NFL star quarterback and certain future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers has once again opened up about his personal beliefs, adding further details to why he has essentially abandoned the Christian faith.
In a podcast interview with his girlfriend, former racing star Danica Patrick, Rodgers discusses some of the specific beliefs he took issue with, including how his church growing up treated people, the book of Revelation, and more.
It’s a very interesting peek inside the soul and mind of a popular public figure, one we rarely get to see. His comments also reveal the damaging effects poor theology — and poor Christian witness — can have on an individual.
During the interview, Rodgers explained how in his early life he and most of his friends were essentially forced to go to church, something he clearly viewed negatively as the only recollection he points to is being eager to get back home to watch NFL football on TV.
He did, however, enjoy the “meaningful” work he was able to do in the mission field as part of the “Young Life” organization, recalling building homes for people who were living in makeshift situations due to extreme poverty.
When Rodgers arrived at college, however, things began to take a turn. He didn’t find a similar connection point with faith groups on campus, and instead had friends with varying beliefs that influenced his thinking (emphasis mine):
“I had some good friendships along the way to help me figure out exactly what I wanted to believe in. Ultimately, it was that rules and regulations and binary systems don’t really resonate with me. It’s been a fun path to a different type of spirituality which to me has been more meaningful. Some people just need structure and they need tradition and stuff and that works for them. I don’t have a problem with it, it just doesn’t resonate with me.”
Perhaps Rodgers simply misspoke here, but Christians should notice the red flags with the wording he uses — specifically when he says he was trying to figure out “what I wanted to believe in” while bemoaning “rules and regulations.”
Believing what we “want” to believe in is a very dangerous path to pursue. Why? First of all, because the truth should be what we choose to follow, not our personal preference of what God should be like.
Second, God (through the Bible) clearly explains the state of man’s heart (what we want/desire), and it’s not a pretty picture.
Our hearts are filled with evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, to name a few (Mark 7:21).
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” — Jeremiah 17:9
The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.” — Ecclesiastes 9:3
Want we want, as creatures in a fallen world, is sin. Rodgers balks at rules and regulations because, it would seem, he’d rather be free to enjoy that sin rather than flee from it. If that weren’t the case, then he wouldn’t have a problem with God’s “rules and regulations” as he puts it.
The big problem we have as humans — is that we can’t, on our own, do anything about it. We don’t even seek God on our own, without His grace.
In Romans 3:18 Paul says there is “no one righteous, not even one” and that there is “no one” who does good. But most importantly, there is “no one who seeks God.”
Thankfully, God can do something about it and has. “God made us alive” we read in (Ephesians 2:4). In John 6:43-44 we see that “no man” can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him.
So before going any further, I’d suggest praying for God to open Aaron’s eyes and draw him in, that he may come to believe the truth.
When Danica asks him when it was that he began to become a skeptic of the faith, he draws a comparison between his Young Life group and his church experience.
“In high school for sure. I was going to church on Sunday, and to Young Life on Mondays. Young Life on Monday welcomed everyone. Come as you are. Be there at 7:29 and be ready for some fun. And it was fun, we had a great time,” Rodgers explains. “Church on Sundays was more make sure you dress a certain way and don’t bring this person and this person is gonna get looked at strangely if they show up. Again, it’s very black and white, binary, but I don’t think it’s welcoming.”
Here we have, at least from his telling of it, a poor example of Christian witness. If that truly happened, then it is an abomination that a church would shun certain people because they didn’t like them, etc.
The church should absolutely be a home for the homeless, refuge for the weary, the different, the outcasts. If they’re not, then shame on them. But that’s not a reflection on God, that’s a reflection of sinful man. It’s sad that Rodgers wasn’t able to see that, but at the same time, it’s even sadder that Christians apparently behaved in this way.
Rodgers went on to explain that Christianity is appealing to people mainly because it makes them feel better about themselves.
“Religion can be a crutch, it can be something that people have to have to make themselves feel better. Because it’s set up binary, it’s us vs. them, saved and unsaved, heaven and hell, it’s enlightened and heathen, it’s holy and righteous, and sinner and filthy,” Rodgers explained. “And I think that makes a lot of people feel better about themselves. ‘Oh, I got Jesus and I’m saved and I’m going to heaven and there’s only 144,000 of us going, even though there’s 7 billion of us on the planet.'”
This is why theology matters. I don’t know where Rodgers went to church as a youth, what they teach, and so forth — but it is clear that whatever he was taught did not leave Rodgers with an accurate view of Christianity.
Christians should go to church and feel convicted about their sin, not puffed up in pride.
Christians should leave church humbled, realizing the depth and depravity of their sin, and praising God for rescuing them from deserved punishment.
Christians know that even their good works are filthy rags in the presence of a perfect and holy God.
Christians know that each and every one of us DESERVE eternal separation from God because of our sin, and that if God decided to save even 1 of us, let alone 144,000, it would be incredibly gracious.
As for the “only 144,000 of us” going to heaven, it is a bit alarming to hear Rodgers toss that in as something all Christians believe. This is not some universal Christian belief, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Here are a few links to explain, for those who’d like to investigate that verse further — hopefully Rodgers himself would take a look at these links if he already hasn’t. Because that’s simply not a belief most — if many at all — hold.
The Bible project has a great recap of Revelation as well:
Finally, Rodgers took issue with God condemning “most” people to eternal separation from Him.
“I don’t know how you can believe in a God who wants to condemn most of the planet to a fiery hell. What type of loving, sensitive, omnipresent, omnipotent being wants to condemn most of his beautiful creation to a fiery hell at the end of all this?”
This is common for those who leave the faith, they think they’ve found a better way than God. They apply human traits to him, forgetting He exists outside of time as we know it, is immutable, completely unique, eternal in nature, all-knowing, and that maybe, just maybe, knows better than us.
Every time I see something like this, I think of Job. God had a series of rhetorical questions after he complained over all his suffering:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? “On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
Rodgers has made several conclusions based on faulty reasoning and exegesis, which ultimately shows the importance of solid theology. Maybe, even after coming to a true understanding of Gospel the Lord will rescue him. Maybe Rodgers will still reject the truth even after that.
I pray that’s not the case and will be praying for Aaron to see and know the true Jesus, as opposed to the one he’s apparently been taught.