Perhaps the biggest challenge of moving to an unfamiliar place is learning the local customs, idioms and way of life. I remember moving to the midwest from the east coast many years ago. It took me a while to figure out that when a Cincinnatian says “please” as a response, he means “Can you repeat that? I didn’t hear you.” For me “please” meant, “That sounds good. Yes, please!” This made it difficult when I’d go out to lunch.
“Would you like fries with that?”
“Would you like fries with your sandwich?”
“WOULD YOU LIKE FRIES AS A SIDE WITH YOUR HAMBURGER?”
“For the third time, YES I WANT FRIES!”
“OK, how about something to drink?”
You get the point. Different people see things differently, say things differently, understand things differently. In many ways, this culture shock is more evident when someone moves from one faith to another. I know it took me even longer to understand the differences between the Biblical Christianity I now believe in and the Christian Science doctrine in which I grew up. (I am using the term “Biblical Christianity” as a way of linking together the basic beliefs of mainstream Christians. Different denominations may have some different understandings of some passages or application of Biblical teaching, but these statements of faith are reasonably universal.)
Both Christian Scientists and Biblical Christians use many of the same words, but they have different meanings for each group. Both faiths use the Bible as a basis for their respective worldviews, but CS obviously also has a companion text in Science and Health which claims to hold, as the subtitle suggests, “The Key to the Scriptures.” Biblical Christianity has almost two millennia of traditions and the interpretation of hundreds of theologians and scholars behind its creeds and confessions (statements of faith) and Christian Science has less than 150 years of doctrine built on the writings and teachings of one woman, Mary Baker Eddy.
As part of this blog, I want to compare and contrast the beliefs of Biblical Christianity and Christian Science. I will start working through the Tenets of Christian Science and see how they line up against some of the teachings of Jesus, the Apostle Paul and some of the great historical statements of faith accepted by most Christian denominations. After that we’ll work through some of the other cornerstones of Christian Science and how they line up with the teachings of the Bible. For example, Mrs. Eddy’s definition of God, her “Scientific Statement of Being,” the “Doctrine of Atonement,” and how a person of faith should respond to sin, sickness and death.
I’ll start specific discussion in the next post, but to get us started, here are the Tenets of Christian Science as published in the Manual of the Mother Church and the CS Quarterly. You may recall that these are the core beliefs of CS that all who desire to join the Mother Church must agree with and sign a statement attesting to that belief.
of The Mother Church
The First Church of Christ, Scientist
To be signed by those uniting with The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
- As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.
- 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.
- We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.
- We acknowledge Jesus’ atonement as the evidence of divine, efficacious Love, unfolding man’s unity with God through Christ Jesus the Way-shower; and we acknowledge that man is saved through Christ, through Truth, Life, and Love as demonstrated by the Galilean Prophet in healing the sick and overcoming sin and death.
- 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.
- And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.
Now, here are two statements of faith agreed upon by early church leaders to help define Biblical Christianity. Throughout the ages, including today, these confessions of faith have been accepted and recited by denominations and congregations throughout the world.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Read through the core beliefs of both Christian Science and Biblical Christianity. You will no doubt notice several differences, but you will see some things that don’t conflict. I’ll discuss these differences and search for a better understanding of both. This discussion should help understand how the two faiths differ both for our own sake, and to help us in explaining the differences to others.