Richard G. Mendoza, MPH, PHD
Pr. Richard Mendoza works at the Central Luzon Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. An educator and promoter of health, he complements his advocacies with spiritual and values-oriented insights.
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Our President, Rodrigo Duterte made an apology to his “all-forgiving God” during a dinner meeting with religious leaders at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, following criticisms over his attacks against God, using the word “stupid.”
But the apology is qualified with the President saying he is sorry if the God he wronged is ‘the same God’ as his. “If it’s the same God, I’m sorry, that’s how it is. Sorry God. I said sorry God. If God is taken in a generic term by everybody listening then that should be good,” the President said in the video released by Malacañang. “I owe it to all but I only apologize to God, nobody else. If I wronged God then he would be happy to listen to my apology. Why? Because my God is all forgiving. Why? Because he does not remember past hurt. Why? Because God created me to be good and not to do bad,” he added. He was urged by some religious leaders to apologize publicly to God and others called his remark blasphemous.
For the explanation of President Duterte on his remarks on a “stupid God,” the Christian groups realized they misunderstood him, according to one of his aides. He was referring to the wrong kind of god and teachings that do not represent the ideal forgiving God that the president knows. About changes in his concept of God after high school, “But pag-graduate ko, I created my own God. ‘Yung nakikita kong values na justice — what is justice, fairness” Duterte said.
He also criticized earlier some teachings of Christianity like the concept of original sin. He also expressed doubts on the concept of heaven and hell, that contradicts the character of God. He also blasted the sacrament of confession. “Why do you have to go to confession and whisper your sins to an idiot when you can always go directly to God and say ‘I’m sorry’? Why do you have to whisper into the ear of another human being? It’s crazy,” Duterte told the Moscow-based news channel Russia Today (RT).
Prior to his apology, the president also lashed out at critics from the religious community who allegedly used God’s name in their attacks against his administration. “Never ever use the name of God as a front to attack government because that is not proper. There is a separation of church and state,” he said.
Now, since Presidential daughter and Mayor of Davao City Sara Duterte Carpio, has already issued the statement for all and sundry, not to mind her father when he makes statements about the church or God. May I take up the cudgels for the president, being a theologian, I can be of help to explain the teachings that according to the President do not reflect the character of “his God.” His God, our God by the way, is not stupid, but some teachings sound that way! Oops, apologies to whoever may be alluded to, but let the Bible speaks, so the truth could set us free. I maintain though my respect of others’ beliefs and their bases. Ours is a free country, and you are free to choose what to believe in. Though a president as leader of all citizens who differs in beliefs should respect everyone, he’s also free to express his. But, I’d rather, that he governs and leaves to theologians the hermeneutics—the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation of serious literatures, especially of the Bible.
Now, going back to the concept of Original Sin that was explained in depth by St Augustine and formalized as part of the Church doctrine by the Councils of Trent in the 16th Century, it teaches that original sin is not just this inherited spiritual disease or defect in human nature; it’s also the ‘condemnation’ that goes with that fault.
Original sin is a condition, not something that people do: It’s the normal spiritual and psychological condition of human beings, not their bad thoughts and actions. Even a newborn baby who hasn’t done anything at all is damaged by original sin. It affects individuals by separating them from God, and bringing dissatisfaction and guilt into their lives.
Presently, many churches accept that infants can be cleansed of original sin by being baptized soon after birth. For modern people the idea of being punished for a crime committed by someone else is unethical and unacceptable. It’s unfair. What about the unbaptized babies? Bishop Richard Holloway has described the idea that unbaptized babies go to hell as “one of the most unsympathetic of the Christian doctrines,” and not greatly improved by the teaching that there is a special “limbo” for unbaptized babies on the outskirts of the inferno. God won’t impose punishment on babies who are free from personal guilt.
Sept 2018 Health and Lifestyle