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.