The Iglesia ni Cristo (Tagalog, "Church of Christ") claims to be the true Church established by Christ. Felix Manalo, its founder, proclaimed himself God’s prophet. Many tiny sects today claim to be the true Church, and many individuals claim to be God’s prophet. What makes Iglesia ni Cristo different is that it is not as tiny as others.
Since it was founded in the Philippines in 1914, it has grown to more than two hundred congregations in sixty-seven countries outside the Philippines, including an expanding United States contingent. The Iglesia keeps the exact number of members secret, but it is estimated to be between three million and ten million worldwide. It is larger than the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a better known sect (which also claims to be Christ’s true Church). Iglesia is not better known, despite its numbers, because the majority of Iglesia’s members are Filipino. Virtually the only exceptions are a few non-Filipinos who have married into Iglesia families.
The organization publishes two magazines, Pasugo and God’s
Message, which devote most of their energies toward condemning other
Christian churches, especially the Catholic Church. The majority
of the Iglesia’s members are ex-Catholics. The Philippines
is the only dominantly Catholic nation in the Far East, with eighty-four
percent of its population belonging to the Church. Since this is
its largest potential source of converts, Iglesia relies on anti-Catholic
scare tactics as support for its own doctrines, which cannot withstand
biblical scrutiny. The Iglesia tries to convince people of its doctrines
not by proving they are right, but by attempting to prove the Catholic
Church’s teachings are wrong.