"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Thursday, September 3, 2015

RAPPLER: Reform movement within INC

Or rather, they need to break-down and RETURN to the ORIGINAL CHURCH OF CHRIST!

PASUGO Abril 1966, p. 46: “Ang Iglesia Katolika na sa pasimula ay siyang Iglesia ni Cristo."

PASUGO July August 1988 pp. 6. “Even secular history shows a direct time link between the Catholic Church and the Apostles, leading to the conclusion that the true Church of Christ is the Catholic Church.”

PASUGO March-April 1992, p. 22 "The Church of Christ during the time of the Apostles became the Catholic Church of the bishops in the second century..."

Source: Rappler.com
The INC is no longer the same. It is a sect that has enormous baggage to bear.

The Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) is a young sect with old ideas. It operates in a time warp. Although it is only a century old, the INC is basically a medieval sect with outmoded norms. It is a sect hardly attuned to the modern times.

It thrives in the secrecy of its leaders and the blind obedience of its members. Because of the secrecy of their leaders, they are hardly accountable to their followers. Secrecy and lack of accountability are two sides of the same coin; they characterize INC operations.

In this age of ecumenism and greater tolerance among world’s biggest organized religions, the INC is a complete stranger, a religious outcast. Its leaders openly brag that theirs is “the only true religion” and that “only its flock would be saved from spiritual perdition and decay.”

The INC is an epitome of religious bigotry and ethnocentrism; its xenophobia extends to its assertion that any other religion, except INC, is doomed.

It is monolithic. It hardly welcomes contrary views, or criticism, either from the inside or from the outside. What its leaders say is the law. Anybody who disagrees or disobeys faces expulsion, or excommunication from a religious standpoint.

Will the INC survive the modern world? Will it continue to wield influence in Philippine society? These are just some of the questions confronting the indigenous sect.

‘Religion of the sheep’

Writing for the pre-martial law newspaper Manila Chronicle, columnist Indalucio “Yeyeng” Soliongco criticized the INC in the late 1960s and early 1970s for its practice of bloc voting, where its flock voted as one for the candidates its leaders endorsed in every political exercise.

Soliongco described the INC as “the religion of the sheep,” as its members renounced their right to think during elections and accept as gospel truth whatever their leaders urged them to write on their ballots. The members hardly participate until today in the selection process of the candidates the INC leaders would endorse.

Its leaders have been justifying this practice of bloc voting as its way to project political strength to avoid religious persecution. It is an argument that runs to counter to political realities. The country does not have modern day traditions of religious violence or persecution. Religious harmony is the frequent theme when it comes to inter-relationship among local organized religions.

Over the years, the INC has evolved from a ragtag group of religious zealots to an influential and powerful political broker. Politicians seeking the support of its flock openly make a beeline to ingratiate themselves with its leaders for political support.

Its leaders have claimed an INC membership of nine to ten million members nationwide, although critics said its political clout is widely exaggerated by mass media, which keeps on referring to the INC as “influential” and “powerful.”

Empirical studies said the INC could provide between a low 1.2 million votes to a high of 2 million in modern-day elections. While the INC could provide the swing vote for hotly contested national and local posts, it could hardly determine the outcome.

Recent trends show that other minor ministries like the Ang Dating Daan, Jesus is Lord, Philippine Independent Church, and other Christian ministries elect the rivals of the INC-supported candidates, virtually cancelling each other out.

Corruption charges

Fast forward to 2016 and the nation sees an INC teetering on a major scandal.

The seal on the cloak of secrecy has been broken as certain leaders (or ex-leaders, as they have been excommunicated) have come forward to denounce alleged corruption within the sect and other crimes, like abduction, among others.

The allegations of corruption were so serious, causing political, financial, legal, and moral issues within the secretive sect. Tithe collections from its flock were reported to have declined by half. Centrifugal tendencies within the sect have been noticed as certain followers were reported to have either resigned or distanced from the sect.

The scandal has cascaded to become a crisis.

Failed mass action

The recent 5-day mass protest action was meant to pressure the Aquino administration to drop the probe by the Department of Justice into a complaint filed by former INC leader Isaias Samson Jr against the eight members of the INC Sangguniang Lupon. It did not result in any gain for the monolithic sect.
The INC on Monday, August 31 officially ended their 5-day protest
citing a "peaceful agreement" with the government. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

What it has galvanized is public opinion that expresses contempt for the massive inconvenience its mass action had caused to tens of thousands of commuters, who were stranded along EDSA and other side streets. It also showed what could be regarded as cracks within the organization, as it could hardly mobilize the desired number of participants in the protest rally.

Hence, its crisis extends to the outside world, or the non-INC members.

Hence, the INC is no longer the same. It is a sect that has enormous baggage to bear. It is an organization that has been torn asunder by corruptions and other acts of impropriety. Whether it could transcend its current crisis – and later survive – bears watching.

Reforming the INC

Now, the INC faces serious calls and agitations to undergo reforms. Internally, the calls range from greater transparency, particularly in the handling of its finances that could reach billions of pesos, to accountability of its leaders on operational issues.

There have been persistent calls, too, to democratize its operations, welcome criticisms, and allow greater participation of its flock in decision-making. There have been calls for massive changes within the organization.

Externally, the non-INC religious organizations expect the INC to practise religious tolerance and cast away its deplorable practice of religious bigotry and ethnocentrism.

At this point, the INC leadership appears unprepared or even incapable of massive changes within the sect. It has not done much to set the tone or indicate any willingness to change for the better.

On the contrary, its leaders appeared mired in its medieval belief that theirs is “the only true religion,” threatening its flock with expulsion if they fail to follow its doctrines and orthodoxies. They behave as if they are the Philippine version of the detested Taliban.

It is safe to say that the INC, notwithstanding its difficulties that have risen to crisis proportions, would continue to exist side by side with other organized religions in the country. But the question of whether it would continue to wield the same political influence that it used to have prior to the corruption scandal would linger, adversely affecting its power to influence the course of the 2016 presidential elections.

Politicians would have second thoughts seeking the INC endorsement. At the moment, it appears unnecessary because of the tendency of other religions to vote for the rivals of its endorsed candidates. Its tithe collections would continue to remain low. More expulsions or resignations would follow.

What could be said is that the INC would exist similar to the postwar Nazi Party or the post Civil War Ku Klux Clan. The Nazi Party exists until today, but it has never grown to post any serious threat to postwar or modern Germany. It is regarded as more of a social club of descendants of old Nazis.

Pockets of the Ku Klux Clan exist in southern United States, but they are widely considered more of annoyance than anything else.

This appears to be the trajectory of INC in modern times. – Rappler.com

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