Westminster Confession of Faith in Tagalog

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Westminster Confession of Faith in Tagalog

July 21, 2008 @ 20 Comments

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Here at last is the first form of a project I have been thinking about over the past few years: The Westminster Confession of Faith Tagalog-English Diglot Version. Although many Filipinos are fluent in English, this translation would be a great help to those churches whose members are more conversant in the national language of the Philippines.
Since this is not the final form of this project, which I’m considering to publish here if enough interest is generated, suggestions or comments will be most welcome. Tagalog translations of the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort) are also in the works.
You can download the PDF file here and print it in booklet form.

Updates:

  • Part 2 of “Early Presbyterianism in the Philippines” is also coming up this week.
  • Mars Hill Study Center in Pasig City, Metro Manila will finally open on Thursday, July 31. Please spread the word.
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Sergey_Pauly says:

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

Nollie says:

Yes, you may quote my blog. I hope it’s a positive quote, since your blog is in Russian. No, I don’t have a Twitter account. I’m thinking of signing up.

bill says:

if you’re looking for a good repository of reformed traditions in the philippines please visit the presbyterian theological seminary at cavite under the second wave of presbyterianism in the philippines…one of its original mentors was Rev. Hard, educated under rev. gresham machen and one of the first alumni of westminster theological seminary…fyi

WILLIE G. SANCHO says:

Brothers,
You have done a great job. I am translating reformed faith in Ilongo and its of great help to me. We will continue to pray for you.
Hoping that Filipinos will not rely on other languages to understand the reformed doctrine. It must be available on each local dialect of every Filipinos.
Purihin ang Dios!
Willie G. Sancho
FILIPINO REFORMED SCRIPTURAL TRANSLATION
P.O. BOX 164 ARANETA CENTER
CUBAO, QUEZON CITY 1135
 
 

Freddy Panes says:

very well said.  we can only hope to see its impact on the spirituality of filipinos towards the future.

Nollie says:

Alan,

Thanks for the comment. I’m currently an Associate Pastor of Trinity United Refromed Churches in California, but have an ongoing fellowship with the churches of the United Covenant Reformed Churches in the Philippines (UCRCP). This federation is also in a relationship with the Reformed Church in the U.S. (RCUS).

There are three churches officially in this federation – San Carlos, Pangasinan; Las Pinas, Metro Manila; and Calauan, Laguna. Two others will be joining soon: Davao City and ours in Pasig City. You probably have met Pastor Nap Narag in Calauan.

alan joel caparas says:

Greeting! i am alan Joel Caparas,and i would love to learn more about your group. i use to attend a reformed church, but now pioneering a ministry in laguna. hope to hear from you. thanks

alan joel caparas

Lance Filio says:

Thank you for this intellectually stimulating yet spiritually soaked discussion.  How I wish we could do this same dialogue with our own Unida pastors and Lay leaders.
I totally agree that Biblical doctrines may transcend culture and language yet I also believe that Biblical doctrines can only be understood through culture and language. This is an organic connection that cannot be reduced to “either/or” but rather synergies of “and/more than”.
So why is it that the Reformed doctrine not popular or widely accepted/embraced or taught in the Philippines? To say it’s a battle over Arminian versus Reformed beliefs is to assume that our native ancestors (Indio’s) during the Spanish Era understand what it’s all about. This follows then that “religious literacy” would have to be high yet we all know, historically, that the Bible has been closed since the time the Americans landed our island shores.
So I would like to suggestion that it was irrelative whether the Presbyterians came in the Philippines with Arminian belief since the question that really needs really probing is whether the natives understood it correctly. For it is a fact that the first “brand” of Christianity that came on shores of our island was not American Presbyterianism but Spanish Catholicism. This brand of Catholicism was tainted by the Middle Age mysticism and lies comfortably with the old Folk Paganism that was adapted by our native ancestors since the beginning. And sadly, this was the kind of Christianity portrayed in Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo as perceived by our very own national hero, Jose Rizal. He wrote about a church full corrupt, hypocrite, and superstitious men of God.
This is probably the reason why it appears we have colluded with the Arminian belief but in reality, it’s just a sad consequence that our religion history leans towards “human effort” rather than “divine election”. It is a religion of power and politics. This is religion that says salvation can be bought through donations to rich clergymen. This is religion that conforms to the dictates of tradition and not of the principles of the Bible. This is a religion that colludes with politics that suppresses freedom and imprisons human dignity.
I proposed that the basic issue then it not between Arminian versus Reformed beliefs but between Religious and Political oppression versus Human Freedom.

Nollie says:

Lance, thanks for your thoughts on translation issues. Word order is one of these tricky issues, and there are many others. I agree with you on your observation about the Tagalog translation of the Bible. One of the things I suspect is that these translations were done using various English translations, some of them being dynamic translations, not literal translations, such as the NIV and TEV.

Any inaccuracies then from the English is transferred to the Tagalog version, and even magnified. And this is the reason why I believe that Bible translators have to have a good grasp of Biblical Greek and Hebrew. And this is also the reason why conducting Bible studies using Tagalog versions is difficult, since most translations from English become paraphrases. It’s impossible to have a word-for-word translation, even in English. Close, but not absolute.

But I differ with you regarding translation of books other than the Bible. These too will have inaccuracies and impossible to obtain the exact original meaning intended by the author, but we could also come very close, especially when the work being translated is not remote from the present by 2-3 thousand years, like the Bible, but only a few centuries like the KJV.

Biblical doctrine transcends all cultures and languages. It is not culture- or language-specific. We see that in the early church when church councils and synods met and the delegates came from various parts of the Eastern and Western Roman empire. They have a common language, Greek and later Latin, but their cultures are vastly different. Yet they can agree on all the doctrines that the Christian faith adheres to today.

In God’s providence, even with the confusion of Babel, all believers can speak one language, and that is the gospel. On Pentecost Sunday, all those who heard the gospel preached heard one gospel, not various gospels in different contexts (contextualization). It would be impossible for the church to be a unity if every culture has its own version of the gospel.

In the same way, doctrines transcend culture and language. And this is why we can be sure that the great Reformed creeds and confessions are universally acceptable, whether in Europe, America, Africa, or Asia. For example, the Westminster Confession of Faith is culturally-dependent only in two articles: On Marriage and Divorce, and On the Civil Authority. I don’t find anything else there that is not universally acceptable and Biblical.

The Protestant Reformation started in the Western world because the only evangelized part of the world in the 16th century is basically only Europe. There were churches scattered all throughout Asia and Africa, but few compared with Europe. And within a century of Luther’s 95 Theses, Reformed doctrines started getting watered down, beginning with the Arminians in the early 1600s.

This is because all throughout human history, man always wanted to be independent of God. Man always wanted to take credit for himself and to be in control. Arminianism is mainly this glorification of man’s will over God’s sovereignty. The Reformation waned very quickly in Europe because of the humanistic Renaissance.

By the time Protestantism came to the Philippines, almost all the missionaries were Arminians (see my post on early Presbyterianism in the Philippines). This is true all over the evangelized world. And this is why Reformed doctrine is strange to most Christians. They were not taught what the Reformers taught. Most people react in horror when they hear what Reformed doctrine is all about. “It’s unfair!” “A loving God can’t do that, because he loves everyone!” “What new teaching is this?”

In summary, I propose that Reformed doctrine is not popular not because it’s a Western-shaped worldview, but mainly because: first, most Christians can’t release God from the control of their own will; and second, most Christians today are, sadly, biblically illiterate.

Lance Filio says:

First of all, congratulations to you on finally finishing your dream project. It must have been God who placed this burning vision in your heart because if was not so, the book would have not been leaked with blazing passion and zealous commitment.
I have a comment on the Tagalog translation though. When I read Arlene Truax comment-post: “Reformed Theology is the minority of the minorities but the most powerful, biblical Theology that literally lit Europe on fire. It is transformational because it is not afraid to engage the mind, culture and society….The WCoF in Tagalog will revolutionize the way many Filipino Christians think”, I couldn’t agree to it more.
However, the reason why the WCoF engaged in the mind, culture, and society of Europe because it was written in their mind-set (language and context). But this mind-set, almost always gets lost in translation whenever Westnization happens in a country just like the Philippines. The form and meaning of the English language dominantly takes over the form and meaning of the language it’s trying to Westernize. The result: The westenized country had to conform to the patterns of thinking and speaking its colonizers yet these countries will never really take them in heart.

This led me to believe that Reformed Theology or any teachings may have failed to lit the Philippines on fire because it has always been outside the mind-set of every Filipinos. Why?

I’m not sure if any one notices anymore but there is HUGE and yet BASIC difference between the sentence form of English and Tagalog.
One distinction is this: In English grammar, what always comes first is the subject (S), followed the verb (V) then the object/predicate (P). This is totally opposite Tagalog grammar.
In Tagalog grammar, what naturally comes first is the verb (V), then followed by either (yes, it’s either) the subject or the object/predicate.
Example 1:
Kinagat ng aso ang tao.
“Kinagat” is the verb conjugated to focus on the object which in this case, “ng aso”. This is the subject sentence. While “ang tao”, on the other hand, is the receiver of the action of the verb. So when you asked: “Sino ang kinagat nung aso?”. The answer is “yung tao”.
Another distinction is this: The order of the object and subject may interchange but it will not make any difference in the meaning.
Example 2:
Kinagat ang tao ng aso sa kanto.
You may asked the same question: “Sino ang kinagat nung aso”. The answer will still the same: “yung tao”. Do that in english, it will not make sense anymore because the form, the word order in this case, determines the meaning.
So how do we then translate to Westenized the English word order (S-V-P)?
Some uses the reverse order (by using the word marker “AY”) thinking that it’s the same but it’s not. The “AY” mark only helps us determine that the word order is reserved (instead V-S-P, its S-V-P) but it never really changes the meaning of the sentence.
Example 3:
(Reverse Tagalog Order)
Ang tao (ay) kinagat ng aso.
(Normal English Order)
The man was biten by the dog.
(Normal Tagalog Order)
Kinagat ang tao ng aso. – the word order change but the meaning is still the same
(When translated to English)
To bite the man by the dog.- does make any sense anymore.

Does this affect the understanding of the Filipinos? For me, yes. Filipinos speak and write English consistently using the single Normal English order (S-V-P) but for Tagalog, we do things differently.
Filipinos speak using the normal order only (Verbs first). No one speaks using “AY” markers (e.g Ako ay pastor) because that would be weird (except for formal settings like dula or sarzuela). We all just say “Pastor ako”. And the english equivalent is “I’m a pastor”
On the other hand, Filipinos write the normal order (Verbs first) for informal settings (chats, email, letters and etc) and both normal and reversed order (verbs first or using the marker “AY”) for formal settings (memos, contracts, tula, sarzuela)
Now, I have also personally observed that our very own Tagalog Bible may have been translated using the English word order because when I saw an interlinear of english-greek bible, much of the greek sentense uses “case endings” instead of word order to determine meaning. I’m currently doing comparisons now and I’m becoming more convinced that our Tagalog Bibles, while written using Tagalog words, was translated from an English mind-set and not directly from the Greek language.

Although I’m still working at it but my initial thesis is it: Filipinos are looking at a Greek New Testament Bible through the lens of an English mind-set yet reads it using Tagalog words.  

Are you a Pinoy?  Just curious as to why you’re interested in making the WCF available in Tagalog?  My girlfriend is Pinay and I know a few conversational things in Tagalog but that is all.

May the peace of God be with you!

Charlie

http://www.reasonablechristian.blogspot.com

Arlene Truax says:

Praise the Lord if the WCoF will be fully translated in Tagalog.

The Philippines is not impacted by real Reformed Theology. Although the Philippines has a lot of Evangelicals , the Theological base tends toward Arminianism that worships fallen man’s ability to come to God and make God, God. On the contrary, in Reformed Theology, man is destined to self destruct without the mercy of God and if God will not extend His initiative to fully redeem man, man remains in the state of sin and the curses of sin. The unchanging God remains God of His creation and remains involved in His creation – He chooses, ordains and disposes that which comes to pass. Because He is God, He chooses to call and save in according to His perfect sense of mercy and justice.

Reformed Theology is the minority of the minorities but the most powerful, biblical Theology that literally lit Europe on fire. It is transformational because it is not afraid to engage the mind, culture and society.

The WCoF in Tagalog will revolutionize the way many Filipino Christians think. It’s about time that the Filipinos get hold of this-it will bring more hope to Filipino Christians because Reformed Theology is centered on God. (It studies God first ,”Theo” means God , logy (study) rather than man first. (Which is the heart of Arminianism). Arminianism dwells on the pride of man that believes, man after the Fall can make decision to save himself, and man remains empowered to make God, God. As if, God is at the mercy of man’s decision. What a farce!

Just like the Reformers, be prepared to be attacked, rejected, and maligned. Reformed Theology has the “Basooka ” on their side.

God bless the works of your hands. It will be a great blessing for the Philippines just as I continue to see that Reformed Theology continues to reform liberal America. We need it a Theology that keeps on reforming and is God-centered, rather than man-centered.

The translation needs to be very carefully handled because the language of the WCoF is very precise and profound.

In the final analysis, the translation will help scholars and churches, especially those who attempt to form their understanding of the doctrines contained in Scripture by the Confession.

For that, I can only say Soli Deo Gloria!

Nollie says:

Thanks to all those who see the importance of creeds and confessions. Now the big task ahead is to reform our anti-intellectual, anti-creedal, and anti-confessional churches.

I’m also aware of the translations done by the Bastion of Truth of the Three Forms of Unity. However, because of some fundamental differences between them and most other Reformed churches, I will not refer to their translations. The United Covenant Reformed Churches in the Philippines have a translation of the Heidelberg Catechism which I plan to use for reference and then post in this blog when it’s ready.

Hi Pastor Nollie,

Just dropping by to say thank you for your very valuable contribution to historic Christianity in this fresh new translation of the WCF! May the Lord use this tool to reach more people with the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ!

Blessings,

J. Bryner Chu

P.S. Thank you for your email, I received it yesterday. Wonder if you got my reply?

Pastor Albert Hernandez says:

Thank you very much for this! This is one serious work and a blessing to others. Keep it up and may God continue to bless you!

Way to go Pastor Nollie!  This is ardous work and it took a lot of courage to accomplish it.  Like all translations, napakahirap gawin nito.  Hindi maaaring walang bahaging pilipit at pilit.  Pero mahusay ang paglilipat mo sa wika natin.
Bilang isang manunulat sa wikang tagalog isang salita lamang ang idadagdag ko. PASIMUNO.  Ang Dios ang pasimuno ng lahat ng mga bagay.
Congratulations, Pastor.  I hope the Unida Church will appreciate this blessed work.

Albert says:

Hi Mr. Rosario (aka “Tinubos”),

“A.J.” here. I am glad you found this site.
Hi Russel,
The Three Forms of Unity is available in Tagalog. Here is the link:
http://www.geocities.com/bastionoftruth/faith.html.
But beware of the hyper-Calvinistic tendencies found in this denominational website of ex-Pentecostals (from Foursquare Church) .

Pastor Nollie,

Thanks for this wonderful work. God bless. :)

Downloaded a copy of this awesome work, even more awesome for us Filipinos… the confession of faith in our own language. I’m looking forward to the Three Forms of Unity in Tagalog.

Mabuhay!

Manny A. Rosario says:

Pastor Nollie,

Maraming salamat po sa inyong pagsisikap na maiparating ang yaman ng Reformed Theology sa masang Pilipino.

Ngayon ko lang po nai-download tong PDF ng WCF in Tagalog.

Sinundan ko lang po yung link mula sa blog ni Turretin fan. Pero hindi po ito ang unang pagkakataon na nabisita ko itong site ninyo. Mayroon po kasing participant sa Public Square na gumagamit ng username na A.J., kakilala raw ninyo. Nang malaman niya na taga-San Carlos Pangasinan ako, inakala niya na sa Reformed Church ako dumadalo. Pero sa Dagupan po ako dumadalo. Calvinistic po kami sa soteriology pero Dispensational, mala-John MacArthur po.

Maraming salamat po ulit dito sa WCF Tagalog. Ibabahagi ko po ito sa aking pastor.

Manny A. Rosario
257 Padilla Street
San Carlos City
2420 Pangasinan
Philippines

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