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John  White, Ph.D.  - Baylor University . Waco, TX, US

John White, Ph.D.

Harold and Dottie Riley Associate Professor of Practical Theology | Baylor University


An expert in Theological Ethics/Moral Theology, Constructive Theology, Theology of Culture, and Christianity and Sports.





John B. White, Truett Seminary, Holder of the Harold and Dottie Riley Associate Professor of Practical Theology; Director of the Sports Chaplaincy/Ministry Program loading image




Dr. John B. White is a native of the Midwest and in particular, he is a Hoosier where he raced in the legendary cycling race, "The Little 500" at Indiana University, on Team Cutters, which the film Breaking Away dramatizes.

His PhD is from The University of Edinburgh where he studied moral theology with Michael Northcott and his dissertation was on Christianity and Sports- Sport and Christian ethics: Towards a theological ethic for sport. He also completed an M.Div. and an M.A. at T.E.D.S. where he completed his thesis with Kevin Vanhoozer. John’s publications have appeared in Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, Implicit Religion, Studies in Christian Ethics, Practical Theology, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Bible and Ethics, and he recently co-edited books with Routledge Press (2016), Cambridge Scholars and Mercer Press (2017). He also has a book under contract with Baker Academic. He is the Principal Investigator and Faculty Director of the newly established Faith and Sport Institute: Running the Race Well at Baylor University, which is funded by a grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. He is regularly interviewed on the subject matter of Christianity and sports in prominent news media and periodicals such as CBS, Sports Illustrated, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. For more information about the intersection of Christianity and sports, see “The Declaration of Sport and Christian Life” which John is a Founding member of the Sport and Christianity Group (2013-) which developed this manifesto.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Christianity and Sports

Constructive Theology

Theological Ethics

Moral Theology

Theology of Culture

Accomplishments (3)

2018 Outstanding Faculty Award Winner (professional)


Greenhoe Lecturer at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s annual Festival of Theology


Nominated for Outstanding Professor (tenure-track) for Scholarship at Baylor University

2015 - 2016

Education (4)

The University of Edinburgh: Ph.D., Theological Ethics 2011

Trinity International University: M.A., Philosophy of Religion 2001

Trinity International Divinity School: M.Div., Systematic Theology 2000

Indiana University: B.S., Business 1989

Affiliations (3)

  • Faith and Sport Institute: Running the Race Well (Lilly Endowment): Faculty Director
  • American Academy of Religion (AAR) : Member
  • Society for the Study of Christian Ethics (SSCE) : Member

Media Appearances (11)

Opinion: Cancel your summer camp plans to keep kids safe

Houston Chronicle  online


This column by John B. White, Ph.D., faculty director of Baylor’s Faith and Sport Institute, and Tom Krattenmaker, director of communications at Yale Divinity School, protecting kids and the families by canceling summer camps.

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Truett Seminary Builds Connection Between Faith and Sports Through Unique Institute

Baylor University Media and Public Relations  online


Truett Seminary’s Faith & Sports Institute is hoping to instill this idea in other young athletes through a blending of the head, heart and hands. John White, Ph.D., director of the Sports Ministry program at Truett and holder of The Harold and Dottie Riley Professorship in Practical Theology, said his main goal for the institute is to let students know that they are loved independent of their performance. “I think that allows them to enter their future vocation and their future sports efforts freely,” White said. “They’re liberated. They’re not incarcerated mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I think that brings out the best in them because they’re intrinsically motivated versus extrinsically, like they’re doing this for their mom or dad or because they think their peers will love them more or accept them more, and God loves them unconditionally.”

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Baylor’s Truett Seminary Receives a $600,000 Grant to Establish Youth Spirituality and Sports Institute

Baylor Media & Public Relations  online


Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary has received a $600,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish the Youth Spirituality and Sports Institute: Running the Race Well (RRW).

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Baylor’s Truett Seminary Receives $300,000 Sustainability Grant for Sports Institute for Youths Who Hope to Become Leaders in Church and Society

Baylor Media & Public Relations  online


Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary has received a $300,000 sustainability grant from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. to continue a program to identity and cultivate youth who will become leaders in church and society.

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Baylor Connections

Baylor University  radio


Sports have been compared to a secular national religion. At Baylor, the Sports Chaplaincy and Ministry programs trains leaders to look at the intersection of faith and sports on and off the field. Dr. John White, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Sports Chaplaincy and Ministry program in the George W. Truett Theological Seminary discusses how faith impacts the ways we play, coach and interact with athletics on stages both large and small.

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Who is Afraid of Sports? Play, Bodies, and Formation (Part One)

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary: Caldwell Chapel Blog  radio


AUDIO: John B. White, Ph.D., assistant professor, holder of the Harold and Dottie Riley Professorship in Practical Theology and director of the sport chaplaincy/ministry program at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University, shares his perspective in sports chaplain ministry and the spiritual, personal and professional challenges that athletes (and fans alike) face in the midst of major sports.

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Who is Afraid of Sports?: Play, Bodies, and Formation (Part Two)

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary: Caldwell Chapel Blog  radio


AUDIO: John B. White, Ph.D., assistant professor, holder of the Harold and Dottie Riley Professorship in Practical Theology and director of the sport chaplaincy/ministry program at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University, offers insights to pastoral guidance for those involved in major college sports.

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Baylor retreat to focus on Christian faith’s relation to sports

Waco Tribune-Herald  


Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary will form the Running the Race Well youth spirituality and sports institute with a $600,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. Quoted are John B. White, faculty director of Running the Race Well and director of Truett’s sports ministry/chaplaincy program, and Todd Still, Ph.D., seminary dean.

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Symposium Explores Faith, Culture and "The Spirit of Sports” Nov. 5-7 at Baylor

Baylor Media & Public Relations  online


"The Spirit of Sports," a symposium hosted by Baylor University's Institute for Faith and Learning, will feature more than 120 presentations by athletes, sports chaplains, college administrators and faculty, coaches and journalists as they explore the moral and cultural significant of sports from a religious perspective.

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Ultimate Training Camp at Baylor Integrates Faith, Sports and Sweat

Baylor Media & Public Relations  online


Baylor student-athletes learn the importance of blending the spiritual and the physical at Ultimate Training Camp.

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New Sports Chaplain Program at Baylor University's Seminary Is Designed for Ministry to Athletes

Baylor Media & Public Relations  online


A new graduate program and emphasis on sports chaplaincy will be established soon at Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary to meet a growing need for ministry not only to professional athletes but also for youth athletic leagues, church recreation programs and missions outreach.

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Event Appearances (3)

The Violence of Everyone and No One: Sport, Banality, and Structural Change

Sports and Violence Conference  Ashland University. Ashland, OH. March 19, 2016

Sacramental Body Matters: Reimagining Sensual and Strenuous Bodies in Sports

Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity  York St. John University, York, UK. August 24-28, 2016

The Face and Soul of Sports: Who are We Becoming in the School of Sports?

Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture: The Spirit of Sports  Baylor University’s Institute for Faith and Learning. Waco, Texas. Nov. 5-7, 2015

Research Grants (3)

Capacity-Building Grant

The Forum for Theological Exploration $5,000

2017 Principal Investigator

Summer Sabbatical Research Grant

Baylor University 


Lilly Endowment Inc.

High School Theology Institute $600,000

2015 Principal Investigator

Articles (3)

Sacramentally Imagining Sports as a Form of Worship: Reappraising Sport as a Gesture of God

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy

John B. White

2018 We live in a world in which God is made known in and through God’s material works, which are other than himself. That is, they are signs of God’s presence whether in the natural world or the world we structure, as God’s image bearers, in our practices, rituals, and the stuff we make. The Christian tradition holds that the created order and human creativity witness to God, because creation is suffused with God’s (sacramental) presence. A sacramental understanding of sports aims to give an alternative stance to how Christian traditions conceive of sports. A sacramental understanding intimates how this worldview helps us reckon that sports can be an acceptable form of divine worship, because of how sports can participate in and point to God. I argue that, when sport is understood as a material mode of worship, sport can serve as an iconic indicator which reflects and imparts something of divine presence.

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How Can We Help? The Role of the Local Church and Other Religious Organizations When the Games Come to Town

Practical Theology

Andrew R. Meyer, John B White

2016 Examining how faith-based organizations engage with local communities during mega-sporting events offer unique opportunities for positive social initiatives different from ordinary outreach. Our investigation of the 2012 London Olympic Games reveals how, consistent with ecumenical aims, this mega-sporting event provided outreach opportunities for local religious and para-church organizations to meet their community's needs through relational meetings, consistent with the virtue of hospitality. Our findings detail that while mega-sporting events are fraught with moral and social issues, often disrupting the infrastructure of the host city had the event not happened, these outreach efforts also would not have occurred. Our findings and discussion reveal how faith-based organizations can provide communities with vital resources and positive social support through relational meetings before, during, and after the Games come to town.

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Pursuit of bodily excellence: Paul Weiss’s platonic (Religious) imagination of sports

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy

John White

2013 Almost thirty years ago, Warren Fraleigh wrote that Paul Weiss’s intellectual contribution to the philosophic study of sport was like a tributary, converging with others to eventuate in numerous scholarly colloquia, a new academic society, new courses and curricula, articles and books. Paul Weiss contends in Sport: A Philosophic Inquiry that sport is a pursuit of bodily excellence. Weiss tells a story about bodily excellence; it is a bodily good that can be realized in the practice of sport. His metaphysic and teleology provide the content and context for his philosophy of sport. For him, sport bodies speak or give voice to a particular metaphysical tradition that I argue is problematic. Weiss’s metaphysic and teleology swallow and sublate sportive bodies and the concomitant goods intrinsic to embodiment and the practice of sports.

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