Shannon Johnson Kershner is the impastor of the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, a 5,500 member megachurch. The church just happens to be the second-largest church belonging to the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America (PCUSA). In a podcast with the Chicago Sun, she recently denied that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.
Known as the “Exclusivity of Christ,” this doctrine teachers that the only means of salvation is through Christ. This is a benchmark doctrine of virtually all Protestant Christian thought, and is enshrined in Reformation theology as Sola Christus. Denying the Exclusivity of Christ is tacitly a form of Universalism or pseudo-Universalism, which teaches that ultimately, everyone (or most) will be saved whether or not they come to Christ for their salvation.
Claiming that she desires to “reform” the church “from the inside out,” Kershner has indeed set about to change historic Christian doctrine.
Kershner begins her reforming of the church by first attacking the doctrine of God, telling the Chicago Sun, that we should get “beyond this idol of maleness that we’ve constructed both for the divine as well as for clergy.” Of course, an idol is a manufactured image, but God does reveal himself as male (although God the Father is spirit and has no flesh, this is how he identifies Himself to us). It’s beyond perverse to refer to a revealed attribute of God as an “idol.”
Why should we view God as female? Well, it’s so that little girls can become pastors, with Kershner saying, ““I wanted to make sure that little girls knew that God could call them to be pastors, too.”
Of course, God does not not little girls – or grown women – to be pastors, and explicitly qualifies pastoral leadership as a male gender role in the pastoral epistles of Timothy and Titus.
Kershner also said, “I really do not overly concern myself with issues of salvation, especially salvation of other folks — that’s God’s job description and not my own.” Of course Paul told Timothy – a pastor – to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5) and proclaiming Good News to the lost is an essential function of the church and of church leadership.
When asked if Jesus was the only way to salvation, Kershner responded, “No, 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 . . . But I’m not about to say what God can and cannot do in other ways and with other spiritual experiences.”
Jesus was pretty clear about what God would and wound not do regarding salvation, and affirmed his exclusive means of salvation in places like John 14:6.