Monday, April 8, 2013

How Can a Calvinist Enjoy a Baseball Game?

One of my Arminian friends asked me a fun question. Noting the Calvinist view on foreordination and the meticulous sovereignty of God, this friend wondered why Calvinists even bother watching baseball. “If God has already ‘fixed’ the outcome why bother,” he asked.

The Calvinist faces a similar question concerning prayer and evangelism. Some ask, “If the outcome is already ‘fixed’ why do we even bother praying or sharing the gospel?” The answer to this one is a little more simple. We pray and share the gospel because God commands us. Spurgeon said something close to this:

"If God had painted a yellow stripe up the backs of the elect, I'd go through London lifting up coats and preaching only to them. As it is, He has not, so I preach the Gospel to all, and God brings his sheep."

But what about baseball? There is nothing in Scripture that commands us to watch baseball, so why bother? There are at least three reasons why I can still watch and enjoy baseball even though I believe that God has already “fixed” the outcome.

First, I watch to enjoy God’s history unfold. This is not to say that baseball history is anywhere near as important as salvation history. Yet that does not mean that salvation history has nothing to do with baseball history. Nor does it mean that God isn’t also writing the story of baseball.

Secondly, I enjoy baseball. I believe that when Alex Gordon makes an insanely good catch in left field that he is doing so as a gift of God. And I really do believe that it is through a very real human freedom that Alex Gordon makes that catch. I don’t fully understand how this intersects with the meticulous sovereignty of God, but I believe that Scripture teaches both. As I enjoy baseball I’m enjoying God’s story and I’m also enjoying humanity imaging God.

Lastly, I view baseball and history from a “field” view instead of from the “grandstands”. My friend noted that we Calvinists cannot rightly say, “That was a lucky catch”. I agree. So, I jokingly told him that I would from now on say, “Wow, that providentially ordained catch sure looked lucky from my finite human perspective”. And that’s the third reason why I can enjoy watching baseball as a Calvinist. If I had a view from the grandstands—where I already knew the outcome I’m not sure that I would get the same enjoyment. In fact I’m confident that I wouldn’t—because I get less enjoyment watching a game that has already been completed. But I don’t have that type of perspective. I view baseball as it is happening. Therefore, I’m still able to enjoy watching history unfold.

Whether Calvinist or Arminian you should watch baseball and enjoy it.


Here are a few other articles on baseball that I’ve enjoyed recently:

Our National Pastime by Kevin DeYoung

How Baseball is Like the Christian Walk by David Prince


  1. Definitely rooting for the Royals in their home opener today. Living in Lee's Summit, I manage to make quite a few games each season, but won't be able to attend today.

    Do you seriously believe that God has already "fixed" the outcome of every baseball game? Does meticulous sovereignty in your theological view extend to the outcomes of sporting events?

    1. Glad to talk to a fellow Royals fan! I'm excited about the season. I think we have a special team.

      I'm not dogmatic about it, but I do believe that God is sovereign over everything--even baseball. And not only is he sovereign but he's writing His history over everything.

    2. Well, while my theology about God's sovereignty differs from yours, we do indeed share a passion about Royals baseball. I do think that this season is going to be a marked improvement over those of recent memory. Nice home opener today!

    3. That was an amazing game! And that's what I think is different. Last year (and in years prior) down 1-0 in the bottom of the 8th...I'd be thinking, "here we go again." But this year I knew that they were going to win it.



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