Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), which translates to “Church of Christ” in English, is a Christian religious denomination established in the Philippines. It was founded by Felix Ysagun Manalo on July 27, 1914. Manalo claimed to be God’s last messenger or “Sugo” in Filipino, chosen to reestablish the true Christian Church, which he believed had gone astray.
The Iglesia ni Cristo emphasizes strict adherence to biblical teachings and beliefs based on their interpretation of the Bible. They reject the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, holding a Unitarian belief in God. They believe that the true Church of Christ ceased to exist in the first century and was reestablished in the Philippines through Felix Manalo.
The INC has grown significantly since its inception and has expanded its presence globally. It has become known for its centralized and disciplined organizational structure, with a strong sense of unity and obedience among its members. Worship services are held in distinctive worship buildings known as “kapilya” or “lokal” and are led by ministers or church officers.
While Iglesia ni Cristo has faced criticism and controversy over the years, particularly regarding its doctrines and practices, it remains a prominent religious denomination in the Philippines and has established a notable international presence with congregations in various countries.
It’s a good idea to look at these 25 interesting facts about Iglesia ni Cristo to know more about this Christian religious denomination.
- Founding Date: Iglesia ni Cristo was officially registered on July 27, 1914, in the Philippines.
- Founder’s Background: The founder, Felix Ysagun Manalo, was born on May 10, 1886, in the Philippines.
- Church’s Belief in Unity: Iglesia ni Cristo emphasizes unity among its members, striving for a singular understanding of doctrine and practice.
- Distinctive Architecture: INC worship buildings, known as “kapilya” or “lokal,” are known for their distinct, simple, and often austere architectural style.
- Unitarian Belief: The church holds a Unitarian belief, rejecting the Holy Trinity and affirming the oneness of God.
- Sugo: Felix Manalo, the founder, is referred to as the “Sugo,” meaning God’s last messenger in Filipino.
- Expansive Growth: Iglesia ni Cristo has grown substantially over the years and has a significant presence not only in the Philippines but also internationally.
- Organizational Structure: The INC has a highly centralized organizational structure with a hierarchy of ministers overseeing various congregations.
- Worship Practices: INC members attend worship services twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays, in their respective worship buildings.
- Prohibited Practices: Members of INC are prohibited from engaging in gambling, drinking alcohol, using illegal drugs, and engaging in premarital or extramarital relations.
- Global Presence: Iglesia ni Cristo has congregations and missions in different countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and various parts of Asia.
- Educational Institutions: The INC manages and supports educational institutions, including the New Era University in the Philippines.
- Media Presence: The INC operates its own media entities, including a television network called “INCTV.”
- Historical Distinction: The Iglesia ni Cristo claims to be the fulfillment of biblical prophecies, asserting that it is the one true church.
- Largest Religious Structure: The Philippine Arena, an indoor arena in the Philippines owned by INC, is one of the largest domed-arenas in the world.
- Community Services: The INC is known for its involvement in community service activities, disaster relief operations, and medical missions.
- Centennial Celebration: In 2014, Iglesia ni Cristo celebrated its centennial anniversary with a grand event held at the Philippine Arena.
- Apologetics and Evangelism: The church engages in apologetics, defending its beliefs and practices through debates and publications.
- Cultural Influence: INC has had an influence on Filipino culture, particularly in the Philippines, where it has a significant following.
- Mandatory Attendance: Church members are encouraged to attend worship services and other church activities regularly.
- Leadership Transition: After Felix Manalo’s death in 1963, his son, Eraño Manalo, assumed leadership as the Executive Minister.
- Linguistic Services: Worship services in INC are conducted in various languages to accommodate a global audience.
- Evangelical Missions: The church places a strong emphasis on evangelical missions to spread its teachings and recruit new members.
- Museum and Archives: The Iglesia ni Cristo Museum and Archives in the Philippines preserve the church’s history and artifacts.
- Doctrine of Election: INC believes in the doctrine of election, asserting that only their members will be saved on Judgment Day.
Iglesia ni Cristo stands as a distinctive religious organization with a strong presence in the Philippines and around the world. Its roots trace back to the early 20th century, with a belief system founded on a Unitarian interpretation of Christianity and a unique doctrine of election. The church’s dedication to unity among its members, community service, and its outreach efforts have contributed to its growth and impact. Iglesia ni Cristo continues to shape Filipino culture and has a significant influence within the Filipino diaspora. As it moves forward into the future, it remains a notable religious institution, revered by its members and respected for its enduring commitment to its beliefs and principles.