Church splits, bickering deacons, embittered pastors, and offended missionaries. As an evangelical who has been exposed to a few churches since I was a kid, these were realities I’ve seen and heard of.
The scenario is painful for everybody – from the most experienced church leader to the newest member. It’s an ironic sight, especially when the church is supposed to be the place to get encouragement and support in your faith journey. It’s why my heart goes out to every member of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC). The Philippines’ largest indigenous religious movement is facing its biggest scandal, in full view of public eyes. The scale of their reach is so immense that the Justice Secretary of the Philippines is well briefed on the topic and the nation’s largest newspaper dedicated an editorial on the issue.
Allegations of corruption, embezzlement and physical violence against its leaders are a national news item and it’s difficult not to be disheartened for those who are part of this church. A major accusation against INC is of an overseer who sought money in return for the sect’s coveted bloc vote.
My personal belief and interpretation of the Scripture, primarily on salvation and the Trinity, may never meet eye to eye with INC’s, but the fact that this movement represents (based on their claims) almost two million Filipinos is enough to warrant attention and concern. The INC is also known for its collective discipline, unquestionable submission to authority, and ability to achieve things beyond Filipino imagination (i.e., Philippine Arena). Its reach and capacity to make things happen in its young history, still unknown.
INC represents the Filipino people and the Philippines in many ways. Their enormous influence on Philippine politics, directly affects the future of our nation.
I hope and pray that order be restored to this church and that justice be served, if need be, to those who deserve it.