What's the deal with Iglesia ni Cristo?

Okay, being an American born of American parents living in the American Southeast, there’s not too many chances for me to have contact with INC. I know Filipinos, very nice people, and all the ones I know are Catholic :). But I was doing some Internet searches on INC, and I noticed something really odd. Their places of worship (do they call them churches)?, Whilst very nice, I have not noticed any crosses in them. I know they do not believe the divinity of Christ. Is this related? The buildings, from what I have seen, are of a very nice Neo-Gothic architectural style, but why the lack of the Cross? Do they believe Jesus died on the cross? Thanks!

As a Filipino actually living in the Philippines, I wouldn’t even give these guys an ear. They’re no more different than the likes of Apollo Quiboloy in their classic fundamentalist take on the Bible with an added mix of exploiting Third World ignorance. Anybody with even a Cafeteria Catholic’s experience with these people can easily guess their reasons for not having crosses going somewhere between their lack of belief in the divinity to the same old anti-idolatry schtick. :shrug:

That’s Third World Christian sects for you.

They remind me (remember, only experience is from what I have read) a lot of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I know there are JWs in the Philippines, but I am completely unaware of the number of them (I know INC is pretty dang large), but is it based on kind of the same idea? I was reading about a debate between Karl Keating and an INC pastor, and the pastor thought Keating’s knowledge of Biblical Greek was an opinion. I know there are some INCs in California. I don’t really want the displeasure of meeting them, but I want to be prepared just in case. I have heard they are a bit cult like. I think, if I am not mistaken, they believe their founder was a fulfillment of a prophecy based on a bible verse that doesn’t say what INC says it says.

A bit is an understatement. Being one of those Catholic-In-Name-Only Filipinos, even I’d rather discuss theology with a priest than with an INC member or any other knock-off. So far, I’ve seen only two kinds of the latter. There are the ones so steeped that their entire existence comprises of driving a jeepney and tending a sari-sari store and then just Sunday service. The other half are those secretly flouting the whole thing and are just looking for the first sign of an easy way out of membership.

Some of them I’ve seen become converts and write testimonies on Catholic magazines but others (like my co-worker) act like they don’t even have a religion. So really, they’re more like a smear that everyone tries hard to ignore but fail at the last second by the virtue of the INC’s block voting members. My brother’s an out-and-out agnostic and sometimes I actually want to tell him that if he ever wants to blame religion for the Philippines’ Third World status (again), he should sooner place his bets on INC and not Catholicism.

Okay, now that REALLY sounds like Jehovah’s Witnesses!


You said you read the debate Karl Keating had.

I think this link would be of benefit to you too as you can watch & listen to it as well.

Which is the True Church?

I have and watched the old VHS on this and I was amazed at how bizarre the “Biblical exegesis” was from Mr. Ventilacion. Watch/listen for yourself and make your own decisions though.

Also look at the audience as the camera occasionally pans to them. Mr. Keating has talked elsewhere about the way the audience was. I can’t recall what exactly Mr. Keating said but it was basically the audience struck him as being proverbially “zombi-fied”.

God bless.


The Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) intentionally omits any sort of images or symbols (save for their logo) on their houses of worship (that’s the more used term instead of church). It comes from the strict (and I find absurd) observance of the “Thou shalt not make a graven image” rule in the Bible, which they teach is the sole basis of the faith.

As you’ve correctly pointed out, they do not believe in the divinity of Christ since they’re not trinitarian. However, they do believe that Christ died on the cross and it is Christ that redeems humanity, but in an attempt to attract followers by attacking Catholic practices, they see the cross as simply a graven image, pagan symbol, and an ancient instrument of torture Catholics apparently upgraded as a religious symbol.

They’re really very adamant about graven images since their main selling point is attacking the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the Church’s veneration of images. It’s kind of a cultural thing. Particular with pre-colonial Filipino culture is ancestor worship which involved the care of statues called anitos that held the spirits of ancestors. When the Catholic missionaries came, this part of the culture was transformed as a way of preaching the faith, resulting in the Filipino Catholic’s great affinity for religious images. This so-called “idol worship” of Catholics as claimed by the INC has been one of their most used attacks against the Catholic Church so they try their best to emphasize that they don’t “worship” images as Catholics do so any sort of image or statues in houses of worship is a big no no.

Never heard of this church. :popcorn:

I have an aunt who, as far as I understand, converted after marrying her husband. One time, when we were all kids, we asked my cousin what they do at their church, one of my other uncles said, “Give me money and I’ll pray for you.” :stuck_out_tongue:

A lot of this information was from Wikipedia (not that reliable, but pretty close to what I learned about this church growing up and from experience with family who are members).
I’m not 100% sure, but from what I’ve read and what I’ve been told, it seems to be just a Filipino version of a restorationist church with the same M O as the others. This time though, Christ’s church would be reestablished in the Far East.

The founder, Felix Manalo, was Catholic, but was not satisfied with Catholic teaching, tried other churches for a while and was a Methodist pastor. He secluded himself with religious books and came up with “new found doctrine” after 3 days.
The bible is the sole foundation of their beliefs and faith alone is insufficient.

They believe their church is the same as Christ’s church in the 1st century and the Catholic Church was the apostate church from the 4th century on. They believe the Trinitarian belief in God is heresy and that God (the father) is the one true god, and Jesus is his highest creation, sanctified without sin.

Their biblical evidence is that the Philippines is what the Isaiah 43:5 refers to as the east where Christ’s church would be established.

A lot reminds me of LDS mixed with a sprinkling of JW’s and more Protestant beliefs. I would say it is definitely a “private interpretation of the Bible” type church.

My understanding is their founder DID travel to the USA and DID interact with JWs and essentially borrowed without acknowledgment much of their theology and exegesis–and added something’s of his own, like the Philippines will be the source for the revival of the “true Church”

Sorry for the late response back to this, but I kind of want to reopen discussion on this do any of y’all know anyone that is a former iglesianicristo? Yeah and LDS and Jehovah’s Witnesses sounds about right

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