The Gospel Coalition

The Story: New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow is once again making national news after canceling a scheduled appearance at First Baptist Church in Dallas.



The Background: Tebow was scheduled to share his testimony on April 28 as First Baptist's monthlong celebration of the $130 million expansion and renovation of its downtown campus. But yesterday Tebow announced the cancellation on Twitter:
While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ's unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!

According to a statement issued by First Baptist, Tebow called the church's pastor, Robert Jeffress, on Wednesday evening, "saying that for personal and professional reasons he needed to avoid controversy at this time but would like to come to First Baptist Dallas to speak at a future date."

What It Means: Last February Tebow canceled an appearance at a revival organized by prosperity gospel preacher Rod Parsley without explanation. This time, though, the speculation is that the quarterback caved into pressure because of Pastor Jeffress' comments on homosexuality.

But such remarks by Jeffress are certainly not new and it's hard to imagine that Tebow was not aware of them. While I'm hesitant to add to the speculation, I think it is possible that Tebow made his decision after being apprised of Jeffress comments on Catholicism. In 2010, Rev. Jeffress said the Roman Catholic Church was the outgrowth of a "corruption" called the "Babylonian mystery" and that "Much of what you see in the Catholic Church today doesn't come from God's word. It comes from that cult-like pagan religion. Isn't that the genius of Satan?"

Catholic groups had previously been critical of Tebow's father because his ministry, the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association, is active in the Philippines, a country that's predominately Catholic. Because he had given money and and volunteered for his father's ministry, Tim had also been criticized for being "anti-Catholic." (The Jets quarterback was also reported to have dated Camilla Belle, an actress who is said to have been raised in a strict Catholic family and had attended an all-girls Catholic school.)

But whether it was because he would be perceived as being opposed to homosexuality or Catholicism, it's understandable that the young athlete would want to avoid getting embroiled in controversy. His prospects of remaining in the NFL are unclear and the speaking engagement at First Baptist was turning into more of a distraction than opportunity to share the gospel.

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.


Comments:

[...] supporters of Tebow were saddened that their idol crumbled under the pressure of culture, and then skewered him publicly for [...]

valentina

February 27, 2013 at 07:48 AM

Amen

Lou

February 27, 2013 at 07:18 AM

I disagree. Jeffers is not a model of a Gospel preacher. I commend Tebow for not wanting to be associated with the incendiary fringes of the Culture Wars.

Russell Johnson

February 27, 2013 at 04:56 PM

Giglio's invitation was recinded by the White House. He issued a very tactful and respectful statement. He took the high road. Tebow wasn't uninvited. He cut and ran.

katherineb

February 26, 2013 at 12:03 PM

I don't know what to be more concerned about, the fact that Tebow backed out of speaking or that this church is spending 129 million dollars on a new facility?

Trevor Minyard

February 25, 2013 at 03:12 PM

Man, can all us internet theologians/thugs go out and preach the gospel to our neighbors or something beneficial???

We're all going in on Tebow like he pulled a Joel Osteen or something. #SMH

John

February 24, 2013 at 07:27 PM

Lynn,

This reminds me when I played football as a youngster. There were kids who always complained about being hit. They wanted to play football but got upset when someone put a good lick on them. Well these boys eventually dropped out of football and took up Golf or bowling, it suited them better.

Christianity is a tough thing. We are battling with ideas and beliefs that are going to make a difference whether people go to heaven or hell. Talking about sin in our world is offensive, some folks don't have the stomach for it. But it is a necessary part of gospel proclamation. Controversy is going to come with it.

If you can't handle someone making their opinion on a very public person in a very public action on a very important subject. Then I would suggest a public forum that discusses their opinions on important public events might not be for you. Sometimes people get their feelings hurt. Sometimes we disagree on what is right and wrong.

You accuse me of slander and gossip. Brother, Slander is "to injure by maliciously uttering a false report" it is the uttering false information. I did not such thing. I simply made a comment in response to the article that I disagreed with based on factual reporting. My comment was the I did not believe that what he did was "faithfulness".

Gossip is "a person who chatters or repeats idle talk and rumors, esp. about the private affairs of others". I did not such thing. This is a very public matter, I was offering opinion contrary to the post.

I forgive you for your false accusations. Keep in mind that when the President, or congress or fill in the blank, does something and you make a determination whether, in your opinion it was right or wrong. You are doing the same thing I did. Maybe I will get news that you would never make a comment on a very public person making a very public decision saying that you believe what they did was wrong. If I do I will apologize.

As far as the self-righteous thing. I don't think you know what that is either.

Blessings to you brother, sincerely, I think your probably trying to do a good thing.

*I used Websters.

Lynn Burgess

February 24, 2013 at 05:28 AM

I just cannot believe what people who claim to be Tim Tebow’s brothers and sisters in Christ are writing about him in these blogs. Has anyone read Matthew 18 lately? What about Eph. 4:29, speak only that which edifies and builds up. Do you honestly think our Savior would be writing what you are writing and in a public blog for the entire world to see?

John writes, “I will be happy to apologize if there is information uncovered that reveals he wasn't being unfaithful.” Really, and what scripture justifies your slander and gossip with a promise to apologize if you are wrong?

Katie wants to know why Tim did not disclose the new information. May I suggest that Tim Tebow has more character than the people dogging him in internet blogs and he knows that not everything is public information. Katie goes on to say, “she does not want to judge but,” and those words are supposed to somehow make her judgment less sinful?

I have never been more ashamed. The only difference in this blog and the one over on the LGBT site is that we are cloaking ours is self-righteousness. God forgive us, we do not know what we are doing.

Brian Sanders

February 24, 2013 at 05:16 AM

Stephen, thank you! Exactly! Many are judging Tim's heart and motives and that is not simply wrong, that is sin.

Let Tim speak for himself about standing alone and what money means to him:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=ZHr2nMOP3mA&NR=1

Brian Sanders

February 24, 2013 at 05:05 AM

Yea! Go Tebow! Win the war and don't sacrifice the final victory for the sake of a single battle. How brilliant. Thank you for that thought.

What do we know for sure about Tim Tebow? He is a faithful warrior and people are drawn to Christ and not repelled from Him by his life and witness. I have a hunch that may not be so true for his many self-righteous critics.

Katie

February 24, 2013 at 02:24 PM

Lynn, I understand that you may see my comments as negative to Tim Tebow, but I disagree. My comments were about Christians as a whole and the harm we do, when we do not stand up for God's Truth. I think that standing for and speaking the truth is also a Biblical command and just as important as the commands that say not to slander and gossip. To me, gossip and slander imply spreading false or misleading information. I don't think mentioning that Christians in today's world seem less inclined to stand against the popular culture is slanderous. I think it is a real problem and is having an impact on our culture. Satan's lies are being spread, while (some)Christians stand silent. Biblical Truth is now a "bad word". People are hesitant to speak any truth because they will be judged and attacked as "mean or self-righteous Christians". First Baptist Dallas Pastor Jeffries has been attacked and has received a lot of criticism for his comments on homosexuality. So I believe that my comments were an observation of fact rather than a personal attack on anyone.
I still think that Tim could have avoided some of the "controversy" if he had been more forthcoming about his reasons for pulling out. He may have had perfectly legitimate reasons, but he was evasive and so opened the door for speculation. My comments were in response to the article, (not necessarily a judgment about Tim Tebow.) The article referenced all the different speculation about Tim's reasons for pulling out and that is why I made my comments about being more up-front. I do understand that he is in a difficult position and I'm not sure what I might do if I were in his shoes. That is why I said that I pray frequently for courage FROM GOD, so that I would stand strong.

Darren Blair

February 23, 2013 at 08:32 AM

Thing is, being a celebrity can also open doors for an entire movement.

As an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have personal experience with situations wherein mentioning one or two famous Mormons is often enough to get someone with a closed mind to pause for a second and re-consider their viewpoints. The reason for this is because they often have fixed notions concerning the celebrity in question, and so need time to try and reconcile their opinion of the person with their opinion of the faith. This frequently causes them to realize that some of their assorted preconceived notions might not be entirely accurate, at which point they begin to re-examine what they had previously been told.

Brett

February 23, 2013 at 05:30 PM

The most disgusting thing about this is the fact that he was to speak at a celebration for the church spending $130 MILLION dollars on renovations....reason enough not to go right there for me.

[...] were the embodiment of American Evangelical Christianity.”  Read Carter’s take on it here. Share this:TwitterEmailFacebookDiggGoogle +1PrintLike this:Like [...]

Katie

February 23, 2013 at 01:00 PM

Why didn't Tim tell everyone what that "new information" was? Just be up front and honest. By being evasive, it naturally raises speculation. Regardless of why he backed out, it was wrong. He committed to appear at their event which is a significant and important one for that large congregation. Not very "brother and sister in Christ"-like treatment.
I don't mean to judge anyone, but I am just frustrated that so few Christians seem to stand for the Truth if it goes against the popular culture. (Well, Pastor Jeffries did, but look what happened there)Every time a Christian "backs down" from the Truth, the result is that an "untruth" prevails in the culture. A lie of Satan is allowed to "live".
I was reading in my Bible this morning (Hebrews 10:32-36)and it was talking about perseverance and how the Early Christians were being publically insulted and persecuted, jailed and had their property confiscated etc., yet they did not back down or turn away from their Faith. Can we imagine very many "modern day" Christians responding that way? (at least in this country) I'm not saying it is easy. One of my frequent prayers (especially in the times we live in) is that God will give me the courage to stand for Him,and not count the cost, no matter what I may face.

Larry

February 22, 2013 at 12:37 PM

I'd say if he's looking to "avoid controversy" he chose the wrong religion.

[...] not to make it justification by stance on homosexuality. And, I would add this article from TGC: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/...rch-in-dallas/ The truth is, we don't know his exact reason. You can assume what you want, but I wouldn't go on [...]

Ralph

February 22, 2013 at 12:26 PM

The truth hurts. Jesus said that we would be hated for His namesake and that families would be divided, and we would face all manner of life and death scenarios. But the gospel should go forth. I won't attack the brother for his decision, but I will say that if financial preservation is a factor, that should be something the young man should consider.

John

February 22, 2013 at 12:12 PM

So he back out of a speaking engagement because folks are standing for the Truth and recieving fire. He thinks this will be bad for his career and we are to give him slack. Is football more important than the Truth? Yes Tebow has been faithful in much but this is not faithfulness.

As Martin Luther said: If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest expression every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace, if he flinches at that point.

Stephen D

February 22, 2013 at 11:50 PM

And therein lies my biggest issue. We can specualte till the cows come home, and all it will end up doing is create gossip and give people 'legitimacy' in gossipping.

I do like how people (not just in Christian circles) feel like they can judge motives from their couches or in front of their computer screens. It's not our role to analyse hearts.

JohnM

February 22, 2013 at 10:41 PM

Whether he's right or wrong here, how many of us have endured even a little of the kind of public criticism Tebow has? I feel for the kid. I feel for any Christian in position of celebrity outside a specifically Christian context. Yes, I know it's a blessing when the world curses you. But would YOU always be inclined to receive it as such? Honestly? Maybe Christians shouldn't be celebrities in the first place. Maybe as Christians we should separate ourselves from our culture's adoration of celebrity.

Phil

February 22, 2013 at 08:33 AM

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.

Tim Tebow himself deserves a fair amount of credit/blame as well.

Grace Tam

February 22, 2013 at 07:41 PM

Don't know much. Just thought we could pray for Tebow.

Darren Blair

February 22, 2013 at 07:27 PM

I think what we should be looking at here is the phrase "due to new information".

Until Tebow comes forward with the "new information" he received, we're all just guessing at a motive here.

It could be that he was told he'd be taking heat for speaking there. Or it could be that something unfortunate came up to derail his travel plans. There could have even been an issue with event security that would have put him and/or someone else at risk.

We simply don't know.

Marshall

February 22, 2013 at 06:37 PM

Cut the kid some slack. As a pastor exactly the same age I feel his pain. Whenever he does anything that involves his faith that doesn't just involve helping little old ladies across the street he will be trashed by the media. Yes, that's the world we live in and we all need to be ready to face persecution. It's really hard. Few of us have the gift of genuinely not caring what people think of us. Let's keep praying for him and all of our brothers and sisters as we increasingly become the subject of public ridicule.

John

February 22, 2013 at 05:06 PM

Jeremiah,

Your forgiven brother.

What other facts do we need? He said he would go. Controversy arouse because of a minister standing for the truth. Tim did not want the controversy on account it was too costly. Tim went against his word and did not go.

I will be happy to apologize if there is information uncovered that reveals he wasn't being unfaithful.

Sam

February 22, 2013 at 04:37 PM

I don't really understand how anyone can, with a straight face, try to argue that Tebow didn't capitulate. He most certainly did. A more interesting question is what brought about the capitulation.

I vote homosexuality. You saw how Chris Culliver of the 49ers was savaged by media for his locker room comments. You simply cannot have a career in the NFL if you are going to publicly associate with those who denigrate homosexuality. Tebow's not an idiot, he knows this.

yankeegospelgirl

February 22, 2013 at 04:32 PM

Joe, you know we're kindred spirits, but I wish you hadn't made it sound like the culture war isn't "honorable." It's very honorable.

Jeremiah Vaught

February 22, 2013 at 04:19 PM

John sorry I assumed you had not prayed for him before posting. Glad to hear you did.

I should have said, "can we pray for our brother AND GET ALL THE FACTS FIRST, at least before typing negative words about him?"

Andrew

February 22, 2013 at 03:24 PM

Tim is a hero in my books.

John

February 22, 2013 at 02:38 PM

Jeremiah,

Lets not be judging our brothers who might disagree with you by implying that we are condemning him without even praying for him. I for one did pray for Tebow before making my post.

I don't see any one eating Tebow, my comments may have been the strongest and I don't see them as eating him.

Tebow has been faithful; but according to the news and his testimony about why he went back on his word it was because of controversy related to the truth. He backed out not wanting to be apart of controversy, for professional reasons. I don't know his motives, but in our day the last thing we need is leaders ducking controversy over truth for professional reasons. This is a day when we need men who will stand for the truth and are willing to suffer for it.

Sadly I have failed in the past to say what I should have said and failed to do what I should have did. But lets call it what it was: unfaithfulness.

When you take the limelight as a leader you should get credit for faithfulness but you should also be called out for unfaithfulness. This is the first time I have ever said anything negative about Tebow and hopefully the last.

Wade Allen

February 22, 2013 at 02:23 PM

I don't think it's fair to call Tim Tebow a coward. If anything, recent history shows us that Tebow will stand for his faith.

We have no idea what the "new information" Tebow received is. It could be something totally unrelated to the speculation the media is putting forth. Especially if it's true that Tebow indicated he would like to return at a later time.

Maybe Tebow decided it's better to win the war, rather than win a single battle?

Let's pray for Tebow as Paul prayed for himself... "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." (Ephesians 6:19-20)

Turning on Tebow – Trevin Wax

February 22, 2013 at 02:04 PM

[...] Tim Tebow won’t be speaking at First Baptist – Dallas, after all. And the internet has exploded with speculation as to [...]

Truth Unites... and Divides

February 22, 2013 at 02:00 PM

"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."

Agree. I was actually more disappointed in Louie Giglio in his withdrawal statement from Obama's inauguration than what Tim Tebow wrote.

Bruce Armstrong

February 22, 2013 at 01:31 PM

Going back on your word is not the act of an honorable man. It is the act of a coward.

Jeremiah Vaught

February 22, 2013 at 01:12 PM

Man Tebow can't escape armchair quarterbacks or armchair deities willing to post their omniscient wisdom on his motives, courage, or character.

Let's not eat our own. And instead of e-condemnation, can we pray for our brother, at least before typing negative words about him?

Thanks Joe for the suggestion to give him space.

Gina

February 22, 2013 at 01:07 PM

Well said, Joe. Thank you.