*** Go to Tagalog original
This is actually not a new topic but came to the forefront recently because of renewed campaigns for Silent Defenders to leave the Church. Right smack dab in the middle of the controversy are posts made by Liezl Diaz Deocampo (aka “Nina Agila”), rumored paramour of Lowell Menorca II. AE immediately sprang to her defense after a much senior Defender Minister Jun Samson sounded alarm bells over her unrelenting posts goading those who are still inside the Church to “come out”.
(Note that we no longer address them as “Brother” or “Sister”. Thanks to an observant reader who pointed this out. It was purely out of habit that we did so in our introductory article but she is quite right. We are no longer bound to them by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and since we are not related to them in the flesh, we can drop the Brother/Sister address whenever we refer to them.)
The Posts that sparked recent controversy
Let us review these series of posts by Liezl:
- https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10210863474687730&id=1377794215 – “Come out and free yourselves from bondage.”
- https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10210511955939981&id=1377794215 – “It’s also time for the silent ones to come out…”
- https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10210490646007246&id=1377794215 – “It’s time for us to leave the OWE Church behind…”.
- https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10209794395761425&id=1377794215 – “Calling upon all Silent Defenders. Until when are you going to be silent!? Now is the time to prove our conviction”
The October 21st post was what elicited this frantic response from Jun Samson (“Junsam”) in http://defendingthetruth.info/who-is-the-leader-of-defenders/huwag-tayong-pumayag-na-maligaw-tagalog/let-us-not-be-deceived/.
Junsam had every right to feel alarmed and to call out Liezl’s misguided, reckless and irresponsible posts. It wasn’t enough that she had led her family down a path of destruction, she also wants others to join them as they march down toward an inevitably tragic end. We shall look more closely at Junsam’s appropriately cutting response in later sections of this article.
Let us get this one thing out of the way first as this has been a source of perplexity among AE’s followers and is often whispered about in various Defender circles.
O AE, AE… thou art a Master of Contradiction and Obfuscation
Junsam’s article created a ruckus among Defenders as he fiercely attacked Liezl’s post. Lowell, apparently without much thought, jumped inside the ring and rose to her “defense” if one can call it that. But his post was more form rather than substance.
In general, Lowell’s FB posts and blog articles of late leave Defenders befuddled about his real stance, those aligned with him included. (Note that we are using the words “AE” and “Lowell” interchangeably since the former is just a pseudonym used by the latter. Lowell, there is no point in denying this as there are many people who can, and will attest to this fact, in court, if necessary.)
Let us begin by examining Lowell’s post in:
- First, he declares: “There is nothing doctrinally wrong with Sis. Liezl Diaz Deocampo’s post” but stops short of explaining what makes her posts doctrinally sound. This pronouncement was immediately followed by a series of poorly disguised insults such as calling unnamed individuals as judgmental, of having a “personal agenda”, or possessing, essentially, poor intellect for being unable “to discern right from wrong”, and finally, being influenced by a “mob mentality”. Please… when we run out of a good argument, let us not resort to insulting language. As Socrates once said:
“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”
- He then states this: “The only separation we are advocating is the separation from evil works and evildoers, unfortunately, they can be seen inside the OWE Church nowadays.”Lowell, do tell us – how on earth can this sentence possibly explain a post, actually, several posts, asking the Silent Defenders to “come out” and “leave the OWE Church”? What exactly is this abstract, nonexistent “OWE Church”? (Note the proper noun reference in both his and Liezl’s posts.) There is no “OWE Church” registered anywhere in the world headed by Bro. Eduardo. So where exactly are the Silent Defenders supposed to separate from??? Unless you’re adopting the “If you can’t convince them, confuse them” strategy, it might be best if you were to speak plainly for the benefit of those like us who may be under-utilizing our intellect.In as far as we’re concerned though, THERE IS ONLY ONE TRUE CHURCH that is essential for salvation. The Bible calls it IGLESIA NI CRISTO (Acts 20:28 Lamsa). If that is the Church you want the Silent Defenders to come out of, that is what you need to say. There is no sense beating around the bush. Clarify, explain and justify your stance. But be sure you have a solid, biblical foundation for your position that is NOT inconsistent with the teachings received from the Last Messenger and Bro. Eraño G. Manalo. Actually, you did not only receive this truth. At one point in your life, when you were still a regular worker in the Church, you even preached it!
- Continuing our examination of Lowell’s post. In his next sentence where he claims “the FEAR of Expulsion is the only last remaining hold of the corrupt Church Administration towards its members”, he actually gave himself away. If this is the fear he wants the Defenders who are still in the Church to overcome, then we are correct in that he is, in fact, egging them on to get expelled. That would be in line with his prior campaign back in April/May. Our questions, then and now, to Lowell are these: WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?? Is it your belief that the IGLESIA NI CRISTO, God’s last work of salvation in these last days, is now apostatized? Is this why you want His nation to come out???
- What’s confusing is, in AE’s article entitled “Is the present Church of Christ now apostatized?” https://incsilentnomore.com/2016/07/01/the-present-church-of-christ-is-now-apostatized/, he wrote: “Apostasy is now creeping from within but it will not succeed because the truth will prevail.” So Lowell, if this is still your current belief that the Church is NOT and WILL NOT BE APOSTATIZED, what scriptural basis supports your stance of asking Silent Defenders to leave the Iglesia ni Cristo which God will save? And is this in keeping with the teachings of the Last Messenger and Bro. Eraño? If so, prove it. If you have any old lessons prepared by either the Last Messenger or Bro. Eraño, or a video of their preaching, or lecture asking those who are already inside the Iglesia ni Cristo to leave the Church, please, by all means, share them!
- In the “Declaration of Loyalty to God” letter which Lowell enticed Defenders to sign and is the subject of his article https://incsilentnomore.com/2016/05/01/april-30-2016-on-this-day-we-declare-and-re-affirm-our-loyalty-to-god/, he made no claim of apostasy either. So once again, Lowell, do clarify. Have you since had a change of heart? If you are now of the opinion that the Iglesia ni Cristo has become apostatized, hence, your renewed eagerness to support calls for the Silent to come out, then do explain how that belief doesn’t run counter to biblical prophecy and teachings received from the Last Messenger and from Bro. Eraño. Make your stance clear. This way, Defenders can reassess their current predicament and hopefully, make smart decisions about their future.So far, all you’ve managed to do is confuse Defenders. You went from declaring: “I will not encourage anyone not to worship, or not give regular or special offering, or Aid to Humanity contributions” https://incsilentnomore.com/2015/04/27/let-me-make-myself-clear/ to aggressively campaigning for Silent Defenders to leave the Church! No matter how small your camp has shrunk, your people still deserve to know. Right now, they openly disagree with each other, and even when they appear to agree, there are slight variations in their respective versions. And this is just your small group! Never mind what the Defender in larger circles are saying.
- As for this “Let us not overreact to whatever we see on social media but instead, let us practice what we preach, according to the doctrines that we have received.” and this “Let us all observe self-restraint and spiritual maturity in everything that we do”, we say “Amen!”. And we say this with all sarcasm. Let’s practice what we preach, shall we? No exception. Let us not be hypocrites.
“Let us not be deceived” – an article by Junsam
Junsam’s writing prowess once again manifested itself in this article http://defendingthetruth.info/who-is-the-leader-of-defenders/huwag-tayong-pumayag-na-maligaw-tagalog/let-us-not-be-deceived/. We laud him for taking this issue to social media because so many have been deceived by FB and blog posts made by some Defender camps especially that led by Lowell and his underlings.
(Incidentally, there are those who claim that it is Liezl who now leads the group with Lowell/AE downgraded to a mere figurehead. Regardless who’s the puppet or puppeteer, in this article, we have consistently referred to this circle as Lowell’s group or camp. After all, it was he who started it. We can always adjust it later, if need be.)
In spite of the waning support for its leader, Lowell’s camp continues to be the loudest and most active in social media. It is for this reason that we spend a lot of time talking about AE/Lowell in this blog — to give those who bought into his deceit a chance to think things over and turn around.
Agreement on Major Points
For the most part, we agree with the points Junsam made in his article, specifically:
- “Their long cry for Church restoration has become separation from the Church.”
- “The premise they use to justify their action is extremely faulty, unscriptural and dangerous. Faulty, because the abomination of the OWE ministers and members does not necessarily render the only true Church false.“
- “Indeed, many church leaders, ministers and members are untrue and their works are abominable, but the Church which is Christ’s body remains true and clean in the sight of God having been cleansed by Christ’s blood.“
- “What this group claim that the whole Church has been turned away from God is “unscriptural” because it goes against the doctrine of God taught by God’s last messenger, Brother Felix Y. Manalo and by Brother Eraño G. Manalo.“
- “It is written in the prophecies that the Iglesia Ni Cristo is the third group or the last of the three groups (no more 4th group) that will comprise the whole Church, thus, it will last until Judgment Day and will no longer be turned away (Zech. 13:7-9; Acts 2:39; Rev. 14:12-15).“
- “To all “silent defenders,” we do not enjoin you to separate from the Church but to defend it by means of standing by what is right and to never follow instructions from evil ministers that go against the true doctrines we have received.”
- “…we should never allow our actions to lead us to separation or to establishment of a separate Church”
Indeed, our Lord Jesus Christ himself proclaimed that only those who endure until the end will be saved. (Mat. 24:13) This is why Bro. Eraño tirelessly exhorted the BRETHREN TO REMAIN INSIDE THE CHURCH. Listen to Bro. Eraño’s preaching (from Shield of Faith’s video) Take note of his admonition: “Whatever happens, remain in the Church.” He said: “Whatever happens...”, in other words, absolute, without exception! No matter what, do NOT leave the Church! He didn’t say “You may leave the Church if you notice something not to your liking.” Why is that? Because the teaching is clear: In these last days, only one Church (singular, not plural) is the key to salvation and that is the Iglesia ni Cristo. Where else would we go when there is no salvation outside His body (Efe. 2:12; I Cor. 5:12-13)?
Point of Dissension with Junsam
Where we strenuously object to Junsam’s article is when he departs from Scripture by stating: “Believe that God allowed it to happen, however, it wasn’t Him who expelled or delisted you because it is against His law to expel those who expose the wicked and the wickedness, but only those who are evil I Cor. 5:13”.
The Executive Minister’s Divine Authority to Clean the Church Came from God
There is no question that God has always appointed a leader to lead His nation. In these last days, God’s nation is the Iglesia ni Cristo. He instituted the office of the Executive Minister to oversee this Church. The current holder of that office is Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo. Though some question the legitimacy of his ascension to office, the fact remains that it was God’s will for him to assume that position. The office of Deputy Executive Minister was created to legitimize the position of second-in-command. Bro. Eduardo was elected to that position via a unanimous vote.
In addition to being elected to the post of Deputy Executive Minister on May 6, 1994, Bro. Eduardo was named Bro. Eraño ‘s successor to ensure continuity of leadership in the event the current Executive Minister is laid to rest. Bro. Eduardo was unanimously elected to succeed Bro. Eraño by the Church Leadership and by all the District Ministers around the world. It was Bro. Eraño himself who trained and prepared Bro. Eduardo for the bigger responsibility of leading the Church one day after he (Bro. Eraño ) is gone.
We plan to cover the topic of legitimacy in greater detail in a future article but suffice it to say that Bro. Eraño did not make any contrary wishes known to the Church Council members. Instead, it was Bro. Eraño who personally handpicked each member of the Council to help train his oldest son, and to continue to assist Bro. Eduardo when the time comes for him to lead the Church.
Who is “Wicked” in God’s Sight?
Bro. Eduardo’s ascension to the office of Executive Minister was acknowledged and respected by both Lowell and Junsam when they were still in the Church. They both taught and declared to the congregation that as Executive Minister, Bro. Eduardo alone was granted the wisdom and divine authority to recognize and expel “the wicked” from among the members so as not to infect the rest of God’s Nation. Lowell and Junsam both preached this when they were still in the ministry! Yet that didn’t stop either one from taking public their personal grievances against the Executive Minister and his Council. Lowell even sued Bro. Eduardo in court! Instead of trusting in God, drawn to the limelight, both Lowell and Junsam went to the media to lay bare to the public what should have been a private Church matter. Both openly sided with Bro. Eduardo’s expelled siblings and mother and caused division and scandal in the Church.
How can they then claim that their expulsion (as well as those of their supporters and other defenders who erred in a similar manner) are “unjustified” in the eyes of the Lord? It was the wickedness of their actions that got them expelled. The Bible is rife with examples of what befell those who rebelled against leaders God himself placed to lead His nation. (Numbers 12:1-12; 16:1-35)
Even granting, for argument’s sake, that a mistake was made in some cases, it is something for God to correct and not man. It does not give anyone the right to disobey, shame or question the Executive Minister. Lowell knows this as he boldly stated in https://incsilentnomore.com/2015/05/13/first-things-first-antonio-ebangelistas-qa/ #8 (translated from Tagalog):
“…we are of one faith that Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo is who our Lord God appointed to lead His Nation and we need to subject ourselves to him. No one has the right to question the Church administrator other than our Lord God to whom he is directly accountable. And that is my firm stand, back then until the present time… If our Lord God has allowed all these things to pass in order to purify the Church, our Lord God will move the Executive Minister so that His will shall be done at the right time and manner in accordance to His will.”
It is quite obvious that Lowell turned his back on these words (which he uttered early on and were believed by Defenders like us) after he was hooked by fame and had gotten used to living off of the financial support of his following. His pronouncements and actions of late are characterized by excessive conceit, haughtiness and pretentiousness while openly mocking and insulting the Executive Minister whom he feels superior to! It might also be the case that even from the start, he had planned to deceive the members of the Church but hid his real motives behind his outward but superficial sympathy for the Executive Minister, in order to attract members to his side!
A Word of Advise to those who were Deceived
To Defenders who have been expelled for uniting with deceitful leaders, we have an opportunity here to turn back and repent. Our God is a forgiving God. If we fervently pray to God, humbly acknowledge our sins, ask for another chance, and with contrite heart, seek reinstatement from the Church Administration with a solemn promise that we shall never ever shun our election for as long as we live, then there is still hope for us. Even if our petition may not be granted right away due to the gravity of our sins, we just have to keep on praying as we wait patiently for that day when we can return to the fold and become worthy of God’s grace once again. We thank the Lord for his continuing guidance especially to those among us who have started the process to be reinstated.
To former Silent Defenders who are still in the Church, we hope this blog will edify you further so that you may never again be misled by deceivers. Let us all continue to be strong in the faith, put our trust in the Lord God and be obedient to the Administration.
Finally, here is an inspiring message from Bro. Eraño, filled with affection and encouragement especially for those like us who were once lost but who are looking to find our way back. May the Father’s blessings be upon us all!