The Apotheosis of Timothy Tebow

America: we need to talk.  It came to my attention last night that 43% of you think that Tim Tebow’s wins are at least partly due to divine intervention.  It’s right here on CNN.com.

Now, Tebow is a good guy.  He’s fun to watch.  He (like many other professional athletes) is also a professing and practicing Christian.  All of these are, I think, good or at least neutral things.  Yet here we are.

Somewhere in the strange alchemy of media obsession, Tebow’s outspoken faith, and his unorthodox style of play, he has become something more than a man.  Tebow is now a symbol for the hopes, fears, and dreams of the American religious and their culture despisers.  Rick Reilly believes in Tebow.  U2 fans create a new Trinity out of Tebow, Jesus, and (of course) Bono.  Charles Barkley, tongue-in-cheek, calls him a “national nightmare.”  And of course Bill Maher has said something innappropriate.  In light of this, there are those who remain suspicious of any criticisms of Tebow, asserting “The anti-Tebow Bias Isn’t About Football.”  Of course not.  Why would it ever be about that?

43% of Americans think God helps him win.  42% don’t.  Only 14% expressed no opinion.  I have an opinion for you: stop asking such a stupid question!

Either Americans actually believe that somehow God is on Tebow’s side (and, apparently, not on the side of any believers on the opposing team), or–more likely–reflect so little on matters theological that they just assume that if someone’s religious God will “do stuff” for them.  Moralistic Therapeutic Deism at its best.

Never mind that the rain falls on the just and unjust alike (see Matthew 5:45).  Never mind that God’s ways are not are ways (see Isaiah 55:8-9).  Never mind that the Lord has more to do than pay attention to the Broncos quarterback (see THE WHOLE BIBLE).

In the end, it is possible that Tebow himself may have the best perspective.  According to the Wall Street Journal: ” In postgame interviews, the young quarterback often starts by saying, ‘First, I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’ and ends with ‘God bless.’  He stresses that football is just a game and that God doesn’t care who wins or loses.”

How about that?

P.S.  Tebow’s probably going to lose this weekend when he takes on Tom Brady and the Patriots.  I think both he and God can handle that.  I just hope the faith of 43% of Americans can.

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5 comments on “The Apotheosis of Timothy Tebow

  1. Amy Sutherlun says:

    You make good points, Dr. Ziefle. I (almost) completely agree.
    The almost arises at this line:
    “Never mind that the Lord has more to do than pay attention to the Broncos quarterback (see THE WHOLE BIBLE).”
    The all-caps reference made me laugh out loud, but I’d like to humbly suggest that the entire, surprising scriptural text in fact witnesses to the reality that, “more to do” or not, God actually pays quite a bit of attention to one mere individual after another (see Hagar, Joseph, Lazarus, the robe-touching woman, and the one lost sheep, among many others). So it just may be that God pays considerable attention to the Broncos quarterback, although not as such, and not with an eye on the scoreboard. And if that’s true, than it just may be he pays quite a bit of attention to you, and to me. The whole Bible seems to say so.
    Thanks for the thoughts, J.Z.

  2. Matt says:

    Patriots suck….lol

  3. Rev. Sutherlun,

    One of the things I like about this blog is that it doesn’t let me get away with poorly constructed arguments. I do therefore stand corrected on my rather less than precise point. “More to do” does send the wrong message. God does indeed care for the individual, as you so rightly note. And, if I want to be truly consistent about my thoughts on the inscrutable nature of God, there is the chance that there is more at work here than I have considered.

    Hope you and the family are well!

    JRZ

  4. Andy Wong says:

    Well, the idea (more superstition than anything) that God rewards those who are righteous is patently contradicted by the scriptural narratives. I could point to the prophets, or even Job, but how about Jesus himself. His righteousness sure got him far on the scoreboard of life.

    But Tebow himself (as well as many professional athletes who work God into their post game interview) is guilty of associating God with winning. He “prays” or Tebows or whatever when they score a touchdown, but not when he throws an interception. How can it not seem like he correlates righteousness with touchdowns?

    I heard a funny stand up comic once riff about what would happen if professional athletes started crediting God for bad plays instead of good. Like a receiver drops a pass that hits him in the numbers and looks up at the sky and says, “That one was all you.”

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