Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Soli Deo Gloria...and then some

Recently, I have noticed the aforementioned Latin words nowadays in the fb world. Soli Deo Gloria or SDG.  Both youngsters and adults posting these 3 Latin words are starting to be a thing even to the point that some have called it a movement.  Why not?  For example, a youngster mentioned the SDG phrase after his post regarding their good clean ballgame.  Even yours truly are somewhat “guilty” of using the Latin phrase after an experience, be it good or bad.  These are just two of numerous times that those Latin words appeared on Facebook.

Now, basically the two questions that come from a concerned believer are these: what does Soli Deo Gloria mean? Is it wrong to say such word?

I am no theologian or Bible scholar.  Ask around.  However, if you’re familiar with Latin, it roughly means “Glory (Gloria) Only (Soli or Solos) God (Deo)”.  However, to make it grammatically okay, it is transliterated as “Glory to God Alone”.  Simple as that right?  Yes, translation from Latin to English is quite simple, judging with our background as Filipinos who are a bit familiar with a Latin Vulgate-derived language – Spanish.  However, with those 3 Latin words come a theological implication: that we Christians should and must glorify God and not our own selves.  In the book of Isaiah, God Himself said,

“[Even] every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” Isaiah 43:7

Okay, I’ll not dig deeper into that part.  About the origin of who mentioned it first, I admit, I don’t know. 

Now, these 3 Latin words are becoming popular.  In fact, yours truly have encountered the words in a social networking account.  The account owner stated Soli Deo Gloria because they have a good, clean, basketball game.  Because of this, another school of thought is quite bothered and alarmed by this local phenomenon.  I can’t blame them.  After all, as Christians, once we heard “God bless you” or “Praise the Lord” or “To God be the glory”, we became tight lipped.    

The statement on the upper paragraph leads us to the second question: is it wrong to say such words?  Now, I’ll not answer a plain yes or a plain no because it’s not as simple as that.  Let us just be reminded of Exodus 20:7: “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”  The words per se are not wrong to mention, but how and why you mentioned them IS the issue.  Let us also be reminded that to use such words is a big deal.  Say it mockingly, it is blasphemy.  Say it in good faith, most probably, God’s name is uplifted, magnified, and glorified. 

Maybe some of you have an aversion to anything Latin and Greek.  The reasons vary.  I don’t know why about you, but I always hear Latin being spoken to speak rituals on magic, sorcery, or witchcraft.  As a matter of fact, I know of a religion that uses Latin for spells (my pastor/friend attested to that, being a former member of that religion).  Now, this one I’ll point out point blank (emotionlessly and realistically speaking), and not progressively: even some Bible scholars/professors induced, intentionally or unintentionally, aversions from such.  Maybe this is laughable, but chances are, it added to the concern.  In my opinion, Latin and Greek (Koine) are just languages, spoken by people of yester-centuries (if I heard it right, Latin is still spoken in some people in Vatican City).  In addition, since Catholics are popular for Latin, this adds to the aversion.  Hence, laughable as yours truly may seem, maybe, just maybe, another reason why the popularity of these 3 Latin words became a concern is aversion to the Latin language due to “blaming by association” mantra.  If this laughable assumption is somewhat correct, poor Latin and poor Koine Greek.  Mentioning “soli Deo Gloria” is just like mentioning roughly “to God be the glory”.  Those words per se are not wrong, but if it’s taken lightly, it is blasphemy.  In fact, even if you mention “God bless you” just to shut the person up, IT IS BLASPHEMY or, lightly, disrespecting to God.    

Now, to the people who are alarmed of this phenomenon, yours truly understand you.  As Christians, we are concerned, and we don’t want our fellow brethren to commit blasphemy or take God’s name lightly or use His name on light matters.  However, let us be reminded on what Gamaliel the Elder said to the Sanhendrin when dealing with movements/phenomena in questions (although the real situation here is he’s referring to real Christians):

“And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:38,39)

To add to that, God is sovereign and all powerful.  If a person mentions “Soli Deo Gloria” or “To God be the glory” lightly or with a wrong intent (hence hypocrisy), Jesus Christ Himself said these words in Matthew 6:16: “…Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

Have a blessed day. Soli Deo Gloria!