A Publication of The Divinity School of Silliman University Serving Protestant Ministry in the Philippines Editor: Rev. Reuel Norman O. Marigza

Issue No. 00 August 2008 ISSN 00037-5276

A History of the UCCP:

Its Social Posture and Its Social Environs
p.9 GREEN CHRISTIAN VIRTUES TODAY by Prof. Victor Aguilan, p.25 RESOURCES FOR ADVENT & CHRISTMASTIDE, p.30 FACULTY PROFILES: Victor Aguilan, p.34 Jean Cuanan-Nalam, p.35

August 2008, Silliman Ministry Magazine • 1


Reuel Norman O. Marigza Editor-in-Chief halom! This is our greeting and prayer to you our readers. This our prayer for our land and for our world torn asunder by conflicts and wars and by violence in many forms. SMM brings you as its lead article a brief look at our history as a Church in the social arena - the Church in the public square, as it were. This is in line with the year-long 60th Anniversary celebration as a Church. SMM tandems with the Church Workers Convocation which adapted the UCCP 60th Anniversary theme as its own theme this year as the Divinity School's contribution to the Church celebration. The theme is: "In Union with Christ, Witnessing from the Neighborhood to the World" Prof. Victor Aguilan in his sermon, "Green Christian Virtues Today," reminds us of necessary virtues we must reclaim and practice if we are to be effective witnesses not only to our own neighborhoods but also to the world. Our Dean, Dr. Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro, updates you on important matters regarding the Divinity School and its future, and challenges us to be partners with us in theological education and ministerial formation. Our LiMuCen (sounds like limousine ha!), through the Rev. Magnolia Nova Mendoza, compiled Liturgical materials that you can use for the Advent and Christmas season. Two high-powered theologian and Bible scholars shares with us what they had been reading lately through the Book Review section. DSSA is alive and kicking, find out about it in the news section. Two Faculty members are featured. We thank the students Gideon Gunda, Marnie Vega and Wella Hoyle for their contributions. We round up our issue with the Literary Section, featuring Dr. Sam Gregorio's Ambis, and something I wrote during the First General Assembly of the United Church Workers Organization last July at the National City United Church in Quezon City. My special thanks to Pastor Renee and family for their kindness to provide a room for me at the Parsonage during the Assembly. We welcome back the Rev. Callum Roble Tabada and thank him for the lay-out of this issue. He and I originally partnered in the SMM when I first began as Editor-in-Chief in 1998. Callum is taking his M.Div. And this issue will not be complete without the persistence of our Managing Editor, the Rev. Magnolia Nova Mendoza, who followed-up the writers and contributors. Daghang salamat po! SMM
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Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro, Ph.D.

From the Dean’s Desk

Witnessing to the World through an Endeavor towards Quality Theological Education
The 2008 Church Workers’ Convocation Theme he month of August is here once again and the Divinity School continues to commit to host the Church Workers’ Convocation no matter what. This Convocation is one aspect of continuing education that the D.S. can offer to the pastors and lay leaders of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and sister-churches within NCCP. It is an opportunity for pastors to refresh their theological learning, and to re-connect with fellow alumni and with friends of the Divinity School. This year ’s Church Workers’ Convocation theme is an adaptation of the theme of the 60 th Anniversary of UCCP: “In Union with Christ, Witnessing from the Neighborhood to the World.” This theme is an expression of the recognition that God’s household is bigger than our own denomination, broader than our own brand of Christianity, and wider than our national territory. The theme is also timely as Protestant churches all over the world anticipate the centennial celebration of the landmark missionary gathering in Edinburgh in 1910 and re-visit its concept of mission in the face of the challenges of the third millennium. More than ever, the Philippines is facing serious political, economic, social-cultural, and ecological challenges. Recently, the breakdown of the peace talks between the GRP and the MILF has triggered more violence in Mindanao. Christians need to seriously and honestly seek to understand the plight of the Moro people, and the historical reason behind the sentiment and claim for their ancestral domain. When we criticize the wanton corruption in the government, we must also seriously evaluate our values and ask why we chose such people to take the seat of leadership and power. Somehow, people seem comfortable in conceding to the sinful ways of the world than to struggle to free from the shackles of sin. This is observable in all levels of relationships – be it personal, institutional or societal. There is a prevalent enthrallment with the politics of rhetoric among people, and walking the talk is found to be difficult by many – be it in the government, in church and society. Consequently, we play deaf and blind in the face of the violence of poverty and hunger, of militarization, of other visible


August 2008, Silliman Ministry Magazine • 3

and invisible forms of violence and cru- not our religion - to the world and elty at home, in church, in the workplace challenges us to be sensitive to the and in society. A recent study by a doc- suffering of the world brought about toral student reveals that sexual abuses by the hubris of humanity. The theme committed by the clergy are not only “ I n U n i o n w i t h C h r i s t , Wi t n e s s i n g h a p p e n i n g i n t h e R o m a n C a t h o l i c from the Neighborhood to the World” Church; it is also happening in the Prot- should provide Christians the impetus to seriously re-think the meaning estant churches in the Philippines. People tent to use religion to of each word in this phrase. What is gain power over others both in private and pub- Figure 1. Number of Students in Program Offerings lic sphere for selfish inPROGRAM NUMBER OF STUDENTS terests. There is a resurOFFERINGS SY 07-08 SY 08-09 gence of a kind of piety Bachelor of Theology and religiosity that make a. Pastoral Ministry 46 42 people believe that they b. Liturgy and Music 8 9 have the monopoly of Master of Divinity 24 17 G o d ’s l o v e , t h a t o n l y Master of Theology 4 1 they have the right unDoctor of Theology 2 2 d e r s t a n d i n g a n d i n t e rSpecial Student 1 pretation of the ScripCross-enrollee 1 tures, and consequently, Part-time student 1 the want to impose their Total 84 74 set of doctrines to the rest of the world. Sometimes, those who adopt Figure 2. Region of Student’s Origin this kind of piety begin REGION / CHURCH / NUMBER OF STUDENTS to project their own COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SY 07-08 SY 08-09 thoughts to God and South Luzon 12 7 make God in their own East Visayas 9 8 image. They forget that West Visayas 40 33 God loves the world, its NW Mindanao 20 17 people regardless of reSE Mindanao 6 5 ligion, and that God S. Korea 1 1 wants the Creation to Baptist Church 1 flourish. Lest we fall IFI 1 into a bigoted brand of Others (Evangelical Church) 1 Christianity, the theme Total 88 74 of the convocation calls Less: drop outs 4 us to witness God’s love General Total 84 74 in union with Christ –
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the meaning of Christ? Of being in union with this Christ? What does “neighbor and world” mean? Why do some people wage war and kill in the name of Christ? How does one make sense of being a witness of Christ’s salvific work for the world? Such theme has a crucial implication also in theological education in the Philippines. The Divinity School takes the challenge to witness to the world through its efforts to aim for a highquality theological education. Students at the Divinity School: Enrolment in 2008-2009 Due to the increasing cost of education, the enrolment at the Divinity School in this first semester has reduced. There are fifty-eight (58) full time students, 14 interns, one cross-enrollee and one part-time student, making a total of 74. Last school year, we had eighty four (84) including the interns. The Challenges of Recruitment and Scholarships When the church decided to be independent from the missionaries and Figure 3. Ratio between Sexes
07-08 08-09

stand on its own feet as a Filipino church, as UCCP, it was a brave act, and a sign of maturity. The leaders must have anticipated also the financial challenges in running its ministerial formation program among other things. Churches need pastors, and so quality theological education must be given attention. The lay training programs of the conferences are important dimensions of equipping the laity but it should not be taken as a substitute for formal theological education of pastors. Considering this situation, the conferences must also take seriously the task of recruitment. Conferences need to send students who are truly interested in the ministry; ones who possess the right pastoral attitude and the capacity to do the rigors of theological education. It is also important that conferences and local churches, parents and benefactors foresee and support the students’ need for shelter, food, clothing and personal contingencies. On its part, the Divinity School along with Silliman University will seek for scholarships to support the tuition fees of the students. Scholarships however are not entitlements. Thus, students must also demonstrate good academic performance and right attitudes for the ministry. Requirement for Admissions Changes in academic and scholarship policies were implemented gradually over the last three years. The Divinity School will now strictly implement University policies that covers scholarships and dormitory rules. New admission policies specific for the D.S. stu-

Male Female

50 38

32 42

Figure 4. Marital Status of Students
07-08 08-09

Married Single

25 63

22 52

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dents are implemented. Submission dates for the Admission Forms is mid-January. This also demands that the conferences conduct the performance evaluation of their prospective students who should be finishing about two thirds of their apprenticeship programs. By January, conferences should have an idea already about the number of students they are sending to the seminary. The Admission forms and other information could be downloaded from the Website of Silliman University. Copies were also sent copies to the offices of the Conference Ministers and Bishops to be made accessible to the prospective students. Moving Towards Full Integration with the University In the past, the Divinity School was dubbed to be a separate “Republic” or a “kingdom” by some people in the University. There were suspicions that it is hiding some treasures inside it. A little bit of history may be helpful in this matter. The Divinity School started as a joint Congregationalist-Presbyterian Training School or a ministerial formation center for the Visayan-speaking candidates for the ministry as envisioned by Dr. Frank Laubach of the American Board Mission (Congregationalist). This was attached to the Presbyterian Mission’s Silliman Institute in Dumaguete and opened as Bible School in June 1921. It had its own housing facilities for students and faculty, classrooms and library that stood on a three-hectare piece of land. Eventually, the School was in-

tegrated with Silliman Institute because of the need, especially its library, to complete the requirements of becoming a University in 1935. The merger resulted to the turnover of the three-hectare property where housing facilities, such as the Brokenshire Cottage ( later was renamed Davao Cottage), Worcester Cottage, Doltz Hall, and another houses near Channon Hall called Brokenshire Cottage (now known as Banaba Cottage) stood, to the University. 1 Today, the only remaining historical landmark associated with the Divinity School is Channon Hall. With the merger, partner churches sent their donations for the Divinity School through the University based on the understanding that the University will look after the welfare of the Divinity School. Over time, such commitment has been overlooked and regarded like any other unit in the University. There was even a time when it was looked upon by some business-oriented members of t h e c o m m u n i t y a s “ a l o s i n g e n t e rprise” rather than looking at it as a ministry. Meantime, the DS struggled to raise scholarships for its students and managed these funds. When the incumbent president, Dr. Ben S. Malayang III came to office, he showed special concern for the Divinity School and understood its presence as a ministry of the University. In the midst of the rising cost of education, this view brings the challenge for the University to create a special plan to sustain the ministerial and church workers’ education. It has to make theological education affordable. In response to this

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view, the Divinity School responded positively to the challenge of moving towards full integration with the University. This entails the integration of Divinity School scholarship funds to the University Community of Accounts, and for the University to take care of the welfare of the Divinity School as a whole. On its end, the third party in this endeavor, the UCCP, must also do its part in supporting the students by allocating and giving faithfully the general assembly-mandated scholarships for the students. The memory of the emergence of the Divinity School and merger with Silliman University must be kept alive always. In this way, the dreams and intention of its founders will not be lost and swallowed by forgetfulness. We therefore beg the churches and friends to pray for the Divinity School and re-member it in their life and ministry. Revitalized Program Offerings I would like to announce that in April 2008, the Curriculum Committee and the Academic Council of Silliman University had approved in principle the revised curriculum for Bachelor of Theology, with some suggestions to be integrated. These academic bodies have also approved the revised curriculum of the Master of Divinity for non-B.Th. holders. Thus, the Divinity School hopes to implement them in June 2009. The SU Curriculum Committee and Academic Council have also approved the new Master of Divinity program for those who had basic theological education. This is a two-year, thesis-track program that allows the student to focus on a major field of interest and need such

as theology, biblical studies, Christian Education, pastoral ministry, and spiritual care (CPE). In order to implement this new program, all the D.S. need to do is to submit the feasibility studies for the approval of the Board of Trustees. The Divinity School therefore challenges the conferences to send students for these new programs. Along this line, the Divinity School will soon offer a masters’ degree program in Missions Studies (M. Th.) in consortium with the United Evangelical Mission. This program will have an international flavor because students and faculty will be coming from Asia, Africa and Germany. Hopefully, students from other continents will also come to study at the Divinity School. UEM officials and leaders of the participating seminaries in the three continents will hold a planning consultation in November 25-28, 2008 here in Silliman University. Once again, the Divinity School covets your prayers for these efforts to flourish. The Divinity School also envisions short courses and ladderized programs for the lay persons and church workers who hunger for continuing education. This we hope to finalize the plan and implement this next summer. Flyers on these programs will be sent to the conferences. Justice and Peace Center This program created by the Board of Trustees of Silliman University is lodged under the Divinity School to help to embody the prophetic ministry of Silliman Univer-

August 2008, Silliman Ministry Magazine • 7

sity. In the past years, it ran a project that focused on trainings in conflict transformation. Considering the results of the internal and external evaluations, another three-year project is set. This project will focus on peacebuilding programs in partnership with some identified communities. However, it will also continue to provide trainings in peace education, peace building, conflict transformation and other subject areas within the three-year program using contextualized modules. It has acquired new set of qualified projectbased staff that will implement the project with the help of the Board of Management. Meantime, JPC needs a program director that is organically connected with the University. Generally, this person is expected to conceive of other projects to respond to specific justice and peace issues and help find funds for the local counterpart of the funding for these projects. Notes on the Faculty D. Th. candidate Prof. Victor Aguilan will defend his dissertation entitled “Peacemaking Ministry from the Perspective of the

United Church of Christ in the Philippines” on August 20, 2008. Magnolia Nova Mendoza has also began taking the entrance exams for the M. Theol. program in Liturgy. Rev. Lope Robin is back from his threemonth stint in Tainan, Taiwan where he studied with Huang Po Ho and M.P. Joseph. He will continue doing his course work for his D.Th. in Theology here at the Divinity School. Another faculty member who is doing her D.Th. in Christian Education is Rev. Jeaneth Harris-Faller. She is also in her second year of studies in Hong Kong’s Lutheran Theological School, and having done her comprehensive exams, she is now making preparations for her dissertation. Loving God with all our minds In closing, let me quote once again from the great commandment: “Love your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:36) I always remind my students about this passage because this a guideline for a good quality theological education. Students, conferences, local churches, the Divinity School and the rest of the stakeholders of theological education and ministerial formation must take this challenge. May the next generation find us faithful in this task entrusted to us. SMM

1 See Victor Aguilan, “A Brief Historical Overview of the Development of the Campus of the Divinity School of Silliman University (from 1921-1968 (draft).” n.p.

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A History of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines,
Its Social Posture and Its Social Environs (1948-1986)1
by Rev. Reuel Norman O. Marigza

he year 1948 was a historic year. It was on this year that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was approved and signed by the United Nations. It was also on this year that the World Council of Churches was formed. Here in the Philippines, 1948 witnessed the founding on May 25, 1948 of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).2 The UCCP in its history and posture would prove to be both ecumenical and a strong advocate for human rights and other social issues affecting the nation and the world. The UCCP is a product of an organic union, a process that took about fifty (50) years. While the union was open to all evangelical churches connected with the Philippine Federation of Evangelical Churches, eventually, three churches decided to join together and establish an entirely new entity. Two of these churches were, in themselves, organ2•hurches, namely: the United Evangelical Church of the Philippines (UECP) and the Evangelical Church in the Philippines (ECP). The third church was the Philippine Methodist Church, which broke out of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1933. Early efforts towards Organic Union. The Protestant faith was brought to the Philippine shore largely through the efforts of the American missionaries. There were earlier efforts to smuggle Bibles in the Philippines by the British and Foreign Bible Societies as early as 1838,3 but it was during the coming of the American missionaries that there was a large scale coordinated effort to convert Filipinos to the Protestant faith. The roots of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines could be traced back to the missionary efforts coming from the following groups:4
August 2008, Silliman Ministry Magazine • 9


Groups 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Presbyterians Methodists United Brethren Church of Christ (Disciples) Congregationalists

Year of Arrival in RP 1899 1899 1901 1902 1902

Even before the missionaries’ arrival to the Philippines, they had started talks in the United States of America on policies for the new mission area. They discussed (a) territorial division of the Philippines among the different missions; (b) a common name for the newly organized churches; (c) a plan for directing growth so as to produce one national church; and (d) cooperation in schools, press, newspapers, etc. The result was later carried out in the Philippines through the Evangelical Union, organized on April 26, 1901. Its primary purpose was to bring about ”a spirit of comity, unity and cooperation that will eliminate competition and effect harmony for the common task.”5 On February 1924, the United Church of Manila was formed to “demonstrate the possibility and practicability of Filipino church union in the Islands, and if possible, to pave the way for the union of all evangelical churches of the Philippines.”6 This local church was composed of United Brethren, a number of Congregationalists and some Baptists.7 Heeding the challenge, the United Evangelical Church in the Philippine Islands was formed on March 15, 1929. It was a merger of the Presbyterians, the Congregationalists, the United Brethren, and the United Church of Manila.8 World War II came to our shore on December 8, 1941 when the Japanese bombarded several places in the Philippines where US military bases and installations were present. By January of 1942, the Japanese Imperial Army had most of the Philippines under their control. To simplify their dealings with religious groups, the Japanese Imperial Army pressured the Protestants to form into just one body, which was called the Evangelical Church of the Philippines. This church was the result of the coming together of the United Evangelical Church of the Philippines, the Church of Christ (Disciples), the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Cristo (UNIDA), the Iglesia Evangelica Cristiana Independiente, the Salvation Army, a segment of the Philippine Methodist Church, a good number of autonomous congregations of the Iglesia Metodista en las Islas Filipinas, the Iglesia Evangelica Nacional, and more than 20 smaller independent Churches.9 The UCCP. The UCCP was founded two years after the Philippines gained its political independence from the United States of America. The national mood was patriotic, and a primary concern was nation-building. Nation-building involved not only re-building the nation from the ruins and ravages of the Second World War, but more
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importantly, it involved nurturing and strengthening the fledgling democracy. It then behooved every social sector, including the Church, to contribute to these efforts. Thus in this period, the statements released by the UCCP were generally supportive of government’s attempts to improve the social condition of its citizens. The Roman Catholic Church. On the Roman Catholic front, the effort of Fr. Walter Hogan, S.J., in the arena of social concern and action comes to mind. He started the Institute of Social Order (ISO) after the Second World War to “communicate the social doctrine of the Church and to apply it to the social order.”10 It was instrumental “for activating Church personnel into the social action field.”11 In June 1950, Fr. Hogan and Johnny Tan, his associate, began the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), an anti-Communist democratic labor union.12 It was just ironic that the Church hierarchy did not look too kindly on the FFW when one of its affiliate, the University of Santo Tomas Employees Association went on strike against the Catholic school. Hogan himself was muzzled by Rufino Cardinal Santos.13 In 1953, the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) was organized by Atty. Jeremias Montemayor and Fernando Esguerra. They were inspired by the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. FFF became “very effective in helping small farmers in land cases and in organizing them to enable to fight for their rights.”14 On the level of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the Bishops through the Catholic Welfare Organization (CWO), a precursor of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), issued several pastoral letters on social justice even before the Vatican II. They issued on January 20, 1948 the “Statement of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy of the Philippines on the Social Principles” aimed at presenting principles for addressing pressing social problems of the Philippines and emphasized the rights and obligation of both workers and employers as well as the need of cooperation among them.15 On May 21, 1949, the Bishops issued the “Pastoral Letter of the Philippine Catholic Hierarchy on Social Justice,” expressing concern for the poor as well as an anxiety about the threat of communism. The pastoral letter also strongly criticized the evils of the existing capitalistic system, specially the ever increasing concentration of private property in the hands of a few.16 Pasquale Giordano notes that this pastoral letter was written when the Huks17 were gaining strength.18 The UCCP Social Posture. The Protestant churches during this period were concentrated with talks of church unity. There were some differences that arose during the war years that needed to be threshed out. These differences were largely due to posture of the church leaders vis-à-vis cooperation with the Japanese Imperial Army, and to the social question as to how Church should have positioned itself vis-à-vis the Japanese-controlled State then.19 The Resolutions and Statements emanating from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines at its first decade were mostly directed at its own ministries and its
August 2008, Silliman Ministry Magazine • 11

ecumenical posture. Its statements about society tended to be on the moral front like the Resolution Condemning Gambling and Liquor (1952); Banning of ROTC and PMT Drills, Teachers Meetings and Other Activities on Sundays (1954). It also issued a resolution calling for the formation of a National Federation of Credit Unions (1952); and supported the passage of the Bill on Enriched Rice for its beneficial benefits for the health of the people (1957).20 Aside from the traditional mission schools, student centers, clinics, and hospital started during the missionary era and continued on by the UCCP, a Department of Public Welfare was created in 1951 as one of the five departments of the UCCP. One of the Committee under this Department was the Industrial Relations Committee with the mandate to study problems in labor and industrial relations and find ways and means to reach factory workers with the Gospel and Christian ethics. In 1954, Dr. Jovito R. Salonga served as its Chair.21 The Industrial Relations Committee’s first task was to study of the shipping strike of 1954. It also conducted seminars on labor problems and relations in cooperation with the Philippine Federation of Christian Churches.22 The arrival of the Rev. Richard P. Poethig in March 1957 gave the Committee an opportunity to move into new directions in industrial relations. Poethig took charge of the Industrial Life and Vocations Program. As part of his orientation to the task, Poethig took classes at the University of the Philippines Labor Education Center, had exposure to industrial plants in the company of labor union leaders, participated in assemblies of labor federations. He also took a social ethics course on ‘industrialization and social ethics.’23 Poethig developed a program which was “to make relevant the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the lives of people concerned with economic life of the nation and the ethics of the Christian faith in the working life of the Christian.”24 This involved conducting regional institutes on Church and labor-management relations; conference level training in industrial evangelism of ministers and laypeople specially those actually involved in industrial work, the development of seminary courses in industrial evangelism. The program called for the maintenance of good relations with non-church groups like labor unions, chambers of commerce and the UP Labor Education Center. The Committee also sponsored two Young-Workers-in-Industry Institutes at Los Baños in cooperation with the Youth Committee of the UCCP Department of Christian Education in 1958. It also cooperated in the same year with the Philippine Federation of Christian Churches in holding the First Asian Conference on Industrial Evangelism in Manila. The immediate result was to arouse interest in the industrial ministries and to open the participants’ eyes to a new and challenging field of endeavor.25 Industrial Life Seminars were also conducted in seminaries. Poethig would eventually teach social ethics courses at Union Theological Seminary. Dr. Norwood Tye, a Christian Church (Disciples) missionary to the Philippines and who in 1960 served as
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General Secretary of the UCCP, notes that in 1965, a student at Union Theological Seminary served his internship year working in the Allied Thread Company in Pasig, rather than in a local church.26 Bishop Erme R. Camba, also a former UCCP General Secretary, identified him as Frank Ambayon. Other seminary students followed. The Rev. Martin Dulnuan and the Rev. Cesar Taguba of Highland Confrence, who were ministerial students at Silliman, did their internship in mining communities in Benguet. Exposure and immersion to the plight of struggling people would later become a regular feature in the Summer Exposure Program of UCCP seminaries. The Rev. Dario Alampay assisted the Rev. Poethig in this seminary program. Later, the Rev. Ciriaco Lagunzad took over from the Rev. Poethig and the program expanded ecumenically through the Inter-Seminary Program.27 Leaders from the Church would later rise to make an impact in society. Notably, Dr. Jovito R. Salonga, who become a Senator and later Senate President; Mr. Cipriano Malonzo, a B.Th. graduate of Silliman College of Theology, became an active labor leader. In 1958, the Rev. Henry Aguilan became the first UCCP minister to receive full training at the UP Labor Education Center.28 Assessing those years, Dr. Norwood Tye wrote in 1994: Although still largely rural-agricultural, the Philippines was feeling strongly the impact of industrialization. The United Church knew it should be involved on this cutting edge of change… With the exception of labor union work by one or two Roman Catholic priests, the United Church investment of personnel and pesos in this relatively new ministry was a pioneering move, but one which was on-target in terms of needs emerging during the next decades.29 Another Committee under the Department of Public Welfare was the Social Work and social education Committee, established in 1956. Co-opted to its membership were Atty. Leon O. Ty, staffmember of the well-respected and hard-hitting anti-graft crusading Philippine Free Press: Atty. Cicero D. Calderon, a specialist in labor relations, became the first director of the UP Asian Labor Education Center.30 One of the most far-reaching acts of this Committee was to explore ways of doing social work in the slums of Tondo district, as part of the UCCP’s ‘responsibility for the poor people of that area.’ Out of this effort came out later the organization popularly known as ZOTO, the precedent of many non-governments (NGO) in the country.31 The Shift in the UCCP Social Posture. In 1960, the tenor and posture of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines shifted with the release of the Statement of Social Concern. It may be said as we saw in the preceding paragraphs that the seeds were planted in the UCCP’s formative years, its first decade of existence. The 1960 Statement on Social Concern, while on the whole still positions the Church in collaboration with government’s effort, signals a shift in that it raised thenAugust 2008, Silliman Ministry Magazine • 13

emerging issues and concerns that will have a longer term effect on the nation’s life: economic development, population trends, modern technology, agricultural development, industrialization and rapid social change, urbanization, unemployment, trade union and management relation and the responsibility of the laity in the midst of such a context. It was an initial public attempt of the church to do a social analysis. The 1960 Statement of Concern, while tame by today’s standard, was quite ahead of its times, it set the ground for a deeper involvement of the Church in the affairs of Philippine society: By the mid-60s there seems to be emerging some disenchantment on the ability of government and private agencies, namely the business sector to address the burning issues of the day. On another part of the social arena, things had been brewing. The rise of student power that started in the late 1950s and would galvanize in the 1960s would make a strong impact on Philippine society. According to Teodoro A. Agoncillo, by the second half of the 1960s, students had already decided to have a say, not only in academic affairs but even, in the affairs of the nation with their capability to hold massive student rallies, strikes and demonstrations aimed at pressuring the government to give in to their demands.32 Agoncillo attributes the growth of student power to the following: 1. the increasing awareness that reforms in the social political and economic spheres of the country can be hastened by their commitment to those ideas which would re-structure in such a way to make it more egalitarian; 2. the inadequacy of those in power to come to grips with realities and their refusal or reluctance to share the responsibility in national development with the young whose realism is infused with the idealism of youth; 3. the continuing crises in national life brought about by graft and corruption in high and low places and by the cynical attitude of those who continually speak about virtues and patriotism but subvert society by dishonest dealings and by going into smuggling; 4. the failure of the older generation to appreciate the shift in the bases of a stable society of which the students form a significant segment.33 The 1970 General Assembly of the UCCP meeting in Baguio City issued a statement expressing its being “in accord with the student population in demanding for just reforms.” The statement further averred, “We unconditionally give our backing for their demands …”34 The late 1960s and the early 1970s saw the blooming of what was termed as
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“student power.” The “parliament of the streets” as the student demonstrations were called, was basically anti-government. The demonstrations, supported in part by a segment of the laboring class led to bloodshed as well as loss of lives and destruction of property. Confronted with massive dissent and using the threat of the Jose Ma. Sisonled Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People’s Army as an excuse, President Ferdinand E. Marcos placed the whole Philippines under Martial Law on September 21, 1972. Marcos abolished Congress and ruled through decrees, proclamations, directives and instructions which were made part as laws of the land.35 In the preceding year, a number of Catholic and Protestant church workers, seminarians and Christian youth met to discuss the question of Christian-Marxist cooperation and involvement in the “national democratic struggle” led by the Communist Party of the Philippines. These meetings led to formation of the Christians for National Liberation (CNL) in February 1972, with their first National Assembly a month before Martial Law was declared. Because of the arrest of many people when Martial Law was declared, (including those in the CNL), the CNL was forced underground. It became a founding member of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in 1973.36 This provided another arena where politically-motivated Christians can participate in a covert manner. The Church at large, including the UCCP was quite ambivalent at the beginning of Martial Law. The NCCP Newsletter of January 1973 headlined the story, “Church Heads Support FM.” Eight heads of denominations belonging to the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) signed a resolution expressing their support to the move of Marcos and their belief that “the President has acted accordingly.”37 That however will not last long. As Robert Youngblood observed, “the role of the Philippine churches, especially the Roman Catholic church, in the events that led to termination of Marcos’ twenty-year rule, dramatically underscored the depth to which church-state relations had fallen since Marcos’ first term as president (1966-69).”38 The Church however became more critical of the Martial Law regime and the Marcos dictatorship as the years went by and when it became apparent that human rights violations were mounting. The UCCP has been one of the first churches to express concern over the conduct of Martial Law in a statement in 1974 by the General Assembly and in 1978 called for the “immediate dismantling of the machinery of Martial Law in the country.”39 Youngblood noted that Marcos’ dealings with the churches remained cordial until the late 1960s, but following the imposition of martial rule in September 1972, church-state relations began to deteriorate with the loss of civil liberties, increased abuses of human rights by the military, and the rise of graft, corruption, and economic mismanagement. Inevitably government policies serving the interests of the President, his relatives, close associates, and other political allies clashed with church programs aimed at assisting the poor.40
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Recognizing its need to make a clear and forthright stand on the prevailing crucial issue relating to the suppression and curtailment of civil and political liberties under Martial Law, the UCCP though the1978 General Assembly issued the “A Resolution on the Restoration of Civil, Political Liberties and the Dismantling of the Machinery of Martial Law.” It pronounced that the “system of one-man rule or of total concentration of power in one man is anathema to the full growth and enrichment of a Christian community and oppressive to the challenges to the challenges of a creative and responsible Christian discipleship” and that it is “in keeping with the democratic tradition of the evangelical churches that … civil and political liberties be restored, and the machinery of Martial Law be scuttled.”41 The Church then declared “its will and desire. . . to be duly noted and be made of record – that this church body is against the perpetuation of a one-man rule in the country; that it is for the immediate restoration of all civil and political liberties of the citizens; and that it is for the immediate dismantling of the machinery of Martial Law in the country.”42 The Mindanao Situation. During the Martial Law regime and even beyond it, the Philippine government faced a strong separatist movement in the South through the Moro Nationalist Liberation Front (and later on, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front). The Church has also addressed this particular reality. The 1978 General Assembly in Cagayan de Oro City (21-26 May) issued a Statement on the Mindanao Situation. It saw Mindanao as a land of promise, what with its potentialities of cultures meeting and melting, where people’s faiths can shine even in the midst of death, and the possibility where people can live in love based on the principle of kinship of people under God.43 But it also saw Mindanao as a land of broken promises, a land of conflict and struggle of people longing for peace based of justice and genuine development, this conflict as a result of historical development, where politics and economics play the dominant role. By saying that, the Church was asserting that while the religious and cultural factors were at play, these factors are not the primary cause for the conflict, as some quarters of Philippine would posit.44 It perceived the armed responses of the Moro National Liberation Front and its Bangsa Moro Army and that of the New People’s Army as attempts to solve the roots of the historic conflict of Mindanao.45 It perceived further that the efforts of the ecumenical movement through programs and project as barely making a dent towards the solution of the problems; and the effort of government as merely “palliative” and worse as a way to “further enhance the greed for political and economic power.”46 The Assassination of Ninoy Aquino and the Fall of Marcos. On August 21, 1983, Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., a leading Marcos critic and oppositionist to the Martial Law regime and himself a detainee before he was allowed to leave for the
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USA for an operation, returned to the Philippines but was assassinated at the Manila International Airport. His death sparked a series of protest actions from the citizenry, including many church people. These protests triggers events that lead to what is now known as the “People Power Revolution” of February 22-25, 1986 to bring to an end the twenty year Marcos dictatorship and eventually installing Aquino’s widow, Corazon “Cory” C. Aquino to the Philippine Presidency.47 Cory Aquino’s ascendancy as President was initially greeted with euphoria and the posture of the Church was captured by the slogan, “Give Cory a chance!” Statements coming from churches were usually cautious. It was also because rightist elements were undermining her leadership through a series of coup attempts. However, the policies enunciated by the Aquino administration — her total war policy and the consequent human rights violations it engendered, her strong support for the retention of the US military bases, her implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform — caused disenchantment of the people, including the Church. The UCCP began to once more take on a prophetic stance vis-à-vis the instrumentalities of the State. It issued “Peacemaking: Our Ministry” statement issued on August 21, the third anniversary of the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. It became one of the most quoted UCCP statements. It noted some positive developments that puts forward the cause of peace such as the hope generated by ascendancy of the Aquino administration, thus ending the grip of the Marcos dictatorship since 1972, the enjoyment of democratic space so long denied the people, the desire of the government and the National Democratic Front for a ceasefire, the recognition by government, through the President, that “roots of insurgency are in the economic condition of the people and the social structures that oppress them.”48 While these positive developments exist, there were also attempts to subvert them. The destabilization moves through coup d’etats and other means, the propensity of some segment of the government to opt for a military solution to insurgency, intensified military operations designed to eliminate insurgents have brought havoc on the lives of our people in the countrysides. The latter is seen as tending “to derail the ceasefire negotiations and can frustrate efforts to attain genuine peace.”49 The Church asserted that it is the “unjust socio-economic and political structures that breed insurgents” and that “real peace happens when the roots of conflicts and violence are removed, when a just social structure is built, and when human rights and dignity are held sacred.”50 It also stressed that “genuine and lasting peace comes when people’s needs are served,” and “can be attained only when founded on justice.”51 Conclusion. Through out the various critical stages in the country’s life and history as can be shown in its official statements, the UCCP was an active participant in pushing for social change. From a close companion of the State in pushing for a more
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pro-people agenda, the Church has shown a more independent and critical stance vis-àvis the State when it became apparent that the government machinery was not responding to the people’s plight. The shift that has started in the early 60’s became more pronounced in the Martial Law era and continued on even after the Martial Law era ended. The coming in of a new administration, though greeted with some degree of euphoria, ushered some optimism in our social life. But given its initial favorable reading of the Marcos Martial Law regime, the Church was more cautious this time around and chose to take a more guarded position deciding to help out by pointing to what it deemed, from the vantage view of its faith, as acts inimical to the people and to the nation. Thus, it has continued a prophetic advocacy vis-à-vis the policies of the State.SMM
Excerpted from the author’s Master of Theology thesis. For full historical account, see T. Valentino Sitoy, Jr.’s Several Springs, One Stream: The United Church of Christ in the Philippines Vol. 1: Heritage and Origins (1898-1948) (Quezon City: United Church of Christ in the Philippines, 1992) and Several Springs, One Stream: The United Church of Christ in the Philippines Vol. II: The Formative Decade (1948-1958) (Quezon City: United Church of Christ in the Philippines, 1997) See also T. Valentino Sitoy, Jr.’s Comity and Unity: Ardent Aspirations of Six Decades of Protestantism in the Philippines (1901-1961). (Quezon City: National Council of Churches in the Philippines, 1989). See further Enrique C. Sobrepeña’s That They May Be One. (Manila: United Church of Christ in the Philippines, 1964). 3 Enrique C. Sobrepeña. That They May Be One. (Manila: United Church of Christ in the Philippines, 1964) 141 4 T. Valentino Sitoy, Jr. Comity and Unity: Ardent Aspirations of Six Decades of Protestantism in the Philippines (1901-1961). (Quezon City: National Council of Churches in the Philippines, 1989) 112 5 Sobrepeña 31-32 6 Quoted from Sitoy, Jr., Comity 67-68 7 Ibid., 68 8 Ibid., 68-69 9 Ibid., 103-111 10 Pasquale T. Giordano, S.J., Awakening to Mission: The Philippine Catholic Church, 1965-1981. (Quezon City: New Day Publishers, c1988) 18 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid. 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid. 15 Ibid., 20 16 Ibid. 17 “Huks” was the monicker given to the armed group of the Partido Kumonista ng Pilipinas (PKP). It was known as HUKBALAHAP or Hukbong Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon [ People’s Army against the Japanese] during the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines. The PKP and the Huks continued their struggle against the State after World War II. 18 Giordano, 21 19 See T. Valentino Sitoy, Jr.’s Comity and Unity: Ardent Aspirations of Six Decades of Protestantism in the Philippines (1901-1961). (Quezon City: National Council of Churches in the Philippines, 1989) Chapter VI [The Wartime Federation and Union] and Chapter VII [Postwar Efforts for Unity], 87-114. See also T. Valentino Sitoy, Jr.’s Several Springs, One Stream: The United Church of Christ in the Philippines Vol. 1: Heritage and Origins (18981948) (Quezon City: United Church of Christ in the Philippines, 1992) Chapter X [The Wartime Union of 1943] and Chapter XI [Postwar Reorganization and Rehabilitation] 429-483. See further Enrique C. Sobrepeña’s That They May Be One. (Manila: United Church of Christ in the Philippines, 1964). 20 UCCP Statements and Resolutions (1948-1990) (Quezon City: Education and Nurture Desk, 1990) xi-xii
2 1

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21 T. Valentino Sitoy, Jr. Several Springs, One Stream: The United Church of Christ in the Philippines Vol. II: The Formative Decade (1948-1958) (Quezon City: United Church of Christ in the Philippines, 1997) 986 22 Ibid. 23 Ibid., 1010 24 Quoted from Sitoy 1997. 1010 25 Ibid., 1011-1012 26 Tye 1994 271 27 Interview with Bishop Erme R. Camba 28 Sitoy 1997 1011 29 Norwood B. Tye. Journeying with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines: A History. (Quezon City: United Church of Christ in the Philippines, 1994) 192 30 Sitoy 1997. 1011 31 Ibid., 987 32 Teodoro A. Agoncillo. History of the Filipino People, Eighth Edition (Quezon City: Garotech Publishing, 1990) 570-571 33 Ibid., 571 34 UCCP Statements and Resolutions (1948-1990), 88 35 Agoncillo 572 36 Robert L. Youngblood. Marcos Against the Church: Economic Development and Political Repression in the Philippines (Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1993) 81-82 37 NCCP Newsletter, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Jan 1973) 1, 4 [The following signed the resolution: Most Rev. Macario Ga (Obispo Maximo, Iglesia Filipina Independiente), Bishop Estanislao Q. Abainza (General Secretary , UCCP), Bishop Geronimo Maducdoc (General Superintendent, Iglesia Metodista en las Islas Filipinas), the Rev. Levi Lahaylahay (General Secretary, Convention of Phil. Baptist Churches), Dr. Alvaro Cariño (President, Lutheran Church in the Philippines), Bishop Cornelio Ferrer (Bishop of the Manila Episcopal Area, United Methodist Church), Bishop Serafin __erto *{ineligible} (General Superintendent, Iglesia Unida de Cristo) and The Rt. Rev.Benito Cabanban (Phil. Episcopal Church)] 38 Youngblood, v 39 UCCP Statements and Resolutions (1948-1990) 99-101, 122-123 40 Youngblood, v 41 “A Resolution on the Restoration of Civil, Political Liberties and the Dismantling of the Machinery of Martial Law,” Journal of the Proceedings of the First Quadrennial General Assembly May 21-26, 1978, Cagayan de Oro City. Appendic XXIII 565. 42 Ibid. 43 “On the Mindanao Situation,” Journal of the Proceedings of the First Quadrennial General Assembly Appendix XXI 552 44 Ibid., 120-121 45 Ibid. 46 Ibid. 47 Reuel Norman O. Marigza. “A Chronology of Protestantism in the Philippines and Related Historical Events” in Profiles in Protestant Witness: The First Fifty Years of Evangelical Christianity in the Philippines (1898-1948) ed. Dale Law (Muntinlupa: Institute of Religion and Culture, 1999) 122 48 “Peacemaking: Our Ministry,” UCCP Statements, 147-148 49 Ibid., 148 50 Ibid., 147-148 51 Ibid.

August 2008, Silliman Ministry Magazine • 19

Book Reviews

“On Job: God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent”
By Gustavo Gutierrez
Translated from the Spanish by Matthew J. O’Connel Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1991.

Reviewed by : Rev. Noriel C. Capulong


his is one book that I really found to be immensely helpful in the writing of my second volume of the Reading and Hearing the Old Testament in the Philippine Context, specifically in the chapter and section dealing with the book of Job. For Gustavo Gutierrez’ exhaustive treatment and discussion on the different major parts or sections of Job simply oozes not just with the scholarly depth for which he is already well known as a pioneer in the articulation of the “Theology of Liberation”, but most of all, with the zeal of one who remains deeply rooted in the Scriptures while remaining so passionately moved and concerned about the suffering and pain of his fellow Latin American peoples. This book is actually not a commentary but a more of an extended essay or theological reflection on the plight and the faith of Job in the midst of an apparently unjust suffering. At the end, one can readily acknowledge that this is one clear example of a solid attempt to re interpret the Scriptures in light of a

very pressing and even depressing human condition and to discern from the Word a message that can bring light and hope to a suffering world. Here, the text, as reread and reinterpreted by Gutierrez is able to address the context with clear intentionality and renewed integrity. For Gutierrez sees in the situation of suffering experienced by Job a mirror-like reflection of the intense and unjust suffering being experienced by the majority of his fellow Latin American citizens in that continent, a situation not entirely different from our own contemporary Philippine social and economic conditions. Thus, the author embarks not just on a scholarly endeavor but also on a spiritual journey of wrestling with major life and faith issues arising from the book itself and discerning their significance for the contemporary social and economic condition of the Latin American peoples. Gutierrez, thus discerns one very central theme in the book which he partly adopts as the sub title of his book, “How are we to talk about God. More particularly: how are we to talk about God from within a specific situation- namely, the suffering of the innocent.” It is the kind of God-talk or talking about God in the midst of suffering of the innocent that the author tries to articulate as he weaves through the pages and sections of Job. This kind of God-talk was then voiced out through two distinct languages discerned by Gutierrez in the book, the

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language of prophecy and the language of contemplation. The language of prophecy speaks of the struggle and the tension arising out of the debate between the suffering Job and that of his friends who turned out to be “sorry comforters”, with Job raising his firm voice of protests to the Almighty on the unjustness and unfairness of his suffering on the basis of his claims to righteous and pious and even charitable modes of living. His friends meanwhile had been admonishing him for his rather “unrepentant” and disconsolate attitude before God, calling on him to simply return to God with humility and repentance so that he can be properly restored to his former condition of prosperity and wholeness. The friends’ stand, and essentially that of Job also, had been premised on the old theological tradition of rewards and punishment which is also technically called, “The Deuteronomic formula”. Job however, has remained ever vehement in maintaining his innocence before God and even challenging God to a debate if ever there could be a proper umpire between them. All the more the friends became so scandalized by this posture of Job. A turning point was reached however in the seeming impasse between Job and his friends when we reach what Gutierrez considers as a pivotal chapter in chap. 24. There, in very vividly detailed and moving poetic presentation of the concrete situation of the poor, Gutierrez demonstrates right from the text how the poverty of the poor as described is clearly not the result of destiny nor of punishment from God as is usually presumed under the theology of

the rewards and punishment. Rather, it was made clear that the suffering of the innocent poor is caused by the wickedness of those who exploit and rob them of their substance and life itself. This is why Job describes the oppressors of the poor as murderers (24:14). In this poem, as discerned by Gutierrez, Job realizes that his own situation of suffering is the lot also of the poor. He now knows that “he is part of the world of the poor”. Thus, from thereon, Job’s cry for justice and vindication is no longer a cry simply for himself. His questions to God is no longer just for himself as he realizes the many others among his fellows who are in similar misfortune. His voice now begins to speak of one who is articulating the innermost longings and quest for justice for the suffering poor and powerless. As Job becomes the voice of the suffering poor, he also takes his stand before God in solidarity with all others who suffer injustice and victimization (30:2425). This faith stance of Job is even combined with his own professed practice of a kind of “ecological justice toward the earth, mother of life and source of food for the poor” (31:38-40), [p. 42]. At the same time, Gutierrez notes that Job connects his commitment to the poor with another central theme of the Bible- “the rejection of idolatry” (31:24-28). In this manner Job is able to express his complete surrender to “the God who has a preferential option to the poor”, which compels him to be equally attentive to the needs and cries of the poor. It is in this contradiction between the manifest righteous, God-fearing stance and behavior of Job and his apparent unjust suffering that the language
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of prophecy is uttered and articulated in revealing the tension between traditional religious belief and concrete reality. Yet the resolution comes not in the provision of straightforward answers as demanded by Job but more in the form of a confrontation with the ineffable mystery of the presence of God as creator and sustainer. Job, according to Gutierrez, enters this time into the realm of the language of contemplation, where he is made to receive the response of God from heaven (38-41:34) giving him a peek at the plan of God for all creation (not just for him) and of God’s just government of the world [p. 69]. Job is presented with the very nature of God’s just governance of the whole creation, as God grants life and freedom even to the wild creatures of the earth. At the same time, Job realizes the utter mystery and ineffability, the deep incomprehensible character of God, but which “indicates the freedom and gratuitousness of God.” There is something, as Job eventually realizes, in the mystery and power of God which will always remain beyond the comprehension of the human being but which can only be experienced as pure grace or abiding love. In entering and experiencing the realm of this language of contemplation, Job confesses a radically new understanding of God defined now more by his own personal encounter with this God and less by what tradition has taught him (42:1-6). He has come at new understanding of faith and an abiding relationship with God in this level of contemplation.
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Here, Gutierrez makes his own concluding interpretation of this new understanding of Job about his faith in the midst of suffering, “that justice alone does not have the final say about how we are to speak of God. Only when we come to realize that God’s love is freely bestowed do we enter freely and definitely into the presence of the God of faith. Grace is not opposed to the quest for justice nor does it play it down; on the contrary, it gives it its full meaning. God’s love, like all true love, operates in a world not of cause and effect but of freedom and gratuitousness” (p. 87). Definitely, this book is one work of Gutierrez that is bound to become another classic testimony to his pioneering spirit as a scholar of and for liberation in its fullest and truest sense. For those pastors, Bible teachers, and lay leaders looking for a way to understand and make sense of the rather complex tapestry of both the poetry and prose of Job, this is one book you simply cannot afford to miss. Surely, Gutierrez wrote this book not just for his own people in Latin America as target audience, for as Filipinos, we can easily identify with the very issues and concerns he is talking about. For wherever or in whatever part of the world there remains unjust suffering of the innocent and the poor, this book will always have something definitive to say as discerned from the book of Job itself. We can, therefore, be thankful enough for such a gift Gutierrez is now sharing with the rest of the world, especially, the third world church. SMM


“A New Christianity for A New World”
By John Shelby Spong
Harper One: A Division of Harper Collins Publishers, n.p.,2002

Reviewed by: Dr. Levi V. Oracion f one finds Rick Warren’s two popular books, The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life too uncritical of the modern world and too sanguine about the health of Christianity, it would be best for him/her to struggle with Bishop Spong’s A New Christianity for a New World. It is the same genre as John A. T. Robinson’s Honest to God. Bishop Spong known for taking up the cause of the women, and gays and lesbians in the life of the church, plunges into another controversial territory and shakes the intellectual foundations of the traditional faith by arguing that theism, which has been culturally bound up with both the understanding and the practice of faith, is neither an essential component of the Christian faith nor a necessary framework for its articulation. The good bishop finds the basic framework of traditional Christianity quite irrelevant to the intellectual mind set of the contemporary experience of modern men and women and prognosticates that such a hidebound embrace of faith could only wither away and die if the essential meaning of the Christian faith is not articulated within the thoughts


forms of the contemporary world. Theism, argues Spong, is not part of the biblical divine revelation; rather it was a hypostatic seizure of forces of nature that stood over against human beings as they self-consciously experienced the awesome powers they encountered in the natural world. Spong concludes, “God, understood theistically, is thus quite clearly a human construct”(p.45). Once upon a time, theism may have provided a sense of security to the world of Christianity when the belief that no matter what happens to the believer or to the world, he/she knows that God is in control , and that whatever happens, God will do what is the very best for all God’s creatures. But, according o Bishop Spong, such a cavalier affirmation of faith in the theistic God is belied by both real events in the world and by observable forms of human behavior. The latter, of course, is not a new inasmuch as the classical critiques of Christianity had earlier been made more powerfully by Soren Kierkegaard in his Attack on Christianity and by Friedrich Nietzsche in his The Anti-Christ. As for the former, we need only look at contemporary historical events- the Iraq and Afghanistan War, the genocide that has been happening in Darfur for a number years now, the various act of terrorism that take place on an almost daily basis and the natural catastrophes that visit our planet with alarming frequency- as well as remember monumental horrors like that of the holocaust and the elimination of 30 million Russian peasants by Stalin.

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Where was God in all these evens? Of course, there are biblical passages that quite clearly support the idea if a theistic God that may have emboldened theologians like Calvin to propound a God who predestines everyone to heaven or hell, or no matter who they are or what they do. But Spong is more responsive to the tender and more humane elements in the Bible, so that he speaks of God not as the all-powerful absolute God who in the divine sovereign will, shall bring all things into perfect consummation; but more as friend who invites us to travel through life in the total trust in God’s care and tell us to abandon all our defenses and culturally constructed security systems. I think Spong should offer as much more than what amounts to pious talk, speak of a divine human synergy where God’s action in nature and history has to contend with forces that operate independently of the divine will, and where human participation in becomes a major force in bringing the divine will into realization. Spong’s book should generate considerable excitement and move the theologically minded to explore the new veins of gold that he leads us to see. For instance, he jettisons original sin for he would rather stand in awe and marvel at what human beings have achieved – great works of Michelangelo, Mozart’s music, massive and divine architecture, the scientists work in probing the mysteries of the human body; simply go against the horrible notion of total human depravity. But no theologian has ever denied that human beings are so fallen that they
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can be viewed almost as pure evil; yet the locus from which they fell must also be taken into account. The PaulineAugustinian understanding of the nature of human beings is far more adequate in grasping its depth and complexity. Why God should go through all the trouble that God did is quite incomprehensible if the object of the divine action is purely evil. There must be something of value in fallen human beings that God should come to their rescue; and “that something of value” could be the source of great art that fallen humanity has given rise to. Besides, if the sin of human beings were a mere trivia, God’s sacrifice on the cross would appear supererogatory, to say the least. There are so many novel and exciting ideas in Spong’s book. He wrestles with the major realities of faith such as the Incarnation and moves away from the traditional divine-human union towards Jesus’ realization of authentic humanity; he no longer sees evangelism and mission in their former format but foresees a genuine and honest coming together of all faiths each sharing their vision of what love, peace and justice is. It is really exciting to journey with the good bishop as he seeks to transcend the venerable boundaries of faith and dare to walk in an open space where he can breathe in authentic humanity wherever it may issue forth. Bishop Spong envisions an exciting human future. It sails against the wind of the current “clash of civilizations.” If we turn a deaf ear to the wise counsels of this book, we do so at our own peril. SMM


Prof. Victor Aguilan
Biblical Texts: Ps. 147; John 6:1-15







hanks be to God for this opportunity to share with you my reflection. As we prepare ourselves let me share with you a prayer of John Calvin. Let us bow our head in prayer: “Heavenly Father, in your son, Jesus Christ, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Enlighten our minds by your Holy Spirit and grant us that reverence and humility, without which no one can understand your truth. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.” The passage from the book of Psalm is familiar to us while the Gospel reading reminds us of the feeding of the 5,000. I have chosen these two biblical passages in connection with our emphasis for today – RURAL LIFE. According to United Nations Population Fund (2007) the world’s human population is undergoing a transition from being largely rural to urban. By 2008, the global urban population will be, for the first time in global history, greater than 50%. As such, urban growth and accompanying changes with urbanization are increasingly being recognized as one of the critical development issues of the 21st Century. The issue that we will be facing this century is the relationship between urban and rural communities. Today there is a perception that urbanization is bad for the rural communities. And that the relationship between these two, cities and the country sides, is antagonistic, destructive and exploitative. According to Peter Kareiva, chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy said “If we do not learn to build, expand and design our cities with a respect for nature, we will have no nature left anywhere.” For our reflection today I would like to focus on the relationship between the urban/ city life and the rural life. As I re-read the passages the other night, it came to my attention that the two biblical readings have something to share with us. Let me begin with verse 2 of Ps. 147 which says “The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.” The Lord builds up Jerusalem. Where is Jerusalem? It is on top of a mountain. It is the city of David where Solomon constructed the temple. In other words, Jerusalem was a city that God has established. The biblical truth is that the God of the Bible is the Sovereign Lord
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who builds cities and communities. But is it a different city. Not like the city of men. The city of men is a city of contrast and discrimination The city of men is a city which exploits the poor, discriminates the weak and abuses the vulnerable The city of men is parasitic. It consumed without returning anything. It has an insatiable greed for fuel, food, and other resources. The city of men sucks out the wealth and resources of the country-sides. The city of men has made mountain barren, dried up rivers and lakes, and strip the land empty of life. The city of men has turn the countryside into a wasteland and a war zone But the writer of Psalms 148 declares that God builds up Jerusalem. It is a city chosen by God. It is a city of God and utterly different from the city of men. The city of God is a city where outcasts find refuge and a sense of community The city of God is a city where the brokenhearted and wounded find healing It is a city that “he strengthens”, and guarantees blessings and prosperity to all dwellers God’s city is a peaceful city, a place without wars, without violence and teeming with life. The writer declares: “12Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! 13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your sons within you. 14 He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat. God’s city is a city where there are abundant supplies. God’s city is a city where mountains, hills, forests, rivers and animals are not exploited and abuse. Because the God who builds up Jerusalem, is also the God who sustains creatures of the forest and makes the grass grows upon the hills. To quote verses 8-9: “He covers the heavens with clouds, he prepares rain for the earth, he makes grass grow upon the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens which cry.” The writer of Ps. 148 declares that the God of the Israelites is the God of the whole Creation. God is the master of the Universe. God is the God in the cities and in the countrysides. So let us praise the LORD, city dwellers and rural folks. I am a city person. But I long for the city of God. The various cities that I have visited have failed to approximate the City of God. I have seen oppression, exploitations, abuse, discrimination, opportunism and deceptions in the many cities I have visited. To overcome this destructive and antagonistic relationship between the cities and the rural communities, we need to learn to build, expand and design our cities with a respect for nature. It is a greening of our cities. Since it is located in the urban centers, seminaries can help through education and the formation of character. This brings me to me Gospel reading John 6:1-15. The story of the
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feeding of the 5,000, I believe, has shown to us some of the virtues that we need to develop for the greening of our cities. There are four significant virtues which the story reveals namely: the virtue of justice, the virtue of pietism, the virtue of frugality and the virtue of non-violence. Let us reflect on each virtue. 1. The virtue of justice. In the story, Jesus saw a multitude coming to him. He asked his disciple Philip with an interesting question, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” The disciple answered him that it was an impossible task considering the capital involved - that the 200 denarii would not be sufficient to buy enough bread. In the synoptics, we read that the disciples protested. It would require a huge sum of money. What they have was the five loaves and two fish! But Jesus proved the disciples wrong. Feeding the people was not a mission impossible. You do not need to rely solely on money or capital to be able to do something. The five loaves and two fishes did not seem much. But Jesus took them. .. 5,000 people were fed. It was a miracle. It was a sign from heaven. In the hands of Jesus, little is always much. The disciples had forgotten what Jesus had taught about God. Jesus taught that God cared deeply for the poor and the powerless. He not only taught it, he enacted it. Jesus fed the poor and hungry and taught the disciples the practice of sharing with those in need. Even with little money they could perform miracle if they only believed what Jesus believed. Through the practice of justice, many “miracles” could be accomplished. This “miracle” begins when there is a change of heart, from indifference to a heart that is just. Here, Jesus shows to his disciples the virtue of justice. Justice today includes the just distribution of the world’s goods and services, so that all humans have the essential material conditions for human dignity. The ecological degradation aggravates economic deprivation. And economic deprivation is major cause of ecological degradation. It is a vicious cycle. Someone suggested that the solution to problem of hunger and scarcity of resources is by simple living. Live simply so other may simply live. At the Divinity School, how can we practice this virtue of justice? What little do you have which you can share to the school so at the hands of the Divinity School your share can accomplish a lot. I believe that God has provided the Divinity with supplies to meet our needs. We have the faculty members who are ever ready to share their knowledge. We have friends and partners who continue to support our various programs. We have local churches that send and support students and pastors for training. We have the University that can provide us with the facilities that enhance learning. We have established networks and earned the goodwill of the larger community. We have what we need to build a sustainable formation center. 2. The virtue of pietism. Another virtue needed today is pietistic virtue. What is pietism? The dictionary defines it as “reverence for God.” John Wesley calls these works of piety as spiritual disciplines. These disciplines include prayers, worship, bible study and fasting. Let us return to the text in John. The Gospel emphasizes this virtue of Jesus that before passing
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out the food Jesus gave thanks. His giving thanks is, in fact, a prominent part of the story. The Bible tells us that after the five small loaves and two fish were given Him, Jesus “took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted” (vs 11). The act of giving thank to God is an act of prayer and worship. And it was characteristic of Jesus to pray before doing anything. For Jesus is a person of prayer. Pietism is a habit of acknowledging the God who gives us grace, and who sustains us with all our needs. Pietism helps us acknowledge our absolute dependence on God. Together as the gathered community at worship and in prayers we celebrate our life together and affirm our identity as children of God and followers of Jesus. Worship is the place where we can be transformed anew each week as we seek to return from the struggles and vicissitudes of life in the world to restore our spiritual and moral rooted-ness in the life of God. Worship is also a central place where we articulate our fundamental beliefs and values. Therefore our love of God’s creation and our commitment to care for God’s creation should play an integral role in our worship life. 3. The virtue of frugality. Connected with the virtue of pietism is the virtue of frugality. Let us return to the story. Jesus instructed his disciples to “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.” Why gather the left over? To gather is to show respect and reverence to the gift of God. More so Jesus did not want the gift of God to go to waste. It shows Jesus’ frugality. Frugality connotes thrift, moderation, temperance, and efficiency. It is the anti-thesis of the over-consumption, wastefulness, laziness and indifference to others need. Frugality is the opposite of being a miser or dalo/madamot. We must be constantly watchful, especially against becoming involved in a vain and excessive love of material possession like the rich fool or rich man in the story of Lazarus. However today’s society encourages less saving, more consumption, which is a characteristic of a consumerist society. We have lost control of ourselves in the utilization of God’s earthly resources which is one reason why we have this environmental crisis. We cut down more tree rather than planting. We over-fish the ocean. At the Seminary, what gift or gifts of God do we need to gather so that nothing may be lost? Do we conserve energy? Do we practice the three Rs of environmental ethics- REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE. 4. The virtue of peacemaking and non-violence. And finally there is a virtue that we need to cultivate to help transform the city into a green city. This is the virtue of peace and non-violence. After seeing the miracles the people thought Jesus was the Messiah. This fills the people with excitement and tried to make Jesus king by force. Jesus had to leave them and go into “hiding” (Jn 6:15). The masses wanted to a Messiah who could provide them of their material needs They are all wrong. They all misunderstand the kind of Messiah Jesus is. What kind of Messiah is Jesus? He is not a man of war; rather, He is a king of peace. His kingdom or city is a city of peace. Jesus rejected violence because it begets violence.
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Killing begets killing. There is nothing good about violence. Today, one concrete manifestation is militarism. We have succumbed to the myth of redemptive violence, that violence can settle our entire problem. We are attracted to the RAMBO solution or the Bush doctrine: “Attack them now, ask questions later!” Militarization must be rejected and denounced because it will not bring about just and lasting peace. Militarization destroys democracy, civilian rule and violates human rights. It siphons society’s resources which are needed for social services. It prevents genuine peace talks with rebels and insurgent groups to settle armed conflicts. Militarization thrives on fear, thus it perpetuates wars and conflicts. To end violence and militarism, we begin by developing the virtue of peace which Jesus has shown. I think Jesus would agree with Lao-Tse [born 604 BC], the first philosopher of the Taoist school. Please allow me to quote his poem, Peace
(from Tao Te Ching) by Lao-Tse

If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the nations. If there is to be peace in the nations, there must be peace in the cities. If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbors. If there is to be peace between neighbors, there must be peace in the home. If there is to be peace in the home, there must be peace in the heart. When we reject violence and embrace the virtue of peacemaking and non-violence, we contribute to the greening of our cities. There are many things which I could share. However these four virtues that I have mentioned – justice, piety, frugality and peacemaking are green Christian virtues that we need to practice regularly so that they become habits to help transform our cities into a green city. Let us pray. Look upon your people, dear God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Help us see how much blessings we have received from you through your Seminary-the Divinity School of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. And move us from our complacency and fill us with a deeper sense of who we are and our responsibilities as your chosen people, as you church which you send to bear witness to the world, to do good in the midst of evil and injustice, and to be your steward of creation. Here we are, Lord. Send us. Amen.

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Advent & Christmastide
God, so much of faith is waiting Like a pregnant woman waiting in hope Like a people under siege, holding out till relief comes Like the soul lost in the darkness, Unable to see even a glimmer of light Yet stumbling through the night because somewhere, Out ahead, day will surely break God, be with us in our waiting
(The Pattern of our Days, Kathy Galloway, ed., Wildgoose Publications, Glasgow, p.112)

We walk this day with hopeful hearts, Believing that your justice and compassion will bring comfort and freedom To all who are in exile. Amen.
-Joyce Rupp, May I Have This Dance? ( lifted from Let It Be Advent Meditations for Women, Therese J. Borchard, ed., The Crossroad Pub. Company, New York, p. 31)

After Psam 131
God, you love us with a tender love Like Mary, holding her child gently in her arms Like Joseph, breaking with harsh tradition To stand by his beloved and her baby. Still our restless hearts to rest in you Knowing ourselves loved.
(The Pattern of our Days, Kathy Galloway, ed., Wildgoose Publications, Glasgow, p.112)

O God: Enlarge my heart that it may be big enough to receive the greatness of your love. Stretch my heart that it may take into it all those who with me around the world believe in Jesus Christ. Stretch it that it may take into it all those who do not know him, but who are my responsibility because I know him. And stretch it that it may take in all those who are not lovely in my eyes, And whose hands I do not want to touch; Through Jesus Christ, my Saviour, Amen. (Luke 10.25-37)
-Prayer of an African Christian, With All God’s People, WCC, 1989 (lifted from Bread of Tomorrow, Janet Morley, ed., SPCK Christian Aid, University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1992, p. 27)

God of exiles, keep calling us home. You know the yearning of our hearts. You also know how easily we can lose our way. May this Advent season be a time of coming home to the best of who we are. May our personal homecomings influence all the earth.

A Family Litany Of Penitence
Leader: As you have come near us in acceptance and forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Lord, so ought we to seek out each other in forgiveness and understanding, following your example. But

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too often we have failed and fallen short of the responsibility we share as families. (Silence) All: For this we ask your forgiveness, and the forgiveness of those near us we have hurt. Children & Youth: As children we have too often failed in our responsibilities toward older people. We have gladly accepted support and protection from them and returned little but hostility and rudeness. We have thought only of our own needs and wants, and have been indifferent to the needs and frailties of our parents, quick to judge and harsh in condemnation. (Silence) All: For this we ask your forgiveness, and the forgiveness of those near us we have hurt. Parents & Elders: As those who are responsible for the repetitive daily chores which make a house a home, we are too often resentful that expressions of gratitude are rare, that we are taken for granted by those who come and go. We too often devalue the simple yet crucial contribution we make daily, and see ourselves unimportant and of low esteem. (Silence) All: For this we ask your forgiveness, and the forgiveness of those near us we have hurt. As members of human families, we recognize our shortcomings and selfish attitudes and ask your help in overcoming them. Give us the strength to demand from others the same respect and care we attempt to give them, recognizing our mutual responsibility to each other as members of families. We ask for greater acceptance of each other and deeper appreciation for the gifts we bring each other. In Christ’s name and for his sake. Amen. (Silence)
(lifted from the Book of Worship, UCC-USA, 1986)

Holy and gracious God, the season of Advent is so important to me: It’s not just the parties and presents, Not for me! What I look forward to each year, is your coming; Your love born again, as if never before. But save me from thinking this is just happening to me. Or to my family. Or to a family of like-minded people called Christians. Remind me that Advent is about everyone, With or without presents, or hangovers. And remind me, too, that Advent is not just for individuals, But for the world, and everything in it; For cultures and nations and peoples; For justice and equality; and for enough care of the planet to make hills sing with joy. Remind me most of all, holy and gracious God, That Advent is about you, and your reign over all things. Remind me of how you changed the history of the world; And hold time and space in your hands. Help me to see just how big this party is! And whatever else you do, God, please save me from making a fool of myself by pretending that it is my party, or the celebration of the faithful few.
(Brian Woodcock & Jan Sutch Pickard, Advent Reading from IONA, Wild Goose Publications, Glasgow, 2000.)

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Leader: God calls us now in this Christmas season to become new, People: To make room for our own nativity, even where there is no room at the inn. Leader: Where we are busy – People: Peace. Leader: Where we are lost – People: Salvation. Leader: Where we are sad – People: Joy. Leader: Where we are bitter – People: Love. Leader: Let this hour be a time to hope for all these gifts of God. Amen.
(Roger D. Straw, Flames of the Spirit. Ed. Ruth Duck. The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1985, p. 19)

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction. This is true: the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the poor are hearing the good news. It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction have come to stay forever. This is true: death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore. It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world. This is true: the Lord whom we seek will suddenly come to his temple; and he is like a refiner’s fire. It is not true that our dreams of liberations, of human dignity, are not meant for this earth and for this history. This is true: it is already time for us to wake from sleep. For the night is far gone, the day is at hand.
-Allan Boesak, South Africa, Adapted from an address to the WCC, 1983. (lifted from Bread of Tomorrow, Janet Morley, ed., SPCK Christian Aid, University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1992, p. 31)

Leader: Tonight on Christmas Eve, we kneel with families all over the earth in the presence of the Most High. People: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. Leader: As we have been invaded by light, let us enlighten. People: As we have been found, let us seek out the lost. Leader: As we have been liberated, let us set the captives free. Unison: For to us a child is born, One whom God sends to bring peace and light, freedom and reconciliation. Thanks be to God. Amen.
(Holly W. Whitcomb, Flames of the Spirit. Ed. Ruth Duck. The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1985, p. 20)

To wait To endure To be vulnerable To accept To be of good courage To go on Day after day after day; To be heavy with hope To carry the weight of the future To anticipate with joy

We are called to proclaim the truth…And let us believe: It is not true that this world and its people are doomed to die and to be lost. This is true: I have come that they might have life in all its abundance. 32 • August 2008, Silliman Ministry Magazine

To withdraw with fear Until the pain overcomes The waters break And the light of the world Is crowned. Then the travail is over Joy has overcome. Lord of heaven and earth, Crowned with blood At your birth, Delivered with pain, Bring new hope to birth In your waiting world Bring fresh joy To those who weep. Be present In all our dyings and birthings.
(The Pattern of our Days, Kathy Galloway, ed., Wildgoose Publications, Glasgow, p. 128)

Come, Christ Jesus, be our guest, and may our lives by you be blest. Come, God-with-us, and free us from the false claims of the empires of this world. We are lonely for you and your peace. Come, Emmanuel, and dwell with us, make us your people indeed, The people through whom you bring love and justice to the world. Come, Jesus, and reign; Claim your rightful place in our hearts And in the midst of our community. Plant the seeds of hope among us. Establish God’s reign on earth. For we pray as you taught us that God’s reign might come in fullness on earth. (All pray the Prayer of Our Saviour)
(Ruth C. Duck, Flames of the Spirit. Ed. Ruth Duck. The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1985, p. 14)

Light of the World: you gave us the transforming birth of the child Jesus as a light for our path. Yet we confess that we shut our eyes to the light. We admit that we do not want to see the gift you have given us. We acknowledge our reluctance to see and share our gifts with our sisters and brothers. We are often dazzled by the glitter and tinsel the world has made of Christ’s birth. We ask that your Spirit be lit within us, that we may share your gifts of peace and justice with all people. We seek to receive, and return the gift of Christ’s birth and death, again and again. Amen.
(Rebecca Ferguson & Ruth Duck, Flames of the Spirit. Ed. Ruth Duck. The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1985, p. 21)

A Paraphrase of Christ’s Prayer
O God of Sky and Earth May we reverence your presence Both within us and beyond. As we eat may we live your Way of pilgrimage. The Way of compassionate sharing. Help us to be forgiving, forgiving of others, forgiving of ourselves. Liberate us from guilt That learning from our mistakes, We may move beyond self-centeredness to that depth of being In which we are one with all things This is the Way of love, peace and justice. For the Earth, for human beings and for all living creatures Both now and forever. Amen.
(In the Circle of Faith Worship Resource Book, Lilibeth N. Puyot, ed., a Publication of the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music, Q.C., Phils. p.56)

Doxology for Christmas
Praise God whose dawn transfigures night, Whose Daystar shines for us on high, Whose Spirit brings into our sight The hope which to our world draws nigh. Amen.

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aculty rofiles
by Gideon Gunda, M.Div. Middler

A Father Speaks: Prof. Victor Aguilan

e is strict.” This remark is usually heard among fathers, for being so stiff when it comes to discipline of his children, be it on observing curfew hours or just doing household chores. But no, I am not speaking of a father having in control with his family affairs rather I am speaking of Prof. Victor Aguilan. “Strict” is the unanimous identity of Sir Aguilan, as he is popularly addressed, among students. As a matter of fact, one of my classmates used to say “mangurog nako kung magsugod na ang klase ni Sir Aguilan” (I would tremble whenever our class with Sir Aguilan starts). Another of my classmate even shared that he could hardly cope with our subject on him and that he could not survive Sir Aguilan. On his regular morning routine walk with his dogs I came to know more of Sir Aguilan. He grew up in Batangas, but he was born in Lucena, Quezon Province, and born to a church worker’s family. His father was an ordained minister while his mother was a Bible Woman. His family was only an extension of a clan whose life was rooted in the service to God. As to the present, their clan has ten ordained ministers and at most ten deacons. In order to be faithful to the family tradition, and to have an ordained minister in their family, his sister, Gailry, decided to be ordained after he decided to refuse to the call for ordination. He became part of Silliman University when he became a student of the Divinity School on his Masters of Divinity program just a year after his family transferred to Dumaguete in 1983. Six months later, they transferred to the Divinity School Village. Though a family man, he never was alienated to the struggles of the students during his time. Like an ordinary student he also struggled financially. There was a time when they accepted boarders in their unit to augment their financial condition. In one occasion at the chapel I even overheard him and Prof. Lope Robin reminisce their experience in the village, how they cooked San Francisco leaves as vegetable. While at the village he observed in dismay the laxity of the students in the use of their time. He was trying to express his attitude towards studies, giving much time reading a lot of books. Little is said of his pastoral work. With no intention of taking the teaching ministry as a lifetime service and with the condition that he will serve a local church nearby Dumaguete, he received the teaching offer of the SU College of Arts and Sciences, in the Philosophy and Religious Department 1990. He became part of the DS Koinonia in 1993, and formally started teaching at the DS in 1995. 34 • August 2008, Silliman Ministry Magazine

“I don’t know where that comment of ‘strictness’ is coming from,” Sir Aguilan muses. I cannot provide specific answer to the question. But let me quote him as he discussed in our ethics class regarding the behavior children at home, “Kung ako yan, disciplinarian ko, aha!...” He was referring to giving punishments to children. Yet, in the end he said, “…a parent’s love. I don’t know if a parent would throw a child after (every) mistakes.” SMM

The God of Music in Ma’am Jeans Life
By Marnie Vega How good it is to sing praises to our God How delightful and how right! Psalms 147:1


fter six years of untiring service and dedication to her work as music instructor, choral trainer, also as music and movement workshop facilitator in the Divinity School, the time has come for us to acknowledge our very own multi-talented mentor behind UGKAT, Miss Jean Cuanan Nalam. I went through a nightlong difficulty of visualizing a perfect view that would capture the essentiality of music in Ma’am Jean’s life. I gained confidence in the idea of featuring God as the source of music. “Music cannot be expressed in words but indeed a concrete manifestation that God exists.” Quoting this statement from Ma’am Jean herself stirs up my motivation to stick to the idea. Recalling my first acquaintance with Ma’am Jean led me to the Chapel of Evangel. I came in to attend the Sunday worship service while she was playing the piano for the introit. The melody she was creating indeed inspired me to bow my head for a prayer. Overwhelmed with the solemnity of the melody I uttered thanks to God for the music. It was my first time to attend Chapel service in the Divinity School and I was so much impressed with her ability to lead the congregation to worshiping God. Her seemingly perfect choice of hymns and songs in fact caused me to wish that I could also have the same talent. When I interviewed Ma’am Jean, I learned that she really had this inborn talent in music. She told me that according to her mother she would respond to any sound created outside while she was still in her mother’s womb. It was not surprising to them since both of her parents have special gift and interest in music, in fact her parents yearns for a musician in the family. When she was growing up, however, she displayed particular interest in teaching. Her mother who is both a teacher and a musician kept her on tract in balancing both. From her resume I peeked at the office, Ma’am Jean as she is fondly known to students earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music from Silliman University as August 2008, Silliman Ministry Magazine • 35

a Music Education Major. She finished her bachelor’s degree in 1996 where she graduated Cum Laude. Her impressive credentials helped a lot in immediate acceptance into the teaching force of Silliman University elementary level. While teaching she managed to have enrolled and completed her Master’s degree in the same field in 2002. God’s leading has been explicitly manifested in the life of Ma’am Jean as opportunity opened for her to transfer from elementary into being a faculty member in the Divinity School immediately after completing her Master’s degree. At the Divinity, School, she took the role and function of a music director as she has been in the elementary. She had been directing the Musical Theatrical Productions produced by the Divinity school since 2000-2006. She is also the composer and arranger of most of the songs performed in many different shows like Embudo, Kalandrakas, Lawig, Bahaghari, Butil and many others. She served as resource person and facilitator of music and movement workshop to various choral groups like the Psalmist Choir and Singing Society of Bislig City Surigao del Sur, Musiklesia of Matina-ao,Surigao del Norte, and La Fortuna of Agusan del Sur. At the present, she is the brilliant musical director behind UGKAT, an Instrumental Cultural Group of the Divinity School performing within and outside of Silliman University. It had performed various concerts in places like Bukidnon, Davao City, Maasin Leyte and other places in Mindanao. The most outstanding aspect of her music ministry as she expressed and I summarized includes the following: First, she convey an encouraging spirit to any student who showed interest in music. According to her it is more challenging to teach students who do not yet have a theoretical background in music. Secondly, her character as a musician connotes perfection. According to her, the beauty and harmony of music, lies in the mastery of its elements. Such mastery is always associated with right attitude and discipline, an attitude that requires sensitivity and commitment. Thirdly music must be attributed to God, as music is a gift from God. She said let music be an expression of freedom and worship, let it be full of color and surprising melodies, and let it be our humble offering to God the maker of music who deserved far more glory that the music itself. Finally Ma’am Jean associated her life with music as shown in her openness for growth and changes. She has no fixed plans in life in fact she loves surprises. According to her music is boring when you already know what is the next note coming, in the same way that she is bored with life of specific paradigms. SMM 36 • August 2008, Silliman Ministry Magazine

“Doing All Things”



Text: Philippians 4:13 he writing of this brief study was in spired by the recently held Christian Life Emphasis Week at Silliman University. The theme was “In Christ, We Can,” based on apostle Paul’s very familiar affirmation in his letter to the Philippians, “I can do all things, through the One who keeps empowering me” (my own translation). This essay will explore the meaning of such an affirmation in light of his letter (especially focusing on 4:4-13) and his personal circumstances. It argues that Paul here affirms his concrete devotion to Christ and unfeigned commitment to the cause of Christ’s gospel. Occasion of the Letter Philippians is one of the undisputed letters of Paul. The opening verse tells us about it (1:1). This letter was written during Paul’s imprisonment. Historical critics suggest that the letter was written in 55 C.E. Unfortunately, Paul does not hint at the venue of his imprisonment. For sure, the Philippian Christians knew everything about his imprisonment. Although this puzzle is left to modern readers, imprisonment in Ephesus would be plausible. This is in view of the proximity of Philippi from Ephesus. The writing was situated during the time of the Roman emperor Nero, who began his reign in 54 C.E.


Nero was probably the cruelest emperor in the history of Rome. During his reign persecutions of Christians took place, though probably localized in the vicinity of Rome, especially after the fire that ravaged the city in 64 C.E. Thus, Paul was imprisoned and finally executed under Nero’s clout. Why was Paul imprisoned? The letter itself tells us of the primary reason for his imprisonment. In 1:13 Paul says, “it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ (NRSV, emphasis added).” This is to say, in other words, that Paul was imprisoned because of Christ or for the sake of him. Two things can then be ask: What is the meaning of Christ and his figure within the Roman imperial order? What are Paul’s activities (words and deeds) that approximate Christ’s way? The term Christ comes from the Greek word Christos (Heb. Mashiach, “Messiah”), meaning, “anointed one.” This Anointed One refers to a special figure who would play a special role in the last days. Paul uses the term in reference to Jesus (see Phi 2:1-11). The gospels tell us of Jesus’ life as a Mashiach. His life was marked with solidarity and protest. He ministered to the outcast, sinners, the sick, the women and children. He opposed the perpetrators of injustice and

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corruption. In short, Jesus went about preaching the good news for the poor, working for their liberation from all sorts of bondage. His risky life found its way to the cross. Paul’s ministry defended and confirmed the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ (1:7). Such a gospel renders everyone equal, regardless of social status, race, or gender (Gal 3:28). He taught and promoted the sharing of resources. He formed churches (Grk. ekklesia) that seek to embody the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These gatherings may be called Christ-communities or messianic communities as these gatherings single-mindedly commit to follow the cause of Christ. Members of these gatherings call their ultimate master or teacher, Jesus the Christ, as “LORD.” How are these communities (churches) seen in relation to the Roman Empire? What they do clearly manifest a counter-culture. The empire was marked by cultures of hierarchy, patron-client system, slavery, and honor and shame. The empire was a world of the privileged alone. They adored as LORD the most honorable of all: Caesar, their emperor. Paul’s ministry and the life of the Christian believers can explain clearly the ground for his imprisonment. As Christian identity was a political stance, Paul’s imprisonment was also political. Some commentators either dismiss the political nuances of Paul’s imprisonment or avoid discussing it. For instance, G. Hawthorne argues that Paul’s imprisonment is not political, “but simply because he is a Christian.”2 R. Mellick’s reading only seems to convey that Paul’s Christian identity is evident in his imprisonment (NAC, 71).3 M. Bockmuehl refers to Paul’s

imprisonment as a buffer for the gospel to reach “the very heart of secular political power,” although silently avoiding the political undertones of Paul’s imprisonment.4 His message in Phi 4 talks about the virtues of a community that embodies the “Christ culture.” Paul speaks of rejoicing and maintaining a gentle spirit even in times of adversities since the Lord (Jesus, not Caesar) is near. He exhorts the Philippian Christbelievers not to worry about anything (even death), but to pray and thank God. He assures of God’s peace (not Caesar’s peace) that will guard their thoughts and actions in the context of Christ’s culture. Caesar’s peace, properly called “Pax Romana,” is deemed by critics as Roman propaganda, a mask of corruption and oppression. As Warren Carter puts it, The cry of ‘peace’ masks the strategies and structures of empire. It covers over the military basis for Rome’s rule. It disguises the fundamental inequities in the Roman system that exists for the economic benefit of the elite. It lays a veneer over the bloodsheed and human misery experienced by the vast majority of the empire’s subjects, those whose economic activity sustains the lifestyle of the elite.5 Paul challenges them to think of truth, honor (not based on heirarchy), justice, purity, what is pleasing, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise before the Messiah (not before Caesar). They are asked to keep on doing these things, again even in the midst of death-threatening oppositions and adversities, for the God of peace (not the Caesar of unpeace) is with them.

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Before acknowledging their gifts and affirming the good will of his readers Paul briefly expresses his personal affirmation in 4:13. The Greek word ischuo can be translated in many ways. It can mean to be in one’s powers, in good health, to be competent, to have power, to be mighty, or to be able.6 The meaning of panta in this verse can help one in deciding for a more appropriate rendering of ischuo. The usual English translation of panta (“all things”) is clear. But what are these things? The things Paul can do may refer well to his circumstances and his expressions in the letter up to this point in 4:13. In the midst of his imprisonment, he can greet his readers grace and peace from God and Jesus the Messiah (1:2). He can pray good things for his readers (1:9). He can treat his imprisonment as an advantage (1:12). He can speak with all boldness, even if it risks his life (1:20). Taking this letter as anti-imperial, one can say that Paul is indeed bold in pronouncing God’s judgment to the oppressors (see, for example, 3:2; 3:18-19). Furthermore, Paul can still be glad and joyful even if poured out as a libation (2:1, probably an allusion to martyrdom). He can afford to lose everything for the sake of Christ and share his sufferings (3:8-10). Paul’s many hortatory words to the Philippian Christians clearly apply to himself. In 3:17, Paul enjoins them to imitate him; such that the virtues he challenges them to inculcate are those he himself lives out (see also 1 Cor 11:1). So, his exhortations in 4:4-9 can as well add to the list of what he can do in contexts of both favorable and unfavorable circumstances. Among these, he can rejoice in the Lord always. He can think

of justice, purity, excellence, and actualize them in his life. All of those above Paul can do only in the context of the One who keeps on strengthening him. Some Greek manuscripts add Christ at the end of 4:13. Whether it is the original wording of Paul, the addition speaks rightly of what Paul has in mind. Elsewhere in his letters, Paul mentions Christ as the source of his strength (e.g., 2 Cor 12:9-10; Col 1:28-29; 1 Tim 1:12). The Greek phrase en to endounamounti me may be translated in two ways. Using the dative of instrument, it can mean “through the one who strengthens me.” Conversely, if en is read as a dative of location, the phrase will “in the one who strengthens me.” Both are possible readings. While Paul is convinced that the source of his ability is Christ, all his doings are to be done in Christ’s context. The source of power (dunamis), then, is not detached from the power that is given. Paul impresses here that everything he does and is able to do must embody the cause of Christ. Conclusion I have argued in this short essay that Paul’s personal statement in 4:13 shows much of his devotion and loyalty to Christ. He ascribes to Christ all his ability to do and endure all things. Similarly, what he does is all within and for the sake of Christ. In a context of political disorder such is a model of courage that is worth emulating for today’s Christians. Yet, there are many ways in which Christians misappropriate Philippians 4:13. Some use it as a biblical backing for their political agenda. They wage war in the name of Christ and his gospel. Still others use such

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Christ-endowed power in exploiting or marginalizing others. One challenge that the text posts is that of ascribing to Christ any power or capacity to move and live on account of Christ. After all, the gift of power or ability is not detached from the giver.
1 2

Further exploration of this verse would be on Paul’s treatment of self-sufficiency vis-à-vis the stoic understanding and lifestyle. Another would be on how the verse informs ecumenical framework for mission and evangelism.


The author would like to thank Dr. Robinson Rajagukguk who first read the draft and provided helpful comments. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Word Biblical Commentary: Philippians (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1983), 34. 3 Richard R. Melick, Philippians, Colissians, Philemon (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1991), 71. 4 Marcus Bockmuehl, The Epistle to the Philippians (U.S.A.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998), 75. 5 Warren Carter, Matthew and Empire: Initial Explorations (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2001), 32. 6 BAGD, “ischuo,” 383.

DSSA elects new officers
THE DIVINITY SCHOOL STUDENTS ASSOCIATION (DSSA) has elected a new set of officers for SY 2008-2009. The newly-elected officers are: Gideon Gunda - Middler (President) Arnie Tejo - Senior (Vice President) Sarah Jean Cuyag - Sophie (Secretary) Antonino Baconga - Senior (Treasurer) Lalaine Sanchez - Middler (Auditor) Arnil Leyson - Junior (PRO) Lucy Talha - Senior (PRO) Wella Hoyle - Middler (SUSG Rep.) Mark Sending - Senior (SUSG Rep.) Held on July 3 at the Chapel of the Evangel, the election was a successful wherein rights were properly exercised by each student. Each one had expressed their freedom to choose or to elect the responsible and trustworthy students for the organization. The officers were officially installed together with class presidents and committee chairpersons during a ceremony on July 11 at the DS Koinonia Friday Service. The DSSA officers are making workable plans that would cater to the essential needs of every student and projecting activities that would embrace the spirit of comradeship among DS and non-DS students as well as programs that would beef up the organization’s financial resources. The officers and members of the DSSA are hoping that the with the encouragement and support of the DS Faculty and Staff, the programs and activities of the organization will all be achievable and meaningful for everyone.
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Neu Family visits DS
by Wella L. Hoyle

Divinity School in action…

(Koinonia News)

DS remembers Devorah Solidarios
THE KOINONIA was deeply saddened by the passing away of Devorah Solidarios last July 11, 2008. She was supposed to be an incoming senior. A very touching tribute and memorial service was held on July 13, 2008 at the Chapel of Evangel which was led by Devorah’s classmates, the Seniors. The Koinonia expressed their condolences to he beloved family. •

IT WAS A HEART-WARMING VISIT by a DS former professor, Dr. Rainer Neu,his wife Marie Paule and their four children last July 18 and 25. Dr. Neu taught New Testament, Church History and Introduction to Religion from SY 1992-96. On the other hand, Mrs. Neu taught Special Arts at the Divinity School. The mural at the Rodriguez Hall was painted by her class. The family of Dr. Neu also helped students by providing scholarships not only in the Divinity School but also to other Colleges in the University. Two of their scholars at the DS are Klariza Grace Lugo (Middler) and Lyndon Castillano (Junior). •

SU celebrates University Christian Life Emphasis Week
Noriel Capulong was the speaker during the Faculty and Staff convocation.

“I N C HRIST , W E C AN ” (Philippians 4:13), this is the theme of the University Christian Life Emphasis Week (UCLEW) celebration, on July 13-19, 2008, as part of the Silliman University’s activities for the school year. The Divinity School, through some faculty members, the DS Senior Class and a few other students took the lead. Dr. Robinson Radjagukguk, Pastor Jane Ella Montenegro and Prof. Carlton Palm prepared the Bible Study materials. Dr.

Some DS students led the Galilean Fellowship as cofacilitators and song leaders. •

DS Koinonia Retreat
ON JUNE 28, 2008, the Divinity School held its retreat at the McKinley Hall, (for the first time after many years as the retreats were usually held off-campus). It was led by Pastor Jane Ella Montenegro, head of the Spiritual Formation Committee. The activities provided each participant an opportunity to reflect and learn more about the self and a little more deeply, about fellow members of the Koinonia. During the fellowship meal, native food and herbal drink was served - it was healthful and truly invigorating. •
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Rev. Reuel Norman O Marigza

By Dr. Samuel B. Gregorio, CLP

We are fellow citizens Of the Kingdom of our God, A place where justice fully reigns And peace makes our hearts truly glad. We’re members of the household, Members of God’s family Where love and care, like precious gold Are treasured with deep harmony Having found the love expressed By sisters, brothers in the Lord We’re called to go to those distressed From the neighborhood to the world. We are in union with Christ Who prayed that all of us be one, Bound together in the spirit Working till God’s will is done In and through the neighborhood We witness and take our stand Till what is done is common good In the world and in our land.

[Last issue we published Dr. Sam Gregorio’s Ambi #1-7. An ambi has 7 lines, with 7 syllables per line, with the 7th syllables rhyming with the rest of the 7th syllables of each line]

Ambi #8
Mayas ask while they recall: Whose poetry, who’s the soul? When is poetry of the soul? Deep brown mayas know it all: As poetry before the fall, Love is the music of the soul With simple words that touches all

Ambi #9
The bottle sighed to the glass We both are vessels, alas, A panacea of glass. Whatever we get, we pass. We pass for other’s repast. Others decide where we pass Seemingly a sad impasse.


Written during the United Church Workers Organization (UCWO) 1st General assembly on July 16, 2008 at the National City United Church

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Ambi # 10
The bright red shirt has turned pink. “It’s useless now,” some would think. “It’s faded and, perhaps, stinks.” Though time flew by like a wink, Through seasons, it did not shrink. As justice to peace must link With love’s indelible ink.
(Dedicated to Justice Venancio Aldecoa Jr., in celebration of his 82nd birthday o March 11, 2008)

How beautiful the bird’s role To touch our hearts through birdcalls.
(Written for Rev. Hidita Villas on her completion of service at Silliman University Church Text: Psalm 84:3)

Ambi # 13
The rice yields, as before, A bounty of grain and more. How shall we harvest and store God’s blessings from shore to shore? Come, sing of a classic lore: The living fields of color Are surely worth living for.
(Written for Rev. Callum Tabada on his completion of service at Silliman University Church Text: Matt. 9: 37-38)

Ambi #11
Watch the Maya recycle Glass blades for a miracle. A song of nature’s cycle With notes that gently trickle, Like a sand without a wrinkle, Held fast by simple spittle Imaginations tickle

Ambi #14
The sulô on moonless nights Draw eager fish to the light, As light draws youth to the right, The right derived from God’s might. Like candle glow in the night, It yields itself to shed light. Indeed, a wonderful sight.
(Written for Rev. Haniel Taganas on his completion of service at Silliman University Church Text: 49:6b)

Ambi #12
Listen to morning birdcalls. Melodious, they rise and fall. They echo from wall to wall, Beyond grass blades, short and tall, A sweet song conveyed to all.

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SILLIMAN MINISTRY MAGAZINE Silliman University Divinity School 6200 Dumaguete City Negros Oriental

Silliman Ministry Magazine
Mailing Address: Silliman University Divinity School Dumaguete City, 6200 Negros Oriental Phone/Fax: (035) 225-7541 (035) 422-6002 local 540-541 Divinity School E-mail address: and/or

The Silliman Ministry Magazine is a publication of the Divinity School. It comes out three times a year in the months of August, December and March.

Magnolia Nova Mendoza Reuel Norman O. Marigza Dennis Solon Editor Reuel Norman O. Marigza Managing Editor Magnolia Nova Mendoza Layout Artist Callum R. Tabada

The SMM welcomes articles, contributions, and feedback from readers. It will help us tremendously if said items would be directly e-mailed to us. Manuscript intended for publication must be accompanied with a 2” x 2” or a passport size picture of the author. SMM reserves the right to edit materials that it prints.

Opinions and ideas expressed in this publication belong to the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Divinity School.

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