WHEN people use the most powerful medium to debate on contentious issues, they stick to their beliefs to the point of fanaticism because the ambience of television is such that partisans tend to pander to the gallery. Thus, they will achieve no clarity in discussing issues. They will reach no resolution.

 

This is what is happening in the broadcast exchanges between the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) and Ang Dating Daan (ADD). Sorry but no sorry, I am not that gullible! When I wrote about the vicious TV exchange by no less than self-proclaimed preachers of goodwill, I was speaking on behalf of all thinking Filipinos, including Thomasians, about how wretched these two groups are.

The INC followers gave me their two cents: I was wrong because I do not know a single thing.

They asked for empirical data to prove my case when I was just stating an obvious fact. Are empirical data needed to state that a red apple is red? Do we need empirical data to know the difference between apples and oranges? Between a curse and a praise? Between what is obscene and hilarious? Between improper and proper?

My argument was simple. Because they are both using the Bible to one-up the other, they seem to overlook the fact that in their vicious exchange, they are undermining their claim to authority. By their action, they betray the fact that they are “unbiblical” or “unchristian.”

I also referred to the two sects as Pharisees in this context: Jesus condemned the Pharisees because of their hypocritical ways! These two groups are like the Pharisees indeed because they apply the teachings of the Bible to the letter but seem to have lost out on its spirit.

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It is ironic that the INC, which denies the divinity of Christ, has the gall to play God in invoking the Bible and setting it against those who do not belong to its sect.

I reiterate what I said in my previous column: “All religious people should be stirred to inquire about the status of preachers in their respective churches. It is their bounden duty, for the sake of their souls, to ascertain if the founder or leader of their church was sent by God or not.”

The INC, which never tires of attacking other churches by unfair and foul means, should know that the one true Church instituted by Christ (therefore by God and not by a pseudo-messiah and a charlatan in the 20th century!) is the Roman Catholic Church, which hails from the Apostles. Jesus appointed Peter as the first Pope when he declared: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).

The Roman Catholic Church acknowledges it has had a rocky history. But warts and all, it is the one true Church instituted by Christ because it bears the marks of the true Church: one, holy, catholic and very important, apostolic. The claim of the INC in contrast is self-interested. Of course, its attacks against other churches and groups should be taken in the context of this self-delusion.

Is that logic too much to bear or just too complicated for the vindictive minds of the INC? Surely, the INC has mastered the art of deconstructing statements to make their authors at fault. The INC defenders are obviously upset that my column may ruin their sect, which is established on very shaky grounds by somebody claiming to be the “Fifth Angel.” (Now, none of the Apostles ever claimed to be an angel, so you should now realize how demented the founder of the INC was.)

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But what I am really asking for is a little decorum and sanity on television and radio. Both the INC and the ADD claim to announce the good news. But is the Gospel served when their self-proclaimed preachers trade barbs against each other, in foul and vicious language? Mark the words of Christ: “In the end of time, there will be false prophets.”

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