By Tal Davis
Official Name: The Church of Christ, Scientist (CCS)
Key Figure in History: Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910)
Headquarters: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Boston, Mass. (www.tfccs.com[cited 21 March 2001])
Churches (2005 estimate): United States: 1,010; Canada: 60;
Practitioners: Approximately 3,000 worldwide (see page 3
Ministries Associated With Christian Science:
and Television: WQTV, Boston, Mass., and Monitor Radio. Publications: The
Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Journal, The Christian Science
Sentinel, The Herald of Christian Science, Christian Science
Quarterly. This belief bulletin highlights Christian Science
doctrines and provides biblical responses.
The Church of Christ, Scientist (CCS), also known by its original name, The
Christian Science Church, was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879 in Boston,
According to the CCS, Mary Ann Morse Baker, as a young person, was frail and
suffered many illnesses. In 1844, her first husband, George Glover, died of
yellow fever leaving her poor and with an infant son whom she gave up to foster
care. In 1853, she married Daniel Patterson. She divorced him in 1873. While
living in New Hampshire in 1866, she claimed to have discovered the secret of
"Divine Science" after being healed miraculously from a crippling fall. She
began teaching her healing techniques and spiritual philosophy to interested
students. In 1875, she moved to Lynn, Massechusetts, founded the Christian
Science Association, and published her book, Science and Health with Key to
the Scriptures (S&H).
In 1877, she married Asa Albert Eddy (d. 1882) and together they formally
established the CCS. In 1890, Mrs. Eddy established "The Mother Church," The
First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Boston, Massechusetts. Mrs. Eddy died in
1910 and authority now rests in the CCS Board of Directors.
Authority: The Bible and Mrs. Eddy
founder Mary Baker Eddy maintained that "as adherents of Truth, we take the
inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (S&H,
p. 497). Nonetheless, Christian Science interprets the Bible in light of Mrs.
Eddy's writings, particularly her book Science and Health with Key to the
Scriptures, in which she interprets it according to her metaphysical
presuppositions. Also, Mrs. Eddy seemed to question the textual reliability of
the Bible blaming "the manifest mistakes in the ancient versions . . . these
facts show how a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with
its own hue darkening to some extent the inspired pages" (S&H, p. 139).
Biblical Response: The Bible is the only source of divinely
inspired Scripture. No single person or church can claim an infallible
interpretation. Mrs. Eddy's metaphysical approach fails to adhere to sound
principles of biblical interpretation (see 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21). She
ascribes arbitrary spiritual meanings to common biblical terms. For example
"Jerusalem" is defined as "Mortal belief and knowledge obtained from the five
corporeal senses" (S&H, p. 589). "Holy Ghost" is defined as "Divine
Science; the development of eternal Life, Truth, and Love" (S&H, p.
God is Mind, Truth, Love, etc.
"God is incorporeal,
divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love"
(S&H, p. 465). These are synonymous terms that "refer to one absolute God.
They are also intended to express the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity.
The attributes of God are justice, mercy, wisdom, goodness, and so on"
(S&H, p. 465).
The Trinity is redefined as life, truth, and love. "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" (S&H, p. 256).
Biblical Response: There is only one true God (see Deut.
6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6-8) who exists eternally in three persons: Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit (see Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14). The CCS use of
impersonal synonyms for God diminishes His personal nature as revealed in the
Bible. The Bible says "God is love" (1 John 4:8), not "love is God."
Jesus: Discoverer of the Christ-Ideal
There is an
essential difference between Jesus the man and the "Christ Principle" which
came upon Him as He comprehended it. "We acknowledge Jesus' atonement as the
evidence of divine, efficacious Love, unfolding man's unity with God through
Christ Jesus the Way-shower" (S&H, p. 497).
Biblical Response: There is no distinction that can be made
between Jesus the man and Christ, His divine office (Messiah). He did not
receive his Messiahship, but rather claimed that title from eternity past (see
Isa. 9:6; Matt. 1:16-18; 2:4; Luke 2:11). Jesus died on the cross as the
atonement for humanity's sin and rose again physically to claim God's victory
over death (see Luke 24:36-43; John 2:18-22; 1 Cor. 15:1-8).
"Spirit" Is Real; "Matter" Is Not
essential essence is spirit or mind, and only that which reflects His nature is
real, then matter does not really exist. "Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is
mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and
temporal" (S&H, p. 468).
Biblical Response: Indeed, God is Spirit (see John 4:24).
He is Creator of all that exists, including the material universe (see Gen.
1:1; Col. 1:16; Heb. 11:3). God declared the entirety of the created order
"very good" (Gen. 1:31). Jesus was God incarnated in a material body (see John
1:14; Col. 2:9) and was resurrected physically (see Luke 24:36-39; John 20:26;
1 Cor. 15:1-8).
People Are Divine Spirits
Since matter does not exist
and humanity reflects God's nature, then humanity is not really made of matter.
"Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not
material; he is spiritual" (S&H, p. 468).
Biblical Response: Humanity has both a spiritual and
physical dimension (see Gen. 1:26-27). God created humanity as living souls
(see Gen. 2:7). Our future resurrection will be both spiritual and physical
(see 1 Cor. 15).
The Problem: Humanity's Illusions
Since only those
ideas that reflect God's nature actually are real, then sin, death, disease,
and pain are not real, but only illusions. "The only reality of sin, sickness,
or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief .
. . They are not true, because they are not of God" (S&H, p. 472). "The
cause of all so-called disease is mental, a mortal fear, a mistaken belief or
conviction of the necessity and power of ill-health" (S&H, p. 377).
Biblical Response: Sin is a reality and all people (except
Christ) are sinners by nature (see Rom. 3:23). It is a result of humanity's
willful disobedience to God and His will. Sin alienates people from God and
produces suffering, disease, and death (see Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12-23).
Since matter, sin, disease, and
death are illusions and unreal, then people are not subject to them. "Through
immortal Mind, or Truth, we can destroy all ills which proceed from mortal
mind" (S&H, p. 374). Thus when people fully realize this principle, disease
should disappear. "When one's false belief is corrected, Truth sends a report
of health over the body" (S&H p. 194).
Biblical Response: Sickness is real. Christians believe God
can cure through prayer if it is His will. Inevitably, however, the physical
body deteriorates and dies. Medical science is an appropriate adjunct to prayer
in curing and maintaining physical health (see 1 Cor. 12:9,30; James 5:14-16).
Luke (writer of the Gospel of Luke and Acts) is identified as a physician (see
Death: The Ultimate Illusion
Since God and man are
immortal spirit or mind, death is also only an illusion. It is a transition
from the illusion of the material to ultimate reality of immortal spirit. "So,
when our friends pass from our sight and we lament, that lamentation is
needless and causeless" (S&H, p. 386).
Biblical Response: Death is a reality and a result of
mankind's sin (see Gen. 2:17; Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 6:21-23; 8:6). It is both
physical and spiritual. The spirit of the believer, however, at death, goes to
be with the Lord (see 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23-24) and awaits a reunion with the
body at the Lord's return (see 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Those who are
unsaved will face judgment (see Heb. 9:27) and eternal separation from God in
hell ("the second death") (see Rev. 20:1-15).
Since sin and death are false beliefs (illusions), salvation involves
overcoming the false idea that they exist with a realization of our divine
spirit and mind. "We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his
resurrection served to uplift faith to understand eternal life, even the
allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter" (S&H, p. 497).
Biblical Response: Salvation is not realized through some
special knowledge. It is received only by acknowledging, confessing, and
repenting of one's sin (see Acts 3:19; 26:20; 1 John 1:9), and putting one's
faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (see John 1:12; Rom. 10:9-10; Eph.
• Bible Lesson (Lesson Sermon):
One of 26 weekly lessons studied and taught in local churches.
• Branch Church: Local self-governing CCS congregation.
•First Reader: Person who leads Sunday and Wednesday
services in local CCS (second reader assists).
• Lecture: Free talk sponsored by local CCS given by authorized member
of Christian Science Board of Lectureship.
• Practitioner: Person in full-time professional work of Christian
• Reading Room: Local bookstore/library open to the public to access
Christian Science literature.
Witnessing to Christian Scientists
1. Have a clear understanding of your faith and the Bible.
2. Have a basic knowledge of the beliefs and presuppositions of Christian
3. Seek to establish a sincere personal relationship with the Christian
4. Establish the unique authority of the Bible. Tell the Christian Scientist
that you do not consider any belief that is not biblically based as
5. Define clearly all terms of biblical Christianity and Christian Science.
Christian Science uses many biblical and Christian terms that have different
6. When appropriate, respectfully discuss significant differences in doctrine.
Focus on historic biblical perspectives about God, Jesus Christ, and salvation.
Also, establish the reality of sin, disease, and death. Emphasize why Christ's
death was necessary.
7. Share your personal testimony of faith in Jesus Christ. Explain how you
realized you are a sinner, but have trusted in Jesus' death and resurrection to
atone for your sin.
8. When you have clarified all important issues, share the plan of salvation
and seek to lead the person to faith in Christ.
Tal Davis is on staff at the North American Mission Board, SBC.