Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Soriano's Oppa Muslim Style

There are some things you really need to hear or see to believe. At first I was chuckling at the information that Soriano tells his followers to pray facing towards the East. As in the "towards Mecca" kind. But it appears he was serious and not kidding at all. Listen to him yourself here...  so you'll know I'm not making this up. We hear Soriano defend this "preference to order" as he calls it, but is actually a subtle indoctrination of another unbiblical concept.

Like most of Soriano's fallacies, he claims this teaching is rooted in the Bible. We'll take a look at them and analyze as thoroughly as possible so as not to leave cracks in the argument. Soriano cites 2 Chronicles 6:34... 
"If thy people go out to war against their enemies by the way that thou shalt send them, and they pray unto thee toward this city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name;" 
This is the main basis for his teaching. Since this was the manner the Jews were ordered to do, this is the manner Soriano tells his flock to follow. This is far better and "biblical" according to him rather than facing just anywhere. It is more biblical he says than facing an altar full of graven idols like the Catholics do.  He then cites how the Lord dislikes idolatry in the form of things made by man.

To this I asked a few questions that unfortunately only fell on Soriano's defenders' ears.  I would have wished for Soriano himself to answer them but it's understandably difficult to constantly be in one place when you're on the lam. Anyway, I did ask and the answers I got all ended up with me being labeled as "sa demonyo" ("of the demon").  Come to think of it, I doubt Soriano would have answered differently.

My questions went... 

  • "Isn't the City of Jerusalem also created by man?"
  • "What if I was on the north pole where all directions would be south, where do I face then?" 
  • "What of astronauts out in space, what direction should they be praying?" 
  • "Do you orient all your seats facing the east?" "What if they're bolted to the floor?"
  • "What if I'm alone and don't have a compass, or it's night time and there's no sun?"
  • "What if I'm blind?"
  • "How about people praying before a meal seated around the table?"
  • "What if I was in danger... hanging upside down on a pole?"

Okay, I admit I was being a little silly there, but can you blame me? This practice is observed by Muslims and Orthodox Catholics and this is the first time I ever heard of supposed "Christians" practicing it. I thought what's next... a personal carpet? Even actual Jews facing east knows it's tradition not a compulsion. Why then is it a prescription in MCGI? Is Soriano exercising influence? Flaunting his clout? It could be a lot of things really, but biblical isn't one of them. Personally, I believe it is yet another attack on what the Bible TRULY preaches about God's omnipresence, which Soriano denies so much.

Surely Soriano does not expect his followers to think that God hovers above Jerusalem all the time waiting for prayers does he? The "significance" he mentions like "Jesus first taught in the east", "Jesus was born in the East", are all metaphorical in the sense that we should look toward Jesus, our future and not the past (sin)... to look forward to Christ who is the finisher of our faith, look toward His glory that is to come. That... would have been a more acceptable reason for true believers of Christ. Instead of calling it a biblical alternative to altars made by man. Telling people that they should face east towards Jerusalem to mimic God's armies fighting wars outside of the city is unnecessary. Telling people that there is a "lot of significance" towards facing eastward thereby elevating it in importance is a mistaken understanding of what the Bible really means.

The Bible does not command Christians to assume any particular position or direction in talking with God. As a matter of fact, there are various positions people assume when talking to God. And hardly any alluded to the direction people praying were facing. In the Bible, we find people praying in all manner of positions. People are described praying while kneeling, kneeling with arms stretched out, with bowed heads, while standing, with eyes open, with eyes closed, on their bellies, face on the ground, even praying while seated. So there is no prescribed position a believer is to assume because the Lord is not concerned about position of the body or direction one is facing. God is more concerned with the right attitude of the heart. The Bible says in 1 Samuel 16:7... 
But the LORD said to Samuel, Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
If Christians must face east, then surely Jesus and/or Paul would have said something about it, but they didn't. What they did say is for us to not be anxious about anything. We read in Philippians 4:6...
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
We are also told to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The moment we wake up in the morning is the start of a day of communion with God. We can do so while doing laundry, dishes, driving, walking to school, before or after an exam. There is no need to find east and face it because God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). A spirit hath not flesh and bones (Luke 24:39).

God is not limited to one cardinal direction. He is everywhere. 
God fills all things with His presence (Colossians 1:17) and upholds everything by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). So praying to him is possible in any direction or position as long as your attitude is pure.