Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reaction to Mr. Rodel Rodis' Article "Pope Francis' Views of God"

Hi Rod,

Thanks for your article.

I read it with great interest the first time. I had to read it again to appreciate the logic, the essence and the purpose for your writing it.

From what I glean, your logic is basically founded on the classification of the Pope’s views vis-à-vis the Filipinos’ general view, after which you then submitted your own cunning opinion that we, as confused as we are as a people and as predominantly Catholics, “pray to a dysfunctional Holy Trinity, believing in an Authoritarian God the Father, in a Benevolent God the Son, and in a somewhat Critical or Distant God the Holy Spirit.”

Your conclusion seems to hark back to and find validation in our history as an oppressed colony for four centuries during which time we felt God, just as He allowed the Hebrews to suffer under the pharaohs, left us in chains under the “authoritarian” Catholic Spanish rulers. We then came under the more “benevolent” and Protestant American rulers who allowed us to somehow progress as a nation and after which we again came under a “critical” or overbearing non-Christian Japanese rulers whose only purpose was to extract our natural resources. Under such paradoxically real but artificial conditions, we totally lost our freedom three times over. Today, we remain unsure whether we truly are independent or merely ruled by our own or borrowed or inherited dysfunctional social, political, religious and cultural values.

Hence, considering where we stand as a people, a conglomeration of Christians with diverse religious or spiritual beliefs, you seem to be calling each one, Catholic or not, to see the Pope and his coming visit as a chance for us to assess how we stand as believers in relation to him, to the Catholic Church (or your particular church) and to God. We know most people assume the three are one and the same; but that is not the general reality. The Pope, in fact, has made it clear that he has his own opinions not quiet in keeping with the conservative or popular views of his own church, as you pointed out.

This multiplicity in religious opinions has, for centuries, bedeviled Christianity and has occupied my own mind and some of my close Christian friends’ minds, such that we have spent a good couple of years meeting just to tackle some of the thorniest issues at hand: the Deity of Christ, the Communion, the priesthood, traditions, worship, etc.

I see then the Pope’s coming visit as another reason for majority of Filipinos to rally upon a faith-system that has dominated our country for five centuries now since the exact time Luther arose in protest against it – in 1521, when he nailed his theses on the church door and when Magellan stepped upon these islands. The ironic historical coincidence is too obvious to miss – while history (with God’s inscrutable approval) was trying to correct some errors in Europe, it wanted a small distant nation to start learning what was losing credibility. Some see the latter event as nothing more than a military-backed business venture – after all, the sword is in the shape of a cross, and just as blood-stained.

And so, we remain fixed within a 16th-century form of Christianity along with other countries in South America, a condition which is conducive to continued political and economic exploitation. And the US does not seem to care much as long as the aristocracy remains compliant to imposed western economic, military and political programs, as it has invariably done so from the start.

Fast forward to the 1970’s when people started reading the Bible in throngs. We cannot avoid the fact that so many have turned to a more evangelical (that is, biblical or what we used to call Protestant) and less Catholic-based interpretation of the Gospel. I have to admit I was one of them, although it feels awkward to be bringing this up at this time when political and cultural divisions have complicated our lives even more.

But your article is, secondly, essentially trying to point out the stark and sad reality of our nation’s partitioned nature on so many levels, not just in religion. And, like it or not, practicing one’s religion nowadays is tantamount to being political as well. Just look at Manny Pacquiao: a congressman who has turned into an evangelical preacher (among other things, aside from being an actor, singer and basketball player). A friend and I cannot talk about Pacquiao’s religious beliefs without arguing about his business and political ambitions. Is the Pope or Pacquiao a preacher or a politician? Or are they both both? And are they not also, in fact, businessmen/capitalists with huge financial interests to protect or pursue?

Life, even for believers, is no longer that simple. That is why I also see your intention, thirdly, as that of challenging each one of us to judge the spirits, actuations or the opinions of people, especially those who parade themselves as apostles or disciples of Christ and to really take to heart the lessons that the Lord Jesus Christ left to His 12 apostles, the true cornerstone and foundation of the living body of Christ on Earth. Yes, the foundation has already been established during Christ's ministry; no need to rebuild or to reform. Anything beyond that is dangerous ground.

In addition, even the issue on evolution, which is not really given much media or popular coverage here, you have brought up, thus, adding another intellectual or scientific dimension into the otherwise straightforward religious issues involved. Nevertheless, politics will always be the white elephant in the room.

For if evolution is the way God created us (that is, we did evolve from primates and humanoids) how come humans, who have not truly evolved in spiritual maturity, can now go to Heaven? For if Mary has indeed ascended to Heaven, then, our state as Homo Sapiens is the end-of-the-road for evolution. But who are we to say that 1st-century up to 21st-century humans are the ultimate evolutionary creation of God? How are we more evolved than the Hebrews, in that sense? If the first humans, Adam and Eve, who were created in the image of the perfect God, were in fact the first sinners (or evolutionary misfits, in short), what chances do the rest of us have? And what kind of God would spend many millions of years to develop humans only to see or allow them to fail at the first simple test of appetite? We deserve to be treated like animals which cannot control their desires, whereas we do have the spiritual and intellectual capacity to harness Nature and to create so much goodness and progress, if we only followed the ways of our Creator and His universal designs. We have 7 other planets we can colonize and yet we cannot even keep this one a real Paradise!

Why? Because there is a Deceiver (Did you intentionally forget to mention him?) who causes people to rebel against God and who causes confusion and division among God’s children. Truth is: God declared how He made the Universe and humans. The fact that we do not believe as Moses testified has caused us to doubt, no, to make God and His messengers as liars. We know who the Father of Lies is.

More than looking forward to the Pope’s visit, let us look forward to the return of Christ (which I hope happens soon, maybe next year -- after our class reunion, preferably). By that I mean, let us consider all the present issues as Christ sees them and as He taught them. What were His and His apostles’ views on the Creation, on the Final Judgment, on homosexuality, on women, on adultery, on worship, on faith and many more? He alone is the anchor of our faith, not any human individual, living or dead, or any system of faith we have invented other than the one founded on His revealed and unchangeable truth.

The assurance of our salvation lies upon our understanding of God’s truth as declared by His Son, Jesus. Anyone else and anything else is subject to suspicion.