There’s something to be said for honesty. Although, if Shannon Kershner were really honest, she’d stop calling herself a Christian pastor. Instead, she’d label herself a social justice motivational speaker. Because a Christian pastor wouldn’t believe, much less teach, that Christianity isn’t the only way to heaven — which is exactly what the pastor of one of the largest PCUSA churches teaches.
With over 5,500 members, Fourth Presbyterian Church is a shining light in the crumbling PCUSA. Located in Chicago, Fourth Presbyterian is active in a litany of community issues — caring for the homeless, seeking to end sex trafficking, urban youth missions, etc. — all good and right things. Sadly, though, the church has openly abandoned the gospel of Jesus Christ and has turned the church into a civic club of social justice causes.
In a podcast for the Chicago Sun-Times, Kershner was asked, “Is Christianity the only way to heaven?”
After laughing, the purported Christian pastor proudly said, “No.”
Kershner went on to explain, “God’s not a Christian. I mean, we are… For me, the Christian tradition is the way to understand God and my relationship with the world and other humans and it’s the way for me to move into that relationship, but I’m not about to say what God can and cannot do in other ways and with other spiritual experiences.”
Earlier in the podcast, Kershner confessed, “I really do not overly concern myself with issues of salvation, especially salvation of other folks.” That’s an odd thing for a pastor to say, but it’s to be expected from Kershner, who frequently doubts the existence of God.
When asked about her doubt, Kershner explained, “Look at what just unfolded in our world in Las Vegas… that terror and lack of care for humanity is overwhelming, and God has some explaining to do.”
A quick perusal of Job 38-41 will give you an idea of how God responds to those who think that “God has some explaining to do.”
While on one hand, it’s nice to know what Shannon Kershner believes, or, rather, doesn’t believe. On the other hand, it’s troubling that a pastor of a large Presbyterian church denies Christianity while claiming to be a Christian pastor. How many lost souls have stumbled into Fourth Presbyterian longing for truth and transcendence only to be fed doubt and the same message that MSNBC was preaching to them on their TV before they left their house?
The Bible is very clear that the only way to heaven is found through repentance of sin and faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Quoting John 14:6 (I frequently quote that verse when writing about progressive “Christianity”), Jesus made the claim: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Christianity is an inclusive religion. A person either is a Christian or not. As Jesus, Christianity’s namesake, said, there is no access to God apart from Jesus; non-Christians are excluded from the Kingdom of God. Even if you don’t believe that’s true, it’s intellectually dishonest to claim that the Bible teaches differently.
In an article I wrote about the PCUSA’s declining membership, I noted, “In the last four years, the PCUSA has shed around 300,000 members, and the denomination has dipped under 1.5 million members (in 2010, the PCUSA boasted a membership roll of over two million). That’s not an insignificant loss of membership. Based on the current pace, the PCUSA will have less than a million members by 2024. If the trend isn’t halted, the PCUSA could be nonexistent by mid-century.”
The precipitous decline in members within the PCUSA is no accident. Statistics affirm over and over that when denominations embrace liberal theology, people begin leaving in droves. The Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago may boast a large membership, but their denomination is on pace to be extinct. In a liberal city like Chicago, Kershner is able to delude herself that her brand of progressive “Christianity” is appealing to a large base. Lord willing, though, and hopefully fairly soon, she will discover that people want truth, not social justice activism masquerading as theology.