There was a Sunday that I had dedicated to talking to people who were about to get married. One of my people in the group invited a couple that was almost breaking up because they went to different churches. The man was a believer in Iglesia ni Cristo while the lady was a Catholic. They needed my advice as a neutral person. I had to understand the exact differences between their churches and beliefs to advise them. So I asked them to tell us more about their respective churches. I finally got first-hand information to help me compare Iglesia ni Cristo vs. Catholic.
The main difference between Iglesia ni Cristo and Catholic is that Iglesia ni Cristo does not believe in the Holy Trinity, while Catholics believe in the Holy Trinity. In addition, Iglesia ni Cristo believes that for anyone to be part of the Salvation that Jesus died for, they need to be church members. On the contrary, Catholics believe members outside their church can receive salvation. However, they are similar in that they both believe in God and worship Him.
Join me in this article as I write about the differences and similarities between Iglesia ni Cristo and Catholic. I will also write about the history of Iglesia ni Cristo and help you understand why Iglesia ni Cristo and Catholic can’t be together. Read on to find out.
Iglesia ni Cristo vs. Catholic: Difference in definition
Iglesia ni Cristo is a religion that is deemed cultic because they do not believe in the Holy Trinity, and their founder claimed to have had special revelation from God. It is suggested that the leader, Felix Manalo, claimed to be a prophet of God during Schism in 1922 to acquire power in the church. He claimed that Iglesia ni Cristo is Biblical. They are also called cultic because they believe only their church has the truth about salvation. However, members of the church call it the church of Christ.
On the other hand, Catholic is a worldwide recognized denomination in the Christian religion that traces its roots to the first Christian church in the 2nd century. The word catholic means universal, and it was previously used to mean all Christians because we all share in the body of Christ until Christians split into protestants and Catholics. They worship God and believe in the Bible and the Holy Trinity.
History of Iglesia ni Cristo
It was first started in the Philippines in 1914 by Brother Felix Y Manalo. The church’s first members held their first congregation in Manila at Sta. Ana. The church gradually spread out to other places and provinces in the Philippines. 1963 the church’s founder passed away, but He had already helped it establish itself in more than half of Filipino provinces.
In 1968 the church grew out of the Philippines and was established in two countries. Brother Gruno Manalo, the executive minister, helped the Iglesia ni Cristo church establish branches in Hawaii at Honolulu and San Francisco, USA. It marked the beginning of the expansion and popularity of the church into the West, and then it started expanding worldwide.
In the 1970s, the church spread out to the North American continent. They formed a Group Worship Service (GWS) and a local congregation that was popular in Canada by 1971, New York, and Guam by 1969. In 1972, the church held its first congregation in Europe, London. In the mid 1970s, the church was also established in Australia and began going further into Asia. By 1977 it was in Japan. In 1978, Iglesia ni Cristo was in Nigeria and South Africa. In 1990, the church was also established in Latin America at Guantanamo.
The church also established congregations in Christian historical cities;
- Rome, Italy-1994
- Jerusalem, Israel- 1996
- Athens, Greece-1997
Brother Erano Manalo died in 2009 after spreading Iglesia ni Cristo in many parts of the world. Today, the church is led by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo.
What’s the Difference between Iglesia ni Cristo and Catholic?
They have different beliefs about Jesus Christ
Iglesia ni Cristo believes that Jesus Christ is the Child of God but is not equally powerful. They look at Him as a human being, as a perfect man that He was. On the other hand, Catholics believe that Jesus is the son of God, who is second in the Trinity according to Matthew 28:19 and He is the center of Apostolic teachings.
They have different teachings about God
Iglesia ni Cristo believes that there is only one God, nothing like the oneness of God—God is not in three persons. On the other hand, the Catholic church believes in the oneness of God. They believe that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are powerful and equally possess the fullness of one. So they pray to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
They get their authority from different sources of revelation
Iglesia ni Cristo gets their power and spiritual revelation from the Holy Bible alone. They believe that each word in the Bible is the word written by God. Therefore, whenever they read the Bible, they believe God is speaking to them directly. When the Bible is silent, they are silent, with no additional messages from other books. On the other hand, Catholics use the Holy Bible and Apostolic tradition as their sources of revelation and authority. The Apostolic tradition involves living by the word of God and the sacred scriptures.
They have different origins of their respective names
Iglesia ni Cristo gets its name from the Bible version called Lamsa in specific scriptures that says that the church Jesus built is known as the Church of Christ, which can be translated to Iglesia ni Cristo in Filipino. They consider their church as the only real church. On the other hand, Catholic got its name in the 4th century from the Greek word Katholikos which means universal. The ancient saints, John and Ignatius, defined the Catholic Church as a church always where Christ is.
They hold different perspectives on salvation
Iglesia ni Cristo believes that anyone who wants to be saved by the death of Christ should first be a member of their church because they consider their church the only real church of Christ. They believe that members of their church cannot be saved. On the other hand, Catholics believe that other people outside their church can receive salvation. They believe that some people have not received the gospel, but they are true in their hearts and practice what they perceive to be pleasing to God. They believe that these sections of people have a chance of salvation.
What are the similarities between Iglesia ni Cristo and Catholicism?
They both worship God
Despite the fact that Iglesia ni Cristo does not believe in the Trinity, they claim to be serving and worshipping God. In the same way, Catholics pray to God and worship Him, only that they believe in the Holy Trinity.
They both believe in the Bible
Although their interpretations of certain scriptures of the Bible could be different, they both believe in the Holy Bible. They get their authority from the Bible, and Iglesia ni Cristo uses the Lamsa version in most cases.
Do Iglesia ni Cristo and the Catholic Church have the same beliefs and practices?
Although the two churches have some little bit of similarity in things like worshipping God and believing in the Bible, they are notably different. Their beliefs and practices are different because of their foundations. The founder of Iglesia ni Cristo was previously a Catholic and abandoned it for not believing in catholic beliefs and practices. He founded his church based on beliefs that he claims to have been prophetic to him.
Is Iglesia ni Cristo a true church?
It is suggested that Iglesia ni Cristo is not a true church but a cult because it possesses elements of a cult. First, they believe in their single charismatic founder and leader, Brother Felix Manalo, who claimed that he was God’s prophet. Second, they do not believe in the divinity, the Holy Trinity. In fact, they do not believe that Jesus is divine. Third, they believe that they are the only church that can help people gain salvation, meaning members of the church cannot be saved. However, they still call themselves the church of Christ and say that they serve God.
Why do Iglesia ni Cristo members consider themselves Protestant despite not being related to each other?
Iglesia ni Cristo considers themselves protestant even though they are not related because their founder was a Catholic and abandoned Catholic during his teens. Protestants are a group of believers who do not conform to the way of worship of the roman catholic. Typically any church outside of Roman catholic is called protestant. So Iglesia ni Cristo they call themselves that because their leader was against Catholic and left it to start his own church. In addition, the fact that they are another church out of Roman Catholic makes them protestant.
Why Iglesia ni Cristo and catholic can’t be together?
Iglesia ni Cristo and Catholic cannot be together because of two things, their history of splitting and the beliefs of INC. History is common that the founder of INC abandoned the Catholic church to start his own church. Second, INC preaches that their members cannot interact with non-believers. To them, nonbelievers are members outside their church, including Catholics. However, a handful of people have overcome these odds and are together as one. Also, as churches, Catholics cannot be together with INC because Catholics believe it is a false doctrine.
Can you be both a Catholic and an INC?
No, you cannot be a Catholic and again be an INC because they have different beliefs. Catholics believe in the Holy Trinity, while INC does not. Catholic believe in Christology, while INC does not. In addition, INC believes that only their church is the church that can help believers get salvation. So you see, you cannot be both; you will be so confused about beliefs.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.