CONFESSING TO PLANTS – WILL THE ROCKS CRY OUT?
By Jeanne Gowen Dennis
This tweet appeared on Twitter from Union Seminary, 9:43 AM, September 17, 2019:
“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?”
Union Theological Seminary in New York City urged its students to confess their sins to potted plants. When I read this, I felt much more than grief. More than anger. My ire brought hot tears to my eyes and took me far beyond the compassion I normally would feel for confused idolaters.
Don’t get me wrong. I usually have great compassion for young people being duped by professors. I have been there myself. When I was 18, I too believed my professors knew better than my parents and religious leaders.
According to my professors, evolution was true. The Bible was mythology. Everything I had known and accepted went out the window when I went to college. I believed the lies and suffered for it.
This time I feel little compassion. God’s glory and honor have been disgraced in such a debasing way that I can only condemn it as the worst idolatry, especially in a seminary, liberal and “interreligious” as it may be.
It’s especially shameful in the nation God has blessed so abundantly and whose motto reads “In God We Trust.”
Honoring Plants as We Would God
These teachers and students gave honor to plants of all things, close to the lowest of all the created order. They used “who” to describe these plants, giving them the status of persons.
Worse, they gave plants credit for sustaining us. We eat plants. They contribute oxygen to the air we breathe, but the benefits plants provide are not sufficient to sustain humans, spiritual beings who have much greater needs than just air and food.
God alone sustains us. He sustains the plants, as well. In fact, it is Jesus who “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3).
This pagan ritual to plants essentially gave the glory that belongs to God to the grass of the field. Herbs that are here today and gone tomorrow, that wither away in dry winds.
Can these people really be so blind? Could they not see the ridiculousness of their thinking?
What silenced the voice of reason in these seminary students and leaders? Why didn’t even one person stand courageously and refuse to participate like the three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan. 3)?
As far as I know, no one said, “I will worship the Lord God Almighty alone, no matter the consequences. I will not bow down to your idols of environmentalism and mother earth.”
God gave humans stewardship of the environment. Where we have failed in that stewardship, we should confess to God and then do what we can to make things right with His help.
Union Seminary asked at the end of their tweet, “What do you confess to the plants in your life?” In answer to their question I ask them, “What do you confess to the Lord of all creation, the One who paid the price on the cross for all your sins?”
The Twitter feed after Union’s post filled up with arguments about whether these acts of prayer and confession comprised worship or not. Some said they were not worship, and therefore could not be called idolatry.
Cut the semantics. Praying to anything or anyone but God is idolatry. Honoring anything above the one true God is idolatry.
Students have followed the seminary’s leadership into humbling themselves before plants. How much lower can it get? If we don’t praise and glorify Jesus, the very rocks will cry out. Maybe the plants will join them.
I pray the blinded eyes of those who participated in or condoned this chapel service will be opened. I pray they will confess their sins to God and come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Most of all, I pray God will receive the homage, confession, worship, and glory He alone deserves. Will you join me in these prayers?
To God be all glory now and forever!
“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7–10 ESV, emphasis mine).
© 2019 Jeanne Gowen Dennis