Victorio R. Tibayan
Republic of the Philippines
The pure gospel of Jesus Christ is also being preached in the Philippines in spite of the barriers built by the forces of liberalism. The circumstances which led a few Christians (set apart in different places, not knowing each other at first) to examine these modern digressions are filled with moving examples of individual tribulation. Having been involved in this struggle through the grace of God, it is my pleasure to inform you dear brethren of these things hoping that somehow it may encourage others in the Lord to the glory of the Father.
Early in the 1900's, missionaries supported by different man-made organizations came with their own brands of religion. Many Filipinos embraced the Protestant teachings for radiating a greater light from the Bible, especially when compared to what Romanism shed (or unshed) for hundreds of years. These highly centralized religious groups built numerous church-buildings. But later, the glowing appeal of Protestantism was impeded by a feeling of disenchantment. There was growing skepticism among the uninitiated, because of (1) the inconsistencies discovered in these denominations, (2) and the conflicts each has against the others in matters of faith and practice. These problems could not be resolved because each denomination failed to offer an acceptable standard of authority to which all the people could and should call upon. There was no "court of last appeal" upon which the unity of believers could be achieved.
A few years after the start of the Protestant movement, individuals and groups of missionaries sponsored by an aggregation of "churches of Christ" arrived. Bible Colleges were established in Luzon and in Mindanao. But the churches that were established were molded according to these Institution's doctrines. (Different from such procedures was the work done by H.G. Cassll who came earlier in 1928 and taught personally from house to house and with occasional gospel meetings, thereby establishing churches, i.e., in Oriental Mindoro. A few of those converted brought the first principles of Christianity down to Mindanao. Some in Central Luzon were also influenced by this missionary. When he left, many churches in Oriental Mindoro and in Mindanao later came to be identified with the rest of the liberal churches of Christ under the influence of some of the sponsored missionaries.)
Presently, the Philippine Bible College through its sponsoring churches in the States has secured a sizeable tract of land and built a spacious building. The Bagtrio church rents a space in the building for worship purposes. Other religious organizations rent spaces there also from time to time. Similarly, the mission work in Quezon City (a branch of the PBC) has purchased a building-lot with the help of churches in the States. A missionary in Baguio is also planning to acquire a large tract of land in Occidental Mindoro. A home for the aged is to be established there. (I was personally asked by this missionary if I could help him convince the churches here to pledge a token financial support for this project.)
This writer was among a number of young men who studied in the PBC. Afterwards, I was sent to the field. In the course of my labors, many churches in Luzon (including Or. Mindoro) used me for gospel meetings and sometimes in debates with the denominations. Churches used me also in preparing their young men for the ministry. I have shared in the establishment of churches in Oriental Mindoro, Olougapo, Bulacan and the Manila Area; was instrumental in converting two Christian Church congregations located in the Tondo section of Manila and Cavite. I translated tracts into the vernacular and authored a few articles. So laboring, I was motivated by a firm desire to expose any form of transgression of the word of God pleading for a return to primitive Christianity with the New Testament as the sole basis for religious faith and practice.
But on numerous occasions, I found myself grappling with the personal knowledge of our own glaring digressions through human organizations and suppression of autonomy for most local churches. There was too, the unmistakable trend towards activating ecclesiasticism.
Presently in many instances, preacher-support is coursed through the PBC or the hands of one or more missionaries. Religious activities, more often than not, are so identified with the College or work of some missionaries that the church of the Lord is relegated to the background, if not entirely concealed. (The 7th Day Adventist Church people in concealing the identity of their organization during the early part of their meetings are paled beside these brethren.) Such practice is a sure way of directing glory to human institutions instead of to the divine. When some churches are reported as behaving "out of line," pressures are brought to bear upon them. This is true also with individual preachers whose support is controlled by these same missionaries. In addition to these innovations from scriptural patterns is another practice that is extremely dangerous. This is the Bible Camp under their direction, purportedly designed to preach the gospel. In such camps, the PBC students, young church-members, and various young people from different faiths are enticed to participate in religious services having all the necessary elements which constitute inter-denominational image. Swimming and serenading too have become parts of this "Christian" interdenominational fellowships! In like manner, Lectureship programs have deteriorated to such a low extent. To say the least, the organizational set-up of these campaigns (Lectureships) has rendered void our claim to church autonomy.
Other brethren and preachers had similar misgivings. We became suspects. Our utterings were reported. By way of stemming a serious study of these things in the brotherhood, some individual Christians and churches were pressured into admonishing us against discussing these matters in public. As a last resort, brethren were cast out of churches or disfellowshipped for being guilty of such "grievous sins" as pleading for members to follow Bible patterns.
Even while we kept our peace, continuing to labor for the Lord in our own way and seeking to teach only those things with scriptural authority, many of us suffered indignities through false accusations. I fear that they have no compunctions about destroying a brother's personal integrity and influence. To justify the organizational set-up and functions of the PBC, they are (only now) distributing mimeographed articles and special issues in their Philippine Christian monthly-magazine discussing present controversies. They describe the PBC (a completely organized human institution of learning) as an extension of the work of the sponsoring church in the States, and as such is just another method in gospel preaching.
The churches in Luzon committed to follow Bible patterns are those in Pasay City, Tondo (Manila), Calapan and Roxas (both in Oriental Mindoro), Baliuag (Bulacan), Angeles City, Guimba and Munoz (both in Nueva Ecija). There may be others more who are faithful to the Lord. Some liberal churches of Christ and even Christian Churches are cautiously inviting us for dialogues concerning these issues. In our gospel meetings, we have sincerely spoken about these matters. We have found churches besides individuals who are honest enough and are willing to open their doors and give us a hearing. And we will stir them from their complacency! Brethren in Mindanao have also been successfully exposing liberalism and many churches and preachers are now convinced of the soundness of our plea.
Some of us have met a few sound brethren from the States. Major Wallace H. Little (address: 5514 Wales Ave., San Antonio, Texas 78223) is one of them. He is doing his best to arouse interest among the concerned for the cause of Christ here. We have had American visitors in our worship services. An American couple is regularly attending the services in Pasay. All of them have encouraged and strengthened us in the faith one way or another. We have also heard and received "communications of love" even from those whom we have not met personally. But still there are others here who are in great financial difficulties.
We believe that the afflictions that we went through served their purpose and we consider those as blessings in disguise. We are truly free now in Jesus! In Christ we will persevere. We know what to do because we are assured that God had set a pattern for Christians and churches to follow. We are also conscious of our shortcomings and weaknesses. But with the Father on our side and with the prayers and fellowship of the saints.., we will go... suffer more for Him ... that the pure and sound gospel of Jesus continues to be published and heard in the Philippines.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV: 13, pp. 11-13
February 5, 1970