When Tim Tebow was asked to be a guest speaker by Pastor Robert Jeffress at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, he readily agreed. Tebow was scheduled for April 28 to bring a message at the dedication of newly constructed facilities on the church campus. The scheduled dedication was going to be a media event, which is part of the reason Tebow was invited to speak. You could hear the liberal howls almost immediately.
This past February 21 Tebow tweeted that based on “new information” he had received, he was cancelling his appearance. Tebow has not disclosed what this “new information” is, but it seems to be a shoddy excuse considering his hesitancy to publish his reasons for cancellation.
Dr. Jeffress is no stranger to controversy. As pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, he has ascended to one of the most venerable and prominent pulpits in America and the world. His comments regarding the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the issue of homosexuality, while well within the mainstream of orthodox Christianity, have been perceived as being unduly harsh by the public and the media has not been kind in response.
Dr. Jeffress first insinuated himself into the public discourse when he announced his support of Texas Governor Rick Perry when he threw his hat into the ring as a candidate for the republican nomination for the Presidency. At that time he denounced Mitt Romney’s candidacy because he was a Mormon and later endorsed Romney when he won the republican nomination. As a result, Dr. Jeffress has been in and out of the public eye ever since, and unless Tebow has had his head buried in a playbook this is not “new information.”
Tim Tebow’s celebrated Christian witness considered cute in college has not been as well received in the glaring stadium lights of the NFL. For the most part Tebow’s ostentatious Christianity has irked one sportscaster after another and they have vehemently derided him for it. To his credit, Tebow has not responded with unkind words or actions and has maintained a serenely unflappable attitude through all the attacks. He has been a model of Christian fortitude and behavior despite the relentless and acrimonious assaults on his character. He has earned the love and respect of many by doing so.
But this recent incident may tarnish his testimony. The prevailing perception is that Tebow cancelled his appearance to avoid any further controversy. If that is true, Tebow created an even greater media maelstrom.
Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Senior Religion Editor for the Huffington Post, showed his approval of Tebow’s decision when he applauded Tebow’s “refusing to be associated with a particular strain of religious faith that is publicly connected with an anti-gay stance and flagrantly hostile to other faith traditions.” But Raushenbush’s praise will not serve Tebow well in conservative Christian circles.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., apparently thinks Tebow made a bad decision writing an article entitled Tebow’s Big Fumble. Mohler said, “If Tebow meant to mollify his critics, it is not likely to work for long.” Mohler bases his statement on the fact that Tebow was raised in a church holding these same views, he has been an outspoken proponent of biblical truth, and his closest friends assure us he has not changed his convictions.
Dr. Jeffress and the congregation of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, are no doubt hurt by Tebow’s decision. In Numbers 30:2 we read, “If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” People assume one must swear to do something for it to be an oath, but our word is our oath. When I say I will do something and don’t, I’ve broken my oath. It’s just that simple. Jesus clearly said “let your statement be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’” Matthew 5:37. Jesus’ point is we should say what we mean and mean what we say.
In an attempt to avoid controversy, Tim Tebow created an even greater one when he broke his word. He has offended his brothers and sisters, and has given the appearance of backing away from biblical truth, and compromising his Christian convictions. Tebow needs to repent and he owes pastor Jeffress and the congregation of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, a public apology. It looks like Tebow fumbled this one.