Good Friday and Dangerous Traditions of Men

* * *

My 22-yr old son and I went to a Good Friday service in which the choir performed, John Stainer’s oratorio, “The Crucifixion: A Meditation on the Sacred Passion of the Holy Redeemer.” The congregants were invited to join in some songs, while other songs were sung by the choir only. In addition, there were baritone and tenor soloists. I was impressed that this small church put together something of such a magnitude. It was about 1-1/2 hours in length and was very moving, somber, yet hopeful because we know what happens on Easter Sunday.

Here is a song from the oratorio which may be familiar to some:

* * *

* * *

Because we have moved around so much, we really have no Good Friday tradition. But I was reminded about the time we lived in the Philippines. The Philippines has a very large Catholic population, but really it’s Catholicism plus “extras.” When we lived there, we visited a place called San Fernando in the province of Pampanga to witness the Good Friday tradition of self-flagellation and crucifixion. Blindfolded men paraded down a main road in the town whipping themselves with a glass- or barb-embedded rope.   People walked along side the person in case they veered off the path.  Along the way, music was through loudspeakers in Tagalog.  The music was not pretty.  As they walked down the road whipping themselves, the tiny pieces of glass or barbs in the rope would cause their backs to bleed.  Eventually their black would mostly be covered in blood.  It was not a pleasant sight.

I was able to get a fantastic video of our experience using one of those big ol’ honkin’ camcorders with a VHS tape. Because I’m so tall, I towered over the Filipinos and was able to zoom in just like a film documentary. Unfortunately, I don’t have that VHS transferred over to DVD, but I was able to find a YouTube video depicting what we witnessed. This YouTube shows the same place we visited and the news report is from yesterday. This news segment is very good. Right now is the very hot season in the Philippines – it is crazy hot and humid. The umbrellas you will see in the video are not for rain, but for protection from the sun.

* * *

* * *

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Colossians 2:8-15

Flagellation is frowned upon by Catholic leaders, yet people continue this practice year after year. I think what has struck me the most about this tradition is that these people believe that their sin is so bad that they must do something to make themselves right before the Lord. By the way, some people self-flagellate for family members who are in sin or whom they believe are in purgatory. Somewhere down the line, they have been taught false doctrine. Yet, even when told by their highly respected leaders that it is wrong and certainly not necessary, they continue to believe the tradition, ignoring common sense.

* * *

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. Colossians 2:20-23

* * *

This reminds me of the people who remain at my former church and continue to follow the practice of shunning that the pastor made up, creating a Mark and Avoid list for members he deems are in church discipline. This is a man-made rule which is now “tradition” there and although much of what is taught is sound, this teaching is clearly false and against scripture, tearing up life-long friends and family. But . . . . they still follow.

Flagellation teaches us that we are in control of our spiritual destiny by our works. However, scripture teaches us there is nothing we can do to earn salvation. It is a free gift from God. We know this not because a church leader has to tell us, but because it is plainly written in scripture for us to read and discover for ourselves:

* * *

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—

and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

* * *

Self-flagellation on Good Friday does nothing to help us get to heaven. It is a public display showcasing and mocking the gift God gives us so freely. It elevates us by saying we have the capability to get to heaven by our good works or our suffering. But Christ did it all for us on the cross on Good Friday. Thank you, Jesus.

9 comments on “Good Friday and Dangerous Traditions of Men

  1. I’ve been to the Philippines more times than I can count, and I knew that the majority of Filipinos were Catholic, but I never knew about this until a few years ago. I wonder where/when/how it all began, and who taught that this was a great ritual to partake in. Not being a Catholic, I don’t think that Rome approves of this, do they?

    Like

  2. No – – it is definitely not approved by Catholic higher-ups, Ed. In my homemade video documentary, I got a closeup of crucifixion. I need to take it out and show the kids. Wait – – – I’m not sure we have a VHS player anymore. Must check – lol.

    The Philippines has a lot of weird stuff going on spiritually – – there are underlying weird superstitions and beliefs that they incorporate into their religious systems. My maid went to Iglesia de Christo (didn’t we talk about that before?). There are a lot of Muslims, too, especially in the southern islands. I remember when we had the major 7.9 earthquake in 1990, there was all kinds of buzz about supernatural things happening, predictions, etc. I’m sure it went absolutely crazy when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991 leaving the Philippines in complete darkness over 24 hours because of the massive ash plume.

    Like

  3. Well, if you don’t have a VHS player, you can get one pretty much at any 5 and dime store for about 5 dollars. Yep, we talked about the INC (Iglesia Ni Cristo). I debate on one of their blogs every so often. Last time I was in the P.I. was a few weeks before Mt. Pinatubo erupted while I was stationed aboard the USS Nimitz on our way out to the Gulf, very shortly after the major war ended, then becoming what we called “Southern Watch”.

    Like

  4. A little off topic, but I thought your old pastor had his credentials (is that the word?) removed. Is he still acting as pastor of that church, and are people still attending?

    Like

  5. Yes, Shakes, you are correct. The group who licensed him revoked his license. I’m not sure if he has a new license or not. I was told it is not necessary to have a license in Oregon. His followers may not even care. Yes, people are still attending. We found that out during the WhoWouldJesusSue campaign.

    Like

  6. Wow! Julie Anne, this is one of my favorite posts from you. I didn’t watch the videos, but I loved what you wrote—especially how the verses spoke to everything you shared. Thanks!

    Like

  7. Thanks, David. I’m glad you liked the post. Actually, I’m glad you mentioned that you didn’t watch the video – – – I added a bit more info to describe the actual flagellation for those who don’t watch the video. I should have done that earlier.

    Like

  8. I’m sorry, you can delete this comment if you want, but I read “flagellation” as “flatulation”! ROFL I knew there were people who did the flogging thing on Good Friday, but I was trying to figure out how the other function fit. 🙂

    Like

  9. HAHA – Your comment will stay, Steve. I don’t recall that being part of the tradition – – at least I never heard it 🙂 You’re funny. Happy Easter!

    Like

Thanks for participating in the SSB community. Please be sure to leave a name/pseudonym (not "Anonymous"). Thx :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s