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Aaron Rodgers: Why I Hate His Football, But Love His Theology

First, I want you to know that I do not like Aaron Rodgers.

But Aaron Rodgers is in good company. After all, I don’t like any NFL quarterback. (Except for Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson is the best quarterback of all time and plays on the best team of all time – the Seattle Seahawks.)

I especially do not like Aaron Rodgers because, for some unknown reason, his team frequently beats my beloved Seahawks. It’s as if the Seahawks turn into little baby sea-chickens whenever the dreaded quarterback Aaron Rodgers comes around.

And so yuck. I hate Aaron Rodgers.

But then I saw that he was trending on Twitter about a month ago. “That’s weird,” I thought. “It’s not the football season. Why is this horrible quarterback filling up my Twitter feed?”

Well…because God.

When churches get consumed with feeling good about themselves by knowing they are good by labeling another group bad, they fall into scapegoating.

Aaron Rodgers Gets God

Aaron Rodgers wasn’t trending because he got traded or retired…oh, how I wish. He was trending because he was talking about God.

I’m not often interested when athletes talk about God. That’s because athletes usually invoke the divine to say, “Thank you God for this win!” That’s okay, I guess. I generally think it’s a good thing to by thankful. But thanking God for winning a sporting event feels strange to me. It’s as if God is behind the scenes, picking winners and losers, and thus, the winners are thankful and the losers suffer defeat at the hands of God.

But that wasn’t Aaron Rodgers’ take. Rather, what he said makes me think of Aaron Rodgers as a good theologian.

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He describes his high school church experience in a way I find all too common:

Church on Sundays was more like, ‘Make sure you dress a certain way. Don’t bring that person. And this person is going to get looked at strangely if they show up.’ It’s very black and white in the binary sense. But I don’t think it’s very welcoming… And because it’s a binary it’s us and them. It’s saved and unsaved. It’s heaven and hell. It’s enlightened and heathen. It’s holy and righteous and sinner and filthy. 

And that makes a lot of people feel better about themselves. You know, ‘I got Jesus! I’m saved and I’m going to heaven and there’s only 144,000 of us going even though there’s seven billion people on the planet.’ 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?

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The Problem with Church

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So many of us have left the church for the same reasons. Churches can often be very un-Christlike. As Rodgers states, religion often leads us to a binary view of us and them. It’s the scapegoating process that Suzanne Ross talks about here –

One point of all the drama is to get us … to choose sides. This happens in nearly every rivalry, on TV and off. The rivals each try to recruit others to their cause and in fact their passion is highly contagious. Soon a community can become quite polarized and paralyzed. Everyone is consumed with anger and self-righteousness. Each side believes that the only thing standing in the way of achieving their goals is the obstinate, lying, immoral guys on the other side. Instead of doing their jobs, their job becomes defeating their rival. American politics, anyone?

Our politics are consumed by scapegoating and, as Rodgers suggests, so are many churches.

When churches get consumed with feeling good about themselves by knowing they are good by labeling another group bad, they fall into scapegoating.

Of course, there is a danger here. We can know we are good by labeling churches bad. We can become self-righteous in our criticisms of self-righteousness. When we do this, we become mimetic rivals of the very thing we are against.

Towards a Better Understanding of God

But the fact is that violent and exclusive views of God are very dangerous. Aaron Rodgers is right to reject an exclusive God who would send the vast majority of people to hell. That idea turns God into the ultimate scapegoater.

Some claim that Rodgers has rejected Christianity, but I don’t hear that in his comments. To the contrary, it looks to me like he is gripped by Jesus, for Jesus says that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

That verse reveals God’s ultimate generosity towards all people, for we all need sun and rain to grow. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t believe in a God who treats people differently. Rather, he believes in a God whose love includes all people.

And because of that, while I hate the fact that he plays football (Dude, retire already!), I hope he keeps talking about God.