Monthly Archives: March 2009

News bits from around the Philippines

Brother Dencio Solis (PBC ATh graduate) reports that the Southern Mindanao Bible College alumni will have a homecoming on April 3-4 at the college campus which adjoins the Le Reve Resort in Makilala, Cotabato.

Brother Ferdinand Guillermo (PBC ATh graduate), currently Director of the Southern Mindanao Bible College, reports that 14 students will be certified as graduates in the April 5 graduation program in Makilala. Coinciding with the graduation program, congregations in Cotabato and Davao come together for joint worship and fellowship to witness the graduation and certification of young people who come from nearby local churches.

In Baguio City, 10 young people were awarded the Associate in Theology certificate at Philippine Bible College. Brother Eliseo Tangunan (ATh ’82) was after-dinner speaker in the graduation banquet at the Hotel Veniz in the downtown area.

Brethren Rogelio Bernardo and Ruben Mendoza (PBC BTh graduates) teach at the Philippine Theological College now operating in its new campus at Bugallon, Pangasinan. Graduation day is April 4. Carl Walker, president of the college is currently visitng in Pangasinan.

Twelve congregations in Eastern Pangasinan sent representatives to the 2009 first quarter fellowship held last March 29th at the Sobol Elementary School auditorium in Sobol, Asingan, Pangasinan. Brethren Solomon Devera and Eusebio Tanicala were the guests speakers (PBC ATh & BTh graduates respectively) . Jhun Libag (PBC ATh graduate) helps minister in this congregation in Sobol.

Congregations in Northern Luzon will send representatives on April 8-10 to participate in the “Panagkakadua 2009” (Fellowship 2009) in Baguio City. Speakers and lecturers include several PBC alumni like Ephraim de Castro, Sammy Nisperos, Jun Patricio, Roger Nonog, John Quiniones, Teofilo Alcayde, and Eusebio Tanicala.

Ken Wilkey, Bob Buchanan and Felix Bravo, all former directors of PBC are also assigned topics to discuss.

Staff members of the Iloco magazine “Sadiri” will meet in the afternoon of April 8 in Baguio City to map out strategies for the paper to continue on serving the Ilocandia congregations. Staff members are mostly PBC alumni like Roger Nonog, Nic Graneta, Jovencio Gundayao, Rolly Nonog, Adolfo Braga, Samson Nisperos, and Eusebio Tanicala among others.

Investors and incorporators of the Manna Company will meet in the afternoon of April 10th. The assembly will determine whether to continue operation or not.

Philippine Bible College Alumni Association (PBCAA) members will hold the annual general assembly in the morning of April 11th, Saturday, in Baguio. Alumni and immediate family members are encourage to enrol and be covered by the group insurance arranged for with the Malayan Insurance Company.


“Form of God” — “Form of a Servant” (Phil. 2:6-7)

By Eusebio Tanicala

There’s a faulty premising done by some preachers in analyzing Christ’s deity in Philippians 2:6-7. This faulty line of reasoning goes like this in a mock interpellation:

  1. When Christ was in the form of a servant, was He truly a servant? (The expected answer is “Yes, He was a servant)
  2. When Christ was in the form of God, was He truly God? (The expected answer is “Yes.” Of course the one who doesn’t believe in the deity of Christ will quibble at this point).
  3. Conclusion: If Christ was truly a servant when he was in the form of a servant, then he was truly God when he was in the form of God.

But if I were asked the first question above, I would answer: “Form of a servant is not the same as servant.” This answer would block the progression of the interpellation. And I would add that the “form of God” is not the same as “God.”

This article explains the phrase “form of a servant” and “form of God.”

Firstly, in talking about Christ being God or deity, we mean possession of the essence or substance of deity or God. But the phrase “form of God” is different from “essence of God. “Form” refers to detachable or emptiable characteristics while “essence” or “substance” refer to undetachable attributes.From Phil. 2, we understand that Christ emptied Himself of that “form of God” which means that it is not talking about the “essence of God.”

“Form” in the context of Phil. 2:6-7 points to the honor, majesty and glittering splendor of the King of Kings in his royal palace. But a king could suspend or detach from himself the pomp and glitter of royalty and put on the humble appearance and clothing of an ordinary subject. Such is the story of Oedipus Rex in Greek mythology. Oedipus as an infant was abandoned by King Laius and Queen Jocasta of the city state of Thebes. Oedipus was picked up and raised by the king of Corinth. Many years passed and King Laius took off his crown and royal garment. He went hunting without his bodyguards. Now a young man, Oedipus was determined to search for his parents. Along a narrow path Laius and Oedipus met. Each felt royal blood running in his veins. Each presumed the other party to be an ordinary subject.

A duel ensued and the older one lost his life. Oedipus journeyed on and reached Thebes. Not knowing each other, Oedipus became greatly attracted to the widow Queen Jocasta and the two married. Years passed. Eventually the puzzle on the disappearance of King Laius led Oedipus to conclude that the man he killed on the narrow path was his own father. Filled with remorse that he killed his own father and married his own mother, Oedipus blinded himself and went into exile.

The point of the story here is that the glitter and majesty of royalty as in the case of King Laius and King Oedipus, could be set aside. But the essence of their humanity could not be discarded. King or beggar or greasy man, a human being remains human. Humanity is his essence. Once human, always a human.

Christ did an emptying act. He put aside the glitter of the King of Kings and became an ordinary, drab, rural Galilean. He had no photogenic features nor macho appeal. He was despised and rejected. See Isaiah 53:1-3. But Christ didn’t stop being God. He couldn’t discard his deity. Deity is His essence.

Secondly, “form of a servant” tells of appearances to or reputation in the estimation of others. It doesn’t point to essence of humanity. Servanthood is service and humility. Service and humility don’t empty a man of his humanity. Being a king, becoming a general or a manager, a driver, carpenter, farmer, carwasher, janitor, waiter, slave, prostitute – everyone remains equally human. A king could abdicate or be deposed. A general would eventually retire and become an ordinary citizen. But each remains human.

Servanthood was taken up by Christ. Servant of God in the salvation of mankind from the ruin of sin. Servant of humanity in suffering and dying in behalf of humanity. Servanthood was not inherent in the person and existence of Christ. It is not His essence. Christ, in the likeness of man, suffered and died to pay the penalty of sin. He fulfilled the demands of divine justice. The first Adam rebelled while the second Adam suffered the penalty. That was Christ’s servanthood.

After accomplishing His mission of paying the penalty for human rebellion, Christ emptied Himself of the form of a servant. Christ ascended back to heaven and took back upon Himself the privileges, splendor, and glitter of royalty. He sat at the right hand of God in the heavens. See. John 17:5; Rev. 1:9-20; 7:9-17.

Thirdly, since the first premise is based on the phrase “form of a servant” the focus is on the term form; consequently the second premise uses the term “form” in the phrase “form of God.” If the meaning of the first premise is admitted (that is “form of servant” means essence of a servant), then it follows that “form of God” means the essence of God. But the argument in the first premise is denied, hence the argument on the second premise is also denied.

Conclusion: Since “form of a servant” does not mean “essence of a servant” it follows that “form of God” doesn’t mean “essence of God.” Which means that Philippians 2:6-7 is not a direct proof that Christ possesses the essence of deity. Rather it is an indirect evidence of His deity.

Wrong Interpretation of Philippians 2:6-7 Analyzed

By Eusebio Tanicala

Some Bible students, including several from Churches of Christ, interpret the phrase “form of God” to mean one and the same thing as “essence of God.” This is a wrong interpretation. I appeal that you rethink your position on this matter.

These same students further believe that the phrase “but emptied himself” to mean that Christ emptied himself of his “essence of God” or laid aside his Deity. This interpretation is wrong. I appeal that this position should be re-evaluated.

The above ideas are promoted by said Bible students and yet they believe at the same time that Christ possessed the essence of deity or was true God while He was on earth from his birth in Bethlehem until his death at the cross. In effect they are saying that Christ emptied himself of his deity but at the same time argue that Christ is full of deity. Such statement is simply contradictory. And some don’t see nor feel their obvious contradiction.

The right interpretation is to believe in the following items:

  1. “Form of God” is not the same as the “essence of God” as much as a billowing smoke is not the same as the “flame of fire.” But the billowing smoke is a proof or effect of a big flame of fire. Only a person who has the essence of God can be in the form of God.
  2. God cannot stop being God because God cannot cease to exist. He is eternal.
  3. “Form of God” therefore refers to attributes of deity that are detachable or  characteristics that could be suspended or switched off, diminished or intensified.  God used to walk with Adam and Eve at the Garden of Eden which suggest that God could associate with humans in a pleasant, mellow presence as if walking in the park. God  appeared to Abraham as an ordinary human in Genesis 18-19. God appeared to Moses  in a burning bush and later as a thundering flame of fire in the giving of the Ten Commandments. And as a consuming fire in the case of Nadab and Abihu and in the  contest on Mt. Carmel. As a rock in the wilderness according to 1 Cor. 10:4.
  4. Don’t stick to the phrase “but emptied himself” of the American Standard Version but  compare the rendition of the King James Version or New King James Version which reads “but he made himself of no reputation.” It is reputation, esteem, respect, and glorious appearance in the eyes of mankind. This idea agrees with John 17:5 and  Philippians 2:9-11 – speaking of glorious presence and elevated honor before as well as after tabernacling with humankind on earth for 33 years.

Metrowide Youth Camping

The Kalookan City congregation that meets at the Morning Breeze Subdivision is hosting the Youth Camping for the National Capital Region young people of the church. This will be held at the Falcon Resort in Norzagaray, Bulacan during the so-called Holy Week in April. The camping theme is “Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Leaders.” #

Eastern Pangasinan churches fellowship

March 29th is the first quarter fellowship of Churches of Christ congregations in the eastern part of Pangasinan province. This will be hosted by the congregation that meets in Barangay Sobol, Asingan town. A delegation from various congregations usually attend. Sometimes the whole congregation agree to attend this fellowship when held in another locality. Brother Jun Libag ministers to this church in Sobol. Invited speakers in this particular affair are brethren Mon Devera and Eusebio Tanicala. #

Prison Ministry is alive

Churches in Metro Manila and Cavite have worked together in the jail ministry at the National Bilibid Prisons since 1988. Brother Anthony Mejia of the Salawag church was recently added as a volunteer religious worker in this ministry. He is now officially recognized and certified by the prisons authorities to minister to the inmates’ religious welfare. #

Iloco magazine staffers to meet in April

Staff members and writers of the Iloco magazine “Sadiri” will meet in the afternoon of April 8 to evaluate plans and strategies on how to continue with this quarterly paper. It serves the edification needs of Iloco speaking congregations in Northern Luzon. Eusebio Tanicala and Roger Nonog serve as editor and managing editor respectively. Joven Gundayao is the finance officer. #