Three views. Dr. Al Mohler thinks so:
For Tim Tebow, speaking at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, had to look like a great opportunity. He grew up attending a large Southern Baptist church, and an invitation to speak at one of the most venerable and historic Baptist churches in the world had to look like an easy call. He was going.
All that changed yesterday when Tebow, the National Football League’s most prominent evangelical symbol, sent word through Twitter that he was withdrawing from the event. His sudden announcement came after a whirlwind of controversy over his scheduled appearance at the Dallas church. Its senior minister, Robert Jeffress, is no stranger to public controversy. His sound bites are often incendiary, but his convictions—including the exclusivity of the gospel and the belief that homosexual behaviors are sinful—are clearly within the mainstream of American evangelicalism.
While many complained about Jeffress’s tone and stridency, the controversy quickly shifted to secular outrage that Tebow would agree to speak to a church known for such beliefs.
Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports warned, “Tim Tebow is about to make the biggest mistake of his life” by speaking at “a hateful Baptist preacher’s church.” Doyel described Jeffress as “an evangelical cretin” guilty of serial hate speech. Of course, Doyel engaged in hateful and slanderous speech of his own by associating Jeffress with the truly hateful Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. Jeffress “isn’t as bad as Westboro,” Doyel admitted, “But he comes close. Too close.”
Other sportswriters piled on. Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post offered his own warning to Tebow: “After a season on the sidelines, the ball’s in your hands, Timmy. Better not fumble this one.”
The controversy threatened to dominate Tebow’s life, so the 25-year-old athlete withdrew, attempting to escape his predicament. Stating that he has wished to “share a message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love” with the historic congregation, Tebow said that “due to new information that was brought to my attention” he has decided to cancel the event. He then pledged to use “the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope, and Love to all those needing a brighter day.”
If Tebow meant to mollify his critics, it is not likely to work for long. Tebow has identified himself as a vocal evangelical believer. His church roots go deep, and it is safe to say that he has never had a pastor who, though speaking in a different tone, would have disagreed with Jeffress on the exclusivity of Christ and the sinfulness of homosexuality. He has given no indication that he has moved from those convictions, and his closest friends assure that he has not.
Some important points in this article so please keep reading here.
Joe Carter takes a more “wait and see” attitude: “While Tebow has been an admirable witness for the faith, both secular and Christian media have reduced him into a culture war symbol. That’s no way to treat such an honorable young man. Perhaps its time we all give Tebow some space to just be a Christian athlete again rather than scrutinizing him as if he were the embodiment of American Evangelical Christianity.” Read Carter’s take on it here.
And Carl Trueman thinks we should keep calm and carry on!
“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart.” (Proverbs 26:20–23, ESV)
Dan Phillips gives some advice on how to kill gossip and its nasty kin:
Gossip kills churches. If you’re reading this blog at all, odds are I don’t want your church to be killed! So here’s what you do.
First, understand what gossip is. Gossip is spreading harmful information in an ungodly manner — without love, and thus to no positive end. Its bastard stepchildren are the triplets: Strife, Dissension, Division. Once again, my focus is the life of the local church.
Second, do any or all of the following steps, as needed. Some of them help identify whether you’re actually hearing gossip or not. All of them will stop it dead. But none will work… unless used.
Read Dan’s five suggestions here.