Almost every day, we see post after post and comment after comment on a topic of such critical importance it refuses to die — whether one should leave the Church and join the pack of expelled Defenders who consider themselves the “True Members of the Iglesia ni Cristo”.
If one were to step back and look at the arguments of both sides, one thing is clear. Supporters of the “Leave the Church” campaign rely, not on what the Bible says (as taught by the Last Messenger and by Bro. Eraño Manalo), but on their own personal judgment which is borne out of stubbornness, impatience and flawed logic. In the face of arguments backed by Scripture, clearly explained and preached by those with authority to preach, these people still refused to budge. Bro. Eraño himself, paraphrasing Ephesians 2:12, warned that disaster awaits those who leave the Church, that outside, there is no hope, no God, no testament, no covenant. That to be assured of salvation, we must remain in the Church until death. Listen to this video recording from the Shield of Faith page (in Tagalog) https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=543328229210663&id=493193814224105.
It is ironic that these Defenders, who hold Bro. Eraño’s leadership of the Church in the highest regard, who consider as pure and pristine his preaching of the doctrine (with admiration often expressed in mocking contrast to his son), are the first to disrespect his memory by ignoring his admonition. Indeed, what more is required for the blind to see, if one really wanted to see? Unfortunately, for willful blindness and dogged obstinacy, falsely cast as being “principled”, there is neither hope nor cure.
Another irony is that the growing restlessness of some Defenders to see the Church “restored” NOW has given way to the invention of false doctrine and prophecy not taught by our Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the Church they claim to love. God is all but forgotten in their impassioned speeches. They cannot wait for His divine hand to move, for His divine justice to come. What if it comes and the outcome is not what they expect? What then? Will they refuse to accept it? Will they even recognize it? What if what is happening now is the fulfillment of what Christ has foretold and what Bro. Eraño has forewarned? What if God’s justice is now being manifested by the expulsion of the “wicked” (I Corinthians 5:13)?
God appointed an Executive Minister to lead His people during these times but these outspoken Defender critics rejected him. They insult and mock Bro. Eduardo, demean him, disrespect him, often use very colorful words and memes to embarrass him, lambast him in public. Some have even brought charges against him in court, attributed to him acts they know he didn’t do. They belittle his accomplishments, magnify his minor slip-ups, question every decision he makes. The extremist Defenders even wish him dead. And who do they want to see him replaced by? One of his younger brothers? The root of all this division?! Aren’t the siblings and their families tired of eating from the sweat of someone else’s brows? Of demanding a vigil whenever their food and other supplies aren’t delivered to them on time? Of asking Defenders to pay for legal fees in their fight over a piece of real estate? But did they ever do anything for the Defenders in return? Like perhaps straighten out their injudicious sense of truth and lead them back to God? They were ministers once, weren’t they? Therefore, they know the sad fate that awaits the Defenders (especially those who gave up their calling as an act of sympathy towards them) if they continue in their ways. Can these brothers not show them mercy?
These fanatic Defenders claim they are willing to die in their fight for the “truth”. And what truth is that? Our Lord Jesus said He is the truth (John 14:6). But they’ve rejected Him, too. How? Christ asked them to enter in Him to be saved (John 10:9) and yet they are asking Silent Defenders who are inside the Church to leave! Our departed former Executive Minister Bro. Eraño admonished the brethren to not separate from the Church under any circumstances. “ANUMAN ANG MANGYARI, MANATILI KAYO SA IGLESIA!” (In English, “WHATEVER HAPPENS, REMAIN IN THE CHURCH!”), he said. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=545758208967665&id=493193814224105&__tn__=C from Shield of Faith video. And yet these outspoken expelled Defenders are demanding that the Silent ones get themselves expelled as well!
The sad thing is, while former ministers Jun Samson and Rudy Lao (writing as Dimitri Tudor) have repeatedly provided an explanation of Revelations 18:4 and Isaiah 1:8-9 that is in keeping with teachings received from the Last Messenger and Bro. Eraño , and another former minister Michael Malalis from Lowell’s camp has continued to exhort those attending their devotional prayers who are still members of the Church to cling tightly to their election and safeguard it at all cost, on the other end of the spectrum is a former evangelical worker, the scandal-prone Lowell Menorca II, championing the “Leave the Church” campaign. (It did not escape our notice that this time, he is unaided or unsupported by another former minister, Louie Cayabyab.)
Notice how in Lowell’s FB post (writing as AE) https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=353370621694231&id=100010638880308, not once did he provide scriptural basis for his position. Despite our challenge to him in https://incdefendernomore.wordpress.com/2016/12/27/leave-the-church-and-go-where/, he relied solely on the power of emotional rhetoric to support his argument. Why? Because if he learned anything at all in the ministry, it is that THERE IS NO BIBLICAL FOUNDATION FOR HIS STANCE. However, he needed to capitalize on this issue to keep his remaining supporters behind him. So even if he knows in his heart that he’s advocating a lie, he goes ahead and rallies Defenders who desperately want to be correct, behind a banner that claims they are the True Members of the Iglesia ni Cristo!
In this instance, we are reminded of what Apostle Paul has foretold in II Timothy 4:3:
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
To be among the so-called “True” Defenders, they have to meet the first criteria which is to be expelled, hence, Lowell followed his rumored girlfriend’s lead by asking Silent Defenders to leave the Church – https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10211293557119522&id=1377794215 (This pattern of “following”, rather than “leading”, is why some people now regard him as a mere figurehead.)
Remember that Silent Defenders far outnumber those who are expelled. To increase his group’s more loyal following, Lowell needs more Defenders who are expelled. Expelled Defenders are far easier to manipulate and brainwash. Why is that? Well, since they are no longer allowed in worship services and other activities of the Church, their thirst for God’s words and sense of belonging or fellowship become a weakness Lowell pounces upon to exploit. He dangles before them his invitation to attend his weekly gatherings where they are taught false and man-made doctrines. Soon enough, these new converts loosen their purse strings. And the business of “seeing to their spiritual welfare” begins.
Defenders, please wake up! See this for what it is. Do not be fooled. If you got expelled, voluntarily or otherwise, then you join one of these Defender groups, what happens? They trick you and you get embroiled in the mess they’re in. Some of you left due to allegations of corruption in the Church and yet here you are, led by people who stab each other in the back and who themselves are guilty of sins far worse! Was that what you gave your membership up for?!
Silent Defenders, do not be conned by rhetoric — flamboyant words and phrases meant to entice you to leave the Church. That is the double- tongued serpent desperately trying to woo you so you’d give up your membership. Remember! There is only one path to salvation in these last days – it’s the Iglesia ni Cristo! Remain there until the end. That was Bro. Eraño’s strong admonition meant to protect the flock because outside, there is no salvation.
Be respectful and obedient to the Church Administration. That is a commandment from God. It is not negotiable. If you are swayed by things you see or hear being said against the Executive Minister, continue to do what God has commanded you to do – obey. That is our role. Get down on your knees and pray for these trials to pass. Leave it up to God to correct whatever requires correction in His own time and in His own way. The Executive Minister is not infallible – we have no such doctrine. He is a human being appointed by God to lead us. As a human being, he suffers from human frailty just like you and me. But he is not for us to judge. He is accountable only to God. He is guided by the right hand of God. That is God’s promise to His Last Messenger and those who succeeded him. Don’t ever forget that!