Iglesia ni Cristo or The Church of Christ is the largest entirely indigenous Christian religious organization
that originated from the Philippines and the largest independent church in Asia. Due to a number of
similarities, some Protestant writers describe the INC's doctrines as restorationist in outlook and theme.
INC, however, does not formally consider itself to be part of the Restoration Movement.
Felix Y. Manalo officially registered the church as a corporation sole with himself as executive minister
on July 27, 1914 and because of this, most publications refer to him as the founder of the church.
However, the official doctrines of the church profess that Jesus Christ is the founder of the INC and that
Felix Manalo was the last messenger, sent by God to re-establish the Christian Church to its true,
pristine form because the original church apostatized. INC teaches that the apostatized church is the
Roman Catholic Church, and proclaims that Catholic beliefs shared by most Christians, such as the
Trinity, which, according to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, is the central dogma of
Christian theology, are proof of this apostasy. The church teaches that the Trinity and the divinity of
Jesus and of the Holy Spirit are not biblical. As of 2010, the Executive Minister of Iglesia ni Cristo is
Eduardo V. Manalo, the grandson of Felix Manalo.
The historical context of the Iglesia ni Cristo lies in a period of the early 20th century characterised by a
variety of rural anti-colonialism movements, often with religious undertones, in the Philippines.] United
States missionary work was exposing Filipino culture to many alternatives to the Roman Catholic Church,
which had been installed under 333 years of Spanish rule. Filipinos see the INC as an aggressive,
materially successful, indigenous movement which became a major religious movement in only a period
of fifty years. Some believe the success of the INC is attributed primarily to its leadership. However, the
members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo believe that the success of the church is the work and guidance of God.
Pioneering years - 1913 to 1916
In search of the truth, Felix Manalo as a young adult drifted from one organization to another, including
atheism and agnosticism. At some point in his life, his own studies brought him to what would be the
basis for the teachings of The Iglesia ni Cristo. In 1913, Manalo began to preach his religion to whoever
The INC began with a handful of followers on July 27, 1914 in Punta, Santa Ana, Manila; with Manalo as
its head minister. Manalo propagated his message within his local area, growing the Iglesia ni Cristo and
converting members of other religions. From the beginning, the INC used Filipino in language, lessons
and instructions, and hymns. His first chapel was made of bamboo and was not constructed until two
years after he began preaching.
The Catholic Church attributed its growth to the novelty of Protestantism, which was brought to the
Philippines by the Americans. They believed that Manalo would not stand against the theological
sophistication of Catholic orthodoxy. The INC however continued to grow beyond World War II.
Evangelicals had an overall negative view of Felix Manalo and the INC in particular, and Filipinos in
general. Ridicule was the prevailing attitude. As written by Ann C. Harper, evangelical preachers and
missionaries were mostly racist and prejudiced. In Tondo, Manalo started his first of many debates. In
1916, Manalo began establishing congregations throughout the provinces.
Continuing growth - 1916 to 1963
Despite critics belief that INC's success was only temporary, its growth continued. Observers attribute
the Iglesia's growth to the active involvement of its members and their unity in faith. The INC expanded
slowly from its roots in Manila until it established a credible national network even before the Second
World War, reaching Cotabato province in Mindanao in 1941. Even during the Japanese Occupation, the
Iglesia kept on expanding.
In 1949, the Iglesia built its first central office and official residence of the executive minister on
Riverside Street, San Juan, Metro Manila. After the war, the congregation grew from approximately
85,000 in 1936, to 200,000 in 1954. By 1970, the INC had about 500,000 members and was established
in almost every province in the Philippines.
In the late 1950s, as Felix Manalo's health started to fail, Eraño Manalo began to take on leadership role
under his father's guidance. Eraño Manalo succeeded Felix Manalo by vote. And when Felix Manalo died
in 1963, it did not cause any disruption in the church's activities. His son Eraño took over duties as
executive minister and later on, his grandson Eduardo V. Manalo became the deputy executive minister.
Shortly after assuming office, Eraño Manalo began to travel to congregations, officiating worship
services and staging religious rallies. He visited farthest congregations from the north to the south
assuring the faithful that the Iglesia was alive and had a leader. Over the next 30 years, the Iglesia would
establish more than 4000 locals, and 100 districts. The Iglesia became the fastest growing church in the
International expansion - 1963 to the present
By the late 1960s, Eraño was considered to be a worthy successor to his father and began a number of
initiatives, including the establishment of congregations in the United States and other countries. On
July 27, 1968, Eraño Manalo officiated the first worship service in Ewa, Hawaii thus starting the mission
of propagation outside of the Philippines.
In 1969, the church began operating its own radio station with regionally syndicated programs through
radio stations DZEC and DZEM, and in 1983 it launched television programming with national
syndication with Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation and Maharlika Broadcasting System (now National
Broadcasting Network) stations being the first to air the INC-produced program Ang Iglesia ni Cristo (The
Church of Christ) made through the Christian Broadcasting Service. In 2008, it began broadcasting 24-
hours via satellite DirecTV channel 2068. On March 17, 2009 the Iglesia ni Cristo on Guam celebrated its
40 years of existence in the island. From 7 members who started meeting together outside their work
camps, the Iglesia ni Cristo now has 3 local congregations. In 1994, the Iglesia ni Cristo built a permanent
chapel then estimated to be worth US$2.1 million. In 2008, on the occasion of the 39th year anniversary
of the church, the Legislature of Guam recognized and congratulates the church.
In the 1990s a few congregations were established in cities in which the Iglesia believe as significant in
the history of the biblical church. In 1994, the Iglesia succeeded in establishing its congregation in Rome,
Italy, in 1996 the Jerusalem congregations was established and in 1997 the congregation in Athens,
Greece followed. In 2005, the Roman Catholic Church formally acknowledged the existence of the INC,
calling it an "emerging" influential religious group.
According to various sources, including the 1997 Britannica Book of the Year, INC had a worldwide
population of over one million members by the early 1980s. According the 2000 census of the Philippine
National Statistics Office, over 1.76 million persons in the Philippines were affiliated with the Iglesia ni
Cristo as of that year. or roughly doubling in size in a span of 20 years. Santa Clara university places the
number at 2.3% of the population in the year 2000, or roughly 1.77 million. Some Catholic publications
put the number to be between three million and ten million worldwide, possibly making INC larger than
the Jehovah’s Witnesses. INC has become the second largest religious organization in the Philippines
and the largest independent church in Asia. By 2008, INC had grown to more than 5,000 congregations
in the Philippines, and more than 600 abroad. Congregations are called local congregation, or simply
locale. The INC has local congregations in 89 countries and territories with its members belonging to 102
nationalities and ethnic groups. Among the 89 countries are included the following: South Africa,
Nigeria, Libya, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, India, Kazahkstan, Russia, China, Papua
New Guinea, Fiji, and American Samoa.
On July 27, 2009 the church in celebration of its 95th year anniversary held "huge religious assemblies"
in 14 locations throughout the Philippines and in five sites in four other countries. In Manila, the
assemblies were held at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City and the Rizal Memorial Complex in
Manila. In the provinces, members assembled at the Butuan City Sports Complex in Agusan del Norte;
Bicol University Sports Complex in Legazpi, Albay; Cebu Sports Center in Cebu City and others. In
Pampanga, at estimated 1 million people packed Villa Del Sol in San Fernando, Pampanga. Gatherings in
other countries were held at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. and the HP Pavilion
in San Jose, California; O2 Arena in London, U.K.; Parco Esposizioni Novegro in Milan, Italy; and Hills
Center in Sydney, Australia. Other members held their assemblies in their respective houses of worship.
At it's 95th year, the Iglesia Ni Cristo has over 5,400 local congregations in 90 countries.
As of the time of Erano G. Manalo's death on August 31, 2009, the Church of Christ had 6,098 ministers
and evangelical workers assigned in the Philippines and across the globe, and 1,107 evangelical students
currently registered in the Evangelical Ministry College.
Doctrines and practices
The doctrines of the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) are based upon the life and teachings of Jesus
Christ and of his Twelve Apostles as recorded in the Holy Scriptures. The Old and New Testaments of the
Christian Bible are accepted as the sole basis of faith and a closed biblical canon is observed. The church
upholds several distinct beliefs, notably the rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity and the view of Felix
Y. Manalo as the last messenger of God, which have led some to place the Iglesia ni Cristo outside the
realm of Mainstream Christianity.
God the Father
Central to INC doctrine is the belief that the Father is the only true God. He is spirit in state of being
“without flesh and bones”, is everlasting, all knowing, does not weary, and has never experienced death.
As such, God does not exist in any other form or entity, be it human or otherwise.
In accordance with this view, Jesus Christ, although revered by the Church as the Son of God and the
Savior of mankind, is not considered to be an entity of God or God Incarnate. It is believed within the
Church that this was the view of God upheld by Jesus Christ and his Apostles as attested to in the Bible:
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have
sent” (John 17:3).
Thus, the Church of Christ does not adhere to the doctrine of the Trinity and views such belief as running
contrary to Biblical testimony.
The Church sustains the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He was made Lord and exalted by the
Father far above all principality, power, might, and dominion, with all things having been put under His
power and authority as testified in the Bible (Acts 2:36, Ephesians 1:21-22). He is the entity through
which salvation is attained and is the Head of the Church of Christ, which He considers His body.
Worship of the Lord Jesus Christ must be observed as this has been commanded by God.
Although exalted to a position far above mankind, He is not God nor is he god-man or dual-natured as
taught by the church. The Lord Jesus Christ is a man in nature or state of being according to his own
testimony: “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God”
(John 8:40), and according to the accounts of His apostles (I Timothy 2:5; Acts 2:22; Matthew 1:18, 20).
He is made up of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39) unlike God who is a spirit in state of being. Human
attributes such as hunger, thirst, weariness, and death, attributes the Father is not able to experience,
were present in Christ. But, distinct of all mortals, Christ did not commit any sin throughout his life on
earth (I Peter 2:21-22).
Contrary to orthodox Christian theology, Iglesia ni Cristo doctrine does not view Christ as having pre-
existence. He did not create the heavens or the earth, as this was done by God alone: “I am the Lord the
Creator of all things. I alone stretched out the heavens; when I made the earth, no one helped me”
(Isaiah 44:24). Rather, before the creation of the world, Christ was foreknown by God to be the
fulfillment of the messiah for the salvation of man. This plan is what is taught by the church to be the
logos reffered to in the Book of John. God, however, created the world in view of this plan, so as that all
things He created were for Christ and mediated by Him, as was explained by Apostle Paul: “For in him all
things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or
principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:16-17)
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is regarded as the power sent by the Father in the name of Jesus Christ to teach and
remind His messengers of all things that Jesus had taught (John: 14:26). It is through the guidance of the
Holy Spirit that God reveals the meaning of His words to His messengers.
Likewise, the Holy Spirit is also sent by Christ to help His servants overcome personal weaknesses and
infirmities (John 15:26; Rom. 8:26). It strengthens, edifies, and comforts God’s people and the church as
a whole (Ephesians 3:16-17; John 14:26).
The Church of Christ, however, does not view the Holy Spirit as God but rather a spirit being sent by God
on earth (Rev. 5:6).
The Last Messenger of God
A chief tenet of the teachings of the Church of Christ is the belief of a recurrent Biblical theme of the
sending of messengers by God in various dispensations of time with the primary purpose of salvation for
His people. Examples of this periodic commissioning of messengers include Moses, John the Baptist,
Jesus Christ, and Apostle Paul among others.
In light of this continual biblical succession, the church teaches that God had also sent a messenger in
this current dispensation of time (the Christian Era) for the restoration of the church of Christ preceding
the Second Coming. According to church doctrine, Felix Y. Manalo was commissioned by the Father to
carry out this restoration in fulfillment of ancient prophecies set forth in the books of Isaiah and
Revelation, among other biblical texts.
Declared by the church as the Last Messenger of God, Felix Y. Manalo was viewed by its members as the
foremost Biblical authority for all humanity in the modern world; his pronouncements forming the core
of the Iglesia ni Cristo belief system.
The INC believes that unity is an essential characteristic of "the one true church" and considers unity as
a fundamental doctrine and upholds it faithfully. They say this doctrine traced its roots "in the history of
God's people" as written in the Bible. Unity practiced by the Iglesia ni Cristo is not like that which is
based on the mundane and ordinary, but based and founded on biblical teachings. It is upheld that the
unity embraced by the Church is a distinctive mark of a true Christian Church and a unique and a striking
characteristic of "the true Church". The Iglesia ni Cristo further states that this unity is distinct and
exclusive and can only be found in the true Church and is nothing less that absolute. The Church
describes this unity as one in doctrine, one in polity, one in faith, one in worship, and with one heart and
In his argument to the lawsuit questioning religious organizations requiring their members to vote for a
particular candidate, Executive Minister Erano Manalo argued that voting as a bloc is a manifestation of
religious unity. He said that the Iglesia voting as one "give flesh to their belief that only by acting in unity
with their brethren will they be truly faithful to the Church".
The Iglesia Ni Cristo holds prophecies that is included in the INC doctrine and this is how they prove their
doctrine and to prove the Iglesia Ni Cristo is the true church, they preach these prophecies to prove that
the Iglesia Ni Cristo is the true Church and it was founded by Christ.
One of these prophecies is that the Iglesia Ni Cristo, which was founded by Christ, was foretold to turn
back from being the chosen people of God by going in the ways and acts of the demons after the death
of the disciples of Christ. They use verses in the Bible such the Acts of the Apostles and the Book of John.
But as it was foretold that the first Christians would worship a false God, the Iglesia Ni Cristo also has the
doctrine or the prophecy that the churches which were in the first century and in the time of the
Apostles was prophesied to rise back to the end times of the earth, it would rise in the Far East, and
would be brought to the west(Isaiah 43:5-6, Moffatt translation). Manalo proclaimed in 1921 that he
was the fulfillment of Revelation 7:1-3 which speaks of the angel from the east.
They also hold prophecies about World War I and World War II, one of which is that these were signs
about the coming of the end of the earth and that these are the signs of a second coming of the true
church and the second advent of Christ. Church members preach that signs would include huge
earthquakes,heavy rains,rampant spread of poverty, pain, sorrow,starvation,crises,etc(any massive or
huge disaster and suffering ). They use the New Testament, especially Matthew and Revelation to justify
their opinion. Also, the church has a prophecy about the advent of Christ. To fulfill this prophecy,
according to the teachings of Iglesia Ni Cristo, the Gospel of God must be preached all over the earth,
whether other people would accept it or not, and within their doctrine it says that after the preaching of
the Gospel every perosn should know that the end is near and Christ would advent soon. They use the
Gospel of Matthew to justify this part of their doctrine.
These are just some examples of the prophecies that the Iglesia Ni Cristo holds and teaches. This was
discussed in formal debates, nationally (Philippines) and even internationally with other major religious
The church conducts regular religious meetings known as the congregational worship service wherein
members of the church gather together with the primary purpose of rendering worship to God. These
meetings are highly organized and begin with the singing of hymns, followed by prayer and a study of
scripture lead by the local congregation’s assigned Minister. The services end with the giving and
collection of monetary offerings and a closing prayer, singing of the Doxology and the benediction.
A great amount of discipline and structure is observed in the congregational worship services. Seating is
divided by gender, wherein men and women sit on opposite sides of the room, worshipers are guided to
their places by church officers (Deacons and Deaconesses), and silence is observed upon entrance into
The church teaches that willfully forsaking the worship service is a grievous sin (Hebrews 10:25), thus
members are expected to attend the congregational worship services twice a week without fail.
Worship services, usually held four times a week on Thursdays and Sundays respectively (although this
may vary by individual congregations), are open to visitors and guests and are conducted in the House of
The house of worship is likewise held in great importance. It is the place designated by God for His
people to offer praise and worship, and it is within the house of worship where his glory dwells. Iglesia
ni Cristo doctrine views the construction and upkeep of temples for religious worship as a practice
mandated by God. As taught by the church, this practice, not observed by the first century church owing
to the intense persecution of Christians during the time of the apostles, was to be restored upon the re-
establishment of the church in latter times.
The administration of the church therefore allocates tremendous resources in the building and
maintenance of houses of worship. Such religious structures are highly ornate and vary in size: built to
accommodate anywhere from a few hundred worshipers to several thousands, although most are
typically designed to seat between 250-1,000 people. The continual construction and proliferation of
new worship buildings has been criticized as the cost for such large-scale construction projects is an
enormous financial burden to the INC membership, many of whom live in poverty.
Houses of worship are built following a common architectural theme and can be found throughout the
world, with most of the church's larger, more monumental religious buildings, including the Central
Temple at the administrative headquarters of the church, are concentrated in Metro Manila and other
major cities of the Philippines.
The church encourages its members to make prayer a part of everyday life. Thus prayer before the
partaking of meals, going to work or school, sleeping etc. are all commonly practiced.
Prayers are addressed to the “almighty Father/heavenly father”, delivered “in the name of the Lord
Jesus Christ” and usually contain a portion directed specifically toward Jesus Christ, whom the church
views as the sole mediator between God and men. Prayer is often done standing with eyes closed and
head bowed, although this can be done sitting or even kneeling depending on the situation.
When praying as a group, members of the Iglesia ni Cristo are taught to utter the phrases “yes Father”,
“yes Lord”, and “Amen” at appropriate intervals throughout the prayer as a sign of agreement and
confirmation of the words being spoken. This, however, is disregarded when one is praying alone.
According to church doctrine, prayers recited in rote repetition such as the Roman Catholic Rosary are
not to be observed, citing Mathew 6:7 as basis.
The church is divided into numerous ecclesiastical districts, which in turn are divided into local
congregations. These congregations are led by a minister. The administration of the church is centralized
and managed from a central office. Thus, all lessons in worship services across the world will have the
Formally, the Iglesia ni Cristo is led by the Executive Minister (Tagalog: Tagapamahalang
Pangkalahatan); INC teachings, however, state that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church and is also its
founder. According to the teachings of the Iglesia Ni Cristo these Executive Ministers and past Executive
Ministers are the leader here on earth as they wait till the Day of Judgment. These Executive Ministers
leads the Church to the way of true salvation and to let every member of the Church be one/united, to
guide every member who experience problems as he/she face's the world, to make sure that every
Church member will attain the promise Salvation as according to their teachings until the day of
The INC has had three Executive Ministers:
Felix Y. Manalo (1914–1963)
Erano G. Manalo (1963–2009)
Eduardo V. Manalo (2009)-present
Membership in the INC is conferred through baptism. People who wish to be baptized in the INC must
first submit to a formal process taking at least six months. Once someone officially registers with their
local congregation, the person is given the status of Doctrinal Instructee, as they are called within the
Iglesia ni Cristo, and taught the twenty-eight lessons concerning fundameninnings in the Philippines.
These lessons are contained in the doctrine manual written by Eraño G. Manalo entitled Fundamental
Beliefs of the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ). This book is given to ministers, evangelical workers, and
ministerial students of the INC. Each lesson is usually thirty minutes to one hour in length. After hearing
all of the lessons, the students enter their probationary period during which they are obliged to attend
fifteen once a week group prayer meetings, wherein they are taught to pray and are guided in their
adjustment to the INC lifestyle.When the sixth month comes, the students who have been active in
attending the twice a week worship services and whose lifestyles are in accordance with INC doctrines
are screened before being baptized. During the screening they are asked questiolve and at least the age
of 12. Newborn children of members are instead "offered" or dedicated to Christian service during the
worship service. The child offering in the INC is done through a prayer led by an ordained minister of the
INC. Members who are not living in accordance with the doctrines taught in the INC are admonished.
Those who continue in violation of INC doctrines after being admonished are expelled from the INC.
Certain violations, such as eating blood or marrying non-members may result in mandatory expulsion.
INC members are instructed by their administration to invite people to Bible Studies and evangelical
missions (known as Pamamahayag in Filipino), and to distribute magazines and pamphlets which are
given to them by the administration.
In the Philippines, radio and television programs are produced, and they are broadcast on 1062 kHz
DZEC-AM radio, DZEM 954 kHz, the Net 25 television station operated by Eagle Broadcasting
Corporation, the broadcast division of the Iglesia ni Cristo and GEM TV, the sister station to NET 25, also
owned by the INC and Iglesia ni Cristo TV broadcast on cable.
In North America, a television program called The Message is produced in the San Francisco Bay Area. It
is currently aired in the United States and Canada and some parts of Europe. Each 30-minute program is
hosted by one of a panel of INC ministers, who share the main beliefs of the Iglesia ni Cristo with a
television audience. The INC use to maintain an hour long time slot on The Filipino Channel and airs
two among many of its programs including the INC Chronicles and Ang Tamang Daan. It has since
stopped and instead GEM-TV began broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on DirecTV channel
2068. Livestreaming of INC Programming is now available at www.gemnet.tv 
The official INC magazine available to INC congregations worldwide is entitled God's Message or Pasugo.
For many years the INC published the bilingual Pasugo for the Philippines and a separate all-English
God's Message International Edition for usage abroad. In January 2004, the administration of the INC
began to publish only one magazine both in the Philippines and abroad bearing the name God's
Message. While predominantly English, the latest version contains a Filipino and Spanish sections. The
magazine consists of letters to the editor, news from locales worldwide, religious poetry, articles relating
to INC beliefs, a telephone directory of locales outside the Philippines and, until recently, featured a
schedule of worship services.
From the beginning, the INC has continuously extended help not only to the well-being of local
townspeople but also to protect the environment through it various humanitarian services.
The INC has outreach programs, such as its "Lingap sa Mamamayan (Filipino: Care for the People)",
offering free medical and dental services, community cleanups and tree planting projects. In California,
Daly City twice declared a week in July as "Iglesia ni Cristo Week" in recognition of the efforts of the INC
members in community service events such as community beautification projects, blood drives, and
food distribution sessions. Coinciding with the 67th anniversary of the local congregation in the
Barangay of Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga, the INC launched a program called "Vigorous Environmental
Concern for Mankind" which included programs to support the "clean and green" programs of the local
government. The INC conducted Linis Bayan (Filipino: Clean Town) and Lingap sa Mamamayan within
the local area. They also host a website for Iglesia Ni Cristo members to have an update of the Past and
present activities of the Church. The website is also used by members to listen and watch CMV or
Christian Music Videos, the CMV's are composed of Original musics and hymns of Iglesia Ni Cristo
Composed by the INC members themselves.
The website has pictures of past activities of the Church, Blogs, and every member can share the
happenings of their designated locales, and inspirational messages and compositions which is also
sometimes published in the magazine of the Iglesia Ni Cristo which is the PASUGO or God's Message.
There is also an Online Live feed of the channel GEM-TV (Global Expansion Media) on the website.
The Iglesia ni Cristo's architecture is notable for the narrow-pointed spires of its chapels. Some
observers describe the style as Gothic, while others see the style as reminiscent of Mormon temples.
The first INC house of worship, made of bamboo and nipa, was built in 1918 in Gabriela, Tondo, Manila.
As the members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo rapidly increases, more chapels are being built for each Locale in
Ever since former Philippine president Manuel L. Quezon created a lasting friendship after asking Felix
Manalo for advice, the INC has been known for its strong political influence. While it strongly maintains
a close "friendship" with incumbent administrations, the INC also sees to it that they do not lose
"discreet connection" with the opposition. The INC reportedly supported Ferdinand E. Marcos until he
was ousted in 1986.
The religious organization practices bloc voting.