Thursday, May 27, 2010

Philippine cults (01): Iglesia ni Cristo

Note: Mike Mislan, missionary to the Philippines and founder-president of San Marcelino Baptist Bible Seminary in Zambales, wrote this article. You can download his complete article in Word document format (six pages, 676 kbytes).

Jump to History of the INC; Good times but false claims; How the INC got its name; Doctrines of the INC; An example of their deceptions; A few doctrinal refutations: As God, Christ preexisted as a person and As God, Christ was not a created being.


In many ways, Iglesia ni Cristo is a “Christian” denomination. They use the Word of God as their authority, hold worship services and prayer meetings in their churches, are strict on standards and church discipline, and recognize Christ as the only Savior. But this is where it ends. In this lesson we will expose the false claims made by INC that they are the true church and will also show how their teachings are in error according to the Scriptures.

1. The history of the INC

After more than 300 years of Spanish rule and forced Catholicism, the signing of the “Treaty of Paris” in 1898, had transferred Spain’s sovereignty of the Philippines over to the United States. This liberation had resulted in a search for Filipino identity, and a love for things “American.” And it was in this setting, that “Iglesia ni Cristo” was started. . . . Felix Manalo, a Filipino, was just 12 years old when this treaty was signed. Born on May 10th, 1886, Brgy Tipas, Taguig, South East Shore of Laguna Bay, he was in the right place at the right time. Not only was he already being recognized as a leader in school, but in his subsequent search for truth, he was already familiar with the teachings of Catholism, the Methodists, Presbyterians, Christian Mission (the Church of Christ), Seventh Day Adventists (he was once a pastor there), and finally started a church of his own, with Philippine centrality. While he had a few morality problems, and a hard start, the political, social and religious climate of his times, created the perfect environment to launch his “Philippine” church and his Church’s growth confirms that this movement has been very successful.

2. Good times but false claims

As time went on, due to questions being raised about his authority (as the physical head of his church he was not sent out from any known denomination and his theology was different), Felix Manalo had to make some claims to give himself needed credibility. He projected his new church as the only true church, by using the following texts which he claimed proved (1) Christ’s church had became deceived and corrupted (he used the Catholic church as an example), (2) that there are “other sheep” that God would gather to reform the True Church, and (3) that this true church would be from “far off” and from the “east” which when placed together, is “far-east” or “the Philippines.”

“Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people... I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.. the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for whom the Lord our God will call.. I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up! and to the daughters from the ends of the earth” (Mat.24:11, Jn.10:16, Acts 2:39, Isa.43:5-6)

When a criminal writes a ransom note, sometimes he will cut words out of a newspaper or magazine and then paste them onto another paper to create his own note. He does this to avoid having his handwriting analyzed by experts who may identify him. In the same way, Iglesia ni Cristo has done this with Scripture. They have cut verses out of the Bible, placed them in a different order, and then pasted them together into their publications to create their own note. And according to this note, we still do not see any proof that INC is the “other sheep” or the true church, or that Felix Manalo is God’s prophet in the Philippines. If INC must play with the Scriptures to find their authority, they will also play with the Scriptures to create their own doctrines! But there is more....

When Manalo’s leadership was again challenged, he realized that he needed to add credibility, not just to his church, but to himself as a prophet. So he searched the Scriptures and came up with some more verses to prove that he was an “angel from the east” or the divine messenger from Philippines. And again, as you can see, these verses prove nothing.

“angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God.. Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country..(Rev.7:2, Isa.46:11)”

Finally, in a desperate attempt to seal his authority, Manalo claimed that prophecies of Revelation chapters six and seven were of the First Word War, and that He as well as four other world leaders are mentioned, (Rev.7:1-3).

And after these things I saw four angels (Lyod George of Great Britain, Clemenceau of France, Orlando of Italy, and president Thomas Woodrow Wilson of the United States) standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.. And I saw another angel ascending from the east (none other than, guess who? Manalo in the Philippines), having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice (Manalo claims he started preaching at this time).. to the four angels (he actually never met them!).. saying “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.”

It is interesting to take note that FM stopped at verse three. Why three? Because verse four identifies these “sealed servants” as being from the “children of Israel” and not Asian Gentiles.

“And ... the number of them which were sealed … were …of all the tribes of the children of Israel …”

At this point, I want to make it very clear that INC DOES play with Scripture to add credibility to themselves and to their doctrines, and that proofs of this can be found in almost all their editions of “Pasugo”.

Jump to History of the INC; Good times but false claims; Doctrines of the INC; An example of their deceptions; A few doctrinal refutations: As God, Christ preexisted as a person and As God, Christ was not a created being.

How the INC got its name

NOTE: Their name, “Iglesia ni Cristo” or the “Church of Christ” was taken from Rom.16:16, which reads “..The churches of Christ salute you.” But this term did not refer to any specific NT church, was never used as a denominational name, and the word “church” was not capitalized proving it was not a Name. Instead, local NT congregations were mostly identified by their location, such as the “Church of Antioch” (Acts 11:26), “Churches of Asia” - several here (1st Cor.16:19, Rev.1:11), “The Church that is in Babylon” (1st Pet.5:13), Caearea (Acts 18:22), Cenchrea (Rom.16:1), Colosse (Col.1:2), Corinth (1st Cor.1:2), Ephesus (Acts 20:17), churches of Galatia - several more (Gal.1:2), Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), Judea (Gal 1:22), Lacodicea (Col.4:15), Macedonia (2nd Cor.8:1), Pergamos (Rev.2:12), Philadelphia (Rev.3:7), Philippi (Phil.1:1), Rome (Rom.1:17), house of Pricilla and Aquilla (Rom.16:3-5, 1st Cor.16:19), house of Philemon (Philem.1-2), house of Lydia (Acts 16:40), Sardis (Rev.3:1), Smyrna (Rev.2:8), Thyatira (Rev.2:18), Thessalonica (1st Thes.1:1), etc.

3. The doctrines of INC

While INC believes that Christ is the Savior and mediator, they also believe that as a man, He was the first one God created and therefore cannot be the creator. They also believe that before His birth, Christ did not exist as a person with the Father, but was only in existence as a “thought” or “plan” in God’s mind. Their salvation is a combination of faith, baptism, and obedience to church Teachings, which comes from their church leaders who are gifted to properly interpret the Scriptures, and of whom also publish their teachings in the Pasugo magazine and other literature. Their buildings are large and beautiful, funded by the tithes and offerings of the membership, and an annual Thanksgiving Offering, as well as from offerings of their other congregations. Church discipline is strict, faithfulness to the services is essential, and they seem sincere in their beliefs, although the leadership in my opinion is deceptive.

An example of their deceptions

Here is a perfect example of how Iglesia ni Cristo can take verses out of context to teach a false doctrine taken from their March 97 edition of “Pasugo”. While we all know that James teaches good works are the proofs of real salvation, INC wants to twist his teachings to support their “works” approach. Observe carefully how they accomplish this . . . .
“What we advocate, which is vouched by the Holy Bible, is that faith coupled with works based on God’s teachings makes one righteous before God.” “You see, then, that it by his actions that a person is put right with God, and not by faith alone. It was the same with the prostitute Rahab. She was put right with God through her actions..” (James 2:24-25)
While this text seem to support their teaching, it is very deceptive. This is because they deliberately left out the preceding verse which showed that Abraham’s FAITH had made him righteous and not his works!
“And the Scripture came true that said, Abraham believed God and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous. And so Abraham was called God's friend”

This is very typical of all INC’s publications! But unlike their ransom note where they re-arranged verses before pasting them into their Pasugo, here, they just left them out!

NOTE: Have you even noticed how INC uses different Bible Translations during their “Ang Tamang Daan” and other broadcasts on NET 25, or in their Pasugo publications? They will use whichever version best supports their views! The different versions listed were all used in one of their Pasugos!

Jump to History of the INC; Good times but false claims; How the INC got its name; Doctrines of the INC; An example of their deceptions; A few doctrinal refutations: As God, Christ preexisted as a person and As God, Christ was not a created being.

A few doctrinal refutations

While we agree with INC that Christ was a man, we disagree that He was a man only. Following are some basic Scriptural proofs that Christ existed as a Person before He was born in the flesh, and also some texts that show He was never a created being. Other proofs of His deity will be presented in future lessons.

As God, Christ preexisted as a person.

1. Christ possessed a memory of having actually lived before His birth: In John 17:5, Christ asked God to glorify him with the glory he had with His Father before the world was created. “And now O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee BEFORE THE WORD WAS.” Before the world was even created, Christ had possessed a memory that was able to remember what this glory was, the enjoyment it had brought Him, where it came from, and when He had received it. None of these things would have been possible, if Christ personally was not in existence before the world was created.

2. Christ existed as a person before Abraham: In John 8:56-58, Christ said “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus sayeth unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him..” Here, Christ was able to see Abraham, know him, observe his faith, and remember him, again proving, that Christ was actually and personally in existence during the time of Abraham and was not just in “God’s mind” or “plans.”

3. Christ as a person could think for himself before he was born: Phil.2:5-8 teaches us that before Christ became a man, that He “in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant to be made in the likeness of men.” This proves that before Christ was born, He was capable of thinking and making His own decisions. Only a real person can think for himself.

4. Christ enjoyed preincarnate riches: According to the Apostle Paul in 2 Cor.8:9, Christ was rich but “became poor for our sakes.” Since Christ was never “rich” during His earthly ministry, this is referring to the heavenly glory He had enjoyed before His birth. This again proves that Christ was in existence as a person before His birth.

5. Christ came down from heaven: Christ said in John, that He is “the Bread of Life that came down from heaven” (Jn.6:33, 35, 38, 48, 50, 51, 58). How could He come down FROM heaven if He had not already been there? Also in John 7:29, Christ says of His Father, “I KNOW Him, for I am FROM Him, and He hath SENT Me.” This proves that Christ knew His Father when His Father sent Him into this world. This would not have been possible unless Christ had a relationship with His Father, BEFORE and during the time He was sent.

Jump to History of the INC; Good times but false claims; How the INC got its name; Doctrines of the INC; An example of their deceptions; A few doctrinal refutations: As God, Christ preexisted as a person.

As God, Christ was not a created being.

1. He was from everlasting: In Mat.2:6, when the wise men were looking for the place where Christ was to be born, they looked up the Old Testament Scripture of Micah 5:2 where the Prophet Isaiah revealed that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem. The last part of Micah says that the origin of Christ has “been from the old, FROM EVERLASTING.” “From everlasting” means that Christ was always in existence and had never been created. This provides clear proof that Christ never could have been created, as He “always was.”

2. He was before all things: Another clear proof that we have that Christ could not have been created is found in Col.1:7 which says that “He is before ALL things.” This means that nothing ever had existed before Him.

3. He created all things: As the Creator who created ALL things, Christ could have never been created. “For by him (JESUS) were ALL things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth...” (Col.1:16). “And Thou, Lord (JESUS), in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thine hands.” (Heb.1:10). Later in following lessons, we will see that there is abundant Scriptural evidence which proves that Christ was the creator.

4. As creator he is the everlasting God: As the “Creator” Christ also has the attributes or special characteristics that only the creator could have. According to Isa.40:28, the Creator was also the “The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth..” This should not really surprise us because already we have seen in Micah 5:2 that His origin was “from everlasting.”

5. He was called God by many who knew him: God stated in Exodus 20:7 “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Yet Jesus is called the “mighty God” and the “Everlasting Father” by Isaiah (Isa.9:6), “God with us” by both Matthew and Isaiah (Mat.1:23, Isa.7:14, 8:8-10) “God” who was “made flesh and dwelt among us” by John (Jn.1:1-14), “My God” by Thomas (Jn 20:28), “O God” by the Father Himself (Heb.1:8) and “Lord God Almighty” by the heavenly hosts (Rev.4:8).

6. He had no earthly father: Existing as a Person even before creation (Jn.17:5), he was taken from His former abode in heaven (Jn.6:38) delivered into the womb of Mary (Lk.6:31) by the Holy Ghost (Lk.1:31,35) to become “God in the flesh” by being born of a woman (Lk.2:6-7, Mat.1:23). While professional INC debaters try to respond that Jesus only had the Spirit of God within him, and therefore was not actually God, they cannot explain why Christians today also have the spirit of God, yet have HUMAN fathers. Of all humans born, Christ ALONE was conceived by God Himself and not Joseph or any man. Thus, historically, Biblically, and even genetically, all available evidence points to Christ being both man and God.

7. He was worshipped as God: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me ... thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God” (read Ex.20:3-5). When Peter was worshipped he responded, “stand up, I myself am only a man” (Acts 10:25-26). Yet Christ was worshipped at His birth by men who the Bible calls “wise” (Mat.2:2), during His ministry by a leper (Mat.8:2), “a certain ruler” (Mat.9:18), by His own disciples and shipmates when he calmed the sea (Mat.14:33), by a “woman of Canaan” (Mat.15:21-25), by Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" (28:1-,17) again by His disciples as He appeared to them after His resurrection (Mk.5:6) by a healed blind man (Jn.9:38), during his ascension into heaven (Lk.24:52) before His future Throne (Rev.5:12-14), will be bowed down to during the judgment (Phil.2:10), and is called God by His own Father (Heb.1:8), who commanded the angels to worship Him (Heb.1:6).

Jump to History of the INC; Good times but false claims; How the INC got its name; Doctrines of the INC; An example of their deceptions; A few doctrinal refutations: As God, Christ preexisted as a person and As God, Christ was not a created being.

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