Cult, for so long a time, has been confined to mean a pessimistic and underground religious movement. Thus this description, which has eventually turned into a semi-permanent belief, brought to mind a flood of ghastly images of unorthodox rituals: men veiled in black or white priest-like garbs, with heads covered by a pointy hat having only two small openings for the eyes; hair-raising voices muttering a mysterious language before an altar decked and draped with melting candles, skulls, bones, and blood of a sacrifice; and on the wall facing the altar, an emblem of the brotherhood – all these the typical iconic images of a cult’s ceremony in progress.
On the other hand, if a close examination of the term ‘cult’ will be made, a different perspective will be held. The true meaning of cult is not what many people believe and popularize it to be.
According to http://www.etymonline.com/, cult means any of the following: “worship” or “particular form of worship.” It is derived from the Latin cultus which means “care; labor; cultivation; culture; worship; reverence; to worship or give reference to a deity.”
In this regard, if being a cult is what most people think of Members Church of God International (MCGI) to be, and Presiding Minister Brother Eli Soriano a cult leader, the question is – which description of a cult fits MCGI?
This question is for you to answer. But let us help you make a decision by considering these circumstances.
MCGI is a non-profit, recognized organization duly registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the Philippines. It means that the Philippine Government acknowledges the presence of MCGI, and its registration records can be accessed and verified.
This privilege grants MCGI to conduct activities without getting apprehended by law. It is what makes MCGI work continuously on evangelization and charity activities in the Philippines and in other parts of the world. Visit http://www.mcgi.org/about/charities/ and http://www.mcgi.org/broadcasts/ to see and read more of the Organization’s documented charity and evangelism events.
As MCGI stretches evangelization efforts abroad, it seeks permit to operate on countries where local chapters are established. MCGI had been allowed by foreign governments to conduct charity missions, like blood donation, clean-up, and charity runs, to name a few. See again the Charities Section of www.mcgi.org for more details.
For these efforts, the Church and Bro. Eli Soriano as well, had received citations for its charitable activities and missions. Look here.
MCGI is on the Web. Internet surfers can freely visit the Church’s portal, www.mcgi.org, to find out their latest news and activities, including vital information they need to know more about the Organization.
MCGI lives within the legal norms of the society. Members worldwide submit to the laws of their country of origin. They are disciplined, law-abiding citizens, which is a part of their learning as Christians to be subject to the laws and ordinances of men, a doctrine written in I Peter 2:13 to 16 which says “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of men for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; (14) Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. (15) For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: (16) As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke [cloak] of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” (KJV) Read here to find out more about the members of the Church.
MCGI abides by the teachings and doctrines of the Bible. Brother Eli Soriano, Presiding Minister, teaches every member to faithfully heed God’s laws relevant to the time. He encourages members to think and do what is right before God. He invites them to converse on matters that involve their faith and continuance in God’s service, and listens to and accepts suggestions from members, especially if it will help the Congregation be more responsive Christians.
On a weekly basis, Bro. Eli shares biblical topics that teach, enlighten, and direct the MCGI congregation in dealing with life’s difficulties. Through it, the members become well-informed of their duties and obligations as Christians, dedicated to spiritual and social service.
In conducting religious gatherings, MCGI follows the practice of the first-century Christians. They follow what is written in I Corinthians 14:26 that says “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” (KJV) Read this section to find out more on church assemblies.
What about a cult’s supposed power to cure diseases?
MCGI believes primarily in the power of God to heal. The Church also appreciates the help of science in curing ailments. Ailing members are advised to see licensed doctors.
Through Brother Eli’s biblically-based teaching that doing good must be done to all men, MCGI initiated free medical help throughout the Philippines, like rescue/ambulance services, a polyclinic with free pharmacy and on-call physicians, and a clinic-on-wheels to address the medical needs of indigent people. Both MCGI and non-MCGI members can benefit from these services. You can read this section for articles on such services.
In addition to the facts already stated, Brother Eli explained the biblical essence of a cult. In a recent Bible Exposition this year, he said that essentially a cult is good. He cited Romans 12:1 in both Spanish and Portuguese, and identified the word culto which means “reasonable or rightful worship.”
Originally in Greek, the same word was rendered “latreia” (pronounced la-tri-ah) which means “ministration of God, which means “worship, divine service.”
The Philippine language adopts and adapts culto from the Spanish and Portuguese as kulto, and the standard definition is surprisingly contradictory to what many people think of it. In the UP Diksyunaryong Filipino (UP Filipino Dictionary), kulto means “sistema ng ritwal at tuntuning panrelihiyon (a system of rituals and religious guidelines). This is the very essence of worship described in the Bible stated in Romans 12:1.
Another definition of cult in Filipino is “may natatangi o pinong pag-uugali, pag-iisip, o panlasa (having unique or refined demeanor, thinking, or taste).” Brother Eli says there is nothing wrong to be said of in this definition.
Brother Eli analyzes that the lack of understanding of many preachers, pastors, and religious ministers caused the misinterpretation of the meaning of cult for many people.