Monday, December 29, 2003

This has to be killing the guy at

On ESPN Trev Alberts has this to say about the coaches of the upcoming Outback Bowl between Florida and Iowa. He titles this little blurb "Quality Coaches."

Quality coaches

This game features coaches who did two of the best jobs in the nation this season. Florida's Ron Zook held his young team together after a shaky start and has gone with a freshman QB most of the year, while Iowa's Kirk Ferentz got his team to nine wins after losing the Heisman runner-up and four O-linemen to the NFL. Neither was expected to be here and that should make for terrific motivation.

How about that - for two years now, people have been writing Zook's obituary and here he is being described as someone who did one of the best jobs in the nation in coaching. The jury's still out on Zook to a degree but if the gators can carry present momentum into next season he'll be sitting pretty.

Isaac Bruce Revisited

In my last post I mentioned Rick Reilly's conversation with Isaac Bruce about his accident. I found the book and the exchange. In two days both Isaac Bruce and Derrick Thomas were in car accidents - Isaac Bruce came out fine but Thomas was paralyzed. Here's an exchange between Reilly and Bruce.

"Do you ever thinkg about Derrick Thomas and say 'that could be me?'"

"Oh, no, not at all," Bruce says.

"Why not?" I ask.

"Because as I was flipping I threw my hands off the wheel and called Jesus' name."

"Does that mean God doesn't love Derrick Thomas?" I ask.

"Oh, no," Bruce says. "I don't know what Derrick said as his car was flipping."

"What about Payne Stewart? He was a Christian man. Does that mean that God didn't love Payne Stewart?"

"I have no idea what Payne Steward said in that plane that day."

"Well, are you saying if Payne Steward had invoked the name of Jesus Christ, he'd be alive today?"

"Oh definitely."

"What about the Columbine High student who was asked by one of the killers if she believed in God? She said yes, and he blew her away. How can that be?"

"You don't know what she said, do you?"

"There were witnesses."

"But you weren't there, right?"

Then, Reilly closes his column with this line:

Two men. Pray for them both.

I'm not griping at Bruce because I think he should have some kind of survivors guilt. In fact, I would be willing to praise God with him for letting him survive this accident so unscathed. I also won't buy it if some well-meaning Christian accuses Rick Reilly of baiting him in order to mock Christians. The fact is that Isaac Bruce has bought into the Gospel of the American Dream. Missiologists warn us of the dangers of syncretism - going to foreign countries and "sync-ing" the religions and cultures of foreign lands with Christianity. But, here in America we have synced Christianity and the American dream. We believe in the gospel of personal peace and affluence (as Francis Schaeffer described the dominant worldview) which says that God's favor is shown by showering his children with peace and affluence. Bruce has bought into this hook line and sinker. I'm not asking that Bruce become a theologian or Bible scholar, just that, if he speaks for Christ, he be more circumspect in his speech.

This is a good reminder to us in the Christian community to be very careful about idolizing these "Christian" athletes. I am thrilled for everyone who becomes a Christian, athletes included. The problem is that, at best, their fame and wealth usually stunts their growth in the faith, and at worst, it exposes them to unusual temptations that can bring shame on them and the Christian community (a' la Eugene Robinson and his little fling with a prostitute the night before the Super Bowl). The problem is that the breadth of their public platform is usually far greater than the depth of their spiritual maturity. Nuff said.

My First Post - A small rant about a book and a football player

With 2003 ending and a new year upon us I decided to try out something new in 2004 and start blogging. At this point I forsee my blogging as following the meandering trails of my thoughts, most of which will deal with Biblical and theological issues. Since I love reading I imagine that most of my thoughts will be spurred on by things I am currently reading.

In the near future I plan to share some thoughts on Daniel Fuller's book - Unity of the Bible. John Piper recommends this highly and has been quite effusive in his praise of Fuller. I am far less enthusiastic about Fuller than Piper is, but the book is provocative nonetheless, and has some gems in it. I may or may not be reading in something that isn't there, but I compared my 1996 edition of Desiring God by Piper with the newest edition. In 1996 Piper was viewing Desiring God as an explanation and application of Fuller's book, but in the newest edition, he merely thanks Fuller for his influence, without an explicit endorsement of the book. Hmm . . . makes you wonder. I'll share more of my thoughts in a later post.

One other random rumination - I'm reading Rick Reilly's book "The Life of Reilly." It contains some of his best columns throughout the years. It's terrific. He has a couple of columns about religion in sports where he tweaks the noses of some Christian athletes. He says some born again Christians have gotten on his case about those columns, but I think he has a point. In one column he shares how Isaac Bruce credits God with saving his life in a car accident because, when he went into a spin he let go of the wheel and cried "Jesus." Reilly asked him where he thought God was in the accident of another football player, the name is slipping me right now, who came out with a broken neck. Bruce says he doesn't think the guy called out to Jesus. So, Reilly asks him what about the girl at Columbine who confessed her faith in Jesus (I think he is referring to Cassey Bernall) and then got shot. Bruce said that Reilly doesn't know for sure that she confessed Jesus. When Reilly told him it was reported in all of the press, Bruce said something along the lines of "yeah, but you don't know for sure." In other words, sounds like Isaac has a neat little worldview where all you have to do is call out the name of Jesus and bam, life is good. I'm sure he's a Christian, but if he believes stuff like that I just wish he would keep his mouth shut.