A Lion Who Preached to the Lambs

Bob Briner's last book to motivate Christians to change the culture is a flawed but forceful effort

Bob Briner isn't the first to call upon Christians to get out into the world. In the early 1980's the impatient, mustachioed son of the philosopher Francis Schaeffer, Franky, landed with a thud in the Christian world with his books "Addicted To Mediocrity," and "A Time For Anger," arguing that the lack of spine evangelical Christians had shown in their affect on American culture had rendered them 'evanjellyfish.'

Schaeffer II quickly burned out, consumed perhaps by his own righteous anger. It would be left to others, more temperamentally suited for the work to close the deal.

Enter Briner, a 57-year old television executive who in 1993 published his first book "Roaring Lambs," with a message that was essentially Franky Schaeffer with a smile. If Schaeffer was Nixonian, Briner was Ronald Reagan--the sunny optimist who focused his firepower on getting young Christians to retake the country's cultural institutions, promising these would change if they only would show up. Briner didn't deny that the culture's output was dark, but noted that darkness was merely an absence of light.

Seven years later, Briner is gone, felled by cancer last year. His last work, "Final Roar," not quite completed when he passed away, hit stores this month, over a year after his death. (Briner was a good friend, and we shared both the same publisher and editor)

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Briner wanted a different title: "Christians Have Failed America and Some of Us Are Sorry," but his editor wisely retitled it for wider appeal. In the opening lines, Briner throws bombs no less incendiary than Schaeffer's, but with a dash of humility: "Rarely. in the annals of human history have so many with so much to give to their society.given so little and done it so maladroitly as have American Christians over the past 50 years. I feel the need to apologize. I'm sorry."

Later, Briner flashes his anger: "Christians write and publish.sing and produce.. broadcast radio and television programs .. paint and sculpt.carry on often brilliant intellectual discourses.operate educational institutions.produce and distribute a growing number of newspapers-all for other Christians.I personally view this as shameful." Turning his attention to education, Briner praises those who remain in "secular" education with a mind to changing it. "Christian" education, he allows, is important if it is truly training up fighters, which he regarded as a big "if": "In many ways their impact dissipates and fades into the woodwork. American Christians in general and graduates of Christian colleges in particular, have a debilitating irrational and unwarranted inferiority complex."

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