Posted Friday, January 31st 2014 @ 1pm by Jim Forsyth
What will decide the winner of Sunday's Super Bowl? Will it be the strong arm of Broncos quarterback Payton Manning, or will it be the relentless running of Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
According to a new survey, fully one fifth of Americans think it will be neither. 20 percent of Americans think Almighty God will decide the outcome.
A study by the Public Religion Research Institute says nearly half of all Americans think that an 'outside spiritual force' plays a role of the outcome of sporting events, and 20% think that force is none other than God.
26% say they have prayed to God to help their team.
Dr. John White, who is the director of the sports ministry program at the Truett Seminary at Baylor University calls this 'Christian egoism,' and tell 1200 WOAI news that this flies in the face of everything the Bible and the teachings of Jesus tell us about the role of God in our world.
"I was troubled, because I think it discloses some problems," he said. "I think it indicates something about Christian beliefs."
From the Middle Ages when God was believed to decide the outcome of battles to sports fans asking God to help their sports team win, Dr. White says humans have always misinterpreted God to be an 'almighty performance enhancer.'
"This estranges me from you, in this case, I want to win and I want you to lose, essentially goes against everything taught in the Christian faith," Dr. White said. "Prayer is about bringing people together, not dividing them."
He says when people pray to God for a sports victory, the winner of the game comes down not to planning, preparation, or the skill of the players, but which team received God's favor, and which did not."
White says it is very un-Christian to pray for an opponents' defeat.
"Traditionally, the practice of prayer is supposed to point beyond individualism," he said. "When we pray, we want to come together, we want unity."
But White concedes that every Super Bowl season, this issue gets a lot of 'hearty discussions' among seminary students.