Friday, June 17, 2005
The Equivocation of Ka Sandoval and Ka Bularan (INC) II
We have seen how Webster's given definition of equivocation applies to the way Ka Sandoval and Ka Bularan explained Acts 14:11 using a Filipino translation that they made of the expression "The gods have come down to us in human form." Another way of equivocating is when you use a word with two or more meanings that derive from different stages in its historical development. Here is an example:
Years ago, two of our seminarians got ordained to the priesthood and their picture together was published in our newsletter. Below the picture was a caption that read: "Our new priests: one is happy and the other is gay." Everyone got a good laugh at that one, even the one who was referred to as "gay." What made the caption funny was the double meaning in the word "gay". Now, when we say "gay" we would normally mean a person with a homosexual orientation. There was a time, however, when "gay" was the synonym for "happy."
The same equivocation is employed by Ka Sandoval and Ka Bularan in their explanation that Jesus is a creature -- a nilalang -- of God. Their explanation of this aspect was presented as a reaction to Mr. Soriano's alleged contention that there is no text in the Bible where it is stated that Christ was created by God. To belie this statement, Ka Bularan brought out a translation -- allegedly by a certain Juan Trinidad, SJ -- of Mt. 1:18: "Si Maria ang natagpuang nagdadalangtao, lalang ng Espiritu Santo." The choice of the translation again favors their contention that Jesus was a creature of God and works well with the Pauline statement in Col. 1:15 where He is described as "first-born of all creation" (in the Filipino translation that they make, "ang panganay ng lahat ng nilalang").
So where is the equivocation here? The phrase "lalang ng Espiritu Santo" is, for any Catholic, the equivalent of the English "by the power of the Holy Spirit" but Ka Sandoval and Ka Bularan would like to make it appear that it means "created by the Holy Spirit." This is greatly misleading. What made Juan Trinidad translate Mt. 1:18 in that way? I would suggest this: the Filipino version of the Nicene Creed which says "nagkatawangtao Siya, lalang ng Espiritu Santo" -- conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit ... and became man. I would further suggest that the meaning of "lalang", now an unused Filipino word except in Church should be investigated. Juan Trinidad saw it as the equivalent of the Latin phrase "de Spiritu Sancto" which has its equivalent in the Nicene confession of faith. Words change meanings throughout time. Ka Bularan and Ka Sandoval made use of an old Filipino translation of Mt. 1:18 made by a long dead Jesuit to prove that Jesus was created by God.
The Equivocation of Ka Michael and Ka Bularan of the Iglesya Ni Manalo I
The Websters New World Collegiate Dictionary defines "equivocate" as "to use equivocal terms in order to deceive, mislead, hedge, etc.; be deliberately ambiguous. The synonym given is "to lie". A related word is "equivocal", that is, (1) that can have more than one interpreetation having two or more meanings; purposely vague misleading or ambiguous; (2) uncertain;undecided;doubtful, and (3) suspicious; questionable.
It is good to remember these two words because this is the best way to describe what the ministers of the Iglesya Ni Cristo (1914) did in their program yesterday when they talked about the nature of Christ.
It is known that the Iglesya Ni Cristo (1914) is one of those "Christian" cults who profess the belief that Christ is a human being -- and therefore a creature (nilalang) of God -- who was later on "promoted" to the right hand of God to be sole mediator of salvation. In their exposition of this belief yesterday, their argument moved in three steps:
1. Show the texts where Christ himself says that he is "only man"
2. Show the text where one can find proof that the belief in "God became man" is pagan in origin, and -- to strengthen this position -- show that "God" and "man" cannot coexist in God.
3. Show that Christ did not pre-exist, that he was "nilalang" ("created").
Apart from the fact that Ka Sandoval and Ka Bularan explained only the texts that favored their opinion, they even equivocated on the main texts that they used. And they did it mainly in two ways.
One can equivocate by making use of a word or phrase with two or more possible meanings as if it meant only one thing. Example. If I say "Its BARK is loud", one might think of a dog's characteristic sound (in Filipino, tahol). But how does one answer this question: "Is there a contradiction between the phrases: "Its BARK is loud" and "Its BARK is silent?" One who thinks that BARK is a sound only, might answer that there is. But if I say that BARK in "Its BARK is silent" refers to the BARK of a tree, then there isn't a contradition. The one word "bark" simply means two different things.
When presenting their proofs that the belief "God became man" was pagan in origin, Ka Bularan and Ka Sandoval made use of a Filipino translation of Acts 14:11 which they flashed on the screen as: "Ang mga diyos ay bumaba sa atin na nagkatawang tao." The immediate context of the statement is the reaction of those who witnessed Paul's healing of a lame man in Lystra (Acts 14:8f). The choice of the passage heavily favors their contention that the belief in "God made man" is not Christian but pagan. However, the main Filipino translations in use today, does not have that kind of translation. Here are the translations from the TPV and Ang Bibliya:
Ang Bibliya: Ang mga dios ay nagsibaba sa atin sa anyo ng mga
TPV: Nanaog sa atin ang mga dios sa anyong tao.
These renderings agree in substance with modern English translations of the Bible, like the New American Bible (NAB), the New Living Translation (NLT), and the New International Version (NIV):
NAB: The gods have come down to us in human form.
NIV: The gods have come down to us in human form.
NLT: The gods have come down to us in human bodies.
In all these translations, the idea is that the people of Lystra saw Paul and Barnabas as gods in human appearance. Hence, the protest of both apostles to the way people began to treat them (cf. vv. 15-17.18)
Where then does the equivocation occur in this explanation? The answer is in the phrase "nagkatawang tao" ; this is a stock phrase in the Filipino Catholic's confession of faith: "nagkatawang tao Siya, lalang ng Espiritu Santo" a translation that was meant to reflect the Creed of Nicea's "conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit...and he became man." This is a clear example of equivocation using the Filipino language for their benefit: "nagkatawang tao" in theologically imprecise Filipino can sound like a direct translation of the NLT's rendering that meant "having human appearance" or as intended by the Catholic Church, an expression referring to the Incarnation. But in the exposition of the INC ministers, "nagkatawang tao" in Acts 14:11 becomes the origin of the doctrine of the Incarnation, which is misleading.