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Aaron Rodgers & Christianity’s Future

A reader writes with a story about the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback:

I wanted to share this story on Aaron Rodgers with you.  It’s just one more story demonstrating the reality of what the Church is facing these days.

For a brief rundown of what it describes about Rodgers’ life; devout Christian family, active in church and youth activities, shallow foundation/catechesis leading to doubts in his 20s when confronted by alternative viewpoints, exploration of a progressive and “open” Christianity, with the eventual result being a complete rejection of traditional Christianity, plenty of progressive political opinions, and a spiritual-but-not-religious, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

Rodgers’ story, outside of involving the arguably best quarterback in the world, is as standard as it comes for this generation (Rodgers is one year older than me). I look at my closest group of friends, eight of us in total, all from devout Christian families involved in church our entire lives, and if I’m generous maybe three of us are what I would describe as active in the church with a growing and strong faith. The percentage still with the church is maybe slightly higher for my brother’s friends. Rodgers’ story is my generation’s story. It’s what has made me a passionate advocate of the Benedict Option because it’s clear to me that own children’s story will likely be even less rosy than my own.

I was immensely intrigued by the part Rob Bell has played in Rodgers’ life. For many Evangelicals our age, Bell was an immensely influential and attractive figure. No matter what one thinks of him, his methods of communicating and his knowledge of the Bible made an impact on myself and numerous others. It’s become clear to me over the years that Rodgers’ destination is likely the inevitable result of the ever-increasing progression away from orthodox Christianity. It makes me wonder if progressive Evangelicals realize this, and if so, do they care, or if they truly believe they can build a stable, progressive Christianity that doesn’t get completely swept away by the forces of modernity.

Thanks so much for that sad story. The answer, as you know, is no, they can’t. Ask the people who were progressive Catholics in the 1960s and 1970s how many of their children (and grandchildren) are practicing Catholics today. Progressive Christianity is parasitical on orthodox Christianity, and turns out to be pretty sterile after the first generation. Look at the Protestant Mainline. Look at postconciliar American Catholicism. It’s going to happen to progressive Evangelicals too.

To be sure, conservative Christians of all kinds have a hard future ahead of us. But it’s a different kind of hard than what progressive Christians face. If we live as if we were in normal times, we are not that far behind the progressives on the road to oblivion.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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