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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. JFK

    Once Tebow acknowledges God and is grateful regardless of winning or losing a game, will I say he is a man of faith.

    December 12, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • adam

      hes done that plenty of times

      December 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • Newcleus

      JFK
      YOU are going to decide whether Tebow really believes or not. What arrogance!!!

      December 12, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Wildflower

      That's your opinion and it stays right with you.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  2. JT

    You Jeeeeezus nuts sound like you're in love with this guy. Anything you need to tell us all? You'd probably kiss him on the mouth if you were to meet him.

    December 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • great

      It isn't Tebow that we like, it is his message and what he stands for. He stands up in the face of all his critics and still says how great God is. It's concerning to non-believers because all the effort the atheists and agnostics have been putting in to try and keep God out of our lives, but then God sends some average QB in a simple sport like football and God's name is on everyone's tongue.... Keep working hard all you non-believers- it's futile....But I hope someday you will realize that....

      December 12, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  3. Koolgrl97

    This has NOTHING to do with religion. Mr. Teabow seems like a really good guy and a good role model but a sporting victory is not the work of a higher power. Did God thrust Cub fan Bartman's hand out to catch the fly ball that started the Cubs' collapse? Was God throwing Doug Flutie's "hail Mary" pass? What about the '69 Mets – was God on the field? I'm sure Mr. Teabow is not the only religious person playing sports. What about the rest of them? Are they not worthy of God's blessing? What team or person does God decide to support and how does he decide? As a Packer fan I'd like to believe their great streak and Aaron Rodgers' arm are because God is a Packer fan. But it's not. It's LUCK. Sometimes bad luck – sometimes good luck – but luck nonetheless. Psychologically, Teabow and his teammates may believe that they can pull out the impossible and that belief leads them to do it sometimes. Mind over matter. Nothing to see here.....move on.

    December 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  4. mickey1313

    IF jesus or god is watching the broncos, and is helping tbow, THAT is even more reason not to worship this monsterous being. Isreal and palistien, oh who cares, but those broncos, im going to sort that out. What a joke.

    December 12, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • radio19952001

      Must be hard going through life being so stupid, huh?

      December 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  5. Pj

    Tebow is a good quarterback, and I love his faith in Jesus, but he should not be looked at as a god.

    December 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  6. Pj

    Tebow is a good quarterback, and I love his faith in Jesus, but he should not be worshipped as a god.

    December 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
  7. Neil

    When the thinkers down at the academy say amen to statements like-"If you believe,then unbelievable things can sometimes be possible." -the academy is lost. What exacting drivel!

    Clearly there is good stuff happening with the Broncos and no doubt Tebow deserves some of the credit. I don't think we can realisticly extend that credit to dropped balls by the opponents offense.

    Now seriously, Stephen, you don't believe that there is something "supernatural" going on with Denver's wins. Don't you think you have a responsibility (as a high powered academic theologian) to make that clear to less sophisticated thinkers that do believe god is tinkering in the games?

    December 12, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  8. Tebowite

    Tebow:
    Your FAITH in the Almighty rocks!!!
    Love ya!
    xoxo

    December 12, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  9. blahh

    like god cares about football. not saying there is a go, either.

    December 12, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • great

      What everyone needs to realize is that Tebow has never said God is choosing who should win games. What God is doing through Tebow is using him to spread His Word and Truth. Tebow knows this whole thing and his young career are just a part of a much larger plan. People are discussing their faith and some people are hearing about Jesus for the first time because The Lord is using Tebow. When Tebow loses, he will give just as much honor and praise as he does when he wins, because he knows along with all Christians, that it is not about the wins or the losses but about the message and the Truth.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • mickey1313

      To great, if god spreads his Word through the wining of a dumb jock playing an elietest game, then he has proven himself unworthy of human worship.. Why not end wars, or hunger, no he ends denvers sucking streak.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  10. Robert Yarush

    God obviously doesnt have much use for the Redskins....

    December 12, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  11. Chuan S. Wang

    Faith is a powerful motivating force, even it is a misguided faith. I would like to think myself is also a man of faith, and did experienced the power of faith that amazes and awed myself. But I do have trouble with many people how they exhibit their faith in a public settings, such as Mr. Tebow. I respect his faith in Jesus Christ, and his public expression of that faith, but along with many other public figures like him, they have cheapen the Christinaty, and did a disservice to what their really want to achieve. When was the last time you see some Christian athlete making the gestures of thanksgiving or adoration
    to their Lord when they fumble the ball or loss a game? Since when Jesus has been reduced to the Lord of the victors and the strong? If they truly believe they won because God is with them, then by logic, they condem the loosing team that the God is not with them. I hope that is not what their believe, otherwise, I will have fault their pasters and their theology
    , but the message general public received by watching their expression is unmistakable. That not only irrated people's intellegence but greatly damage the faith they try to promote. So, Mr. Tebow, to show your crucified Savor is even more a friend of the weak and meek, I would like to see you thanking God next time when you lose a game, and you WILL lose games, like many have experienced in life, that may be a bigger blessing.

    December 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • cwdanie

      Mr Wang, I respect your thoughts on this and I would agree with you if it weren't for one thing you are overlooking. Tim Tebow isn't giving thanks for winning, but rather giving thanks for his physical and mental abilities when he is able to use them effectively. Tebow isn't kneeling and saying "God, I give Thee thanks for the 3 points when the ball went through the upright.." ...he simply believes that God blessed with him with certain talents, skills and abilities and he owes it to God to give thanks when he is able to use them to do something good.

      I think your thesis overthinks this a little. If, however, Tebow were praising God for each fieldgoal, touchdown or winning score, I would concede your point.

      Daniel

      December 12, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • mickey1313

      CW, 1st, he might not be thanking god directly for the points, but the nimrods in the stadeum sure are. 2nd, for thanking god for his talent, he is spitting in the face of himself, and all of the people who have trained him and molded him into an athleate. Also, whn the broncos go back to there useual suckyness, will people be as quick to blame god as they are to praise him for a win.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  12. Robert Yarush

    Must we link Godliness to every single faction in life?? I think it truly a false sense of hope to rely on the Lord every waking minute. What happened to individual ability?? What happened to individual ingenuity?? Why must all that we do as we go through life lead back to God?? Religion has truly gone overboard. I truly think there are those that rely on their God much too often....

    December 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • great

      Robert- I pray that you will come to know God. There is no such thing as relying on The Lord too much. I have learned through life experiences that we are not in control- Believe me, this is coming from a person that didn't believe for a long time. But what I have come to realize and learn – all by God's grace is how much I need him and we all need Him. The peace and understanding that is brought into LIfe by knowing our Lord and Savior is unparralled and powerful. I hope some day you find that understanding.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Great, all thiests are ignorant and need to keep there wreched thoughts to themselves. The hate put into this world from the factions of christianity islam and jeadism are so sickening that it is a wounder that anyone believes in them anymore. It just proves peoples ignorance. All faithful need to read the book, and realize that you condone all actions taken in the bible if you claim to believe.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • Bob

      And god thanks you and hopes that you will continue to sacrifice many goats in his honor so he can snort the burning blood fumes that make him so happy. Just like the bible says.

      Jesus did say you need to follow the OT rules, so keep that sacrificing knife sharp.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • great

      Guys- Jesus was the sacrifice- not the goats or whatever else you think the OT believers sacrificed. If you read the Good Book and do some studying you will realize how Great God is and then if you still want to get in a discussion about the Lord's word then we can do that. And to Mickey- the hate spewing from your mouth is hate you are trying to blame on the believers. We don't hate the people, we hate the sin. And we don't just hate everyone else's sin, but we hate our sin. None of us are better than the other. The only difference between you and me is that I believe. We both sin and if it weren't for Jesus we would both be condemned, but because Jesus came for us neither of us are condemned, you just have to trust in him...

      December 12, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  13. government cheese

    What is up with Sunday Night Football? NBC has Faith Hill singing in front of the White House. Please don't mix politics with football.

    December 12, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  14. Greg J.

    I wish my daughter could marry Tim Tebow. What an AWESOME young man and role model.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Bob

      Tebow is every girl's prince and is every dad's dream match for their daughter!

      December 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • john longdong

      I wish my NEPHEW could get married to him.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • JT

      Will y'all still be falling all over yourselves trying to sell off your daughters to this guy when you start finding out his secrets yet to come to light? I wouldn't want my daughter anywhere near this guy. He's obvisouly so cranked up on jesus juice that he's lost touch with reality.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Bob

      Tebow is gay. It's Greg J. he's really after.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  15. candorsbest

    Wonder how Stephen Prothero got a job writing about religion? Every line dripped with sarcasm and every sentence seemed to be punctuated with disdain. His article was painful to read. A young man who plays football and is not ashamed of displaying his true beliefs in public is contemned by those who are either unbelievers or secret believers but are ashamed of their God. What's new about this scene?

    December 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • radio19952001

      I agree. I have no idea how this guy has a job.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • Bob

      Anyone who proudly says that they believe all the absurd stuff that is Christianity, deserves all the derision they get.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  16. scrum mcfarland

    tebow sucks. cant throw.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  17. j

    Wait, is this article sarcasm? If it weren't for the source, I'd assume the author was just a Poe.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  18. Wigsnot

    Conservative, Liberal...Agnostic etc etc.....let the man have his faith. Its not about Tebow or you, its about his faith and he is a strong believer in it. No need to bash anyone over it. I have to admit if prayer isn't the answer, then he's just really lucky? I will go with prayer.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  19. Michael

    It's a lot more likely that a bookie got a hold of Marion Barber and waved some green at him.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  20. Bob

    Here is the break you asked for, take it and don't come back.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • UGG

      That reply button. Pray to god that you remember it next time.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:49 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.