*** Go to Tagalog original
Who we are individually is not important. What we represent collectively is what we hope you’d give your attention to.
The following is a brief history of how our journey started and where we are at this point in time. The in-between phases of how we evolved to the present, we shall reveal to you in our next series of articles.
”INC Defender” No More: The Story of Us
“INC Defenders” was how we called ourselves before, a term that evolved over time but started as a reference to members of the Iglesia ni Cristo who started questioning and exposing what looked like irregularities and corruption within the ranks of the Church Council or Sanggunian.
The Blog that Started it All
Even though we weren’t known during those times as “Defenders”, we were all fascinated by a blog called “Iglesia ni Cristo Silent No More” which was created by someone who introduced himself as a minister with a name of Antonio Ebanghelista or AE. Bro. AE was hailed as the daring leader of all “Defenders”, who loves and values the Church, and whose objective is pure and clean.
The following are some of the statements and promises of Bro. AE who many thought was a man of principle and a trustworthy leader by his followers, including us. In future articles, we will examine these and other declarations he made to see how his actions up to the present measure up to his written and spoken statements.
Translated from original Tagalog article:
I will never advocate any action that is against Doctrine just to advance changes that will lead to the purifying of the Church. I will not encourage anyone not to worship, or not give regular or special offering, or Aid to Humanity contributions. Because these are sacred teachings we received and never can a mistake be corrected by another mistake … I will never encourage participation in a strike or boycott or rally. I will not recommend anything that will lead to violence or going against the teachings we received. I will also not recommend any doctrine or faith or book that teaches faith founded on human wisdom and not based on the wisdom of God’s teachings .
Notice Bro. AE’s perspective when his blog was just starting out. It was his high regard and respect for Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo, not the contempt and ridicule we find in Bro. AE’s later articles, that won us and early supporters over to stand by him.
Translated from original Tagalog article:
I will never advocate going against the Executive Minister or replacing the Executive Minister, NEVER. Even our life, we are prepared to give to our beloved Executive Minister. For anything concerning the administration of the Church, the Executive Minister will be directly answerable to the Lord God. I have no right and neither does anyone among us, to judge the Executive Minister.
Translated from original Tagalog article:
“8. Why do you criticize the Executive Minister, do you not know that it was God who appointed him to lead the Church?
Never did I go against, criticized, or pre-empted the Executive Minister. If you would only please read everything that I have written, you will see no trace of opposition to the Executive Minister. Why? Because we are of one faith that Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo is who our Lord God appointed to lead His Nation and we need to subject ourselves to him. No one has the right to question the Church administrator other than our Lord God to whom he is directly accountable. And that is my firm stand, back then until the present time.
Led by Bro. AE, we used social media as a tool to express our concerns, believing that was the only way available to us to get the attention of our Executive Minister who we were told was being blindsided by the members of the Council.
Some of us were with Bro. AE from the beginning, before we found out he was Bro. Lowell Menorca II. Some of us joined his group later. And some of us joined him initially but later switched to, or directly joined, another group of defenders, such as those led by other ministers like Bros. Jun Samson, Kelly Ong (Joy Yuson). Farley de Castro, Louie Caybyab, Rolando Dizon, Nhel Dela Uso and Allan Montederamos.
We remember how we eagerly waited for Bro. AE to publish his next revelation. Every article he published further opened our eyes and magnified our negative sentiments and deep resentment toward the Council. We were quite convinced that we were on the right and the Council is the enemy that needed to be exposed so the Executive Minister can take appropriate action. This way, Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo will be able to “RESTORE THE CHURCH TO ITS FORMER PRISTINE CONDITION, FREE FROM ALL FORMS OF CORRUPTION”. From https://incsilentnomore.com/2015/08/04/what-a-web-of-lies-the-sanggunian-weaves/
Through Bro. AE, we learned various allegations of corrupt practices of the ministers of the Church in high positions, assets of the Church that were secretly sold or mortgaged, the extravagant lifestyle of members of the Council that are not compatible with what should have been simple existence based on assistance or “tulong” they receive, and Church expenditures that seem excessive or extravagant, measured by any standard. We believed the stories Bro. AE wrote as they matched our observations based on what we heard or our own experiences in our respective locals and districts.
We also heard the accounts of officers from other places that matched the same stories. Despite all this, Bro. AE, at least in the beginning, did not suggest rebelling against the Church or leaving the Church. In clarifying his stance, he vehemently declared “WE HAVE NEVER GONE AGAINST, OR SPOKEN AGAINST, THE CHURCH ADMINISTRATION. WE HAVE NO DESIRE TO REPLACE THE CURRENT EXECUTIVE MINISTER WHOM WE HAVE VOWED TO LOVE, OBEY, AND RESPECT. WE REMAIN FAITHFUL TO THE DOCTRINES OF THE IGLESIA NI CRISTO. IT IS OUT OF LOVE FOR THE CHURCH THAT WE DO WHAT WE DO. DO NOT EVER FORGET THAT. ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU OTHERWISE IS A LIAR.” From https://incsilentnomore.com/2015/08/04/what-a-web-of-lies-the-sanggunian-weaves/. This is the premise that we believed in and what we did in the past, was consistent with that belief.
The Composition of “INC Defender” No More group
- Those who were expelled
Like Bro. AE, we hid ourselves in ‘dummy’ social media accounts or accounts that use fictitious names. In addition, those among us who joined in delivering food and other necessities in Tandang Sora and participated in vigils in various places also needed to hide our faces for fear that we might be targeted by the powerful Council. However, in the end, our true identities were revealed. For openly expressing our disappointment and frustration because we were convinced by allegations of improper use of Church funds as well as other activities that are not based on Christian doctrine (as received from the Messenger of God in these last days and from Bro. Eraño G. Manalo), we were expelled. In some cases, entire families were expelled. Whether these expulsions make sense or are “unjust”, as some claim is debatable. We shall reserve that topic in our future articles.
- Those who Voluntarily Left the Church
The more “courageous” among us did not wait to be discovered and instead decided to leave the Church, brainwashed by promoters of the so-called “Big Bang”, Bros. Lowell Menorca II and Louie Cayabyab. On April 30, 2016 (May 1 in the Philippines), some of us simultaneously signed a letter called “Declaration of Loyalty to God”. What that is, in essence, is a letter of voluntary resignation from the Church, which is tantamount to signing our own death warrants.
Lamentably, some of us did pay a very high price for our reckless decisions.
- Those who Stayed Inside the Church
The majority of us chose to remain in the Church even though they shared similar sentiments as other Defenders. Although they are not blind to the problems which beset the Church and its leadership, they leave it up to God to rectify whatever needs correction rather than take matters into their own hands.
This last category of defenders is also known as “Silent Defenders”. They are the target of derision among some of their expelled and more vocal counterparts, with the latter sometimes assailing the former’s credibility and conviction as “Defenders”. As it turns out though, for choosing to remain in the Church, these quiet defenders are the wisest of the bunch. We didn’t know it then, but now we do.
The Dawn of Awakening
In whichever category we may belong, we now have a common and stronger bond than before – the realization that even though we started with good intentions, we have allowed ourselves to be deceived by Defender ministers who: 1) now promote doctrines different from what we received from God’s Last Messenger; 2) have become corrupt like the Council members they attack; 3) betrayed their once lofty principles in pursuit of fame and ambition and in some cases, material gain; and 4) are more interested in advancing their personal agenda rather than safeguarding the spiritual welfare of the Defenders.
Although our disenchantment with the Defender ministers was a major reason for changing our minds, more than this, it is our renewed conviction in the fundamental doctrine that provoked the change, THAT OUTSIDE OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, THERE IS NO SALVATION.
This realization gives us hope that God has not forsaken us. We still have a chance to turn back from the wrong path we took. Although we are outside of the Church now, someday, the Father will forgive our past transgressions and guide us back to the path of salvation. With a contrite and meek heart, we beg God to save us from certain death and accept us again into the Iglesia ni Cristo, the one true Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ and the only Church He would save on His return. We pray it is not too late for us and that the Church Administration will see through our repentant hearts, and restore our membership in the Church, one we have so rashly and foolishly thrown away. May God show us mercy by giving us an opportunity to reform ourselves, make amends for our past mistakes by exposing what the Defender movement has become and WHY THIS MOVEMENT CANNOT POSSIBLY BELONG TO GOD.
Some Questions that Baffle the Minds of Defenders
These are some of the common questions raised by Defenders today. We shall answer them in the next series of articles:
- What are the Defenders really fighting for?
- In which part of the Bible is it stated that there is salvation outside the Church as portrayed by the leadership of the Defenders?
- Should we follow the call of some faction of defenders that brethren should leave the Church?
- Are Defenders justified in calling themselves the “True Members” of the Church? If not, why not?
- Is there any doctrinal basis for the establishment of Worship Services by Defenders?
- Does God find the EGM, GPM and Committee Prayer currently being done by Defenders acceptable?
- Where did the belief of some Defenders come from that Ka EVM is not the true Executive Minister of the Church?
- What is the proof that one of Bro. Marc or Angel was appointed by Bro. Erano G. Manalo to become his successor?
- If one of them is the real Executive Minister, then how come neither one has come out in the open to lead the Defenders?
- Why do they let chaos and division reign among the Defenders?
- Why is it that up to now, despite clamor for transparency in the handling of H2O funds, the concerned individuals have been mum?
- Until when are the brethren inside 36TS going to rely on assistance from the Defenders?
Through this blog, we hope that other Defenders, who were likewise deceived, will also be enlightened. With what we intend to reveal in this blog, we hope that they will have enough courage to break away from false leaders whose goal is lead them to a path that leads to certain death.
If they were expelled due to their participation in the Defender movement, we encourage them to join us in our desire to return to the true Church, the Iglesia ni Cristo. As for Defenders who are still members of the Church, we hope that this blog will inspire you to better appreciate your election and protect it no matter the cost. Together, may we all serve God in peace inside His Holy Church!
Please do not miss our next article. We hope that you will continue to join us in this spiritual journey. May God continue to bless His people, His Administration and the supporters of this blog!
Praise the Father, we are now “INC Defenders” No More!