Music Summit 2009 Gives Birth to 12 Regal Songs of Praise

Pampanga, Philippines – Twelve new, a-year-in-the-making songs of praises illuminated the 9th International Music Summit (IMS) held November 29, Monday, at the Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga. The 12 songs, each from its respective choir division, were presented at the IMS Chorale Festival, dedicated not for presidents and kings but for the God of Israel.

IMS is an annual one-stop-shop whole day affair for everything musical in the Members Church of God International (MCGI). Its highlight is the Choral Festival, where choral groups from different divisions present their original compositions in awe-inspiring musical productions. This year, the 12 participating divisions in the festival include Bulacan, Pampanga, Quezon-Marinduque, Metro Manila, Laguna-Batangas-Mindoro-Romblon (LBMR), Bicol, Rizal, Cavite, North 2, Central Apalit, Canada, and the Prison Ministry.

In a two-year streak, the Metro Manila Division, home of the biggest chorale ensemble, took the Best Interpretation and Best Composition awards, the only awards for the night, for their majestic song “Let’s Have Some Conversation”. With headcount that blots an entire stage, their overpowering performance proved once more that there is strength in a massive concerted effort aimed to bringing out the best of the best of praise songs. Their winning composition shall soon be heard in Ang Dating Daan Bible Expositions, the inimitable segment of radio-TV-internet program Ang Dating Daan hosted by MCGI Presiding Minister, Bro. Eliseo Soriano.

A vital part of IMS is the nurturing of God-given talents among choir members. It conducts a regular “Music Clinic” designed to address all aspects of choral singing, including technical and spiritual. The two-and-a-half hour lecture ranges from designating voices to soprano, alto, tenor and bass, cultivating voice quality through proper vocalizations, correcting posture and breathing, repairing tone deafness, teaching proper syllabications and accents, to instructing proper execution of duties and responsibilities.

The main lecturer for this year’s Music Clinic was composer, Norman Rueda, a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Music, Major in Composition.

Rueda, who has composed many of the special songs or “tanging awit” being sung in MCGI during thanksgiving days and in local activities, serves as conductor to the Music Ministry Core (MMC), the IMS organizer. His eye defect notwithstanding, which rather provided him a sharper grasp of sounds, Rueda completed his degree in music through the encouragement of another accomplished composer, none other than MCGI Vice Presiding Minister, Bro. Daniel Razon. This “little” encouragement proved fateful and created a great impact to the present landscape of MCGI Music Ministry.

During the Music Clinic, Rueda talked about the basic rehearsal procedures and how they are applied in the professional world.

“We in the chorus class, we do rehearsals only for one hour. In that duration we practice seven pieces. That’s the professional way. But of course we are not professionals; because we are more than professionals. We are Christians.”

Half an hour during his lecture, Rueda introduced 80-year-old pianist, Grace Melendrez, a former professor at the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music. Melendrez, who was baptized in the Church of God just last year, taught in the university for three decades. Upon sitting down in front of her piano onstage, she went right down to imparting some of her time-tested musical wisdom.

“We talk first of the diaphragm; that is the (breath) support. And you never raise your shoulders when you breathe; it’s always here about the waistline.”

Another special portion of this year’s IMS were the graduation rites of trainees from the ADD Chamber Orchestra and the National Choir. These two groups were formed through the initiative of Bro. Eli a few years ago, and are now crucial parts of the Music Ministry.

The 10 graduates from the ADD Chamber Orchestra consisted of 4 violin players, 3 violas, 2 cellos, and 1 clarinet. The clarinet player was the first wind instrumentalist to graduate from the group. With musical director, Michael Santos, the orchestra conducts training programs every Sunday, which includes music theory, solfeggio, and musical dictation.

For the National Choir, 34 trainees graduated after a year and two months of training under musical director, Norman Rueda, and mentors, Rainelda Viray, Ronaldo Deticio, Michaela Radomes, and NC President, Rey Jebulan. The NC’s main role is to sing in the 24/7 singing of praises to God and other special activities. Both the National Choir and the ADD Chamber Orchestra are being provided with all their needs by Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel.

For eight years, the annual Music Summit has never gone by without hearing the most important voice in the event, the voice of the preachers of God. This year, however, due to Bro. Eli’s nonstop Bible expositions primarily in North America, which recently added more than 2,000 newly baptized souls in the Church of God, his steward to taking care of the brethren, Bro. Daniel, was quick to fill the gap despite his almost equally hectic schedule. Bro. Daniel’s speech revolved around the parallelism of God-given opportunity and God-given talents.

“The opportunity given by God is not an opportunity to do evil. It just happens that others use their special characteristics in evil deeds. For example, he is strong; he then used his strength in bullying and harassing people.

“God gives us something special that makes us differ from others. Isn’t it special that you have learned how to read notes and play the violin and sing high notes? How will you relate that to the opportunity given by God? Opportunity is given by God for you to do good, not evil. As much as the opportunity given by God is an opportunity to do good, everything that God gives you, including your talent, including everything that you have received, God gives you that for you to do His will and His goodness. That is the parallelism.”

The 9th International Music Summit started at 8am and ended at 10pm, monitored through live streaming in various countries. Next year, IMS is expected to produce another set of regal songs of praises to the God of Israel, God willing.

Thanksgiving to God that No Ondoy or Ketsana Can Hinder

While Tropical Storm Ondoy, international name Ketsana, brought flashfloods that wrecked billions of pesos worth of properties and claimed hundreds of lives in the Philippines, Members Church of God International, a group known to thank God for everything, was not in any way hindered in offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.

“Whether there’s rain, typhoon, or flood, whatever the situation is, whether there is a problem or not, thanksgiving must continue.” This is what Bro. Daniel Razon, MCGI Vice Presiding Minister, said during the congregation’s weekly thanksgiving celebration held Saturday, September 26, at the Ang Dating Daan (ADD) Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga.

From his recent visit to the brethren in America, Bro. Daniel once again brought home good news concerning the Church’s evangelical endeavors. He welcomed, for this week alone, about 300 newly baptized brethren all over the globe, including 19 in South America and 17 in Japan. In the Philippines, 93 were baptized in Pampanga, 14 in Bacolod, 12 in Tuguegarao, 6 in Davao, 44 in Daet, and several others in different provinces. There were also newly-baptized brethren in some parts of North America, United States, Africa and Papua New Guinea.

Although tedious, the nonstop preaching of Bro. Eliseo Soriano, MCGI Presiding Minister and host of the religious radio-television program Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) allows the Church of God to officiate string of baptisms across continents. Diverse nationalities now begin to perceive the uniqueness of the true Church in terms of faith and doctrines as compared to what they have been hearing all their lives from their pastors. For the first time also, they have seen a different kind of preacher, one that is not hypocritical and who fully adheres to the Bible.

Unlike in the past when most of the brethren abroad are also Filipinos, most of the converts nowadays are non-Filipinos. They now dominate the locales, where the only Filipino is the worker. The choir and Teatro Kristiano (Christian Theatre) groups are no longer Filipinos as well. Yet many of them, whether black or white, have learned to sing in a foreign tongue: Tagalog. To once again let the congregation feel the effect and expanse of evangelization in other countries, Bro. Eli sent a video of three Portuguese-speaking American brethren in their teens singing Hanggang sa Langit (Up to Heaven’s Throne), a Tagalog song.

Debates re-emerge in expositions

In America, people who come to the Bible expositions do not believe right away, Bro. Eli said. They bring their own Bibles; and to those who have none Bro. Eli provides. The exposition would start at eight in the morning and would end at eight in the evening, yet the guests still don’t want to go home. They fall in line to throw some more questions to the phenomenal preacher.

A huge man about six feet three inches tall came to one of Bro. Eli’s Bible expositions, and, believing that what Bro. Eli was saying was wrong, started shouting at the 62-year old preacher. Bro. Eli then told him not to shout and to listen first, and he obliged. Unlike pastors of other religions who insist their errors, when the man saw that he was wrong, he already kept silent. After 2 months of listening to Bro. Eli, the man who thought he could scare a preacher of God by his loud voice and intimidating size was baptized in the Church of God. The video of his baptism was shown for the congregation across the globe.

Along with the continuous Bible Expositions, Bro. Daniel informed the brethren that debates are again taking place. In other countries, since they are not yet familiar with Bro. Eli, there are pastors who are still confident to take the unbeatable preacher head on. Bro. Daniel reported that since Bro. Eli’s debate with the pastor of the Assembly of God a few weeks ago was televised in different parts of America, Assembly of God members and pastors were able to watch, and the one who debated with Bro. Eli was already excommunicated from their congregation.

The now former pastor, after his defeat and excommunication, continuously attends Bro. Eli’s Bible expositions and already wants to be baptized. “With God’s mercy, the one I debated with here last month is already attending in our locale and helping there, that pastor of the Assembly of God. Thanks be to God.” Bro. Eli said.

Recently, another pastor came forward and challenged Bro. Eli. The debate is set to take place on Wednesday, October 7. The challenger is a former policeman and seems to be a brave one, just like the others before him who tried to measure Bro. Eli’s wisdom.

A week earlier as of this writing, another pastor of the Assembly of God came to one of Bro. Eli’s Bible expositions. He was a pastor who taught among pastors. In the Assembly of God, they call him professor los profesores. The 68 year old former pastor said that after listening to Bro. Eli on television, he found nothing against his teachings, because they were all being read from the Bible. Next Wednesday, on the debate, he said that he will call all the pastors that he knows and will let them face Bro. Eli, God willing. “Please do call all the pastors.” Bro. Eli replied.

The fearlessness in Bro. Eli to defend the faith against any resistance was not developed by experience but by faith. As a mouthpiece used by God, none has ever withstood his biblical expertise. Those who tried to dismantle it experienced the same fate. “Here in America, in North and South, their teachings are all the same, the Protestant, Born Again, Seventh Day Adventist, Assembly of God, et cetera. Before I came here I already knew their foolish doctrines. God has already prepared me for this.”

A different style of persecution

Bro. Daniel also expressed his thoughts regarding the scenario in other countries. He said that what is happening here in the Philippines, the kind of persecution the Church of God experiences, is also the case abroad. Pastors of different religions who are being hit by Bro. Eli’s preaching are now beginning to convene, to malign and destroy Bro. Eli.

“They have a different style,” Bro. Daniel added. They sell Bibles at $60 each and say that those are from Bro. Eli. They also download and reproduce the CDs and DVDs of Bro. Eli that are being shown on television, as well as video files and clips, and sell them at $34 a DVD. And if in the Philippines many born again denominations preach 10% or tithes, in America they collect a total of 30%: 10% for the Father, 10% for the Son, and 10% for the Holy Spirit.

Behind Bro. Eli’s endless travels

Thanksgiving to God is one activity that MCGI does not neglect, much more its leader. No matter the obstacles, Christians will not fail to give thanks to God for everything that happens in their lives. In traveling to these assemblies, however, Bro. Eli’s difficulty in America is a different story. After the Thanksgiving Day in the Philippines, from 7 am to 5 pm, worship service follows which lasts until 8-9 in the evening. After the worship service, brethren in the Philippines can go home and rest.

In America, what follows is another whole day affair, the English version of the Thanksgiving Day. After the English version, exposition follows. After the exposition, Bro. Eli will travel for 24 hours to another exposition, which starts at eight in the morning until eight in the evening. The only break time he gets is a 1 hour lunch break and a 30-minute coffee break. After the exposition—a whole day of answering queries of people from all walks of life—Bro. Eli will again travel for 16 hours.

“There are three locations here where I go to conduct expositions and one in the Philippines, so a total of four expositions a week, with God’s help. So you see how busy we are. This past week we were very busy, almost every day. We were on the road for three days, and four days on exposition. Even if my body hurts from traveling, the exposition continues.” Bro. Eli explained to the brethren.

In the vehicle as he travels, Bro. Eli is still working. He makes topics and outlines for worship services and thanksgiving days. While on the road, he administers to the Church in different locations, chatting with the workers and Ministers-in-Charge. Thankfully, managerial jobs today can be done from afar, and through modern technology, Bro. Eli is able to administer all over the world wherever he is. He is the type of preacher who is not fond of resting.

…but the labourers are few

Three thousand kilometers from where Bro. Eli conducts Bible expositions, there are places that are being reached by his television programs. People in those places haven’t seen Bro. Eli personally, but they are already being indoctrinated. Three have already been baptized, and more than 30 others remain under indoctrination. Many other places like this await workers to come to them.

“Hurry up those who are studying, there are many places waiting, there are no workers.” entreated Bro. Eli. “We lack workers here. There’s a place here that is very far from ours, about 3000 kilometers. I haven’t reached it because I am busy here in three locations where we go to conduct expositions.”

Bro. Eli receives thousands of email from different locations in America. One of the emails said, “Come to us already. We have left our church. We do not attend anymore. What will you have us do? Come here already!” Another email requested, “Bro. Eli, I have here a big stadium, come here and I will not ask for any payment. Just come here and let us congregate here.” These are the people waiting but are very far from Bro. Eli’s location, about 4-5 thousand kilometers from end to end. Bro. Eli himself is overwhelmed by the sheer size of the country he is in. The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.

“There are many invitations, and I cannot respond to them all. And I am already old. I want our program on television to be broadcasted live so that even if I am just here people can ask me questions. But it’s very expensive here. The expenses for a one-hour broadcast here is more than the expenses of UNTV in a month. And we only broadcast here for one hour. If only I can broadcast here for three hours that will be a great thing.”

Bro. Daniel disclosed that the Church now has one channel broadcasting 24/7 like UNTV all over Europe. The Church also maintains different cable channels. “We need more workers to help us to propagate our faith and the word of God in different parts of the world.” he added.

Bro. Eli’s name has become very popular even in Russia. The enemies of truth, by propagating lies in the internet saying that Bro. Eli is a rapist and other gossips, have made Bro. Eli’s name very popular. People then became interested and searched in the internet, and then were able to hear the doctrines. Now they are waiting for baptism.

“I pray God that we’ll have more workers here to help me in administering to the people and the brethren. We need workers here who know how to speak English.”

Responding to the urgent call

In response to the growing needs of global evangelization, Sis. Luz Cruz, Bro. Eli’s reader and an old Church worker, reported in front of the congregation the actions being taken by the Evangelical Ministry. “We are teaching some (workers) here in the Evangelical Ministry. It’s been going on for two weeks, and district servants and regular workers are attending. They are more than 30, and with God’s help they are ready for deployment abroad.”

“We also opened a new Level 1 Workers Training, it just started and 300 came in. The Level 2 Workers are less than 200.” she added.

Before the thanksgiving ended, a video was played showing a foreigner from Spain who was able to listen to Bro. Eli through his broadcast. The Old Path is already being watched in London, in Spain, in Germany, and all over Europe, which is expected to bear fruits after some time, with God’s mercy. “Bro. Eli, thank you very much that your program is being broadcast all over Europe which I am watching these days.” said the guest from Spain.

MCGI will celebrate its 3rd Quarter International Thanksgiving to God on October 2-4 at the Ang Dating Daan Convention Center. Whether another Ondoy or Ketsana arrives, brethren all over the country and from abroad are expected to come and celebrate another monumental event, which most other congregations forget: to give thanks to whom due thanksgiving. “I will go also.” (Zechariah 8:21)

MCGI String of Indoctrinations Reaps another 105 Souls in South America

PAMPANGA, PHILIPPINES – Just a week after the brethren in South America gave thanks to God for bringing Bro. Eliseo Soriano, Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God International (MCGI), from the east to the western part of the world to preach the gospel, another 105 souls from the same continent submitted themselves to baptism and joined the brotherhood of Christians.

Last Saturday, September 5, through live video feed emanating from outside the Philippines, Vice Presiding Minister Bro. Daniel Razon welcomed more than 200 new brethren across the globe, including the 105 Americans, during the Thanksgiving Day at the Ang Dating Daan (ADD) Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga. About a hundred were baptized in the Philippines, while others were from different countries such as Australia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Happy to welcome the new brethren, Bro. Daniel gave thanks to God for the new fruits of Bro. Eli’s perseverance in propagating the righteousness and the word of God. “This is the work of God in us: to call those who will serve Him, to call people who will be elected in the Church, to call souls who will be worthy of His kingdom and be part of His glory which He promised us.”

A video footage of the baptism in South America was shown to the thousands in attendance in six continents monitoring through live streaming. As they were immersed in water, recipients of the holy baptism were seen in tears, realizing how important in their lives the moment was. They were all non-Filipinos. God’s calling is being fulfilled beyond race, language and color, thus the fulfillment of Galatians 3:28.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Through the leadership of Bro. Eli, the most queried Bible scholar and host of the religious program Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), MCGI conducts continuous indoctrinations as well as Bible expositions in different parts of the world. And this, the continuous propagation of the righteousness and the word of God, entails a lot of sacrifices, especially on the part of Bro. Eli.

“This is no joke.” Bro. Daniel explained. “We know that we have to spend a lot of money, time and effort. We can consider it a herculean task.”

Bro. Daniel recounted how that a few decades ago, Bro. Eli didn’t even think nor imagine that he will ever go out of the Philippines. During Bro. Daniel’s school years until the time he worked in the broadcast industry, the Bible studies they conducted were just in nearby provinces. Their small vision of covering the whole country compelled Bro. Eli to use the media.

Bro. Eli started broadcasting simultaneously in about 12 local radio stations, one in Laoag, in Baguio and in other provinces. Later on, he saw the need to widen the scope of broadcast to cover a wider audience. After simultaneously broadcasting through radio, which started in 1980, and through television in 1983, only then were they able to reach the corners of the Philippines.

Still, Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel didn’t think that there will be events that will force Bro. Eli to go out of the country. In 2005, the harassment posed by enemies of truth influential to the government culminated to imminent dangers to Bro. Eli’s life, and therefore to the congregation he leads, which signaled his supposedly temporary exile. He did not immediately see that there is really a direction that God is pointing to, where the mission of saving souls shall breathe new life. Now, it has become clearer what is spoken of in Matthew 24:14.

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

“There is no big thing that God cannot do.” Bro. Daniel resolved. He noted how that in various parts of the world where Bro. Eli goes to, the reception to the word of God is even warmer, the expansion and increase of the brethren is much faster. Comparing the past to the present, Bro. Daniel said that when they started preaching the gospel in the Philippines, if there were 20 or 30 persons who submitted themselves to baptism in one occasion, that was already many.

Now, people being baptized in different locations, like in some parts of Africa, in Papua New Guinea, and in other continents, come in groups, sometimes starting from the pastor down to the members. They are able to listen and get enlightened by the teachings and righteousness of God in so many ways the congregation had never imagined before.

“We didn’t even think of these things.” Bro. Daniel said. “Now we are in a state wherein we have to intensify the more our diligence to allow the righteousness and teachings of God reach more souls, whatever their race is.”

Hand in hand with preaching the gospel to other countries, however, is the growing challenge of language diversity. The problem now is not just the dialect. During the infancy of the Church of God in the Philippines, it was not too complicated as many of the brethren speak other dialects, such as Cebuano, Ilocano and Kapampangan. It was easier to go to the Visayas region, or to Mindanao, or to the remote areas of Luzon. Now, outside the Philippines, it’s a totally different case.

In the eastern part of the globe, there is Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, which has several dialects, including Cantonese, Mandarin and Fukien. In the western part, there is French, Italian and many other languages. In America alone, there are many places to go to. The brethren in South America actually speaks Portuguese. To be able to cover all of America, Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia, Bro. Daniel disclosed that they are now thinking of getting more satellite services.

On Decrypting 1 Timothy 2:14 and the 10-Minute Peek to Bro. Eli’s Recent Debate

Doubling the excitement of last week’s Thanksgiving to God, this week’s celebration of the Members Church of God International (MCGI) brought a new advancement in biblical knowledge and in the Church’s global evangelization efforts.

Before thousands of congregants in the Ang Dating Daan (ADD) Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga, Bro. Eliseo Soriano, MCGI Presiding Minister and host of the religious program Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), explained a mystery never before heard regarding the Adam and the woman mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:14. The verse says:

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

In this seemingly simple biblical statement, there is a deep spiritual knowledge embedded, supported by many verses as Bro. Eli proved to the congregation. But unlike in mathematics, wherein experts in different fields can arrive at the same conclusion using various methods, to be able to decipher the mystery in the verse the way Bro. Eli taught the congregation is one that is beyond pure calculations. There must be divine intervention.

“Whenever you read the epistle of Paul,” Bro. Eli said, “put in your mind that there are things he speaks which are hard to understand, especially so when he speaks to Timothy, who is his vice presiding minister.” Bro. Eli cited 2 Peter 3:15-16:

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

It is fortunate that 2,000 years after the death of the apostles, God sent a preacher who would understand those things hard to be understood in Paul’s epistles. Someone is again asking the right questions and providing the right answers.

To ask if Adam or the woman was deceived or not will not squeeze out the vitamins in 1 Timothy 2:14. The biblical wisdom that shocked the congregation can only be determined by asking the right questions. However, even if one is able to ask the right questions in this particular case, which is already a feat in itself, giving the right answers is not anybody else’s business, but of the preacher sent by God. As Bro. Eli decrypted for the Church of God the wisdom in the verse, the congregation was sent into a wild applause.

“Let us not limit the thinking of Apostle Paul.” Bro. Eli said.

The excitement that spurred from the revelation was equaled only by the unexpected turns during the same event. After the brethren in Papua New Guinea brought tears of joy to the congregation as they, a few months ago, sang the Tagalog praise song “Ito ang Araw” (This is the Day), the Portuguese-speaking brethren in South America followed suit with “Ang Mga Sugo ng Dios” (The Sent Ones of God). In a dramatic expression of triumph and gratitude, they offered the new song of praise to the God of Israel in Tagalog tongue.

The reason: for letting Bro. Eli reach the western part of the world to preach the Gospel.

To be overjoyed when history repeats itself the way God requires it is nothing short of biblical. In the video presentation of the Portuguese-speaking brethren shown simultaneously in monitoring centers across the globe via satellite, once more the evidence of God’s guidance, mercy and power takes the limelight. As they stirred the heart of the Church, their spirit of humility testified of God’s work, which transcends cultures, colors and languages.

In the Thanksgiving Day also, another interesting turn was Bro. Eli’s report on what happened on the debate with a Portuguese national, a minister of the Assembly of God, which took place a week earlier. It was not much as to inform the brethren of who won, but how, since the Church believes and had witnessed in so many occasions that the winner is already decided. Luke 21:13-15 says:

And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

In the video shown, a ten-minute segment taken from the 4-hour formal debate, Bro. Eli is seen speaking beside a translator, who translates English to Portuguese. Upon witnessing firsthand a true preacher of God pull down strongholds and cast down erroneous teachings, the brethren, all Portuguese, gave a standing ovation to claim victory. It was their first time to witness it. The glory is all to God.

Members Church of God International holds Thanksgiving Day every Saturday from 7 am to 5 pm. It is a day when members of the Church, along with guests, travel from different provinces to the ADD Convention Center to fulfill their vows to God of offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Chapters abroad monitor the event via live video streaming.

MCGI Welcomes Nearly a Thousand Newly-baptized Souls

PAMPANGA, PHILIPPINES – A total of almost 1000 newly baptized members from different parts of the Philippines were welcomed in the Members Church of God International (MCGI) last Saturday, August 8, during the congregation’s weekly thanksgiving celebration.

The baptism was held a day before thanksgiving, Friday, after a series of indoctrination sessions conducted worldwide by Bro. Eliseo Soriano, MCGI Presiding Minister, which lasted two to three months.

The newly-baptized offered their thanksgiving to God at 2 p.m. in the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga. ADD stands for Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), Bro. Eli Soriano’s 26 years running radio and television program.

For the newly-born babes in Christ, it was another momentous day after the day of baptism, being the first that they have ever truly thanked God and offered Him songs of praises. For them it is the start of a new life.

After the resounding, joyful noise of glorifying the Almighty God onstage, joined by 50 thousand faithful on the convention ground and hundreds of thousands more simultaneously monitoring in six continents, what was supposed to be short testimonies of how these new brethren came to know the Church and Bro. Eli turned into exciting revelations.

A brother in his 60’s, former member of the born again movement, promptly approached the program emcee to narrate his story. He said that he used to offer tithes in his former religion, because that was what they were taught to do.

Upon hearing Bro. Eli’s teachings, however, he said that he abandoned his former belief. He now knows that offering tithes is a commandment to the Israelites and not to Christians, and he even cited the verses he learned during the indoctrination series.

Another one who came forward to share her story was a young lady who exclaimed that she was a former Iglesia ni Cristo member. She recounted that through the indoctrination sessions, she learned that what was being inculcated in their minds about Bro. Eli during their worship services in Iglesia ni Cristo are all lies.

The young lady said she didn’t know that members of Ang Dating Daan were mauled and almost killed by members of her former religion, until she saw it with her own eyes through the video tape played during the indoctrination.

It can be remembered that the life-threatening incident happened in April 2006, when hundreds of INC members cornered and beat to a pulp ADD members in front of Jollibee, a fast food chain in Apalit, Pampanga.

When it was almost time for Bro. Eli to discuss the rest of the day’s topic, one of the newly-baptized, in her desire to testify of God’s deliverance, was given the chance to speak last. A sister in her early 50’s, she described how her gambling, drinking, smoking and other vices stopped when she heard Bro. Eli’s teachings.

When she learned during the indoctrination about how a Christian woman ought to dress herself up, she said she immediately bought herself modest clothes to adhere to the teachings of Christ. The doctrines changed her lifestyle, she said.

Along with the newly-baptized, brethren from abroad including Locale of Vietnam, Locale of Ireland, officers and choir members of Locale of Saipan, Women’s Club of Locale of Japan, were grouped together in giving thanks to God.

There were also the baptizers, the Baptism Committee and Staff, districts in several provinces, the Music Ministry 24/7 (participants of nonstop singing of praises to God), and the August 8, 2009 Celebrants to offer their respective thanksgiving.

Members of the Church of God believe that whenever such a celebration is being performed and dedicated to God, the host of angels in heaven celebrates with them.

A report from abroad made the Thanksgiving Day even livelier. Speaking from the United Arab Emirates through live streaming, Vice Presiding Minister Bro. Daniel Razon said that in different parts of the globe, especially in America, baptism is also nearing.

Through the efforts of Bro. Eli, with the help of God and every member of the Church, “God willing, we will again have new brethren who are non-Filipinos.” he said.

Attraction to Light: a Moth-like Behavior of the People of God

Moths are frequently seen attracted as if “enamored” to bright lights. So are Christians.

The science behind the moth’s behavior of flying toward a source of light, be it a porch light, a light bulb, or a candle, remains largely unknown. In the Philippines, moths locally known as “gamu-gamo” are frequent visitors at homes, especially at night as they fly toward a light source and circle it. Usually, the homeowner will put a plastic bag near the light to capture the seemingly mesmerized insects. The following morning, the bag will be full of the poor thing.

gamu-gamo

Like moths, Christians have a peculiar behavior of racing toward a certain direction. They are attracted to light, and like moths they flock toward its source. This behavior is most evidently seen in the Members Church of God International, a church known for its weekly “Pasalamat” or Thanksgiving. Every Saturday, some fifty to seventy thousand people from different provinces race toward the Ang Dating Daan Convention Center, one of the largest convention centers in Asia, located in Apalit, Pampanga, two hours away from Manila. This huge venue is regularly filled with people, along with thousands others in different countries monitoring through the internet, who offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving to the God of Israel.

Traveling from one place to another seeking light is a behavior of the people of God as early as the time of the prophets. Where the source of light is there they go and congregate. This behavior is recorded in Zechariah 8:21.

And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.

In the Book of Psalms 119:105, the light they seek is defined as the word of God.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Light tells the people of God direction. It guides them to where they are supposed to go. The Israelites, the early people of God, traveled from one place to another seeking the Lord of hosts, the primary source of light. The LORD is introduced in the Bible as “the Father of lights.” James 1:17 says:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

In the Christian era, the source of light is the gospel of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says:

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

The path that the Israelites took to seek the Lord of hosts is the same path Christians in this dispensation take to offer thanksgiving to the God of Israel. It is the same path that leads to the light of the glorious gospel of Christ. It is no coincidence that “Ang Dating Daan” (ADD) translates in English as “The Old Path” (TOP), for an old path it is. Jeremiah 6:16 says:

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

How seekers of light travel toward the source has certainly changed through the advent of modern technology. Christians from different parts of the globe can now “fly” toward the source of light via live streaming, an advanced technology which was not available thousands of years ago. From practically any place in the world the people of God have now the means to congregate and listen to the gospel, emanating from the only sensible preacher of our time, none other than Bro. Eli Soriano.

Bro. Eliseo Soriano, presiding minister of the Members Church of God International, has the reputation of being the most queried man on earth, especially when it comes to biblical matters. He travels the world frequently, not to seek the light, but to bring the word of God to where there are seekers of it. Thus in other countries the moth-like behavior is also observed among non-Filipinos. People of various colors and tongues travel toward the direction of the light. They gather in Bro. Eli’s Bible Expositions.

From various states of North and South America, to Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia, light-seekers travel from hundreds of kilometers away to where Bro. Eli Soriano is, to hear the word of God. For others who have no means to travel, technology is at their disposal. This phenomenon is reminiscent of the time of Solomon, when the queen of the south came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear his wisdom. Luke 11:31 says:

The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

While the explanation behind the moth’s attraction to light remains unknown, one theory suggested is that moths employ a navigation technique that uses bright celestial bodies, particularly the Moon, to travel a straight path. Part of the theory states that when a moth run into a much closer source of light and uses it for navigation, for some reason the moth instinctively turns toward that light. It is “attracted” to it.

Although this light-compass theory is yet to be proven, seekers of the light of the gospel of Christ must also be using some kind of navigation technique that enables them to fly straight toward the source of light, the word of God, which embodies truth. John 17:17 says:

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

The light, the word of God, is truth. To find the truth, there must be a method of navigation. It is not by accident that one finds the truth, but by grace, if not a definite meeting of wills. Psalms 14:2 says:

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.

As one seeks God, His truth, His light, God looks down from heaven. Speaking of “celestial navigation”, nothing is at par with having the primary source of light in heaven guiding your way toward itself, the Father of lights. Just seek Him diligently.

On a final note, like moths, seekers of truth are naturally attracted to light, especially Christians. Where the light is there they gather. You can just imagine if the one carrying the light goes to where the moths are. The following excerpt is taken from Bro. Eli Soriano’s Truth Blog.

eliseo_soriano01I enjoy journeying in this world seeking for my ‘countrymen’ in the world to come… After 43 years of ‘travel’, using my feet, my jeepney, my cars, and my one and only bus, I found the fastest and the most convenient form of vehicle available to travel around the world in search for YOU.

My dream is to find friends; the lost souls; to meet the less fortunate; the hungry; the underfed; the forgotten; and all those rejected by human society: to share with them the hope that is in me; and to be a humble instrument of my Great God, to announce that there is something beautiful and wonderful in store for them who were neglected by this present world!

Contradicting Outcomes of Interpreting the Best-Selling Book of All Time

At six billion copies sold worldwide, the Bible remains the best-selling book of all time; taking only the second place is the Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong at 900 million copies sold. However, the Bible is also the most misunderstood book. Diverse religions claiming to preach based on the Bible are now scattered almost everywhere, each having a different name, a different set of doctrines, beliefs and practices, which is an obvious anomaly.

Apparently, interpreting the Holy Scriptures produces contradicting outcomes in different people. One may interpret a biblical verse this way; the other, that way. Notwithstanding the fact that there is an interpretation that stands to logic, the apparent inconsistency may be better understood through parallel circumstances. Take for example the effects of sunlight on earth.

Without sunlight, life on earth as we know it will not be possible. It is a key component in photosynthesis, a chemical process vital to maintaining life. The sun itself has direct influence on the possibility of life. All over the planet, the sun dictates the climates as well as the changes they undergo. We have winter, spring, summer and fall; we have continents of ice and rocks; we have desserts, rainforests, oceans and seas; all because of the relative position of the earth to the sun. If the sun is a bit too close to earth, our planet will be scorched. Water in liquid form cannot exist, and therefore life, which is dependent on water, can neither exist.

Even how beneficial the sun to earth is, however, it can also bring hazardous effects. Without the atmosphere blocking 98.7 percent of the ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun, sunlight will damage nearly all biological life. Even with the current protection provided by the ozone layer, too much exposure to UV radiation can still cause skin cancer. On the contrary, too less exposure to sunlight will lead to vitamin D deficiency, which leads to many kinds of sicknesses such as osteoporosis, prostate cancer and breast cancer. Our skin benefits from sunlight by helping it produce vitamin D, which is crucial in calcium absorption for developing bones.

In the medical world, there are also positive and negative effects. It doesn’t always follow that if a medicine can cure, anyone who takes in that medicine will automatically be cured. There are kinds of medicine which are very useful to many people, but deadly to others. Take penicillin for example.

In history, penicillin is accounted for saving many lives. It is effective as an antibiotic. Nevertheless, there are people who experience difficulty in breathing and suffer cardiac arrest when given penicillin. These people may have extreme allergic reactions to this medication. To other people, adverse effects of penicillin include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, hypersensitivity, fever, seizures and many others. So one cannot immediately conclude that if the effect of a certain drug is good to some people, it is the same to all.

These positive and negative effects of medication to human health and of sunlight to life on earth are parallels to the contradicting outcomes of using and interpreting the Scriptures. No matter how good the Scriptures is, it would produce negative effects to a person or group of people without understanding. Take for example the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) of Manalo.

Iglesia ni Cristo or INC, a politically-influential organization based in the Philippines, has a unique interpretation of Romans 16:16. The verse says –

Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.

When they read this verse, INC ministers would immediately ask, “What is the name used to greet?” They would then conclude that: “The name “Iglesia ni Cristo” is the official name, because it is the name that was commanded to greet all with.” This explanation was published in Iglesia ni Cristo’s official magazine Pasugo, September 1976 issue, on page 26.

Edited-Pangalang pinangbati

Upon closer look at the verse, however, you will see that there is no name mentioned in Romans 16:16. The commandment was to salute one another. With what? A name? The verse says, “Salute one another WITH AN HOLY KISS.” There is no name mentioned in the verse; much less an official name. What the churches used to salute one another was the holy kiss, not a name.

Another doctrine of the Iglesia ni Cristo of Manalo that has negative consequences considering its moral and spiritual impact to society is their interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:9-10. The verses say –

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

The verses clearly state that women should adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, and not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array. This is according to Apostle Paul. Its clarity notwithstanding, ministers of Iglesia ni Cristo say that this was in time past when people were still conservative. Since we are now modern, they say that we have to adapt to the modern ways. They even profess that they now allow what they once prohibited—the wearing of jewelries—because “the level of Christianity must progress.” The document below is the outline of this INC doctrine.

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WHY WAS THE USE OF JEWELRY PROHIBITED IN THE IGLESIA NI CRISTO BEFORE – this is the topic discussed in the outline. So using jewelry was really prohibited in the Iglesia ni Cristo of Manalo before. But time came when they removed the prohibition. Why? Why was the prohibition on using jewelries removed in the Iglesia ni Cristo later on? According to them, as outlined in the document, “When one is already of full age, he may eat strong meat; that is why the prohibition is being removed.” They further teach that the prohibition must be removed for them to be perfect. This doctrine, as illogical as it sounds, cannot be considered positive. Contradicting Apostle Paul’s commandment in the process, their going unto perfection is backwards.

Besides, if indeed those who are already of full age who may eat strong meat are the ones who are not prohibited to use jewelry, then why do they not according to their doctrine prohibit their newly-baptized brethren in using jewelry? Are the newly-baptized of full age in faith? Shouldn’t it be that while the member is still new, he or she should be prohibited to wear jewelry? and when she gets older in the church, only then will she be able to wear? But that’s not the case in the Iglesia ni Cristo of Manalo. Their doctrines—inconsistent with each other, retrogressive and contrary to biblical—are apparent negative outcomes of misinterpreting the Scriptures.

The case of Toufik Benedictus “Benny” Hinn, founder and leader of the Benny Hinn Ministries, is another example of the negative outcome of misusing the Scriptures. Hinn, a televangelist and considered by some as a Bible teacher, claims that he has been anointed by God with healing power, and that he has healed people with AIDS, cancer, blindness and extreme physical injuries. He attracts people through his so-called “Miracle Crusades” which showcases revival meetings and faith healing held in large stadiums throughout the world, where about 50-60 thousand people are in attendance. Parts of the program are being aired in his daily talk show This Is Your Day, broadcasted on several television stations, including The God Channel, Revelation TV, Daystar Television Network, Vision TV, Grace TV, Trinity Broadcasting Network, and INSP Networks. Some of his “miraculous healing” sessions, which look more like hysteria and mass hypnosis, can be viewed on YouTube.

On December 27, 2002, Dateline NBC, an investigative news program, aired its expose on what happens behind the camera during Benny Hinn’s miracle crusades. For two years beginning in 2000, they followed Hinn in different cities. And in each crusade they have attended they have observed that the main act of the show points to that moment when Hinn would tell the audience “that God was speaking to him, revealing a multitude of miracles then taking place throughout the arena.” Hinn would even specifically name those who are allegedly being healed by God.

Before some of the audience were allowed onstage to announce their healing, Dateline discovered through their hidden cameras the “screeners”, some of whom are doctors, who choose from the audience good candidates for revealing their healing; while on the other side of the stadium is the wheelchair section, where people hoping to be cured by Hinn are being kept away from the stage. These people go home still stuck on their wheelchairs, sick and desperate.

According to Nathan Daniel, a documentary producer interviewed by Dateline, he had worked closely with Benny Hinn Ministries Miracle Follow-up Department. As part of his research work, Daniel had set criteria for verification of a miracle healing: 1) Proof of the illness or disease prior to healing; 2) Evidence that there was a miraculous change; and 3) Documentation that the healing had continued. Out of the hundreds of cases BHM said they had documented and verified, Daniel found out that “there was never one complete record that would suit the criteria for a documented miracle healing.”

With millions of followers donating millions of dollars to the Benny Hinn Ministries tax free and without public accounting, Hinn has nothing to worry about financially. CBC Television show The fifth estate, which also attempted to expose Benny Hinn Ministries’ mishandling of funds, estimates that Benny Hinn acquires $200 million yearly. Just like the case of the Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Minister, Eraño Manalo, whom Say Magazine called “The Billionaire Preacher” in its June 6, 1989 issue, Benny Hinn has obviously misinterpreted the Bible as a source of income.

Despite having these negative consequences of interpreting the Bible, positive effects can still be observed. One group in particular that strictly abides by the Holy Scriptures is the Members Church of God International, a religious organization with headquarters in the Philippines.

Members Church of God International is an active Christian church in public and spiritual service. Its Presiding Minister, Bro. Eliseo Soriano, a Bible scholar acclaimed as “The Only Sensible Preacher of Our Time” relentlessly holds Bible Expositions worldwide where he answers all kinds of spiritual queries, even giving advices and scriptural opinion on medical concerns, matters of politics and governance, economy and the sciences. After each Bible exposition, not one truth seeker goes home without his most crucial questions answered straight from the Bible.

Effectively using technology as means to spread the gospel, Bro. Eli Soriano’s program The Old Path (Ang Dating Daan) airs 24/7 on the Internet, television and cable stations, where the question and answer portion of his Bible Expositions is being shown. His program can also be heard on several local radio stations. His Truth Blog (esoriano.wordpress.com), which discusses the most vital issues of faith, was recently awarded People’s Choice and The Most Popular Website of the Year in the Philippines. He also answers spiritual queries through the most popular video-sharing website, YouTube (youtube.com/broelisoriano), where inquirers can post their questions through video.

In terms of public service, Members Church of God International has established at least 12 orphanages throughout the country, accommodating even non-members. The church recently opened two colleges where everything is provided for free to deserving students from all over the country, from tuition fee, miscellaneous fees, to uniforms, dormitory and medical check-ups.

MCGI, through its Co-Worker (Kamanggagawa) Foundation, also maintains two Transient Homes as temporary shelters for people who may not have a place to sleep at night. Aside from cozy beds, it provides free dinner and breakfast. MCGI also maintains regular medical missions, feeding programs, and even free bus ride.

What’s even more striking about this church is that it holds Thanksgiving to the God of Israel weekly, where some 50-70 thousand members and visitors gather in one of the biggest convention centers in Asia, the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga, north of Manila. Inside the convention center, one can’t help but notice beside the two large monitors placed above the stage, where brethren in international chapters are shown giving thanks to God, two equally large billboards were placed containing a strict warning that says: WE DO NOT ACCEPT FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS FROM NON-MEMBERS. According to them, this is in accordance to III John 7, which says -

Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.

In terms of uniqueness, this church is the only registered church in the Philippines that pays tax to the government. It is in adherence to Romans 13:7 -

Therefore give to all their dues; to the one due tax, the tax; tribute to whom tribute is due, fear to whom fear is due, and honor to whom honor is due. (MKJV)

With a preacher whose biblical knowledge is available for testing; goodwill to fellowmen without asking donations in return; organizational uniqueness backed-up by no less than the best-selling book of all time itself; such an effect in morality and spirituality stands to reason and cannot be considered negative. Apparently, the leader of this church, the Members Church of God International, pays attention to what the Scriptures really teach.

Motives of the Heart Define the Quality of One’s Work

“There is something different if you do things from the heart.” – Bro. Daniel Razon

During weekly thanksgiving celebrations in Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga, Vice Presiding Minister, Bro. Daniel Razon, of the Members Church of God International inserts in between the high level topics delivered to the congregation bits and pieces of the basic Christian survival kit. This way he reminds the brethren of the fundamentals of serving God, one of which is—to do the will of God from the heart.

The following are excerpts of his speech on a regular thanksgiving day held late last year.

“There is something different if you do things from the heart. It will be revealed. If the act comes from the heart, it manifests. That is why the heart of a righteous man is in his right hand. (Ecclesiastes 10:2)

“The right hand symbolizes the work. If you are a righteous man before God, your heart goes with your work. A wise man’s heart is at his right hand. Meaning, your work you do from the heart. If you do something not from the heart, you are called…

Oh yes, I’m the great pretender; pretending that I’m doing well. My need is such; I pretend too much. I’m lonely but no one can tell.

“You are called a great pretender.

“If you do things not from the heart, there is disguise. The result is that you are doing eye service. Never should the service of a Christian be only for the eyes, only to please men, but to please God; to do His will from a clean heart.

“Our service we will render from the heart. Which heart? A clean heart; not a deceitful heart, not a hypocritical heart, not a pretentious heart. It is very important for a man to be sincere, especially if we talk about serving God, because that is the essence of our work.

“We cannot fool God.

“Can we hide anything from God? The Scriptures says, “The heart is deceitful.” The heart can deceive you. “Who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

“You cannot hide anything from God. You can hide the things in your heart from your fellowmen, from your child, from your wife, from your friend, from your loved ones; but you cannot hide them from God. He knows it, and it will be manifested. It will surely come out.

“And if you can hide it forever here on earth, time will come that it will be revealed. God will reveal that. God knows what’s inside your heart. So it’s really important to do the things for the Lord in the right motive and right intention.”

Behind the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s King Maker Role: A Chain of Crimes and Mythical Numbers

Manila, Philippines – Unlike Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s long, heated rivalry in the 2008 US presidential campaign, there are politicians in other countries who choose to take the short cut to political power by wooing the kingmaker. Instead of patiently reaching out to the electorate, these politicians seek the person or group of people who has the capacity to influence the conclusion of a political run, a method that assures the former’s promise of the future in exchange for the latter’s favor.

On a different perspective, however, a kingmaker isn’t a kingmaker for nothing. Take for example Kakuei Tanaka, the most prominent political kingmaker in Japan. He served as Japan’s Prime Minister during 1972-74. But even after his term, he remained dominant and influential. Even though he got involved in political scandals, he was able to choke the Prime Minister at will without holding a position in the cabinet.

Monetary, arms, and politics are common players in a kingmaker scenario. More often than not, these factors entail negative effects to the government. In the Philippines, however, there is another player: religion. And the effect of this kingmaker, as far as records are concerned, is unexpectedly catastrophic. It is a chain of crimes and power – behind mythical numbers yet.

Detailed here by prominent newspapers, the Supreme Court and a television station are random reports of the criminal and related activities of one such religious group, the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) or Church of Christ, considered to be the kingmaker in the Philippine political arena. It spans contemporary times but leads back to 1954 where the founder, Felix Manalo, is featured as a rapist. Finally, it ends with Eraño Manalo’s own words about the nature of their mythical membership. Eraño, now in his early 80s, is the son of Felix Manalo.

Murder Cases

On February 28, 1989, an angered Iglesia Ni Cristo minister shot two men with a .38 caliber pistol in Baranggay Lamot II, Calauang, Laguna, as reported by Jun Tiosen in newspaper, “Abante.” Calauang Police Station Commander Lt. Romulo Endaya identified the minister as Joseph Dadoy of Ma. Victoria Poultry Farm of that town. The victims Ronaldo Arogancia, 22, and Ricardo Ortiz, 32, both reside in Baranggay Lamot I were drunk during the incident. According to the investigation of Pfc. Milencio Nuñez, Dadoy was having a meeting with his fellow INC members when the victims came around 6:45 p.m. and mocked their religion. Dadoy, after some exchange of words with the two drunk men, was infuriated and shot the victims. Arogancia died while being treated in Laguna Provincial Hospital due to a gunshot at the chest, while Ortiz was shot once at each thigh and was treated in San Pablo Doctor Hospital. The INC minister was arrested and imprisoned in Calauang Municipal Jail.

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Three years after the shooting incident, on March 1992, four Iglesia Ni Cristo deacons butchered five students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in the basement at the back of the INC chapel in Sta. Mesa, Manila. What escalated into a cold-blooded murder started only from a heated dispute during a basketball game. The corpses of the victims were later fished out of the murky waters of Pasig River.

According to Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA), in August 28, 2000 Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. rendered judgment on the case “PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. JUANITO ABELLA, DIOSDADO GRANADA, BENJAMIN DE GUZMAN, and EDGARDO VALENCIA, accused-appellants,” where the four accused in these cases, who are deacons of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, were declared guilty beyond reasonable doubt on five (5) counts of MURDER. The record states “That on or about March 8, 1992, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and confederating together with others whose true names, real identities and present whereabouts are still unknown and helping one another, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill and with treachery and evident premeditation, attack, assault and use personal violence upon one Marlon Ronquillo y Alepda [(Criminal Case No. 92-104529), one Felix Tamayo y Pascual (Criminal Case No. 92-104530), one Andres Lojero, Jr. y Pascual (Criminal Case No. 92-104531), one Joseph Ronquillo y Alepda [(Criminal Case No. 92-104532), one Erwin Lojero y Pascual (Criminal Case No. 92-104533)] by then and there hitting his head with guns, kicking him, tying his hands, [neck and private organ (additional allegation in Criminal Case No. 92-104531)] and thereafter throwing his body into the river thereby inflicting upon the latter mortal wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of his death thereafter.”

Postmortem examinations on the cadavers showed signs of torture. Marlon, Andres, and Joseph had contusions, ligature marks and hematoma; they were helplessly mauled while hands tied at their backs. Marlon had lacerated wounds and was killed due to a gunshot on the head. Andres’ genitals were cut off; Joseph had skull fracture; both died due to “asphyxia by strangulation; hemorrhage, intracranial, traumatic.” On the other hand, Erwin’s body showed abrasions and burns with blunt head injury, while Felix had abrasions on the left cheek and tie impressions on the wrists. The cause of their death was “asphyxia by drowning.”

Murderers to this crime were defended by the Iglesia Ni Cristo camp up to the Supreme Court, a kind of support enjoyed by members of their church, regardless of the overwhelming evidences that prove the accused guilty of the crime. This toleration, along with their undeniably strong influence in the government, has led to encouraging these people to act beyond the limits of justice, as proven time and again by their criminal records. Significant to the execution of the crime also is the place where they had committed the crime. For these INC deacons, there seemed to be none more comfortable a place than their chapel, even for transforming into a killing field. They once taught in their official magazine, Pasugo, published in August 1969, page 17 that “We have to worship Him [God] in the house where His Spirit dwells, like the modern house of worship pictured above.” The modern house of worship mentioned refers to their chapel—now turned killing-field—where the spirit of their god dwells.

On March 5, 1994, two years after the murder of the five college students, “3 Iglesia ‘Vigilantes’ Nabbed for Beheading, Roasting 2 Men!” was headlined in People’s Journal Tonight, written by Ed Serrano and Leo Villan. Photo of the skull of roasted Jorge Sorbeto and the body of beheaded Edgar Loquinario, a security guard in Bahay-Bahayan Restaurant in Antipolo, was provided on front page. The ‘vigilantes’ were reportedly members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo Security Force which included two policemen. One of the arrested INC Security Force members was identified as Antonio Lim, “whose Nissan pickup was said to have been used in the twin slays.” Sorbeto’s charred remains were found a day after he was abducted, while Loquinario’s body was recovered in Rodriguez, formerly Montalban.

inc-vigilantes

The ensuing year, on July 24, 1995, another shooting incident that involved another minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo was reported by Jess Larman in People’s Journal. Police identified the shooter with a .45 caliber pistol as Raul Caragay, an INC minister residing in Baranggay Parang, Bagac, Bataan. The victim, Manuel Payad, 29, a farmer in Baranggay Cabog-Cabog, was shot three times and was declared dead upon arrival at St. Joseph Hospital. The INC minister was arrested under the custody of Balanga Police.

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On March 11, 2004, Del Villanueva reported in Tempo, of a “bloody worship” that took place in an Iglesia Ni Cristo chapel in Baranggay Dayang Amaya 2, Tanza, Cavite. A certain Restituto Salvador, 29, was charged with attempted homicide and violation of Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code, otherwise known as violation of religious feelings, after stabbing two of his fellow worshippers “in the midst of a religious ceremony inside their church.” The victims were identified by the town’s Police Chief Inspector Audie Madrideo as Feliciano Limonero and Pablo Dumalogdog, 36, both residents of that town. Only Dumalogdog filed formal charges against the stabber before the local court, said Madrideo.

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On February 8, 2007, an Iglesia Ni Cristo pastor together with his wife and son were found dead in another INC chapel in Ternate, Cavite, as reported by Marlon Ramos in Inquirer.net. Calabarzon chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Senior Supt. Mark Edson Belarma said the three dead bodies were found inside the pastor’s room in the chapel at 1 p.m. by an INC member. The victims were identified as Darius Api, 34, his wife Antery, 36, and their six-year old son Kurt Russel. The three were shot with a .45 caliber pistol, and might have been dead before 4 a.m. that day. Belarma would not give details of the crime, and another police officer in Cavite also declined to give information, saying that the Iglesia Ni Cristo “asked the police to refrain from giving information to the media.” Chief Supt. Nicasio Radovan, Calabarzon police director and an INC member, reportedly cannot be contacted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer at that time to inquire about the incident.

On April 27, 2008, a former Iglesia Ni Cristo minister who transferred to Ang Dating Daan (ADD) group was shot dead by two men riding tandem on a motorcycle past 10 a.m., Sunday, in San Simon, Pampanga. This was reported in UNTV 37. The victim was identified as Marcos Mataro, 39, main host of the UNTV program D’ X-Man, a show formatted to expose the false doctrines of INC. Mataro was killed with a 9mm caliber pistol, shot in the forehead, right eye, neck, and chest. Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) of Camp Olivas, upon its initial investigation, said the victim was waiting for a bus bound to Manila when two young men in the late twenties shot the victim six times that killed him instantly. The gunmen left the motorcycle when it suddenly malfunctioned and rode a bus instead, a Baliwag Transit going to San Fernando, Pampanga, Central Luzon.

dsc00420The Philippine National Police (PNP) created Task Force Mataro to speed up solving the case. Recent development led police to two suspects: Nickson Icao, owner of the motorcycle used by the gunmen with plate number DW4524; and Felizardo Lumagham, or “Ka Zaldy”, an INC deacon who reportedly borrowed the motorcycle. In a report in Abante Online last May 29, Task Force head police Senior Supt. Gil Menesses said that instead of claiming the motorcycle, Icao hid himself, indicating a strong connection of the suspect to Mataro’s murder.

San Simon Chief of Police, Francisco Cortez, believed that the victim’s transferring of religion is relevant to the crime. Cortez said, “There’s a possibility that there were threats the victim was receiving while he was still alive.” Mataro’s program co-hosts confirmed Cortez’ assumption, saying that Mataro had been receiving many death threats ever since he left the Iglesia Ni Cristo. In an interview conducted by UNTV, former INC national treasurer, Lydia Manuyag, said all of them in the program D’ X-Man often received death threats through text messages like, “We will skin you alive and we will be beheading you.” Manuyag said, with her experience with the INC, they really mean it. “…and we know that Marcos has the highest possibility of coming across this as he is the one mainly attacking the INC in our show.”

The ex-INC treasurer and her family were also exposed to the same danger when she transferred to the ADD group. “After I have testified in SBN 21, there were threats I received from my former religion … by April the year I transferred in ADD, we were being showered with bullets in our home. That was after the threat that I received a 24 hour countdown to return to the INC central.” On April 18, 2003, Manuyag’s husband, Marciano, received 8 gunshots in their home at Christianville Subdivision in Rizal. Four bullets hit Marciano but he survived, and he testified of the incident in the ADD program.

What follows are the assault cases of the same religious sect.

Assault Cases

Members, deacons and even ministers of the Iglesia Ni Cristo had their fair share of murdering people. It is no challenge for this politically-influential group to maul some more unfortunate victims. Whether this is freedom taught in their chapels can only be checked by the frequency and magnitude of their conduct. Here are news reports confirming the imminent violence and danger upon encountering at the wrong place and at the wrong time this wrong group of people, the religious and moral gangrene that are the members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo.

On February 15, 2002, ten Iglesia Ni Cristo members mauled a Quezon City police officer in front of the INC chapel in Caloocan City, reported Gemma Amargo in Pilipino Star Ngayon. The victim was identified as SPO1 Ramon Austria, 49, member of the Central Police District (CPD) Investigation and Intelligence Division and Anti-Carnapping Unit. Austria’s body was badly beaten and has turned purple upon reaching the police station to report the incident. According to Austria, around 10 p.m., he was driving slowly due to traffic passing by the INC chapel at Guadenville, Quirino Highway, Caloocan City when the INC chapel security guard suddenly blocked his way and punched his car, a red Ford Laser with plate no. PPV-675. Austria immediately went out of the car but was surprised when another man gave him a warning shot, then pointed the gun at him and pulled his police ID. Eight more men came and forcibly took him into the chapel while beating him nonstop. He was lucky to have been able to escape and sought help from other police officers patrolling in the vicinity who took him to the hospital. After the incident, Austria’s service firearm and cell phone, a Nokia 8850 amounting to PhP24,000, were reportedly lost.

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On April 18, 2006, two years prior to Marcos Mataro’s killing, former fellow INC members invited him for a discussion in a fast food chain restaurant in Apalit, Pampanga but ended in beating him up and his companions. The video footage of the incident was played in Ito Ang Balita in UNTV 37 where the INC group, led by a certain Mr. Ferma, a confirmed INC minister, was seen beating some ADD members and Mataro. The physically-mauled ADD members filed charges against the INC assailants, but the case was dismissed by San Fernando Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Otto Macabulos. The ADD group questioned this decision, for when this INC group filed charges of frustrated murder against the ADD, it passed. “In that food chain incident, we were the ones being physically beaten, abused, and mobbed and yet we were the ones charged of frustrated murder. It was the opposite of the true account…” Manuyag testified.

On October 2, 2007, INC members beat up three preachers from the Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ (PMCC) in a scheduled debate at the corner of Quiricada and Almeda streets in Manila. This was reported by Evelyn Macairan in Philippine Star Online. The violence began, according to police, when INC minister Felix Mangulabnan allegedly grabbed the video camera held by Allen Alhambra, 34, one of the PMCC preachers who was recording the said debate. Luz Esto, 49, and Rodolfo Catarroja, 50, both PMCC preachers helped get the camera when INC member Joseph Salombre joined the skirmish and beat up the PMCC preachers. Manila Police District (MPD) officers arrested Salombre after being identified by the PMCC preachers as one of those who beat them up and took the camera equipment that belonged to their church.

The next list of criminal records concerns cases of molestation and sexual abuse.

Rape Cases

Criminals emerging from this religious sect, when not in the mood to slaughter or to beat up people, take pleasure in carnality, internalizing perhaps the legacy of their angel-preacher. Felix Manalo, the founder of the Iglesia Ni Cristo is believed by them to be an angel while Jesus Christ is a mere man. Whatever the form, if there’s any hideous activity, members, deacons and ministers alike participate, revolting against the most basic, sound and moral principles of human compassion, and putting at risk those who wish to follow the same. Where these criminals flourish, victims of abuse multiply. The following are news reports on rape cases of the Iglesia Ni Cristo that were able to reach the public notice.

On January 19, 1996, Alex Ching reported “Anak ng Diyakonesa, Niluray ng Diyakono” (Deacon Rapes Daughter of Deaconess) in Remate Tonight. Superintendent Efren Santos identified the accused as Sofronio Lopez, 29, an Iglesia Ni Cristo deacon residing in 54 NIA Road, Baranggay Pinahan, Quezon City together with the rape victim, the 13-year old daughter of his live-in partner an INC deaconess. According to investigating officer SPO4 Annie Dazo, Lopez had first molested the victim before Christmas in 1995. He was only able to grope the young girl’s body at that time. The victim said she could hardly move because she was drugged by Lopez. On the next incident, Lopez had completely raped her while she was unconscious due to the drug he gave her. Since then Lopez had molested the victim every time her mother left home. When the victim decided to confess to her mother about the molestation she experienced, the latter confronted the INC deacon who denied the accusation. Lopez insisted that she should first excommunicate herself from the Iglesia Ni Cristo before she could file a complaint because it is prohibited in their church to sue a brother or sister in faith. The deaconess decided to separate from her live-in partner and proceeded to the police station with the victim. Police authorities believe that Lopez, immediately after the confrontation, was hidden by fellow INC members in V. Luna Ext. in Quezon City.

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On March 16, 2002, a 16-year old INC member filed a complaint in the police station against her brother-in-law, also an INC member, for raping her several times. Myra de Leon reported this in the newspaper Bagong Tiktik. According to the victim, she was raped seven times from July 2001 to March 1, 2002 in their home in Muntinlupa City by her sister’s husband Allan Ferrer, 32. The victim, who was temporarily staying in Baseco Compd. Port Area, Manila, reportedly had wanted to file a complaint against the rapist much earlier but did not do so due to her sister’s request, and also because the perpetrator was a fellow INC member. But after the last incident, she decided to proceed with the lawsuit. According to the victim, a high ranking police officer who was also an INC member tried to convince her to withdraw the rape charge, but she did not desist.

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On June 13, 2002, in Lyn Villanueva’s report in the newspaper, Astig, another victim was a 17-year old girl raped by an Iglesia Ni Cristo deacon in Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte. According to Provincial Director Senior Supt. Florencio Magundayao, around seven in the evening, the 60-year old INC deacon, Teodulo Alaon alias Nano, called the victim who was just passing by their chapel, saying he would show her something important. At the back of the chapel the deacon pushed the victim to the dry grass, stuck cloth in her mouth and pointed at her a 12-inch knife before raping her three times. The INC deacon was arrested and imprisoned in the municipal jail after the victim confessed to her mother of the unfortunate incident.

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With all these crimes surfacing from this religious group, it compels a sensical mind to ask why and to conclude that there must be a root of all these evil somewhere in the organization. And since the so-called “angel” Felix Manalo is the founder and former head of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, he is the primary subject to tracing this root, as well as to scrutinizing the founding principles of their church. For example, on what kind of leadership was the Iglesia Ni Cristo established? What morals did Manalo inculcate in his members before he, as an angel, died?

What follows are reports on the sexual abuse cases of the founder of the Iglesia Ni Cristo who pioneered this chain of criminal records.

Sexual abuse

On October to November 1954, a series of exposé written by Joe Cruz concerning the sexual abuses committed by Felix Manalo was published in the weekly newspaper, The Bombshell. The first of the series was published on October 21 headlined “Iglesia Ni Cristo ‘Head’, Angel or Sex Maniac?”

angel or sex maniac

According to the article, Manalo, in his early twenties, although married and had six children, started “victimizing several women.” To mention a few who were abused by the so-called “angel” were Rosita Trillanes, Teresa Teodoro, Basilla Santos, and the ‘wives of several ministers that cannot talk for fear that they might be expelled as “Diakonesas.” (Deaconesses)’ The newspaper’s informant also disclosed several other names who were more or less under Manalo’s sex domination: Felicidad, Rosa, Virginia, Bining, Mrs. Santos, Toddy, Atang, Paz, Pilar and “several weeping souls that perhaps twice as much as those above-mentioned are, in one way or another, seeking revenge against Felix Manalo.”

To support the publication’s allegation, the published article contained the confession letter of one of Manalo’s victims, Rosita Trillanes. Here is an excerpt of the letter translated in English:

Letter of Rosita to Her Brothers

“Brothers: In my belief that I will find protection I agreed that I be brought to [the] Central Office by Brother Jacinto Torres. When I was already there I experienced the most bitter and painful in [t]he life of [a] maiden like me when Manalo, whom I considered as a father, abused me. At first he courted me but when I refused to accede to his wishes he struck and beat me which rendered me unconscious. And when I was already unconscious, he raped me. There I suffered much because of the ill-treatment, beating and [threatening] that I received whenever I protested against his lewd designs.”

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On October 28, 1954, the second of the series of exposé was published in Tagalog, the original version of the first. Headlined “Felix Manalo, Immoral?” just like in the first issue, Manalo’s photo was on front page. This time, however, it was stated that the letter contained in the article was a Copy of the Decisions of the Court of Appeals reserved, in favor of ROSITA and against Manalo. Here are further excerpts of Rosita’s letter translated in English:

“I also witnessed many who have been raped by Felix Manalo: some are maidens; others are the wives of members and ministers. Manalo himself told me about the others whom he molested when he was persuading me to accede to his desires. He told me about some thirty women he abused. I could not reveal their names to protect their dignity, but they frequently come to the Office. In my presence, he raped a maiden who later became pregnant… All of these whom he violated fear to speak up because they were threatened to be killed if they do speak, like what he did to Basilia Santos of Paco, who points to Manalo as the father of her two children. …Your wives and daughters are in danger of suffering from the lusts of that man whom you consider and revere as a preacher of the words of God.”

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Other important evidences given against Felix Manalo by the same expose:

Affidavit of Tomasa Geronimo published in one of the columns of “Ang Bansa” daily publication declared to wit: “Felix Manalo impregnated and bore a child to Teresa Teodoro. Teresa’s child is a girl.” Affidavit was made on Dec. 29, 1921.

Tomasa Geronimo and Basilia Santiago, both accused by Felix Manalo for “Paninirang Puri” (Libel), were acquitted by Judge Concepcion for legal evidences proven by the Court. The final sentence of Judge Concepcion over the case was published in “Taliba” on May 7, 1923, Vol. XIV, No. 78. “Felix Manalo’s immorality was proven by the court and Manalo was satisfied without appeal.” (Accusation of Tomasa Geronimo: Criminal Case No. 23858; Accusation of Basilia Santiago: Criminal Case No. 23859.)

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The third of the series of exposé of Joe Cruz was published on November 4, 1954 headlined “Manalo Raped Me—Rosita.”

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The secret to kingmaker-ship

Primary to the Iglesia Ni Cristo is the doctrine of bloc voting, written in their book “Mga Pangunahing Aral Na Sinasampalatayanan ng IGLESIA NI CRISTO” (Fundamental Teachings of the IGLESIA NI CRISTO). On page 127, written by their current Executive Minister, Eraño G. Manalo, he says (translated in English), “Do not destroy the unity of the Church whether regarding voting or other activity for this is an excommunicable sin in the Church.” To a critical mind, this doctrine of bloc voting is more like coercion and suppression of freedom of choice rather than unity.

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Taking this for granted, the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s sphere of political influence is much revered by those who would like to have seats in the government. The group’s endorsement is also much awaited for during campaign period. According to Inquirer.net, on May 10, 2007, the Iglesia Ni Cristo “has a membership of at least two million — only a fifth of the 10 million required for a senatorial candidate to land in the winning circle of 12, but enough to provide a head start.” This ‘head start’ is an eye candy to politicians, enough even for presidential candidates to court the sect leader. They deem that whoever is given the blessings of the group’s executive minister, his seat in the government is assured.

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What is their secret formula to being known as the “kingmaker”?

In a book written by former Iglesia Ni Cristo minister, Dr. Melanio P. Gabriel, Jr., titled “Ang mga Lihim at mga Kabulaanan ng Iglesia ni Cristo” (The Secrets and Lies of the Iglesia ni Cristo), on page 7, the total membership of INC is listed by years. Sources of the figures are the official magazine, Pasugo, of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, and other prominent newspapers. The list shows the year, membership and the publication where the figures were published, respectively: 1949, 4 million, Pasugo, August 1954, p.5-6; 1950, 2 million, Pasugo, December 1955, p.35-36; 1951, 2 million, Pasugo, July 1951, p.24; 1955, 1 million, Pasugo, July 1964, p.23; 1961, 4 million, Manila Times, October 13, 1961; 1963, 3.5 million, Sunday Times Magazine, April 28, 1963, p.62; 1964, 3 million, Sunday Times Magazine, August 9, 1964, p.28-29; 1965, 4 million, Philippine Herald, November 1, 1965; 1966, 5 million, Manila Times, May 9, 1966 and Pasugo, July 1966, p.6.

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As observed in the given figures, the total number of members of this organization radically fluctuates. They have announced their total membership in their official magazine, Pasugo, in 1955, and the figure they gave was 1 million. In 1966, only after a decade, they have reported a total of 5 million members in both the broadsheet Manila Times and in their Pasugo. As of 2007, in Inquirer.net, the group “has a membership of at least two million,” as aforementioned. Therefore, it appears like a guessing game.

However, there are more reliable sources than the Pasugo of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, like the Bureau of Census and Statistics. Here is an extract of Joe Cruz’ report from the newspaper The Bombshell, published on October 21, 1954:

“…the Philippines Free Press, dated April 23, 1950, made all estimation of more or less two million members. It was the most shocking news perhaps to other religious organization ever made publicly. Since it scattered like wildfire that engulf the four corners of the Philippines, Roxas, Avelino and Quirino were prompted to see the founder of “Iglesia Ni Cristo,” and perhaps President Magsaysay too, for some political reasons. Analyzing its members whether such number is true, there are only 86, 125 members as of 1953, as far as the Bureau of Census and Statistics is concerned and not two million as claimed.”

The truth about INC’s mythical numbers

Records show that Eraño Manalo, the Executive Minister, was berating his ministers for faking attendance and membership rolls to make it appear that their church is growing. Manalo was speaking in the vernacular but this had been translated into English and disseminated all over the Internet. The one who has a video clip of this meeting, however, is Bro. Eliseo Soriano, Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God, International (MCGI) better known as Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path). He plays this clip now and then to millions of his audience, one reason the Iglesia Ni Cristo want to stop him talking at all costs. The Iglesia Ni Cristo had been filing case after case against Soriano to include a mocked-up rape case filed by a former member of Soriano’s group.

The following are excerpts of the translated version from Tagalog to English written by Jane Abao in Newsvine on “Church group gangs up on supreme court justice contender.”

[This is Eraño Manalo talking to his flock.]

“Wait, look here, brethren. That is the one in charge of Visayas and Mindanao. We have changed those long in management. So, one by one, they are coming to me, complaining.

“Brother, I have a problem.

“What?

“Those written in our census, the names of the brethren, I cannot see them here in my destination.

“What does it mean? I said.

“The number, it is too big, but in truth, there are no people. In Camarines, I mean Sorsogon, they were asking me to remove not less than 400 people because there are only a few people in Sorsogon.

“Why?

“I saw in the records clearly and there were just more than a hundred. But those to be removed were 400.

“Why, what did those destined there before did? Why, they were changing the reports! They only made it impressive so that they would not be scolded! Instead, his concern is himself, not the needs of the church. Did that happen only in Sorsogon? It is rampant here and there. Even in Manila.

“THE CHURCH WORKERS HERE ARE CHEATERS! They would tell you, I am indoctrinating that one, but it is not so. They would tell you, I have baptized that one. He has been tried in worship services, but it is not true. Why? It was observed among the older ministers; it was observed among the older church workers, that that was the way they could be seen as good in the eyes of the Administration.

“They are the ones now [protecting their own sake]. But how long will the church stand since it is being FOUGHT by the CHURCH WORKERS, BEING TROUBLED, DEGRADED, DEFAMED AND FORCED TO DO WRONG? Where have you seen a church worker that instead of raising what is brought down it is the one raised that would be put down just so he would appear good? If in Manila, this is happening, more so in the provinces, more so in far flung places.

“Look at Mindanao and Visayas now, and all the …. Oh, it’s different. It will be suddenly changed, the church census. What is the cause? Those brethren are not there. They only say they are there. Who did that? Those dishonest church workers. It is not the brother. The brother, if he makes a mistake, it is not intentional. THE MINISTER, HE DOES IT INTENTIONALLY!

“I called for a meeting among those in charge in Manila to tell them: Brethren, help me. I don’t like the worker to die; what I want is that we help them survive. Tell me how we can help.

“But no; what they told me are not how we could help them. What they told me are the wrong doings!

“One told me, Brother, is it all right that the outline is not being taught? Everytime they choose three verses, they are asked, oh, do you understand that? Is it right, brother that he signs for all the proofs? He falsifies the signature of the secretary and those entrusted with the work?

“I stopped him. I did not even ask who was doing that. Why? I know that the worker in Manila will lose his honor if this is known to all that he is a thief and a brute.”

The Anchor of the Soul and the Lying god of the Church of Felix Manalo

In one of the Bible Expositions conducted by Bro. Eli Soriano, award-winning evangelist and host of the religious program Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), an inquirer asked about their group’s logo; specifically, the meaning of the anchor at the bottom of the logo. Bro. Eli answered, “The anchor is Christ.”

image4401He explained that the meaning of the anchor is hope, which symbolizes Christ. He read Hebrews 6:18-19

“That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;”

The soul has an anchor. And our anchor, the hope of our soul, is the Word of God, because God cannot lie. This was the evangelist’s biblical explanation. And because God cannot lie, Bro. Eli said, we can trust in His words. We can count on His Word in times of trouble. Just like when sailors out in the sea encounter a storm, they would drop an anchor into the sea so that they may have hope that their ship would not capsize or sink, because it is anchored to the rocks at the bottom of the sea.

This explanation was cited by a minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) in their television program Ang Tamang Daan (The Right Path) broadcasted in their station Net 25. Iglesia Ni Cristo or INC is a religious sect based in the Philippines, founded by the late Felix Y. Manalo. After citing Bro. Eli’s explanation, out of nowhere, one of the ministers in the panel attacked Bro. Eli’s person. The following are excerpts of that episode:

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Rene Panoncillo: Naalala ko kapatid na Jun, may nagtanong po kasi tungkol sa logo nung samahan ni Mr. Soriano.

Ramil Parba: Ah, yung angkla? Yung angkla?

Rene Panoncillo: Oo, may ipinaliwanag siya: yung angkla si Kristo yan; sinipete ng pananampalataya.

Ramil Parba: Parang logo ng seaman, ano?

Rene Panoncillo: Seaman? Ba’t seaman naman yan?

Ramil Parba: Eh, talagang seaman naman ‘tong si Mr. Soriano eh. Si-manloloko, si-mandarambong…

Maximo Bularan, Jr.: Si-mangongotong.

Ramil Parba: Si-mangongotong. Talagang seaman yan.

TRANSLATION:

Rene Panoncillo: I remember Bro. Jun, someone asked about the logo of the congregation of Mr. Soriano.

Ramil Parba: Ah, the anchor? The anchor?

Rene Panoncillo: Yes, he has an explanation: the anchor is Christ; the anchor of faith.

Ramil Parba: Like the logo of seaman, isn’t it?

Rene Panoncillo: Seaman? Why is that seaman?

Ramil Parba: Mr. Soriano is really a seaman. A deceiver, plunderer…

Maximo Bularan, Jr.: Extortionist.

Ramil Parba: Extortionist. He is really a seaman.

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These are the ministers of Manalo. They attack without basis. Bro. Eli’s explanation was clear that the anchor is Christ, but the ministers of Manalo did not mind it; rather, they put a negative connotation to it. They associated the anchor with seaman, and seaman with Bro. Eli, and then they attacked Bro. Eli saying that he is a deceiver, a plunderer, and an extortionist because “he is really a seaman.” What is their basis that a seaman is a deceiver, a plunderer, and an extortionist? They did not only vilify Bro. Eli but the Lord Jesus Christ as well, because Christ is the anchor with which they associated their idea of “seaman.”

These ministers of Manalo are out of their minds. They speak evil of what they understand not. Even though it is written in the Bible, they refute it. The anchor is Christ. The Word of God is our hope because God cannot lie. When ministers of Manalo heard this — that Bro. Eli believes that God cannot lie — they again contradicted it. The following are excerpts of their arguments from the same program:

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Leopoldo Guevarra: Nangangatuwiran kasi si Eliseo Soriano eh, imposible ika sa Dios ang magsinungaling, hindi ang ibig sabihin non, eh hindi kayang gawin ng Dios yun!

Jose Ventilacion: Ang pinag-uusapan dun katangian ng Dios.

Leopoldo Guevarra: Oo.

Jose Ventilacion: Hindi Siya sinungaling.

Leopoldo Guevarra: Kung gusto niyang gawin yun, aba, kaya niya. Ang lahat ng bagay kaya niyang gawin eh.

Jose Ventilacion: Makapangyarin po sa lahat ang Dios eh.

TRANSLATION:

Leopoldo Guevarra: Eliseo Soriano is reasoning out that it is impossible for God to lie. That doesn’t mean that he cannot do that!

Jose Ventilacion: What’s being considered there is the character of god.

Leopoldo Guevarra: Yes.

Jose Ventilacion: He is not a liar.

Leopoldo Guevarra: If he wants to do that, why, he can! He can do all things.

Jose Ventilacion: God is Almighty.

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That is the kind of god the church of Manalo has; a god capable of lying. You can just imagine what will happen if that kind of god decides to take back his words when he wishes to.

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In the Bible, Bro. Eli said, it is impossible for God to lie. It is written in Hebrews 6:18, “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie…” God will not lie and He cannot lie. In Titus 1:2, it says, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”

God cannot lie. But to the ministers of Manalo, it is not impossible for their god. Their god can lie. That is why from their leader down to the ministers, they have learned dreadful amount of lies. However, the God of the Bible, the true God, cannot lie even if He wants to, because He is God of Truth, Bro. Eli explained. And the God who cannot lie cannot change to become a liar in the end. That is impossible. James 1:17 says –

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

That is the character of God; He cannot change. And when He says He cannot lie, time will not come that He will lie. Unlike the doctrine of the church of Manalo, that if God wants to lie, He can. God cannot change, Bro. Eli reiterated. God is permanently good. God is permanently eternal. God permanently does not change. God permanently cannot lie. But the god of the church of Manalo can really lie. For them the meaning of Almighty, even if it is evil, their god can do it. The God of the Bible is not like that.

There many things that God cannot do, Bro. Eli furthered. The God of the Bible does not oppress, and He cannot neglect the oppressed. But for the church of Manalo, their god can do anything, including lying. These people are enemies of the Bible. Even though the Bible says it’s impossible for God to lie, they contradict it; because they are hiding their own lies. They have records of lying. This is what Manalo himself says regarding his ministers.

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Eraño Manalo: Ngayon, kung ang isang manggagawa, mga kapatid, sinungaling, hindi pwedeng manindigan. Kung ang isang manggagawa kakampi sa katiwalian, hindi pwedeng manindigan. Kung ang isang manggagawa, siya pang nagtuturo ng katiwalian, ay lalong masamang manggagawa ito. Wala ng sariling paninindigan, ay siya pang kasangkapan ng diablo. Eh sino ho yang ganyang manggagawa? Maraming manggagawa natin, halos lahat, ganyan.

TRANSLATION:

Eraño Manalo: Now, brethren, if a worker is a liar, he cannot stand firm. If a worker is an ally of corruption, he cannot stand firm. If a worker himself teaches corruption, this worker is much more evil. Having no conviction, he is even an instrument of the devil. And who are these workers? Many of our workers, almost all, are like that.

————

Almost all of the workers of Manalo are liars. This is not strange; because Manalo himself is a liar. What he said one day, he will change the next day when he is cornered. He said, the Far East is the Philippines. When Bro. Eli criticized this doctrine, he changed it. In their official church magazine, Pasugo, published on November 1967, page 33, Manalo said:

It is clearly testified to by history that the Far East is the Philippines.

Another evidence about their belief that the Far East is the Philippines was published in another Pasugo on December 1970. On page 11, they drew the map of Asia, wherein they encircled the Philippines. Then in the arrow pointing towards the Philippines they wrote “Far East.”

Pasugo, December 1970, p.11

Pasugo, December 1970, p.11

When Bro. Eli criticized and refuted this repeatedly, in Pasugo, published in July 1997, on page 5, this was Manalo’s declaration:

Let us set this clear. We have never taught that any mention of the expression “Far East” refers to the Philippines.

What a big lie! “We have never taught that any mention of the expression “Far East” refers to the Philippines”? The evidences are in their Pasugo. They said, “It is clearly testified to by history that the Far East is the Philippines.” But when Bro. Eli criticized it, they changed it. That is what happens when your god is capable of lying. You also become a liar. In the Bible, the father of lies—which is the enemy of Christ, the Word of God, the anchor of the soul—is satan. John 8:44 says –

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

The father of lies is satan. And satan is the god of Manalo and his ministers.

The Foolproof Wisdom and Mouthpiece of God

Have you ever been in the company of high ranking government officials? Wouldn’t it be something to be part of a senator or a president’s entourage? Just to be with a group of lawyers and be dressed like them, though you are not a lawyer, you will surely be thought of as a lawyer yourself.

Just keep quiet.

In the past, that’s exactly how it was for Bro. Eli Soriano. He was always in the courts because of lawsuits filed against him by his enemies in faith. He was not yet that popular on television that time. Whenever he would walk in the court with lawyers, even he gets greeted: “Good morning, Attorney.” They would mistake him of being a lawyer himself. It is similar to what the Bible says in Proverbs 17:28

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

Just keep silent; do not open your mouth. People will never know that you cannot even speak English if you are well-dressed and look confident enough. Nonetheless, when Bro. Eli does open his mouth to speak, it’s an entirely different scenario.

“The Only Sensible Preacher of our Time,” that is how Bro. Eli has come to be known globally because of the kind of mouth he has. For the last 15 years, he has been answering all questions of faith from practically every religious group through his inimitable Bible Exposition. From the Roman Catholic Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, to the so-called freethinkers and atheists, he gives light to each query concerning religion, science, and even social and political issues. He has his own GPS installed in his brain to pinpoint where in the Bible the answers to all their questions are located.

Among those who have tried to test his wisdom, or to challenge him head-on in a one-on-one debate, none dared try again, having experienced the consequences.

A preacher of God speaks the words of God; he does not speak without wisdom. Bro. Eli has proven this for over four decades of faithfully preaching the Gospel. His international program Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) has been awarded the “Most Informative Religious Program of the Year” in 2006 by Gawad Amerika Awards. His Bible Expositions span worldwide and continue to reach more places and people and languages.

On the contrary, his detractors who pretend to know God’s words, even the things which they firmly believe and prove show how ignorant they truly are. The perfect examples are the ministers of the Iglesia Ni Cristo.

In an attempt to embarrass the award-winning evangelist, two Iglesia Ni Cristo ministers Ramil Parba and Michael Sandoval “exposed” in their program Ang Tamang Daan (The Right Path) the alleged erroneous teaching of Bro. Eli regarding who’s the firstborn, Cain or Abel. Following are excerpts:

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Ramil Parba: Simpleng-simple. Hindi naman hiwaga ho yan eh.

Michael Sandoval: Opo.

Ramil Parba: Hiwaga pa ba yan kung sino yung nakatatanda?

Michael Sandoval: Sino panganay?

Ramil Parba: Eh, si Cain.

Michael Sandoval: Sino bunso?

Ramil Parba: Si Abel.

Michael Sandoval: Pero sabi nung puno?

Ramil Parba: Ah, ikaw naman, simpleng-simple eh.

TRANSLATION:

Ramil Parba: Very simple. That is not a mystery.

Michael Sandoval: Yes.

Ramil Parba: Is it a mystery who is older?

Michael Sandoval: Who is the firstborn?

Ramil Parba: Cain.

Michael Sandoval: Who is the youngest?

Ramil Parba: Abel.

Michael Sandoval: But the leader said?

Ramil Parba: Ah, you, that’s very simple.

————

With all conviction these Iglesia Ni Cristo ministers Parba and Sandoval attempted to refute Soriano, as though their material was hard evidence, when in fact what they were refuting was a slip of the tongue taken out of context. The following are excerpts of the original:

————

Bro. Eli: Naniniwala rin ako, mga kapatid, na ang isang tao’y pwedeng maging biktima ng karahasan ng kapuwa. Ang isang tao’y pu-pwedeng maging biktima ng pang-aapi ng kapuwa. Marami na pong saksi jan. Si Abel ay pinatay ng mismong kanyang kuya. Isang kuya na nag-relinquish ng kanyang pananagutan laban sa kaniyang nakababatang kapatid. Nang tanungin siya ng Dios, “Cain, nasan ang iyong kapatid na si Abel?” Ang sagot ni Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Ako ba ika ang tagapag-ingat ng aking kapatid? Kaya niya itinatanong yon, alam niya deep within his conscience that that is really his duty as an older brother, to be his brother’s keeper. But he [had] relinquished that job, that opportunity to serve God, to be his brother’s keeper. Kaya kaawa-awa si Cain, pinatay siya ng kaniyang nakakatandang kapatid.

TRANSLATION:

Bro. Eli: I also believe, brethren, that a man may fall victim to the violence of another. A man may fall victim to the oppression of another. There are plenty of witnesses to this. Abel was killed by his own older brother; an older brother who relinquished his responsibility [and turned] against his younger brother. When God asked him, “Where is Abel thy brother?” Cain answered, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” He was asking this because he knew deep within his conscience that that was really his duty as an older brother, to be his brother’s keeper. But he had relinquished that job, that opportunity to serve God, to be his brother’s keeper. So Cain was pitiful; he was killed by his older brother.

————

It is clear here that Bro. Eli’s statement at the last part wherein he said “Cain” instead of “Abel” was an honest mistake, a slip of the tongue. He already said at the beginning that “Abel was killed by his own older brother.” However, the Iglesia Ni Cristo ministers took this chance, pulled that last part and showed it in their program to make it appear that they are more knowledgeable in the Scriptures than Bro. Eli. Apparently, they saw no other error in his teachings that is why they had to use even a mere slip of the tongue out of context. They thought it would work to their advantage. When Bro. Eli answered back, their ignorance was exposed.

Bro. Eli pointed out that if Abel was the youngest child of Adam and Eve, that would mean that the couple had only two children. And with Abel dead, Cain was the only one left. How then did humans multiply? And who is Seth being mentioned in Genesis 4:25

And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.

Seth was born of Eve after Abel was killed. Furthermore, in Genesis 5:4, it says –

And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:

Adam begot sons and daughters. Obviously, Parba and Sandoval didn’t read the Bible. Or, for the sake of fairness, could have they also committed a slip of the tongue?

No.

The program Ang Tamang Daan is pre-taped and has undergone editing. Besides, there were two of them in agreement that Abel is indeed the youngest of Adam and Eve’s children. Very simple, indeed. Very simple stupidity. This is what happens when someone who has not the God-given mouth and wisdom tries to preach the words of God. Since they are not seriously reading the Bible, it would have done them good if they have followed the saying, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Only the wisdom coming from the mouthpiece being used by God is foolproof. It will by no means be refuted by any other mouth. As written in Luke 21:13-15

And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

In these last days, that mouthpiece that possesses wisdom from God is none other than the unbeatable preacher, Bro. Eli Soriano, Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God, International.

Jehovah: A Hoax Name of a Hoax god

“It is not true that the name of God is Jehovah. It cannot be. It is impossible.” This was the answer of Bro. Eli Soriano, dubbed as “The Only Sensible Preacher of Our Time,” to one of the inquirers in his worldwide Bible Exposition held November 6, 2008 in the Philippines. Soriano is Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God, International.

According to scholars, the Bible was written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The Jewish Bible, or the Old Testament, was written mostly in Hebrew and a few parts in Aramaic. In Hebrew, however, there is no letter J, neither in Aramaic. How can it be that Jehovah is the name of God?

The Hebrew and Aramaic scripts were offshoots of the Phoenician script. According to Wikipedia, Hebrews and Arameans borrowed the Phoenician alphabet during the end of the 2nd millennium BCE (Before the Christian Era); thus, the Hebrew alphabet is almost identical to the Aramaic alphabet in the number and order of letters, names and phonetic values.

During the late second and first millennia BCE, the old Hebrew script was developed. It has since undergone changes, but its major characteristics have been retained to this today. The Hebrew alphabet is composed of 22 letters; five of these letters (kaf, mem, nun, fe and tzadi) have a different form known as the final form (sofit) when they appear as the last letter in a word.

The table below shows the Hebrew alphabet known as the ketav Ashurit or classical Hebrew script with the normal and final forms, the name of each letter and its transliteration for English. Hebrew is read from right to left.

Image courtesy of jewishvirtuallibrary.org

Image courtesy of jewishvirtuallibrary.org

Those are the Hebrew letters. There is no letter J. Hence, it is impossible for the name of God to be Jehovah. The name Jehovah was just invented by translators of the Bible.

From the principal doctrinal handbook of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Reasoning From the Scriptures”, published in 1985, on page 192, it says –

Hence some moderns have framed the name of Jehovah, unknown to all the ancients, whether Jews or Christians; for the true pronunciation of the name, which is in Hebrew text, by long disuse is now quite lost.

Only modern biblical translators formed Jehovah, Bro. Eli said. The name Jehovah is unknown to all the ancients, whether Jews or Christians. Not even Moses knew Jehovah; neither Apostle Paul. The word Jehovah only emerged due to the Masoretes.

The Masoretes were groups of scribes and Bible scholars based primarily in Israel. They worked during The Middle Ages, between the 7th and 11th centuries. These scholars attempted to put in order the pronunciation, paragraph, verse divisions and cantillation (ritual chantings) of the Hebrew Bible. They organized a system of pronunciation and grammatical guides in the form of distinguishing marks to identify vowel points of the Old Testament.

A vowel notation system for Hebrew is known as niqqud. All types of niqqud are not indicated in Hebrew writing. The reason for devising these systems is because scholars could not pronounce some of the Hebrew text.

The Hebrew alphabet is an abjad, a type of writing system having letters that represent consonants only; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel. Of the several systems of vowel notation that were developed, the most expansive was that of the Masoretes. The product of their work is known today as the Masoretic Text.

Even the name of God in Hebrew could not be pronounced by scholars, Bro. Eli said. The name of God is represented by four consonants, known as the Tetragrammaton: Yod, He, Vav, He. Due to the commandment of God to Israel that whosoever uses the name of God in vain shall not be held guiltless, the Jews considered the name too sacred to be uttered. It became a tradition wherefore not to pronounce it, until eventually the pronunciation was lost.

Below is the Tetragrammaton shown in three different scripts.

The Tetragrammaton in Paleo-Hebrew (10th century BC to 135 AD), Aramaic (10th century BC to 4th century AD) and modern Hebrew scripts. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Tetragrammaton in Paleo-Hebrew, Aramaic and modern Hebrew scripts. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

When the Tetragrammaton was translated in English, which is YHWH, the translators altered it because they could not pronounce YHWH. What they did was that they replaced Y with J and W with V; and then they added the vowels E, O, and A. That is how JEHOVAH was formed. Another word that was formed in the 19th century was YAHWEH by the Hebrew scholar Gesenius. It was rejected by major Hebrew scholars.

According to the New World Bible Translation Committee, at the foreword of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society for Jehovah’s Witnesses on February 9, 1950, on page 23, it says –

While inclining to view the pronunciation “Yah-weh” as the more correct way, we have retained the form “Jehovah” because of people’s familiarity with it since the 14th century.

The word Jehovah became known only in the 14th century. By then the Lord Jesus Christ had already gone up to heaven for 14 hundred years. The Apostles have also been dead for 14 hundred years before the word Jehovah emerged. Now, people are being fooled by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Bro. Eli said. They are making them believe that the name of God is Jehovah. If you didn’t know where the word came from, you will really be fooled, because that Jehovah replaced the Tetragrammaton in some versions of the Bible.

Ironically, although the Jehovah’s Witnesses were inclined to view that the pronunciation Yah-weh as the more correct way, they settled with Jehovah because of people’s familiarity with it. They preferred familiarity more than accuracy. What makes this Jehovah-hoax worse is that after this “inclining to view” was published in the 1950’s, they made an effort to deny it 35 years later. Here are excerpts of the two editions from the New World Translation, and the alteration that was made, obviously, to mislead people.

edited2_while-combination

According to Bro. Eli, the name of God from the very beginning is written in Isaiah 63:16 (RV), which says –

For thou art our father, though Abraham knoweth us not, and Israel doth not acknowledge us: thou, O LORD, art our father; our redeemer from everlasting is thy name.

The name of God from everlasting is “Father.” Bro. Eli pointed out that prior to creation the Father already had a Son; thus His name Father is from eternity. He cited Proverbs 30:4

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?

“That is Father and Son,” Bro. Eli emphasized. When God has not yet started His creation, together with Him was His Son. The Son calls Him, Father; and that Son is the Lord Jesus Christ. Proverbs 8:22-30 says –

The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him:

The one speaking in these verses is the Wisdom in verse 12: “I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.”

The Wisdom said that even before the heavens were created, before the earth was made, before God’s creation began, He was with God; He was brought forth. In another translation, it says “When there were no depths, was I begotten…” (Geneva Bible). This is the same person that was begotten in John 1:18

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

The Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs is the begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Son that was brought forth before the heavens were created. I Corinthians 1:24 says –

But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

05_02_9-bible_web

Christ is the wisdom of God. He was brought forth from the bosom of the Father before the heavens were created. In the past eternity, there was already Someone calling God, Father, Bro. Eli said; and that is the Son of God. That is why the Lord Jesus Christ, when He taught the Apostles how to pray, He said in Matthew 6:9

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

“Hallowed be thy name.” What name? Bro. Eli said, it is the name “Father.” That is the name Christ commanded His disciples to worship. When a Christian prays, he will not call God Jehovah or El Shaddai; he shall pray after the manner Christ commanded him to. He shall call on God, “Our Father.”

Now, there is this philosophy of pastors of Jehovah that “Father” is not a proper noun but a common noun, Bro. Eli recalled. During discussions, they would ask Bro. Eli what his father’s name is, and he would answer, Triunfo. The pastors would then infer, “So, he has a name: Triunfo. His name is not father.”

The phenomenal preacher then would answer: “Right, the name of your father is Peter. But if it is the son who is calling him, would he call his father, Peter? If you are a child, of course, you would call your father, father, or papa, or daddy. If you are a respectful son, you will not call your father by his personal name.”

“Look at Christ, whenever He speaks with His Father, He calls Him Father. He never used Jehovah. He always say, Father, Father, Father, Father, Father. He only called God in another name when He was on the cross, assuming the role of a redeemer, a ransom. He called the Father, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ Which means, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ But in any other occasion in His whole life on earth, He called God, Father; because that is His name from everlasting.”

Holy Kiss, a Meeting of Righteousness and Peace

When the lips of two people in love meet, sudden hard-to-describe sensations rush through their bodies. Thoughts and feelings are then mutually expressed—without the aid of words—in that simple moment of intimacy. As the late musical critic Henry Finck would inquire: Is not a kiss the very autograph of love?

chipmunks

Image courtesy of funnychill.com

Perhaps.

But what if the lips to kiss are spiritual? What if the love to express is holy?

Holy Kiss is a commandment Apostle Paul wrote in his epistles to the first century Christian Church. This commandment—to greet one another with a holy kiss—was mentioned several times in the Bible: in Romans 16:16, I Corinthians 16:20, II Corinthians 13:12 and I Thessalonians 5:26. Apostle Peter likewise wrote in his epistle to the Israelites a similar commandment: to greet one another with a kiss of love, written in I Peter 5:14. Whether “holy kiss” or “kiss of love,” surely, a commandment from God has a definite meaning.

Various explanations arose regarding the holy kiss after the death of the Apostles, along with the emergence of different religious groups. Cyprian, Roman Catholic Bishop of Carthage in the 3rd century, wrote in one of his epistles the following concerning the holy kiss:

“Cyprian to Sergius and Rogatianus, and the rest of the confessors in the Lord, everlasting health. I salute you, dearest and most blessed brethren, myself also desiring to enjoy the sight of you, if the state in which I am placed would permit me to come to you… What more pleasant and sublime than now to kiss your lips, which with a glorious voice have confessed the Lord…”

This interpretation of the holy kiss as a physical act was not of Cyprian alone. Among influential figures in the Catholic Church, Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo in the 4th century, shared the same literal definition, inasmuch as he was under the same religion. In the book “The Fathers of the Church A New Translation (1959),” Augustine said in one of his sermons:

“…when the Sacrifice is finished, we say the Lord’s Prayer which you have received and recited. After this, the ‘Peace be with you’ is said, and the Christians embrace one another with the holy kiss. This is a sign of peace; as the lips indicate, let peace be made in your conscience, that is, when your lips draw near to those of your brother, do not let your heart withdraw from his.”

In both letters of catholic bishops Cyprian and Augustine, it is evident that they believed they were practicing the holy kiss through those physical acts of kissing and embracing. Although the latter explained that “this [the embracing] is a sign of peace,” his interpretation of the act itself was still merely physical. Even today, this Catholic belief is still being practiced, with a few variations in some countries, like the shaking of hands or cheek-to-cheek instead of embracing or lips-to-lips.

In arts and literature, the holy kiss has also been depicted as a physical act. In Alonzo Rodriguez’ “Farewell of Saints Peter and Paul,” painted in the 16th century, the apostles are shown kissing each other lips-to-lips, supposedly portraying the practice of the holy kiss before their imminent torment and martyrdom. Nowhere in the Bible can be found, however, that the apostles kissed one another lips-to-lips or cheek-to-cheek in practicing the holy kiss.

holy-kiss_alonzo-rodriguez

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

On the contrary, the former apostle who betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver, Judas Iscariot, kissed the Lord on the cheek to identify Him that He may be arrested. It was an act of ungodliness; a deadly kiss of betrayal. On the other hand, Mary the sister of Martha kissed the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ and washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. It was an act of repentance and humility; but was it the equivalent of the commandment Apostles Paul and Peter taught to the first century Christian Church? What truly is the meaning of the holy kiss according to Bible?

In the worldwide Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) Bible Exposition held in early 2008 in the Philippines, the same question about the holy kiss was asked. The Bible Exposition was hosted by the highly-acclaimed “The Only Sensible Preacher of Our Time,” Bro. Eli Soriano, Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God, International. The inquirer was a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) or INC, a religious sect based in the Philippines. The sixty-one-year old evangelist said that the holy kiss is definitely not beso-beso (cheek-to-cheek) or embracing or the shaking of hands as other preachers would put it. Doing it literally would be impossible due to physical constraints.

“The holy kiss can be sent through a letter,” Bro. Eli said, who was then answering from the United States of America through live video streaming. He explained that by this means the first century Christians in Judea and Galatia greeted those in Rome with a holy kiss, and vice versa. Rome is 1,448 miles from Judea; thereby making it impossible for a handshake or cheek-to-cheek to have transpired. Only a spiritual interpretation of the commandment would make sense. Sending the holy kiss through epistles is unrestricted by spiritual dimensions.

To further aid the guest inquirer in understanding this Christian doctrine, a video clip was played showing INC ministers in their television program Ang Tamang Daan (The Right Path). Ang Tamang Daan is a television program launched in 2001, designed to counter Soriano’s 25-year running television program The Old Path, which was awarded the Most Informative Religious Program of the Year by Gawad Amerika Awards in 2006. Video clips of various religious leaders are commonly being played during The Old Path Bible Expositions to give the inquirers the opportunity to hear what their own ministers and preachers say regarding their faith, so that they may be able to compare them with Bro. Eli’s teachings.

In the video shown, after reading Wycliffe Bible Commentary, the INC ministers took for their own Wycliffe’s belief that “a kiss on the cheek” or “a warm handshake” is the equivalent of the Christian commandment. This belief is no different from those of Cyprian and Augustine, the catholic bishops. On page 1275 of the commentary, Wycliffe says, “Whatever in modern culture is symbolic of the deep affection Christians ought to feel toward each other – a kiss on the cheek, a warm handshake, a grasping of both hands – is the equivalent of the apostolic command.”

The INC ministers, to prove their borrowed explanation, emphasized that such is the definition of people who investigated the Holy Scriptures, thus thereof their stand on the subject matter is based. This proves that the Iglesia Ni Cristo, which was founded by the late Felix Y. Manalo, has no explanation of its own regarding the holy kiss, that is why its ministers had to pick up explanations from the Protestant.

John Wycliffe, author of the Wycliffe Bible Commentary, is founder of the Lollard movement, which is a forerunner to the Protestant Reformation. In the official magazine of INC, the Pasugo, published in August of 1961, it says on page 39:

Dapat itakuwil

TRANSLATION:

“At the end of this publication, we now ought to reject the catholic priests and the protestant pastors, for they are ministers of satan. We also ought to reject the Catholic Church and the different protestant churches, for they are not of God, but of satan or the devil.”

From the same people whom they accuse of being of satan or the devil, the ministers of the Iglesia Ni Cristo borrowed explanation for their holy kiss just to compensate for their lack of Biblical understanding.

Soriano, on the other hand, explained that a kiss cannot be done without meeting. He then cited scientific research to back-up his explanation. In medical science, the meeting of the lips of a husband and wife entails a long list of health benefits. According to Sound Medicine of Indiana University in 2004, a person may lose two calories a minute and double his or her metabolic rate during a passionate kiss. It also quells anxiety and, like meditation, produces a lot of physiological changes, said Psychologist Joy Davidson, Ph.D.

Kissing also produces an increased level of oxytocin in the body, stated researcher Jeanie Lerche Davis in MedicineNet.com. Oxytocin is a calming hormone that is also produced during massage. It relieves tension, stress, and the negative energy taken by the body within the day. Studies have revealed that couples who kiss first thing in the morning are healthier, meet lesser car accidents, sleep well, and are happier overall.

In the article “Affairs of the Lips: Why We Kiss,” posted in Scientific American Mind in 2008, Chip Walter, author in residence at Carnegie Mellon University, reported that researchers are revealing hidden complexities behind the simple act of kissing. He mentioned some key concepts involved in this intimate human expression. The following are extracts:

(1) A kiss triggers a cascade of neural messages and chemicals that transmit tactile sensations, sexual excitement, feelings of closeness, motivation and even euphoria.

(2) Kisses can convey important information about the status and future of a relationship. At the extreme, a bad first kiss can abruptly curtail a couple’s future.

kiss

Image courtesy of ehow.com

While medical science tells us that there are “hidden complexities behind the simple act of kissing”; that physical kiss triggers “feelings of closeness”; and that it can “convey important information about the status and future of a relationship”; parallels to these may also be present in the holy kiss. A certain degree of intimacy may also be necessary; and there may also be information being conveyed through the process. However, Bro. Eli makes it a point to have a biblical basis in answering all questions of faith that people ask him, rather than to speculate.

“A kiss is not only of lips, but of feelings, understanding and mutual interest.” This was Bro. Eli’s answer to this long-standing issue of faith. He expounded further by citing Psalms 85:10, which says, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Bro. Eli explained that it is this meeting—the meeting of peace and righteousness—that the Apostles Paul and Peter call the holy kiss in their epistles. This is the holy kiss that the first century Christians greeted each other with, and not the literal kiss or cheek-to-cheek or embracing or the shaking of hands.

Among Christians, when one’s truth meets the truth in another, and the righteousness of one meets the righteousness of the other, balance is maintained in the brotherhood, Bro. Eli said. By meeting one another’s righteousness, though a Christian may commit mistakes towards a fellow Christian, forgiveness is readily given and received, so that both may continue in serving God. This is the essence of the holy kiss; and this explains why Apostles Paul and Peter were able to greet their fellow Christians with a holy kiss through their epistles, regardless of distance.

The Key to Unlocking Spiritual Literacy

To acquire scientific literacy, most people would study in colleges and universities to earn their degree. That is how they learn science. Acquiring spiritual literacy, however, is a different case. To unlock the spiritual, one would need a key that is not found in universities.

When we speak of “key,” a few things come into mind: lock and door. A key, literally speaking, is a small metal tool cut into a special shape to fit into a lock and move its bolt. It is used to open doors or drawers, or things that one needs to have an access to. Normally, a person does not lock anything unless there’s something important in it privy to a few trusted people.

There are many aspects in life, aside from the physical, in which a key can be useful. In literary writing, a reader may need a key in understanding the author’s thoughts and feelings whenever they are expressed with certain depth and complexity. Take, for example, the sonnets of William Shakespeare. A person unlearned of Shakespearean language may not find sense in his sonnets. To poets, however, deciphering their meaning may be quite easy.

Here is one of Shakespeare’s sonnets that has earned numerous commentaries:

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Considered by many to be beautifully constructed, what does this poem mean? To someone who has not the key to understanding the language of Shakespeare, or to breaking the code into which his thoughts are hidden, to him the meaning of this poem is locked. Even with experts, their analyses differ from one another. Some say Shakespeare speaks here of absolute love; others of marriage service; still others say Shakespeare had not made the best choice of words.

Whatever the case may be, it remains a fact that Shakespeare is the author of this poem, and he has a definite message in it. Anyone can make his own analysis and commentary, but it cannot change the intended meaning of the author. However, Shakespeare was not just a poet; he was also a human being. No matter how great a poet he was, his poems were still subject to human error. In his own words: “If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.” This suggests that even if his definition of love is proven to be wrong, he will not accept it; believing that a man can only truly love if he loves with a love that conforms to his definition.

If a man needs a key to understanding words which are subject to error, how much more a key is needed to understanding words that are spiritual? God, as Author of the Bible, has a definite meaning to His words. He has a definite message. And because His words are not subject to error, unlocking the message behind them requires no human analysis.

bible2

Image courtesy of spiritinyou.net

With approximately six billion copies sold worldwide, the Bible remains the best-selling book of all time—yet only a few people truly understand it. Numerous critics and scholars have devoted their time studying its pages, but most of them get lost in the meaning of the verses even more. Without the key, they could not unlock the Truth in the scriptures, hence they remain spiritually illiterate.

Proof that not everyone who reads the Bible understands it, religions proliferated. If leaders of religious groups understood the Truth in God’s words, why do their gods differ? The god of the Roman Catholic Church, according to Catholic Encyclopedia, is embodied in the Godhead, which consists of three Persons that “are co-eternal and co-equal. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.” This is the Catholic doctrine of Trinity—absent in the Holy Scriptures.

The Scriptures says, in John 14:28

“Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.”

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said that His Father is greater than Him. He did not say that they are co-equal.

On the other hand, the god of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ), a religious sect founded in the Philippines by the late Felix Y. Manalo, is entirely different. The begotten son of their god, unlike that of the catholic, is a mere man, not a God. In their official magazine, Pasugo, published on January 1964, on page 13, it says:

untitled2

...

TRANSLATION:

MAN is also the state of being of our Lord Jesus Christ in His coming on the day of judgment. His state of being does not change. He never became a God! A MAN he was born, a MAN he grew up and preached, a MAN he resurrected, a MAN he went up to heaven, a MAN he sits at the right hand of God in heaven, and a MAN he shall come again.

Between the Roman Catholic Church and the Iglesia Ni Cristo, several things are possible: Either one of them is correct, the other is wrong; or both of them are wrong. It cannot be that both of them are correct. Equivalently, it would mean that either one of them has the key, or neither; it cannot be that both of them have the key. And since the doctrine of Trinity of the Roman Catholic Church contradicts that of the Bible, that gives us the chance to consider other choices. Unfortunately, the christ of the Iglesia Ni Cristo is a mere man, and is biblically not qualified to be the begotten Son of God. In I John 5:20, it says -

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

This leaves our choices lessened by two.

Failure to understand the true message of the Scriptures prompted many to invent their own keys. Some invented codes allegedly found inside or outside the Bible: one is The Bible Code; another is Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.

In the Bible Code, they say that there is a letter-by-letter sequence in some biblical texts in the original Hebrew language. They use methods such as the Equidistant Letter Sequences (ESL) to decipher biographical information about famous rabbis that are allegedly encrypted or encoded in the Hebrew text. Here is an example of how their Bible Code works:

code_de_la_bible

Image courtesy of crossingwallstreet.com

Looks like a crossword puzzle, isn’t it? You can actually do this even with Harry Potter books. Some already tried it with Moby Dick. It worked.

The Da Vinci Code, on the other hand, is a masterfully written stupidity. Fibonacci sequence and a few pieces of history put together into an incredibly ugly collage does not make Dan Brown any better than a crackpot. It is evident that he made a lot of research to write such a complex lie and anti-biblical fiction. Yes, fiction it is, and it qualifies as the new Book of Mormons—such a waste of time to read.

If one holds the key, he can open what is closed. Anything that is closed is not closed to him who has the key. It will only be closed to him if he rejects the key. This is what Bro. Eliseo Soriano, Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God International, said in their weekly Thanksgiving Day held 11 October 2008 at the Ang Dating Daan (ADD) Convention Center in Pampanga, Philippines. The topic he discussed: The Key of the Open Book, but Closed to Him who Rejects the Key According to the Bible.

Bro. Eli, host of the 25-year running religious television program Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), explained that the Bible is both an open and a closed book. To him who has the key, it is open; to him who hasn’t, it is closed. And the key of the Bible is the seeing eyes given by God.

The Bible is a portrait of a beautiful thing that others did not see, because their eyes are different. In the Church of God, we have eyes given by God; seven eyes that see all the goodness of God in us. In the Bible, what we have seen is the righteousness of God, His love, longsuffering, forgiveness, mercy, grace and all His goodness. The Bible was opened to us because God willed to give us the key.

To unlock the Bible, one needs the key. It is not by man’s own efforts or college degree that he would understand the Bible and attain spiritual literacy, but by God’s will. Unless God, the Author of the Bible, open a man’s eye and give him the key to the Truth written in His Book, to him the Bible will remain closed and locked.

The proof that one has the key, he sees in the Bible what all others do not.