How a Roman Catholic Priest refutes the IFI?

How a Roman Catholic Priest refutes the IFI?

IFI Articles of Religion 17: Attitude Towards The Roman Church:

“When this Church withdrew from the Roman Catholic Church, it repudiated the authority of the Pope and such doctrines, customs and practices as were inconsistent with the Word of God, sound learning and a good conscience. It had no intention of departing from Catholic doctrine, practice and discipline as set forth by the Councils of the undivided Church. Such departures as occurred were due to the exigencies of the times, and are to be corrected by official action as opportunity affords, so that this Church may be brought into the stream of historic Christianity and be universally acknowledge as a true branch of the Catholic Church.”

The Aglipayan posts this article written by a priest who belongs to the Dominicans that administer the University of Santo Tomas. May this paper helps us understand why many of the Roman Catholic priests still do not recognize the validity of the baptismal rite administered by our clergy.

Newsletter of the District of Asia

 Jan – Mar 2002

Some Notes on Two Major Sects of the Philippines

by Fr. Manuel  Piñon O.P. (1910-1997)

(in Religion & Religions, Dominican House of Studies, Quezon City, Philippines, 2nd edition, 1982)

 Christian denominations 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.

However, 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.

INK was officially incorporated and registered with the government of the Philippines on July 27, 1914.

At 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)

Born Roman 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

1) Christ is divine but not God, that is, God suffused him with supernatural power.

2) 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.

4) Christ did not die for all men but for some only, who for practical purposes and in actuality, are only the members of INK.

5) The soul of man upon death and burial stays in the grave awaiting the final resurrection.

4. A short reply

1) Historical refutation

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.

2) The claim of the INK to be the true Church of Christ is a hoax.

After 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.

Unfortunately, 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.

3) 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)

1) History

This Church 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.

In January 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.

Isabelo de 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.

On 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)

The original 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.

Soon after, 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.

3. -Dogmatic 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.

5. -Creation 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.

8. -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.

10. -Jesus 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 doctrine.

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 denied.

12. -There 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 allowed.

14. -There 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 of property.

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.

(From Religious Revolution in the Philippinesop.cit. pp. 305-307)

The 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.

4) Refutation

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 be used.

“The same 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).

It is 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). 

Vatican I, Constitution Dei Filius, DzS 3004-3005

Newsletter of the District of Asia

 July-August 1999

02 February 1924 – 29 August 1997
Requiescat In PaceIn commemoration of the second death anniversary of Rev. Fr. Manuel Piñon this coming August 29, we present here a short article about his life and his chief works.REV. FR. MANUEL PIÑON, OP was born in Sulu, Philippines, on February 2, 1924, the feast of the Purification of Our Lady.

He entered the Dominican Order on July 1, 1939 and pursued his studies of Philosophy and Theology at the “Studium Generale” of St. Albert Priory in Hongkong. He obtained his Doctorate in Philosophy at the “Angelicum” in Rome (where he also was a professor in the Lateran University). He became the dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, a university run by the Dominicans, in Manila, Philippines.

He authored many books and was known for his works about Philosophy and Theology such as:

-Fundamental Logic
-Being and Reality -Psychological Freedom
-Predestination and Salvation
-Religion and Religions

He also published small brochures, among which are the following:

-Fundamentalism (on Protestantism)
-The Phantom of Martin Luther Speaks (on the New Mass)
-A Sledgehammer in the Catholic Church (also on the New Mass)



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