Sunday, November 08, 2015

Pact with the devil: church and the Sublime Politicians (Or why I believe that politics is for the devil no matter how many verses are quoted)

No wonder the president has lost most of his remaining hair!
The nuclear radiation is way above the safe dosage.
The circus has begun. A couple of Sundays ago I was happy to see a new face in the church but my elation turned to annoyance when the visitor was introduced to the congregation as a candidate running for a seat in the municipal council. 

Well, to tell the truth, I believe everybody in the church was thinking the same thing I was thinking about: another political animal out to mingle to gain face and name recognition. Call me negative, but after that Sunday I have never seen the guy's chitinous face again. Maybe he attended another church.

Anyway, as a Baptist and belonging to a church composed mostly of related families and neighbors, the church has never engaged in politics overtly and covertly, maybe jokingly. It is considered a taboo, talked about it most of the time derisively, guidelines and other politically suggestive stuff was never talked about or promoted behind the pulpit. Our senior pastor (and past pastors) always tells us to pray and ask guidance from above when choosing whom to vote for during elections. This is how OUR church do it because the church has never aligned itself to any political movements be it "church oriented" or any other organizations that has shade of politics in it--never,  even when candidates are related to some church members or even when a candidate is or was a church member.

Though some church especially the Fundamentalist Baptists in the Philippines (The Abante group) dabbles into politics, our church and has always had this attitude of separateness and isolation from Caesar's realm. Does this mean that our church does not care for the country? I believe every individual in the church does. But the underlying principle of the church (or for the whole Christian church, I supposed) is that change does not come from the ballot but it comes from a relationship with God. It would be naive to think that if  Eddie Villanueva and his ilks (or other bible toting politicians) won the presidency and other elected positions in the country, everything would be set right, that God would smile from heaven and send manna and quails to the impoverished Filipinos. Unless this belief that change is from God, from inside out,  is already abandoned to a more proactive organized political participation like the other large and organized churches, well, we'll have to find another church. 

The eschatological nature of the church

I sometimes wonder why many Christians get
offended when told that Jesus was an alien. He was!
Okay, I'm using a fancy theological word here: eschatology. In simple everyday english it simply means that the church is not of this world. There are a lot of Biblical images about the church: ecclesia, the called or the assembly; the people of God, the Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit, etc.  The idea is that the church is other worldly, spiritual and it exist in the world to witness and to propagate the message of Christ. The church is also apocalyptic in that it exist as a vehicle for the salvation of the chosen when the end of times comes. 

Prayer rally? Political rally? Praise and worship? or Cory followers?
That is why the church must be understood in the separateness and the alienness. It does not concern itself with the mundane stuff like politics because the basic belief is that this world is already condemned. Saving the state or the planet for that matter is not part of the church's function though it is tasked to be a steward of the earth until such time the end comes, but the idea is that there will come a time when the Christians will leave this world: the second eden is not here. Christians are aliens and that the church is a 'colony of citizens of heaven" here on earth until the living are transported to heaven during rapture and the dead. Well...there's two views about it, but...i'll leave it to the atom splicers..

Taken to extreme, this otherworldly belief is catastrophic. In fact we could attribute  a lot of wars, torture, even suicides or misguided martyrdom, and other social problems, and a bulk of the blame for destruction of the environment to the extremely selfish interpretation of this belief. Christians, i.e. before awakening to the destruction of global warming, had held to the  belief that the planet was created by God for their benefit. this humanity-centered view of creation has justified a lot of ecological and social problems from uncontrolled hunting to slavery. It is only lately that a lot theologians and churches have shifted to the "sharing" theology of creation.

Christians care about a lot of things: environmental, social, moral and even political issues. This is given because Christians are still citizens of the state. part of humanity and they are not yet full citizens of heaven because they are still inside their corruptible bodies . But at the end of the day, Christians must held to the basic belief that this world is not theirs, that this is beyond salvation, that this planet is a temporary abode because if this world could be saved, changed, made better the way some Christian politicians believe,  then Christ failed, all the belief and the dogmas and doctrines are for naught.   Everything is lost. the church has lost its eschatological nature ans has become political--it has adapted a somewhat corrupted view of liberation theology.

Old testament thing

Evangelicals and other politically oriented church leaders (or pastors, to be exact) love to quote Proverbs 14:34: Righteousness exalts a nationbut sin is a disgrace to any people. As any Bible teacher will tell you, Bible verses is subject to context and should not be taken into isolation. I could hack a non Christian to death and quote a bible verse about it: Luke 19:27 "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me."

The verse talks about Israel. Israel then was then a homogeneous/monolithic people composed of different tribes and what the writers (plural) of proverbs is referring to was the Jews of the old testament. no one else. Israel as a people led by a king who they believe was directly anointed by God and not as a secular state where the political leaders are elected by the people.

Most modern states are composed of heterogeneous people or nations. States does not give priority to one group or one chosen religion unless it is a fundamentalist state like fundamentalist-monarchila- Muslim states or a caliphate. The thought of living in a "Fundamentalist Christian" state scares the hell out of me.

I don't see God saving states unless the nation referred to in the bible be re-interpreted to mean modern states. these politico-theologians have a lot of hermeneutical acrobatics  to do.

The Reverend Abante-Eddie Villanueva Phenomenon

I don't know about his accomplishments
 in the house. But as a bishop and reverend 
of the largest Fundamentalist Baptist
Church in the country, I assume that he
did well and kept the Fundamentalist 
Baptist's testimony. But if this guy becomes 
president of the republic, the gays,
 the lesbians,transgenders etc. better find
 another country to live in. They'll be pounded 
to hell with Bible Verses against immorality
and sexual deviance the
Shakespearean literary way. 
These are the two best known  evangelical leaders (though Rev. Abante distances himself from the evangelicals and insist that he is a Fundamentalist Baptist) that had run for elected office in the government. Abante won a congressional seat in Manila propelled by his church while Rev. Eddie lost the presidential because, well, he's crazy. Eddie doesn't know how to count his marbles. Abante has a more realistic estimation of the voting power of his fiefdom. (Check the connection.)

These two have turned their church into a political vehicle. But it was Bro. Eddie Villanueva who have created the most politically potent evangelical movement in the country. I don't know how he did it but he was able to unite evangelicals of different traditions and persuasions to join his movement. 

This guy has lost every elections
he had participated in. Now, his son
is running for the senate. What
is it with pastors and big churches and politics?

Villanueva's  TV station air regular political programs disguised as biblical expositions. personally I personally have nothing against these activities like praying and giving out checklists of biblical verses to guide the people who to vote for, but this preacher has a son in government and who is now running for the senate.  How many times have i heard people complained that the Iglesya ni Cristo is meddling into politics because they provide their members guidelines who to vote for during elections but at in the INC their church leaders are not allowed to go into politics. Look at what the Villanuevas are doing! 

Anyway, more to come. I think I have exceeded my quota of meandering for today.

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