Iglesia ni Cristo
Iglesia ni Cristo (INC; 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 in the person of Felix Manalo who re-established it on 27 July 1914. He 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>.
In Ephesians 5:27, the Church of Christ is described as a “radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any blemish, but holy and blameless” (New International Version). Hence, INC molds its members toward perfect unity of faith and practice, that they will be devoted to a life of holiness and service founded on true Christian teaching.
The Iglesia ni Cristo was first preached by Manalo in Manila. Its first local congregation was established in Punta, Sta. Ana. The Church was registered with the Philippine Government on 27 July 1914. A year after, Brother Felix Manalo, the first Executive Minister of the Church, started training ministers to assist him in the propagation of the gospel. By 1918, minsters and volunteer preachers were being sent to provinces around Manila.
After 10 years, the first ecclesiastical district was organized in Pampanga. By 1939, the Church has already expanded to as far as Ilocos Norte in Northern Luzon to Cebu in the Visayas with the addition of 14 districts. In 1946, a district was established in Cotabato.
Brother Eraño Manalo assumed overall administration in April 1963 and the Church had established districts in more than half of all Philippine provinces.
On 27 July 1968, Bro. Eraño Manalo, officiated the first worship service of the Church outside the Philippines. Held at Ewa Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, the said gathering marked the establishment of the Honolulu Congregation. It was the first overseas mission of the Church.
The following month, Manalo was in California to establish the San Francisco Congregation and lead its inaugural worship service.
In 1971, INC set foot in Canada. In June 1987, the US Main Office (USMO) was set up in Daly City, California to assist the Central Administration in supervising 11 districts of the Church in the West. In 1990, the first local congregation in Latin America was established in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A year after, the Church reached Mexico and Aruba. Since 2000, congregations rose in the Central and South American countries.
In 1972, the first local congregation in Europe was established. In the mid-70s, the Church came to Germany and Switzerland. By the end of the 1980s, it reached the Scandinavian countries and their neighbors.
On 27 July 1994, the Rome, Italy Congregation was established; the Jerusalem, Israel Congregation in March 1996; and the Athens, Greece Congregation in May 1997. Two decades earlier, the predecessors or prayer groups of the said full-fledged congregations began. The mission first reached Spain in 1979.
In October 1978, the first mission in northern Africa started in Nigeria. After a month, the King William's Town Congregation in South Africa was established.
Asia, Australia, and Oceania
In 1969, a congregation was organized in Guam. Congregations have been established in Australia since mid-1970s.In the 1870s, the Church first reached China by way of Hong Kong, and Japan through Tokyo.
Missions have also opened in Kazakhstan and Sakhalin Island in Russia.
In Southeast Asia, the first congregation in Thailand was established in 1976. Missions have been conducted in Brunei since 1979. There are also congregations in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia.
The Iglesia ni Cristo regards the Holy Scriptures as the sole basis of its faith and practice. Some of its fundamental spiritual teachings are as follows:
- Absolute oneness of God the Father: The Father, the Creator, alone is the true God (John 17:1, 3; I Cor. 8:6)
- Jesus Christ, the Son of God: Jesus Christ is the Son of God. God made Him Lord and Savior. He is the only Mediator of man to God. He is holy and a very special man but not God. (Matt. 3:17; Acts 2:36; 5:31; I Tim. 2:5; John 10:36; 8:40; Acts 2:22, Easy-to-Read Version).
- The Church of Christ. The Church of Christ is the one Christ established for the salvation of mankind. It is for the Church that Christ gave His life and thus, it is this Church that He will save on Judgment Day. (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20-28; Lamsa Translation; Eph. 5:23, 25).
- Judgment Day: God appointed a day when He will judge all people through Christ. This is the day of the Second Advent of Christ, which is also the end of the world. (Acts 17:31; Jude 1:14-15; II Pet. 3:7, 10).
- Baptism: INC observes the biblical way of baptism, which is immersion in water. Receiving baptism is necessary for one to become a disciple of Christ, to be forgiven of sin, and to have hope for salvation. (Acts 8:38; John 3:23; Rom. 6:3-5; Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15-16)
- Resurrection: The resurrection of Christ is the main proof that the dead will rise. Those in Christ will rise first to be with Him forever in the Holy City. Those who are not of Christ will rise a thousand years after the first resurrection to be cast into the lake of fire. (I Cor. 15:12-13; I Thess. 4:16-17; Rev. 20:5-10; 21:1-4).
INC endeavors to share the gospel of salvation written in the Bible to as many people as possible to fulfill Christ's vision as stated in Mark 16:15-16 “...Go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved...” (New King James Version).
- Unity: The Church of Christ is one in faith and practice. It remains intact through a centralized form of administration that ensures the adherence of all members and congregations to the same Bible teachings and Church rules.
- Morality and Holiness: INC strives to maintain a high moral standard and regards the teaching of the Bible as a way of life. It promotes purity of life among its members by means of instructions, reminders, and when necessary, corrective or disciplinary measures.
- Lawfulness and Discipline: INC puts a premium on lawfulness and discipline and complies with the apostolic teaching to submit to human authority that is the duly constituted government, and abide by its laws (Titus 3:1; I Pet. 2:13). Over and above all, its members obey the laws of God for Christians as written in the Bible.
- Peace and Order: INC helps maintain peace and order by teaching its members to respect and observe rules and regulations governing such. Members are dissuaded from joining unions and organizations that resort to violence or extra-legal means to advance their causes.
- Brotherhood and Equality of Members: INC promotes Christian brotherly love. All members are deemed equal in the sight of God (Gal 3:26, 28). Gender, racial, social, educational, and economic discriminations are strongly discouraged.
- Sanctity of Marriage: Marriage is regarded as sacred and inviolable for God Himself instituted marriage. He does not allow the separation of the husband and wife whom He joined together (Matt. 19: 4-6). The Church of Christ does not subscribe to divorce, annulment, or legal separation as a solution to marital problems in the same way that it opposes to live-in relationships and same-sex marriage.
- Stability of the Family: INC acknowledges the importance of family as the basic unit of its organization and of society as a whole as the stability of every family contributes to the stability of the entire Church. The home is where religious education begins so Christian parenting and the proper love of children are taught and reinforced at every opportune time.
- Separation of Church and State: INC upholds the democratic ideal of separation of Church and State. It advanced through peaceful and legal means the right and freedom of its members and congregations to conduct worship and other religious activities as provided for and protected by the fundamental law of the land.
Members of the congregation invite people through different means. They invite people to their Bible studies, worship service, edification, missionary works, and through media, by publication, radio, and television to spread the Church's message to a broader audience.
A solemn gathering of the faithful is held every Thursdays and Sundays by every local congregation inside the house of worship. Members sing the hyms, pray, and study God's words for proper applications in daily living.
For the spiritual welfare of the members, prayer meetings are held weekly by each group of neighboring households. It allows for further instructions in the faith and announcements about the Church projects and activities. Church officers conduct regular pastoral visitations to the brethren for prayer and spiritual counseling.
The Christian family organizations of the Church of Christ undertake projects to strengthen the family, to guide the single members in right living and in proper conduct, and to assist the youth in their studies.
Christian family organizations
- Buklod (bond): Organization of married members
- KADIWA (“Youth with a Noble Intent”): For single members 18 years and older
- Binhi (seed): For 13-17-year old members
The organization publishes two magazines, Pasugo and God’s Message. The said publications are available both in English and Filipino and are being printed twice a month. Pasugo carries religious articles and Church news and features.
In the Philippines, radio and television programs are produced and are broadcasted on DZEC-AM AM radio, which broadcasts programs that discuss Bible teachings aired by about 60 other radio stations all over the Philippines and several more in the US and Australia; 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), and other major cable stations in the Philippines and some channels in the US Direct TV ch 2068, telecast the Church's religious programs featuring biblical teachings. www.incmedia.org features live streaming and video on demand of INC Programming.
The Message, is being 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>. Worldwide, INC maintains an hour long time slot on The Filipino Channel (TFC), INC Chronicles.
INC's main administration is at the Iglesia ni Cristo Central Office located at Commonwealth Avenue, New Era, Quezon City, Philippines. Its office 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, and another 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 politicians they have supported were Ferdinand E. Marcos, Joseph Estrada<ref name="test8">Mangahas, Malou. "Church at the Crossroads." (accessed on January 22, 2008)</ref> and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo<ref name="test9">'INC throws support behind Macapagal, De Castro' Inquirer News Service, (Manila: May 6, 2004)</ref>. The organization is noted for its 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 vote 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.
60 local congregations connected worldwide, 14 countries represented, 13 time zones
- Waipahu, HI
- Seattle, WA
- Burlingame, CA
- Anaheim, CA
- San Jose, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Fremont, CA
- Sacramento, CA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Mountain View, CA
- Las Vegas, CA
- Burnaby, Canada
- Winnipeg, Canada
- Chicago, IL
- Bloomingdale, IL
- Humble, TX
- Dallas, TX
- Omaha, NE
- Pensacola, FL
- High Point, NC
- Elizabeth, NJ
- Temple Hills, MD
- Forest Hills, NY
- Washington, DC
- Philadelphia, PA
- Virginia Beach, VA
- Scarborough, Canada
- Toronto, Canada
- Miami, FL
- Jacksonville, FL
- Orlando, FL
- Atlanta, GA
- Heathrow, London
- Rome, Italy
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Milan, Italy
- Barcelona, Spain
- Madrid, Spain
- King William's Town, South Africa
- Athens, Greece
- Kowloon, Hongkong, China
- Hongkong West, China
- Templo Central, Quezon City (QC)
- Commonwealth, QC
- Tondo, Metro Manila West
- North Diversion, Metro Manila North
- Legazpi, Albay
- Baguio City, Benguet
- Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
- Cebu City, Cebu
- Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
- Davao City, Davao
- Zamboanga City, Zamboanga
- Yokohama, Japan
- Hamamatsu, Japan
- Saitama, Japan
- Harmon, Guam
- Western Sydney, Australia
- Sydney, Australia
- Auckland, New Zealand
Awards and Recognition
- Recognition for its contribution to the propagation of the national language, Surian ng Wikang Pambansa, 17 August 1979
- Awarded as one of the 1996 Drug Free Communities in Baguio City, Baguio Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC), 28 June 1997
- Award to the ecclesiastical district of La Union for its involvement in community development programs, Northern Luzon Press-Radio Association (NORLUPRA), 4 October 1997
- Governor's Award to the Church in La Union for its support to the local government through its various civic-oriented activities, 2 March 1998
- Commendation for the service it renders to the community, Mr. Pete McHugh, county supervisor of Santa Clara, California, USA, 27 June 1998
- Plaque of appreciation in recognition for its socio-civic projects awarded to the Church in Quezon West Ecclesiastical District, Department of Health, 26 July 1999
- Award to the ecclesiastical district of Nueva Vizcaya for its effort in promoting the blood donation program, Philippine National Red Cross, 26 July 1999
- Commendation to the Church in California for its involvement in improving the community and awarded its efforts of the Long Beach Local Congregation in launching civic-oriented projects, Carson City Council, 21 September 1999
- Award in recognition of its contribution to the Hong Kong society, Hong Kong Red Cross, 2 May 2000
- Best Blooming Public Building Award and the London in Bloom Certificate of Excellence presented to the Battersea Local Congregation for its significant involvement in the promotion of a greener and cleaner London City environment, 17 October 2006
- First Prize to Forest Hills Local Congregation for its excellence in design of its house of worship, New York Chamber of Commerce Borough of Queens, 2004
- Masonry Design Award to the local congregation of Burnaby, B.C., Canada, to honor its house of worship for its outstanding structure built within the British Columbia province, Masonry Institute of British Columbia (MIBC), 22 October 2008
- Guinness World Records
- Largest dental health check (4,128 people); most number of blood pressure readings taken in eight hours (8,026 people); most number of blood glucose level tests taken in eight hours (5,217 people), 7 July 2012
- Largest charity walk in a single venue in behalf of the victims of the Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), the INC Worldwide Walk at Roxas Boulevard, Manila, 15 February 2014
- Largest charity walk in 24 hours in multiple venues for the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), INC Worldwide Walk, at various sites across the world, 16 February 2014
- Most number of hunger relief packages distributed in eight hours in a single venue in Barangay Maligaya, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, 22 February 2014
- Issuance of a commemorative stamp bearing the photo of Brother Felix Manalo to recognize the Church's significant contributions to the world, Philippine Postal Office, 10 May 2014
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>
- "Iglesia ni Cristo." (accessed on January 22, 2008)
- "Let Us Reason." (accessed on January 22, 2008)
- "Iglesia Ni Cristo." (accessed on January 22, 2008)
- Baclaan, Celerino G.(2014, May).“The message beyond what people see”.Pasugo: God's Message,66(5),pp 33-35
- (2014, January).“Countless reasons to Offer Praise and Thanksgiving to God”.''Pasugo: God's Message,66(1),pp 10-15
- http://incmedia.org/content/inc/ “The INC”].incmedia.org.(accessed on July 26, 2014)