Can you believe in God but not in religion? A reply to Mayor Duterte

Can you believe in God but not in religion? A reply to Mayor Duterte

By Quirino Sugon, Jr. May 20,2016
In an interview with Jessica Soho of GMA, President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte said:

“For the record, I believe in God, but I do not believe in religions. Period.”

Let’s analyze this statement.

The clause “I believe in God” can be found at the beginning of the Apostle’s Creed:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Just saying “I believe in God” is incomplete. You have to define the God Whom you believe in.

Is it the God of Agnostics–the God who may exist, but unknowable and irrelevant to our existence?

Is it the God of Hebrews who revealed Himself to Moses?

“I am who I am….*This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you….This is what you will say to the Israelites: The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever;e this is my title for all generations.” (Ex 3:14-15)

Is it the God of Muslims, Allah, who was revealed by an angel to Muhammad nearly 666 years from the birth of Christ? The God of Muslims may be the God of Abraham, but not of Isaac and Jacob, since the Muslims trace their religious lineage with Ishmael (Isaac’s half-brother), and Esau (Jacob’s older brother) married Ishmael’s daughter:

Esau noted that Isaac had blessed Jacob when he sent him to Paddan-aram to get himself a wife there, and that, as he gave him his blessing, he charged him, “You shall not marry a Canaanite woman,” 7and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and gone to Paddan-aram. 8Esau realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac, 9so Esau went to Ishmael, and in addition to the wives he had, married Mahalath, the daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth.e (Gen 28:6-9)

Is it the God of Protestants, of the multitude sects who arose after the year 666 x 2 = 1332, each one declaring the Bible as the sole Word of God outside of the Catholic Church, each one  interpreting it according to their own wishes, each one making themselves their own popes, just like Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy who calls himself “The Appointed Son of God”?

Or is it the God of Catholic Christians? Then you must believe the Apostles Creed, or the Niceno-Constantipolitan Creedwith the filioloque (and the son) clause to be more precise, in order to distinguish yourself from the Greek Orthodox Church:

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead.;whose kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father (and the Son), who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.
In one holy catholic and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

To say “I believe in God” is not enough. You have to define who God is, and by doing so you establish a Creed: those who subscribe to this Creed are your members; those who won’t subscribe won’t be saved. But since Man is a metaphorical being, he has to express what it means “to believe”, in the same way as a man would express his love for a woman by giving her chocolates or flowers or in the same way as Mayor Duterte would express his love for the country by kissing our flag. That is why Man creates a liturgy consisting of prescribed words and actions for the worship of the God he believes in.  This is true not only for the Manobos and other Lumads of Davao, but also for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name, Inc. of Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy who is a friend and supporter of President-Elect Duterte. Once a group of persons has a creed and form of worship–even if this form of worship consists of nothing but men looking up to the sky and saying, “Lord!”– then you have a religion. Such religion may not be as organized as the Catholic Church with its Catechism and Canon Law, but it’s still a religion nevertheless.

Thus, President-Elect Duterte is wrong: it is impossible to say that you believe in God but not in religion, because religion is what binds Man to God.

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