Iglesia Ni Cristo leader dies
Eraño “Ka Erdy” Manalo, 84, the executive minister of the largest religious movements in the Philippines, Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), died of a heart attack on Monday, Sep. 1.
He was laid to rest today.
Philippines president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has declared Monday, Sept. 7 a non-working national holiday and a national day of mourning to mark Manalo’s burial.
The church is believed to have millions of members but does not disclose the figure.
The church was founded in 1914 when Felix Manalo resigned as minister of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church after questioning the observance of Sabbath on Saturdays. He experienced what he claimed to be a call similar to those of ancient prophets.
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Cult of Christianity
While Iglesia Ni Cristo claims to represent the Christian faith, the fact that it changes and/or rejects various essential doctrines of the Christian faith mark the movement as, theologically, a cult of Christianity.
The movement claims that the Christian Church “was apostatized after the first century” and “was restored to its pristine purity by God by means of His last messenger, brother Felix Y. Manalo.”
Christians reject Iglesia Ni Cristo’s claims.
Sociologically the movement has some cult-like elements as well.
The Bereans Apologetics Research Ministry says the church [b]elieves a person must be a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), be water baptized, follow the church rules (must avoid the eating of “dinuguan,” avoid joining labor unions, avoid court sessions, do block voting, be under compulsory church attendance, practice giving to the church) and perform his good deeds as an INC member in order for him to be saved.
Earlier this year Philippines president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose candidacy in the country’s 2004 polls was supported by the church, declared July 27 as INC Day in recognition of Iglesia Ni Cristo’s founding anniversary.
No shifts seen when Ka Erdie’s son takes over INC
Manalo’s son, Eduardo “Ka Eddie Boy,” 54, is expected to carry the torch and the family legacy.
The elder Manalo himself assumed as executive minister of the INC also after the death of his father, Felix, who founded the religious organization on July 27, 1914.
Sources close to the inner circle of Ka Erdie say the late religious leader had been grooming the younger Manalo for years, just like what Felix did to his son a generation ago.
It was during Ka Erdie’s term that the INC became a major political force with its estimated 2-3 million bloc-voting members.
To be sure, the INC’s clout and influence in politics is beyond doubt, rivaling that of the dominant Catholic Church.
Political analysts say that INC’s bloc-voting members can spell the difference in tight presidential, senatorial, and local races. Candidates fiercely contest the INC endorsement, and they will have to pass through a wringer before any endorsement is given.
Iglesia Ni Cristo is present in 90 countries, and is consired the largest independent church in Asia.