Allow me to weigh in on the controversy of Eli Soriano’s foul religious mouth.
(Those of you not in the know about Pinoy cultism, Eli Soriano is a local TV preacher, leader of “Ang Dating Daan,” and notorious for using harsh insults — and even profanities — on the air when attacking Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, and other sects.)
It troubles me that a man can appeal to the example of Jesus Christ to rationalize profane ranting when Jesus Himself, while using harsh speech, never resorted to outright profanity (i.e. swearing and cursing a blue streak).
More importantly, the labelling of different theological opponents as “hypocrites,” “demons,” “gago,” (stupid) and “tanga,” (idiot) constitutes a judgment of sorts, does it not? To know one as a hypocrite or liar or brood of vipers, would entail knowing something of that person’s mind, and being able to pass judgment on that knowledge. While Jesus certainly knew what was in the hearts of men, I don’t think Soriano could boast of similarly supernatural discernment. When he rails against “hypocrites” and a “brood of vipers,” by what standard does he judge? And with what motive? Loving rebuke? I find that doubtful.
Moreover, we are admonished by Christ in Matthew 7, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (The passage goes on to mention motes and planks, as well as pearls and swine.)
Paul continues that line of thought in his Epistle to the Romans, chapter 2: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (Romans 2.1) And later on in that chapter, “You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written, God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2.21-24)
The “righteous” man’s reflex upon reading this would be to go on the defensive, with the claim that he is not guilty of so many sins. But remember that there is none of us righteous, not even one (Romans 3.10), and that he who is guilty of breaking the law at just one point is guilty of the whole of it. (James 2.10)
But returning to the concept of judgment, who then has the right to pass judgment; to openly call men hypocrites and thieves and demons and liars? Is it not only he who is himself sinless, who bears not the guilt of such sins himself? Is there such a man?
There is indeed such a Man, but I assure you, He is not Eli Soriano.
Christ Himself said of a condemned prostitute, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” (John 8.7) And none could make that claim. Likewise with judgment, the only one with the right to call the hypocrites, liars, demons, and vipers by name, is the One who is guilty of no sin by which He can be judged.
No other man can claim the sinlessness which gives him the right to judge others with raving profanity, simply because no person can claim utter righteousness. None. If a man claims to be sinless to justify his habit of judging, he needs to read 1 John 1.8, and understand that the only one with the right to judgment is the sinless God Himself, and no one else.
“Aha, aha,” will claim the Soriano-Adherent, “but Peter and Paul also called people ‘fools’ and ‘brutes’ and ‘accursed brood’! They weren’t Gods, but just apostles, so we must have the right to call people names like that as well!”
But such a person forgets that Peter and Paul (and indeed all the writers of the New Testament) are writing under the divine inspiration of the Lord Himself. Perhaps it is their writing, but these are the very words of God that speak to us. “All Scripture is God-breathed,” after all. (2 Timothy 3.16) It is not so much Peter and Paul passing judgment in their writings as it is God speaking through them, convicting the world of sin — in which only He is correct and rightful. I cannot say the same for Eli Soriano’s televised spite. (And so none will boast, I say likewise for his opponents on Ang Tamang Daan.)
So fond are these people of erroneously pointing out Christ’s example, but what of our Lord’s commands?
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4.2)
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4.29)
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4.5)
“…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience…” (1 Peter 3.15)
(Some ADD and INC cultists will be quick to jump on me for decontextualization on that last one, latching onto their much-touted idea that it is meant to apply only to people who “ask about the hope one has.” I say, free your mind and try to see beyond your petty fault-finding.)
What can we say, then, in summary? Quite simply, that we are not to practice profanity and cruel name-calling in our daily speech, because these are unbecoming of a true follower of Christ. To appeal to Christ’s or the apostles’ example in Scripture is an error, since their words are the words of an infinitely righteous Lord, and to emulate such a manner of judgment is to call judgment upon one’s unrighteous self. Rather, we Christians are called to gentleness and purity of speech, that our humility in the Spirit may be evident to all.
If we appeal to Christ’s example, let us appeal to His example in John’s Gospel with regards to casting the first stone (John 8): none in the crowd could claim to be sinless, none could cast judgment. But Jesus Christ was there, and He, being sinless, the eternal judge, had every right as Lord, to throw a stone at her!
But instead, He told her, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and sin no more.”
Let me repeat Paul to the Philippians:
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”