The official name of this group is the Members Church of God International. It is also often referred to as Ang Dating Daan (ADD), which translates as “The Old Path,” the name of its international TV broadcast. Members are sometimes called ADD after the broadcast name.
The roots of the church are found in an indigenous Filipino church known as the Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan (Church of God in Christ Jesus, Pillar and Support of the Truth) which was started in 1928 by Nicolas Antiporda Perez, the first Presiding Minister. Perez led the church until his death in 1975. The leadership then passed to the only ordained minister in the church, Eliseo Soriano. Soriano reformed the church in 1980 as the Mga Kaanib Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus Haligi at Saligan ng Katotohanan sa Bansang Pilipinas (Members Church of God in Christ Jesus the Pillar and Ground of the Truth in the Philippines). Under Perez the church consisted of a single local congregation of about 100 members. Under the leadership of Soriano, the church has grown into an international organization. The church now has over 5000 local congregations in the Philippines, and can be found in about 100 other countries. Some estimate that there may be as many as one million members worldwide.
Pastor Eli (as Soriano is popularly known) initially spread his message through preaching tours. However, in late 1980 he launched the radio broadcast of The Old Path (Ang Dating Daan). It was this broadcast that caused the movement to spread throughout the Philippines and then internationally. The first church outside the Philippine islands was established in Hong Kong in the 1990’s. Another vehicle for church growth has been the Bible Expositions. These consist of a question and answer session with church leaders—first Soriano, and then later Vice Presiding Minister. These have developed into an international outreach of the church.
Unlike many cults, there are not many written documents available to assess their doctrine. Their beliefs are presented via the radio and TV broadcasts of Pastor Eli. However, by hearing Soriano speak you can get the gist of his belief system. Eli Soriano has an unusual twist on many essential Christian doctrines. He asserts belief in the Trinity, but it is not the Triune God of the Bible. For Soriano only God the Father is the Almighty God. Jesus is a Mighty God, but is lower in rank and power than the Son. The Holy Spirit is a further step down from the Father and the Son. The God of Holy Scripture is all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere. However, Soriano insists that God is not omnipotent, does not know all things, and is not present everywhere (for example, He is not present in hell).
Soriano asserts that the Members Church of God International is the only true church, and the only church teaching true doctrine. Only members of this body are saved and will go to heaven. To become a member of the MCOGI one must be baptized in water by immersion in this church. Baptism follows an intense indoctrination into the beliefs and practices of the church. Also, there is a strong emphasis on works—with it being stated that only those who obey completely the commands of the New Testament will be allowed to enter heaven. Further, there are two distinct types of salvation. Salvation for the Jews was accomplished by Jesus on the cross. Salvation for Christians will only be accomplished at the Second Coming and the resurrection.
This church seems to believe in a form of “soul sleep.” They teach that the soul of man consists of the spirit/breath and the body. When a person dies, the spirit is kept in the care of God, and will be reunited with the reformed body in the resurrection.
Soriano asserts that he and his church have a very special role in God’s plan. The establishment of this church is a direct fulfillment of prophecy, as found in Zechariah 8:3 and Isaiah 24:15. The “islands of the sea” referred to in Isaiah is the Philippine archipelago. Soriano also believes that he is the “Sent One,” a special prophetic emissary of God. As such, only he can accurately interpret and teach the Bible.
This indigenous Philipino church has been a concern in the Philippines for many years. However, through television and the internet, Soriano’s false doctrines are finding an audience globally. This is a group to be aware of, and avoided. If you know someone in this church, pray for them, and seek opportunities to share the true Gospel with them.
Summary of Beliefs
God: There is one God, who exists as three powers. However, these three powers are not equal in position or power.
Jesus: They believe that Jesus is a mighty God, but not the Almighty God.
Salvation: They believe in salvation through grace and obedience to the New Testament. Also, only those who are members of this church are saved. Water baptism is also required.
Human nature: The soul of man consists of his spirit/breath and body.
Sin: It is uncertain whether they believe in original sin.
Afterlife: At the resurrection, the soul is reformed by God.
Scripture: The Bible is authoritative, but only as interpreted by Pastor Eli Soriano.
Truth: Absolute and Bible-based, but as interpreted by the church.