- Alan blogs at Downshore Drift, where this article was originally published.
After opposition arose against First Baptist, Dallas, TX and pastor Robert Jeffress for what were called “controversial” stands against homosexuals, Muslims, Mormons, and other groups, Tim Tebow, who was scheduled to speak there, has just cancelled his appearance in a series of tweets.
@TimTebow: “While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic…First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my…upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those……needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support.” God Bless!Sent Feb 21, 09:09 AM
The opposition to him speaking there has come from groups like Change.org who launched a petition on their website calling for Tebow to not speak at First Baptist:
“This church’s pastor has made several openly anti-gay and anti-Semitic comments. By speaking at this church, Mr. Tebow would be legitimizing the opinion of that pastor and those in the church that are homophobic and anti-Jewish.”
I don’t know everything about Robert Jeffress or all that he has said. But, First Baptist, Dallas, TX is hardly a fringe church in Evangelicalism. The fact that it is being treated as a “hate group” and that Tebow was both pressured and gave in to the pressure to not speak there is a huge development in the advance of secular forces and their impact on the church. Louie Giglio could not pray at the Inauguration because of a message preached 15 years ago where he called homosexuality sin and now Tebow won’t speak at a church that promotes conservative positions. Even if you disagree with First Baptist on some of these positions, the climate that is emerging here is very troubling, to say the least.
Less than a year ago, President Obama was still AGAINST gay marriage. Think of how much has changed since then.
After recent criticism, New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has canceled a scheduled appearance at First Baptist Church in Dallas.
from CNN Belief Blog by The Editors
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has canceled an appearance at a controversial Dallas-area church. The outspoken Christian quarterback was scheduled to speak at First Baptist Church on April 28.
The church is led by Robert Jeffress, who has been widely criticized for views against homosexuality, Islam and Mormonism. Tebow, announcing his decision Thursday on Twitter, said that he was canceling his appearance “due to new information that has been brought to my attention.”
Tebow’s statement appeared over a series of four tweets on the social media site.
“I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!” he wrote to his Twitter followers.
Tebow was scheduled to speak at the 11,000-member Dallas church as part of a monthlong celebration of the megachurch’s completion of a new building campaign, a $130 million dollar project that encompasses five blocks of the downtown.
“Tim called me last night and explained to me that because of some things going on in his personal life and his career he needed to steer clear of controversy right now, but that at some other date he would like to come and speak at our church,” Jeffress told CNN by phone from Dallas. “Tim has to do what Tim thinks is best for him right now.”
The First Baptist Church of Dallas is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. Jeffress, who has been in its pulpit since 2007, is no stranger to controversy.
After introducing Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit in Washington in October 2011, Jeffress told reporters he believed Mormonism was a cult, expressing a personal position and one held by his denomination. The move was seen as a particular slight to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a lifelong Mormon.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while acknowledging sharp theological differences with the Southern Baptist Convention, bristles at the term cult and says it is inaccurate.
Jeffress has also drawn fire for his comments about homosexuality, Judiasm and Catholicism.
“This in no way is going to diminish what our church is teaching about salvation being available to all through faith in Jesus Christ,” Jeffress said.
Jeffress pointed out that Tebow is a member of the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, a fellow SBC church.
“They certainly believe what we do, that salvation is through Christ alone, and about homosexuality. Tim confirmed that to me last night, that they believe exactly what we do about homosexuality.”
Tebow and Jeffress differ dramatically in how they present their faith. Tebow in talking about his faith has used much softer language, while Jeffress has no trouble going after less popular and culturally sensitive issues in Christianity.
“I believe that homosexuality is a sin just like adultery is a sin, just like I believe premarital sex is a sin, because it’s a deviation from God’s standard,” Jeffress said.
“God’s plan for sex is that is should be between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship and any deviation from that is wrong.”
While he believes any sex outside a heterosexual marriage is wrong, he adds, “I never single out homosexuality as the only sin or the unpardonable sin. I think homosexuality, just like adultery, can be forgiven if we ask God for forgiveness.”
Jeffress said he thinks there is a genetic disposition toward homosexuality, a stance on sexual orientation taken by many theologically conservative Christians and one scorned as scientifically flawed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Jeffress said he is sure there are gay members in his church. “We don’t ask all the gay members to stand up, but I’m sure that there are people who are gay in our church simply because of the letters I have received,” he said. “We have people who’ve committed adultery and who lie and who steal, but that doesn’t mean they’re not welcome to come to our church.”
As for comments about Mormons, Jews and Catholics, he is quick to point out that he believes “no one goes to hell in a group.”
“I’m not the one who decides who goes to heaven and hell. God does that. God has already given us the criteria for what it takes to go to heaven when you die. Jesus said in John 14:6, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, and no man comes to the father except through me.’ When I quote that verse I like to remind people that Jesus who said that was not a Southern Baptist evangelist but a Jewish rabbi. Yet as a Jewish rabbi he said there is one way to heaven, and that is through faith in me.”
The controversy surrounding Tebow’s appearance won’t dampen the church’s plans, Jeffress said. He said Tebow, while escaping the spotlight now over his beliefs, will continue to face controversy.
“I think Tim is going to discover that no matter how hard you try to hide from controversy, if you stand for the simple truths of the Bible, like faith in Christ, necessary for salvation, and sex (being acceptable only) between a man and a woman in marriage, you can’t avoid controversy. That’s something Tim needs to discover on his own. We in no way want to impugn him. He’s a great man of God who sincerely loves the Lord.”
from Denny Burk by Denny Burk
In a series of tweets, Tim Tebow has announced that he has cancelled his upcoming appearance at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. In his own words:
While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!
Tebow leaves this “new information” undefined. For those who have been following this story, you know that Tebow has been under fire for agreeing to speak at a church that The Huffington Post calls an anti-gay, anti-Semitic church. Gregg Doyel at CBS Sports has warned that Tebow was about to make “the biggest mistake of his life” by speaking at the church.
What are we to make of this? I am a big Tebow fan—for reasons that go beyond football—and I think he’s more than earned the benefit of the doubt. He left his reasons ambiguous, and absent further clarification I don’t think this move should be interpreted as an expression of support for gay rights or some liberalized distortion of Christianity. In fact, I’m confident that he is an orthodox believer in Jesus Christ. I have a hunch that he’s probably just trying not to get entangled in the culture war. At the end of the day, I don’t know why he cancelled. Perhaps he will elaborate on his decision at some point.
In any case, it is impossible to ignore the context in which this decision was made. There will be some—despite Tebow’s ambiguity—who will assume that the “new information” is that which emerged in articles like the ones linked above. These articles criticize not just the church’s pastor, but the church’s views: that Jesus is the only way of salvation, the certainty of eternal judgment for those who die outside of Christ, the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
These teachings are not the innovation of a single pastor but are the established consensus of the Christian Church over its entire 2,000 year history. If this church’s views on these matters cannot be tolerated (and I encourage you to read the overt intolerance expressed in Doyel’s article), then we are in a scary place. In short, to marginalize this church for holding such views is to marginalize Christianity itself. It means that the tolerance police have finally achieved their ironic end—the intolerance of Christianity in American culture.
Christianity in America does not rise or fall on whether or not Tim Tebow speaks at First Baptist Church of Dallas. Nevertheless, this moment will appear to many as another marker of Christianity’s cultural marginalization. In the broad tolerance of views in our public discourse, who’s in and who’s out? What voices are allowed in the cacophony that is American democracy? Which voices should be excluded? Christian voices have long been a part of the din, but moments like these make it seem like those days are coming to an end.
from Trust AND Obey by Dave Miller
It is easier to sin first, and then reach out for God’s mercy and forgiveness than it is to first reach out for God’s power and strength, and then resist the sin. A Christian who is growing in holiness will tend less often to the former and more often to the latter.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13