Christianity is not a marginalized religion in the U.S.

January 14, 2012 in Does God care who wins football games?, Question of the Week, Spotlight Answers by André Johnson

Does God care who wins football games? And what do you think of Tim Tebow and his public displays of devotion?

I want to start by saying that I have no problem at all with Tim Tebow and I can understand some of the fascination with him. As he illustrates in the commercial, “They Said,” many have doubted Tebow and he currently uses those words as fuel to drive him to succeed. This story resonates with me because many have told me at different points throughout my life that I could not “do” and for a long time, I had a chip on my shoulder wanting to prove the naysayers wrong.

I also do not have a problem with Tebow “being” who he is. He is an Evangelical Christian and for him at least, that means displays his Christianity in public. Whether he is thanking his “Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” before every press conference, whether he decides to display scripture passages on his “eye black” during football games, or whether he does the now infamous “Tebowing” after every touchdown, I am sure that Tebow believes himself to be authentic and honest with his display. Matter of fact, for Tebow not to display his religion publicly, would be to denounce Jesus and incur the wrath of Luke 9:26, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.”

What I do have a problem with is the backdrop in which Tebow feels the need to display his religious affiliation. For many, to claim publicly “Jesus is Lord and Savior” goes further than just a confession of faith. It also plays to the belief that Christianity is somehow under attack. Tebow and people of his mindset believe Christianity to be some marginalized religion in the United States and therefore, to proclaim publicly Jesus as Lord and Savior is really a radical thing to do. Fed a steady diet of “War on Christmas” and other media derived “Attacks on Religion,” and my personal favorite, Obama’s “War on Religion,” many would argue that Tebow is acting prophetically by this proclamation. By praying on the field and wearing scripture references under his eyes, Tebow is resisting the establishment and following Jesus—even if it means offending people, losing friends, endorsements or losing something meaningful as a result. Many would proclaim that Tebow is facing the barrage of attacks—not because of his play, but because he is a Christian who would openly confess his Christianity. Moreover, by doing so, Tebow is a Christian hero—upheld by Jesus—to endure these attacks against his faith. Tebow and others like him become role models for Christians; especially young Christians navigating through life discerning their options and how they can be authentically Christian in a hostile Christian world.

However, the problem with the marginalized Christianity belief (in the United States anyway), is that it is a myth. Though the numbers are dropping, according to the Religious Identification Survey, though the number have decrease (and I have my own theories on that), we still make up 76% of people who claim any religious affiliation. As a matter of fact, according to the same survey, people not affiliated with any religion; affectionately called the “Nones,” make up 15%, which is more than people who are members of other religions (3.9%). Christians demand and get more air time in the media more than any other religious group. There are television and radio networks dedicated to Christians and Christianity. One would shudder to think if there was a Muslim religious channel as prominent as say TBN, the WORD, or GOD TV. There are churches are on every corner or every city and town in America. I wonder what would be the response to building a Mosque. I am sorry, we do not have to wonder—we already know the response. We Christians can form Christian family oriented groups (no matter how small) and almost be assured that we will get media coverage. We can threaten to burn Korans or we have enough power to get a major corporation to pull advertising from a TV show because the leaders of the “powerful” Florida Family Association declared that the show was propaganda designed to depict Muslims as “ordinary folks” while excluding “many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to the liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.

Moreover, thanks to the recent Supreme Court decision, we good church folks can openly discriminate against employees by claiming that what the discriminated employee did was against our religious beliefs. And one cannot think of running for president unless she or he has a “personal relationship with Jesus” (Romney is about to find out if his personal relationship with Jesus is acceptable or not to religious conservatives). So to claim oneself a Christian in this Christian supported nation; to openly wear scripture references under one’s eyes or to pray openly on the football field or anywhere else is not being prophetic — its being safe and assured that you have millions of people who will come out and support you in all that you do.

No, we are no longer that little underground movement that continued after Jesus’ execution, that offered a new way to live, by loving all and standing up to the Empire when proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior (and not Caesar) really could have meant losing something; even one’s life. We are now part of the Empire and to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior will not get you in any trouble at all — as a matter of fact, as Tebow and others soon find out, others may rewarded you nicely for saying it. Just displaying religion it turns out is good enough.

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God is neither a fan nor against the games people play

January 14, 2012 in Does God care who wins football games?, Featured Question of the Week, Question of the Week by David Hall

Does God care who wins football games? And what do you think of Tim Tebow and his public displays of devotion?

I always thought God was a Chicago Bears Fan. That maybe theologically debatable because the Bears won a Super Bowl the 1985. It takes a measure of suffering to be truly righteous. The Steelers, Patriots, Forty Niners and Cowboys all sold their souls to the Devil long time ago.

Let me be serious and perfectly clear. God is neither a fan or against the games people play. If God is watching Tim Tebow, it is because the young man is genuine about his faith! He is simply witnessing before a curious world.

God is looking for someone with grace, commitment and faith enough to do His will in a world filled with challenges.

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Tebow’s off-the-field actions inpires more than on-the-field prayers

January 14, 2012 in Does God care who wins football games?, Featured Question of the Week, Question of the Week by Micah Greenstein

Does God care who wins football games? And what do you think of Tim Tebow and his public displays of devotion?

Full disclosure: I’m a huge Florida Gator. Believing a team wins, though, because of a pre-game prayer or post-game kneel rather than the play of the athletes or the game plan of the coaches, is like believing you will cause your favorite sports team to lose if you stay in front of the television set while they are playing poorly. It’s what faith inspires us to do off the field in serving others that makes Tebow so worthy in my eyes, not his biblical face paint.

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Walking the walk and talking the talk

January 14, 2012 in Does God care who wins football games?, Question of the Week by Larry Lloyd

Does God care who wins football games? And what do you think of Tim Tebow and his public displays of devotion?

God and Football. Well, it is interesting that Jesus chose 12 disciples, one of whom got sidelined, leaving a pretty skimpy lineup for today’s football. They were pretty defensive minded at first, stayed close to home until they got a blockbuster game plan from the Holy Spirit and some pretty good reserves in Stephen and Philip…then Paul and Barnabas. Then, like the old Green Bay Sweep, took the world by storm! That aside, Tebow is vocal and visual about his faith and his walk matches his talk which says volumes. Stars from sports, rap, country music. . .you name it, have often given ‘credit’ to God for their accomplishments, genuflected before striding to plate, or donned conspicuous crosses around their necks. How many times have we heard someone ‘thank God’ for this or that, only to see their public lives make a mockery of the God they just thanked? A good tree produces good fruit. The proof of one’s devotion to God is not only what one says, but what one does in our world. Tebow is conspicuous with both.

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God cares for all of us

January 14, 2012 in Does God care who wins football games?, Featured Question of the Week, Question of the Week by David E. Leavell

Does God care who wins football games? And what do you think of Tim Tebow and his public displays of devotion?

God cares for Tim Tebow AND God cares for Tom Brady because God cares for ALL of us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, he gave his only Son Jesus, that whoever believes in him will have eternal life.” Shouldn’t Tim Tebow be able to express his celebration in prayer since many other players express themselves in dancing and other kinds of celebration?

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All we have comes from God

January 14, 2012 in Does God care who wins football games?, Question of the Week, Spotlight Answers by Rick Donlon

Does God care who wins football games? And what do you think of Tim Tebow and his public displays of devotion?

Abraham Lincoln noted in his Second Inaugural Address that Union and Confederate soldiers “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other.”

I’m persuaded that God has an interest in everything, including wars and football games, but the nature of that interest is often beyond our understanding. Personally, I can’t make sense of a universe where Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide beat my LSU Tigers in the national championship game. I grant there are a few Christians in Alabama and that some of them likely prayed for their team. Does that explain the painful injustice of an LSU humiliation? In the end, I have to agree with the writer of Ecclesiastes, “This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Tim Tebow, as I understand it, doesn’t pray for victories. When victories come, however, he quickly and publicly returns thanks to God. “Tebowing”–assuming a posture of bowed head and bent knee–has become a national phenomenon. Let the mockers on sports radio and Saturday Night Live have their fun. Tim Tebow’s actions speak louder than his words. The football star’s unspoken message: we’re all under the authority of One far greater than ourselves. All we have, including our ability to lead a mediocre team to playoff victories, comes from God.

Tim’s going to keep preaching that message, whether he wins or loses. I’m a bandwagon Saints fan, but I can’t help praying for him.

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People are talking about Jesus because of Tebow

January 14, 2012 in Does God care who wins football games?, Question of the Week, Spotlight Answers by Stacy Spencer

Does God care who wins football games? And what do you think of Tim Tebow and his public displays of devotion?

Bob Costas said, “By his own admission Tim Tebow believes God is not all that interested in Football but he sure seems interested in Tim Tebow.”

I sat in my den with my Troy Polamalu jersey on nervously watching the last few minutes of the game hoping for a comeback. I’ve been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan since I was a child. When Tim Tebow launched his pass it seemed like time stood still along with the players. I could not believe that they actually won this overtime game against one of the top NFL defenses. I was stunned but in Awe. God has to be up to something.

This young man has been under scrutiny since he entered the league.
Some of it has to do with his unorthodox throwing style and his linebacker build, but I think the biggest part of his scrutiny is his overt faith in Jesus Christ. I tweeted the other night, If nothing else people are talking about Jesus after this Tebow win. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 3:7 NIV) Pittsburgh may have loss but in a huge way Jesus won.

James Johnson, in a blog called The Inquisitr wrote:

“Fans were quick to point out that Tebow through for 316 yards during his teams win, that number matches the famous bible version John 3:16 which Tebow use to write on his face during some of his college football games at the University of Florida.

“If that isn’t enough to have you believing in the divine intervention of god during a football game Tebow also through for 10 completions during his 316 yard performance. That would be an average of 31.6 yards per completion.

Sure two coincidences can happen but then John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal tweeted a final coincidence. It turns out that the TV ratings system for the last 15 minutes of the game registered a solid 31.6.”

Will the Christian beat the Patriots? It is my prayer that Christ wins out over patriotism everytime.

Read more at:
http://www.inquisitr.com/178428/tim-tebow-fans-go-crazy-over-john-316-coincidence/

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God cares about faithfulness and obedience

January 14, 2012 in Does God care who wins football games?, Question of the Week, Spotlight Answers by L. LaSimba Gray, Jr.

Does God care who wins football games? And what do you think of Tim Tebow and his public displays of devotion?

Tebowmania has caught America by a storm because of the culture of materialism and self aggrandizement is experiencing an individual willing to be different. Evidently no one told Tebow about political correctness. Therefore, he proceeds to acknowledge God in all his ways (including playing and winning football games in the National Football League).

I don’t think God cares about who wins football games, however, I know God cares about who plays football. God cares about faithfulness and obedience. When Tebow acknowledges God and remains faithful, he obligates God to bless him. In recent games, Tebow and the Denver Broncos have been greatly blessed.

Without any reservations, I will go with Faithfulness over patriotism any day — the Denver Broncos will win over the New England Patriots.

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People of faith should focus on what matters, not distractions

January 14, 2012 in Does God care who wins football games?, Question of the Week, Spotlight Answers by Mark Matheny

Does God care who wins football games? And what do you think of Tim Tebow and his public displays of devotion?

God is totally neutral about such things, and it would be idolatrous to imagine otherwise. I think it can also be idolatrous either to glorify what Tebow does or to make an inordinately big deal out of condemning him. People of faith need to focus on the priorities of love and service, and too often things like this are distractions away from our calling.

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Muscular Christianity

January 14, 2012 in Does God care who wins football games?, Question of the Week, Spotlight Answers by Cole Huffman

Does God care who wins football games? And what do you think of Tim Tebow and his public displays of devotion?

One of the few arguments I ever remember my loving parents having was on our way home from church one Sunday evening. During a share time in the service my father offered thanks to God for the outspoken evangelical testimony of Steve Bartkowski, who was at the time quarterback of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. I don’t remember what precisely Mom took exception to in Dad’s public profession of admiration for this Christian athlete. But they had “a discussion” about the appropriateness of sharing it in a church service. (Dad was also fond of another Christian NFL quarterback named Craig Morton, who played, as Tim Tebow does, for the Denver Broncos, back in the late 1970s. Before his conversion to Christ, Morton was known for answering stadium boo-birds with a “bird” of his own.)

Growing up in the sports-and-religion South—where the biggest churches actually hold service in a half-dozen stadium venues every Saturday in the fall (SEC games)—I’m used to Christian athletes being highly revered, especially football players. When Steadman Shealy, quarterback of the 1978 and 1979 Alabama national title teams, spoke in a church in my county in 1983 even the Auburn fans who attended were a little in awe of him standing in the sanctuary. A biography had been written about how his faith carried him through the highs of his football successes and lows of knee surgeries. I still have the book, Never Say Quit, which Shealy autographed for me that day, penning “(Phil. 3:8)” under his name. I was 14, interested in football and Jesus both, thus it was easy to idolize a guy like Shealy.

Yes, the homage shown athletes is often a fawning sycophancy. Christians who are fans of sport don’t always keep the line taut between worshipping the God who gave the athlete his ability and worshipping the athlete himself. But Christians are a glory people in that we love the triumph of God over every foe, and football is a ken of glory pursuit. The case is made by some that football is more gladiatorial than glorious—that football is in fact vainglorious. So noted. Nevertheless, I think athletes like Tim Tebow are as influential with a lot of evangelical Christians as they are because they embody a strength and chic not usually found in pastors and theologians. As one of my fellow pastor-friends likes to remind me, “Most pastors are geeks.” In this vein I recall a scene in the movie Chariots of Fire when members of Eric Liddell’s family tell him that Scotland needed “a muscular Christian.” I suppose it was their way of saying to Eric, “We have enough geeky Christians for now.”

I don’t think God decides football games in Tebow’s favor—in fact I’m sure He doesn’t—although I’m pretty sure God has cursed the football fortunes of my beloved Vanderbilt Commodores. If Tim ever turns water into Gatorade by touching a cooler then I’ll reconsider. But God does honor the “muscular Christian” Tebow and other Christian athletes’ desires to glorify Him, I think, and for this I’m glad. Tebow’s persona has “gone viral,” as is said in the Internet Age. But from what I know of him and his family, Tim Tebow is a genuinely committed young man who attempts to consistently glorify God in “whatever he does” (1 Cor. 10:31).

Would he be as openly demonstrative if he was a stockbroker on trading floors? Probably not. But football fields and trading floors are not the same vocational context. Do you see stockbrokers leaping into each other to celebrate their deals? Tebow’s bowing and praying is not original to him. Christian players Protestant and Catholic have been doing this for decades as a way of acknowledging God in their work (see Col. 3:23-24). And because the country is still mostly religious, far more are for the kneeling in end zones and finger pointing to the sky than against it.

The real test for Tebow, as for other Christian athletes, is the integrity of his life overall. Just as he knows how to pick apart a defense so there are people watching to pick him apart when he stumbles. But what is new in this? Tebow is not being persecuted. He’s being scrutinized. There’s a difference. I’ll take you to some places in India and Egypt I’ve visited and show you persecution of Christians. But a toast-of-his-city millionaire athlete with a national following is not being persecuted when some cultural commentators, sportswriters, and football analysts pan his public genuflecting as gauche. So what? Those same people think what I do on my field of play every Sunday is little better than brainwashing. I can take it, and so can Tebow.

I’ll take the Patriots +10 Saturday night.

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