6 Reasons Why the CNM (or INC) is Neither a Church Nor Christian
CNM, a sub-Christian cult founded in 1914 by Felix Manalo, boasts of a few million members in the Philippines and in several other countries. It is mind-boggling how millions are deluded by its leaders. But this is not surprising, for many heretical cults have millions of followers around the world. See Apollo Quiboloy, Eli Soriano, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, and many other televangelists.
And oh, why CNM? I chose this acronym because INC is a violence against the name of Christ and the church. It is neither a church, nor Christian. So CNM: Culto Ni Manalo.
Here are the CNM’s most heretical—and weirdest—claims.
1. That they are the only true church. Since it was founded in 1914, all Christians and Christian churches for 1,900 years are false and are in hell, including the early church and the Reformation church.
2. That the Arian heresy (Jesus is not the eternal Son of God, but was only a creation by God) is the truth. This contradicts—again—the 2,000-year-old teaching of the church from the Apostles to the present.
They revise church history, saying that Roman Emperor Constantine twisted the arms of the Council of Nicea in 325 to declare that Jesus was of the same substance as God the Father, and the Eternal Son of God without beginning or end. Though Constantine favored the orthodox Trinitarian doctrine over the Arians in Nicea, he later moderated his stance and declared Arianism as falling within the pale of orthodoxy. But his son Constantius who succeeded him, and later, Valens, were Arians. In spite of this, the orthodox Christians led by Athanasius, fought for truth. Finally, in 381, the Council of Constantinople reaffirmed the Nicean doctrine against the Arian views. For a brief but scholarly summary of this history, read “How Arianism Almost Won” by Christopher A. Hall. 1
Also, CNM ignorantly teaches that the Roman Catholic Church, beginning with the early church fathers and Constantine, corrupted the Bible’s teaching about Jesus. They are ignorant of the fact that the “catholic church” refers to the “universal church” consisting of the various autonomous local churches scattered throughout the Roman empire and beyond. The Roman Catholic Church and the papacy did not exist until well into the 7th century.
Like all cults and false teachers, it twists many Scripture passages to suit their false teachings. The most blatant ones are:
3. That Isaiah 43:5-6 refers to the Far East: “Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth.” The context of this text is God’s promise to the Israelites that he will bring them from exile in Babylon and many other nations back to Canaan, their homeland. CNM twists this verse to say that “God’s children shall come from the far east.” There is no “far east” in this passage. And even if it would have said “far east,” there is zero chance that it means the Far East today!
4. That Acts 20:28 mentions the “Church of Christ.” Here, they use a universally discredited translation called the Lamsa Bible, which reads “the church of Christ.” But the original Greek says, “the church of God” (ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ). And even if it would have said “the church of Christ,” it does not refer to CNM. Paul was instructing the elders of the church in Ephesus to shepherd the church there. He was not making a prophecy about CNM in the Philippines!
5. That Matthew 10:40 says that Felix Manalo was appointed by God as his “Messenger” in the last days. “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” CNM says its founder, Felix Manalo was appointed by God as his “Messenger” in the last days. But Jesus was teaching his twelve disciples, and their names are listed (Matt 10:1-4). Does any translation include the name Felix Manalo in this list? And how can he be living 2,000 years ago?
6. That Acts 2:39 refers (again) to the Philippines. “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” CNM twists “far off,” again, as referring to the Philippines! But all over the Bible, “far off” refers to those outside of national Israel—Gentiles—in both Old and New Testaments.
(a) Isaiah 57:19: “‘Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,’ says the LORD, and I will heal him.” Isaiah 57 is a warning against Israel’s apostasy, and also a promise to “heal” or save those who return to the Lord, whether they are “far” (Gentiles) or “near” (Jews).
(b) Acts 22:21: “Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.”
(c) Ephesians 2:13, 17: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ… And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.”
If you’re a CNM adherent, start reading a real Bible; go to www.esv.org. Start thinking. And start praying that the Holy Spirit may take the scales glued by Satan off your eyes.
- Christopher A. Hall is dean of the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University and author of Learning Theology with the Church Fathers (InterVarsity Press, 2002). ↩
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