A Holiday for Every Religion and Cult

Only in the Philippines

Iglesia ni Cristo BuildingToday, President Arroyo declared September 7 as a national day of mourning for the late Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) leader Bro. Erano Manalo. All flags will be flown at half mast on Monday.

This is only one of those regular and special holidays in commemoration of religions and religious leaders in the Philippines: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, INC Foundation Day, end of Ramadan Day, All Saints’ Day, and Christmas. Next year, I heard that the Chinese New Year will also become a regular holiday. Moreover, Filipinos are so fond of celebrating deaths and death anniversaries, such as this one and the death of Mrs. Cory Aquino last month.

What is the Iglesia ni Cristo? It’s a sub-Christian cult founded by Felix Manalo, Erano’s father, in 1914. The older Manalo was involved in all kinds of Christian churches–Catholic, Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian, Missionary Alliance, Adventists, atheists, and agnostics. Finally, disenchanted with all kinds of religions, he founded his own, the Iglesia ni Cristo. Today, INC has about 3 million members and its churches are located in practically all the continents of the world, especially where there is a substantial Filipino presence.

Why is the INC a cult?

Nicene FathersSimply, it exhibits all the marks of a religious cult: (1) It claims to be the only true church, and anyone who is not a member of the INC has no salvation. (2) Only its ministers are true messengers of God. (3) Almost all of its doctrines are heretical, aberrant and unorthodox. (4) It has rigid controls of its members’ lives, even outside the church.

The INC claims that the early Christian church apostasized and that Felix Manalo was the one who restored the apostolic church as the INC. It rejects  the Trinity and like the 4th century Arians, believes that Jesus is only a created being (as do the Jehovah’s Witnesses). The apologetics website thebereans.net lists these major heretical beliefs of the INC:

  1. Vehemently opposes the Biblical revelation of the Triune God.
  2. Believes in the absolute oneness of God the Creator in the Person of the Father.
  3. Believes the Son as the literal Word (which has no pre-existence) who became man. He was given power by the Father to do supernatural miracles. He is not God.
  4. Believes in an impersonal Holy Spirit, a power sent by the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is not God but one of the spirits sent by God.
  5. Believes the Father (Creator) and Son (creature) must be worshipped. The Son must be worshipped because the Father says so.
  6. Believes a person must hear the “gospel” from authorized INC messengers and INC ministers. They are the only ones who have God’s Holy Spirit in order for them to understand the Bible.
  7. Believes the official name of the church is “Iglesia ni Cristo” while other names are not.
  8. Believes a person must be a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), be water baptized, follow the church rules (must avoid the eating of “dinuguan,” avoid joining labor unions, avoid court sessions, do block voting, be under compulsory church attendance, practice giving to the church) and perform his good deeds as an INC member in order for him to be saved.
  9. Believes Felix Y. Manalo is the fulfillment of Isaiah 43:5-7, 46:11, and Revelation 7:2-3 prophecies.
  10. Believes in “soul sleep,” a belief that at death, the souls dies. There is no consciousness (a belief of the Seventh-Day Adventists).

The INC’s most-often quoted Bible is the one produced by George Lamsa, founder of the Aramaic Bible Society and whom the Christian Research Institute’s article, “George M. Lamsa: Christian Scholar or Cultic Torchbearer?” says “promoted metaphysical, heretical, and unscholarly teachings—not evangelical and scholarly.” Here is what CRI wrote about the INC’s connection with Lamsa:

While Christian scholarship has disregarded or criticized Lamsa’s work, cults and new religions often quote him in print and debate when it serves their purposes. In addition to the five groups mentioned above, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Holy Order of MANS, Christadelphianism, Iglesia ni Cristo, and Astara have all tapped Lamsa’s material. These groups have consistently quoted Lamsa in opposition to evangelical Christian beliefs, further suggesting Lamsa’s distance from the biblical faith.

So, if you see a church building like the one above, beware!

Here are a few good resources on the Iglesia ni Cristo:

Apologetics Index
Examine the Iglesia ni Cristo
TheBereans.net

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14 thoughts on “A Holiday for Every Religion and Cult”

  1. ECAPS said, “The church is the one that will be saved by Christ. Christ is the HEAD of the Church which is His BODY. In order for someone to attain eternal life, you must be inside His body (church).”

    This is very TRUE. However, there is a great difference between the teaching of the GOD-MAN Jesus, the Word of God who became flesh (John 1:14) and that of the Iglesya ni Kristo founded by Felix Manalo as to how one can be saved or attain eternal life. The Iglesya ni Kristo insists that in order to be saved, you need to be a member of the Iglesya ni Kristo, or that outside Iglesya ni Kristo there is no salvation. This is the teaching which the Iglesya has started to preach since 1914.

    Again, I reiterate that this is a new teaching started by the late Felix Manalo and continued by his followers in the Iglesya. You cannot find this teaching in the Scripture or in the immediate history of the church after the apostolic period. This teaching is a reinterpretation of the Scriptural teaching of the God-Man Jesus Christ and His apostles regarding salvation or attaining eternal life.

    What we can find always in the teachings of the God-Man Jesus and His apostles is that salvation is by faith IN HIM alone, by believing IN HIM (John 1:12; 3:16; 20:31; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9; plus many other verses). Sometimes, of course, the apostles would say “Repent and be baptized” as in Acts 2:38, but that’s because in the Scripture repentance is not separate from faith or faith is not separate from repentance. If you add further to this Biblical teaching to the effect that the Iglesya ni Kristo or entrance to the Iglesya ni Kristo is the only way to be saved from eternal damnation, then this is really a new gospel. Faith or belief in Jesus Christ alone is the means to be saved, according to the Bible (John 3:36). And that faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29), it does not inherently come from us, so we cannot boast.

    Even Jesus Christ Himself in John 10 reiterates that He is the DOOR or the GATE of the sheep or to His fold, that is, His true sheep. The sheep or the fold is not the door or gate itself. The emphasis in John 10 is on JESUS Christ, not the fold nor the sheep, because it is He, Jesus Himself, who laid down His life for the sheep, the true CHURCH, which does not only include the Jewish people but also the Gentiles. The sheep in John 10 is NOT the Iglesya ni Kristo. If you interpret it that way, you risk of adding something that is not there. The Church is known to Christ because He died for the for His Church. Jesus IS the entrance to the sheepfold, the church, NOT the Iglesa ni Kristo.

    Iglesya ni Kristo teachers reinterpret this statement to the effect that the Iglesya ni Kristo is the door or the gate. That’s why they would always insist that you have to be in their church in order to be saved. They won’t deny that Jesus is the door or the gate, but they will also add that the church, the Iglesya ni Kristo, is also the door. Isn’t this absurd?
    “HE WHO HAS AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS TO THE CHURCHES…”

  2. After reading the context of Acts 4:12, I am more convinced that the teaching or ‘gospel’ of INC that salvation is virtually by the Church of Christ (i.e. the Iglesia Ni Cristo) is another gospel. This teaching was invented by man sometime in 1913 or 1914. The Apostolic gospel is that salvation is found in no one else except in Jesus (Acts 4:12), not in joining a church, even if it claims to be the church of Christ. Other passages that say that the gospel is about Jesus Christ, and not about the church, include 1 Corinthians 4:1-4; Romans 10:9-10.
    In Ephesians 5:25-27, there is a clear distinction between Christ as the Lord and Savior AND the Church, His body, as the one being saved. If one cannot see this distinction, he cannot do justice to the passage. The Church is not the Savior; it is the one being saved. The church needs salvation, needs cleansing and sanctifying. It cannot saved itself nor its members. Jesus is the ONLY Savior. He alone cleanses us from our sins and sanctifies us that we might be holy and without blemish before His sight. If one preaches that Jesus is a Savior PLUS the church, that’s another gospel!

    1. Thanks, Vic and Albert, for your input. After exposing the false teachings of cults and pointing out Biblical truths, we can only do one more thing: pray that the Holy Spirit will transform their hearts and minds.

      1. We do not deny that there is no other name given for salvation of man except Christ. But do you know what will be saved when judgment day comes?

        Read the book of Ephesians 5:23

        Ephesians 5:23 (New International Version)
        23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

        The church is the one that will be saved by Christ. Christ is the HEAD of the Church which is His BODY. In order for someone to attain eternal life, you must be inside His body(church).

        That is the masterplan of God for man’s salvation.

        1. “The church is the one that will be saved by Christ. Christ is the HEAD of the Church which is His BODY. In order for someone to attain eternal life, you must be inside His body (church).”

          Yes, there is no salvation outside the church of Christ. But this church of Christ is not your “Iglesia ni Cristo.” The true church that the Bible speaks of is made up of believers in the true Christ.

          According to the Bible, who is the true Christ? The true Christ is the God-Man who came from heaven and assumed human flesh. Anyone who doesn’t believe this is not a member of the true church:

          1 John 2:22: Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.

          2 John 1:7: For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

          1 John 4:2-3: By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit a that does not confess Jesus is not from God.

          Jesus himself claimed to be eternal God. John 8:58-59 says,

          Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

          Why did the Jews want to stone him to death? Because they all thought that Jesus was a blasphemer by claiming that he existed before Abraham, i.e., that he was the eternal God himself.

          Anyone can say they are the “church of Christ” or “church of God,” but the most important question is, “Is it the Christ of the Bible”? or “Is it the God of the Bible?” The God and the Christ of the INC are not the God and the Christ of the Bible. And to claim that all believers for the first 1,900 years of Christian history are false believers is certainly preposterous, arrogant and absurd. And certainly, only cults make such claims.

          Read again the comments by Vic and Albert.

  3. If I may add, the exclusive claim of Christianity that there is no salvation outside of Christ is also found in Acts 4:12: “There is salvation in NO ONE else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we MUST be saved.” The context tells us that in Jesus Christ ALONE can salvation be found.

  4. Hi Albert, the INC claim that it alone is the true church and there is no salvation outside of it makes one wonder about the salvation of those true believers who lived after the first century until 1914. How about George Lamsa himself who is not part of the INC, was he saved? If their claim stands, they are using an ‘authority’ who was never part of the ‘true church.’ But it seems to me that INC people are simply qouting Lamsa if it serves their purpose, as Pastor Nollie’s article says.

  5. I agree, it is rather limiting and blinkered somewhat to take such a stance.  Any cult or sect that restricts vision will tend to contract rather than expand.  The Buddhist religion has the most unlimited vision and so has become one of the largest in the world.  Due for the most part to their broad acceptance of others regardless of believe or philosophy.

    1. But Christianity is not about expansion and becoming acceptable. Rather, it is an exclusivist religion. Jesus himself made it plain, “I am the ONLY way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME (John 14:2). Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone, all of this revealed in Scripture alone.

      On the other hand, it is also an “inclusivist” faith. Anyone who comes to Christ in true faith and repentance—Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female—are welcomed into the Kingdom of Christ (Gal 3:28).

  6. Clarification: In claiming that the true name of the “true” church is “church of Christ,” the INC makes the claim that it alone is the true church and the rest are false ones. Therefore, according to this view, a person must enter the INC before he can be saved.

  7. Thanks for this post. Indeed, an honest look into the Lamsa translation’s perversion of the Bible is enough proof to reject the anti-Christian claims of the INC. One thing I noticed from the cult’s leaders is that they love to use this translation when citing Acts 20:28. They will use other versions when citing other texts, but will use the Lamsa translation when citing THIS verse. The reason is that its inaccurate rendition of the verse supports their heretical doctrines, namely, that the name of the “true” church is “church of Christ” and that Christ is not God.

  8. Salvatorre assumes that the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Early Church did not base their doctrinal formulations on the Bible. How naive! I challenge you to do a serious study yourself of the doctrines themselves and compare them with the Bible which you seem to claim as the final authority only. Don’t just listen to your ministers. Be like the Bereans who were eager to examine the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (Acts 17:11).
    I pray that as you study these doctrines the Holy Spirit would open your mind to the truth which the apostle Paul himself faithfully proclaimed and by which we will be saved (1 Cor. 15:1-5): “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Sriptures,….”
    It’s interesting to note that the church who claims to be the “true church” is far removed from Church (and her doctrines) that the Scripture proclaims, for the Church of the Scripture boasts not in herself nor in her membership but in the Lord and Head of the Church, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who “loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27, ESV).

  9. may I add that the INC base their doctrines on the Bible only, not from any medieval council from constantine.
    oh btw, read the whole Bible, and you won’t find the term “Trinity” anywhere, so if it was a very important doctrine of the catholic church, why was term not mentioned  even once in the Bible? i hope you guys open your minds.

    1. Yes, and you won’t find Pasugo, Manalo, substitutionary atonement, original sin, Sunday, worship service, etc., in the Bible.

      You have no idea about church history. Your cult says that all of the scholars of 2,000 years in church history are wrong, except Felix Manalo who has absolutely no knowledge compared with the giants of the early church and the Reformation. Manalo is a theological grasshopper compared with anyone of those pastors in the Council of Nicea. This is one hallmark of a cult: “everyone in the whole world, in all ages from the time of Adam and Eve, are wrong, except us.”

      Yes, we also have opened our minds: to the truth of the orthodox Christian faith and to the ancient heresies that are still with us today.

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