The Old Path is the radio and TV program of Eliseo Soriano, the founder of the Members Church of God International (MCGI), based in the Philippines. The Tagalog name of The Old Path is Ang Dating Daan (ADD). The Members Church of God International should be considered a Christian cult, due to its denial of some orthodox biblical doctrines and its exclusivity.
Eliseo Soriano, called by members of his church “Brother Eli,” was a disciple of the late Nicolas Perez, the founder and presiding minister of “Church of God in Christ Jesus, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth,” another religious organization that separated from the “Church of God,” founded by Felix Manalo. Soriano goes by the title of “Overall Servant”; he also refers to himself as “Wise One,” “Walking Bible,” “Modern Jeremiah,” “Appointed One,” and “He Who Holds the Key.” Soriano has lived in exile from the Philippines since 2005 due to legal challenges, including charges of slander and an accusation of homosexual rape.
Eli Soriano boldly proclaims himself “the most sensible preacher of all time.” Soriano makes use of television, radio, and social media programs utilizing a question-and-answer method to propagate his teachings. His method of biblical interpretation is extremely literalistic, but he does not utilize sound hermeneutical principles. The Members Church of God International has no written statement of faith, which may be due to the fact that Soriano often contradicts his own teachings. Soriano is also known for his profanity, spitting, and bad-mouthing of his debate opponents on live TV.
The Members Church of God International runs many charities in the fields of medicine, education, environmentalism, and social work. Overshadowing its charitable work, however, is the organization’s false doctrine. Members Church of God International teaches its own version of Docetism. Soriano teaches that Jesus is not a human being but only God and that Jesus only seemed to be human. This false teaching is refuted by 1 John 4:2–3, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” The apostle John essentially says that the belief that Jesus Christ did not become a true human being is anti-Christian.
Soriano doesn’t believe in the doctrine of the Trinity; instead, the Members Church of God International teaches that God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit are only “three powers in heaven.” According to Soriano, Christ is only a “mighty God,” not the “Almighty God,” while the Holy Spirit is only a literal power of God.
Members Church of God International also teaches the following:
– God has human body parts like arms, eyes, and feet. But God has no knees, since He will not worship any other gods (there are many gods according to Soriano). Scripture says that the true God has no physical body parts for He is Spirit (John 4:24).
– God is residing in His own planet somewhere in the universe. This teaching is somewhat similar to the Mormon doctrine that the gods who came down to earth were residing near a planet named Kolob.
– God is not omnipresent. He can choose to be in one place and absent in another. This flatly contradicts the teaching of the Bible, which says God is omnipresent. “‘Am I only a God nearby,’ declares the Lord, ‘and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:23–24).
– Salvation comes through joining the Members Church of God International, being baptized, and performing works of righteousness. Consider this statement taken from Soriano’s website: “We believe that God is calling His people with determination to serve Him, bringing them in His fold, teaching them righteousness after baptism for their sins to be covered by the priceless blood of Christ poured in Mount Calvary, for the redemption of sin, to make them qualify for life eternal in heaven.” MCGI’s gospel is work-based, highlighting what man must do to be saved. In contrast, the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
– Celebration of feasts and Christmas are forms of idolatry, according to the Members Church of God International. MCGI also bans going to the movies and drinking alcoholic beverages, and women are prohibited from wearing make-up, wearing pants and tight shirts, and cutting their hair.
Many of the Members Church of God International’s doctrines are unbiblical. And there is certainly nothing in Soriano’s harangues of opponents that accords with the biblical instruction that a pastor “must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Timothy 2:24).The popularity of The Old Path and the humanitarian work of MCGI notwithstanding, the Members Church of God International should be avoided.