Christianity,  Sports

Pastor Jeffress’ Response to Cultured Despisers in the Media

Pastor Robert Jeffress addressed his congregation on Sunday morning about the week he has had since Tim Tebow cancelled his previously planned visit to the First Baptist Church of Dallas. Pastor Jeffress received a raucous applause as he took the stage. If you’ve been following this story, I recommend that you watch this entire video and listen to Jeffress’ remarks. He expresses his resolve to proclaim the truth of the Bible no matter the cost and to offer the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone. He concludes:

The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Jew, a Baptist, a Catholic, a Muslim, a Hindu, a homosexual, an adulterer, a thief, or a cheat. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. You can be forgiven of your sins if you trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior. That’s not a message of hate. It’s a message of hope.

Amen and amen.

Albert Mohler wrote a very helpful article for Christianity Today last week analyzing the significance of the Tebow imbroglio, and I would highlight one portion that relates to the video above. Mohler writes:

[Tebow’s] 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…

Writing at The Huffington Post, Paul Brandeis Raushenbush made it clear the controversy wasn’t just a matter of Jeffress’s tone, conceding, “while Dr. Jeffress has a tendency not to sugarcoat his feelings,” he is nonetheless voicing what evangelical Christians “have been saying for a long time.” The central scandal here is the belief that Jesus is the only Savior and that homosexual behavior is sin. In terms of the larger public debate, it is the issue of homosexuality that has predominated the larger public debate… at least for now.

Regardless of your feeling about Tebow’s decision, here’s the important thing that Christians need to pay attention to, and Dr. Mohler has put his finger on it. The “central scandal” is not how evangelicals speak about sexuality but what they are speaking. I still believe the Proverbial wisdom that how we speak matters to God and to our witness (Prov. 15:1-2). But evangelicals are fooling themselves if they think they can finesse their messaging so that the truth is no longer an offense. We have come to the point that no matter how nicely the biblical teaching on marriage is delivered, there are some who will not listen and who will write us off as morally retrograde bigots. We are being marginalized in American culture. And there’s just no way to avoid that at this point.

The bottom line for every Christian is this. We cannot escape the coming conflict. It is upon us. If we are going to be faithful to Christ, we have to be willing to take our lumps. This is not an esoteric philosophical controversy. Nor is it another irrelevant blogosphere dispute. Our faithfulness to Christ on this issue will cost us in real life social capital, in real life employment opportunities, and in a myriad other ways. The public space for Christian sexual morality is shrinking, and religious liberty will eventually be redefined to exclude us. There will be no hiding on this issue, and there will be a price to pay. Are you ready?

Hebrews 10:32-34 “But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly, by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.”

54 Comments

  • Brian Sanders

    Have we confused defending our once Christian culture with defending the gospel? The Jews were expecting a Messiah who would deliver them from Rome, but Jesus was not a military/political conqueror. Our brethren in Islamic and Communistic countries suffer very real persecution for taking to themselves the name of Christ. But are they suffering because they are fighting for their national culture? I think not.

    I understand John MacArthur to be greatly A-political, and I have long thought myself at odds with him in that regard. But the response to Tebow this week has caused me to do some serious introspection before God about just what it is He has called me to as opposed to what I am doing.

    • Brian Sanders

      I think my first sentence above should have read, “have we confused defending our once Christian culture with denying Christ?” I can never deny Christ, no matter the cost.

      But the fight for America to once again be “one nation under God” is an altogether different thing. That too is a noble fight, but it is a much lesser issue on which we can disagree on our level of involvement or the best course of action.

  • David Thomas

    “The “central scandal” is not /how/ evangelicals speak about sexuality but /what/ they are speaking.”

    This is the crux of the matter. I have yet to hear a single homosexual advocate respond–even a single time–to an evangelical spokesman with the words, “We differ, but I appreciate the tenor of your speech and the respectful way you state your position.” /Always/ it is spittle flying diatribe that brands the opponent as a bigot, a hater, and a Neanderthal. (In fact, Dr. Mohler was branded precisely this on a talk show I watched, while he spoke in an even tone and kept a pleasant expression while the other guy fairly melted down on national television in rage over what a Christian had to say.)

    Excellent post, Denny.

    • Brian Sanders

      David: I followed this on the sports blogs for days before it broke in the Christian media. This is not about only the LGBT community, many hate the pastor in question, and the Roman Catholics in particular. I have many times turned him off myself when he has been on Fox News.

      Years ago, I heard Cal Thomas say that Christians who bash politicians hinder his witness in our nation’s capital. His association with us offends people before he can even explain the gospel. Many people can recite to you the evils of Catholicism, Islam, Mormanism, and the gay lifestyle as preached by this pastor. We win the lost by sharing the truth with them not by attacking them. I understand, as I never did before why my own pastor is so very careful in how he shares the gospel with his Irish-Catholic in-laws whose identity is very tied up in both their faith and their national heritage.

      Remember too, that Tim did not speak against this pastor in any way. He used discretion that is his, at the advice of his many counselors, to make a decision that only he knowing all the fact (which we do not know) can make and we are crucifying him.

      • Robert I Masters

        Haters will hate!

        I really like Dr Jeffries leadership in the political arena. It reminds me of D James Kennedy. Love the Pastor as Prophet.

        Down with the Pietists.

      • David Thomas

        I have no problem with what you are saying, Brian. My family is Irish Catholic, too. (In fact, I’m a Notre Dame grad.) But I’m also a double SBTS grad (though I am not Baptist), and I’ve been around long enough to recognize that many who brand others as haters, bigots, incendiary, etc. are, inf act, haters themselves, and when you really listen to the supposed haters you simply get a position (not a tone) others don’t like.

        Preachers preach. The world hates the message and the authority that delivers it. C’est la vie. I can just hear the pampered, ultra-PC voices of the postmodern media harping about John the Baptizer, Jesus, and Paul now. According to the Huffington Post, merely /quoting/ any one of these would earn you the title “hater.” Should we have a care with how we say things? Of course, of course. But no more care than the Lord Himself took, eh? Do we really think we can be more merciful, tactful, or helpful than He?

      • David Thomas

        And did you notice, Buddy, who did all the diplomacy, who invited whom and who initiated all the giving? Does that experience parallel at all the talking head/ media encounters that were the context of my statement?

        Give me a break. Honestly, man, your reasoning and thinking power could fit in a thimble. E-V-E-R-Y. L-A-S-T. T-H-I-N-G N-E-E-D-S T-O B-E S-P-E-L-L-E-D O-U-T F-O-R Y-O-U T-O G-E-T A P-O-I-N-T.

        In all charity, but goodness gracious you’ve got it coming…

  • aaronweaver21

    I’m not persuaded that the HOW no longer matters. Mohler even acknowledged in his commentary that Jeffress uses “incendiary” language. Words matter.

    The HOW might not matter to some but how we talk certainly matters to others. There are many a traditionalist who share your views about sexual morality who are turned off by folks like Jeffress who seek media attention with inflammatory language that is harmful not helpful.

    In this conversation, we ought not to pretend that Robert Jeffress is some typical conservative evangelical pastor. He’s a flame-thrower, a reality that Mohler is nodding to in his commentary.

    My guess is that an Ed Stetzer survey would reveal that most pastors don’t relish controversy and drama the way Robert Jeffress has for some years now….since his days picking fights on certain Baptist blogs.

    • Denny Burk

      Aaron,

      I think the HOW matters too. I don’t think we disagree on that. My point is simply that on this particular issue, the cultural space is shrinking for us to make our arguments. The culture is increasingly rejecting our views as beyond the pale, no matter how nicely we express them.

      Thanks,
      Denny

    • Elizabeth Anscombe

      Jeffress speaks directly and without beating around the bush about the looming moral evils of our time. He believes the gospel and doesn’t stray outside it in the hateful manner of Westboro Baptist. His church is not a cult in that same way.

      The fact is that people just want to fuzzify and muddy waters that are naturally clear. When it comes to homosexuality, people who suffer from this temptation can either soberly take up their cross or celebrate/rub everyone else’s face in their perversion. The former should be encouraged, the latter ostracized. It really is that simple.

  • Ken Abbott

    I watched the video in its entirety. Based upon what he said, why would we who claim the name of Christ *not* stand with this man?

    • Don Jackson

      Remember that Tim was hosted last summer by Shadow Mountain Community Church and the press reported positively on his speaking to some 15,000 people in attendance. More recently, the press has reported that Tim will speak at Liberty University in March and at numerous other Christian events this spring and none of them has evoked controversy. I would suggest to you that this controversy and Tim’s decision are not because of the fundamental truths we all hold dear.

      • Ken Abbott

        Mr. Jackson: If your comment was a reply to mine, may I ask you to expand on your thoughts. I wrote my comment after watching the video and my remarks were directed solely to that. Thanks in advance.

  • Stephen Beck

    FBC Dallas also posted the TMZ interview Jeffress did where, after the interview was over, the TMZ hosts all had positive words for how the pastor handled himself and were confused over Tebow’s actions.

    • Lynn Burgess

      I have heard those same guys on TMZ say the vilest of things about Tim. Their “siding” with Jeffress to discredit Tim means nothing at all.

      Tim made the best decision he could given all the facts (which we do not have) with manifold advisors. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

  • Jacob Lupfer

    This whole episode says much more about Dr. Jeffress than Tim Tebow.

    For a moment, let’s put aside the fact that millions of Bible-believing, Christ-following, faithful evangelicals are not nearly as anti-gay or pro-life as you would like. But if the sanctity of life and traditional marriage are the two most important cultural/political issues to you, I think you are vastly overstating the degree to which conservative evangelicals are being marginalized. NO ONE, even in the secular media, would be surprised or offended that a SBC pastor in Dallas would be pro-life and anti-gay marriage. Tebow has doubtless spoken at dozens if not hundreds of Christian gatherings without a hint of controversy.

    The problem is not the theology and it’s not the politics. It’s people like Jeffress. Tim Tebow didn’t back out when he realized Jeffress was a literalist or a premillennial dispensationalist. He canceled when he was presented with “new information” about Jeffress’s offensive and obnoxious statements. And aside from being wrong about Catholicism and about President Obama paving the way for the antichrist, Jeffress was wrong to say “There doesn’t seem to be any daylight between what we believe.” Tebow is presumably a typical conservative evangelical Republican, but he can say for himself whether he holds Jeffress’s most extreme, obnoxious, and offensive views — the very views that were at issue in his decision to cancel.

    The more Tebow’s fundamentalist and evangelical “base” turns on him, the worse this is for them. Because the secular liberal coastal elites wouldn’t have batted an eyelash at Tebow speaking a church whose members are largely pro-life or anti-gay. This became an issue because Jeffress is so over-the-top.

    Professor Burk and others keep beating the drum about a shrinking space for conservative Christians’ voices in the public square. But really this imaginary persecution complex is what perplexes the rest of the culture the most. Secular people and non-fundamentalist religious people understand your beliefs and the fact that those beliefs lead to certain political views. People are usually surprised to see that those views map up almost perfectly with the Republican Party platform, but very few non-Christians are trying to marginalize you. They are just a little confused when conservative Christians seem so much more interested in using the coercive power of the state than the transformative power of the Holy Spirit to bring about morally upright behavior. So abortion is legal but you think it’s morally wrong? Don’t have one. So gay marriage becomes legal but you think gay sex is a sin? Don’t get gay married. Your insurance covers contraception but you think the Pill enables promiscuity? Don’t fill the prescription. Consider that a truer test of your followers’ faithfulness is whether they do right because they are convinced of the moral righteousness of their positions than that you hold enough secular political power to outlaw everything you don’t like. But secular people think Christians’ (the majority religion in the freest country in the world) persecution complex is much more delusional than belief in the six-day creation, the virgin conception of Christ, the bodily resurrection, etc.

    Anyway, I know this is a different perspective than what most of you probably usually encounter. But I’m happy to share here because I have grown to respect Denny and his blog. I always appreciate Denny’s writing and regularly recommend him to people who are clueless about evangelicalism as one of the best culture war/Religious Right bloggers out there.

    • Bob Shaffer

      Jacob: I could not agree with you more but I would say the persecution is imaginary, the persecution complex is very real. We cannot even debate Tim’s football game in sports blogs without Christians crying Christian-bias, anti-Christian haters, and the like… and believe me when I tell you they think Christians are nuts and it does not help our cause.

      “Christians seem so much more interested in using the coercive power of the state than the transformative power of the Holy Spirit to bring about morally upright behavior.” Exactly!

    • buddyglass

      I agree with most of what you’ve written, but do take issue with this:

      So abortion is legal but you think it’s morally wrong? Don’t have one. So gay marriage becomes legal but you think gay sex is a sin? Don’t get gay married.

      It is not inconsistent to invoke the coercive power of the state to deter abortion while at the same time opting not to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions.

      The “why” of it matters. One shouldn’t advocate coercing against abortion in order to bring about morally upright behavior per se but rather to protect the powerless and oppressed.

      Presumably you wouldn’t write:

      “So slavery is legal but you think it’s morally wrong? Then don’t own slaves.”

      I’d argue that when the state has allowed such injustice the call on the believer to “love his neighbor” requires more than simply not participating directly in that injustice.

      • Lynn Burgess

        Buddy: I agree that Christians have responsibilities in our representative form of government, but we can differ on exactly how we define those responsibilities.

        A Christian pastor cannot marry a gay couple, but does that mean one has to risk their employment to speak out against gay marriage at every opportunity? Everyone has to make those decisions for themselves given all the facts and ramifications in any given situation.

        A Christian cannot be employed in the abortion industry, but we can differ widely in how we perceive our responsibility to fight against abortion.

        Not taking every possible opportunity to speak against something does not equate to endorsement and it is certainly not denying Christ.

        Our unique government and historical Christian culture has given us a distorted perspective on what it means to deny Christ; I think we are having trouble distinguishing that from what is really defending America.

        I am not one normally to cite Mel Gibson, but remember in the Patriot, how firmly he was opposed to fighting because that was what he believed was best for his family, then in the course of time his convictions changed. Likely, he was right before God in both decisions.

        I can see no reason for not supporting Tim in his decision; and I certainly can see no biblical justification for his having been vilified in the Christina media as he was last week. We do not even know why he made the decision he did.

    • J O E B L A C K M O N

      For a moment, let’s put aside the fact that millions of Bible-believing, Christ-following, faithful evangelicals are not nearly as anti-gay or pro-life as you would like.

      Then they are, by the Bible’s definition, not “Bible-beliving, Christ-following” nor are they “faithful”.

      You’re welcome.

    • Elizabeth Anscombe

      Wow. Such a sad post on so many levels. The Christian left is simultaneously one of the great tragedies and one of the great evils of our time.

  • Nathan Cesal

    Christians should speak the truth in love and realize that speaking the truth is not necessarily love in action because the phrase “in love” is not redundant…

    If Jeffress has spoken truth with patience and kindness; without envy; without boasting or pride; without any dishonor; without seeking his own goals; without a short temper and a list of wrongs; while protecting, trusting, hoping and persevering…

    then so be it — no one has a valid complaint against him.

    • David Thomas

      Well, Buddy has already explained /exactly/ why he posted that link.

      But on the matter of speaking the truth in love, let us consider…

      Luke 3:7 (Luke 7:8)

      Matthew 23:15, Matthew 23:33 (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; –>1 John 4;16)

      Galatians 5:12 (Philippians 4:9).

      Please, let’s not confuse this culture’s insipid ideas about “love” (which amount to little more than being “nice”) with true, biblical love.

      • Elizabeth Anscombe

        I’m afraid that’s not going to work David. The libs will just counter that Jesus was talking to the “religious right” of his time, so really those passages are all about us. Isn’t that cute?

        • David Thomas

          Right you are about the ungodly distorting Scripture for all sorts of things.

          But I was responding as unto a Christian. Many well-meaning people in the church have lost sight, in the avalanche of the swill this culture is dishing about “love” and “sensitivity,” a little refresher in what the Bible actually says is helpful.

          And after all, the matter of “speaking the truth in love” (especially given the present discussion) should apply no matter /who/ we are speaking to, right? It’s in the heart of the speaker, not the particular audience.,

  • dr. james willingham

    The attacks have finally begun, and I suspect that that is all this is: Just the beginning. About 22-23 years ago a female chaplain of an international organization declared that one day they would put all of the Bible believing ministers in insane asylums. With the past 3-4 years I deal with a group seeking for teachers in a counseling program for ministers, and I noted a rather strong tendency to avoid the Gospel. When I began exploring the background of the group I found a group that has been noted for being a sect across the years. Some of their ministers advocated the extermination of the Bible believing Christians. It would seem that we are drawing near to a time, when the desires of those thus expressed might well find opportunity for fulfillment. My prayers for 40 years have been for a Third Great Awakening, an awakening which will reach every soul on earth, beginning hopefully in this generation, and continue for a thousand generations and reaching also millions of planets, if mankind is permitted to go to the stars *if we have not already gone. Living in the area where the original churches were established by converts from the First Great Awakening and where the churches thus established experienced the Second Great Awakening and helped to launch the Great Century of Missions or the Modern Missionary Movement, and knowing from some of the records the power of God that came down in those Awakenings, and pleading the promises of Jonathan Edwards’ Humble Attempt which inspired Fuller, Carey, Judson, and Rice, I believe the future are as bright as those promises.

    • Robert Shaffer

      Do you think we will have to stop shooting at one another for there to be another great awakening?

      Do you think we are really quite a bit too caught up in saving the culture to be over concerned about souls?

      And, does revival not historically begin in the House of God; does that mean we would have to lay aside our pride and self-righteousness?

      Please keep praying.

      • dr. james willingham

        To Robert Shaffer: How bad things will have to get before an Awakening occurs, I have no idea. I do not propose to go shooting or anything like that. I propose to pray and to keep on praying until God answers or death comes. One thing is obvious the opposition is becoming every more bold, strident, and belligerent in its confrontations. However, all that moves me are the promises of God, and our future is as bright as those promises.

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