Where did Christian Science originate? What do Christian Scientists believe? Is Christian Science, Christian? How does it line up with the Word of God?
THE ORIGIN OF CHRISTIAN SCIENCE
The Christian Science movement traces its roots back to a woman by the name of Mary Baker Eddy. The name “Eddy” was a name that she acquired from her third husband [whom she married in 1877]. Like Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witness faith, Christian Science is a 19th-century American religion.
Mary Baker was born in New Hampshire in 1821. Her parents were members of a Congregationalist church that upheld a strict Calvinistic view of predestination—that view that God determined which persons He would save and which He would send to Hell in eternity past.
Mary Baker rejected that Calvinistic view of predestination, but as we’ll see, she went on to reject many more orthodox views of Christianity. As Mary’s life went on she suffered several bouts of illness. In a search for good health, she was led to experiment with a variety of healing methods.
In 1862, as the Civil War raged, Mary sought help from a popular healer in Maine, named Phineas Quimby. Quimby believed that illness and disease could be cured through positive thoughts and healthy attitudes, by changing one’s beliefs about the illness. He held that all illness was basically a matter of the mind and that sickness was the result of a patient’s mistaken beliefs. Hence, a cure lies in discovering the truth. So, under his treatment, Baker’s health initially improved. But she soon suffered a relapse.
She returned to Quimby not only for treatment but also to learn more about his approach. Thinking that he had rediscovered Jesus’ healing method, she spent hours discussing and exchanging ideas with him. He had a significant influence on Eddy’s thinking regarding spiritual matters.
A turning point in Eddy’s life occurred in 1866. She had experienced a severe fall on an icy sidewalk. The fall left her bedridden and in critical condition. Phineas Quimby had died just one month earlier so Mary could not turn to him for help. While in bed, Mary asked for her Bible and said that as she was reading an account of Jesus’ healing in Matthew 9:2, she found herself suddenly well.
Matthew 9:2 says…
Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
It was at this time Eddy alleges that she discovered the principles that have become known as Christian Science. Eddy spent the next 44 years sharing her discoveries and ideas through writing, lecturing, and teaching.
In 1875, at the age of 54, she published a book called Science and Health. She claimed it was the final revelation of God to mankind and asserted that her work was inspired of God. This book is the foundational book for all of Christian Science.
After the publication of Science and Health readers began meeting to discuss the ideas in the book.
Then, in 1879, Mary Baker Eddy, and a group of 15 followers, established “The First Church of Christ, Scientist,” with the aim of reinstating: “primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.”
Mary Baker Eddy added additional writings, called Key to the Scriptures, to Science and Health in 1883. The Key to the Scriptures is Eddy’s commentary and unbiblical ideas on Genesis chapters 1–4 and Revelation chapter 12 (as well as a couple of verses from chapter 21).
By 1895, just 20 years after the publishing of her book, there were about 250 Christian Science congregations. In 1908 Eddy established the Christian Science Monitor, a popular international daily newspaper that is still published. Although Eddy taught that death was “an illusion,” Mrs. Eddy died from pneumonia at age 89 on December 3, 1910.
By the time of her death in 1910, there were more than 1,200 congregations. “In the early 21st century the church claimed more than 1,700 congregations in 80 countries, and membership estimates ranged from 100,000 to about 400,000 worldwide.” (source)
The church as a whole is overseen by a board of directors, who govern the church under the guidelines Eddy established in her book called “Manual of The Mother Church,” first printed in 1895 (revised in 1908).
The church has no ordained clergy. Men and women (called readers) are elected from the membership to conduct the services. A Sunday service at a local church consists mainly of prescribed readings from the Bible, followed by interpretive readings from Eddy’s book: Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
Their midweek meetings on Wednesday nights include testimonies from the congregation of how following Christian Science’s principles has resulted in healing.
Men and women who devote themselves full-time to the work of “spiritual healing” are called Practitioners.
WHAT DOES THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE CHURCH TEACH?
As we’ll see, the church denies all of the essential doctrines of Christianity. It redefines the Bible’s terminology and interprets hundreds of scriptures out of their historical and biblical contexts.
Christian Science is so foreign to Biblical Christianity that, if it didn’t use words like Jesus, trinity, love, grace, sin, etc. you’d never suspect it had anything to do with Christianity or the Bible at all.
Let’s consider first…
1. The Christian Science view of God.
Christian Science is a pantheistic religion. Pantheism is the belief that “God is all and all is God.” According to Mary Baker Eddy, God is all that exists. What we perceive as matter, she says is only an illusion.
Eddy taught that sin and sickness are only errors of interpreting the Divine Mind. They have no true reality (Science and Health, 330:25-274; 470:9-14).
To briefly respond to that, we would as Christians of course note that the Bible teaches that God is the creator of all matter, matter is real, and God is distinct from that matter (His creation).
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Notice that. It doesn’t say “In the beginning God was (or is) the heavens and the earth.” No. God created the heavens and the earth.
Isaiah 44:24 says, “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the LORD, who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone, who spreads abroad the earth by Myself.'”
In response to the Christian Science view that we are one with God (in the pantheistic sense), Colossians 1:21 says that as sinners we were once alienated from God. How could that have ever been, if we are God?
Isaiah 59:1–2 says, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”
Notice that. Isaiah says sin separates a person from God. How could humans be separated from God if they were or are God?
Hebrews 10:27 refers to unrepentant sinners as being “enemies of God.”
That is what man is in his sin. He’s separated from God, He is alienated from God, and an enemy of God. If the Bible is clear on one thing, it is this: man is not God.
2. The Christian Science view of Jesus.
The Christian Science church teaches that Jesus, rather than being the way, is simply a Way-shower. Jesus was not the Christ (the Messiah) but a perfect representation of the Christ consciousness that is the true and higher self of every person. Therefore a Christian Scientist can say, “I am Christ.” Jesus was not God in flesh. Mary Baker Eddy said…
“If there had never existed such a person as the Galilean Prophet, it would make no difference to me.” –Mary Baker Eddy, First Church of Christ Scientist and Miscellany, p. 318-319
The Bible says that Jesus was God. Where does it say that? John 1:1, John 20:28, John 8:58, etc.
3. The Christian Science view of Man.
According to Mary Baker Eddy, man is perfect, spiritual, and sinless. Eddy said…
“Man is spiritual and perfect….He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas; the generic term for all that reflects God’s image and likeness….that which has not a single quality underived from Deity;” (Science and Health, 475:11-20.)
The Bible says that man does have a sinful nature and is spiritually dead “in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) —that is, separated from God.
1 John 1:8, 10
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us . . . If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
Romans 3:10, 23
“As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’”
4. The Christian Science view of Jesus’ death.
According to the Christian Science church, Jesus’ death on the cross made no atonement for sins (Science and Health, 25:6). Mary Baker Eddy said:
“One sacrifice, however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin. The atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner’s part. That God’s wrath should be vented upon His beloved Son, is divinely unnatural. Such a theory is man-made” (Science and Health, p. 23:3–7).
Mary Baker Eddy said two pages later in her book Science and Health:
“The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious [or effective] to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon ‘the accursed tree,’ than when it was flowing in his veins as he went daily about his Father’s business” (Science and Health, 25:6–8).
Let’s see what the Bible says…
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified [how?] by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
“…He has appeared to put away sin [How?] by the sacrifice of Himself.”
“For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
Apart from Christ’s sacrifice, or the offering of Himself, we would all be guilty in our sin still.
5. The Christian Science view of sin.
The Christian Science church teaches that sin does not exist, that it is a false interpretation of the Divine Mind. Mary Baker Eddy said, “the only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief, until God strips off their disguise.” (Science and Health, 472:27-29)
Edward Kimball, a teacher of Christian Science said, “False theology would tell you that it is sin we need to be saved from.” –Edward Kimball, Lectures and Articles on Christian Science, p. 209
Christian Science teaches that man does not have a sinful nature and is a reflection of Divine Mind.
6. The Christian Science view of Heaven.
The Christians Science church teaches that Heaven is not a literal place of eternal bliss, but a harmonious condition of understanding where a person’s consciousness is in harmony with the Divine Mind.
“Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal, because sin is not there and man is found having no righteousness of his own, but in possession of `the mind of the Lord,’ as the Scriptures says” (Science and Health, 291:13–18)
But the Bible teaches that heaven, rather than being a state of mind, is an actual place where God lives and where believers in Jesus will be with the Lord.
“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Is it safe to assume that where Jesus was going (His Father’s house) is actually a reference to heaven? Yes…
“So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”
2 Thessalonians 1:7b–8
“…the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
7. The Christian Science view of Hell.
Hell, according to Mary Baker Eddy, is not a literal place of damnation and eternal torment. Hell, according to Mary Baker Eddy, exists when a person’s thoughts are out of harmony with the reality of the Divine Mind. Hell, according to the glossary in the back of Science and Health, is:
“Mortal belief, error; lust; remorse; hatred; revenge; sin; sickness; death; suffering and self destruction; self imposed agony; effects of sin; that which worketh abomination or maketh a lie.” (Science and Health, 588: 1–4)
The Church teaches that the evil beliefs of men are Hell. (Science and Health, 266:26–27).
But the Bible says that Hell is an actual place, a place of torment, originally created for Satan and his fallen angels which will also become the place where the wicked spend eternity.
Matthew 25:41, 46
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: . . . And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
2 Peter 2:4, 9–10
“For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; . . . then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.
Revelation 20:10, 15
“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. . . . And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
8. The Christian Science view of the Devil.
According to Christian Science, the devil is not an entity, nor a person. In fact, the glossary in Science and Health gives this definition for the devil: “Evil; a lie; error; neither corporeality nor mind; the opposite of Truth; a belief in sin, sickness, and death;…”
The Bible teaches though that the devil is a fallen angelic creature.
1 Peter 5:8–9
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
9. The Christian Science view of Salvation.
In Christian Science, a person is not saved from hell (it doesn’t exist remember!) – but from his or her belief in the material world (materiality). So then, salvation according to the church is achieved through progressive spiritual understanding. Mary Baker said:
“Final deliverance from error, . . . is not reached . . . by pinning one’s faith without works to another’s vicarious effort,” (Science and Health, p. 22).
Obviously referring to Jesus’ vicarious death. The word vicarious means in the place of another. The Bible teaches that salvation is not a salvation from a belief in materiality, but from hell, and that salvation (which results in eternal life in heaven) is a gift of God’s grace.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Salvation cannot be earned but must be accepted by faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on one’s behalf.
10. The Christian Science view of the final judgment.
Mary Baker Eddy said, “No final judgment awaits mortals, for the judgment-day of wisdom comes hourly and continually, even the judgment by which mortal man is divested of all material error.” (Science and Health, 291:28-31)
But the Bible says that a day of judgment awaits everyone. Where?
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”
“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
“But in accordance with your hardness and your Impenitent heart [“because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart”] you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness — indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;”
Other verses would include: Matthew 7:21-23, John 5:28-29, Romans 2:16.
The teachings of Christian Science are dangerous.
The church has also been facing a handful of highly publicized government prosecutions for child abuse and manslaughter related to deaths that many say could have been prevented.
A hallmark of Christian Science teaching is that all disease can be cured by prayer rather than through medical treatment.
One of the two most-publicized cases in recent months is taking place in Massachusetts. It involves Nathan Talbot, the top legal and public relations official working out of the church’s worldwide headquarters in Boston. Talbot allegedly advised Christian Science parents David and Ginger Twitchell to not give their dying boy medical treatment. This case was recently highlighted on the CBS program “60 Minutes.” (Source)
According to the “60 Minutes” report, Robin Twitchell, 2, died on April 3, 1986, after suffering for five days from a congenital bowel obstruction. Consequently, his parents were charged with manslaughter. On “60 Minutes” Mr. Twitchell said he blamed himself for his son’s death, not for failing to seek a doctor, but because he “failed” in his “belief”. He said he prayed over his baby every night.
Another case involved William and Christine Hermanson of Sarasota, Florida, who are accused of killing their diabetic daughter by denying her insulin injections. Amy Hermanson, 7, died in September 1986.
She had been ill for eight days and her diabetes worsened before an anonymous complaint alerted authorities. A local Court ordered medical intervention, but the girl was dead by the time paramedics arrived at the Hermansons’ home.
The most recent case to be publicized is perhaps the most gruesome. Elizabeth Ashley King died of bone cancer near Phoenix, Arizona, on June 5, 1988. At the time of her death, the 12-year-old girl, who had been out of school for seven months, had a 42-inch-round tumor on her leg that had eaten through her bones and genital area. (Source)
QUESTIONS TO ASK CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS
(by Matt Slick, online source)
1. If God is all in all, then where did evil come from?
2. If everything is an interpretation of divine mind, then why do people have different understandings of God?
3. If sickness is an illusion, why do you have practitioners who go out to Christian Scientists in attempts to heal them?
4. If sin is not real, then why does the Bible say that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)? As well as, “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” (1 John 1:8).
5. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy said, “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 as he went daily about his Father’s business.” Why would she contradict so plainly the teaching of Scripture that says, “but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
6. Why would Mary Baker Eddy directly contradict the Jesus’ own claim of Himself? She said that “Jesus is not God, as Jesus himself declared, but the Son of God.” (S & H 361:12-13). Is she calling Jesus a liar?
7. If “Man is incapable of sin, sickness, and death” as Eddy said in Science and Health 475:28, then why do people die? Why does the Bible say that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23)?
8. Why would Mrs. Eddy say Jesus did not die (S&H 45:32-46:3) when the Bible clearly teaches that He died (Rom. 8:34; 1 Thess. 4:13; 1 Cor. 8:11; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 1:7).
9. If our physical senses do not tell us the truth about the material world then how can we trust them when we read the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures or hear its message with our ears?
CHARLIE H. CAMPBELL
is an itinerant Christian apologist, the founder of ABR, and the author of several books and videos, some of which include:
• Archaeological Evidence for the Bible
• One Minute Answers to Skeptics
• Dakota Knox & the Archaeology Thief + Dakota Knox: London, Love, & Terror
• The Bible’s Scientific Accuracy and Foresight
• Scrolls & Stones: Compelling Evidence the Bible Can Be Trusted
• Evidence for God
• The Case for Christianity
• Answering Atheists
• The Case for the Resurrection
• If God is Loving, Why is there Evil and Suffering?
• Homosexuality and the Bible: Answering Objections to the Biblical View
• Teaching and Preaching God’s Word
• Apologetics Quotes
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Charlie Campbell speaks at churches and conferences throughout the year. If you are a pastor and would like to have him speak at your church or event, please contact ABR here and let us know.