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Introduction to the Iglesia Ni Cristo Part II

by Pilosopo
To everyone interested to know about the Truth,

It seems to us that everyone questioning the Iglesia Ni Cristo for its use not only of the Moffatt but also of the Lamsa are trying to project to the people who are following this board that without the two versions, the Iglesia Ni Cristo could not preach the gospel. This concept is purely hypothetical, a result of their biases and should be seen as an insult to the intelligence exhibited by the millions of people who joined the Iglesia Ni Cristo worldwide.

In their efforts to discredit the Church, they likewise attacked and undermine the biblical scholars who translated the Bible versions we use in presenting the truth. Unfortunately, these detractors are not Bible scholars, have not proven to be competent and credible persons. Their posting reveal their shallow understanding of the complex issues of biblical exegesis while their attacks in trying to excoriate the Iglesia Ni Cristo are based on biased and unfounded conclusions.

The Iglesia Ni Cristo has many priorities and we members know this exactly well. With millions of souls to take care to safeguard their salvation, plus the thousands who are in the process of joining the Church yearly, the Administration of the Church together with the ministers all over the world spend their time wisely for a just and righteous cause, the salvation of many. Although there are some disgruntled ex-members and perennial critics who spend their useless hours trying to discredit the Church, we think that they don’t deserve the attention of the ministers who are so busy tending to the flock.

However, their poignant attacks against the Church did not go unnoticed. We face our adversaries with vigor and enthusiasm knowing that we are defending the truth which we have learned through our association with the ministers and workers of the Church, acquiring this vital knowledge during worship services, bible studies, evangelical missions, tv and radio programs and from the Pasugo magazines. Much to the chagrin of our enemies in the faith, their malicious attacks against the Church did not weaken our faith, nor the faith of millions throughout the world.

Many of us who are responding to the attacks against the Iglesia Ni Cristo and defending her in this board were formerly devout Catholics and Protestants, some of us were seminarians who dreamed to become a priest (thanks God we did not become instruments of the devil, cf. I Tim. 4:1-3), some of us were altar boys and have assisted the priests during the mass. Some of us are Americans but majority are Filipinos. We came from different locales throughtout the United States bound together with one sublime purpose: to defend the truth.

And, we could guarantee you that we did not join the Church because of marriage as someone was trying to project on this board. Probably he thinks that his case is true to all. Unfortunately, his shortsightedness in this aspect makes him a laughing stock among the faithful brethren who have read his posting. Why is he no longer in the Church? Everybody knows in the Iglesia Ni Cristo what the Bible teaches, that if someone joins the Church without faith, eventually that person will be separated (Rom. 5:2, John 6:60-66, Heb. 11:6). All those who have separated from the Church, although they may provide thousands of reasons, show only one thing: they do not believe. They are the ones mentioned in II Peter 2:20-22 NIV.

By reading the articles in the Pasugo and having fellowshipped with them, we came to know of the many who left the Catholic Church because of faith. We know Bro. Theophilus Darku, a former Catholic priest who is a deacon now in California and Bro. Ted Dizon, a former Catholic priest who is now also a deacon in Florida. They could testify to the fact that they joined the Iglesia Ni Cristo by faith, granting you shall encounter them in person when you will come to our worship services. Bro. Darku was celibate when he left the priesthood and joined the Church. This is also true in the case of Bro. Beda Aboloc, the Catholic priest from Surigao who abandoned the priesthood when he heard about the Iglesia Ni Cristo in the Philippines. Later on, he joined the ministry and got married when he was already an ordained minister. Unlike the others (like Chuck Hunter), they abandoned Catholicism because they have seen the enormous errors in their former religion. But why did they join the Iglesia Ni Cristo and not the Protestant churches? Because through the preaching function of Bro. Felix Manalo and the ministers of the Church they were led to the truth which could not be found in any other church except the Iglesia NI Cristo, a divine knowledge that was obviously not revealed to people like Servant, CCOG and their cohorts.

It is quite clear to all of us that Bro. Felix Manalo used a BIBLE in preaching the doctrines of the Church. Regarding the question of what versions, we repeat this point and we hope that this will become clear to all who asked about this question. Just like everyone else, Bro. Felix Manalo and the ministers of the Iglesia Ni Cristo have access to all the different versions (not different Bible) which are available to all people: biblical scholars, bible societies, and the general public.

Bro. Felix Manalo utilized all of the existing versions and resources available to him during the period when he was still preaching. It is a known fact that Bro. Felix Manalo was here in the United States in 1919 and made some serious research work in California. During this period, he was introduced to these different versions of the Bible during his stay here. Before he began his ministry as a result of God’s call, he was an active member and evangelist of his former religious affiliations. His association with these groups, coupled with his own studies, allowed him to get acquainted with different versions/translations of the Bible. It is superfluous to mention all of the versions he used in preaching the Bible since this is a common knowledge.

When new versions of the Bible like the George Lamsa came out of circulation, in which the rendition of Acts 20:28 is CHURCH OF CHRIST, it confirms to us what has been preached then by Bro. Felix Manalo is true, that the name of the Church purchased by Christ’s blood is the Church of Christ. This type of incident solidifies to us that even without the Lamsa version, because of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Bro. Felix Manalo was then able to preach the biblical truth that the true Church is Church of Christ. Later versions of the Bible such as Lamsa confirmed what he had preached to us.

When some people questioned the Iglesia Ni Cristo for utilizing different versions of the Bible, it shows their ignorance and shortsightedness regarding the complex background of textual criticism. Every textual scholar and all bible translators agree that a version, whether it is a single translation, or a work of a committee, is not a perfect translation. Try to analyze the preface of every translation/version of the Bible because the truth about every work of translation is indicated there. Here is a sample, the final statement of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation:

“Like all translations of the Bible, made as they are by imperfect man, this one undoubtedly falls short of its goals. Yet we are graceful to God for the extent to which he has enabled us to realize these goals and for the strength he has given us and our colleagues to complete our task.”

How was this specific version of the Bible translated into English? It says, “the translation of each book was assigned to a team of scholars. Next, one of the Intermediate Editorial Committees revised the initial translation, with constant reference to the Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. Their work then went to one of the General Editorial Committees, which checked it in detail and made another thorough revision. This revision in turn was carefully reviewed by the Committee on Bible Translation, which made further changes and then released the final version for publication. In this way the entire Bible underwent three revisions, during each of which the translation was examined for its faithfulness to the original languages and for its English style.” [Quoted from Preface to the NIV]

Since there is no perfect translation of the Bible into the vernacular, theologians and bible scholars have to utilize and compare these scholarly works since what might be missing in one version is supplied in another version. Paraphrasing is constant throughout all of the translations, whether it is the Vulgate, KJV or NSRV. No textual scholar will ever claim that there is a perfect translation. Even the Catholic official version in English, the Douay-Rheims is a translation from the Latin, which is not the original language of the Bible.

Ministers of the Iglesia Ni Cristo today avail themselves of all the scholarly works/materials available to everybody, from the different versions of the Bible, to the different manuscripts of the Bible in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Syriac and Latin. By looking into these different sources, ministers of the Iglesia Ni Cristo do not only provide the church members a result of a scholarly work, but a genuine and pristine gospel. By comparing spiritual things with spiritual (I Cor. 2:13 NKJV), the verses are properly explained, or properly exegeted, in technical term. On top of that is the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the messengers of God who reveals even the deep things of God (I Cor. 2:10-12 NKJV).

While the original writers of the Bible were inspired by God, the copyists and the translators are fallible men. They are prone to commit mistakes. There are errors in transmission, copying, editing of the texts of both the Old and the New Testament. This glaring truth is known to all textual scholars. One has simply to read reference books on textual criticism in order to know about this simple truth. On New Testament, read Metzger’s THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Third Enlarged Edition, or the work of Bart Ehrman, THE ORTHODOX CORRUPTION OF SCRIPTURE, The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament. For Old Testament, read Emanuel Tov’s TEXTUAL CRITICISM OF THE HEBREW BIBLE.

In view of this, who are the capable guides/preachers of the Bible? The messengers of God because they are guided by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit that guided the biblical writers is the same Holy Spirit that guides the true preachers (I Thess. 1:5 NIV). This is the primary reason why the Iglesia Ni Cristo consistently upholds the authority of Bro. Felix Manalo in preaching the pristine gospel since as a messenger of God, he was guided by the Holy Spirit (Rev. 7:2-3, Eph. 1:13). The same Holy Spirit is guiding now the ministers of the Iglesia Ni Cristo in preaching the gospel truth throughout the world.

A word of encouragement for the faithful brethren throughout the world who stood firm in their calling and election, let us continue the good work. Let us not allow anybody to destroy our genuine faith. Resist the devil and his tricks (many of them are on the Internet). Follow the admonition of the Bible as told by Jude to those who have been called and loved by God the Father and kept by our Lord Jesus Christ, “dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints,” but you dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” (Jude 1:1-3, 20-21 NIV).

Mabuhay ang Iglesia Ni Cristo!