Truth Exists Despite What Our Increasingly Hostile World Thinks

Truth Exists Despite What Our Increasingly Hostile World Thinks

        Over the decades there has been a continuous assault on truth that has increased to the point beyond the limits I have ever seen before in my life. It has never been this bad as it is today. The West has prided itself in being a champion of discovering the truth ever since the Enlightenment period; which is the modern age. Many scientific studies have resulted in all kinds of innovations that have benefited the entire world. Many men such as Galileo, Keplar, Edison and others made huge scientific studies that have changed our world. These men were believers in God and they believed that He was the Creator of the universe. But many philosophers and other scientists in this period were full of pride and did not want to acknowledge that God existed. They set out to prove that God did not exist through scientific knowledge. Sadly the latter example has plagued the West and has been in denial of truth ever since. The Enlightenment put man’s wisdom above God and said that only science can prove things. They claimed that if something cannot be objectively proven through scientific expiriments then it must be false. Now, in this day and age, we have reached a point in time after that modern age of Enlightenment which is called the Postmodern Age (or after modernism).

        Postmodernism is the belief that there is no solid truth, or if there is truth than it is impossible to be known. In contrast, modernism believed that truth could be known but only through objective scientific discoveries and if it could not be proven than it was not true. There are still a lot of people who believe this way today but he trend is showing that most people lean more toward postmodernistic mindets. Even so, both modernism and postmodernism have positive traits: modernism believes that truth actually exists and can be known, and postmodernism believes that ideas can be acceptable even if they are not objectively proven.

        In my opinion I believe truth is objective and can be known, but at the same time if I do not know something, it still exists outside of my knowledge whether or not I believe it and I can also have a subjective understanding about it if I do believe in it and don’t have objective scientific data to prove it. But my personal goal to know that God is true, and truth exists because God exists. The other belief systems which man uses to avoid truth and avoid God creates false ideas to accept. Modernism was heavily atheistic, and postmodernism has now given way extreme agnosticism. Both beliefs avoid God and create excuses and rationalizations to keep living in sin.

        It is my belief that truth exists whether or not someone agrees with it. Truth exists outside of the minds of people. Sincerity does not always mean truth, because someone can sincerely believe in something that is still wrong; like other religions for example. Guinness (2000) states,

“Belief in something doesn’t make it true; only truth makes a belief true. But without truth, a belief may be only speculation plus sincerity. Or perhaps, worse still, bad faith….All truth is God’s truth and is true everywhere, for everyone, under all conditions. Truth is true in the sense that it is objective and independent of the mind of any human knower” (p. 78-79). 

It is also my belief that there are only two real categories that people practice for faith and religion:

1. Christianity  

2. All other belief systems and religions.

        In this day and age I have seen countless events where people express a relativistic belief system. You can hear movie stars, sports stars, and more explaining their ideas of faith and it is always the same. It is always constantly such phrases as, “If you believe that, then that is good for you. I don’t want to push my beliefs on anyone else.” or “What do I believe? Well that depends on what you mean by God.” You can’t even get a straight answer of belief anymore. One could walk up to anyone on the street and ask them who God is or how to find Him. They all respond with the same things no matter what religion they follow: “Well who do you think God is? I personally think God is this…but if you believe God is different, then you are right as well.” It is a logical fallacy! Everyone is too afraid to offend other people by making truth claims. But in reality the postmodernists make plenty of truth claims against biblical Christianity. They claim Christianity is evil and arrogant because it claims it is right. The postmodern mindset wants to avoid truth all together and claim it cannot be known. Postmodernism’s denial of absolute truth is itself logically invalid. The statement “the truth cannot be known” is a self-refuting statement because it is itself a truth claim! Example: “I believe the truth is that you cannot know the truth.” Vs. biblical Christianity’s claim, “I believe the truth is that you can know the truth and it is God.” See the difference? Both are truth claims, but only one is true. The other logically makes no sense and is impossible. It’s like a squared circle, or a circular square existing. It is impossible and logically invalid. It cancels itself out.

        This politically correct era of time we live in is damaging people’s capacity to think straight. This mindset forfeits logic and truth in order to allow people to keep sinning and never be proved wrong. It is a self-deceptive claim that what a person is doing is not wrong and there is no need for forgiveness. Two completely opposite claims cannot both be true. You will never see this kind of attitude being allowed on a math test or most any academic subject. Postmodernism is full of hypocrisy and false humility. It is arrogant in its claim that truth cannot be known by claiming to be humble: “I am not arrogant like SOME people as to say that I KNOW what is right.” We can hear this echoing all over the streets of urban America. This belief system may be most noticeable in places like the U.S.A. but it is also spreading across the world. In fact the East has always had some sense of relativism whether it is covered in Hinduism, Buddhism, or other world religions. But today all world religions have been molding into one blurry belief system that seeks for man-made unity for the sake of unity itself. It believes it will bring about world peace. This is exactly what humanity did at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9. The popular trend today is to destroy Christianity because it is the only faith that claims to know truth besides Judaism, and Islam, but the latter two are joining in this trend of reletavism (not counting Islamic extremists). In fact, even the Christian church itself is becoming more universal and postmodern as we can see with the Emergent Church Movement in the U.S.A. that is spreading world wide. There is a full frontal assault on biblical truth and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is being claimed that Jesus is just another way to God, but in the Bible in John 14:6 we read “Jesus said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” The Bible is clear that there is only one way to God and that is Jesus Christ because of who He is and because of what He did on the cross for all believers. One cannot seperate or distort who Christ is, and what He did and still have salvation. This is what cults and liberal theologians have done.

        Do not be deceived by the spirit of the antichrist in the world today (1 John 2:18), but be on guard to fight for truth and to guard it because it is our responsibility as Christians to spread the witness of Christ around the world in order to save souls for Christ. We do this to honor God. The time is near when Jesus will come back to rule the world and judge both the living and the dead. Do not be found asleep. Be on alert that there is evil all over the world in every country, and in every culture distorting God’s Word. Society is going to get increasingly hostile to Christianity more and more as the Bible prophesizes. Many Christians do not even realize what is going on and are too afraid to confront it. They prefer to be lazy and ignore the signs and enjoy every entertainment everyone else enjoys, and never speak up about issues regarding their faith. Mohler (2008) explains,

“Some Christians prefer not to think seriously about these issues. This falls far short of an acceptable posture, however. Those who do not think seriously about how Christians should respond to these challenges will find that the dominant culture will simply pull them into its vortex. They will simply fail to live and think as Christians” (p. xii).

This is the common trend of the church today. To avoid this, Christians must be reading and studying their bibles with a firm grasp of truth. Without doing so, much deception (via wolves in sheep’s clothing) can and will invade our churches and influence others into apostasy which is what is constantly happening all over the world. The Antichrist will appear and take over the world for a time before Christ destroys him and claims His physical kingdom on earth.

        I urge every true Christian to make a stand for God! This means making a stand for the Bible which is the Truth! The world in most cases will not listen, but God’s elect will not be lost and many souls will be saved as a result for the advancement of truth. Learn correct biblical doctrine and true theology because every bit of information we know about the Bible is important for proper spiritual survival. Christianity is in crisis because truth is in crisis! Let’s get back to biblical counseling for our souls by understanding the Word!  

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References

Guinness, O. (2000). Time for Truth. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Mohler, R.A. (2008). Culture Shift. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books.

Discussing Cults Using Iglesia ni Cristo

        Discussing Cults Using Iglesia ni Cristo

        Iglesia ni Cristo is a large organization of churches originating from the Philippines. It has since become an international organization and has churches in several countries, most noteably in the United States, where Filipino communities exist. Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) is translated “Church of Christ” from the Tagalog (Filipino) language. This church organization is considered extreme heresy by Christian churches everywhere. INC denies the diety of Jesus Christ and adamently opposes the Trinity. They also promote a works based salvation (legalism) and claim that anyone who is not a member of their church organization is going to hell. They believe that the Christian church became apostate when the apostles died. This church was founded by Felix. Y. Manalo who claimed to be the last messenger of God and the only one who is capable of teaching what the Bible means in its message. Since his death, his children have taken over and have created a tyranny of family offspring to rule this organization as his grandson has now taken charge.

        Keep in mind that the INC is terrible at defending their theology to rational minds as it is painfully obvious their religion is based on lies and the proof is right there in the Bible plain and simple. The INC is also known to use personal insults and violence to defend their beliefs. They also place a huge emphasis on “debates” that become nothing more than shouting matches and virtually small riots at times; as the case of when they planned a “debate” with another equally heretical cult called the Members the Church of God International. The police had to shut the meeting down. INC also attacked a caucasion man in New Zealand who went to the hospital with serious injuries. He tried to leave their church after realizing the dictator-like control they have over their members through brainwashing.

        Please watch the following short video series I made to learn more about the INC and how they effect the Philippines, and Filipino communities worldwide. Beware of the damnable heresy of the INC as well as their dangerous behavior. If you have family or friends involved with the INC please try to get them out as soon as you can before the evil effects of the INC take place on their minds. Use Scripture to prove your points!

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

part 5

Discussion of the Trinity

Proxemics and Mapping of Filipinos in Los Angeles

This anthropological research report was created in 2008 in the Los Angeles areas of Eagle Rock, Cerritos, and Long Beach. Some names have been changed for the privacy of informants.

        Proxemics and Mapping of Filipinos in Los Angeles

        Purpose: The purpose of this research was to find out how Filipinos use space when communicating to one another. I wanted to see how Filipinos acted in different situations and interacted with each other. I aimed to get a general idea of how Filipinos interact with each other in public settings as well as personal settings. The results of this research are important for anyone who is planning on interacting with Filipinos on a regular basis. I also made a map of one area to show how Filipino businesses congregate together in an area.

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Me with some of my L.A. Pinoy friends.

       

         I went out to Eagle Rock Plaza in Eagle Rock and observed Filipinos in a Filipino area of the plaza. There was a Filipino grocery store and fast food restaurant in the bottom floor where hundreds of Filipinos were shopping and hanging out. Later I went to Cerritos, to a strip mall area with a lot of Filipino businesses and observed Filipinos as well. This is where I made a sketch of a map of the area. The next day I went to a Filipino Baptist church in Long Beach and was able to observe more Filipinos.

        During my study I was able to meet a few subjects who gave me some answers to questions about my research. I was able to observe the way they interacted with me when they talked as well. The first informants were friends of mine who were able to be guides for me in my research and helped me get to the destinations with high Filipino concentrations. They are two Filipina girls named Angela who is 22 and Angeline who is 21. These girls were born in the USA and are American Filipinas. The second informant who supplied me with a lot of information I will call “Emilio” and was about 50. He was born and raised in the Philippines, but around the age of 30 he moved to Los Angeles where he had lived for about 40 years in Historic Filipinotown and was heavily involved with the Filipino “Cultura” organization in Los Angeles. His wife was also the secretary of the organization at one point. I randomly met him at the Filipino fast food place called The Jollibee in the Eagle Rock Plaza.

        The next day I went to the Filipino Church in Long Beach, and was able to speak with a woman who I will call “Michelle” who gave me some information. She was in her 40’s and had 3 kids. She was born in the Philippines and came in her 20’s to the United States and went to college to be a nurse.

        The data I collected for this study is important because it can be used for missionaries who plan to go to the Philippines to be able to relate to Filipinos better and understand the way they communicate. This could make it easier for missionaries to befriend Filipinos and feel comfortable speaking with them to share the gospel. Also, Filipinos have dispersed throughout the entire world and in every major city in every country there are Filipinos. No matter what country a missionary goes to, the missionary could end up meeting Filipinos and knowing this information can help them communicate properly with them. Another important fact is that if we convert a lot of Filipinos, they are so connected that many more Filipinos will come to Christ as a result. If this happens, Filipinos are so spread out that many Christian Filipinos would be all over the world being witnesses of the Lord to the lost in every major city on the planet!

         Methodology: The methodology I used was to sit around in and also walk through areas of high Filipino concentration. I would hang out in one area and take frequent walks though other areas. I sat at a Filipino brand fast food place called the Jollibee in the Eagle Rock Plaza. I sat for about 2 and a half hours. I was able to see how Filipinos sat around others and ate together. Later, I took random walks through a popular Filipino grocery store called Sea Food City and was able to observe Filipinos walking around and moving about and having conversations. Later at the strip mall area in Cerritos I was able to walk into businesses and talk to employees as I bought drinks and observe them talking to others. After that I went to another Filipino grocery store across the street from the Cerritos Mall which was called Pacific Island Market. I was able to spend about 45 minutes in there. The next day in the Long Beach church, I was able to experience a Sunday school setting, a worship service and hang out afterwards with Filipinos and converse with them.

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Taco Bell hang out

        Results and discussion: I got some pretty good results that helped me understand Filipino proxemics and was able to create a map of where Filipino businesses are.

        When I arrived at Eagle Rock Plaza I went downstairs where all of the Filipinos were at. I went to a Filipino fast food place called the Jollibee and bought some food and sat down in the dining area. The area was almost all Filipinos in this section of the mall and the eating place in the restaurant was very small and close quarters. At first I thought that this was a sociopetal eating area, but later I would find out I was wrong. The reality was just that the space the mall allowed was a small area so people had to eat near each other, but at different tables. People who did not know each other did not sit close on purpose or talk. I sat at a larger table in the center with some empty chairs around me and my 2 friends who had walked off into the mall to look around. So, I was alone, but awhile later my two Filipina friends came back and sat in front of me, but there were two more seats next to me that were empty. A man named Emilio sat down one space away from me. He asked if he could sit here and we said yes. A few minutes later I talked to him and told him I was doing research and asked about culturally significant areas in Eagle Rock for Filipinos and he told us there was none. He told us that over the years Filipinos spread out. He said that Filipinos do not live in one concentrated neighborhood anymore. He said that 20 years ago they did, but have since moved in all different areas of Los Angeles. Filipinos only congregate together when they go to areas for shopping for food at Filipino stores. This is why I could not find an actual Filipino town with cultural references. I could only find businesses like the Jollibee and the grocery stores I went to. Emilio told me that Cerritos had more Filipinos and I should go there. So later we did.

         I was able to observe interesting uses of proxemics while I was at Eagle Rock Plaza. When Emilio talked with me, he leaned toward me and made eye contact as he spoke. We both happened to be unconsciously using the chair between us as an arm rest. I did not pay attention to this until he touched my arm as he was making a point in the conversation. It was a touch for less than a second and was used to put emphasis on a point. This is much like American behavior, but since he was a stranger it was awkward for me. In my culture from what I know, a stranger who just met someone would not touch another person. When Armando touched me it showed that I established trust.

         Later I observed all kinds of Filipinos from young to old. Mostly everyone was keeping their distance from one another even if they were friends. They kept about a 3 foot distance away much like Americans do. They did not seem comfortable being too close to others. When people were family or a couple then they were close. Parents held the hands of their children and kept them close and did not let them walk off. I have noticed in other Asian cultures that parents allow their children to run up ahead. In this case the parents kept them close like American parents do. This could possibly be because the mall was busy. Couples held hands and stayed close. I saw a Filipino couple talking with another Filipino couple at a table outside of this Asian food place. The setting of the table was sociopetal, much like a French café that is outside. They kept their normal distance, but when the first couple had to leave the female leaned over and kissed the other female on the cheek and waved goodbye. This reminded me of Hispanic culture. This is possibly because the Philippines were ruled by the Spanish for hundreds of years so some of that culture must have rubbed off. Females are more “touchy feely” with each other much like American culture. Later I could find out more about that issue at the Filipino church.

        What I thought was interesting is that Hispanic countries learned cultural practices from Spain as well, but many Hispanic cultures communicate very close to one another and emphasize touch more often. Filipinos do not. Filipinos seem to act very American in this sense.

        As I walked through the grocery store called Sea Food City, Filipinos minded their own business with one another and stayed apart from people they did not know. In one case though, an elderly woman walked up to an employee and gently touched his back to get his attention. I did not see this happen again with anyone else, so I cannot be sure if it is normal behavior. But from my cultural perspective it is unusual to touch a stranger on the back when you can just say “Excuse me” to get the persons attention and make them turn around. You only touch the person as a last result if you can’t get their attention. In this case the first result was to touch the employee.

        As I walked through the store near the fish and sea food area where most of the Filipinos in the store seemed to congregate, they made orderly lines and took turns making orders for fish. This is just like American culture in how we make lines. At the Jollibee the Filipinos made lines too. At the checkout in the grocery store there was orderly lines and at every place I went the clerks were very polite and official and not acting lazy. They counted back change to me and were smiling and polite. As I was at the checkout a man and woman had put a lot of groceries on the counter and there was no space left for me to put my drinks I was holding. He then, without me noticing, moved his groceries a few inches up so I could put my drinks on the counter as well and he put a divider up. He stood there facing me staring and smiling until I noticed him. Then he showed me he made a space for me by waving is hands over the area and I said “thanks” and he nodded and said “yep” and immediately turned around. This showed some friendliness and service minded attitude. I do not think an American would have done this in the same fashion. If an American wanted to be nice he would have just moved it and said “Here ya go” or something simple and not cared if I had noticed or not. The American would not have made sure if I noticed they made room or not. The American would have just said “Here” with a smile or something. I thought it was interesting the way the Filipino faced me and stood there until I acknowledged him.

        Later, after I got out of the checkout line I had to walk by an elderly Filipina woman and walk past her, but there was no space. So, I said “excuse me” and she said “Ya?” as a question and moved for me and I said “Sorry” and she said “Its ok.” She moved out of the way much like any American would. There are so many similarities of how Filipinos use space and not too many differences from my own culture. After the time I spent in Eagle Rock I left with my friends to Cerritos. They seemed to agree with Emilio that Filipinos don’t live in one area and we drove to Cerritos to the business area. This is where I saw another Jollibee. This one was bigger and the tables were spread away from each other farther and not so tight. This was just the same kind of setting one would see at a local McDonalds. People acted the same and sat in their own areas minding their own business. In this area in Cerritos I made a map. I could not find the exact address of the area and the strip mall area did not have a name. It was just a bunch of businesses near each other. This area was on the corner of Norwalk and Artesia streets at an intersection.

        In this area I was able to walk into a lot of the businesses and look around. I went into a video rental store and saw people talking to each other. An employee was helping a guy find a movie and they stood at least 3 feet apart as they talked about movies. Later I went into a bakery and my friend Angela asked her questions about where another grocery store was and the woman was behind a counter and acted very friendly and helpful.

        We left this area and went to the other grocery store called Pacific Island Market right across from the Cerritos Mall. In this market there were a lot of Filipinos. It was very busy. People were everywhere buying stuff. There was another sea food section where Filipinos lined up to get fish. I bought some more drinks and the checkout line was virtually identical to the way an American checkout line would be. A woman in the store walked up behind me and started to speak to me in Tagalog and I turned around then she stopped, and started speaking English to ask me if the drinks were on sale. I said “yes.” I then asked her about one drink and what was in it and she was very friendly and told me what it tasted like. She stood about 2 feet away from me this time and then turned back to look at the other drinks. The reason she was closer to me was probably because the aisle was very narrow, and because she wanted to see the can I was holding. After this visit to this grocery store me and my friends left.

        The next morning I went to a Filipino church in Long Beach. I was able to attend Sunday school and a worship service. The way the pews were setup was identical to the way an American church would be and people sat in their own areas. The kids sat with kids, adults sat with adults. People sat in their own spaces and did not try to sit directly next to other people, but a space away from them. But then as more people came people had to sit closer. During Sunday school people sat at tables in the same fashion as any American church would have a bible study. Later after church people hung out and talked and most of the Filipinos stood a reasonable 3 feet or so as they talked with each other. This is just the same as I would do as an American. During this time I was able to talk to Michelle who was about in her 40’s and had 3 kids. She told me that Filipinos do like to keep their distance from one another and are not overly close. She said that in the Philippines though, it is okay for girls to hold hands if they are friends and guys will put their arms on their buddies shoulder as they walk, and this is not to be confused with being homosexual. This is a very different way to act between males then how American males would act. Michelle also told me that the reason some Filipina women kiss the cheeks of their friends is because it makes them look prestigious. In the Philippines the more Spanish blooded, lighter skinned Filipinos have a very Spanish oriented culture and are usually the rich ones. They are the people who seem to have the most wealth in their country. These people are called Meztisos. The female Meztisas kiss each other on the cheek as well as with other guys when greeting them. Other non Meztiso Filipinos copy this behavior in order to look prestigious like the Meztisos.

        After attending this church service I left and this was the end of my research.

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Apparently, Filipinos love to bowl (bowling alley)

        Conclusion: During my research I observed Filipinos in various places interacting with one another in order to find out how Filipinos use space. I spent time in restaurants, grocery stores, and a church for hours in each area. The results I got were that Filipinos use space much like Americans do. There is not much of a real difference, but Filipinos act like what Americans would call “overly polite” in certain contexts. An example would be how the guy moved the groceries to make a space for me. Filipinos are not too shy and are willing to talk to people. They make eye contact very well and stand at about 3 feet on average distance from people they talk with. They mind their own business with strangers and sit in their own groups and do not go out of their way to sit close to people. They emphasize touch when making points in a conversation and females seem to be closer to other females and some will kiss each other on the cheek. Males sometimes will put their arm setting upon their buddies shoulder when hanging out, but usually keep their distance from other men. Most often the Filipinos keep about a 3 foot distance and have the same values of space use as Americans do.

        With this knowledge of how Filipinos use space, American missionaries would not have to adjust very much to fit the way Filipinos use space because it is very much the same. Non-American missionaries who come from more close talking cultures will have to adjust and work harder to feel comfortable and use space properly for Filipinos. Knowing this, missionaries can now communicate better with the gospel when meeting Filipinos. We know that Filipinos are friendly and willing to talk and are not too shy. So striking up a conversation would not be very difficult in order to bring up the gospel.

God’s Glorious Creation is Proof Enough God Exists and Wants to be Known

God’s Glorious Creation is Proof Enough God Exists and Wants to be Known      

        Do you ever find yourself alone pondering existence? Maybe you think to yourself “What is all of this and why?” I know in my life growing up I was told to believe in God. During my teenage years I started to question life and meaning and I began to wonder if there really was a God. Maybe you find yourself in this situation, or possibly you are more convinced God exists, but still have doubts and want to make sure.

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A Valley in Rizal

        I have gone through a lot in my life and experienced various things, and questioned my faith enough times to understand how some people might feel. But time and time again my own logic and reasoning kept bringing me back to the fact God has to exist. Besides the fact life would make no sense or have meaning if God did not exist, I had an understanding deep down inside that nothing so complex, so beautiful, so intelligent could ever just appear out of nothing and I most certainly could not accept the fact life created itself out of a blob as the evolutionists would say. Over time God confirmed my belief to be true and developed strong faith in me with the truth that God exists; and that God can be known and understood through the Bible, and that we all exist for a reason. We exist to glorify and worship God who is good and holy and righteous. He is all powerful and made everything perfect. Genesis 1:31 says that “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” This statement rings true every time I look at Creation. So many times I have been out in nature and my entire being stops to recognize how wonderful God is in all He created. Even if it’s just for a moment I cannot get beyond how perfect and wonderful nature is. Every ancient culture and most cultures today recognize that there has to be a God. Even pagans understand that there has to be a higher being. That is why so many cultures have created their own religions to understand God. Christians know and understand the true God and part of the evidence that confirms our belief in God is the order and design of Creation. I remember when I was in Rizal, Philippines leading a small Bible study I asked a man how he knows that God exists. His answer was “The trees, the mountains…” because things exist!

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Clear Blue Waters of Boracay

        Romans 1:19-20 gives an account of the evidence of creation and condemns the inexcusable unbelief of evil men,

“since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.”

        Every time I am around nature such as mountains, the ocean, or a forest, I understand how true that passage is. There is no excuse not to believe in God. Creation itself is enough to know God exists, so mankind is obligated to seek to know Him. I am constantly overwhelmed with emotions when I see the power God has displayed through His nature. I remember when I was a boyscout growing up in Oregon. I went on a camping trip into the eastern mountains in the wilderness. While hiking I came to a spot on the trail where I could see for miles over the tall and thick evergreen trees and right next to me was a giant mountain. The air was clear and cool and the rocky surface was very defined and massive. Another time while living in Kentucky I went with a church group to a place called Red Rock where a natural bridge made out of pure rock exists. It was formed thousands of years ago when water flooded the area (most likely the Flood in Genesis). When we got to the top of the steep mountain trail leading up to it we could walk across this bridge. On top I could see out for miles above the tall green trees of the Kentucky forest. What an amazing sight! I was at least a hundred feet in the air above trees that were at least 50 feet tall themselves. Many other times I have experienced these same emotions. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to the Philippines in 2009 and see the rural mountainous region of Rizal, the China Sea, and the beautiful beach of Boracay with its pure blue water. Each time I see such natural beauty, whether it be in the mountains of Oregon or Kentucky in the United States; or Boracay Island, Rizal, or the South China Sea at Manila Bay in the Philippines, I cannot get around the majestic glory of God.

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Palm Trees at Manila Bay

        If anything is giving you doubts about God, or doubts about His goodness, step back and take a breath and look at nature. Take a look at the mountains, the trees, or even the animals. Even going to a zoo you can see the perfect design of animals that God created. If you feel isolated and alone look at Creation and see how big God is. Psalm 104 is a great chapter in the Bible about the greatness of God in Creation. Do you not know that God cares about His Creation? Take a look at it. Read that chapter in the Bible and go on a walk outside. Take in the plants, and the sky! Look at the clouds!

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Gorgious Evening at Manila bay

        The glory of God that is seen through nature is one gift that God has given through His common grace to mankind. Even wicked men are able to enjoy sights and feel pleasure from such things while they live on earth. It is a sign that God did not intend to ignore us, or for us to ignore Him. God loves humans and has provided a way for us to know Him through Jesus Christ. So, seek after Him and know Him. Start with a prayer for God to be real in your life and repent of your sins and ask for forgiveness. Live your life for Him. Make God your Master and then your life will change!    

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Cloud Formation Over Manila Bay

Visiting Two Sikh Temples in Los Angeles, CA.

 
Visiting Two Sikh Temples in Los Angeles, CA.

Introduction

        I was recently able to visit a Sikh temple (called a Gurdwara) in February 2009 with my Theology of Mission class when I went to the university. I was able to speak with a few Sikhs and the head leader of the temple. The following account is what I learned about the Sikh religion from what they personally told me about their theology. This article only reflects the specific Sikhs in the Gurdwara Los Angeles and the West Hollywood Gurdwara. This article reflects on my personal experiences visiting a Sikh worship service, fellowshipping with Sikhs while eating with them in their temple, and spending the night inside the Gurdwara Los Angeles temple. It also explains certain bridges that can be used to lead Sikhs into the true Gospel of Jesus Christ that are derived from their own religion and worldview.

Sikh Temple

Gurdwara Los Angeles

My experiences with Sikhs

        When we arrived at the first temple it was night time so I could not see how the temple looked on the outside. But when we showed up I noticed behind a fence near the parking lot outside the next building over, were young boys practicing stick fighting techniques. I thought that was interesting and wondered what was going on. I was told later that Sikhs practice their own martial art style. When we got to the entrance we had to take our shoes off. This is something that is seen in many world religions before entering the place of worship. It is a sign of respect, that the ground you are entering is holy. Every one of us in our group had to cover our heads with veils, or bandanas. The Sikhs tied on head coverings for us, and I looked like a pirate! When we entered the worship area there were no chairs, only a carpet. All of the men wore turbans to cover their hair, and the women wore head coverings that reminded me of what Muslim women wore. Men and women were separated across the room from each other with men on one side and women on the other. There were drums and bells ringing from time to time as a man in white clothes and a large white beard with a turban was reading from a giant book on a pillow. He read the words in the Punjabi language in a very musical style that seemed almost trancelike. Every so often the Sikhs would repeat something out loud that the leader read from the book. The book is called Guru and they consider it God. They treat it like a human being as they wave a feather over it, delicately turn pages, prop it on a pillow and give it its own bed. They literally give it a real bed and at night time they believe the book goes to sleep. They ceremoniously take the book to a back room with bed sheets, and veils covering the bed. They do this with a small procession in the temple with the attendants as everyone sings a song of praise and worship to the book with catchy, funky Indian rhythms with those oh so familiar drums.

gurusbed

Guru's (the book) bed

        During the whole worship service there were times when people stood up to worship the book and then sat back down again. I did not participate as I am a Christian and this would be seen as idol worship in my eyes. After the service we were able to ask all of the questions we wanted from some of the younger Sikh males. These young men seemed like the typical American guy who enjoys life and has fun. They spoke regular American English and acted the same way as any American I would talk to, except for the fact they have long beards and a turban on their head. After talking for a few minutes they led us into the fellowship hall where we ate a vegetarian meal on the floor. It was buffet style as some of the women served us generous portions of bean curry, soy, and other vegetables in deliciously spicy sauce. I loved the food! I think the best way vegetarian food comes is in the Indian style. While we ate they played hypnotic Indian music with those catchy drums, and string instruments as the vocals chanted unknown words in an Indian language. They were most likely religious praises to their god. As we ate we were able to ask more questions to some of the young men and meet other Sikhs who were extremely hospitable and generous. My female classmates were able to talk to the young women, so they seperated my class between male and female. Sikhs are some of the kindest people you will meet and they enjoyed sharing their religion with us. Some of the young women around my age were very attractive, but one thing that was a turn off to me was the fact Sikhs do not shave any hair on their entire body, no matter what. It is part of their religion not to because one of the 10 Gurus they worship said that the hair is a sacred part of the body and should be protected and never cut. That is why the men wear turbans and the women wear head veils. There was no other explanation given, but that one of the gurus said you must not cut the hair.

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Singing Guru to sleep

        After our delicious meal we were led back into the worship room where the head leader, also called a guru was there to answer any questions we might have. Sikhs do not like to convert people to their religion or even care to witness their faith. But if they are asked about it they are more than happy to answer any questions, and if you wanted to become a Sikh they would gladly accept you. Sikhs are some of the most toleratant, morally relativistic people in the world.

        After our question and answer time that lasted well over an hour, we were sent to the other side of Hollywood to the Gurdwara Los Angeles in North Hollywood. This is where we spent the night. We had to tie on new head coverings, this time bright orange. All of us got different rooms and I shared a room with another student. In the bathroom I noticed a lot of hair on the floor and in the sink. Obviously Sikhs are very hairy. The night was refreshing and my bed was comfortable enough to give me decent sleep all though a little hard. When we woke up in the morning I took a stroll down the hallway and out onto the main deck outside. I realized that the temple is white with really beautiful Indian architecture. The view was great as the building was tall and I could see all over the neighborhood. The sun was warm and refreshing. We were then led downstairs to eat breakfast as the few Sikhs staying in the temple gladly cooked for us. The guru of the other temple did not mention to anyone we were staying there and the Sikhs were surprised to see us, but had no problem and gladly prepared a vegetarian meal. Some of the same spices and yogurt substance with bean curds and delicious chai tea. The tea was one of the best parts of the meal.

        One hilarious thing about our breakfast was one of the Sikhs was mentally insane. He told us all kinds of ridiculous stories about promiscuous sexual encounters with American women (lust is something that is strictly prohibited in Sikh religion), and the types of women he likes are any “with two eyes.” When he said that he was looking at the college aged girls and creeped them out. He also talked about a government laser beam from a helicopter that kept shooting at him and hitting him with it. He told us how he flipped the helicopter off and showed us his middle finger.  He was talking about UFOs and other nonsense. It was great! Highly entertaining, but you have to feel sorry for the guy. I honestly think this guy spent too much time in meditation with occult spirits that screwed him up, but that is just my thoughts. The other Sikhs were upset at his talking and told us all that he is just crazy and not to listen to him. These Sikhs were from India and had accents and spoke Punjabi, but comminicated with us in broken English with thick Indian accents.

What I Learned about Sikh Religion and How it Contrasts with Christianity

        Sikhism is a religion that began in the 1500’s that has many influences from Hinduism and slight Islamic influences. Sikhs are all over the world in practically every country. I have seen them all around the U.S.A. and when I visited the Philippines I saw some as well. Sikhs started out as a warrior religion that fought aggressively against the Islamic oppressors who were murdering many Hindus and Sikhs. Hindus consider Sikhs another branch of their religion, but Sikhs consider themselves their own religious identity. Sikhs are not a type of Muslim either as some people may think. Sikhs follow the teachings of Guru Nanak who was the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. Nine more human gurus came after him with teachings and Sikhs believe that all subsequent Gurus possessed Guru Nanak’s divinity and religious authority. All of the gurus writings are in one giant book mixed in with Buddhist scriptures, Bagadhavita, and lesser known writtings. This book is their sacred scriptures and is named Guru Granth Sahib and is considered itself to be the 11th and final guru.

Bridges to the gospel within Sikh religion     

        With the bridges from the Sikh religion the Christian could use to preach the gospel to the Sikh, one is able to see some of God’s revelation through common grace on individual Sikhs. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology states that “Common grace is so called because it is common to all humankind. Its benefits are experienced by the whole human race without discrimination between one person and another” (Elwell, 2001, p. 519). It is God who makes Himself known to mankind and seeks the individual for salvation. 1 John 4:10 expresses “[N]ot that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (Holman Christian Standard Bible). 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” Common grace is the working of Christ in Creation that all people experience and know; such as being sustained with food and the beauty of nature that gives wonderful emotions. Such things are experienced before a person comes into the Kingdom of God, because it is given to both unbelievers and Christians. Sikhs understand such grace and this is why they believe in a diety. Also, many cultural, religious, and other symbols from Sikhism can become bridges that lead to the Gospel. Luke’s account of Paul in Acts 17 where Paul describes the unknown god to the Greeks is a great example of the kind of bridges that God uses from people’s false religions. Just in the same way as when Paul described to the Greeks that they were worshipping a false idea of God (idol worship) in ignorance of the true God of the Jews (Acts 17:23), the Sikhs are also in ignorant worship of a false idea of God which keeps them in spiritual darkness and Satan’s deception. The intent of these bridges I will describe is to find ways to shine the light of Christ’s witness onto Sikhs so that they can be saved. It is important to remember that God’s grace for the individual who will believe is also sovereign, and God will not allow any person the Father has given to be taken out of His hands (John 10:26-29).

Good and evil becomes bad and better

        The Sikhs in West Hollywood are monotheists and believe that God created everything. Chilana & Zabel (2005) state that “Sikhism is a monotheistic religion; Sikhs believe that there is one single, all-powerful, and loving God who has no gender or form” (p. 109). Yet they still ascribe the word “him” to God in their Scriptures. This monotheistic idea can be seen further in the Sikh scriptures which Parrinder (1987) quotes,

“[T]he Sikh scriptures…opens [with this passage and] is used in Sikh daily prayer:

                                    ‘There is one God,

                                    his name is eternal truth,

                                    Creator of all things and pervading all,

                                    Without fear or enmity,

                                    timeless and formless,

                                    beyond birth and death,

                                    manifesting himself,

                                    known by the grace of the Guru.’ (p. 76-77)

This alone is a starting point for a bridge to the Gospel since Christianity also believes in one God. God’s common grace (Romans 1:20) is prevalent with them as they are convinced that life is a miracle and all things that exist had to be created. Sikhs are without excuse about the existence of God as the temple leader made this evident when he described the miracle of birth to us. To them Creation itself is enough to know there is a God. The Sikh god, who they call Guru, means “great teacher.” They believe he created everything. God is the great teacher that reveals truth to those who follow him. Since God created everything, they believe that there is no such thing as evil or good and that all things are the same because God created them and nothing God created is evil. (So in a way, what Christians call evil, God created; so we could say that according to Sikhism God created evil, but then to them it is not evil because nothing God created is evil.) Even with this belief the Sikhs will still call things bad; so they believe that there is bad and good, but not evil or good in the sense of being moral; or anything being actually more or less moral compared to something else. An example the temple leader told us was that Hitler lived his life less than a human, like an animal, but God created him that way and they cannot judge him. They will say that he lived a life making it harder for him to be with God, but when directly asked if Hitler was evil the temple leader told me that God created Hitler so he is not evil, but just lived his life in a bad way. It is interesting to contrast Christianity with Sikhism. Sikhs believe that God does create bad things (which Christians would call evil things), but Christians do not believe that God creates anything evil (bad according to Sikhs). Evil is a result of humanities fall into sin according to the Bible, which is completely different than God creating evil.

Nanak

Guru Nanak

        When asked why God created Hitler who murdered so many people the leader said that he did not know, and “God had his purpose and we cannot know it.” They have an extremely strong belief in the sovereignty of God to the point of it being skewed. They do not know why God does things and they do not care because God just does it for whatever reason he wants. It comes off as a fatalistic belief system, but the only thing keeping it from fatalism is that it is possible to change circumstances by ones own actions. The only things they know about God are what their book which they call Guru teaches them. The fact that they call their book Guru tells you that they believe that their scriptures are the Word of God and actually is God. This sounds very familiar to what Christians believe about the Bible being the Word of God. The first chapter in the book of John explains that the Word is God (1:1) and the Word became flesh which is Jesus Christ (1:14). I believe that this is a bridge that Christians can use to persuade a Sikh to understand Jesus Christ as the only true Guru that existed who is God and His Word is true which is shown in the Bible. Christians who witness to Sikhs need to help them come to a proper understanding of the Bible as the Word of God which means that Jesus Christ (the Word) is the only true Guru (teacher). Since Sikhs believe that they are taught by God (Guru), Christians can emphasize what Jesus Christ said when He quoted Isaiah in John 6:45 which says “It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God.” It will be difficult to persuade a Sikh to accept Jesus as the only way since Sikhs are people with a morally relativistic belief in tolerance and do not care what others believe and do not care to change. So the Christian witness must break their belief in extreme tolerance in order to direct their view into one pathway that leads to God which is Jesus Christ who claims He is the only way. In John 14:6 Jesus Christ claimed “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Since Sikhs believe in seeking truth I believe apologetics will have to come into play.  

Union with God

        The goal of a Sikh is to arrive at unification with God. This can only happen if they get rid of physical distractions in the world. Levinson (1996) explains that,

“Sikhism is based on a discipline of purification aimed at overcoming five vices: greed, anger, false pride, lust, and attachment to material goods. Successful adherence to the purification discipline allows the person to elevate his or her soul into union with God” (p. 218).

This is a very hard thing to do since most people become reincarnated due to not living life correct enough to reach God (Levinson, p. 218). Sikhism is a works based religion that teaches that man himself can reach God on his own with enough discipline.

        The only way to reach God is to escape the cycle of reincarnation which is much like the Hindu and Buddhist belief systems, except that the Sikhs in the West Hollywood Gurdwara, and  the Gurdwara Los Angeles believe that humans always come back as humans and there is no ranking within reincarnation. Hindus and Buddhists believe that bad karma gives the result of coming back as a lesser form of life. The Sikhs in West Hollywood described to me that they do not believe in the same way, but they do believe that it is possible to come back as another ethnicity and religion which could keep them from becoming a Sikh again in the next life. This would make it harder and harder to unionize with God, but is not considered as a punishment for sins done in a previous life. It should be noted that most Sikhs do see reincarnation as a form of punishment as Levinson (1996) states,

“At the end of a person’s life the tally of good and bad conduct determines the family, race, and character of the person when he or she is reborn as another human being. Those who are selfish and cruel in this life do not go to hell, but rather will suffer in their next existence. Those who act with compassion and honesty will lift the spirit to positions of good standing and high character. The soul develops through countless lives until it becomes united with the infinite One” (p. 218-219).

          I believe that their idea of union with God is a bridge Christians can use to relate the gospel with a Sikh. For Christians, union with God comes at conversion while still alive on earth. The only difference being that union with God means union in the body of Christ, a symbolic expression of one’s soul being in tune to God’s righteousness making one a citizen of God’s eternal kingdom in Heaven. Christians do not actually become God, or part of God’s essence. This is why the term born again is used because the person has a transformation right then, and is a new person in Jesus Christ (John 3:3). Sikhs literally believe that they become part of God’s essence. The sad thing about Sikhism is that they will never know if they will be in union with God when they die, so in a sense there is no security in their salvation. For Christians what is termed as eternal security is used to describe the knowledge one has that there is no doubt that they are saved and will go to Heaven when they die. Jesus Christ said in John 6:37, “Everyone the Father gives to Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.” Paul explains further that nothing can keep or take a Christian out of God’s will (Romans 8:37-39). Whoever comes to Christ becomes unionized with God through His kingdom at conversion. It will also be important to emphasize that reincarnation is a false belief for it says in Hebrews 9:27 that men die once and then comes judgment.

        Sikhs do not believe in sin, but do believe in distractions. These distractions are what keep their soul from unifying with God. The distractions are all earthly things and what Christians would call immoral living. What are considered as true Sikhs are people who are very moral and do not do any form of drugs including smoking and drinking or eating meat as they are strictly vegetarians. They are not to engage in promiscuous, unmarried sexual activity and they believe in serving all people and remaining in community. This servant hood can be seen in their community kitchens where they will serve food to anyone who comes in no matter what. Parrinder (1987) says, “[The Guru] Amar Das, organized the community and instituted the traditions of langers or free kitchens wherein Sikhs and visitors are given hospitality” (p. 77). The Sikhs at the Gurdwara in West Hollywood told me that meditation is also important, and that meditating on God is something the Guru Nanak told them. Wolf & Yang (1996) explain that Nanak “emphasized the importance of meditation on a unitary divine spirit and on rightful living in this world” (p. 12). They are also not to cut any hair on their body as it is considered sacred and the way that God made them so they should not change their bodies. Cavendish (1980) describes the way a Sikh looks, “Their most obvious outward marks are the turbans, beards and long hair of Sikh men, who believe in keeping whole and intact the bodies which God has given them, and so do not cut their hair. The turban is a symbol of wholeness, and so of being a Sikh” (p. 50). Sikh beliefs about life can be explained by Sing & Sing (2006) that,

“Central to the Sikh ideology are the principles of equality, liberty, and selfless service, and a value system that envisions a diverse and egalitarian society that affords individual freedom and maintains no element, however miniscule, of state oppression. Sikhs firmly uphold the notion of equality, a claim supported by the doctrinal emphasis on social justice as well as the Gur -Prophets’ advocacy and activism for universal human rights. And in a spiritual sense, selfless service functions as a form of grateful expression to the Divine, a praise of the Creator via Creation” (p. 133).

        When I asked the temple leader if he believed that humans were predisposed to giving into the temptations of physical distractions he seemed to say that that was true yet he did not directly emphasize it. He mentioned that there is “something in us that keeps us distracted.” I believe that the Sikhs in West Hollywood do believe that humans have it in them to be distracted by the things of the world. I think this is an excellent bridge to the gospel because Christians know that humans are predisposed to sin and it is within all humans to sin. Sin does distract us from knowing God. Grudem (2000) states, “Not only do we as sinners lack any spiritual good in ourselves, but we also lack the ability to do anything that will in itself please God and the ability to come to God in our own strength” (p. 497). In Romans 8:8 Paul says that “Those whose lives are in the flesh are unable to please God.” The difference with Sikhs is that they believe in a works based salvation that they actually do have the ability on their own to come to God eventually on their own strength even if it takes billions of lifetimes. The problem with the works based salvation that Sikhs believe is that it will be hard to persuade them to understand that they do not have the ability to come to God on their own. But I believe that the Holy Spirit will convict any Sikh of their utter human failure and depravity if He is one that the Father has planned to give to Jesus Christ (John 6:37). They will understand that no amount of meditation, length of hair, sexual purity, abstaining from drugs, good works, or vegetarianism will ever lead their soul towards union with God. The fact that the world distracts humans from God is a bridge and strong point in converting a Sikh into the Christian faith. 

Fighting for righteousness     

        What is interesting to note is that Sikhs strongly believe in self defense and fighting against oppression. They will take up arms to protect their rights and freedom of religion. The Sikhs in West Hollywood told me that fighting for one’s rights and to protect oneself and others is righteous. Their entire religion was founded on the principle of self defense or defending one’s rights. Hence their religion’s symbol consists of four weapons: a vertical double edged sword called the Khanda, two curved swords called kirpans, and a steel ring called a chakker which can be thrown at enemies up to fifty meters. Muslims were forcing all non-Muslims to convert and killing many people who refused. Cavendish (1980) explains that “[The 10th Guru] Gobind Singh, built up Sikh fighting strength, and what had begun as a group of believers in brotherly love turned into a formidable military brotherhood which waged war against Muslims and which believed, as Muslims did, that death in battle was a passport to paradise” (p. 49). Sikhs were even given honorary acknowledgement in World War I by the British as greatly fierce and skilled fighters and were given a set of land after the war (Cavendish, p. 50).

        Sikhs are a warrior faith and even have their own martial art which is a religious as well as cultural part of their heritage called Gatka. The Homepage of the International Gatka Federation explains that “Gatka is the name of a stick used to practice sword fighting. The word Gatka is a slang expression coined in the nineteen hundreds to describe a number of stick, staff, and sword styles made for use in public demonstration. Much of the Gatka forms practiced today are Europeanized versions of segments of what was the original martial art of India known as Shastar Vidyaa” (http://www.gatka.de/). When I was in the parking lot at the West Hollywood Gurdwara I saw men teaching young boys stick fighting techniques. Sikhs are also supposed to carry a small dagger everywhere they go as a religious expression and for self defense. This is one of the few religions that I know of that commands its followers to carry a weapon everywhere they go. Sikhs obviously cannot carry a large knife everywhere so in such circumstances where the law does not permit knives, the Sikh will carry a small pocket knife sized blade. This shows that the religious symbol of the weapon is just as important and meaningful as carrying the actual weapon.

Gatka[1] (2)

Gatka Fighters

The fact that Sikhs will fight for their beliefs and causes shows that Sikhs believe that there are things that are wrong, yet nothing is actually evil. Yet, fighting and killing in defense from such “bad” things is good. It is a very interesting and complicated way to think about morality. This way of thinking, I truly believe, is a contradiction in itself. They claim they do not judge others, that all beliefs are okay and nothing is evil; yet they are actually making judgments on other people when fighting against them that their enemies’ way of life is wrong. This is moral relativisms greatest problem with credibility and Sikhs believe in this same way. I think that their strong beliefs in fighting for what is good are another strong bridge to the gospel that can be used. The Christian must emphasize their strong belief in what is worth fighting for in their relationships with Sikhs and create conversations that will lead to spiritual discussions on the nature of good and evil. This is a great time to start talking about the justice of God and how He demands perfection, and will punish all evil with death and hell. Justice will prevail on judgment day and Jesus Christ is also a warrior king who will come and destroy all wicked men in the world through fire and devastation. This is spoken about in Revelation and in the Gospels. The death of Christ was an example of the violence against evil that is God’s justice. When Christ comes back He will come with His armies and bring about bloodshed on all who oppose rightesouness while calling up His elect. Through such discussions, eventually the Holy Spirit will reveal to the Sikh that there is only one Way of righteousness, and that righteousness is Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

        After my time at the Sikh Gurdwara in West Hollywood I can now understand their religion better. The Sikhs there are very intelligent and nice people. They are just stuck in a satanic grasp of deception that has come up through their cultural background and religious upbringing. One cannot deemphasize the grasp of deception that controls them in their false religion. Christians need to approach Sikhs as people who are highly intelligent and loving people. It is easy to talk to them, but one must use tact and create friendships before witnessing. Sikhs are monotheists, believe that humanity has something within that leads to “distraction” from unity with God; believe in activism and fighting for righteousness, and believe in moral living. These are the few bridges to the gospel that I found after listening to the Sikhs in the West Hollywood Gurdwara and Gurdwara Los Angeles. Sikhs are people that God loves and He wants them to enter into a relationship with Him. It is my hope that God will eventually be known in these people’s lives.

References

            (2003). Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Bible. Nashville, Tennessee: Holman Bible Publishers.

            Cavendish, R. (1980). The Great Religions. New York: Arco Publishing INC.

            Chilana, R., & Zabel, D. (2005, Winter2005). Sikhism: Building a Basic Collection on Sikh Religion and Culture. Reference & User Services Quarterly, pp. 108,116. Retrieved March 6, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.

            Elwell, W.A. (Ed.). (2001). Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.  

            Grudem, W. (2000). Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.

            Homepage of the International Gatka Federation (IGF). Tareek The History. Retrieved March 7, 2009, from http://www.gatka.de/HISTORY.htm  

            Levinson, D. (Ed.). (1996). Religion: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: California: ABC-CLIO, Inc.

            Parrinder, G. (1987). Encountering World Religions: Questions of Religious Truth. New York, N.Y.: The Crossroad Publishing Company.

            Singh, H., & Singh, S. (2006, April). Sikh Leadership: Established Ideals and Diasporic Reality. Teaching Theology & Religion, 9(2), 133-138. Retrieved March 7, 2009, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9647.2006.00275.x

            Wolf, A.W. & Yang, H. (1996). Anthropological Contributions to Conflict Resolution. Georgia, USA: University of Georgia Press. Retrieved March 6, 2009, from Google Scholar database.

The Boogie Men of the Philippines: Aswang, White Lady, Witches, Batibat, Spirits, Ghosts, And Demons!

The Boogie Men of the Philippines: Aswang, White Lady, Witches, Batibat, Spirits, Ghosts, And Demons!

        The information in this article was obtained by word of mouth through interviews I conducted with actual native Filipinos living in the Metro Manila area of the Philippines, as well as a small amount of internet research.

Introduction

        Many Filipinos are extremely superstitious people who believe in various myths and legends about spirit beings, witches, ghosts, monsters, and what westerners would label as “boogie men.” The majority of westerners believe such appiritions of “boogie men” are children’s stories and made simply to scare kids. On the other hand, while many educated Filipinos are losing their supertitious attitudes, there are still a very large percentage of Filipinos who believe these myths as fact. Even though most superstitious Filipinos are part of the lower class and less educated, still many of the highly educated combine superstitions with their “rational” worldview.

During the summer of 2009 in Pasig was able to ask some of the maids in the house I was staying at about who the boogie men of the Philippines are. They told me about two different supernatural creatures: The Aswang and The White Lady, as well as gave me a discussion on witches and magic. Some Filipino parents use these stories to scare their children for whatever reasons they desire whether it be for them to stay in at night or make them go to bed on time (this is a similar attitude compared to the westerners labeling these creatures as “boogie men”). In other cases, a lot of Filipinos grow up believing in these creatures even in their adult life. Some even have claimed to witness the monsters themselves. Let’s look into some of the supernatural creatures that are claimed to live in the Philippines, and inside Filipino communities throughout the world!

        The Aswang: The UFO sightings of Filipino Monsters

        The Aswang are creatures that live mainly in the rural areas in the Visayas region and Mindanao. It is also said that in Metro Manila, in the region of Antipolo there is high supernatural activity and many Aswang have been claimed to be seen there too. Waugh (2009) explains,

“In Northern Luzon the province of Antipolo is also known as popular sightings (sic) of Aswangs especially during the Holy Week ( Easter in the Philippines) were (sic) legend says that paranormal activities are at its peak during the 3 days that Christ was dead” (www.hauntedamericatours.com).

Most sightings remind of me the American Bigfoot sightings or UFO’s as there are pictures on the internet claiming to have captured the image of a real Aswang, yet the pictures are all grainy and hard to decipher. aswang Aswang creatures are kind of like the American stories of Vampires in colonial times or witches, and are kind of a mix of both. During the day Aswang walk around town like regular human beings and have the appearance of people, but at night they change into their true form. The maids I interviewed said they could be either a man or a woman creature. At night they split their body in half and the top half flies around. The legs stay planted in the ground. The Aswang have long hair that is wavy, red eyes, and their wings according to one maid look like a bird’s wings, but most everyone else would say they have bat wings. Their teeth can be sharp, and some have human teeth. Aswang have extremely long tongues that slide out of their mouths so that they can eat unborn babies still inside the mother’s womb as the tongue slides up the birth canal to snatch the baby (this is very disgusting to picture). They are known to fly onto rooftops and wait for small children to catch or wait above windows for pregnant women to lay down (pregnancy is a dreadful time for superstitious Filipinos). They also feast on dead bodies, human hearts, intestines, and livers. They can attack people too. When the Aswang are done flying around they fly back to their legs and re-attach themselves to the lower half of the body and walk around again like humans. When an Aswang is far away, it makes a loud sound as if it is very close by. When it is close, it makes a very quiet sound that sounds as if it is far away. This is a trick they use to confuse people they want to attack. Filipinos say they make the sound of “tuktuk” or “took took” and these specific Aswang are called Tuktuk. The Aswang creatures are supernatural beings and have special powers. Most of them are shapeshifters as well and can turn into large black cats about the size of a dog.

Most Aswang talk is directed towards children to scare them in order to keep them inside at night so they will not mess around. But, many Filipinos actually believe in these creatures and are terrified of them. Garlic is an agent that harms Aswang. I was told by my Filipino friends that you can put garlic on the legs of an Aswang when it is flying around so when it lands on its legs again it will die. Aswang are the most feared ghouls of Filipinos and just talking about the subject, even bringing it up, can sometimes cause a Filipino to shudder. This is especially true for Filipinas in my experience. One maid I talked to in Antipolo, who was working in the Aswang_by_necrophadianhouse of a missionary I was staying in for a couple of weeks in 2009, looked stunned for an instant when I brought the subject up to her. I could see she was spooked and when I asked her if they really exist she did not know. Most Filipinos when asked about Aswang will say they do not know if it is true or not, but tend to believe they exist. So if someone wants to give a Filipina maid the creeps, just ask her if Aswang exist.

After speaking with these maids in Pasig I had taken a short trip to Boracay. One late afternoon towards evening, I was at the beach enjoying the beautiful weather. I looked up at the slowly darkening blue sky and I saw a very large creature with wings flying above the water extremely high in the air. I instantly thought, “Wow! An Aswang!” in a sarcastic manner. Above that creature even higher was another creature of the same kind. The large bat-like wings wafted in the air. Honestly, these creatures looked as if they were about the size of what an Aswang would be. I instantly knew in my heart though, that these creatures were just giant fruit bats. It makes me wonder if people are seeing these kinds of animals that God created and assuming they are Aswang.

The White Lady: Horrifying Mysterious Apparitions

081207brown_lady_ghost            Another creature is The White Lady who appears in houses or areas where someone has died. It does not matter according to the maids if the person who died was a man or a woman, The White Lady will still appear. All she does is appear and does not seem to do much of anything else, yet it terrifies superstitious Filipinos. The White Lady is exactly what it sounds like: a White/Caucasian woman in a dress. She is of European decent and I have no clue why the lady is literally a White lady and not a Filipina lady, but they said she appears nonetheless. I was told of a story where a young girl was murdered by a taxi driver on the side of a road in an area close to Pasig where we were staying. The taxi driver pulled up to the girl and shot her dead with a gun. There was no explanation or story of why the murder occured, but they say it did. Now, no taxi drivers, according to the girl who told me the story, dare to drive through that street at night. If they do The White Lady appears and they fear for their lives. I do not know the validity of this story, but it is a true example of the kinds of stories that are ahaha-12told when talking about The White Lady. This ghost is the most common ghost talked about with Filipinos. Filipinos (and Asians in general) are really obsessed with ghost sightings in photographs and in many other things. Even in the United States ghost fever is stirring. The TV show “Ghost Hunters” shows people getting scared out of their wits over silly noises and reflections. The United States has a lot of skeptics, but a belief in ghosts is becoming more common. The Philippines however, has a long history of spirits, witches and ghosts and almost everyone from the lowest class, to the higher educated and wealthy elite believe in the supernatural creatures of the night and darkness. One of my Filipino American friends’ mother was discussing with her brother about a time when she was a youth in the Philippines where a certain house had a ghost in it and she was alone in the room and knew someone was there with her. She screamed and ran out.

Talking about Aswang or The White Lady really creeps out some Filipinos and many will want to change the subject according to one Filipino friend I have. There are also many other Filipino mythological creatures that a large amount of Filipinos believe in due to their superstitious outlook on life. Filipinos also believe in witches. They believe in what seem to be wild mythological stories about witches, but in reality there really are human witches in the Philippines practicing witchcraft and occult arts.

Witches and Magic

        Many Filipinos are stuck in beliefs about witchcraft that cause sickness and other misfortunes. I may not believe in sci-fi monsters or aliens, but I do believe in spiritual beings that God has created. These of course are angels, and then the fallen angels called demons. In many cases I believe witchcraft and occult magic works; it depends on the beliefs of the person who is effected by it. Demons will do the work in order to keep spiritual bondage on people. But for me as a Christian I am protected by the blood of Christ.

One of the maids in Pasig thought that since I got sick in Bacolod (I had nasty watery diarrhea for 2 1/2 days), a witch might have cursed me, or some young woman admired me so much that she accidently cursed me without even knowing it. This is called the evil eye. The evil eye is a belief that if another person envies another, or desires tribal-art-ifugao-shamansomething so intensely they can accidently practice witchcraft and curse someone. The person could end up really sick or dead. So you can see how such superstition causes problems and points the finger at people. Do not get angry, do not envy, and be respectful or else you could get labeled a witch and taken out by the rest of the group. This has happened all throughout history. This is how people groups maintain societal control within their own in many cases around the world. After I told the maid I was sick and she expressed that it had to be a curse of witchcraft, she tried to lick her thumb and blow some air on me in some sort of quick ritual to dispell the black magic; but I instantly declined. She told me to beware of anyone because you can never know if they are a witch or not. If they touch your shoulder randomly, you need to touch them back to block the curse they probably put on you from that action. This idea makes me think of the fear so many superstitious people live in day to day. Just like the X-Files: trust no one. I do not believe in silly superstitions, and I do not believe that Satan’s power has anything over me. With other people who have no faith in Christ, spiritual ignorance exists. With such a person there is also no protection of the Holy Spirit that seals him. Satan is able to use that person in any way he wants. Ephesians 1:13 says, “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation—in Him when you believed—were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” All Christians are portected by the blood of Jesus Christ. His Spirit lives in us. We know that all evil spirits are really demons, who are fallen angels headed for God’s wrath in the end. Satan himself is an angel. Jesus Christ is superior to angels and controls them (Hebrews 1:7).

tribal-art-ifugao-skulls

         The Philippines is a country with an ancient history of magic, witchcraft, and sorcery that have influenced the lives of it’s modern citizens. This type of belief is called Animism. It is a belief that everything has spirits and many of them are angry and must be appeased. This is where magic rituals and spells come into play. It keeps people living in fear. It has mixed in with the culture and religions of most Filipinos causing religious syncretism within even opposing religions. In many cases I believe people are told so much about these supernatural creatures that people want to believe they exist, and that they believe they have sighted one (whether or not it really was one or not). This is like my case in Boracay where I saw 2 giant fruit bats flying. I could have believed they were Aswang, but my desire to believe truth kept me. It kind of reminds me of the desires some people have for a powerfully emotional religious experience. These people lie to themselves and believe what they experienced has to be from God, when its really just their desire for something to happen turning into self- manipulation. They believe, simply because they want to. Rational Christians know belief in God is not a mysitcial emotional experience, but it is a faith lived out day by day in security.

What is Really Going On?

        People who see Aswang sightings and other ghosts such as The White Lady carry the same attitudes that many UFO hunters have. It is like how David Duchovney’s character of Fox Mulder from the TV series “The X-Files” would say, “I want to believe” as his famous poster hung up in his FBI office with those words boldly blazed across it. Truth stands objective despite whether or not it is believed. Someone could want to believe in something false with all of their heart and still be wrong. The goal is to understand the truth of what is really occuring: spiritual oppression from Satan and his demons.

As human beings of course we have no power to defend ourselves against demons, but God does. Since we have God, we are protected by His unlimitted power. When the Devil or his power comes upon a person whether it be a general temptation to sin, or a demonic attack; the way out is to simply “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It is that simple. Christians should never live in a superstitious way of life where magic is countered by magic. These problems exist from influence of the superstitious movements invading Christianity that have mixed mysticism with Christianity; such as the spiritual warfare movement. These ideas have pervaded in the modern environment of missiology and are brought into already superstitious cultures making them even more confused about the works of God. The spiritual warfare movement has created ideas of how to combat spiritual forcs of darkness with extra biblical tactics. This becomes “Christian magic” that keeps men blind in spiritual ignorance, who then think of prayers, Scripture, and Faith as some kind of force or magic forumala to combat evil spirits. This attitude ignores faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. In reality the only spiritual warfare we need to do is what James says in verses 4:7-8, “submit to God,” and “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” The Bible does not give extensive directions on how to combat spiritual forces, or exorcise demons out of people. But the simple commands it gives are sufficient enough for us to claim victory in the face of demonic oppression. It is up to the indidivual to seek after Christ and reject Satan to be free from demonic bondage. Just as it was the individuals actions of responding to Christ that gave them salvation. Humans hold no power over spiritual forces they do not understand. As it says in 2 Peter 2:10-12,

“Bold arrogant people! They do not tremble when they blaspheme the glorious ones; however; angels, who are greater in might and power, do not bring a slanderous charge against them before the Lord. But these people, like irrational animals–creatures of instinct born to be caught and destroyed—speak blasphemies about things they don’t understand.”

Even angels higher in rank and power do not cast insults at demons. Jude 1:8 says,

“Yet Michael the archangel, when he was disputing with the Devil in a debate about Moses’ body, did not dare bring an abusive condemnation against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!'”

If even Michael the archangel cannot bring charges against Satan then how can we as humans? We have to do what the Bible says and resist Satan by calling to God for help. Macarthur (2006) explains the Christians confidence in Christ: “It’s wonderful to know that God is on our side. We are one with Him and fully protected in Christ” (p. 110).

The Spiritual Truth

        Now are Aswang, White Lady, and ghost sightings real? It depends on what a person means by that. I personally believe in spirits which are demons that cause problems for people and can even try to overtake people who are involved in the dark arts, believe in sorcery, and not protected by Christ. I think it is possible that Filipinos are actually seeing what look like Aswang, White Lady ghosts, and more. If a Filipino actually does see such creatures and it is not the imagination, I believe that they are demons who have manifested themselve to look how the individual assumes such creatures should look in order to decieve them and strike fear in their arts. These demons have the goal of keeping such Filipinos spiritually ignorant in false belief systems. Satan wants Filipinos to stay superstitious and ignorant of Christ’s power so it should not be any suprise that he would use such tactics. Satan will appear, as will his demons, in anyway he needs to; whether it be a positive looking and sounding being of light, or a dark creature of terror; depending on what the individual is expecting. Demons could even appear as a UFO alien, which I believe he does all the time. We have to understand that Satan’s true name is Lucifer which means “the light bearer.” He was an glorious angel before he rebelled against God. He is also the father of lies. Is there any doubt he would appear in whatever way, shape, or form he can in order to decieve someone? In Revelation he will even appear as a Messiah figure when he possesses the Antichrist to take over the world in the future.

Real Demons

        Face it people, demons do exist and they do manifest themselves from time to time. But if you are a Christian and you see such things constantly, you should get your soul checked out with some serious Bible study and prayer. It is not normal for people who follow Jesus Christ to see apparitions of demons. If you see them you either have an unhealthy interest in demons, or are involved in something you should not be (either a deep sin, or occult activites). Another reason is that you are a threat to Satan’s work. Also, if Satan thinks he has you owned and you are comming out of some kind of spiritual bondage be it from a great trial or deep sin then there is a possibility of a last effort to keep you. This will most likely be in the form of a huge temptation, but sometimes it can be an actual apparition.

        An example of someone who has an unhealthy interest in demons was a girl I knew in college who was partnered with me on a class project. She would always talk about how every day she sees demons everywhere, and is sometimes attacked. Then she began to tell me she sees giant angels behind me. The girl was creepy. She was caught up in the Charismatic church movement which is a mystical form of religion that claims to be Christian and follow Jesus. More particularly she was part of the Vineyard Church group who is responsible for beliefs in dog barking, weird babbling tongues, visions of angels, and other ecstatic bizzare experiences. They are deep into the spiritual warfare movement. But her activities and interests did not seem to be helpful in her life since every day she was seeing demons bothering her. She obviously did not understand what the Bible says about such things. Colossians 2:18 says,

“Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his fleshly mind.”

Shadow demons, the Old Hag, and Ilicano Bitibat

        Now let me give you an example of Satan trying to hold onto a person who is being called to the Lord in a last ditch effort to keep him. This is a personal experience I had. During my life I suffered from extreme depression and hatered. I was morbidly depressed and hopeless. When I finaly started becoming confident in Jesus Christ and the Bible, and began to practice true faith; because I could then comprehend the Truth, I felt as though life’s answers were finaly clear. One night as I was sleeping in my room in Louisville, Kentucky I had a visitor. I thought my mom was in my room or something, but no it was a shadow being of MKC_EP6complete darkness and it was overtaking me and paralyzing me so I could not move. It crawled on top of me in my bed and I saw it looking into my eyes as I felt my entire self being pushed aside as if it was trying to take over my body. I did not know what was going on and was full of terror. I could not move so I weakly tilted my head and eyes away from it and began to pray for Jesus’s help and began calling to God to save me and make the demon go away. Instantly it was gone and I was laying there wondering if it was a dream. I realized I was awake the whole time so it could not have been a dream. I did not sleep for 4 days after that happened, I tell you that. Nevertheless, I realized that night that true protection is in Christ and all it takes is a resistence to the Devil and calling upon God alone for protection. More occurences happened another time later in life as well as a few times being paralyzed and only feeling an entity, but not seeing it. I also had a few bizarre dreams with creatures as well as an old woman putting me in a trance and paralyzing me. Each time the answer was to call out to Jesus for help and it worked. A human cannot resist an angel’s power. Only God has that power and authority. So if you ever find yourself in a situation like I did remember what the Bible says. “Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7. The point is not that you have to believe me even though the story I told you is true. You might think I was hallucinating or mistaken. I do not care. It does not matter to me. I only care that you focus on the Word of God and seek Him for the answers to free your spirit.

        These sleep occurences of being attacked by shadow people and paralyzed at night are common throughout the world. Even the old woman is a common sighting. In Western folklore, historically it has been known as the Old Hag, which is a female spirit that attacks you in the sleep. Filipino culture calls it Batibat, which is a huge fat woman that lives in trees and if you cut down a tree to use to build your house she comes in with it. This comes from Ilicano folklore. In my case the old woman was skinny. No matter what shape these manifestations can come in depending on individual cultural explanations, they are all the same idea; that there are spirit beings who attack people and try to possess their bodies or kill them.

        Such common occurences of similar sightings cannot be explained scientifically, but the secular humanist scientists still try to explain it away by labeling the experiences of feeling, seeing, and being controlled by demons as an effect of the sleep disorder called Sleep Paralysis.  While sleep paralysis might be a real medical problem the sightings of shadow creatures, old hags, or other monsters are not explained by science. They are explainable only by the reality of a spiritual world where demons are actually intereacting with humans to fight against God.

Conclusion

       Whether real or not real, Filipino folklore and mythology is interesting. The Philippines is only one in thousands of cultures who experience the same problems with demonic power through magic, witchcraft, and sorcery. Many cultures see apparitions of strange supernatural creatures and each has their own idea of what monsters, or the boogie men are. It is a fun study, yet the realities of spiritual oppression are ever present. May more Filipinos, and people of all cultures, break the bonds of spiritual ignorance brought on by Satan, and come to saving faith and protection in Jesus Christ our God and savior (Titus 2:13)!

References

        (2004). Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard Bible. Nashville, TN: Holman Publishers.

        Macarthur, J. (2006). Standing strong: how to resist the enemy of your soul. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

        Waugh, L.L.H. (2009). “The Real Ghost and Strange Cryptids of the Philippines Makes it the Most Haunted Islands in the World”. Retrieved November, 3, 2009 , from http://www.hauntedamericatours.com/PHILIPPINES.php