By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – When quarterback Tim Tebow threw an 80-yard touchdown pass Sunday to secure an overtime victory for his Denver Broncos over the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers, some saw a biblical connection.
The completion gave Tebow, an outspoken evangelical Christian whose penchant for last-minute heroics have given him a reputation as a miracle worker, 316 passing yards for the game. His ten completions averaged 31.6 yards a piece.
Those figures inspired plenty of conversation and debate about a connection some saw to one of the most famous verses in the Bible, John 3:16.
The New Testament verse is held up by Christians around the globe because it neatly summarizes some key points of Christianity: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life." (NIV)
In the third chapter in the Gospel of John, Jesus is having a late night discussion with a Pharisee, one of the Jewish teachers of the law, named Nicodemus. The chapter is also where the expression "born again" originates.
Jesus tells Nicodemus: "...no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." In his longer explanation of that idea, Jesus gets to the core of his message in verse 3:16.
The verse is popular with Christians looking to share their faith because it's short and information-packed: God loves humankind, man has sinned and is destined for eternal punishment, but eternal live awaits all who believe in God's son, Jesus.
John 3:16 also has a long history with football and pop culture.
During last year's Super Bowl, the Fixed Point Foundation, which promotes Christianity in the public square, tried to buy an advertisement pushing people to a website to learn about John 3:16 but the ad was was rejected.
The spot showed people watching a football game noticing the phrase John 3:16 on a player's eye black - a sticker or grease that players wear under the eyes to reduce glare from the sun. A man in the ad says he's going to look up the verse, while the ad directed viewers to www.lookup316.com.
At the time, Fixed Point Executive Director Larry Taunton told CNN that Fox Sports said it rejected his commercial because it contained "religious doctrine," though Taunton said the ad avoided featuring the actual words of the verse.
“Increasingly religion and Christianity is treated like smoking – you can do it but only in designated areas,” Taunton said. “They were saying there’s no place for (faith) in the public square. There’s a place for the soft core porn of Go-Daddy, violent movie trailers, and irresponsible drinking, but not for faith."
As a workaround, the Fixed Point Foundation ran its ad on Fox stations locally in Birmingham, Alabama and Washington, DC during the Super Bowl.
Tebow wore Bible verses on his eye black when he quarterbacked the Florida Gators in college. In the 2009 BCS championship game, he wrote John 3:16 on his eye black. After he left college football for the NFL in 2010, the NCAA banned players from writing on their eye black, which some have called the "Tebow rule."
John 3:16 came into the pop culture view in the late 1970s and early 1980s at sporting events, when a man named Rollen Stewart would don a rainbow colored afro wig and a John 3:16 T-shirt. He was especially good at getting himself in front of the cameras at sporting and big cultural events, including the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.
Stewart grew increasingly fanatical about his crusade. In 1992 he took a maid hostage with a loaded gun at a Los Angeles hotel, demanding a national press conference to proclaim his new message that the end of the world was near.
He plastered John 3:16 on hotel windows. CNN reported at the time that it took a SWAT team nine hours to free the woman.
At his sentencing hearing Stewart had to be removed from court when he would not let the judge speak. As deputies were dragging him out of the courtroom he screamed, "Don't take me out, I said. God sends love to the world. Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they're doing. They know not what they're doing, Lord."
That last phrase is also biblical, attributed to Jesus while he was praying for his executioners as he hung on the cross.
Stewart was convicted and sent to prison in 1993 on three counts of hostage taking and is currently serving three life sentences at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California.
Despite Stewart's story, many sports fans continue the tradition of evangelizing at sports games by holding up John 3:16 on placards.
All Tebow did was win a game. I'm happy he did it, but it's so entirely pointless if you take a step back and look. It's a GAME and next week, the Patriots and Tom Brady are going to win that game.
Maybe NOT. Maybe Jesus and god will rest on Sunday from answering all those prayers, no wait, they don't answer prayers, except maybe Tebows. Do you think that could be the reason that prayers aren't answered, because people don't pray enough for football games? Just an idea.
Jesus said," if you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you..."
now here's another word.. it to came from teh same Lord, "the Lord gave the word , and great was the company that published it.. :) :) :)
Enough of this madness. Can watch hardly anything without being bombarded with evangelical symbols and rhetoric. Give us some peace. Most of us have a spiritual relationship that we keep private because we don't want to draw attention to ourselves.
BUT if you actually believed a message to be true and eternity changing, wouldn't you want to draw attention to that message? If I discovered the cure for cancer, I wouldn't keep it to myself, behind some form of modesty that it's "personal" or "private."
@316: The cure for cancer would be independently verifiable. The other thing...not so much.
@SeanNJ – actually, it is historically verifiable – read "Evidence That Demands a Verdict" by McDowell, a former atheist, who takes a legal perspective on evidence. But that notwithstanding, my point is the idea that if one believes a message to be true and (eternal) life altering, one would not hide it under a bushel.
@316 – you are clearly deluded if you think Jesus is historically verifiable as an historical figure (see "The God Who wasn't There." The Jesus Myth has been propagated to control weak minds such as yours for centuries. He is as historical as Santa or the Easter Bunny.
@316 – or you could equate this as to relationships or experiences. Who gets married and keeps it a secret from everyone else? Who has a child and tells nobody? Each of us believe something and tell others, that's what beliefs and convictions are about. We believe "freedom" within democracy is a good thing, so we want to pass it along. We create and invent things and pass them along. It's what we do. And in cases where your very life is at stake, why would somebody hide it?
@316, Please tell me you haven't already bred. I fear for your children if you have. There is no verifiable proof of the son of any space ghost. Nowhere in history. What is in history, however, is previous versions of the bible in other earlier mythologies.
Really? Just because someone believes differently than you, they are an idiot? You can complain about Christians using hate speech all you want, but you are no better than the criticisms that you throw at them when you act like this. When someone is trying to have a civilized conversation with you, act like a decent human being instead of a jerk. You aren't going to change someone's mind by telling them how stupid they are anymore than a Christian is going to change your mind by telling you that you're going to hell.
How about trying to not to spew your hateful bile all over internet message boards? Just because you choose not to believe in anything does not make you intellectually superior to those who do choose to believe. You want to be respected for your lack of belief, don't attack those who do believe when they are not attacking you. Don't take every phrase that expresses faith as a personal attack.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
And then comes the hard part: living your life in accordance with the rest of the words of the Gospels.
It ain't easy!
It isn'[t so hard, IF you truly read the "rest of the gospels" especially the part about owning slaves and hating women.
I believe there are a couple of parables about slaves, but where does it talk about hating women?
If god weren't such a pr'ick in the first place, by setting up the grudge system, he wouldn't have had to send the kid.
Sure, I'll own slaves and hate women...
This is the same verse that have been changed during a course of my short life time........the word "begotten son" has been change to "one and only" I wonder what christianity is turing into esp if they continue to make a claim that the bible is God words and why words, verses, and contradiction parvades the book........confusion created by their scholars for worldy gains
Good story. Treats the subject matter respectfully and factually without promoting or deriding it. Not an easy task. Personally, I think Tim Tebow's expressions of faith are tasteful and innocuous. Some letters on your eye paint and a brief kneel of thanks are no big deal.
its called FREEDOM OF SPEECH!
Yep, feel FREE to SPEAK and demonstrate your ignorance. We all appreciate a good laugh!
Well, clearly Tebow's god does work in mysterious ways. Here's what I propose as Tebow's "divine algorithm" regarding god's preferred order of things in the world:
Being Worshipped > Football > (War * sickness * starvation * suffering)
Yes, being worshipped is greater than football. Football is greater than war multiplied by sickness, multiplied by starvation, multiplied by suffering. You people that find divinity in a bunch of grown men running around chasing after a ball make me weep for humanity.
You guys realize the "verses" in the bible were added later by men no where near jesus's time to make it easier to read, right???
You realize this conclusion is decades out-of-date, right?
Originally written in Greek
Mark after 50 A.D – 70 A.D.
Matthew & Luke around 70 A.D.
John around 90 A.D
St. Paul's letters were the ealiest writing, around 40 – 50 A.D.
Have you read the Didache?
When I read the words of Jesus in the Gospels, I feel that they do come directly from the Father. The Father calls upon us to live our lives, loving each other, even our enemies, as He loves each one of us, will grant us "the kingdom of heaven" both here & in the next life. For more info, read Leo Tolstoy's"The Kingdom is Here". Found in Wikipedia.
Yeah, we'll take this crazy conclusion from a "great theologian" and "Bible scholar" like yourself who does not even know the difference between "where" and "were". I feel sorry for you!
Yeah – he used the words correctly – so you're just dumb...
Great job CNN. You start out the article as if you're going to write something sensible about Christianity then you end the article with the actions of a deranged man.
The main problem with the article is that CNN editors actually think YOU the reader is stupid. They present this Rollin Stewart guy as a Christian figure and summarizes the article by saying: "Despite Stewart's story, many sports fans continue the tradition of evangelizing at sports games by holding up John 3:16 on placards".
How stupid do you think people really are? What part of Mr. Stewart's actions represent the teachings of Christ? Since when did Stewart become an example of Christianity?
There are No True Scotsmen.
I believe it provides an important counterpoint to Tebow. It reminds us that all religious fanatics are not harmless.
I don't think it's to deride Christianity...but to give a history of the first use of John 3:16 in sports. It happened to be a mentally ill man.
True, instead of taking hostages, Jesus let himself be captured & put to death. Anything that is violent in any manner as a profession of Christian Faith, except flipping the tables of the money changers in the Jerusalem temple, is contrary to the message of Jesus.
I don't think that the author was holding Stewart up as an exemplary Christian. Rather, he was explaining the origin of the practice of holding up placards with "John 3:16" on them, at sporting events. I did not infer any disrespect either for myself (the reader) or christians in the reference.
While I don't share Tebow's religious ferver, I agree that his actions are not out of place. He's a lot better than some of the childish antics that other players engage in acter scoring.
Well put Anderson. Unfortunately, this is the norm for CNN and most of the media today.
Kudos Anderson. You are correct. Even Satin knows the bible scriptures, as he used them to tempt Christ. Knowing a scripture has never labeled Satin as Christian.
How then does a madman be labeled a Christian?
Perhaps folks forget that the definition of a Christian is 'Christ like' qualities and not a 'scripture weilding' madman.
Paul, I see your point. The sentence 'Despite Stewart's story, many sports fans continue the tradition of evangelizing at sports games by holding up John 3:16 on placards.' explains.
this reporter is merely pointing out that fans do not identify with Stewart's action to be Christian and that he holds no relevance to their actions.
Ok I reply
@nwe: 1. thx for sharing 2. wish u all the best 3. I kowtow to Jesus Christ and am not ashamed to make it known even when I will b slandered for my beliefs; I won't blame anyone for it, it occurs because of the simple fact that man rejects Jesus Christ ... it is too simple to understand, that's why it is a FAITH choice 4. We can thank the tool of media for promoting the message of salvation through the man named Tebow ... isn't it ironic how the message of Jesus Christ, though restricted/stifled, is being made known to the world?? :^)
.........and yet 2/3 of the world doesn't buy it and that number is growing.
Good observation .. 'that whosoever believes' that doesn't sound like everyone chooses Christ to me .. it would b great if that were the case!!
"isn't it ironic how the message of Jesus Christ, though restricted/stifled, is being made known to the world?? "
Nope, it's pretty hard to kill s t u p i d!
god has a raging Tebowner
John 3:16 simply states that an almighty creator of everything was limited to creating only one offspring and even that was begot via a mans wife. Not really what I'd call omnipotent.
The Christian god had his way with another man's wife, he is a philanderer! Interesting, isn't it?
It would be interesting to see what the reaction of born again Christians would be if the quarterback was Muslim, and he knelt facing east to pray to Allah as often as Tebow prayers to God.
If we use history as our guide, the reaction would range from wide spread outrage, protests and calling for his dismissal to burning him at the stake.
History proves man's need for a Savior, man's sin & the choice of redemption offered through the simple faith choice of following Jesus Christ ... the debate can rage forever, it will never change the life message of Jesus Christ
I thought of the same thing. Just coz its the evangelicals its all good, had it been some other religion(muslim), one can only imagine the response. Tebow is a horrible/selfish QB. If the Broncos win, its coz of Tebow or Christ. If Broncos lose, then the team performed badly. How convenient.
@ Jerry – what exactly was the "LIFE MESSAGE" of Jesus Christ? I mean seriously, what do you really know about the "Man"? You do realize that the birth, life, teachings, and death of Jesus mirror those of at least ten other deities, right?
JerrynColorado – No one gives a sh!t about the message. This is about football. If you want to talk about religion, go talk in a church, not on a football field. Does the message contain on how to molest innocent boys and then cover it up ?
You just proved the point that all the Tebow haters (like yourself) are just as intolerant as all the Muslim haters.
Muslim QB, never would happen. Remember a football is often called a "pig" skin. Burn.
There have been Muslim athletes before. I don't see why a QB couldn't be Muslim.
It was a joke JW see the "pig" in quotes. Muslims and pork.... is this ringing a bell yet.
The interesting thing about the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus from which John 3:16 emerges, is that probably never actually happened. According to Bart Ehrman's work, Jesus' response to Nicodemus is the result of a misunderstanding that only makes sense in Greek but the reality is that Jesus and Nicodemus would not be speaking to each other in Greek, but their native language, Aramaic.
Isn't it sad that insecurity and jealously has gripped most of America? Tebow is a solid role model for our youth, but people fear him, which leads to such hatred for him. Embracing Jesus as your savior is so easy. The peace it brings to your life is undeniable. You can see it in Tebow. It's not evil, self-righteous, etc. whatever the haters want to say.
Abusing your position to push your religious views is evil.
Yes, embrace the magical sky daddy and all your problems will go away. Come children, come into my magical sky daddy embracement van...
Gunner you are missing the point. No one hates Tebow. (Ok a few fans may sports "hate" him for beating their team). But as a man no one hates him. He's just annoying.
Seriously I find Tobowing hilarious, and like that Tebow himself has a good sens of humor about it. As a person he is a great role model on so many levels. He's just that cousin that is so brainwashed with being born again he won't shut up. He makes religious people choke on how much praising he does in front of the camera. Many folks think religion is something personal and private and the way Tebow pronounces his love of Jesus so much and so in your face to many of us he's a little kooky.
No hate, he's just annoying.
Patrick: What view are you espousing now, about someone pushing a view? Seems your view is evil. It is a draw!
Matthew 6:6... But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Jesus does warn those who would pray in public, Matthew 6,5. There's a fine line between praying to the Father & seeking public acclaim.
@ Eric – Well said. For the Christian gang, he's the equivalent of that hard core atheist that is always in your face. Do you hate him? I bet you do... I agree with Eric, the guy is just annoying as all get out. He can do so much more with his "role model" status by just living a good, clean life and shutting up at praising Jesus every time he opens his mouth.
He is not calling anyone stupid or putting them down who are not Christian like that in your face atheist, Martin. Also Matthew 6 applies to the one that prays out loud to their own self praise. Tebow pray’s silently at games and give glory to God and Jesus and is not ashamed of them in public. As one can see from all backlash he get from the atheist out there Tebow is doing everything right.
It's the "salvation paradigm", (one of many "angry gods" pay-back schemes). It's one of the central tenets of Paulianity, (the religion that was started by Saul of Tarsus), as an offshoot from the followers of Yeshua bar Josef, (known popularly as 'Jesus"), who NEVER said ANYTHING about the pay-back, or that he was going to "do" the pay-back. The "salvation paradigm" never appeared in the Synoptic Gospels. He simply doesn't know his history of religion. If it was THAT centrally important, how could the Synoptics have forgotten about it ? :twisted:
The Synoptic gospels were written in the 2nd & 3rd century....not much more than a bunch of jealous Egyptians trying to get in on the Christian experience.
Are you sure ? The Synoptic Gospels are Matthew, Mark and Luke, (all written with from the Q source, and other Books of Sayings). I think they were written before that, and I NEVER heard that happened in Egypt. You must have something else in mind, (Gnostics?) :twisted:
Typical Southern Baptist, who knows nothing about scripture. Git on back to Bible Camp, son.
Another one, Tebow with an 80 yard TD pass, screw the guy that caught a 10 yard pass and ran it for 70 right past the opposing secondary complete with a stiff-arm.
Meh, that's standard scoring. Every TD pass gets that treatment. If you have a problem with that, get the NFL to change the way they record statistics. Don't be petty.
That's typical football...the QB always gets the majority of the credit. Not right of course but that is what happens.
He made a good read and a good throw. You gotta give him credit for that.
No one seems to see the significance of the 10 passes. J is the 10th letter of the alphabet, so the 10 passes signify John. The 316 yards signify 3:16. The message is complete in just those two things.
"Pittsburgh" starts with a "P" which is also the first letter in Proverbs, so I still say this miracle refers to Proverbs 31:6.
What about all the devout Christians on Pittsburgh that God obviously hates?
oslo117, get your theological head screwed on right. Tebow may be a good player, and he may pray a lot, but do you really think that God would honor him with TDs just because he prays? Would God favor him to win a game over "praying people on the opposing team? I think not. What about all the other team mates, don't they get any credit? Tebow couldn't win without them. I believe in prayer too, but it is presumtion to think that Tebow prays for victory in a game and God answers that prayer. I don't think Tebow prays for victory.
But it was all done on Jan. 8th, which is Elvis' birthday!
And the game was in 2012 minus Elvis' birth year '35 is 77, which is the year he died!
And if you take the number of TDs, 2, from the 16 in 3 16, you get 14, which is the number of Grammy nominations Elvis received when he was 36, 3(1)6? coincidence? I think not.
Elvis is alive! And Tim Tebow knows where he is!
@Nonimus: *headslap* OF COURSE!
Sean it makes sense because Pittsburgh starts with P like Proverbs, and the Steelers are probably at home drinking right now.
Let's just assume, I know it's a HUGE stretch, that god answers Tebow's prayers and gives him a win. Now, what does that do or say for the countless parents of dying children who pray earnestly for god to heal their sick child. No wonder god never heals these kids or regrows a limb for a soldier, he's too busy watching Tebow play football and prostrating himself on the TV.
Football starts with an F so maybe god thinks Tebow should F himself.
God doesn't love the Broncos more than any other team. However, Tim Tebow is known for his religious devotion and so God used him to make people start thinking.
@Bo God wasn't answering Tim Tebow's prayer. He was using Tim Tebow to make Himself known to tens or hundreds of millions of people at one time. Also, some of the other teammates had to have been involved.
@Martin T If people believe God really exists, this will help everyone, even parents of sick children.
I'll explain it to you. It's mythology that all too many people mistake for reality. Despite the complete lack of evidence supporting this (or any) mythology, as well as the obvious fact that the world just does not operate how the text of this (or any) particular mythology proposes, the people who desperately want to believe it to be true believe anyway. Moreover, they berate and oppress others who do not share their unsupported mythologies.
To explain it further, the person at the center of this is nothing more than a jock in a violent sport who has no more insight on any of it than any other believer on the planet, and yet due to nothing more than his popularity in a totally unrelated area, believers kowtow to him.
The absurdity of having a jock become the spokesman for a mythology is totally lost on the believers.
There is plenty of evidence and historical records supporting scripture
You're an idiot.
You're gonna die from ass cancer.
@TJ if by "plenty" you mean ZERO, then you're right.
@Nothing worth explaining- You are more than welcome to your factless opinion.
But keep in mind that the same praise that the media (yes media..more so than anyone else) is the same enti_ty that loves to tear him down when he lost three games in a row.
I agree with you on the methodology part of it all. But you are not being any different by trying to convince everyone that he is just a jock playing football. You can state your opinion, but dont "oppress" others that you are so correct and they should follow your way.
So you're taking the time to explain that it's not worth explaining.
Clearly your conscious is telling you there's more to life than the meaningless existence you're currently living. Otherwise, "mythological" stories such as those concerning God wouldn't bother you.
C'mon people – all the evidence is laid bare at the Creation Museum.
If it weren't factual, they wouldn't be allowed to call it a museum, right?
Man and dinosaur once lived in harmony. In fact, immature wooly mammoths were often used as vacuum cleaners while their parents poked their trunks through the window to wash dishes.
It's all there in the little know Apocrypha Flintsonia.
That is the funniest reply I've ever read in my life.
@TJ, no what there is is a LOT of evidence that supports the truth that Christianity stole nearly ALL of their scriptures from other religions, including the story of their Christ, the whole virgin birth thing, the entire mythology can be read in any number of other stories throughout history, MANY of them hundreds of years before the "birth" of Jesus. Here's an idea, READ something other than the Bible for a change of pace and a little education. If you want some ideas, I'd be happy to point to some credible sources for you.
I still think it might refer to Proverbs 31:6. That's one we can all get behind.
I do not see how you can even say that the Bible is worthless, when it gives great advice as Proverbs 31:6
It's been such a long day, I might stop for a 31:6 on the way home from work.
SeanNJ: I believe you may be misinterpretating what is meant in Proverbs 31:6. If you read the two verses before this you will discover that kings and princes [rulers] should not drink wine or strong drink because it will interfer with their judgement; so why should anyone else drink wine or strong drink? What is being said in Prov 31:6 is basicly that “beer” and “wine” are for those who do not care about what is right or wrong.
I love how non-believers pick and choose specific verses to use to mock believers...
Proverbs 31: 1-9 (NLT)
The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message, which his mother taught him.
O my son, O son of my womb, O son of my vows, do not waste your strength on women,
on those who ruin kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine.
Rulers should not crave alcohol. For if they drink, they may forget the law
and not give justice to the oppressed. Alcohol is for the dying,
and wine for those in bitter distress. Let them drink to forget their poverty
and remember their troubles no more. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.
Bo, you can read into it what you want, but so can anyone else. You have no proof that your interpretation is any more or less valid than anyone else's, and God hasn't given you the obvious glow and miracles that would be part of you if you were a direct messenger of God.
OSA6311, are you sure that isn't OSA 3:16? Anyhow, it is sad that you bring your point up, because it actually works against most modern day "believers" in Christianity. When do they speak up fo rhte poor and helpless and see that they get justice? When do they seek justice for the oppressed? Just look at modern politics and all of the candidates that claim to be Christians, yet would find all sorts of ways to rationalize their actions when compared to things in the Bible. Other things they might gladly accept, like killing women and children of the enemies of God, like it was done in the Old Testament. Or stoning certaing people that are different.
@Bo and OSA6311: We're talking about a football game. The strong drink and wine part seems to fit better than the Jesus part. That's all I'm saying.
And I like the New International Version better, where it says "beer" instead of "strong drink."
The Bible tells us to drink and be merry. That is what we should all do. Lets all take the advice of the Bible and go out and drink and forget all of our problems tonight.
I nominate you for the next prophet position. Proverbs 31:6 is awesome!
@OSA6311 and @Bo,
You can deny it all you want, but you and I both know that you believe, and in the end...
... every elbow shall bow...
Walter is confused
text you want to link
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.