Is Tim Tebow Succeeding Because of the “Hand of God?”

It seems to be Tim Tebow week here at the blog, though without any prior planning toward this goal on my part.  I wrote a piece on the Sunday night comments of NBC sportscaster Bob Costas that suggested that God does not “take a hand in the outcome of [football] games.”

Readers of this blog will know that I like sports but do not practice Sportianity and even have some concerns about the violence of football.  Nevertheless, I thought that Costas’s surprisingly theological words were worth addressing.  Here’s a snippet from the piece, entitled “Tebow, Calvin, and the Hand of God in Sports”:

Costas, one of the most eloquent and thoughtful voices in sports, suggested that Tebow’s recent string of performances was “approaching, okay we’ll say it, the miraculous.” Many have made similar comments in recent weeks. Costas switched to a more controversial track, however, when he went on to suggest that the God Tebow worships has no interest in influencing the outcome of games. I quote at length from the full transcript:

Again today, Tebow did next to nothing until the waning moments, and then, down 10-0 with two minutes left, he throws a touchdown pass, and the Broncos tie it at the gun on a 59-yard field goal. And then win it in overtime on a 51-yarder. The combination of Denver’s continuing late heroics, and today, the Bears’ otherwise unexplainable errors, is enough to have some at least suspect divine intervention. Except that Tebow, whose sincere faith cannot be questioned, and should be respected, also has the good sense, and good grace, to make it clear he does not believe God takes a hand in the outcome of games.

Most of us are good with that. Otherwise, how to explain what happens when there are equal numbers of believers on either side? Or why so many of those same believers came up empty facing Sandy Koufax? Or hit the deck against Muhammad Ali? Or why the Almighty wouldn’t have better things to do?

Is Bob Costas right? Does God “take a hand in the outcome of games,” or does he “have better things to do,” as Costas, a moral but not notably religious man, seemed to suggest?

Go here to read the whole thing.  This was a fun opportunity to do some theological work in the context of the culture.  John Calvin + Tim Tebow = an unusual combination, to say the least.

  • Bruce H

    Deuteronomy 8:18 comes to mind when I see success in all walks of life:

    “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for [it is] He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as [it is] this day.”

    Tim Tebow certainly is a very talented Christian. All that he has been given has been given by God. To say that God blesses him for anything he has done would be to say that God awards for works. God displays His power as He sees fit. I would just allow Tebow to play the game and see how he finishes. That is the test we all must endure.

  • Jerry Corbaley

    The Infinite Creator God who is everywhere has multiple purposes for every human interaction. He is not limited to ‘one thing at a time’ as we are.

    The idea that God might have ‘better things to do’ presupposes (wrongly) that God can’t do everything at once.

    Where we can get into error is when we link a specific event with a confident assurance that we know what God’s purpose is for that specific event.

  • Drew Ellis

    I really appreciate your perspective. I praise God that Tebow is who he is, and since I’m an Alabama boy, I LOVE the game of football. Matter-of-fact, the harder the hit, the more fun the game is (within reason of course). But as a minister here in Colorado, I am trying to sort this out theologically.

    David prayed repeatedly in the Psalms for the Lord to lead his steps. Jeremiah 10:23 states, “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.” I truly believe the Lord is far bigger than football, sewing, barbershop harmony, or any hobby. But when we commit ourselves to his influence and his glory in all things, it takes on a special type of meaning an ministry. Even that simple thing (perhaps football on Sundays in Denver) takes on an aire of salt and light, that it is done to His glory and to season as salt, and illuminate as light the way to God.

    That’s what I am encouraged by Tebow. As for miraculous or amazing comebacks, I’m not doubting God can do it… but I do doubt that he necessarily is doing it. Tebow has an amazing mix of willpower, leadership, Theo-centric focus, and athletic talent. All of those combined, he seems to pull it off in the end with full-belief and poise, that his talent can overcome odds. The fact that he does that, and then gives GOD the glory time after time is unbelievable to me. It proves that this young man’s heart is set on being holy and a vessel of God’s light. Thank you Dr. Strachan, for writing this piece.

  • owenstrachan

    Good comments, friends. Appreciate these theologically-driven thoughts. It’s funny that football is making us think theologically, but that just shows us once more that all of life is theistic and theological.

  • Jerry Rankin

    I am amazed that non-religious media commentators presume to know so much about God and what He does and doesn’t do. The point with Tebow, as with all of us, is that God is not so concerned about our success in life or football (I guess there is a difference, but that is rather obscure for us fanatics), but is concerned for His glory! Give Him the glory, win or lose, in prosperity or adversity, and His blessings are assured.

    Jerry Rankin

    • owenstrachan

      Thank you for those words, Dr. Rankin. Glad to you have comment here on this little blog. I could not agree more that the ultimate concern of both God and the Christian is his glory. He does delight to bless his children, yes, much as we don’t deserve it. Amen.

  • Drew Ellis

    Owen, I referenced you in my new post – hope you didn’t mind.

    • owenstrachan

      Good word, Drew. Appreciate you reading the post. Good thoughts.

  • Derek

    God has a “soft spot” for people with child like faith. Tebow’s faith seems to be based not on specific outcomes but on the person and character of God and that both challenges and inspires me.