I’m not sure how intense or ever-present the current ‘state’ of the church is in the Philippines, but here is the U.S., it’s regularly downright depressing. I don’t want to go so far as to say that most of the members are ‘…losing faith’, but it is not an exaggeration to say that most of the members (officers especially!) are overwhelmingly embarrassed by the leadership — all the way down to the ministers.
We don’t see or interact with the senior leaders of the church (who supposedly did all of these bad things, and continue to do so). Our direct interaction (other than WebEx ‘shows’ by EVM) are sermons by ministers and district ministers. Almost all of these ‘sermons’ (I hesitate to even call them that) are replete with references to the scandal and/or corruption claims being hurled against ‘the church’ (not accurate, but okay). The rest of the ‘sermons’ are heavily laden with phrases (with supporting verses, of course) to strong-arm the members regarding: blind obedience, continued participation in giving offerings, constant attendance (in order to give offerings), and the most frightening of all >> The sneaky “Tell us what you think” (reaction papers) with a very darkly veiled threat that anything other than positive feedback will very likely get you flagged for deeper scrutiny. Here’s where the embarrassment comes in….
With all of this going on, almost in the same breath, we are strongly exhorted to bring guests to worship services and propagation events, like the International Evangelical Mission (sorry, I still can’t remember that stupid, long replacement-name they came up with)….with EVERY brother and sister silently but completely in-sync with the mind that: we are NOT bringing people we care about to events that we KNOW will offend them within the first 10 minutes; we can NOT talk anyone we know into showing up with a strange church at 4am to listen to this same tired, negative dribble, and I’m sure most brethren (especially officers) are like me – their friends and loved-ones are intelligent and know how to do a Google Search. And, right now, 4 of the top 5 results that ALWAYS show up when you Google “Iglesia Ni Cristo” are articles or posts that start with words like “Corruption”, “Cult”, “Kidnapping”, “Theft of Offerings”, and so on.
Am I proud to be a member? Right now — no, I’m not. Our leaders are an embarrassment….and this includes ALL of the ministers.When only a couple step-up and speak, or step-down out of embarrassment regarding the corruption, is it noteworthy or newsworthy? Yes. Does it make a significant dent in the pattern-of-corruption? Nope!
From my conversations with several ministers — men I love dearly and respect dearly — it is very clear that they are FULLY aware of the corruption, but are afraid to say anything or do anything overt. Their reaction is to have faith in God, soften the negative messages/sermons whenever possible, and wait for God to reveal the corruption so that they can get back to the business of properly teaching the True Word. I understand their fear, but here’s a notion…
What would happen if they ALL stood up and said “No more!”?
What would happen if they ALL stood together and admitted what they’ve heard and seen?
Would the pattern of corruption endure?
Would our senior leaders and EVM remain silent?
Would blogs like this be necessary any longer?
Sorry for the rant. I also apologize for the overwhelmingly negative post. But I think I speak for many MANY currently-silent brethren (again, mostly officers, who see and hear much more than the lay-member).
God Bless you and all others who continue to ask for answers – who hunger for knowledge – who want our church restored to its original glory.