Quarterback Aaron Rodgers Doubts His Faith
NFL Quarterback Aaron Rodgers questions Christianity on a recent podcast. Dr. Craig offers some help.
KEVIN HARRIS: Dr. Craig, a lot of football fans were upset with Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback and all right good guy, who seems to be distancing himself from Christianity. He’s questioning the morality of God who would send people to hell. This has made quite an impact, I think. He’s dating another celebrity, Danica Patrick, the race car driver. She has her own podcast, and she interviews him as the celebrity that he is and also is her boyfriend. He called it religious superstition, could be a crutch, and adding that Christianity is something that people have to have to make themselves feel better. He said several things, and we'll listen to a couple of clips here.
DR. CRAIG: OK. This is really, really unfortunate. Jan was raised in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and so we're big Green Bay fans. She always wears her Green Bay sweatshirt when we watch them on television. And we're rooting for the Packers. So it's so sad to see Rodgers saying these sorts of things that I think reflect a real lack of understanding about Christianity. Certainly, religious superstition can be a crutch, as he says. It can be something that people have to have to make themselves feel better. But that doesn't mean that it must be that or that it is properly that. There can also be people who believe in Christianity because they think it is objectively true and have good reasons for believing it to be true who are healthy psychologically, well-balanced people that don't need a crutch but they believe that God exists and has revealed himself in Jesus of Nazareth. I wish that Aaron Rodgers would look into some of the objective evidence for the truth of Christian theism. He's obviously reacting here against something in his background. I don't know what, but it's clear that he has deep misimpressions of what Christian faith really is.
KEVIN HARRIS: For a football player, he gets pretty philosophical here. He’s a sharp guy.
DR. CRAIG: Yes. You can admire him for his thoughtfulness and his articulateness. But when it's conjoined with ignorance or misinformation then it can just lead astray.
KEVIN HARRIS: He says that Christianity is a problematic “binarying” system. Explaining: It's saved and unsaved, it's heaven and hell, it's enlightened and heathen, it's holy and righteous and sinner and filthy. I think that makes a lot of people feel better about themselves. ‘I got Jesus’ and ‘I'm saved’ and ‘I’m going to heaven.’
DR. CRAIG: This is a strange complaint. Contradictions cannot be true. So of course it's A or it's not-A. For example, you can't be almost pregnant. You're either pregnant or you're not pregnant. Or to give an example that Rodgers would understand: you either are the winner of the Super Bowl or you are not.
KEVIN HARRIS: I was thinking, why don't we just do away with the binary system and have both teams win the Super Bowl.
DR. CRAIG: There you go! Everybody gets a prize! This is, in other words, just a matter of the law of contradiction – that contradictories cannot both be true. So there really isn't any substantive objection here.
KEVIN HARRIS: Let's listen to a clip here. This is the crux of why he seems to have rejected Christianity.
AARON RODGERS: 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?
DR. CRAIG: This comment illustrates what I said about his misunderstanding of Christianity. Look at his words. He characterizes Christianity as the doctrine or the view that God wants to condemn most people to a fiery hell. Well, that's not the God of the Bible that I read about. The God of the Bible says, I have no pleasure in the death of anyone. I do not have pleasure in the death of the wicked. Instead, the Bible says God's desire is that all persons be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. So the God of the Bible is not a God who wants to condemn anyone to hell, much less most people. The God of the Bible is someone who reaches out to people who have thrust God from themselves, to convict them of sin, to draw them to a point of repentance and forgiveness so that they can be cleansed and born anew – born again – to eternal life and to find ultimate fulfillment in life in an eternal relationship with a loving and holy God. This is just a cruel caricature of the Christian God.
KEVIN HARRIS: Apparently Aaron Rodgers was really involved in Young Life – that organization. The Young Life director had a really profound impact on his life and his faith. But he started to ask questions. He says, I remember asking a question as a young person about somebody in a remote rainforest because the words that I got were if you don't confess your sins then you're going to hell. And I said, Well, what about the people who don't have a Bible readily accessible?
DR. CRAIG: This is the old question about what about those who have never heard. It's interesting that the person who spoke to him did not say, Unless you believe in Jesus you're going to hell. He didn't say that. Or, Unless you believe in the Bible you're going to hell. He said, If you don't confess your sins, you're going to hell. You don’t need to believe in Jesus, and you don't need to have heard the Gospel message to confess your sins. The Bible says that from nature and conscience alone all persons are morally responsible to God for their lives, and that they can know on the basis of God's general revelation in nature and conscience that there is a God who exists and who has created the world and to whom they are morally responsible. So they can repent of their sins and fling themselves upon the mercy of this unknown God, as it were. So Rodgers, again, is just mischaracterizing this issue, and he hasn't thought very deeply about it. I want to commend to our listeners the two newest Zangmeister animated videos that Reasonable Faith has produced. We just released the video called “What About Those Who Have Never Heard?” It is precisely on this topic raised by Aaron Rodgers, and it shows that there's no inconsistency with God's being all-powerful and all-loving and yet some people never hearing the Gospel and being lost.
KEVIN HARRIS: We all ask that question. Aaron isn’t asking anything that we as young people asked and that adults ask. This is a common question. Young Life, I know for a fact, has all kinds of good information on it. I’m not blaming Aaron for asking the question. I’m saying, yeah, of course you ought to ask that question. That’s a good question.
DR. CRAIG: Yes. Right.
KEVIN HARRIS: But I wonder why he never got a hold of at least some commentary on it and some answers. If he’s plugged into Young Life; he’s plugged into . . .
DR. CRAIG: I have no idea. But it is obvious that he hasn’t plunged very deeply into thinking about these good questions.
KEVIN HARRIS: That is a very good resource that Reasonable Faith has. It puts it in animation that is accessible to all ages. He says at the conclusion of this article, I think in people’s lives who grew up in some kind of organized religion there really comes a time when you start to question things more.
DR. CRAIG: Absolutely. At least there should be. And that is when faith becomes mature.