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) 

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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