The Blasphemy Of Being An Enemy Of Sinners

By now we’ve probably all heard the story. Tim Tebow had accepted an invitation to speak at First Baptist Dallas. The internet blew up because of inflammatory statements made by the pastor. Tebow backed out.

I first read about the situation in an article by CBSSports Columnist Greg Doyel, before Tebow announced that he was backing out of the engagement. I don’t agree with all that Doyel puts forth in the article, but I’m as shocked as he is by most of the words of Jeffress.

Among the things said in the article:

“He [Jeffress] believes, he has said, “It’s a fact that [AIDS is] a gay disease so there’s a reasonable reason to exclude gays from the military.”

“He says the Catholic church is a satanic cult. He says Islam “is a religion that promotes pedophilia — sex with children.”

Obama, Jeffress said, “is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”

“I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all,” Jeffress said in November. “One reason I know he’s not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes.””

I was really shocked to learn that the church this man pastors was not some fringe church we’ve never heard of, but that it was First Baptist Church of Dallas. I’ve had friends and friends of friends who have called that church home in the past and I think they would be appalled by these words.

I applaud Tebow for rescinding his engagement. I don’t really have strong opinions about Tebow. Last year he spoke at a church near my town and his message, which I heard second-hand, sounded more like secular self-help than the gospel, but not hearing it myself I can’t really criticize too much.

But I don’t really want to talk about Tebow. I’d rather talk about Jeffries words and outside worlds reaction to them.

On Friday Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote an article in Christianity Today, about the incident, putting forth the idea that while Jeffress tends to speak bluntly, he is being persecuted for making exclusive claims about Jesus Christ and upholding a traditional understanding of the scriptures regarding homosexuality, and we have come to a time in which society will not tolerate those who hold these beliefs, and poor us.

With all due respect to Mohler, I respectfully and vehemently disagree.

First I have to ask: Aids is a gay disease? Islam promotes pedophilia? Obama paving the way to the anti-Christ? – 1.) Are these things true?! 2.) Are they loving?

Do I have to answer?

Further to the point, Tim Tebow speaks at churches regularly, and I would wager that almost all of them have recorded sermons available to the public and online, in which their pastor upholds the teaching that salvation is found in Jesus alone, and affirms a traditional reading of scripture regarding homosexuality.

We also live in a world where Rick Warren, a pastor who has affirmed both of the aforementioned viewpoints, can sit down with Oprah and share wisdom with the world.

It’s clear: It is not the exclusive claims of Jesus or a traditional reading of scripture that are found unacceptable. That day may come, but do not pretend that that is what Jeffress is guilty of. 

What I was struck with most about Jeffress words are how un-Christ-like they sound.

Yesterday I read the words of Watchman Nee:

“In the Gospels the Lord Jesus is presented as the Friend of sinners, for historically He was found, first of all, moving among the people as their friend before He became their Savior. But do you realize that today He is still in the first place our Friend, in order that He may become our Savior?
It is clear from the New Testament that the Lord Jesus came as a Friend, in order to help sinners come to Him. Our coming to Him was made possible by His first coming to us.”

Saying false and hurtful things about those you were called to love and befriend doesn’t sound like the actions of the one we were called to follow. It sounds self-righteous, it sounds like a man of privilege who needs to be more concerned with the lives of those surrounding his church building there in downtown Dallas rather than paying audacious sums of money to bring in others of privilege to satisfy the desires of a celebrity obsessed culture.

And now I have to say that I feel like a bit of a phony. I need to confess to you that while I would never say the words of Jeffress I find so egregious, I’m guilty of the same sin. I’m find that more times than not, I am the only friends with sinners who sin like me. Myself and Jeffress – not a friend of sinners. Praying and striving to be better.



Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

5 thoughts on “The Blasphemy Of Being An Enemy Of Sinners

  1. Thanks to my friend Joe for bringing this issue and article concerning pedophelia in Afganistan among certain tribes to my attention, :
    While it relates only tangentially to the original post, it’s a shocking development and deserves attention.
    My issue with Jeffress is really with the posture of the statements made. If we had friendships with Muslims that we love and are trying to show Christ to, we wouldn’t be lumping them in with  pedophiles because of the actions of a few. Just as we acknowledge that it’s unfair to say that the Catholic faith encourages pedophilia because of the actions of some priests.

  2. For a long time – and maybe it’s still true – the Baptist denomination was far an away that largest denomination.
    I dunno. It seems to me a great way to be wildly successful is to obsessively make divisive claims, fantastic claims with great charisma and fanfare.
    Kind of the opposite of Jesus’ style.
    Kind of the what I’ve experience in Baptist churches.
    HOWEVER – the Biblical mandate is to speak the truth in love. I.E., not to “speak the truth” and not to “speak in love”. To “speak the truth in love”. That thorny ‘ole dualism again.
    Logic requires – I believe – us to acknowledge that if the truth were inherently loving there would be no need to specify speaking it “in love”. Just speaking it would be loving. And the inverse for speaking in love – if every time someone spoke in love, they were by definition speaking the truth, then …
    Aids is a gay disease? I would say the burden of proof to those who question this is on them. What is your basis for challenging this claim? Is it the vast heterosexual population who has Aids? I think that population, if it even exists, is a myth perpetuated by the politics of homosexuality. It doesn’t exist. Is it the … the … the … what? You don’t even bother to say what your position is, much less substantiate it. I’d say if you want to make the claim that there is no relationship between homosexuality and Aids, you are lying. You might be speaking out of love, but you are also speaking out of deceit and you are as unbiblical in your speaking as this Baptist preacher (“neither to the left nor to the right … to road is narrow”).
    I have heard stories pertaining to pedophilia in the Islamic regions of the world as well – from people who have been there and witnessed it with their own eyes. And I have heard stories that are much, much – MUCH – worse (if you can imagine that, and no I will not indulge the details unless you ask; I give you credit for knowing as many people as I and so assume that you, too, have heard stories of your own – nevertheless, if you ask I answer on the condition that you agree that you understand that he stories are outrageous to the point of being unbelievable and yet the people who tell them swear to them). So now, what? We condemn a man for telling what he believes to be the truth, has obtained credible evidence for it being true and can corroborate that evidence with thousands of first-hand witnesses to its truth? On what basis? You don’t *like* it? It’s not “loving’? Is it “loving” to lie?
    On the issue of the Antichrist, this pastor is undoubtedly a pre-millinieul (sp?) apocalyptic whatever … whatever (sorry rusty on my , what is it? eschatological? LOL … I’m trying here folks, give me some room for failure!!) … uhh … terms. The point is, I don’t know how to interpret Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation and the rest of prophetic mumbo-jumbo (no disrespect intended, that’s just what it looks like to me!!) in the Bible. This guy has an interpretatin. WITHIN THE CONTEXT of that interpreation (admittedly LaHaye-friendly and all) – WITHIN THAT CONTEXT, what he said about Obama makes perfect sense – and remarkably, kind of terrifyingly so really if you start to dig down into the details. The cashless society, the mark of the Beast, blah blah blah. I’m not saying I agree, I’m just saying – hey  – I dunno, OK? I personally am not a pre-milliniel (sp?) dude, but I’ll give ear to whoever until I can’t take it any more.
    I hear what you’re saying: To *say* Aids is gay disease is provocative, unfriendly, repulsive to many and probably not … what? Very socially concious. But you know, they killed all of God’s prophets precisely because they weren’t “socially concious”. They killed Jesus because he wasn’t socially concious. You think you’re being like Jesus? Seems to me, you’re trying to make nice with the politically correct crowd – the people who are in power right now. I also think you’re sincere. Just a little loose with the truth when the truth becomes a little uncomfortable.
    For the record, and for what it’s worth:
    1) I believe Aids is a disease that results from gross neglect of the principle that God created sex to be intimate, personal and exclusive. Gross neglect, not casual, dare I say “normal” (uh-oh) neglect. Women are, in general, great at moderating men’s sexual appetites and are great at helping men not be total grunting barbarians in many other regards. But a society where it’s just men? Oh brother … holy smackamoly. Who’s there to moderate *them*? Yikes …
    2) *Islam* does not promote pedophilia, but there is a regional situation and there is also a history that goes all the way back to Mohammed (and no I’m not a scholar, this is just what I’ve heard) involving not boys, but at least one girl who was not *that* young, but who was what we would all consider to be “too” young. Many, many Muslim people are what we would call “the salt of the earth” in terms of their personal morality and character and the like; but collectively – somehow there are some really extraordinary issues involving criminal punishments, treatment of women, etc. etc. To gloss all that over in the name of love … just doesn’t wash unless you want to leave the “truth” part out of “speaking the truth in love”.
    3) If I were a pre-millinial dude, the whole NSA, Patriot Act, yadayada thing would be too juicy and too compelling for me to not use as plug-in interpretations for all the metaphors that come along with pre-millinial scene. Obama didn’t start it – but it is being acclerated in warp-mode under his watch, and likely, command. Further, it being turned from an outward-foreign enemy focus to an inward-native-enemy focus (militia’s, the Tea Party and the like, but not just them as it basically every American is subject to its probing queries, data warehousing, video taping and the like).
    I don’t wanna stand up on stage with this FB Dallas guy. Then again, I don’t wanna co-author a blog with you. He’s a little cranky on the whole love side – and what the heck, you’re a little loosy-goosey on the truth side. Maybe, in the end, it’s supposed to be that way. Maybe, collectively, when we’re all on our game and really doing a good job – maybe it is only through our collective efforts and expressions that the nature and character and meaning and desire and will of God can *accurately* be displayed to the world. I like that idea. It makes me happy ’cause now I can sit and listen respectfully and appreciatively to a whole bunch of people saying different things in different ways. And I hope it’s true.

  3. @Mike Kemp I think I see it from the other direction. I think sometimes we resist admitting truth that happens to fall on the side of those that Christians find themselves in a culture war with. We should be standing up for truth no matter where it comes from.

    • @beardonabike
      So it is with truth – “the narrow way” – “God is no respecter of men” (even those that label themselves “Christian”).
      A finely spun thread of pure gold, I’ve heard it described, impartial to the labels men assign to themselves as to who it winds itself through.
      Perhaps “culture wars” should be avoided at all costs, just a thought, not much behind it (at this point … but give me 10 min and I’m sure I could generate another screed!!).
      I would say that our propensity to disavow our human loyalties – for example, in terms of cultural associations – is a sign our of devotion to the truth as opposed to them.
      “…sometimes we resist admitting truth…”. Ahhhh … the cool language of men who don’t want to be held later to what they say now. No – I’m being too hard. 🙂 “Sometimes”, yes. Make no doubt: I am in full agreement with you here. Let us not neglect, then, in our eagerness to embrace what happens “sometimes”, what happens at “other times”.
      Other times we resist admitting the truth because it goes against the grain of culture – and in our desire to be accepted, to live comfortably, have good jobs, etc. – history is replete with men who quietly acquiesced to mass atrocity because … remaining silent was more … well, they were allowed to live for one thing. Need to we refer only to history? Only if we don’t read the news.
      I believe that being devoted to the truth means being *equally* willing to use our right leg to walk as our left. And being equally willing to associate with ideas from the right, or the left, as we see the thread of gold wind. We have a strong propensity to want to pogo on one leg, which I’m sure, to God, looks quite odd!!
      But I could go on forever and this being your “house” I should let you have the last word. Apparently I am not yet that much of a gentleman. I promise to work on that.

      • @Mike Kemp To be clear, I want no part of the culture wars. I’m just acknowledging that they exist.
        …and you’re always welcome to have the last word. 🙂

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