Whither, UNIDA Evangelical Church?
Pasig Covenant Reformed Church subscribes to creeds and confessions. We affirm the ancient ecumenical creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian), and the Reformed Three Forms of Unity (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession of Faith and Canons of Dort). These six historic standards are sometimes referred to as the “Six Forms of Unity.”
Rev. Danny Hyde of Oceanside United Reformed Church wrote an article, “Why We Have Creeds & Confessions,” explaining why the URCNA subscribes to the Six Forms of Unity. Two of his reasons are:
They are the Basis for Our Fellowship
The practical effect of these creeds and confessions is church unity. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is not a divided collection of individual, lone ranger Christians, or individual parts, but is a single, united body in which each individual member is united in their faith.
They Protect the Flock from Heresy
Because the Church has always existed in the midst of perilous times, her members need protection from wolves by her shepherds. As Paul warns young pastor Timothy, in these “latter times” (1 Tim 4:1) false teachers will come. Therefore, the apostle John calls us to be discerning and to “test the spirits, whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1) … We must test the spirits by examining a doctrinal confession (1 John 4:1-3; 1 Tim 4).
The downfall of many denominations begins with the whittling down of whatever standards they have, e.g., PCUSA, CRCNA, the Anglican Church, etc. And this is very true in the case of the denomination of my younger days, the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Cristo or UNIDA Evangelical Church (founded 1932). It went through a crisis against liberalism in the early 1990s, and is going through a Pentecostalism crisis today.
When I taught at their school several years ago, I found an eclectic group of students, some of whom were already pastoring their churches: Pentecostals, Baptists, Methodists, etc. Because of this untenable situation, several times I mentioned to some of their leaders that it would be best to adopt the Westminster Standards (Confession of Faith and Catechisms) to settle any controversies and unify the denomination. Alas! The Westminster Standards were too Presbyterian, too Western, and of course, too Reformed for their Pentecostal-leaning leaders.
This Pentecostal trend is so prevalent that one of its former leaders (he has left the denomination since) sarcastically but prophetically warned five years ago, “Baka di na IEUC kundi maging IPUC na tayo, Iglesia Pentekostal Unida de Cristo.”
Today, I received an article, “Gintong Butil 14,” from one of their long-time pastors, Rev. Gamaliel B. Filio, whom I knew way back in the 1970s. Here, he defends the historic UNIDA denomination against the eclecticism of his denomination today. He laments the fact that most of them are under the sway of the heretical and Pentecostal G12 movement, which UNIDA has copied and renamed RDSR (“Road to Damascus” something). With his permission, I’m reproducing his article here:
Ang sabi ng mga matatanda “makikilala mo ang tunay mong kaibigan sa panahon ng kagipitan.” Tama sila sapagkat ngayon ay kilala ko na kung sino-sino ang mga tunay kong kaibigan. Maraming salamat sa Dios at sa mga pangyayari. “Matuto ka, matuto ka,” paalala ng lolo ko. “Opo,” tugon ko. “GAGAWA NA RIN PO AKO NG LISTAHAN.”
Nung araw ang sabi ng mga Pentecostal na ang kapilya ng protestante sa Baclaran ay walang Espiritu Santo kasi hindi pa sila nag-iispiking in tongues. Ngayon ang sinasabi naman nila ang kapilya sa Baclaran ay walang espiritu kasi hindi raw sila nag-iibanghelisasyon sa pamamagitan ng G-12 o ng kinopya ditong RDSR na galing sa Colombia. Ang tugon ko naman: sabihin ninyo iyan sa lelong kong panot! The Pentecost was a one-time big event that signaled the fulfillment of God’s promise of the presence of the HOLY SPIRIT in order to guarantee that He will be with us up to the end of the ages . At ang small group ministry ay matagal na naming ginagawa sa Baclaran bago pa ito sumulpot sa hinagap ni Costellanos na tubong Colombia . We are not the Church of Seven Zones for nothing.
The Protestant Church in Baclaran is unique and different from the other locals of Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Cristo. Its uniqueness and difference derive from the changing ambience of the community where it is situated. Its problems were created by the changes undergone by the place that transited from a rustic barrio to a busting city-like community. It is buffered and surrounded by “Christian Groups” that invaded the malls and air-conditioned auditoriums that caters to those who are on a “happiness quest” instead of a “quest for the truth found in the Bible.” And they did find entertainment and happiness there instead of the old and boring worship that centered on God.
Ang kapilya sa Baclaran ay umabot na sa kaniyang Dekada Otso at nanatili itong UNIDA. PROTESTANTE. EBANGHELIKO. PILIPINO. Sola Escriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gracia, Sola Deo. Hindi ito Pentecostal at hindi kailanman magiging Pentecostal kahit ang buong paligid ay maging. Pentecostal na ang malaking bahagi ng Unida pero hindi ang Baclaran Unida Church, ang kapilyang aking sinilangan at nilakhan kung saan ko nakatagpo ang Dios isang gabi nuong 1963 buwan ng Abril. Pero hindi ako Calvinistic at hindi rin Arminian. O anu pamang label na gusto nyong ikabit. Ako ay Unida.
Sola Escriptura: Ang BIBLIYA ang siyang tanging awtoridad kung sino at ano ang tunay na Dios. Ito lamang ang batayan ng Kapilya sa Baclaran. Wala nang iba. Dito nakasulat ang lahat ng ukol sa Dios at anumang extra revelations ng sinumang tao ay walang katotohanan at para lamang sa kaniyang sariling katanyagan kaya magmamaliw at hindi mananatili. Hindi sila dapat paniwalaan kahit pa marami at dumami pa ang kanilang magoyo.
Sola Fide. Ang pananampalataya lamang ang tanging batayan ng Kaligtasan. Hindi ang dami ng tao sa daan. Ang pag-ibig ng Dios ay para sa lahat pero ang kaligtasan ay hindi paramihan. Bagama’t nais ng Dios na iligtas ang lahat ay kakaunti lamang ang tutugon sa pamamagitan ng pananampalataya at ang marami ay mapapahamak sapagkat inakala na ang kaligtasan ay sa pamamagitan ng kanilang sariling kakayahan. Ang tutuo, ang Dios lamang ang pipili ng sariling kanya, at kakaunti lamang ang kaniyang mapipili na dinami-dami ng taong mali ang hinuha.
Sola Gratia. Sapagkat sa BIYAYA tayo ay naligtas sa pamamagitan ng PANANAMPALATAYA, hindi sa pamamagitan ng ating sariling kakayahan, ito ay REGALO ng Dios. Ang tao ay naligtas lamang sapagkat NAHABAG sa kaniya ang Dios. This is COMPASSION.
Soli Deo. There is only ONE Lord. There is only ONE God. There is only ONE Saviour. There is only ONE Name given which man is saved. JESUS.
God said I AM. At ang unang utos Niya:” Huwag kayong magkakaroon ng ibang Dios sa harap Ko. Huwag kayong lililok ng mga larawang inanyuan upang sambahin at yukuran at sabihin Ako iyon. Ako ang simula at ang wakas. Wala nang iba pa.”
Ang iglesia apostolica sa loob ng 300 tao ay walang bahid subali’t ang mga sumunod na iglesia ay dumami nga pero nabahiran ng gawi ng pagsamba kay Baal. Nagkaroon ng mga rebulto, mga santo, at ang ina ni Jesus ay itinanghal na “co-saviour and co-redeemer with Christ.” Martin Luther protested against this and our forefathers also did when they established an indigenous Protestant Church that God named Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Cristo. They turned away from the church of Rome with its closed Bible and relished the OPEN BIBLE that the American Missionaries brought with them into the country in the 1900’s.
Our church in Baclaran went through a lot through the years but the main thing is the GATES OF HELL did not prevail against it as Jesus promised. We have a legacy of a church that is self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating.
Whither, UNIDA? Whither, my Reformed brethren in Unida? It’s better to come clean, after your years of struggling mightily, but futilely against Pentecostal forces. The writing is on the wall.