Tim Tebow has never been shy about sharing the story of his Christian faith, but the venue in which he’ll offer his testimony next month is a controversial choice, even for a quarterback who has frequently been polarizing.
Tebow has agreed to speak April 28 at First Baptist Church of Dallas, a congregation whose leader has, according to the Dallas Morning News, spoken out against homosexuality, called Islam and Mormonism “heresy from the pit of hell” and linked Catholicism to “a Babylonian mystery religion” that corrupted the early Christian church.
Dr. Robert Jeffress told the Morning News that Tebow, whose appearance will coincide with the church’s expansion and renovation, will ““share his story, the difference Jesus Christ has made in his life. It will be positive, not negative.”
Tebow, who spoke at the GameChanger Coaches Leadership Summit on Monday in Dallas, took no questions. Instead, he spoke of his frustrating season with the New York Jets and his faith.
“One day, when my time on earth was finished and I’m standing before my heavenly father, he’ll walk up to me and pull off his headset and give me a hug and embrace me,” Tebow said, “and say, ‘Timmy. I love you. I’m proud of you. You finished strong.’”
Tebow typically speaks in general, personal terms on his faith during the offseason. Last Easter, he addressed about 15,000 people at Celebration Church in Georgetown, Texas. In his upcoming appearance, though, CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel writes that Tebow is “about to make the biggest mistake of his life.” More, from Doyel:
Here’s the truth about Tebow and what he does to us: He divides us, yes, but there is wiggle room here. Lots of wiggle room. There are zealots on both sides of the Tebow chasm — those who support him unconditionally, many of whom probably agree with the “theology” of Robert Jeffress; and those who will never be anything but annoyed by Tebow’s faith, his popularity, his phenomenon — but there are many more people, I suspect, like me:
A vote to be swayed.
And I’ve swayed both ways, as I’m sure have many of you. Tebow’s religious views are not mine, but lots of us don’t care about that. We’re sports fans, and Tebow is a sports story, and he’s one of the most fascinating sports stories in recent history. A truly great college player. A truly puzzling NFL player. Maybe, now, a truly finished player.
Whatever the case, his ups and downs have been fun to watch. And so for the last 18 months or so — since that remarkable, unexplainable run he had with Denver in 2011 — I’ve counted myself as a Tim Tebow fan. Many folks have recognized that, giving me a hard time in emails and on Twitter about my affection for Tebow. That was fine. I wasn’t ashamed to like Tim Tebow.
I’m ashamed to like Tim Tebow now.
Jeffress explained to the Morning News that he feels a duty to “preach ‘the whole counsel of God,’ and not just discuss those that are politically correct. It’s my role to speak clearly on the issues on which the Bible speaks clearly. It’s my role to preach what the Bible says, and that includes the controversial issues.
“The reason for this firestorm is not because the word of God has changed. It’s because society has changed.”