“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons…” This is exactly what Jesus does in Matthew chapter nine and in the other gospel accounts of Mark, Luke, and John. But some cults and false teachers use the miracle accounts of Jesus to justify their beliefs, and then they add to scripture with their own authoritative books or doctrines.
Christian Science, or First Church of Christ, Scientist- is exactly one such group. In fact, their logo uses those same words: “Heal the Sick, Raise the Dead, Cast our Demons, Cleanse the Lepers.” Nearly every major city in America has a Christian Science Reading Room, and the Christian Science Monitor is a news organization that has been around a long time. But is Christian Science really Christian? Is it even Science? In truth, Christian Science is neither Christian nor Science. (In Christian Science lingo, the science part refers to understanding the spiritual laws of healing.) Here is a list of the major deviations between Christian Science and Orthodox Christianity:
- Christian Science denies the sufficiency and authority of the Bible. From Mary Baker Eddy’s writing, Science and Health: “In the year 1866 I discovered the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love and named my discovery Christian Science. God has been graciously preparing me during many years for the reception of this final revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific mental healing.” (Science and Health, 107:1-6) Notice that she calls this the “final revelation”. She even quotes the Apostle Paul from the book of Galatians to justify the fact that these new truths were specifically given to her by God, and not by any person or other teaching. (Although her writings were very similar to a psychic healer and hypnotist named Phineas Quinby.) False teachers usually begin with the premise or claim that God has revealed to them certain things which God has never revealed to anyone else. It is not wrong for a person to learn from other sources than the Bible, but what is common with cults and false teachers is this: their specific writings or “revelations” are put on equal authority and sometimes granted more authority than the Bible. Mary Baker Eddy also wrote that because of the number of different readings of the Old Testament and New Testament “a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with its own hue darkening to some extent the inspired pages.” (Science and Health, 139:15-22) In essence she claimed that the Bible could not be trusted as much as her writings: “No human pen nor tongue taught me the Science contained in this book, Science and Health; and neither tongue nor pen can overthrow it.” (Science and Health, 110:16-19)
2. God in Christian Science was defined by Mrs. Eddy as “The great I Am; the all knowing, all seeing, all acting, all wise, all loving, and eternal; Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, Love, all Substance; Intelligence.” (Science and Health, 587:5-8) But God is not personal in Christian Science. God is essentially a universal force or energy, an all encompassing spirit. In Christian Science Jesus is not both fully man and fully God as the scriptures declare, rather Jesus represents the best of all ideals: “Christ is the ideal truth that comes to heal sickness and sin through Christian Science, and attributes all power to God. 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; hence the duality of Jesus Christ” (Science and Health, 473:9-16) By separating Jesus and Christ, Christian Science denies the full deity of Jesus, who is the Christ!
3. Sin and evil in Christian Science are not realities of living in a fallen world, but rather they are illusions that are to be recognized and overcome through a proper mindset, or faith. From her work, Science and Health: “Nothing is real and eternal, — nothing is Spirit, — but God and His idea. Evil has no reality. It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense.” (71:1-3) Therefore in Christian Science there is no need for salvation, no need to rescue mankind from the penalty of sin and spiritual death. In fact, Eddy claimed that evil was an illusion, simply a false belief (Science and Health, 480:23-24) Rather, the goal is to escape from the illusion of evil and sickness and become one with Divine Love: “Jesus aided in reconciling man to God by giving man a truer sense of Love, the divine Principle of Jesus’ teachings, and this truer sense of Love redeems man from the law of matter, sin, and death by the law of Spirit, — the law of divine Love.” As a result, Christian Science denies that Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished the salvation of sinners. In Christian Science, Jesus is simply the man who helped others to understand God’s love.
4. Since understanding “true” Divine Love and escaping the illusion of sin and sickness is the goal for a Christian Scientist, it makes sense that their view of healing would be equally dangerous. Mary Baker Eddy taught that if people today simply “understood” divine love, they too would experience the same kinds of healing given in the gospel accounts: “The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus’ time, from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation. Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural. They are the sign of Immanuel, or ‘God with us,’ — a divine influence ever present in human consciousness and repeating itself, coming now as was promised aforetime…” (Science and Health, Preface-xi, 9-18) I would sure like it if sin and disease would “lose their reality and disappear” in my life, but I highly doubt that will happen as a result of changing my consciousness!
Mary Baker Eddy had a traumatic accident in 1866 and subsequently experienced healing. Her understanding of that healing was that she had been brought closer to Divine Love, and gained a full understanding of Jesus’ teaching. Since the Christian Science approach to healing is essentially through thought patterns and “faith”, Christian Scientists resist going to doctors or using traditional medicine. Instead, they will send a Christian Science Practitioner to someone’s house to pray for an ill person. Christian Scientists will say that many people have first hand accounts of being healed and restored using the teachings of Christian Science, but just because something “works” does not mean that it is ultimately true. There are also many accounts of young children who have died as a result of parents practicing Christian Science and refusing traditional medicine. One tragic case is that of Matthew Swan, whose parents Doug and Rita Swan, founded CHILD- Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty after Matthew’s death. The Swans later left Christian Science.
Christian Science is neither Christian, nor is it science. It is a false teaching and in many ways operates as a cult.