shared from and with BibleTexts.com users
Q&A #104 - Christian Science and biblical teachings
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.
|Relevance of history||Modern opinions||Trinity||The Son||The Holy Spirit||Christian Science origins||Christian Science healing|
What is below is the continuation of a dialog between someone writing to BibleTexts.com (designated as Writer) and the editor of BibleTexts.com (designated as BibleTexts.com). The first part of the dialog may be found at http://www.bibletexts.com/qa/qa103.htm
|Relevance of history||Top|
While I appreciate your response [see http://www.bibletexts.com/qa/qa103.htm], you lost me when you based most of your response on what the Roman Catholic church was doing in the early part of the first millenium A.D. I base my personal doctrine only on what I read in the Scriptures as well the teachings of those who are grounded in the Scriptures.
The point of my discussing the standards of orthodoxy and heresy in the early patristic church was to emphasize that by those standards all Protestant churches -- yours and mine -- would be classified as heretical. Noah Webster in his original 1828 dictionary (American Dictionary of the English Language: Noah Webster 1828 Edition Facsimile, published by the Foundation for American Christian Education, Volume 1, page 100; see http://www.face.net) correctly defined heresy as follows:
A fundamental error in religion, or an error of opinion respecting some fundamental doctrine of religion. But in countries where there is an established church, an opinion is deemed heresy, when it differs from that of the church. The Scriptures being the standard of faith, any opinion that is repugnant to its doctrines, is heresy; but as men differ in interpretation of Scripture, an opinion deemed heretical by one body of christians, may be deemed orthodox by another. In Scripture and primitive usage, heresy meant merely sect, party, or the doctrines of a sect, as we now use denomination or persuasion, implying no reproach.
We also need to to examine what "Scriptures" one is using as the basis of one's doctrines. The original Hebrew (Old Testament), Aramaic (Daniel only), and Greek (New Testament) texts are what actually constitute "the Bible." All versions of the Bible -- whether in Latin, English, Chinese, or Hindi; whether produced in 384 A.D., in 1611 A.D., or in 1996 A.D. -- are merely translations indirectly derived from many generations of handcopies of those original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. Unless one is reading the original texts of the original languages, one cannot be sure whether what one is reading truly represents the Bible. Versions such as the KJV have many, many differences from what was in the original Bible texts, especially in the New Testament, because the texts, especially the Greek New Testament texts, from which it was translated had so many errors. (For more details, see http://www.bibletexts.com/kjv-tr.htm.)
If we all base our doctrines on the best current representations of the original texts, we will be more likely to pray, to speak, and to act in unity and Christian fellowship. It is when we approach our Bible study with our own personal agendas and theological biases, that we put up walls between understanding each other and truly understanding the Bible. If we can agree to approach our Bible study with the same kind of no-holds-barred honesty that we expect of top-rate historians, consumer product testers, and police detectives, then we can have genuinely mutually edifying dialog on biblical matters. Then we all can unite in finding it truly inspiring to explore what Jesus and Paul actually said -- and what they expected of us -- and how much God loves us all!
For my response, I will paste and copy as well as refer you to to the website of The Watchman Expositor. According to their information (as well as other similar organizations), the Church of Christ, Scientist denies many of the essential doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, I post these below. It is not just my opinion that claims Christian Science to be heretical, it is according to the research and evaluation of many, many theologians that have determined that the religion to which you belong proclaims beliefs that are in direct contradiction to the essential doctrines of the Christian -- not necessarily Roman Catholic -- faith.
The scholars to which you refer are rendering their "opinion" just as anyone has the right to do. Their pronouncements represent one editorial position that may be supported by a number of "theologians." They are like a jury that has not been screened for biases to ensure their objectivity. There are other editorial positions represented by reputable and honest Bible scholars. Many of those scholars have a much more charitable view of Christian Science than "the many, many theologians" that you mention. You might find it interesting that Bruce M. Metgzer, arguably the best living authority on the texts and canon of the New Testament, allowed an article written by a Christian Science practitioner entitled, "Christian Science and the Bible," to be included in the very highly regarded Oxford Companion to the Bible (NY: Oxford University Press, 1993, page 111-112), of which Dr. Metzger and Dr. Michael D. Coogan were the editors.
Thanks again for your response and your indulgence to read mine.
1. The Trinity: Mrs. Eddy frequently oscillated in her writings between a personal and impersonal view of God. Even though Mrs. Eddy denied it, Christian Science teaches at least implicitly, if not explicitly, a pantheistic view of the nature of God: "God is All-in-all. God is good. Good is Mind. God, Spirit, being all, nothing is matter" (Science and Health, p. 113). Christian Science clearly repudiates the Trinitarian Godhead: "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" (Science and Health, p. 256). "Life, Truth, and Love constitutes the triune Person called God .God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter" (Science and Health, p. 331-332).
Writer: "Christian Science teaches at least implicitly, if not explicitly, a pantheistic view of the nature of God: 'God is All-in-all. God is good. Good is Mind. God, Spirit, being all, nothing is matter.'" (Science and Health, p. 113).
BibleTexts.com: The quotes you offer actually illustrate the biblical and early Christian foundation of Mary Baker Eddy's writings, and Eddy explicitly rejected and exposed pantheism. It should be noted that many of her terms and phrases come directly from the Bible, primarily the KJV, which was the only version considered to be "the Bible" by most Protestant theologians of her day. (She herself actually used over a dozen different English versions for her own study and quoted or paraphrased quite a few of them in her writings.)
It is most edifying to read both the Bible and Eddy's writings in their complete contexts. Not reading the Bible in context can result in personal doctrines and church doctrines that are in conflict with genuinely Bible-based teachings. Not reading Eddy's writings in context can result in misrepresentation by critics of Christian Science, just as reading her writings out of context has resulted in erroneous personal doctrines and practices by students of Christian Science. Unfortunately in this way many Christians, including some Christian Scientists, some liberals, some conservatives, and some fundamentalists misrepresent both biblical and Christian Science teachings.
Below are some of the terms and phrases you cite, followed by correlative references in the Bible or other early Christian literature:
"God is All-in-all" - Eddy borrowed this phrase from Paul in 1Co 15:28, where God is described as "all in all."
"God is good. Good is Mind." (S&H 113:17) "God is Mind." (S&H 239:29 and elsewhere) - The KJV of Job 23:13 refers to God as being "in one mind." In the first two centuries of the Christian era, however, there are even more explicit references to God being Mind.
Athenagoras [writing around 177 A.D.] was the first apologist to identify God as Mind (Leg. 10.3). Philo occasionally referred to God in this way, treating him as "the active cause, the most pure and unsullied Mind of the universe" (On the Creation of the World 8), but such a doctrine was only one of his interpretations. Athenagoras himself also used the term "Mind" in regard to the Son... Both Athenagoras and Theophilus are willing to call the Son or Logos the Mind of the Father (Clement calls the Logos the Son of the Father-Mind).
For "the image of God" is his Word (and the divine Word, the light who is the archetype of light, is a genuine son of Mind [the Father]); and an image of the Word is the true man, that is, the mind of man, who on this account is said to have been created "in the image" of God and "in his likeness," because through his understanding heart he is made like the divine Word or Reason [Logos], and so rational [logikos]
Writer: "Christian Science clearly repudiates the Trinitarian Godhead. '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.' (Science and Health, p. 256) 'Life, Truth, and Love constitutes the triune Person called God .God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter.'" (Science and Health, p. 331-332).
BibleTexts.com: Mary Baker Eddy stated as one of six tenets of Christian Science (S&H 497:5): "We acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God. We acknowledge His Son, one Christ; the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter; and man in God's image and likeness."
As most Bible dictionaries point out (see http://www.bibletexts.com/glossary/trinity.htm.), the Nicene Creed's doctrine of the Trinity as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit -- all constituting the same, one God -- is not found in the New Testament. It a theological doctrine first articulated near the end of the 2nd century A.D., and it became official church doctrine as a result of the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. In fact trias, the Greek term for the Trinity, was not used in connection with a Christian godhead until 180 A.D., and even then the Trinity was described as "God, his Word, and his Wisdom." It was only later that the concept evolved that the Trinity constituted a single godhead, with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit comprising the same, one God. This concept was unknown to the Christians of the first century.
A justification of the Trinity does appear in the KJV's errant wording of 1Jo 5:7,8, which reads:
"7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."
Only the words above in bold represent the original Greek text of 1 John. The italicized words were added to Erasmus' Greek text of 1 John in his 1522 edition. The added wording had not been in Erasmus' original 1514 edition, so a church official manipulated Erasmus to add the wording to his Greek text. As conservative biblical scholar F.F. Bruce (History of the English Bible, Third Edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 1978, pages 141-142) explains:
The words ["in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth."] omitted in the R.V. [Revised Version, 1881] were no part of the original Greek text, nor yet of the Latin Vulgate in its earliest form. They first appear in the writings of a Spanish Christian leader named Priscillian, who was executed for heresy in A.D. 385. Later they made their way into copies of the Latin text of the Bible. When Erasmus prepared his printed edition of the Greek New Testament, he rightly left those words out, but was attacked for this by people who felt that the passage was a valuable proof-text for the doctrine of the Trinity. He replied (rather incautiously) that if he could be shown any Greek manuscript which contained the words, he would include them in his next edition. Unfortunately, a Greek manuscript not more than some twenty years old was produced in which the words appeared: they had been translated into Greek from Latin. Of course, the fact that the only Greek manuscript exhibiting the words belonged to the sixteenth century was in itself an argument against their authenticity, but Erasmus had given his promise, and so in his 1522 edition he included the passage. (To-day one or two other very late Greek manuscripts are known to contain this passages; all others omit it.)
His additional words appears to have derived from a glossed/annotated version of the Latin Vulgate that was translated into Greek and handed to Erasmus as proof that the text was in the original Greek text. (For more details, browse: http://www.bibletexts.com/versecom/1jo05v07.htm.)
The result was that the Luther Bible in German, the 1611 KJV in English, and other Bible versions whose New Testaments were based upon Erasmus' Greek text included that errant text of 1Jo 5:7,8, which for the next four centuries gave theologians a false justification for believing that the 325 A.D. Nicene Council's doctrine of the Trinity was clearly articulated in the Bible.
In Biblical Hermeneutics (edited by Bruce Corley, Steve W. Lemke, and Grant Lovejoy, Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002, page 388), Harold Freeman, in his chapter on "Biblical Criticism and Biblical Preaching" writes:
Textual criticism is the discipline that seeks to identify the original wording of an ancient document. Textual criticism of the Bible benefits preaching by preventing nonbiblical sermons. ...We regret giving up a nice doctrinal sermon on the Trinity based on 1 John 5:7b (KJV). Nevertheless, if it is determined that these are additions to the original writings, whether intentional or accidental, biblical preaching based on these texts cannot occur... Sermons based on spurious or corrupted texts cannot be genuinely biblical. The determination of exactly what the Scripture said is the starting point for biblical preaching.
Also in the same Biblical Hermeneutics, William David Kirpatrick, in his chapter on "From Biblical Text to Theological Formulation," notes (page 366):
Otto Weber calls the doctrine of the Trinity the "classic example of a 'dogma,' in that it interprets the testimony of Scripture" (Weber, 1:350). In Jesus Christ and through the witness of the Spirit, the "unity, life, and revelation [of God] are expressed ... in reflection and interpretation" (Weber, 1:371).
To explore Christ Jesus as reflecting God, as the image and likeness of God, see:http://www.bibletexts.com/terms/image.htm - "Man (Gen 1:26,27) and Christ as the 'image' of God"
As Mrs. Eddy understood well, the common doctrine of the Trinity does suggests polytheism. Early Christians, too, were very concerned that the developing doctrine of the Trinity was a departure from monotheism. Some Christians clearly saw it as polytheistic heresy. It had been bitterly debated until it was settled by Constantine's coercion and edict at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. Even with that pronouncement of the Nicene Creed, the theological pendulum swung back and forth until later in the century, as different officials went in and out of power. Those who were on the losing side at any given time were banished, and some even lost their lives over the issue.
Eddy's reference to God as the "I AM" is derived from Exo 3:14, where God described himself to Moses as the "I AM." To explore all of Jesus' I AM sayings, browse http://www.bibletexts.com/terms/i-am.htm.
For more more comprehensive information on the doctrine of the Trinity, see http://www.bibletexts.com/glossary/trinity.htm.
2. God the Son: Christian Science denies that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. It denies that Jesus is one Person with two natures - fully God and fully man. Christian Science presents Jesus Christ in terms of a Gnostic duality: "The spiritual Christ was infallible; Jesus, as material manhood, was not Christ." (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 84). "Christ as the true spiritual idea, is the ideal of God now and forever " ( Science and Health, p. 361). "The Christ is incorporeal, spiritual " while, "The corporeal man Jesus was human." (Science and Health, p. 332).
Writer: "Christian Science denies that Jesus Christ is God incarnate."
BibleTexts.com: According to the canonical gospels, Jesus himself rejected the assertion that he was God.
my Father and your Father, my God and your God. (Joh 20:17, NRSV)
The Father and I are one (Joh 10:30, NRSV)
I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (Joh 17:20-23, NRSV).
We can gratefully acknowledge and honor the individual roles of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Mat 28:19), but we are not bound to the non-biblical theological hypotheses that all three are somehow the same, one God. Even in the biblical passages that some use to justify that hypothesis, a more careful examination of those texts in context lead to a different interpretation. When we read:
One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (called the Twin), was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, We have seen the Lord! Thomas said to them, Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe. A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace be with you. Then he said to Thomas, Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then stretch out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe! Thomas answered him, My Lord and my God! Jesus said to him, Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me! (Joh 20:24-28, TEV)
We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we know the true God. We live in union with the true Godin union with his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and this is eternal life. (1Jo 4:20, TEV)
24 ...Christ will overcome all spiritual rulers, authorities, and powers, and will hand over the Kingdom to God the Father. 25 For Christ must rule until God defeats all enemies and puts them under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be defeated will be death. 27 For the scripture says, "God put all things under his feet." It is clear, of course, that the words "all things" do not include God himself, who puts all things under Christ. 28 But when all things have been placed under Christ's rule, then he himself, the Son, will place himself under God, who placed all things under him; and God will rule completely over all. (1Co 15:24-28)
As Jesus was starting on his way again, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked him, Good Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life? Why do you call me good? Jesus asked him. No one is good except God alone." (Mar 10:17,18, TEV)
God gave the Law through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is the same as God and is at the Fathers side, he has made him known. (Joh 1:17,18, TEV. See also an explanation of the correct translation of the Greek text of these verses at http://www.bibletexts.com/versecom/joh01v18.htm.)
No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in union with us, and his love is made perfect in us. We are sure that we live in union with God and that he lives in union with us, because he has given us his Spirit. And we have seen and tell others that the Father sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone declares that Jesus is the Son of God, he lives in union with God and God lives in union with him. (1Jo 4:12-15, TEV)
We all should readily admit that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, as 1Jo 4:15 insists; we all can gratefully admit that the Son is "the same as God" (Joh 1:18) just as the image in the mirror is the same as the subject in front of the mirror; but there is no biblical basis for having to declare that Jesus is God. (See also an explanation of the correct translation of the Greek text of Joh 1:1 description of "the Logos" as being "the same as God" at http://www.bibletexts.com/versecom/joh01v01.htm.) We, however, do learn from the Scriptures about our own relationship with God, as exemplied this relationship -- as the image of God, as Genesis 1:26,27 tells us:
Writer: "It denies that Jesus is one Person with two natures - fully God and fully man. Christian Science presents Jesus Christ in terms of a Gnostic duality:"
BibleTexts.com: On the contrary, Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of Christian Science repudiates gnosticism. See http://www.bibletexts.com/qa/qa102.htm. We need to be careful to recognize that gnosticism began to flourish in the second century.
For instance, though gnostics may have adopted some first century writings, such as the Gospel of Thomas, many very honest biblical scholars today believe that the original Gospel of Thomas was not a gnostic writing but was a first century sayings gospel of the same early date as the Gospel of Q. Even Paul's writings advocate gnosis (spiritual knowledge) (see Rom 2:20, 11:33, 15:14; 1Co 1:5; 12:8-11; ) but also warns of having gnosis without having -- and embodying -- agape (love) (see 1Co 8:1-11, 13:1-13). Paul and Mary Baker Eddy did not advocate gnosis in the way that gnostics in the second century and beyond did. Eddy's teachings very, very closely parallel and are adapted from Paul's writings, and Paul's are the earliest writings in the New Testament, and Paul had direct interaction with Jesus' immediate disciples (Peter and John) and family (James, the brother of Jesus). Most scholars doubt that any other New Testament writers had the direct contact with Jesus inner circle as did Paul, with the possible exception of the author/s of the Gospel of John and the Epistles of John. (Some consider that the original draft of the Gospel of John was derived from a community of followers who were students of the disciple John and/or of Mary Magdalene. For additional details, see http://www.bibletexts.com/terms/bd.htm.)
In Everett Ferguson's excellent Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, Second Edition (NY: Garland Publishing, 1998, page 465-470), Pheme Perkins provides a very sound description of gnosticism, which in part reads:
Derived from the Greek for "knowledge," gnosis, the term "Gnosticism" covers a number of religious and quasiphilosophical movements that developed in the religious pluralism of the Hellenistic world and flourished from the second to the fifth centuries A.D.
Gnosis in this sense does not refer to understanding of truths about the human and natural world that can be reached through reason. It refers to a "revealed knowledge" available only to those who have received the secret teachings of a heavenly revealer. All other humans are trapped in ignorance of the true divine world and the destiny of the Gnostic soul to return to its home there...
Worldview. One of the most striking features of Gnostic teaching is the elaborate mythology that explains how this world of darkness, dominated by a demonic god and his powers, came into being...
Those gnostic teachings may be representative of some other denominational dogmas today, but certainly not of the teachings of Christian Science. (Augustine's and Luther's doctrines of predestination and justification by faith, with no concern for the life substantiating that faith, is much closer to core gnostic values than anything taught in Christian Science.) The central doctrines of Christian Science are especially derived from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7), the Gospel of John, and the writings of Paul. Genesis and Revelation are also highly important in Christian Science, as are all of the other books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
It also should be noted that most Protestant and Roman Catholic critical biblical scholars today have concluded that Jesus did not consider himself to be God. In fact, they would assert that Jesus, the Jew, would have summarily rejected such a heretical belief. Many of those scholars also make a distinction between the historical Jesus of Nazareth and the post-crucifixion Christ and Lord.
For a fuller view of the diversity of Christian theology even in the first and second centuries, I recommend Walter Bauer's Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (Philaddelphia: Fortress, 1971). On the subject of gnositicsm, he commented (page 57):
Clement never lost his enthusiasm for "gnosis." To be sure, he makes a distinction between genuine and heretical gnosis, and feels himself to be separated from the latter and linked with the former through the holy apostles Peter, James, John, and Paul (Strom. 1.[1.]11.3). But this does not keep him from having some central points in common with heretical gnosticism...
Eddy herself never lost her New Testament roots or her staunch advocacy of biblical Christianity.
For more more comprehensive information on "the Son," see http://www.bibletexts.com/glossary/trinity.htm#son.
3. God the Holy Spirit: Christian Science denies that the Holy Spirit is a personal being. It teaches that the Holy Spirit is Christian Science, "This Comforter I understand to be Divine Science" (Science and Health, p. 55)
Writer: "Christian Science denies that the Holy Spirit is a personal being."
BibleTexts.com: Nowhere does the Bible teach the Holy Spirit is a personal being. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament refer to God's spirit, or the Holy Spirit, to represent God's active presence and power. Also Jesus in the Gospel of John (e.g., Joh 14:15-16:15) and Paul in Romans (Rom 8:26-29) both refer to the Holy Spirit as an advocate or defense attorney on our behalf, as the Spirit of truth, as an intercessor. This presence and power of God represents the mind of God. It is not another person with a mind of its own.
Writer: "It [Christian Science] teaches that the Holy Spirit is Christian Science."
BibleTexts.com: Nowhere in Eddy's published writings does she refer to Christian Science as being either the Holy Spirit or the Comforter. Eddy does refer to the Comforter as Divine Science, which she uses as a completely non-denominational term. She uses it to describe the pure Science of God, just a a physical scientist would refer to the pure science of the universe, not owned by any particular individual, university, professional organization, country, planet, or time-period. She writes:
Divine Science derives its sanction from the Bible, and the divine origin of Science is demonstrated through the holy influence of Truth in healing sickness and sin. This healing power of Truth must have been far anterior to the period in which Jesus lived. It is as ancient as "the Ancient of days." It lives through all Life, and extends throughout all space. (S&H 146:23)
To further explore this topic, browse http://www.bibletexts.com/terms/comforter.htm#4.
|Christian Science origins||Top|
Christian Scientists believe that Mary Baker Eddy received the Truth through divine revelation (Science and Health, p. 110). The fact is that she plagiarized much of what she wrote from metaphysician George Hegel, P.P. Quimby, Francis Lieber and others (Walter Martin, Christian Science, pp. 7-13; Martin Gardner, The Healing Revelation of Mary Baker Eddy, pp. 145-158).
Unfortunately for Walter Martin and his readers, Martin dishonestly mislead his readers by ignoring irrefutable documentation that he knew would have undermined the unchristian slanderous propaganda he was marketing. One classic example of this is his reassertion that Eddy was dependent on Hegel or Lieber for her teachings. A good summary of the conspiratorial fraud of that assertion can be found in "Appendix D: The Lieber-Hegel Document" of Robert Peel's Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Discovery (NY: Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 1966, pages 305-307. Thomas C. Johnsen also wrote an article about this titled, "Historical Consensus and Christian Science: the Career of a Manuscript Controversy." It appeared in the March 1980 issue of the New England Quarterly.) Peel's books were certainly known by Martin, but as is the case with fundamentalists of all religious persuasions (Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Atheist, etc.), such zealots do not allow the facts to get in the way of the dogma. If needed they will invent their own "facts."
It is worth noting that Peel's books are not popular among those aberrant followers of Eddy who believe her to be some unerring, semi-divine figure. Peel was a very honest scholar who "told it like it is," whether or not church officials or the congregants wanted to hear it. He was a man of uncompromising intellectual integrity. In his three-volume biography of Eddy, which is the best biographical representation of her life, Peel provides a very honest and exhaustively detailed account of Eddy's remarkable life, including her mistakes and shortcomings. Regarding the Lieber-Hegel Document, Peel writes:
In 1955 a book entitled Ordeal by Concordance by Conrad Henry Moehlman was published by Longmans Green of New York and London. Dr. Moehlman, a church historian who was for many years James B. Colgate Professor of the History of Christianity at Colgate-Rochester Seminary, had been assigning the Lieber-Hegel document to one of his classes each year as a linguistic-historical problem, and each year the result was the same. The students came to the unanimous conclusion that it was a forgery plagiarized from Science ahd Health rather than the other way around. Dr. Moelman's book documented his own reason for reaching such a conclusion.
|Christian Science healing||Top|
Whereas the Christian Science approach to healing may help psychosomatic illnesses, it has been scientifically demonstrated that it is not effective with real illness. Studies comparing the cumulative death rates of practicing Christian Scientists with control groups have shown significantly higher death rates among the Christian Scientists (Journal of the American Medical Association, September 22/29, 1989, pp. 1657-58, and Morbidity Weekly Report , August 23, 1991, pp. 579-582).
Some historians today say the same about Jesus' healing 2000 years ago -- that he was a healer like many of the wandering sage healers of his day, healing only psychosomatic illnesses. They discount the biblical healings that would defy the capabilities of today's medical science, even though the record of Christian healing continues with other Christian healers in the first several centuries of the Christian era. (See http://www.bibletexts.com/topics/christianhealing.htm.)
It has not been scientifically demonstrated that Christian Science is not effective with real illness. You certainly cannot convince the many of thousands of people who, soley through prayer as taught in Christian Science, have been healed of medically diagnosed and documented conditions after having been given up as incurrable by medical physicians. Some of these healing have been instantaneous, mirroring the healings performed by Jesus and his students/disciples. For explicit examples, browse http://www.tfccs.com/GV/CSPS/CSJ/testimonies.jhtml. In addition to the reports of healing in the weekly Christian Science Sentinel, the monthly Christian Science Journal, and the monthly Herald of Christian Science (in multiple languages), the following books provide considerable documentation, including references to medical records:
- A Century of Christian Science Healing (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1966)
- Freedom and Responsibility: Christian Science Healing for Children (Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1989)
- Healing Spiritually: Renewing your life through the power of God's law (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1996)
- Spiritual Healing in a Scientific Age, by Robert Peel (NY: Harper & Row, 1987)
The record of successful Christian Science healing cannot be denied, unless one also would deny the value of the X-Rays, CAT scans, blood-work, and doctors' physical examinations that have documented such healings. That does not mean that there have not been far too many protracted or failed healings. According to the gospels, Jesus disciples, too, sometimes failed to heal, and such failures were rebuked by Jesus. (See Mar 9:14-29; Mat 17:14-20. Even Jesus reportedly did not always heal completely on his first attempt, as described in Mar 8:22-25.) A key point to observe in both Jesus' teachings and Eddy's teachings is that it is never the patient who should be rebuked for a failure of healing. Also condemning those who have turned to medical treatment after not being healed through Christian Science prayer is inconsistent with Jesus' and Eddy's teachings, but that has not prevented students of Christian Science from sometimes doing so. This has been very harmful. What, however, does Eddy say on the subject? She consistently addresses the responsibility of the Christian healer, not the patient, for any failure in healing. Some of the following writings of Eddy may be surprising to some readers who are not students of Christian Science.
- S&H 149:11 - The rule and its perfection of operation never vary in Science. If you fail to succeed in any case, it is because you have not demonstrated the life of Christ, Truth, more in your own life,--because you have not obeyed the rule and proved the Principle of divine Science.
- S&H 366:3 - In order to cure his patient, the metaphysician must first cast moral evils out of himself and thus attain the spiritual freedom which will enable him to cast physical evils out of his patient; but heal he cannot, while his own spiritual barrenness debars him from giving drink to the thirsty and hinders him from reaching his patient's thought,--yea, while mental penury chills his faith and understanding.
- S&H 401:27 - Until the advancing age admits the efficacy and supremacy of Mind, it is better for Christian Scientists to leave surgery and the adjustment of broken bones and dislocations to the fingers of a surgeon, while the mental healer confines himself chiefly to mental reconstruction and to the prevention of inflammation. Christian Science is always the most skilful surgeon, but surgery is the branch of its healing which will be last acknowledged. However, it is but just to say that the author has already in her possession well-authenticated records of the cure, by herself and her students through mental surgery alone, of broken bones, dislocated joints, and spinal vertebrae.
- S&H 443:14-19 - If patients fail to experience the healing power of Christian Science, and think they can be benefited by certain ordinary physical methods of medical treatment, then the Mind-physician should give up such cases, and leave invalids free to resort to whatever other systems they fancy will afford relief.
- S&H 444:7 - If Christian Scientists ever fail to receive aid from other Scientists,--their brethren upon whom they may call,--God will still guide them into the right use of temporary and eternal means. Step by step will those who trust Him find that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
- S&H 464:13 - If from an injury or from any cause, a Christian Scientist were seized with pain so violent that he could not treat himself mentally,--and the Scientists had failed to relieve him,--the sufferer could call a surgeon, who would give him a hypodermic injection, then, when the belief of pain was lulled, he could handle his own case mentally. Thus it is that we "prove all things; [and] hold fast that which is good."
- Man 47:4 - Duty to Patients. SECT. 23. If a member of this Church has a patient whom he does not heal, and whose case he cannot fully diagnose, he may consult with an M.D. on the anatomy involved. And it shall be the privilege of a Christian Scientist to confer with an M.D. on Ontology, or the Science of being.
- Mis 40:9-25 - It is often asked, "If Christian Science is the same method of healing that Jesus and the apostles used, why do not its students perform as instantaneous cures as did those in the first century of the Christian era?" In some instances the students of Christian Science equal the ancient prophets as healers. All true healing is governed by, and demonstrated on, the same Principle as theirs; namely, the action of the divine Spirit, through the power of Truth to destroy error, discord of whatever sort. The reason that the same results follow not in every case, is that the student does not in every case possess sufficiently the Christ-spirit and its power to cast out the disease. The Founder of Christian Science teaches her students that they must possess the spirit of Truth and Love, must gain the power over sin in themselves, or they cannot be instantaneous healers.
- Mis 41:18-19,26 - [Question] Can all classes of disease be healed by your method? [Answer] We answer, Yes... The divine Principle which governs the universe, including man, if demonstrated, is sufficient for all emergencies. But the practitioner may not always prove equal to bringing out the result of the Principle that he knows to be true.
- Mis 54:25-8 - [Question] Because none of your students have been able to perform as great miracles in healing as Jesus and his disciples did, does it not suggest the possibility that they do not heal on the same basis? [Answer] You would not ask the pupil in simple equations to solve a problem involving logarithms; and then, because he failed to get the right answer, condemn the pupil and the science of numbers. The simplest problem in Christian Science is healing the sick, and the least understanding and demonstration thereof prove all its possibilities. The ability to demonstrate to the extent that Jesus did, will come when the student possesses as much of the divine Spirit as he shared, and utilizes its power to overcome sin.
- My 227:14-17 - Christian Scientists should be influenced by their own judgment in taking a case of malignant disease. They should consider well their ability to cope with the claim..
- My 345:21 - The work done by the surgeon is the last healing that will be vouchsafed to us, or rather attained by us, as we near a state of spiritual perfection. At present I am conservative about advice on surgical cases.
- Mis 44:8 - The remedial power of Christian Science is positive, and its application direct. It cannot fail to heal in every case of disease, when conducted by one who understands this Science sufficiently to demonstrate its highest possibilities.
- S&H 462:1 - Some individuals assimilate truth more readily than others, but any student, who adheres to the divine rules of Christian Science and imbibes the spirit of Christ, can demonstrate Christian Science, cast out error, heal the sick, and add continually to his store of spiritual understanding, potency, enlightenment, and success.
- S&H 1:6 - Prayer, watching, and working, combined with self-immolation, are God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind.
Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer