The Christian experience in the Philippines is a typical mixup of misconceptions involving the idea of an all-seeing Divine Entity whose eye is always watching what you’re doing, and ready to zap you with a punishment for a wrong that you commit. Add to that, a litany of what you should do, and what you cannot do, and continual visits to the parish church for confession, and a lot of practices like not bathing at 3pm on Good Friday and a great many other imaginative theories that make up the uniquely Spanish influenced animist Philippine religious experience.
No wonder we’re confused as a people.
I grew up in a household that was very much influenced by the Hispanic flavored Roman Catholic experience. Because of our middle class background, we were sent to Catholic schools, and we had Jesuit priests to provide our spiritual guidance.
It wasn’t very helpful. Specially because they didn’t provide very good answers to probing questions that I had about the God we were supposed to worship and the confusing literature that we had to use for our religious education.
Sometime in the early 1980’s a dear friend in a radio station where we worked together started attending bible studies with another friend and it was there that I discovered the Bible and what it taught about salvation. It was crystal clear and quite logical, even if it was the King James version.
My mother was right to be concerned. It ran contrary to what she was taught by her mother and the nuns where she had gone to school. Immediately she dispatched me to a Jesuit priest to straighten out my line of thinking. Big mistake. He didn’t have answers to the questions I raised.
But not having proper guidance – traditional Protestant churches held sway over the bible believing majority in my hometown at that time, and upheld their traditions more than the scriptures at that time – it wasn’t long before I fell away from what I was exposed to.
Fast forward to 1986, when my other set of radio friends in Manila started attending bible studies. Again. But this time, the cynical me had better answers to their invitations to attend. I had read the bible and knew it. Or so I thought. I told my good friend who invited me that if it was a choice between God and Mammon, I would have to choose Mammon because this was what this world was about.
Naturally, she was grieved. And she used an unfair tactic. She and my other friends began praying for me. And their prayers were answered, when I agreed to a bible study where I could raise the questions I smugly knew that they couldn’t answer. I was wrong. These guys knew their bibles.
I recommitted myself to the Lord Jesus in mid 1986 and though the ride hasn’t been always smooth, I’ve mostly stayed on track. Well, yes, I’ve fallen off the tracks but got back on again. I’m not saying the ride is completely smooth, but I’m doing my best to stay on it.
Four years ago, I was challenged by an atheist acquaintance on my beliefs, as we had started a conversation on the outcomes of the dynamics of the Middle Eastern nations playing into the predictions of Bible prophecy.
He smugly asserted that believing in God was equivalent to believing in the tooth fairy and leprechauns. And challenged me to present proofs. Though I knew it wasn’t true, I could not rebut him right then and there. Because I had no reasonable answers.
Another believer friend pointed me to the writings of Lee Strobel, and I borrowed the first two and bought my own- the Case for the Real Jesus. And I’ve been addicted to apologetics and historical Christianity since then.
Why am I a Christian?
It’s the most viable view of life to belief in, as it’s founded on historical facts and a complete narrative of the Creator God who has been making His project to reveal Himself to His creation since the fall of the first man. And consequently, the historical narrative of the historical Jesus of Nazareth validates it, as well as the reality of an eternal Kingdom that we can all be a part of by becoming one of His royal subjects, and take up His tasking order of making more mathetheos of every ethnos.
Forget the crowns, forget everything else. To be a doorman in the House of the King is greater than anything else outside it. Just be part of it.
And this is why I continue to read, study, think things through and learn from other similarly inclined followers of the Way. Because we have a hope that is real, and not based on wishful thinking. And we can make a good, coherent and logical explanation for those who sincerely wish to know about the things we already know.
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