Iglesia ni Cristo’s first chapel The Iglesia ni Cristo (also known as INC or Iglesya ni Kristo; Filipino for Church of Christ) is an independent religious organization which originated in the Philippines.
The INC was incorporated in the Philippines by Felix Manalo on July 27, 1914; The church professes to be the reestablishment of the original church founded by Jesus and does not accept the doctrine of the Trinity, including the deity of Jesus.The Iglesia ni Cristo’s architecture is notable for the narrow-pointed spires of its chapel buildings.Felix Manalo on the cover of the Pasugo The historical context of the Iglesia ni Cristo lies in a period of the early 20th century characterised by a variety of rural anti-colonialism movements, often with religious undertones, in the Philippines. At this time, U.
S. missionary work was exposing Filipino culture to many alternatives to the Catholicism installed under earlier Spanish rule.Felix Manalo was deeply religious as a child and joined many religious organizations as a young adult, leaving each after finding teachings which he felt contradicted those in the Bible. He proclaimed that God gave him a mission to preach the gospel and to reestablish the first church founded by Jesus.
The INC began with a handful of followers on July 27, 1914 in Punta, Santa Ana, Manila; with Manalo as its head minister. Manalo propagated his message within his local area, growing the Iglesia ni Cristo and converting members of other religions. As membership increased, he delegated others to spread the teachings of the INC and it eventually spread throughout the Philippines and to other countries. After Felix Manalo’s death in 1963, his son Erao took over duties as executive minister and Eduardo V.
Manalo is the deputy executive minister.Although estimates vary, the INC has become possibly the second-largest single Christian religion in the Philippines. The official Philippine government website lists its membership as 2.3% (similar to that of the Philippine Independent Church) of the predominantly Catholic population.
It has grown to over three thousand congregations in over eighty-four countries and territories throughout the world. It has a notable presence in Hawaii and California, which have a sizable population of immigrants from the Philippines and of Filipino descent. Although the church does not disclose the exact number of members, the Catholic Answers apostolate estimates its worldwide membership as ranging from 3 to 10 million.Missionary activitiesIn the Philippines, radio and television programs are produced, and they are broadcast on 1062 kHz DZEC-AM radio and the Net 25 television station-both owned by the INC’s Eagle Broadcasting Corporation.
Programs are broadcast weekdays, 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight Philippine local time.In North America, a television program called “The Message” is produced by the Iglesia ni Cristo in the San Francisco Bay Area.
It is currently aired in the United States and Canada and some parts of Europe. The 30-minute program is hosted by different INC ministers (alternating each show) who share the main beliefs of the Iglesia ni Cristo with a television audience.There is also a magazine available to INC congregations worldwide entitled God’s Message (formerly known as Pasugo). God’s Message is printed in both Tagalog and English editions, with some issues being partly in both languages.
The magazine consists of letters to the editor, news from locales worldwide, religious poetry, articles relating to INC beliefs, a directory of locales outside the Philippines and would also feature a schedule of worship services until recently. Pamphlets are also printed for members to give to prospective guests, usually featuring information on a core INC doctrine.The INC does outreach work for the poor. It has built housing developments such as “Tagumpay Village” and provides free medical and dental services through its “Lingap Sa Mamamayan” project.
It also conducts community service acts such as street cleaning, blood drives and tree-planting activities.Central officeIglesia ni Cristo Central Temple in New Era, Quezon City, PhilippinesThe INC’s center of operations is the Iglesia ni Cristo Central Office, a large, secured complex located on Commonwealth Avenue, New Era, Quezon City, Philippines. An editorial in the July 25, 2004 issue of Philippine Panorama Magazine described the complex as including: the six-story Central Office Building; the 7,000-seat Central Temple, a Tabernacle, a multi-purpose convention hall; the 30,000 seating-capacity Central Pavilion; the College of Evangelical Ministry; the New Era General Hospital; and the New Era University. There is also a residence for the family of Executive Minister, Erao G.
Manalo on the premises as well as one for the family of Eduardo V. Manalo, the Deputy Executive Minister.PoliticsEver since former Philippine president Manuel L. Quezon created a lasting friendship after asking Felix Manalo for advice, the INC has been known for its strong political influence.
It was well-known for its support of President Ferdinand E. Marcos until his ousting during the EDSA Revolution of 1986.INC members are noted for their bloc voting in Philippine elections , a practice also shared by other Philippine religions , although INC has the biggest conversion turn-out, 68-84% of their members voting for candidates endorsed by its leadership, according to some comprehensive surveys. This is in part due to their doctrine on unity, which puts the penalty of expulsion on anyone found to sway from the doctrine.
Some Philippine media credit the INC bloc vote for the presidential campaign victory of Joseph Estrada in 1998 , and the re-election of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004 .This has given INC strong political influence on elected officials. Newspaper reports say that the Philippine Congress decision to uphold the decision on September 2005 to reject the Arroyo impeachment complaint was swayed by largely by INC influence. Erano Manalo was said to have personally called each and every lawmaker.
 Others, however, argue that the INC vote is only significant in close-run elections, noting that INC-supported candidates, Senator Sergio Osmea Jr. lost in 1969 to Marcos and businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. lost to Fidel Ramos in 1992. Macapagal-Arroyo’s father, Diosdado Macapagal, due to his religious and political views, 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.
CriticismFrom religious groupsThe Iglesia ni Cristo has come under criticism from other religions mainly due to disagreements over their doctrines and beliefs regarding the interpretation of the Bible.Karl Keating, the founder of Catholic Answers, an apologetics group, claims that Jose Ventilacion, an INC minister and one of their chief debaters, broke an agreement for a one-on-one debate made by the two organizations during a debate held in 1990 in National City, California. Instead of a one-on-one debate, Dr Keating claims there were three assistants at Dr Ventilacion’s table and none at his. Dr Keating also claims that Andy Suarez, another INC minister who was sitting at Dr Ventilacion’s table was shouting at him during the debate to which he replied: “I’m debating him.
Sit down!”Catholic Answers has also rejected 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 apostacy of the Catholic Church are used in the right context. It contends that other verses are difficult to reconcile with the views of the Iglesia ni Cristo. However, the Iglesia ni Cristo claims through biblical prophesies, that it was elected to be “the first nation of God,” as the Israelites were, and that God chose them to serve him.Let Us Reason ministries criticised 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 reject the INC’s doctrine that one can only be saved if one is a member of that church.Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie has criticized the INC for allegedly misquoting his Ryrie Study Bible regarding John 1:1 in the May/June 1984 issue of the Pasugo. Dr.
Ryrie has been quoted as saying, in a letter to Robert Elliff, the author of the book, Iglesia Ni Cristo: The Only True Church? “Anyone can look in my Study Bible and see how conveniently this author [the INC] omitted the last phrase in the note of John 1:1.”Secular criticismThe main accusation of restraint of press freedom arises from the church’s seeking of prior restraint on Ross Tipon’s forthcoming critical book, The Power and the Glory: The Cult of Manalo) for alleged gross inaccuracies, which the Iglesia ni Cristo claims is “gross blasphemy” against them and Felix Manalo. Reacting to these claims, the INC has taken legal action against those who they claim to have published libelous material.The Insiders, an anonymous group who claim to be members of INC, feel the administration is not listening to the “common brethren” and would like more religious and personal freedom within the church.
They also believe that there were gradual changes in INC doctrine over the past decades, which they strongly oppose.The INC hierarchy reflects traditional Philippine culture, which stresses family and vertical relationships. This may be perceived as nepotism and an unmeritocratic hierarchy to those who have different cultural assumptions.