Recently Tim Tebow, the NFL quarterback who became a national sensation for his Christian faith and Cinderella season with the Denver Broncos two seasons ago, has made national news again. He was invited to speak by historic First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX on April 28, 2013, as part of the month-long celebration events surrounding the grand opening of their new $130 million, state-of-the-art campus on Easter Sunday.
Tebow canceled his speech because of a firestorm of protest by the New York media as well as other national sports media over statements made by the church’s pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffress, on cultural and moral issues specifically relating to homosexuality, AIDS, and Judaism. Tebow explained according to the church’s website that “he needed to avoid controversy at this time but would like to come to First Baptist Dallas to speak at a future date.”
In my mind this is similar to Pastor Lou Giglio’s decision to withdraw from praying at the president’s inauguration in January because of a storm of protest over a sermon he preached 20-yrs-ago that included the biblical perspective on homosexuality. He did not want his prayer to be overshadowed by an ugly protest that would distract from the reason he was there. Perhaps, Tim Tebow withdrew for similar reasons that the protest would turn him into a hate figure.
I have a personal interest in this because the first church I sought out when I moved to Dallas in 1982 was 1st Baptist. I had heard Pastor W. A. Criswell preach in person on two occasions and knew his reputation as a Bible expositor. He had built 1st Baptist into the largest Baptist church in the world by preaching thru the Bible consecutively from Genesis to Revelation in seventeen years. His preaching was bold, fearless, and Christ-centered. Whenever he would come to speak in chapel at our seminary, the chapel was always full. While people I knew from liberal churches in Dallas privately disliked his ministry, his views were not the target of media protest.
My life was changed because as a teenager I came under conviction by the preaching of my pastor. I never considered church to be a place where I could be safe in my sins and left to feel okay in my disobedience. Years later as an adult when I heard A. W. Tozer’s motto “Everything’s wrong until God sets it right,” I knew that he was correct and that the Church is God’s vehicle to proclaim what is wrong and how it can be set right. While that has never been popular, today it requires greater courage in America than perhaps ever before. It appears we will increasingly pay a price to be faithful to the Bible and the historic Christian faith.
The reaction of 1st Baptist on their website tells us where we are in America today:
As a Christian pastor, Dr. Jeffress takes a biblical approach to moral and social issues, closely following his duty to preach ‘the whole counsel of God,’ and not just address issues that are politically correct. First Baptist is a church built on the truth of Scripture, even though at times that approach can be perceived as controversial or counter to the prevailing winds of culture. The reason for the recent media firestorm is not because the Word of God has changed, but because society has changed.
Your friend, in the battle for truth, Pastor Brian (:-}).