Unnecessary Roughness: Columnists Slam Religious Convictions of Florida QB Tebow

Basing his October 14 column on an anti-evangelical Christian screed by another opinion columnist, Sam Cook of the Fort Myers [Fla.] News-Press tackled Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow for his both his religious convictions and his commitment to being open about his faith (h/t NB commenter and Florida alumna Blonde).

It's hard to find fault with such an exemplary young man, but I have.

In a Monday story in USA Today, religion writer Tom Krattenmaker reported these findings:

"Tebow does his missionary trips to the Philippines under the auspices of his father Bob Tebow's Evangelistic Association. The Tebow organization espouses a far-right theology. Its bottom line: Only those who assent to its version of Christianity will avoid eternal punishment. The ministry boldly declares, 'We reject the modern ecumenical movement.'"

If Tebow is selling that, this Lutheran isn't buying.

So Cook is hoping to visit the "sins" of the father on the son, associating father Bob Tebow's "far-right theology" with his son Tim's. But the tag "far-right theology" is a loaded label, as the elder Tebow's theology is simply a conservative, evangelical Protestant take on what the Bible teaches about salvation.

Indeed, it's likely Martin Luther, the founder of Cook's denomination, would heartily nod in agreement with most if not all of Tebow's brief summary of the doctrine of salvation:

We believe that the vicarious, substitutionary blood atonement of Christ makes possible the salvation of every living soul (I John 2:2; Revelation 22:17; Romans 10:13). The invitation to salvation is made to all. This justification is by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 5:8), through faith alone (Romans 3:20-28; Romans 4:4-5; John 5:24; John 6:35) in Christ alone (Acts 4:12; John 14:6) without works of any kind before or after salvation (Romans 3:20; Romans 4:4-5; Isaiah 64:6). Salvation is a free gift (Romans 6:23) that needs only to be received- by man putting his faith/trust/belief in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 4:19-5:1).

But historical evangelical Christian teaching be damned, literally, Cook argues. It's just too damn intolerant, and we can't tolerate that:

"Let's not forget the twinge that is felt by sports-loving Jewish kids and parents, for example, or by champions for interfaith cooperation, when adored sports figures like Tebow use their fame to push a Jesus-or-else message," Krattenmaker says.

Jesus or else?

Krattenmaker says sports-world evangelicalism excludes the Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, non-evangelical Protestant and agnostic.

The next time Tebow throws a "Hail Mary" pass, look beyond the eye black.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.