Questions, Insights, & Responses

shared from and with users

Q&A #65 - Question from a Roman Catholic girl about her Christian Scientist boyfriend?

by Robert Nguyen Cramer

This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.


Question/insight #65:

I was raised Roman Catholic and my boyfriend is a Christian Scientist. Please explain to me the differences in the two religions, and how they view each other.

Response #65:

Both the Roman Catholic Church and The Church of Christ, Scientist, teach us to wholeheartedly love and depend upon God, to gratefully follow the life and teachings of Christ Jesus, and to unconditionally love our neighbor as ourselves. As a Christian, first and foremost, I view fellow-Christians of all denominations as my sisters and brothers in Christ. The feeling of fellowship and relatedness does not stop there. I have met many people who have no religious education or religious affiliation but who by nature live more the teachings of Christ than many who call themselves Christians or Christian Scientists. The Apostle Paul put it this way:

As a Christian and a Christian Scientist, I concur with Mary Baker Eddy, the author of the Christian Science textbook, who wrote:

In 1899 Mrs. Eddy wrote a letter to the editor of a New York newspaper a very charitable response to "A Priest of the Church" who had referenced her address to a church. She concluded her letter:

I would that all the churches on earth could unite as brethren in one prayer: Father, teach us the life of Love. (Miscellany, page 301:9-11)

In 1903 Mrs. Eddy also wrote a beautiful eulogy for Pope Leo XIII:

I know at least one student of Christian Science who did her theological seminary study at a Roman Catholic university. She greatly admired her professors and fellow students, and she was treated with respect and appreciation by them.

Some of the best biblical research materials in English are the work of Roman Catholic scholars. The New American Bible (from which all Bible texts in this response have been taken) is an excellent translation with excellent footnotes. I believe that the New Jerome Biblical Commentary is the best one-volume commentary available in English today. Rudolph Schnackenburg's and Ray Brown's commentaries on the Gospel of John are among the best commentaries ever written on John. It was only as a result of Vatican II (1962-1965) that many lay Roman Catholic Christians experienced English language Bible readings at mass and that many lay Roman Catholics really began to explore the Bible. Prior to that the Latin Vulgate was the scriptures read at most masses, and Bible reading was not so common as it was in the Protestant tradition.

Since most Roman Catholics did not study the Bible prior to that, Roman Catholic Christians who now study the Bible often do so with less theologically biased views than many of their Protestant brothers and sisters. The biblical message is fresher to them than to many Protestant Christians. The late Raymond E. Brown's Responses to 101 Questions on the Bible (NY: Paulist Press, 1990) provides a wonderful example of the intellectual integrity of an internationally celebrated New Testament Roman Catholic biblical scholar, who also happened to be a Roman Catholic priest who sat on the Roman Pontifical Biblical Commission. (Even in the latter half of Father Brown's Responses where he frequently provides a mild defense of the official church position on the basis of church doctrine, he also generally presents the dissenting view of Protestants and other scholars. In the first 60 or so questions, his explanations are very consistent with explanations that the very best Protestant scholars would give on those questions.)

You might find it of interest to know that for several years I have been participating in an international, email-based "Ordination of Women" forum. It appears that the majority of participants are Roman Catholics. Involvement in that ecumenical forum has been exhilarating. Some of my contributions and other forum-members' responses to my contributions are available to be read at

Over the past 20 centuries, there have been many preachers and teachers with many valuable messages to offer, but there still is only one unique Christ Jesus, who is the only final authority of all Christians. I feel that a very important part of my current adventure as a Christian is to explore and articulate (with my words and with my life) the clearest, most honest possible understanding of the life, works, and words of Jesus and of the first century Christian community. I am grateful to have many other Christians, including Roman Catholics, as companions in that adventure. When I was a Christian Science prison chaplain, one Roman Catholic priest used to encourage inmates to come see me. We both were supportive of each other's ministries. I am eager to learn from and with all fellow Christians, regardless of their denominational traditions.

Regardless of our job descriptions, it is how we individually and collectively contribute to the success of our company that counts. In the same way, regardless of our denomination, it is how we live, breathe, and illustrate the Good News (Gospel) of Christ that really matters.

Representing well the teachings of Jesus (see Mar 12:28-34), Paul described the condition of us all:


Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer