Herbster Evangelism
Psalm 85:6

Christian Science

by Mark Herbster

The Christian Science church was founded by a woman named Mary Baker Eddy. As a child, she struggled through illness and emotional trauma. She is said to have been “domineering, quarrelsome, and extremely self centered.”[1] The church calls her their “mother” and leader, the “Discoverer and Founder” of the Christian Science teachings. Mary was married three times. One husband died of yellow fever, Mary divorced the second husband and the third one died of what she termed “arsenic poisoning mentally administrated.”

After her third husband died, Mary came into contact with Phineas Quimby. Dr. Quimby had a system of mental health and healing which was called “The Science of Man” and referred to as the “Science of Christ” and “Christian Science.”[2] In 1866 Mary fell on a slippery sidewalk and was injured. She was pronounced incurable. She cried for a Bible so she could read Matt. 9:2 and, purportedly, she was miraculously healed. “It was this experience that convinced her of the truth of Christian Science.”[3] In 1875 Mary published her work “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” in which she plagiarized from many of Dr. Quimby’s works.[4] She claimed her work was inspired of God, and that she was the key to unlocking the Bible. She stated in the preface of her book:

Since the author’s discovery of the might of Truth in the treatment of disease as well as of sin, her system has been fully tested and has not been found wanting; but to reach the heights of Christian Science, man must live in obedience to its divine Principle. …The divine Principle of healing is proved in the personal experience of any sincere seeker of Truth.[5]

Without a doubt, the Christian Science Cult was born and bred out of an emotionally unstable woman’s mind, and it obviously preys on the emotional needs and experiences of others. In 1879 the official Church of Christ (Scientist) was formed in Boston, MA . Today the Church “Consists of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and about 2,000 branch Churches of Christ, Scientist, worldwide in 80 countries.”[6]

Heresies

The theology of the Christian Science Cult is as very confusing. It consists of a twisted mess of writings and is vastly different from the theology of Christianity. The Christian Science doctrines are primarily based on the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy and are not at all consistent with the clear teachings of the Scripture.

Doctrine of the Atonement

For the Christian Scientist, the idea of atonement is nothing more than love overcoming sin and suffering. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy states:

“Wisdom and Love may require many sacrifices of self to save us from sin. 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….Its scientific explanation is that suffering is an error of sinful sense which Truth destroys, and that eventually both sin and suffering will fall at the feet of everlasting Love.”[7]

Apparently, the Biblical teaching of a once-for-all, sacrificial atonement paid by the death of Christ on the cross is nothing more than a false theory to the Christian Scientist. According to their teaching, Christ’s suffering on the cross was only important as an example of love and goodness overcoming sin and suffering. They do not believe that Christ actually died.

“Jesus’ students, not sufficiently advanced fully to understand their Master’s triumph, did not perform many wonderful works, until they saw him after his crucifixion and learned that he had not died.”[8]

“The efficacy of the Crucifixion lies in the practical affection and goodness it demonstrated for mankind.”[9]

As a natural result of this view of the crucifixion, they also deny the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ.

The Nature of God

The Christian Science god is a pantheistic god. He is referred to as “Life,” “Truth,” “Love,” “Principle,” “Mind,” “Substance,” “Intelligence,” “Spirit,” and “Mother.” God, therefore, has no personality and is not a transcendent personal Being.[10]

“The Jewish tribal Jehovah was a man-projected God, liable to wrath, repentance and human changeableness. The Christian Science God is universal, eternal, divine love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death.”[11]

The Deity of Christ

Similar to the Jehovah’s Witness’s teaching, the Christian Science Cult teaches that promoting the deity of Christ violates the first commandment to “have no other gods before thee” (Exodus 20:3).

“The Jew believes that the Messiah or Christ has not yet come; the Christian believes that Christ is God. Here Christian Science intervenes, explains…and settles the question. Christ as the true spiritual idea is the ideal of God now and forever…The Christian who believes in the first commandment is a monotheist. Thus he virually unites with the Jew’s belief in one God, and recognizes that Jesus Christ is not God.”[12]

For the Christian Scientist, Christ is simply an example of someone who lived out the spiritual teachings and scientific principles. He is not God, they believe, and to say that he is exhibits a polytheistic worldview. Mary Baker Eddy said, “The theory of three persons in one God (that is, a personal Trinity or Tri-unity) suggests polytheism, rather than the one ever-present I AM.”[13]

Her view of the trinity is radically opposed to the teaching of Scripture.

“Life, Truth, and Love constitute the triune Person called God,–that is, the triply divine Principle, Love. They represent a trinity in unity, three in one,–the same in essence, though multiform in office: God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter. These three express in divine Science the threefold, essential nature of the infinite. They also indicate the divine Principle of scientific being, the intelligent relation of God to man and the universe.”[14]

There is no way to expose all of the heretical teachings of the Christian Science Cult in this discussion. But it is safe to say that the theology taught by the cult reflects very little of the true teachings of the Bible. Instead, it is the twisted teaching of an arrogant, emotional woman. It resembles and reflects more of the New Age and eastern mysticism philosophies than it does of the true biblical worldview.

Helps

One of the most helpful passages to confront the Christian Science heresies of the atonement and deity of Christ is Colossians 1:19-22:

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.  21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mindc by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled  22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:”

These verses present undeniable proof of the deity of Christ and the vicarious atonement He paid for sinners on the cross. In order to understand what this passage is teaching, we must look in depth at two important words.

1. πλήρωμα (fullness) – The word πλήρωμα was used by the gnostics to represent the sum-total of all the divine powers and attributes. “The πλήρωμα statements in Colossians present the full unity of the work of God and Christ in such a way that the distinctness of person is preserved and yet monotheism is not imperiled. God works through Christ in His whole fulness (1:19), in His full deity (2:9).”[15] The apostle Paul directly attacks any heresy that suggests that Christ was not totally God.

2. κατοικῆσαι (dwell)- This word is an aroist active infinitive which means to make an abode or home. Wuest’s Word Studies says, “The word ‘dwell’ is katoikeō (κατοικεω), ‘to be at home permanently’ in a certain place. The Greek word for a ‘home’ is oikos (οἰκος), ‘to live at home,’ oikeō (οἰκεω). The prefixed preposition kata (κατα), the local meaning of which is ‘down,’ adds permanency to the idea in the verb.”[16] He goes on to say that the sum total of divine powers and attributes are “at home in the sense that this divine fullness was not something added to His Being that was not natural to Him, but that it was part of the essential Being as part of His very constitution, and that permanently.”[17]

This verse teaches that the sum total of all the divine powers and attributes (πλήρωμα) are at home (κατοικῆσαι) permanently in Christ (ἐν αὐτῷ).

The passage goes on to teach the truth that Christ substituted Himself for the reconciliation of mankind. Christ, in whom all divine powers and attributes are resident, went to a cruel rugged cross and died a bloody death. The phrase “by him” (δι᾽ αὐτοῦ) is repeated. Jesus Christ is the instrumental agent in the new creation, as in the original creation.[18] This phrase is repeated to emphasize that Christ alone is the mediator between God and man. This reconciliation process came by means of the “blood of His Cross” (v. 20). This totally contradicts what Christian Science teaches:

“The efficacy of Jesus’ spiritual offering is infinitely greater than can be expressed by our sense of human blood. 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.”[19]

Colossians 1:20 clearly teaches that the blood shed on the cross was the means of reconciliation of man to God. Paul addresses the erroneous belief that Christ did not die in verse 22. The Greek phrase ἐν τῷ σώματι τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ διὰ τοῦ θανάτου totally dispels this false teaching. The word ἐν (in) is not signifying the place of death, but the instrument of death. It indicates that “Christ’s physical body was the means by which reconciliation was effected.”[20] “The whole phrase makes plain that the reconciliation of the Colossians was accomplished by one who was truly incarnate and who really died.”[21]

Mary Baker Eddy says that God unleashing His wrath on His beloved Son is “divinely unnatural.” But Colossians 1:19 states that this reconciliation by his death “pleased the Father.”

Colossians 1:15-16 clearly teaches that Jesus Christ was the creator of all things. How could that be? Does Genesis 1:1 say, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”? God and Jesus created all things. This is why in Genesis 1:26 God says, “Let us make man in our image.” He uses a plural pronoun, a clear evidence of the plural nature of God. “This one God is called the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all distinct personalities, all designated by God.”[22] The Scripture gives irrefutable evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity.

It is very clear that the Christian Science views of God, Christ and the atonement are totally opposed to the clear teachings of Scripture. Yet followers of this cult would still argue that they do believe the Bible. But if one denies these three straightforward doctrines of the Bible, then that one does not believe the Bible.

[1] F.E. Meyer, The Religious Bodies of . (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1961) p. 532.

[2] Martin, Walter, The Kingdom of the Cults. P.249

[3] Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, “Christian Science History,” [on-line], accessed 22 April 2004, available from www.carm.org/Christian_science/cshistory.htm. Internet

[4] Martin, Walter, The Kingdom of the Cults. P. 249

[5] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, The Mary Baker Eddy Library, [on-line]Preface p. vii-x, accessed 23 April 2004, available from http://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/marybakereddy/scienceandhealthonline.jhtml. Internet

[6] Church of Christ Scientist official site, “About the Church of Christ Scientist,” [on-line] accessed 23 April 2004, available from http://www.tfccs.com/aboutthechurch/, Internet.

[7] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 23.

[8] Ibid, p. 45

[9] Ibid, p. 24

[10] Martin, Walter, The Kingdom of the Cults. P. 267

[11] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 140

[12] Ibid, p. 360

[13] Ibid p.256

[14] Ibid p.331

[15]Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. Edited by Kittel, Gerhard, Geoffrey William Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich. Grand Rapids, MI : Eerdmans, 1964-c1976.

[16]Wuest, Kenneth S. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English Reader, Col 1:19. Grand Rapids : Eerdmans, 1997, c1984.

[17] Ibid

[18]Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset et al.. A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary., Col 1:20. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.

[19] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.25

[20] Peter O’brien, Word Biblical Commentary, Colossians, Philemon. (Word, Incorporated, 1982), p. 67-68

[21] Ibid, p. 68

[22] Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense. P. 410-411

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