Seminary President Says She Doesn't Believe in Heaven, or The Resurrection

Union Theological Seminary (UTS) in New York City is the oldest independent seminary “in the Christian tradition”. Founded in 1836 by members of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A, the non-denominational UTS has an endowment of $108 million and is a bastion of “progressive Christianity” and the birthplace of Black theology, womanist theology, and other theological movements (Wikipedia).

Although UTS’s founding constitution stated the seminary’s goal was to “promote” the “Kingdom of Christ”, and professors were required to affirm they believed “the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the word of God” and the “only infallible rule of faith and practice,” today’s UTS is more about “progressive” ideology than religion, which is made clear in its About” page:

Today, the Seminary lives out this formative call to service by training people of all faiths and none who are called to the work of social justice in the world.  With roots that are firmly planted in the Protestant tradition, Union actively reforms itself in response to the changing needs of the world and an evolving understanding of what it means to be faithful.

Even worse, the president of Theological Seminary (and its Johnston Family Professor for Religion and Democracy), Serene Jones, 59, formerly the Titus Street Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and chair of Gender, Woman, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University, doesn’t even believe in the fundamental tenets of Christianity. She does believe in feminism, however.

In an interview with Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times for an article published Easter weekend, Serene Jones rejects these fundamental beliefs of Christianity:

 The Resurrection

Jones, the president of a Christian seminary, does not believe in the literal bodily resurrection of Christ. She said:

“When you look in the Gospels, the stories are all over the place. There’s no resurrection story in Mark, just an empty tomb. Those who claim to know whether or not it happened are kidding themselves…. Crucifixion is not something that God is orchestrating from upstairs. The pervasive idea of an abusive God-father who sends his own kid to the cross so God could forgive people is nuts. For me, the cross is an enactment of our human hatred. But what happens on Easter is the triumph of love in the midst of suffering. Isn’t that reason for hope?”

Virgin Birth

“I find the virgin birth a bizarre claim. It has nothing to do with Jesus’ message. The virgin birth only becomes important if you have a theology in which sexuality is considered sinful. It also promotes this notion that the pure, untouched female body is the best body, and that idea has led to centuries of oppressing women.”

Heaven

Nor does Jones believe in Heaven, Hell or an afterlife. Asked what happens when people die, Jones responded, “I don’t know! There may be something, there may be nothing. My faith is not tied to some divine promise about the afterlife.”

God

For that matter, it is doubtful whether Serene Jones even believes in the Christian understanding of God. Asked how we can reconcile an “omnipotent, omniscient God” with evil and suffering, Jones responded:

“At the heart of faith is mystery. God is beyond our knowing, not a being or an essence or an object. But I don’t worship an all-powerful, all-controlling omnipotent, omniscient being. That is a fabrication of Roman juridical theory and Greek mythology.”

Despite not believing in the fundamental tenets that make Christianity, Jones nevertheless calls herself Christian. When Kristof asked her if he can be considered a Christian though not believing in a virgin birth or resurrection, Jones answered, “Well, you sound an awful lot like me, and I’m a Christian minister.”

So what does Serene Jones believe? She believes in human enlightenment, and social justice. Of course. There are two powerful forces driving spirituality today. They are: Interfaith mystical experience and social justice ideology.

Her own words,

Since we’ve [the Seminary] started we’ve become more multi-religious. Our own awakening to the ways in which social injustices live inside us has changed over time. But that commitment to social justice is always there. It fits a need in society right now more than it did in 2008.

I think in these times in which we find ourselves, what we do here at this school in our incredible diverse student body, in our study of multiple religious traditions, in our commitment to social justice in addressing a myriad of social issues, is the moral and ethical work that people are looking for spiritually.

Serene Jones, like many other progressive individuals (including SDA pop-liberals) has bought into the cultural lie that you can become divine through enlightenment, and if you are divine—you have to be just (social justice).

She also believes in feminism (of course). Serene Jones is the author of the book Feminist Theory and Christian Theology.

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This sad story should serve as a powerful deterrent to Adventist leaders and members who believe they can add liberalism to their Adventist worldview without distancing themselves from the faith of Jesus and the Commandments of God.

You can’t.

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“Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:7).