A prominent Presbyterian Church (USA) pastor’s response when asked if Christianity is the only way to heaven is raising some eyebrows.
The Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner, 45, is the pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Illinois, PC(USA)’s second largest congregation. And during a recent appearance on The Chicago Sun-Times’ “Face to Faith” podcast, she spoke out about an array of issues, including whether Christianity truly is the only way to heaven.
“No, God’s not a Christian,” she said when asked the question. “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.”
Kershner continued, “But I’m not about to say what God can and cannot do in other ways and with other spiritual experiences.”
Listen around the 34:00-mark below:
Earlier in the podcast, Kershner also spoke further about the issue of salvation, while issuing some comments about the debate over the theology of predestination.
“I really do not overly concern myself with issues of salvation, especially salvation of other folks,” she said. “That’s God’s job description and not my own.”
Additionally, Kershner appeared to say that she doesn’t believe God will be sending people to hell, The Christian Post reported.
While the “only way to heaven” comments might be shocking to scores of Christians who take Jesus at his word that he is the only way to heaven — based on the biblical text — Kershner’s apparent stance isn’t entirely rare among PC(USA) pastors.
According to the denomination’s own “Religious and Demographic Profile of Presbyterians” survey conducted a few years ago, there’s quite a divide when it comes to the essentiality of Christ for salvation.
“Among pastors, almost identical proportions strongly disagree or disagree (45 percent) and strongly agree or agree (41 percent) that following Christ is necessary for salvation,” the document reads. “A majority of specialized ministers (56%) strongly disagree or disagree.”