“Hexegesis”

 

Babusanta PierThe other day, I took the commuter train to go to Greenbelt Malls to meet some friends. Unlike the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) broadcasts commercials, public service announcements, and other things, so commuters will not get bored (here, peace and quiet = boring). I happened to listen to a shocking tidbit that proudly said, “Do you know that the Philippines is in the Bible?” Then it quoted Isaiah 24:15:

Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands (islands, NIV) of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.

How does the Philippines figure in this verse? Well, it said the verse refers to islands in the east giving glory to God, and which country, made up of many islands, is the only Christian country in Asia? What Biblical wisdom! Yes, the only country in Asia which boasts 90 percent of its population as “Christian,” but which is reputed to be one of the most corrupt in Asia, and in the world, in fact. (The airwaves are bombarded with an almost daily barrage of bribery, embezzlement, murders and other scandals involving extremely high government officials, but no one that I know of has ever been charged and jailed.)

In context, Isaiah 24 is an apocalyptic telling us how God would destroy all his wicked enemies in the end, then replace them with his people—Jews and Gentiles—from all the nations in joyful worship. We read this prophecy in many other places in the Bible, among them:

that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other (Isa 45:6).

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations (Mal 1:11).

Thus, when the Bible talks about “coastlands” or “islands,” it’s talking about Gentile places distant from the land of Israel, not about the Philippines or Tahiti.

Or Hawaii, as some people at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church think. A few years ago, I stumbled upon its “Hula Ministry.” which has for its basis Isaiah 42:12,

Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare his praise in the coastlands (islands, NIV).

Apparently, Isaiah had a vision of dancers in grass skirts in some distant tropical paradise, 2,700 years into the future.

This reminds me as well of a little book in praise of Filipinos’ spirituality that an American missionary showed me about ten years ago. His “hexegesis” went like this: the etymology of the word “Pilipino” is from a combination of two Tagalog words. “Pili” means “to choose,” so Filipinos are God’s chosen people! And “pino” means “fine,” so Filipinos are “fine” people! Flattery or joke, it’s amusing.

So much for “only in the Philippines.” Filipinos don’t have a monopoly of “hexegesis.” Americans also do it with gusto!

About Nollie

Associate Pastor of Trinity United Reformed Church in Walnut Creek, CA. Assigned as missionary to the Philippines. Lives just outside Metro Manila with wife and daughter. Three older boys live and work in CA.
Nollie says:

Evangelical niceness. God is nice. Jesus is nice. You’re nice. I’m nice. Everyone’s nice. But no one knows Scripture.

By the way, any comment about the post?

Limar says:

Sir,
 
I reckon that you are a snobbish hyper-Calvinist by the way you sound and the overall “air” about you. Have meet many of them, and I am not against any of them. but i sure do hope that the meekness and grace that is in Jesus Christ will be made more manifest. Afterall, you and I names the name of Christ…
We are here to bring Him glory and honor, and not flaunt of our self-imagined predestined “chosen-ness.”
 
Blessings to you.

Nollie says:

As I said, because I’ve seen what’s being done in many countries that work, Filipinos should learn from them, seeing that more and more Filipinos have been to most countries of the world.

My conclusions are not borne out of observations from a tourist or just haphazardly, but from someone who has lived here and observed the culture for a while after living in the States and other countries also. It’s not also from someone who gloats, but in fact, saddened by the general regression of Filipino life and culture.

Browse this blog and others I have authored, and you can see some of my suggestions. But my general suggestion is related to the saying, “the best of both worlds.” What’s wrong with Filipino culture is that it’s so flexible and adaptive, that it emulates even the worst of other cultures. Many Filipinos have seen what’s done in other countries and their cultures, and in adopting these things, sifting out the worst is not done.

And when I criticize some of the things I see, the intention is to point it out because many aren’t like you, and get them into thinking that something has to be done to correct or improve them. I’m not a know-it-all who has solutions to everything I see wrong. As a pastor, I can point out the problem–sin–and the solution–the gospel. But I can’t be a jack-of-all-trades to my flock.

Francis says:

“It’s precisely the opposite of what you’re thinking. The reason why I make those kinds of observations is because I have lived in the States for half my life (and half in the Philippines) and in a few other Asian countries.”

and i’ve lived all my life here! I’d say, please make more observations, with the same mindset as the Bereans, and hold off conclusions till you’ve done so

i just feel sad that a brethren in the Lord parrots the same things many many Pinoys dying to migrate to the US say. its like someone from Judah telling someone from the Northern Kingdom “too bad you’re living in the midst of idolaters”

i’ll say it again – the last thing we need to hear is another criticism. Not because we can’t take it, but because we have already heard it a million times already its nauseating already.

How about telling us something we don’t know yet? Like a solution perhaps? (not that we can’t come up with solutions on our own)

Nollie says:

It’s precisely the opposite of what you’re thinking. The reason why I make those kinds of observations is because I have lived in the States for half my life (and half in the Philippines) and in a few other Asian countries.

Francis says:

“Yes, I’ll be here for at least three more years after living here since 1995, to see how it goes.”

1995 up to the present, continuously without going back to the US?

its interesting you’ve been here that long yet you still make such kind of observations!

Francis says:

Yes, I’ll be here for at least three more years after living here since 1995, to see how it goes.

Nollie says:

Yes, I’ll be here for at least three more years after living here since 1995, to see how it goes.

Francis says:

“The problem with Filipinos is that they’re in denial, as evidenced by your ranting against my criticism of the Filipino culture.”

er, kapatid, kindly refer to my later post.

Me/we in denial?

well kapatid, i’m here. you are there. im not denying corruption, but i can say that it is not in the magnitude you picture it to be. is that already in denial?

prove me wrong. stay here for at least 3 years.

” The facts are clear that in the list of all countries, the Philippines is always near the bottom.”

er, kindly state the categories/lists where the Philippines is in the bottom.

in Transparency Interrnational lists? well Russia is perceived to be more corrupt than the Philippines, yet it gets 10x more foreign direct investments!

“By copying what is the best in other countries, not the Madoffs, Lehman Bros., AIG and all the other garbage in the world.”

gotcha

er, kapatid, how come when it comes to your beloved US of A, you want to focus on what’s best?

so why don’t you focus on what’s best in the Philippines! why don’t you export what’s best there here?

how ironic that some of the most bullish people on the Philippines are natural born Americans who have skin in the game here!

there’s a growing consensus among missions groups, that the US is the country with the greatest need in evangelism!

so you may want to direct your criticisms to your beloved US of A, and concentrate on giving ‘solutions’ to the land of your birth.

take note – we already know what’s wrong here. the last thing we need is someone telling us something that we already know!

Nollie says:

I’m not saying that America is perfect. And I’m not saying that Americans don’t do hex-egesis. In fact, all the cults and false teachings in the Philippines can be traced back to American missionaries or cultists who flood the Philippines. Many Americans criticize their own government for corruption too, and they don’t get mad at those who criticize.

The problem with Filipinos is that they’re in denial, as evidenced by your ranting against my criticism of the Filipino culture. The facts are clear that in the list of all countries, the Philippines is always near the bottom.

There’s no perfect country, but there are degrees of corruption and undiscipline. Just think why this country is at the bottom of the heap, even just in SE Asia. Compare yourself with the best, and strive to get near the best. How is that done? By copying what is the best in other countries, not the Madoffs, Lehman Bros., AIG and all the other garbage in the world.

Francis says:

“Filipinos are very good in avoiding criticism behind the pretext that critiques “pull people down.”

The reason why we are ‘avoiding criticism’ is that we already know the ‘criticism’, that the ‘well-intentioned people” handing the “criticism” all sound like broken records already!

We already know what’s troubling us, thank you. The last thing we need is another “well-intentioned person” giving us criticism again. There is nothing “well-intentioned people” can tell us that we don’t know yet

Francis says:

“Filipinos don’t have a monopoly of “hexegesis.” Americans also do it with gusto!”

er, it was the Americans who taught us ‘hexegesis.’ As a matter of fact, all evangelical aberrations are all exported to us from the US

“Third, again as a Filipino, know your culture. Do you think Filipinos are a “fine” people? Open your eyes and look around you. What do you see? Rampant corruption that is one of the worst in the whole world. Undiscipline, lawlessness, disorder, idolatry, sexual immorality, drug abuse, unrestrained criminal behavior. Do you know the “lusot” culture? It means, simply, being proud of cheating, lying, stealing, etc., without getting caught.”

‘Open your eyes and look around you’???????????????????
‘what do you see’?????????????

would you like to do that in your beloved US of A? you don’t have to look any farther than your own backyard

er, bro, aren’t you a little too hasty in your generalization? you sound as if there’s no rampant corruption there! i don’t deny the corruption here. but its definitely not in the magnitude you picture it to be

You want proof of corruption in your beloved America? for starters – check out what happened to Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Global Crossing and recently Satyam. Check out how many Fortune 500 companies listed in the NYSE and the NASDAQ had to re-state their earnings in the late 1990s because they filed ‘doctored’ documents with the SEC. And……..

check out the causes of the financial meltdown there. while you’re at it, check out how Bernie Madoff was able to maintain a US$50 billion ponzi scheme for several decades

Nollie says:

“It is NOT impossible to see EVERY Filipino (and thus, the whole nation) coming to the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

All Christians all over the world desire that all people will believe and worship. But this is just a desire, because the Bible says it will never happen. Many people are or will be in hell, and many of them Filipinos. This will be the state of the world’s nations until Christ returns.

We have to harmonize our prayers and desires with what the Bible says. Because if we don’t, our prayers are in vain. We pray according to His will, “Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” Is it the will of God that all Filipinos would be saved? Yes and no. His joy will be that all will come to repentance. But his decree is that only some will be saved, a small remnant from every nation, people and language.

je says:

It is NOT impossible to see EVERY Filipino (and thus, the whole nation) coming to the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and turning back to Him. I pray that every TRUE christian will have that desire.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Nollie says:

“Bring the whole nation to Christ?” “Special in the eyes of God?” These are impossibilities, according to the Bible. Read again who Peter refers to as “a chosen race.” We know that even God’s kingdom of Israel never was truly holy. It was established by God only to serve as the foreshadow of a greater kingdom, a greater covenant, a greater Mediator to come, which is the Kingdom of Christ.

This is medieval thinking called “Christendom,” e.g., the “Holy Roman Empire,” which has been tried and never worked. It will never be fulfilled, because God says so. The only holy nation and chosen race is the Kingdom of Christ made up of believers from all nations. No one nation could ever be special in God’s sight. You’re going back to an obsolete period in God’s salvation plan: the period when God had a special chosen nation, Israel. It’s obsolete. Read Hebrews 8:13, and if you have time, the whole book of Hebrews.

When I criticize the evil things in Filipino culture and society, it is not to spread negative mindset, but to expose them, and somehow, to correct them, so that Filipinos will get rid of these cancers from their society. This is why I say that Filipinos are jingoistic because they don’t accept criticism, especially when it’s real, and then they get mad, instead of thinking, “If this is true, then we should do something about it.” Filipinos are very good in avoiding criticism behind the pretext that critiques “pull people down.” This is why sociocultural change is very hard to accomplish.

And when Paul talks about “corrupting talk,” he was not referring to warnings, admonitions, corrections, rebuke, etc. He was talking about evil speech, such as, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Eph 5:4). Our duty as Christians is to stop all false teachers and deceivers and to contend for the faith that was entrusted to all the saints, not to teach about an imagined blessed destiny of certain “chosen” nations.

je says:

To whomever said that the etymology of Pilipino is Pili+Pino, that is clearly wrong. Are you sure the author specified “etymology”? From what book is that? Please cite your sources, sir. But if the author is just trying to extract the term by means of wordplay, then we don’t have to argue with that. No such rule hinders him from doing it.

We, true christian Filipinos, claim 1 Peter 2:9. 🙂 So what’s the problem if we have vision of bringing the WHOLE nation to Christ? We love our nation so much that it is our deepest desire that the Philippines as a whole be part of the “chosen race, royal priesthood, a holy nation…”?

Yes, corruption is rampant… and those who are responsible for these will be judged. That is why we are praying so much for our nation, inspiring to revive the good values and love for the country, telling and re-telling the Filipinos their true identity, purpose and the beauty of this great nation, and how special we are in the eyes of God. And no one can hinder us from claiming our vision into reality. Not even “intelligent” people who know nothing but pull people down and spread negative mindset.

Read: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

dvopilgrim says:

Je,

First of all, as a Filipino, know your Philippine history. From where did the name “Philippines” come? Is it from Pili+Pino? You might want to consult your history book from your elementary grades.

Second, as a Christian, which nation is God’s chosen nation today? Is it Israel? No, that was in the Old Covenant; they ceased to be God’s chosen people when Christ came 2,000 years ago. Is it the Philippines? All Biblical scholars in all ages can spend eternity searching for any hint of the Philippines in the Bible and will never find it. Then, which is it? Go read 1 Peter 2:9.

Third, again as a Filipino, know your culture. Do you think Filipinos are a “fine” people? Open your eyes and look around you. What do you see? Rampant corruption that is one of the worst in the whole world. Undiscipline, lawlessness, disorder, idolatry, sexual immorality, drug abuse, unrestrained criminal behavior. Do you know the “lusot” culture? It means, simply, being proud of cheating, lying, stealing, etc., without getting caught.

So, are Filipinos a “fine” chosen people? Only in the wild hallucinations of flattering hucksters who exploit jingoistic, gullible people.

je says:

I don’t see anything wrong with associating the scriptures with the Philippines or PILIPINO being Pili+Pino. It’s positive and kinda uplifts the spirit. Flattery or joke? Are you saying that Filipinos being pili and pino is a joke? Try to like the Filipinos (and Philippines) more, pastor, like you mean it. 🙂

Honorio says:

It is still heartening to know that we are part of the islands in the east Isiah 24:15 pertains.

infophalanx says:

i heard this too. another error of this “trivia” is the fact that the Philippines is not the only Christian country in Asia, there’s also East Timor (its predominantly Catholic too, just like the Philippines)