Archives For Tim Tebow

Culture, Media and Morality/Truth

Greg Strand – May 20, 2013 1 Comment

A couple of weeks ago the major news in the professional sports world was the announcement made in an essay in Sports Illustrated by veteran professional basketball player Jason Collins that he is gay. The response from fellow professional basketball players, the media and even President Obama was that he was a hero. Making this statement, these people claimed, took great courage, and because of this they were proud of him. They stood with him in support and solidarity.

Sometimes it is best to let the dust settle just a bit on these sorts of announcements as it can give some time, distance and perspective. This is why I address this issue now.

Shortly after this was disclosed a cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune attempted to capture the sentiment of the response, and contrasted it with the disclosure of being a Christian. In the one caption, Tim Tebow confesses his faith in Christ, “I’m Christian.” A media person, a bit scornfully, replies, “Keep it to yourself.” The second picture is of Jason Collins who confesses, “I’m gay.” To this the media response is “Tell me MORE, you big hero!!!”

Chris Broussard, longtime ESPN basketball analyst, was asked how he regarded Collins’ claim to be a Christian and a sexually active gay man. Broussard, who affirmed Collins as a “great guy”, responded publicly on the air with the following:

I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. …If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I think that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.

To this, the response was anything but accepting and tolerant. Broussard was referred to as a “bigot,” he was accused of being “intolerant” and “homophobic,” and he was criticized for being “irrelevant,” and much worse.

As one compares the responses to these two announcements, there are few to none comparisons but only – and many – contrasts.

There is a cultural conformist mindset which this exemplifies. If one looks at our culture and the cultural stream, the conformist mindset made Collins’ announcement the easier of the two. Broussard’s response was counter-cultural, a non-cultural conformist response, which explains the strong and negative backlash he experienced.

This is another one of those indicators and reminders that we live in a postmodern and an increasingly post-Christian day, which is evidenced not only in the acceptance of Collins’ announcement and how he is praised for it, but also in the response against those who do not.

Living faithfully as Christians in this changing culture will be the focus of our 2014 Theology Conference. This sort of cultural conformist mindset and its implications will be one of a number of subjects we will address. Please put the dates on your calendar and plan to attend!

To provide one follow up to yesterday’s post on what we can/should learn from the Tim Tebow withdrawal from his church speaking engagement, Carl Trueman concludes that as Christians we ought to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

I have commented often that we live in a day when the mores and culture are changing rapidly. In many ways, we are experiencing a moral tsunami. Most of us have known this intellectually; today more than ever we are feeling the reality of this experientially.

Trueman states the following conclusion, with a bit of biting wit:

The incident is confirmation that the world is changing rapidly and, as I have noted before, taking any stand on homosexuality short of complete and unconditional affirmation will soon place one in the same moral category as a Klansman or a homicidal foot fetishist. Of course, I am not a cultural transformationalist; but if there are any such reading this blog, I might suggest that now would be a good time for you chaps to start proving me wrong.  Yes, I do appreciate the cool movie reviews, the nice paintings, the appearances on the occasional serious news program and the efforts on behalf of decent craft brews; but I have a suspicion that it would really be much more helpful if we were seeing some transformation for the good in society’s moral and legal standards.  The culture is transforming as I write, but not, it seems to me, in ways conducive to religious freedom in general or Christianity in particular.

In noting some of the positive things we can learn from this, Trueman, in his third point, writes that:

we need to remember that hatred from the world is what we are to expect.  The West has enjoyed a happy confluence of the broad ethical values of wider society and of the Bible on things such as sexual morality for many centuries.  That is changing rapidly.  It will lead to persecution, whether in the mild form of name calling or more severe forms such as the use of legal penalties against those who hold fast to the faith.  What does the Bible have to say to this?  ‘Do not be surprised….’ 1 Pet. 4:12.   This is the expected norm; what we have thus far enjoyed for many centuries now is actually the exception – a delightful blessing for which we should be grateful, but the exception nonetheless.

And here is Trueman’s important conclusion we must remember in this changing day:

Finally, remember Matt. 16:18.  No media campaign, no election result, no ruling of the Supreme Court, no attack from the most violent enemy can negate that promise.  Yes, the church’s enemies come; but they always eventually go.  The church remains and will always do so, guaranteed by the grace of a faithful, covenant keeping God.  That should be a cause for rejoicing, whatever the outward cultural circumstances in which we find ourselves.

It is important to remember two of Jesus’ promises:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18b).

Cultural Pressure and Gospel Faithfulness

Greg Strand – February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Tim Tebow recently cancelled a speaking engagement scheduled at First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX. A statement issued by First Baptist stated that Tebow spoke with Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor, “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.”

On Twitter Tebow addressed the reason for his cancelled appearance which was based on “new information that has been brought to my attention,” and stated that “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.”

It is not clear what the “new information” was. It could have been the outspoken pastor’s statements about Roman Catholicism, and because Tebow’s parents have an active ministry in the Philippines among Roman Catholics he felt it best to withdraw the invitation. It could be the statements made by the pastor about same-sex marriage. It is not known. Even if the pastor has been outspoken in a strong, sometimes caustic way that some would not emulate or appreciate, he has spoken strongly on the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that homosexuality is a sin, two truths strongly affirmed by Evangelicals.

Al Mohler, “Tebow’s Big Fumble,”  noted these issues in Tebow’s withdrawal, and he also mentioned Louie Giglio’s disinvitation of praying at President Obama’s Inauguration. Mohler states, “Both did so in an effort to escape a controversy that threatened to hinder their efforts to represent Christ in a winsome way. Both decisions are understandable in light of the pressures, but neither Giglio nor Tebow can escape the question that the larger world is not pressing upon them: What exactly do you believe about homosexuality?”

At our recent EFCA Theology Conference on “Sex Matters: The Theology of Human Sexuality,” one of the things I stated in my introductory lecture was the following:

We live in a day that when morality is addressed, the sin of homosexuality and same-sex marriage must be addressed or one’s silence will be heard as support of it. But then when one does communicate it over and over, which is necessary as it is the moral issue of the day, then one will be criticized for having only one note that is played incessantly on our moral instrument.

Mohler rightly and wisely applied this to all those who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord and affirm that the Bible is the ultimate authority.

The massive moral shift taking shape around us is fast eliminating any neutral ground on this issue. Those celebrating the moral normalization of homosexuality will demand an answer from us all. Giglio and Tebow withdrew from controversial appearances, but they will not evade the demand to answer the fundamental question, and any Christian who will not join the moral revolution will be marginalized as a moral outlier in the larger society.

Evangelical Christians are now called upon to think strategically about what it means to speak truthfully and lovingly to a society that increasingly sees us as the moral outlaws. Clearly, we must watch our speech carefully, measuring every word for truth and tone and avoiding incendiary sound bites. We must also guard our hearts toward the persistent temptation towards self-righteousness. But, at the same time, even the most humble statement of biblical truth can now be turned into a sound bite described as hate speech and a refusal to affirm the normalization of homosexuality is turned into repulsive intolerance. We now face no shortage of arguments for capitulation, but abandoning the truth of God’s Word is not an option. We deny the gospel if we deny the sinfulness of sin. That sin. Every sin. Our sin.

Our Theology Conference had this goal in mind mentioned by Mohler as evidenced in one of my closing introductory statements:

Our prayer for attendees is that the Lord will use this Conference to inform, educate and equip you to address these issues in a biblically faithful, theologically informed, and pastorally sensitive manner, all the while standing firmly on the Word of God.

Amen and amen!