January 12, 2012

Tebow Time: 10 Thoughts and a Cloud of Dust

by Nathan Busenitz

Even though I didn’t grow up in Colorado, I have been a Denver Broncos fan for as long as I can remember. It’s a love I inherited from my father, and one I hope to pass on to my own kids.

I remember cheering for the Broncos when they lost the Super Bowl in 1987 (to the Giants); another Super Bowl in 1988 (to the Redskins); and yet another in 1990 (to the 49ers). They finally pulled off back-to-back Superbowl wins in 1997–98. But after those final two seasons with John Elway, the Broncos slipped into the oblivion of mediocrity.

Until this year … when unexpectedly, the last place Broncos went on a dramatic run to win their division, led by second-year quarterback Tim Tebow. As a Broncos’ fan, I’ve been thrilled to see Denver start winning. I have been cheering for “Team Tebow” all along the way (even though I’m often not able to watch the games).

Just this last weekend, the entire nation was mesmerized as the Broncos’ quarterback threw a game-winning touchdown pass in the first 11 seconds of overtime. Even some of the biggest Tebow detractors were impressed. (The victory was even sweeter for me because several of my close friends are Pittsburgh Steeler fans.)

But the Tebow phenomenon has grown larger than football.

As an outspoken Christian, Tim Tebow has sparked a much bigger discussion in the American media about faith, sports, and the relationship between the two. The debate has so polarized the country that there seems to be no middle ground left. Express even the mildest appreciation for Denver’s quarterback, and you’re labeled a “Tebow-lover” by his detractors. Offer but the most measured criticism, and his supporters will categorically denounce you as a “hater.”

So here’s my attempt to do the impossible: stake out some middle ground.

The “Tim Tebow phenomenon” has garnered so much media buzz — especially this week when it almost broke Twitter — that I think it warrants a closer look from a Christian point of view. Obviously, a lot has been written about Tebow, mostly focused on his unconventional style of play and the media splash his short career has generated.

But as believers, what are we supposed to think about the cultural phenomenon that centers around this young quarterback? At the risk of offending someone (and possibly everyone), here are ten thoughts in answer to that question.

Five Reasons I Like Tim Tebow:

1. For His Christian Earnestness. I should start by making it clear that I like Tim Tebow as a person, even though I don’t know him personally. From all I can tell, his Christian testimony is genuine. I believe he is absolutely sincere in professing his love for the Lord — and I applaud that sincerity without reservation.

In a November 22, 2010 interview with ESPN’s Skip Bayless, Tebow said this about his Christian testimony:

[M]y relationship with Jesus Christ is … the most important thing in my life. So any time I get an opportunity to tell Him that I love Him or [get] an opportunity to shout Him out on national TV I’m going to take that opportunity. So I look at it as a relationship that I have with Him, that I want to give Him the honor and glory any time I have the opportunity. And then, right after I give Him the honor and glory, I always try to give my teammates the honor and glory. And that’s how it works, because Christ comes first in my life, and then my family, and then my teammates.

2. For His Well-Rounded Perspective. In interviews with the secular media, Tebow has repeatedly noted that there are more important things in life than playing football. That may sound obvious, but it’s good to hear, especially from a professional athlete. In the same interview cited above, Tebow explained:

I know that no matter what happens on the football field, win or lose, that God is in control and He has a plan for my life. And I think the greatest thing that gives me perspective is that I know that no matter what happens on the football field, that’s not what defines my life. That’s not what defines Tim Tebow as a person. But what it does give me, is it gives me a platform and an opportunity to try to be a great role model for this next generation. … At the end of the day, if all we’re doing is winning and losing football games and scoring touchdowns, then we really haven’t done a lot with our lives.

3. For His Off-the-Field Activities. Tim exemplifies a disciplined work ethic, a heart of compassion for those in need, and a zeal for missions work. All of those are noble pursuits. In a February 22, 2011 interview with the St. Augustine Record, Tim talked about the foundation he started to help needy children.

My No. 1 heart is with orphans. The foundation supports 600 orphans in different places around the world. That’s what I want to do for a long time and make it bigger. I want to support kids that not a lot of people believe in. Give them an opportunity to do good in school, play sports and get scholarships.

4. For His Clear Pro-Life Message. It is pretty amazing to consider that Tim’s mother — who was told by doctors that she should have an abortion — instead gave birth to a son who is now leading a professional football team into the playoffs. According to the Flordia Times-Union:

Because they believed the baby would not survive, doctors recommended an abortion so that Pam Tebow’s life would not be risked. … She refused the abortion because of her faith; she prayed that she and her husband would have a healthy son.

The Lord wonderfully answered her prayer.

5. For the Conversations He Sparks. Finally, Tim’s testimony has given believers everywhere additional opportunities to talk about the gospel with their unsaved friends, family members and co-workers. Starting a conversation about eternal things is now as easy as asking, “So, did you see the football game last week?” I’m glad for those kind of opportunities, and I hope people are making the most of them.

As those five points demonstrate, I appreciate Tim Tebow for many reasons (beyond his winning season with the Denver Broncos). But I also have some concerns about the larger cultural phenomenon surrounding him.

I call it “Tebow-Mania.”

Five Concerns I Have about Tebow-Mania

By “Tebow-Mania” I’m referring to the pop-culture hype that has been stirred up largely by the American media. While I certainly don’t fault Tim Tebow for all (or even most) of the media buzz, I do wonder if perhaps he could do more to correct some of the following misperceptions that I fear are a growing part of Tebow-Mania.

1. The Perception That God Gives Tebow Special Help to Win. The media has turned Tebow-Mania into the NFL’s version of the Prosperity Gospel—making it sound as if spiritual blessing and divine favor come in the form of touchdown passes, division titles, and postseason play. Tebow-Mania has turned Denver’s QB into “God’s Quarterback,” and the Broncos into Heaven’s favorite team. (They are, after all, a mile closer to Heaven in Denver.)

But what about the players on the other side of the ball — the ones who lose the game, including Christians on the other team? Is God not helping them? What about other professing Christian quarterbacks in the NFL (such as Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rogers)? Some of them have had success on the field this year, others not so much. Maybe most importantly, what about the games that the Broncos have lost with Tebow under center? Was God’s power insufficient in those contests? Obviously not.

Because of Tebow’s unexpected success, non-Christians have understandably taken notice. But, like the unbelieving crowds in Jesus’ day, their superficial interest in spiritual things will fade as soon as the “miracles” cease. The reality is that crediting God for specific touchdown scores and football wins can actually become an obstacle for the gospel when a team starts to lose. (It can also lead to taking well-known Bible verses out of context.)

Insofar as Tebow-Mania is responsible for this misperception, I think it is doing more harm than good.

2. The Perception That Tebow’s Statistics Have Supernatural Significance. This last week, I have repeatedly cringed to see the hoopla made about Tebow’s 316 passing yards — as if it were a divine pointer to John 3:16. Don’t get me wrong, John 3:16 is a marvelous verse. The more attention that is drawn to it, the better.

But, fellow Christian, please don’t apply the mystical techniques of misguided numerologists (like the Bible code folks) to Tim Tebow’s stats column. It is bad hermeneutics on every level.

As ESPN’s D. J. Gallo sarcastically quipped:

Yes, even a coincidental stat has become evidence of Tebow’s heavenly favor. And 316 yards is specifically a reference to John 3:16, of course, not any of the 3:16s in the other 66 books of the Bible, such as Leviticus 3:16. … Nope. Totally John 3:16.

Gallo was trying to be funny. But in all seriousness, he made a valid point.

3. The Perception That “Tebowing” Is a Good Thing. I think it’s wonderful that Tebow is committed to public prayer. But I cringe over the fact that his iconic prayer position is now the object of mockery and scorn from the watching world.

At best, “tebowing” has become Denver’s version of Pittsburgh’s “terrible towel” or Green Bay’s cheese-wedge hats. At worst, it has spawned a blasphemous cult following on the part of fans who are more interested in imitating a celebrity-quarterback’s prayer posture than they are in actually addressing God in heartfelt petition. That may sound harsh, but I personally think the “Tebowing” craze is an absolute travesty that turns prayer into a joke and greatly dishonors the Lord.

Having said that, is it Tim’s fault that non-Christians mock his prayer position? No.

But could he do more to put a stop to it? I think he could, rather than giving tacit endorsement to a practice that (in my opinion) has become a sacrilegious fad.

4. The Perception That Christianity Needs Celebrities to Be Relevant. When it comes to Tebow-Mania, I wonder if evangelicalism is once again falling into the trap of “celebrity Christianity.” It feels great to have an evangelical Christian at the height of athletic popularity in our nation. It feels even better when he wins; because — in some small way — it feels as though evangelicalism is winning through him.

Epidemic in the American evangelical psyche is the idea that celebrity status is essential to reaching our society for the sake of the kingdom. We can be tempted to think that the more superstars we have on our side (whether from sports or politics or Hollywood), the better equipped we will be to advance God’s work — as though cultural popularity were the key to effective gospel proclamation.

Again, I don’t lay the blame for this celebrity-mindset at Tim Tebow’s feet. His celebrity status has been thrust upon him by the media. Moreover, I applaud his desire to use the platform he’s been given to exalt Christ.

However, insofar as Tebow-Mania contributes to evangelicalism’s infatuation with the cult of celebrity or the myth of influence, I do not believe it is helpful.

5. The Perception That Christianity Consists of Clichés. Walk into just about any Christian bookstore and you’ll quickly see that popular American evangelicalism loves clichés: pithy little slogans of feel-good spirituality. They are printed on t-shirts, bumper stickers, and motivational posters. They litter the pages of bestselling Christian books and are permanently etched into trinkets like key-chains and money clips. The roadside marquis of the average evangelical church contains new editions of these short little sayings every week — from messages like “Need a Faith Lift?” to “C H _ _ C H. What’s Missing? U R.”

I fear Tebow-Mania highlights this sappy side of mainstream evangelicalism more than it showcases the arresting truth of the biblical gospel. When discussing the Tebow phenomenon, media outlets often talk about faith in a cheesy “just-believe-in-yourself-and-make-your-dreams-come-true” kind of way. Numerous pundits have suggested that the Broncos’ sudden success should be made into a movie. One article joked that, if it were a screen play, the Tebow story would be too sentimental even for Disney.

To be fair, my concern in this final point again has much more to do with popular evangelicalism as a whole than with Tim Tebow as an individual. (As I noted earlier, I believe Tim to be a young man of great personal integrity and sincerity.) Nonetheless, the phenomenon that is Tebow-Mania has cast the public spotlight on American evangelicalism; and mainstream evangelicalism is often more wide than it is deep.

So those are my ten thoughts. I’m sure the cloud of dust will come in the comments section below.

As you can see, most of my concerns have less to do with Tim Tebow as an individual, and more to do with the larger media-driven craze that has exploded around him. (I have tried to affirm Tim Tebow, the person, while also wanting to think carefully about Tim Tebow, the cultural phenomenon.) On a personal level, I wish God’s best for Tim’s future  — both as a professional football player and as a devout Christian man in his early twenties.

As a Denver Broncos’ football fan, I hope he wins the Super Bowl. More importantly, as an evangelical Christian, I am thankful for his personal testimony and integrity.

At the same time, I cannot embrace everything that popular culture has come to associate with Tebow-Mania. And I sometimes wonder if perhaps Tim himself could do more to offset some of the negative by-products that come from all the media hype.

Does articulating my concerns make me a “hater”? I certainly hope not.

But if it does, rest assured that this hater will be heartily cheering for Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos when they face the New England Patriots on Saturday.

* * * * *

Update: Rick Holland has written a thoughtful post on the same topic. Click here to read, “If I Were Tim Tebow’s Pastor.”

Update 2: My brother sent me this article from ESPN: “I Believe in Tim Tebow.” It’s an inspirational reminder of some of the exceptional personal qualities that I admire about Tim Tebow.

Update 3: This update comes after the Broncos 10-45 loss to the Patriots on Saturday, January 14. In his press conference, Tim Tebow was asked, “There’s been a lot of talk this year about faith and winning. As Solomon said, ‘Victory belongs to the Lord.’ What about losing? How do you make sense of what’s the end of your season …?”

I thought Tim’s response was excellent and worth noting. He said, “Well, something I pray before games, during games, and after games is regardless whether I win, whether I lose, whether I’m the hero or the goat — it doesn’t matter — that I still honor the Lord and give Him the glory because He’s deserving of it. And just like my effort shouldn’t change, neither should that. So that’s how I try to approach it. Sometimes even in a loss you can honor Him more. And so, for me I just pray that my character and who I am doesn’t change. Even though you can be dejected, you can still feel hurt, you can be disappointed; but you can still honor the Lord with how you handle things.”

Click here to read my follow up post.

Nathan Busenitz

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Nathan serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles.
  • Brent Small

    Nathan, great article. I have been thinking about you during Tebow-mania knowing you are a big Broncos fan! I hope they stun the Patriots this weekend. On your concern #2, I heard that on a Christian radio station here in DC on Monday and just burst out laughing. I would love to hear Tebow address that issue. Great stuff, keep up the great work on the blog. Hope to see you at SC.

    • Anonymous

      Brent,

      Great to hear from you! Please say “hi” to our mutual friends there in DC. Praying for you and your ministry there.

      NB

    • http://www.tommycmann.blogspot.com/ Tommy

      To be fair to concern #2, Timmy used to put John 3:16 on his eye black during games, and the NCAA as since banned that practice, so picking John over Leviticus or any of the other 64 books isn’t a stretch. He also averaged 31.6 yards per completion, and the game boasted a viewing audience of 31.6 million.
      As Randy Alcorn pointed out, he also used to wear Phil 4:13 on his eye black, so hopefully he will throw for 413 yards against the Patriots!

  • H. Tartaglia

    Thank you, Nathan. I was cringing as will with the mystical reference to John 3:16 as Facebook lit up. I am not a football fan, but have many good friends who are. I appreciate your thoughts and words on this.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnUpChurch John UpChurch

    I love Tim Tebow’s heart for sharing the gospel and the conversations he sparks. While I don’t agree with the mystical aspects of “316 yards,” I was amazed at the number of searches that Google recorded for “John 3:16″ after the game. Even if it wasn’t a miracle, I’ll take anything that makes people all over the world want to know what that verse says … and maybe the rest of the book, too.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks John. I definitely agree that the more our culture is exposed to the good news of John’s gospel, the better.

  • http://renewingthoughts.wordpress.com/ Charlie Albright

    Excellent article on this! Tebow is a great guy and standing strong, by God’s grace, against the cultural tide. But Satan and sinners are finding ways to mute the gospel he proclaims and insert their won messages by the various ways you mentioned. It goes to show that the famous do not when the lost, the Holy Spirit does.

  • Cameron

    Can you clarify your concern over “The perception that God gives Tebow special help to win games.”

    Surely, you agree that it’s possible that God is helping Tebow win games to bring glory to Himself? And, I expect you agree that Tebow’s wins have brought glory to God for the reasons you list in your post. So, it seems plausible (and worth considering) that God is in fact helping Tebow win games.

    Maybe your concern should be recast as “The perception that God gives Tebow special help to win games to bring glory to Tebow.”

    • Smsurine

      I think the main thing to keep in mind is that we don’t know in what ways God might be lending special/miraculous help. I want to be careful about making claims about God that he hasn’t made about himself. Can God help Tebow score touchdowns and win games? Absolutely! Did God, in any of Tebows games, give him more supernatural help than he did any other player? None of us can know that for sure. So we should be careful about saying so as if it were a certainty.

    • Andy

      Well clearly, everything that happens, does so in accordance with God’s will, so there’s a sense in which God “made it happen”. Although it sounds trivial to say it, if the Broncos win a game, it’s because God sovereignly ordained that such a thing would happen.

      I think where we cross the line (and what Nate was getting at) is when we start getting into speculation about God using Tebow to make a point, or that God gives the Broncos wins because they’re more pious than other teams, or even that God gives the Broncos wins to teach sports fans some lesson.

      To be certain, God may be glorified when the Broncos win a game, but would he not be just as glorified (perhaps more so) when they lose a game and the players glorify him even in the midst of their loss?

      • Cameron

        I agree with both of you that we can’t be certain about whether God is using Tebow to win games, and so we should never say so with certainty.

        But at what point do we begin to call something miraculous and attribute it to God and give Him glory for it?

        I’m not saying the Bronco’s run is a miracle…yet. But could it ever be in your mind? What if they win the Superbowl? What if they win the Superbowl in a very, very strange way?

        At that point would it be worth discussing God’s role in Tebow’s winning ways?

        • http://www.facebook.com/seth.rima Seth Rima

          Well I think the fact that Tebow is in fact a well-rounded, and faithful believer in Jesus Christ is in itself a miracle. In fact, Tebow was, in Doctor’s opinions, supposed to be stillborn at birth, so the fact that he was born healthy can be seen as a miracle.

          The crucial thing to realize here is that the most important part of Tebow-mania in view of culture, is that it might be an even more amazing miracle when Tebow loses, and consistently gives glory to God in the same exact way that he has in the past when he’s succeeded.

          Personally, I think the outcome of a game is just a little too small to put in the category of “miracle”. Certainly it can be a blessing, but a miracle? I think we need to be careful to not ascribe too much theological significance to “success” as the world defines it.

          • Anonymous

            If God is willing to do a “miracle” to keep a party going, e.g. water into wine, I don’t think we can assume the Superbowl is beneath Him.

          • Noah Hartmetz

            You make it sound like that’s all the miracle was designed to do, which only ends up trivializing it. Read John’s gospel in light of what he wrote in 20:30-31, especially the effect the miracle of turning water into wine had on the disciples. I don’t think you can come away with either a small view of the miracle or high view of the Super Bowl if you have a good grasp on why the miracle was recorded in the first place.

        • Noah Hartmetz

          Nothing in the Broncos run constitutes a miracle, rightly defined.
          The Broncos have won because they haven’t beaten themselves and their defense keeps them in games.

          I can’t believe I just wrote that on this forum! LOL

          • Anonymous

            The point is that a Super Bowl miracle might also have an immense effect on people, just like the wine miracle. It’s not that the wine miracle is small, it’s that God can take any “trivial” thing (e.g. a party) and bring immense glory to Himself through it.

            And don’t get me started on the Bronco’s 22nd-ranked defense!

          • Noah Hartmetz

            I don’t know about you, but I am extremely uncomfortable equating a Super Bowl win with a miracle that Jesus did that displayed his glory.

            Extremely uncomfortable.

    • Cameron

      I agree with both of you that we can’t be certain about whether God is using Tebow to win games, and so we should never say so with certainty.

      But at what point do we begin to call something miraculous and attribute it to God and give Him glory for it?

      I’m not saying the Bronco’s run is a miracle…yet. But could it ever be in your mind? What if they win the Superbowl? What if they win the Superbowl in a very, very strange way?

      At that point would it be worth discussing God’s role in Tebow’s winning ways?

    • Jonathan

      And all the other believers who lose games every week aren’t able to bring glory to God? Too bad God. You could bring more glory to Yourself if You would help them all win…

      If only we paid this much attention to matters of eternity…

      • Adco

        Couldn’t agree more Jonathan. Has Tebow every used the moral law publicly to show people’s personal sinfulness and crimes against God? Hence their reasonable and punishment of hell for all eternity? And that each person will stand before God alone on judgment day as God judges them individually base on His law? I really wish he would. The Gospel is good news precisely because of the bad news. I am all for and rejoice for the Name of Jesus being public glorified but lets not forget that the cross of Christ is foolishness to them who are perishing and the natural man does not understand things of the spirit. Even the demons believe in Jesus and tremble. I pray Tim that Tim is truly born again that God will open his eyes to the true Gospel and that Tim would respond by publicly proclaiming the law and the Gospel. The Gospel is the power of God into salvation, not Tim Tebow or anyone else for that matter

      • Joyce Huegel

        I agree that there are many other Christian players out there but how many have ever had the guts to proclaim Jesus as ther Lord and Savior and put Him first before any other comment spoken on public telelvision world wide. God is using Tebow because God know his heart belong to Him,

        • Cathy

          Joyce, it doesn’t sound like you watch professional sports much based on your premise. Football players routinely kneel w/each other (from both teams) and pray. Further, there are lots of them who aren’t ashamed to profess their faith. As a voracious Steelers fan, I invite you to consider the ferocity of Troy Polamalu. I am including a link to a video of him talking about how pride can get in the way of being a pro athlete, and how Satan works in that way. I also shared this on Rick Holland’s blog. If you Google Aaron Smith, you will also find a youtube video in which he humbly proclaims what Christ has done in his heart. Roethlisberger now attends an uber Reformed church in Pittsburgh, and while his testimony was besmirched (he used to write “PFJ”–“Play for Jesus” on his shoes, and then lost his way), God will use what He wills–when He wills, however He wills. There are plenty of pro athletes who love God, and play hard for him.

  • Jstew4lu

    Thanks for your thoughts Nathan…not sure what to think about number 2 on your concerns. As if it were a coincidence that John 3:16 was the top Google search afterward…do we really believe in the sovereign hand of God using even football stats to proclaim the glories of His name? I admit it sounds mystical but don’t we have a sovereign Lord who uses ALL things? The struggle I have had is that it seems really odd to have those stats but to try and use logic to address it as merely a coincidence ignores the fact that we have a powerful loving God who clearly uses something even as odd as football and statistics to proclaim Christ to the world. God so graciously and lovingly has given Tim Tebow a platform to proclaim Christ but has even given us non-celebrities an easy conversation piece to jump from. I thank the Lord for his sovereign hand in all things even the seemingly silly details of football statistics…

    • 60feet6inches

      What was your loving God pointing to when he had a crappy performace against KC in the final week? I don’t recall people like you spouting nonsense about some Bible verse after that game. Maybe because is was… you know… simply a coincidence?

  • http://mytwocents.wordpress.com/ Chris Anderson

    Nate, I agree. But as a life-long Bronco fan (think Craig Morton era), I’m hoping that Tim’s stats vs. New England have people googling John 5:24 and not John 1:12.

    • WWW

      Glad you brought up C.Morton, nothing to do with the point of the post but the first Super Bowl loss was to the Cowboys. Late 70’s early 80’s.

      • Wetlander

        1978. I had the flu and laid in bed feeling worse and worse as my beloved Broncos lost…

  • Pastorcarldixon

    Most of Tebow mania has been thrust on this marvelous young man. I do believe God is helping him and i very much liked your article. It is good for us to think through what is happening in the media because of Tim Tebow and his commitment to Christ. But i also feel that, should he try to correct some of the overstatements etc. it would cause more misunderstanding than help. I am also a fan of Eric Liddell who was the Tim Tebow of his day. Many still talk about Liddell’s commitment to Christ because of the sum total of his life. I pray for Tim Tebow, especially that he will endure to the end. I imagine he eventually might become a missionary and if he does and if he finishes well, then all this present hype will become future glory. So i am praying he will pull out a miracle and beat New England – and i am praying that Tim Tebow will be protected by God’s Spirit as he lives his very public life before God.

    • Anonymous

      Carl,

      Thanks for your comment. Eric Liddell’s story is a wonderful and inspiring testimony to God’s amazing grace. It would be really cool if Tim Tebow went into full-time missions work after his football career is over.

      NB

  • Vinod Anand S

    Great Post, Nathan. Good appreciation and genuine concerns. I was also alarmed by the 316 hype created by the secular media. It is sad that the secular medias are just bringing down the wonderful verses to mere codes so that they can sell their news to more people. Very irrational.

    • 60feet6inches

      I love your desire to pin the “3:16 miracles” to the secular media. The truth is, many of my religoius and hyper-Christian friends and acquaintances have been spouting endlessly that his passing stats were a testament to how very real God is. Nothing could be further from the truth. All one has to do is ask what verse his KC week 16 passing stats was pointing towards.

  • Frank Emrich

    Nathan, you are a man who I great respect and admire. I learn so much from you and what you write, so you might understand my confusion over the fact that you would believe that the Broncos would stand even the slightest chance of beating my “Pat’s” this weekend….I am going to have to pray over this…..

    • Anonymous

      Hi Frank,

      Sorry to add to your confusion: Go Broncos!

  • Pat Howell

    Well said, Nathan. I’ve been wondering about the stress/joy factors in all the Busenitz’ homes with the Broncos roller-coaster this year. Fun and I’m rooting for Denver, too. Especially since the Vikings look to be a lost cause for a while…I appreciate your comments and spirit. I saw a couple of blogs that only took Tebow to task for not being more Biblical, i.e., Reformed in his speech and presentation of truth. Thanks for not doing that. I think that conservative evangelicalism has enough problems within itself when it comes to the matter of celebrity. But if Tebow remains consistent and humble, win or lose his testimony will have whatever its intended effect. He surely comes across as a really sincere, faithful, individual. Social media allows for quicker and greater aggrandizement of such individuals…back in the day of only print and radio/tv, such events happened but on a much slower/lower scale. Tim’s perseverance will likely be the key to any lasting effect. And those who mock or hate…they’ll always be around, so whether in pretense or in truth….God will have his way. And as I posted recently…for all those who say Tebow doesn’t have the skills to be an NFL quarterback, let me quote Minnesota’s great coach, Bud Grant: “Scoreboard.”

    • Anonymous

      Hi Pat,

      Thanks for your feedback. Like you, I hope Tebow will remain consistent and humble. He has been given an amazing platform. And I am thankful for the personal integrity he has demonstrated so far.

      Sorry about your Vikings. Ever since the Favre debacle, I’ve had pity on all Minnesota fans.

  • Luke Simmons

    Like you, I grew up a life-long Broncos fan (grew up in Denver). I appreciate and agree with this post and have been concerned about the lack of middle ground. As a former college athlete and a Christian, here are a few other things I’d add:

    More Reasons I like Tebow (that are also of spiritual significance):
    1. He has won over the respect of his teammates through his hard work and character. This is especially commendable as many of them are veterans, many are not Christians and are not impressed with much “ra-ra” stuff. They want to see a guy work his butt off, walk the walk, compete like crazy and Tebow has done this.
    2. He is unbelievably disciplined with the media as they try to trap him. He NEVER takes the bait. Just impressive to see that much discipline.
    3. He competes with ferocity. He challenges the “Christian athletes are soft” way of thinking.

    Concerns:
    1. Christians that ignore his obvious football weaknesses because he loves Jesus. It comes off to the world as ignorantly partisan.
    2. The automatic tie to God’s favor of him based on the outcomes. You alluded to this in your first few concerns, but the idea that God is for him when he’s winning will surely lead to the idea that God is against him when he’s losing. Plays right into the already performance mindset that humanity has as a default.

    Thanks for your post and thoughtfulness.

    • Anonymous

      Luke,

      These are helpful additional thoughts. Thanks for posting them!

      NB

    • Joyce Huegel

      I would like to have humanity wise up and understand that God gives us what we need when we need it. God does not always give us what we want but it does not mean that God is against us. He knows what is best for us and can see that the time may not be right for the request we have of Him. He will always does what is right and will eventually allow us to see His way when we show Him our trust, faith and patience. He uses wins and loses for the Glory of the Lord!
      How many Christian players are on the teams the Broncos lost to. Maybe God was showing fairness and giving them a boost to their fatih. THINK ABOUT IT!

    • Cathy

      As a voracious Steelers fan, I invite you to consider the ferocity of Troy Polamalu. I am including a link to a video of him talking about how pride can get in the way of being a pro athlete, and how Satan works in that way. I also shared this on Rick Holland’s blog. If you Google Aaron Smith, you will also find a youtube video in which he humbly proclaims what Christ has done in his heart. Roethlisberger now attends an uber Reformed church in Pittsburgh, and while his testimony was besmirched (he used to write “PFJ”–“Play for Jesus” on his shoes, and then lost his way), God will use what He wills–when He wills, however He wills. There are plenty of pro athletes who love God, and play hard for him.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dY1K-xQAONA I posted this in response to a comment from Joyce (see above), as well.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VBPPPIXGR6GBFRNX5T33EDLF4I Kelly

    Nathan, great, well-written article! Ever Since this “Tebow-mania” began, my husband have felt like we were the only ones who felt this way. People, even our evangelical friends, were acting like WE lost our faith, that we HATED Jesus and His servant and made us feel like complete outcasts. They thought we were crazy, losing our religion, and heaven knows what else. We kept trying to reassure people that we didn’t hate Tim as a man, or as a Christian believer, but we tirelessly tried to make the same points as you, even that the worshiping of Tim was scarily becoming idolization in some ways. Even last week when they won and I posted that I was going to root for the Patriots for once in my life (I’m a Steelers Fan, born from the outskirts of the “Burgh” in western PA–sorry) , I made the grammatical error in saying that I despised the Broncos, which brought a HUGE backlash from someone in saying that: “You just despise a team with a strong Christian who loves Jesus…is the most outspoken Christian athlete ever He spends time with sick kids…puts God first in everything and you despise his team? Wow!!” I stated that I would have said this if some other team had beaten them, and that this was not an attack against Tim personally. So once again, THANK YOU so much for posing this article. I feel a little less crazy and a little more sane now.

    • Anonymous

      You are right on, Kelly. I love the example Tim is. But his example is definitely being stretched into idol-status. He is a human. The only perfect human was Jesus. So let’s just appreciate a Christian who gives God the credit, when he could easily make it all about himself. But let’s NOT place him on a level where he is worshipped. Just respect a dude who is doing a good job.

    • Jackie

      totally agree…i like Tebow as a person, but im also afraid that this whole national phenomenon thing is creating idolizaton of him and a distortion of Christianity.
      im also a big steelers fan and am rooting for the patriots next week also :)

    • Cathy

      Totally…We are major Steeler fans in our house (husband from Pittsburgh–live in the Bay Area of Norcal–imagine the hype for the Niners), so I hope that the Pats pound the Broncos tomorrow. I have felt the same way…if I don’t like Tebow (and I don’t–it’s not personal), does that mean that I don’t like Jesus. That’s goofy talk. And, I also want the Niners to get their heads handed to them tomorrow, and it’s not because Brees is a believer, either. : )

  • http://adebtortomercy.blogspot.com/ Wyeth Duncan

    Excellent post, and I agree with your concerns. I wrote something on my blog last night about Tim Tebow (http://adebtortomercy.blogspot.com/2012/01/beware.html), but I think I like better what you wrote. Thanks!

  • http://adebtortomercy.blogspot.com/ Wyeth Duncan

    I’m sorry, I mistyped the link to my blog post: http://adebtortomercy.blogspot.com/2012/01/beware.html

  • Ebayjim

    Hopefully Christians will apply wisdom when speaking about Tebow, prayer, faith, etc. The media is feeding this fire for their own gain. Tim should be Tim. He seems to have a good biblical balance. It it’s mainstream Christianity and the media who distort Tebow, and ultimately Jesus.

  • Dwight Wagner

    Thanks for raising some concerns about this and expressing them in a helpful manner. Enjoy you and all the guys at Cripplegate. Thanks for helping us think through a number of issues like this.

  • http://scripturethoughts.wordpress.com/ LyndaO

    As one who grew up in Denver, I can relate to the football mania there. You forgot to mention Denver’s first Superbowl loss, though, in the late ’70s against Dallas. But the three Superbowls in the late ’80s and early ’90s certainly got a lot of attention, even local radio playing songs about “Johnny Elway” and “The Broncos Are Going to Pasadena” (set to popular oldies tunes) and the public transit buses re-painted in Broncos colors.

    I’d not been closely following the Tim Tebow interest, other than one fellow blogger who questioned Tebow’s Arminian-style evangelism, but have heard more about him this last week, including the Tebow mania, that some women who normally don’t want to watch football now want to do so. Agree, the celebrity hype and associating that with Christianity is not the right approach.

    • Anonymous

      Lynda,

      Thanks for your comments. Super Bowl XII (Denver/Dallas) took place 24 days before I was born.

      I suppose I was already a Denver fan at that point. I just didn’t realize it yet.

  • N Beal

    I appreciate Tebow as an individual, but come Saturday I’ll be cheering on my New England Patriots. Not a hater, but definitely not a fan!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rrobart Roger Robart

    I don’t understand how Tebow-mania mixes with the persecution of Christians all over the world (http://www.persecution.com). Any thoughts? Also do you really think we are going to be telling our grand children about the Tebow 316 miracle? It’s not going to be remembered next season let alone 30-40 years from now. Do we really believe that God’s Glory is so short lived?

    • 60feet6inches

      Maybe you should take a moment to reflect on the definition of persecution, and how Christians have used Bibles to persecute gays and other folks who dare not to agree with you over the ages.

      per·se·cute (pûrs-kyt)
      tr.v. per·se·cut·ed, per·se·cut·ing, per·se·cutes
      1. To oppress or harass with ill-treatment, especially because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs.
      2. To annoy persistently; bother.

      • Noah Hartmetz

        Hey 60 and 1 half,
        Your name strikes a chord with me as I run a baseball training facility and since there are no coincidences but everything (yes, I said everything, including the starving sub-Saharans) is under the control of the God who created the universe, I figured I would take the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with you!

        Please forgive me for only giving you the basics since this is, of course, a meta on the blog, but it first starts with God being the Creator and therefore having the right to establish laws. He’s done that, and I guarantee that everyone, save one, but we’ll get to him later, has broken those laws, including you. For example, have you ever wanted something that was not yours? Well, that’s called coveting and we’re told not to do it. In fact, one of the inspired writers of the Bible, Paul, used coveting as an example in chapter 7 of his well-known Letter to the Romans of how our sinful bent uses the law to only sin more.

        So God has a law that he has established, and everyone of us has broken some of it or all of it (and to break only one part of it is to break all of it is the way another writer, James, puts it). This is called sin, or missing the mark of God’s law. The penalty for sin is death, which will happen to all of us too. But there is something else that results from sin, and that is being separated from God forever. It’s commonly called Hell, but I prefer what the last book of the Bible says, the Lake of Fire. This is not a good place, nor is it a place where anybody in their right mind would want to go. But that’s the thing about sin. Sin infects every part of us so that we are even depraved in mind. With sin around, if there is choice between God and hell, we’ll always choose hell. More on that later. This is a terrible thing, to be separated from God, as I pray you can see, since God is the very definition of everything that is good in Creation.

        So what can we do about it? Well, the simple answer is that, in reality, we can do nothing about it. Our situation is so terrible that God must act since even if there was something we could do about it, it wouldn’t matter because we wouldn’t do it because of our sin.

        Praise God, he did do something! He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect, sinless life and to die on a cross at the hands of sinners like you and me. After being in the grave for three days, he was raised from the dead and later ascended into Heaven to be where he ought to be, glorified and praised forever! In the process of being put to death, his willing sacrifice paid the penalty for sin in order that those who put their trust in him and submit to his Lordship (much like a slave to a beloved master) would have their sin removed from them and be given right-standing with God.

        Now, I must admit, with a cold, dead, sinful heart, this sounds like the stuff of fantasy, but that’s a result of sin. It’s all true and trustworthy.

        So what is your responsibility upon hearing this news? Well, I must say that if you haven’t heard this before, I have just put you in harm’s way by telling you. But there’s no other choice because ignorance won’t save you from God’s just dealings with you. The choice you must make to be saved from the righteous judgment of God is to put your trust in him and repent of your sin, committing to follow Jesus for the rest of your life. I pray you do this today before that day of judgment comes.

        Thank you for your time.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JWGTTVMGGZGIVI2JEPTAXJ7W2A Sean

          Thank you Noah. I’m a believer, but it’s still nice to read something like this from time to time.

      • Noah Hartmetz

        Hey 60 and 1 half,
        Your name strikes a chord with me as I run a baseball training facility and since there are no coincidences but everything (yes, I said everything, including the starving sub-Saharans) is under the control of the God who created the universe, I figured I would take the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with you!

        Please forgive me for only giving you the basics since this is, of course, a meta on the blog, but it first starts with God being the Creator and therefore having the right to establish laws. He’s done that, and I guarantee that everyone, save one, but we’ll get to him later, has broken those laws, including you. For example, have you ever wanted something that was not yours? Well, that’s called coveting and we’re told not to do it. In fact, one of the inspired writers of the Bible, Paul, used coveting as an example in chapter 7 of his well-known Letter to the Romans of how our sinful bent uses the law to only sin more.

        So God has a law that he has established, and everyone of us has broken some of it or all of it (and to break only one part of it is to break all of it is the way another writer, James, puts it). This is called sin, or missing the mark of God’s law. The penalty for sin is death, which will happen to all of us too. But there is something else that results from sin, and that is being separated from God forever. It’s commonly called Hell, but I prefer what the last book of the Bible says, the Lake of Fire. This is not a good place, nor is it a place where anybody in their right mind would want to go. But that’s the thing about sin. Sin infects every part of us so that we are even depraved in mind. With sin around, if there is choice between God and hell, we’ll always choose hell. More on that later. This is a terrible thing, to be separated from God, as I pray you can see, since God is the very definition of everything that is good in Creation.

        So what can we do about it? Well, the simple answer is that, in reality, we can do nothing about it. Our situation is so terrible that God must act since even if there was something we could do about it, it wouldn’t matter because we wouldn’t do it because of our sin.

        Praise God, he did do something! He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect, sinless life and to die on a cross at the hands of sinners like you and me. After being in the grave for three days, he was raised from the dead and later ascended into Heaven to be where he ought to be, glorified and praised forever! In the process of being put to death, his willing sacrifice paid the penalty for sin in order that those who put their trust in him and submit to his Lordship (much like a slave to a beloved master) would have their sin removed from them and be given right-standing with God.

        Now, I must admit, with a cold, dead, sinful heart, this sounds like the stuff of fantasy, but that’s a result of sin. It’s all true and trustworthy.

        So what is your responsibility upon hearing this news? Well, I must say that if you haven’t heard this before, I have just put you in harm’s way by telling you. But there’s no other choice because ignorance won’t save you from God’s just dealings with you. The choice you must make to be saved from the righteous judgment of God is to put your trust in him and repent of your sin, committing to follow Jesus for the rest of your life. I pray you do this today before that day of judgment comes.

        Thank you for your time.

    • Anonymous

      We probably won’t be talking about the Tebow 316 yard feat even two years from now. Next year it might get one mention jokingly from a sportscaster, but beyond that, nah. It will be long forgotten. But we can’t forget the importance of seed planting. And maybe the 316 feat did just that. John 316 was the number one term searched on google for nearly the entire following day. It was funny to check the Google “Hot Searches” and see John 316 as number one for almost the entire day. I wonder how often a bible verse (especially one so core to the Christian belief) is number one on Google searches? I don’t know, I’ve never looked into it. Might be interesting to find out. I don’t think it was a miracle. I prefer to call it providential.

    • Pjhuegel

      You are right they won’t remember Tebow but how many will remember John 3:16 and the first time they heard or read this verse of scripture. How many will remember the prfound effect it had on their lives?

  • Sycksun

    I appreciate your article Nathan. I feel it is important to note that God works in amazing and mysterious ways. If we as Christians believe that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God as stated in Romans 3:23, we have to realize that to those who do not know Christ and who are bound in sin cannot understand or comprehend what true faith/belief/prayer is… I agree with you that it is sad to see the results of the ‘hype,’ but I know God is above it and working through it to build His kingdom. Take care Nathan

  • Trish Jones

    Thanks for a well-balanced article on what has become, in many ways, an out-of-balance issue. I agree. That being said…my two cents worth. First, I don’t think God is terribly interested or involved in who wins what football game. He IS delighted, however, when His Name is lifted up and glorified. Tebow does that at every opportunity. Plus, as a football fan (and the Broncos being one of my favorite teams since the days of John Elway), it’s just been fun to watch him play – even when it’s been bad (and it HAS been bad!). He doesn’t play in a vacuum, however, he plays with a team – and I appreciate his quick responses to turn the spotlight off of him and put it on the team as a whole. And, there’s no getting around it – (makes me think of Paul’s words about being grateful that Jesus Christ is being preached, regardless of the motive behind the preachers) – it’s quite something when you’ve got sports writers quoting Scripture. Overall, I think the whole “Tebow Time” has been a positive “thing” for the Body of Christ – and who knows what the Lord has done and is doing behind the scenes in the lives of the lost through Tebow’s witness. My greatest concern is for Tim Tebow himself. We already know the multiple, intense temptations that face pro sports players: immense amounts of money, sexual temptations at every turn, tendencies to be prideful and even arrogant, and who knows what else. Tebow will be, I believe, a prime target of the enemy in all those areas. We believers, football fans or not, need to be lifting up this young man in our prayers, bringing him to the Throne often, asking for wisdom, strength, humility and protection. Win or lose, he’s become a very public face and voice for the Lord Jesus Christ on a very large platform – and he needs our help and support. Going back to football for a moment, however – can’t wait for Saturday. Go Broncos! :-)

    • Anonymous

      Completely agree!

    • Anonymous

      Hi Trish,

      Thanks for your comment. Good thoughts. Tim Tebow definitely needs our prayers.

  • Ravens fan

    A wonderful article!! I just talked to my Christian mother about this phenomenon last night because she has now for the first time, at 83, become an NFL fan, routing of course for Tebow because he comes from a small town near her home in Florida and is a Christian. I jokingly told her that I thougtht the Lord would let the Ravens win the Super Bowl because I have been a Christian longer than Tebow. She said she didn’t think God worked like that and I said, “I totally agree!”

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  • truthunites

    May God continue to be glorified and uplifted and praised by all the Christians in the NFL, but especially by Tim Tebow.

    • http://awildernesslife.wordpress.com/ Laura

      “especially by Tim Tebow”

      Why?

      • truthunites

        Because he’s the most visible Salt and Light follower of Christ in the NFL.

  • Jim Dowdy

    Excellent thoughts Nathan! I agree with them all. The blasphemous Saturday night live skits and similar blasphemous stunts make me shudder.

  • http://awildernesslife.wordpress.com/ Laura

    Really, really thoughtful. Thanks so much.

  • 60feet6inches

    “Having said that, is it Tim’s fault that non-Christians mock his prayer position? No.”

    Frankly, I would contend that YES, it is his fault, because in my opinion, it is what he intends. Do you think prayer is something to do as a means of drawing attention to yourself? I don’t, and neither does the Bible (see Matthew 6:5). Prayer, supposedly, is speaking directly to God. God is omnipresent, and can hear your thoughts. So, what purpose does dropping to a knee in public serve? What about that amounts to anything more substantive in prayer than simply mentally speaking to God without making a sideshow about it? Tebow may be genuine in his acts and in his words. But make no bones about it, he sincerely desires public attention and that desire is the reason for so many of his acts.

    • Anonymous

      To me, the whole Tebowing thing is just an alternative to grabbing the crotch or smacking the chest or pointing at the jersey number in celebration of accomplishing something good. (Celebration in sport is funny to me, since if you make a good tackle, you are doing your job.) By bowing down, Tebow instantly reminds everyone who gets the glory. To me, it’s just his way of celebration. And it’s a much better example of celebration than grabbing one’s crotch and saying “Suck it” to the other team, or pointing to a jersey number over and over, which basically says “It’s all about me.” Just my thoughts.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JWGTTVMGGZGIVI2JEPTAXJ7W2A Sean

      I hear what your saying, and I think of Troy Polamalu, who quietly sits on the bench praying, whether he makes a good play or not. It does seem theatrical to be “Tebowing” before the crowd and TV viewers. Two thoughts come to mind 1) Part of this phenomenon stems from his public display and God has purpose for that and so I do not judge Tebow’s actions. God’s will be done in all things. 2) IF it is public attention he seeks, God will use his sin to forward his kingdom as well. Hopefully, Tim will search his own heart and find truth in his actions. He’s a young kid, and has a lot to learn. God will convict him, as I believe Tim IS sincere in his devotion and so his path towards sanctification will be a life long effort.

  • Mary Korf

    It’s a good read (10 Thoughts…) but I can’t help but wonder what you think Tebow should do to change what the media is doing? Do you really want him to stop Tebowing now? What would that say about his stand for Christ? Jesus Himself took great risks of being misunderstood and being “worshipped” for the miracles and not for who He was, knowing that even His true followers would have a shallow and imperfect concept of the enormity of God. But He did it willingly to save a few. Not saying that Tebow is Jesus, but he is His representative for the day! God is in control and will do as He wills and as He pleases for His own glory, whether it’s through Tebow or through you and me. We, and Tim Tebow, are called to be faithful, and He takes care of the results.

    • 60feet6inches

      His representative for the day? People said the same about Ted Haggard, and we know how that ended. False idols was addressed in the original 10, lady.

      • guest

        No where in her posting does Mary Korf encourage us to idolize Tim Tebow. She’s simply saying that he is using his life to point others to Christ and that is commendable. Sadly your focus on ridicule, mocking, bullying and attacking. Comparing Tim Tebow to Ted Haggard is unfair and unwarranted. How about some grace? How about some Romans 12:10? You aren’t the judge – God is – leave judgement to him. Speak the truth in love – and if you can’t say anything edifying then search your heart – maybe the problem is there and not in those you seem to relish attacking.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JWGTTVMGGZGIVI2JEPTAXJ7W2A Sean

        It’s ok. 60/6’s post just illustrates all of our need for a savior, given that we are all “shallow and imperfect”. I pray we all can be still in this storm and help people to see clearly even as the media and even we ourselves in our own sinful hearts distort the message of truth.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JWGTTVMGGZGIVI2JEPTAXJ7W2A Sean

      Amen Mary.

  • Philnit4u

    https://twitter.com/phil_johnson_/status/130737236730855424

    Excellent article. Perhaps we could allow for a little levity with repect to the whole Tebowing thing, as the link above demostrates.

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  • Azekveld

    haha, as a non-american this post is enlightening – now I know what all the love&hate speech on the blogosphere in the usa is about. Perhaps a sixth point under your concerns can be 6. The prevalence of Tebow in Theological Twits and their Tweets ;) I realise that this blog is probably read mostly by americans, so I understand. Special thanks therefore for addressing the greater issues – helpful principles!

  • James Brabson

    This was a great article! Thanks so much for pinpointing how easy it is to follow a fad and look for cultural icons to “reassure us”, when our assurance is in Christ alone.

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  • Scott

    God may not give “special help” to who wins but whatever happens even In a football game is according to His will (Ephesians 1:11). I think it’s concerning pastors are saying God doesn’t care about football games, clearly he cares about every thing, even football.

    • 60feet6inches

      So millions of starving sub-Saharan Africans is “his will” as well? Come on man… I think it’s concerning to hear you spout about how God cares about football, simply because you are lucky enough to live in a place where violence is rare and food is plentiful If it were the opposite, I have a hard time believing you would still be ranting about how God cares one iota about a sport contest’s outcome. Immature.

      • Guest

        I don’t think it’s “His will.” I’m just wondering why we can’t give Him glory for something that brings attention to His name. If a football game brings attention to His name, maybe that will inspire someone to believe in Him who will one day end world hunger. I’m just saying we shouldn’t limit God. God cares about everyone. God definitely hurts with all of the starving and pain in this world. He cares about everyone, because He created everyone. That includes the starving children, sickly children, healthy children and abused children. He cares about it all.

      • guest

        Be careful – your words are harsh and ugly – filled with vitriol and attack – make your point but do so with grace. You don’t have to ram your thoughts down other people’s throats – trust the Holy Spirit to convict – just speadk the truth in love.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JWGTTVMGGZGIVI2JEPTAXJ7W2A Sean

        Apparently 60feet6inches is not the length of your fuse. Perhaps counting to 60 would be a good idea before posting.

    • Anonymous

      I couldn’t agree more. He does care about everything. It is difficult for us to understand within our human limitations that God has the infinite ability to care about everything wholly and fully in the instance of one moment.

      Why do we take credit away from God? Why not allow Him the glory when John 3:16 becomes the number one term searched on Google in the USA for nearly the entire day following Tebow’s 316 yard feat? God could have held Tebow to 315 yards or given Him 317 yards. The devil hates it when God’s word gets positive attention. If 316 yards was not a feat of God’s doing, the devil would have certainly made sure it did not happen, to ensure less attention placed on God. Just my thoughts.

  • 1970blp

    Great article Nathan. It is very good to hear a well written Biblical perspective of “Tebow Mania”. I happen to be a Pittsburgh Steeler fan who likes what Tim stands for. I don’t remember praying for the game last Sunday but if I did the prayer would have been for the Steelers:)! Ultimately, I pray the Lord uses Tim to His glory and that Tim will model true Christian faith. That’s the same prayer I have for every believer!

  • 60feet6inches

    Is there a specific reason my comment was deleted? Was it because I politely disagreed with a portion of your blog, and dared to politely point out the reasons (and Bible verses) I hold my opinion? Seems very backward of you to censor polite comments that discuss your article.

    • 60feet6inches

      Disregard… it appears there was a significant delay in the web server which caused the post not to show for about 30 min. My apologies for assuming this was due to author censorship.

  • R. Cousins

    I’m thankful for Christians everywhere who stand for the truth and are unashamed of the Gospel of Christ. I’m really concerned about the fact that Tim Tebow and all our other sports “heroes” consistently break the Lord’s Day, doing their own pleasure (games), on many Christian sabbath days, instead of worshipping corporately with other believers. I’m amazed I haven’t seen any mention of this, because it’s a big deal to God–Isaiah and Jeremiah both talk about God’s judgment coming on His people because they did whatever they wanted on His day!

    • http://thecripplegate.com Jesse Johnson

      I may regret this later, but I’ll take the bait….
      What does it mean to “break the Lord’s Day”? What is a “Christian Sabbath” esp. in light of Col 2:16? Are you saying Christians shouldn’t work on Sunday? Since when?
      Thanks,
      Jesse

    • Doug C in Gilbert

      Who decides what day the Sabbath is on? Can’t it be on a Sat? What about a Wed? There are many hard working Christians who can not make Sunday their day of rest and/or worship. Isn’t it a day of rest devoted to serving, honoring and worshipping our Lord? What about a worship service on Sat. night, is that not a Sabbath day for some? I used to be pretty legalistic about those things but as God has convicted me, and I am only referring to me, I find that whenever I am with other Christians, studying, discussing God’s Word and breaking bread and praying I am in a form of worship – Acts 2:42. Don’t forget in Hebrews 8 where it is taught that Jesus came to make the OT obsolete (v13) and that we have a new, better one (v6). The NT is full of Grace, Love and Mercy. It also is full of forgiveness. Please forgive me if I have offended you but I do take exception to the hard line that the Sabbath needs to be on Sunday.

  • Kyle Swanson

    Excellent points, Professor. I too am a lifelong Broncos fan and have thoroughly enjoyed, and yet thoroughly been frustrated this year for the same reasons. I pray for Tim that he maintains his testimony because the media most certainly has set him up for spiritual failure, and I would be satisfied if Christ were honored through his failure than if the media honored Tim for his success, while questioning whether or not God gave him power to be successful. Your 5 points of concern are justified. I am just glad they are the media’s fault and not really Tebow’s.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Kyle! See you next week when class starts up again.

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  • guest

    I found much I could affirm in your section on “5 Reasons I Like Tim Tebow”. But I was very disappointed with your section on “5 Concerns I have about Tebow-mania”. Not because I’m some kind of “Tebow-fanatic”. In fact I rarely watch NFL football. I’m simply evaluating your comments on the basis of truth and facts – not emotion, hysteria or personal preference. I’m glad you made the distinction that your concerns are more about American evangelicalism then about Tim Tebow himself. However I don’t think it’s fair of you to combine the two as though Tim Tebow is to blame for the excesses in American Evangelicalism. It seems to me as though you are doing what you fault American Evangelicalism for – taking advantage of the media attention being given to advance your thoughts. Most of the concerns you have are about American Evangelicalism – and not about Tim Tebow personally. I don’t see your post as fair at all. Affirm the man if he deserves affirmation and leave it at that. Criticize American Evangelicalism if it is warranted biblically. But don’t link the two – that’s just not fair or wise. It seems like your taking advantage of the very hype you criticize. Instead I’d encourage you to follow Romans 12:10 and “show honour” to this young man who is doing his utmost to bring glory to God. Don’t use him as a springboard for your criticism of American Evangelicalism – that’s just not fair.
    Here’s some additional thoughts that I don’t think you took into consideration. The fact that Tim Tebow joins players from both teams in prayer at games shows that you’ve missed the mark on your first concern. Tim Tebow is trying to model a vertical relationship that’s all about Christ and not about him – he’s doing the exact opposite of what you are criticizing by praying with other players – even from the opposing team – and he is affirming that there’s no magic in him – it’s all about Christ. Secondly Tim Tebow does pray using different postures – he did so during last Sunday’s game – so your facts are incorrect on that point as well. Moreover I think it unwise to counsel that he change his posture simply because people are mimicking him – I’d encourage more people to get on their knees and pray and give God the glory as long as they are sincere – but don’t discourage a man who does this simply because others may do it insincerely. He can’t be blamed for the lack of sincerity of others. In fact in a day where few pray at all, he should be praised for his commitment and consistency in this. Lastly you’ve missed the fact that Tim Tebow does much to counter the celebrity culture – he often does the opposite of what “celebrities” would do – for example when having to choose conflicting speaking engagements he chooses to speak to death row prisoners rather than youth events because those on death row are often the least reached. I hope you’ll see my comments as seeking fairness, truthfulness and reasonability. Is Tim Tebow perfect? Not at all. No more or less than any of us. But he is doing far more than most to advance the gospel and to model a Christlike life – and for that I would focus on encouraging and edifying him and not link him with the excesses/criticisms of American Evangelicalism as though he is responsible for them. Separate the two. I’m not calling you a hater – not at all – but I am saying that putting these two sections together is unfair and unwise. And I am encouraging you to use your energy and influence encouraging the man. You spend more of your post on criticizing then affirming/encouraging (just check the word count in each section). Be critical where it is warranted scripturally – but that is not the case with Tim Tebow – so don’t link him to something that he isn’t responsible for.

    • Anonymous

      Guest,

      Thank you for your thoughtful feedback. I agree that Tim Tebow the person and Tim Tebow the cultural phenomenon are two different things. However, they are linked; and I don’t think that I was forcing the issue to treat them both in the same article. In the first part of the article, I attempted to affirm Tim Tebow, the person. In the second, I attempted to critique Tim Tebow, the cultural phenomenon.

      In many ways, the mainstream media and popular evangelicalism are to blame for what Tim Tebow, the cultural phenomenon, has become. That’s why my critique largely faulted them — rather than primarily faulting Tim Tebow, the person.

      Hope that helps to clarify. Thank you again for your thoughts.

      NB

      • guest

        Thank you Nate for your response. I’m sure your intentions are good but I would ask you to take some time and prayerfully consider again what I wrote – not because I’m correct – but because I’m seeing a number of postings on your site that are extremely harsh – while you are not responsible for them the same criticism you levy against Tim Tebow in regard to excesses could be levied against you. Perhaps you should “reign in” some of those who are making mean, harsh and even ugly comments (example – “60feet6inches”). Its up to you but if you don’t you could be accused of not practicing what you preach.

  • Anonymous

    Great article. You successfully staked out a middle ground without being wishy-washy. I may disagree with one of your points, but I know we all don’t agree with one another all the time! Overall, this was a very well-written article! Loved it! My one disagreement: I think God has a part in everything in this world. Which also means He has a part in anything that brings attention and glory to Himself. Since John 316 was the #1 hot search on google USA for most of the day monday, I would have to believe God had a hand in that. Especially since it would’ve been too easy to for the total yards to have been 315 or 317. Instead, it was 316 which brought an onslaught of national attention to a bible verse. Loved your post.

  • Haack79

    Thanks for this.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/seth.rima Seth Rima

    Good Article. Timely too, as my friend recently asked him out on a date: http://espn.go.com/espn/page2/index?id=7454143

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  • Abreigstad

    Great article. You articulate a lot of my thoughts about Tim Tebow and the Tebow-mania. Within minutes of the game winning touchdown, the Drudge Report had Tebow’s passing total stat listed 3:16. The gospel is not dependent upon Tim Tebow, but praise God that he’s using this platform to try to bring glory to Christ.

    The Broncos also lost the 1978 Superbowl to the Cowboys. Yes they were 0-4 in Super Bowls for a time, right up there with my Vikings!

    • Anonymous

      Abreigstad,

      Thanks for your comment. I corrected the article regarding the Super Bowls.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nancy-Sacry/593717861 Nancy Sacry

    Tebow is the best example of a christian, living what he professes, if he gets any “out of this world help” it is because he honors God with his life. I don’t see him loudly professing any supernatural wins, just an honoring of the God he adores and loves. That attitude in itself is refreshing and rare. I too have been a Denver Broncos fan from way back, and I am not only enjoying the ride, but I love how he is busting up the cliche’s and attitudes about who he can and can’t be and how he can’t succeed. He brings a freshness to the world that needs honest, humble, and real heroes.

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  • Anonymous

    Of course your points are all well taken, Nathan, but I do think the 316 “miracle” was a delightful, providential way for the Lord to honor one who honors Him and show He has a sense of humor as well. To get that number in a game of “firsts” after being deliberately attacked by Bill Maher types for his faith? Too rich! Everyone knows it wasn’t Leviticus 3:16… Tebow used to paint the number under his eyes with the letters indicating John’s gospel. What actually are the odds that he would throw 316 yards in such a unique game?