“One New Man” of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) and the “Mystical Body of Christ” of the Catholic Church
August 27, 2009 10 Comments
The essay that Iglesia ni Cristo is the One New Man in Ephesians (2:15) is indiscriminately scattered throughout the blogosphere in comments to posts, and even this blog was not spared. Someone posted it as a comment (dated 13 Aug 2009) to my post entitled, “Is Iglesia ni Cristo the Church of Christ?” The essay starts with the following paragraph:
I don’t know if you already heard about the onenewman created in Christ Himself from two. Actually, I heard of it for the first time when I attended a Bible Exposition held in Cebu City by the Church of Christ (Filipino: Iglesia Ni Cristo). I never heard about it during my days in the Roman Catholic Church eventhough I actively performed my duties as the Sacristan Mayor of the Parish of San Agustin, Diocese of Surigao Del Sur. And this teaching is not just a teaching of the Ministers of the Church of Christ but it is the teaching of the Apostles as written on the Holy Bible.
Here is my reply:
REPLY TO ONE NEW MAN
The One New Man, I hope you won’t mind if I shall call you Sacristan Mayor. For three reasons: (1) We shall be talking about the One New Man, and we do not wish to confuse it with you, (2) the name Sacristan Mayor adds more weight to your testimony because it conveys that you were indeed a former Sacristan Mayor in the Roman Catholic church, and (3) a person who was baptized by a Roman Catholic priest “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19) becomes truly an adopted son of God, true heir of God’s Kingdom, and this sonship can never be removed even if, like in the story of Prodigal Son, you squandered your properties and left your Father’s house for the allurements of novel teachings of INC and have yourself rebaptized.
1. Sacristan Mayor, in order to understand the meaning of the “two” in “one new man from the two” in Ephesians (2:15), you don’t have to go to Colossians (1:18). You just look at the verses before what you quoted and you will see that what Paul refers by “two” are Gentiles and Jews:
“Therefore, remember that at one time you, Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by those called the circumcision, which is done in the flesh by human hands, were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph 2:11-13)
Through Baptism we became neither Gentiles nor Jews but Christians:
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:27-29)
2. Christians form the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ with Christ as its head (c.f. Col 1:18) Christ said to Paul in his conversion, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). Thus, when Paul persecutes the Christians, he is persecuting Christ himself. Similarly, Christ said: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” This is the Catholic doctrine of the Church as Christ’s Mystical Body. So what INC calls as One New Man is actually Christ’s Mystical Body in the Catholic sense. What INC teaches is not new; it is an old Catholic doctrine that sadly you were not taught, even if you were serving as sacristan mayor.
3. Since the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ and Christ said that “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6), then it follows that
“Outside the Church there is no salvation.” (Extra Ecclessiam nulla salus)
This is a Catholic doctrine which INC also misappropriates to itself. Concerning this doctrine the Catechism says:
“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Art. 846)
But unlike INC, the Church also teaches that some of those outside the Church may be saved:
“Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience–those too may achieve eternal salvation.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Art. 847)
“God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments” (Catechism Art. 1257). But this does not prevent the Church from preaching the Good News:
“Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Art. 848)