Communicating Deep Biblical and Theological Truths in Tagalog
I’ve been invited to different groups where I had to give a message in Tagalog. This isn’t really hard for me since I used to attend Tagalog services in my church. But as time goes by, I’ve observed that there are challenges on preaching/teaching using the Tagalog language.
I’ll enumerate these challenges in the form of questions: How do I make an exposition of a biblical text in Tagalog? Should I do it in pure Tagalog, or use Taglish (combination of Tagalog and English) instead? What are the Tagalog terms of justification, redemption, and propitiation? Should I use a Tagalog Bible, or use an English Bible and explain the verses in Tagalog instead? If I’m going to use a Tagalog Bible, what is the most accurate translation?
These are just some challenges (that I personally thought of) in preaching/teaching in my native language. I had to ask these questions because it has been my burden to communicate deep biblical and theological truths in Tagalog. Since God’s Word is “more precious than gold, than much pure gold” and “sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10, NIV1984), I believe it’s worth preaching, and teaching, and hearing it in Tagalog. So I pray that more men and women share the same burden as well.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on this area. But here are a few reminders:
1. We must learn the language. If we are really serious about communicating truths in Tagalog, then we must give some time learning the language. I had to admit that even if Tagalog is my first language, I find it difficult to translate some words and terms. So I had to listen to Tagalog sermons and learn from the preacher, do some additional research (I find Google Translate very helpful), and refer to a Tagalog Bible.
2. We must embrace the Great Commission. The Great Commission tells us to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19, emphasis added). I take nations as people groups of different languages, and Tagalog is included. So if we are serious with this commission of Christ, then we must make disciples of Tagalog-speaking groups, even if that meant learning the language and doing some translation.
3. We must remember that God is praised in many languages. We will preach, and teach, and read, and hear in Tagalog. Then we will praise Him in Tagalog. (I previously wrote a blog about this matter. Read it here).