MANILA, Philippines – A crowd of 80,000 flocked to Rizal Park as Brother Eddie Villanueva's Jesus Is Lord (JIL) Church Worldwide marked its 40th anniversary on Saturday, October 27.
In his speech, Villanueva said injustices continue in the Philippines because not everyone recognizes God.
The influential religious leader, who doesn't shy away from being political, also seemed fixated on President Rodrigo Duterte's earliest remark that "God is stupid."
"Bakit rampant ang injustices sa ating bansa? Kahit sino ang maging presidente, ang gaganda ng mga platform of govenrment, pero parang nasa vicious cycle lang ang more than 100 million Filipinos, lulubog-lilitaw, may magandang proyekto, babagsak na naman. Kailangang kilalanin ng sambayanang Pilipino ang tunay na Diyos na may gawa ng langit at lupa," Villanueva said.
(Why is injustice rampant in our country? No matter who is president and no matter how good their platforms of government are, it's like the more than 100 million Filipinos are just stuck in a vicious cycle, it comes and it goes, there's a good project, then it fails. The Filipino people need to recognize the true God, who created the heavens and the earth.)
'Jesus is the way'
On Saturday, Villanueva said he preached the biblical verse John 14:6 – "Jesus answered: I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me"– to Duterte in an earlier meeting.
Duterte, then still a presidential candidate, supposedly joked that the password to heaven is a certain pastor from Mindanao.
"Unbiblical po yun, blasphemous po yun, in fairness kay then Mayor Duterte, hinaplos niya mukha niya, 'Brother Eddie, nagbibiro lang ako, I am only joking. 'Yes, I know you were joking but 'yung sinabi 'nyo na 'yan nalaman sa buong mundo through YouTube, sa internet, kaya maraming Kristiyano ang hesitant to vote for you," Villanueva shared.
(That's unbiblical, that's blasphemous, in fairness to then Mayor Duterte, he touched his face and said 'Brother Eddie I am only joking,' I said 'yes I know you were only joking but the whole world heard what you said through youtube, the internet, that's why many Christians were hesitant to vote for you.)
Villanueva said he shared John 14:6 to Duterte and supposedly told the future president: "I told Mayor Duterte, you are a lawyer and you are a prosecutor sir, you understand the difference between 'a' and 'the….' (Jesus) emphatically said, I am 'the,' not 'a,' but T-H-E, the way, the truth and the life."
Duterte had always said he does not believe in religion as the institution, but that he still believes in a greater being. After his "God is stupid" remark, Duterte's approval and trust ratings fell to a record law of 75% in September this year according to Pulse Asia.
Villanueva, whose endorsement is sought by politicians, preached: “Your god and my god is much much bigger than all problems combined.”
He added: "Walang ibang daan patungong kalangitan, ang relihiyon hindi daan, ang sekta hindi daan, sino mang personalidad hindi daan, isa lang ang tunay na daan... and he is Jesus (There is no other way to heaven, religion is not the way, sect is not the way, no personality is the way, there is only one way, and he is Jesus.)"