A Christology of Struggle
Victor Aguilan, Th. D.
Divinity School Silliman University
Dumaguete 6200
Mindanao Forum 2014
March 6 & 7, 2014
UCCP Church, Davao City
Indigenized Christology and Globalization
• Christianity was the religion of the colonizers.
• It became an instrument of pacification and
• The conquerors came to bring civilization as
well as Christianity to the Indios, but they also
wanted to take something away - the gold and
the riches which they found on the archipelago.
• But despite Christianity‘s identification with
the colonizers, it became the faith of the
ordinary Filipinos. It underwent a process
of indigenization or “Philippinization”.
• ―Philippinization‖ of Catholicism
characterized by Christian forms with
much of the pre-Hispanic animistic beliefs.
• In postcolonial term, Filipino Christianity is
a product of hybridity.

Indigenization of the story of Jesus Christ
• Dr. Ileto, in his provocative book,
Pasyon and Revolution, has
attempted to examine the revolution
from the perspective of the masses
by focusing on the ideological
influence of the Pasyon.
• During the revolution, Dr. Ileto
asserts that Filipino peasants
respond more profoundly to the
idiom of liberation exemplified in
Christ‘s passion, death and
• The friar taught the native Christians to be
patient and meek under the yoke of
colonialism like the Lamb led to slaughter.
• But the peasants interpreted Christ who is
shown in the Pasyon as one of them, poor
and ignorant, and as mirroring the
darkness and oppression.
• When Christ died and rose again, they
interpreted this as the need for them to die
so that they can rise again with him to
Indigenization of the story of Jesus Christ or
Indigenization of Christology
• When the missionaries/friars/colonizers failed to
be like Christ, the Indios (Filipinos) were able to
distinguish the Gospel message from the
colonial master. The early Filipinos developed
their own version of ―popular Christ‖ to contest
colonial Christology. But despite all the
ambivalence and contradictions, the person and
story of Christ Jesus serves as a common
thread that binds the Spanish Catholicism and
Filipino folk Catholicism together confirming the
indigenization of Christianity.
• The peasant leaders portrayed themselves like Christ
like Hermano Pule or Apolinario dela Cruz leader of the
Cofradia de San Jose and Tayabas rebellion called
himself the Tagalog Christ.
• During the American occupation several resistance
movements had Christian elements. The pulahanes
practiced its own brand of religion, which is a fusion of
ancient babaylan [indigenous native religious leader]
traditions and Catholicism.
• Many of the leaders of these popular uprisings
proclaimed themselves as messiahs, prophets, and
kings. They identified their struggles with the passion of
Jesus Christ.
Globalization of Popular Christology
• But today Philippine Christianity is seduced
by globalization.
• Many Christians have embraced
consumerist ideology of globalization.
• People expect religion to make them rich
and prosperous. This theology is often
referred to as the ―prosperity gospel.‖
• It argues that Jesus was rich—and that He
would like his followers to be rich, too.
• We can see this, for instance, on how the
‗indigenous‘ festivals like the Ati-atihan of
Kalibu, Sinulog Festival of Cebu and
Dinagyang of Iloilo have been transformed.
The popular feast of Hesus Nazareno is
becoming a tourist spectacle.
• These festivals are marketed by
corporations and state-agency for tourists
and consumers alike. With money,
everything can be bought for consumption.
Prosperity or material acquisition becomes
the goal of life.

• Globalization is transforming everything into a
commodity for sale.
• Health, education, culture, happiness, relationship,
identity are all for sale or believed to be accessible in
the market.

• Globalization has repackaged the images of Jesus Christ
into a commodity to be marketed to interested
• The globalization and commodification of Christologies is
not new. Historian Renato Constantino calls this
phenomenon the Americanization or Westernization of
the Filipinos.
• It is a form of colonial mentality but has been
transformed to globalized mentality. While a colonial
mentality makes one feel inferior as a Filipino, a
globalized mentality has no consciousness of being a
• As a consequence, the notion of nationhood and the
ideals of nationalism have receded from the Filipino
consciousness to an imaginary world that has no
connection with the real world.
• Take for example the two popular
images of Christ they look more
like an European. The Sto. Nino
has white skin (mestiso).
• The Hesus Nazareno has
matangos na ilong (pointed
• This can be observed in the
discipline of theology that
remains captivated to the
American culture such as the
English language, Western
fashions, movies, songs, and
The seduction of Philippine Christianity by
globalization is eroding the Filipino sense
of national identity. The continuing and
progressive loss of national consciousness
is basically a political and cultural problem
especially for the exploited and dominated
nations, but because it affects the
wellbeing and dignity of people it becomes
a moral and spiritual problem as well.
Christology of Struggle
• Theology of struggle is a spiritual extension of a
national struggle against colonialism and neo-
• Inspired by the writings of Fr. Burgos and Rizal
against Spanish discrimination of the Filipinos
and the revolutionary activity of Bonifacio,
Jacinto, and Mabini during the 19th century, and
the resistance of the peasant movements
against the American forces.
• uses the Marxist social and class analysis to
understand the problem of poverty and injustice
in the Philippines.
• Christology of Struggle as a
resource for resistance
against foreign dominations
including globalization.
• Image of Christ is one who
engaged in the struggle like
cleansing the Temple,
struggling against the
religious and political elites
and who was crucified for
political charges.
• Criticize Western
Christologies which focuses
on Christ as the meek and
suffering servant
The Angry Christ
• Fr. Edicio dela Torre,
• Fr. Pedro Salgado
– Jesus was a true revolutionist because he
truly loves the poor. Jesus Christ identified
with the poor during his ministry.
– Christology of struggle does not opposed
revolutionary violence of the poor because
"Christ did not condemn the use of arms.―
– Christians joining the revolution express
solidarity with people who are fighting for
justice. This may entails the use of violence
against the perpetrators of injustice.
• Rev. Luna Dingayan. "Towards a Christology
of Struggle: A Proposal for Understanding the Christ."
CTC Bulletin, no. 10 (1991): 14-34
• Dr. Melanio Aonan
–Companion/Comrade in the
–―We have a symbol that accompanies
us in the vicissitudes of our struggles. A
permanent companion yet transcending
us in our struggle.‖[Melanio Laguardia Aoanan,
"Transforming Christology in a Changing Church and Society,"
• A Non-violent Christ?
– A Christology of struggle must wrestle with
the ambiguity of violence and non-violence
– Jesus‘ method was nonviolent.
―Jesus Christ is a non-violent person who
radicalized the divine prohibition against
murder, and who in his redemptive act
spurned violence and embraced its very
opposite, love and forgiveness.‖ God with Us:
Reflections on the Theology of Struggle in the Philippines

Dr. Levi Oracion
Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro,
chap 4: Walking with Jesus in the Philippines in The
Jesus of Asian Women, Women from the Margins (Maryknoll,
N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2006)
• Criticizes the Christology of struggle for not addressing
the struggles of women against patriarchy and sexism.
• the image of Christ is seen in “the lives of struggling
• Jesus Christ as Mother Ina/Nanay/Inay.
• “the Christ as the woman-mother who does everything to
sustain the life of her child and of the Christ as the many-
breasted Mother who nurtures all life on earth, when
taken together, will be empowering and liberating.” (pp 150-156)
Christology of Struggle:
An Indigenized Christology
• The Christology of struggle is not new.
• It is part of our people‘s history of struggle
against domination, oppression and injustice.
• During the 1896 struggle for independence and
the 1901 Fil-Am war, the story of the passion,
death and resurrection of Jesus Christ became
part of people‘s struggle for freedom and
• 1986 People Power EDSA revolution images of
Jesus were present.
• The pasyon narrative provides the peasant
masses with an image of Jesus they can
identify with.
―He is from Galilee,
A man poor and lowly
Who shelters in others‘ roofs.

Furthermore, his father
Is just a simple carpenter
Devoid of fame and wealth
Living in poverty

Without property of his own.
His behaviour and character
Are just as we described
But, you ask, can he claim
To be a gentleman of rank?
No, absolutely not
Casaysayan nang Pasiong Mahal ni
Jesuchristong Panginoon Natin
• In Filipino popular religiosity Christ‘s suffering is
understood as a consequence of Jesus‘ struggle
against the oppressors.
• The identification of the peasants with Jesus
Christ implies that their suffering mirrors the
suffering of Jesus.
• Their hope of liberation and equality mirrors the
resurrection of Christ Jesus.
• To resist foreign domination and corporate
globalization the Christology of struggle must be
revived as part of the popular spirituality of the
ordinary Filipino Christians.

• Popularizing the Christology of struggle including the
images of Jesus would enable the ordinary believers
identify with the Christ who is in solidarity with them in
the midst of their struggles.
• Religious educators, theologians and Church leaders
must immerse in the real struggles of the poor sectors of
Philippine society to regain authentic and sympathetic
understanding of the people‘s life situation.
• In the midst of their struggle for life, dignity and freedom
is where we encounter Jesus Christ (Matt 25: 35-40).
• And finally like Jesus Christ we must get involved in the
people‘s struggles for the transformation of church and

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