Sunday, January 22, 2012

Do Christian Doctors need to study the Bible?

Let me share with you a hypothetical story about a hypothetical person working in a hypothetical hospital under a hypothetical department of medicine. Let us call her Dra. Lison. This Dr. Leson shamelessly shouts out to everybody that she is a Christian and that she goes religiously to this popular Christian Fellowship every Sunday. But then on Mondays, when she reports for work in the hospital, the Christian in Dra. Lison cannot be seen. And it becomes less visible as the week progresses on. Her typical day starts with a frown in her face that makes her look like the devil more than the angel she professes she is. (Okay, I'm exaggerating!) Her day continues with her taunting the clerks for being stupid and cursing the nurses for not doing their jobs. She makes her rounds with her patients scolding them for not being healthy and for not complying with the medications she had prescribed. The relatives are not spared as Dra. Lison blames them for not sacrificing enough to help the patient. They could only be thankful that Dra. Lison visits them for a minute or two. In the afternoon, Dra. Lison is in the OPD and she receives referrals from other departments. She then makes derogatory remarks against her colleagues and how incompetent the other doctors are for all they ever do is refer to her their patients. At the end of the day, when she is about to take her rest, Dra. Lison does not forget to pray. She prays and thanks her God for not making her like the stupid medical students, the lazy nurses and the incompetent other doctors. She ends her prayer with the hope that God will make every other person in the hospital like her.

The first question I would like to ask, are you that person? If you say no. Then maybe you ARE that person. For she fails to recognize her flaws after being blinded by her religiosity and self-declared goodness. If you say yes, then we can start talking about the need for us to study the Bible. For this lesson, when I say "NEED to study the Bible" I simply mean we NEED to be taught and we NEED to be corrected. If there is still a need for us to learn, it simply mean we are not yet complete. We are not yet perfect.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 5:48 that "you need to be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect." The problem is that, as Romans 3:23 reminds us, "for all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God." As doctors, we are not exempted from this shortness of God's glory. We are not perfect. We still need help about our imperfections as persons, Christians and as doctors. Dra. Lison is an example of a Christian that still needs improvement to reach her potential. She still needs to study the Bible.

What do you think is wrong with Dra. Lison? Why is she acting the way she does, considering she claims to be a Christian? If you were her, what will you do?

Friday, January 20, 2012


This year, the weekly Bible Study in our department will take a new twist. Instead of following the lectionary readings, we will take one pressing issue in our workplace and see how God works in our midst. We will look at the Word of God that speaks about the issues we are facing.

In this first month of the year, we will encounter CHANGE. As what have been promised to us by God, new things are coming for the better.

Our department will also and have seen changes. There will be changes in our personal lives, in our roles as physicians and residents, changes in our department policy, in our training program and even in our hospital setting. The removal of the FM triage in the Emergency Room is one big change that drew different responses from the administrators and the other departments. The change in duties and responsibilities of the residents from being juniors to now seniors is another change. The heavy immersion in our rotations is another change that we are all apprehensive. And from all these changes, we hear different reactions and responses from different groups. Most resist the change that will happen. Some are doubtful to its timing. And almost everybody wanted a status quo. This story is similar to the storuy of Israel who were captive in Egypt.

In Exodus Chapter 5, we see God planning to shake up things in Egypt. God has plans that will improve the situation of Israel. God wanted change. So Moses was called up to talk to Pharaoh to tell Pharaoh the Changes God was planning to do. And you guessed it right, the response was nothing different to what we see here in the hospital. Pharaoh resisted change. Even the Israelites doubted the importance of this change. Moses, himself, questioned the change God was planning to do. Everybody resisted change. They all wanted the status quo.

In our lives, we want to be sure of things. Change is about uncertainty because you are never sure what will happen, simply because you haven't experienced it. Change is something beyond what we are used to. We want to stay in our comfort zone, with what we are used to. So we resist change. But we must trust the One who imposes the change. We must trust that the plan of change is for the better.

The change that happens does not promise to be smooth sailing. It may be rough. Challenges and difficulties will come. Just like the Israelites who suffered from hunger and thirst, and had to endure 40 years of wandering in the desert, the changes in our department and in ourselves will not be easy. We will struggle and we will encounter difficulties. But God is faithful and we must trust God. We may not see the whole plan of God but we know that the plan for change will be for the better.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ang Iglesya Metodista ba ay UMC?

I am posting here the latest development in the UMC crisis in the Philippines. Below is an article that analyzes what is the meaning and implication of the the incorporation of the self-declared autonomous Methodist group.


Published by:

Concerned Laity of the Philippines Central Conference, UMC, Manila

Call No. 1, Series of 2012 (January 2)


A new religious corporation, “Ang Iglesia Metodista Sa Pilipinas, Inc. (AIMPI)” could be the latest religious corporation to be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Its certificate of incorporation was approved only on December 7, 2011. The newly registered religious corporation proclaims itself as an “independent church” as succinctly and clearly provided for in Section 1 of its Articles of Incorporation, to wit: “That this religious corporation is INDEPENDENT.

However, two sentences later, the same Articles of Incorporation forebodes or foreshadows some kind of a vague birth relationship with another religious denomination, crystallized therein as follows: “FOURTH: That the incorporation of this religious corporation is not forbidden by competent authorities or by constitution or rules of discipline of the religious denomination, sect or church of which it forms part.” (underscoring supplied)

Knowing the religious background of the incorporators, all erstwhile leaders of the United Methodist Church belonging to the Philippines Central Conference, it is easy to decipher that this “religious denomination, sect or church” adverted to in the Articles of Incorporation above is the United Methodist Church. If so, this is clearly a misleading, self-serving and a wrong assumption and/or presumption of the framers of said Articles of Incorporation.

The creation of the AIMPI is not in accordance with the mandatory requirement of Paragraph 572 of the UMC Book of Discipline and hence its establishment could not be said as having been authorized by the United Methodist Church. The claim, therefore, of the framers of the questioned Articles of Incorporation that the religious corporation forms part of the long established global United Methodist Church is clearly misleading and false. Par. 572 of the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline clearly provides thus: “When conferences outside the United States that are parts of the United Methodist Church desire to become an autonomous Methodist, affiliated autonomous Methodist, or affiliated united church, approval shall first be secured from the central conference involved and this decision be ratified by the annual conferences within the central conference by two-thirds majority of the aggregate votes cast by the annual conferences.”

To be considered part of the global United Methodist Church (UMC), the UMC Book of Discipline requires the following conditions to be strictly observed: (a) approval by the central conference involved shall be secured; and (b) the decision of the central conference must be ratified by the annual conferences within the central conference involved by a two-thirds majority of the aggregate votes cast by the annual conferences.

There is nothing in the Articles of Incorporation of AIMPI which indicates that the above requirements under Par. 572 of the Discipline have been complied with. It merely mentions in its Third Article “That 2/3 of its members had given their written consent and voted for its incorporation at a meeting called for the purpose.” This declaration is followed by the self- serving conclusion in its Fourth Article which unilaterally declares “That the incorporation of this religious organization is not forbidden by competent authorities or by the constitution or rules of discipline of the religious denomination; sect or church of which it forms part…”

Not having been organized in accordance with the aforequoted provision of the Book of Discipline, AIMPI therefore is an independent, breakaway, dissident or schismatic unit sans any legitimate connection or relationship with the United Methodist Church. It was organized solely under the provisions of Section 116 of the Corporation Code pursuant to the exercise by the incorporators/members of their freedom of religion. The purpose of this religious corporation, as its articles of incorporation further provide, is for the administration of its affairs, properties and temporalities with its principal office established and located at 46 W.A. Jones St., Bgy Naisian, Calasiao, Pangasinan. The Articles of Incorporation of AIMPI show the following persons as incorporators and members of the corporation’s Board of Trustees:









From the foregoing, it is quite clear that AIMPI is a breakaway, dissident or schismatic church from the United Methodist Church. To repeat, its birth is entirely out of sync with the mandatory provisions of the Book of Discipline. Therefore, it has no right to interfere with the ownership and usage of UMC churches and properties. Jurisprudence from both Philippines and American laws, citing the landmark case of Watson v. Jones, the Philippine Supreme Court in Canete vs. Court of Appeals, 171 SCRA 13, has ruled that the “use of properties of a eligious corporation in case of schism, is controlled by the numerical majority of the members. The minority in choosing to separate themselves into a distinct body, and refusing to recognize the authority of the government body, can claim no rights in the property from the fact that they once had been members.”

So be it.

By: Atty. Oscar R. Ferrer

Central United Methodist Church

694 T. M. Kalaw, Ermita, Manila

January 2, 2012