4 Theological Words Commonly Misunderstood by Filipinos

jjl9gz4

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.

 

 

The Quotable Round-Up #89

f11jjqtHowdy! It’s a great day to sit down, chill and sip your favorite drink! And while at it, add some awesomeness in your day by reading our latest collection of quotes.  This time we are featuring fresh quotes from the books “Know the Creeds and Councils” by Justin Holcomb and “The Potter’s Freedom” by James R. White. And if you got stoked with these quotes, please get the books at your nearest Christian bookstore or on Amazon.

“A catechism is a book or document giving a brief summary of the basic principles of Christianity in Q&A form. Catechisms represent the practical, “on-the-ground” application of the main teaching agreed upon at church councils and expressed through creeds and confessions. The word “catechism” comes from the Greek word katechein, which means “to teach” or “to instruct.” Catechisms are basic outlines of the teachings of the Christian faith, set forth in a way that those unfamiliar with doctrine can easily understand.” — Justin Holcomb

“Because creeds are bare-bones structures (the outlines of the sketch), it makes sense that the earliest statements of the church are creeds, while later statements of particular denominations are confessions. Creeds distinguish orthodoxy from heresy (or Christian faith from non-Christian faith). Confessions distinguish denominational distinctives (or one type of Christian faith from another type of Christian faith.” — Justin Holcomb

“Creeds aren’t dogmas that are imposed on Scripture but are themselves drawn from the Bible and provide a touchstone to the faith for Christians of all times and places.”– Justin Holcomb

“Christians of the past were no less concerned with being faithful to God than we are, and they sought to fit together all that Scripture has to say about the mysteries of Christianity — the incarnation, the Trinity, predestination, and more — with all the intellectual power of their times. To ignore these insights is to attempt to reinvent the wheel, and to risk reinventing it badly.”
— Justin S. Holcomb

“Grace is a wonderful word that speaks of God’s freedom and God’s power. I cannot earn grace, merit grace, purchase grace, or force grace. It is free or it is not grace. Yet the grace of God that brings His elect safely into eternal rest is not merely some persuasive power that may or may not accomplish the ends for which God intends it. Grace is no servant of man, dependent upon the creature for its success. No, saving grace is God’s own power. Saved, and kept, by grace. That is the Christian’s hope.” –James R. White

“Arminians teach that God sends his grace to “persuade” men to believe, but they deny that God can actually raise a man to spiritual life without his assistance and agreement. They deny that there is an elect people, based solely on the choice of God, to whom God will infallibly apply the benefits of Christ’s atonement. Grace is limited to being effective on the “willing,” i.e., it is submitted to the power and will of man and his decisions. It becomes a mere “wooing” force. The Reformed Christian who has sought to share the gospel of grace with Roman Catholics recognizes that this is the same view of grace found in the Roman communion, and it is deeply troubling to find it expressed within what is called Protestantism.” –James R. White

“The question is, Who, ultimately, is responsible for my union with Jesus Christ? God is both the one who is the origin and source of salvation in general, and the one who powerfully, purposefully, and perfectly draws His elect people into blessed union with Jesus Christ.” –James R. White

 

The Quotable Round-Up #88

f11jjqtHowdy! It’s a great day to sit down, chill and sip your favorite drink! And while at it, add some awesomeness in your day by reading our latest collection of quotes.  This time we are featuring fresh quotes from the book “Know the Creeds and Councils” by Justin Holcomb. And if you got stoked with these quotes, please get the book at your nearest Christian bookstore or on Amazon.

“We are born in sin. We are naturally enemies of God and lovers of evil. We needed to be made alive (regenerated) so that we could even have faith in Christ. All of this is grace that we don’t deserve. Because we didn’t earn or attain this grace, we cannot lose it. God graciously preserves us and keeps us. When we are faithless toward him, he is still faithful.”

“We can stand before God only by his grace as he mercifully attributes to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ and attributes to him the consequences of our sins, which were judged on the cross. Declaring sinners righteous based on the work of Christ is called the doctrine of “imputed righteousness” — God declares a believer to be good, and even though the believer is not good in reality, this declaration is all that matters.”

“In Augustine’s scheme, grace is not a divine nudge but a power that frees people to love God for who he really is. It is this God-empowered love that destroys the rule of sin and bestows the ability to choose to sin or to choose not to sin (posse non peccare — “able not to sin”). However, until this grace is given, people cannot choose goodness. Though we might be in the grip of an evil power that we do not understand, we are still responsible for spending our time and energy on the things that we do wrong.”

“The Christian faith is not only a matter of the heart, an exercise in sentimentality, for “Christian faith is a matter of the mind as well as the heart and the will, and as thinking persons we must give intellectual expression to our faith.” Still it does not demand blind acceptance to empty propositions. It is concerned with the direction of our souls.”

The Definition of Chalcedon described Christ’s descent as a true incarnation of the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, while denying that a man was converted into God or that God was converted into a man. There was no confusion or absorption between the divine nature and the human nature of Christ; the two remained distinct. Similarly, the incarnation was not merely a divine indwelling of a human nor a connection between two persons. Instead, Chalcedon asserted that there was a real union between the divine and human natures that existed in one personal life: the life of Jesus of Nazareth, who was the eternal Logos.”

“If Christianity had agreed with Arius that Jesus could be a lesser god — if it had failed to defend monotheism, if it had fallen into the trench of professing three unrelated deities — it may have dissolved into the religion of Rome and its pantheons of false gods. If the early Christians had lost their nerve and conceded the “lesser divinity” of Jesus, whatever that might mean, then the work of God in Christ for our salvation would have been rendered meaningless. No mere man, nor half god, could possibly intervene to save fallen and sinful humanity, let alone restore all of creation. Only the Creator can enter creation to fix its brokenness and redeem its original, latent purpose.”

“The Nicene Creed is perhaps the most famous and influential creed in the history of the church, because it settled the question of how Christians can worship one God and also claim that this God is three persons. It was the first creed to obtain universal authority in the church, and it improved the language of the Apostles’ Creed by including more specific statements about the divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.”