Last month, I had a profound exchanged with an INC member. The topic that I brought out is about the sufficiency of the bible. As we all know, the sect of Iglesia Ni Cristo is known for relying in a false doctrine of – “if it is not written explicitly in the bible that is wrong”
I took all the chances to squeeze from his lips that this theory is the one that he is holding in a short possible time so I can proceed with the kill.
Ang aming tindig ay kung ano ang nakasulat yun ang dapat sampalatayanan. (1Cor. 4:6, Juan 20:31, 2Tim.2:15-16) - INC Ako.(believe only what is written, this is our stand.)
Straight from the horse mouth. The exchanges are quite long and focus much on minor topics. In the middle of proceeding one premise of him caught my attention; he believe that all that is written in the bible even the insertion of the words and style of writing are not based on writer’s discretion.
I disagree. In my mind I wanted to debunk him but I have to ignore it and focus first on refuting the main core of the argument. Lately, I pity him for holding a false belief taken from their founder who is a self-proclaimed angel; as a Good Samaritan, we are Catholics and we have the obligation to share and spread the splendor of the true Church founded by Christ – The One, Holy Apostolic Catholic Church.
Thus, in this article, I will try to show to you my stand why my opponent is wrong. [In order to prevent a wrong connotation that this could imply as my proof that Sacred Scripture is not free from error in teaching the truth and in effect the inspiration as a whole which I do not hold and strongly oppose, I will coined the term “Finger-mark of the sacred writers”.]
Let me start with the structural description of what bible is? Bible is a collection of different books written by 40 writers in 3 different languages in 3 different continents in different time in span of approximately 1600 years. All of these writers used different writing style, tone, form, structure, literary technique and design to record the divine revelations under the impulse and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thereby suffice to say that the principal author of all sacred scriptures is the Holy Spirit. Though the author of the sacred scriptures is God, we cannot negate the fact that the writers of these sacred books are Human being; wrote with style according on their own preference – writing style that left a finger-mark on it.
(The Gospel according to Mark)
First we have to start with the Gospel of Mark. Majority of biblical scholars believe that Mark is the earliest gospel written. We have an idea that Mark is a personal secretary of Apostle Peter; we also agree that Mark’s gospel is written according to the vivid accounts of Peter while he was with Christ and some called it as “Memoir of St. Peter”. If this is a personal memento of Peter, how can we sure that Mark left a finger-mark on it?
Aside from Mark’s way of writing in un-orderly manner (because he depends on Peter narration) let us jump in Mark chapter 7:(1-23). In this event we can see the clash between Jesus and the Pharisees. The Pharisees and some teachers of the law criticize Jesus’ apostles for not following the Jewish tradition or ceremony of washing-hands before eating. Here comes the verse 19; what have you seen in light of verses 1-23? Mark made a wrong conclusion on the main topic, it is not about the food it is all about Ancient Tradition of washing of hands before eating but what Mark did was he inserted a finger-mark by writing “In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean." We cannot deny that this is Mark own assertion simply because Christ the living word was refuting the argument of hypocrite Elders and he was not focusing on the foods. (it might be a dangerous remark if we pull this verse alone without reading the whole context.)
Matthew and Luke
(The Gospel according to Matthew and The Gospel according to Luke)
We cannot seclude one another because only these two sacred writers from four gospels mentioned on their account the genealogy of Jesus Christ which is the exact location of their finger-mark.
Who is Matthew? Aside from knowing that he is a Former Tax collector from Capernaum He is also Jew by birth compare to Luke. Luke was a Gentile Physician, the only Gentile writer in the New Testament and companion of Paul on his missionary journey.
By putting these two sacred writers in an array form we can see the crossing culture; Matthew holder of Jewish tradition that hold the mosaic law while Luke a Gentile distinct from Jewish people [that’s why in first council – the council of Jerusalem recorded in the book of Acts (Acts 15) we can see the distinction between Jewish Christian who in favor to follow the mosaic law on circumcision while Gentile Christian are against on it. [Here we can see the two distinctions of Early Christians] (Just Imagine according to Mosaic Law Gentile man converted in Christianity who is at his 40’s must undergo circumcision hehehe that’s why they complain] This particular cultural distinction can be seen and reflected in Matthew’s and Luke account. Read the Genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew’s Gospel (Mt. 1:1-17) and compare it to Jesus Christ ancestral lineage in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 3:23-38) have you notice the difference? In Matthew’s account he begins the lineage of Jesus Christ in Abraham while Luke started with Adam. So what with Abraham or with Adam? Abraham is Father of Israel that denotes Jewish race while Adam emphasizes the general races or Father of all men regardless whether you are Jew or Gentiles.
In a clear view, each writer put their finger-mark by showing their racial origin to target the specific audience/readers, Luke as a gentile wanted to show on his gospel that Jesus Christ is for ALL even if you are not came from Jewish descendant no matter what race you belong that’s why he started from Adam,. Matthew on the other hand start counting from Abraham the father of all Jews same reason why he speak a lot of Jewish custom in his gospel, he wanted to address his fellow Jews that the long awaited Messiah is Jesus that they rejected.
(The Gospel according to John)
The Evangelist. John the apostle left a finger-mark in a way his readers catch-up with the idea of a new beginning, new creation a new and everlasting covenant of man to God.
John begins his narration with “In the beginning”[Jn 1:1] followed with “the next day”[Jn 1:29] then with another “the next day again”[Jn 1:35]. Apostle John is counting to remind as something that begins with the word “In the beginning”. YES, it is the book of Genesis - the creation account! John Chapter 1 to 2 is congruent with Genesis Chapter 1 to 2. But how sure are we to conclude this?
On the first day of creation in the book of Genesis it speaks about the “Light” same with John’s account on his beginning day when he speaks the “Light” of men. Then John mention the word “the next day” while in Genesis refer as “on the second day” (Gen.1:6-8) Now, be attentive on the second day of creation there are two words mentioned; the “Water” and “Sky” then open the gospel of John on his “next day” (Jn.1:29-34) he mentioned the account of Christ baptism where he showed also the two mentioned words in Genesis the “Water” and “Heaven”. [See the similarities?] And on the last counting of Apostle John which is exactly on the 7th day (Jn 2:12) Jesus Christ with his mother and his disciples went to Capharnaum and “remained” there not many days1 which is equally Gen. 2:2 where God “Rested”.
All in all, as I laid above, the sacred writers are not robots; they have their freewill to insert and to make any writing style they want unlike the sect of INManalo members during election period, they have no option but to follow the dictate of their leader to whom shall they cast their vote (or otherwise they are at risk na matiwalag kapag nalaman na hindi nila sinunod ito) kawawa naman.
1 On my next article I will discuss the event of wedding at Cana in peculiar way - The Liturgical Visual Way.[“peculiar” in a sense that our generation are more on “Alphabetical reading” than “Liturgical Art reading” ] In the end I hope that each readers will appreciate that all sacred images in our Church is not just a mere piece of decoration or just a pigment of colors but as well as a TEACHING MEDIUM in transmitting our faith to next generations to come even without reading letters.