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. give me a breAK

    Oh Please!!!! Give me a Damn Break.your holding his nuts like he is the Savior of this world.When the overrated rookie loses,what are people gonna say? Oh the devil made him lose? or God wanted him to lose so he can be a better man? When he can play 60 min of real football and pass for 400 plus yards. and THROWS 3 touchdowns in a game,then say he is a bona fide NFL Q.B. Tebow didnt win that game, The Bears gave it to him.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • government cheese

      You really don't know anything about religion, do you?

      December 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Wigsnot

      The overrated rookie hasn't lost yet.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • radio19952001

      Hes also not a rookie. You know jack about football. Go back to band practice like the queen you are.

      December 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Correct, if Barber hadnt gone out of bounds we (the broncos would have lost, and then everyone would know it was luck not devinity. But because a stupid jock made a stupid mastake ans shut the clock off, the donkys won, OHH that is some proof of the devine.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
  2. cincy

    PSAztec your a joke! Think about your question? No... Really think? I am sorry are you able?

    December 12, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  3. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


    December 12, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Bob

      That was the best comment ever written in the history of this blog! Way to go!

      December 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  4. PSAztec

    Sam Yaza, I am afraid that you are misguided. Conservatives are more generous than liberals. Google the search by Nicholas Kristof, writer for the NYT. You might be surprised at who is really giving.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      oh i know? Conservatives don't even live up to their definition and republicans should not be a conservative,...the republic at heart if progressed based. Conservative is all about keeping thing how they are. Really are political system is a joke that’s why I’m a libertarian, liberal actually means republic, republic now means theocratic, conservative does not exist

      December 12, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      but that does not matter because charity is a joke and the reason they give to charity is for the tax cut of Couse they give more charity because there richer. Trust me I know the reason why I get so much contributors to my charity is because people want the tax cut they always ask. “This will cut my taxes right?”,….. I have to be honest I lie on my taxes,.. I don’t report my charitable giving but that two is charity,.. the best form of charity would be paying your taxes

      December 12, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  5. Sachmo

    I believe I see the light...Go Tebow!!!!

    December 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  6. elvi

    Way to go Tebow, may God keep blessing you!!!!!!!

    December 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • UGG

      and keep cursing the poor suffering starving folk elsewhere. Some nice god ya got there.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • z

      I have to say that this UGG has a faith problem

      December 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  7. LMM

    The classic Christian answer to the question "Why doesn't Tebow's faith work in the first 3 quarters?" is that God is glorified in our weakness. If Tebow was the best quarterback ever, the presence of God wouldn't be discussed. But because he is a mediocre professional quarterback who gets behind a lot, and has had an uncanny string of comebacks, one has to consider if his faith is the differential. I was skeptical, but I'm on Team Tebow now.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • UGG

      so explain why your fine caring god would give advancing a football player's career preference over helping all the poor starving folk around the world, millions of whom would claim to be Christian and sincerely pray to god to help them.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  8. cincy

    God was overlooking a NFL game that day instead of all the poor children of the world or our troops facing death ??? What a Fu#### up time we live in.You weak minded people have to grab on to something please dont spew your thoughts on the intelligent common sense responsible rest of us! Yes I said Common Sense!

    December 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Makkiel

      You rock!!!!!!!

      December 12, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • z

      Remember that statement when you're trying to take your last breathe

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

      z go google Pascal's Wager. You lose.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  9. z

    Tim has all of his doubters and haters right where he wants them. What they fail to realize is that He is not only a Christian; but he is a Christian that can ACTUALLY play. They don't just give a person the Heisman Trophy for their looks. He didn't luck up and win 2 national championships in the toughest Division in College football; The SEC. He is 6'3 236 lbs and is tough as nails. He only has 1 interception and no fumbles. He doesn't turn over the ball and he can score with his legs and his arms. HATERS keep on HATING. Tebow can play. PS. Cam Newton is a Christian to. And can play. Did I mention that he to won a heisman, a BCS championship and was from the SEC. Hmmmmmmm This note is to all the Christian haters. We Love Ya.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • UGG

      If he can actually play then why is the appeal to god needed? And why doesn't your god help the starving suffering folk who pray too and are much more in need?

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

      Aaron Rodgers the best quarterback in the NFL is also a devout Christian.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  10. us1776

    Denver didn't win that game.

    Chicago lost that game through huge stupid mistakes.


    December 12, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  11. craigfinlay

    God can't get around to giving food to starving families in Africa because he's devoting all his attention to helping to Tim Tebow win at foosball.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • southernsugar

      The hungry are all over the world.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • z

      I hope that He has a good sense of humor for your sake.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • UGG

      z google Pascal's Wager. You lose.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  12. Claudia

    I am not a football fan nor a big sports fan in general, but Tim Tebow has really caught my attention. There are very few sports professionals that I would dare call "role models" for our society -specifically children. Tebow has been talking the talk and walking the walk since he was born. His family, missionary parents, taught him the values and morals of their religion to Tim and his siblings in home-schooling them and making sure that they knew the importance of charity. Their dedication to the people of the Phillipines, where Tim was born, is outstanding – they have an orphanage there and he just opened a hospital. Whether he was the quarterback of the Broncos or a waiter, he would be doing his prayers, treating people with respect and courtesy and acting like a true gentleman. He just happens to be our quarterback and I am proud of the fact that "Tebow Time" has taken on a different and higher signifigance than what we've become accustomed to in the world of professional sports.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Mad The Swine

      Was he quoting the bible the day of his birth? Amazing!

      December 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  13. captain america

    Tebow is a closet canadian.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  14. Dmist

    Ridiculous !!! Please leave religion out of sports.

    December 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Bob

      Jealous much of Tebow?

      December 12, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  15. captnavenger


    SHAME ON YOU, CNN. If I actually believed there was a hell, I'd be counting on seeing you there.

    I guess we should all just be happy that Jesus was American and that god loves football more than orphans, right? I think I'll go puke until YOUR heads explode.

    December 12, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • southernsugar

      Your complaint is so cliche.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  16. joel

    As a Christian struggling with my Faith; and a long time Bronco fan ... who (because of family committments) has NEVER seen Tebow play. What I find poetic and inspiring about the Tebow phenomena is the following ...

    The story of David (David was the runt of the litter, and wasn's supposed to achieve anything), and Jesus (born in a lowly manger) ... am I comparing Tebow to any of these guys ... NO WAY. But if God is having trouble getting men to church on Sunday morning. Maybe God is coming to the Grid-Iron.

    December 12, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Yeah, a Heisman trophy winner and first round draft choice is such a compelling underdog!

      December 12, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • John Richardson

      The point is that although Tebow excelled at the college level, many experts felt his mechanics were too weak to succeed at the next level and that he would join quite a large fraternity of college standouts who would go on to fizzle in the pros. And the jury is very much still out. A small winning streak against a bunch of at best mediocre teams does not a lasting legend make. Meanwhile, Tebow already tasted fame in college and was set for life when he signed his contract. This is not the little engine that could. This is a college star who maybe can and maybe can't succeed in the pros.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  17. government cheese

    Liberals have no idea what faith is all about. Great job Tebow!!!

    December 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • movement31

      government cheese, you're an idiot

      December 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      Liberal means to be generous and give graciously. I’m pretty sure Jesus was a liberal not only did he throw away traditional values he was kind and giving,. If not the sun of god he certainly was a ‘Buddha’ and a liberal. Go ahead Google “definition liberal”
      luke14:12 “Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
      Here he is disregarding traditional Jewish value and giving to those in need we call that liberalism.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • z

      and Herman Cain does?!!!

      December 12, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • M.Rose

      Jesus was a liberal. No doubt about it.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  18. Sam Yaza

    You know I must say though,.. Tebow is the best new God since Jobs, no since spaghetti, No since Suzumiya. Welcome to God Status Tebow

    December 12, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  19. Charles

    Way to go Tebow!!

    December 12, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  20. Huh?

    I'm so confused... I thought this was about sports, or Jesus, or what? Huh?

    December 12, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Wanderer

      You'll know to avoid the "Belief Blog" from now on.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • M.Rose

      Who knows. But it IS entertaining. I have no idea who Tebow is and why all this silly chatter about him. But I read this article anyway. Still confused? I am.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.