Two months after the Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner, leader of the second-largest congregation in the Presbyterian Church USA, declared that Christianity is not the only way to Heaven, popular internet preacher Greg Locke is firing back at those who believe that Jesus is not the only way to Heaven.
"Some time ago there was a study of statistical data done among evangelical Christians 'those that actually believe the Bible' and over 50 percent of them said that there are 'perhaps multiple ways to Heaven,'" said Locke, who is the lead pastor of Global Vision Bible Church in Tennessee, in a mini-sermon last Thursday.
"If you believe that there are multiple ways to Heaven then you are not a Bible believer, because the very essence of the Gospel — the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ — is not that Jesus is a way to Heaven, He is the one and only way to Heaven," he said in the clip which had been viewed nearly 4 million times as of Wednesday afternoon.
The study Locke appears to reference in his post is a 2008 report from the Pew Research Center which showed that a majority of all American Christians, 52 percent, think that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life. Among Christians who believe many religions can lead to eternal life, some 80 percent name at least one non-Christian faith that can do so.
For evangelical Christians to hold that belief, Locke asserts, is a "smack" in God's face.
"You know Jesus said in John Chapter 14 and verse number 6: 'I am the way, the truth and the life. And no man cometh unto the Father but by me.' And then further he elaborated in Matthew Chapter 7 that 'broad is the way that leads to destruction and many there be which go in there but narrow is the way that leads unto to life and few there be that find it.'
"People say that's bigoted, that's narrow-minded, that's exclusive, exactly," Locke said. "Jesus is exclusive. He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life, and if you try to get to Heaven any way other than Jesus Christ and His Gospel, you cannot go. ... That is one fundamental doctrine that we cannot afford to compromise," he said.
"People say what about those who believe in Buddha, what about those who believe in Allah and Mohammed? Hear me and hear me well. If you trust in anything other than Jesus Christ to get you to Heaven, you don't go. What kind of believer would I be if I didn't believe that?" he asked. "To say that there are multiple ways to Heaven is a smack in the face to the holy God of the universe."
When asked, "Is Christianity the only way to Heaven?" in an interview in October, however, Kershner, 45, who leads the 5,500-member Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Illinois, bluntly replied: "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, and it's for 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," she said.
According to the Presbyterian Panel Survey, 2012–2014, 45 percent of PCUSA pastors strongly disagree or disagree that "only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved."