Every real historian has to imbibe this very important principle: to refuse to rely on the interpretation of others and get to the real source ourselves. If need be, we would clear away the nuances brought about by a translation and study a new language to read the original text in its original language… To at least get close to the real meaning or the real intention of the text… in short, to get close to truth.
It has been so for every academic researcher.
Perhaps this comes to mind in the recent news about Pedro Calungsod being ‘given’ sainthood by the Vatican. Many Filipinos are proud that one of our own (for the second time) was canonized by the Pope. But how many Filipinos know that the word ‘saint’ did not originally mean a special or elite group of people who attained holiness and even exhibited miraculous signs, but was intended by the apostle Paul to refer to every Christian? Jerry Bridges, a theologian, cited these examples:
“To the saints who are in Ephesus” (Ephesians 1:1, see also Philippians 1:1, Colossians 1:2). Even when addressing Corinth, a church that was all messed up both theologically and morally, Paul wrote, “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints… . (1 Corinthians 1:2)
One must see clearly that if we go to the original text, let’s say the Scriptures, one does not find a complicated hierarchy of authority, but we find a refreshingly robust, and even a democratic view of church government, stripped of its pomp, spectacle and complicated hierarchy or ceremonies. Simplicity, freshness, life. What can be more simple than Truth? That is why ‘saint’ simply refers to every Christian, living or dead. So how did it suddenly refer to a selected ‘special’ few? History answers that. We just need to be BRAVE enough to look.
Not everyone is brave enough. But we acknowledge that some were brave enough to point it out at the risk of their own lives, to question those who held authority and power, to challenge the powers that be. They were branded as heretics. Many we’re burned at the stake, tortured, mutilated. But we honor them for they were the underdogs, and even when they’re dead, their lives challenge us to stand on integrity and truth.
This movement of going back to the source, to go ‘semper reformanda' (always reforming), has long been brewing but sparked on the posting of a document in Germany on October 31, 1517. The movement, known as the Reformation, swept Europe and transformed ways of thinking, brought about progress in free education for all, science and religion. Scientists fled to nations who embraced the Reformation for safety while thousands of middle class workers kicked out by their nations (e.g. French Huguenots) for their convictions also fled to Reformation nations and brought with them progress. The Indio Bravo blog, in honor of those who were called erehes but still stood for truth, will post blogbursts in countdown of October 31. (Yeah, minus the zombies.) :)
Post tenebras lux. After the darkness, light.
(Art above was painted by Ferdinand Powells in 1872 of the German Augustinian monk Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses challenging the sale of indulgences.)
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