This weekend NFL superstar quarter-back Aaron Rodgers takes the field with his Green Bay Packers to battle the San Francisco 49er’s for the 2020 NFC title. Rodgers is one of the most electrifying players in the game. He has been named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player twice and he and his team won Super Bowl XLV in 2010.
However, even after all of those achievements, Rodgers was still searching for something. In an interview with ESPN, Rodgers says: “It’s natural to question some of the things that society defines as success, when you achieve that and there’s not this rung–you know, another rung to climb up in this ladder–it’s natural to be like, ‘OK, now what?'”
Rodgers goes on to explain that he grew up in a devout Christian home. His family attended a non-denominational church and he was taught all the Bible lessons as a kid. It wasn’t until later in life he started to really question things he was taught a lot more. He recalls specifically a concern that stuck with him: “I remember asking a question as a young person about somebody in a remote rainforest,” Rodgers told Mina Kimes. “Because the words that I got were: ‘If you don’t confess your sins, then you’re going to hell.’ And I said, ‘What about the people who don’t have a Bible readily accessible?'” This particularly bothered Rodgers, because his teammates and friends that would be going to hell if he were to believe that statement.
Ex-Mars Hill Pastor Rob Bell was invited by the Packers to speak to the team in 2008 and Rodgers began a strong friendship with him. Bell sent him books on religion to read, and Rodgers even gave him feedback on his (Bell) writings. It was after reading those books and conversations he had with Rob Bell that Rodgers came to the conclusion that the beliefs he had been taught to have as a child were wrong. It was then he says he realized that spirituality is more inclusive and a lot less literal than the lessons he was taught and struggled with.
Rodgers credits Bell’s research for his current belief of there not being a literal hell:”It wasn’t a fiery pit idea–that [concept] was handed down in the 1700s by the Puritans and influenced Western culture.” In the interview he goes on to say that Genesis is a beautiful piece of work but was never meant to be interpreted as some churches do.
Rodgers now believes that organized religion can have “a mind-debilitating effect, because there is an exclusivity that can shut you out from being open to the world, to people, and energy, and love and acceptance.” He didn’t used to think that way, he used to be more “black-and-white” or as others may call “absolute.”
When Aaron Rodgers was asked if he was still sees himself as a Christian he responded he no longer identifies with any affiliation.
Here are 4 takeaways for Church Leaders from Rodgers’ interview:
1. Our children don’t inherit their parent’s beliefs; they must ultimately come to the conclusion (or submission) to the truth of Jesus for themselves. It is so important we pray for our children’s faith. (John 3)
2. Someone’s doubts and curiosity should be handled carefully. Knowledge that is outside the Bible can cause people to be swayed and misled to believe something other than what the Holy Spirit planted earlier. (Matthew 13)
3. Hell is real (separation from Jesus for eternity), but very few desire to believe that. (Luke 13)
4. When we watch Aaron Rodgers’ greatness on the field it is important we care about his soul, and as long as he has breath there is time for him to repent and believe in the questions he struggles with. (Luke 23)
References: ESPN The Magazine: The search for Aaron Rodgers