Seminary: “Think and Feel with Trees”

Union Seminary in New York City is teaching students how to communicate with trees. In the course Master of Arts in Social Justice for 2023-24, taught by Claudio Carvalhaes, students learn to “think and feel with other species, with the trees, with the soil, with the rivers” and “how do we connect with those other species in our communities and how to create ritual to honor them?” (@UnionSeminary, Nov. 29, 2022). In a chapel service in 2019, Union students asked forgiveness of some plants that had been set up in the auditorium. From its official account, the school tweeted, “Today in chapel, we confessed to plants. Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor. What do you confess to the plants in your life?” (@UnionSeminary, Sept. 17, 2019). This is the final stage of theological liberalism. It leads to atheism and pantheism. Union Seminary was founded in 1836 by the Presbyterian Church in the USA; but by the end of the 19th century, it was roaring drunk on liberal theology, the essence of which is the rejection of the Bible’s infallibility. In January 1891, Charles Briggs attacked the Bible in his inaugural address at Union Seminary after being appointed to the Edward Robinson Chair of Biblical Theology. He questioned the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and one-Isaiah authorship of Isaiah. He questioned the Bible’s miracles. He claimed that the doctrine of verbal inspiration is a “barrier” that hinders a proper approach to the Bible. He denied Scripture’s predictive prophecy. He claimed that the doctrine of inerrancy is “a ghost of modern evangelicalism to frighten children” (Jabez Sunderland, Is the Bible Infallible? 1906). When Briggs was found guilty of heresy and suspended from the ministry by the Presbyterian Church in 1893, Union Seminary stood behind their heretic and broke away from the Presbyterians. In 1897, Union professor A.C. McGiffert published A History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, in which he denied the supernatural inspiration of Scripture and “questioned the genuineness of half the books in the New Testament.” McGiffert implied that the Lord Jesus was mistaken in some of His views and denied the doctrine of Christ’s substitutionary atonement. In 1931, Henry Sloane Coffin, President-Emeritus of Union Seminary, wrote, “There is no cleansing blood which can wipe out the record of what has been. The Cross of Christ is not a means of procuring forgiveness” (Coffin, The Meaning of the Cross, pp. 118-121). When the Bible’s infallible inspiration is rejected, one is driven about by every wind of false doctrine. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).

(Friday Church News Notes, December 9, 2022,, 866-295-4143)