THE SORRY STATE OF THE IGLESIA NI CRISTO

I have never been the “religious” type of person by any book.  I remember how my parents used to reprimand me (I’m the leader, of course!)  and my siblings whenever we to talk about how many fish died during the the Great Flood.  To this day, I’ve always wondered why Noah allowed the fish to die, or maybe he didn’t.  Maybe, someone just forgot to write it in the Bible.

The church members are empowered by their belief, regardless of any moral implications, that their obedience will take them to their Heavenly Abode, just like trying to keep a kid quiet, hence, the noisy kid can’t go to Disneyland to see Mickey.  If someone assures me of my salvation at the expense of depriving people their BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS, condoning treachery, misleading people, hating people who are opposed to my ideas, Heaven has no meaning to me.

Is it ignorance that led this church to its “sorry state?”  Highly unlikely. The new breed of the INC takes pride in its “force by numbers.”  They take pride in the glory of the magnificent Philippine Arena, the luxury cars and businesses owned by their leaders and their lavish lifestyles. The once oppressed church, is now a powerhouse and a power broker.  The church that was once an icon of persecution and poverty had evolved.  The members are now solidified by their affiliation to a church that wields its influence in the economy and politics of the Philippines. The church reached its highest glory.  Praise the Almighty!

What is SO WRONG, then?

The church members still remain living in sub-standard conditions despite the riches of the church. Majority of church members could barely afford to put food on their table.  This is not a story anyone can spin.  I’ve been around those families more than you can imagine.  They have no money to take care of their sick, or at worst, bury their own dead.  I’m sure even the Sanggunian members can bear witness to my story.  The Sanggunian members didn’t come from royal families.  They are from happy and underprivileged families, who were respected by church members. How could this have happened?  Have they been deprived of the material things in the past?  Did they just suddenly wake up from that deprivation and realized that material things can be easily obtained by a little craft?  Ask yourself this – Did you want a career or you want to take care of the church?  Fair warning, don’t use the church as a vehicle to achieve your personal and career goals.

So, did the fish really die during the Great Flood.  It doesn’t matter to me now. I just believe.  Besides, there are no moral issues involved why Noah didn’t save the fish, or did he?  Maybe, I should blame my unlucky stars for being too inquisitive, as the old saying goes, “Ignorance is bliss.”

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WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT ABOUT BEING A PROTESTANT?

Mr. Joel San Pedro, an INC Minister bashed expelled INC Ministers in an article he wrote.  In his effort discredit their own Ministers, he called out the Protestants.  Wrong comparison!  Mr. San Pedro just showed his lack of knowledge of historical facts.

CAPTION FROM JOEL SAN PEDRO’S ARTICLE:

“These Fallen Angels sound very Protestant. No wonder God has no place for them in the Church Of Christ. Those who listen to people outside the Church will also end up outside the Church. If you listen to satan’s instruments leading you to no longer follow God’s will, can you expect them to bring you into God’s heavenly Kingdom?”

THIS IS HISTORY:

The Protestant Reformation was the 16th-century religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval that splintered Catholic Europe, setting in place the structures and beliefs that would define the continent in the modern era. In northern and central Europe, reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Henry VIII challenged papal authority and questioned the Catholic Church’s ability to define Christian practice. They argued for a religious and political redistribution of power into the hands of Bible- and pamphlet-reading pastors and princes. The disruption triggered wars, persecutions and the so-called Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church’s delayed but forceful response to the Protestants. (history.com

So, what’s so about about being a Protestant?

THE ECHO OF APPEALS TO EVM – THE PRINCE BY MICHIAVELLI

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) is a diplomat, historian, and a political theorist.  He authored a political treatise titled “THE PRINCE.”  The book is based on true characters and current political situation during his time. Published five years after his death, The Prince garnered both criticisms and recognition.  Its worst assailants are religious organizations, calling the book “diabolical, unethical, and immoral.”  However, the book earned recognition for its realism on how rulers (PRINCES)  acquire their principalities and how to effectively hold them, and if necessary, ruthlessly eliminating any individuals who stand in the way to achieve autonomy.

In the book, Machiavelli referred to REPUBLICS, which are governed by their citizens, and PRINCIPALITIES, which are governed by a single, strong ruler, which is the prince. According to the book there are various ways states can be acquired, however, I will only discuss the states that apply to the topic of this discussion, namely:

The HEREDITARY, in which rule is passed down among members of one family and the ECCLESIASTICAL, which is believed to be ordained by God.  Machiavelli considers these 2 principalities easy to hold.  In the former, the subjects are accustomed to the family of their prince that it is only sufficient that the prince upholds the institutions he inherited.  In the latter, such principality is upheld by the powers of God. The prince is Divinely appointed. 

EVM acquired his Principality by mere good fortune (Hereditary and Ecclesiastical.)   Due to the Divine nature of his Principality, the Church had given EVM ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY in the Court of God.  He is the central and absolute power of the Church.

It’s been noted in the treatise, that the most difficult and perilous task for a prince to undertake is the introduction of a new order of things because he will make enemies of the people used to the ways of the old prince.  Having enjoyed the old conditions, they will come together in support of their lost freedom and privileges. However, if the family of the old Prince is exterminated, the subjects, now without a ruler, and not knowing how to govern their state, will be disunited, and will have a slow resistance to the new order.  Why would EVM listen to your appeal to re-unite with his mother and siblings?  Would it make sense to maintain the “anchors” to the old ways, and let the subjects rally behind them? Doing so, will defeat his purpose to introduce a new order of things, like “express tiwalag,” rallying to air your grievances against the government, public humiliation, festive dancing in public, etc.

In conclusion, Machiavelli posed the following question:  “whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved .”

I, therefore, conclude that “BEING ONE WITH EVM,” assures him that his subjects will not be hostile, or will not conspire against him.  As for being feared, it is more than enough that members of the church live in constant fear of God’s retribution for speaking against the Divinely appointed. With that being said, his princely state is well-secured.

THE EXPULSION OF THE FAMILY AND THE SILENCE OF THE FLOCK

It’s been such a long time since I’ve been searching for answers as to how a You Tube video could have lead to the expulsion of the Manalo Family, along with numerous ministers and members.  I played so many dynamics in my head, looking for any social, political, or historical relevance of the many events to follow.

It all started that one fateful evening when a couple of my friends from the East Coast sent me text messages alerting me to watch Angel Manalo and Ka Tenny, appealing to the members of their church for help because their lives and some abducted ministers’ lives were in danger.  There was no way I could believe what I was reading from my friends’ messages.  I called my immediate family, and much to my surprise, no one knew anything so we checked out the news, and there it was, in plain sight.  That was one sleepless night for all of us.

Part of us were in denial that there’s truth to what we were reading in social media. It was like a CIRCUS, and at the center of the pandemonium was the Church under fire.  What was to follow next was unprecedented in the history of the Church.

We all have moved on from that denial to acceptance, but yet no one has ever spoken as to what happened prior to that viral video.  Until someone in the FLOCK breaks his SILENCE, we will all be in limbo, hopefully, not forever.

As to what I had written earlier, I have played many conflicting scenarios in my head.  I have argued with my own thoughts and theories, and the only rational thing that stood out the most is the theory that the move is not religious, but rather, political in nature. History reveals that some leaders like Stalin, implemented the Purge, and Mao Zedong used the Hundred Flowers Campaign to get rid of their oppositions to push their own agendas, and the list goes on. Likewise, consider how many nobles and rulers, were murdered by their own families. I am not suggesting someone wants the family killed. This is just my THEORY, as evidenced by HISTORY.

The next question is – What is the agenda?

THE REFORMED CHURCH AND THE CAT-AND-MOUSE GAME

Cat and mouse, often expressed as cat-and-mouse game, is an English-language idiom dating back to 1675 that means “a contrived action involving constant pursuit, near captures, and repeated escapes.”[1] The “cat” is unable to secure a definitive victory over the “mouse”, who despite not being able to defeat the cat, is able to avoid capture. In extreme cases, the idiom may imply that the contest is never-ending. The term is derived from the hunting behavior of domestic cats, which often appear to “play” with prey by releasing it after capture. This behavior is due to an instinctive imperative to ensure that the prey is weak enough to be killed without endangering the cat.[en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_and_Mouse]

What does a church got to do with cats and mice?

Yesterday, I got a call from a very good friend who was deeply concerned about his weakening faith in the Church. He started his story with an instruction he received in the worship service stating that should any member hear someone speak against, or question the Church administration, it should be duly noted and reported to the Elders of the Congregation. Please take note that “speaking against” the Church administration has no borders.  The offense could be as simple as liking or sharing a post in Facebook. Or it could be as simple as someone hating the blue dress you wore at the church service.

One might ask how such instruction can benefit the church, other than silencing the opposition, while the rest of the “not targeted group” can have a field day on anyone in opposition, either inside or outside the church.  Is this a willful and malicious act to further disunite members?

What happened to the days when the goal of going to church is to seek spiritual guidance and seek peace in the midst of life’s difficulties and challenges?  Why is the Church overemphasizing unity with the Church Administration, instead of UNITY WITH GOD?  Why are members set in opposition or combat, against one another?  Is the Church starting to lose its grip on its members?

The IGLESIA NI CRISTO holds many traditional beliefs, and the members obey rigid disciplines. It’s a very STRUCTURED organization that existed seamlessly for over a hundred years.  Those long time beliefs and traditions are now being challenged, causing the church to fracture under the weight of opposing views.

Finally, before my friend and I parted, he made a very serious statement – THIS IS NOT THE SAME CHURCH  I KNEW BEFORE.

THE HORROR OF FACEBOOK OBITUARY

I was overjoyed to be reunited with my brothers’ Facebook friends after his passing from a short battle with lung cancer  His friends from many years back,found me when I posted my appreciation for sharing my family’s grief in several pages of his close friends’ Facebook accounts.  I was excited to put new faces in the names familiar to me when I was growing up.   There were exchanges of life experiences, plans for meeting, and promises to keep in touch.  For that I, am grateful because I discovered my brother’s life in the eyes of many strangers.

Facebook is my  travel book.  I go to my Friends’ accounts to check out their travels.  It also serves me as  biographical books, as I watch my friends’ kids get married and raise children.  I can visit their homes and gardens with just a few clicks of my finger, or check out new cuisine, or visit them at the hospital when they are ailing.  I also enjoy flipping through my friends’ accounts and watch parties and wedding happen simultaneously.  Facebook is my virtual world of flowers and cakes, hugs and kisses, joys and sorrows, etc.

However, there are days when I have to gather my composure before I open my Facebook.  As much as I accept and embrace our mortality, there’s a big part of me that can’t let go of life.

A few days after I returned to the US, after my brother’s internment, I was shocked to learn from my Newsfeeds  that 2 of my brother’s friends and my nephew passed away.  I guess there will be no more reunions with them when I return to the Philippines. Dealing with death is like losing something you know you will never find again.  It is not just a painful experience, but rather one that is lasting; something you will take with you until you see your own last light get snuffed out.

As I approach 60, a great deal of  my friends can surely relate to my battles with aging.  Needless to say, everyone can contribute to the long list of health issues associated with aging.  Issues, which I wish they have better names for.  Remember the last heartburn you had that mimicked a heart attack?

The fatigue, the lack of energy, the restlessness, the over excitement which I used to associate with my hard partying life in my youth, are now what I call  “TERROR FACTORS,” enough to drive me to an emergency visit to the hospital.

Many must be wondering where this chat is going to?  Well….. Just keep posting!   I’m waiting for your next post.

-IN MEMORY OF SUSANA BENITO MENDIOLA, A BEAUTIFUL PERSON FROM GRADE SCHOOL

IGLESIA NI CRISTO – THREAT OF APOSTACY AND REFORMATION

I was approached  by some INC family members, asking me  why I’m blogging about a Church I have no affiliation with.  Good question!  Reasons dictate that if you are sick, you go to a doctor.  When you have a legal issue, you go to a lawyer. Does the doctor or lawyer have to be your family or friend to be credible or worthy of merit?  How often does a dying person ask someone who is trying to save his life if he’s an INC?  Or a Muslim? Or, perhaps, an Atheist?  Do you reject your teacher’s instructions or your chef’s food for the mere lack of affiliation to your Church?

I started taking a keen interest on the issues surrounding the Iglesia Ni Cristo when I participated in Jun Castillo’s Facebook Page.  For a brief introduction, Mr. Castillo was the Head of Legal Department of the INC under Ka Erdy.  He is a lawyer and a Minister.

My presence in his threads was not well received by members of the church, due to the fact that I hold the status “EXPELLED,”  a word most often capitalized by the few self-righteous and judgmental members. I was hurled some unkind and un-Christian words, but  Mr. Castillo, a true Minister,  welcomed me in his wall. His Editorials are so mind boggling that one has to apply good analytical skills in solving his puzzles.  Neither I, nor Mr. Castillo made claims that the conclusions are the absolute truth.

Who is the real Antonio Ebangelinsta aka AE?  For lack of solid proof and evidence, I can not identify him, but I can only speculate who he is by uncovering his motives.

In the Editorials, Jun Castillo used the famous Broadway Show, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, to uncover who is playing the PHANTOM role, and identify his motives.  From there, we concluded that PHANTOM is deeply embedded in the organization, and his motive is to introduce reforms by splitting the church (separate the followers from the resistance), eliminating the ranks of succession and oppositions, and eventually eliminating the Church Council.  

Antonio Ebangelista publicly admitted in his writings that he is not just one individual.  They are seeds, and one can safely assume,  these seeds had already sprouted and have already proliferated relentlessly like weeds.   Like new seeds, they represent new growth and new ideas.  In AE’s  own words, A.E. is ‘ANOTHER ERA.”  Doesn’t that sound like someone is trying to fix a bridge that is not broken? Or someone needs to break the bridge first, so they will have reasons to fix it?

AE is the threat to the Church that is already divided.  Further failure to reunite the Church will allow these seeds to flourish and introduce new disciplines, as already evidenced by what we are witnessing today –  it’s OK to take your protest in public against the government, cause civil unrest, dance in public, humiliate and use profanities, etc.  Whoever follows him will be the REFORMISTS.  As many already know, these are the members who will follow this group to the deepest and darkest valleys.

There will be members who will uphold the traditional disciplines and resist reforms. These member will be persecuted, and subsequently, expelled.  There’s also a possibility that these members will unite, and declare ‘THEY ARE AFRAID NO MORE.”  and renounce their faith.

THE GREAT RIFT AND DISINTEGRATION INSIDE THE INC

Despite external persecution and criticisms of its doctrines, the IGLESIA NI CRISTO flourished for 101 years . It was admired for its unrivaled unity and brotherly love between members.  Recently, the once secretive religion found itself disintegrating in the public eye.  How could this have happened to the once peaceful religious organization?

The rift started internally when one anonymous person, known as Antonio Ebangelista aka AE, took his exposes to social media.  His exposes centered around misappropriation of church funds, and the lavish lifestyles of  some of the members of the Church Council.  In an effort to quell the negative impact of his exposes, the Church Council implemented a “witch hunt” of suspected ministers and members, and subsequently  expelling them. Let’s playback from here.

As an expelled member of the church (although mine is not a result of the witch hunt,) along with the expelled Ministers and members, we are considered to be of the “Dark”, short of saying, we are the Devil’s Advocates. These expelled Ministers and members, as a result of the “witch hunt,” were publicly shamed and demonized by some members of the Church.  Their faces were stamped on caricatures of Satan or evil biblical characters and circulated in social media, as other members watched in horror and disbelief.

The Church started disintegrating when its members broke out in 2 camps, slinging mud back and forth.

Camp 1 – I AM WITH EVM AND THE CHURCH ADMINISTRATION.  These are the members who believe in the infallibility of their Executive Minister, Eduardo V. Manalo, and the Church Council.  Their commands are the truth and can not be questioned.  Doing so would be questioning God’s will, a heresy worthy of church expulsion.  They uphold the expulsion of the Executive Minister’s mother and siblings, at times, demonizing them publicly.

Camp 2 – I AM WITH GOD FIRST.  These are the members who believe in the infallibility of their Executive Minister, but firmly believe the Church Council needs to be accountable for its misappropriation of church funds and the use of the church coffers to support their lavish lifestyles.  These are THE ANONYMOUS NAMES IN FACEBOOK and other social media, the SILENT AND/OR DISGRUNTLED, who would dare not express their views for fear of expulsion. They are the supporters of the Ministers and members who were expelled during the “witch hunt.”  They question the expulsion of Executive Minister’s mother and siblings, without due process.

Never in the history of this Church had crime, civil disobedience and disunity been preached and tolerated. Never has the Gospel been used in this church to attack its own members. Never has this church used a public podium to attack State Officials and citizens with obscene profanities.  Yet the Church continue doing so, further widening the gap between the 2 camps . Now, it’s Brothers against Brothers, Sisters against Sisters, and Brothers against Sisters. TRUST inside the Church had been breached.

The Church is in the process of disintegration caused by its own Administration and some members, sadly, from both camps.  If this Church fails to re-unite its members, this disintegration will further lead to either APOSTASY OR REFORMATION.

Follow my next blog on APOSTASY AND REFORMATION