Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. He is a Super Bowl winner, won the MVP twice, has been selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, and will undoubtedly be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In late December Rodgers had some harsh words about Christianity and religion. He was being interviewed by his girlfriend, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, on her “Pretty Intense” podcast. Rodgers talked about a lot of subjects, and eventually zeroed in on his beliefs about religion.
He stated that he was raised in a Christian home and went to church every week. But as he got older and especially when he went off to college, he walked away from his Christian upbringing. By the way, the family of Rodgers responded on Jan. 23 that they were heartbroken over his comments.
I want to highlight a few of his critiques of Christianity and religion and share some teaching points to start a discussion about what Aaron Rodgers had to say. The interview can be seen here.
I hope and pray that someday Aaron Rodgers meets someone who can answer all his critiques, because we do have answers … he just does not know them! You can use his interview to help people open up and find out if they struggle with the same concerns or if they would know how to answer these questions.
These discussion and teaching thoughts are designed to be a beginning point to use with small groups, Sunday School classes, or a youth group. You could read or play Rodgers’ comments, ask your group how they would respond to him, and then share how you would answer his critiques.
Critique #1: “Religion can be a crutch to make people feel better”
- Discuss: what do you think Rodgers means that Christianity is a crutch? Can you understand his perspective? Is this a judgmental statement about religious people?
- Teach: Christians do not believe in a crutch but in the cross. Christianity is not a self-help religion that will help us when life gets bad. Rather, Christians are forgiven, redeemed, and empowered through Jesus Christ. Also note that this criticism of Christianity is not about whether Christianity is true or not, but rather about how some people may use religion.
Critique #2: Aaron Rodgers says he is “spiritual” but not “religious”
- Discuss: how do you think Rodgers defines “spiritual” and “religious?” How would you define spiritual and religious? Is it possible to be spiritual but not religious? Is it possible to be religious but not spiritual?
- Teach: Notice what is behind his comment. Rodgers does not like the church/religion, so he has rejected it because of his bad experiences there. Is that a valid reason to reject Christianity as a whole? Now, let’s consider the concept of being “spiritual but not religious (SBNR). Is that really possible? As a professor, this would be like me saying I am a scholar, but I don’t like books! I would be a very ignorant scholar if I did not read books. If you are only “spiritual,” how do you know truth?
Critique #3: “How can you believe in a God who condemns people to hell?”
“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?”
- Discuss: Do you agree with what Rodgers says here about God? Why or why not? Do you believe there is a hell? Why or why not? Do you believe that God will send people to hell? Why or why not?
- Teach: God created hell for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). God does not want people to go to hell (2 Peter 3:9). Through Jesus Christ, we can be saved from hell (John 3:16).
Critique #4: “’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.’”
- Discuss: Do Christians believe that only 144,000 people are going to get into heaven, or is Rodgers confused? What does the Bible teach about the 144,000?
- Teach: Teach what the Bible says about the 144,000 (Rev. 7:4)
Critique #5: Rodgers said he wanted to find something that “he wanted to believe in … rules and regulations and binary systems don’t really relate to me.”
- Discuss: Rodgers wants something that he can believe, thus he is deciding what is truth and what is not. Is that a dangerous path to walk? If so, why? Rodgers does not like religions that have rules and regulations, so he rejects these. What would happen if he used this approach in other aspects of life?
- Teach: Truth is what God has given, not what we may want (John 14:6). God has revealed His truth to us through the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16). Our hearts are deceitful and sinful and will lead us astray (Jer. 17:9). But the truth will set us free (John 8:32).
Randy Douglass is an Associate Professor of Christian Studies at Shorter University. He co-authored two books with Norman Geisler, both with Baker Books: “Bringing Your Faith to Work—Answers for Break-room Skeptics” (2005) and “Integrity at Work” (2007)