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Ass and daan ang radio dating

Introduction

Members of Ang Dating Daan (“The Old Path,” hereon referred to as ADD) call Eliseo Soriano (their presiding minister) “the only sensible, honest and straightforward evangelist today”.[1] They claim that his famous broadcast is “the only religious program which heightened the religious awareness of many people.”[2] and that half a million people already converted to their faith because of that program, which is aired not only nationwide but even worldwide through their own cable TV channel, a hundred radio stations and the Internet.  Thus, there is a need to discern whether the ADD is of God or not.  To meaningfully engage with the ADD, this paper will look into the birth of the group and its core beliefs. Then it will propose steps on how believers can effectively reach out to them by “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).[3]  Instead of resorting to sarcasm and character assassination, it will focus on doctrinal issues.


The Birth of Ang Dating Daan


In 1922, eight years after the founding of the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ, hereon referred to as INC), minister Nicholas Perez broke away from it due to doctrinal differences.  He later started his own group, Ang Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan (The Church of God in Christ Jesus, the Pillar and Ground of Truth).  Soriano joined that group when he was 17 years old. 

Though Soriano was an honor student, he failed to finish high school because he got into an argument with a teacher regarding religious issues three months before graduation.  He then turned his attention to the Bible.  Immediately after his baptism in 1964, Soriano joined the ministerial class and since then rose from the ranks.  Perez groomed him to be his successor.  Only Soriano got the title “Minister” from Perez, “making him the only other minister in the Church at that time.”[4]   

When Perez died in 1975, a power struggle ensued.  The group had split into three groups.  Barely 30 years old, Soriano led a faction of 500 members, which they registered as Ang Mga Kaanib ng Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Saligan ng Katotohanan sa Bansang Pilipinas (The Members of the Church of God in Christ Jesus, the Pillar and Ground of Truth in the Philippines).  A protracted legal battle ensued over who has the legal claim to the name. Four years ago, the Supreme Court ordered Soriano to change the name of his group.  Today they call it “Members Church of God International.”

In 1980 Soriano launched his religious radio and TV program, Ang Dating Daan.  Since then, the ADD experienced so much growth.  In fact, an investigative report revealed that they baptize an average of 3,500 new members every month.[5]   


The Beliefs of Ang Dating Daan


The Bereans: Apologetics Research Ministry (http://thebereans.net) listed the ADD as one of the cults of Christianity or a group that claims to be Christian but goes against the historic teachings of Biblical Christianity.  Admittedly that is a serious charge.  This is not a question on the sincerity of the ADD members but on the veracity of their teachings.  The Bible itself labels a teaching “false” if it goes against the Word of God (1 John 4:1-3; 2 Peter 2:1).  In fact, the ADD invite people to examine their teachings for their “intention is to stir sensible scrutiny of [their] religious faith.”[6]  This paper is a response to that invitation.  This is not an exhaustive presentation of the teachings of the ADD but only a summary of the key doctrines of the ADD and then compares it with the teachings of the Bible.  To make it easy to remember, the author devised the acronym C.U.L.T.S.

Christology Deficient.  In their zeal to debunk the teachings of the INC, it appears that the ADD swung to the other extreme.  The INC teaches that Jesus is man, not God.  The ADD, on the other hand, teaches that Jesus is God, not man.[7]  This went against the Biblical teaching on the humanity of Christ (Rom 5:15, 18-19; 1 Cor 15:21; 1 Tim 2:5).  One of their proof-texts is Philippians 2:5-8.
5Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
They believe that the words “form of a bondservant,” “likeness of men” and “appearance as a man” proves that Christ is not man. 
These verses clearly state that our Lord Jesus only assumed the form of man. And nobody can contest that! Therefore, to teach that our Lord Jesus Christ is a man is a big mistake. He is not a man by nature; He only assumed the form of a man. Don’t you have a common sense to comprehend that? [8]
Though they admit Jesus had a human body, they reason that that does not make the Lord human.  They then explain away verses that clearly called Jesus “man.”
Why did John 8:40 said [sic] that our Lord Jesus was a man? It is because, that incident happened at the time our Lord Jesus was assuming the form of a human being. The Bible said, He was made in the likeness of men. In other words, He lived like a man.[9]
Unorthodox hermeneutics.  The ADD is against hermeneutics or the rules of Bible interpretation.  They claim all people have to do is to read the Bible, not to interpret it. 
There are preachers who think that, through hermeneutics they can rightfully understand the Bible. We believe that the laws of men do not apply here. They do not contribute in developing correct interpretation and understanding of the Bible.[10]
But, because the Bible is not only the words of God but also of man, reading is an interpretation by itself:  “From the standpoint of the Bible as literature, the simplest error of reading is the failure to consider the immediate context of the verse or passage in question.”[11]  In reading a passage, there is a need to properly interpret the meaning of words.  How a word is used in its context determines its meaning.  The meaning of a word then may be different in meaning now.

For example, the ADD misinterpreted the word “form” in Philippians 2:7 to mean “outward appearance.”  But Paul used the Greek word morphe for “form,” which means “something intrinsic and essential as opposed to… [that] which is merely outward”.[12]  That is why the New International Version translated “form” into “very nature.”  Thus, the ADD erred in understanding “likeness” and “appearance” (vv. 7-8) because they already misread “form.” 
If Jesus Christ was a real man, why did he have to be made in the likeness of men? All it needs is common sense to understand this. If he was already a man, why did He have to be made in the likeness of men? That only proves that our Lord Jesus Christ is a god, who assumed the form of a man.[13]
But the intended meaning of “form” should guide our understanding of “likeness” and “appearance” and not the other way around.  It simply means that by nature Christ is like every man but, since He did not sin, He is unlike any man.

Their denial of the humanity of Christ actually watered down the Gospel. “Anything less than real humanity would detract from the value of the cross”.[14]  The parallelism that Jesus is the second Adam would be pointless if He is not really a man (Rom 5:12-19; 1 Cor 15:21-22, 45-49).  “Jesus was our representative and obeyed for us where Adam had failed and disobeyed.”[15]  So if Jesus is not human, then it follows that Adam is also not human for “Jesus had to be a man in order to be our representative and obey in our place.”[16]

Low View of God.  The failure of the ADD to follow hermeneutics led them to employ proof-texting to support an assumption.  But they lifted the texts out of context so this resulted not just in a defective view of Christ but an aberrant view of God as well.
Many religious groups believe that God can do everything and anything because He is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. But, do you know that there is something, which God cannot do?[17] 
It is impossible for God to lie; He cannot lie. Let us not believe those who say that nothing is impossible with God. That is a deceit meant to mislead you.[18]
By quoting Titus 1:2 and Hebrews 6:18, the ADD thought they could dismiss the Biblical teachings on the nature of God (like Jeremiah 32:17 and Luke 18:27).  They misunderstood omnipotence or that God is “all-powerful,” for example.  It does not mean that “God can do everything and anything” as they alleged.  “It is not absolutely everything that God is able to do, but everything that is consistent with his character.”[19]  Errors like this happen when people isolate a verse and pit it against other verses in the Bible.

True Church Mentality.  The ADD hail Soriano as “God’s humble messenger in these last days.”[20]  They claim he already memorized the entire Bible.  He wows them by quoting verses in answering questions on any topic under the sun.  For them, this is proof that Soriano is a “sugo” (sent-one) or that God commissioned him in a special way like that of the apostles.
There is no secret in the Bro. Eli’s being unique, singular, and distinctive. The Bible gives its’ own explanation in John 3:34 as him being sent, therefore speaks the words of God, who gave him unlimited spirit…[21]
When a group thinks its leader is “the messenger of God”,[22] they end up with a “true church” mentality or the belief “that they alone are saved or will be saved”.[23]  One sign of such mentality is they believe the founder or the group was prophesied in the Bible.  

For example, the ADD saw the three-way split that the group suffered as a fulfillment of Zechariah 13:8-9.[24] 
8“And it shall come to pass in all the land,” Says the Lord, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, But one-third shall be left in it: 9I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ ”
But again, poor hermeneutics played a part.  Context show that the “land” Zechariah referred in v. 8 is the nation Israel (v. 1).  So this prophecy does not apply in any way to the ADD.  Memorizing Scriptures is laudable.  But, even if a person can quote it verbatim from memory, misinterpretations belie his claim to divine commission. 

Salvation by works.  For the ADD, faith is not enough for salvation and one must fulfill requirements to qualify for eternal life such as joining the church.  But that goes against the Biblical teaching of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone (John 3:16; Acts 4:12, 16:31; Eph 2:8-10).  The ADD even questions the term “personal savior.”
If Jesus Christ is a Personal Savior to anyone, it will be unethical, illogical, and unbiblical to share Him with anybody else; Furthermore, it may sound that He is exercising favoritism if anybody claims that Jesus Christ is his personal savior.[25]
A personal property, in the strictest sense of ethics and personal hygiene, can not be lent to anybody like your toothbrush and personal garments.[26]
But that is not what evangelicals meant when they say Jesus is a “personal savior.”  The word “personal” means “Done, made, or performed in person”.[27]  That means no person can proxy for anyone when it comes to receiving Christ as savior (John 1:12; Col 2:6)  

The ADD had set this standard:
…a messenger of God does not teach self-made doctrines. That is why his doctrines are flawless. However, if you find out that the doctrines of a particular organization of faith are erroneous, that is a proof that such an organization is not of God.[28]
After examining the key beliefs of the ADD, it is now up to the readers to conclude whether the organization is of God or not.


The Burden for Ang Dating Daan


The Bible calls believers to defend the faith (1 Pet 3:15; Jude 3).  But there is a need to be careful in the approach.  2 Timothy 2:23-26 spells out the R.E.A.C.H. strategy.

Refrain from a combative stance.  In discussions with people like the ADD, keep in mind that “a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all… [and] patient” (2 Tim 2:24).  Remember that “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” The approach is as important as the arguments.  In the online forum of The Bereans, there is an attempt to provoke through insults or name-calling.  Never go down to that level.  Even if one may not win the ADD member, he can win the hearts of the people who are listening in the discussion.  People tend to listen more when engaged “in humility” (v. 25) for those who come across as proud turns them off.   “You can always tell who is losing an argument by checking out who is yelling the loudest.”[29] The Filipino saying applies here: “Ang pikon talo.”  (He who loses his patience loses it.”

Equip the saints.  Now more than ever there is a need to train and retrain pastors on what and why they believe so that they would be “able to teach” (v. 24).  Then they can equip their members “so that they may know the truth” (v. 25).  According to a recent study, “16% churches without pastors plus 39% churches with untrained pastors translates into a need to train pastors for 55% of the churches in the Philippines.”[30]  In fact, it can even go as high as 63%.[31]  There is a need to equip the church so that they “should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:12-16. See also Titus 1:9-11).

But pastors tend to avoid doctrinal topics for fear of boring their people or being labeled “irrelevant.”  Yet the ADD showed that one can be doctrinal and still experience phenomenal growth.  In fact, this is one of the reasons why people are attracted to the ADD.
Teaching information in the Bible has genuine importance to Bro. Eli that he makes sure his listeners understand why. So he makes connections between day-to-day experiences and truth, and conveys the importance and usefulness of what he’s teaching. He would help his learners see rules, structure and patterns in the Bible with whatever they are learning.[32]
Thus, it is important to train pastors to communicate the Word in a way that is simple, practical and authoritative.  There are no boring subjects, only boring speakers.

Always show interest for the person.  Avoid personal attacks or ad hominem arguments.  They are not the enemies.  Satan deceived them, “having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim 2:26c).  Thus, they need to “escape the snare of the devil” (v. 26b).  Engage in a respectful way.  In doing so, one earns the right to be heard.  Ask the person why he got converted to the group.  He could have joined the group for reasons other than spiritual hunger.  If the person joined the group out of a social need, then befriend him.  Keep in mind that “people do not care how much we know unless they know how much we care.”  

Concentrate on major issues.  Discuss only the essentials of the faith with the ADD and avoid “foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” (v. 24, NIV).  Move away from minor issues like tithing.  Even equally competent Bible scholars disagree on these matters.  Focus on fundamentals topics such as the deity and humanity of Christ.  Keep the discussion on track by summarizing the points already discussed.  In discussions, the ADD tends to veer away and jump from one topic to another.  So pull them back to the original topic.

Help them to think.  In “correcting those who are in opposition,… [the goal is] that they may come to their senses” (v. 25).  If they misquote a verse, show them its context.  Explain how to arrive at its proper interpretation.  As an example, this paper spent much space on the right understanding of Philippians 2:6-8.  Do not pit one verse against another.  This would appear to be dodging the issue.  Challenge them to think for themselves and not just accept blindly everything that the ADD teaches them.


Conclusion


Last year the author met a believer who was an active worker of the ADD.  She became an employee of a company that holds a regular Bible study.  At first, she would join it to debate with the person who facilitates the group.  People may be asking, “Did she become a Christian because the Bible study leader gave an argument that she could not refute?” Actually she got convicted because of the way the leader lovingly responded to her attacks.  Because of that, she opened her mind and decided to accept Christ in her heart.  The ADD may not be won overnight.  But if they are led to rethink their positions, a foothold is gained. It is the prayer of the author that “God… will grant them repentance” (2 Tim 2:25).


© 2012 Bible Exposé Apologetics Ministry. To know more about us, click here.



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[1]“About The Book,” Ang Dating Daan Bible Exposition Online, 9 June 2004, available from http://www.angdatingdaan.org/about/about_leav.htm; Internet; accessed 10 August 2005.

[2]“About This Site,” Ang Dating Daan Bible Exposition Online, 15 June 2004, available from http://www.angdatingdaan.org/about/about_us.htm; Internet; accessed 10 August 2005.

[3]Unless otherwise specified, Scripture references are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[4]“Our Presiding Minister,” Ang Dating Daan Bible Exposition Online, 2004, available from http://angdatingdaan.org/about/about_ministers.htm; Internet; accessed 18 January 2006.

[5]Jet Damazo, “Ang Dating Daan: An Unbeaten Path,” Newsbreak, 15 April 2002,  available from http://www.inq7.net/nwsbrk/2002/apr/15/nbk_3-1.htm;  Internet;  accessed 6 August 2005.

[6]“Biblical Topics,” Ang Dating Daan Bible Exposition Online, 2004, available from http://www.angdatingdaan.org/biblicaltopics/bibtopics.htm; Internet; accessed 18 January 2006.

[7]Although we should do another study about what Soriano really teaches about the deity of Christ.  Soriano teaches that Jesus is a Mighty God but not the Almighty God.  It appears that he fell for the same error of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, another cult group.

[8]Eliseo Soriano, “How the ‘Iglesia ni Cristo’ made our Lord Jesus Christ a Man,” Ang Dating Daan Bible Exposition Online, 11 July 2004, available from http://www.angdatingdaan.org/segments/seg_incm_1_pf.htm; Internet; accessed 6 August 2005.

[9]Ibid.

[10]Eli Soriano, “Should the Bible be interpreted?” Bible Guide, 11 July 2004, available from http://www.kaanib.net/bible/bible_study.html; Internet; accessed 6 August 2005.

[11]James W. Sire, Scripture Twisting (IL: InterVarsity, 1980), 52.

[12]Alva J. McClain, “The Doctrine of Kenosis in Philippians 2:5-8,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9/1 (Spring 1998): 90.

[13]Soriano, “How the ‘Iglesia ni Cristo’ made our Lord Jesus Christ a Man.” Note that by calling Jesus “a god,” Soriano appears to subscribe to polytheism or the belief in many gods.  In fact, he teaches that by appealing to verses such as Ps 82:6 and 138:1.

[14]Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology (IL: Inter-Varsity, 1981), 226.

[15] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (MI: Zondervan, 1994), 540.

[16]Ibid.

[17]“There is something that God cannot do,” Ang Dating Daan Bible Exposition Online, 2004, available from http://angdatingdaan.org/biblicaltopics/bib_issues_13_pf.htm; Internet; accessed 17 January 2006.

 18]Ibid.

[19]Grudem, 216.

[20]“Our Presiding Minister,” Ang Dating Daan Bible Exposition Online, 2004, available from http://www.angdatingdaan.org/about/about_ministers.htm; Internet; accessed 18 January 2006.

[21]“Super Preacher In Our Times,” The Old Path Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2005, available from http://angdatingdaan.org/publications/pub_top_2b.htm; Internet; accessed 18 January 2006. 

[22]Cults 101. 

[23]Ibid. 

[24]“Church History,” Ang Dating Daan Bible Exposition Online, 2004, available from http://www.angdatingdaan.org/about/about_chistory.htm; Internet; accessed 18 January 2006.

[25]“Leaving Behind the Fundamental Doctrines of Christ: Chapter One: Faith in Christ,” Ang Dating Daan Bible Exposition Online, 2004, available from http://www.angdatingdaan.org/about/about_leav_1_pf.htm; Internet; accessed 18 August 2005.

[26]Ibid.

[27]American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000, available from http://www.bartleby.com/61/90/P0209000.html; Internet; accessed 27 January 2006.

[28]Eliseo Soriano, “The Jesus and Christ of the Bible is not God, the Father,” Ang Dating Daan Bible Exposition Online, 2004, available from http://angdatingdaan.org/biblicaltopics/bib_christ_1_pf.htm; Internet; accessed 19 January 2006.

[29]Steve Brown, How To Talk So People Will Listen (Phil: OMF, 1993), 104.

[30]Manfred Waldemar Kohl, The Church in the Philippines: A Research Project with Special Emphasis on Theological Education (Phil: OMF, 2005), 19.

[31]Ibid, 19.

[32]Super Preacher in our Times. 
http://bibleexpose.blogspot.com/2012/07/making-sense-of-ang-dating-daan.html