Iglesia ni Cristo
Overview
Iglesia ni Cristo also known as INC, is the largest entirely indigenous Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 religious organization that originated from the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 and the largest independent church in Asia. Due to a number of similarities, some Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 writers describe the INC's doctrines as restorationist in outlook and theme. INC, however, does not formally consider itself to be part of the Restoration Movement
Restoration Movement
The Restoration Movement is a Christian movement that began on the American frontier during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century...

.

Felix Y.
Encyclopedia
Iglesia ni Cristo also known as INC, is the largest entirely indigenous Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 religious organization that originated from the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 and the largest independent church in Asia. Due to a number of similarities, some Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 writers describe the INC's doctrines as restorationist in outlook and theme. INC, however, does not formally consider itself to be part of the Restoration Movement
Restoration Movement
The Restoration Movement is a Christian movement that began on the American frontier during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century...

.

Felix Y. Manalo officially registered the church with the Philippine Government on July 27, 1914 and because of this, most publications refer to him as the founder of the church. However, the official doctrines of the church profess that Jesus Christ is the founder of the INC and that Felix Manalo was the last messenger, sent by God to re-establish the Christian Church to its true, pristine form because the original church was apostatized
Great Apostasy
The Great Apostasy is a term used by some religious groups to describe a general fallen state of traditional Christianity, especially the Papacy, because it allowed the traditional Roman mysteries and deities of solar monism such as Mithras and Sol Invictus and idol worship back into the church,...

. INC teaches that the apostate church is the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, and proclaims that Catholic beliefs shared by most Christians, such as the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 are proof of this apostasy. The church teaches that the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 and of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 are not biblical. , the Executive Minister of Iglesia ni Cristo is Eduardo V. Manalo
Eduardo V. Manalo
Bro. Eduardo Villanueva Manalo, is the third and current Executive Minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo , following the death of his father, former Executive Minister Eraño G. Manalo....

, the grandson of Felix Manalo.

History

Felix Manalo, born on May 10, 1886 in Taguig, Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, was baptized a Roman Catholic. In his teenage years, Manalo became dissatisfied with Roman Catholic theology
Roman Catholic theology
Roman Catholic theology comprises the "Roman Catholic teachings" of the Catholic Church which bases its conclusions on Scripture and Sacred Tradition, as interpreted by the Magisterium. The Church teaches that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ, keeping of the Ten commandments and...

. According to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the establishment of the Philippine Independent Church
Philippine Independent Church
The Philippine Independent Church, The Philippine Independent Church, The Philippine Independent Church, (officially the or the IFI, also known as the Philippine Independent Catholic Church or in Ilocano: Siwawayawaya nga Simbaan ti Filipinas (in in Kinaray-a/Hiligaynon: Simbahan Hilway nga...

 or the Aglipayan Church was his major turning point but Manalo remained uninterested since its doctrines were mainly Catholic. He started seeking through various denominations, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

. In 1904, he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church
Methodist Episcopal Church
The Methodist Episcopal Church, sometimes referred to as the M.E. Church, was a development of the first expression of Methodism in the United States. It officially began at the Baltimore Christmas Conference in 1784, with Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke as the first bishops. Through a series of...

, entered the Methodist seminary, and became a pastor
Pastor
The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....

 for a while. Manalo left the Methodist church in 1913, and associated himself with atheist and agnostic peers.

On November 1913, Manalo secluded himself with religious literature and unused notebooks in a friend's house in Pasay, instructing everyone in the house not to disturb him. He emerged out of seclusion three days later with his new-found doctrines.

Manalo, together with his wife, went to Punta, Santa Ana, Manila on July 1914, and started preaching. He left the congregation in the care of his first ordained minister, and returned to Taguig to evangelize. In Taguig, he was ridiculed and stoned
Stoning
Stoning, or lapidation, is a form of capital punishment whereby a group throws stones at a person until the person dies. No individual among the group can be identified as the one who kills the subject, yet everyone involved plainly bears some degree of moral culpability. This is in contrast to the...

 in his meetings with locals. He was later able to baptize a few converts, including some of his persecutors. He later registered his new-found religion as the Iglesia ni Cristo (Tagalog
Tagalog language
Tagalog is an Austronesian language spoken as a first language by a third of the population of the Philippines and as a second language by most of the rest. It is the first language of the Philippine region IV and of Metro Manila...

 for Church of Christ) on July 27, 1914 at the Bureau of Commerce
Department of Finance (Philippines)
The Philippines' Department of Finance is the executive department of the Philippine government responsible for the formulation, institutionalization and administration of fiscal policies, management of the financial resources of the government, supervision of the revenue operations of all local...

 as a corporation sole
Corporation sole
A corporation sole is a legal entity consisting of a single incorporated office, occupied by a single man or woman. This allows a corporation to pass vertically in time from one office holder to the next successor-in-office, giving the position legal continuity with each subsequent office...

 with himself as the first executive minister. Expansion followed as INC started building congregations in the provinces in 1916. The first three ministers were ordained in 1919.

In 1922, the INC's first schism, led by Teofilo Ora, one of INC's first ministers, resulted in the loss of several congregations, along with their church buildings, in Bulacan
Bulacan
Bulacan , officially called the Province of Bulacan or simply Bulacan Province, is a first class province of the Republic of the Philippines located in the Central Luzon Region in the island of Luzon, north of Manila , and part of the Metro...

 and Nueva Ecija
Nueva Ecija
Nueva Ecija is a landlocked province of the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Its capital is Palayan City...

. Ora founded Iglesia Verdadero de Cristo which was later changed to Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus. By 1924, the INC had about 3,000 to 5,000 adherents in 43 or 45 congregations in Manila and six nearby provinces
Provinces of the Philippines
The Provinces of the Philippines are the primary political and administrative divisions of the Philippines. There are 80 provinces at present, further subdivided into component cities and municipalities. The National Capital Region, as well as independent cities, are autonomous from any provincial...

.
By 1936, the INC had 85,000 members. This figure grew to 200,000 by 1954. A Cebu
Cebu
Cebu is a province in the Philippines, consisting of Cebu Island and 167 surrounding islands. It is located to the east of Negros, to the west of Leyte and Bohol islands...

 congregation was built in 1937—the first to be established outside of Luzon
Luzon
Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines. It is located in the northernmost region of the archipelago, and is also the name for one of the three primary island groups in the country centered on the Island of Luzon...

, and the first in the Visayas
Visayas
The Visayas or Visayan Islands and locally known as Kabisay-an gid, is one of the three principal geographical divisions of the Philippines, along with Mindanao and Luzon. It consists of several islands, primarily surrounding the Visayan Sea, although the Visayas are considered the northeast...

. The first mission to Mindanao
Mindanao
Mindanao is the second largest and easternmost island in the Philippines. It is also the name of one of the three island groups in the country, which consists of the island of Mindanao and smaller surrounding islands. The other two are Luzon and the Visayas. The island of Mindanao is called The...

 was commissioned in 1946. Meanwhile, its first concrete chapel was built in Sampaloc
Sampaloc, Manila
Sampaloc is a district of Manila which is primarily a residential and educational center. Part of the Malacañang Palace is located in Sampaloc. The University of Santo Tomas, University of the East Manila are part of the University Belt to name a few, the famous Dangwa flower market at Dimasalang...

, Manila in 1948. Adherents fleeing for the provinces away from Manila, where the Japanese forces were concentrated during the World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, were used for evangelization. As Manalo's health began to fail in the 1950s, Eraño Manalo started to take leadership of the church. Felix Manalo died on April 12, 1963.

The first overseas INC mission was sent in 1968 on its 54th anniversary. The INC started operating a radio station
Radio station
Radio broadcasting is a one-way wireless transmission over radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. Stations can be linked in radio networks to broadcast a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast or both...

 in 1969. In 1973, the church established a congregation in Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 on July 27, and in San Francisco, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 (both in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

). The Ministerial Institute of Development, currently the New Era University
New Era University
New Era University is a private, non-sectarian educational institution established by Iglesia Ni Cristo. It is located along Central Avenue, New Era, Quezon City.-History:...

 College of Evangelical Ministry, was founded in 1974 in Quiapo
Quiapo, Manila
Quiapo is a district and city square of Manila. Referred as the "Old Downtown", Quiapo in known for where cheap buys or goods are being sold at rock-bottom prices and was the home of the Quiapo Church, where the feast for the Black Nazarene is held, with over millions of people attending...

, Manila. It moved to its current location in Quezon City in 1978. As of 1995, it had 4,500 students and five extension schools in Bulacan, Cavite
Cavite
Cavite is a province of the Philippines located on the southern shores of Manila Bay in the CALABARZON region in Luzon, just 30 kilometers south of Manila. Cavite is surrounded by Laguna to the east, Metro Manila to the northeast, and Batangas to the south...

, Laguna, Pampanga
Pampanga
Pampanga is a province of the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Its capital is the City of San Fernando, Pampanga. Pampanga is bordered by the provinces of Bataan and Zambales to the west, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija to the north, and Bulacan to the southeast...

 and Rizal
Rizal
Rizal is a province located in the CALABARZON , just 16 kilometers east of Manila. The province was named after the country's national hero, José Rizal. Rizal Governor Casimiro A. Ynares III on June 17, 2008 announced the transfer of the Capitol from Pasig. Its P 270-million capitol building,...

. In 1971, the INC Central Office building was built in Quezon City. Fifteen years later, the Central Temple was added in the complex. The Tabernacle, a tent-like multipurpose building which can accommodate up to 4,000 persons, was finished in 1989. The complex also includes the New Era University, a higher-education
Tertiary education
Tertiary education, also referred to as third stage, third level, and post-secondary education, is the educational level following the completion of a school providing a secondary education, such as a high school, secondary school, university-preparatory school...

 institution run by the INC.

Eraño Manalo died on August 31, 2009. His son, Eduardo V. Manalo
Eduardo V. Manalo
Bro. Eduardo Villanueva Manalo, is the third and current Executive Minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo , following the death of his father, former Executive Minister Eraño G. Manalo....

, succeeded him as executive minister upon his death.

In September of 2011 the INC bought 59 parcels of land in Scenic, South Dakota
Scenic, South Dakota
Scenic is an unincorporated community in Pennington County, South Dakota, United States. It is located within Scenic Township, which had a 2010 census population of 58 inhabitants...

 for approximately $700,000.00. Scenic is a ghost town in western South Dakota. No plans for the land have been revealed by the church.

Architecture

Iglesia ni Cristo church buildings (chapels) serve as places of worship and other religious functions, are "vehicles for glorifying God." These are described by Culture and customs of the Philippines, a book published by Greenwood Publishing Group
Greenwood Publishing Group
Greenwood Publishing Group is an educational publisher and is part of ABC-CLIO. It publishes reference works under its Greenwood Press imprint, and scholarly, professional, and general interest books under Praeger Publishers...

, as structures "which employ exterior neo-Gothic vertical support columns with tall narrow windows between, interlocking trapezoids, and rosette motifs, as well as tower and spires." There are multiple entrances leading to the main sanctuary, where males and females sit on either side of the aisle facing a dais
Dais
Dais is any raised platform located either in or outside of a room or enclosure, often for dignified occupancy, as at the front of a lecture hall or sanctuary....

 sermons are made. The choir loft is located behind the dais, and in larger churches, baptistry pools for immersion baptism
Immersion baptism
Immersion baptism is a method of baptism that is distinguished from baptism by affusion and by aspersion , sometimes without specifying whether the immersion is total or partial, but very commonly with the indication that the person baptized is immersed completely...

 are located at the back of the church. Meanwhile, Fernando Nakpil-Zialcita, an anthropologist from Ateneo de Manila University
Ateneo de Manila University
The Ateneo de Manila University is a private teaching and research university run by the Society of Jesus in the Philippines. It began in 1859 when the City of Manila handed control of the Escuela Municipal de Manila in Intramuros, Manila, to the Jesuits...

, said that INC churches can be uniquely identified for "its exuberant use of fanciful forms and ornaments [and a] brilliant white facade whose silhouette is a cusped Gothic arch or a flattened Saracenic arch." The distinctive spires represent "the reaching out of the faithful to God." Churches were started to be built in this style during the late 1940s and early 1950s with the first concrete chapel built in Sampaloc, Manila
Sampaloc, Manila
Sampaloc is a district of Manila which is primarily a residential and educational center. Part of the Malacañang Palace is located in Sampaloc. The University of Santo Tomas, University of the East Manila are part of the University Belt to name a few, the famous Dangwa flower market at Dimasalang...

 in 1948.

The Central Temple can accommodate up to 7,000 persons, and costed about US$2 million. The Central Temple features octagonal spires, "fine latticework" and ribbed windows. Recent buildings are variations of Carlos A. Santos-Viola
Carlos A. Santos-Viola
Carlos Antonio Santos-Viola was an architect in the Philippines. He is best known for designing and building churches for the Iglesia ni Cristo religious group....

's designs on the Central Temple. These are designed to accommodate 250 to 1,000 persons while larger churches in Metro Manila
Metro Manila
Metropolitan Manila , the National Capital Region , or simply Metro Manila, is the metropolitan region encompassing the City of Manila and its surrounding areas in the Philippines...

 and provincial capitals can accommodate up to 3,000 persons. Prominent architects, such as Juan Nakpil
Juan Nakpil
Juan F. Nakpil was a Filipino architect, teacher and a community leader. In 1973, he was named one of the National Artists for architecture, and tapped as the Dean of Filipino Architects....

 (a National Artist of the Philippines
National Artist of the Philippines
A National Artist of the Philippines is a title given to a Filipino who has been given the highest recognition for having made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts...

 for architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

) and Carlos Raúl Villanueva
Carlos Raúl Villanueva
Carlos Raúl Villanueva was the most prominent Venezuelan architect of the 20th century and one of the great Modernists. He played a major role in the development and modernization of Caracas, Maracay and other cities across the country...

, had been involved in designing INC churches while the Engineering and Construction Department of INC, established in 1971, oversees the uniformity in design of church buildings.

Organization and administration

Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Ministers
Name Tenure of office

Felix Y. Manalo July 27, 1914 – April 12, 1963
Eraño G. Manalo April 23, 1963 – August 31, 2009
Eduardo V. Manalo September 8, 2009 – present


Iglesia ni Cristo has had three executive ministers , also known as administration . Eduardo V. Manalo or Ka Ed, as the current executive minister, serves as the church's leader, and, in this capacity, manages the administration of the church. Along with the deputy executive minister and eleven other senior ministers, the executive minister forms the Central Administration of Iglesia ni Cristo. All church minister's are Male, however, there are a number of female church officials. Ministers are encouraged to marry
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 since the church believes that family responsibilities make them more capable in handling "socio-religious problems".

The Central Office in Quezon City is Iglesia ni Cristo's headquarters. It was formerly located at San Juan
San Juan, Metro Manila
The City of San Juan or simply San Juan is a city in Metro Manila in the Philippines. Before the creation of Metro Manila, it was part of Rizal Province. Currently the smallest city in the region and the country in terms of area, San Juan is one of the smallest among the cities and municipalities...

, and then Makati. It houses the offices of INC's administration. Administration and ministerial work are delegated into ecclesiastical districts (termed divisions prior to 1990) which are led by supervising ministers (formerly, division ministers). Ecclesiastical districts comprise 30 to 120 congregations (referred to as locales) on average. The ecclesiastical district's range is generally a single province of the Philippines; however, populous provinces often have more than one ecclesiastical district. There were about 5,000 Iglesia ni Cristo locales in 96 countries in 2008. 200 of these congregations, including 150 in 39 U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s, were outside the Philippines in 2001. All locales were directly managed by Felix Manalo until 1924 when the first ecclesiastical district was organized in Pampanga
Pampanga
Pampanga is a province of the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Its capital is the City of San Fernando, Pampanga. Pampanga is bordered by the provinces of Bataan and Zambales to the west, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija to the north, and Bulacan to the southeast...

.

Church

Adherents hold that Iglesia ni Cristo is the only true church of Jesus Christ
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

 as restored by Felix Manalo
Felix Manalo
Felix Ysagun Manalo , also known as Ka Félix, was the first Executive Minister of the Philippines'-based religious organization Iglesia ni Cristo, and incorporated it with the Philippine Government on July 27, 1914. He is the father of Eraño G...

. The church recognizes Jesus Christ as the founder of the Church. Meanwhile, its reestablishment is seen as the signal for the end of days. For example, its founding in July 27, 1914 coincides with the beginning of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. They believe that the church was apostatized
Apostasy in Christianity
Apostasy in Christianity refers to the rejection of Christianity by someone who formerly was a Christian. The term apostasy comes from the Greek word apostasia meaning defection, departure, revolt or rebellion. It has been described as "a willful falling away from, or rebellion against, Christian...

 by the 1st or 4th century due to false teachings
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

. The INC says that this apostate church is the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

.
They believe that the Iglesia ni Cristo is the fulfillment of the passage above while "east" refers to the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 where the Church of Christ would be founded. The INC teaches that its members constitute the "elect of God
Predestination
Predestination, in theology is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God. John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others...

" and there is no salvation outside the Iglesia ni Cristo. Faith alone is insufficient for salvation. The Iglesia ni Cristo says that the official name of the true church is "Church of Christ or Iglesia ni Cristo (in tagalog)". The two passages often cited by INC to support this are Romans 16:16 "Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you"
and the George Lamsa
George Lamsa
George M. Lamsa was an Assyrian author. He was born in Mar Bishu in what is now the extreme east of Turkey. A native Aramaic speaker, he translated the Aramaic Peshitta Old and New Testaments into English.-History and views:Lamsa was a member of the Assyrian Church of the East...

 translation of Acts 20:28: "Take heed therefore . . . to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood"

Bible

Manalo concluded after his three-day seclusion that "that the conflicting doctrines of various Christian groups could be resolved only through a fresh examination of the Bible from a non-Western perspective." The Iglesia ni Cristo believes in the infallibility of the Bible, which is its sole source of authority.

God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit

The Iglesia ni Cristo believes that God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

 is the only true God. The church believes that God is omnipotent, and that He created all, including Jesus Christ, the Son. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 is the power sent by God in the name of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is in the INC ministers giving them the exclusive ability to interpret the Bible correctly. Thus, the INC rejects the trinity
Nontrinitarianism
Nontrinitarianism includes all Christian belief systems that disagree with the doctrine of the Trinity, namely, the teaching that God is three distinct hypostases and yet co-eternal, co-equal, and indivisibly united in one essence or ousia...

 as a heresy. They believe that this position is attested by Jesus Christ and the Apostles
Apostle (Christian)
The term apostle is derived from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος , meaning one who is sent away, from στέλλω + από . The literal meaning in English is therefore an "emissary", from the Latin mitto + ex...

.
The church believes that Jesus Christ is the mediator
Kingly office of Christ
The Kingly office of Christ is one of the Threefold Offices, or special relations, in which Christ stands to his people. Christ's office as mediator comprehends three different functions, viz., those of a prophet, priest, and king...

 between God the Father and humanity, and was created by God the Father. God sanctified him to be without sin
Impeccability
Impeccability is the absence of sin. Christianity believes this to be an attribute of God the Father and therefore also an attribute of Christ....

, and bestowed him the titles "Lord" and "Son of God
Son of God
"Son of God" is a phrase which according to most Christian denominations, Trinitarian in belief, refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as "God the Son"...

". The church sees Jesus as God's highest creation, and denies his divinity. Thus, INC theology is classified as Arian
Arian
Arian may refer to:* Arius, a Christian presbyter in the 3rd and 4th century* a given name in different cultures: Aria, Aryan or Arian...

 by Robin A. Brace, a British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 apologist, and Anne C. Harper, former director of publications of Gordon College
Gordon College (Massachusetts)
Gordon College is a liberal arts college located on the former Princemere estate in Wenham, Massachusetts, northeast of Beverly. Founded by Baptist minister A. J...

 in Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Adherents profess Jesus' substitutionary role
Substitutionary atonement
Technically speaking, substitutionary atonement is the name given to a number of Christian models of the atonement that all regard Jesus as dying as a substitute for others, "instead of" them...

 in the redemption
Redeemer (Christianity)
In Christian theology, Jesus is sometimes referred to as a Redeemer. This refers to the salvation he is believed to have accomplished, and is based on the metaphor of redemption, or "buying back". Although the New Testament does not use the title "Redeemer", the word "redemption" is used in several...

 of humankind. He is believed to have been "foreordained before the foundation of the world", and sent by God "to deal with sin". Members "are saved by Christ's blood
Blood of Christ
The Blood of Christ in Christian theology refers to the physical blood actually shed by Jesus Christ on the Cross, and the salvation which Christianity teaches was accomplished thereby; and the sacramental blood present in the Eucharist, which is considered by Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and...

" who died because of his "self-sacrificing love".

Felix Manalo

Felix Manalo is said to be the restorer of the church of Christ, and "God's last messenger"(sugo in Tagalog).

INC divides time into three periods: the era of the patriarchs
Patriarchs (Bible)
The Patriarchs of the Bible, when narrowly defined, are Abraham, the ancestor of all the Abrahamic nations; his son Isaac, the ancestor of the nations surrounding Israel/Judah; and Isaac's son Jacob, also named Israel, the ancestor of the Israelites...

 (from creation to the birth of Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

), the era of the prophets
Prophets of Christianity
This is a list of prophets recognized in Christianity, including those mentioned in both the Hebrew Bible and the canonical New Testament.The main list consists of only those individuals that have been clearly defined as prophets, either by explicit statement or strong contextual implication, ...

 (from the birth of Moses to the birth of Jesus), and the Christian era (from the birth of Jesus to the Last Judgment
Last Judgment
The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

). Adherents believe him to be the last messenger of God in the Christian Era.

The INC says that Manalo is the "angel from the east", mentioned in Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

 7:1–3 who started the INC at the same time
that World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 broke out. This period of time according to INC is referred to as the ends of the earth
(cf Is 41:9-10; 43:5-6) the time when the end of the world is near, even at the
doors (cf. Mt. 24:3, 33), which began with the outbreak of a war of global
proportions (cf. Mt. 24:6-7) Felix Manalo is from the Philippines, which they say is in the ‘center’ of the Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

. The ‘four winds’ in Revelation 7:1-3, they say refers to World War I and the four angels are the four leaders known as the big four(Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

, Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau
Georges Clemenceau
Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman, physician and journalist. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. For nearly the final year of World War I he led France, and was one of the major voices behind the Treaty of Versailles at the...

, and Vittorio Orlando) who they say worked on the prevention of the war.

Manalo is also portrayed as the fulfillment of several passages in Isaiah and other books of the Bible
Books of the Bible
The Books of the Bible are listed differently in the canons of Judaism and the Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Slavonic Orthodox, Georgian, Armenian Apostolic, Syriac and Ethiopian churches, although there is substantial overlap. A table comparing the canons of some of these traditions...

. Manalo's titles are "ravenous bird from the east" (Isa. 46:11), "worm Jacob" (Ps. 22:6-7), "one sheperd" (John 10:6)and "the last Elijah" (Mt.17:10-11; Mal.4:5)

As the one who established the INC, Manalo was the chief administrator, chief theologian and spiritual leader of the church. As such, he was the ultimate authority in all aspects of the church, and effectively "the foremost Biblical authority for all humanity and the divinely designated leader of a reestablished church of Christ in the modern world." His influence within the church caused people from other religions to call INC and its members "Iglesia ni Manalo" (Tagalog for Church of Manalo) and "Manalistas", respectively, labels INC members considers as both pejoratives and blasphemous.

Eschatology

Members believe that when a person dies, his/her body and soul both die and go into the grave where both would remain until the Second Coming of Christ. Upon his return, all dead members of the Iglesia ni Cristo, including Manalo, would be resurrected
Resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the Dead is a belief found in a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian. In general, the phrase refers to a specific event in the future; multiple prophesies in the histories of these religions assert that the dead will be brought back to...

 to join living INC members. They would be rewarded by living in the Holy City together with God the Father, Christ, and Manalo. After 1,000 years, a second resurrection would occur, and non-INC members will experience second death
Second Death
The second death is an eschatological concept in Judaism and Christianity related to punishment after a first, natural, death.-Judaism:Although the term is not found in the Hebrew Bible, Sysling in his study of Teḥiyyat ha-metim in the Palestinian Targums identifies a consistent usage of the term...

 which is the Lake of Fire
Lake of Fire
A lake of fire appears, in both ancient Egyptian and Christian religion, as a place of after-death punishment of the wicked. The phrase is used in four verses of the Book of Revelation. The image was also used by the Early Christian Hippolytus of Rome in about the year 200 and has continued to be...

. This mirrors Seventh-day Adventist, theology.

Practices

Worship and prayer

The church conducts regular worship services, one during the week, and one during the weekend. It is conducted in the local languages (for example, English, Tagalog and French). It involves singing of hymns, prayers, preaching and offering
Offering
Offering may refer to:* Offering, a collection of donations during religious worship, see alms, tithe or charity* Offering, a religious sacrifice of plant, animal or human life* Offering , a part of devotional practice*Phan...

, which some observers, including Robert R. Reed, label as tithing. Both God the Father and Jesus are worshiped. The ministers of every congregation in a given worship service use the same sermon
Sermon
A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a Biblical, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law or behavior within both past and present contexts...

 outline prepared by the executive minister. Deacons and Deaconesses guide worshipers to their seats and collect offerings. The Singing of hymns is led by the locale's choir. The first hymnbook, which contained about 220 songs, was published in 1937. Children worship services are held every weekend. They use similar lessons as the standard worship services taught using the Socratic method
Socratic method
The Socratic method , named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas...

 (question and answer). The church teaches that willfully forsaking the worship service is a grievous sin, thus members are expected to attend the congregational worship services twice a week without fail.

The church encourages its members to make prayer a part of everyday life. Thus prayer before various activities, such as taking meals and going to sleep, are commonly practiced. Prayers recited in rote repetition are not observed.

Evangelization

Since February 1939, the church has been publishing Pasugo (God's Message) in both Tagalog and English. As of 2010, the God's Message Magazine also features a Spanish Section. Bro. Felix Manalo wrote its first editorial where he stated the publication's purpose, including the propagation of the faith. Issues contain articles which detail INC doctrines and refute doctrines which it considers as heresy, such as the Trinity. It also features information on church history, educational programs and missionary achievements, including lists and photographs of newly dedicated chapels. It had a monthly circulation of 235,000 copies in 2001.

Brethren are encouraged to help in Missionary Works, such as Bible Studies and to distribute copies of the God's Message Magazine (Pasugo).

In the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 and television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 programs are produced, and they are broadcast on 1062 kHz
Hertz
The hertz is the SI unit of frequency defined as the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon. One of its most common uses is the description of the sine wave, particularly those used in radio and audio applications....

 DZEC-AM radio
AM broadcasting
AM broadcasting is the process of radio broadcasting using amplitude modulation. AM was the first method of impressing sound on a radio signal and is still widely used today. Commercial and public AM broadcasting is carried out in the medium wave band world wide, and on long wave and short wave...

, DZEM 954 kHz, the Net 25 television station
Television station
A television station is a business, organisation or other such as an amateur television operator that transmits content over terrestrial television. A television transmission can be by analog television signals or, more recently, by digital television. Broadcast television systems standards are...

 operated by Eagle Broadcasting Corporation, the broadcast division of the Iglesia ni Cristo and GEM TV
DZCE-TV
GEMNET is the first to test broadcast on DTV channel 49 is the flagship station of the Philippine Television Network GEMNET. It is currently the UHF television station of Christian Era Broadcasting Service, a broadcast ministry of the independent Philippine Christian church, the Iglesia ni Cristo,...

, the sister station to NET 25, also owned by the INC and Iglesia ni Cristo TV broadcast on cable.

In North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, a television program
Television program
A television program , also called television show, is a segment of content which is intended to be broadcast on television. It may be a one-time production or part of a periodically recurring series...

 called The Message
The Message (INC show)
The Message is a religious show broadcasted by Philippines-based church, Iglesia ni Cristo and aired over their secular-programming television station, GEM-TV. The show uses the English language as its main language. It discuss the religious teachings and beliefs of the Iglesia ni Cristo....

is produced in the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

. It is currently aired in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and some parts of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. Each 30-minute program is hosted by one of a panel of INC ministers, who share the main beliefs of the Iglesia ni Cristo with a television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 audience
Audience
An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature , theatre, music or academics in any medium...

. The INC use to maintain an hour long time slot on The Filipino Channel
The Filipino Channel
The Filipino Channel is an international television station owned by the Philippine-based multimedia conglomerate ABS-CBN Corporation. The network is currently available in Asia Pacific, Australia, Canada, Europe, Middle East, and the United States. It has over two million subscribers in these...

 and airs two among many of its programs including the INC Chronicles and Ang Tamang Daan
Ang Tamang Daan
Ang Tamang Daan is a program produced by the Philippine-based religious organization, Iglesia ni Cristo, and aired over its secular-programming television station, Net 25. On this program, the INC Ministers headed by Rommel Topacio, Leopoldo Guevarra and Maximo Bularan Jr...

. It has since stopped and instead GEM-TV
DWDM-TV
GEMNET is the first to test broadcast on DTV channel 49 is the flagship station of the Philippine Television Network GEMNET. It is currently the UHF television station of Christian Era Broadcasting Service, a broadcast ministry of the independent Philippine Christian church, the Iglesia ni Cristo,...

 began broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on DirecTV channel 2068. Livestreaming of INC Programming is now available at www.incmedia.org http://www.incmedia.org

Outreach

From the beginning, the INC has continuously extended help not only to the well-being of local townspeople but also to protect the environment through its various humanitarian services.

The INC has outreach programs, such as its "Lingap sa Mamamayan (Filipino: Care for the People)", offering free medical and dental services, community cleanups and tree planting projects. In California, Daly City twice declared a week in July as "Iglesia ni Cristo Week" in recognition of the efforts of the INC members in community service events such as community beautification projects, blood drives, and food distribution sessions.

Coinciding with the 67th anniversary of the local congregation in the Barangay
Barangay
A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village, district or ward...

 of Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga
Pampanga
Pampanga is a province of the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Its capital is the City of San Fernando, Pampanga. Pampanga is bordered by the provinces of Bataan and Zambales to the west, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija to the north, and Bulacan to the southeast...

, the INC launched a program called "Vigorous Environmental Concern for Mankind" which included programs to support the "clean and green" programs of the local government. The INC conducted Linis Bayan (Filipino: Clean Town) and Lingap sa Mamamayan within the local area.

They also host a website for Iglesia Ni Cristo members to have an update of the Past and present activities of the Church. The website is also used by members to listen and watch CMV or Christian Music Videos, the CMV's are composed of Original music and hymns of Iglesia Ni Cristo Composed by the INC members themselves.

The website has pictures of past activities of the Church, Blogs, and every member can share the happenings of their designated locales, and inspirational messages and compositions which is also sometimes published in the magazine of the Iglesia Ni Cristo which is the PASUGO or God's Message. There is also an Online Live feed of the channel GEM-TV
DZCE-TV
GEMNET is the first to test broadcast on DTV channel 49 is the flagship station of the Philippine Television Network GEMNET. It is currently the UHF television station of Christian Era Broadcasting Service, a broadcast ministry of the independent Philippine Christian church, the Iglesia ni Cristo,...

 (Global Expansion Media) on the website.

Political involvement

INC members are noted for bloc voting in Philippine elections, although INC has the biggest conversion turn-out, between 68 and 84 percent of its members voted for candidates endorsed by its leadership, according to comprehensive surveys conducted by ABS-CBN
ABS-CBN
ABS–CBN Corporation is a Philippine-based media conglomerate. It is the Philippines' largest media and entertainment conglomerate. The corporation was the merger of Alto Broadcasting System which at that time owned by James Lindenberg and Antonio Quirino, and the Chronicle Broadcasting Network ...

. This is in part due to their doctrine on unity, which puts the penalty of expulsion on anyone swaying from the doctrine. Some reports say that the INC can deliver 2 million members of voting age, although pollsters believe the actual figure is closer to between 1 million and 1.5 million. Others argue that the INC vote is only significant in close-run elections, noting that some INC-supported candidates lost in the election. Businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. lost to Fidel Ramos in the 1992 Philippine presidential election. Michael Defensor, Ralph Recto
Ralph Recto
Ralph Gonzalez Recto is a Filipino politician. Recto served as a member of the House of Representatives representing the 4th District of Batangas from 1992 to 2001. He was then elected to the Senate, serving from 2001 to 2007. In 2007, Recto run for reelection and lost because, as many analysts...

, Vicente Sotto III
Vicente Sotto III
Vicente Castelo Sotto III , also known as Tito Sotto, is an actor, comedian, musician, television presenter, and politician in the Philippines...

 in 2007 and Ruffy Biazon in 2010 were endorsed by INC but lost in the senate election. INC endorsed Rafael Nantes
Rafael Nantes
Rafael "Raffy" Puchero Nantes was the governor of the Province of Quezon, Philippines from 2007 to 2010. He was the national treasurer of the Liberal Party of the Philippines. He first served as a congressman of the 1st District of Quezon from 1998 to 2007.-Early life:He was born on January 4,...

 and Jamie Eloise Agbayani but lost in the 2010 Quezon
Quezon
-History:Originally, what now forms Quezon was divided among the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, and Nueva Ecija. The area was first explored by Juan de Salcedo in 1571-1572, during his expedition from Laguna to Camarines provinces....

 and 2007 Pangasinan
Pangasinan
Pangasinan is a province of the Republic of the Philippines. The provincial capital is Lingayen. Pangasinan is located on the west central and peripheral area of the island of Luzon along the Lingayen Gulf, with the total land area being 5,368.82 square kilometers . According to the latest census,...

 gubernatorial elections respectively.

Ever since former Philippine president
President of the Philippines
The President of the Philippines is the head of state and head of government of the Philippines. The president leads the executive branch of the Philippine government and is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines...

 Manuel L. Quezon
Manuel L. Quezon
Manuel Luis Quezón y Molina served as president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935 to 1944. He was the first Filipino to head a government of the Philippines...

 created a lasting friendship after asking Felix Manalo
Felix Manalo
Felix Ysagun Manalo , also known as Ka Félix, was the first Executive Minister of the Philippines'-based religious organization Iglesia ni Cristo, and incorporated it with the Philippine Government on July 27, 1914. He is the father of Eraño G...

 for advice, the INC has been known for its strong political
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 influence
Social influence
Social influence occurs when an individual's thoughts, feelings or actions are affected by other people. Social influence takes many forms and can be seen in conformity, socialization, peer pressure, obedience, leadership, persuasion, sales, and marketing...

. Not all candidates in Philippine politics however embraced support from INC. Diosdado Macapagal
Diosdado Macapagal
Diosdado Pangan Macapagal was the ninth President of the Philippines, serving from 1961 to 1965, and the sixth Vice President, serving from 1957 to 1961. He also served as a member of the House of Representatives, and headed the Constitutional Convention of 1970...

 has refused INC's support during his runs for Vice President
Vice President of the Philippines
-Description:The Vice-President is the first in the Philippine line of succession, assuming the Presidency upon the death, resignation, or removal by impeachment and subsequent conviction of the incumbent. The position was abolished by Martial Law in 1972, and was not included in the original text...

 in 1957, and re-election for President
President of the Philippines
The President of the Philippines is the head of state and head of government of the Philippines. The president leads the executive branch of the Philippine government and is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines...

 in 1965 – in which he lost to Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos, Sr. was a Filipino leader and an authoritarian President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. He was a lawyer, member of the Philippine House of Representatives and a member of the Philippine Senate...

. In the 1969 presidential election, INC supported Senator
Senate of the Philippines
The Senate of the Philippines is the upper chamber of the bicameral legislature of the Philippines, the Congress of the Philippines...

 Sergio Osmeña Jr. earlier in the campaign but has swung behind Marcos who won the election. The INC supported Ferdinand E. Marcos until he was ousted in 1986.

In 2002, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism is a non-profit media organization specializing in investigative journalism. It is based in Quezon City, Philippines. Established in 1989 by nine Filipino journalists, the organization funds investigative projects for both the print and broadcast...

 reported that INC leader Eraño Manalo himself wanted to support Panfilo Lacson
Panfilo Lacson
Panfilo "Ping" Morena Lacson, Sr. is a Filipino politician. He was Director-General of the Philippine National Police from 1999 to 2001 and has been a member of the Philippine Senate since 2001.-Early life and education:...

. Eraño saw that Lacson will likely succeed Estrada. This worried Arroyo during her 2001-2004 term as President. But that did not prevent President Arroyo from courting the church. The church eventually offered their support for Arroyo’s presidential campaign in the 2004 elections. Arroyo dismissed rumors that she paid off the INC to support her candidacy. In an open letter to the INC which was read in all INC chapels across the country, Mrs. Arroyo said "I would never taint their (INC) sincerity by offering money for it". Newspaper reports say that the Philippine Congress decision to uphold the decision on September 2005 rejecting the Arroyo impeachment complaint over alleged election fraud and corruption was swayed largely by INC influence. Behn Fer. Hortaleza Jr. says otherwise and wrote an op-ed piece for The Sun·Star Pangasinan stating that Representative Joey Salceda "had wanted to pit the INC against the Catholic church by so timing the congressman's 'news' with another expose on the bishops' receiving Pagcor "sin money" for their projects."

The support of the INC was reportedly sought out for passage of the Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008. In 2008, the INC and the Catholic Church were again pitted against each other when health advocate RH Advocacy Network (RHAN) sought the support of the INC to counter the firm opposition of the Catholic Church and President Arroyo to the bill. Representative Janette Garin of the first district of Iloilo said the INC's stand could determine if the bill gets passed in the House of Representatives. She said the opinion of the Iglesia ni Cristo is “important” in determining the fate of House Bill 5043.

On July 27, 2008 on the occasion of its 94th Anniversary lawmakers, governors, mayors, councilors and other government officials cited the meaningful role of the Iglesia ni Cristo in Filipino society. Rep. Annie Susano of Quezon City
Quezon City
Quezon City is the former capital and the most populous city in the Philippines. Located on the island of Luzon, Quezon City is one of the cities and municipalities that make up Metro Manila, the National Capital Region. The city was named after Manuel L...

's second district where the INC's executive offices are located, along other government officials said that the INC continues to contribute not only to the spiritual development of the Filipino but also in shaping the country's destiny. Susano said INC also plays a crucial role in improving the socio-economic condition of its followers and other Filipinos, at home and abroad. A year before, on the same date, President Arroyo declared July 27 of every year as "Iglesia Ni Cristo Day" to enable millions of INC followers in the Philippines to observe the occasion with fitting solemnity. President Arroyo’s proclamation was based on a resolution of the House of Representatives authored by Rep. Annie Rosa L. Susano. On July 8, 2009, Arroyo declared that July 27 of every year as "Iglesia Ni Cristo Day" making it an official national working holiday.

In 2010, Iglesia ni Cristo has declared support for Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas
Mar Roxas
Manuel "Mar" Araneta Roxas II is a former Senator of the Philippines. He is the son of former Senator Gerry Roxas, and the grandson of former President Manuel Roxas and industrialist J. Amado Araneta....

 for president and vice president respectively. Aquino won the election but Roxas lost to Jejomar Binay
Jejomar Binay
Jejomar "Jojo" Cabauatan Binay, Sr. , also known as Jojo Binay or VPNay, is a Filipino politician who has been the 15th Vice President of the Philippines since 2010. Previously, he was Mayor of Makati City from 1986 to 1998 and again from 2001 to 2010...

. In 2010, Iglesia ni Cristo withdrew their support from President Noynoy Aquino.

In 2011, the organization purchased Scenic, South Dakota
Scenic, South Dakota
Scenic is an unincorporated community in Pennington County, South Dakota, United States. It is located within Scenic Township, which had a 2010 census population of 58 inhabitants...

, an abandoned "ghost town" with a saloon, a roadside jail, and 46 acres (18.6 ha) of surrounding land. The church has not announced its plans for the property.

Membership

As of the 2000 Philippine census by the National Statistics Office, Iglesia ni Cristo had 1,762,845 members, making it the third largest religious denomination in the Philippines after the Roman Catholic Church and Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, respectively. A 2009 estimate by Brace puts it between 4 to 9 million. The Iglesia ni Cristo does not publish official membership figures. Majority of its members are Filipino ex-Catholics while most non-Filipino members converted prior to marrying Iglesia ni Cristo people. The earliest non-Filipino converts were American soldiers stationed in the Philippines.

Membership is conferred through immersion baptism
Immersion baptism
Immersion baptism is a method of baptism that is distinguished from baptism by affusion and by aspersion , sometimes without specifying whether the immersion is total or partial, but very commonly with the indication that the person baptized is immersed completely...

 of adults
Believer's baptism
Believer's baptism is the Christian practice of baptism as this is understood by many Protestant churches, particularly those that descend from the Anabaptist tradition...

. The church rejects infant baptism
Infant baptism
Infant baptism is the practice of baptising infants or young children. In theological discussions, the practice is sometimes referred to as paedobaptism or pedobaptism from the Greek pais meaning "child." The practice is sometimes contrasted with what is called "believer's baptism", or...

. Newborn children of members are instead offered to God through a Congregational Prayer, led by an ordained minister of the INC. Members who are not living in accordance with the church's teachings may be excommunicated or expelled from the Church, and thus lose salvation
Apostasy in Christianity
Apostasy in Christianity refers to the rejection of Christianity by someone who formerly was a Christian. The term apostasy comes from the Greek word apostasia meaning defection, departure, revolt or rebellion. It has been described as "a willful falling away from, or rebellion against, Christian...

 (as opposed to the perseverance of the saints
Perseverance of the saints
Perseverance of the saints, as well as the corollary—though distinct—doctrine known as "Once Saved, Always Saved", is a Calvinist teaching that once persons are truly saved they can never lose their salvation....

). Grounds include adultery
Adultery
Adultery is sexual infidelity to one's spouse, and is a form of extramarital sex. It originally referred only to sex between a woman who was married and a person other than her spouse. Even in cases of separation from one's spouse, an extramarital affair is still considered adultery.Adultery is...

, alcohol intoxication, consumption of blood and marriage to members of other faiths.

Responses

The Iglesia ni Cristo has come under fierce criticism from apologetics
Apologetics
Apologetics is the discipline of defending a position through the systematic use of reason. Early Christian writers Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, "speaking in defense") is the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of reason. Early Christian writers...

 groups and other mainstream religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s mainly due to disagreements over their doctrines and beliefs regarding the interpretation of the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. They have also been criticized by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism is a non-profit media organization specializing in investigative journalism. It is based in Quezon City, Philippines. Established in 1989 by nine Filipino journalists, the organization funds investigative projects for both the print and broadcast...

 (PCIJ) for their political influence. According to PCIJ, the INC's use of its clout
Political power
Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

 mirrors the way in which the Catholic Church has tried to influence successive Philippine governments.

Catholic Church response

Karl Keating
Karl Keating
Karl Keating , a prominent Catholic apologist and author, is the founder and president of Catholic Answers, a lay apostolate of Catholic apologetics and evangelization....

, the founder of Catholic Answers
Catholic Answers
Catholic Answers, based in El Cajon, California, is one of the largest lay-run apostolates of Catholic apologetics and evangelization in the United States. It publishes This Rock, a bimonthly magazine focusing on Catholic evangelism and apologetics...

 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
National City, California
National City is a city in San Diego County, California. The population was 58,582 at the 2010 census, up from 54,260 at the 2000 census. National City is the second oldest city in San Diego County and has a historic past.-History:...

 (part 1, part 2). 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-catholic" doctrines, and that their lessons, as well as their God's Message magazine are dedicated more to debunking Catholic and Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 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. Catholicism and Protestantism remain among the predominant religions in the Philippines especially in Luzon and Visayas islands. Keating also states that the INC began as a Protestant sect, comparing its doctrines with those of the American Campbellite
Campbellite
Campbellite refers to any of the religious groups historically descended from the Restoration Movement, a religious reform movement in the early 19th century in the United States...

s saying it "heavily borrowed" from the latter. Keating criticized the Iglesia ni Cristo for teaching that the Whore of Babylon
Whore of Babylon
The Whore of Babylon or "Babylon the great" is a Christian allegorical figure of evil mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. Her full title is given as "Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth." -Symbolism:...

 is the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 and that the Beast of Revelation is the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, a belief shared with some other Christian religious organizations, and an assertion which the Catholic Church denies. Keating says the this INC position is based on a Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

-language version of gematria
Gematria
Gematria or gimatria is a system of assigning numerical value to a word or phrase, in the belief that words or phrases with identical numerical values bear some relation to each other, or bear some relation to the number itself as it may apply to a person's age, the calendar year, or the like...

, in which numerical values of the letters in a name or phrase are added to find a number with symbolic significance. When applied to an alleged title of the Pope, Vicarius Filii Dei
Vicarius Filii Dei
Vicarius Filii Dei is a phrase first used in the forged medieval Donation of Constantine to refer to Saint Peter, a leader of the Early Christian Church and regarded as the first Pope by the Catholic Church...

 (Vicar of the Son of God), the resulting number is 666
666
Year 666 was a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 666 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Europe :* Chertsey Abbey is founded.* Barking Abbey...

, which is one of several alternative numbers known as the "Number of the Beast
Number of the Beast
The Number of the Beast is a term in the Book of Revelation, of the New Testament, that is associated with the first Beast of Revelation chapter 13, the Beast of the sea. In most manuscripts of the New Testament and in English translations of the Bible, the number of the Beast is...

." Keating says the Iglesia ni Cristo also claims that "Vicarius Filii Dei" is engraved on the Pope's tiara
Tiara
A tiara is a form of crown. There are two possible types of crown that this word can refer to.Traditionally, the word "tiara" refers to a high crown, often with the shape of a cylinder narrowed at its top, made of fabric or leather, and richly ornamented. It was used by the kings and emperors of...

. The INC's source for this claim is a Seventh-day Adventist Church
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

 book. "Vicar of the Son of God" is not among the many official titles traditionally used for popes, neither past nor present, although Vicar of Jesus Christ one of the most prominent papal titles.

Catholic Answers rejects the Iglesia ni Cristo's interpretation of certain Bible verses and use of some translations to support its doctrines. They also criticized INC's use of the George Lamsa
George Lamsa
George M. Lamsa was an Assyrian author. He was born in Mar Bishu in what is now the extreme east of Turkey. A native Aramaic speaker, he translated the Aramaic Peshitta Old and New Testaments into English.-History and views:Lamsa was a member of the Assyrian Church of the East...

 translation of Acts 20:28 as proof that the true church is called "Church of Christ". They argue that it is not based on the original Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

. In Greek, the phrase is "the church of God" (tan ekklasian tou Theou) not "the church of Christ" (tan ekklasian tou Christou).

Charles Caldwell Ryrie

Charles Caldwell Ryrie
Charles Caldwell Ryrie
Charles Caldwell Ryrie is a Christian writer and theologian who served as professor of systematic theology and dean of doctoral studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and as president and professor at what is now Philadelphia Biblical University...

 has criticized the INC for misquoting his Ryrie Study Bible regarding in the May/June 1984 issue of the Pasugo.
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. The
full note reads: “In this verse the Word (Christ) is said to be with God (i.e., in communion
with and yet distinct from God) and to be God (i.e., identical in essence with God).” If that is not clear enough to say that I believe in the full deity and equality of Christ, let anyone read the notes at John 10:30 and 20:28. The doctrinal summary in the back of the Bible under Trinity is also quite clear. "

Evangelical apologetics response

Let Us Reason Ministries, an online apologetics research group, criticized the INC for holding the belief that it has the sole authority from God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 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, 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." They also reject the INC's doctrine that one can only be saved if they are a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo.

According to The Bereans Apologetics Research Ministry, some of the beliefs of INC are contrary to mainstream Christianity. The Bereans also refute the INC belief that Felix Manalo is the "angel from the east" in Revelation 7:1-3, since the "angel from the east cried with a loud voice to the four angels"(Rev 7:2) but according to them Manalo was never consulted by the Big Four(Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau, and Orlando) and Manalo was never involved in ending World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

Members Church of God International response

On April 18, 2005, MCGI members headed by Marcos Mataro had an apparently unauthorized religious debate with members of INC in a Jollibee outlet in Apalit, Pampanga
Apalit, Pampanga
Apalit is a Philippine municipality in the province of Pampanga, Philippines. It is situated in the Luzon Island. According to the latest census, it has a population of 97,296 inhabitants in 15,072 households....

. Local police on orders of the town mayor went to the restaurant and tried to stop the debate for lack of a mayor's permit. Mataro insisted on pushing through with the debate, assuring no trouble. 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. Leaders of the MCGI group said they do not trust the local policemen. Mataro shouted, which reportedly provoked some INC members to a confrontation, and led to a free-for-all.

On April 27, 2008, Mataro was shot dead by two unknown assailants in San Simon, Pampanga
San Simon, Pampanga
San Simon is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Pampanga, Philippines. According to the latest census, it has a population of 48,050 people in 7,680 households.-Barangays:San Simon is politically subdivided into 14 barangays.* Concepcion...

. Murder charges were filed against Nickson Icao and Felizardo Lumagham, both of Macabebe, Pampanga and allegedly members of INC, before the San Fernando prosecutors office. Mataro's killing could also be linked to his pending attempted homicide case before the Apalit Municipal Trial Court and Quezon City
Quezon City
Quezon City is the former capital and the most populous city in the Philippines. Located on the island of Luzon, Quezon City is one of the cities and municipalities that make up Metro Manila, the National Capital Region. The city was named after Manuel L...

 Regional Trial Court.

Ross Tipon

The main accusation of restraint of press freedom arises from the church's seeking to stop the publication of writer Ross Tipon
Ross Tipon
Ross Tipon is a freelance author based in Baguio City, Philippines, who formerly wrote a column for a now-defunct daily publication in Manila called Philippines Newsday....

'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. However, Tipon, represented by lawyer Fervyn Pinzon, said stopping the publication of the book infringes on his freedom expression rights. An attorney
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

 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
Felix Manalo
Felix Ysagun Manalo , also known as Ka Félix, was the first Executive Minister of the Philippines'-based religious organization Iglesia ni Cristo, and incorporated it with the Philippine Government on July 27, 1914. He is the father of Eraño G...

. The INC seeks PHP
Philippine peso
The peso is the currency of the Philippines. It is subdivided into 100 centavos . Before 1967, the language used on the banknotes and coins was English and so "peso" was the name used...

1,000,000 in damages from Tipon and the unknown publisher.

Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption

With the help Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), actress Rochelle Barrameda has said she wants to speak with Manalo following reports that lawyers of the religious group are allegedly influencing the outcome of her sister Ruby Rose Barrameda-Jimenez’s murder case. In March 2010, Agnes Devanadera
Agnes Devanadera
Agnes VST Devanadera , is the 41st and first woman Philippine Solicitor General or Attorney General duly appointed on February 22, 2007 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo...

 dropped the case against the suspect Lope Jimenez who is a member of INC before she stepped down as justice secretary despite the fact that "there was a preliminary investigation and she(Devadanera) herself said we have a strong case". Jimenez joined the INC to protect his fishing business. According to suspect-turned-eyewitness Manuel Montero, the two suspects brothers Manuel Jimenez II and Lope Jimenez were the ones who ordered him to abduct and kill Ruby Rose, whose body was found stuffed in a steel drum that was filled with cement and submerged in the waters off the Navotas fish port in June 2009. In a letter to Manalo, VACC said "the “delicate” matter needs to be discussed considering how the issue is threatening to erode the victims’ confidence in the INC and the whole criminal justice system". The VACC also expressed alarm over reports that lawyers of the religious group are allegedly influencing the trial of road rage murder suspect Jason Ivler, who allegedly killed Renato Ebarle Jr., son of Malacañang Undersecretary Renato Ebarle. The Philippine Star has tried but failed to contact Manalo or other INC officials. On August 12, 2010, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima
Leila De Lima
Leila Magistrado De Lima is the secretary of Philippine Department of Justice under the Administration of President Noynoy Aquino...

reinstated the murder charges against Lope Jimenez.

External links

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