How much Tebowing is too much?

As Stephen Prothero’s sharp piece in last week’s CNN Belief Blog, “Is Tim Tebow Performing Miracles?,” notes, despite his mediocre individual performance, the Denver Broncos religiously outspoken quarterback is, at least for many evangelical Christian football fans, like “the Second coming of Joe Montana. And maybe Something More.” Under his apparently inspired leadership, the Broncos have turned around a season that began 1-4 with a “miraculous” 5-1 run. More, Tebow’s public displays of evangelical fervor have inspired the faithful, pleased to see their religious identities reproduced on the grid-iron, whether in Bible verses scrawled upon Tebow’s face, his praise of Jesus following Broncos’ victories, or “his tendency to be found praying [see picture above] while his teammates are strutting, which has added a new word—’Tebowing’—to the lexicon,” and inspired imitators both devout and satirical.

At the same time, however, signs of discomfort are beginning to emerge even among evangelicals, especially those with NFL experience. As Mark Morning reports in the November issue of Christianity Today, Kurt Warner, also devout Christian quarterback who led the St. Louis Rams to a super bowl victory in 1990s, offers the following advice to Tebow: “Chill out on the God talk…. tone it down a bit — maybe even on the ‘Tebowing’… The greatest impact you can have on people is never what you say, but how you live…. The words can come after.” Tebow’s reception in broader evangelical circles is thus more complicated than it might first appear.

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