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.
CNN: ANYTHING to get religious wackos some bad press. This way all believers in the bible can be stereotyped the way CNN wants it to be.
the bible, a man made fabrication whose believers are fear based. deny it's fear and you have the makings for a terrorist
but stereotyping goes against the fundamental beliefs of 'enlightened' liberal news outlets, like CNN....
but stereotyping goes against the fundamental beliefs of 'enlightened' liberal news outlets, like CNN...
Man wasn't capable of witting a book like the bible in such a way that to this day it cant be proven wrong (proven) Those writers of 3400 years ago were so good....my gosh.....to not make some kind of little mistake that would prove the bible false today. Were the men who wrote the bible that Good That Intelligent. or were they inspired by a God who wanted his Book written a certain way..... Your gonna have to prove there is no God, You cant just say it, It has no more meaning then me Saying there is A God, the difference is Im saying there is a God based on what Ive read in the Bible.
To Greg s: 1) the Bible is RIDDLED with hundreds of errors and inconsistencies. It's so far from "perfect" it's absurd. Sorry, the Earth isn't the center of the universe, animals don't talk, and people don't rise from the dead. Ever. It also disagrees with itself NUMEROUS times about fundamental issues. Google "bible errancy" sometime. 2) It is up to the person making the claim to prove that claim. If you say gods exist, prove it. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And religion has none. If you rely on someone proving something doesn't exist, then ANYTHING can be said to exist if someone can't prove it doesn't. Illogical and, again, absurd. I invite you to prove there aren't dozens of invisible pink elephants circling your head right now. Go for it. 3) Saying that God exists because the Bible says God exists is ABSOLUTELY no different than saying Superman exists because a Superman comic book exists. Everyone of your arguments is specious and illogical. You can pretend all you want, but don't expect intelligent thinking people to accept that a deeply flawed book of ancient mythology is the infallible word of some mystical space wizard. That's just.. what's the word? ABSURD.
For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, that whoever shall believe in him... would probably believe anything.
god sounds rather primitive..
iand in other news...1000 pastors were polled and almost 50% of the idiots thought the earth was 6000 yrs. old....so your point is right on target!
Jesus...really? Articles like this are ridiculous. First of all, one of the stats quoted as the very premise of the article is ~wrong~. Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks) 15.0. He did not average 31.6 yards per pass.
Even if he did, this is hardly a reason to call him a miracle working athlete/saint.
Spend your time investigating other matters of greater importance.
Actually, the article states 31.6 yards per COMPLETION, not per pass... Seeing as he had 316 yards on 10 completed passes, simple math would show this was actually correct..
Yep, that's how it works. Whoever kisses "God's" ass the most on national television wins. No matter how good or bad the team or the opponent played. Too funny! In any event, there's more people in red states who watch football, so the media better be pumping these kinds of stories. Amen.
the pope is a pedo and a pedo protector who was responsible for destroying childrens lives worldwide.. the puke.
Most of the 'haters' on here more than likely were the people who worshipped Obama like he was the new messiah when he was running for president. Of course they were hoping that if elected, he would pay their morgages off.
and "YOU" call others haters? ("cast the first stone", will you?)
actually you are dead wrong,, the worship no one. Isn't that cool?
Actually, I wouldv'e voted for McCain, until the whole Palin atrocity occurred. Democrats have a habit of screwing over the military, and then they are the first to wonder why we were unprepared when the next big engagement kicks off.
Ive found most devout Atheists were once Catholic, Not sure of why. But folks, Man created religion, Not God. God has nothing to do with the established religions in America. God put his word in the Bible, Thats all you need. Man came along and created all these different religions and doctrines and there own spin on the Bible. A church cant save you only the Holy Spirit can. The funny thing is Every single one of us Knows there's a God. Some just hate him for whatever reason, Or there the kind of person who even though deep down there in the depth of there soul they no there is the possibility of a God they need proof, Without Proof there just cant be a God, (Yet they believe in UFO's) Tangible Physical Proof, If you need physical proof there is a God Read the History of the Jewish People from there conception to Modern Israel that alone is proof there is a God. But non Believers are going to have to use some of that vast intellect they have to grasp it.
As with politics, religion should not be part of public display! He can do his praying and kneeling on his own time not in front of millions of viewers...frankly he makes me feel nauseated. I have never seen a country (don't get me wrong I love the US) so led publicly by religious views. These should be kept in the church and at home and not on public display.
No worry,, the delusional religious are fading away. Same as those who believed in Zeus and volcanoes, poof.
The verse itself is just so much rubbish. And I say that keeping an open mind about Jesus being the Son of God. Believe in the Son, believe in the Father? What the hell is that all about? If Jesus was really God's son why did they need all the BS attached to the virgin birth (really nuts) or the starr and the wiseman. Because they needed a little hype so people would pay attention. Jesus came for one reason and it sure wasn't for millions of uncomitted sins – to prove there MIGHT be ligfe after death. That's good enough for me.
It's called Freedom of Speech – you want that right taken away from people? And only say what the goverment allows you to say? NIce...you are promoting communism in America
I love how liberals idea of freedom of speech is that it's acceptable if it abides with their viewpoints.
"I love how liberals idea of freedom of speech is that it's acceptable if it abides with their viewpoints."
Yet your god will punish people for eternity for disbelief.
Go get your shinebox, boy
What a synical god: kills millions in wars, through famine and disease, but heps this Tebow score goals...
I don't understand God's need for a sacrafice. Whether it be Jesus, or the thousands of mammals that perished in fire in the Old Testament, why DID God need blood sacrafices?? He created the universe, right? WE need (needed) to give HIM sacrafices?
AthensGuy- God does not kill people in wars or famines. People kill in wars and because of people's greed children go unfed.
AverageJoe76- Thank you very much for your sincere question. It's nice to see someone ask a valid question for a change. It's one, I as a Christian have questioned myself with a number of times. The belief is that people are separated from God through their sins. God is perfect and holy and as sinners we can not be with him unless we too are pure aka forgiven. The belief is that the old testaments way of sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins was a period where people were able to recognize their need for forgiveness. (In our culture it seems very odd, but back then it was not.) But God's unlitmate intention was to have a better way for forgiveness. This all set up Christ's coming. The belief is that through Christ, God humbled Himself, became man, lived a perfect love filled life, and died once and for all so that everyone could be made holy in the site of God. Hope this helps at least understand the belief.
@AverageJoe76: mike2040's incomprehensible rant notwithstanding, there's a very good reason why ancient people's offered animal sacrifices to their gods.
In order for the sacrifice to be "meaningful," you would expect that it would have to be something of value to the person making the offering. In agrarian/nomadic societies, the thing that held the most value was livestock: it provided milk, meat and clothing.
To slaughter, and often burn, what was arguably their most valuable resource was an enormous sacrifice to the people making the offering; they would expect their gods to view it the same way.
Men have everything to do with war, God is not involved there, again famine is caused by poor planning by man, We have the power to feed the whole world yet we dont and we blame it on God, Disease....well the lord Never promised we would lve forever...Our purpose on this earth is to find salvation, Thats it.
Last of all there is free will i have free will to live my life as best I can, another man has free will to come in my house and kill me. Bummer lets blame GOD because that monster exercised his free Will. Without free will what would we be.
If you choose not to believe in God, God Just honors your wish's after Death simple as that. Yet that bothers non believers, They choose not to believe in God but are angry that when they die they dont get to go to Heaven, That is such a Liberal point of View...My guess is God isnt a liberal.
If jesus came back today all republicians would run him out of town or worse. he preaches love and peace and not wealth. He would Champion medical care for all, not just wealthy children. (you just tell me he wouldnt.
Share holders who do none of the work make more money than the ones who do(the workers), he would not like that either. but you "belivers" can fool yourself into believing that he wouldnt. remember this seek and ye shall find wasnt about money its about truth.
And remember truth isnt bombing the heck out of anything so you can control oil fields or so federal reserve banks and world banks can parasite on to poor nations life blood and suck it dry by proping up ruthless regimes to do itheir bidding. No there a lot of things about us that the son of god would not like, primarily our war mongering Do you even seek to know how many civilians we kill in our actions on them and have no moral outrage when it is discovered there wasnt even a tiny reason to attack? And our worship of money and those who have it? The level of support for Multi millionaire Preachers in this country shows just how far off the rails our brand of religion has gone. Are you telling me this would be ok with Jesus? Think.... think again, thats why you have a brain...seek and ye shall find.
If its for the individual it is almost always wrong (think why) if it is for the greater good it is usually properly motivated and not by personal greed. (think Dr. jonas salk or Dr. Charles Best Mother teresa and on and on). I dont know maybe Im way off here.......lol..... think tho think.
If jesus came back today he would be shot in the head. That's what you do to put down zombies, otherwise they eat your brains.
Your Borrowing Jesus to get your point across. But you left out Jesus number one Goal and that was Salvation. None of this other stuff matters, Salvation is First and foremost with Christ.
Sorry Greg didnt see this till now....Ummmm maybe but the point I was trying to make and the one you seem to ignore is how do you get that salvation. And at the exclusion of war and money worship it seems you want to focus on "well if I go to church on sunday that should be enough " route, and still maintain the Fun of bombing the crap outta every one in the name of profit.
Keep fighting the GOOD fight Tebow..JESUS is the way, the truth and THE LIFE. Bless HIS Holy name.
Tooooo funny. What isn't funny is that tebow thinks he's got gods and jc's attention while god and jc ignore the hungry children.
Yea...all that...and learn how to throw more accurate passes.
I got $5,000 in you and the Bronco's this weekend.
sorry for your loss jesus. GO PATS!
Making fun of people's faith seems to be a new sport, like scraping the time release off your Oxycontin or watching "Jersey Shore".
Trust me, you'll be calling Jesus' name when you're laying there dying – calling his name like your pulling the ripcord on a parachute to save your ass.
Yeah – too bad that when people die, they choose that moment to dillude themselves. Does it really matter if you call Jesus when you are dying? Will it change anything? Let's see if I was a decent human being my whole life, why should I be denied entrance into afterlife fantasyland? Just because I didn't accept Jesus into my life? You people are wackos!
How silly.. bet if you were brought up believing in volcano gods to save you, at death you'd be praying to volcanoes. We aren't the dummies. However it's sad you have been brainwashed, we're sorry. You are a good psycho study on the effects of childhood abuse, religion. Please, at least let your kids be kids, without the nonsense.
Do you find that threats often work in your evangelism efforts? Do you always present your god as such a terrorist?
Most of the 'haters' on here more than likely were the people who worshipped Obama when he was running for president hoping, if elected that he would pay their morgages off.
@Thinkforyourself (You clearly don't) – your god would make Machiavelli proud.
repeating yourself? Actually most those here worship no one. bet if you were to take a poll, those you don't agree with do more to help those in need. Yep, atheist too.
Ok fair enough but why just think about believing to save yourself in the end? What about living it? and gloating about anyones end is never very christian now is it Thinkfor? Remember also jesus loves medicare for all.Thinkforyouself why? why would he? And he hates uber wealthy again think why would he? is it because That one hungers many? Dont give me that job creating crap because it would be done for less gain and a more even distribution of the wealth but I can hear the Christians Cry out on the very idea of sharing the wealth, and they will be able to Rationalize to their hoards how lazy the working poor are and thats why they are poor as opposed to all the rules bent in favor of the wealthy and the daddys that handed it down to them. Yup thats the key alright think for yourself but most dont they think as a heard, or as usual dont think at all or think about them selves.
I hear that some soilders called for their Moms in their final moments. Just because you call, doesn't mean they'll be an answer. I, being agnostic, don't nessessarily believe in anything, but I do say Jesus' name in moments of fustration. Simply because his name has been imprinted on my psyche.
"Trust me, you'll be calling Jesus' name when you're laying there dying – calling his name like your pulling the ripcord on a parachute to save your ass" Hmmm.. Well, once the static line pulled my rip cord after jumping out of a perfectly good C130 (AIRBORNE!), I seem to recall cursing a lot, but not especially praying to your zombie jesus. But it all gets kinda hazy, you know whatta mean?
Rollen Stewart Started it... It's kind of hard not to compare anyone who holds that sign up to him.
Exactly what this author incorrectly deduces.
I'm not a religious person but I see all of the anit-religious as bigots so it's fun to watch Tebow get under their skin.
Live an let live. Do your own thing Tebow. There are many who are simply waiting to pounce with the "I told you so" comments once you lose. You will win some and lose some. I admire you for being classy through the ups and downs.
hypocrisy meet michael
@Lucifer's Evil Twin Did you intend this for me? I just added my sirname so you know which Michael is which.
Yup thats a good one live and let live Thats what we Americans are all about live and let live. except who we kill and bomb into oblivion, for control of real estate and to keep those military industrial complex(for lack of a better phrase) companies rollin in the dough. Ahhhh Democracy its awesome when you can buy it and mold it to what you want, and not what the people need(read big banks and insurance companies, arms manufacturers, et al.) Look at the economy that is how it got this way not because we lavished it on the poor. you know what jesus would have wanted.
It's all tebowing games until somebody loses an eye. Or the zombie apocalypse occurs.
Zombie apocalypse = my second coming. I am patient zero.
LOL. Make sure you infect as many of your followers with your zombieness as you can. It'll make identifying who i'm shooting at much easier.
Why don't we start giving human beings, the living, a little bit more credit for their accomplishments? Look at the long list of successful agnostics. Who is helping them through life? I guess it was God who created Microsoft, not Bill Gates? I dislike how religion is used as a crutch and an explanation for everything. Take ownership for your mistakes, AND your successes. Spirituality and religion are about morals and being a good person. In the end, it is YOU who is in control of your life. And I agree, if God is in control, I would like to believe that there are more important issues then an NFL Playoff game to attend to. Ridiculous.
Yes, and let's give the billions of dollars Gates has made to the homeless and needy.
That's the problem...humans get TOO much credit for their 'accomplishments'
@Jason – well that was a stupid comment. The Gates' give MILLIONS of their own money to schools and school programs to ensure underprivlidged AMERICAN children are getting a good education. Still waiting for your god to take it over from him.
hey idiot..it's called the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. They have pledged Billions of dollars to fight disease and starvation all around the world already....what have you done? You're awful quick to give away others money , where's your contribution?
twappst: LOL, I can ask you the same question...I wish I had millions of dollars to give...but I digress...
My point is that we do not give enough credit to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are too much about ourselves.
The Lord is in control But we are in control of our lives, Your life is in your control up to a point, Others in this world can effect your life beyond your control. The one thing you have total control of is what you think and Believe. God has given you a free choice to choose. Him or nothing.
it would seem to me that a perfect god's bible wouldn't need interpretation or translation.. unless it's a man made fake.
Lets see the task at hand, Write a book for man that explains God and what God wants from us but it has to be written in such a way that Men from 3400 years ago can understand it as well as modern man, No easy task that.
All men of good will long for the day when the proud blasphemers will have their faces changed at the sight of the Holy One descending out of the cloud, to judge the secrets of men with a standard of righteousness. How long, O Lord? Vengeance is Yours! You will repay! Take vengeance! Repay your adversaries! Come Lord Jesus and balance the scales of justice.
i'm holding my breath
Are you going to re-explain this christo-babble, too?
I see how this works. Let me try. There have been 2055 nuclear tests to date. if we move the 0 we have 0255. 0-255 is the value range for a byte. This reference to 255, the largest number in a byte must indicate the end of the world.
Don't burn your brain out.
Praise God. Nuff said.
Yes, PRAISE ME! GIVE ME ALL YOUR PRAISE! YOU DESERVE NO CREDIT, I DO! I DEMAND YOUR WORSHIP!
This article is yet another example of CNN attempting to demonize Christianity and anybody who follows the faith. 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 decided to follow Allah..
How is this article demonizing anything.
It is simply reporting the facts about how John 3:16 and sports events have come in contact with each other over the years.
It is not CNN's fault that the guy who start it all, Rollen Stewart, turned out to be a nut case. It's just a fact.
Stop acting like you're a victim.
And if Tebow did follow Allah, then "christians" would have been infuriated as well. CNN does not demonize christianity - christians are quite good at demonizing it themselves. Go ahead and believe what you want, but normal people don't subscribe to the guy-in-the-sky hallucinations proffered by christians and their big comic book called the bible.
What are you talking about..... The article does nothing but talk about the origins of John 3:16 as it relates to public displays in sports and society. In no place is there any kind of demonizing going in in this article. And to your point that the article would never have been written if tebow followed Allah. The article would have been written, but it would be more about how a young man who does nothing but praise "his" God, spent a good portion of his lif trying to help others and those less fortunate than him, and is a pretty decent football player is getting demonized by a large portion of the Christain right because he does not believe the same exact thing they do.
God does not give a crap what you believe, because it is LARGELY based on where your are born and your parents. the only thing that matters is what you do with your life.
Jesus: Jason appears to be one of the people who like to play the victim. Poor, poor, put upon Christians. I think it makes them feel like their savior....all suffering and such
CNN doesn't have to help discredit you fools...your ridiculous stories do that for you.
Wow, such hate and bitterness displayed here.
It sounds like a lot of the replies to my posts were made by folks who feel they have fallen victim to those 'righteous Christians'
What a shame...
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.