The leader of a Christian sports ministry is very concerned that a controversial former pastor is leading a future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback down the road to apostasy.
In a recent piece published by ESPN The Magazine, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers revealed that he no longer believes the Bible on some major doctrinal issues. Steve McConkey, president of 4 Winds Christian Athletics, based in Wisconsin, says that's because the All-Pro athlete has been influenced by Rob Bell, whom McConkey describes as a false teacher who leans toward universalism – a belief that all people will be saved.
"In 2008 Rob Bell had a chapel service [with the] Green Bay Packers, and afterwards Aaron had some questions about hell and things he had been taught as a kid at a Christian church in California," the ministry leader describes. "So Rob Bell had a big impact on him."
According to the magazine article, Bell's influence has led Rodgers to publicly announce that he does not believe in a literal hell:
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 [the writer of the article], 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. [Excerpted from article]
McConkey reiterates his concern.
"Aaron Rodgers is looked up to, especially here in Wisconsin and all over the United States, as a role model," he tells OneNewsNow. "[So] he's going to have influence on kids and people who are interested in sports – and some kids do look up to these people and follow what they do. So this is only opening a door for them to learn bad theology."
The article's author also quotes Rodgers as saying he no longer identifies with any religious affiliation – and that the QB thinks "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."
McConkey finds it sad that arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks ever has been led astray.