Thursday, September 18, 2014

Robert Griffin's T-shirt

Yesterday I read Cyd Zeigler's RG3 forced to turn religious T-shirt inside out. I miss most of this sports press conference stuff unless it makes the news or commentary. Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III appeared for a post-game press conference with a T-shirt that read "Know Jesus Know Peace" (and with "No Jesus No Peace" embedded within that). He was told not to wear/show it, so he turned it wrong side out so the text wouldn't show.

Some Christians see this as an attack on Christianity, but I have no problem with it -- as long as it is a consistent rule consistently applied. And, on the face of it, it was. Zeigler quotes NFL bylaws prohibiting players having personal messages on clothing on game-days: "Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in the locker room or on the field), players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been approved in advance by the League office." Yes, constitutionally we have free speech, but some people voluntarily enter into agreements that limit their speech. Such is their right.

Zeigler, nevertheless, was not just concerned with NFL bylaws. He was offended by the statement on "RG3's" shirt. He wrote, "I'm glad they told him not to wear it." Zeigler's glee was not founded in the application of NFL policy, but in the fact that he didn't like Griffin's message. We should not be surprised that in a pluralistic society that has made an idol of tolerance that a "Christ only" message has been and will increasingly be met with intolerance.

Zeigler somehow "expected more of this man," but the problem is not in Griffin but in Zeigler's expectations. In Copperas Cove, Texas, Robert Griffin attended the Christian House of Prayer. They believe that all have sinned and  that salvation "is made operative by grace through faith in Jesus Christ."  While at Baylor he attended University Baptist Church. Probably the more liberal of the three, they nevertheless believe that Jesus Christ is "the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father," and that He died for our salvation. The church he currently attends (Cornerstone Fellowship Church, Frederick, MD) believes that the Bible is God's Word, speaking "with authority and without error." They believe that all of mankind is lost in sin and that Jesus Christ is the only hope. This is a common and historic evangelical Christian belief that should surpise no one.

Focusing on promoting positive messages and censoring negative messages, Ziegler misses the point. It is not that some Christians "live life in turmoil" and some non-Christians live a "peaceful existence." 'Know Jesus, Know Peace/No Jesus, No Peace' is not just about some snapshot of a particular moment in time. It is "without Jesus, there is no peace." It is essentially a statement that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Jesus preached it: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me." Peter preached it: "Neither is their salvation in any other, for their is none other name, under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved." Evidently, Robert Griffin III believes it. And so do I.

No comments: