I can give you a long list of reasons why it is preposterous to suggest that Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, is performing football miracles for Tim Tebow. Yet there are some things that make me wonder if the Lord might actually be involved in this after all.
At the risk of literally playing the devil’s advocate, I’ll start with ten reasons why the whole idea of God performing miracles for Tim Tebow should be rejected.
1) There are millions of people experiencing terrible suffering, including children dying in agony, yet they are not receiving miracles of healing. Why would God get involved in a football game while apparently ignoring the cries of these sufferers?
2) The American obsession with the NFL borders on idolatry, and during football season, many pastors are especially time conscious on Sunday mornings lest the service goes too long and the football-focused parishioners get offended.
3) There are plenty of fine Christians on other NFL teams. Why would God favor Tim Tebow over them? Why would he grant special blessings to the Denver Broncos?
4) The NFL is a concussively violent sport, with many NFL vets hobbled (or even crippled) for life. Doesn’t the Bible say that God hates violence?
5) It is irreverent to think that the Creator and Sustainer of the universe manipulates sporting events, let alone NFL games.
6) Jesus taught that we should keep our acts of piety private. Tebow is being hypocritical by praying in public and always bringing up his faith.
7) There are actually no miracles taking place. If Tebow didn’t play so terribly until the last five minutes of the game, his team wouldn’t need to make so many “miraculous” comebacks.
8) There are plenty of athletes who have a special, competitive quality and can rally their team together for a sensational victory, and it has nothing to do with religious faith.
9) Why must we always equate God’s blessing with winning and success? Some of the most blessed people in history have been anything but successful in the eyes of the world.
10) Football is matter of hard work, discipline, and execution, and while players may make exceptional plays, none of those plays can be categorized as “miraculous.”
Now, to take the other side of the argument (and play the Lord’s advocate?). It is certainly possible that divine intervention is taking place.
1) Tebow has made it clear that football is ultimately a platform through which he can influence the next generation, and he has been called the role model we have been waiting for. Would you rather have your kids emulate Tim Tebow or Lady Gaga?
2) Tebow reminds us that football is just a game and that there are far more important things in life. After his most recent “miraculous” victory over the NY Jets, he affirmed his passion for playing but then explained that he was more excited about being involved with the building of a new hospital in the Philippines.
3) Tebow is making a clear statement about priorities. When he became the first college sophomore to receive the Heisman Trophy (for best football player in the nation), he stated that his priorities were: “number one, my faith in God; number two, my family and my relationships with my family; number three, academics; and number four is football.”
4) The same Jesus who warned about hypocritical displays of piety also called his followers to let their light shine before the world, also warning them that he would be ashamed of them if they were ashamed of him.
5) Since tens of millions of people follow the NFL, why shouldn’t God take advantage of the opportunity to use a football player who has the attention of the nation?
6) The Bible does not present God as a distant and detached Creator but as one who is intimately involved in our day to day affairs. Is the NFL outside of his gaze or potential involvement?
7) We are not going to answer the question of the problem of suffering in a short article (those interested in this difficult subject can watch my debate with Prof. Bart Ehrman at www.AskDrBrown.org), but isn’t Tebow addressing this problem in a practical way by helping to build hospitals in impoverished parts of the world? And would he be able to do this without his football income and fame?
Obviously, we can only give our opinions here, but with Tim Tebow on so many American minds these days, it’s a discussion worth having.
So what’s your take? Is God working football miracles on behalf of Tim Tebow?
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.