What would Karl Barth say about Tim Tebow

What would Karl Barth say about Tim Tebow January 10, 2012

Yes, I know that Tim Tebow Keeps Winning! He’s a great football player.Though I use the term “football” rather loosely since its played by obese effeminate men wearing more padding than a pillow factory and they are hardly athletes if they cannot run for longer than 30 seconds without a three minute break, but I digress. Also, Tebow is evidently a devout and gracious Christian man, so he’s a great role model. But I just have to say that this whole God and Tebow thing is starting to get a bit rich for my liking. Even my own buddy Denny Burk writes that: “I think the kinds of gifts that Tebow has ultimately come from God. In that sense, there is some divine intervention going on in the Bronco’s season. In that sense, it is also right to give credit where credit is due.” Divine intervention, that is a big call Denny (though see Owen Strachan’s piece at TGC for a more moderate approach). Is there some “divine intervention” going on here or is it more like God’s general providence in showing his goodness to creation by creating men and women for work and leisure and he does so in such a way that inevitably some human bodies are better at sports than others. In that regard, God blesses some, but not others. As Abraham says in the movie, Year One, “We are the Hebrews. Righteous people, but not very good at sports.” I don’t think God is on the side of the Denver Broncos anymore than he’s on the side of the Brisbane Broncos. I mean, what would it do to our idea of providence and grace if we were to think that God was rewarding Tim Teabow’s zealous faith with football victories? I don’t like where it would take us about the character of God. We can enjoy the fact that God gave us football and he gave us bodies to play it with, and some bodies are just made better for it than others, oh, and it helps a lot if you practice too!

What is more, what would Karl Barth say about all this? If we were to ask Barth if God is specially moving among the Denver Broncos in response to Tim Tebow’s faith, what would the Barth-man say? Now this was a theologian who didn’t believe that you could find God in nature or even in stain glass windows at church. Barth was furiously Word-centric. So I think Barth’s response would be something like this:

Nein! We find God in his eternal, living, and confronting Word. No way, not now, not ever in footballs, on astro turf, or among hotdogs and American beer. God became man, not pebble covered leather. We believe in the all supremacy and finality of Jesus Christ and not in man made temples of chalk, grass, and beer. So burn your idolatrous footballs, stop invoking the Almighty name of the Father at football games, cease making Teabow a talisman of good fortune, and just enjoy the stupid game!

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  • Br Kelly

    From what I have heard, Tim Tebow would agree with your assessment. He does not claim that God is giving him victories.

  • It’s what happens when sentimentality overtakes consistent theology.
    I’m happy with the notion that all of the Bronco’s wins and losses are equally God’s will. As has been everything else that’s been going on the in the world.
    But do Tebow’s supporters really mean that these wins are signs that victory is clearly beyond the skill, athleticism and dedication to their sport of the players and demonstrate God’s miraculous intervention to bring about a result they otherwise don’t believe is possible?
    It would seem that this line of thinking seeks to honor Tebow by implying that the victories cannot be as a result of the skill of himself and his team-mates and must be because of his faith.

  • I don’t think Denny Burk really likes Barth anyway. Just as a side note, I think Barth would say that you could find God in football, or “communism or a dead dog” for that matter. But all knowledge of God must be tested by Jesus Christ the true word and revealed by the Spirit.

  • Craig Beard

    I just noted on another blog that (at least) part of the problem in this situation is some of the fans and the ‘haters’. Some of the fans post comments such as “Tebow 316. John 3:16. Coincidence? I’m just saying.” And some of the ‘haters’ go after that stuff or after religious faith in public in any form. I haven’t watched all the Denver Broncos’ games this season, but I haven’t seen Tebow himself being obnoxious or even flagrant with his faith.

  • Alan K

    Love the blog, Michael. I trust that the words: “…since its played by obese effeminate men wearing more padding than a pillow factory and they are hardly athletes if they cannot run for longer than 30 seconds without a three minute break” you mean in jest. An NFL football player is a freak of nature–strong, big, fast, and nasty as hell.

  • Kevin

    Tebow is not a great football player. That is the miracle behind all of this

  • Shaun Doyle

    Thanks for the refreshingly accurate description of American ‘football’ players. They wouldn’t know what a tackle is even if it came from Gordon Tallis! But of course God would not be on the side of the Brisbane Broncos! God would never stoop THAT low … 😛