Love, Not Belief, Saves – A Response To The Theology Of Joyce Pring

Sino ba yang Joyce Pring na yan at may nagtatanong na naman sa akin about theology ek ek?

Heniway, sa totoo lang, wag tayo masyado maimbey kay ate mo kasi biktima lang din naman sya ng isang bersyon ng Christianity na makitid, sarado, at mapanghusga sa iba – and proud sila dyan kahit hindi sila aware gaano ka toxic ang kanilang paniniwala na kanilang iginigiit sa iba. Hindi naman pastor or theologian si Joyce. Pinaparot lang naman nya ano ang itinuro sa kanya ng mga Pastor or religious leader na pinapakinggan nya at pamilya nya.

Joyce Pring is one of the many products of the Evangelical Churches whose theology and interpretation shows a very small and limited understanding of God and Jesus Christ.

Let us follow her theological logic. I had the very same discussion with a cousin of mine a few years ago. “Can one really believe that out of almost 7 Billion people in the world, only those who believe in Jesus Christ have redemption? The estimates right now according to that there are about 2.2 Billion Christians around the world coming from different churches, denominations, and sects. According to Catholic world report, out of that 2.2 Billion estimated Christians, 1.36 Billion are Roman Catholics. Roman Catholics are the majority of Christians in the globally scale. But of course, almost all evangelical Christians and other protestants like Joyce do not consider Roman Catholics as Christians and are not going to be saved. Then within evangelical and protestant churches, they do not consider one another as the “right kind of Christian” kaya kahit pare-pareho silang evangelical and halos pareho lang naman ang kanilang theology and hermeneutics, kanya-kanya pa rin sila ng kanilang mga simbahan or grupo. Therefore, the only right and correct Christian in the mind of Joyce or anyone like her, are Christians who belong to their own Church or version of Christianity, and therefore are the only ones who will be saved. So out of almost 7 Billion people and out of 2.2billion Christians, only members of a particular church are to be saved or worthy of a place inside the pearly gates. 99.9999% of humans are doomed to hellfire. This is the case if we follow the line of theological logic that Joyce and Christians like her hold and proclaim.

As a Christian Pastor myself, I would say that their arrogant and triumphalist version of God and Christianity are should not be given any affection, allegiance, prayer or worship. I refuse to believe in such a small idolatrous god and a bastardized version of Jesus of Nazareth. Sa aking pananaw, hindi makitid, maliit at mababaw ang Diyos na ang pakilala ni Kristo ay Pag-ibig.

Less they have not read the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, those who will inherit the kin(g)dom of God are those who fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger (emphasis on this one), cared for the sick, clothed the naked and visited those in prison. This shall be the basis of Judgement whether you are Christian or not. It is Jesus who tells us in the 25th chapter of Matthew what will be the measure or judgement of our lives and it did not include a question, “Do you believe in Jesus?” Judgement day in Jesus’ own words tells us that we shall account for how we treated our fellow human being; if we responded to the suffering of others regardless of whichever faith you hold or no faith at all. According to the version of the gospel of John on the 13th chapter, on the night before Jesus was to suffer and die, Jesus gave a new commandment:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I want to draw your attention on the part where he said, “By these everyone will know that you are my disciples (followers), if you have love for one another.”

The ultimate and true following of Jesus Christ is if people have love for the hungry, the sick and the stranger even if some of those people do not believe in Jesus Christ.

Whatever else is said about believing and confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, especially in the letters of Paul, are to be measured and interpreted according to the very words of Jesus in Matthew 25 and John 13.

To be a follower of Jesus, whether you are Christian or not, is to do concrete actions of love, compassion and kindness to others especially the hungry, the homeless, and the oppressed. We are known as his followers not by what we confess or proclaim but by the love and goodness we share no matter what we believe, where we worship or where we come from. Only love saves. Only love heals. Only love bares the mark of a true Christian: Love expressed in kindness and humility. Only love is the true test of any religion and anyone who claim to have faith. As Brian Zahnd would say,

God is not doctrine. God is not denomination. God is not war. God is not law. God is not hate. God is not hell… GOD IS LOVE.

This is the reason why those people who WILL NOT inherit the kin(g)dom of God in the same chapter 25 of Matthew were surprised because it is safe to conclude that they were the religious people who believed with all their heart, mind, and soul that simply confessing Jesus as Lord was enough; that simply professing Christ as savior is the only mark of a true faith and the golden ticket to heaven. Alas, during the end times, many of them who confess, “Lord, Lord” will be surprised and will be corrected by no less than one whom they call Lord.

And those that they have judged as not worthy of God’s kin(g)dom simply because they are not believers of Jesus or they are believers but are not the right kind of Christians, they are the very ones who will be welcomed as God’s daughters, sons, and children, inheritors of the life to come.

It is sad that Joyce and many others like her worshipping every Sunday in their mega facilities hold to this kind of exclusivist doctrine and triumphalist biblical interpretation. On a personal level, I’m not angry or irritated with her. Afterall she is but one of many who are enslaved in conservative Evangelicalism and Christian Triumphalism. I pray that more and more Christians from their fold will find or discover a more liberating, justice-oriented, and humble version of Christianity that sees the face of Jesus in every single person, and even more so to those who are different in belief and practice.

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