vocation through the use of their God given abilities.

    Just some thoughts

  2. Andrew,

    Thanks for visiting the blog and commenting. I think your insights are helpful, and I definitely agree that the doctrine of vocation is important for a discussion of this type of thing.

    Cool also that you are a Fuller student; Mouw's book When the Kings Come Marching In was very helpful to me in thinking some of these things through.

    And while I agree with you that finding one specific verse isn't essential, I know that in discussing these things with other Christians, it would be helpful to have some passages to refer to that directly deal with some of these things.

    One that comes to mind is in Genesis 4 where it talks about how the decedents of Cain produce various musical instruments, which God then instructs His people in the Psalms to use in their worship of Him. But that one too is a bit difficult to apply to a situation like DeSean Jackson or Tiger Woods.

    Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts. I'd value hearing from some others on this.