The Christian and Sport

Theology Refresh: Podcast for Christian Leaders


Playfulness is vital to healthy Christianity, says pastor and professor Erik Thoennes. “To be a Christian means to take God very seriously, but not ourselves.”

The great source of Christian playfulness is God himself, and the lavishness of his creation kindness and redeeming grace. Toss in some good healthy competition — and yes, competition can be good and healthy — and you have a recipe for sport and athletics.

For the Christian, there’s no such thing as “just a game,” says Thoennes, who is a professor at Biola, a pastor in La Mirada, California, and the author of “Created to Play: Thoughts on Play, Sport, and the Christian Life.”

Not just sports, but everything we do is glory-of-God relevant. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). And not just God in general, but Jesus in specific. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

is professor and chair of theology at Talbot School of Theology/Biola University, pastor of Grace Evangelical Free Church in La Mirada, California, and author of Godly Jealousy: A Theology of Intolerant Love. He and his wife, Donna, have four children, Caroline, Paige, Samuel, and Isaac.