Predictably, ever since I posted my critiques regarding Ang Dating Daan (ADD), time and again I would get emails challenging me to debate with Eli Soriano.
Allow me to post one email without any editing.
“I have read your comments and critiques about ADD; my request to you, please if you are the one who has the truth, please come to ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga during pasalamat [thanksgiving service] on Saturday or during bible exposition; lay down your reasons and discuss it to the whole brethren because if you have that TRUTH the real one as what you are trying to point out in your web, I myself, will be the one to leave that group & come to you and will go with you. But if not, you are also like them who are trying to maligned the ADD and Bro. Eli. If have the truth and believe that God is with you, you don’t have to fear to tell the world about the Good News if really the good is with you. Sabi ng Dios, ‘…Ako’y gagawa, at sinong pipigil’ [God said, ‘I will work, and who shall stop it?’] (Is 43:13).” (Emphasis added)
It seems to his followers, debating with Eli Soriano is the end-all and the be-all of proclaiming the truth.
Granted, the apostle Paul for example “reasoned with [the Jews] from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.’” (Acts 17:2b-3, ESV) But Paul also wrote to his protégé, “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” (2 Timothy 2:14) After watching his debates, it seemed to me that it generated more heat than light.
Sadly, as our email sender wrote, he will only leave the group if and when I beat Eli Soriano in a debate. I wrote him back, saying that it looks like he is actually putting his trust on his leader and not on the Lord. Good parents will not only teach their children the right things but also teaching them how to know what is right. They will not only teach them what to think but also, much more, how to think. It appears to me that his people allowed Eli Soriano to think for them. Hope I am wrong. But I want to remind ADD members to heed the warning of the prophet Jeremiah, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.” (17:5)
I challenge the ADD members to imitate the Bereans who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (17:11) Examining the Scriptures means not just checking whether the verses Eli Soriano quoted were in the Bible or not. It means checking whether he quoted it within its context or out of context, whether he really brought out the meaning of the text or he merely read his understanding into it.
Yes, the apostle Paul used debates as one of his evangelistic methods. But he was careful not to lead people to put their faith on him. He did not even call attention to his debating skills. Instead, he pointed people to our Lord Jesus Christ.
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Emphasis added.)