In times of crisis, I hear both followers of Jesus Christ and Christian Scientists say “do not fear.” Though the words are the same, the definitions vary greatly in message, meaning, and magnitude. While Christian Science (CS) claims to be based on Scripture, the differences in teaching are profound.

MESSAGE: What is the Object of our fear?

Christian Science Response:

In Christian Science you “do not fear” because there is in fact nothing to fear. Christian Science teaches that God is good and God is all based on the creation account in Genesis 1. But their worldview stops there because in Genesis 2 the creation of Adam and Eve from the dust of the ground implies physical reality and the fall in Genesis 3 acknowledges the reality of sin. Both physical reality and sin (evil, sickness, death) are antithetical to the Christian Science worldview. To fear sin, disease, and death is to exhibit a deficiency of understanding and a failure of faith in the reality that God, and all of creation, is all good.

COVID-19 Response:

Christian Scientists follow state-ordered, guidelines and hygiene practices so as to be a “good neighbor” to those giving into Mortal Mind (Mortal mind is an incorrect view of reality that yields to the belief in sin, disease, and death. Christian Scientists actively oppose mortal mind). 

Biblical Christianity Response:

In Biblical Christianity you “do not fear” because of our personal relationship with the real living God. Followers of Jesus live in the tension of God’s good creation marred by sin, disease, contagion, and death. Scripture presents the reality that we experience in life: God’s goodness can coexist with disease, contagion, and death. God’s response to evil is quite serious yet merciful. In Genesis 3:15. God makes a Covenant promise to have ultimate victory over evil. Followers of Jesus “do not fear” not because there is nothing to fear but because we can trust in God’s promise to be victorious over evil. 

COVID-19 Response: 

Followers of Jesus follow state-ordered guidelines and hygiene practices out of concern for sin, disease and death with the desire to steward their God-given lives and care for the health of their family, friends, and community. 

MEANING: Who carries the burden? 

Christian Science Response:

In Christian Science the message “do not fear” requires denying the existence of evil by calling it an “illusion” of mortal mind. This involves immense and continual mental “maneuvering” and internal dissonance. The phrase “do not fear” quickly becomes a condemnation rather than an encouragement because when the Christian Scientists fears sin, disease or death they believe they are making the problem real by giving into the “illusion” of mortal mind*. If they “do not fear,” but rather claim the perfection of Genesis 1, they believe that there won’t be any more problems. For things to go well for the Christian Scientist they must “not fear!” The Christian Scientist holds the burden of proof.

COVID-19 Response:

The Christian Scientist believes if they could know the “Truth” (or “spiritual reality”) about this situation there would be no more COVID-19. They feel responsible to have a “demonstration” over it.  *A Demonstration is a specific way of praying taught in Christian Science which the Christian Scientist uses to overcome mortal mind.

Biblical Christianity Response:

Biblical Christianity affirms that as humans we often become fearful of the realities of sin, sickness and death. Followers of Jesus are then called to trust in the even greater reality of God’s salvation from these things through the death and resurrection of Jesus through who we are saved and ultimately will be with eternally. We “do not fear” because of the good news of the gospel of grace. These words quickly become a comfort as through the struggle Scripture constantly reminds us of God’s personal care, love, mercy and faithfulness to His people through time, space and relationship. We can be encouraged and we “do not” need to “fear” because God will ultimately redeem and restore all things. The burden of proof is on God. COVID-19 RESPONSE: Followers of Jesus freely lament, grieve and cry out to the Lord for healing, relief, and comfort during a crisis. They ask the Lord to strengthen their faith, shape their hearts, and use them in His Kingdom growth. 

MAGNITUDE: The Heart of the Issue

Christian Science Response:

We ultimately find that the Christian Science words, “Do Not Fear” ring hollow as they tell a fundamentally different story than the one that Scripture tells. Scripture tells of God’s faithfulness and redemption of His creation rather than describing a pathway to healing through a metaphysical perspective. In many ways, Christian Science practice appears more readily to align with positive thinking than Christianity. While there are benefits of a positive outlook on life, encapsulating all of one’s worldview into believing only good exists is building one’s life on “shifting sand.” Even more, their hope is built on their own hard-won mental striving to live perfectly in a perfect world. It is a tragic way of life especially in times of crisis. The intense mental struggle against reality never ends. Christian Scientists are blinded to the grace and mercy offered through entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ involves repentance which inherently requires a belief in sin with an acknowledgment of a need of a Savior. Without a relationship with Jesus, there is in fact much to fear.

COVID-19 Response:

Christian Scientists find their faith doesn’t explain or allow for the COVID-19 so they need to dissociate. They detach themselves from everything and everyone, hardening their hearts to their current circumstances because of the dissonance. They find themselves confused and burdened while clinging to a pipe-dream perfect reality. Some radically follow Christian Science and die tragically. Others compartmentalize their faith and follow social norms, which is tragic in its own right.  

Biblical Christianity Response:

In the middle of the struggles of sin, disease, and death followers of Jesus Christ can claim: “it is well with my soul.” This does not negate the present sufferings but rather points to God’s Covenant promise in Genesis 3:15 that there will be a day in which evil is destroyed. The fulfillment of this promise grows throughout the Bible ending in Rev. 21 where God will make all things new. The heart of the words, “do not fear” bring the followers of Jesus Christ to their knees with wonder in the question “Why does the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God, the creator of the universe, love me so much?” The Gospel of grace is not tied to our perfection or our claim of perfection, but to God’s unrelenting love of us, his provision of eternal life with Him. We “do not fear” because the God of the universe knows our struggle and takes it seriously. He promises to be with us and He will fight our battles victoriously.

COVID-19 Response:

Followers of Jesus find our faith does allow for the COVID-19 and we turn towards the Lord in our struggle. God’s presence and care softens, shapes, and emboldens us. We cling closely to Jesus with hope for the day to come when He will make all things new and we will dwell with Him in the New Heavens and New Earth.

To learn more about the Christian Science response, here’s a recent article from the Christian Science Monitor: “Stopping Contagious fear and disease,” by Chet Manchester.

 

What is a biblical response to sin, disease, and death: 

  • God acknowledges the reality of sin, disease, and death. We don’t bear the burden alone.  
  • God weeps and feels the pain of the reality of sin, disease, and death. We don’t suffer alone. 
  • God personally takes on the burden of fighting the battle against sin, disease, and death. We are not left on our own. 
  • God is victorious over sin, disease, and death. Jesus takes on flesh, dies on the cross and rises again claiming victory over the grave so we are no longer subject to the fall. God makes us His own.  

Scripture to Consider:

John 11:33-35

When Jesus saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him [Lazarus]?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.”

Matthew 13:36a-43

And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.  The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

Revelation 21:1-4

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Katherine is the founder and director of the Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists. Growing up a fourth-generation Christian Scientist she attended Principia, a school for Christian Scientists, from preschool through her first year of college. She started questioning her Christian Science faith and ultimately left after September 11, 2001 when faced with the undeniable reality of evil in the world. Several years later the Lord pursued and she came to know Jesus Christ as her Savior at a bible-based PCA church. She was baptized and began studying at Covenant Seminary where she earned a MA. She felt called to start the FFCS connecting people with a Christian Science background with Christ-centered resources, care and community. She also loves the arts and serves as the Choir director at her church.