By Jane Abao
Manila, Philippines (2/12/2019 ) – IT WAS NOT the first time these words came to him as a response, to cut him down to size: “Not of their level.” They are way up, and Soriano is way down. He is just a high school dropout; they would not forget that. At the time he was challenging a false preacher to a debate, the response was that Bro. Eli Soriano did not come up to the level of the one being challenged. Not of his level. So they say they are perfection and he blushes in his heart.
When Bro. Eli challenged Eraño Manalo, then the Executive Minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo to a debate, “Hindi ka ka-lebel” (You’re not of my level) was the answer. The latest one Bro. Eli was challenging and still challenging is Apollo Quiboloy, founder of the “Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the name above every name” who referred to his organization as “kingdom nation.”
Quiboloy claimed he is the Appointed Son of God. Accordingly, God took Quiboloy’s name and gave Quiboloy his name, purely! Therefore he and God are one! He has many other claims besides. And these claims, Bro. Eli would like to contest – for the reason that they contribute to atheism and primarily because they are built on lies and deceive so many.
Quiboloy, or PACQ as many refer to him on the Internet, is a graduate of a Bible school. To add to that, which is why he feels towering above everyone, according to his website, Quiboloy has been awarded 9 honorary doctorate degrees in 2018 alone by an accrediting organization named Royal Institution Singapore. This organization, RI Singapore, however, is not a University.
Backtracking, in the 1980’s, a rich woman who was excommunicated from the Church, tried her best to have Bro. Eli incarcerated. The case was all about money borrowed by 3 Church members from her business and Bro. Eli tried to pay with checks to settle the trouble. Add to the fact that the woman went abroad and the one receiving the checks was her daughter, the checks bounced because of the placed dates. Bro. Eli was then to be imprisoned – for 39 years! But much as the woman tried to make Bro. Eli suffer, she could not even physically take hold of him. In her derision and with all the hatred in her heart, she shouted, “Soriano, you are just a peso!”
Bro. Eli laughed. “Haha! That’s even more than what I am. One peso is 100 centavos. And I am nothing!”
It is mostly false prophets that call Bro. Eli “not of their level,” and only as an excuse not to face him in a debate. Quiboloy was more docile years before, during the times they were both airing their religious programs at Channel 13, but not now. He is way ahead with so many lies, with so many claims, that he has generated a lot of atheists.
BRO. ELI SORIANO: Let us play again the voice of Mr… our friend whom we are currently addressing, and let us listen to what he is saying so that we can continue to address it. Here he is.
PACQ: Mr. S, let me inform you that this ministry and this preacher will stand for all kinds of issues, whether spiritual, doctrinal, ethical, legal, even personal. My life is an open book. And not only am I willing to discuss in private, but even on television, like what we are doing now.
Choose the field where you want us to go into on all those issues. Even if the Lord comes, I will dedicate this program with the intention of clarifying things to our many listeners and watchers. I will dedicate this program if you are there to stand against the commandments of our Lord God, against the set of laws of man or set of laws we were brought up in, like ethics, legal, doctrinal or spiritual. Whichever of these you will go into.
While this ministry exists, this will be used by the Lord for all to be corrected in the path where the Lord wants us to walk, the path that will sanctify make one righteous, and will draw us near to Him and to His will.
BRO. ELI SORIANO: Pause it for a while, director. He challenged us. He said, “This ministry, this preacher, is ready to stand for whatever issue, whether legal, spiritual…” Et cetera, the things he said. “I am challenging you,” he said, “Not only in court, but even on television. I am challenging you on these issues.” I accept your challenge, Mr. Abuloy (collection). What do you want us to talk about? You said you can stand for legal, moral, and spiritual issues. “I will dedicate this television program if you want it on television.” Challenge accepted, Mr. Abuloy. I accept your challenge formally on the air.
Let us talk about the doctrines you are teaching. That is the most important of all. If you want us to have a discourse on television, let us combine our time slots. You have an hour-and-a-half, since our programs are aired after the other. I have an hour, that would be two-hours-and-a-half. Let us take another half hour. Let us ask the management of Channel 13 to give us three solid hours for us to have a discourse regarding your doctrine. Prove that the church you registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, your church, “The Executive Pastor of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name Administrator, Inc.” Prove that it is the true organization that is of God; I will disprove it! That group is of the devil, according to the Bible. I will prove it. Then prove that our group is wrong. Prove that our group is wrong and is of the devil. There are just two things. If you are not of God, you are of the devil. I am opposed to your group, the organization you established, even your by-laws, even the doctrines you are teaching, I oppose them. I will prove that it is not of God, it is of the devil.
This was years ago in Channel 13. Between the late 80’s and early 90’s, both Bro. Eli and Quiboloy patronized Channel 13 for their religious programs. But now Quiboloy is saying that he does not engage in debates anymore.
In response to Bro. Eli pestering him about Quiboloy’s so-called revelations, the Kingdom Nation pastor had issued in 2005 a “revelation” that Bro. Eli would be “stricken with a deadly disease that he cannot overcome.” With that, he had also warned that his followers better leave in 6 months, or else they will also suffer the preacher’s fate. It is now 2019. As it did not happen, Quiboloy was exposed as a false prophet.
Meanwhile, Quiboloy foisted “revelation after revelation” on the public, and all the more that Bro. Eli wanted to debate with him. But there are several reasons Quiboloy would give as an escape: “We are not anymore in the Church age, so there is no more need to debate.” And, “How can you debate with me? I am the truth, the way and the life!”
These recent days, there is an amount pegged as a condition: “I am expensive now. For two hours that I am speaking, $20,000,000 would have been collected.” That would be 1,040,210,000.00 Philippine Pesos (country currency rates conversion, Feb. 13, 2019), or one billion forty million two hundred ten thousand pesos, an amount that would provide a good budget for MCGI propagation programs to reach out to several millions in the world, than debate with a disillusioned false prophet who can no longer accept truth.
It is not the money though that Quiboloy had pegged to stop anyone from bothering him. Still, the challenge to him stays. One does not get paid to face anyone in a debate just like boxing is done. If you have the truth, you can stand for it. But if you are just fooling people, you simply advance so many reasons to avoid any debate – worse, face a Bro. Eli Soriano to examine you. So, even if $20,000,000 were given to you on a platter, can you defend your lies? Can you afford to be out-ed to your members? Would they want to know you have been fooling them all along – they, who have been your source of living in a honeycomb for several years?
But Quiboloy said, Bro. Eli is not of his level. “I am really nothing. It’s okay. You have Bro. Daniel Razon. He is a college graduate – of Mass Communication. And he has many awards – worldclass even. You won’t have to feel ashamed of him.” Bro. Eli was comforting the congregation.
As known in the Members Church of God International, Bro. Daniel Razon, the next-in-rank to Bro. Eli, would take after the latter, should he go. But what about the needed understanding that is Bro. Eli’s signature in preaching? It will pass on to Bro. Daniel. Whoever is leading the Church, God will give the understanding needed. That much, Bro. Eli assured.
AT AGE 15, the young Eli was enjoying discussions with his classmates about religion in the high school corridors. While the Catholics had their class inside, those of other religions were outside having their own discourses.
By age 16, he had become too attracted to the Bible while he was also a student leader loved by teachers in his school. By age 17, like a magnet, the Bible finally had him pulled off from school a few months before he could finish his third year.
But it could not be just one way. While he was being siphoned by another domain, he was being pushed off from another. Bro. Eli mentioned a teacher who was a Catholic that was being nasty – different from most of his teachers who doted on him. During his last year too, he had had a little debate with a teacher who insisted on teaching about evolution, but the young Eli believed that as untrue and should not be taught. His classmates, who were still hopeful he would one day show up in school, were soon to learn that Eli had decided to dedicate his time in the Church. There was no turning back.
With a marked brilliance, the young Church worker eventually became the one drafting the topics (paksa) for Bro. Nicolas Perez who was leading the Church at that time. Perez died in 1975 and in 1976 Bro. Eli, in his late 20’s, was leading the Church that came out of a split of three groups.
DEBATE WAS THE only way people could be forced to accept truth. As a young church worker, Bro. Eli one day found out that anyone with false claims can be challenged with a debate. With an older brother-in-faith (Bro. Reuben Canlas) leading him to Plaza Miranda, they found someone preaching on the stage with various claims that were not found in the Bible. This man was lying. Finding out that he knew even more, Bro. Eli disputed those claims of the man and took the chance to show the Bible verses. The audience accepted him and his arguments.
Precisely why Canlas was bringing him to places where there were crowds was that he knew the young fellow was mastering the Bible and he would like him to be tried and tested. This incident was followed by another, and then another, until finally, Bro. Eli was himself representing Bro. Perez in debates with pastors of other religions.
Debates peppered the life of Bro. Eli even as he became a young Church leader. Curiously, someone was doing the scheduling. But Bro. Eli, himself, did not look for these people who were to be his opponents. The debates with religions, as diverse as can be, happened like an entertainment for someone who seemed not to entirely believe in Bro. Eli. Named Emmanuel Bacosa, he owned the place in Makati where Church in that area was being held during those days. Somehow, Bro. Eli believed the fellow was being used by the Iglesia ni Cristo to prove something. Yet, Bro. Eli took the challenge to face everyone scheduled to prove his mettle. From then on, he used debates as a tool to expose false preachers – from the Philippines to foreign lands.
In the history of MCGI, whenever debates are held, Bro. Eli was always the victor. A humble figure of debates that he had summed up in the Philippines would not be less than 40. In foreign lands, however, since he left the Philippines in 2005, there is not even 10 as they come to shove each other after knowing the man better from YouTube. That he was always the victor were on account of two reasons: First, he is strong in faith. Second, that faith allowed him understanding.
BUT WHO WOULD believe Bro. Eli is just a high school dropout whom one can easily dump? “Tried and tested on stage” – that was his description, but the tide has ironically turned against him. Now, people suspect he is only saying he is a high school dropout to highlight his victories. Now, people suspect he is someone well-versed in reasoning, he must be a lawyer, and not to believe the dropout story. You hear of Law students eagerly watching how he rebuts, how he makes a defense, how he examines his opponent. Now, people think the dropout tag is only a ploy to attract unprepared pastors to face him and be exposed. In foreign lands, we learn of pastors having signed the papers but never arriving at the debate venue, even after preparations had been set and expenses were paid. The time runs, people are waiting, but nobody arrives. Why? They finally have watched Bro. Eli through the Internet how he would expose dumb pastors just with the Bible as reference. And it was not in a single debate alone that he was able to do this, but in several.
Given that there is no need to pretend what one is not, the young Eli, while leaving his high school must have taught himself so well only so that he could win in debates, defending truth. That was so far the only vestige that linked him to “school.” And because of his love and respect for reason, he had come upon First Principles, upon types of debates (You hear him talking about the Oxford type), upon argumentation, and necessarily the fallacies. So now, no one could win over him!
Tonight, he had just said: “It is impossible for the same thing to be both true and false at the same time. A thing cannot both be and not be in the same respect.” This is the principle of non-contradiction. According to Aristotle, a first principle is “the first basis from which a thing is known.” That explains why in debates, Bro. Eli is often heard asking his opponent, “On what principle is that based?”
It could be that among the young Eli’s books while he was out of high school were those of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. In Church he goes interactive and asks question after question, but answers a question with another question. This is Socratic. It gets you into thinking. And what a way to approach the word of God; it is very much high-level.
Until now, in his early 70’s, it’s very visible that Bro. Eli is studying very hard not to be left behind scientific studies and general information. If he had stayed in school, he would have only studied for exams and only for the passing grades – just like most students. But by going autodidact, he was free to schedule his learning and plan what to study. Placing very high standards upon himself, it is not surprising that he’s very much informed about God’s creation, he had also looked into long-time claims like going to the moon.
Is man going to the moon possible according to what the Bible tells us? One cannot escape the scrutiny of this man who uses God’s word for everything – and doesn’t apologize for telling the truth. This thing too, he had discussed to the congregation – no matter what claims those who “went to the moon” were saying. When he was younger, his teachers were encouraging him to become a scientist as he loved science. He was naturally inquisitive.
As the Bible is his book, he also had to study writing and the probable intentions of the writer. The more he studied, the sharper his analytical skills got, that he would ask Why, and then the Why of that Why, and the Why of that other why. He arrives at informed conclusions connecting verse for verse. And with the way he uses his analytical skills, the listeners don’t get bored, but are also following as he makes sense of things.
For one, he’s sensitive with numeral adjectives, he doesn’t take them for granted. When he reads words like “twelve,” “all,” and “some,” he checks what they refer to because they’re that important. Twelve what? All what? Without identifying what these numeral adjectives refer to, it could be terrifying!
“And all the people worshiped him” (referring to the beast). “All,” indeed, would be terrifying if you didn’t know what “all” refers to. What did “all” include? Us, too?
And what preacher is he who can sense that a verse was mistranslated? That Bro. Eli’s ears are piqued for any mistranslation reveals years of patience placed at stopping for every word in frequent consultation with Strong’s concordance, just so there is perfection in all translations.
Is there any other preacher who talks about “parameters of truth” who has not determined what truth is by his reference that is the word of God? Obliged to study and study because aside from feeding the flock of the Members Church of God International, Bro. Eli is ever battling the rising tide of false preachers.
This is not a man who easily shies away from schooling. The way he thinks, analyzes things, and lines up his arguments reveal a man who has deeply studied and is still studying so well out of school. And he has for a teacher, a spirit.
This is yet something one has to figure out: his kind of learning (autodidact) and his kind of teacher (spiritual), are more than ordinary. Could this be why God favors him with understanding? This is not to include yet how he had fought as a young man to let the congregation survive. Oh, the many sufferings his little group had to undergo! But look at it now: MCGI has become international, with congregations all over the world.
“It is the spirit of God that teaches. I am also learning from what I am preaching. There are times I didn’t know that I knew those things I am preaching at the moment. They just come in at the proper times. Read your Bible.”
For the claim that Bro. Eli is not of their level, if that meant nothing, nothingness even is something to rejoice about.
“God is not mistaken about me. God values nothingness, or lowliness. And when God chooses, he chooses the least so that they can confound the wise.”
As mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 –
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.
The physical school is not the singular domain whereby man can be taught –because the true teacher is God. If that were true, why then has no one won over him yet in debates? As Bro. Eli has proven, understanding is a gift from God; it is not to be achieved. As the Bible says, only the wise shall understand, but the wicked will not.
So they can’t say they are perfection and he need not blush in his heart.