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Tim Tebow, Robert Jeffress & Graceless Responses!

Since my brief hospitalization last November, I have been MIA in the blogosphere. It’s not that there haven’t been topics that have interested me, but I have been slow in getting back into the swing of blogging. With only one blog post in the last three months (another Tim Tebow post), I figured it might be time to get back to writing on a regular basis. To all my “From Law to Grace” readers, I appreciate both your understanding and your prayers during my time away from the keyboard. Starting with this post, I hope to resume a regular schedule of posts (2 to 3 per week) starting next week.

As a jumpstart to a new season of writing and to start the month of March off with a bang, I can’t let the recent FBC Dallas/Tim Tebow kerfuffle go by without a comment or two. As most of the Southern Baptist and professional football worlds (not necessarily the same thing) know by now, Tim Tebow cancelled a previously scheduled speaking engagement at historic First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX. One of Southern Baptists’ most prominent churches, FBC Dallas was pastored by the legendary W.A. Criswell for over 50 years. Dr. Robert Jeffress has been the Pastor of FBC Dallas since 2007.

Before commenting, let me be clear about my own presuppositions and my own biases. I have never met Tim Tebow or Dr. Robert Jeffress, although if I had to choose who I would rather meet in person, it would not even be close. Go Gators! I have no doubt that both are Godly, Christian men who seek to use the gifts and talents that God has given to them to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who come into their spheres of influence. I also believe that both men strive to be “salt and light” in a dark world. How they go about shining their light might be where the similarities end and where the differences begin.

Unless every Christian is required to reflect Jesus’ love in the exact same way (same words, tone, context, etc.), then it should not be very surprising that this kerfuffle has arisen. In fact, I was perhaps more surprised to hear that Tim Tebow had agreed to speak at FBC Dallas in the first place. It’s not that the church or Pastor Jeffress is doctrinally suspect or out of the mainstream of Evangelical/Southern Baptist practice (they are not), but there can be no doubt that Pastor Jeffress has become somewhat of a lightning rod in the culture wars. We can argue to the cows come home that only liberal, atheistic media types (and wimpy Christians) are the ones who have a problem with anything that Dr. Jeffress has preached, but many observers (including this one) would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that some of Dr. Jeffress’ statements (in sermons and interviews) have been cringeworthy.

However, just because I have cringed at some statements made by Pastor Jeffress regarding Islam, Mormonism, and Homosexuality (to name a few), I don’t necessarily disagree with the foundational truths contained in those statements. In fact, I said very much the same thing about Mitt Romney and Mormonism as Dr. Jeffress:

Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Even though he talks about Jesus as his Lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult.” ( here)

As a Pastor, I have a different calling than someone who is not a pastor. Likewise, Pastor Jeffress has a different calling than Tim Tebow. Even though I am comfortable with this language, I can imagine that others — including Tim Tebow — might not feel the same way. Without speculating as to why Tebow withdrew from his speaking engagement, I can only take him at his word when the tweeted:

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!” (here)

In hindsight, Tim Tebow probably should not have agreed to speak at FBC Dallas. Not because of doctrinal differences, but because of “platform” differences. Tim Tebow has a platform which God has given him to share the “message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love.” Dr. Jeffress has been given a platform at FBC Dallas and through various media outlets to likewise share that same “message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love.” If it was apparent to Tim Tebow that his platform would be limited (either now or in the future), then I do not see anything wrong with him cancelling his speaking engagement at FBC Dallas. Without getting into specific reasons for his withdrawal, Tebow said all that needed to be said.

Understandably upset that Tebow cancelled, how could have Dr. Robert Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, responded? I would argue that, regardless of his personal feelings, he could have responded gracefully. However, by all appearances, Dr. Jeffress seems to have responded in a graceless way toward Tim Tebow’s choice to not speak at FBC Dallas(albeit without naming the current Jets’ Quarterback by name). To make matters worse, Pastor Jeffress used his pulpit this past Sunday to  issue his heartfelt response. As an aside, I’m not quite sure why (well, I think I am) everyone is giving Pastor Jeffress a standing ovation. Is having a well-known Christian athlete cancel a speech now grounds for granting someone martyrdom status? Well, I digress.

In what should have been a minor kerfuffle, Pastor Jeffress chose to respond by indirectly calling out Tim Tebow as a wimp. Now, anyone who knows Tim should understand that he is no wimp. But, according to Jeffress:

“I am grateful for men of God like these who are willing to stand up and act like men rather than wimping out when it gets a little controversial and an inconvenient thing to stand for the truth,” Jeffress said. “God bless men like that. (here)

What are we to make of Pastor Jeffress’ public statement, made from behind the pulpit at FBC Dallas, this past Lord’s Day? That Dr. Jeffress is easily offended?  That perhaps goes without saying. That Dr. Jeffress thinks that Tim Tebow “wimped out” because he did not want to “stand for truth?” Or, that Pastor Jeffress would not likely being saying “God bless” to Tim Tebow anytime soon? Perhaps all of these. Maybe none of these. It’s certainly hard to tell, although Pastor Jeffress has certainly gone out of his way to fan the flames of this controversy. That’s more than Tim Tebow did.

Dr. Robert Jeffress and Tim Tebow have different callings. One has a calling to use the platform of professional football to share the “message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love.” The other has a calling to use the platform of the pastoral office to share the “message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love.” Much grace is required regardless of the calling. Who knew that a professional football player would respond with more grace than the Pastor of one of the most historic Southern Baptist churches in America? Well, I did. But, that’s just my Tebow bias shining through!

 

 

 

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12 Responses to "Tim Tebow, Robert Jeffress & Graceless Responses!"

  1. Mack Payne says:

    I agree with your analysis but of course I am a Florida/Tebow fan.

    1. Howell Scott says:

      Mack,

      Thanks for reading and stopping by. I can relate to your bias because I share it when it comes to Tim Tebow. This probably should have been no big deal, but the media and Pastor Jeffress seem to want to keep the fire stoked. Enjoyed meeting you last week and getting the opportunity to hang out a little. Hope you have a good day and God bless,

      Howell

  2. Robert I Masters says:

    I disagree with you strongly here.
    Politics is a full contact combat arena.
    Robert Jeffries excels in this arena as a pastor/prophet
    Tim Tebow is a man of excellent Character but he entered the Political arena voluntarily with the Focus ads and other events including this Grand Opening.
    He should have kept his comittment to FBC Dallas.
    The Contest is between the Christian intolerant homosexualists and Christian warrior Dr Jeffries.
    Tim Tebow wussed out as even the TMZ pagans agreed.
    http://tinyurl.com/ao9yd6s

    Thats not Gracelessness its just the truth.

    His actions gave the enemy new boldness.

    1. Howell Scott says:

      Robert,

      Thanks for reading and stopping by. Blogging would be boring if people didn’t disagree with me :-) Based upon my post, it shouldn’t surprise you that I disagree that Pastor Jeffress “excels in this arena as a pastor/prophet.” Not really my cup of tea, but we will have to agree to disagree. Whether or not Tim Tebow should have kept his commitment (I think he made a mistake to accept the speaking invitation in the first place), I’m not sure that I would say that Tim “wussed out.” In any event, TMZ may not be the best source to quote. What’s next? Using the ACLU to bolster an argument ;-) Thanks again for the comment. Have a great weekend and God bless,

      Howell

  3. Robert I Masters says:

    Both you and Wade Burleson seem to be making the dispute between Tim and Dr Jeffries when I truly believe the “new Information” is pressure from the homosexualists whether that be Jockey, or the Jets, or the NFL.
    He would not have promised to return if it was about ministry style.

    BTW-Not sure that even Robert Jeffries disagrees with Tim here but Gods love is not unconditional since repentance is a condition that God places on everyone. see Carson!

    1. Howell Scott says:

      Robert,

      As I stated in the opening paragraph of my OP, I have been MIA in the blogosphere for the last three months. That ended last night with the writing of this post. Part of what got me behind the keyboard again is Tim Tebow. Being a Florida native myself, I have always liked him, going back to his UF days. Of course, the kerfuffle involving Tebow and one of the SBC’s premiere churches — FBC Dallas — was just too good to pass up writing something about. To be frank, I have purposely avoided reading any of articles by various Christian bloggers (including Wade Burleson) on this issue, so I am at a loss as to how others are trying to spin it. I admit that I am biased toward Tebow, but I have nothing against Pastor Jeffress or FBC Dallas. This should not be a dispute between Tim and Dr. Jeffress. Even if pressure from the outside came to bear on Tim (which is likely), all parties involved (including Pastor Jeffress) could have minimized the dispute by how they responded publicly. BTW, I probably am closer to your understanding of unconditional love and repentance in belief, although not as consistent in practice :-) Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  4. suzanne says:

    Yea!!!!
    Glad to see you’re planning to blog regularly again.

    1. Howell Scott says:

      Suzanne,

      Thanks! It’s taken me longer than I thought it would to get back behind the keyboard. Looking forward to writing on a regular basis. Thanks for reading and for the encouraging words. God bless,

      Howell

  5. Job says:

    Robert I Masters:

    I am not a Tebow fan so I have no basis for defending him. But with all due respect, you are wrong. Tebow should have kept his commitment? Why, pray tell? Christians have the right to change their minds. As a matter of fact, we should change our minds when circumstances change and new information is made available to us. Jesus Christ denounced the inflexibility of the Pharisees, remember? They rigidly stuck to their little rules that told them that Jesus Christ was a sinner for healing on the Sabbath and other such demonic nonsense. The people who simply repeat “Tebow should have kept his word” aren’t applying much critical thought to the matter, but have simply decided that they have to criticize him for letting them down some way but don’t want to do it too harshly, so that is what they hang their hat on. Tebow had the right and responsibility to change his mind if he was doing so for the right reason. If it was for the right reason, then actually not changing his mind would have been sinning. Suppose you agreed to speak at a church, and then found out that the pastor didn’t believe in the Holy Trinity. Should you keep your word in that instance? As a former Pentecostal who saw the damage of the oneness pentecostal cult first hand (I do not cringe at what Jeffress said about Mormons one bit by the way) of course you shouldn’t. So did Tebow not go for the right reason? We don’t know. We THINK we know but we don’t. For all we know, God might have told Tebow not to go. Tebow might have accepted the invitation without praying first. But until Tebow or someone else privy to the situation tells us, we do not know and we should not presume to.

    Take this “judge not” thing. I don’t go along with how it is usually thrown about. I believe in judging. I believe that Christians are called and empowered to judge by the Bible and the Holy Spirit. But here’s the deal. Make sure that it is a sin issue first. Make sure that A) what you are accusing the person of is actually a sin, B) that the person actually committed the sin that you are accusing of, and C) that your motive for making the accusation is nothing more, less or other than your absolute devotion to God against whom alone the sin is against and love for the sinner, especially if the sinner is your brother in Christ Jesus. If you fail that test, then that is when “judge not/let he who is without sin cast the first stone” actually applies. And that is so in this case. Because we don’t know why Tebow didn’t go, by claiming that he sinned or even erred by not going is a false judgment and likely a sin in and of itself.

    I will conclude by saying that at some point we Christians are going to have to let this culture war thing go. It’s over. We lost. Abortion is legal (thanks largely to Reagan selling us out and putting O’Connor and Kennedy on the court, especially O’Connor) and gay marriage will soon be (again, with lots of judges appointed by Nixon, Reagan and both Bushes giving them victories). Christian political activists don’t even talk about ending no-fault divorce or banning pornography anymore, or leading an organized exodus from public schools to private and homeschooling in order to force the public schools to stop their abomination indoctrination program. Time to move on from fighting over this world, our battle, and start building God’s kingdom, which is the Lord’s battle and cannot be lost. Abortion, and infanticide were legal and homosexuality – including pervasive systematic, ritualistic child molestation – was widely practiced and embraced in the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus Christ and the early church. Those and other abominations are part of the landscape in plenty of places today where Christians are a minority, even a large minority. All this talk about Christians transforming and redeeming the culture … I haven’t seen the basis for it in my Bible. So if what you are into is “The contest between the Christian intolerant homosexualists and Christian warrior Dr. Jeffries” I say that Christians were never called to enter into such worldly arenas to fight battles of the flesh with carnal weapons to begin with. And if that is why we wanted Tebow to go, I am 100% glad that he didn’t. Because we don’t preach that homosexuality is an abomination, a deviation, an aberration and perversion (and if this is strong words for you, go read Romans 1:18-32, especially in the KJV) in the vain hope that the fallen and wicked world that hates Jesus Christ and His righteousness will change the laws. We preach it in the knowledge that it – when combined with the gospel of Jesus Christ – will bring Holy Spirit conviction upon homosexuals so that they will repent and receive that God has decreed for them before the foundation of the world.

  6. Robert I Masters says:

    Job
    We will just have to disagree about the Culture war.
    I believe it is a Task mandated by God in Gen !:28….commonly called the Cultural Mandate.
    I am not a Pietist and hate Pietism with my whole being!
    We are not the minority in America and we need to act like the majority by exercising Godly Servanthood Dominion.

    One specific example here in Tennessee we do not allow Homosexuals to have special rights or maintain special class status. We did that through the writing of laws.

    I believe God is glorified in this manner.

  7. Robert I Masters says:

    Job
    I think Tim Tebow is an excellent Christian Man
    When I say he wussed out I do not mean imply that he sinned at all, I do not think he did!
    I grew up as an MK in Indonesia so we are fellow MK’s.
    I also lived in Fort Lauderdale so appreciate the Florida connection.

    Howell Scott
    Welcome back and thanks for allowing me to speak my thoughts freely.
    I am not allowed that courtesy on SBCVoices and am grateful to you for that freedom.

    1. Howell Scott says:

      Robert,

      It’s good to be back! Glad to have you as a reader. Please feel free to comment and speak your thoughts freely anytime :-). Other than people using profanity (which I will edit out if possible), I welcome all comments, especially from those who may not agree with my position. I know other blogs (including Voices) impose more limits on comments, but I enjoy the free flow of information and opinions. Thanks again for the comments tonight. God bless,

      Howell

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