Better Than Levitical/Aaronic Priesthood (Part 2)

Christ is a better priest than ever existed under the law of Moses.  His office is better (Hebrews 4:14-7:28).  His work is better (Hebrews 8:1-10:31).

Let’s continue the comparison of office.  This time, we will consider Hebrews chapter five.

1.  Similarity

And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was” (Hebrews 5:4).

There had been usurpers in Israelite history.  The list includes: Korah (Numbers 16-17); Saul (1 Samuel 13); Jeroboam’s priests (1 Kings 12:31); and Uzzah (2 Chronicles 26:16-ff).  None of these were accepted by God as priest.

However, legitimate priests were appointed by God.  Aaron was appointed to this office (Exodus 28-29; 39-40; Leviticus 8; Numbers 16:5; 17:5; 18:1-ff), as were those who followed in this office (Numbers 20:23-ff; 25:10-ff).

So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest” (Hebrews 5:5).

It is affirmed that Jesus was appointed to this role by God.  The writer references the prophetic word as evidence (v. 5 cf. Psalm 2:7; v. 6 cf. Psalm 110:4). 

2.  Difference

“…but it was He who said to Him: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You’” (Hebrews 5:5 cf. Psalm 2:7).

This passage has been quoted earlier in this book (Hebrews 1:5).  The reference has to do with Jesus’ coronation as King (Psalm 2:6-12), following His resurrection and ascension (Acts 13:33 cf. Daniel 7:13-14).  He did not usurp this role.  He was appointed to this role by God.

But, what does this have to do with Him being High Priest?  Let’s read on to the next verse. 

As He also says in another place: ‘You are a priest according to the order of Melchizedek’” (Hebrews 5:6 cf. Psalm 110:4).

This Psalm is quoted or referenced in several other places in this book (Hebrews 1:13; 5:10; 6:20; 7:17; 7:21; 10:12-13).  It concerns Jesus’ role as both King and Priest (Psalm 110; see also Zechariah 6:12-13).  He occupies both roles (Hebrews 5:5-6), as did Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1).

No Levitical priest ever did so.  The priests were from the tribe of Levi (Hebrews 7:11-14; Exodus 28:1-4 cf. 4:14 cf. 2:1-10).  The kings, descending from David, were from the tribe of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:1-16 cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-17; book of 2 Chronicles; Matthew 1:1-17).  The Old Testament lists 41 kings of Israel and Judah (3 under united kingdom; 19 under Israel, northern kingdom; 19 under Judah, southern kingdom).  Not one served as priest with God’s approval.  Robert Milligan suggests that there were 81 High Priests who had served before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (Robert Milligan, The Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 268).  Not one served as king with God’s approval.  He did not entrust both positions to one person.

However, Jesus is different.  He functions as both King and Priest.  God entrusted both positions to Jesus.

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Better Than Levitical / Aaronic Priesthood (Part 1)

Christ is a better priest than ever existed under the law of Moses.  His office is better (Hebrews 4:14-7:28).  His work is better (Hebrews 8:1-10:31). 

Let’s consider the comparison of office, as set forth in Hebrews Chapter four and five.

1.  Great High Priest

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (Hebrews 4:14). 

Jesus was referred to as High Priest in Hebrews 3:1.  The writer now returns to this point, and expands on it. 

This High Priest is said to have passed through the heavens.  He is not currently on earth (Hebrews 8:13).  He is seated at the right hand of the throne of Majesty in the heavens (Hebrews 8:1 cf. 1:3; 1:13; 10:12; 12:2).

He is described as, not only High Priest, but also, “the Son of God.”  He is the Messiah (cf. Matthew 16:16; John 11:27; Matthew 26:26; Luke 23:35; cf. Matthew 27:39-43; Acts 9:20 cf. 9:22).  He is King (Hebrews 1:5 cf. Psalm 2:6-12; 2 Samuel 7:14). 

The writer exhorts, “let us hold fast.”  This exhortation is made more than once (Hebrews 3:6; 3:14; 4:14; 10:23).  The recipients of this epistle had confessed their belief in Jesus (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14; 10:23).  They needed to hold fast the beginning of their confidence steadfast to the end” (Hebrews 3:14).

2.  Sympathy

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). 

Jesus is not now on earth, but He knows what it is like to live life on earth as a man.  He faced the same temptations that we do (Hebrews 4:15 cf. e.g. Matthew 4:1-11).  He experienced the same physical needs and limitations that we do (Matthew 4:2; John 4:6-7; Mark 4:38; Luke 23:26; John 19:28).  He experienced sorrow and grief, as we do (Isaiah 53:3).  He even tasted death, as men do (Hebrews 2:9).

3.  Mercy and Grace

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

“Therefore” means that these words flow from the previous thought.  The previous thought is that Jesus is a great and sympathetic High Priest (cf. Hebrews 4:14-15).

Christians are encouraged to “boldly” approach God through Jesus, their High Priest. The throne of grace is the throne of the Majesty (Hebrews 4:16 cf. 8:1).  The word “boldly” (parrhesia) is from pas=all and rhesia=speak, lit. all speak.  The original word is translated in a variety of ways in the NKJV: openly (e.g. Mark 8:32; John 7:13); plainly (e.g. John 10:24; 11:14); freely (Acts 2:29); boldly (e.g. Ephesians 6:19; Hebrews 4:16); boldness (e.g. Acts 4:13; 10:19); confidence (e.g. Acts 28:31; Hebrews 3:6; 10:35).  The original word appears four times in the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 3:6; 4:16; 10:19; 10:35).  The original word is defined to mean “outspokenness, frankness, plainness of speech that conceals nothing and passes over nothing… openness to the public… courage, confidence, boldness, fearlessness esp. in the presence of persons of high rank” (BAGD).

It seems that Jesus’ ability and willingness to intercede has much to do with His ability to sympathize with man.  Here, it says “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are… Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:14-15).  Earlier, it said, “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest… for in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18).  These two passages are very closely related in thought.

4.  Similarities

For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.  He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness” (Hebrews 5:1-2).

There are similarities which may be inferred from these words.  (1) The high priests, under the Law of Moses, were taken from among men (Hebrews 5:1 cf. Exodus 40:13-15; Leviticus 21:10).  Jesus shared in flesh and blood (cf. Hebrews 2:14-15, 17-18).  (2) The high priests were appointed for men (Hebrews 5:1 cf. Leviticus 9:7).  Jesus makes intercession for men (Hebrews 7:25).  (3) The high priests were to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins (Hebrews 5:1; 8:3). [Robert Milligan comments, “The words ‘gifts’ (dora) and ‘sacrifices’ (thusiai) are sometimes used interchangeably, as in Gen. 4:3-5. But when contrasted, as they are in this case, and also in 8:3; 9:9, the former is used of bloodless offerings, and the latter for such as required the life of the victim” (A Commentary on The Epistle to the Hebrews). Tom Wacaster comments, “The ‘gifts’ refer to the bloodless offerings, while the ‘sacrifices’ speak of the multitudinous blood sacrifices” (Wacaster, Studies in Hebrews)]  Jesus likewise offered sacrifices for sins (Hebrews 8:3; 9:11-12; 9:24-26; 10:12, 14).  (4) The high priests could have compassion on the people because they had the same weaknesses as the people (Hebrews 5:2).  Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses, since He was tempted in all points as we are (Hebrews 4:15). 

5.  Difference

Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins” (Hebrews 5:3).

The priest of old sinned.  Aaron did before being appointed high priest (Exodus 32:21-ff).  Aaron did after being appointed high priest (Numbers 12:1-2, 9-11).  The priests made sacrifice for their own sins (e.g. Leviticus 9:7-8; cf. Leviticus 4:2-12).

However, the writer has already said of Jesus that He “was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).  He shared in man’s weakness, but did not succumb to sin.  He is our ultimate example (John 13:34; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 2:5; Hebrews 12:1-2; 1 Peter 2:21-22; 1 John 3:16, etc.).  He is a better High Priest.

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Better Than Joshua

Israel had some great leaders in their past, men such as Moses and Joshua. Moses led them to the edge of the promised land.  Joshua led them into the promised land.

However, Jesus is so much better.  Let’s consider how this point is made in Hebrews chapter four. 

1.  Fear

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1). 

The “rest” mentioned refers to a rest to come.  It is introduced without explanation.  Albert Barnes comments, “There can be no doubt that Paul refers here to heaven” (Barnes Notes).

“Therefore” points us back to the previous chapter.  Christians are exhorted to hold fast (3:6).  Moreover, we are reminded that many Israelites did not enter into the rest offered them because of sin, disobedience and unbelief (3:7-19).  Adam Clarke comments, “What the apostle had said before, relative to the rest, might be considered an allegory… Canaan was a type of grand privileges of the Gospel of Christ, and of the glorious eternity to which they lead” (Clarke Commentary). 

Fear is advised.  “Beware” was the earlier warning (3:12).  The writer is cautioning that the Christian life is not to be taken lightly.

The words “seem to come short of it” in no way suggests that one only appears to come short, but does not actually come short.  The original word can mean “be recognized as being something” (BDAG); “be accounted” (Thayer).  The NIV reads, “be found to have fallen short of it.”  It is possible to fall short (cf. (Hebrews 4:11).

2.  Faith

For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them, but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Hebrews 4:2).

Good news was preached to them.  However, the message did not profit those, who fell short, because it was not mixed with faith.  Hearing alone will not produce the desired result (cf. Hebrews 11:7, 30; Matthew 7:24-27; James 1:22).

 Good news has also been preached to us.  Obedient faith is needed. 

3.  Finished

So I swore in My wrath, ‘they shall not enter My rest’ although the works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Hebrews 4:3 cf. Psalm 95:11).

The point?  God did His part.  He created the land.  It was waiting for them.  However, they did not have the faith, which He required, to enter.  “It was not because Jehovah’s plan was ill-prepared; not at all, His plan was finished when the creation events were concluded on the initial week of earth’s history” (Wayne Jackson, A New Testament Commentary).

The same is true today.  If we do not enter, it is not because God does not have a land for us to enter.  It will be because we did not supply the faith. 

4.  Good example, Bad example

And God rested on the seventh day from all His works” (Hebrews 4:4 cf. Genesis 2:2).

God completed what He set out to do in creation.  Tom Wacaster suggests, “When the Bible says that God ‘rested’ there is no indication that God was tired, or exhausted, from His labors.  The connotation is that God enjoyed the fruit of His labor” (Wacaster, Studies in Hebrews).

They shall not enter My rest” (Hebrews 4:5 cf. Psalm 95:11). 

Many Israelites failed to complete what they set out to do.  They failed to enter the land of promise.  They were not able to enjoy the fruit of the completed work.

5.  Some Enter

Since therefore it remains that some must enter it…” (Hebrews 4:6).  The literal language is, “since therefore it remains for some to enter into it.”

Some Israelites did enter the land of promise (cf. Numbers 14:30-31; Joshua 1-3).  These found rest (Exodus 33:14; Deuteronomy 3:20 cf. Joshua 21:44; 22:4; 23:1).

Likewise, there remains a rest for God’s people.  Some will enter this rest. 

6.  Another Rest    

Again, He designates a certain day,  saying in David… ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts’” (Hebrews 4:7 cf. Psalm 95:7-8).

David, about five centuries after Moses, warned his generation not to repeat the mistakes of unbelieving Israel in Moses’ day.  Instead, they (and subsequent generations) should “promptly enter God’s rest whenever invited to do so” (Robert Milligan, A Commentary on the Epistle of the Hebrews).  David gave this warning by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. Hebrews 3:7-8). 

Joshua did provide rest in the land of promise (cf. Joshua 21:44; 22;4; 23:1).  However, there must be another rest, which Joshua did not provide.  This may be inferred from David’s words.

Then, it is affirmed.  “There remains a rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).  It is worth pointing out that the word translated “rest” here is different from that in previous verses.  It is Sabbatismos.  This word only appears here in the New Testament.  The ASV translates it “a Sabbath rest.”  Stan Crowley comments, “What is so distinctive about a ‘Sabbath rest’?  The answer is found in the next verse.  When one enters into the rest now under discussion, there is a complete cessation of work, just as God completely stopped His creative work on the Seventh day” (ed. Devin Dean,  Studies in Hebrews, The Gospel Journal Commentary Series). 

 A word of clarification.  The KJV reads, “Jesus” instead of “Joshua.”  “Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Joshua.”  While the record is in Greek, the context is clear that this is speaking of Joshua, the Old Testament character.

7.  A Rest Like God’s

For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did His” (Hebrews 4:10).

God completed what He set out to do in creation.  He ceased from this work.  However, the fruit of His labor continues, not only in this age, but also in the age to come.

Let’s finish our work on earth, and enter into a rest like His.  Revelation 14:13 declares, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord… they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”  Charles H. Gabriel penned these words in a song “When all my labor and trials are o’er, And I am safe on that beautiful shore, Just to be near the dear Lord I adore, Will through the ages be glory for Me” (Song: Oh, That Will Be Glory by Charles H. Gabriel).

The land that we seek is better than what Joshua brought them.  The ancestors of Israel, we are told, “desired a better, that is, a heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:16 cf. 11:9-10).

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Better Than Moses

The book of Hebrews is designed to exalt Christ. The book may be outlined as follows: I. Christ is a better messenger than previous messengers of God (1:1 – 4:13). II. Christ is a better priest than the Levitical priests (4:14-7:28). III. Christ’s priestly work is a better work than the work in the tabernacle/temple of the Mosaic order (8:1-10:31). IV. Christians are exhorted to faithfulness (10:32-13:25).

Christ is a better messenger. He is better than the prophets, who spoke to the Hebrew fathers (1:1-1:4). He is better than the angels (1:1-2:18), who played a role in the giving of the law (2:1-3 cf. Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19). He is better than Moses (3:1-3:19). He is better than Joshua (4:1-4:13).

Let us consider the comparison of Jesus with Moses, as set forth in Hebrews chapter three

1. Similarities

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house” (Hebrews 3:1-2).

There are similarities which may be inferred from these words. (1) Jesus is referred to as Apostle. The word “apostle” means “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders” (VIne’s). “One chosen and sent with a special commission as the fully authorized representative of the sender” (The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary). Jesus was sent by God into the world for salvation (John 3:17; 4:34; 5:23, etc.). Moses was sent by God to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 3:9-10). (2) Jesus is referred to as High Priest; this point is developed later in this book (Hebrews 7-10, e.g. Hebrews 7:26-28; 8:1-3; 9:11-12; 10:11-13). Moses seems to have functioned in this role until the appointment of Aaron and his sons (Consider: Exodus 24:5-8; 29:10-14, 15-18, 19-25, 26-28. Aaron and his sons are appointed in Exodus 28-29).

Both are said to have been faithful in their appointed roles. Jesus prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:29). “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). Moses was also a faithful steward (cf. Numbers 12:7). Yes, Moses had his shortcomings. However, “the tenor of his years of service was one of faithful trust in God” (Tom Wacaster).

2. More Glory

“For the One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house” (Hebrews 3:3).

What is the house? (1) Some believe that it refers to material creation. However, this does not seem to fit (cf. Hebrews 3:6). (2) Some believe that two houses are in view in this chapter. Israel is thought to be in view in Hebrews 3:3, 5. The church is thought to be in view in Hebrews 3:6. This is based on the words “His Own.” This we will see is a dubious translation. (3) Still others believe that this refers to God’s special people (whether in Old Testament or New Testament).

Let’s notice the comparison. First, let’s consider how Moses is described. Moses was the house (Hebrews 3:3); that is, he was a part of the house. He was a faithful servant in the house (Hebrews 3:5). The house did not belong to him, and he did not build it. Second, let’s consider how Jesus is described. He is the builder (Hebrews 3:3). But how? Moses lived long before Jesus was born into this world. However, remember that the writer has already presented Jesus as the means by which creation occurred (Hebrews 1:1-2 cf. Colossians 1:16; John 1:1-3). His existence did not begin with His conception or birth.

“For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).

The world “for” (gar) connects this verse with the thought in the previous verse. An effect implies an adequate cause. A design implies a designer. “The building of every house implies a chief architect” (Robert Milligan, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews).

God is the ultimate reason all things exist. He created the universe and all things therein (Hebrews 11:3 cf. Exodus 20:11). He is the ultimate reason that people exist, and that God’s special people exist.

Is Jesus referred to as “God” in this passage? It is difficult to tell from this verse alone. However, let us remember that He already has been referred to as LORD and Creator in this book (Hebrews 1:10-12 cf. Psalm 102:25-26). Robert Milligan believed that this referred to the entire Godhead. He wrote, “God himself (including the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) was the Supreme Architect” (Robert Milligan, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews).

3. Servant In His house vs. Son Over His House

“And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:5-6).

The comparison continues. First, let’s consider how Moses is described. He was a faithful servant (Hebrews 3:5 cf. Numbers 12:7). “His house” refers to God’s house (cf. Numbers 12:7). He served “for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward.” Marvin Vincent comments, “The meaning is that Moses, in his entire ministry, was but a testimony to what was to be spoken in the future by another greater than he. Comp. Deuteronomy 18:15 explained of Christ Acts 3:22-23” (Vincent’s Word Studies). Preston Silcox comments, “That is, he allowed his words and actions to point to thing beyond himself. These ‘things’ were Christ and His house – things far superior to Moses and the Old Testament economy!” (ed. Devin W. Dean, Studies In Hebrews, The Gospel Journal Commentary series). Second, let’s consider how Jesus is described. He is a Son (Hebrews 3:6), heir of all things (cf. Hebrews 1:2). He is over lit. the house of him. Notice the comparison: servant vs. Son, In vs. Over.

Whose house is it in context? Some translations read “his own house” or “His own house,” understanding the house to belong to Jesus (e.g. KJV, NKJV, Douay). Some translations read “his house” or “His house” (e.g. ASV, NASB. The ASV footnotes this, “That is, God’s house”). Some translations read “God’s house” (e.g. NIV, ESV). The literal language is “the house of him.” This same pronoun was used in verse 2 and verse 5. It seems to refer to the house of God (cf. Hebrews 10:21-22).

Jesus is over the church (Ephesians 1:22). The church is the house of God (1 Timothy 3:15).

However, the church belongs to Jesus (Matthew 16:18). He purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28). He is the God-man.

The writer exhorts them (and us) to hold fast (Hebrews 3:6 cf. 3:14, 4:14; 10:23). They were God’s special people, and would continue to be if they would hold fast. Confidence (faith) was needed (Hebrews 3:5 cf. 4:16; 6:11; 10:19; 10:35). Hope was needed (Hebrews 3:6 cf. 6:11; 6:18; 7:19; 10:23). It is interesting to note that the word “hold fast” (Katecho) was used nautically to mean “Make for, head for, steer for” (BAGD); “holding one’s course toward, bearing down for, Acts 27:40” (Vincent’s Word Studies). This may be saying that they needed to keep their course fixed on the confidence and hope they have had (Hebrews 3:6 cf. 10:23).

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Better Than Angels

The word “better” appears 13 times in the book of Hebrews (1:4; 6:9; 7:7; 7:9; 7:22; 8:6; 8:6; 9:23; 10:34; 11:16; 11:35; 11:40; 12:24).  The original word (Kreitton) is defined to mean “more prominent, higher in rank, preferable, better… more useful, more advantageous, better” (BDAG).

“When He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 1:3-4). 

Jesus certainly existed in a pre-incarnate state.  It was through Him, that God made the worlds (Hebrews 1:1-2 cf. John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16).

Jesus existed in an incarnate state.  He was “made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9 cf. Hebrews 2:17; John 1:1, 14).  He shared in flesh and blood, “that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). 

However, the passage under consideration (Hebrews 1:4) refers to His state following the resurrection and ascension.  He is now highly exalted.  “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:8-11). 

Let’s consider some contextual ways, from Hebrews chapter one and two, that Jesus is superior to the angels.

1.  Kingship

“For to which of the angels did He ever say: ‘You are My son, Today I have begotten you’?” (Hebrews 1:5 cf. Psalm 2:7).

It is true that angels are sometimes referred to as “sons of God” in scripture (e.g. Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7).  However, this is not the point.

The reference is to the coronation of Jesus as King (Psalm 2:6-12), which followed the resurrection and ascension (Acts 13:33 cf. Daniel 7:13-14).  The phrase “Son of God” had royal connotation for many nations of the Ancient Near East.  It was commonplace for Egyptian, Babylonian, Canaanite, and Roman rulers to be called ‘Son of God’” (Bromling, What Does it Mean to Say Jesus is “Son of God”?, apologeticspress.org).

“And again: ‘I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a son’?” Hebrews 1:5 cf. 2 Samuel 7:14).

The reference is to the kingship of Jesus through David (2 Samuel 7:14a cf. Hebrews 1:5; 2 Samuel 7:12 cf. Acts 2:29-30).  This prophecy was not fulfilled by angels. 

2.  Worship

“But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him’” (Hebrews 1:6 cf. possible reference Psalm 97:7).

Jesus is referred to as “the firstborn.”  The term “firstborn” can be used of superiority of position, or rank (e.g. Psalm 89:27; Vine’s; see Jesus: A Created Being? By B.H.).

What does “again” mean?  (1) Is the first coming of Jesus in view?  Does “again” mean “on another occasion,” or “In another passage” (v. 5b cf. v. 6)?  (2) Is the second coming of Jesus in view? 

Whichever the case, angels are instructed to worship Him.  Mere angels are not to be worshipped (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9).  John heard angels saying, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory and blessing!”  (Revelation 5:12).  John also heard every creature saying, “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever, and ever!” (Revelation 5:18). 

3.  Comparison

“And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire’” (Hebrews 1:7 cf. Psalm 104:4).

Angels are ministers of God.  Albert Barnes comments, “They obey his will as the winds and lightenings do.  The object of the apostle is to show that the angels serve God in a ministerial capacity – as the winds do.”  They are “sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). 

“But to the Son He says: ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever’” (Hebrews 1:8-9 cf. Psalm 45:6-7).

Jesus is not just a minister (though, He is that – Mark 10:45; Acts 10:38; Philippians 2:4-8; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1-2).  He reigns.  His reign is forever and ever (Hebrews 1:8 cf. Daniel 7:4; Luke 1:33).  He has been anointed more than His companions (Hebrews 1:9).  Meaning?  He is King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16). 

4.  Creation

“And: ‘You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands’” (Hebrews 1:10-12 cf. Psalm 102:25-26).

The word “and” continues the testimony of God the Father of the Son.  Notice the flow of thought (v. 5a, v. 5b, v.6, v. 7-9, v. 10-12, v. 13).

Robert Milligan comments, “It seems to me, our author here applies to the Son language which, in its first intention, had reference to the entire Eloheem – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  The LORD (Jehovah), not angels, laid the foundations of the earth (Job 38:4-7). 

Do not miss the fact that Jesus is being called LORD (Jehovah).  This is language used only of the one true God (See also: Isaiah 8:13 cf. 1 Peter 3:15; Isaiah 40:3 cf. Matthew 3:3; Malachi 3:21 cf. Matthew 11:10; Isaiah 45:23-24 cf. Philippians 2:10 -11; Joel 2:32 cf. Romans 10:12-13 ).

Further, consider the language. First, notice the language used to describe the LORD (Hebrews 1:11-12).  Then, notice that similar language is later used in this same book to describe Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:8).  This phenomenon is found in other passages as well (e.g. Jeremiah 11:20; 17:10; 20:12 cf. Revelation 2:23). 

5.  Footstool

“But to which of the angels has He ever said: ‘Sit at my right hand, till I will make Your enemies Your footstool’?” (Hebrews 1:13 cf. Psalm 110:1).

Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews 1:3; 1:13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2).  This is a position of authority (Acts 2:34-36).

One day, His enemies will be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1 cf. Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43; Acts 2:34-35; Hebrews 1:13; 10:12-13; 1 Corinthians 15:25-26).  This is language of subjection or defeat (cf. 1 Kings 5:3; Psalm 47:3; 1 Corinthians 15:25-26). 

6.  Subjection

“For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels” (Hebrews 2:5).

The word “for” connects these words with some previous thought.  The previous thought, in my opinion, is Hebrews 1:13-14.  Hebrews 2:1-4 may be considered a parenthetical warning (Tom Wacaster lists 5 of these parenthetical warnings in Hebrews – 2:1-4; 3:7-19; 5:11-6:20; 10:26-31; 12:25-29, Wacaster, Studies in Hebrews).

“The world to come” refers to the current reign of Christ (Hebrews 2:5 cf. 1:13-14).  Tom Wacaster comments that it refers to “the Christian dispensation” (Wacaster).  Robert Milligan comments that this refers to, “the habitable world under the reign and government of the Messiah” (Milligan).  “We see Jesus… crowned with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2:9).

What does Jesus do for man?  (1) He tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9).  This includes you.  This includes me.  (2) He made it possible for the bondage and fear of death to be removed (Hebrews 2:14-15).  “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).  (3) He is a merciful and faithful High Priest, who makes propitiation for the sins of people (Hebrews 2:17).  (4) He aids those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:18). 

“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3). 

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Western Religions: Scientology (Part 2)

Authority

a.   L. Ron Hubbard

The organization’s website says, “IS IT ALL BASED ON ONE MAN’S WORK? Although Dianetics and Scientology were founded by L. Ron Hubbard, and all of the scriptures are solely compromised of his writings and recorded lectures, he nevertheless wrote: ‘Acknowledgment is made to fifty thousand years of thinking man without whose speculations and observations the creation and construction of Dianetics would not have been possible.  Credit in particular is due to: Anaxagoras, Thomas Paine, Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson, Socrates, Rene Descartes, Plato, James Clark Maxwell, Euclid, Charcot, Lucretius, Herbert Spencer, Roger Bacon, Sigmund Freud, Isaac Newton, Van Leevenhoek, Cmdr. Thompson (MC) USN, Voltaire, William A. White, Will Durant, Count Alfred Korzybski and my instructors in atomic and molecular phenomenon at George Washington University and Princeton” (Scientology.org/faq).

b.  C.S.I.    Again the website says, “HOW ARE CHURCHES OF SCIENTOLOGY ADMINISTERED?  Each individual Church of Scientology is separately incorporated and governed by its own board of directors… Church of Scientology International (CSI) the mother Church of the Scientology religion, is headquartered in Los Angeles.  CSI oversees the ecclesiastical activities of all Scientology churches, organizations and groups throughout the world and see that individual churches receive guidance in their ministries.  CSI also provides the broad planning and direction needed to support the church’s international growth” (Scientology.org).

Credibility

There are accuracy problems found in L. Ron Hubbard’s writings.  One example is that he wrote of the Piltdown man, “Man’s first real manhood is found in the Piltdown, a creature not an ape, yet not entirely a man” (Scientology: A History of Man by L. Ron Hubbard, p. 25).  The problem with this is that the Piltdown Man is now known to be a hoax (Piltdown Man Hoax, 100 Years Ago by Sarah Pruitt, Dec. 18, 2012, history.com; Study Reveals Culprit Behind Piltdown Man, One of Science’s Most Famous Hoaxes by Michael Price, Aug. 9. 2016, sciencemag.org; Solving the Piltdown Man Scientific Fraud by Isabelle De Groote, Aug. 10, 2016, scientificamerican.com). 

Beliefs

1. God.  “Unlike religions with Judeo-Christian origins, the Church of Scientology has no set dogma concerning God that it imposes on its members… Scientology seeks to bring one to a new level of spiritual awareness where one can reach his own conclusions concerning the nature of God and what lies beyond this present lifetime” (Does Scientology Have a Concept of God?, scientologynews.org). 

2.  Jesus Christ.  At times, Scientology presents Moses, Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad as wisdom-bearers (What is Scientology’s view of Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, the Buddha and Other Religious Figures of the Past? Scientologynews.org).  However, at other times, he presents a different message.  Walter Martin quotes him saying, “You will find the cross as a symbol all over the universe and the Christ LEGEND as an implant in preclears a million years ago” (Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, p. 348, quoting L. Ron Hubbard, Professional Auditor’s Bulletin #31).  Again, Walter Martin quotes him say, “Neither Lord Buddha nor Jesus Christ were OTs [operating Thetans, the highest Scientology level] according to the evidence they were just a shade above clear” (ibid, quoting L. Ron Hubbard, Certainly Magazine, Vol. 5, no. 10).  His books do not present Jesus as the Savior.

3.  Man.  “Fundamental to Scientology is the view of man as a spiritual being.  In Scientology is the spiritual being is called the thetan.  The term is taken from the Greek letter theta for ‘thought’ or ‘life’ or ‘the spirit.’  It is used to avoid confusion with previous concepts of the soul.  The thetan is immortal and has lived – and will continue to live through countless lifetimes (WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CORE TENATS OF SCIENTOLOGY? Scientology.org/faq).  “Man is an immortal spiritual being.  His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime.  His capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized” (WHAT IS SCIENTOLOGY, scientology.org).

4.  Sin and salvation.  “Scientology further holds man to be basically good, and that his spiritual salvation depends upon himself, his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe” (WHAT IS SCIENTOLOGY? Scientology.org/faq).  Salvation is understood differently, than it is in Christianity.  It seems to refer to freeing the thetan of engram (Scientologyreligion.org; World Religions and Cults; Scientology by David Chakranarayan, answeringgenesis.org). 

5.  Heaven and hell.  “The world that one makes today is the world one returns to tomorrow and one lives with the fruits of his labors or the results of his transgressions in lives to come” (DOES SCIENTOLOGY HAVE DOCTRINES CONCERNING HEAVEN AND HELL?, scientology.org).  Rebirth or reincarnation is a teaching of scientology. 

6.  Creed.  The church has its own creed.  It reads:

“WE OF THE CHURCH BELIEVE

That all men of whatever race, color, creed were created with equal rights.

That all men have inalienable rights to their own religions, practices and their performances.

That all men have inalienable rights to their own lives.

That all men have inalienable rights to their sanity.

That all men have inalienable rights to their own defense.

That all men have inalienable rights to conceive, choose, assist or support their own organizations, churches, governments.

That all men have inalienable rights to think freely, to talk freely, to write freely their own opinions and to counter or utter or write upon the opinions of others.

That all men have inalienable rights to the creation of their own kind. 

That the souls of men have the rights of men.

That the study of the mind and the healing of mentally caused ills should not be alienated from religious or condoned in nonreligious fields.

And that no agency less that God has the power to suspend or set aside these rights, overtly or covertly. 

AND WE OF THE CHURCH BELIEVE

That man is basically good.

That he is seeking to survive.

That his survival depends upon himself and upon his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe.

AND WE OF THE CHURCH BELIEVE THAT THE LAWS OF GOD FORBID MAN

To destroy his own kind.

To destroy the sanity of others.

To destroy or enslave another’s soul.

To destroy or reduce the survival of one’s companions or one’s group. 

AND WE OF THE CHURCH BELIEVE

That the spirit can be saved.

And that the spirit alone may save or heal the body.” 

Controversy

1.  Taxes.  “The mother church… was established by Mr. Hubbard in Los Angeles in 1954.  Three years later, it was recognized as tax exempt by the IRS.  But in 1967, the agency stripped the church of its tax exemption.  In its revocation letter, the agency said that Scientology’s activities were commercial and were being operated For the benefit of Mr. Hubbard, a view supported by the courts several times in the ensuing 25 years” (Scientology’s Puzzling Journey From Tax Rebel to Tax Exemption by Douglass Frantz, March 9, 1997, nytimes.com).  “In the late 1960’s, as the IRS was investigating him from tax evasions Hubbard fled the U.S. for the high seas… By the mid 1970’s, Hubbard’s ships were not welcomed to dock in the Mediterranean, so he snuck back ashore in Florida as not to gain the attention of the IRS.  He lived in hiding the rest of his life” (The Chilling Story of How Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard Rose to Power by Jason Guerrasio, April 1, 2015, businessinsider.com).

2.  Operation Snow White

The church decided to infiltrate the federal government and disrupt investigations.  “One operation, called ‘Snow White’ involved everything from breaking into the IRS offices to bugging the federal government to even infiltrating government staff with Scientology plants who could report back to the church.  That’s what the church did, and it landed 11 people in jail, including Hubbard’s wife” (biographic.org).  “In 1979, as the result of FBI raids, 11 senior people in the church were convicted of obstruction of justice, burglary of government offices, and theft of documents and government property” (April 1, 2015, businessinsider.com).  Mary Sue Hubbard, was sentenced in federal court to four years in prison (Scientology Founder’s Wife Gets Prison Term by Al Kamen, January 8, 1983, washingtonpost.com).

3.  Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath

Leah Remini and Mike Rinder are ex-Scientologists.  Both were members of the church for over 30 years.  Mike Rinder was a senior executive in the Church of Scientology International and the Sea Organization.  They hosted an A&E series by the above title.  It lasted 3 seasons, and 37 episodes.  Its aim was to expose abuse in the church.  It brought much negative attention to the church. 

Thoughts

Two passages come to mind.  Some people want “to tell or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21).  They want something new.  Some people are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).

Dear Christians, let us remember this: We are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10 cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17).   

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Western Religions: Scientology (Part 1)

Scientology membership numbers are disputed.  CNN reported in 2017, “The Church of Scientology says it has 10,000 churches, missions and groups operating in 167 countries, with 4.4 million more people signing up every year.  Scholars say that, despite the global proliferation of church buildings, the membership numbers are much lower than the church claims, likely in the hundreds of thousands” (Scientology: What Exactly is it? By Dan Gilgoff and Tricia Escobedo, Wed. April 19, 2017, cnn.com).  Some think the numbers are even lower.  Los Angeles Magazine printed this in 2019, “The church is struggling with a dwindling flock and an increasingly negative reputation… According to Ortega (Tony Ortega, co-author of Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s Dangerous ‘Religion’ – B.H.).  Scientology numbers peaked in the early ‘90’s with roughly 100,000 members worldwide, but membership has recently dipped to about 20,000.  (A Scientology spokesperson vigorously denies this, claiming the church has ‘millions of parishioners in 167 nations, a third of whom are in the U.S.’)” (Scientology Is Looking Abroad For New Stars and Vulnerable Recruits by Hailey Eber, May 10, 2019, lamag.com).  The numbers are disputed.  What is not in dispute is that certain high profile people are a part of this organization, including: Tom Cruise and John Travolta. 

History

1.  L(afayette) Ron(ald) Hubbard (1911-1986).

a.  Early Years

There are two versions of L. Ron Hubbard’s biography.  The first, we’ll call the known facts.  He was born in Tilden, Nebraska.  He spent much of his childhood in Helena, Montana and Bremerton, Washington.  He was an Eagle Scout (biographics.org; britannica.com; L. Ron Hubbard Dies of Stroke by Robert Linsey, Jan. 29, 1986, nytimes.com).

The second, we’ll call the Hubbard/Scientology version.  In this version he was riding broncos by the age of three.  He was a blood brother to a Blackfoot Indian Medicine man by the age of four.  He had traveled more than a quarter of a million miles and traversed much of China and India by the age of nineteen.  He had even entered the forbidden Tibetan lamaseries (Who Was L. Ron Hubbard? Scientologynews.org; The Untold Truth of L. Ron Hubbard by Nolen Moore, grunge.com; L. Ron Hubbard, gwern.net).

b.  Adulthood (pre-Dianetics)

The known facts, we’ll set forth.  He attended George Washington University in Washington D.C..  He studied civil engineering but dropped out after two years due to failing grades in 1932.  He started writing pulp fiction at this time to earn a living.  He was paid a penny per word.  Today, he holds the Guinness record for the most published works by one author (1,084).  His novel, Battlefield Earth, was made into a movie starring John Travolta (biographic.org; The Chilling Story of How Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard Rose to Power by Jason Guerrasia, April 1, 2015, businessinsider.com; Most Published Works by One Author, guinnessworldrecords.com). 

He joined the Navy Reserves in 1941.  He served until 1950, active duty until 1945.  He was a Lieutenant.  He never saw action (biographic.org; businessinsider.com; grunge.com). 

The Scientology version has L. Ron Hubbard a war hero.  He was partially blinded and made partially lame from injuries sustained in combat.  He is said to have received 21 medals for his action during the war,  including the Purple Heart.  These things are denied by the Navy (Scientologynews.org; biographic.org; The Founder of Scientology Has One of the Strangest Navy Records Ever by Amanda Macias, April 7, 2015, businessinsider.com; Ron the “War Hero” – Hubbard’s Medals, Carnegie Mellon University, cs.cmu.edu).

Following the war, L. Ron Hubbard lived in California.  He met Jack Parson, a member of Ordo Templi Orentis.  This was an occult group led by Aleister Crowley.  L.R.H. became a part of this group (biographic.org; grunge.com). 

He later claimed that he had infiltrated this group on a secret mission for the U.S. Government.  Unfortunately there is no record of this (gwern.net). 

2.  Dianetics

L. Ron Hubbard published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health in 1950.  It became a best-seller.  Dianetics literally means “through mind.”  “In Dianetics, Hubbard explained that phenomena known as ‘engrams’ (i.e. memories) were the cause of all psychological pain, which in turn harmed mental and physical health.  He went on to claim that people could become ‘clear,’ achieving an exquisite state of clarity and mental liberation, by exorcising their engrams to an ‘auditor,’ or a listener acting as a therapist” (May 9, 1950, L. Ron Hubbard publishes “Dianetics,” history.com).  [The above is a fairly good summary; however, Dianetics actually makes a distinction between “engrams” and “memories” (Dianetics © 1992 pp. 1-2, 87-88).  Engrams are “a complete recording down to the last accurate detail of every perception present in a moment of partial or full ‘unconsciousness’” (ibid).  Memories are stored in the analytical mind (p. 67).  Engrams are stored in the reactive mind (p. 87 cf. 65).  These engrams could be prenatal from things like mama sneezing or Junior bouncing on moma’s lap (pp. 187-188)].   L. Ron Hubbard suggests that 70% of man’s ailments are psychosomatic (Dianetics, p. 13, 131).  Engrams are the source of psychosomatic illness (p. 100).  Dianetics claims that it can clear you of psychosomatic illness.  Some of the claims are incredible.  Consider: “The common cold has been found to be psychosomatic.  Clears do not get colds (p. 133).  “ ‘Toothache’ is normally psychosomatic (p. 217).  “At the present time, Dianetic research is scheduled to include cancer and diabetes.  There are a number of reasons to suppose that there maybe engramic in cause, particularly malignant cancer” (p. 134). L. Ron Hubbard claimed to have cured himself of his war injuries through Dianetics (biographic.org). 

3.  Scientology

In 1954, the Church of Scientology officially launched.  Scientology is said to be “knowing how to know” (Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought, p. 9).  Dianetics had morphed into a religion.  L. Ron Hubbard’s second wife, Sarah Northrup, stated that this was for tax exemption (April 1, 2015, businessinsider.com). 

Here is a summary of what Scientology supposedly teaches about man’s situation.  Man pre-existed separate from our currently earthly bodies.  75 million years ago, there was a galactic ruler named Xenu.  He had a problem.  He ruled over 76 planets, including Earth (then known as Teegeeack).  These planets were greatly over-populated, each on average having 178 billion inhabitants (thetans).  He had a plan.  The masses were summoned for a tax audit.  When they showed up, they were drugged and frozen, placed on spaceships that looked like DC-8s but with rocket power instead of propellers, and flown to Earth.  They were deposited in and around volcanos in the Canary and Hawaii islands.  Hydrogen bombs were detonated vaporizing all.  However, Xenu had set up electronic traps which caught these souls.  They were forced to watch 3D motion pictures which reprogrammed them and created a new “reality.”  These souls clustered in groups of a few thousand and implanted in bodies to live on this earth.  Scientology suggests that we have forgotten our true identities, but that it can help free us from this bodily trap.  Once freed, we will be able to fly around at will without our earthly bodies and no longer be limited by these bodies (Demystifying Scientology’s Fundamental Reality by Bob Minton, cs. cmu.edu.  Clearing the Planet, Knowing Better, Youtube).

Reincarnation is clearly taught.  “Each life while the preclear has been ‘with body’ is lived with a different basic team: the genetic being carries on through the evolutionary line… The Theta Being comes into the line from various quarters and each time usually enters an entirely different G.E. (Genetic Entity) line (Scientology: A History of Man, p. 12).  One may have existed as a cell or part of a claim or jelly fish (pp. 20-ff).  Understand that engrams may exist from previous incarnations (e.g. chapter 4).

4.  David Miscavige (1960-present day)

L. Ron Hubbard died of a stroke in 1986.  This led to David Miscavige becoming the church leader.  Under his leadership the church received tax exemption status with the I.R.S. in 1993 (Scientology’s Puzzling Journey From Tax Rebel to Tax Exempt by Douglas Frantz, March 9, 1997, nytimes.com).

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Western Religions: Christian Science (Part 2)

Beliefs and Practices

1.  Tenets of Christian Science

Their website (christianscience.com) lists the following six “Tenets of Christian Science”:

(1) “As adherents of truth, we take the inspired word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal life.”

At times, they seem to deny inspiration.  Mary denied that the two accounts of creation could be reconciled (Science and Health, p. 522).  Britannica says, “Christian Science… accepts the authority (though not the inerrancy) of the Bible” (britannica.com). 

(2) “We acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God.  We acknowledge His Son, one Christ; the Holy Ghost or divine comforter; and man in God’s image and likeness.”

They do not believe in the deity of Jesus or the Holy Spirit.  The thought of the Trinity is equated with polytheism (Science and Health, p. 256).

Jesus is viewed as the perfect man.  “Jesus is the name of the man who more than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God… Jesus is the human man, and Christ is the divine idea” (Science and Health, p. 473).  “A portion of God could not enter man; neither could God’s fullness be reflected by a single man” (Science and Health, p. 336). 

The Holy Spirit is divine knowledge.  “Christian Science teaches that the Holy Ghost is synonymous with divine science… It is the full revelation of truth” (The Holy Ghost and Healing, The Christian Science Journal, August 1995; See also, Science and Health, p. 331).

(3) “We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that cast out evil as unreal.  But belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.”

They do not believe that sin and evil are real.  They are an illusion of the mind.  “Evil has no reality.  It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense” (Science and Health, p. 71).  “All that we term sin… is a mortal belief” (Science and Health, p. 278).  “Evil is but an illusion, it has no real basis.  Evil is a false belief” (Science and Health, p. 480).

(4) “We acknowledge Jesus’ atonement as the evidence of divine, efficacious love, unfolding man’s unity with God through Christ Jesus the way-shower; and we acknowledge that man is saved through Christ, through Truth, Life, and Love as demonstrated by the Galilean prophet in healing the sick and overcoming sin and death.”

How did Jesus make atonement?  “If sin, sickness and death were understood as nothingness, they would disappear” (Science and Health, p., 480).  Jesus, evidently, showed man how to do this.  “Christ came to destroy the belief of sin” (Science and Health, p. 473). 

(5) “We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection served to uplift faith to understand eternal life, even the allness of soul, spirit, and nothingness of matter.”

Their position is confusing. At times, it appears that they do not believe matter to be real.  “Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones and other material elements.  The scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God” (Science and Health, p. 475).  “Man is incapable of sin, sickness, and death” (Science and Health, p. 475).  “Death is but a mortal illusion” (Science and Health, p. 289 cf. 584).  “As a philosophy, Christian Science approximates subjective idealism in that it declares matter to be unreal… the material body and mortal mind are unreal counterfeit.  Realization of this proposition destroys disharmony, sin, sickness and death.  Men suffer because they entertain a false sense of themselves” Britannica, Vol. 4, pp. 562-563).

At other times, it appears that what they mean is that matter is not the real essence of man.  Of Jesus, it is said, “Jesus could give his temporal life into his enemies’ hands; but when his earth-mission was accomplished, his spiritual life, indestructible and eternal, was forever the same.  He knew that matter had not life and that real life is God, therefore he could no more be separated from his spiritual life than God could be extinguished.” (Science and Health, p. 51).  “I do not believe that anyone can exist in the flesh without food and raiment; but I do believe that the real man is immortal and that he lives in spirit, not matter” (Science and Health, p. 461).    Some in practice seem to deny reality.  Some Christian scientists do not rely on medical treatment.  Mary Baker Eddy taught, “Mind governs all… Frequently it requires time to overcome the patient’s faith in drugs and material hygiene; but when once convinced of the uselessness of such material methods, the gain is rapid (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 6).  “Christian Science exterminates the drug, and rests on mind alone as the curative principle, acknowledging the divine mind has all power” (Science and Health, p. 157).  “Error is a supposition that pleasure and pain… are existent in matter” (Science and Health, p. 472).   “The sick are not healed by inanimate matter or drugs, as they believe that they are.  Such seeming medical effect or action is that of so called mortal mind” (Science and Health, p. 463).  “Certain results, supposed to proceed from drugs, are really caused by faith in them” (Science and Health, p. 484).  “When the sick recover by the use of drugs, it is the law of a general belief” (Science and Health, p. 155).  “They generally do not accept medical care for themselves, and do not permit it for their children” (Suffering Children and the Christian Science Church, Caroline Fraser, theatlantic.com).

How can one deny material reality?  Doing so may provide some comfort to a troubled soul.  However, Mary Baker Eddy still ate food, even employing a cook named Minnie Weygandt (Foods Prepared and Consumed in Mary Baker Eddy’s Household, marybakereddylibrary.org.). She did not deny that she needed food (Science and Health, p.461).

They have a very unorthodox view of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  “The efficacy of the crucifixion lay in the practical affection and goodness it demonstrated for mankind… The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon ‘the accursed tree,’ than when if flowed in his veins as he went daily about his Father’s business” (Science and Health, pp. 24-25).  “His disciples believed Jesus to be dead while he was hidden in the sepulcher, whereas he was alive, demonstrating the power of spirit to overrule mortal, material sense… our Master fully and finally demonstrated divine science in his victory over death and the grave.  Jesus’ deed was for the enlightenment of men and the salvation of the whole world from sin, sickness and death… Jesus’ students… did not perform many wonderful works, until they saw him after his crucifixion and learned that he had not died” (Science and Health, pp. 44-46).  “What a breakthrough!  Until Jesus gave concrete evidence that man has eternal life in spirit, mankind could only hope that such was possible… Jesus comes with his ‘good news.’  He tells us how we can be free of the prison house of the sense and the bonds of matter… Jesus’ triumph over death and victory over the grave were to show us that there is more to us than meets the eye – that each of us does have an eternal and unbreakable relationship to Him Jesus called the Father of us all” (The Scientific Significance of the Resurrection, Christian Science Sentinel, April 13, 1987, christianscience.com). 

(6) “And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just and pure.”

This sounds good.  But, what does it mean?  Remember that they do not believe sin and evil to be real. 

2.  Worship

“Christian Science churches hold regular Sunday worship services and Wednesday testimonial meetings.  Services include Lord’s Prayer, hymns, and readings from the Bible and Science and Health” (What is Christians Science? Christianscience.com).

The readings are uniform in all churches.  “There are 26 Bible lesson subjects, each of which appears twice a year.  These lessons are used for individual study throughout the week and constitute the sermon read on Sundays in Churches of Christ, Scientist (Bible Lesson Subjects, christianscience.com).  “The readings are chose by a special committee in Boston” (Britannica, Vol. 4, p. 563). 

Communion is without the elements of bread and wine.  “In this church the material symbols of bread and wine are not used.  In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 35), Mary Baker Eddy has written: ‘Our Eucharist is spiritual communion with the one God.  Our bread ‘which cometh down from heaven’ is truth.  Our cup is the cross.  Our wine is the inspiration of love’” (Christian Science and Sacraments, Christian Science Sentinel, Jan. 8, 1949, christianscience.com).

“Twice in the year the congregation kneels to commemorate, not the Last Supper, but the joyous morning meal beside the lake of Galilee, attended by the risen savior” (Britannica, Vol. 4, p. 563). 

3.  Baptism

There is no water in their baptisms.  “In her sermon ‘The People’s Idea of God’ (p. 9), Mrs. Eddy says, ‘…this baptism is the purification of the mind – not an ablution of the body, but tears of repentance, an overflowing love, washing away motives for sin; yea it is love leaving self for God’… The Christian Scientist’s baptism, or purification, like his partaking of the bread and wine of truth and love, is something which is to be prayed for daily” (Christian Science And Sacraments, Christian Science Sentinel, Jan. 8, 1949, christianscience.com).

4.  The Christian Science Monitor

It was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1908 with the objective, “To injure no man, but to bless all mankind.”  It is owned by The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston.  It is “an independent international news organization.”  It has to date won seven Pulitzer prizes and more than a dozen overseas Press Club awards (About Us, csmonitor.com).  The Monitor is not focused on religion, but news.  It does contain one religious article in each issue.  “As of 2011 the print circulation was 75,052” (muckrack.com) 

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Western Religions: Christian Science (Part 1)

Christian Science membership is on the decline.  “Membership in the church has steadily declined since the 1930’s.  Mrs. Eddy forbade her followers from keeping an official membership tally.  The church estimates it has about 400,000 members worldwide, but independent studies puts membership around 100,000.  In the U.S., the number of churches has dwindled from about 1,500 ten years ago to 1,100 today” (Christian Science Healing, August 01, 2008, pbs.org).  “The number of Christian Scientists in the United States was 270,000 in 1936 (the last reliable public count).  Today, despite growth in the nation’s population, actual church membership in the U.S. could be down to 50,000 based on a steep drop in numbers of congregations and registered healers” (How Christian Science Became A Dying Religion by Alfred Siewers, thefederalist.com).

History

1.  Mary Baker Eddy – early and middle years.

Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) was born in Bow, New Hampshire in 1821.  Her parents were Mark and Abigail Baker.  She was the sixth child born to the family.    She was brought up in the Congregational Church.  She was troubled by Calvinism.  She wrote, “At the age of twelve, I was admitted to the Congregationalist (Trinitarian) church… When meeting was held for the examination of candidates for membership… I answered without tremor that never could I unite with the church if assent to this doctrine was essential thereto… To the astonishment of many the good clergyman… received me into their communion” (Mary Baker Eddy, Retrospection and Introspection, pp. 12-ff, archive.org).

She, for years, had a troubled existence.  (a) She was frequently seriously ill in childhood.  (b) Her favorite brother, Albert, died when she was 20 years old.  His kidneys failed.  (c) She was a widow before her 23rd birthday.  Her husband, George Washington Glover, died of yellow fever.  They had been married about a half a year.  She was pregnant.  She moved back home with her parents.  She became “an emotional and highly unstable invalid, who, throughout the remaining years of her life, relied from time to time upon the drug morphine as medication” (Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults).  (d) Her mother died when she was 28.  “The help that the young widow needed from her family in raising her child was not forthcoming after her mother’s passing in 1849, and because of Mary’s health continued to decline young George was eventually put in the hands of foster parents” (Mary Baker Eddy, werehistory.org).  (f) She had an unhappy second marriage.  She married Daniel Patterson, a dentist, in 1853, with the expectation that he would be able to provide a home for her son, but Dr. Patterson did not honor his promise to her in this regard (Mary Baker Eddy, daystarfoundation.org).  “In 1856 she was plunged into virtual invalidism after Patterson and her father conspired to separate her from her only child, a 12-year-old from her first marriage.  She would not see her son again for nearly 25 years, and they only met a few times thereafter” (Mary Baker Eddy, britannica.com).  She endured years of infidelity (daystarfoundation.org).  Patterson “abandoned her in 1866, and, after years of living apart she divorced him in 1873 on grounds of desertion” (The Life of Mary Baker Eddy, marybakereddylibrary.org). 

2.  Mary Baker Eddy – middle and later years.

Mary began a search for better health.  She experimented with homeopathy, vegetarianism, hydrotherapy, and other treatments (werehistory.org).  “Losing faith in medical systems based on materialistic premises, she hit on what some today would call the placebo effect.  Her conviction that the cause of the disease was rooted in the human mind… was confirmed by her contact from 1862 to 1865 with Phineas P. Quimby of Maine, a pioneer in what would today be called suggestive therapeutics” (britannica.com).  “Her health initially improved radically under his treatment, which included a combination of mental suggestion and what might now be called therapeutic touch, but she soon suffered relapse.  She returned to Quimby not only for treatment but also to learn more about his approach” (marybakereddy.org).

Mary slipped and fell on ice on February 01, 1866, at the corner of Oxford and Market streets in Lynn, Massachusetts.  Quimby had recently died.  She couldn’t turn to him.  “As she later told the story, doctors declared that there was no hope of recovery.  On the third day, however, she picked up her Bible, opened it to Matthew 9:2, and read the account of Jesus healing the sick.  She recovered instantly and grasp the central idea of what became a new religion: Christian Science” (werehistory.org).  She wrote of this, “The discovery came to pass in this way.  During the twenty years prior to my discovery I had been trying to trace all physical effects to a mental cause; and in the latter part of 1866 I gained the scientific certainty that all causation was mind, and every effect a mental phenomenon.  My immediate recovery from the effects of an injury cause by an accident… was the falling apple that led me to the discovery of how to be well myself, and how to make others so” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 24, archives.org). 

Some question certain details of the accident and recovery.  (a) Dr. Alvin M. Cushing denied that she was in as serious of a condition as she later claimed (Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, p. 134).  (b) The recovery may not have occurred as quickly as later recounted.  She continued to be treated by Dr. Cushing.  She also sought treatment from Julius Dresser, a pupil of Quimby (ibid).  (c) She filed suit against the City of Lynn in the summer of 1866 claiming continued suffering as a result of the fall.  This suit was later dropped (Myths & Legends: The Fall on Ice, exchristianscience.com).

She began to study, teach, and write.  Science and Health (her major work) was published in 1875 The Church of Christ, Scientist was established in Boston in 1879 (Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 4, p. 562 © 1979).

Much of her writings may have been borrowed.  “Mrs. Eddy’s plagiarism of Quimby’s writings were well illustrated by The New York Times (June 10, 1904), which published parallel columns of Mrs. Eddy’s and Mr. Quimby’s writings” (Walter Martin, p. 128-ff).  She may have also borrowed from Lindley Murray and Francis Lieber (Walter Martin, p. 130-ff). 

She married her third husband in 1877.  His name was Asa Gilbert Eddy.  He was one of her students.     Asa died in 1882.  His death was said to be from coronary thrombosis.  Mary “contested the autopsy report and the physician she chose confirmed her conviction that Asa died of ‘arsenic poisoning mentally administered.’  Such a radical report prompted inquiry into the credentials of Mrs. Eddy’s physician Dr. C.J. Eastman… It was found that the ‘Doctor’ Eastman was running a virtual abortion mill, and had no medical credentials whatever to justify his title.  He was sentenced to ten years in prison upon his conviction” (Walter Martin, p. 127).  What is interesting about this is that she seems to discourage autopsies in Science and Health, saying, “Many a hopeless case of disease is induced by a single post mortem examination, …from the fear of the disease and from the image brought before the mind” (Science and Health, p. 196, christiansciencemedia.org).  Why have an autopsy if the material world is an illusion?

Authority

1.  The Bible

Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “The Bible has been my only authority.  I have no other guide in the ‘straight and narrow way’ of truth” (Science and Health, p. 126).

2.  Science and Health

She wrote, ‘I should blush to write of ‘Science and Health with Key to Scriptures’ as I have were it of human origin, and were I, apart from God, its author.  But, as I was only a scribe echoing the harmonies of heaven in divine metaphysics, I cannot be super-modest in my estimation of the Christian Science textbook” (The First Church of Christ Scientist and Miscellany, p. 115, googlebooks).  “A Christian Scientist requires my work Science and Health for his textbook, and so do all his students and patients.  Why?  …Because it is the voice of truth to this age” (Science and Health, p. 456).

       

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Why Be Thankful?

There are those who are unthankful to God or man.  This is true for a variety of reasons.  (1) Some are so focused on what they do not have, that they fail to appreciate and be grateful for what they do have. (2) Some recognize what they have, but believe that all was achieved by their own abilities and efforts.  They have, in their minds, no one to whom they should be thankful or express thanks.  (3) Some recognize what they have, but have a sense of entitlement.  When something is done for them they feel that they deserve it; they expect it; it was owed to them.  (4)  Some are so focused on the problems of life and the ills of society that they fail to appreciate and be grateful for the good that does exist. 

1.  God created us.  

No one can rightly say that all was achieved by his own abilities and efforts.  One would not exist without God. It is God who has given us life and whatever abilities we have. Consider the words of Psalm 100, “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves… Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:3-4).  Paul proclaimed, “He gives to all life, breath, and all things.” Notice the prepositions, “For of (ek) Him, through (dia) Him, and to (eis) Him are all things, to whom be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).

[ Sidebar: Consider the prepositions in Romans 11:36 with the prepositions in another. Colossians 1:16 reads, For by (en) Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through (dia) Him and for (eis) Him.” The first verse refers to God, the LORD (Jehovah). The second verse refers to Jesus. This has implications, I believe, concerning the Godhead.]

2.  God sustains us.

He makes life possible on this earth, and provides for our needs.  “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).  He daily loads us with benefits (Psalm 68:19).  Our food is to be received with thanksgiving, and this thanksgiving is to be expressed in prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5). 

3.  God is good.

The Bible affirms this, repetitively.  “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.   For the LORD is good; and His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5).  Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!  His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 106;1 cf. Psalm 107:1; 118:1; 1 Chronicles 16:34).  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights” (James 1:17). 

His goodness to us goes beyond what one would expect.  No one should feel entitled.  “For scarcely for a righteous man will once die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8).  “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).  “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1-2 cf. Romans 8:17).

Furthermore, It is not only to God that we should be thankful.  When others do good to us, we should be grateful.  Consider: (1) A Samaritan leper returned to thank Jesus for healing him (Luke 17:15-16).  (2) Paul said of Priscilla and Aquilla “to whom not only I give thanks, but also the churches of the Gentiles” (Romans 16:3-4).  They had risk their necks for Paul.  We are told: “be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15).

[Note: Many times Paul thanked God when brethren did what was right (e.g. Romans 1:8; 6:17; Philippians 1:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3; 2:13-14; 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4). Credit ultimately belongs to Him (cf. Philippians 2:13)]

4.  It is Good for Us

Having an attitude of gratitude is good for us.  (1) It is helpful in our relationships with others (Colossians 3:12-15). Christy Wright stated, “Thankfulness improves relationships. Everyone has a need to be appreciated – spouses, children, parents, friends, coworkers, even the strangers we meet in passing (Christy Wright, 10 Reasons I’m Thankful for Thankfulness, November 11, 2016, daveramsey.com). Remember, the Golden Rule, Matthew 7:12.

(2) It is helpful to our mental wellness. Ungrateful people are often miserable.  Ahab became so focused on what he did not possess (Naboth’s vineyard) that his spirit became sullen (1 Kings 21:1-6).  Jonah became angry with God when the plant shading him withered (Jonah 4:6-11).  He seems to have felt entitled (cf. Paul’s attitude Philippians 4:11-12 and Job’s attitude Job 1:21-22). 

Dennis Prager offers this bit of wisdom.  “You can’t be a happy person if you aren’t grateful, and you can’t be a good person if you aren’t grateful… Here is a rule of life: ingratitude guarantees unhappiness… Here are two rules of life.  Rule number one: The less you feel entitled to, the more gratitude you will feel for whatever you get and the happier you will be.  Rule number two: The more you feel entitled to, the less happy you will be… The more that you feel that life or society owes you, the angrier you will get, the less happy you will be… If I were granted one wish, it would be that all people be grateful.  Gratitude is the source of happiness, and the source of goodness; and the more good people and the more happy people there are walking around, the happier and better our world will be” (Dennis Prager, The Key to Unhappiness, prageru.com).   

(3) It may be beneficial to our physical health. Christy Wright stated, “When we stop focusing on what we do not have, and begin focusing on what we do have, our shoulders relax and we invite peace, patience, and health into our lives” (daveramsey.com).

(4) It definitely is needful for our spiritual well being. We are to be a thankful people. “Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

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