A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I like Fisher DeBerry, football coach of the Air Force Academy. He is a fine Christian man of integrity and one of the finest football coaches in America. He contributes a lot to the city of Colorado Springs, and I am very proud and happy that he is at the Air Force Academy. He cannot recruit the biggest and meanest football prospects, because of size and achievement requirements for the United States Air Force, but he fields a competitive team year after year.

But he blew it this week. The same week that news stories broke about religious discrimination at the Air Force Academy, Fisher put up a banner in the football locker room, something about “being on the team with Jesus.”

Now, of course, I think the whole discrimination thing is a crock—at least I suspect it is. I know that Christians can get aggressive some times as far as preaching their faith is concerned, but missionary activity is integral to Christian faith since Jesus told His disciples to go and preach to “every creature.” True Christianity is a very serious matter involving very serious issues, like going to heaven and staying out of hell.

Some Christians are very obnoxious. They are even obnoxious to other Christians, especially to other Christians who do not share their particular views concerning the Bible, church, sacraments, or whatever. But usually very emphatic actions will drive them away. Religious liberty and free speech go hand in hand and cannot exist without each other. [See Theological Figs for Nov. 20. Use the link on that page to return here.] Most Christians I know are perfectly willing to leave someone alone if they state it very clearly that they want to be left alone. But that is another story.

But what about Fisher DeBerry’s banner? It didn’t stay up very long, and he was told to take it down, as he should have. For several reasons.

1. Obviously, some members of the football team and staff may not share Fisher’s views. Are they not on the team?

2. Faith in Christ is not a slogan, certainly not a slogan to motivate a football team. There might be many reasons for trusting in Christ; one of them is not so you can win football games. Being a Christian should help you to do your best, be fair, regard your fellow man, take victory or defeat with graciousness and manhood.

3. There are too many people who seek Christ for earthly goals. They become Christians, hoping it will make them a success in business, popular in school, have joy, joy, joy, down in their hearts, and so forth. The best reason for being a Christian is to stay out of hell, and the best reason for speaking of your faith is to keep the other person out of hell. The faith should not be trivialized.

4. America’s enemies do not trivialize their faith. Islamists are deadly serious. It will take a serious faith to overcome them: 2Ti 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

5. Fisher DeBerry’s witness for Christ and the rock-solid reputation that he has earned does not depend upon a banner, thank God. Christianity will not be spread by sloganeering, bumper stickers, and silly motivational schemes. Fisher is a serious Christian, thank God. His team is having a rough year in 2004, but it is also a serious Christian virtue to bear hardships and endure whatever God sends out way.

6. We should not compel a man to baptized and take communion; neither should we make them march under our banner. The invitation of the Gospel is the only banner that the Holy Spirit will honor in the spreading of the faith of Jesus Christ. That has proved very effective in time past, and it will continue to be effective.

At least that’s the way I see it.
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