Tebow, Calvin, and the Hand of God in Sports

Two days ago on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” telecast, announcer Bob Costas spent two minutes weighing in on the most exciting—and polarizing—phenomenon in sports right now: the Tim Tebow Magical Fourth-Quarter Show, accompanied by the Denver Broncos players and staff.

Costas, one of the most eloquent and thoughtful voices in sports, suggested that Tebow’s recent string of performances was “approaching, okay we’ll say it, the miraculous.” Many have made similar comments in recent weeks. Costas switched to a more controversial track, however, when he went on to suggest that the God Tebow worships has no interest in influencing the outcome of games. I quote at length from the full transcript:

Again today, Tebow did next to nothing until the waning moments, and then, down 10-0 with two minutes left, he throws a touchdown pass, and the Broncos tie it at the gun on a 59-yard field goal. And then win it in overtime on a 51-yarder. The combination of Denver’s continuing late heroics, and today, the Bears’ otherwise unexplainable errors, is enough to have some at least suspect divine intervention. Except that Tebow, whose sincere faith cannot be questioned, and should be respected, also has the good sense, and good grace, to make it clear he does not believe God takes a hand in the outcome of games.

Most of us are good with that. Otherwise, how to explain what happens when there are equal numbers of believers on either side? Or why so many of those same believers came up empty facing Sandy Koufax? Or hit the deck against Muhammad Ali? Or why the Almighty wouldn’t have better things to do?

Is Bob Costas right? Does God “take a hand in the outcome of games,” or does he “have better things to do,” as Costas, a moral but not notably religious man, seemed to suggest?

God’s Providence and Your Hair Follicles

The question, currently debated in countless American bars and gym locker-rooms, is surprisingly theological and biblical. The historic doctrine of God’s providence teaches that nothing happens outside of God’s purview and ordination. John Calvin, the great 16th-century French reformer, wrote straightforwardly in the Institutes of the Christian Religion that God “directs everything by his incomprehensible wisdom and disposes it to his own end” (I.16). Over against a more deistic philosophy—a system of theology that many adopted in Europe following Calvin’s Genevan tenure—Calvin argued that “God so attends to the regulation of individual events, and they all so proceed from his set plan, that nothing takes place by chance” (I.16).

Calvin taught from biblical texts that suggest the very same. In a discourse on the need to rightly direct natural fear, for example, Jesus taught that God superintends even the death of a sparrow: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matt. 10:29). Without the Latin terms or the footnotes, Jesus was teaching the doctrine of God’s general providence. The Lord God oversees and brings to pass all that takes place on this earth, whether unseating kings or precisely placing follicles on our heads (Prov. 21:1; Matt. 10:30).

The breath-taking nature of tsunamis and earthquakes naturally disposes us to see, even in our sin, the hand of God in such events. But the Scripture speaks with equal clarity to God’s involvement in the finer points of life. “The lot is cast into the lap,” we read in Proverbs 16:33, “but its every decision is from the Lord.” Every decision, not just the big ones. God is God of the small even as he is God of the great.

This does not mean, however, that God’s work of providence should generally be understood as one long string of what is called “primary causation,” or direct, miraculous involvement. The kind of everyday superintendence that we have just covered owes more to “secondary causation,” or God’s normal directing and upholding of all that transpires according to his wise counsel. Sometimes people get hung up on this kind of technical language, but it’s really just a helpful way of saying that sometimes God intervenes in a special way—say, the miraculous causation of the virgin conception (Luke 1:30ff)—in a way that he did not, for example, when Jesus grew from a boy to a man in normal human fashion (Luke 2:40).

Reclaiming Romans 8

Having sketched these biblical parameters, the Word is yet very clear that the Lord directs believers’ destinies with specific, comprehensive providence. In Romans 8:28, the apostle Paul reminds his audience of just this point: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” All things, not just the big things. Because God takes special delight in guiding his elect children, we can work and labor and play and rest for his glory and in his strength. We must not allow prosperity-gospel types to hijack the biblical truth that God has a plan for our lives, a plan of great importance and beauty.

Instead of living each day for our own glory, Paul urges us to adopt a theocentric way of life: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). We might sometimes wonder whether the details of our lives are too small to bear cosmic significance, but Paul’s mention of eating and drinking silences such a perspective. All of life matters to God; all of life, for the Christian, is God’s.

The Hand of God in the Field of Sports

We return, then, to our friend, Tim Tebow. Does God, to use Costas’s phrase, “take a hand” in his comeback victories? Working from the biblical and theological resources we’ve briefly mentioned, we’re positioned to answer a question that, as we can see, requires more care than your average drive-time call-in show may give it.

God oversees and ordains all that comes to pass. This includes, as surprising as it may initially seem, football games. The outcome of every football game ever been played was planned by the all-wise, all-seeing mind of God. But this is not saying what some might think. God has also planned every haircut you’ve ever had, and every shopping trip you’ve ever taken. He is lord of football, and he is lord of produce. Nothing happens outside of his sovereign direction.

We err, though, if we equate his general superintendence of this world—the falling of sparrows, the numbering of hairs—with the special working of his kingdom. This is what Costas seems to be protesting, and in a much fuller sense than he understands. God has a special interest in promoting his gospel and building his church (John 3:16; Rom. 10; Eph. 1). This is not to say that he is uninterested in the ordinary things of the world, but rather to note that the mission of salvation begun after Adam’s fall holds preeminence for God and, by extension, for his followers.

We must also say that for Tebow, the way he plays football is necessarily a matter of God’s glory. In the same way that God gains glory through the work of a faithful accountant, a sacrificial, sleep-deprived mother, and a repentant cellist, God gains glory through righteous athletes who work hard in his name and seek to be a light in dark places. God directs the life and exploits of Tim Tebow, football hero. But he also directs Owen Strachan, Boyce College professor, or my friend Colin LeCroy, a Dallas lawyer, or my friend Emily Duffus, an Atlanta schoolteacher. Tebow may reach more people in his work, but we are all working for the glory of God, who directs and blesses our work so as to magnify his name.

Most Important Story

Is, then, the recent string of Denver Broncos victories a work of “primary causation,” God’s direct and miraculous intervention, in the same way as creation ex nihilo? I am not convinced it is. Costas and other cultural commentators are on roughly the same page as many of you in making this point.

But is the life of Tebow directed by the hand of God, in the same way that the lives of Tim Keller and Christopher Duffley and Elsie Dennison and every other believer are directed by God? Yes. Every Christian exists for the praise of God. Every Christian draws breath because God gives it. Every Christian serves God as a priest, offering acceptable service in the kingdom of his gospel through the power of his Spirit (1 Pet. 2:9). As with every other believer, God’s hand is leading Tebow’s life, blessing him as he applies Christian character to the task before him. God moves in mysterious ways. As previously stated, I do not have biblical grounds for seeing Tebow’s fourth-quarter heroics as an outworking of God’s direct causation. But I do know that God often delights to spurn the wisdom of the world by the efforts of his people (1 Cor. 1:20).

And I know, lastly, that the most important story here is not that Tebow and the Broncos are winning in dramatic fashion, but that the Lord seems to have worked in this man such that, though faced with unbelievable fame, major wealth, constant attention, and the classically all-American success story, Tebow seems only to want to talk about the gospel.

That, my friends, is the real miracle, and the work in which all of us—whether church planter, pipe-fitter, or homemaker—may participate.

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  • http://www.benjaminpglaser.wordpress.com Benjamin P. Glaser

    Think of all those folks Tebow is keeping from fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ and worship of the living God because of his chosen profession.

    • Melody

      Are you saying that he is causing people to sin because he is a Christian ball player?

      • http://www.twitter.com/lukejesse Luke Johnson

        Benjamin’s comment was unclear to me initially until I realized — I believe — that he’s saying that some people skip church on Sundays to go to football games. This seems to flow from Glaser’s view of Sabbath…which may not allow for my counter that people can go to church on Saturday night or Sunday night…or that going to a football game on Sunday can be honoring to God.

      • http://www.benjaminpglaser.wordpress.com Benjamin P. Glaser

        Tebow is causing people to sin because he chooses to play a sport that so dominates the Lord’s Day that it requires those employed by Networks and Stadiums to set aside their calling to not forsake gathering together with the people of God on the day God has set aside for His Worship.

        • Theology Samurai

          Yeah, that rotten Sabbath breaker! He’s definitely a candidate for stoning…

          Of course, you have to argue for all of your Sabbatarian premises and then discount the possibility that you could be wrong. I would suggest you leave this matter with the Lord and not worry about Tim Tebow’s use of the Lord’s day.

        • Monte Palmer

          Sadly so many people think that if you don’t go to church on sunday you are in sin, or even worse that if you go to church on sunday you are saved. Salvation isn’t based on if you go to church or not, but based on Faith in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately so many people think salvation is something you have to work for, or loose if you don’t perform according to man’s standards. We don’t deserve it, and can’t earn it. We are to rest in Jesus daily, and yes there is biblical examples of believers gathering on sunday, but they also fellowshipped daily. So only Sunday isn’t enough, it should be more than sunday only.

          • Theology Samurai

            Whoah!, not so fast Monte. The fruit of conversion is a desire to gather together with God’s people to worship him on the Lord’s day. If you have no desire to do that, you have good reason to question the health of your profession of faith. There is no “me and Jesus” in the Bible. If you’re so inclined, have fellowship and worship every day of the week, but it is appointed with weekly regularity. Unfortunately there are always imbalances on both sides of the aisle. You get the brethren who (rather than praise God for a guy like Tim Tebow) feel compelled to slam him for his Sabbath practices (note: in fact, that’s the very first thing Ben points out about him), or you get brethren who want to discard church because all we need is Jesus. Eiy yei yei

            • Monte Palmer

              Mr. Samurai,

              The emphasis in the bible is to not forsake assembly of the saints, like I said there are examples of believers gathering on the Lords day(sunday), but if there is scripture that makes it madatory please give reference of it for me. To question the health of my profession of faith cuz of the day or days I fellowship is not wise. Never did I say I didn’t want to fellowship, I questioned the closed mindedness of anyone who would condemn someone for not being at church on sunday. Church shouldnt be something that you go to, but who u are, the church isnt a building, but breathing

          • Brian Gehrlein

            Amen!!!!!!! Truthful words, Mr. Palmer. Praise God. : )

            • Pam

              Exactly, Mr. Palmer!! True born from above’s want to fellowship as much as they can and worship God everyday. It is no longer a have to, but a want to, which is in the heart of all believer’s.

        • Michael

          Do you have children? If so, you’re such a sleezy person for parading around the result of sexual intercourse, which has such a grip on our culture. Tisk tisk.

        • Melody

          Some of us worship more than one day of the week because we are no longer under the law and we do it because we love Him and not because we are working our way to heaven.

        • Melody

          I hope you don’t think that being legalistic about going to church on Sunday is more important than witnessing to unbelievers. Didn’t Jesus get in trouble for healing on the Sabbath with the religious? I pray that Tim Tebow can withstand the temptations of his profession because the world’s eyes are on him. Sadly it appears that it won’t be just unbelievers that will cheer if he stumbles. We should all be praying for God to be glorified, not our opinions to be justified. I’m not a football fan by the way.

        • Rhino

          Benjamin, if you’re going to get all uppity about the Sabbath, then perhaps you should get your days straight. The seventh day – the Sabbath – is Saturday (also known in Spanish as “Sábado”, which MEANS “sabbath”), NOT Sunday. I’m not a SDA, but I do know that much, at least. And oh, by the way, I somehow manage to fit in church AND football on Sundays in the fall, if I don’t happen to be going to a church that has services on Saturday evening (which I have found I prefer when I have that option). So how is Tebow “causing people to sin” again???

          • Carmen

            Well said. :)

    • Kris Adams

      here’s the thing , Tebow did not go into these people’s house with a gun and force them to not go to Church they have the ability to choose, so they are the only one who will be judged, not Tebow. Tebow will be judged by his own merits as will everyone else. Tebow to me is holding church in the stadium, teaching every Christian what it means to be a Christian, to be bold in your faith even in the face of adversity!! I say he is changing the lives of a lot of people, and that is why God is rewarding him!!

      • http://chrisjulien.wordpress.com/ Chris Julien

        The thing is, you only believe this argument because you also think Tebow is in the right. If I mention this same line of thinking with other issues that you are against, you would be appalled. “Here’s the thing, Hugh Hefner is not forcing his way into’s people homes and making them look at playboy bunnies.” Therefore, while it is true that we will be judged for our actions, we should also take great care and confront others whose actions affect millions of others’ lives.

    • Larry

      The answer to your pondering is “0”. Legalism is a sin Jesus confronted a long time ago; you don’t want to go there. People avoid church because their hearts are hard, not because of football. Enjoying football would be just the kind of thing that fits Paul’s evangelistic strategy in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

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  • http://SolaGratiaBlog.com Pete Scribner

    Thanks, Owen, for the well-thought-out addition to this conversation. We need to remember that God is sovereign, but at the same time we need to realize that the outworking of this sovereignty is more about his glory than our happiness.

    I blogged similarly on God’s sovereignty and sports some time ago (http://pcscrib.blogspot.com/2010/05/does-god-belong-at-ballgame.html). It is an encouragement to me that many of my thoughts were in line with yours.

  • Jon

    At the very least, it’s a neat crash course on causation.

  • http://thbchurch.org David Gough

    Thanks for this thoughtful piece. While many words in both the Christian and secular media have been written this fall about Tim Tebow and his faith, let me point out that media-hype is the last thing on his mind. His faith has been foundational throughout his young life, so this is not some new or passing phenomenon as some would have us think. Although the Lord has provided him a unique forum from which to give glory to God, as his brothers and sisters in Christ we should be praying for him that he continues to stand firm, especially as the media scrutiny becomes more intense. Other sports heroes of faith have fallen. I don’t believe Tim Tebow will, but the enemy is more cunning than we can ever imagine. These end-of-game finishes are exciting to behold, but what will the media say about him and his God when the Broncos lose a few games? May his faith in the midst of adversity still be standing strong.

    • Carmen

      Amen, David.

  • http://www.corinthtoday.org paul

    on the whole “Sabbath” thing…though it’s not worth fighting about…I would assert here at this time of year that Christ’s birth announcement from the angelic armies of heaven was to “sabbath breakers”, the shepherds who’s jobs kept them out of the temple at times of worship and made them ceremonially unclean to even enter the temple. They got to see him first, while the pharisees were busy doing their “religious” stuff.

  • Megan

    “God made countries, God makes kings, and the rules by which they govern. And those rules say that the Sabbath is His. And I for one intend to keep it that way.”
    –Eric Liddell, “Chariots of Fire”

    • Steve

      Sabbath is the last day of the week…That kinda screws up that argument…

      • Megan

        Steve: Are you Christian? A Seventh Day Adventist, perhaps? Surely you’re aware that Christians have celebrated the Sabbath on Sunday for many centuries?

        • Steve

          That would be irrelevant whatever I happen to be…the sabbath is still on the last day of the week. see Romans 14:5, Colossians 2:16 for my point I am taking.

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  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    “This does not mean, however, that God’s work of providence should generally be understood as one long string of what is called “primary causation,” or direct, miraculous involvement. The kind of everyday superintendence that we have just covered owes more to “secondary causation,” or God’s normal directing and upholding of all that transpires according to his wise counsel.”

    Thanks Owen for reminding readers of this vital distinction.

  • Brian Gehrlein

    I love this! Great thoughts from everyone. Let us keep in mind the words of Jesus from Mark 2:27 “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” That is to say that keeping the Sabbath was designed by God for us to carve out a time in our busy week to meet together and worship. To reflect and be still. To meditate on Him as a community of faith. This can happen anytime! Thanks be to God! And the Sabbath can be kept in our hearts at any point in our day and any point in our week. Jesus Himself “worked” on the Sabbath by healing the blind man with dirt and his own spit. The religious leaders saw this as working on the Sabbath and therefore not keeping the command of Moses. In addition, back to Mark 2, Christ and his disciples picked wheat in the grainfields on the Sabbath and again the religious leaders claimed this was sinful.

    I really enjoyed the Chariots of Fire quote as I am a runner and this is one of my favorite movies. However, the same principle remains. The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. Eric Liddle chose to keep the Sabbath in a literal more traditional way in order to be intentional about living his faith and glorifying God. It was his choice to do this. I believe he may have glorified God by running and winning on Sunday as well. But his choice to honor God and take a day of rest and focus on Christ instead of his race was most pleasing to God in that individual context. This seems to be a more gray area. We ought to make the best judgment to honor Christ with each individual situation. At times this means running or playing football on Sunday. Other times this may mean to not. At times, this means drinking a beer with an unbeliever to talk about life. And yet in the same week honoring Christ might look like refraining from drinking beer as to not cause another weaker brother or sister to stumble in their faith. See Romans 14.

    Apart from believing that Jesus is our only hope and the only way to salvation we ought to not make absolute faith claims. There is more gray than black and white here. We certainly would not want unbelievers to think that being a Christian means going to church on Sundays. It means we are redeemed to the Father. We were once dead in our sins and even enemies to God but because of Jesus we are now friends of God. Our focus, therefore, ought to be on Jesus and keeping him as our only vision. Our Ultimate Hope. The source of our identity. We are not Christians based on our weekly Christian traditions of keeping the Sabbath. We are Christians because Christ died for us and rose again. Our righteousness and identity is based in who we are in him because of what He has done…not in what we bring to the table or what we do.

    And because of this Good Grace we are free to obey Him and serve Him in the way that is most pleasing to Him–which differs depending on the gifts he has given us and based on the individual contexts and the needs of those we are serving.

    • Megan

      Brian: First, I want to make it clear that I don’t believe Tim Tebow is sinning by playing on Sunday. Eric Liddell excused himself from one event in an Olympic competition which happened to occur on Sunday, then went on to compete and win a different event (that he hadn’t trained for) on a different day.

      By contrast, Sunday is the day most NFL games are played; a Christian could never choose a career in professional football without accommodating that. I don’t believe Tebow should have chosen a different career from the one he’s clearly gifted at. I assume he takes his Sundays off in the off season.

      But I see this as a sad commentary on American values. According to the Prophets, it wasn’t sexual immorality that indicated a culture was slipping away from God, though it was certainly a symptom. It was failing to keep the Sabbath holy that most indicated a culture had moved away from God.

      When Jesus spoke of the Sabbath being for man and not man for the Sabbath, he was speaking in the context of healing a man who’d been suffering for many years. Jewish law has always held you could work on the Sabbath if life was at stake, or, apparently, even if your livestock was in danger. Jesus took it a step further and said if someone is hungry or suffering, it is acceptable to stretch the rules for that. The keyword here is mercy, that religion doesn’t excuse us from showing empathy toward others.

      In America, we’ve taken it further still, and argued if there’s a profit to be made, entertainment to be enjoyed, a competition to be won, a delicious all-you-can-eat brunch to eat, politics to be discussed, why not do it on Sunday? And, yes, I’ve been guilty of this, too! Still, I don’t believe this is what Jesus had in mind.

      When my state discussed keeping car dealerships open on Sunday, it was the dealers themselves who protested. They felt a day off with their families was a perk for their employees and ultimately improved their sales, as many people who don’t like being hounded by salespeople would browse the lots on Sundays, and then come back and make their purchase later in the week.

      The Sabbath wasn’t created as a day of worship. It was created as a day of rest. We honor the Sabbath by resting ourselves, but also by allowing our “servants” (athletes, waitresses or department store clerks) as well as our livestock to rest. Rest itself is a form of worship, our humble acknowledgment that we’ve ceased striving and know the Lord is God. A novel concept in a 24/7 culture.

      • Brian Gehrlein

        Thank you for replying, Megan.

        I definitely agree with you on the day of rest and by resting, worshiping point. Good observations. We see that, of course, in the beginning of Genesis. But can Christians rest intentionally any other day than Sunday? Is when or if we observe rest what ultimately defines us as God’s people?

        As for the NFL, I am weary of your argument as it could be applied in this way : Walmart is America’s largest company where corporate greed flourishes; Christians, therefore, cannot choose to work for Walmart without accomodating those systems of greed.
        In addition, by this same logic, Christians should not shop at Walmart as it remains open for business 24/7 which is not observing the Sabbath. These notions are both absurd and have nothing to do with holding on to Jesus as my only Hope and finding my identity and righteousness in what He did for me on the cross–not what I do for Him. The message of the Gospel is that Christ died for us and has Redeemed us to the Father! That is Christianity.

        At heart, the underlying issue that we should talk about is the mutual exclusivity of “American Values” and The Body of Christ–God’s one and only anointed people.

        We are American Christians but we are Christians first. The Church (Big “C”) existed long before this nation and shall exist long after America fades from the pages of history as all empires and governing systems do.

        I think it is wonderful that we have believers permeating ever industry of this culture. It is only then that we will truly fulfill the great commission and make disciples of all the nations (Mathew 28:19)–starting with those closest to us! And if that means, at times,we have to work on Sunday and rest on Thursday, then so be it!

  • http://www.twitter.com/lukejesse Luke Johnson

    So since it looks like the comments are starting to skew towards discussing the Sabbath, I thought it would probably be good to link to this: http://www.amazon.com/Perspectives-Sabbath-Christopher-John-Donato/dp/0805448217/. It’s a book discussing four popular views of Sabbath.

  • http://www.insubmissiontosovereignty.blogspot.com Keith L. Tolbert

    I took particular exception to one portion of Costas’ commentary: “. . . Or why the Almighty wouldn’t have better things to do?”

    This is of course is a evidence of a very low estimate of the power of God. Does Costas believe that God is somehow so overwhelmed with all that is going on in the world that to concern Himself with the outcome of sporting events would be too much for Him? Would such intervention prevent God from giving His undivided attention to matters of much greater importance?

    Man’s arrogance is truly the 1st wonder of the world.

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  • http://www.thinkpoint.wordpress.com Steve Cornell

    After three touchdowns in a win over the Bengals, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson tweeted, “Jus Goes To Sho God Is Good N Real! Keep Faith Thru Good N Bad…”

    You raise a good question: How does God relate to athletics? Is He the source behind made shots and goals scored? Does he get credit for great hits or amazing catches? Athletes point fingers to the sky and give God praise in post game interviews. They often seem ready to praise him for their successes. And who doesn’t want God to be honored for all things?

    A big lesson seems to be that we do not relate to God Quid pro quo and we can be eternally grateful for that. In one of the Psalms, a godly man cries out: “Look at these wicked people—enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain” Psalm 73:12-14, NLT).

    This is what we call misdirected amazement. The truly amazing thing is that you were ever able to play a sport in the first place. And this happened partly because “God has not dealt with us as our sins deserved” (Psalm 103:10).

    here’s a practical way to remind yourself of these truths: The next time someone asks how you’re doing, offer the gospel answer: “Better than I deserve.”

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  • James McDuffy

    Is it not right to say that God only has as much of a hand in Tebow winning football games as he did in Hitler killing millions?

    He providentially ordains all that comes to pass, right? Yes. Why are many acting as if God is being much more direct in his dealings with Tebow winning football games than he was with Hitler killing millions? Also, shouldnt it also be noted that God has equal interest when he providentially ordains lost people to win football games?

    Post like these and the evangelical worship of Tebow is disturbing. I cant count how many times I have heard pastors preach against lifting up athletes as idols and yet evangelical leaders are acting the same way towards Tebow as lost people do their favorite athletes. Is it only okay with Tebow because he is a christian?

    • Melody

      @James McDuffy Is it possible that they aren’t worshiping Tebow as much as they are admiring his faith? The willingness to put himself out there for ridicule? The fact that I detest football and I have to double check before I even try to spell out Tebow’s name to make sure I get it right makes the accusation of worshiping him seem all the more unjust James McDuffy. God works everything, EVERYTHING to His glory whether we acknowledge it or not.

      • Carmen

        Way to go, Melody! Thank you!

  • Jason Karroll

    My problem with this article is does anybody really know what Tebow believes? He lists his favorite book as The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Whenever he preaches, he preaches a man centered ask Jesus into your heart, repeat this prayer welcome to the family of God model. Now, while I do believe he is a brother, someone must come along side him and teach him the errors of this man centered theology.

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    • Carmen

      Read yours, loved it and shared it! Blessings!

  • http://thbchurch.org David Gough

    Re: Jason Karroll. In Piper’s words, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Can anyone doubt that Tebow is satisfied in God? He seems to me to be authentic in his faith, though I agree he is not as theologically-grounded as we might hope. Nevertheless, he is reaching many more than you and I ever could and He is pointing them toward the cross. We have not all been given the same gifts and opportunities. He seems to be maximizing his; and he challenges me to ask, “Am I maximizing mine?”

    • Jason Karroll

      Is he really pointing them to the Cross or decisional regeneration?

  • Kenny Taylor

    Good question, Jason. I don’t personally follow Tebow or the Broncos, but from what little I’ve read/seen, your description above seems spot-on. Ask Jesus into your heart, man-centered, decisionistic theology do seem to be coming out. Nevertheless, I root for him and appreciate anything like this that gets unbelievers thinking even slightly more deeply about the Lord and His hand in our world.

  • http://ICommendJoy.com Craig Johnson


    You made no mention of Joshua and the commander of the army of the Lord (Joshua 5:13-14). “And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.'”
    Yes, I totally agree in God’s absolute sovereignty. But at the same time does the commander of the army of the Lord always take sides – good guys win, bad guys lose – in games such as this? Or do his sovereign purposes work through the “good guys” winning and losing?

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  • http://www.corinthtoday.org paul

    it’s sad that Christians are getting so caught up in the minutiae of what his theology “might” be compared to their own, when it’s undeniable that he is making a great impact for the Kingdom. It’s basically like a presbyterian church belittling the baptist church across the street who is seeing tons of people come to the Lord…just because it’s not done in your “tradition” don’t belittle it.

    • Alex

      Love it. Right on paul.

    • Carmen


  • http://www.playingthroughit.blogger.com Justin

    “Telecasters, Tebow, and Cultural Trajectory”

  • http://thbchurch.org David Gough

    Haven’t this been beaten to death enough? I agree with the non-apostle Paul. Let’s give God the glory for the awareness that the Tebow-phenomenon has created for the Lord, and trust the Holy Spirit to take this seed and bring it to maturity with whosoever He will. It’s disturbing to me that unbelievers are taking note that God may be in this, while believers debate its value.

    • http://www.corinthtoday.org paul

      and all God’s people said AMEN

    • Carmen


  • Marlin Harris
    • Truth Unites… and Divides

      I thoroughly enjoyed your article Marlin, being a fellow fantasy football player who’s also mired in last place.

  • Monte Palmer

    Just so everyone knows the biblical sabbath is from 6pm on Friday to 6pm on Saturday. Sunday is not the sabbath, I know you want to call it your day of rest, but if you want to be biblically correct you wouldn’t call sunday(the 1st day of the week) the sabbath(saturday) the 7th day of the week. If you want to keep the sabbath biblically you prepare your meals beforehand so you don’t have to cook, and basically do nothing that would consist of work, or make anyone else work(no eating out), cuz in doing so, you would be making them break the sabbath. This is why the pharasees judged Jesus for healing on the sabbath cuz they considered it work. Aren’t you glad Jesus fullfilled the law. If you want to keep one law you have to try & keep them all, which is immpossible. Hebrews 4 talks about the rest we are to have in Jesus.

  • nhe

    Interesting that the comments went the Sabbath direction even after the person who got us there bowed out quickly…..I’m not sure enjoying an NFL game on a Sunday afternoon isn’t sabbath rest, seems like it is to me.

    A different question – Owen stated in the article that all Tebow wants to do is talk about the gospel…….am I missing something?

    I hear a lot of Jesus shout-outs from Tebow, but I don’t know that I’ve heard the gospel from him, nor do I think I should, unless they’re doing some special segment about his life.

    When he’s interviewed after a football game, the most God-honoring thing he can do is graciously and humbly give direct answers to the questions. He does that for the most part, though I think he has a tendency to come across a tad goofy at times with a Jesus shout-out when he’s asked a question about the 2 minute offense.

  • Carmen

    “In the midst of the most vicious assault on religious liberty in our nation’s history, we have Tim Tebow proudly displaying his faith in public for all the world to see! The irony of it all is that if he was employed in a government job, he’d be silenced. If he was a public school teacher he’d be sent to the principal’s office. If he worked in corporate America he’d be banished to six weeks of sensitivity training. But God has raised him up in a football league and given him a massive platform, perhaps to remind us all that America is the one place in the world where Christians have the right to share their faith publicly.”


  • Mike Yoder

    Very interesting and insightful post, Owen. If I remember correctly from Trinity morning basketball, you are not only from Florida but maybe even a Gator grad. That explains your particular interest and good assessment of Tebow! Congrats on the Boyce position … and thanks for helping us think through this whole phenomenon. I, for one, think that the intent of Costas, even if imprecisely worded, was accurate and applaudable.

    • http://owenstrachan.com Owen

      Mike–nice to hear from you. I’m actually not from Florida, though Andrew Lisi, who also played, was. So I don’t really have any natural affinity for Tebow. But thanks for the comment.

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  • Seeking Clarity

    I note that your use of Romans 8 does not equivocate, and yet in the last part of your article you suggest God “seems to have worked in this man” and that Tebow “seems only to want to talk about the Gospel.” Why the equivocating vocabulary? The entire article lays a foundation of proof for God’s direction of every believer’s life, and then, poof, the equivocating words take the air out of the balloon.

    “And I know, lastly, that the most important story here is not that Tebow and the Broncos are winning in dramatic fashion, but that the Lord seems to have worked in this man such that, though faced with unbelievable fame, major wealth, constant attention, and the classically all-American success story, Tebow seems only to want to talk about the gospel.”

  • http://scottsholar.com Scott Sholar

    Thanks for sharing. God bless you. I wrote a piece on Tim about a month ago: http://scottsholar.com/2011/11/18/not-ashamed-of-the-gospel/

    • Carmen

      Thank you! Will visit for sure! Blessings!

  • Gene

    God doesn’t choose sides in sporting events. God is not a Broncos fan. He is a fan of each of us. 

    Tim Tebow’s ACTIONS are promoting a prosperity gospel. He may say one thing but his actions are showing something else. His praying is for winning.

    He thanks God for an opponent’s error: When Bear running back Marion Barber ran out of bounds Tebow said “I might have thanked god when he did that. I said o the lord might have had something to do with  it now.”

    He points up to God when his opponent fumbles the ball.

    When the Bears fumbled the ball he says, “Lets go god is good baby, let’s go–his call to round up the troops to win the game.

    He thanks God for the win: When hitting a field goal to win the game he points up to God.

     Let’s not give thanks for others mistakes and thank God for winning. Lets instead give thanks to God for our talent and for the opportunity to play the game.

    • Josh

      I feel he preaches too much of an optimism gospel.

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  • Bob

    Tebow, like all of us here, is a “work in progress.” How many of you engage in a building project and then welcome the inspector when you’re just getting started. Save your rants. We all need to get our own projects back on track.

    Tim’s outward expression of his inward change should shake-up those of us who secret away our faith when we leave our holy huddles. Shout-outs are healthy. Despite is spiritual immaturity, despite the day of the week he faces the opposition, God’s hand is in it all (you did read Owen’s post above, lol).

    • Carmen

      Probably my favorite response so far… Very well said. Blessings!

    • nhe

      Can you elaborate on the “shout outs are healthy” statement?……specifically, who are they healthy for? I see Christians saying “yay, Tebow shouted out to my homeboy, Jesus”, and I see non-Christians saying “whatever dude”, and “that’s kinda silly”.

      I’ll gladly reconsider my frustration with Jesus shout outs if I can be convinced that they can be perceived as a positive part of a healthy Christian discourse in secular settings.



  • http://blogforthelordjesuscurrentevents.wordpress. Mike Gantt

    Yes, that Tebow seems to glory in the gospel and not in Tebowmania is one of the finest things you could say about the man.

    Moreover, while every conversation about Tebow does not include a focus on the name of Christ, Tebow has more people talking about the name of Christ than anyone else I know.

  • Roger Gallagher

    In Australia we barely knows who Tim Tebow is. (American football rates a very distant 5th behind Australian Rules, Rugby League, Rugby Union & Soccer here). Yet I’m inclined to be positive towards him. Why? Well, over the last 2 weekends, he’s been attacked twice by one of the major columnists (who’s a noted atheist) in the Sydney Morning Herald for his public declarations of faith. When you’re being publicly attacked by Fitz for your faith, you must be doing something right.

    • Carmen


  • http://blogforthelordjesuscurrentevents.wordpress. Mike Gantt

    Roger Gallagher,

    Glad to hear that! Jesus Christ is the tall poppy people want to cut down. When Tebow, or anyone else, lifts up that name, he puts himself in harm’s way.

  • http://www.tebowformvp.com/ 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

  • http://www.nathanmorgan.com nathan morgan

    Love most of the debate. I think Gene and Owen had some great comments….a lot to consider and contemplate. As I am sincerely trying to discern God’s will and heart through the word and pretty new to this topic of debate….how does Gen 6:7 fit into the equation, implying that man acted in a way that caused God to REGRET his decision. Sounds like God is surprised. Maybe Romans 8 means that He uses everything to turn the situation into fruit not that He also causes every situation? Really not sure, but I think there’s a big difference between the two.

    follow @nathanmorgan

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