Category: Christian Science

Grape-Nuts and Christian Science

Dr. Rick Cornish, in 5 Minute Apologist, writes, “Like the cereal Grape-Nuts, which is neither grapes nor nuts, Christian Science is neither Christian nor science. It has nothing in common with Christianity, renouncing every major Christian doctrine, or science, which it rejects just as easily. This religious movement may be on the decline, but it still poses a threat to the spiritually unwary” (p. 295).

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Church of Christ, Scientist (or Christian Science), denied the Christian doctrines of the Trinity, the virgin birth of Christ, the deity of Christ, the reality of sin, and the sacrificial and substitutionary death of Jesus. For these and other reasons, the teachings of Christian Science should be rejected.

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Download an overview of Christian Science, along with a chart comparing the teachings of Christian Science to those of biblical Christianity.

Comparing Christianity to Christian Science

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  Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist

What the Bible says about God: What Christian Science says about God:
There is one true and living God, who exists as three distinct, co-equal, co-eternal persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Deut. 6:4; John 1:1-3, 6:27, 20:28; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 13:13; 1 Peter 1:2). Christian Science teaches that “the theory of three persons in one God (that is, a personal Trinity or Triunity) suggests polytheism, rather than the one ever-present I AM…. Jesus Christ is not God, as Jesus himself declared, but is the Son of God” (Science and Health, pp. 256, 361). Eddy also denied that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, since God is an impersonal “principle.” The Trinity is redefined as life, truth, and love.
What the Bible says about Jesus: What Christian Science says about Jesus:
He is the virgin-born Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-23; Luke 1:35).  He is eternal, the Creator, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and Holy Spirit (John 1:1-14; Col. 1:15-20; Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 1:1-13). Jesus died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), rose physically from the dead (Matt. 12:38-40; Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:4-8; 1 Peter 1:18-21) and is coming back physically and visibly one day (Matt. 24:29-31; John 14:3; Titus 2:13; Rev. 19:11-14). Christian Science denies the deity of Christ: “Jesus Christ is not God, as Jesus himself declared, but is the Son of God” (Science and Health, p. 361). It also denies His virgin birth: “A portion of God could not enter man; neither could God’s fullness be reflected by a single man, else God would be manifestly finite, lose the deific character, and become less than God…. Jesus was the offspring of Mary’s self-conscious communion with God” (Science and Health, pp. 336, 29-30).Christian Science minimizes Christ’s work at Calvary: “One sacrifice, however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin…. The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon ‘the accursed tree’ than when it was flowing in His veins…. One sacrifice, however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin” (Science and Health, pp. 23, 253).Eddy taught, “If there had never existed such a person as the Galilean Prophet, it would make no difference to me” (First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 318-19).Finally, Christian Science denies that Jesus died and rose again: “His disciples believed Jesus to be dead while he was hidden in the sepulcher, whereas he was alive, demonstrating within the narrow tomb the power of Spirit to overrule mortal, material sense…. Jesus’ students … learned that He had not died” (Science and Health, pp. 44-46).

What the Bible says about salvation: What Christian Science says about salvation:
Christ’s death at Calvary completely paid our sin debt so that salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus (John 3:16, 5:24; Rom. 4:4-5; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Since sin and death are false beliefs (illusions), salvation involves overcoming the false idea that they exist with the realization of man’s divine spirit and mind. “Man as God’s idea is already saved with an everlasting salvation” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 261).
What the Bible says about man: What Christian Science says about man:
God created man in His image – with a human spirit, personality and will. A person’s life begins at conception and is everlasting, but not eternal; that is, our lives have no end, but they did have a beginning (Gen. 1:26-28; Ps. 139:13-16). People are divine spirits, or part of God. “God is the principle of man; and the principle of man remaining perfect, its idea or reflection – man – remains perfect” (Science and Health, p. 466). Eddy further taught, “Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual” (Science and Health, p. 468).
What the Bible says about the Bible: What Christian Science says about the Bible:
The Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God, and is His sole written authority for all people (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Christian Science interprets the Bible in light of Eddy’s writings, particularly Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In addition, Eddy expressed some doubts about the textual reliability of the Bible: “a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with its own hue darkening to some extent the inspired pages” (Science and Health, p. 139).
What the Bible says about sin: What Christian Science says about sin:
Sin is violation of God’s holy standards. All humans are sinners (Rom. 3:10) and are under the curse of sin – spiritual and physical death (Gen. 2:17, 3:17-19; Rom. 3:23, 6:23). Only faith in Christ and His work on our behalf frees us from sin and its consequences (John 3:16, 5:24; Eph. 2:8-9). Sin, along with death, disease and pain, are not real; they are merely illusions. “The only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief…. They are not true, because they are not of God” (Science and Health, p. 472).
What the Bible says about death: What Christian Science says about death:
Physical and spiritual deaths come upon all people as a consequence of their sin (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:1). People become spiritually alive when they are “born again” (John 3:3-6; Eph. 2:1-5). At physical death, our souls and spirits separate from our bodies [which go into the grave to await resurrection and final judgment] and enter an everlasting state of blessedness [for those born again] or torment [for those who die in their sins] (Luke 16:19-31; 2 Cor. 5:8).  Death is an illusion. People, like God, are immortal spirit or mind and therefore do not die.
What the Bible says about heaven and hell: What Christian Science says about heaven and hell:
Hell is a place of everlasting conscious existence where the unbeliever is forever separated from God (Matt. 25:46; Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 14:9-11, 20:10).  As for Heaven, all believers have God’s promise of a home in Heaven, will go there instantly upon physical death, and will return with Christ from Heaven to earth one day (Luke 16:19-31; John 14:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:8; Rev. 19:11-16). Christian Science teaches that “the sinner makes his own hell by doing evil, and the saint his own heaven by doing right” (Science and Health, p. 266). “The advanced psychist knows that this hell is mental, not material, and that the Christian has no part in it (The first Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 160). “Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind” (Science and Health, p. 291).

 

Copyright 2008 by Rob Phillips

The Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science): An Overview

 Download this article and a chart comparing Christianity to the Church of Christ, Scientist 

In Love and Consequences, author Margaret B. Jones details her gritty life as a half Native American, brought up in foster care, following foster brothers into Los Angeles gang life and selling drugs to eke out a living. Great story. Unfortunately, it’s not true. In reality, Margaret “Peggy” Seltzer is from a wealthy white family and attended a private school. Her sister outed her after reading a story about Margaret and her book in The New York Times. The scandal, like previous literary hoaxes involving best-selling author James Frey (A Million Little Pieces) and others, easily could have been avoided if her publishers had conducted a simple background check.

Compelling stories attract attention. This is no less true in religion than in street life. Consider the story of Mary Baker Eddy. Born Mary Baker in 1821 to humble but strict Congregationalists, she was a sickly child given to fits of depression and extreme temper. She married at 22 only to see her husband die seven months later and leave her pregnant and emotionally unstable, depending from time to time throughout her life on morphine. After a second marriage, which ended in divorce, she married a third time at age 56 to Asa Eddy, who died five years later. This much is true. But the rest of the story of Mary Baker Eddy and the religion she founded – the Church of Christ, Scientist – mixes half truths and plagiarism. As Fritz Ridenour explains in So What’s the Difference: A Look at 20 Worldviews, Faiths and Religions and How They Compare to Christianity, “Eddy is heralded as the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, but her claims to originality and truthfulness do not hold up” (p. 166).

For starters, her teachings borrow heavily from those of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, a metaphysical healer from Maine who treated Eddy. In fact, Quimby used the term “Christian Science” years before Eddy adopted it. Her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the authoritative text of Christian Science, lifts passages almost verbatim from Quimby’s own writings, as well as from a dissertation by Dr. Francis Lieber. Modern historians further have proven that Eddy plagiarized other books. Even worse, Eddy’s claim of her own miraculous healing from a near-fatal fall was exposed as an incredible exaggeration – if not an outright falsehood – by her own physician. But perhaps most significantly, Eddy did not, and could not, heal as she claimed. In fact, she succumbed to medical care and medication for her various ailments in later years.

Despite all this, Eddy was a charismatic leader who founded the Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston in 1879. She displayed an uncanny ability to leverage Christian Science into a money making venture. Writes Walter Martin, “At death she had amassed several million dollars, of which not one cent was given to charity” (Rise of the Cults, p.80). Even so, her followers were loyal, numbering roughly 1 million by the time she died in 1910. Today, Christian Science is foremost of the mind-sciences family of religions that emerged from 19th century religious and intellectual fervor, including the adaptation of Hindu beliefs, the Transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, occult practices, experimentation with hypnotism, mental healings, and attempts to contact the dead and other spirits through séances. Christian Science today claims 2,000 churches in 60 countries and boasts 3,000 “practitioners,” or full-time healers. The organization is headquartered in Boston.

Key teachings

Overview. “Christian Science has offered (to the followers of Mary Baker Eddy) a sanctuary from the preaching of the gospel of Christ, which points out the terrible reality of sin and evil in man’s nature and strips from the soul every vestige of self-righteousness. Mrs. Eddy’s religion, on the other hand, offers no such hazards, denying as it does the existence of evil, sin, sickness, and even death itself…. The theology of Christian Science prohibits any acceptance whatsoever of the vicarious atonement of our Lord, and blatantly denies eternal retribution for those who willfully reject Jesus Christ as ‘the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29)” (Walter Martin, Rise of the Cults, p. 76).

God. Christian Science rejects the idea of a personal, good and infinite God who is distinct from His creation. Eddy taught in Science and Health that God “is not a person. God is a principle.”  The Trinity is redefined as life, truth, and love.

Jesus. Christian Science distinguishes between Jesus the man and the “Christ Principle.” The Bible, in contrast, makes it clear that there is no distinction between Jesus the man and His divine office as the Christ.

Creation. There is no reality to the physical world, according to the Christian Science worldview. It is all an illusion.

Man. Eddy taught that “man is not material; he is spiritual.” People are in fact divine spirits.

Sin, suffering, death. Since the physical world is not real, evil, sin, sickness and death are illusions of the mortal mind.

Salvation. Since sin and death are false beliefs (illusions), salvation involves overcoming the false idea that they exist with the realization of our divine spirit and mind.

Bible. Christian Science says the Bible must be interpreted through the higher and final revelation of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.

Death and the afterlife. Since God and man are immortal spirit, death also is only an illusion. It is a transition from the illusion of the material world to the ultimate reality of immortal spirit life.

Summary

Dr. Rick Cornish, in 5 Minute Apologist, writes, “Like the cereal Grape-Nuts, which is neither grapes nor nuts, Christian Science is neither Christian nor science. It has nothing in common with Christianity, renouncing every major Christian doctrine, or science, which it rejects just as easily. This religious movement may be on the decline, but it still poses a threat to the spiritually unwary” (p. 295).

Copyright 2008 by Rob Phillips