Answers to “Questions to ask Christian Scientists “
(by Matt Slick at The Christian Apologetics Research Ministry, see CARM.org)
Answered by Stirling Watts, CS, (Christian Science Practitioner.) West Plains, MO
Recently I encountered a website containing an incorrectly prepared and biased article criticizing the subject of Christian Science. At the conclusion of its text, the author presented these “Questions to ask Christian Scientists “
It is my pleasure to answer each and every one of them with a thorough and accurate explanation of the true Science of Christ. A willingness to accept that the influence of two thousand years worth of politically influenced human doctrine has distorted and contaminated the pure Christianity of the early Christian church renders thought receptive to a desire to find the real truth, as taught by Christ Jesus. It is my hope that each answer aids the questioner, and you the reader, in gaining a reborn sense of our relationship with our God.
I strove to answer the questions with the simplest terminology possible, so that a newcomer to the field of Christian Science will not be swallowed up in metaphysics. I apologize to any readers for whom my writing did not meet these objectives, but questions and comments are certainly invited from the readership.
1. If God is all in all, then where did evil come from?
Evil resides in human thought. It is a human concept and not a divine concept. It has its origin in the mortal aspect of human thought, which is termed in Christian Science “mortal mind.” Mortal mind is a term employed to explain man’s finite, limited, and erroneous conception of himself as separated from his Maker, God. Evil is the belief in either the absence of God, or in a secondary power external to Him. Christian Science insists that God is omnipotent and eternal. God is ever present and all-powerful, a fact which is easily substantiated by quite a number of trusted Biblical references with which Christians of all denominations are familiar, and in which they trust. So, the question is, is God omnipotent, or is God not omnipotent? Christian Science supports its claim that God is indeed truly omnipotent by proof by spiritual healing, as well as through Biblical support and verification.
One might just as well ask, “If the sun provides all of the light for the solar system, then how do you account for the fact that there is no light at night and that we do not see the sun?” Night is a sense of the absence of light in the same sense that evil is a sense of the absence of God. The morning always comes revealing that the sun never was absent, just as God always appears in consciousness revealing that he was never really absent. When night comes, we do not attribute its presence to a source of darkness, but simply to the absence of light.
Has anyone ever heard of a “darklight” which shines forth darkness, the opposite of a flashlight? Of course not! We all know that the sun continues to shine even when we do not see it, and that it returns to our awareness again in the morning, unchanged. Evil, like the night, is a mental sense of the absence of God. It is not produced by a “devil”, just like the darkness of night is not produced by a “darklight”. It is simply a temporary sense of the absence of God, mistakenly formed in human thought.
2. If everything is an interpretation of divine mind, then why do people have different understandings of God?
On earth we are still living as human beings. As such we have not attained the way of understanding life which will come to us in the kingdom of heaven. It’s a long hard road which each of us must follow to finally find God and heaven. Each of us is on a different point on that road. When we mentally arrive at the kingdom of heaven, we will be enabled to experience the fact that we are all one with God. Then we will see as God sees, and we will see our perfect being as God’s beloved children. But only then will we all see this unity with God. Now, on earth, we are thinking imperfectly as humans. Our material human education teaches us that we are separated from God. As humans we are only beginning to learn of this spiritual realm, and of our truly eternal, spiritual nature. Man is described as perfect, complete, and spiritual, in the first chapter of Genesis. In spite of the fact that we all have different understandings of God on this earthly plane of existence, the invisible spiritual fact remains that in the heavenly state of existence, we will no longer feel separated either from God, nor from each other.
3. If sickness is an illusion, why do you have practitioners who go out to Christian Scientists in attempts to heal them?
This is a wonderful question. First, it should be pointed out every sincere Christian Scientist feels the desire to heal anyone and everyone who expresses the desire to be healed, not just Christian Scientists. Every Christian Scientist is active in the healing ministry to some degree. A practitioner is one who had dedicated his entire life to the healing ministry, just as Jesus’ first disciples did. The healing ministry serves all of mankind without regard to religious belief or other human factors
Second, it is important to point out that Christian Scientists never only “attempt” to heal. They heal. In volume upon volume of Christian Science publications, from 1892 up to the present day, can be found literally thousands upon thousands of verified and witnessed accounts of healing in Christian Science. I have a stack of them in my office. Many of these cases have been attested to by medical doctors, and were cases in which all hope of medical salvation had been given up by the attending physicians. And many such medical cases are those of people who knew nothing of Christian Science until their lives were saved and transformed by it when they were healed, having found themselves literally in the shadow of death with no more hope of living. The love of God expressed in Christian Science treatment healed and transformed them.
It is also worthy of mention that there must be, in addition to the thousands of documented and verified healings which can be counted, literally an order of magnitude more of those which were never documented. They occur daily throughout the world.
Also of great significance is that Christian Science does not claim to hold any monopoly on healing spiritually, and that healing is far from restricted to physical diseases. Among the volumes of documented healings, one can easily find many hundreds of cases of documented healing through Christian Science treatment of all types of sinful behavior, addictions, immorality, rescue from adverse situations, recovery from life threatening accidents, escape from unjust situations, shootings and injuries in wartime, improved marital situations, family problems resolved, and the list goes on and on. How many readers who are not familiar with Christian Science have also experienced healing of any one of the above named situations through earnest and sincere prayer to God in their own experience? There must certainly be many! The power of God is universal, and every man’s, woman’s and child’s relationship to Him is a fixed fact. Christian Science is simply a system which aids man in finding a deeper understanding of his relationship with God, and makes it practical
So, let’s get to answering the question asked about practitioners. We might just as well ask, “Why did Jesus have disciples and why did he teach them to heal spiritually?” Or we might ask, “Why do other Christian denominations have clergy who do their best to help their congregations find peace and healing in times of trouble?” All types of human discord are understood by Christian Scientists to be invalid on account of the omnipotence of God’s goodness. They are illusions, and as human beings we find ourselves deceived by them. Why seek a practitioner? The practitioner is there to help those in need of love and healing to find their way back to a more full awareness of God’s presence. Practitioners lovingly help their patients to raise their mental awareness above the discords of human belief, and to find the comfort and peace of spiritual reality in God’s love brought into human experience.
4. If sin is not real, then why does the Bible say that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)? As well as, (1 John 1:8). “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,”
Here is another excellent question, and I thank its originator for the opportunity to explain. Christian Science makes a sharp distinction between the sinning race of Adam, who is the man we often believe ourselves to be in this human life, and God’s spiritual perfect man, whose perfection Christians are constantly striving to consciously attain. In Romans 3:23, Paul addresses the carnal man, the “old man”, who maintains belief in powers which seem to exist external to God. When we address ourselves and think of ourselves as the sinning race of Adam, the carnal man, as we are accustomed to doing as human beings, we are quite obviously sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. But who are we in God’s pure eyes? We admit that we are the children of God, made in His perfect image and likeness, as the Bible also tells us in the first account of creation. Gen 1:26. And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Verse 31 tells us “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good. Gen 2:1 goes on to say that “the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” In this account of spiritual creation, man is not a sinner. Man only becomes a sinner in his own eyes, after he partakes of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
I John 1:8 also addresses man with respect to his own conception of himself as the carnal man, the descendant of the sinning race of Adam. “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” How often we think as this carnal man! How often we justify our own sinful actions without reviewing them mentally! Here is the power of that verse! We must each examine and correct ourselves. We advance heavenward as we learn to stop thinking carnally, and to conform our thought more closely to Christ. This carnal man, whom Paul insisted we must put off, and whom Jesus stripped from every man, woman, and child he healed, must be addressed by each one of us if we are to reach our own awareness of God’s presence.
5. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy said, “The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon ‘the accursed tree,’ than when it was flowing in his veins as he went daily about his Father’s business.” Why would she contradict so plainly the teaching of Scripture that says, “but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
This is no contradiction, but actually an affirmation of I John 1:7. The difference lies in what the reader understands to comprise the cleansing of sin, and the meaning of the blood. The point Mrs. Eddy was making here was with respect to the supposed power of material blood, versus the spiritual meaning of sacrifice. Tradition says that Jesus’ physical blood atones for the sin of man as a substitute for our own sacrifices. Christian Science maintains that Jesus sacrifice of his human life was no substitute for our sins, but was rather our example. Jesus suffered for our sins as a result of our sins, but not to be a substitute for us. Jesus made the sacrifice of his human life to show mankind that all must atone for sins in the manner he did. Until we are also willing to sacrifice our own material life, we will not have atoned for the sin of belief in separation from God. We need not suffer on the cross as he did, but ultimately we all also must prepare ourselves to sacrifice the material and human sense of life for the spiritual and divine. The blood of Jesus is a symbol of the great sacrifice Jesus made for mankind. But what was the purpose of the sacrifice of his human life? It was to show us that we can never reach the spiritual realm of consciousness until we are also ready to give up the concept of life in matter.
Thus, Christian Scientists are in complete agreement with the I John 1:7 “but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” The blood of Jesus, that is the spiritual meaning of the blood of Jesus, cleanses us from sin as soon as we are prepared to do as he did and told us to do, but not until then.
Matthew 20: 20-22 talks about the sacrifices which must be made in order to sit at the right hand of God. Jesus clearly pointed out to the mother of Zebedee’s children what must be done with one’s sense of self as person in order to sit on the right hand of God. It requires drinking of Jesus’ cup of sacrifice ourselves:
“Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.”
These were Jesus’ imperative commands: Matt 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect even as your father which is heaven is perfect” Matt 10:8 “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
Are we really believing on him and doing as he commanded?
6. Why would Mary Baker Eddy directly contradict Jesus’ own claim of Himself? She said that “Jesus is not God, as Jesus himself declared, but the Son of God.” (S & H 361:12-13). Is she calling Jesus a liar?
The questioner seems to have misunderstood the quotation “Jesus is not God, as Jesus himself declared”. Mrs. Eddy is stating and affirming here that Jesus did not declare himself to be God, but that he repeatedly declared himself to be the Son of God. There is not a verse to be found in the New Testament in which Jesus claimed to be God. Many verses can be read with that interpretation by one who maintains a preconceived notion that this is what Jesus meant. Traditional theology has trained its followers to focus on those verses, while placing less emphasis on others. There are on the contrary a number of verses which clearly indicate that Jesus meant to take the attention away from his personality, and to focus on his perfect nature as the Son of God.
Here are just a few examples. The Gospels are filled with similar statements:
John 10:30 “I and my Father are one” Notice that Jesus did not say that he was the Father, but that he was of the same perfect nature as the Father. In all of the Gospels, Jesus makes many references to being the Son of God. He never makes reference to himself with words which make him God in the flesh. Logically, a son and a father are not and cannot be the same entity.
John 14:10 “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”
This passage speaks for itself. He said that he, the man Jesus, was not doing the works, but the Father that dwells in him, God, does the works. This does not make Jesus into God, but it does declare that he clearly understood that the Father, God, dwelt within him. His exclusive office as Messiah, Christ, made him the Son of God, an office assigned by God.
John 15: 8-10 “ Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”
Repeatedly throughout the Gospels we see clear evidence of Jesus addressing his identity as distinct from God’s identity, as the Son of God, and not as the Father Himself. The Father loved him, Christ Jesus, as the Son. The Son, Christ Jesus loves his disciples just as the Father loves the Son, Christ Jesus. And then he admonishes the disciples to keep this commandment, which are the commandments of the Father, God, given to Christ Jesus, his Son. The distinction between the Father, God, and the Son, Christ Jesus, is consistently maintained throughout the Scriptures.
He also assured us that we can be like him and repeat his wonderful works of healing: John 14:12 ” Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
Therefore, if Jesus was God in the flesh and had exclusive had exclusive rights to perform these miracles, why would he tell us that we are capable of doing the same thing, simply by going to the Father, as he did? Would that not also make us equal to God in power like Jesus? In sense it does! Jesus himself said so right here! And he wanted us to follow his example!
And Christian Scientists have followed his example. 150 years worth of remarkable accounts of modern Christian healing attest to the efficacy of Christ in modern day life! Greater works than these have been recorded in the last century! Doubters would do well do visit any Christian Science Reading Room, where this documentation is available to the public to peruse. Praise God!
7. If “Man is incapable of sin, sickness, and death” as Eddy said in Science and Health 475:28, then why do people die? Why does the Bible say that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23)?
As indicated in an earlier response, in reading Mrs. Eddy’s textbook, one must take care to note when she is referring to the concept of God’s spiritual, perfect man, and when she is referring to the sense of man that we maintain on earth, that of the sinning race of Adam. It is quite clearly obvious that man, as we know him in our earthly mentality sins, is sick, and dies. The uninformed reader may not recognize that it is the real and perfect man exemplified by the perfect Christ Jesus who is referred to on page 475:28. The real and perfect man exemplified by Christ Jesus was not capable of sinning, being sick, or dying. Though he initially died to human sense, can we maintain that he died to God’s sense, when he returned three days later, presenting the very same body which had been killed? Does not God now know him as alive? Did he not illustrate through his act of resurrection that man does not die? If his resurrection and final victory over material conditions did not illustrate that he did not really die, then exactly what did it illustrate?
Jesus said John 8:51 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” Here the questioner would do well to ask himself the same question which he has already asked with respect to Mrs. Eddy’s words, but this time with respect to Jesus, namely: ”If man who keeps the sayings of Christ Jesus shall never see death, as Jesus stated in John 8:51, why then do people still die?”
More evidence of man’s dominion over death can be found in the Old Testament in the record of Enoch’s life, to which Paul referred in Heb 11:5 : “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” It is clear that Paul knew that Enoch understood and knew the immortal Christ, even thousands of years before the appearance of The Messiah, Christ, in the human form of Jesus. With this understanding, Enoch also ascended above the material plane and never knew death.
Romans 6:23 says, in exact agreement with the teachings of Christian Science, that the wages of sin is death. When one continues one’s course as the descendant of Adam, the carnal man, Paul’s “old man”, then one continues to live in the delusion of separation from God. Sin is but the false honoring of powers which claim to exist outside of the realm of our infinite God. So, naturally, turning away from God brings us into a realm of experience which supposes itself separated from God. This sense of man results in the experience which humans call death.
.8. Why would Mrs. Eddy say Jesus did not die (S&H 45:32-46:3) when the Bible clearly teaches that He died (Rom. 8:34; 1 Thess. 4:13; 1 Cor. 8:11; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 1:7).
This question has been completely addressed above, in the response to Question 7.
9. If our physical senses do not tell us the truth about the material world then how can we trust them when we read the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures or hear its message with our ears?
We should ask the same question about the Bible, because the Bible is our primary guidepost to life. But first, this question is improperly stated. Christian Science does not claim that the physical senses do not tell us the truth about the physical world, as the question falsely alleges. The physical senses do indeed report the conditions of everything which the human mind knows as the material world. The physical senses are the sensors of that which Christian Science terms mortal mind, or the erroneous concept of man, which interprets man as separated from God, Spirit. The physical senses however, do not and cannot tell us any truth at all about the spiritual world. Can we touch God with our hands? Can we see God with our mortal eyes? Of course not, because God is Spirit, and the physical senses are not the reporters of the spiritual nature. They are the material sensors of the human mind. The human mind can sense spiritually through its inherent spiritual sense, and it can sense materially through the physical senses. We all know that the human mind can perceive spiritually by virtue of the fact that we are all granted with the ability to perceive of a spiritual God, even though He is intangible to our physical senses.
That point clarified, it must be assumed that the questioner meant to ask how we can perceive spiritual ideas through the material senses (the eyes), or through physical sound (ears). We cannot. The material senses can only report the presence of a book or a voice, devoid of the ideas in the book. We perceive the spiritual ideas in the book through the inherent spiritual sense of the human mind. We look at the image materially, read, and then interpret the words with the spiritual sense. The material senses of the human eye report only an image of a book made up of paper and ink and printed words. The spiritual senses of the human mind report the ideas contained in those printed letters. The material senses per se are only capable of presenting an image of the book, devoid of ideas or thoughtful information, to the brain. Man’s inherent God-granted spiritual senses allow man to understand the idea behind the picture he sees as matter.
In Matthew 13:15 Jesus talks about the differences between what the eyes see and what the heart sees: “ For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”
In other words, we can see with our eyes and we can hear with your ears, but are we seeing and hearing the divine ideas behind the material presentation? Are we just seeing the material picture which the eyes present, and failing to comprehend the full idea behind it? When we begin to see the divine idea, to which Jesus here referred, and stop looking at only the image in the eye, we can be healed.