A Presbyterian minister declares that he doesn't believe in God, who he says is a figment of one's imagination. John Shuck — who many question why he's a minister in the first place — says God isn't supernatural.
"God is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being," the PC(USA) minister wrote on an atheist blog called "The Friendly Atheist's Blog." The headline of his post reads, "I'm a Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn't Believe in God," where he calls himself a "proud minister" of the church.
Even though Shuck says he doesn't appreciate "being told I'm not truly a Christian," his heretical statements make such a statement ironic in the eyes of most denominational and non-denominational churches alike.
"God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force," Shuck alleges. "Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about him is in the form of legend."
Rewriting the Good Book
According to Shuck's statements, he has rewritten the book on Christianity, insisting that belief in Jesus Christ as one's savior and asking God's forgiveness for one's sins are mere technicalities that can be overlooked or worked past.
"I believe one of the newer religious paths could be a 'belief-less' Christianity," Shuck expressed. "In this 'sect,' one is not required to believe things."
The atheist "minister" declares that in his sect of Christianity, societal mores and conventions trump God's written Word in the Bible — and that heaven and hell are mere figments of one's imagination.
"One learns and draws upon practices and products of our cultural tradition to create meaning in the present," Shuck explains, clarifying his new philosophical worldview. "Human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there's no afterlife."
After establishing the tenets of his new atheistic beliefs, Shuck goes on to attack traditional Bible-believing Christians, implying that born-again believers have it all wrong and are antiquated in their belief system. He says Christians on the Left, who discount the Bible and buy into the latest cultural conventions, have graduated to some kind of a higher understanding of the world.
"Belief-less Christianity is thriving right now, even as other forms of the faith are falling away rapidly," Shuck claims. "Many liberal or progressive Christians have already let go or de-emphasized belief in heaven, that the Bible is literally true, that Jesus is supernatural, and that Christianity is the only way. Yet they still practice what they call Christianity."
Essentially, Shuck asserts that everyone is his or her own God with the freedom to make one's own reality as he or she sees fit.
"Someone quipped that my congregation is BYOG: Bring Your Own God," Shuck shared in his blog. "I use that and invite people to 'bring their own God' — or none at all."
Shuck has created a world for himself and his adherents that is free of any moral absolutes or accountability to God — or as Shuck would put it, a fictitious supernatural higher being.
"While the symbol 'God' is part of our cultural tradition, you can take it or leave it or redefine it to your liking," Shuck concluded his blog post. "That permission to be theological do-it-yourselfers is at the heart of belief-less Christianity."
Not so fast …
Calling out Shuck's bluff as a true minister, Charisma News senior editor Jennifer LeClaire pointed out in her opinion column what she considers to be gaping holes in his argument.
"Shuck essentially denies the divinity of Christ, characterizes the Father as a myth-maker, repudiates the veracity of the Bible, denies any existence of an afterlife and gets offended when people suggest that maybe he needs to reclassify his faith — or lack thereof?" LeClaire questions. "About the only thing he didn't do was directly blaspheme the Holy Spirit."
In response to Shuck's "belief-less Christianity," LeClaire notes that it demonstrates a "perversion of God's Word" that is being embraced by pastors and liberal Christian denominations. LeClaire also stresses that Shuck's rejection of the gospel is influenced by his declared support for congregations that are highly committed to the LGBTQ community.
"That might be what they call Christianity, but that's not Christianity," LeClaire argues. "Christianity is a religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus, the Christ."
LeClaire says that Shuck isn't alone in his straying from the inspired Word of God.
"We're seeing prominent pastors and entire denominations perverting God's Word, twisting it to defend and justify perversion itself and suggesting the rest of us are legalistic or unenlightened about the truth," LeClaire points out. "It may have started with the gay marriage doctrine, but it won't end there."
Making her case and point, LeClaire lays out the scripture to blast holes through most of Shuck's arguments.
"Let's be clear: Christianity teaches the Bible is the inspired Word of God (see 2 Tim. 3:15)," LeClaire asserts with the authority of God's Word. "Christianity teaches that God exists in three Persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit (see Matt 3:16-17). Christianity teaches that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, resurrected and seated at the right hand of the Father (see Rom. 4:25). Christianity teaches that mankind was created in God's image to live in relationship with Him (see Gen. 1:27). Christianity teaches that in order to be saved, one must believe in their heart and confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord (see Rom. 10:9). Christianity teaches that there is an afterlife — heaven for those who believe and hell for those who don't (see 2 Cor. 5:8; Matt. 5:22; 30)."
LeClaire warns Shuck that leading people astray by twisting and denouncing the Scriptures is a serious and punishable offense to God.
"It's also a perversion of the truth that could send people to hell and the blood of those who buy into Shuck's false gospel will be on his hands," LeClaire attests. "Thankfully, God is merciful and forgiving."
She ends with a prayer that God's truth and enlightenment would prevail in the hearts of church leaders like Shuck … and the people they influence.
"I pray that a spirit of repentance would fall on Shuck and all those like him who are perverting or denying the Word of God," LeClaire concludes. "I pray that church leaders and parishioners alike would receive fresh wisdom and knowledge in the revelation of Jesus. I pray that the truth would prevail in churches across the world. I pray for a Third Great Awakening with signs, wonders and miracles that will make it very evident that God is real and Jesus is alive. Amen."