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. Matt

    I pray that Tebow is killed this week, or at least maimed so he can never play football again. I hate him so much it hurts.

    January 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • J.W

      You sound like a true atheist, so bitter and hateful.

      January 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • fred

      Could be a reincarnated Sanhedrin

      January 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  2. Jeff

    It is refreshing to see someone with faith and decency succeed a little

    But don't forget that

    Faith, dignity, grace are their own rewards

    January 9, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  3. Jennifer H.

    Utterly Absurd–I am embarrassed for the author –academic is hardly a word I would use to describe him and the fact that he is recognized as a scholar is just another example of how far we have declined in this country as far as academics and intellectual pursuit are concerned. Sad.

    December 19, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Skegeeace

      Academics and faith can't mix? Oh ye of little faith. 😉 I'm skeptic of anyone who's 100% academics or 100% faith without any mix.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  4. HotAirace

    Looks like god/jesus just started. losing streak.

    December 19, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • tallulah13

      Maybe god is a fan of kickers and was upset because Tebow got the glory last week instead of the guy who really won the game.

      December 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  5. morris

    It is suppose to be that the defense was tremendous, but there is the intangible "phenomenon Tebow". I guess that deserves discussion about what the Broncos record would have Kyle Orton continued to play. It looked like a losing team with Orton. The D is great, but Tebow say what someone should get some credit for the 7-1. QB is usually judged by victory and defeat plain and simple. The numbers may not be there but the most important. Now this could be the Trent Dilfer argument again, but these reimbursements fourth quarter just make the discussion more interesting.anyway, for more news, we can visit http://www.tebowformvp.com/... thanx

    December 18, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  6. toosliq

    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray in public places to be seen by others… But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your heavenly Father, who is unseen.” (Matt. 6:5-6)

    December 16, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  7. AJ

    I have always denied religion based on the "it happened a long time ago........"
    But now we are seeing our Parting of the Red Sea, our Walls of Jericho, our Great Flood..... and it's name is Tim Tebow

    December 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So the best miracle god can manage is a quarterback who depends heavily on a great defense and can beat only marginal teams with a lot of help from his kicker? I guess it's a step up from Jesus on a tortilla.

      December 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  8. Eric THBW

    Having faith is one thing but being completely delusional about God and sports is quite a different matter. God doesn't play favorites. It's all fair game in this existance we call life.

    December 13, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Sarah

      There is no god in existence.

      December 13, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  9. Lois d'Annunzio

    Does God really care about grown men dedicating their lives to throwing balls across the end zone, putting balls into holes in the ground or tossing balls into hoops. The Bible says to feed the hungry, heal the sick, tend to the needy.

    December 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Bob

      The bible also says to slaughter and burn an animal regularly to make a nice smell to please god. You don't get to eat any of it, either. It's total senseless waste and gory horror.

      So get on it and get those knives out, Christians. Jesus did say that the OT commands still apply.

      December 13, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  10. charlie

    So if Denver dosen't win the super bowl, dose that mean there is no God?

    December 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Bob

      There is no god.

      December 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Mikej

      Yes there is and his name is Jesus.

      January 2, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
  11. Troy

    Is this dude an idiot? Tebow forced Barber out of bounds? Tebow forced the fumble? Tebow helped Prater kick the game tying and winning FG? Really?

    It’s because of idiots like this that Tebow is as popular as he is, right now. I’ve got nothing against Time Tebow, but he is a subpar QB, at best, who plays a good 4th quarter. If he is so good, why does he have to wait until the 4th quarter?

    Oh, and the Bronco’s may be going to the play off’s not because of Tebow, but because they play in a crappy division.

    December 13, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • claybigsby

      "If he is so good, why does he have to wait until the 4th quarter?"

      Because he has to wait until the opposing defenses go from an aggressive defense during the first 75% of the game to a passive prevent style defense in the 4th quarter in order to complete passes and move the ball.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Don't sully this forum with facts and analyses!
      The proper response is "cuz God done tolded him so".

      December 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • captain america

      The proper response to a canadian like doc v is to tell him to keep his bull sh it opinion in canada. We don't need no canadian ass hole telling us how to think or act.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • captain canuck eh

      Actually, captain america, our stealth airforce already sh1ts its opinion over your lawn, and their ass holes and the bacteria from them are infecting your mind (what little there is of it). You have no defence against our numbers. Our ass holes have already overwhelmed your biggest guns and downed your aircraft.

      December 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Mikej

      There have been a lot of super bowl winners who were not spiritual giants. Winning does not make for enlightenment. Tim Tebow just lives what he believes. He is scary because he so against PC. I think he cares what people think just I think he cares more what God thinks.

      January 2, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
About this blog

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.