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Dear Tim Tebow,

This is an open letter from one of your loyal fans.
I’m from your hometown of Jacksonville, Fla.
All three of my siblings went to UF, a place that has enshrined you as perhaps the greatest college football player ever.

tebow-promise

I’ve got that September 2008 speech of yours, after the Ole Miss game, committed to heart, as one of the most inspirational examples of leadership I have ever seen in my life.

I have followed your career since high school and have admired you. (I even put up with the Tebowing thing, though it wasn’t my cup of tea.) But now comes news that you’re going to be speaking at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas.

Tim (can I call you Tim?), for the sake of God (literally) look up a few things about the pastor of this church, Pastor Robert Jeffress, to see if this is the kind of person that you would want to associate with. I know you are a praying man, I ask you to pray in your heart and compare his views with what you know about Christ in your own heart.

Everything I have learned about you tells me that you see Christ as the gateway of God’s love for this world. Again, I ask you to look up Pastor Robert Jeffress, and see if this sounds like someone you would want to associate yourself with. Here is what Pastor Jeffress says about Jews: “You can’t be saved being a Jew.”

drjeffress-sg

He calls Islam a “heresy from the pit of hell”, apparently the very same part of hell as Mormonism.

As for his further elaboration on Islam, he discusses:
“The deep, dark, dirty secret of Islam: It is a religion that promotes pedophilia – sex with children.”   Yup, he actually said that.

Tim, you’re a good man, and you know what racists do when confronted with their racism.  They resort to the old, “I’m not a racist, some of my best friends are black,” kind of BS. And this is literally what Pastor Jeffress does, when called on his hatred towards Muslims, except that apparently he has just one Muslim friend:

“We do not hate Muslims…I have a very good friend here in Dallas who is a Muslim.”

This is the same Pastor that goes on Fox to perpetuate the rumor that President Obama is a Muslim. Oh yeah, and that the President is “paving the way for the Anti-Christ.”  Yup, he really did say that.

And you know what the Pastor says about gays/lesbians.

And you probably know what the Pastor says about our Catholic friends, part of a Babylonian Cult.   Yup, he said that too.

Tim, I am not asking you to theologically change who you are. I am simply asking you to think about how many look to you to embody a certain model of high-profile Christian athlete/celebrity.   You can be who you are, stand for what you stand for, and represent Christ without associating with hateful zealots like him. You don’t need his podium and you actually end up validating his hatred by preaching from there.

As I have said before, some people tend to be equal opportunity haters. Once they have made the ultimate sin of closing their heart to one portion of humanity, it becomes easier and easier to close their hearts to more and more segments of humanity. Hate and prejudice is contagious and they spread till the whole of a heart is infected.

Tim Tebow Shutterstock

I have never met you, I don’t know you personally but I have always gotten the sense that you care about your legacy beyond football, that football has been a podium from which you can reach people through God’s love.    I don’t know what is in the future for you but I do know that God-willing you will do great things by bringing God’s love into the service of humanity. And I pray that your own standing is untainted by associating with people whose hearts have become hardened toward God’s children.

Even if one believes that Muslims, Jews, Catholics, gays/lesbians and Mormons (and probably many others) are in error, I know that Christ reached out to sinners in love and kindness.

I pray that you choose to act more like Christ and less like some of Christ’s hateful followers.

As you often say, God bless.

Omid Safi
(official Tim Tebow fan for a loooong time)
Professor of Religious Studies

 

20 Comments

  1. “He calls Islam a “heresy from the pit of hell”, apparently the very same part of hell as Mormonism.”

    They do have some similarities, both religions are based on the supposition that the bible had become corrupted and that Smith/Muhammad had been given some divine revelation to correct that. However, today there is an immense amount of early manuscripts that support an accurate transmission of the new testament. As well as the old testament to the 4th century BC.

    “The deep, dark, dirty secret of Islam: It is a religion that promotes pedophilia – sex with children.”

    I’m not familiar with Pastor Robert Jeffress, but perhaps he is referring to Muhammad consummating a marriage with a girl between 9 and 12 years old.

  2. Tim Tebow is a Christian, what do you expect him to believe?
    In The bible it says Jesus is the only way, duh, he doesn’t like Muslims.
    As for the gay people thing, I’m pretty sure Tebow would have a hard time finding a church that DOES accept gay as opposed to doesn’t. That’s just part of being a Christian, if you don’t like it, move on.

    • Ken K, a Jesus man

      When Christians uphold their standards, the standards of the Bible, those who are not Christians see this as being “judgmental” or “hateful,” when it is really an expression of faithfulness to God and His Word. It’s good to see Christians standing up for what they believe in, and when they do cite the Bible, they are only obeying it in the same way the Bible’s God of love directed the prophet Ezekiel: O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 33:7-11. Far from being “judgmental” or “hateful” the loving proclamation of these truths are an act of faithfulness and love with the potential to bring love, salvation and blessing to everyone willing to accept the goodness God offers to everyone who will believe in Jesus Christ, the gracious One, the loving One, Who died for my sins and those of the whole world.

    • Kiki… while the Bible DOES say that Jesus is the only way, it’s horribly wrong to assert that “he doesn’t like Muslims”.

      If Jesus didn’t like Muslims, he wouldn’t have died to save them. He loves everyone, and it breaks His heart to see them separated from His Love.

      The same goes for accepting gay people. Hating gays is NOT “just a part of being a Christian”… the Bible tells us that hating ANYONE is the opposite of Christianity, and it reveals that a person doesn’t really know God at all.

  3. eumenis elenchoi

    Hi all,

    This is from early thirteenth century:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFat_KWG9oI
    So I still have hope, because there have always been devoted people like this (and like Omid!) everywhere, from every religion, culture and tradition.

  4. I am Christian, though I am sure there are those that will say I am not Christian enough, because I agree with Mr. Safi. Tim Tebow succeeds as a role model by living a Christian life, not by passing judgement on others. No one can do that but God and the last time I checked, none of us qualify…..no matter how many Bible verses one might espouse. Christianity should be light that draws people together, not a means to spread hate.

  5. anyone with a brain larger than a pea would know that safi is full of crap and is only exploiting the ignorant.
    i didn’t read all of what jerreries said but enough to know he does know that the muslim faith is as bogus as 4 dollar bills. there will be not milk and honey for the muslim dead only hell and that lake of fire for their eternity. for that i am sorry because they could be saved, as can all man kind, by simply accepting Jesus’s free gift of salvation. His plan is so simple that people have to make it complicated but it isn’t. that is the beauty of Christianity.
    safi is nothing more that a spy and saboteur reeking havoc on the stupid and naive Americans. but that isn’t that difficult to do these days is it?
    the stupid believe everything they read or hear on tv and the internet.
    stupid stupid stupid.

  6. Dr. Safi,
    I too, am a big time Tim Tebow fan, having lived in Lake City, FL and was a college classmate of Tim’s high school coach. Dr. Safi, you sound like a man who is a seeker of the truth. Therefore I would like to respond to your open letter to Tim.

    I would agree that Pastor Jeffries is in error by making the statements that you, Dr. Safi claim here in your article. However, just because Jeffries makes these statements does not mean that he can be called …or is….a hater. Poor judgment on his part?…yes….hater?….hmmmm. The last time I checked, only God can see a man’s heart. Nor should Tim not visit Jeffries church to speak. Jesus would have spoken anywhere given the chance.

    Jesus himself never spoke evil of any man, woman, religious system or the Roman Empire for that matter. However, he did make some very probing questions and provocative statements, such as when he called, Herod a “fox.”

    I believe that we can assume that Tim and Jeffries see “eye to eye” on “who Jesus is.” And that is the real question at hand. “The claims of Jesus.” Which is exactly why expect Tim is at Pastor Jeffries church. In fact it was that very issue that Jesus told his own religious hierarchy that they were guilty of not recognizing. In so many words he told the Pharisees and Sadducees (Israel’s religious leaders) that unless they believed he (Jesus) was sent from God that they would die in their sins. Jesus went a step further and said, “Don’t claim your belief in Moses, for your right standing before God, because the truth is that you don’t even believe in him….Because if you did, you would believe me, because Moses spoke about me.” Tell me Dr. Safi, where in the Old Testament did Moses speak of Jesus? Also, Jesus upped the ante when he said in John 8:56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” Also, the religious began to pick up stones to cast at him when Jesus said, “Before Abraham existed, I am.”

    Dr. Safi, once a person receives a “revelation” from God to the claims of Jesus, that one will know who Jesus truly is (which is a gift from God and can’t be earned). Therefore that is why Jeffries is in error, because he strayed from the real message of “who Jesus is.” When a person knows the truth (Jesus and his Spirit) he is free to deductively reason and will understand the issues we wrestle with in the media today (the things that Jeffries spoke about that offend you) for himself and doesn’t need a teacher or anyone like Pastor Jeffries telling them how to think about certain issues.

    In closing, Jesus said, in John 18:37 “…For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Jesus also claimed that “….no man comes to God the father but by me (Jesus).”

    So Dr. Safi, who’s voice are you going to listen to today?

    In the mean time I highly recommend the website: theshovel.net

  7. Stories about this event have varied to the point of misrepresenting the situation. Some have been on target, stating that Tebow is slated to speak to the congregation of a Dallas church whose pastor has expressed extremely negative (and what some consider hateful) views about other faiths and about homosexuals. That is an honest and factual account of the situation. But others paint a picture of the situation with a broader brush, stating that Tebow will preach at a hate-filled church, implying that all of the congregants of that church are of one mind and their thinking is in lockstep with the pastor in holding the same extreme views. That may be true but it is, in reality, mere conjecture, and is nothing more than an implied guilt by association. Similarly, Tim Tebow is, in many stories, being tarred with the same brush with the unspoken implications are that his consent to speak at this church implies his tacit approval of the pastor’s extreme views.

    I see the situation differently. If the hate-filled pastor is a role model to his congregants and Tebow is a role model to them as well, then it’s possible that Tebow may preach a kinder, gentler message that could serve to soften or negate the message of the hate-filled preacher. Isn’t it better to have that congregation possibly hear a different message? Should Tebow, as the author seems to suggest, limit himself to “preaching to the choir?” Or should he take his message to those to whom it might have greater benefit?

    And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:30-32

  8. I should begin by saying I can’t call myself a Christian, merely because it would be disrespectful to your faith. I am very influenced by the Christian faith but I reject enough of it that I can’t be considered official.

    This letter and comment section is the most intelligent discussion of Tim Tebow I’ve read in months.

    I’m a sportswriter who has been very interested in the Tebow story for a long time. It’s my sincere observation that he his gotten the worst rap from the media and football establishment, per his ability and inspirational qualities, as any athlete or public figure in the modern era. Just the debate about his football acumen inspires a kind of groupthink and collective insanity, considering that 90% of fans are solidly in the “Tebow sucks, and he’s a phony who likes being a circus” camp. (To see where these folks are quite literally insane on this topic, imagine explaining the debate to a little kid who somehow didn’t know about the QB. “There’s this guy, he started 16 games as an NFL quarterback. Everyone now agrees that he sucks and isn’t a great leader.” –”Gosh, does he really suck that bad? What happened when he played?” “He took a losing team and made them all play harder and won mad games in a row with a new style that nobody had ever thought of.” –”Well everyone must all be crazy then.”)

    I’m working on an online piece in 7 parts, working title: “The Emperor has no Tebow.” One of my major themes in it brings up what I find so refreshing and wonderful about so many Christians. You fully accept classical philosophy. You believe there is one reality, and God exists in it. This basic principle that a thing is itself and the universe is what it is is the basic building block of reason. Many, many, many people have completely rejected it and in so opened the door to most of the evils in our world today.

    It may be that Christians are biased when discussing other Christians. All people are biased in some way or another. But maybe the Christian community’s willingness to embrace Tebow as a sincere guy and an effective, inspirational football player has something to do with your philosophy as well. Vince Lombardi, a devout believer in Christ and a classicist, was made fun of when he entered the professional ranks for many of the same reasons Tebow is. Lombardi eventually had the Super Bowl trophy named after him. Tebow might not have won in the old-fashioned way or the popular way, but he did win. Scoreboards are objective. If people can invent their own reality, they can all chant together about how bad he is, and never look back. But if there is one reality and the truth is true, 9 wins and 7 losses equals above average. Meanwhile the “Tebow’s a fraud” crowd, considering their meager evidence compared to the overwhelming mountain of evidence that Tim is a fantastic human being, is equally out of touch with objective reality.

    I would welcome any comments or general impressions of Tim Tebow on/off the field from any of you. I want to include some Christian perspectives as intelligent as yours in my analysis of the controversy. Thanks for your time, and bless you.

    • Thank you, Kurt, for sharing your story. It seems as though you are on the pathway to light: without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Praying for you and your journey.
      Colossians 1:16

  9. Perhaps Omid Safi should wait until he reads the actual transcript of what Tim Tebow actually says at First Baptist Dallas, and THEN start doing “open letters” and such. Is anybody lecturing Dr. Safi on what mosques HE cannot speak at??

    Also, Dr. Safi may not be aware of the exclusive self-claims that Jesus Christ made about himself in the New Testament. If, IF, those self-claims are true, then yes, Islam is necessarily false. Mormonism is necessarily false. Hinduism and Buddhism are false. Even the religion of Judaism would necessarily be false, if those specifc self-claims that Jesus made about himself are true.

    Dr. Safi, there isn’t any wiggle room in Jesus’ statements like “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no person comes to the Father except by Me.” (John 14:6). None at all.

    Doesn’t mean we have to hate each other. Doesn’t mean we have to go to war about it. But it DOES NOT mean that First Baptist Dallas is a hate-filled church. It DOES NOT mean that Tim Tebow is promoting hate if he chooses to speak in that forum.

  10. I wonder if there would be a backlash if he spoke at Rev Wrights church in Chicago which is the presidents former pastor Just because you stand on the same platform does not mean to believe in the same things and didn;t Jesus eat with sinners and was also condemed for that…careful how you critize someone else

  11. I don’t understand how so many of my fellow Christians seem to think that Jesus’ claim to be the only way to God somehow makes it ok to disrespect, dislike, and spread lies about anybody who follows a different religion (Muslims, Jews, etc.) or even people who follow Jesus differently than they do (Catholics, “liberals”, gay Christians, etc.)

  12. The term Hinduism also occurs sporadically in Sanskrit texts such as the later Rajataranginis of Kashmir (Hinduka, c. 1450), some 16th-18th century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts, including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata, usually to contrast Hindus with Yavanas or Mlecchas.”;`.

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  1. [...] An open letter to Tim Tebow about God's love, and associating with hateful …Religion News ServiceAn open letter to Tim Tebow about God's love, and associating with hateful Christians. Omid Safi Follow @ostadjaan | Feb 16, 2013 | Leave a Comment · ncf_u_tebow03_600-1. Dear Tim Tebow,. This is an open letter from one of your loyal fans. I'm from … [...]

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