Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jets/Dolphins Preview: John Calvin Never Won the Big One

"By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death." The Westminster Confession of Faith lays out a very simple vision of the world, inflexible and unforgiving. Should you find favor in this life you are chosen and will one day ascend to heaven. Should you falter on this earth you are condemned, and in your eternal life you will spend more time listening to Joe Buck and Troy Aikman than any person deserves. Earlier I spoke of my inability to understand the Jets in 2011. My mistake was contemplation of an earthly sort, and I shall attempt to remedy that here. Having realized my mistake, I turn to The Decision of the Synod of Dort.

Total Depravity - Since the Fall, every person born carries with them the weight of sin. The Jets won the Super Bowl in 1969, and every year since has ended in disappointment. This is the driving force behind Rex's repeated pronouncements, the ugly warmth of hope driving the lamentations. If the Jets lose this game, their chances of a postseason drop precipitously and it will be difficult for all but the most faithful to refrain from abandoning hope. The rub of Calvinism is that your fate has already been decided, and that decision can only be divined from the path of your life. Should you find fortune, that is the literal proof that you have been Chosen. Should you find failure you must continue through the world knowing that your end will contain no glory, no trumpets, no light.

Unconditional Election - God has chosen not on the merits of your heart or your virtues or even your faith. He has chosen solely from mercy. We are foolish to think that Sanchez should improve from year to year, or that getting him a better receiving corps would change things. Shonn Greene found his legs in New England, the return of Nick Mangold bolstered the entire offense, but none of that matters. They will either be recipients of His grace or they will not. It is not their talent that will decide. Doing better than three-of-eleven on third downs would be really, really nice, but without His favor it is nothing. Reducing dropped passes might seem crucial to successful conversions, but absent His grace your hands are forever doomed to be of the earth, stone.

Limited Atonement - Jesus Christ, son of God, gave his life to atone for the sins of man, but only those already chosen. It is limited not in power but in scope, and not everyone is welcome in the light it granted us. Derrick Mason was cast out, either for the sin of complaining or the sin of failing to get separation. Tough to say for certain. But in his absence others will find a path. As Bryan Thomas weeps in the locker room over his torn Achilles tendon, his surviving compatriots will be stirred. If you are chosen, all losses have purpose. If you are condemned, you have only more hollow failure to look foward to.

Irresistible Grace - If you have been chosen, you cannot resist. In His wisdom He has granted you salvation, and you cannot refuse His gifts. You will be granted consecutive games against some of the worst pass defense in the league. When you are at your lowest point, He will grant you an 0-4 team without their starting quarterback. The injuries to the linchpin of your offense will not be season-ending. Through the unyielding power of the Holy Spirit, you will find your way to grace.

Perseverance of the Saints - Just as you cannot resist the gift of salvation, the world cannot rob you of it. Darrelle Revis will line up where he is told to line up, he will shadow who he is told to shadow, he will take half the field from any quarterback who comes against him. Bart Scott will push with everything he has, desperate to outrun failure even after it has caught him. Plaxico Burress will throw nasty blocks at oncoming blitzers, using his body as sword and sheild. Shonn Greene will smash into that line over, and over, and over again until it opens for him. If you are chosen, if He has selected you for grace, there is not a force in existence that can stop you.

The Jets head to Miami looking for proof that God loves them. They will either find it, or they will enter week 7 with the painful certainty of doomed men.


UpHere said...

The thing is, you're not going to see this type of genius on ESPN.

Neil said...

Yeah, I wish I could have this framed somehow.

Peter said...

Thanks gentlemen. I was talking about this with a friend of mine, and inre the piece he said:

"i don't believe in fate, but a creature that looks an awful lot like it haunts anything that relies on such a small sample size as the NFL. ideally, determining the best team would involve running off 150 games and counting at the wins at the end. that, of course, is not practicable. instead we have 16 games and change. sometimes you'll succeed despite your worst efforts; other times, you'll fail despite your best efforts.

i have the same feeling you describe here when i watch the Chiefs. the team that got blown out 89-10 in its first two games this season was by and large the team that went 10-6 last year. things just happened differently. the results weren't a reflection of the quality of the team, because the quality of the team didn't matter, because the results were the only thing that mattered. they were "chosen" or they "weren't."

So that's a more straightforward, less crazy way of putting it but the basic idea is the same. it's a cold world, and you either got a warm meal waiting for you or you don't.