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.
I am convinced (although I cannot prove it by the Bible) that ordinary Christians should not evangelize in daily life (at work, at home, at school, etc..) In daily life Christians should prove practical love and practical righteousness. They should just live the Good Life without many words.
Of course, Christ has commanded mission. I assume that this task should be settled by the Church as a whole. That means particularly educated and appointed members of the Church should practice mission. They should invite people for lectures or speeches and then tell them the gospel. I guess, they could even go from house to house and invite the people (in order to avoid any confusion with the Mormons or Jehovas' Witnesses they should wear a special sign).
Please notice: Although ordinary Christans should not evangelize in daily life, they are supposed to confess their faith in certain situations, for example when people ask them about their faith or when people make wrong statements about faith (for example a Muslim workmate would claim that Jesus is not God, I had to contradict him rigidly).
A very serious situation is it, when a Christian is required to deny Christ or to adore another God (idol). Here he must refuse at any rate, even at the cost of his life.
Regarding Tebow: I am not very enthusiastic about his behaviour. He should stop that. It is enough, when he is a fair player.
A well thought out post. Which I disagree with completely.
Jesus' ministry was to reveal God's Love for His creation through ordinary persons. You see, throughout history God tried working through the appointed people. Priests, Pharisees and Levites (No, not the jeans people). The simple message of His love and longing for a relationship with His creation got lost in man's ability to screw up such a simple thing. Christ taught us, through His example, to be servants of others while forsaking yourself. To think of others more highly than yourself. The Ten Commandments can be whittled down to Two: Love God with All Your Heart and Love Your Neighbor More Than Yourself.
Are some Christians better at that than others? Psshh. No doubt. But, just as we are not to condemn the Muslim faith for the acts of a few, dare I suggest the same standard for the Christian faith.
Matthew 28:19-20 tells Christians to go and make disciples of all nations and to teach them all Jesus has commanded. The Gospel has to be spoken, but assuredly, it needs to be lived out as well. All Christians will fail at points in thier life. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't lovingly share the Gospel...
It's your right to believe as you wish. One cannot ignore, however, that all of the first century Christians preach publicly, and it was not until the "conversion" of the Roman Emperor Constantine that there came to be a paid clergy. Jesus said "by their fruits you will recognize them." And the clergy has certainly produced fruits, pedophilia, illegitimate money gathering, and a list of sins a mile long. So, which to follow... the example of the Biblical Christians, or the doctrine of "the church?" Your choice.
As for Jesus being God, research that one too. It's not strictly Biblical, even the New Catholic Encyclopedia admits that. It wasn't an adopted teaching till sometime around the third century. And multiple scriptures seem to indicate quite strongly that Jesus never claimed to be, nor ever viewed himself as God.
Just some stuff to think about... like I said, everyone has the right to think what they want. And I agree with you on Tebow. His antics are more showmanship, and less Christian.
@OGR99 Well said.
You are "convinced" huh?
The great Commission WAS given to The Church as a whole... That means ALL believers!! lol The Church is comprised of everyone who believes, not just the leaders who then turn around and decide who will be missionaries and who will not. Each person recieves a different calling from God. Tebow's is obviously to bring the light of Jesus to people through football. If you don't like it, don't watch football lol Very simple.
I think before everyone tears Tebow for one aspect of his personality they stop and look at the other sterling specimens of football stardom, like Michael Vick lol Atleast Tebow has class
It's amusing to read posts from CNN followers about the Christian faith. Amusing and a bit ironic.
I am a right-leaning independent person who has been led to believe that the right is intolerant of other people's ideas and expression. This is in stark contrast to the left's position that they are the all inclusive, come one come all party of love and acceptance.
Yet all I read is a bunch of angry, arrogant, ignorant posts about a belief system that clearly is misunderstood and feared. Apparently if one has any semblance of faith and belief in the God of Heaven, they've lost all ability to reason and think. Apparently, if that person is involved in politics, he wishes to bring back the crusades or some form of Theocracy. Off With Their Heads! type of thing.
You should understand that most CNN followers are far too "intelligent" to believe in anything higher than themselves...
The Hail Mary was there !
Also, the receiver who caught the pass was born on Christmas (25 Dec) and I started reading this article at 3:16 PM. Scary huh
Yes, scary you see any significance in that.
Jesus save me..........from your followers.
Yes, Christians are horrible people.
That Tim Tebow sure scares me...
This article is yet another example of CNN attempting to demonize Christianity and everything related. CNN tries SO hard to discredit ANY hope God may give this country and calls it a fluke. CNN even has the audacity to shame those who proudly display 3:16, comparing them to Rollen Stewart.
I'm sure this article never would have been written had Tebow advertised a verse from the Quran
LOL about the yard passage being 316 yards. I got to watch more football.
I'm sure this article never would have been written had Tebow been a Muslim.
Either you believe it or you don't; it all comes down to Faith.
CNN attacks anyone who expresses their freedom of speech by praising Jesus Christ.
Christians attack anyone who expresses their freedom of speech by denying belief in Jesus Christ.
See what I did there?
Neither side is without fault.
Candy,I also find that setting rules exdnpas rather than limits me creatively.I am right now trying to decide if I am including dyeing as part of my stash. I have on hand a bolt of white organic cotton, and a good range of procion dyes. So would fabrics I dye from this point forward be adding to my stash or using it up?I think I will be dyeing for at least one quilt as I want to push myself and see if I can eye match the colours from a print I have and love.
"...man has sinned and is destined for eternal punishment, but eternal live awaits all who believe in God's son, Jesus."
Belief or non-belief is not really a choice. You can't just switch back and forth between the two. Something (facts, evidence, etc...) has to show itself to force that change.
This line says that eternal punishment awaits those that have not seen the evidence or facts to change their beliefs. Whose fault is that?
So in the end, it is God's fault (due to not showing evidence) that billions of non-believers since human kind arrived will be punished eternally.
Great book this bible!
Fascinating... God's fault... for not leaving evidence... Hmm, yeah. Garbage. How much more evidence do you want? A personalized signature on every piece of creation? Besides, that line you are touting. Not in the Bible. Look it up.
God makes himself known to everyone in some way, if you choose to not believe it is your fault. Can't blame perfection.
Vod, to those who believe, no proof is necessary. To those who don't, no proof is sufficient. Many of us believers see glaring proof all over the world, especially in the sciences, but nonbelievers always rationalize that proof away. Ultimately, it's down to you whether you accept the proof or not. That is how it has always been for humanity, regardless of what the proof is, or what it is proving. People must be willing to believe before any proof is enough.
Incredible claims require incredible evidence. If you believe in the bible because you see rocks and trees around you, then your requirement for evidence is incredibly low.
So if you are unlucky enough to be born with a brain that requires evidence before you choose to believe something, your fate is eternal damnation?
I disagree. Proof is sufficient for everyone. The question is what your criteria for proof is.
For many, the definition of proof is influenced by their desire to believe in a particular thing. This is most prevalent in the indoctrinated (those who latched on to one religion and have not explored outside that system of beliefs) as they have the hardest time going through the mental process involved in exploring other possibilities, much more beliefs.
Found a verse; Romans 1:20 tells us, "Since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
Look in the mirror, look at the world around you, look at a child, look in the sky, look at the stars in the heavens – there is your evidence. When you stand before God you will have no excusses. Every man, woman, child, creature will have been provided the evidence and have had a chance to make the choice. By your statement here you know what choice you have -
That is the "God of the gaps" argument. Because you don't know something you say "God did it". Well, that's definately not good enough for me, and 95% of the scientific world.
God HAS revealed Himself in His very Creation. Man, more specifically science, has dulled Man's ability to see God's work in Nature and Space.
Man's wisdom has failed him and blinded him to the Truth of God's existence and creation.
A purely innocent person will not be condemned to hell. The challenge is of course, to find that purely innocent person, isn't it? Remember, there was one purely innocent guy...and they crucified him.
Vod, the belief that this universe was created ex nihilo (from nothing) by random chance is equally incredible, yet surprisingly atheists need no proof. The fact is, it HAD to have gotten here somehow (since we know it had a beginning), so believing one side or the other is equally plausible. Trying to force that belief on everyone else because you KNOW that you're right, whether that side is religion or atheism, is what needs extreme proof.
"Look in the mirror, look at the world around you, look at a child, look in the sky, look at the stars in the heavens – there is your evidence"
That's my evidence? No deity is required for any of that, so I'm pretty much still an atheist.
Athiests are not arrogant. Whwn they don't know, they say they don't know.
There is a possibility that the universe came from nothing. See the youTube dissertation by Laurence Krauss "A Universe from nothing".
And lastly, If everything had to come from something, what made God?
God created time, he has no start or end. No one created God, not sure many people can actually grasp the concept of no time and the fact that nothing was what you see it as today. In the beginning there was God, that is it. He invented it.
So if you think God came from nothing, why is it hard to postulate that instead, the universe came from nothing?
I think you don't believe in God, you just hope there is a god.
My post didn't post.
My beliefs have a source. I respect that you have your own opinion and your own beliefs, and you won't change yours and I won't change mine. There is just no way possible that "all the right things" happened and Earth and the universe were formed. Like others have stated before, there are scientists who also believed that everything came from a Creator.
No one says that the universe came from nothing it just begins as something existed and then everything snowballed and created the universe. This idea is highly unbelievable because then who created the first event that started it!?!?!
Would love to continue a discussion but I have a course to attend. God Bless!
Yes, everybody knows that god loves football. And Tebow is the 2nd christ, apparently.
Umm, hello??? Quiet message from god???? How bout a loud one, like world peace or the end of hunger???
That would only reward us for ignoring Him. You don't give the carrot to a lazy donkey, you give it the stick.
Maybe WW III or a nuclear Armageddon? Be careful what you wish for.
That's a bit much. I would rather my beliefs be between me and my source but Im only concerned with me. I came in alone and Im going out alone. None of my business what others do. I cant control it "anyway."
Isn't Tebow the kid whose mom refused to have him aborted, against doctor's advice? He's been living a near death experience ever since. It's a great story, it really is, but I seriously have a problem with the way the kid prosthelytizes constantly. Matthew 6:5 actually tells us NOT to pray publicly:
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
The verse has more to do with the motive and the person. That verse refers to the Pharisees who only would pray when people were around so that everyone could see him. Tebow gives thanks on and off the camera, and thanks God for what he has given him the opportunity to do.
the Bible also says in Matthew:
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
what did tebow received? mockery. that's a far cry from the pharisees who earned human praise when they praised God outwardly.
If that's the only reason you're praying in public, so that you can be see and everybody can talk about you, then no, you shouldn't. A hypocrite only wants to be seen doing what's right in public. Don't try to work your way into their personal life, the one hidden within their own home, because you probably won't find personal belief in Jesus that matches what they showed in public. If fact, it will likely be the farthest thing from it.
Like others have suggested, you need to study the context. The pharisees were being condemned for using fake religious actions to gain public praise, reputation, and acclaim. Tebow is doing it to draw attention to God, and is receiving more ridicule and persecution that praise or acclaim. Different motive, different result.
That's actually a great reference. I think Tebow is very sincere is in his beliefs, however, perhaps the evangelical movement just revist this verse more often. A lot of truth to it...And trying to claim the verse is taken out of context to justify people's need to constantly be seen as spirtual, rather than actually being so..well..just sort of trying to justify some bad behavior
That verse is really about placing yourself in a sack-cloth and ash on your forehead. You may want to read context into things.
what did tebow received? "
He receives plenty of praise as well. The vast majority of this country is xtian, so I wouldn't worry too much about him. However, you may want to be careful because your christian persecution complex is showing.
When have you heard Tebow bring attention to his kneeling and thanking the Lord (in victory as well as defeat)? Matthew was referring to those who seek to gain approval by praying in public. If anything, Tebow has been bashed by those who are afraid of the peace he has found. Peace be with you my friend, and pray for God to open your heart/mind.
HWY 9. I actually agree with you. Tim has made his point. Everyone knows his story. I believe him to be a man of character and one who is just being himself. I don't believe he's doing it to gain attention or any of that.
But, God does teach us to pray privately. So that we DON'T look like the hypocrites that permeate the air waves and the mega churches of today. Quiet, servanthood character is what God wants.
I've always been bothered by athletes who praise God for the win, but don't praise God for the opportunity to simply play a game in defeat. If that athlete doesn't praise God in defeat, does that send a consistent message about God? I'm pretty sure God could care less who wins a football game. He's more concerned with a person's soul.
he is a public figure and people look up to him and its important for him to show y he is that good, he gives the glory to God, where its due. unbelievers are just afraid to answer in life to GOD, and dont understand submitting to God,God is ever merciful,ever loving, He is what good is , and uses the wicked against themselves.knowi God is greater than we. dont get mad cause Tebow has belief it is his life, worry about ur beliefs and see where they will lead u. and if a 31.6, and dec 25 at 3:16 dont say somethin, u cant plan that . God is soverien forreal, Jesus is the way, the door to His everlasting life and abundance. lay aside every weight that hinders, allow ur blind ness to flee may He allow u to hear and know the truth. all that energy to be upset at Jesus, all He did was Die for u, us, that we may have life eternal, be washed clean from our sins, the chastisement of His peace is so we may have it(peace), His stripes that we may be healed. whats wrong with that. i found life im going to tell everyone so they may have it too. render evil powerless over those who love God. #whosideareyouleaningon
so does that mean you don't pray for your meal at a restaurant?
I'd give my soul for the evangelicals to read and implement John 3:17.
Nobody wants to condem anyone. People are doing it themselves by not acknowledging Jesus as their Savior.
Not sure what you are getting at but if I am right, you should probably read John 3:18...
What's with all of the 'Belief' stories suddenly making regular appearances on the front page of CNN? Even if it drives traffic, is CNN really willing to stoop so low as to pander to the theocratic segment of the population?
"is CNN really willing to stoop so low as to pander to the theocratic segment of the population?"
Yes. It's all about the benjamins
Excuse me? "Stoop so low?" Seriously? Some of the greatest scientists of the world believed in a Creator. Including but far from limited to Sir Isaac Newton, Einstein, and (it would appear), Charles Darwin. If you don't feel religious, that's just fine, you have the right to believe whatever you choose to believe. But comments like this just prove your ignorance of the other side.
Theocratic, referring to the rule of those in power based on religious belief. It seems to me that it's you who's being 'theocratic' (atheism, roughly defined as the belief that all religious are false, can be considered a religious belief on this level). The rest of us are just talking about free speech. You know, that first amendment thing?
C. Smith – Incorrect. Atheism by definition is the lack of a belief in a supreme being.
It requires no faith because one does not need faith to NOT believe in something.
I'm so sick of Xtians trying to turn atheism into another faith so that they feel they are on equal footing.
lack of faith does not equal faith. Your argument is false.
@ Dave in Portland – I'm not sure I agree. Atheists "believe" that life came about by evolution. Seeing as how factual evidence behind this "belief" is skimpy at best, I find it to be another matter of faith. Thus why I feel neither religion nor evolution should be taught in school. However, to each their own. If you'd rather not be called a faith, that's your right. As is mine to consider myself an informed believer in a divine power. You have no right to look down on the religiously inclined. You know nothing they do not. Thus your conclusions are no more intelligent nor less intelligent than mine.
Posted on Chess King changed its name eiehtr shortly after I worked there or in the middle of my time there I don't remember to what.Why four months? Because I got a WAY sweeter job at ANN TAYLOR.(this is not a joke)
It is actually sad to me that people are so desperate for any sign of god in this world that they turn to a football game as reassurance the absentee landlord is still around.
Why is such a simple beautiful moment that can be interpreted as a quiet message from God or as a simple coincidence being tarnished by seven paragraphs about some whack job from the early nineties? Stop raining on everyone's parade. Would it really be so bad if there is a God sending us hope? I think we could use some...
Yeah? Not in a sports event. Keep your religion out of my life, thank you very much.
Aren't you a little old to be having an imaginary friend?
yes, it would be so bad becaue it would mean that this god only favors people of a certain faith, aka, christians. what kind of god is that? sounds kind of judgmental to me.
I was only speaking of the 316 references.
So god is sending us a message through a football game? Really?
Todd, I'll keep my religion out of your life if you keep your oppression of religions out of mine. Agreed?
Vino, yes, that would be a very judgmental god. Guess what, most religions depict a god or gods who judge. They have this crazy idea that there is a 'right' and a 'wrong', or 'good' and 'evil', and that those who embrace one should be rewarded, while those who embrace the other should be punished. You know, kind of like our legal system? With it's judge? Awfully judgmental of us, huh?
Richard, it sure seems to be getting people's attention. If He's trying to send us a message, it would seem He's succeeded.
Jay ~ Your book “Peace On Earth In Our Lifetime” is a wonderful piece of work! As I was reandig it, there were many parts I read that were very emotional for me. It was truly a meeting of heart and mind. And I will be reandig it again to hone in more on some of the very inspiring points you have made. This report gives us hope for man to be free from fear and violence. Many Blessings to you, my friend! Reply:November 5th, 2010 at 11:58 amwriting the report jerked me around emotionally, no doubt about that, it strikes a chord
If he's being watched by a higher power, where was that power when Florida lost to Alabama in the 2009 championships? :)
I'm actually a 'Bama fan. Roll Tide!!!
As much as God loves Tebow, he's obviously a bigger fan of the Crimson Tide.
What a load. SLow news day on the sports front. I hear if you feel the cones on Tebo's head, they feel exactly like the loins of the virgin mary , or was it that they feel like RIchard SImmon's backside? I forget
Richard Simmons has done a lot more good than "Virgin" Mary.
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.