Saturday, February 17, 2018

For the Rest of This Season, I'm Giving Up NBA Basketball

We don't have cable television and haven't had it.  However, I can watch the NBA online some at TNT and ESPN.  I can keep up with the NBA by checking on the scores and watching highlights.  That means I'm seeing advertisements that support the NBA.  I'm very unhappy with the NBA right now in light of moronic commentary from their players, some of which are from our local team, the Golden State Warriors.  I feel like a hypocrite being interested in them.

I like basketball.  I grew up in Indiana.  I played organized basketball from 5th grade to my senior year in college.  I coached a few years our school team here.  As an adult, I played to keep in shape.  Our local team is one of the best teams in NBA history and play a fun style to watch.

These players have a right to speak in public.  They can say what they want.  They don't have to, as one person put it, "shut up and dribble."  They can speak.  They have that right.  I understand that the reasoning behind "shut up and dribble" is "stop talking if you don't know what you are talking about."  People can still talk even if they don't know what they are talking about.  I've not heard one player or coach who knows what he's talking about.  Maybe they do, but they don't say anything that sounds like they do.  They all say the same thing, not one says something different, complete lockstep, same message.  If one of them did, he would have to shut up and dribble, because he would be shunned and castigated for speaking a different position.  You hear zero conservative commentary coming from the NBA.  Right now the NBA refuses to separate inane and destructive speech from its product.  You have to take both.  I refuse to do that.

As of today, I'm done with the NBA for the foreseeable future. I might give it up for the rest of my life.  It wouldn't hurt me to do that.  It would help me.  Maybe you could join me.  You don't have to do that, but I think it would help.  I'm done watching them, checking on their scores, and reading about them.  I'm sure I'll see scores and hear about them, but I refuse to click on one more NBA related article, story, or video.  I'm done with them.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pastor Bradenburg,

This post really strikes my interest. I am grieved that no one has posted a reply as of yet, but I cannot say that I am surprised.

You were clear that your decision to give up on watching and following the NBA was motivated by a political issue, i.e. the fact that “you hear zero conservative commentary coming from the NBA.” I am not criticizing you for that, but it grieves me that it takes a political issue for Christian men to separate from the greatest form of idolatry that enslaves the hearts of professing Christian men worldwide, which is professional sports. Why do we Christian men become so appalled about these political issues relating to professional sports, but then seemingly have no problem with all of the wickedness associated with professional sports? i.e. the gambling; the promotion and glorification of alcohol consumption; the half-naked to completely naked (depending on your definition of nakedness) cheerleaders; the worldly rock music; the greed; the spirit of pride; and the complete desecration of the Lord’s Day, due to the fact that the biggest sports day of the week is Sunday. Where are the IFB preachers today who have seen enough of the wickedness of professional sports that they are willing to cry against it from their pulpits, and then enforce their message by separating themselves from this Idolatry? When will IFB preachers stop contradicting themselves by mentioning these things that I have mentioned from their pulpits, but then discountenance everything they said by talking about their favorite teams from the pulpit, thereby encouraging their people to persist in this Idolatry primarily because of their example? Let’s remember that God is not the author of confusion. I only know of two IFB preachers who have pointedly addressed this matter. One of them is David Cloud, and the other is an IFB preacher in the state of Alabama who preached a series of five messages on this subject. Other than them, there is a deafening silence emanating from IFB pulpits relating to this that is very telling. You encouraged those who read your blog Pastor Bradenburg to consider going along with you in your boycott of the NBA, but obviously no one is willing to do so.

Another example of the hypocrisy of IFB preachers relating to this was revealed when that whole thing took place in the NFL about many of the players not willing to stand out of respect for the American flag. They instead chose to kneel in protest. I lost count of how many IFB preachers went wild over that. I talked to one personally who said that he was done with the NFL because of that issue alone. I thought to myself ‘how amazing that it took a political issue to separate that preacher from the NFL, when all of the other wickedness that I mentioned above obviously did not bother him enough to move him to separate from it.’ But sadly I fear that he is only one of probably hundreds, or thousands of IFB preachers that are of the same sentiment.

What ever happened to the doctrine of personal separation of the world, not just by way of theory in our doctrinal statements, but in daily practice? Why all of the preaching and books from IFB’s about ecclesiastical separation, but little to no preaching and writing on personal separation from the world?

That preacher who I mentioned from Alabama used a specific verse for his text in his preaching against professional sports that really opened my eyes to this. The second part of (Luke 16:15) says, “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” Is there anything else in this world today that is more highly esteemed in the eyes of both lost men and professing Christian men than professional sports? If the answer is no, than why are we professing Christian men taking delight in, and glorying in that which is an abomination in the eyes of God?

Sincerely,

Jason

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jason,

I think idolatry is a legitimate issue and could result in someone changing his habits, like anything else that could become an idol. I could list about 30 things that could become an idol in my life: my family, my house, my computer, recreation, history, work, me, food, a hobby, vacations, friends, and more. I agree that sports can be a problem too and everyone should examine himself. A key is to evaluate it, fill ourselves up with God.

You say that I made this move because of politics. I don't divide things like that. I am making this move because of the truth. We should be interested in the whole truth, the truth applied everywhere. I don't think the government is more important than other aspects of life, but it is part of it, but it really isn't just about the government. It's about what's true. These are liars of the greatest magnitude. If they stay silent and just play their sport and you watch it, it's not wrong to do so. That doesn't mean it's an idol. But if they aren't going to do that, I can give it up.

If I can't give it up, then I agree, it's an idol. Was it an idol to me? It could become one like anything else, but I would say, no, it wasn't. We should ask though.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Bradenburg,
The only reason why I suggested that you made the decision to stop following the NBA because of politics, is because that is the only reason that you listed in your post. You did not say anything about separating from the NBA because of the worldliness that I listed as being connected with all professional sports. Perhaps you have that conviction, but you said nothing about it.

In your reply to what I said you mostly talked about the matter of Idolatry, and I don’t disagree with what you said regarding that. However, you seem to be suggesting that if a professing Christian man does not allow professional sports to become an idol in his life, then there is really no harm in him watching it. You said, “If they stay silent and just play their sport and you watch it, it’s not wrong to do so. That doesn’t mean it’s an idol.” True, it may not become an idol to some men like it certainly does for many others, but I have a problem with you saying “If they stay silent and just play their sport and you watch it, it’s not wrong to do so.” That remark basically proves what I was trying to emphasize in my initial reply to your post, which is that most IFB preachers pay lip service to the doctrine of personal separation from the world. I am sure that you and the other IFB preachers who read this blog are against rock music; looking upon nakedness (the cheerleaders); the glorifying of alcohol consumption; gambling; and the desecration of the Lord’s Day. So if we are against those things, and separate ourselves from those practices, are we not being hypocritical, or inconsistent at best when we say that there is no harm in watching and following professional sports. Are we not giving our consent to all of that wickedness when we watch, follow, and support professional sports? Are we not told in (Ephesians 5:11, 12) – “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” I would hope that it is clear that everything associated with professional sports could definitely being categorized as “the unfruitful works of darkness.” That being so, we are commanded by God as Christian men to have no fellowship with it, (watching, following it) and to reprove it (preach against it).

I could list numerous other verses which show the Christian’s responsibility to have no part with the things of this world’s system, which are operated and controlled by the god of this world – Satan (II Corinthians 4:4; I John 2:16), but I will refrain because I am sure that you are familiar with them.

Bottom line Pastor Bradenburg, we IFB’s have lost our pilgrim mindset (I Peter 2:11). We are far too connected and involved with the things that are part of this world’s system (whether it be professional sports, politics, or the entertainment industry as a whole). Professional sports is only one part of this world’s devilish system, true, but it is a big part that Satan is using to weaken the testimony of our IFB churches, because ultimately the world does not see us as any different than them when we take delight in, follow after, and talk about the same things that they do.

You did not interact with (Luke 16:15), but I believe that scripture alone is proof of the high degree of separation God that calls us to as his followers.

Jason

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jason,

Are you a pastor, someone in a position of authority, who is responsible for laying out the way a church applies scripture? I'm going to comment on your comment above, but I wanted to know.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Bradenburg,
I am an Independent Baptist Missionary. I have authority from the Independent Baptist Church that I am sent out of. Are you suggesting that if I was just a lay person, or regular member of a Baptist Church that I would not have the authority to write what I did to you? I am by no means telling you how to apply scripture. You are the pastor of an Independent Baptist Church. You can apply it any way you want before God without having to answer to me. I was just responding to a blog that you wrote, which I thought that I had the right to do regardless if I was a pastor or not. Please help me out if I am missing something. I am not trying to be sarcastic; I am just a little confused.

Jason

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jason,

You shouldn't read into what I write and then write about what you are speculating. This isn't good. I asked you because I wondered if you took were in a position to enforce your standards on people. For instance, and I want to ask you another question. With everything you've written, I think there would only be one right answer for you. Would you discipline a church member for watching NBA basketball? It would seem you would have to do that with what you are writing. I'm still planning on answering what you've written, but I know that when you are the one in charge, you don't just come out and say certain things, because they aren't now just your personal standard, maybe best practice, but also what is now required of your whole church. I'm wondering if you would require of your whole church that it could not watch NBA basketball, and then, where does that stop? It's one thing to suggest it, thinking it might be a help, but another thing to say that if you watch it, it's a sin.

Leroy St. Jean said...

I guess it is back to the Amish days concerning Anonymous writer.

Anonymous said...


I believe the other preacher that preached a series of five sermons is Terry Coomer. He was a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants when he was converted and is an IB pastor in Little Rock, Arkansas. I would concur with these and David Clouds article.

I would also agree with Jason. I believe its compromise and hypocrisy to choose when you will separate and exhort others, and when you won't. Lying is a matter of separation, but not the sins documented by Jason? Its not a matter of personal perspective whether professional sports is idolatry. It is idolatry. Is God's Word ambigious and truth relative? There is no personal liberty when it comes to something the Lord has clearly condemned in His word. I have personally worked for a number of professional sports teams across the world. From a very personal perspective I could say it is idolatry, but the Bible has already spoken it (e.g. Eph. 5:11; II Cor. 6:14-7:1); so my experience wasn't even required.

Leroy St. Jean,

No, it ain't Amish; its Biblical. Sadly the personal separation of the Amish from the world is in many cases more commendable than the average Independent Baptist Church today. Thats shameful, for most Amish are unconverted.

"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein." (Jer. 6:16).

Cornelius

Kent Brandenburg said...

Cornelius,

I don't know what you're talking about exactly. What we're talking about is watching professional sports. Is it a sin to do so? Do you separate over or discipline over someone watching professional sports?

Leroy,

If something is scripturally wrong, a sin, then it doesn't make someone Amish to avoid it or repudiate it. The Amish though are works salvation, so they are racking up merit points with God, and hopefully we're not talking about that here.

Leroy St. Jean said...

What I think Mr Cornelius is talking about is that it may be a sin and it is hypocritical to watch such professional sports which has so many sinful things, gambling, nudity etc, and then speak out against gambling. I think the idea is that professional sports is wrong to be involved in and Christians should separate from such a worldly thing. Correct me if I’m wrong Mr Cornelius. You don’t watch sports now do you? Professional or non professional.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Bradenburg,

{Part 1}

You are right; I did speculate regarding that question you asked me about whether I was someone who is in a position of authority. I apologize for reading into that what I thought you were thinking. I don’t believe that is a good practice for one to get into as well. I think it would help though if you were just very pointed and clear with your questions instead of opening yourself up for speculation at times. For example, you could have just been a little more detailed with your question, and then the speculation would have been avoided, because I would have understood exactly what you meant.

In regards to the question itself: As a missionary who is temporarily fulfilling the role of a pastor, I don’t “enforce” my standards upon anyone in the congregation. I preach God’s word with application as to what I believe the scriptures are instructing both them and me to do, but I don’t force anyone to adopt the exact standards that I have in my own life. Am I misunderstanding you here Pastor Bradenburg, because that sounds like some kind of dictatorship. Obviously as the leader I believe that the standards and convictions that I have in my life should be followed by the membership, and I encourage them to do so, not just because I am their leader, but more importantly because I believe that my standards and convictions can be supported by scripture. But to me, enforcing my standards and convictions upon them is completely different. If they are not doing it of their own free will out of response to the Holy Spirit working on their hearts, then what is the point?

You asked me: “Would you discipline a church member for watching NBA basketball?” No, I would not, unless that individual was coming to the house of God and trying to draw the other members away from the things of God toward professional sports. For example: If he was encouraging other members to forsake the house of God by going to his home to watch sports on the Lord’s Day, or by going to the stadiums, then I would definitely talk to him, and church discipline might be necessary in that type of situation. But to discipline him simply due to the fact that I found out that he was watching NBA games in his home, or any other kind of professional sport, no, I would not discipline someone for that. You obviously feel that I would have to based upon what I have written.

You said that this is now not only my own personal standard or practice, but now what is required of my whole church. Could you please support that with scripture Pastor Bradenburg?

Jason

Anonymous said...

Pastor Bradenburg,

{Part II}

Also, it appears that you are reading into everything that I have written, and have speculated that I am of the mindset that church members should be disciplined for watching professional sports. Your concerned about when will all of this stop if we preachers keep preaching against all forms of worldliness? I think a better question would be: where will our churches end up if we don’t?

Brother Cornelius’ question was a good one in light of what we are talking about here: “Is God’s word ambiguous and truth relative?”

As to Leroy St. Jean, your comment about the Amish is probably one that many IFB preachers and members would agree with. That is sad! In light of what the Amish believe, I don’t know how any of them could be converted. But I will tell you something. Shortly after I got saved I attended a preaching conference at what I would consider to be a very strong, and separated (ecclesiastically and personally from the world) Independent Baptist Church. As I looked at their book table I saw a book titled “The Christians attitude toward professional sports.” As I read that small booklet I could not believe it. Everything in it was what God had been dealing with my heart about, and it was all supported by scripture. When I looked to see who wrote it, I could not believe that the author was Mennonite/Amish. That was eighteen years ago! Yet here we are in 2018, and in eighteen years I have not seen anything from the pen of an Independent Baptist that even comes close to what that small little booklet so forcefully proclaimed. Shame on us!

Jason

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jason,

(Two parts. Part One.)

I asked you a clear, pointed question on whether you were in a position of authority, then you say you’re wrong for speculating, but then blame it on me for doing so. So are you justified in speculating because my question wasn’t clear enough? I asked you for the reason I did. I didn’t tell you why I was asking, it’s true. That doesn’t make the question unclear.

Regarding the authority of a pastor, Jason, pastors as the teachers of the church, lay out what and why the church believes what it does. Titus 2:15, we do this with “all authority.” Is that true or not? If someone disobeys the scripture, is that a sin? You said that we shouldn’t watch NBA basketball, because it is idolatry to do so. You said: “the greatest form of idolatry that enslaves the hearts of professing Christian men worldwide, which is professional sports. . . . Where are the IFB preachers today who have seen enough of the wickedness of professional sports that they are willing to cry against it from their pulpits, and then enforce their message by separating themselves from this Idolatry? When will IFB preachers stop contradicting themselves by mentioning these things that I have mentioned from their pulpits, but then discountenance everything they said by talking about their favorite teams from the pulpit, thereby encouraging their people to persist in this Idolatry primarily because of their example?”

You are telling me, that I should give up watching professional sports, because watching it is idolatry. You say IFB men are silent about that. Jason, if watching professional sports is idolatry, then we shouldn’t watch it all ever. Is idolatry a church discipline issue? If you preach that as a person in authority, what you say men are not doing, then you also have to follow through and lead in church discipline. Pastors have to lead in that, even though, yes, the whole church is responsible for church discipline. Consider what the New Testament says about unrepentant idolatry, Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” If something is idolatry, it should be subject to church discipline. 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 make that clear: “1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”

Kent Brandenburg said...

(Part Two)

I believe that watching sports is a liberty issue. It should be treated like a liberty issue, which means watching professional sports is not idolatry, like you said it was. But if you believe it is, and you were in leadership, you should do your part in church discipline. I’m not a dictator, Jason, and I don’t lead in discipline in liberties. Do you confront men personally who watch professional sports as to its idolatry? If not, why not? Are you saying that people in a church under the leadership of the Holy Spirit have the free will to sin? You are saying it’s idolatry. Does scripture teach just to let it go? That’s the not the Holy Spirit. That’s the flesh.

What is your biblical basis for a person in a church being an idolater and he can be one on his own, but he can’t draw others into his idolatry or he would be subject to discipline? Where does scripture make that distinction? I’m not saying watching professional sports is idolatry. I’m saying it’s a liberty, but I gave it up because I think it’s the best thing to do. That’s different than calling it idolatry, which is what you believe. It could become an idol to people, and it could at least be a distraction from what’s really important, but that’s not what you said.

How could idolatry be just a personal standard and practice and not the standard of the whole church? I showed that it should be the standard of the whole church above, Jason. You asked me to show you. Paul required it of the church at Corinth.

I think a bigger problem in churches is the lack of church discipline. Membership of churches should see themselves responsible for other people. If someone is idolatrous, another church member should restore him in a spirit of meekness. Am I to presume now that you don’t think watching professional sports is idolatry? Or is idolatry not a separating or church discipline issue?

I’m for you, Jason.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Bradenburg,

{Part 1}

You have given me a lot to think about here. I understand the importance of church discipline. I will prayerfully consider what you have written regarding that, although at this time I don’t see it exactly the way that you do in light of what we are talking about. I don’t disagree with what you said regarding (Titus 2:15), and yes, when someone disobeys scripture, it is a sin.

In all fairness, I have not told you to not watch professional sports Pastor Bradenburg. I have given you my opinion based on what I have studied from scripture. You say that this is a liberty issue. The problem that I have with that is that there are so many things connected with professional sports that I am sure that neither you nor anyone else reading this blog would consider to be matters of personal liberty. Is the world’s music a matter of personal liberty for the Christian? What about gambling, forsaking the assembly of the saints, and alcohol consumption? Many will excuse themselves that because they don’t do those things, it is not a problem to follow after those who do. But by following after, and supporting those who do those things, we then become partakers of their sins, which the Bible commands us not to do in (I Timothy 5:22). Also, as I mentioned before, (Ephesians 5:11, 12) commands us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” Are we not fellowshipping with the unfruitful works of darkness to some degree when we watch and cheer for these professional athletes, instead of doing what scripture commands us to do, which is to reprove them, which is all that I sought to do in my responses? When we say that this is a personal liberty issue, we are then acting like those sins that are always associated with professional sports are not that big of a deal. But how can we separate those sins from the professional sports that they are always connected with, which is what we essentially do when we call involvement with professional sports a liberty issue? The sad truth Pastor Bradenburg, is that because this matter of professional sports is seen as a liberty issue in the eyes of most IFB’s, it almost never gets addressed authoritatively from the pulpit. How can a pastor preach against the worldliness associated with professional sports if the whole congregation knows that professional sports is a matter of personal liberty to him? He can’t! If he attempts to do it, then no one will take him seriously.

Jason

Anonymous said...

{Part 2}

I agree with you Pastor Bradenburg that this can only be viewed one of two ways: it is either a manner of personal liberty, or it is idolatry, and therefore sinful. As for me personally, I find it hard to believe that the Lord had personal liberty on his mind when he gave us so many scripture references pertaining to the sin of worldliness. Where is there room for personal liberty in the ways of the world in light of the following scriptures? Luke 16:15 (what the world loves, God hates); Romans 12:2; Romans 13:14; II Corinthians 6:14-18; Galatians 6:14 (Paul crucified to the world, and the world unto him); Ephesians 5:11-12; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 3:1-2; I Thessalonians 5:22; II Timothy 2:3-4; II Timothy 2:19; Titus 2:11-12; James 1:27 (being “unspotted from the world”); James 4:4 (friendship of the world is spiritual adultery); I Peter 1:15-16; I Peter 2:11; II Peter 3:10-14; I John 2:15-17; I John 5:4; I John 5:19.

For the record, I am not completely anti-sports. I have played sports my whole life. My concern is with the worldliness that is always associated with professional sports; collegiate sports; and even high school sports. I don’t see anything sinful about me throwing a football with my two boys aged ten and seven, or playing basketball, or some other sport (although even that can become a slippery slope if the prideful spirit of competition, and winning at all costs is not kept in check). As their father, I am always talking to my boys about the reality of professional sports and the wickedness associated with it, so that they are not deceived by something that is clearly not of God.

I have meant no disrespect to you Pastor Bradenburg in anything that I have written, and I apologize if anything I have written has come across that way. This dialogue has both challenged and helped me, and for that I am grateful.

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17)

Sincerely,
Jason