FIRST-PERSON: The 'controversial' beliefs of First Baptist Dallas

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) -- Subscribing to biblical values has for some time been frowned upon by the purveyors of political correctness in America. But in recent months a movement seems to have emerged to vilify and denounce anyone who dares to believe homosexuality is a sin or that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation.

The most recent targets for the wrath of the self-proclaimed tolerance police are Tim Tebow and the pastor of a well-known Baptist church. The former college football star and now professional football player was scheduled to speak April 28 as part of a celebration of First Baptist Church of Dallas' new $130 million expansion and renovation of its downtown buildings.

However, once the Dallas church and its pastor were labeled by some as hateful, Tebow reconsidered the speaking engagement. Via a series of updates on Twitter, Tebow announced: "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!"

Leading up to Tebow's withdrawal, the Huffington Post had posted a story with the headline, "Tim Tebow, Jets Quarterback, To Speak At Virulently Anti-Gay, Anti-Semitic Church First Baptist Dallas."

Gregg Doyel, sports columnist for CBSSports.com, was even more pointed. He described First Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress as "an evangelical cretin ... who does the work of the Lord sort of like Westboro Baptist in Topeka, Kan., does the work of the Lord. Not at all."

Doyel ripped Tebow for agreeing to speak at the church. "I'm ashamed to like Tim Tebow now. More specifically, I don't like Tim Tebow now. I can't. Liking him means liking someone who wouldn't just agree with, but would support, Robert Jeffress. And I despise Robert Jeffress."

Jeffress responded to the Tebow situation and attacks upon himself and First Dallas by saying: "To me, the real issue here is the controversy this has generated. It's amazing that a church that believes faith alone in Christ is what saves a person and that sex should be between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship -- that somehow those beliefs are considered hate speech? That is historic Christian doctrine for the past 2,000 years."

First Baptist Dallas was once considered the flagship church among Southern Baptists. As far as doctrine goes it would espouse the exact same beliefs as the vast majority of Baptist churches in America -- for that matter in the world.

The charges concerning FBC Dallas being anti-Semitic are simply ridiculous. If Jeffress is an anti-Semite, then so was Jesus Christ. The pastor of First Baptist Dallas proclaims the same message first articulated by the "author and finisher" of the Christian faith.

Jesus' message was and is, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." He also said, "For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Jesus made it crystal clear that eternal life was an exclusive reality and only available to those who would embrace Him as the Lord of salvation.

Believers who preach the exclusivity of Christ are not anti-Jewish, anti-Arab or anti any other race or ethnicity; they are pro-Jesus. I am quite certain Jeffress would say that he believes some Jews, Arabs and Catholics will be in heaven in the same way some Baptists will be absent. The issue, according to the Bible, is what they believe about Jesus Christ.

The Bible also labels all sex outside of marriage as sinful. According to the Bible, homosexuality is among those sinful acts.

Dole compares Jeffress to Westboro because the pastor has said AIDS is a gay disease. Dole might be interested to know that a leader in the homosexual activist movement agrees with Jeffress.

During the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force national conference held in Detroit, Mich., in 2008, the then-executive director of the organization, Matt Foreman said, "Folks, with 70 percent of the people in this country living with HIV being gay or bi (sexual), we cannot deny that HIV is a gay disease, we have to own that and face up to that."

What has happened in America? It seems that political correctness has become a religion -- an idol -- in America. Everyone who does not embrace all beliefs -- including sexual and religious -- as equal is to be vilified and shamed. And if a person does not repent of their intolerance, he or she is to be shunned and ostracized.

By canceling his appearance at First Dallas, Tim Tebow has, for now, appeased the priests and priestesses of political correctness.

It seems one movement's "tolerance" is just an excuse to exercise its own intolerance.


Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention's office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message, www.baptistmessage.com, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).