(A Position Paper Written 6 Years Ago)
(A Better Format of the Document Exist Here )
March 11, 2004
A lot of friends and brethren from different congregations have asked me on who would I vote for the upcoming presidential elections. As an evangelical Christian, the expectation is usually that I would endorse Bro. Eddie Villanueva, the former Head Pastor of the Jesus is Lord International Ministries, who recently resigned from the pastorate because of his aspirations to become the President of the Philippines.
And my answer is: I would not vote for Eddie Villanueva. I am against his campaign for presidency not because of any personal reasons but because of concerns for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the sake of biblical pastoral ministry, and for the testimony of Evangelical Christians, especially Bro. Eddie Villanueva himself.
Why so? Here are my reasons – reasons I found that not a few evangelicals have also expressed concern with:
- Due to his political meddling, Bro. Eddie Villanueva has lied in the past about Jesus Christ.
As one of the most prominent Christian leaders campaigning for Jose De Venecia during the 1998 Presidential Elections, Bro. Eddie Villanueva rallied about Jesus Declaring Victory in JDV. Grand rallies were organized which made public declarations of this, to the point that De Venecia was anointed, laid hands on, even publicly by Eddie Villanueva as the one declared by Jesus Christ.
It was a prophecy they told us and Jesus declared it. By what happened, it turned out to be nothing more than a disillusioned imagination by Christian leaders and ‘prophets’ who claimed to have heard the voice of Jesus Christ. We ask, if they can lie[i] about what Jesus says, what else would they spare lying against?[ii] Would we expect that someone would respect the real sense of the Constitution of the Philippines, to be a true advocate and defender of it, when the more serious word of Jesus Christ, he has proven to distort, just because of an intense desire for Philippine progress?[iii]
Our challenge to Bro. Eddie Villanueva: Admit that the declaration that Jesus Declared Victory in JDV in the past was a lie that they perpetrated due to their disillusionment. Admit that they have put words into the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ that He really did not declare.
- Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation – this is the gospel, and it is not for sale.
That Jesus Christ is the only name where any man or woman can be saved[iv], is the most important message of the Christian. This is especially true to the Muslim and the Catholic who insists that works are necessary for the salvation of man. Man is saved thru grace by faith alone in Jesus Christ not by works[v]. And being the most important message of the Christian, it is but ironic that Bro. Eddie Villanueva has seemed to have forgotten this by not speaking about this among his Catholic constituents.[vi] In one episode of GMA-7’s Bio-Data, Eddie Villanueva openly declared he was a good Catholic. Why say that? When so many Catholics have not been even introduced to this basic difference which divides the true teaching of salvation between the false, it is but callous to the cause of Christ to be ambivalent about this crucial matter.[vii]
We ask Bro. Eddie Villanueva, should we not love Catholics and Muslims by telling them the truth that good works does not save? And should we not tell Muslims that Jesus Christ is God and that He is the only way by which any man, or any Muslim would be saved, not through Allah?[viii]
What is more important to talk about to a Muslim? The problems and solutions to the country’s problems, or even his economic problems, or his dire spiritual need? Can Bro. Eddie Villanueva confront the error of Islamic Theology and declare it publicly when the divine name of the Lord Jesus Christ is being blasphemed in Islamic circles when he sits in Malacanang Palace? Is the country’s unity more important than the sword of truth[ix] of Jesus Christ?[x]
Our challenge to Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Christian evangelist and former Head Pastor of the Jesus Is Lord Church: Preach to the whole country, to Catholics, to Muslims, to Iglesia Ni Cristo (Manalo)s, to Ang Dating Daan members, that Jesus is the only way for which any man would be saved and not through works and that any God other than the Trinitarian God is a false god. Jesus alone saves. Jesus is Lord!
Our challenge to Bro. Eddie Villanueva: Declare that Jesus is Lord! Not only as a chant but preach its true definition in the face of works-righteousness religions, in Unitarian faiths that deny the deity of Christ, and preach the truth that Jesus’ name is the only name for which men would be saved.
- We appeal to the church to go back the truth that preaching of the message of the Gospel is the method God has chosen for the salvation of nations[xi], and not the political office, and that the pastorate is the highest calling a man can be called rather than the presidency of any nation.
Our challenge to Bro. Eddie Villanueva: Go back preaching the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of Jews, Greeks,[xii] and Filipinos. Salvation is the transcendent treasure that every man should be encouraged to receive. We can even say that in the worse situation, let men be poor and yet be saved rather than rich and yet be condemned to an eternal punishment by those who reject Christ.
By seeking a political office, unbelieving observers would be confused about the real agenda of the Christian faith. That Jesus Christ, God Himself, died in a shameful cross for the sins of those who would trust Him with their lives is the only thing Christians should be known for.[xiii] And that the ultimate treasure is garnered by a man who has received Christ whether he live or die in a democratic egalitarian state or even in an oppressive communist country. This is more important than a Christian’s family, his property, his job, his GNP, and yes, even his own country.[xiv] True that Christians should be known for kindness, responsibility, honesty, and service etc; but these virtues do not happen in a vacuum. They are seen in a Christian because of Christ. To be known because of the fruits of the life that Christ has made possible at the expense of not exalting Christ and His message, is nothing more than earthly approval-seeking.
Moreover, those who support the candidacy of Bro. Eddie Villanueva are demeaning the calling of the pastoral ministry. They are indirectly saying that serving urgencies of the present age should take precedence over prayer and the word of God[xv], things that a Christian preacher should be preoccupied teaching in season and out of season.[xvi]
If the Apostle Peter belonged to a country where there came a crisis for fish, and a number of individuals wanted to be fishermen, we should not encourage Peter if he said, “There is a crisis for fishermen, I would just like to be a fisher of fish rather than a fisher of men.” We would not say, “Go on. You’re a Christian, we need fish anyway, we’ll support you.”
Let others who can fish do the task, since they are so desperate to do it anyway. We need more fishers of men, rather than the earthly fish. The pastorate is a higher calling than the presidency of any nation because the task is the Great Commission that the Lord Jesus Christ entrusted Christians.[xvii]
The only genuine way to change a nation is to change the hearts of the men and women of that nation. And the only real way to change the hearts of men and women is through the great gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If Bro. Eddie Villanueva does not believe this, it is time for Christians to seriously reconsider any endorsement of him in any leadership position. If he believes this, then why sacrifice his opportunity to preach this precious single hope of every human being on the planet? Every Christian who names the name of Christ should proclaim this gospel – including Bro. Eddie Villanueva even if he wins the Presidency. If Bro. Eddie Villanueva and his supporters believe this, why aspire a position where the preaching of this same gospel would be hampered because of Constitutional delineation between the Church and State? He would have to ‘mellow down’ his gospel preaching because he has to show Constitutional integrity.[xviii]
- As a brother, we sincerely want Bro. Eddie to be guarded against compromise that would surely affect his Christian testimony.
Going into a godless world without God’s Word – living it, defending it, standing for it, no matter if Catholics, Muslims, Iglesia Ni Cristo (Manalo)’s would be offended – is fighting a losing battle. A battle such as that without God’s word can only be won or survived by compromise. We appeal to the evangelical community for genuine love for Bro. Eddie Villanueva that they spare him from an office that would only render him open to inevitable compromise.[xix]
Why expose a brother in the world of politics which do not render the respect worthy of the Precious name of Christ? Did Paul seek political correctness and mince words in Mars Hill?[xx] What Paul did, we would surely ban Bro. Eddie Villanueva to do in the future Edsa Celebrations. Would Eddie Villanueva declare to the whole Philippines that the giant statue of Mary in the Edsa Shrine, is an abomination to God? Surely, there would be crucial gospel-truth issues that Eddie Villanueva would be forced to be silent about when he becomes president of the Philippines. Should we allow a brother in the Lord to be mum about the truths of Jesus Christ, because he would be doing a President’s job? To those who argue that he would be doing a President’s job and not a pastoral job, we ask: Who should be glorified in the workings of a President who is a Christian? Should not the great name of the one and only God and Lord Jesus Christ, be declared in every work of a Christian? Again, we ask, what would a Christian President tell the Muslims?[xxi] Should we put a brother in a position were he would have to put the name of Christ in secondary importance to the demands of his job as President?
Just during his campaign period, Bro. Eddie Villanueva has forged alliances with people of different faiths. Should the biblical teaching of ‘not to be yoked with unbelievers’ limited only to marriage and courtship within the youth members of the evangelical church? Should we not call leaders such as Eddie Villanueva to be paragons of a life without compromise, in all aspects?[xxii]
Our challenge to Christian leaders who provoked Bro. Eddie Villanueva to seek political power: Please be truly concerned for the Christian testimony of Bro. Eddie Villanueva.
- The economic, political, and societal situation of Palestine and Judea during the time of Jesus Christ, was much worse in the Philippines today, and yet Jesus, being a true Righteous Leader, did not aspire to change the situation by seeking political power.
Would Jesus run for office if He would be born in the Philippines today? Would Paul aspire the position of Felix or Herod or Caesar so he could bring changes to his community? No, these people only preached the gospel of Christ.
Peter, during the times when Christians are being burned by Nero, did not espouse Christians to stand up and aspire for political office so they can more or less lighten the much more problematic world they had during their time.[xxiii]
Our declaration to the whole Christian community: The gospel of Jesus Christ is more important than the whole Philippines. The work for the gospel of Jesus Christ is more urgent than the work that the Philippine political government demands. Not only it is more urgent, it is more important. We ask for Christians to mindful of the gospel of Jesus Christ, more than their concern for their safety, their family, their future, their peace, their riches – present or aspired, their health, because Christians are supposed to think foremost of heavenly concerns.[xxiv]
Lest I be interpreted as a running a personal campaign against Bro. Eddie Villanueva, I would like to reiterate that I am not.[xxv] In fact, his credentials deemed to be superlative by some sectors is worthy of evaluation. We understand why many brothers and sisters in the evangelical community are campaigning for him. We yearn the same yearnings that those who support Bro. Eddie Villanueva work for – Righteous Government that Glorifies God. And yet we believe, no man can ever do it without compromise, even with the virtues of ten thousand Eddie Villanuevas. No Christian can do it without compromise, and so we should let those who are not pastors or leaders of the Christian faith do it. Let a secular political office be filled with the deserving secular political candidate. Let the dead, bury the dead.[xxvi]
Only Christ can sit as a Righteous Leader with a Righteous Governance of a Righteous Government. Otherwise, earthly power corrupts. We only ask Christians to think and ponder the Scriptures and apply it to their lives so they can put the priority on where it should be.
There was a challenge in the Scriptures that we should think about.[xxvii]
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
All the kingdoms of the world! The Presidency of the Philippines! What an opportunity to be led by a Righteous Leader! But we ask, at what price?