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Human Rights and the Protestant Faith

Human Rights and the Protestant Faith

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Published by sir_vic2013
sermon on human rights
sermon on human rights

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Categories:Types, Presentations
Published by: sir_vic2013 on Oct 21, 2013
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“Human Rights and the Protestant Faith”

The year 1998 marks the centenary of the first Philippine Republic and of Protestant Christianity in the country. As a union church of several Protestant denominations, the UCCP has provided a Protestant presence in an otherwise Roman Catholic country to an extent much greater than its numerical strength. But in the last 25 years it has become a focus of criticism for its involvement in what many claim to be political affairs. The published report in a local newspaper of a sermon preached by former appellate justice Venancio D. Aldecoa Jr. at Silliman Church, highlights the church’s participation in human rights advocacy. The heroic sacrifices of countless Filipinos against the Marcos dictatorship have long vindicated the church’s commitment to human rights. For that reason alone, history should be kinder in its assessment of the church’s role during the dark days of martial law. But the good judge has a very important theological point. He believes that, in its pursuit of justice, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) has betrayed the Lord. He also notes that some of its ministers have supposedly replaced the Holy Bible with Karl Marx’s Das Capital. For the church, a theological judgment from within its fold carries more weight than that of history. As a noted UCCP member, Justice Aldecoa’s voice should be taken with utmost seriousness. I In keeping with the Reformation heritage, the UCCP should value and genuinely listen to critical voices, especially those raised by the laity. The protection and cultivation of the freedom to criticize the church’s proclamation and practice is a fundamental Protestant principle. Martin Luther and the other Protestant Reformers laid down the principles for making a critique of the church. The basic principle is faithfulness to the Scriptures. Luther vowed to recant everything that he said if proven wrong according to Scripture. For the Protestant Reformers, the final authority in matters of faith and morals is the Scriptures, not pope or emperor. In relation to the issue at hand, let it be proven that the UCCP’s public pronouncements and actual practice relative to human rights advocacy is contrary to the Scriptures. If proven, the UCCP should be called to repent, reform itself and renew its life and work. A secondary principle is respect for the teachings of the church, especially of the Church Fathers. Their wisdom is derived from the Scriptures itself as it has been interpreted and applied in the concrete life and work of the church. But in the event that their understanding runs counter to the entire biblical testimony, the latter should prevail notwithstanding the position taken by the highest church authorities. And thirdly, the church’s proclamation and practice should maintain constant dialogue with secular knowledge. Philosophy, science and the arts are part of God’s ordinances through which God’s will may be revealed. Even through corrupted by sin in every aspect, secular knowledge continues to serve God’s purposes. It is of vital importance for the church to listen to what it says but always in view of the witness of the Scriptures. II Now, regarding the UCCP’s human rights and justice work. The central theme in the Bible is God’s great love for the world. This love has been known through Jesus Christ who laid down his life for the salvation of the world from sin: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13). Every human being, believer or non-believer, is called to participate in God’s holy love through loving one another: “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (I John 4:11).

therefore. For this reason. repent and renew itself. those who are in the leadership of the UCCP should appreciate voices like that of Justice Aldecoa. the poor and powerless. human being truly free and fully alive is the glory of God. Jesus’ own ministry is a practical demonstration of that truth. The parable of the Good Samaritan shows that love for neighbor is not only a feeling but is manifest in concrete deeds. On the basis of this biblical truth. Other less than pure motives can easily insinuate themselves in what is supposed to be a noble act. relief and rehabilitation. as a matter of fact. Thus.In concrete practice. health/medical ministry. Protestants believe in the constant and continuing reformation of the church of Jesus Christ. . Jesus sacrificed his very life for us. Thus. and resource development. the UCCP also attends to Christian education. And God knew how much his Son loved him as he sacrificed himself on the cross. lust for power. It is.) As heir of the Reformation. In fact. he was asked to feed his sheep. the UCCP builds its witness & service program. God’s supreme pleasure that Christians devote themselves to promoting the well being of people. As the Church Father Irenaeus put it. when Peter pledged his love to Jesus. they are open to criticism from without and from within even as they throw themselves completely into life’s duties. hence not perfect. livelihood protects. but that act did not make him love God any less. justice and human rights advocacy. the UCCP should be chided for not loving the suffering ones enough. any church for that matter. blind anger? Or is not genuine love for the victims of injustice and the suffering ones. to the fullest does not necessarily diminish love for God. Trusting in God’s benevolence and mercy. giving support and comfort to victims of human rights violation is a matter of faith and obedience to the Lord. It should be admitted that the UCCP’s best efforts in human rights advocacy are inevitably tainted with sin. caring for others is a measure of our love for God. Is it vengeance. sinful human beings. For how can the gracious God consider the suffering ones his rival for our love? As a matter of fact. the UCCP seeks t be faithful to its heritage. (In addition to its witness and service programs. Protestants embrace the world in solidarity with the little ones. even our sincerest desires and best efforts to obey the Lord cannot be entirely free from sin. sin even as we obey. In this light. It is for this reason that the church. he did it out of his love for the Father. should always seek God’s forgiveness. especially the suffering ones. His criticism of the church’s human rights should lead us to search our hearts to see what hidden motives lie underneath. The UCCP believes that loving the neighbor. evangelism and church growth. We can. This program seeks to comprehend all facts of the human situation including ecology. However.

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