Festivals/Seasons & Holy Days

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Lincoln Harvey

A Brief Theology of Sport

ISBN: 9780 3340 4418 5

SCM Press, 2014, 115pp. £19.99

Once a novice in SSF, The Reverend Doctor Lincoln Harvey, deeply enthusiastic about most sports and certainly an avid Arsenal FC fan, has written this Christian theology of sport, which is both thought-provoking and intelligent, as well as ground-breaking, witty, informative and very down-to-earth.   The book is written in two halves: the first concerns the historical and particularly how the Church has at times condemned sport as a dangerous means of leading Christians away from following a life with Christ; to a recognition of the popularity of sport and the fact that it is not going away and so the Church has grudgingly embraced it, essentially trying to find a use for it, and often harnessed it to Christian mission. The second half is dogmatic and takes priority because, as Harvey says, doctrine is concerned with the primary history of God-with-his-creatures by which alone we can really understand what is happening in our world. Lincoln links God and sport, a serious theology about a contemporary issue in this small book; and my advice is not to skip the endnotes with each Chapter which again are full of germane information and have a nice touch of humour. Let Lincoln have the last say: ‘the task of Christians is to commentate on sport, we can help people to understand why it is so popular. We can point out to its fans – whether in stadiums, parks, arenas or back gardens – that they are enjoying a liturgy of contingency, a wonderful unnecessary but internally meaningful way to chime with their own unnecessary but meaningful life as creatures of God. That is why we love sport… Of course all this depends on whether the argument here is correct…. the constructive argument is only a proposal. We are nowhere speaking the final word on the subject. Instead we are hopefully igniting a debate, encouraging Christians to think through the question of sport in the light of the good news of Jesus Christ.’

Benedict SSF