The Iglesia Ni Cristo claims to be the one true church and the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus, and that all other Christian churches are apostates. INC doctrine cites that the official registration of the Church with the Government of the Philippine Islands on July 27, 1914, by Felix Y. Manalo—upheld by its members to be the last messenger of God—was an act of divine providence and the fulfillment of biblical prophecy concerning the reestablishment of the Church of Christ in the Far East concurrent with the coming of the Seventh seal marking the end of days.
Some of his claims are that the Iglesia ni Cristo was prophesied in the Bible. The specific prophecy quoted is Isaiah 43:5–6, “Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth.” Iglesia ni Cristo interprets the word east as “Far East” (based on a faulty translation) and claims that it points to the Iglesia ni Cristo being created in the Philippines.
Here are some of the other unbiblical or extra-biblical doctrines that Iglesia ni Cristo teaches:
• They believe that one must hear the gospel from authorized Iglesia ni Cristo messengers and ministers.
• They believe the official name of the church is “Iglesia ni Cristo.” Other names are not the true name of the church and, therefore, false churches.
• They believe a person must be a member of an Iglesia ni Cristo church and be water baptized to be saved.
• They believe people must avoid eating dinuguan, which is pork blood stew, a Filipino delicacy.
• Their members must avoid joining trade unions.
• Their members must avoid court sessions.
• They must vote in blocs.
• They are under compulsory church attendance.
• They must give tithes to the church.
In 2010, the Philippine census by the National Statistics Office found that 2.45 percent of the population in the Philippines are affiliated with the Iglesia ni Cristo, making it the third largest religion by number of adherents in the Philippines after Roman Catholicism (80.6%) and Islam (5.6%).
I think there are a few core reasons why the leaders of Iglesia ni Cristo are lying to their people.
1. They simply do not know or understand church history. Consistently, I have observed false narratives and information being bandied around as fact. Not miniscule details either, but blatant – such as the date origins of the Roman Catholic Church, which can easily be researched through amateur study.
2. They use Bible translation gymnastics to fit their narrative. Depending on the angle they desire to take on their positions, INC leaders will switch back and forth between Bible translations in an attempt to fit their position into the text. Often, they will employ versions that are widely recognized as very poorly translated. A prime example is the usage of the Greek verbiage in Acts 20:28, wherein they would employ the Lamsa translation, one of the only translations that incorrectly translates the original Greek “The church of God” to “the church of Christ.”
Important to understand is that the Lamsa is not based on the original Greek text, but on the Peshitta, a particular edition of a Syriac translation of the New Testament. That means the words translated in the Lamsa are not quite the same as the words in the writings of the apostles. Basically, the INC quotes Acts 20:28 by rejecting legitimate translations and instead using one translation of a translation. This is a classic case of deriving Scripture from their own doctrine.
3. They do not pay any attention to the context of a passage, even they cite verbatim the verses themselves. There is no attempt to develop the original point of the author, instead taking individual verses out of context, and using them to make points that the original author never would have intended that passage to mean.
Because of all this, there is a very good rationale to think that the INC ministers are lying to their people. They deny essential historic Christian doctrine—namely, the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus Christ. They hold an almost unbreakable grip on their members, and they impose a man-made path to salvation through service and works. Our Lord predicted that in the last days there would come many who claim to be Christ and lead people astray (Matthew 24:5). Thankfully, He also said that the true believers would not be turned away (John 6:37).
Recommend Reading: Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin, edited by Ravi Zacharias.