Tim Tebow has quickly replaced Rebekah Black, Justin Bieber, and a few other “notables” as the person about whom everyone has to have an opinion.  We read and hear responses all over the map – from deep respect to deep disgust with lots of bad theology, nonsense and bandwagon jumping thrown in.   This phenomenon has provided a wonderful opportunity to think and talk about faith in the public arena.  It has exposed some of us.  And it has provided some fascinating insight into our culture.

Walt Mueller of the Center for Parent Youth Understanding posted of discussing Tebow in his class through the grid of Rienhold Neibuhr’s five approaches to culture.  I don’t know about you, but I would have enjoyed sitting in that class.

One insight I enjoyed came from a brilliant professor at Southern Illinois University who is a good friend.  Part of his insight was to suggest that Tebow’s appeal comes from the fact that “Too few of us are willing to take the risks associated with invoking God or Jesus unless it’s a safe environment (e.g., church, family). As a result, many Christians live vicariously through people like Tebow and lay claim to his boldness by singing his praises.”

What do you think?  About Tim Tebow?  Sure that’s fair game.  But even more, what do you think our reaction to him says about us!?!

  1. Rick Murphy says:

    It’s an interesting phenomenon, for sure. Why he is such a polarizing figure is most fascinating, because from what I have seen, the polarizing is happening across the line of faith. In Christian circles the debate seems to focus on his bold witness vs. an off-putting nature that threatens to cast Christians (notice I said Christians not necessarily God) in a bad light, or create obstacles in sharing the faith. Outside the church doors the debate centers more on how effective a football player he is and if he has the skills to lead an NFL team to Super Bowl glory.

    It is not as though we have never seen unashamed call outs to God on the football field- think Kurt Warner, Tony Dungee, Reggie White, Mike Singletary, etc. So why the pinpoint attention? Is it the conundrum of what to do with this guy that is bold and outspoken, yet still must grow as a quarterback even as he scraps away to wins? Or are people prodded by the existential question of whether God even cares about football? Or does it have more to do with authenticity amongst a culture of hypocrites and brokenness? Perhaps, it even chafes people as the seek to understand prayer and the power of praying–is “Tebowing” an act of giving thanks, or a grandstanding prop for entertainment? As people hurt and pray for “bigger things”, do they see a God concerned about football games as somehow aloof and disconnected from our world and mankind?

    Whatever it is, I would be quite interested in seeing a survey on this topic that asks for Tebow perspectives as well as church background, church activity, and faith values.

    • halhamilton says:

      Great to hear from you, Rick. I have always appreciated your thoughtfulness….I believe you were one of the first I encountered in ministry who was aggressively mining the culture for God’s truth. Way back in the Next Level days, you inspired me with your excellence and thoughfulness.

      I’m not sure I buy that this arguement is very much about the adequacy of his skills. There is a long list of quarterbacks with questionable potential Super Bowl credentials who have not gotten the same intensity of scrutiny. Did anyone talk about notable talk about Randall Cunningham with disgust and derision? The issue is a good one….a fair one…I just am not sure that it is being honestly debated in most quarters. What you said about Warner, Dungy, White, etc….

      The survey would be fascinating. Maybe a reader can take that up for us.

  2. scottywad says:

    The thing I love about Hal other than his heart for the Lord and his faithfulness in passing the gospel on to the next generation is he’s one of those people who have the wonderful ability of getting people to think and examine themselves. That brings me to my first point about Tebow. His boldness has gotten people to think and do some self-examining, and that is a good thing.
    The Apostle Paul said, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

    I have been hesitant to make this post for a couple of reasons. Do I really have anything relevant to say? And, my fear of sounding boastful. But, I’ve learned that if God lays something on my mind, He quickly brings me to the point to share it. I almost always grow some myself in the process.

    Please do not think I’m being boastful in any part of this post. If I boast, it is merely boasting in what God has done in one simple believer’s life. My education: is high school graduate. My seminary: is the body of believers I surround myself with. My study resources: the Bible, Tozer, Ellen White, Spurgeon, Lewis, Wesley, Erwin McManus, Chap Clark, Shane Claiborne, and a host of others. My theology: is nothing short of Holy Spirit taught and inspired; aided by the dangerous prayer of “use me”, an anointing by a group of pastors in a little makeshift sanctuary in Mexico and my pursuit to know God. I have been and continue to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I’ll let those who have witnessed my transformation attest to it.
    I only share it here, so you might understand my perspective. God has a history of taking the simple and molding it into something wonderful. Don’t misinterpret that for boldness, I know exactly where I am in relation to God. I am nothing without Him, and anything I have to offer on my own, is but filthy rags before Him.

    I have to ask myself how Tim Tebow is relevant to me. I have to admit I haven’t watched a pro football game since last year’s Superbowl. I wouldn’t know anything about this Tebow phenomenon were it not for media outlets and social networks, yet I’ve had a couple of posts myself about it. Other than apparently sharing the same faith; how does Tebow relate to me? He plays football, I work in corrections. Not exactly related. So, what is it?

    I think our mutual professor friend hit on something.
    In the past, I was one of those who would have latched on to Tebow’s boldness simply because of the lack in mine. I’ve been a believer since 1974, but definitely haven’t always lived that way. It sickens me to think of the life that might have been, had I had that boldness. I can only thank God for His faithfulness, persistence, patience and grace. That said, God was always lurking there in the background of my life. I didn’t realize God was there waiting until I surrendered my life to Him and began aligning myself in the proper positioning. Which leads me to my main point about Tebow. (Positioning)

    One of my passions is archery hunting for whitetail deer. Each fall finds me in a tree nearly daily. That time affords me peace and solitude in God’s creation and plenty of time to reflect on my faith and talk to God. I do that way more now than I used too; but I’ve always recognized God in His creation. I share the woods I hunt with about a dozen other hunters. One thing separates me from the other hunters. I have been blessed with a knack for getting close to huge bucks. There is a standard in deer hunting measuring the length, width and circumference of the antlers. To reach what would qualify for the Boone & Crockett record book, that measurement has to reach 170 inches. To those who don’t hunt, that is huge. Although, none of my deer are in the record book; (that’s not why I hunt or my thing) I have killed 5 that would qualify. That is extremely rare for one hunter. Another hunter would say I’m either super lucky or very successful. What does that have to do with Tebow? Hunting and football have nothing in common. I think Tebow and I share something in our successes. It’s about proper positioning with God. Although Tebow’s is in the public arena and mine private; like Tebow, I’ve always (even when my faith walk wasn’t first and foremost in my life) given thanks to God after harvesting a deer. I’m sure there has been a time or two when I haven’t done that, but I can’t remember any. It is also one of the first things I’ve taught my kids. Can our journey of faith be that simple? It certainly puts “pride” and “self” in their proper relationship with Creator. Don’t get me wrong here. I in no way think our successes are some type of divine blessing because of our positioning before God. I think our perception of blessings is shaped and directly related to our positioning before Him. There is a big difference. In fact, I’ve come to realize some of my biggest blessings have come thru failure. It’s the failures and the hard times in life where God teaches us best. One of my grandmother’s favorite scriptures was Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” No where in that passage do I see the words, “when you succeed”. Do it all and give thanks would include those times we’ve seemed to fail. Tebow seems to be “aligning” himself with scripture. His motives for doing so are between him and God. I can’t fathom he planned years ago to do it as a publicity stunt. I admit, I was aligning myself with scripture for years without even realizing it. I must have been taught to do it years ago, probably by my grandfather. My grandpa taught me about hunting. One thing he did in his own positioning before God was not hunt or fish on Sundays.

    The next question is natural for a person to ask. Would God intervene in a football game or a deer hunt? Why not? He has shut the mouth’s of lions, entered fiery furnaces, wrestled with a man, and stepped down from the throne of heaven to intervene. Football and hunting doesn’t compare with lion’s dens are fighting a giant but follow me here. Tebow realizes that everything comes from God, and based solely on the little knowledge I have of Tebow; it appears he has always positioned himself correctly by thanking God. He appears to have consistently done that at least since his college years. God is always faithful and rewards faithfulness. How we perceive those rewards relates directly to our positioning and our pursuit of God. But I think there is something even more at work in those rewards. We serve a God who desires to be known. In fact, He has stated that He will be known. A quick read of Jeremiah 24 and Ezekiel 36 reveals a God who fully intends for all people to know that He is Lord, and that He is going to do things so all will know. He even goes as far as to let us know He’s not doing those things for our benefit but His. Would He do it through a ball game or a deer hunt? I think He will do it by any means He decides too. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart for the same reason. ANY MEANS!!!!! If we could understand what that means, we might even gain a better understanding of tragic events.

    Another aspect I’d love to explore is our desire to get behind the underdog. Where does that come from? Could it be rooted in our creation? God often seems to take the simple and make them great. Could the two somehow be related?

    • halhamilton says:

      Lots to chew on here….fascinated by some of what you were saying about positioning. I agree with God’s loving intent for His glory. It’s not always the way we would script it though. Last week, the script called for “Hoosiers.” This week it is more like “Red Dawn.” A huge chance to pray for Tebow and for God to be glorified in defeat as well as victory.

  3. Life Long Learner says:

    As the previous poster points out, there is one thing that has really impressed me thus far – Tim Tebow’s solid theology. He makes no claim of God favoring him or his team, points people to the issues that God really cares about, and demonstrates consistency and humility. One thing we should all do is pray for this young man. Too many prominent men and women of faith are undermined by their human weaknesses in face of the stresses of being in the spotlight. Let us all remember to surround those in leadership with prayer – our pastors, politicians, professors, and, yes, professional quarterbacks.

    • halhamilton says:

      “Let us all remember to surround those in leadership with prayer – our pastors, politicians, professors, and, yes, professional quarterbacks.”

      Amen! The conversation and the pressure are about to take a 90 degree turn with this impending loss, maybe even blowout. As a football fan, I want the Packers to win it all. As a believer, I am praying for Tim.

  4. halhamilton says:

    Thanks to the Marion Daily Republican of Marion, IL for picking up this post and running it in their Faith and Values section of their newspaper.

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