The Bible and CHRISTIAN SCIENCE (falsely so-called)
[transcribed using OCR software, with minor spelling corrections]
Among the various cults and sects of our day, Christian Science holds a prominent place. It is easily one of the best known in the United States.
The founder of Christian Science is Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy. Here also a woman was the founder. Women have contributed a great deal to the founding of new movements.
The position of Christian Science is most fully set forth in the book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (S&H). It was written by Mrs. Eddy herself. Of this book Dr. Warfield said: "It is hopelessly confused and obscure". Dr. Blanchard found the reading of it such a torment , that he found it impossible to continue. And Dr. Snowdon tells us that he read the entire book, but that he found it a very wearisome process.
Christian Science still considers this book the great authority. And we will judge this cult according to this book. We are not concerned with what some so-called Christian Scientists believe, but with their official teachings. We feel impelled to state, however, that we will not be able to give reference to pages. Some 500 editions have been published of this book. And chapters have several times been shifted around in a different order, so that references to one edition to [do] not fit for another edition.
Mrs. Eddy claimed to have received these views through divine revelation in connection with her own sickness. She met with some injury, pronounced by her physician to be necessarily fatal. She had only three days to live. She opened her Bible, and her eye fell on that part of Matthew 9 where we read of Jesus healing the sick and the palsy. She says she saw the truth that set him free, and she did not die. She further wrote:
"In the year 1866 I discovered the Science of Metaphysical healing, and named it Christian Science. God had been graciously fitting me, during many years, for the reception of a final revelation of the absolute Principle of a Scientific Mind-healing. No human pen or tongue taught me the science contained in this book...and neither tongue nor pen can overthrow it." Again she wrote: "I should blush to write of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" as I have, were it of human origin and I, apart from God, its author, but as I am only a scribe echoing the harmonies of heaven in divine metaphysics, I cannot be super-modest of the Christian Science textbook." Passages could be multiplied to show that she claimed that her book was not of human origin but divinely dictated. A bold claim indeed!
However, those who are actually an authority on the subject tell us, and have shown conclusively, that Mrs. Eddy got her views from a certain Dr. Quimby, to whom she went during her sickness. Dr. Quimby wrote as early as 1862: "My way of curing convinces the patient that he has been deceived; and if I succeed the patient is cured." This is exactly what Mrs. Eddy taught four years later. In January 1866, Dr. Quimby died; and in February 1866, Mrs. Eddy commenced to teach Christian Science.
Christian Science has a fundamental principle from which it proceeds - a philosophy upon which all its teachings are based. Mrs. Eddy has given four basic propositions: "First, God is all in all; Second, God is good, good is mind; Third, Spirit, being all, nothing is matter; Fourth, Life, God, omnipotent good, deny death, evil, sin, disease. Disease, sin, evil, death, deny good, omnipotent God, Life." She tells us that since these statements may be read backward as well as forward, this is proof that they are true. Well, it sure does not make much difference how we read them.
In a somewhat abridged form we might summarize these propositions as follows. Matter does not exist, all is spirit. Spirit is God. God is good. All is good. And from this it follows that sin, disease and death have no real existence. We only imagine that they exist. This is the fundamental philosophy from which all the rest follows. It ought to be interesting to read what Pundita Ramabai, a native of India, said about this philosophy. She said: "On my arrival in New York I was told that a new philosophy was being taught in the United States and that it had won many disciples. The philosophy was called Christian Science, and when I asked what its teaching was I recognized it as being the same philosophy that has been taught among my people four thousand years. It has wrecked millions of lives and caused immeasurable suffering and sorrow in my land, for it is based on selfishness and knows no sympathy or compassion. It means just this - the philosophy of nothingness. You are to view the whole universe as nothing but falsehood. You are to think it does not exist. You do not exist. I do not exist. The birds and beasts that you see do not exist..."
SYSTEM OF HEALING
We must now discuss Christian Science as a system of healing. We must not think of it as Faith Healing. Some people confuse the two, thinking they are synonymous. But they are not. Christian Science insists that sickness and pain are not real. But Faith Healing does not deny their existence. Christian Science says to the sick person: you are not sick and must convince yourself that it is only in the imagination. Faith healing, on the other hand, accepts the fact of your sickness, but you must not use medicine, only pray to God.
METHOD OF HEALING
What, exactly, is the method of healing advocated by Christian Science? Let us get that clearly in mind. Many people are somewhat confused on this point. They have a somewhat vague idea that Christian Science advocates healing by prayer. If this were true, we would respect it. For that is just exactly the thing that sick people too often forget and neglect. But, as we shall see later, Christian Science has no place for prayer to a personal God. Such prayer is said to be a hindrance. What they call prayer is only a soliloquy (speaking to oneself).
Their method of healing is entirely different. They try to heal and cure by denying the disease itself. There is no such thing as sickness or pain. Man is never sick. Man is incapable of sickness. Diseases are said to be a delusion of the mind. People imagine that they are sick and experience pain, but these things have no reality. If it had not been for a class of men educated to inculcate the idea of sickness and disease, the world would never have known or dreamed of such things. Say, for example, that a person drinks poison and dies; but it is not the poison that kills him, but vicious belief. If he had been able to convince himself that the poison was pure, clear spring water, it would have done him no injury.
And since all disease and pain is delusion, all man needs is to be convinced that he is not sick, and that he has no pain. The patient merely needs to be persuaded that he is not sick, that he has no disease. The way to get rid of sickness is to believe that there is no sickness. We are all well whenever we change our minds and say we are well until we believe it. For this purpose the reading of the works of Mrs. Eddy is recommended as very valuable. She claimed that the mere perusal of her writings constantly heals sickness. However, there is one possibility of failure. Suppose you are thinking yourself well, but others persist in thinking you are sick. Then you may still remain sick. Hence you must get all about you to think as you do.
SUCCESS IN HEALING?
Does Christian Science actually heal by this method? Of course it does. Does this perhaps surprise you? It is a fact all the same. Allow me to explain.
Some troubles are merely imaginary. Such imaginary troubles are found especially with hysterical and nervous people. There is really nothing the matter with them, but that they think they are not well. In cases of this nature the patient merely needs to be convinced that he is well, and he is well.
There is also the fact that the mind has an enormous influence on the body. The state of our mind expresses itself bodily. Think of joy and sorrow. And so the state of our mind is a very important factor in connection with our health. This influence of the mind upon the health of our body has been treated somewhat extensively by the English medical authority, Dr. A. T. Schofield. Especially in his book, The Mental Factor in Medicine, he maintains that functional diseases can be cured or helped by mental means. Dr. D. T. Tuke, another English medical authority, claims that mental therapeutics can cure toothache, painful joints, rheumatism, colic. epilepsy, headaches, etc.. Other authorities call this exaggeration, but they admit that the mind has great power as a curative agent.
This power of mind over the body is the secret of the influence of numerous quacks. Many faith healers have also used it with success. Why should not Christian Science also use it with some degree of success? But this is not a discovery of Christian Science. This power of the mind over the body was known in ancient times already.
But, of course, Christian Science has success only in a limited number of cases. By far the most cases of sickness are a good deal more than imagination. And the influence of the mind has very little to do with most of them.
There have been many cases reported by Christian Science as cures where there was not cure at all. We must be very careful in accepting the so-called reported cures. One must carefully weigh the evidence in each case. Was there actually such a serious illness as was claimed? If the doctor really said so, was he correct when he said so? Are we sure the patient was cured or healed? Was the cure a lasting one? Was there perhaps a desire on the part of the patient, or someone else, to relate something striking?
Dr. Stephen Paget, who has made a thorough study of an extensive number of reported cures, and published the result in a book, tell us the follows: "The vast majority of their testimonials are not worth the paper on which they are printed." He finds no cases that are a credit to Christian Science. But he did find that many a curable disease under their treatment runs from bad to worse till no remedy avails any more. In many cases they became guilty of terrible neglect. Fortunately, the law has stepped in and restricted them to some degree.
There are also many cases where Christian Science stands perfectly helpless. Mrs. Eddy claimed that by Christian Science even broken legs and dislocated joints could be put in place. And to be consistent, she had to claim this. However, Prof. L. T. Townsend made the following proposition to Mrs. Eddy: "If you, or the president of your college, or your entire college of doctors, will put into place a real case of hip or ankle dislocation, without resorting to the ordinary manipulation or without touching it, I will give you a thousand dollars.." Mrs. Eddy replied: "Will the gentleman accept my thanks to his generosity, for if I should accept his bid, he would lose his money." Extremely interesting is what Mrs. Eddy herself did when she was troubled with toothache. Did she then convince herself that there was no such thing as toothache, and that this was merely an illusion? To be consistent, she would have done that. And she ought to have succeeded in banishing the pain. But she did not. She was gloriously inconsistent and went to a dentist to have the tooth treated. And, mind you, she even availed herself of the painless method.
Christian Science poses as a religion. It claims to be a church. Calls itself The Church of Christ Scientist. The mother church is in Boston. And we find other churches more or less in various communities. Especially in the large cities. More than 80% of its members are found in cities of 25,000 or more. Perhaps most of all in California and Massachusetts. In the city of Los Angeles alone there are 35 Christian Science churches. The present membership of the Christian Science churches is about 275,000.
Now it was not the original intention of Mrs. Eddy to found a religion and a church. The title of her book was originally Science and Health. The words with Key to the Scriptures have been added later. She realized that her work would not last and grow, unless it had some organized form. To make it a religion and a church would give it much stronger appeal with the people. And so in 1879 she founded the first church organization, The Church of Christ Scientist. And Christian Science rapidly developed into a religion with a church and a creed.
But what kind of a church? It claims to be a Christian church. And it is true that they sing orthodox evangelical hymns. They read from the Bible. This impresses many Christian people, as if it were only another Christian denomination. Some even incline to look upon it as a sectarian narrowness on the part of the Christian churches not to acknowledge this new sister at their side.
But the Christian churches have every reason for refusing to recognize Christian Science churches are being truly Christian. Christian Science is a false religion. Christian Scientists hold views which are directly opposed to the fundamental preachings of the Gospel. This will become evident when we consider some of them.
On the one hand Christian Science claims to acknowledge the authority of the Bible. It is read in the services of their churches. On the other hand, Science and Health is called The Key to the Scriptures. The Bible must be read in the light of this book. It is placed above the Bible. When anything is found in the Bible which does not harmonize with this book, it is so interpreted or twisted so that it does harmonize. For example, the Bible says that we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son (Rom.5:10). Yes, but Christian Science denies the existence of death. Mrs. Eddy, however, knows a way out. She interpolates the word "seeming" before "death". So that it reads that we were reconciled to God by the seeming death of His Son. Take another case. In Genesis 2 we read of man being formed of the dust of the earth. Of course, this does not agree with the teaching of Mrs. Eddy that matter does not exist. So in Science and Health we read: "How then could material organization become the basis of man? Is it the truth or is it a lie concerning man and God? It must be a lie." A number of such cases show that Christian Science does not acknowledge the divine authority of the Word of God.
Christian Science believes in a God. But what kind of a God? The God of Christian Science is not the divine Being revealed in the Bible. The Bible reveals God as a personal, self-existent God, distinct from the rest of this creation. Who in the beginning created all things, and continues to uphold them. He is a Being who is personally interested in the well-being of His creatures. But the God of Christian Science? He is not a personal God, but a cold principle. "God is all" is a recurring expression. This is pure Pantheism. Everything is God, and God is everything that exists. He is only the impersonal soul of the universe. He is in no way above and beyond the universe. How it lowers God!
And this is tremendously important. What we think about God is the basic principle of all our thinking. To believe that God is not a person but only a principle, is the death blow to all religion. Then we have no God to whom we can pray. No God that we can honour or serve in any way whatever.
According to Christian Science, God is good and God is all. But then there can be no sin. For surely God cannot sin. Christian Science actually draws that conclusion. Mrs. Eddy says: "If God made all that was made, and it was good, where did evil originate? It never originated, or existed as an entity. It is but a false belief." She says evil is but an illusion, and we must get rid of this illusion. Destroy the sense of sin, and sin itself disappears.
The name of Christ is frequently used. Even some nice things are said about Him. But everything in Christ that is most precious to the Christian is denied.
Mrs. Eddy denies His deity. Jesus was the highest human concept of the perfect man, but He was not God. The personality of Jesus was not to be worshipped.
Jesus never died. Death does not exist. You may think it is ridiculous but Mrs. Eddy bluntly says: "There is no death." According to Christian Science, death exists only in the false belief of the world. When anyone dies, he simply yields to the universal impression of death. He first imagines himself to possess a body, then gives way to its dissolving possibilities, and finally accepts the falsehood of death as though, indeed it were a fact. Lazarus, for example, thought he was sick, and believed it was time to die. He gave himself up to it. He allowed his sisters to prepare him for the grave. But Jesus restored Lazarus by the understanding that Lazarus had never died. Jesus told him to come out. Lazarus awoke from his false dream of death, exercised his own will power and came forth. And the death of Jesus was merely an illusion of His disciples. They believed that He was dead, while He was hidden in the sepulchre, whereas He was alive, demonstrating within the narrow tomb the power of the Spirit to overrule mortal, material sense!
The blood of Christ as no atoning value. Mrs. Eddy says the material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin, than when it was flowing in His veins as he went daily about His Father's business. And if it were true what Mrs. Eddy teaches about sin, namely that sin is not a reality, then we are not guilty. Then we need no atonement for sin. We only would need to be delivered from this delusion. And that is exactly what Mrs. Eddy teaches. She says salvation is deliverance from delusion and entrance into Christian Science.
We may well ask - where is the Christ of the Bible? Mrs. Eddy herself wrote to Judge S. J. Hanna: "I have marvelled at the press and pulpit's patience with me, when I have taken away their Lord." This clearly implies the admission that the Christ of Mrs. Eddy is another Christ than the Christ worshipped by the church.
Mrs. Eddy denied the existence of a personal devil. She says: "A lie is all the devil there is, Jesus was never tempted by a personal devil. He was tempted by the false beliefs in His own mind. At the beginning of His career Jesus believed in such unreal things as matter, sin, sickness and death. These false views were really the devil that tempted Him." Is is not shocking to ascribe to our Lord such ignorance?
Such teaching must be greatly gratifying to Satan. We do not like to be ignored. We do not like to have others act as if we did not exist. But this is exactly what Satan delights in. This gives him a great advantage in influencing the minds of men.
And what about prayer? Mrs. Eddy says: "Prayer to a personal God is a hindrance." Again: "The danger from prayer is that it may lead us into temptation." Jesus taught us the very opposite, when He said: "Watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation."
Of course, Christian Science has no place for prayer. There is nothing for which it can pray. It cannot pray for deliverance from sin, sickness and death. And if God is only a principle and not a person, how can we pray to Him?
Yet, we frequently find people who think Christian Science exalts prayer. Besides, Mrs. Eddy has a chapter in her book on prayer. But this prayer is not at all what we Christians call prayer. It is nothing but a soliloquy. According to Christian Science prayer is nothing but a correction of our faulty imagination. Dr. Gray has illustrated what really constitutes the prayer of a Christian Scientist. Some years ago Alexander Dowie sought to introduce Zionism into New York. But Christian Scientists set themselves against it. On the opening night a number of them stationed themselves in different places in the auditorium, to demonstrate against it, to pray it down. As soon as Dowie and his men marched down the aisle, they folded their arms, and closing their eyes, they commences to say: "This is not truth; this is error; this cannot be; this must not be; this shall not be." That is exactly all the prayer of a Christian Scientist amounts to.
And what does Christian Science teach about the divine institution of marriage? It recognizes separation by mutual consent, and divorce for various reasons. However, it goes much further. In line with its fundamentalist principle that matter does not exist and all is mind, it teaches that women may become mothers by a supreme effort of their own minds. There are even cases on record of persons who claim to have given birth to children so conceived. One can readily see to what immorality such teachings may lead. Abolishment of marriage is the ultimate ideal of Christian Science.
It is easy to see what our ultimate verdict of Christian Science must be. The foregoing discussion has sufficiently prepared us for a fair judgment.
We do not wish to deny that there are some good things in Christian Science. What sect or cult does not have some good in it? If it had none at all, it could not last for a single year. Christian Science has brought us into closer sympathy with the power of mind over matter. It is well to emphasize this in an age as materialistic as ours.
But when all is considered, we must conclude that it is a deadly peril. It puts on the robe of Christian profession, but is really an anti-Christian philosophy and religion. It reminds us of the words of Jesus, when he warned against false teachers, who come in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. Surely, it is no exaggeration when we say this. Only bear in mind that Christian Science, as we have seen, denies every doctrine that is distinctly Christian.
We may well wonder how it is possible that so many people, who have been instructed in the Gospel, can embrace such a movement. Of course, many factors can explain this to quite an extent.
There is the fact that Christian Science teaches something new. Is there not a craze for something new in our age? So much so, that people frequently forget that the first essential of a teaching is not, that it be new, but that it be true.
Christian Science offers health. This has a powerful appeal to many people. Sad to say so much so, that they will frequently neglect the eternal welfare of their soul for it.
There is also something attractive in the name. It is very true what a certain physician said to me: "There is really nothing 'Christian' in it, nor is there any 'science' in it. But the name means a great deal with superficial people. The name 'Christian' kind of gives them the soothing idea that they are accepting a religion, and that a Christian religion. While others take great pride in it, that it is a religion with some 'science' in it."
If anyone has more or less embraced these dangerous teachings, we would plead with you to forsake them as soon as possible. Are you ready to reject the Holy Word in which the God of heaven and earth so condescendingly speaks to us? Will you exchange it for the confused opinions of a foolish mortal being? Are you ready to deny that our Lord Jesus Christ has atoned on the cross for the sin of His people? Are you prepared thus to deny the only was to salvation? Think twice, or even a hundred times, before you do that.
Minister A. Wassink
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