Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review of Coming Back Stronger by Drew Brees

I was given the opportunity to review this book by Tyndale.  They send me a free book, I write a review (it doesn’t have to be positive).  I was happy to receive this book as a passionate NFL fan and an even more passionate follower of Jesus. 

I actually finished this book in three days.  It was a compelling story and well-written.  Chris Fabry, who co-authored this book, is an excellent writer and it shows in this book.  It is so descriptive that I could visually remember some of the games that Brees is referencing. 

In this book you will not find much on Brees’ childhood or growing up.  The story moves relatively fast.  Everything in the story is leading up to the climactic Super Bowl victory.  Throughout Brees wants to make one point—adversity can be used by God to make you stronger so trust in him and you can overcome anything. 

As you may know his career was almost halted when his shoulder was shattered against the Denver Broncos.  The Chargers pretty much showed him the door and the only teams that would have him were the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints. 

But his injuries and interceptions are not the only adversity that Brees has faced.  He also went through a long period of estrangement from his mother.  Last year she tragically took her own life.  While, Brees does not write much about this it really shapes the whole book. 

This is an encouraging story of not giving up, keeping hope, and working hard.  There is also a pretty good couple of pages where Brees pleads with Christian athletes to live lives of purity.  Good stuff. 

One Important Disclaimer

Now, I have a confession to make.  I tend to wrongly hold the “bar” lower for Christian athletes/celebrities than I would any other disciple of Jesus.  For instance, if I am newly exposed to a pastor, teacher, or author I tend to start studying his/her theology.  I look to see how clear they are on the gospel.  If I catch wind that a favorite athlete or celebrity professes faith in Christ I set the bar pretty low—I’m really just looking for a belief in God. 

That’s wrong.  Demons believe that God exist.  Now of course no one should expect an NFL quarterback to have the same theological acumen as a pastor.  He is a quarterback and not a pastor for a reason.  But the bar should not be set at merely “belief”. 

What I mean is that I am a pastor.  If Drew Brees was on our membership role there would be a few things that I would be concerned about and would want to more clearly articulate. 

One concern is Brees’ articulation of his testimony.  The truth is I could not articulate my own testimony very well—so that is not the specific issue.  What would cause me concern is the message that Brees responded to, “God is looking for a few good men to carry on his teachings and to walk the walk with Christ” (14).  That’s not the gospel.  That’s moralism. 

It would take too long to really go into depth about what is wrong with this message—but it looks as if it shaped Brees’ walk.  It seems to me that he may not fully understand grace.  Take as an example this statement:

I read my Bible often during this time and explored my faith at a deeper level.  God was up to something in my life.  I wasn’t sure what it was yet, but I trusted him and believed that better days were ahead.  I believed that when you give it your best and commit the rest to him, he will work wonders in your life.  And right then, I needed a miracle.  As long as I continued to do things the right way, good things would happen.  I firmly believed that.  (83)

That may sound similar to what you hear from many preachers on television but its foreign to the gospel.  The gospel is not I do the best I can, God sees my effort, and then blesses me with good things happening.  When Paul says in Romans 8 that God works all things out for the good of those that trust him, this is not built on the foundation of “our level of trust”.  This promise is built on the firm foundation of Christ and God’s power working in us. 

I am not by any means saying that Brees’ confession is a sham or that he does not understand the gospel.  I am just saying that I would like to see him be able to articulate it a little more clearly.  If I were his pastor these would be questions that I’d ask of him.  It sounds to me like the moralistic-therapeutic-deism of modern “Christianity” has influenced him a little too much. 

I pray that he continues to grow in his walk with the Lord and that his trust in Christ and vision of Jesus deepens. 

Rating 3.5 out of 5 Stars

You can buy it for 16 bucks at Amazon: Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity

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