4 Theological Words Commonly Misunderstood by Filipinos

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In Pinoy conversations, when faith becomes the subject, you can see some misunderstandings in the words we use. Considering that the Philippines is a “Christian” country, sometimes words get lost it’s meaning.   This doesn’t mean we are totally illiterate when it comes to the nitty gritty of their faith or about the Bible. Even in Pinoy evangelical circles, who are more exposed to books and biblical teachings, sometimes get confused with these terms. So for the benefit of all of us, we shall unlock the meaning of the following words commonly misunderstood by Filipinos.

Born-Again – As a Filipino, what comes in your mind when you hear the word, born again? For some Pinoys, it usually refers to a charismatic movement that flourished from the 80’s, most specifically the group Jesus Is Lord (or JIL) Movement headed by Bro. Eddie Villanueva. This group, just like any charismatic groups, have TV shows were they preach and heal people. They had their spotlight here and there because some Pinoy celebrities are members of some churches of this group.

We can see the word born again in the Bible and it’s not referring to a charismatic movement. In John 3: 3, we see Jesus talking about it with Nicodemus. Born again in context with this chapter means regeneration, which is sole act of God making someone dead in sin, come alive and ready to receive the gift of faith which is also from God. For someone to be right with God, God need that sinner to be regenerated. This is a crucial aspect of salvation, because if we believe salvation is from God alone, it must regeneration. For more about being born again and regeneration, check out this article from Monergism.

Iglesia or Iglesiya – When Filipinos use this word, they commonly refer it to the church or members of Iglesia ni Cristo founded by Felix Manalo. Although the word is mentioned in Catholic mass referring to the church or you can read it on Tagalog Bible translation, Iglesia became a household name due to the popularity of Iglesia ni Cristo.

However,  Iglesia is a Tagalog translation of the Greek word ekklesia which means called out assembly. Hence, iglesia or ekklesia refers not to a building, a religious group but to a group of people called by God out from this sin fallen world. Whether it’s the universal or local church, iglesia or iglesiya can be used. A believer can also use the word simbahan,which is more popularly used in the Philippines.

Catechism – The next two words that we will tackle are not just misunderstood by Pinoys  but also by many specially in evangelical circles.  In the Pinoy context, catechism is something  associated with the Roman Catholic Church. Catechizing is usually done during  fiestas, where babies will be baptized in a church or chapel. The godparents will undergo a “seminar”, which include teaching basic Roman Catholic doctrines, in a form of catechism before the baptism.

However, catechism is not solely a Roman Catholic thing. Other denomination do have catechism as a teaching tool for the lay people. Using a catechism doesn’t make you Roman Catholic, so you should not dread using one. Catechism is basically a summary of essential doctrines a Christian group believes. It’s written in a question and answer style, for brevity and easy memorization. Throughout the centuries, churches benefited with the use of catechism. Personally, I use the Baptist catechism to teach our church youth group.

catholic – This final entry to our list is similar with entry #3. Christians associate it with the Roman Catholic Church solely, because they can read obviously the word, catholic. But as you can see, I typed it in lower case to make a distinction from the capitalized one. Also the we dropped the word “Roman” from it. When referring to the Catholic church a hierarchic church where the pope is the head, we use the word Roman Catholic.

But what about the small catholic? What does it mean?  It simply means universal highlighting the universality of the church. This means the church is not limited to the local church you can find in your neighborhood, but to all churches all over the planet. The universal or catholic church also refers to the church from different ages or time. So everytime you hear the word catholic in the Apostles’ Creed,it doesn’t refer to the Roman Catholic Church,  it only means the Christian church of all times and of all places.

What other words do you think that are misunderstood by our fellow Filipinos? Please comment down below.

 

 

3 Essential Books on Eternal Security

 

Having salvation (saved by grace through faith in Christ finished work in the cross) is one thing but being safe from falling out of it and being unsaved again is another. We call that great promise as eternal security. Like many I use to struggle with that notion that I’m not saved or I lost my salvation. Thank God that blessed truth is reinforced in me over and over through the Scriptures and Christian books.  So I would like to present to you three excellent books that tackle the topic of eternal security of a believer.

  1. Saved Forever by Chuck Swindoll– technically this is a booklet. Swindoll addresses the book those people who are carried by “religious charlatans” that preach you can lose your salvation. Chuck Swindoll exceptional Bible teacher and can make difficult topics understandable and easily be applied. Brief but helpful booklet.

 

 

 

2. Full Assurance by Harry A. Ironside– a classic one from a great preacher. This book is divided into two parts. The first part, Ironside unravels how Christ saves us and how He assures us in every aspects of that salvation (hope, faith, understanding ). Then in the second part (which I really love) he goes on to answers common questions that bring doubts on the salvation of a believer. Very convincing and encouraging. By the way, you can check it out online and read it for free by clicking here.

 

3. Saved Without A Doubt by John MacArthur Jr. -Sub-titled “How to be Sure of Your Salvation”, the book not just embark on how Christ redeemed us and ensures us in that salvation. It also encourage us to examine ourselves by employing eleven test derived from 1 John if we are truly saved. Also John MacArthur included important aspects like dealing with doubt, gaining victory and admonish in persevering to further enhance this important topic. You can read the sample chapter “Is It Real?” by clicking here. Encouraging and motivating as well, this book is best for a believer who wants to dig deeper in the issue.

Do you have other books in mind in the topic of eternal security? I love to read your comments on this.