The Rev. Shannon Kershner Interview (3)
When I first came across the Sun Times article, Prominent Presbyterian pastor: ‘God’s not a Christian . . . We are’, I couldn’t initially digest the enormity of this statement. In fact, I set it aside for months. Only recently did the full force of the implications become apparent, thus leading to this series of posts.
Denying the Christian God
The context for the Rev. Kershner’s statement is straightforward. At time 34:20 the interviewer suddenly (as in out of the blue) asks the following question.
Interviewer: Is Christianity the only way to get to heaven, if heaven exists?
The Rev. Kershner’s initial response is immediate and forceful.
Rev. Kershner: No! God’s not a Christian, I mean we are.
Then there is a bit of verbal fumbling as she attempts to formulate a theological rationale for her assertion.
Rev. Kershner: … 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 can not do in other ways and with other spiritual experiences.
The simple fact is that there is no possible way for a Christian pastor to justify such an initial response. Had she simply followed up by saying that she had misspoke; this and previous posts would have never been written. However, by immediately justifying her statement Rev. Kershner makes it clear that this is indeed what she believes.
And, what she believes is an explicit and unmistakable denial of the Christian God.
I’m confident that, were an exhaustive analysis of Scriptural and Confessional norms conducted, the number of violations would be at least in the many dozens. There is simply nothing in the New Testament or in the interpretation thereof from our Confessions that supports such an assertion.
The Christian God is the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as defined in the Nicene Creed. There are no other gods in addition to the Trinitarian God. There is no conception of God other than the Trinitarian God.
Christians believe that Jesus Christ is simultaneously all human and all God. He is the irreplaceable and eternally existing Second Person in the Trinity. Thus to believe in Jesus Christ is to believe that God is Christian because Christ is God. Although I had considered delivering an exhaustive Biblical and Confessional proof of these doctrines, I have concluded that so doing is a gross insult to the Christian faith.
However, I will comment on a couple additional aspects of her statement.
Visualizing the Non-Christian god
Another way to conceptualize the Rev. Kershner’s idea of a non-Christian god is to reduce it to concrete forms. My consideration led to two (I’m sure there are more) distinct possibilities. In the first, god becomes the summation of the gods of all cultures / civilizations. Thus, each god or set of gods constitute a part of the total god. The following figure shows this option (the numbers are estimates of the number of gods in a given set).
Eagle-eyed readers may detect that in addition to the Chinese, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Pagan gods I have also included ancient idols and Satan. Inclusion of the idols should be self-explanatory from a multiculturalist perspective.
However, many might consider the inclusion of Satan as going way too far. It may or may not be comforting to know that I took this step based on guidance from “The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church.” In a sermon preached on May 12, 2013 in Venezuela on Acts 16:16-24, The Most Reverend Jefferts Schori comments thusly on the Apostle Paul’s exorcism of a demon possessed girl:
But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness. Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it. It gets him thrown in prison. That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!
There you have it! The concept of Christian inclusion means that a demon possessed girl’s spirituality is likely of a higher quality than that of the Apostle Paul’s. It must be frustrating to our PCUSA elites to be behind the Episcopal Church in the inclusion sweepstakes. However, they will surely redouble their efforts to catch up.
The other concrete instantiation of a non-Christian god is a universal god that transcends cultures and civilizations. In this case all human conceptions of god are partial and imperfect. However, all in their own faltering way ultimately point to this same universal god.
If I had to choose which of these two conceptions is closer to the Rev. Kershner’s meaning it would be this second option.
Considering the “Christian Tradition” Explanation
The Rev. Kershner ties her concept of the non-Christian god to the “Christian tradition.” Given that there is no Christian tradition as found in Scripture or our Confessions that supports her idea, one has to wonder to just what tradition she is pointing.
My best guess is it’s the “tradition” of post-modernist theological innovation that has occurred in the PCUSA since the Confession of 1967. As foreseen by Dr. Van Til in an essay on the Confession of 1967:
The God and the Christ of this contemporary theology have very little in common with the God and the Christ of historic Christianity. There is good reason to believe that the new theology has virtually manufactured a new Christ, a person who is essentially different from the Savior of the Scriptures.
I would say that this is a fair description of the “Jesus Christ” that Rev. Kershner has demoted to barely demi-god status, if not a mere human, now long dead and dust.
One last bit of bitter irony. During the Reformation the Catholic church argued for the combination of Scripture and tradition for the source of their doctrine. The Reformers countered that doctrine must be based upon Scripture alone. Now, our most elite progressive Christian leadership is reduced to arguing that doctrine must be based on tradition alone, and a tradition that is ever changing to keep up with the fads and fancies of post-modern secular progressive ideology. So, out with the “Five Solas” and in with the one Sola (i.e., Sola Traditum) that rules them all!
I believe that the “Scripture plus tradition” doctrine of the Medieval Catholic Church was far closer to the truth about Jesus Christ than is our contemporary elite’s “Tradition Alone” doctrine. What a sad, pathetic situation.