A Brief Biblical Evaluation: Adventist University of the Philippines Way of Worship
by Jaymark Molo
What can you say about the current issue that is happening now in AUP by putting attendance in Midweek, Vesper and Sabbath for their Student Convocation Grade?
It has been said that the unexamined life is not worth living. In a similar way, I believe that the unexamined policies are not worth obeying. The group of LOGOS would not be dogmatic in saying which is true and correct, because this non-dogmatic article seeks to balance the two extreme positions. So let me humbly make a comment about it:
1. The Rationale of New Policy. In the 1870s SDA church pioneers identified the significance of holistic education and began to develop a Christian-based school system. The Adventist church’s interests in education grew from the philosophy that students at all levels of schooling are uniquely valuable persons and should be educated to use their God-given capacities to become individuals of principle, qualified for any position of life. Since those early days Adventists have embraced the philosophy that education should be redemptive in nature, for the purpose of restoring human beings to the image of God, our Creator. Mental, physical, social, and spiritual health, intellectual growth (Luk. 2:52), and service to humanity form a core of values that are essential aspects of the Adventist education philosophy. Having this philosophy in mind, the school reasonably seeks to balance the four said important realms of man, especially mental and spiritual realm. Thus, we need to view all the policies in the context of the nature of Adventist Education to avoid straw man or red herring.
2. Christian Duties. Paul urged Christians to be submissive and model citizens because God has installed the governing authorities to keep the society orderly (Rom. 13:1-2, see also 1 Pet. 2:13-14, 17). In a similar way, if I choose to enroll in AUP, then I choose also to follow the rules and regulations of AUP. That is indispensable. However, submission to the authorities is not absolute. Peter and the apostles declared that they must obey God rather than human beings (Ac. 5:29). Therefore, any submission to the authorities must pass through the filter of God’s will. That will lead us to the question: Is there a biblical ground for putting attendance in worship services? If there is none, is it against to the will of God?
3. Biblical Principles. The difficulty here involves discerning God’s will and call in those areas to which Scripture does not speak, which requires determining and applying biblical principles rather than ‘explicit biblical’ statements. I must confess that there is no ‘explicit text’ that can support for ‘this’ policy. However, I cannot find also the Scripture that states that this policy will be against to the will of God. But if we will still insist, it will only follow that the ‘policy of curfew’ will be against to the will of God, because it simply lacks the biblical support. But we know that is not simply the case. So we are moved to check (Acts 17:11) carefully the ‘biblical principles’ (implicit) behind this policy (cf. Ex. 20:8-11; Leviticus 23:3; Heb. 10:24-25, etc.). Exodus 20:11c, suggest that “even foreigner residing in your [Israelite] towns” should keep the Sabbath. We must carefully notice in this text that whenever a foreigner resides in Israelite’s towns—he or she is required to keep the Sabbath. That command implies the‘scope’ of mandatory worship in Israel. Sounds familiar, huh? We should consider also God’s command in Leviticus 23:3, for it implies also that there is mandatory to worship God in “holy convocation”. Lastly, Hebrews 10:24-25, reads to “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Fortunately, this policy was made to encourage us to form a habit to meet together.
4. Answering Objections. On this section, we will attempt to answer prevalent objections. O: This mandatory rule forces you to worship God. A: There is a difference between force and mandatory. Mandatory is required by law or rule with a choice and has consequences for going against. On the contrary, forcing leaves no room for choice and there is no such thing as against. TAKE NOTE: Tithes are mandatory, that is why we have the obligation to return our tithes, but God is not forcing us to return our tithe to Him (same principle applies to the “new policy”). O: “Mere attendance at worship services does not translate into authentic worship experience. A: However it doesn’t always prevent it either, but it will help you more instead to make it authentic (subjective). O: Going to PIC doesn’t make you go to heaven. A: But going to PIC will not also prevent you from going to heaven. Obedience is not necessary for salvation (Rom. 3:20), but it is necessary to continue to be saved (1 Cor. 15:2). Obedience is the result/fruit of salvation (Gal. 5:21), but never becomes a means to salvation (Eph. 2:8-10). O: My worship will become an obligatory requirement. A: Worship must always become a hearty response to God. God must be the motivation to attend worship, not meeting an obligatory requirement. But if the individuals will still view it as a requirement, the problem is not with the new policy now, but with the attitude of an individual towards it. However, I do not object on having some exceptional and reasonable considerations for those people who cannot truly abide with the policy; for the policy was made for man, not man for the policy (cf. Mrk. 2:27)!
Here is the conclusion of the matter: “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc. 12:13) “Fear God and give him glory. . . Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Rev. 14:7)