Skip to comments.Christian sect brings Philippines capital Manila to a standstill
Posted on 10/14/2013 6:29:06 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
More than 1.5 million people converged on the Philippine capital on Monday for a powerful Christian sect's evangelical event, causing traffic chaos that shut down large parts of the megacity.
The gathering of the secretive and politically influential Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) in the historic district of Manila forced all schools and some government offices to close.
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The Supreme Court, as well as some basketball games in the highly popular college league, were also suspended, while Manila's governing authority urged private employers to give their staff a paid day off to avoid the traffic.
"We really apologise for those who were inconvenienced. Maybe they can just pass this off as a minor sacrifice to help their countrymen," Iglesia ni Cristo spokesman Edwin Zaballa told AFP.
Iglesia ni Cristo, which is believed to have about three million members, held the event ostensibly as a medical and charity mission, with its followers giving aid to residents of huge slums.
Zaballa said it was also part of year-long celebrations across the country to mark the lead-up to its centenary in 2014, and "to spread the word".
Between two and three million people attended the event either as a church follower or aid recipient, according to Manila's police chief, Isagani Genade. The organisers estimated the crowd at between 1.5 million and two million people.
The event is one of many ostentatious displays of faith in the mainly Catholic Philippines, where religious leaders also wield heavy political influence.
However, not everyone attending was celebrating.
In a square fronting Manila's central post office, tempers frayed during the fierce afternoon heat as men, women and children jostled while waiting for medical care offered by the group.
"This is madness. I have been here since dawn to get a free medical check-up...."
(Excerpt) Read more at theherald.com.au ...
Such vigor for the Lord. Thank God for the Great Commission.
Would that there were three million here who’d share Christ for even one day. Imagine it.
“The event is one of many ostentatious displays of faith in the mainly Catholic Philippines, where religious leaders also wield heavy political influence”
My, my we can’t have that can we. Anti religion is the new religion.
But they may be exactly the brand needed for a spearhead against galloping Islamofacism.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Iglesia ni Cristi, they are a non-Christian cult. They do not hold the Trinity nor the divinity of Christ. They consider their church, founded in the Philippines in the last century, to be the true church. Part of their reasoning for this (if you can call it reasoning) is that the name of their church (Iglesia ni Cristi) means “Church of Christ”. They reason that if Christ founded a church, he would call it the Church of Christ; ergo, their church is the true church. I kid you not.
This is not an “evangelical” group, or even a Christian one, in the sense that most American Evangelicals understand either term.
I wasn’t aware. So, they’re kind of like a Philippino version of the Mormons?
What are their positions in terms of usual Christian hot button topics? Are they on the conservative side of the spectrum?
I have always been obsessed with sects.
Their founder, Felix Manalo, is officially the "last messenger of God."
He disappeared for three days, but on the third day he reappeared with the true interpretation of the Bible - which had been lost for 1900 years.
Manalo is an angel, not a man. Specifically the "angel of the east" foretold in Scripture.
Just ask the absolute ruler of this group about the angel Felix - after all, he's Felix's grandson and was divinely chosen to lead, just like his father before him.
This group is North Korea with Manalos instead of Kims and carefully annotated Bibles instead of Marx.
Don’t be too sure about that . Their logo is the masonic compass, over an inverted triangle. Their founder claimed to be the Last Prophet. It’s probably as similar to Protestant Christianity as Mormonism; in fact, it is reconstructionist, follows the gospel of wealth, teaches all Protestants and Catholics are damned apostates, that Christ is a creature, that faith does not bring salvation, and they have strongly backed Marco’s former henchmen for political office, and liberalization of the Phillipines laws against the abortifactient birth control pills. Although, to be fair, unlike Mormonism, it does not have any unqiue scriptures.
They ARE known for stronghand politican and financial tactics, like scientologists, and for violent conflicts with similar restorationist groups. So this may be more related to gang rallies than to any witnessing for Jesus.
I don’t think you know much about the group in question.
Iglesia ni Cristo
The Iglesia ni Cristo (Tagalog, “Church of Christ”) claims to be the true Church established by Christ. Felix Manalo, its founder, proclaimed himself Gods prophet. Many tiny sects today claim to be the true Church, and many individuals claim to be Gods prophet. What makes Iglesia ni Cristo different is that it is not as tiny as others.
Since it was founded in the Philippines in 1914, it has grown to more than two hundred congregations in sixty-seven countries outside the Philippines, including an expanding United States contingent. The Iglesia keeps the exact number of members secret, but it is estimated to be between three million and ten million worldwide. It is larger than the Jehovahs Witnesses, a better known sect (which also claims to be Christs true Church). Iglesia is not better known, despite its numbers, because the majority of Iglesias members are Filipino. Virtually the only exceptions are a few non-Filipinos who have married into Iglesia families.
The organization publishes two magazines, Pasugo and Gods Message, which devote most of their energies toward condemning other Christian churches, especially the Catholic Church. The majority of the Iglesias members are ex-Catholics. The Philippines is the only dominantly Catholic nation in the Far East, with eighty-four percent of its population belonging to the Church. Since this is its largest potential source of converts, Iglesia relies on anti-Catholic scare tactics as support for its own doctrines, which cannot withstand biblical scrutiny. The Iglesia tries to convince people of its doctrines not by proving they are right, but by attempting to prove the Catholic Churchs teachings are wrong.
Is Christ God?
The Catholic teaching that most draws Iglesias fire is Christs divinity. Like the Jehovahs Witnesses, Iglesia claims that Jesus Christ is not God but a created being.
Yet the Bible is clear: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). We know Jesus is the Word because John 1:14 tells us, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” God the Father was not made flesh; it was Jesus, as even Iglesia admits. Jesus is the Word, the Word is God, therefore Jesus is God. Simple, yet Iglesia wont accept it.
In Deuteronomy 10:17 and 1 Timothy 6:15, God the Father is called the “Lord of lords,” yet in other New Testament passages this divine title is applied directly to Jesus. In Revelation 17:14 we read, “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings.” And in Revelation 19:1316, John sees Jesus “clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. . . . On his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
The fact that Jesus is God is indicated in numerous places in the New Testament. John 5:18 states that Jewish leaders sought to kill Jesus “because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God.” Paul also states that Jesus was equal with God (Phil. 2:6). But if Jesus is equal with the Father, and the Father is a God, then Jesus is a God. Since there is only one God, Jesus and the Father must both be one Godone God in at least two persons (the Holy Spirit, of course, is the third person of the Trinity).
The same is shown in John 8:5659, where Jesus directly claims to be Yahweh (”I AM”). “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad. The Jews then said to him, You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM. So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.” Jesus audience understood exactly what he was claiming; that is why they picked up rocks to stone him. They considered him to be b.aspheming God by claiming to be Yahweh.
The same truth is emphasized elsewhere. Paul stated that we are to live “awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). And Peter addressed his second epistle to “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:1).
Jesus is shown to be God most dramatically when Thomas, finally convinced that Jesus has risen, falls down and exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)an event many in Iglesia have difficulty dealing with. When confronted with this passage in a debate with Catholic Answers founder Karl Keating, Iglesia apologist Jose Ventilacion replied with a straight face, “Thomas was wrong.”
A litmus test for any religious group is the credibility of its founder in making his claims. Felix Manalos credibility and, consequently, his claims, are impossible to take seriously. He claimed to be “Gods messenger,” divinely chosen to re-establish the true Church which, according to Manalo, disappeared in the first century due to apostasy. It was his role to restore numerous doctrines that the Church had abandoned. A quick look at Manalos background shows where these doctrines came from: Manalo stole them from other quasi-Christian religious sects.
Manalo was baptized a Catholic, but he left the Church as a teen. He became a Protestant, going through five different denominations, including the Seventh-day Adventists. Finally, Manalo started his own church in 1914. In 1919, he left the Philippines because he wanted to learn more about religion. He came to America, to study with Protestants, whom Iglesia would later declare to be apostates, just like Catholics. Why, five years after being called by God to be his “last messenger,” did Manalo go to the U.S. to learn from apostates? What could Gods messenger learn from a group that, according to Iglesia, had departed from the true faith?
The explanation is that, contrary to his later claims, Manalo did not believe himself to be Gods final messenger in 1914. He didnt use the last messenger doctrine until 1922. He appears to have adopted the messenger doctrine in response to a schism in the Iglesia movement. The schism was led by Teogilo Ora, one of its early ministers. Manalo appears to have developed the messenger doctrine to accumulate power and re-assert his leadership in the church.
This poses a problem for Iglesia, because if Manalo had been the new messenger called by God in 1914, why didnt he tell anybody prior to 1922? Because he didnt think of it until 1922. His situation in this respect parallels that of Mormonisms founder Joseph Smith, who claimed that when he was a boy, God appeared to him in a vision and told him all existing churches were corrupt and he was not to join them, that he would lead a movement to restore Gods true Church. But historical records show that Smith did join an inquirers class at an established Protestant church after his supposed vision from God. It was only in later years that Smith came up with his version of the “true messenger” doctrine, proving as much of an embarrassment for the Mormon church as Manalos similar doctrine does for Iglesia.
A pillar of Iglesia belief is that its emergence in the Philippines was prophesied in the Bible. This idea is supposedly found in Isaiah 43:56, which states, “Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, Give up, and the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth.”
Iglesia argues that in this verse, Isaiah is referring to the “far east” and that this is the place where the “Church of Christ” will emerge in the last days. This point is constantly repeated in Iglesia literature: “The prophecy stated that Gods children shall come from the far east” (Pasugo, March 1975, 6).
But the phrase “far east” is not in the text. In fact, in the Tagalog (Filipino) translation, as well as in the original Hebrew, the words “far” and “east” are not even found in the same verse, yet the Iglesia recklessly combine the two verses to translate “far east.” Using this fallacious technique, Iglesia claims that the far east refers to the Philippines.
Iglesia is so determined to convince its followers of this “fact” that it quotes Isaiah 43:5 from an inexact paraphrase by Protestant Bible scholar James Moffatt that reads, “From the far east will I bring your offspring.” Citing this mistranslation, one Iglesia work states, “Is it not clear that you can read the words far east? Clear! Why does not the Tagalog Bible show them? That is not our fault, but that of those who translated the Tagalog Bible from Englishthe Catholics and Protestants” (Isang Pagbubunyag Sa Iglesia ni Cristo, 1964:131). The Iglesia accuses everyone else of mistranslating the Bible, when it is Iglesia that is taking liberties with the original language.
The Name Game
Iglesia points to its name as proof it is the true Church. They argue, “What is the name of Christs Church, as given in the Bible? It is the Church of Christ. Our church is called the Church of Christ. Therefore, ours is the Church Christ founded.”
Whether or not the exact words “Church of Christ” appear in the Bible is irrelevant, but since Iglesia makes it an issue, it is important to note that the phrase “Church of Christ” never once appears in the Bible.
The verse Iglesia most often quotes on this issue is Romans 16:16: “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you “ (Pasugo, November 1973, 6). But the phrase in this verse is “churches of Christ.” And its not a technical name. Paul is referring to a collection of local churches, not giving an organizational name.
To get further “proof” of its name, Iglesia cites Acts 20:28: “Take heed therefore . . . to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood” (Lamsa translation; cited in Pasugo, April 1978). But the Lamsa translation is not based on the original Greek, the language in which the book of Acts was written. In Greek, the phrase is “the church of God” (tan ekklasian tou Theou) not “the church of Christ” (tan ekklasian tou Christou). Iglesia knows this, yet it continues to mislead its members.
Even if the phrase “church of Christ” did appear in the Bible, it would not help Iglesias case. Before Manalo started his church, there were already groups calling themselves “the Church of Christ.” There are several Protestant denominations that call themselves Church of Christ and use exactly the same argument. Of course, they arent the true Church for the same reason Iglesia isntbecause they were not founded by Christ.
Did Christs Church Apostatize?
The doctrines upon which all Iglesias other doctrines depend is its teaching that Christs Church apostatized in the early centuries. Like Mormonism, the Jehovahs Witnesses, and other fringe groups, Iglesia asserts that the early Christian Church suffered a total apostasy. It believes in “the complete disappearance of the first-century Church of Christ and the emergence of the Catholic Church” (Pasugo, July-Aug. 1979, 8).
But Jesus promised that his Church would never apostatize. He told Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). If his Church had apostatized, then the gates of hell would have prevailed against it, making Christ a liar.
In other passages, Christ teaches the same truth. In Matthew 28:20 he said, “I am with you always even until the end of the world.” And in John 14:16, 18 he said, “And I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever ... I will not leave you desolate.”
If Iglesia members accept the apostasy doctrine, they make Christ a liar. Since they believe Jesus Christ is not a liar, they are ignoring what Christ promised, and their doctrine contradicts Scripture.
They are, however, fulfilling Scripture. While Jesus taught that his Church would never apostatize, the Bible does teach that there will be a great apostasy, or falling away from the Church. Paul prophesies: “[Do not] be quickly shaken in mind or excited . . . to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion [Greek: apostasia] comes first” (2 Thess. 2:23); “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1); and, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own liking, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths” (2 Tim. 4:34). By falling away from the Church, members of Iglesia are committing precisely the kind of apostasy of which they accuse the Catholic Church.
The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:1: “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Was Felix Manalo a true prophet? Is his church the “true Church?” If we test the claims of Iglesia ni Cristo, the answer is apparent. His total apostasy doctrine is in flat contradiction to Christs teaching. There is no way that Iglesia ni Cristo can be the true Church of Christ.
NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004
IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004
No, I don’t. And someone had pointed this out.
It’s a Jehovah’s Witness type outfit.
In general, I would hesitate to rejoice in home-grown “Christian” sects in the third world. Unlike in America, which was already Christian as groups like Baptists and pentecostalists emerged (and let’s face it, Baptists are European), these groups tend to pop up among the uncatechized, nominal Christians or even pagans, often as a response to Rome trying to suppress syncretism or rank heresy as it became more capable of doing true proselytism (as opposed to Western rulers simply declaring their nations nominally Catholic.)
Many Latin-American anti-Catholic sects are extremely pagan, incorporating African deities into “saints.” Many are led by men who declare themselves prophets, angels (like this one), or even the 2nd coming of Christ. Some are even self-consciously, admittedly Satanic. The greatest of these sects was that of Hong Xiuquan, as self-professed second messiah, who led the Taiping rebellion in China, which left 20 million dead and inspired Mao Tse Tung.
They are closer to Scientology, and protect each other at the expense of everyone else. I know for fact there is a strong criminal element in the group as well, having had in-laws victimized by them.
I recently read a lengthy article about these weird cults evolving in places like Brazil.
You’re right we shouldn’t make American assumptions about other areas of the world. This group does sound like a Jim Jones outfit.
That’s putting it kindly. It’s more as if Joseph Smith and L Ron Hubbard brainstormed together.with Ellen Gould White.
As I’m reading about them, it seems what is unique is that their political support is completely up for sale; they don’t endorse platforms or parties, but individuals whom they seem to negotiate favors from.
In all seriousness they have many similarities with a criminal operation. I can’t say more, but I have lived it.
If one of their members does something illegal they will protect them, including committing more crimes to cover it.
They are on the outs with Aquino now and are stirring up trouble. I wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. drops some dirt on them in Aquino’s lap.
Protestant Group...People over there are starving for Jesus...
I’m not as familiar with their doctrine as their reputation. They rub a lot of other Christian sects the wrong way as you might gather from some of the other posts on this thread. I’m not sure what’s true and what’s hyperbolic. Probably a little of both.
Author stressed it is now an enterprise making some $200 million a year.
And the similarity to that cult is warranted .
>> I wouldnt be surprised if the U.S. drops some dirt on them in Aquinos lap. <<
From what you write, I wouldn’t be surprised if the US ousts Aquino in their favor, considering:
1. they are murderous and corrupt.
2. they seem to hate traditional Christianity but are relatively silent on Islam.
3. they are the most conspicuously Masonic religious sect I have ever seen. (Masons normally avoid identifying with a sect; this group’s logo incorporates the most famous and visible Masonic symbols around.)
I don't know enough about this particular sect which is the topic of this thread to offer an observation, but I do know that it probably isn't a coincidence that sects which own a lot of business enterprises (Amish, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, certain Evangelical sects) in the U.S.A. tend to be very conservative valued, pro-free enterprise voters whereas those who do not tend to put more value on "partnerships" with big government (prime examples are Islam and, of course, Al Sharpton/Rev. Wright type churches).
What's next . . . trailer parks? [/sarcasm]
Iglesia ni Cristo is not a Christian organization. They deny the divinity of Christ; basically a home-grown Filipino version of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
They aren't rednecks, they aren't fundamentalist Christians, they aren't Christians at all, and practically all of their converts are former Catholics.
Joseph Smith was a Mason, was he not?
That is blatantly Masonic. Just wow.