Iglesia ni Cristo

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Iglesia ni Cristo (the Filipino translation of Church of Christ) is a non-trinitarian, independent, religious organization in the Philippines that was founded by Jesus Christ and a messenger on the person of Felix Manalo re-establish it on July 27, 1914. Manalo believed that he is the final messenger of God and that the church he formed is the true church of Christ<ref name="test1">"Iglesia ni Cristo in the Philippines." (accessed on January 22, 2008)</ref>.

Contents

Historical Background

Felix Manalo on the cover of "Pasugo: God's Message".

Felix Manalo was raised a Roman Catholic but was influenced in his youth by a secretive local spiritual sect called "Colorum," a religious cult that believed the end of the world was at hand. He was also a member of the Methodist, Presbyterian Churches, and Seventh-Day Adventist. Following by these religious experiences, he founded the Iglesia ni Cristo, which he incorporated with twelve followers on July 14, 1914 in Punta, Santa Ana, Manila.

In 1922, he proclaimed that he was God's last messenger, and around 1930 he began to preach the church's , that Christ is a son of God and never bacame a God because, according to the bible, God never experienced pain and sufferings while Jesus Christ experience all trials, hardships, pain and suffering.<ref name="test2">"Let us Reason, Denying the deity of Christ." (accessed on January 22, 2008)</ref>.

The church sought new members and after World War II expanded rapidly, claimed 60,000 adherents in 1948 and 200,000 in 1960. The church also expanded outside the Philippines, particularly in Philippine diaspora communities in Hawaii and California, USA. Manalo propagated his message converting members of other religions.

The INC published the first issue of their official magazine, Pasugo, in 1939. This monthly magazine was originally published entirely in Filipino. During the time of World War II the Pasugo was no longer printed but publication resumed again in 1951.

Bible is the sole source of spiritual instruction or doctrines that INC encourages it's members to uphold promoting their own unique claims of truth.

Felix Manalo died on April 12, 1963 at the age of 77. After his death, his son, Eraño, took over duties as executive minister<ref name="test3">(accessed on January 22, 2008)</ref> and Eduardo Manalo as the deputy executive minister. Everything written in Pasugo about Felix Manalo had to be approved by Eraño. When it was written in Pasugo in 1976 that his father was the "seed of Abraham", Erano approved it. It was this "seed of Abraham" doctrine that was used to claim Felix Manalo was Jesus in another form<ref name="test4">"Son inherits the papal throne of INC." (accessed on January 22, 2008)</ref>.

By 1988, the religion has grown to about 2,635 congregations called locales, in which 220 of them cover sixty-seven countries outside the Philippines. According to various sources, including the 1997 Britannica Book of the Year, INC had a worldwide population of over one million members by the early 1980s<ref name="test5">1997 Britannica Book of the Year; pg. 781-783; cited by Adherents.com religious geography citations database (accessed on January 22, 2008).</ref>. According the 2000 census of the Philippine National Statistics Office, 2.3 percent of the population in the Philippines are affiliated with the Iglesia ni Cristo.

On July 27, 2006, the Iglesia ni Cristo celebrated their 92nd Anniversary<ref name="test6">"Special holiday today for INC in Manila, Malabon." (accessed on January 22, 2008)</ref>. Last October 28, 2003, former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza signed into law Ordinance No. 8065 declaring July 27 of that year and every year thereafter as "Araw ng Iglesia ni Cristo."

Missionary Activities

Members of the congregation invite people through different means. They invite people to their Bible studies and through media, by publication, radio, and television.

Publication

The organization publishes two magazines, Pasugo and God’s Message, which devote mostly on comparing their religion with others especially that of the Catholics. The majority of the Iglesia’s members are ex-Catholics. Iglesia tries to convince people of its doctrines not by proving they are right, but by attempting to prove the Catholic Church’s teachings are wrong. These publications are now available both in English and Filipino and are being printed bi-monthly.

Broadcasting

In the Philippines, radio and television programs are produced and are broadcasted on DZEC-AM AM radio, the Net 25 television station (operated by Eagle Broadcasting Corporation, the broadcast division of the Iglesia ni Cristo), and GEM TV (the sister station to NET 25, also owned by the INC and broadcast on cable).

"The Message," is also a television program aired in the North America, Canada and some parts of Europe. It is a 30-minute program hosted by a panel of INC ministers<ref name="test7">"VisionTV Mosaic Christian Programs." (accessed on January 22, 2008)</ref>. Worlwide, INC maintains an hour long time slot on The Filipino Channel, "INC Chronicles".

The Iglesia ni Cristo Central Temple in New Era, Quezon City, Philippines.

Central Office

INC's main administration is located at the Iglesia ni Cristo Central Office located on Commonwealth Avenue, New Era, Quezon City, Philippines. It is a six-story building with a 7,000-seat Central Temple, a tabernacle, a multi-purpose hall; a 30,000 seating-capacity Central Pavilion, a College of Evangelical Ministry, the New Era General Hospital; and the New Era University. There is also a residence facility for the family of Executive Minister, Eraño G. Manalo on the premises as well as one for the family of Eduardo V. Manalo, the Deputy Executive Minister.

Influence in Politics

INC has been known for its strong political influence. It began when former Philippine president Manuel L. Quezon asked Felix Manalo for advice. Among the other polticians they have been known of supporting were President Ferdinand E. Marcos, former president Joseph Estrada<ref name="test8">Mangahas, Malou. "Church at the Crossroads." (accessed on January 22, 2008)</ref> and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo<ref name="test9">'INC throws support behind Macapagal, De Castro' Inquirer News Service, (Manila: May 6, 2004)</ref>. They are noted for their bloc voting in Philippine elections]]<ref name="test10">"Indigenous Christian Churches, Iglesia ni Kristo." (accessed on January 22, 200)</ref> and has the biggest conversion turn-out, between sixty-eight and eighty-four percent of their members voting for candidates endorsed by its leadership, according to comprehensive surveys conducted by ABS-CBN<ref name="test11">"ABS-CBN/SWS, May 14, 2001 Day-of-Election Survey." (accessed on January 22, 2008)</ref>. This is due to their doctrine on unity.

However, not all candidates in Philippine politics embraced support from INC. Macapagal-Arroyo's father, Diosdado Macapagal has refused INC's preferred support during his runs for Vice President in 1957, and re-election for President in 1965 – in which he incidentally lost to Marcos.

Criticism

The Iglesia ni Cristo has come under fierce criticism from apologetics groups and other religions mainly due to disagreements over their doctrines and beliefs regarding the interpretation of the Bible. They have also been criticized by a media agency for their political influence.<ref name="pcij2002" />

It should be noted that most religious organizations in the Philippines participate in politics in varying degrees. In fact, "most public events, even those sponsored by the government", are preceded by a Catholic mass.<ref>Jimenez-David, RinaState and church: Uneasy ties Philippine Daily Inquirer (February 27, 2004)</ref> The INC votes as a bloc <ref name="pcij2002" /> whereas the Catholic Church had and still use public protests to oust political figures out of office <ref name ="SCUreligion">Santa Clara University Religion, Ethics and Politics in the Philippines</ref>. The INC's participation may also be a reaction to the Catholic Church's exerting its influence on government <ref name="Mangahas" /> which always had a central role in the Philippine political arena.<ref name="Scarpello010606">Scarpello, Fabio Philippines: Pray, put politics aside Asia Times Online (January 6, 2006)</ref>

Religious criticism

Karl Keating

Karl Keating, the founder of Catholic Answers accused Jose Ventilacion, an INC minister, of breaking an agreement in 1990 for a one-on-one debate made by the two organizations in National City, California. Instead of a one-on-one debate, Keating says that Ventilacion had three helpers assisting him, and that "they" allegedly were shouting at him during the debate. The head projector at the side of Mr. Ventilacion was not also in the agreement. Keating views the church as being built on a set of "anti" doctrines, and that their lessons, as well as their God's Message magazine are dedicated more to debunking Catholic and Protestant beliefs and doctrines, although he did reveal the extent of his studies concerning the church save for his own account of the debate he had with Ventilacion.<ref name="Keating">Keating, Karl 'Into the Maw of the Cult' This Rock (San Diego: Catholic Answers, February 1990)] - Retrieved May 17, 2006</ref> Catholicism and Protestantism remain among the predominant religions in the Philippines especially in Luzon and Visayas islands.<ref> {{

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}}</ref> Keating also states that the INC began as a Protestant sect, comparing its doctrines with those of the American Campbellites saying it "heavily borrowed" from the latter.<ref name="Keating" /> Some writers Template:Who? describe the INC as a genuinely Filipino variety of the Christian faith. (See Foreword, Studies in Philippine church history)<ref name="Sanders"/> Keating criticized the Iglesia ni Cristo for believing that the Whore of Babylon is the Roman Catholic Church and that the Beast of Revelation is the Pope, a belief shared with other Christian religious organizations,<ref>{{

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}}</ref> and an assertion which the Catholic Church denies. Keating detests the INC for its position based on the point that the pope's alleged title, Vicarius Filii Dei, Latin for Vicar of the Son of God, adds up to 666 which is one of several alternative numbers known as the "Number of the Beast": and the Iglesia ni Cristo also said that it is engraved on the Pope's tiara,Unknown extension tag "ref" and a claim formerly shared by some in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.<ref name="QuickQuestions">'Quick Questions' This Rock (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 1992), as cited by NewAdvent.org's Catholic Library</ref> The Catholic Church also declared that Vicarius Filii Dei has never been an "official title" of the pope.<ref name="QuickQuestions" /> Vicar of Christ (Lat. Vicarius Christi), is a papal title. <ref name="oce">Original Catholic Encyclopedia Vicar of Christ</ref>

Catholic Answers also rejects the INC's doctrines of apostasy within the Catholic Church and does not consider the verses used to support the doctrine of the Iglesia ni Cristo being prophesied nor the apostasy of the Catholic Church are used in the right context.<ref name="catholic.com">'Iglesia ni Cristo', Catholic Answers (San Diego: Catholic Answers, August 2004). Retrieved July 5, 2005.</ref>

Apologetics

Let Us Reason Ministries, an online apologetics research group, once criticized the INC for holding the belief that it has the sole authority from God to interpret and preach the Bible, while other religions do not. They also say that the INC intentionally misinterprets and misappropriates verses to agree with their doctrines and that they use fallacious arguments against other religions,<ref name="LetUsReason1">Oppenheimer, Mike "How the Church teaches", Let Us Reason ministries (2002). Retrieved July 27, 2005.</ref> stating: "Unfortunately they ignore the whole history of the Church in the zealous rebuttals against Catholicism. Nothing is out of reach of their researchers to demean and belittle. Some of the greatest scholars in languages and history are ignored or misrepresented as they present what they believe is correct. I suspect that many know better in what they teach."<ref name="LetUsReason3">Oppenheimer, Mike "Who Are They?", Let Us Reason ministries (2002). Retrieved September 22, 2006.</ref> They also reject the INC's doctrine that one can only be saved if they are a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo.<ref name="LetUsReason2">Oppenheimer, Mike "Salvation", Let Us Reason ministries (2002). Retrieved July 28, 2005.</ref>

According to The Bereans Apologetics Research Ministry, INC is a cult because some of the beliefs of INC are contrary to mainstream Christianity.<ref name="TheBereans1"> 'Iglesia ni Cristo' The Bereans Apologetics Research Ministry. Retrieved July 9, 2006</ref>. However, the Iglesia ni Cristo states that, through biblical prophesies, it was elected to be "the nation of God," as the Israelites were, and that God chose them to serve him.<ref name="Aromin" />

Members Church of God International

One incident between the two groups transpired on April 18, 2005 when they clashed inside a Jollibee outlet in Apalit town during an apparent unauthorized religious debate.<ref name="Isip">Rendy Isip, "Religious confrontation gets physical in Apalit" Manila Standard April 23, 2005</ref> Local police on orders of the town mayor went to the restaurant and tried to stop the holding of the debate for lack of a mayor's permit. Apalit Mayor Tirso Lacanilao had instructed the town's chief of police to transfer the venue of the debate either at the ADD convention center or at the INC chapel in an effort to prevent any trouble. ADD leaders, claiming to have been insulted by the INC members, however, insisted on pushing through with the debate telling the police that "hindi naman magkakagulo (there will be no trouble)". Shortly after that, shouting and cursing from an ADD follower identified, as "Mataro" led to a free-for-all.<ref name="Roxas">Roxas, Fred "Followers of Dating Daan and INC clash in Pampanga; cops accused of partiality" Manila Bulletin April 22, 2005 (archived from the original on 2005-11-13)</ref><ref>{{

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On April 27, 2008, Mataro, who was the host of UNTV program, was shot dead by two unknown assailants in San Simon, Pampanga.<ref>NUJP condemns murder of TV hostTemplate:Dead link, ABS-CBN News], ABS-CBN News</ref> MCGI members have accused the INC of being behind the murder as Mataro's TV program, "D'Xman" (short for "The Ex-Manalista"), was critical of the Iglesia ni Cristo doctrines.<ref>Abs-Cbn Interactive, NUJP condemns murder of TV hostTemplate:Dead link</ref><ref>{{

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Secular criticism

The main accusation of restraint of press freedom arises from the church's seeking to stop the publication of writer Ross Tipon's book, The Power and the Glory: The Cult of Manalo. The INC says the book contains "outright blasphemy" towards the late founder Felix Manalo by likening the INC to a criminal syndicate.<ref name="Echeminada">Iglesia seeks TRO vs publication of ‘blasphemous’ book |The Philippine Star >> News >> Headlines</ref><ref name="Robles">Robles, JoJo. 'INC against free press?', Manila Standard Today Online (May 25, 2005). Retrieved July 3, 2005.</ref> However, Tipon, represented by lawyer Fervyn Pinzon, said stopping the publication of the book infringes on his freedom expression rights. An attorney representing the INC, Abraham Espejo states "direct assault on freedom of religion and seeks to destroy the image of the INC" and "The publication of the criminal manuscript will trigger social unrest, Millions of people may come out in the streets and this may lead to violence." The Iglesia ni Cristo alleges that the book has defamed its organization and Felix Manalo. The INC seeks PHP1,000,000 in damages from Tipon and the unknown publisher.<ref name="Echeminada" />

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), a media agency, describes the INC as a shrewd political and business operator that parlays the votes of its members for political and financial concessions to the church.<ref name="pcij2002">{{

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Iglesia Ni Cristo Personalities


See Also

External Links

Reference

<references />

Citation

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