Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What does a Filipino mean by being 'saved'?

We have receieved our old copies of Patmos, the journal of ISACC. While reading through the February 1999 (Vol. 14, No.2) issue, I was attracted to the article of Sylvia Palugod with the above title.

The thesis of the essay is that the Filipino concept of being 'saved' is summed up by the the Pilipino word ginhawa, meaning - comfort or well being. The author equates this to the Hebrew word for shalom(peace). However, the ginhawa concept pertains to the present experience of having good health, a bit of wealth, harmonious relations with visible (and invisible) neighbors. My observation is that this thesis is true.

The main concern of the Filipino is finding total well being in all of life's concerns on the here and now. The reason? Well, the Filipino is well aware of his/her bad lot in life. The Filipino struggles daily to meet his/her daily bread i.e. food, shelter and clothing. This is the reason the Filipino can be found in all parts of the world. They have been exiting their homeland with the hope of bettering their chances in life - to find a bit of ginhawa.

What does this imply? Because of the Filipino's notion of salvation focuses on the here and now, the Filipino is susceptible to a Gospel of health and wealth. He/She is vulnerable to receiving a misrepresented Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This explains why the American preachers of a gospel of health/wealth that promises salvation in the here and now gets a good hearing in the country.

The Filipino is already deeply spiritual. He has a natural notion and longing for a close friendship with the Almighty. Fortunately, what cushions them when their prayers are not answered the way they like it to be as taught by 'prosperity' missionaries is their seasoned experience of suffering.

Lord Jesus, do not let false teachers succeed in misrepresenting your Gospel to my people. May you deliver them from those that will corrupt/contaminate the greatest news they can ever hear, peace with God today and life with you tomorrow, all because of your dying for their sins. Amen

1 comment:

Jeff Tan said...

I'm certain that many among our people are in it for the present life comforts, i.e., wealth, health. It is a dangerous mix indeed: the vulnerability of the poor meeting the prosperity gospel.

Prior to the prosperity gospel (imported from overseas), they heard a diametrically different gospel from the Church that points out the glory of Heaven after tribulations in the present life. Yet Filipinos retain that deep desire (not unwarranted) to rise above poverty, and so there is recourse to gambling, e.g., cockfighting, lotteries, etc.

That prayer is apt, but it should also include those among our people (including ourselves) not in such desperate straits: if there were enough to go around and share with the least of our brethren, they may not be in such despair.

Easier said than done though...