As I reported earlier today, Tim Tebow has decided to withdraw his name from a list of speakers invited to help First Baptist, Dallas, TX open their new $130 million downtown sanctuary. Tebow did this because of the campaign begun by pro-gay groups who have labelled First Baptist's pastor, Robert Jeffress as an intolerant and controversial pastor because of things that he has said about homosexuals, Mormons, Muslims, Jews, and other groups. Jeffress has been very direct and to the point over the years in saying that homosexuality was sin and that Mormons, Muslims, and Jews are going to Hell because they do not embrace the Biblical Jesus.
Tim Tebow is about to make the biggest mistake of his life. Tebow has agreed to speak at a hateful Baptist preacher's church, an evangelical cretin named Robert Jeffress who does the work of the Lord sort of like Westboro Baptist in Topeka, Kan., does the work of the Lord.
Not at all.
Jeffress isn't as bad as Westboro. He doesn't send his flock to funerals of U.S. soldiers and have his sheep yell awful things like, "God hates fags." But he comes close. Too close. He 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.Jeffress is a bad guy. He says Jews and homosexuals are going to hell. He says the Catholic church is a satanic cult. He says Islam "is a religion that promotes pedophilia -- sex with children."
Mormons? They're going to hell, too, but Jeffress was willing to overlook that and promote Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election because 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."
Tim Tebow supports this man. More than supports him, Tebow is going to throw his weight -- and it is considerable; we're talking about Tim Tebow for God's sake -- behind this preacher by speaking at his church in Dallas in April. And that is a mistake he'll never overcome.
Doyel concludes his rant with this denunciation:
I'm ashamed to like Tim Tebow now. More specifically, I don't like Tim Tebow now. I can't. Liking him means liking someone who wouldn't just agree with, but would support, Robert Jeffress. And I despise Robert Jeffress. And there are people like me, I promise you. Thousands, maybe millions of us who have enjoyed Tim Tebow as a sports spectacle, but who won't enjoy this. Who can't enjoy this. I suspect there are Christians -- many of you -- who are as disappointed as I am that Tebow would align himself with something as monstrous as Robert Jeffress. Please read that sentence again, because this column isn't an attack of Christianity.
I don't consider Robert Jeffress' theology to be Christianity, a religion built on love. Jeffress speaks hate. Robert Jeffress wouldn't have saved Mary Magdalene. He would have stoned her. Tim Tebow will speak at this man's church. Be gone, Tim Tebow. I'm done with you.
This is on CBS Sports. And, Doyel's views and those of others gained traction until Tebow declined to speak at the grand opening of First Baptist Dallas' $130 million downtown sanctuary. Think about the implications of this for a moment - a complete denunciation by critics of Tebow because he associates with the pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX.
Whatever Jeffress has said or has not said, the fact remains that he pastors one of the most influential and largest churches in Evangelicalism. Tim Tebow was seen as a "savior" of sorts for Evangelicals in America over the past couple of years as he prayed and gave witness to Christ. The fact that Tebow will not speak in a church that has views that are largely accepted in Evangelicalism under pressure from secularists is telling. Not only is the Christian cultural consensus in America dead, but the Evangelical consensus is also breaking up under the weight of the hostility of the larger culture. The only kind of "Christianity" deemed acceptable in America today is the kind that is being reframed as all love and no judgment for sin. Even Tim Tebow, an Evangelical Icon, cannot hold the worlds of culture, football, and faith together any longer. The center of Cultural Christianity that we have depended upon cannot hold.
We might remember this as the Tebow Moment.
To take this a bit further, First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX, is about to dedicate a $130 million sanctuary in Downtown Dallas, TX. The worship center will seat 3,000 people with a mile of pews, stained glass windows, and impressive fountains. It is a mammoth structure. The grand opening events will have speakers and performers such as David Jeremiah, Charles Billingsley, Jim Cymbala, Phil Wickham, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers, and Dr. James Dobson. Tim Tebow was supposed to join that lineup. But, one must ask what kind of bells and whistles are involved in a $130 million price tag for a 3,000 seat sanctuary. One must ask if spending $130 million on a 3,000 seat sanctuary with fountains and glass and other luxuries is even the religion that Jesus had in mind when he died on the cross alone and rejected. First Baptist will celebrate over the next month. The world wonders what they are celebrating.
Another problem: The thinking that causes a church to build a $130 million building in downtown Dallas, TX is based on the assumptions of Christendom - the idea that Christianity is favored and that the masses will see it as a benefit to their way of life to participate in such an endeavor. But, as the Tebow Moment shows, that reality is changing rapidly. FBC Dallas is now seen as an intolerant, hateful church by the larger world. It is seen as promoting a hateful religion that seeks to harm other people. However, this is not a fringe church. This church is at the heart of Evangelicalism and the result of it being seen this way will have an effect on Evangelical churches around America. It was one thing for us to disavow Westboro for their hatred. It will be quite another to be expected to disavow First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX. They are us, at least in a relational sense.
And, will a church that continues to hold unpopular views and that is seen as intolerant and hateful be able to pay for a $130 million sanctuary? Here is a view of the sanctuary:
We live in challenging times. I don't know what the future holds, but I know that Evangelicals must maintain Biblical positions and do so in love. HOW we communicate those positions needs to be thought about more clearly in a culture that has now become very hostile to the Christian faith - or, at least the form of Christianity that says that there is such a thing as sin and that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Also, what posture we take in the world is important. We demonstrate what our values are by how we spend our money and use our resources. Is a $130 million sanctuary built during a terrible recession while people are struggling the best way to represent Christ in this changing environment? With the presuppositions of Christendom giving way to a culture now hostile to Christian thought and morality, what is the future of endeavors like this? What is the future of First Baptist, Dallas?
We can expect persecution. I just wonder if we are ready for it?
I also wonder if perhaps God is not stripping us of everything that we have ever depended upon besides Him? We'll see how First Baptist Dallas responds. I wonder how the rest of us will respond as well. The world is very different than it was just a year or two ago.