Newsletter of the District
- Mar 2002
Major Sects of the Philippines
Fr. Manuel Piñon O.P. (1910-1997)
Religion & Religions,
Dominican House of Studies, Quezon City, Philippines, 2nd
did not exist in the Philippines until the turn of the 20th Century.
Soon after the transfer of sovereignty to the U.S., various Protestant
denominations in the U.S. sent missionaries and established missions
in the Philippines. In 1901 the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the
Methodists, the United Brethren and other Protestant societies such
as the Christian Missionary Alliance, the YMCA and the American
Bible Society formed the “Evangelical Union” for the effect of coordinating
their different activities. The Christian sects or denominations
of local origin were 1) the Iglesia filipina Independiente or
the Philippine independent Church (Aglipayan), which was established
in 1902 as a Nationalist Church and an outgrowth of the Philippine
Revolution. And the other 2) was the Iglesia Ni Kristo
or Church of Christ.
if we bear in mind that Evangelical Christianity takes as fundamental
the belief in the Godhood of Christ, we shall not be too surprised
that Protestants themselves do not consider the followers of the
original Philippine Independent Church and of the local Church of
Christ as Christians. The simple reason is that they do not believe
in the Godhood of Christ, nor do they admit the Christian Divine
Trinity. In this regard the followers of the original Philippine
Independent Church and of the local Church of Christ are like the
ancient Arians, the Moslems and the Witnesses of Jehovah, who also
reject the Godhood of Christ.
A) Iglesia ni Kristo (INK)
1. Nature and history
This sect is
a Philippine version of the 'Mormon sect, whose official designation
is "The Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints". The sect
has also copied in part the latter designation, but translated it
to Pilipino as "Iglesia ni Kristo" in order to officially
distinguish itself from the Mormons. However, for the effect of
legitimizing its claim to be the original Church founded by Christ,
the Iglesia ni Kristo (INK) has also plagiarized the explanation
originally coined by the Mormons for the same effect, to wit, that
the original Church of Christ at the time of the Emperor Constantine
I when, according to historians, the Roman Empire was Christianized,
Christianity was in reality paganized from the absorption of pagan
elements, and so the true Church of Christ disappeared from the
earth until the time when God sent His messenger in the person of
Joseph Smith, for the Mormons, or of Felix Manalo, for the Iglesia
followers, to restore the true Church of Christ in their fold.
The INK was
established by Felix Manalo (1886-1963), who started to preach his
new religion at Punta, Sta. Ana some time in 1913. According to
the Church elders the Iglesia was born in 1914, the year when World
War I started. It was early in that year when Felix baptized the
original twelve converts to his Church in a river at Sta. Ana, and
admitted them into this Church.
was officially incorporated and registered with the government of
the Philippines on July 27, 1914.
present, the INK is considered the foremost and strongest contender
of the Catholic Church in the Philippines.
It has not
been admitted to membership by the World Council of Churches, because
it does not recognize the Godhood of Christ.
2. The Founder, Felix Manalo (1886-1963)
Catholic, in his teen years he got interested in the Philippines
Independent Church, then joined successively the Episcopalian Methodists,
the Evangelical Christian and Missionary Alliance, the Presbyterians,
the Seventh Day Adventists and finally the Mormons. Then he broke
off with the Mormons and started his own religious group.
3. Principal doctrines
Christ is divine but not God, that is, God suffused him with supernatural
There is no Trinity.
3) The Church
was founded by Christ who alone is the rock, not Peter and his successors
(cf. Mt 16, 16). The Church disappeared under the emperor Constantine,
in the IVth century and reappeared only in 1914 when Felix Manalo
restored the genuine Church of Christ in the Philippines according
to a prophecy of Isaiah foretelling that those who would be saved
would come “from islands afar off” (Is. 66, 19; 60, 4, 9) which,
according to Felix Manalo, would correspond to the Philippines.
Christ did not die for all men but for some only, who for practical
purposes and in actuality, are only the members of INK.
The soul of man upon death and burial stays in the grave awaiting
the final resurrection.
4. A short reply
To say that
the adoption of Christianity by the Empire as the State religion,
during the time of Constantine I, was the time of the great "apostasy"
by the then existing Christian Church from the genuine Church founded
by Christ, owing to its absorption of pagan elements, is a wild
and unproven assertion concocted for self-service. The adoption
of Christianity as the State religion during the time of Constantine
I signaled the triumph of Christianity over paganism, not the paganization
of Christianity. The Christianization of the Roman Empire was not
the paganization of Christianity, but the riddance of paganism and
pagan hegemony from the Roman world.
The claim of the INK to be the true Church of Christ is a hoax.
all that have been said it is not difficult to clinch the mentioned
statement. Bearing in mind that the claim of the INK in this regard
is just a xerox copy of the earlier claim advanced by the Mormon
Church, we pose the following dilemma:
If the Mormon
Church is the true Church of Christ, then the INK is not, because
there cannot be two different Churches of Christ. If the Mormon
Church is not the true Church of Christ, then neither is the INK
the true Church of Christ, because as to this claim the INK is just
a copy of the Mormon Church. Hence, the claim of the INK to be
the true Church of Christ is a brazen hoax.
the Iglesia members are not aware that with respect to the claim
to be the true Church of Christ, the INK's claim is posterior to
and just a copy of the claim of the Mormon Church.
The clue to the INK’s dynamic growth
Those who are
amazed at the dynamic growth of the Iglesia need not trace it to
any supernatural blessing of God. We may take the cue from Ka Erdy's
words when he said of the social projects of the Iglesia: “As
long as projects of this nature are moved by brotherly love and
a genuine concern for the good of the people, coupled with careful
implementation and administration, they will succeed.” The
popularity of the INK stems from its being a social action project
garbed under religious trappings. According to a report, the Iglesia
has contributed much to the temporal needs of its flock.
B) Philippine Independent Church (Aglipayan)
is officially known as the Iglesia Filipina Independiente,
(abbreviated into IFI or PIC in English). Its members are commonly
known as Aglipayans after their local founder.and first Supreme
Bishop, Msgr. Gregorio Aglipay. Gregorio Aghpay (1860-1940) was
an ordained Catholic Priest. He had been persuaded by Gen. Emilio
Aguinaldo and other leaders of the Philippine Revolution to head
the Church in the Philippines by appointing him Military Vicar General
on October 20; 1898. He took charge of the diocese of Nueva Segovia
as ecclesiastical governor after persuading the Bishop, who at the
time was in prison, to hand to him powers to that effect.
1902, following the collapse of the revolution, a group of priests
of Nueva Segovia resolved to separate from Rome and to establish
an autonomous Philippine Church, if the Vatican should continue
to ignore the rights of Filipino Clergy with regard to the appointment
of Filipino Bishops. When the Vatican refused, the said group of
priests designated Aglipay as their representative to carry out
their resolution, and the schismatic sect was established.
los Reyes Sr. (1864-1938), a Trade Union organizer and leader took
advantage of the first Congress of Laborers of the Philippines on
August 3, 1902, to proclaim the establishment of the Philippine
Independent Church. Gregorio Aglipay was chosen Supreme Bishop and
had himself ‘consecrated’ bishop by 12 priests. About 36 Filipino
Secular priests joined in the schism, and some of them had themselves
‘consecrated’ bishops in the same manner. This kind of ‘consecration’
by priests was defended on the rationalization that the essential
order is the priesthood and the episcopate is just a title of rank.
Riding on the
crest of nationalistic fervor and anti Spanish-friar feelings, the
Aglipayans were very successful at first. But, as the nationalistic
fervor waned they also gradually lost much ground. In 1918 they
had 13 percent of the population in their following; in 1960 this
was trimmed down to 5 percent.
May 3, 1918, Aglipay became a Freemason, and in October 1925 rose
to the 32nd
degree. (From Religious Revolution in the Philippines, vol.1
1860-1940, by Frs. P.S. de Achutegui S.J. and M.A. Bernad, S.J.,
Atheneo de Manila, 1960, pp.428-429)
Aglipayan sect was Unitarian. But, after World War II, a bitter
rivalry developed within the sect. On September 1, 1946, the general
assembly elected Isabelo de los Reyes Jr. as Supreme Bishop. On
the same day, a segment under Msgr. Fonacier met at the Manila Hotel
and elected Msgr. Juan Jamias as Supreme Bishop.
the group of Isabelo de los Reyes Jr. became Trinitarians and had
its bishops re-consecrated by Episcopalians in 1948. In 1961 the
group entered into full communion with the Protestant Episcopalian
Church of the U.S., from which it receives financial and organizational
assistance. This Trinitarian group was later awarded by the Supreme
Court of the Philippines the right to the name and possessions of
the original IFI. The group of Fonacier remained Unitarian, but
later fragmented into other minor groups.
2) The Doctrine Synthesized
1. - All religions
are good and equal. Religion is essentially naturalistic. Revelation
is impossible, as also are miracles and prophecies.
2. -The Gospels
do not possess historical value. The only one of the Gospels that
has a nucleus more or less historically valid is the Gospel according
to St. Mark and some of the Logia of Matthew. All the rest are
worthless, and even the Gospels themselves of Matthew and Mark are
full of interpolations.
tradition does not exist. The Bible is a book like the books of
mythology or of folklore of various peoples. It is not inspired
and it is full of errors.
4. -God exists.
We can form some idea of His nature, but we cannot say that He is
the creator in the strict sense. Materialistic pantheism pervades
the doctrine of the IFI concerning God. The Trinity of Persons
in God is denied. The trinity of names is retained, signifying three
attributes of divinity. The IFI is officially Unitarian.
strictly so-called is denied. The existence of angels and of devils
is likewise denied. Man is a product of evolution, in the sense
of rigid transformism. The soul of man is material and comes from
the soul of the parents, in the sense of generationism.
6. -The elevation
of man to a supernatural order is not mentioned, nor is the existence
of grace. On the other hand original sin is expressly denied.
7. -Jesus Christ
existed but He was not the Messiah and He did not announce the kingdom
of God. His preaching consisted in exhortations to fraternal charity
and to reverence for God the Father. He did not work any miracles.
He did not, properly speaking, suffer, die, or rise from the dead.
-The divinity of Jesus Christ is denied, although it was admitted
for a time in the official Aglipayan documents. Docetism (the mere
appearance of humanity) and Apollinarism (the divinity takes the
place of the human soul) characterize the doctrine concerning the
human nature of Jesus. Jesus was subject to errors and defects.
9. -The death
of Jesus was not expiatory. He redeemed us not with His death but
with His example and with His teachings.
Christ did not establish a church, nor a hierarchy, nor the Primacy
of Peter. The Primacy of the Pope is a myth. Christ did not establish
a sacrificial priesthood, but merely sent apostles to teach his
11. -Mary is
not the mother of God. The virginal conception of Jesus by Mary
is admitted. The perpetual virginity of Mary post partum is denied.
The veneration of Mary and of the saints is rejected as idolatrous.
The virginity of Mary ante partum, admitted at first, was later
is no supernatural state of any kind, and consequently no grace.
The virtues of charity and of hope do not exist as theological virtues.
Charity is merely natural love. There is no source of truth except
reason, and even human testimony seems without validity. Therefore
faith, in the strict theological sense, does not exist. What is
called faith resembles fiducial faith.
13. -The sacraments
are ritual prayers, not instituted by Christ nor do they have any
intrinsic efficacy. Baptism must be administered in the name of
Jesus, not according to the trinitarian formula. Baptism does not
cleanse the soul of original sin which is purely imaginary. Confirmation
is merely a ratification of baptism in adults. The Eucharist is
merely a memorial or a symbol of charity instituted by Christ in
the manner of a fraternal banquet. There is no real presence of
Jesus in the Eucharist and there is no transubstantiation. Christ
is not received in Holy Communion and there is no eucharistic sacrifice.
Penance is useful for receiving counsel but there is no real absolution
of sins because only God can forgive sins. Extreme Unction is a
means of giving moral and material aid to the infirm for their consolation.
The sacrament of Orders does not come from Jesus Christ. He did
not institute a sacrificial priesthood. The bishopric is merely
a title of rank and a bishop may be validly consecrated by mere
priests. Matrimony was instituted in Paradise and divorce is not
is no other life, especially since the soul is material. Death
is the total penalty for the debt due to our sins. It is more properly
a transformation. Hell does not exist, nor purgatory, nor the limbo
of the infants. But prayer for the dead is enjoined. The Aglipayan
idea of heaven is imprecise.
15. -The ethic
or moral theology of the IFI is based on the assumption that the
purpose of man's existence is human progress. Morality is relative.
All means are good provided the end is good. Works of charity are
highly recommended. The supreme ideal of the IFI is a communism
16. -As regards
divine worship, there is no sacrifice. The Eucharistic cult is
merely a fraternal banquet. The ritual of the Mass is to be celebrated
in the vernacular, retaining some of the appearances of the Catholic
Mass with changes of order and with an essential difference based
on the denial of transubstantiation and of the Mass as a sacrificial
rite. Emphasis is placed also on external festivities.
Religious Revolution in the Philippines, op.cit. pp.
group which merged with the Protestant Episcopalian Church also
adopted the religious tenets of this denomination.
3) PIC “aggiornamento”
With the sponsorship
and financial patronage of the Episcopalian Church, the Philippine
Independent Church has undergone marked renewal and revitalization.
The Episcopalian Church extended to the PIC episcopal ordination,
which it had never enjoyed before and which had been its long-time
aspiration; and, together with episcopal ordination, also priestly
ordination. Both Churches operate on the agreement to recognize
each other's organizational and administrative independence.
As can be
seen, there is not much left of the Catholic Doctrine and even of
common sense, in the Aglipayan teaching. Its principles are rationalism
(reason alone is our guide), naturalism (no supernatural order),
anti-Christianism (it denies Christ and the Trinity), negativism
(it is a tissue of denials), contradiction (it teaches many things
and then contradicts them in practice, e.g. forbids veneration of
Sacred images but has them in their churches, denies priestly power
but uses it to justify the consecration of bishops, etc.) and syncretism
(conflicting elements from a variety of sources joined together).
As a first
step for the refutation, the following document of the Magisterium
may suffice. From this base, the whole Catholic Apologetics must
Holy Mother Church holds and teaches that God, the source and end
of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration
of created things, by the natural power of human reason: ‘for the
invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly
seen’ (Rom. 1, 20). It was, however, pleasing to his wisdom and
goodness to reveal himself and the eternal laws of his will to the
human race by another, and that a supernatural, way. This is how
the Apostle puts it: ‘God who at sundry times and in diverse manners
spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets; last of all
in these days hath spoken to us by His Son’ (Heb. 1, 1).
indeed thanks to this divine revelation, that those matters concerning
God which are not of themselves beyond the scope of human reason,
can, even in the present state of the human race, be known by everyone
without difficulty, with firm certitude and with no intermingling
of error. It is not because of this that one must hold revelation
to be absolutely necessary; the reason is that God directed human
beings to a supernatural end, that is a sharing in the good things
of God that utterly surpasses the understanding of the human mind;
indeed ‘eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered
into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that
love Him’ (I Cor.2, 9). ”
I, Constitution Dei Filius, DzS 3004-3005
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