Questions, Insights, & Responses

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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 (designated as Writer) and the editor of (designated as The first part of the dialog may be found at

Relevance of history Top


While I appreciate your response [see], 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 correctly defined heresy as follows:

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

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!

Modern opinions Top


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.

Trinity Top


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). 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.

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). 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, 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:

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):

To explore Christ Jesus as reflecting God, as the image and likeness of God, see: - "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

For more more comprehensive information on the doctrine of the Trinity, see

The Son Top


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." According to the canonical gospels, Jesus himself rejected the assertion that he was God.

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:" On the contrary, Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of Christian Science repudiates gnosticism. See 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

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:

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

Holy Spirit Top


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." 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." 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:

To further explore this topic, browse

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:

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

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 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:

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.

Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer