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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Theology Football Squad

This world cup I have really enjoyed. The games are exciting, the teams tend to have an attacking philosophy and there have been lots of goals. Given the joy it has brought, I have decided to combine it with my studies to come up with a theology football squad. So without further ado, here it is.

Theologians United: Starting Eleven


Goalkeeper – Athanasius of Alexandria

A world class keeper, Athanasius is a stalwart shot stopper. This was vicariously demonstrated at the Nicene Cup, where he saved attempt after attempt from the talented playmaker Arius. With a determined yet composed mind-set, this boy’s courage in the face of adversity makes him the first name on the team sheet.

Right-back – Anselm of Canterbury

This player will never settle for anything less than the greatest conceivable result. Always to be relied upon, Anselm will not be satisfied with his performance without a complete sacrifice on his part, as demonstrated by his excellent marshalling of inform striker Guanilo last week.


Centre-back – Thomas Aquinas

Coached by Aristotle, it is no shock that he is at the heart of the defence. Don’t be fooled by his analogical interviewing style – this man is the real deal. Aquinas’ natural ability manifests itself in working with the players around him up towards the desired victory. His athleticism, ability to read the game, strength, speed and his prolific goal-scoring from set plays are just five proofs of why he should be in the team.


Centre-back – Augustine of Hippo

Following a disastrous move from city to city and his latest off-pitch confession, it is a real surprise Augustine has made the starting line-up. Having overcome his original sins, it was thought he had turned a corner, but recent events suggest otherwise. However, his past record of being able to ascend to lofty heights from even the darkest moments of his career may have inspired the manager to choose him, knowing that a bit of grace is what this player needs to shine.


Left-back – N. T. Wright

This lad has offered a fresh, new perspective on how to be a left back, causing a division of opinion amongst commentators and players alike. Having had his techniques undermined and exploited by strikers Piper and Carson, in recent seasons Wright has had to reign in his novel approach and has begun to incorporate more traditional elements to his game. Nevertheless, with a tremendous output, jovial attitude and vast experience, the opposition must be wary of his prowess.



Right Midfield – John Wesley

Something of a perfectionist, this winger has developed his game to a high standard. Having been ridiculed for his training methods, his play has silenced the critics with its sublime organisation combined with exuberant performances. His roaming attacks strangely warm the heart, igniting a spirit of attacking football.


Central Midfield – John Calvin (Captain)

Having instituted a reformation in the fortunes of Geneva United, it was predestined that Calvin would have his name on the team sheet. Having had triple honours at club level, it is now time for him to make his mark on the world stage. Emphasising simplicity, this man’s ability to dictate play and allow others to build upon his work is impeccable.

Central Midfield – Karl Barth

A revelation of late, this dogmatic midfielder plays off Calvin and gets stuck into the action. Following the manager’s word, he is a reliable, yet visceral player, enforcing his side’s dominance. However, this abrasive style can often cause dialectical dischord between him and his fellow teammates.


Left Midfield – Cornelius Van Til

It was presupposed before this column that Van Til would be selected, as his skill is truly transcendental! Through this one man, many other players are united through his excellent distribution of the ball, electric movement and game management. One risk with his selection may be his long time feud with Barth, ignited by Van Til calling him irrational after a club match. 



Forward – Martin Luther

The manager’s faith in Luther has been fully justified as he has had some stunning performances of late. Only he can grace the pitch with such speed, aggression and skill. A great communicator, Luther leads by example and inspires others to get the best out of their attributes. However, he does not see the coach as the final authority on tactical matters, which could prove a problem if he disagrees with the manager’s interpretation on how to win the game.


Forward – Soren Kierkegaard

Whilst his form is objectively uncertain, this player’s subjective commitment to the cause is unquestionable. Modelling his style on the father of football, Abraham, Kierkegaard is a classic centre forward. Regardless of the guise he has assumed, he always pops up in the right position to score. However, with his fragile temperament, it was a leap of faith on the manager’s part to pick him for this important match.


Tactical View



Substitutes and Management

Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa all find themselves on the bench today. Whilst these three persons have a perichoretic chemistry, the nature of team does not suit their ticci-tacca style. However, if the team needs a change, these top players of Cappadocia F.C. all have a lot to give. 

Also substitutes are Gustavo Gutierrez and Leonardo Boff. A liberating presence on the team, these two attackers can open up oppressive defences to great effect. However, the beautiful game requires a revolution before they truly have a place in football.

Duns Scotus may make his debut today. This lad’s nominal quality is far exceeding most others, with his precision passing a delight to observe. His presence on the park is universal, and his ability to formally distinguish the flaws in the opposition is a marvel to behold. 

In form striker Francis of Assisi is on the bench. Whilst he spends his time with lots of birds, this man’s charity on the ball is to be admired. Moreover, his work ethic is to be praised, carrying on even when he is faced with stigmatic injuries.


Manager – Paul of Tarsus

No one else could manage a side with so many big names. Having been a world class player, being an extremely zealous footballer, Paul has brought that ethic into his management, encouraging his players to unite in spirit. Moreover, he has successfully coached Thessalonica F.C., Corinthians, Ephesus United among other clubs. Recognising that a team is like a body, he has a good balance to his squads. Yet most importantly, he engenders a philosophy within his players to be living sacrifices for each other.


Do you agree with this selection? Who would you choose? Leave your comments below, and thanks for reading. 

Thanks to my father for contributing to some of the selections. 

Guest post by Nathan Hood, a former Edinburgh Theology Network group leader who blogs at solumjesum.blogspot.co.uk

Introducing the Image of God

As a culture, and the Church that speaks in and to it, we are gripped in a series of questions about what it means to be human. We saw Conchita win Eurovision 2014, marriage law in the UK has changed, zombie films and shows like ‘The Walking Dead’ are incredibly popular, some folk in Switzerland support voluntary euthanasia for the elderly, and American states continue to maintain the death penalty. Closer to home, pretty much everyone has taken a ‘#selfie’ of some kind. Even the Pope.


The thread that runs through these disparate ideas is actually deeply theological. And it is a thread that carries on running into the theological, ethical and pastoral complexities of Disability Theology, gender, and beginning and end of life ethics. Understanding what it means to be human – as God defines us – doesn’t necessarily solve all these questions and conundrums, but it is a Doctrine with a long tradition that is a deep and valuable resource for engaging with the many questions facing the Church in the contemporary world.

Biblically speaking (and I hope to explore this in more detail in future articles) the Image of God is a theme which runs throughout Scripture. It is used exclusively of the creation of humankind in Genesis 1:26-8, and even after the Fall, it is still vitally important (for example, the prohibition of murder in Genesis 9:6 is grounded in the Image of God). The concept underpins the understanding of humanity that Scripture works with, and finds its culmination in the New Testament. Sinclair Ferguson rightly says of the phrase that whilst it ‘is infrequent, the interpretation of man which it enshrines is all-pervasive[1] Ultimately, when we talk about the Image of God, theologians must (as ever!) be mindful of Jesus, whom Paul in Colossians 3:15 describes as being ‘The Image of the Invisible God’. This is a theme adopted, among others, by Barth and more recently Anthony Thiselton, who writes of Jesus Christ as ‘The Paradigm of the Truly Human[2]. By knowing Jesus and beginning to understand the glorious mystery of who he is, we can start to understand who we are in the light of what God has said and done.

HT: Tom Creedy, Theology Network ASW in Nottingham, who blogs at admiralcreedy.blogspot.co.uk

[1] Sinclair B. Ferguson, Image of God, in eds., Sinclair B. Ferguson, David F. Wright, J. I. Packer, New Dictionary of Theology, (Inter-Varisty Press, Leicester, 1993), p. 328

[2] Anthony Thiselton, The Hermeneutics of Doctrine, (Eerdmans, Cambridge, 2007), p. 243