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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. jon

    Hard to argue with success...just makes you sound and look bitter

    December 12, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  2. Chris

    It's interesting, there's at LEAST as much hatred for Tim Tebow as there is for Mike Vick. Isn't it somewhat odd why that is? The reasons for hating Tim Tebow are his good fortune and his FAITH. The reasons for hating Vick are for torturing animals and genuinely enjoying doing those things, are we a lost people? It seems like it to me, considering people in their own ignorance and blatant hypocrisy vilify a man for being an open Christian and yet rush to the aid for a convicted violent criminal, grow a back bone and use your own reasoning skills people.

    December 12, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      Why is it when anyone questions christianity (or even religion in general) that the first response is that that person must HATE them or their beliefs? Atheist don't hate Tim Tebow and neither do I. I just think he sets himself up for some pretty hefty mocking by using his place of employment as a plateform to preach his religious beliefs. I can say that I do, in fact hate Mike Vick though. There is a huge difference between acting like a religious spaz on national TV and murdering dogs.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • movement31

      chris, no one cares if he's a christian..you christians are all the same..so he got picke on..so what..players have been getting picked at for years and its not going to stop..who gives a crap if he's a christian..seems to me that all you have to do is show some christian beliefs in public and you'll have a bunch of followers..not uncommon for christians to do this..so pathetic..whats really funny is that a lot of people actually think god is helping tebow..haha..people pray for important issues but dont get it but when tebow pray, he gets it..you people are a bunch of idiots

      December 12, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  3. Bob

    I have a Tebowner just thinking about this!

    December 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  4. movement31

    who ticks me off his the idiot of talk radio (Mike Gallagher)..he bashes people beause they taunt tebowing because he thinks they are taunting his religion..no one gives a crap that he is a christian..players have been taunting other players since the begining of time..who gives a flying crap that hes a christian..god isnt helping him because he's praying..people have prayed not to die, people have prayed for war to end and the earth to have peace..did it happen? no!? but for some reason, people thinkt hey god is helping poor old tebow in football..haha

    December 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  5. Faraday

    I'm a lifetime Chiefs fan and was pretty skeptical about Tebow making in in the NFL. At the same time, I'm trying to understand the Tebow-bashing that goes on. As hard as it is for a Chiefs fan, I have to admire that he makes the most of his strengths, minimizes his weaknesses, seems to keep a positive energy, and doesn't seem to be ego-centric. Those are traits that anyone could admire, 'religious' or not. I think folks need to give the guy a break and assess themselves about why they dislike him.

    December 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • KCPalko

      I'm also a Chiefs fan and I actually like Tebow as a person. He's a great role model. However, I think he's getting a lot of undue credit for what the Broncos have done as a team. To 'have faith' in Tebow and attribute these 'miracles' to him is to overlook the other talent on the field and to ignore his statistically poor performance. And the fans and the media do this because Tebow is a good guy and is outspoken about his faith. Those things don't make him a good football player. The stats prove that.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  6. adam

    I'm not religious, but I'm absolutely a Tebow fan. The people who don't like the kid are the same people who look at successful people and scoff, generally because they are lifelong losers. Too bad so many people hate. Meanwhile, he will keep winning.

    December 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  7. Toughlove

    Obviously some people don't get the article. You God-haters (or haters of God-lovers...whatever you are) can be pretty ridiculous. And you call people of faith "naive"! Ha! 🙂

    December 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  8. KCPalko

    I assumed much of this article is sarcasm but the punch line was never delivered. Maybe I missed it. Tebow's disappointing statistics prove that the Broncos D and special teams are the real reasons behind their success. But because Tebow is a man of faith, we should gloss over his poor performance AND give him the credit for the good play of his teammates – including the kicker and the defense? That's insulting to football fans AND the faithful.

    December 12, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • RealityCheck

      Obviously, you know NOTHING about his stats. Or his win-loss record.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  9. sl5465

    One has to appreciate the irony. The football thugs from Detroit, who mocked Tebow six weeks ago,are rapidly fading from the playoff picture. However, the Broncos record since the Detroit game.....5 and 0 and in the midst of the playoff picture. Gotta love it. Gotta believe.

    December 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • sl5465

      play off picture.........just wanted to say it one more time

      December 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  10. cosmo

    This crapola is just to damn funny...And this guy that wrote this article if it took Teabow for you to take another look at your belief in GOD. Then you wasnt an agnostic in the first place.

    December 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  11. nierika@gmail.com

    II am embarrassed for the author when I read this type of article.

    Do you know why Marion Barber ran out of bounds? BECAUSE HE THOUGHT HE COULD GET A FIRST DOWN. IF HE GETS A FIRST DOWN, THE GAME IS OVER. Sometimes coaches go for it on 4th down with the lead and the ball in their own territory! Get a hold of yourself FFS.

    December 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  12. Tim is livin' this verse

    "You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." Matthew 10:22. Jesus said the haters would be out there. Don't think we need much more proof than all the haters of Tim Tebow. Why do they hate him? Do they know him? Is he a monster who does evil things? Nope. He's a follower of Jesus Christ. That's it. Is that truly worthy of your hate and venom???

    December 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • The Gospel According to Tebow!

      You will be sacked by everyone because of that left tackle, but the line which stands firm to the end will win.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • The Gospel According to Tebow!

      Also, you might want to consider that there is a world of difference between hate and venom, and ridicule and dismissive contempt.

      In your conceit, you desperately want to think you're suffering the former, when in fact the latter is more congruent to the truth.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  13. Mad The Swine

    How many tebow articles do we have to put up with?

    December 12, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • John

      As many as you decide to read.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Lucy

      About 2500 today, but don't worry it will taper off a little as the week goes on.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • sl5465

      until you learn not to dangle participles......

      December 12, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  14. Jose

    It"s tebow time!

    December 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  15. calimaldos

    There is this one little thing we like to call "GOD's FAVOR" and it's with Tim Tbeow and the Denver Broncos. Whether you believe it or not it's the truth, just like whether you believe Jesus Christ is real or not he is still the king over all others. So keep hatin people, it was written long ago...
    Luke 21:17-19 – 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life." BooYow chumps, God's story has already been written and we win in the end. Hate on haters... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    December 12, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  16. Jimmy

    This kid doesn't have to win another game for me to believe in him as a human being and a Christian.He is a great role model for thousands of kids and adults alike.Stop knocking his Faith and let him do his thing without trying to bully him.BTW your bullying is not working on this young man.

    December 12, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • streetsmt

      What do you mean that you believe in him as a human being and as a christian? I believe that he is a human being too. And that he is christian. Is that in question?

      December 12, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  17. rod

    "Tebowing" is head bowed before the greatest football spectator, an unseen guest who is now welcome because of servant Tebow executing faith in action!

    December 12, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Mad The Swine

      What?

      December 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  18. post

    what a dumb article. waste of time and cnn's money.

    December 12, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Faraday

      ... but you took the time to read and and then comment on it?

      December 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • RealityCheck

      CNN is dead last in the ratings, so they're reduced to having some unpaid guy wanting to promote his books write opinion blather for them.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  19. JOE

    Let's discuss him in 5 years. He's a decent athlete with good running skills and a medicor passer. It takes the NFL's defensive coordinators about 1/2 a season to catch up to these "phenoms". It usually all comes tumbling down in the play offs. Next year at this time, he'll be running the Wildcat for Denver, as they'll have had 3 different starters in as many months.

    December 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • RealityCheck

      You forgot to compare Tebow's passing results for his first 7 games as a starter, against those of Elway, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning. If you did, you would not only admit you're dead wrong.... but you'd have a serious case of explosive diarrhea at how wrong you are...... ignorance is NOT bliss. Educate yourself and you won't claim ignorant things in the future.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • LeRoy

      umm, he is a great runner and an even better athelete. Average QB, maybe, but seriously, compare his stats this year to 32 other NFL QB's playing. Then compare his stats to all the other NFL QBs that have been drafted over the last 10 years who are still playing and the ones that are not. He is above average.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • bob

      your retarded this is not tebow's first year and stats of other Qbs> Tebow one person i can name is Arron Rogers or mabey Matt Ryan or mabey how about matt cassel TEBOW AND HIS RELIGION DIDN'T win that game LUCK DID

      December 12, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  20. BOBBY

    Lets not forget tebow got smoked his first game

    December 12, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • RealityCheck

      How did Elway do in his first game before he went on to a HOF career? What about Brady? Peyton Manning? Check their results in their first game.... along with their entire first season....and you will realize how stupid it is to predict the career results of ANY player based on their first game... or season. Educate yourself.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • LeRoy

      Umm, no. Are you talking NFL? Then still.. Umm, no

      December 12, 2011 at 6:43 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.