Below is an unofficial summary of the belief of the Iglesia ni Cristo - church founded by Felix Manalo in the Philippines, registered in July 27, 1914. Their official teachings are carefully kept in secrecy at their Central Office in Manila, we can only base our understanding of their argument operating on these beliefs. [Source:The Iglesia ni Cristo: God's Message BLOG]
Note: Felix Manalo was never baptized in the Iglesia which for them makes him equal with John the Baptist. Notice the "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" but not the Trinity; their teachings on "Christian Unity" is not on Ecumenism but unity within themselves as members of the Iglesia ni Cristo. They remain deeply unbending, rigid, anti-Catholic in all their teachings. They do not have official representative on Christian Ecumenism. They detest every church that teaches Christ as God and hated the Doctrine of the Trinity.
What’s the difference?
Is the usual remark we hear from some people when the Iglesia Ni Cristo is introduced to them. It is a perfectly sound and legitimate question to ask considering that there are so many religions today vying against each other, and making claims and counterclaims that theirs is the best church to affiliate one’s self with.
Many people had joined one religion after another without having noticed any substantial difference among those religions. Some of them even felt they had been tricked; others downright deceived. From such sad experiences some of them make a sweeping conclusion that all religions are the same. And depending on the degree of their disillusionment they become indifferent to religion, or overly cautious or altogether shy away from any religion. Some of them even become anti- religion. But that should not be the case.
While there are so many false religions in the world today, this fact alone does not warrant the conclusion that all religions are false. There is a true religion, one which worships and serves the true God based on His true words written in the Bible. Everyone owes it to God and to himself to find this true religion. And one may start searching by asking how one religion differs from the other.
So what indeed distinguishes the Iglesia ni Cristo from other religious groups? There are many ways of answering this question. In this article, we intend to show that what gives distinction to the Iglesia ni Cristo is her belief.
We maintain that the set of beliefs upheld by a religious organization is of vital importance in determining its genuineness and truthfulness. Certainly, any religion that preaches the doctrines of the devil could not be of God. To be of God the least one can do is uphold the doctrines of God written in the Holy Scriptures.
And here lies the uniqueness of the Iglesia ni Cristo: it upholds the pristine teachings of the Bible.
One God, the Father
We believe that the one and only true God is the Father, the Creator. We hold this belief because it is the doctrine taught by our Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles (John 17:3, 1: I Corinthians 8:6). God is a Spirit (John 4:24), and, therefore, He has no flesh and bones (Luke 24:39).
There is no trinity of persons in God. Though the Bible speaks of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, never does it refer to all of them as gods nor as three persons in one God; rather, it points to the Father alone as the true God. The Son Himself emphasized that only the Father is the true God (John 17:3, 1) and that He himself is a man telling the truth which He received from God (John 8:40). The prophets also teach that we have only one Father who created us (Malachi 2:10); Isaiah 64:4, 8). He alone is God, there is no other God and no one is like Him (Isaiah 46:9)
God is from everlasting to everlasting, with no beginning or end (Psalms 90:2), immortal (I Timothy 1:17), and does not tired or become weary (Isaiah 40:28).
He alone is the creator of heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all things therein, and the seas and all that is in them (Nehemiah 9:6)
The Lord Jesus Christ
The Iglesia ni Cristo believes that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Matthew 3:17), is the one and only Savior given by God (Acts 13:23). Christ is the sole mediator between God and men (I Timothy 2:5) and the only way to God (John 14:6).
But we do not subscribe to the belief that Christ is God-Man. He is man in nature according to His own testimony (John 8:40) and the teachings of His Apostles (I Timothy 2:5; Matthew 1:18).
The attributes of a human being were found in Christ. He hungered (Matthew 4:2), thirsted (John 19:28), became weary or tired (John 4:6), slept (Matthew 8:24), and died (Matthew 27:50; I Corinthians 15:3). However, Christ as distinct from all men, is the only one who did not sin (I Peter 2:21-22; Hebrews 4:15).
He has been exalted by God and given a name above all other names, that at the name of Christ every knee should bow, those in heaven, and those on earth (Philippians 2:9-11). He has been placed by God far above all principality, power, might and dominion, and every name that is named, and all things have been put under His feet (Ephesians 1:21-22). Christ will eventually subject all His power and authority to the true God (I Corinthians 15:27-28). He had in so many instances introduced Himself as the Son of God but never did He appropriate the title “God nor “God the Son for Himself because He is not God but man.
The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the power (Acts 1:8) sent by the Father in the name of Christ, to teach and remind His messengers of all the things that Christ said (John 14:26).
Christ also sends the Holy Spirit to help us in our weaknesses and infirmities (John 15:26; Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit strengthens, edifies, and comforts the Church of Christ (Ephesians 3:16-17); John 14:26). And although the Holy Spirit is a spirit, never do the Scriptures refer to Him as “God the Holy Spirit because He is not God but one of the spirits being sent by God.
The Holy Scriptures
We believe that the Bible is the sole basis of faith and service to God. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe, for in it the righteousness of God is revealed (Romans 1:16-17). The Holy Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished for all good works (II Timothy 3:15-17).
God has purposely hidden His words in mystery (Romans 16:25), so that men who strive to understand the Scripture through their own worldly knowledge can never come to know the truth (II Timothy 3:7). The Gospel preached by those who are not sent by God is called by the Apostles “another gospel (Galatians 1:6-7). And the use of the Gospel which deviates from the truth or from its true meaning will ineluctably lead to perdition (II Peter 3:15-16).
The Messengers of God
The Iglesia ni Cristo believes that the task of understanding God’s words in the Bible, and teaching them without alteration, without adding or diminishing, are given exclusively to the messengers of God (Mark 4:11-12; Romans 10:15; Deuteronomy 12:32).
We believe that the late Brother Felix Y. Manalo was God’s last messenger; he was the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecies concerning the messenger from the Far East (Revelation 7:2-3) who would preach to God’s sons and daughters in these last days (Isaiah 43:5-6; 46:11; 41:9-11). God reveals the meaning of His words to His messengers by means of the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:20-21), and the proof that the messengers were taught by the Holy Spirit of God is that their teachings never contradict one another (I Corinthians 2:13).
The Iglesia ni Cristo believes that since ancient times, God has set apart His people to serve Him. Outside this election, man cannot render services acceptable to God (Psalms 4:3; Proverbs 1:28)
Those whom God has chosen in the patriarchal times were Seth, Noah, and Abraham. Then He set apart the Israelites. But the Israelites did not remain faithful to the covenant of God (Genesis 17: Daniel 9:11). After the fall of Israel, she was replaced by the Church of Christ (I Peter 2:9, 3-5; Matthew 16:18; Romans 16:16; Acts 20:28, Lamsa). Eventually, after the death of the Apostles, the Church which was established by Christ in the first century departed from the true faith. It was apostatized (Matthew 24:3, 11: Acts 20:29-30; I Timothy 4:1-3).
In these last days, God sent His messenger to administer man’s return to the true teachings of the Church. And it is in the Philippines (in the Far East) where God sent an angel or messenger to preach the true and pure Gospel of Christ to the people in order to bring them back to the true Church (Revelation 7:2-3; Isaiah 43:5-7).
The Church of Christ and Salvation
The Iglesia ni Cristo believes that it is the only means of man’s salvation in the Christian era. All men need salvation, for all men have sinned, hence, all of mankind should die in the lake of fire, the wages of sin (Romans 5:12; 6:23; Revelation 20:14). For man to be saved, he should enter in by Christ, by becoming a member of His Body or Church (John 10:9; I Corinthians 12:27, Colossians 1:18) because it is His Church that Christ will save (Ephesians 5:23).
Christ will not save anyone outside the Church of Christ because it would be against the law of God. His law requires that sinners should pay for their own sin (Deuteronomy 24:16; Revelation 20:14).
We believe that the baptism commanded by Christ (Matthew 28:19) and preached by the Apostles is done by means of immersion in water (Romans 6:4; John 3:23; Acts 8:36-38).
To qualify for baptism, one should be taught the words of God, believe in them, repent, and renew his life (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38). Since an infant cannot do these things, infant baptism is not practiced in the Church of Christ. Infants or little children should be offered to God for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such of these (Matthew 19:13-15). Their baptism comes only after they shall have qualified for it.
On The Church Administration
The Iglesia ni Cristo believes that every member of the Church is duty-bound to submit himself to the Church Administration because it is God’s commandment (Hebrews 13:17). This is so because God entrusted to the Administration the message and the ministry of reconciliation (I Corinthians 5:18-20). To submit to the administration is to be bound by its commandments and instructions (Matthew 18:18). To abide by the decision laid down by the Administration is to abide by the words of Christ (Acts 16:4; Luke 10:16).
The Christian Way Of Life
We believe that all those baptized in Christ should put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). It is Christ who should live in them and no longer they themselves (Galatians 2:20).
Those who truly in Christ should lead a righteous life based on the moral teachings of the Bible (II Corinthians 5:17; II Timothy 3:15-17).
Members of the Church of Christ are prohibited from eating blood under pain of expulsion (Acts 15:28-29; Leviticus 17:10).
Mixed marriage is strictly prohibited in the Church of Christ because since the very beginning, God has been against marriage between those who are His people and those who are not. In the sight of God, mixed marriage is a great evil and an act of treachery (Deuteronomy 7:3-4; Nehemiah 13:27). It was the major cause of the great deluge that destroyed the ancient world (Genesis 6:1-2, 5, 7).
Worship of God
The Iglesia ni Cristo believes that it is the whole duty of man to worship God and keep His commandments. Worship of God is man’s inherent obligation because He created us; hence, we do not belong to ourselves but to God (Psalms 95:6-7, 100:3).
Worship of God should be done in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). God’s name should be worshipped—this is worship in spirit; and His will should be done obeying His words—this is worship in truth (Matthew 6:9-10; John 17:17).
The Church of Christ in these last days, or the Iglesia ni Cristo, in Pilipino, (like the first-century Church of Christ) observes the worship service which is characterized by psalms and hymn singing, prayers, studying the words of God, and offerings (I Corinthians 14:26, 15; 16:2).
The Iglesia ni Cristo performs offerings and contributions as God’s commandment that must not be forgotten and with which God is well pleased (Hebrews 13:16). Every member of the Church of Christ should give according to the dictates of the heart, for God loves a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:7). The contributions must be prepared beforehand so that they may be voluntary and not compulsory. The faithful set aside and keep a certain sum proportionate to their gain or the blessings that God bestows upon them (I Corinthians 16:1-2; Deuteronomy 16:16-17).
Christ Himself highly regards the assembling together of the Church of Christ members in congregational worship services, because every time His Church congregates, He is there in their midst by means of His Spirit (Matthew 18:20; Galatians 4:6).
Congregational worship service is of extreme value in the Church of Christ; that is why, members are strictly forbidden to forsake it. To willfully forsake it is a grave sin (Hebrews 10:25-27).
The Iglesia ni Cristo believes that members of the true Church of Christ should observe the brotherhood. Christ established a brotherhood inside the Church of Christ (Matthew 23:8). That is why members of the Church address one another as brother and sister.
Iglesia ni Cristo members should love one another as commanded by Christ and as taught by the Apostles. This shows that they are the true disciples of Christ (John 13:34-35; Peter 2:17).
It is evil to hate any brother in the Church. Whoever hates his brother in the faith is considered a murderer and shall not attain everlasting life (John 3:15).
To maintain the love for the brotherhood in the Church, members who have misunderstandings or disputes are commanded to reconcile (Matthew 5:23-25; Ephesians 4:32).
The Christian Unity
The Iglesia ni Cristo subscribes to sacred unity. This is absolute unity, for in this unity, God , Christ, and the Church are joined together or united (John 17:23, 21).
We observe this unity in the name of Christ, to the glory of God (I Corinthians 1:10; 10:31). Division or schism is strictly forbidden because Christ is not divided. Divisions and strife are earthly, sensual, and devilish (I Corinthians 1:10, 13; James 3:14-15).
The Iglesia ni Cristo observes unity even in electing public officials (Philippians 2:2-3; I Corinthians 1:10). This is not interference in politics, but in obedience to God’s commandment. This unity is never betrayed by a true member of the Church, even if some would be displeased.
The Resurrection of the Dead
The Iglesia ni Cristo believes that the dead will be resurrected. Christ would not have been resurrected if there is no resurrection of the dead (I Corinthians 15:12-13).
There are two kinds of resurrection: those who have done good will rise and live, and those who have done evil will rise and be condemned (John 5:28-29; Revelation 20:14).
The dead members of the Church of Christ will be resurrected at Christ’s second coming (I Corinthians 15:23) and those faithful members who are alive when He returns shall meet Christ in the air to be with Him in the dwelling that He has prepared for them (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The Second Coming of Christ and Judgment Day
We believe that Christ will come again. Christ Himself promised that He will return (John 14:1-3), a promise echoed by the Apostles (I Thessalonians 4:15-16).
Members of the Church are commanded to prepare for the second advent of Christ for no one knows the exact day and hour of His coming, except God, the Father (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44).
Christ, however, knows and He told us the signs which indicate that His second coming is already near. These are wars, famines, earthquakes in different places, as well as increasing hardships and wickedness which shall cause the love for God of many to wax cold (Matthew 24:6-8, 12).
The second coming is the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. On this day, the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire and be burned (II Peter 3:7, 10). The sound of the day of the Lord is bitter, the mighty man cries aloud there. Neither silver nor gold shall be able to deliver man on the day of the wrath of the Lord (Zephaniah 1:14, 18).
The Holy City, The New Jerusalem
The Iglesia ni Cristo believes that there is a holy city being prepared by Christ and promised to His disciples to which He will bring them on His return (John 14:2-3). The Holy City is glorious, having the glory of God (Revelation 21:10-19, 21). This is the future home of the members of the Church of Christ who stay faithful up to the end. Life in the Holy City is perfect—no need for sun and moon and no night (Revelation 21:23-25; 22:5), no food and water shortage (Revelation 22:1-2), no more curse (Revelation 22:3), no hunger, thirst, sorrow, pain, death, evil (Revelation 7:15-17; 21:4).
Only those given by the Father to Christ can enter the New Jerusalem (John 17:12). And those given to Christ are called by God into fellowship with Christ (I Corinthians 1:9) and this call is done by means of the Gospel as preached by God’s messengers (II Thessalonians 2:14; II Corinthians 5:19-20). Those who are called are gathered in one body (Colossians 3:15) which is the Church (Colossians 1:18) called the Church of Christ, Iglesia ni Cristo in Pilipino (Romans 16:16; Acts 20:28, Lamsa)
Introducing the Iglesia ni Cristo Booklet, 1989, pp.1-16
Introducing the Iglesia ni Cristo Booklet, 1989, pp.1-16