Sports, The Word & Dr. Arp -- By: Paul Golden

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 22:2 (Fall 2018)
Article: Sports, The Word & Dr. Arp
Author: Paul Golden


Sports, The Word & Dr. Arp

Paul Golden1

The power of sports. Many professional athletes like Tim Tebow utilize the platform of sports for the cause of Jesus Christ. Dr. Bill Arp—a former athlete himself—also understood the power of sports and used it to influence others for the sake of the gospel. Earlier this week I attended an outreach event featuring Tebow as the guest speaker. The Heisman trophy winner-turned-baseball-player articulately shared his faith with the hundreds in attendance. If Dr. Arp were still living, I would have stopped by his Jackson Hall office the next day to inform him of the special evening which I experienced—we enjoyed talking sports and ministry. Even though it has been one year since the passing of Dr. Arp (July 2017), I still feel the loss of my regular interactions with him. Whether discussing our families, ministry or sports—his friendship and biblically-based wisdom is genuinely missed.

As I reflect on the legacy of Dr. Arp, he was not only a seminary professor and theologian, but also a godly husband, caring father, and grandfather. He exhibited the seemingly perfect balance of loving God (and his word) while loving the people God brought across his life’s path. In addition to his faith and family, Dr. Arp took pleasure in sports. It comes as no surprise that he loved his Philadelphia franchises: primarily, the Phillies, Flyers, Sixers, and Eagles. In sum, Dr. Arp was the quintessential Philly sports fan. His allegiance to his teams was undisputed by anyone who knew Dr. Arp. Until recently, his teams—most notably the Eagles and Phillies—were consistently bad and usually at the bottom of their respective league standings. Despite year after year of losing seasons, Dr. Arp

displayed loyalty (and the patience of Job) with his beleaguered teams. Interestingly, a few months after his death, Dr. Arp’s beloved Philadelphia Eagles (finally) won the Super Bowl; Penn State won their major collegiate bowl game; and the Sixers made the NBA playoffs. At the time of this writing, his Fightin’ Phils are battling for first place in the National League East. Undoubtedly, Dr. Arp would be extremely gratified with this newfound success in Philadelphia.

Every once in a while, the Phillies would (surprisingly) get on a winning streak. I would then congratulate Dr. Arp on his team’s recent success on the ball field. Humorously, Dr. Arp would remind me it was still too early in the season to get excited about the consecutive victories (regardless if it were the start or end of the baseball campaign). With a smile and wit, he would assure me the Phillies would find the means to squander their winnin...

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