Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes


#113 Tim Tebow

posted by Stephanie Drury

1aposttime2.jpgAmerican evangelicals revere Tim Tebow. They can’t resist a player with Bible verses on his eyeblack.

1aPicnik collage.jpgBorn to missionaries, Tim homeschooled his way to win the Heisman trophy and a dozen Player of the Year awards. In American Christian culture (especially the south), it’s roughly the equivalent of being the reincarnated Dalai Lama.

I’m sure Paul was talking about football in that letter to the Philippians:

1aposttime3.jpgEven Nike bows down.

tim tebow



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Jeremiah

posted December 26, 2009 at 9:40 pm


If I ever become a famous athlete I’m going to paint some obscure verse on my face. Something from Numbers or maybe Leviticus.
Eh?



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Bill

posted December 26, 2009 at 9:44 pm


Abuse of Philippians 4:13 deserves its own dedicated post.



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kenneth

posted December 27, 2009 at 1:15 am


My uniform quote would be Galatians 5:19-21. Sort of my personal mission statement if you will:
“immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21).



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Dave

posted December 27, 2009 at 1:08 pm


After living in the Gainesville area, I totally agree with this. From what I can see he is a great, humble, talented guy, but the reverence and awe with which people speak his name is something else. Let’s pray that he can continue a successful career without pulling a “Tiger Woods.”



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Chrissy

posted December 27, 2009 at 4:45 pm


Isn’t there a verse about this? “They will know you by your eyeblack.”



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Em

posted December 27, 2009 at 8:30 pm


Believe me, middle-aged evangelical women were the only ones impressed by him bawling on the field after losing to Alabama. Colt McCoy is a Christian too, just without the pretentious touting of Bible-verses, or the public tantrum on the field.



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Mark R

posted December 28, 2009 at 3:34 am


Please go back to your old format …. I reckon yours was one of the best Blogs going because of who you are – quirky and left field.
Hey, and I’m hoping you had a great Christmas and may your New Years be filled with laughter!!!
Mark Randall.



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Rocky Presley

posted December 28, 2009 at 3:37 pm


Awww EM, I sure love it when Christian’s are critical about someone’s witness. Usually means that the critical one has none. It takes balls to be the witness that this kid is on national television. I bet the person working in the cubical next to you has no clue how spiritual you are. But that is just me making an assumption. It may not be a fair one but I don’t think you had fairness in mind when you made your assertions.
Steph, correct me if I am wrong, but by my read, this post is not about Tebow. It’s about how we react to him.



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Still Breathing

posted December 28, 2009 at 5:43 pm


Living in England I know little about this guy but I had heard of him. What worries me is when we take a Christian famous for some secular activity, be it sport or entertainment, and then build them up as a great spiritual leader. The danger is that they are not prepared for that role and will fail – some will succeed but not all – and the ‘movement’ that has built up behind them will fail and lead to a lot of disenchantment.
Here in the UK we had an international triple-jumper who, for years wouldn’t compete on a Sunday because of his faith. Then, after a period of prayer and fasting, he changed his mind and went on the break the world record and take Olympic and World Gold medals. He was always being held up as an example but when he retired from sport and, in his words, had time to think he abandoned his faith completely. He had been built up but didn’t have the training and support to stay there.



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Rollo Tomassi

posted December 29, 2009 at 10:48 am


I look forward to Tim’s mediocre 8th round draft pic next year, assuming any NFL franchise would use him in a QB position (that’s not 3rd string). He’s good, he’s not stellar.
And I’m sure he’ll make a load of money doing inspiring testimonial sermons at mega-churches after his ride is over.



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Bill

posted December 29, 2009 at 11:51 am


Someday soon, my few good deeds will be forgotten (having not been very memorable in the first place) and I’ll be a batty old gummer bumping his ‘chair around the old folks home looking for my ipod so I can watch the dinner scene from Shrek2 again because I identify so well with the way Donkey eats his soup. And some fresh-faced nameless young person will come visit the shut-ins and hold my hand and listen to me babble for a few minutes and sing some Christmas carols. That person, in that hour, will mean more Jesus to me than some earnest young stud seeking glory and fortune with a bible verse on his eyeblack. Even if he tithes.
Like Still Breathing, this kind of witness makes me a bit nervous, on multiple levels, both for what it is and how CC receives it.



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Rocky Presley

posted December 29, 2009 at 3:37 pm


Bill, I agree that those type of connections are extremely important. People making emotional, lifelong connections with others is the key to both making disciples and living a healthy life. I do think that one part of Tebow’s witness that isn’t being considered is that people who aren’t believers still look up to this guy because he is a great quarter back. There are so many people out there, like myself growing up, where were or are still ashamed of Christian culture. In truth, the examples of believers out there in the past have been pretty bleak. The Gaithers? Christian music in general/media in general? Televangelists?
But today we are seeing high profile people embrace their faith rather than abandoning it for stardom/success, which is the typical norm. With the I Am Second campaign, and guys like Tebow, there are people who kids can look up to who are actually cool, and not the goofy guy with his hat turned sideways at youth camp who is telling you to stay pure but couldn’t get laid unless he paid for it.
Is it possible that God is speaking to our culture in one of the few ways that we can understand?



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Stori Lundi

posted December 29, 2009 at 10:23 pm


I have a hard time with mixing sports and religion. To me, what Tebow is doing is sending a message to everyone that the more devout and vocal you are about God, the better you will play football (or any sport). I really don’t think God works like that. Some people are good at sports; some people are horrible. We all have different gifts. On the playing field, we are all the same children of God. How could he possibly take sides?
(Note that this is the intellectual answer, not the personal one as I firmly believe that God had nothing to do with the NY Red Bulls or the 2009 DC United season. ;)



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Bill

posted December 30, 2009 at 12:02 am


I hear you, Rocky. I am trying, perhaps unsuccessfully, not to judge Tebow; the day I realized I was no one’s judge was revolutionary for me. Being a missionary’s son might be wonderful, and it might be enough to screw you up for life.
For the record, my little story wasn’t about life-long connections; it was about the fleeting kindnesses that we humans, especially the ones touched by the love of Christ, are capable of and which reverberate in unexpected ways. And whether it’s love for people we know or love for people we don’t know, that is the life Christ calls us to. Personally, I don’t care about football players, and I don’t care about ad campaigns. I hope the “I Am Second” folks are doing as much as my nerdy local weatherman and his annual turkey drive. Is not the parable of the two sons quite disturbing?
And I don’t mean that you are wrong about being ashamed of Christian Culture. I know the Gaithers. I know the laidless camp counselors. You have come to the right place; behold among the invisible readers, your brothers and sisters. I think one of the points of this post is the Culture’s overcorrection for that insularity. It’s cooler, but no less about itself rather than about Christ. I find it difficult to believe that people who love football are going to “find Christ” because of such antics. (I’ll try not to get started about comparing Paul’s trials bringing the Gospel to us Gentiles to success on the gridiron. Hello, non-Christians know that’s total crap, too.)
As others have noted, this kind of witness is dangerous for both people like Tebow and the people who look up to him, and I don’t think it’s dangerous in the way Christ intended. I think it’s dangerous because it misrepresents what “successful” means in any kind of Christian terms. It’s a cult of celebrity. Perhaps if our children knew what community meant–perhaps if we ourselves knew what it meant better than we do (and I say this as someone who has lived a selfish life)–such icons would be less necessary.



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Sarah

posted December 30, 2009 at 7:09 am


Right on, Bill.
Rocky, I definitely see your points. (And I’m glad you’re commenting – I’ve been enjoying your contributions.) I’m wondering, though, what a “witness” is. Is it a marker of one’s spirituality? Because we can certainly see where Tebow’s “witness,” in that definition, is undeniable. But what is he a witness to?
Bill’s definition, although he doesn’t call it “witness,” puts love at the center of what it means to live the mission of Jesus. A young volunteer holding an old person’s hand at a nursing home for a few minutes puts a lot more of the love of Christ into that simple act than a thousand Scripture references painted into a young football player’s eyeblack.
This isn’t to say that Tebow isn’t sincere, or that he isn’t loving to the people he comes in contact with. I can’t speak for either of those things, since I don’t know him; and I think, from the little I’ve seen, that he’s probably a genuinely nice person. At the same time, taking into account his age and his upbringing, the showy nature of his display of his personal spirituality seems, while gutsy to a certain degree (although he’s really good at what he does and would be celebrated even without the display, and who’s going to mock a good athlete? His skill is part of the reason he doesn’t receive a lot of scorn for his beliefs; also, “secular” culture isn’t as “anti-Christian” as Christian culture would like to believe), self-conscious.
It’s not about the kind of witness you have; it’s the kind of witness you are. Christian culture tends to focus on the witness you have or the witness you do (neither of which factor into, or stem from, the actual definition of “witness”) because those allow a person, as Stephy so often writes, to keep “doing things and avoiding relationship.” Tebow is certainly doing things. But people who emulate him might not find, from his example, encouragement to love people in simple, ordinary ways, that in themselves are hardly flashy or deserving of notice, but that through their expression of concern and attention radiate the mission of Christ.
Jesus didn’t walk around with Scripture verses on his forehead (something that the Pharisees often did, with phylacteries instead of eyeblack); he looked for the broken and scorned of society. Similarly, his most famous and, arguably, effective followers from the foundation of the early church through the present day won their fame through their single-minded dedication to living Christ’s ministry (and their desire to avoid fame), not from their skill in a secular arena. “Super-Christians” have long seemed to be less concerned with their celebrity than with furthering Christ’s love – Paul, John, St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Theresa.
We might know what Tebow believes, but we mostly only know that from what he advertises. Em’s coworker in the cubicle next door may or may not know what Em believes, but what matters more are the myriad ways Em lives the love of God toward that person – from one ordinary human being to another. This has real impact, and opens possibilities for real conversations – for relationship, which does more practical good than any grandstand declaration of faith.
I am trying to be glad that Tebow is doing what he’s doing. It’s not a bad thing to show your commitment to Christ, and it’s a much better example, as you said, than many of the weird examples given to Christian youth to follow. I’m just leery in the skittish way a person is leery who has seen, on much smaller scales, many similar shows go terribly wrong. What a person declares is only a shell. What a person is comes through when things aren’t going so well for him.
Anyway. Welcome to the forum. Like Bill said, this is largely a gathering of brothers and sisters who have had similar experiences with the show-and-tell Christian culture. I believe Chrissy once called us “the invisible church,” and I’ve derived a great deal of encouragement from the assembly.



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Rocky Presley

posted December 30, 2009 at 3:33 pm


Bill, Sarah, thanks for the eloquence in your response. I certainly see your point of view. It is true, this could go terribly wrong, and Tebow comes out of the closet for mid sized farm animals. It seems that we are all a gamble in one way or another. The only one who knows if that investment will impact the Kingdom is the one who paid the price. We don’t know if Tebow is the guy who helps the old lady off of the street or visits cancer patients. I do know that I see football players celebrating that every Sunday as well!
I do think that because of his celebrity, if we view his display differently then say…someone who puts scriptures on their cars or signs Christmas cards with their favorite verse, then we are playing into that culture of celebrity. Is it not true that we hold celebs to a different standard? Is it not true that the consequences of their actions are far more reaching than we would ever dream of having? Since that is the case, is it not appropriate to surmise that their influence is far more reaching than we could ever dream, and the way that they would go about that “witness” could very well be different than the way we, the normal folk, get things done?
Think about this. The fact that you and I are having the discussion is important. The fact that Nike has an ad is important, because we live in that culture of celebrity. Although we as believers should be living out the love of Christ in the every day and often mundane, the Father could be using this for His glory. He has used far worse. The Kings of Persia, an ass, me!
While we do live in a culture of celebrity, we also live in a growing culture of critics. We call ourselves discerning, observers, progressives, etc, but it could also become judgmental. Bill, you touched on this a bit. As I continue to grow, the more I understand that God’s ways are not mine. That has certainly been an excuse for people being ridiculous in the past. What I am trying to do is stop being nearly as concerned about how others live out their lives, and focus on this life, that struggles to love consistently, and focus on fathering others into that love as well, but I still get my proverbial panties in a wad fairly often! My blog is full of such rantings!



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Philip

posted January 2, 2010 at 12:16 pm


Nike has been running that “We are all witnesses” campaign for several years now. That has little to do with identifying us as ?????? along with St. Timmy, although I’m sure some evangelicals think that’s what it’s about.
Tebow himself seems to be sincere but I think most people who follow college football are just tired of the hype surrounding him.



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Philip

posted January 2, 2010 at 12:17 pm


Oops, I rewrote the sentence and forgot to put the Greek into the plural, but I don’t really know Greek so I guess I just revealed myself as a total poseur.



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stephanie drury

posted January 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm


I thought Nike put that because he put a Hebrews 12 verse on his eyeblack that said we’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, but I don’t know for sure.



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Philip

posted January 2, 2010 at 3:24 pm


No, they’ve been using that slogan since at least 1987 with a variety of athletes unrelated to St. Timothy.



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Philip

posted January 2, 2010 at 3:24 pm


2007, not 1987. That was a strange flashback.



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Your Name

posted January 2, 2010 at 6:02 pm


We live in Australia. We recently have got a free to air sports channel which plays some American Sports. I had never heard of Tim Tebrow. But my son (12 years old) and a believer said one day that a lot of the Florida football team were Christians. I asked him how he knew that and he said he saw bible verses under the eyes.
Then I watched the first quarter against Cincinatti and saw Tim Tebrow with an Ephesians scripture. So I just googled him and found out some interesting stuff. His work in prisons is awesome. Just because I don’t plaster the bumper of my cars with Jesus stickers doesn’t mean that I have the right to judge someone else.
Just because someone plasters Christian stuff on their car or face does not mean that I expect them to be perfect. Christians are the same as everyone else except that we are forgiven for eternity. That is the good news.
If you want to live a live of judgements all that I ask is that please lead a life of purpose and shed a bit of light and colour in this dark world like Tim is doing.



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stephanie drury

posted January 2, 2010 at 7:09 pm


Hi Your Name,
in Australia you might not be able to palpate the Tebow fervor over here, but some of us find it worrying. Tebow 4:13, etc.
I feel rather validated that you didn’t sign your name, per this:
http://blog.beliefnet.com/stuffchristianculturelikes/2009/05/80-leaving-perturbed-comments-and-signing-them-anonymous.html :)



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Robby Payne

posted January 2, 2010 at 9:20 pm


I have to agree with some of the earlier posts here that the problem doesn’t really lie with Tim Tebow or any other celebrity touting Christianity…it lies in our reactions to him. I personally am glad to see someone be unashamed to give all credit to Jesus (not just God without regard to Jesus who we follow and who people are a bit squeemish with), but don’t care one bit for other believers elevating him to “super-christian” status because that status doesn’t exist. Well…I suppose it does in Christian Culture, doesn’t it? That’s a shame.



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Mere_Christian

posted January 4, 2010 at 11:05 am


There has to be somebody that lives their life as a Christian.
THAT is the goal.
And it’s not a hate crime.
In fact it was the very massage of Christ Jesus.
Let’s help Tebow accomplish this VERY difficult task.



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Karen

posted January 4, 2010 at 11:20 am


For whom, exactly, is this “witness” intended? I’m guessing it’s rather obscure for the unchurched. It’s certainly a dog whistle to those in the know. And it’s fingernails on the chalkboard to people like me who have been damaged by years of this kind of Christianist grandstanding.
I’m a graduate of UF, but not much of a sports fan. The alumni office will surely be disappointed to learn what a turn off their star is for me.
Karen in Paris



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Sensible Joe

posted January 8, 2010 at 9:12 pm


As a current (and decades-long resident) of Gainesville, Florida, I can attest that “Tebowmania” was a strange, alienating phenomenon that bordered on idolatry. (One restaurant even carved a tree into a public statue of him, until the university intervened — so much for no graven images.) The focus was definitely far more on him than on Christ or anything else. Strange that people would find the egoism, narcissism and aggression innate to sports as proof of God’s favor or fidelity to a Christ who preached humility, nonviolence and doing good for others over glorying in oneself and trumpeting one’s ephemeral “victories.” Jesus never said “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if constantly bring up my name while you play football well.” He said they would know it by the way you love others: by treating them as you want to be treated, by not judging or condemning them, by praying for their well-being, by fasting so they could eat, by giving alms so they could live, all without the fanfare or fuss that caters to pride and robs a doer of good of God’s reward. Far more inspiring are “little people” doing “little things” of direct benefit to others in Christ’s name, without letting their left hand know what their right hand is doing (much less huge crowds and the media), than I am by celebrities entertaining mobs in the arena. Evangelicals always seem to go, rather superficially, for the beauty queens, the jocks and the pop stars, often young in their faith, to look hip and relevant. I think the traditional churches have it right here: they only honor as saints those who are dead, who have finished the race and proven themselves through to the end. Really want to get “turned on” to Christianity? Instead of Tebow, try Dorothy Day, or Mother Teresa, or Mychal Judge. They never filled a stadium or wore Bible verses as face paint, but they sacrificed all to live the Gospel in a way that impacted others, more often than not without applause. Now that’s “hot”…



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stephanie drury

posted January 9, 2010 at 10:45 am


So beautifully said, Joe!



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Chrissy

posted January 9, 2010 at 9:39 pm


Nice, Joe! And so very sensible :)



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Kristy

posted January 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm


Ha! My mom just posted this on her Facebook page: “Even if you’re not a football fan, you’re going to want to tune in to see the Super Bowl commercial featuring Tim Tebow on Feb 7! Positive, life-affirming message of hope for families!”
I have never even heard of this guy, but my mom, who as far as I know is not even a football fan, apparently falls right in line with your predictions! : )



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Rocky Presley

posted February 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm


Here is an interesting argument from a female sports commentator on that upcoming commercial. Funny how Christians here are wound up about Tebow, but a professional sports writer thinks it’s no big deal.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/01/AR2010020102067.html



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stephanie drury

posted February 4, 2010 at 11:15 am


Rocky, it’s not a bad point she makes.



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Karolin

posted February 9, 2010 at 1:29 pm


Thanks, Rocky, for the link! I like that it’s written by someone who doesn’t agree with him, but supports his right to say so.. which is really what we’re supposed to be about, right?
Stephanie, your original comments were spot-on, though, and hilarious, as always;)



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