Coach Briner Explains The Game To You

But which way should good Christians run?

Bob Briner is mad as heck and he's not going to take it anymore. Actually, he doesn't have to. This saintly bear of a man died of cancer in 1999. "Final Roar" is a posthumous collection of talks and essays by this sports agent and media entrepreneur turned prophet. It updates and rounds out his 1993 bestseller "Roaring Lambs," a call to arms for Christians to stop complaining about the world and to start engaging it, which has inspired thousands of evangelicals, especially those working in contemporary Christian music.

And, boy, was Briner mad--at Christians. "Rarely, if ever, in the annals of human history have so many with so much to give to their society, actually given so little and done it so maladroitly as have American Christians over the past fifty years. Speaking as only one Christian, I feel the need to apologize." These opening sentences of the book pretty much summarize both the appeal and the problem with Briner's jeremiad.

Part of the enjoyment of reading Briner is to hear him righteously raging on about things I only mutter about. For instance, he thinks it is "shameful" how Christians ghettoize themselves. We write and publish, sing and produce records, produce and broadcast TV and radio, paint and sculpt, and start scores of businesses all to reach other Christians. We are to be the world's salt, its preservative. And if we lose our saltiness, Briner reminds us that Jesus says we "should be thrown out and `trampled under foot' (Matthew 5:13)." Briner wants to extend the movement that led evangelicals out of the fundamentalist camp.

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Since '20s, when fundamentalists lost the war with linerals, they "came out of the world" and created their own culture, including schools, seminaries, camps, publishing programs, and so on. After World War Two, many of these fundamentalists became frustrated with this retreat and wanted to engage the wider church and culture. Calling themselves "evangelicals," they emerged from their cultural exile ready to dialogue or fight, depending on the issue, with Billy Graham as their leader. Briner thinks evangelicals have stalled, and even grown comfortable, in their ghettos.

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