It looks like Tim Tebow has decided to cave in to pressure by cancelling a speaking engagement to speak at a Baptist mega-church in Dallas. It seems that this church of 13,000 people, and its pastor Robert Jeffress actually believe what the Bible teaches about homosexuality and the exclusivity of the Christian faith, and that in 2013 America just cannot be tolerated. It is amazing as I wrote in a previous piece how intolerant the supposed tolerant are. As long as we can all agree that all views are equally valid, hey, believe whatever you want!
What’s interesting about this latest in the culture war against historical Christian orthodoxy is that there is really nothing unusual about the beliefs of First Baptist Church of Dallas, other than that they are no longer acceptable to a relatively small cultural elite with very loud and influential voices.
The pastor says the media has made both he and his church out to be anti-Semitic, anti-gay and hate-filled. He calls such reports a “complete mischaracterization,” and says his beliefs, specifically regarding the exclusivity of Christ as the way to salvation and marriage as being between one man and one woman, are not new.
“Those are hardly radical ideas,” said Jeffress. “Those have been mainstream Christian teachings for 2,000 years, and I believe the reason these statements are so controversial is not because the Word of God has changed, but because culture has changed.”
Exactly. And it’s not even so much that the culture has changed, but that the people who populate “the media” are simply more willing now to more loudly and definitively vilify Christians and Christianity when they refuse to relativize their faith and beliefs to the current cultural moment as they see it.
As I’ve argued for a long time, the agenda of the gay rights movement and the push to re-define marriage really has very little to do with marriage. The goal has always been to culturally demonize and delegitimize historical Christian faith and morality, especially sexual morality. This is more than clear from the “senior religion editor” of The Huffington Post quoted in the article:
Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, senior religion editor for The Huffington Post, agrees that First Baptist’s doctrine isn’t unusual.
“The theology and the constituency is squarely within the mainstream of contemporary right-wing Christian thought,” wrote Raushenbush. “But what has changed is that the views of the right-wing Christians are now officially out of step with the growing majority of Americans – including, apparently, Tim Tebow.”
Raushenbush also quoted Jeffress from a conversation he had with conservative radio host Janet Mefferd, however, in which the pastor said Tebow would likely “stand firm” if he listened to the Holy Spirit.
“But I believe that Tim Tebow was listening to the Holy Spirit when he made the decision to not associate himself with Jeffress and his worldview,” wrote Raushenbush. “Tim Tebow has joined the ranks of many Christians who are 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.”
So now the Holy Spirit himself is against those who are “anti-gay” and “flagrantly hostile to other faith traditions.” This is fabulously instructive of the argument D.A. Carson makes in “The Intolerance of Tolerance” I discussed in the piece linked to above. To Mr. Raushenbush to believe what Jesus said, that “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” is now officially “flagrantly hostile.” We must tolerate every view as equally valid, but if we don’t, if we dare to say that Christianity is true and everything else isn’t, we are not to be tolerated!