The Three Most Shocking Beliefs of Christian Science

Title: The Three Most Shocking Beliefs of Christian Science

Text: Galatians 5:16-21

Time: October 23rd, 2011

 

I’ve presented the three most shocking beliefs of Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and so today I’d like to round out the trio of infamous cults by presenting the three most shocking beliefs of Christian Science. To begin with, the name “Christian Science” is very misleading, because there is nothing Christian or scientific about what this church believes or practices. In fact, quite the contrary. Christian Science is a cult based on philosophical idealism, which is the belief that the only thing that exists is mind or thought. It has nothing to do with real science, which is based on careful empirical observation and testing. No. Christian Science has nothing to do with observation and testing — and everything to do with pure philosophical speculation. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, was an armchair theologian, or in other words, she converted the philosophical school of absolute idealism into a theological system for use in her new church, the cult of Christian Science. There existed at the time a popular philosophy called idealism, which explained reality as simply mind or thought. The world exists as a reality only because we think it exists. The material world exists because we believe the idea that matter and energy exists, and so forth. Philosophers such as George Berkeley believed that everything existed in the Mind of God. Within God’s Mind we have our existence — and everything else exists also only as thoughts in the Mind of God. There is no matter, only the idea of matter. Everything is mind and mind is everything. Now from a strictly philosophical point of view, this school of thought has never been very popular because most people intuitively believe that what they experience as the real, physical world really is the real, physical world. Although, on purely philosophical grounds, absolute idealism is pretty hard to refute. In other words, if someone wants to take the position and hold to it stubbornly that everything is really only idea, not material, what can you do? A famous philosopher was once asked if he could refute the absolute idealism argument. At once he kicked a stone and said, “Thus, I refute it.” But as far as a rational, logical refutation, it’s hard to come by because someone can always claim, for example, against the stone-kicking argument, the stone only appears or is perceived to be hard; it’s only the very strong idea of hardness. It’s very difficult to go any further against such arguments. But what Mary Baker Eddy did was take the philosophy of absolute idealism and apply it to theology, Christianity and the Bible. Starting from the assumption that only Mind and ideas exist, she then reinterpreted all of the Bible and Christianity to fit this philosophy of idealism. But not only that, she used the occasion to alter the orthodox, biblical, historic Christian faith to fit her personal preferences as well. Because, after all, there were legitimate Christians who tried to apply idealism to the biblical faith in a more orthodox, traditional and biblical way during the same period. But Mary Baker Eddy’s system achieved the most notoriety, unfortunately, with all her departures from true, biblical Christianity. So what are the three most shocking beliefs of Christian Science? Let me explain.

 

Christian Science shocking belief #1 – the material world doesn’t exist, it’s an illusion of the mind. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” But according to Christian Science the earth, the material world of earth and sky, doesn’t really exist except in our minds. Borrowing heavily from the philosophy of absolute idealism, like I explained before, Christian Science teaches that there really isn’t a material world. We only think there is a material world. Here is a saying that is repeated each week in every Christian Science church, “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter . . . [and it concludes]: Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.” Now from a biblical, Christian worldview, this is complete nonsense, because if the whole world and all of reality were simply an illusion of the mind; if the material world as described repeatedly in the Bible were really unreal as Christian Science teaches, then God would be guilty of the biggest representation of all because he reveals to us in the Bible a material world that is very real – and contrasts the material world with the spiritual world. You can’t contrast the material with the spiritual if there really is no material in the first place. What about the Apostle Paul? He writes in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable, it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” So we see that God’s revelation, the Bible, consistently describes the contrast between the material, physical world and the immaterial, spiritual world. This would be impossible if the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy were true. If in fact there is only one reality – spirit or mind, then the whole of God’s revelation would be misleading us. Christian Science thinks that understanding the world as a material illusion, when really everything is mind, helps explain things better. But it really only confuses things more. There are ways God could have communicated that the material, physical world wasn’t real, if that is what he intended to do. In fact, there are religions of the world that teach this very thing. For example, Hinduism and Buddhism, if they don’t teach that the material world is an illusion, come very close to teaching it. I’m not an expert in Hindu and Buddhist teachings, but if I can remember correctly from my college and seminary days in learning about world religions, these eastern religions both teach the illusory nature of the material, physical world. On this point, Mary Baker Eddy taught nothing new. But what’s so shocking is her applying it to Christianity and trying to convince Christians this is the biblical faith. It isn’t. What is shocking and what most people don’t know is that the Christian Science church and its members believe the material, physical world is an illusion. This bizarre belief is only the beginning of their shocking doctrines. There is more.

 

Christian Science shocking belief #2 – sickness and death don’t exist, they’re only illusions of the mind. Revelation 21:3-4, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the older order of things has passed away.’” In historic, orthodox, biblical Christianity, sickness, pain and death are seen as realities that will one day be dealt with finally by the Lord. We look forward to the day when these negative and hurtful things will be done away with and a new order of pure life, health and blessings forever will result. But according to Christian Science teachings, these things don’t exist anyway; they are only illusions of the mind, mental tricks that cause us sadness because we believe in them. Mary Baker Eddy taught that sickness, pain and death are illusions of the mortal mind. However, here is where a lot of hypocrisy comes into the picture in connection with the Christian Science church. It’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, took medicine to relieve her pain when she was ill. But wait, isn’t sickness and pain simply a mental illusion? If so, why didn’t the founder of Christian Science simply will her way to health? She wrote a book that is considered almost on a par with the Bible by Christian Science called, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” as an explanation of her new views. Yet, when she was sick she took medicine and when she was on her deathbed she took painkillers to help ease her discomfort. But this is only the beginning of the Christian Science hypocrisy. Christian Science members say they don’t believe in death, yet their death rate is still the national average – one per person! They say they don’t believe in sickness, yet church members still get sick. They say that pain is a mental error or false belief, yet they still suffer pain like everyone else. Now they do believe in divine healing, but so do real, authentic, biblical Christians believe in healing. But historic Christianity teaches that sickness, pain and death are real, but in the case of healing, God in his mercy and power intervenes to change sickness into health. In the Bible, we read of examples where God turned death into life by bringing back Lazarus, and also, of course, Jesus Christ from the dead. There are reports also of healings and even resurrections occurring today, but these are supernatural miracles. In Christian Science, healing is pursued by denying there ever was sickness! This is not Christian; this is cultic false teaching. People don’t realize this shocking and bizarre doctrine, because the Christian Science church is careful to cultivate a respectable image with publications such as the Christian Science Monitor newspaper. But underneath it all lays the shocking belief that the church denies disease, sickness, pain and death! But there’s more.

 

Christian Science shocking belief #3 – sin and evil don’t exist, they are illusions of the mind. Revelation 22:3-5, “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” This passage describes the final state for all believers with God in heaven. The curse of the Fall, of sin and evil will be removed. There will be no darkness, physically or spiritually in the final heavenly kingdom of God. Now what many or most people don’t know is that Christian Science teaches that not only is there no real physical or material world; not only is there no sickness, pain or death; but there is no sin or evil at all either! Yes, that’s right, according to Mary Baker Eddy and the Christian Science church, there’s no such thing as sin or evil – they don’t exist, only we think they are real and so they fool us in our minds. According to the Christian Science church we give them a false reality by believing in them. So then, the problem isn’t so much the problem of sin or evil, its’ the problem of us believing these things are really real! We simply have wrong thinking that needs to be straightened out. It’s pretty obvious that in this area Mary Baker Eddy and her church are treading on dangers grounds, because if sin and evil aren’t real, then Christ came for nothing. Or at best, Christ came to correct our way of thinking about these things. But if that’s why he came to die on the cross – to correct our way of thinking about sin and evil – why didn’t he just say so? He said he came to die for the sins of the world as an atoning sacrifice. He treated sin and evil as real things. If sin and evil aren’t really real, then he could have saved himself a lot of pain (real or imagined!) by simply explaining things along the lines Mary Baker Eddy does in her “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” But Jesus doesn’t do any such thing, but instead treats sin seriously as something real that needed atoned. And he treated evil as something real that needed defeating. The truth is, Jesus and the apostles taught nothing like what Christian Science teaches. Like I mentioned before, there were already major world religions that taught much or most of reality is a mental illusion – Hinduism and Buddhism are examples. If Jesus and the apostles had wanted to teach that much or most of reality is illusion, they could have done so. But they didn’t. They dealt with the realities of the world, both physical and spiritual realities, in a straightforward way, unlike Christian Science that teaches much or most of reality isn’t real anyway. The level of denial members of the Christian Science church practice is shocking!

 

The only good thing about the Christian Science cult is that it seems to be dying – and that’s no illusion! Membership across the country and world is down. Where there were once large church buildings in downtown city areas, now these congregations have dwindled down to a few faithful, aging members. The Christian Science Monitor newspaper is still widely read and continues to have influence, but it too is suffering the way of all print-based papers in an Internet world – it’s declining too. There is a radio program, the Sentinel, that is heard on Sundays in many different locations, but that may be a last ditch effort at recruitment. The good news, from a biblical, historic Christian standpoint, is that if trends continue, the Christian Science church will be gone in the next fifty to one hundred years. If all churches are going through challenges to survive in the modern, secular era – and they are – then the Christian Science cult church is particularly hit hard by losses. Less and less people are willing to give them even a modest amount of respect simply because they call themselves a church. In times past, there was respect given to church, unfortunately of any type, which is how so many false cults got started in the early days, but now people are less willing to give churches respect simply because they are established churches. In days gone by the Christian Science church built and maintained church property in almost every town and city in the United States. There may not have been many people attending, but at least they were listed among churches in nearly every town or city. But today, with an aging congregation and dwindling attendance, just because they own church property doesn’t buy them any credibility in the area. In fact, as more and more people learn about the shocking and bizarre doctrines they teach, they’ll have even less credibility among people. It used to be that most people didn’t know what the Christian Science church believed or what they practiced. They were a church, so they were given a respected place in the community, even though hardly anybody understood them. Not today. As more and more people have access to information over the Internet through the ability to quickly search the church’s doctrines and practices, Christian Science will suffer even greater loss of credibility in the community. This is a good thing from an authentic Christian viewpoint. As I said before, there is nothing Christian or scientific about Christian Science. Today, many more people will understand and properly reject this church as a false cult. Let us pray this happens.

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