November 28, 2006

a defense with as much objectivity and compassion as possible

(this was a comment i left here. interestingly i made a mistake in linking to this blog. though any name search would link here, i'm taking that mistake as divine wisdom, and protection :) )

hi :) i'm a member of Every Nation, or Victory Christian Fellowship here in the Philippines. i was reading several of your blog entries on Every Nation.

i'm just wondering, have you actually read the so-called purple book? i have a copy that i can scan and send to you, though i think it wouldn't be too hard for you to get one within your area.

just a suggestion, in an attempt to be more fair and objective. :) why not present all sides before reaching a conclusion as to which seems correct or best?

if i were a reader with no other information regarding Every Nation except for your blog entries, i would think that there's something kooky or creepy or voodoo-like about the organization, specifically (esp. in this entry) about the purple book.

but being a church member of Every Nation for three years now, i can personally say it's not as you perceive or express it to be :)

regarding the purple book, it systematically tackles issues like salvation, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit by explaining and quoting the Bible. the quotes are available in all other versions and translations of the Bible. the explanations sometimes "connect-the-dots" between the verses, and other times sound so revolutionary (especially for those who have never read the Bible before). but the explanations are consistent with the views of other Bible-based churches.

that purple book, Biblical Foundations, is actually preceded by another (interestingly also purple) book One2One, for individual discipling. actually the first chapter of both books is just the same as the Four Spiritual Laws of Campus Crusade for Christ, the evangelistic steps by Catholic preachers, and so on.

actually, i don't need the purple book! and mind you, this statement is not 'an illusion of free will' or something they told me to say :) i really don't need any book save the Bible itself. the rest, including the purple discipleship books, popular Christian books like the Purpose-Driven Life and even Chronicles of Narnia, are very helpful guides along the way, for me and for whoever i'm sharing the Bible to :) (again, especially for those who've never read the Bible before and may be intimidated by me running through one verse to another in a thick strange book) but it's not the object or means of cult worship that someone reading your writing might perceive it to be :)

i and my fellow church members have never been ordered to memorize One2One, Biblical Foundations or any other Every Nation material. to be honest, i don't even memorize Bible quotes :)

i'm genuinely concerned about the reports of abuse, breakdown and pressure suffered or inflicted upon EN members. but perhaps this is where we could draw the line between church doctrine and individual views. is it really Every Nation's wrongdoing, or Rice Broocks'? i'm not whitewashing or justifying any crime, but because that case does not happen often, is it not more reasonable to think that those cases are due to individual extremism?

you said Broocks was involved three times or more, but how many years has EN been in existence? and for every day of that 12 years, how many people are prone to being abused, pressured etc. but have not? statistically speaking, that is quite negligible. in contrast, how many people involved with EN are genuinely transformed and sincerely living for Christ?

if we look at individual acts which are obviously misled, mistaken or grossly wrong, it would be quite unfair to subscribe it to the head leader, especially to the leader of thousands (i don't know exactly how many, tens or hundreds). again, statistically speaking, the individual cases would be anomalous and negligible. they don't count. (please see here) it would be a different matter if, of all the EN churches in different nations, only "three or more" lived a God-fearing, sober lifestyle: now that is cause for concern.

please don't think that i want to minimize anybody's grief or suffering. but i'll compare this to me sharing to my Catholic friends: why did i not stay Catholic? if i start listing all the abuses of Catholic priests, they can easily counter with all the abuses of Christian pastors. yes, they exist. but are these faults REPRESENTATIVE of the churches they belong to? do they represent the bulk of a church's doctrines, or do they represent the majority of a church's members? if neither, then what's the point? we have to look at the beliefs, which are not always seen in the life and actions of the believers.

when "The Da Vinci Code" was published and eventually turned into a movie, i was worried. actually, many of my Christian friends said that there's nothing to worry about because it will only shake those who have weak faith. but that's my point exactly. i fear that many people will see it, and see the 'inconsistencies' Dan Brown portrayed (which scholars and experts -- Christian or not -- united in disagreeing with Brown), and use what they see as an excuse to not believe.

i fear that because Da Vinci was released just a few months after i gave my life to Christ. i fear that because i know my own self; that if i hadn't truly, personally, deeply encountered God shortly before Da Vinci, i might be saying, "oh, so Jesus wasn't really God, so i'm not going to be moral and all that stuff Jesus said, because he doesn't have the authority to command me to be good, and he himself wasn't". i fear that for many other people out there, Da Vinci has been presented as the new excuse. (which, by the way, is a work of fiction, as opposed to religion-based sins which sad to say do exist.)

there has been a lot of religious controversy lately, and when has there not been any? religion hints at man's greatest longing: to know and be known, to love and be loved by the One who created Him. :) it speaks to man's innermost being and his very existence. hence the heat. sadly, the very same religion- and faith-based divisions may devolve into representatives of who God is not. it's easy to see all the infighting, the misunderstanding, the abuse, and yes, the killings, and conclude that there is no God.

what about you, sir? you may not even realize it yet, but perhaps you are hiding behind excuses.

you are obviously more experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to current affairs especially with regards to religion. but i wonder if you have ever dug deeper into your news subjects. just as there is a bigger story behind closed doors than the political personalities we see, perhaps there is a deeper truth beyond the religious leaders we hear about.

maybe there really is a God; maybe he really did take on the form of a man; maybe he really did accept the punishment meant for us and our sins; maybe his kingdom really is expanding even today, until every one gets a chance to accept or deny him.

maybe his followers would stray a little, maybe grossly disobey him, even while still carrying his name.

maybe it's time to focus on the message, and the one who sent it, instead of the all-too-human messengers (whose basic tenet of faith anyway, is, all have sinned and need a Savior).

i sincerely pray that you will truly, deeply, personally be encountered by God this very day, even as you read this.

"And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved..." - Joel 2:32a

"...God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men — the testimony given in its proper time." - 1 Timothy 2:3-6

God bless you and be with you, Mr. Bartholomew. i will continue praying for you. :)


  1. Anonymous1:52 PM

    Hi, Ma'am! I'm Abby Ortal po from your Physics 71 class. I just had to comment, kasi I noticed that you're part of Every Nation, too. I'm part of VCF Alabang myself. :)

    I just want to tell you that I'm really very encouraged by the verses you write every meeting on the blackboard, and I envy ;) you for the experience of being at the United concert. It's not often that a student can find a teacher so outspoken about her faith, and more so in UP! So thank you po for showing me that it CAN be done, without having to fear rejection or ridicule. :)

  2. hi abby :)

    thanks for the encouragement as well :) it's comments from students like you that keep me going :) nakakahiya syempre especially nung mga earlier sems na nagsusulat ako ng verses sa board, pero knowing that you guys appreciate it and are blessed, give me that extra boost of boldness :)

    i hope you continue to show appreciation to the people around you and exhort them to do good or continue doing good :)

    more importantly, continue to ask God how you can share your faith in your own special way :) (dati iniisip ko gumawa ng physics problems with Bible characters, hehehe...)

    see you in class and God bless sa first LE :)