Tim Tebow has now committed the ultimate, unforgivable sin: standing up to the radical religious right, acknowledging they are not ambassadors of an all-loving God.
Last night, Tebow reportedly called anti-gay, anti-Islam, anti-Obama, anti-choice, anti-Catholic Pastor Robert Jeffress to politely decline his invitation to speak at the First Baptist Church of Dallas in April.
This morning, Tebow, a hands-down all-star favorite of the religious right, made the announcement via Twitter, saying he had been “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,” but, citing “new information that has been brought to my attention,” Tebow announced, “I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance.”
The word is “cancel,” not postpone.
Enter the attention-seeking Pastor Robert Jeffress — who easily could have ignored the media brouhaha and tried to re-schedule. Or, move on with his life.
“Mr Tebow called Dr. Jeffress Wednesday evening saying that for personal and professional reasons he needed to avoid controversy at this time,” the First Baptist Church of Dallas said via a statement, “but would like to come to First Baptist Dallas to speak at a future date.”
We are saddened that Mr. Tebow felt pressure to back out of his long-planned commitment to First Baptist Dallas from numerous New York and national sports and news media who grossly misrepresented past comments made by our pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffress, specifically related to issues of homosexuality and AIDS, as well as Judaism. As a Christian pastor, Dr. Jeffress takes a biblical approach to moral and social issues, closely following his duty to preach ‘the whole counsel of God,’ and not just address issues that are politically correct. First Baptist is a church built on the truth of Scripture, even though at times that approach can be perceived as controversial or counter to the prevailing winds of culture.
Apparently, Tebow’s been thinking for a while.
“I believe as long as he listens to the Holy Spirit and to God’s voice and maybe not that of his handlers, you know, I think he will stand firm,” Jeffress told Mefferd, via Right Wing Watch. “And we’re counting him to do that.”
Cue radical religious right wing bullhorn Bryan Fischer.
Calling the cancellation “a weak-kneed and even cowardly decision,” Fischer, spokesperson and issues director for the certified anti-gay hate group American Family Association, wrote:
Inquiring minds want to know: exactly what “new information” is he talking about? In what matters does he disagree with Dr. Jeffress? Does he disagree with Dr. Jeffress when Dr. Jeffress says the message of the gospel is in fact “a message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love?” Does he disagree with Dr. Jeffress when he says that the Bible is the infallible word of God?
Does he disagree with Dr. Jeffress when he says that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven? Does he disagree with him when he says that even Jews and Muslims must believe in Jesus to go to heaven? Does he disagree with him when he says that unorthodox religions which use the name of Jesus are cults? Does he disagree with him when he says that homosexuality is a sin? Does he disagree with him when he says that Islam is a false religion?
If Tebow does not in fact disagree with Jeffress on any of these points, then his decision looks like nothing more than craven capitulation to the nattering nabobs of negativism and intolerance.
Tebow has established his street cred with the evangelical community by being unapologetic and unwavering in his faith. If his NFL career washes out, this street cred with the Christian community is all he has left. He is squandering that enormous reservoir of goodwill and admiration as we speak, by taking a knee rather than stepping up in the pocket.
Success in his future ministry endeavors hinges on maintaining the intensely high esteem which he had, until this morning, enjoyed among people of faith. He’s putting all that at risk. And for what reason? Have the yammering voices of secularism gotten to him? Did his agent beg him to run from Dr. Jeffress instead of standing with him? Did some sponsor threaten him?
No possible explanations that come to mind reflect favorably on Tebow at this point. If he publicly separates himself from Dr. Jeffress’ thoroughly biblically and historically orthodox views on matters of faith, then this makes him look weak and soft, because there is no flaw in Dr. Jeffress’ theology.
If Tebow doesn’t disagree with Dr. Jeffress’ theology, then this makes him look like a coward who flinches under pressure rather than standing tall and strong.
Martin Luther said, “Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”
Instead of standing with the Christian leader of their day, the disciples of Christ fled like panicked sheep when he came under direct attack. I had thought and hoped Tebow was made of sterner stuff.
Tebow needs to clarify and expand on his remarks immediately, and undo this disastrous decision. Dr. Jeffress is a man of unconditional love and will gladly receive him back.
If Tim Tebow doesn’t reverse field here, much more than his NFL career is in jeopardy.
What else could that be?
Is that a threat?
Is Fischer saying if Tim Tebow doesn’t speak at Jeffress’ church, he will go to hell?
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.