Friday, September 08, 2017

The Search for Aaron Rodgers

I (The Other Chad) have been a Chicago Bears fan since the Super Bowl Shuffle days of 1985.  If you are a Bears fan, that means the Green Bay Packers are your nemesis.  They have the longest running rivalry in professional football.

For the past 8 years, my Bears have been dominated by the quarterback play of Aaron Rodgers.  He is without a doubt one of the greatest signal callers in the history of the NFL.  So as much as I dislike playing the Packers, I truly appreciate what Rodgers can do on the field.

What I also respected about Aaron Rodgers was that he wasn't afraid to share his faith.  But a recent ESPN article revealed that he has actually abandoned his Christian beliefs.  I was very disappointed to hear this news.  But what was even more concerning was his reasoning.  He struck up a relationship with Rob Bell, who is known for his book "Love Wins" and denies that there is a literal Hell.  Apparently, Bell's worldview was convincing enough for Rodgers to now declare that he no longer calls himself a Christian.

Below is an excerpt from the ESPN article describing what shook Rodger's faith.  The disappointing thing is it does not sound like he sought out additional resources other than Bell and his recommendations.  The doubts described are common questions that can be addressed with reasonable answers.  My prayer is that Aaron Rodgers will continue his search and see that there is an overwhelming amount of evidence for the truth of Christianity.

Excerpt from ESPN Article:

I ask him where this search has led him, half expecting him to reveal some second act. Instead, he says he looked inward.
"I think in people's lives who grew up in some sort of organized religion, there really comes a time when you start to question things more," he says. "It happens for some at an early age; others, you know, maybe a little older. That happened to me six or seven years ago."
Like so many players in the NFL, Rodgers devoted much of his young life to those twin pillars of American culture: football and faith. As a boy growing up in Chico, he attended a nondenominational church with his parents, both devout Christians, and absorbed the religion's traditional tenets. And yet, even as he soaked up those lessons, there were aspects of dogma that left him dissatisfied. "I remember asking a question as a young person about somebody in a remote rainforest," he tells me. "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?'"
For years, these concerns nagged at him, especially as he met more people from other walks of life -- teammates who grew up in different parts of the world, friends with different religious backgrounds. He started reading books that delved into alternate interpretations of theology. Then, not long after he became the starter in Green Bay in 2008, he met Rob Bell, a young pastor from Michigan whom the Packers invited to speak to the team. When the talk ended, Rodgers waited for the group to dissipate and then introduced himself to Bell, best known for his progressive views on Christianity. The two men struck up a friendship. Bell sent Rodgers books on everything from religion to art theory to quantum physics, and the quarterback gave him feedback on his writing. Over time, as he read more, Rodgers grew increasingly convinced that the beliefs he had internalized growing up were wrong, that spirituality could be far more inclusive and less literal than he had been taught. As an example, he points to Bell's research into the concept of hell. If you close-read the language in the Bible, Rodgers tells me, it's clear that the words are intended to evoke an analogy for man's separation from God. "It wasn't a fiery pit idea -- that [concept] was handed down in the 1700s by the Puritans and influenced Western culture," he says.
"The Bible opens with a poem," he adds. "It's a beautiful piece of work, but it was never meant to be interpreted as I think some churches do." I ask him whether he still sees himself as a Christian, and he says he no longer identifies with any affiliation.
After Super Bowl XLV, Rodgers and Bell spent a lot of time talking about what he experienced on that bus -- how he felt, or didn't feel, and his realization that absolute success on the field didn't make him completely content. It wasn't until he confronted his own "narrow-minded" views about the world and his place in it, he says, that he experienced a sense of the fulfillment he yearned for. "I think questions like that in your mind lead to really beautiful periods where you start to grow as a person," he says. "I think 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.
"That wasn't really the way that I was, maybe the first 25 or 26 years of my life," Rodgers continues. "I was, you know, more black-and-white. This is what I believe in. And then at some point ... you realize, I don't really know the answers to these questions."

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