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My Take: Confessions of a Tebow convert
Tim Tebow's habit of praying on the field has given rise to a new word: "Tebowing."
December 12th, 2011
09:57 AM ET

My Take: Confessions of a Tebow convert

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

I must confess that until this weekend I was an agnostic when it came to Tim Tebow. I wasn’t a believer or a non-believer. As America’s cultural warriors debated the virtues and vices of the Denver Broncos' miracle-working quarterback, I played the role of the disinterested academic.

I enjoyed listening to skeptics scoff at evangelicals for actually believing a guy who couldn’t throw could lead his football team to the NFL playoffs. I enjoyed listening to evangelicals scoff at the skeptics for dismissing not only the miracles of Tebow but also the miracles of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In an earlier post I asked, “Is Tim Tebow performing miracles?” But I didn't answer the question.

Today I must confess, however, that the Broncos’ 13-10 come-from-behind victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday has made a believer out of me.

Yes, I doubted when the Bears were ahead 10-0 in the fourth quarter and Tebow had completed fewer than a handful of passes. But doubt, as they say, is part of faith. And I am now a true believer.

I don’t just believe that Tebow is a bona fide NFL quarterback, however. Of course I believe that he can lead his offense on scoring drives with the clock ticking down in the fourth quarter. I have seen him do that with my own eyes. But Tom Brady of the Patriots can do that.

What is truly miraculous about Tim Tebow is his ability to affect a game even when he is sitting on the bench. The Broncos defense? Tebow’s got it covered. The Bears’ offense? Tebow can force a three-and-out.

Why did the Bears’ running back Marion Barber run out of bounds when his team had almost run out the clock on Sunday? Tebow!

Why did Barber fumble in overtime just as the Bears were driving for a score? Tebow!

Why did the Broncos’ kicker Matt Prater make a 59-yard field goal to send the game into overtime and a 51-yarder to win it? Tebow and again I say Tebow!

In short, I agree these words from the Denver Post: “there is no antidote, no potion for Tebow Magic.”

Only it’s not magic. It’s faith. And now I’ve got it too.

With every faith comes hard questions, however. So here is the theological conundrum for my fellow parishioners in the Church of Tim Tebow. If Tebow is the “Mile High Messiah” why don’t his miracles work in the first three quarters? Why did he have a dismal 9.5 passer rating in the first half on Sunday? Why did it look like Denver receiver Demaryius Thomas was being paid to drop his passes until it came to Tebow Time?

To which I can only exhale and say, “Oh ye of little faith!”

To those of us who truly believe, the answers to these questions are obvious: Because a little doubt never hurt anyone. Because there is nothing miraculous about the Packers’ running roughshod over the Raiders 46-16. Because this is religion we are talking about people, not football.

The Church of Tim Tebow isn’t just about winning. It is about snatching faith from the jaws of victory. It is about sitting back at the end of the game, as I did this Sunday, and thinking, "Did that really happen?" only to realize it really did.

"If you believe," Tebow said after the game, "then unbelievable things can sometimes be possible." To which I can only say, "Amen."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Belief • Celebrity • Christianity • Faith • Sports

soundoff (490 Responses)
  1. humtake

    Here's my take. God gives you what you need to succeed. He doesn't make you succeed. If there was any divine intervention, it was to give Tebow a defense that would allow him to use whatever his natural talents are to win games.

    We all know Tebow is not winning these games himself. It takes a team to win games (unless you are Peyton Manning, of course). And Denver's defense has allowed Tebow to shine. You can bet if Denver's defense were anything like the Patriot's defense, they wouldn't be winning any games.

    Divine intervention was to give Tebow a solid defense. It was then left up to Tebow to get the W's, and he has done everything he can to do just that.

    December 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • The Satan Santa

      Drop kick me, Tebow, through the..., well, you know.

      December 12, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  2. mark

    omg – yes...it IS a miracle...and that miracle is called Marion Barber....did this clown actually watch the game?

    December 12, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  3. Tom

    So have you sold everything for cash, taken it to Vegas, and bet it all on the Broncos winning the Superbowl?

    December 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  4. longshot

    when they play better teams and the defenses adjust (like they eventually do to different styles of play, see Michael Vick) will you say that God has left Tim Tebow, or that God is dead? Which one?

    December 12, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  5. Mike

    T ruth:
    E very time the
    B roncos go to
    O vertime, they
    W in

    December 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Nate

      It is easy to
      Do that when you can arbitrarily
      Invent line breaks at points convenient to the task of creating the
      Overall word you are
      Trying to spell in your worthless acrostic poem, a form usually practiced by six-year-olds on Mother's Day.

      December 12, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • slewatha

      Nate delivers a crushing, final blow!!!!!

      December 12, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • The Satan Santa

      Mike slinks

      Off the field

      Recalling every

      Offensive blow

      Nate delivered.

      December 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  6. Muslim Quarterback

    What if Tebow was a Muslim and he prayed to Allah and kept on saying "Allah Ackbar, Mightly god please help me score soon"
    would we still support him, or he just happen to pick the right God instead of the wrong god.

    Can't wait for a Muslim quarterback..yessssss

    Allah Ackbar

    December 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Muslim Quarterback

      forgot to finish the pray "and death to the other football team"

      December 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Lesieie

      It's "Allahu Akbar." At least get your grammar right, "Muslim."

      December 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Mike

      You should read your history, the Muslim God, Jewish God and Christian God are all the same........just different beliefs on how we get to spend eternity with God.

      December 12, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • QB

      Which bella r u guys talking about?

      December 12, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • mark

      ...and his favorite play would be a bomb on the other team

      December 12, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • The Satan Santa

      Heck, yes, Mark, double teamed by the secondary, suicide vest under the pads:

      "...Holy moley, Madden, that play was broken UP!"

      "Uh, yeah, er, is that the ball on the thirty, or a head?"

      December 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  7. The Satan Santa

    "If thou be famished, turn these seat cushions into Phillies"

    "It is written: QB's do not live by Gatorade alone, but by every word from the mouth of commissioners."

    "I offer you the whole NFL, if only you will bow down and worship me!"

    "Get thee behind me, Bears!"

    "If thou be the Mile-high messiah, cast yourself down from this pressbox, and trainers will not let you dash your Nikes on turf."

    "It is written, thou shall not tempt the Lord thy Goodell!"

    December 12, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Lesieie

      At last! Someone who gets it!

      December 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  8. Tracy Nunes

    The odd thing about most of what is being said about Tim Tebow, including assertions in this article, is that Tim Tebow never actually says any of it. Tim Tebow says clearly that it isn't about winning football but about glorifying Jesus Christ, his Savior firts and his team mates second. Their is NO "church of Tim Tebow", it is not "magic", it is not for the sake of wining football or the glorification of Tim Tebow. It isn't about the "power of positive thinking" as I heard more than one commentator say.

    If Tim was a gladiator and perfect in every play he made we would only be talking about him. But, because he turns all of the adulation toward it's proper Recipient, God uses Tim's weaknesses to show His power. It's NOT about winning football. It's about taking whatever situation God puts us in and letting Him call the plays, letting Him give us the strength and power we need and giving Him the glory of any and all outcomes, whether they are what we want or not.

    December 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Lesieie

      LIGHTEN UP EVERYONE! It's WHIMSY.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Abel

      I could not have said it any better. That is exactly what I think too

      December 12, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • umm, yeah.

      Some more philosophical conundrums to ponder, since the author is so inclined:

      -If two teams suck, will one of them still win when they play each other?
      – If a whole division sucks, who goes to the playoffs?

      December 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • The Satan Santa

      Odd thing is that Tracy Nunes and Sheldon Cooper, divergent as they are on materialism, have an awful lot in common.

      December 12, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • mkey

      No, it's Tebow providing God the opportunity to win the game in the first 3 quarters, and everytime God fails, Tebow gets his act together and plays catchup football in the last quarter.

      December 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • The Satan Santa

      "...whatever situation God puts us in and letting Him call the plays..."

      Down and out, second down, against THAT secondary? What was He thinking?

      December 12, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  9. conoclast

    You have a need to believe so that's what you do, Mr. Prothero. It's warm & fuzzy to think that Barber's critical mistakes were caused by some kind of benevolent (to Denver fans) omniscience, isn't it. And of course a little "Tebow Magic" can't hurt the church attendance either, hmm? If it makes you feel good then go ahead and wrap the Broncos in The Cloth - but don't expect the rational among us to buy it! "God" having interest in a football game? Har!

    December 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  10. Mike

    No...my Bears just suck without our star QB and RB. It's simple math that if we had our offensive weapons, the Denver Tebows would have lost by 20+ points.

    December 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Da Bears!

      Amen to that!

      December 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • HellBent

      Your Bears didn't need a running back 'weapon' to win that game – just one whose football IQ is greater than his shoe size.

      December 12, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • rockerd

      haha. star qb.. now that is comedy.

      December 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • BOBBY

      your "star" quartback sux

      December 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  11. Joe

    The Tebow thing will end soon enough.
    But he's still earned the starter's position.
    No style points in the NFL.

    December 12, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  12. Bob Winter

    The Patriots will silence all this Tebow mania.

    December 12, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Voig Nederlander

      Death, Taxes, and the overconfidence of Patriots fans. I seem to remember sitting in the Superdome for Super Bowl 20 listening to Patriots fans wax confident about how they were going to throttle the Bears, who'd been "overrated."

      An embarrassing 46-10 loss that made the Patriots look like a high school team shut them up for a few years. Maybe next weekend will do the same.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • leelanau

      Perhaps they will, but does that really matter?

      December 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  13. nwi

    God hates Marion Barber. Only possible explanation.

    December 12, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • HellBent

      Not so. Barber could be a tool of Satan – though this as.sumes that satan likes to torture chicagoans. But, given the Cubs, this is highly plausible.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Excellent point.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • HellBent

      Another possibility – god is a Lions fan ... or at least pities them given their history. Given how the Lions shellacked the Broncos and needed the Bears to lose this is perhaps the most likely scenario.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • conoclast

      Think how much Marion Barber must hate Marion Barber!! I'd have the guy on suicide watch!

      December 12, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  14. Mark

    How ever one spins it, it's fun to watch. Equally fun seeing the NFL "goo-roos" eat crow week after week. Tebow is showcasing the power of the will to win and it's influence on those around him.

    December 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  15. joco

    Tebow = MVP and next Madden NFL cover!

    December 12, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Dave

      You don't get MVP for being a media sensation. It's going to come down to Rodges or Brees

      December 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  16. Tim

    "I wasn’t a believer or a non-believer"

    You literally have to be one or the other. It's A or Not-A. Welcome to Logic 101 (I know, I know, logic on a belief blog, har har).

    December 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Will

      No...that's basically the definition of an agnostic. They ARE the in-between. Trust me, i took a college final on this a few hours ago.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Yes, it's what Christians refer to as Jesus' WISDOM.

      Amen.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Lesieie

      @HevenSent: Have no clue what you're talking about in this context.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Joe C

      your assuming that he has to have an opinion. Can I be a non believer of something I have no knowledge of, or furthermore can I be a believer or non-believer about something I have never cared about? AKA the broncos.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Heaven Scent

      Lesieie:

      Jesus had Denver by two points.

      He beat the spread.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  17. QS

    Stop....please, just stop.

    December 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  18. JCMars

    Hey, what about Eli's come from behind victory for the Giants over the Cowboys last night? The Giants and the Broncos now have the same record (7-6). Could God be setting up a rematch of the Superbowl XXI teams?
    While I appreciate Tebow's faith and his courage in proclaiming it, I believe it has more to do with the AFC West being the worst division in the AFC as the NFC East is for the NFC. God's everywhere. If He was to pick a team, the Giants should have won the last 45 or so Superbowls.

    December 12, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Cliff

      I thought for sure it would have been the Saints! 🙂

      December 12, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Lesieie

      God is a Pcker fan! Everybody knows that.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • gasly130

      Actually, the Broncos are 8-5...

      December 12, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  19. WhatAJoke

    Absolutely ridiculous. This article has made some of the worst assertions. Tebow himself made Marion Barber run out of bounds and fumble? Tebow forces 3 and outs? Tebow makes Matt Prater kick two 50+ field goals to win a game? If thats really the case then why doesn't Tebow become an economist and fix the world's financial problems too? Give me a break. Von Milller, Elvis Dumervil and DJ Williams have all been amazing players before Tebow was on the team with them. Matt Prater has always had one of the biggest legs in football. And the Bears were without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte..... but i'm sure that Tebow made it so they didn't play against the Broncos.

    December 12, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • QS

      Even better, just bench all other Broncos on the team and let little Timmy do it all himself....literally. Now if he could do that, I could possibly believe all the hype....but since he can't, I'll continue believing that he's simply lucky and has a semi-decent team behind him.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • nwi

      When Tim Tebow was in the alps,
      Fighting grizzly bears,
      He used his magical fire breath,
      And saved the maidens fair.

      So what would Tim Tebow do
      If he were here today,
      I'm sure he'd kick an a– or two,
      That's what Tim Tebow would do.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Satire

      It's called satire

      December 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • nwi

      Satire? The article or the song? I wish it were both.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Lesieie

      @WhatAJoke: That's the point. the article is having a joke. It's supposed to be cute, not SERIOUS. Lighten up.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • DaveS

      I couldn't agree more. This guy proved nothing on Sunday, except that he telegraphs his passes from a mile away. Who coughed up the ball in the 4th quarter? Gosh, it was Tebow – yeah, real clutch player.
      Denver did not win this game, Tebow did not win this game, the Bears gave this game away with stupid decisions both from the coach and the inexplicable Barber going OB during the last 2 minutes.
      Quit the hype – this guy has a long way to go.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  20. Dave

    Denver has won 6 games in a row now, 6 ! Clearly, winning 6 games consecutively is the result of divine intervention. Now I'm a believer too. Thank you for this wonderfully persuasive article.

    December 12, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.