Hope you enjoyed Part One of Ben Douglas exposition of Eli Soriano and the MCGI cult. Below is Part Two;
III. The Bible Predicted Me, and God Himself Teaches Me
The Lord hath not sent thee, and thou hast made this people to trust in a lie (Jeremiah 28:15).
As noted above, Soriano claims to be the only sincere evangelist. Everyone else, besides his underlings, is a charlatan, according to him. Naturally, he also claims that he has been predicted by Scripture, specifically Ecclesiastes 9:15. He is, as he styles himself, the poor wise man who saved his city from destruction. Again, this is erroneous; it is simply another manifestation of Soriano’s utter incompetence to interpret Scripture, for in Ecclesiastes 9:15, Solomon is not predicting anything, but simply illustrating a principle (i.e., that wisdom is better than strength, even though it is accounted as less in the eyes of the world), by relating an event from the past. A poor and wise man saved his city from being destroyed by the army of a great King, but afterwards no one remembered his name. This may be a parable, or it may refer to a real event (Scripture records similar occurrences in Judg 9:52-55; 2 Sam 20:14-22). But in either case, it is narrated as an event which was completed in the past.
Moreover, Soriano has yet to turn aside any armies or save any cities, and given the way he dresses, he clearly is not poor, and given the way he preaches, neither is he wise. Finally, the poor wise man’s name was forgotten in obscurity, but Soriano’s fame is only growing. Indeed, his great ambition is that “before I die… all people from the different parts of the world would be able to hear me as I preach the Gospel of Christ.”13 He should have realized, if he wanted to claim Ecclesiastes 9:15 for himself, that he would have to avoid professing ambitions to everlasting world renown. Clearly, if he were to preach his gospel to the entire world, his name would not be universally forgotten. In sum, no passage of Scripture refers directly to Mr. Soriano. He is simply one of the many false prophets contributing to the great apostasy predicted thereby.
Soriano’s arguments, while perhaps impressive on the surface, fall apart upon deeper analysis. But he impedes his followers from discovering this by forbiding them to interpret the Bible. Indeed, in an article aptly titled, “Should the Bible Be Interpreted” he declares “it is not correct for us to interpret the Bible! God did not give anybody the right to interpret the Bible! And nobody can claim, not even a person with a Bachelor’s degree, like Law for instance, that he can explain the Bible, even if he follow the principles of hermeneutics or the formal study of methods of interpretation… the only thing that we have to do is, read the Bible. Do not interpret it.” He then quotes Romans 16:25-26 and Colossians 1:24-26 and concludes “Now, can anybody claim that, God left a certain mystery unexplained for these pastors to clarify and interpret themselves? Doing this is a clear act of deception.”14 Next, he further pronounces that “The Bible should no longer be explained by man inasmuch as the Bible already explains itself.”15
On this point, Mr. Soriano is clearly inconsistent with his own rule. As the reader has probably already noted, and will continue to note throughout this essay, Soriano’s arguments generally rest on tenuous, dubious, and even outright erroneous and incompetent interpretations of Scripture. We will see again and again that Soriano breaks his own rule and interprets the Bible, and does a poor job of it at that.
And of course, the idea that the Bible is so clear that no one needs to interpret it is itself unbiblical. 2 Peter 3:16 says, “As also in all [Paul’s] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.” The Bible contains many things that are “hard to be understood,” mysteries which need to be explained, a clear refutation of what Soriano states above. One would think, then, that Soriano would avoid this passage. However, he does not, for in a later article Soriano teaches that yes, the Bible does need to be interpreted after all. He quotes 2 Peter 3:16, then states:
We really should know how to use the bible. We should not perceive it as something so simple that anybody can readily interpret. In fact, it is the opposite! The Bible is not a plain as it may seem to be. The Holy Scriptures has the highest degree and the utmost quality of words and wisdom any book could offer that a man can read in his lifetime…. The Bible is unique and more special than any other book essential to our salvation. Hence, not anybody can just stand up and explain, elucidate, or even interpret the words of the Almighty Himself!16 He is here developing a self-contradiction which will be consummated in future articles. But I will make a brief digression first. Soriano illustrates his point with an example:
In Psalms 22:6, the one who is speaking is supposedly ‘…a worm, not man. Reproached of men, and despised of people.’
Continuing in verse 16 and 18, this so-called ‘worm’ said that: ‘…dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me… For they pierced my hands and my feet, they part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.’ These descriptions fit very well to our Lord Jesus Christ because Christ experienced all these at the time of His crucifixion and death. Therefore we can safely say that Jesus Christ, as He himself said, is ‘a worm, not man;’ but, in John 8:40, Jesus said to the Pharisees that He is ‘a man hath told you the truth’. Still, in 1 John 5:20, it says that, ‘Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life.’ Here, we are faced with the dilemma of distinguishing the real nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. Is He a worm, a man, or a God? This is one of the greatest debates in the religious world; but how can we, in our humble being, be able to understand this seemingly complicated issue? Is it possible for us, human beings, to comprehend complexities such as these?17
Indeed, Mr. Soriano, that is why Jesus established a Church against which the gates of hell would not prevail (Matt 16:18), and promised to be with her “all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Matt 28:20), to send her the “Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever: The spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17) who, when He comes, “will teach you all truth” (John 16:13). That is why he told his apostles, “He that heareth you, heareth me” (Luke 10:16) and why the apostles appointed successors to perpetuate their ministry for future generations (cf. 1 Tim 5:19-22; 2 Tim 4:2-5; Tit 1:5; 2:1, 15). For although almost anyone could see that Psalm 22:6 is using a metaphor, not literally saying that Jesus is a worm, it did indeed take divine guidance to bring humanity to a proper understanding of the hypostatic union, the union of the divine and human natures in the single person of Jesus Christ. God guided the successors of the apostles, the bishops of the early Catholic Church, men like St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Athanasius of Alexandria, to explain to their flocks the mystery of the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, true God, as the true man Jesus Christ, and this understanding, received from the apostles and transmitted and developed by the same bishops of the early Catholic Church, was finally codified at Catholic ecumenical Councils such as Nicaea and Chalcedon. Christendom has never been without authentic Christian teachers, the successors of the apostles.
But no, Soriano would have his followers believe that Christ abandoned his Church, and that for almost 2000 years there were no “sincere evangelists” who faithfully taught apostolic doctrine, or, rather, he would have them believe that these evangelists existed but there is simply no historical record of them because the mean old Catholic Church covered it up. How convenient. Incidentally, this is the same logic that Dan Brown uses in The Da Vinci Code to argue that Jesus was a mere man who taught peace and worshiped the sacred feminine. Once one decides to reject the entire historical record as a forgery written by power hungry men, one is free to project a narrative onto the past which is in reality one’s own personal creation. This is how Soriano convinces his followers to believe that his doctrines, so foreign to Christian history, actually represent authentic apostolic teaching.
Let’s return to the developing contradiction. Soriano concludes this article by relating the means of properly interpreting the Bible. First, one must have the Spirit of God, which requires one to fear the Lord and keep His commandments. He reconciles his statements thus far with his dictum that no man may interpret the Bible by insisting that the Bible interprets itself, and that if one has the Spirit of God and searches the Scriptures diligently, one will find the explanation of the passage one does not understand in some other passage somewhere else.
Incidentally, he further insists that one must not refer to any book besides the Bible itself in the endeavor of Biblical interpretation, and that anyone who does so is flirting with damnation (I suppose he would except his own sermons and his “book” (I put “book” in quotation marks because I printed it on 16 pages of 8-1/2 x 11 inch paper) Leaving Behind the Fundamental Doctrines of Christ. Sure, it’s alright to refer to those writings in order to understand the Bible). This is absurd. Tremendous insights can be gained into biblical interpretation through historical, grammatical, and linguistic analysis, and this often requires reference to non-biblical literature. Try figuring out what archegos means, for instance, without referring to extra-biblical Greek writings (it is used only once in the entire New Testament: in Hebrews 12:2). Archeology and geography also throw light on much of what is obscure in Holy Scripture. Finally, the Church Fathers, who held on to the traditions which they received from the apostles (2 Thess 2:15), which included the proper understanding of many passages of Scripture, likewise provide for us a sure guide for understanding God’s Word.
But Soriano would cut off his flock from these tools, and from education in the methods of biblical exegesis, and leave them adrift all by themselves to try to interpret these ancient texts, written in a language and culture far removed from their own, and expect them to just be able to read and understand. And naturally, they will fail. Without knowing the first thing about Greek and Hebrew exegesis, and being ignorant of the Church’s theology of things like salvation, the Trinity, and the hypostatic union, they will simply be unable to understand these deeply complex texts. Then, they will have to turn to Bro. Eli. This is where his self-contradiction reaches its consummation. The following is from an article entitled “Three Colors of Death Green & White & Red” in Soriano’s Old Path Magazine:
“Firstly, parables, as parables, were not meant to be understood by most people… Secondly, Jesus used minute details which were intended to hide the truth of the text from the non-spiritual, but to reveal truth to God’s people… Thirdly, symbols (such as the woman, merchant man, wind, angel, dove, water, fire, and others) frequently appear in texts of the Bible.
All of these show the need for a teacher who has the Spirit of God so that one may understand the Word of God. Nothing less would be able to lead one to truth and guide one until the end.
And God is faithful that he would not leave his people alone without one. Fortunate, indeed, is one who has found that true preacher.
As attested to by many, God is really with Bro. Eli Soriano. He is remarkably an extraordinary individual unschooled by the world’s standards but unbeatable in biblical matters. He can see what others do not and has the understanding of the Word of God not found in anyone even among sages. And for that, how blessed is the Philippines! …It is then no surprise that he claims he is being taught by God which explains his deep understanding of God’s Word and the revelations given to him… Anyone thirsting for the knowledge of God would make sure he is in the right path the Old Path. And if you truly care for truth, you must make sure you are being led by someone with an understanding given by God, and teaching things of God like a spring that never runs dry.18″
There is more of the same in articles entitled “Super-Preacher in Our Times” and “Nobody Does It Better” in the same issue:
“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 – For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.19
The irony of it all is that God has equipped the faithful preacher with full knowledge of the Bible with unmeasured Spirit, then warned him what not to do that he may finish his work, and yet allowed him to be fair game to wicked people and their evil designs. But God is faithful, this mysterious set-up may be the strength of God’s design in preserving His nation through His Faithful preacher – one whom none can beat in unlocking the mysteries of the Bible…
As Bro. Eli preaches, he makes distinctions between quantity of the word, its quality, its direction, time, construction of meaning, and extent of meaning. He goes as far as explaining the source and the intended receiver to place the message in proper context… Truly, none can compare with the understanding that Bro. Eli has that symbolisms in the Bible are effectively expounded to his congregation and to his hearers in bible expositions. While he has not formally studied so-called hermeneutics that are the fare of secular schools, his level of understanding shows an awesome depth that each topic – unheard of before from all corners of this world – is as valuable as his next topic would be. Indeed, Bro. Eli preaches faithfully. Foremost, he unlocks mysteries from the Word of God like nobody. The faithful one whom God has assigned would do his task God’s way like Bro. Eli.20
Now Soriano’s true colors come out. Before, anyone who feared the Lord and patiently worked at it could interpret the Bible. Now, only he can. Before, “God did not give anybody the right to interpret the Bible!” Now, Soriano is divinely commissioned to interpret the Bible. Before, he asked “can anybody claim that, God left a certain mystery unexplained for these pastors to clarify and interpret themselves? Doing this is a clear act of deception.” Now, he is “unlocking the mysteries of the Bible” for his flock who eagerly lap up every word that falls from his lips. The contradiction could hardly be clearer. Now I am eagerly awaiting Mr. Soriano’s admission that, in addition to his group not being a true church, he has also perpetrated “a clear act of deception” on his poor unfortunate followers. For he has left them utterly dependent on him to learn anything at all about Sacred Scripture. Indeed, how dare they question he who is receiving direct revelation from God. How dare they think to read what competent Bible scholars and exegetes have to say about Sacred Scripture! Soriano is the only faithful preacher! All who oppose him are charlatans!”
Do not listen to this man. He is incompetent to interpret the Bible, and he contradicts himself. This alone should be enough to disqualify him in the eyes of any Christian who would diligently “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). But if that still is not enough, let us examine his repeated appeals to his allegedly exemplary character as proof of his divine commission. Let us even grant that what he says about his life is true. Even so, do not the Catholic saints far exceed him in holiness, sacrifice, labor, and love?
Has he stared down a barbarian at the head of an army of the same, as St. Leo the Great did? Did he resist a threat to be boiled in oil when he was but nine years of age, as the Fatima children did? Has he reduced his sleep to three hours a night to attend to the spiritual needs of his children, as St. Pio did? Until he has, he cannot claim the holiness of his life as a reason why anyone should embrace his doctrine instead of the doctrine of the Catholic Church. In sum, to all followers of this old path, I want you to know that Soriano is not the only one who loves you. The Catholic Church loves you, and wants you back. Moreover, she will welcome you back with open arms.
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