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Religious Science Discussion

The following e-mail exchanges are discussing the articles on Religious Science listed at New Age Movement. The e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


Exchange #1

> Gary,

I have really enjoyed your Webpage. I love the Bible and find all of your information very helpful. I study about 4 hours a day, I no longer attend church, due to not wanting my children to keep hearing "the end is coming" and so much power given to the devil. People wanting to be right and control you, interpretations being personal. I study more at home with my family.

I come from a Catholic/ Nazarene home. Have a Pentecostal young adult background. I have read many texts and studied many religions. From the Kabbalah [Jewish mysticism] to the Keys to the Scriptures [Christian Science]. I must say that Religious Science set me on Fire for God. I found it to be a loving, forgiving, accepting practice that makes you aware of your thoughts, actions, and words. They do not teach you that you are a God, they teach you there is no separation ever, that the Holy Spirit is always in us, that we are of God.

My time devoted to God, prayer and the Bible is at it's highest it has ever been. I am more aware, grateful, thankful, loving, and forgiving now than in my whole life. I am soon to be 46. They are non denominational and they have encouraged me to read the Bible.

Judy
4/7/1999

Thank you for your e-mail. It is very interesting. First off, as for whatever church you were attending that "kept" teaching about "the end is coming" and "power given to the "devil" I will simply say I would agree it is not appropriate for a church to focus on any one or a very limited number of teachings. An over-emphasis in any area can cause a problem.

Also, on my site is a two-part article discussing why I feel it is wrong to be teaching we "know" the end is near, and especially to start setting dates [see Is the End Near?]. As for the Devil, he does have power but it is limited. But without more to go on I really cannot comment further.

As for the teachings of Religious Science (RS), quotations from RS literature teaching saying we are one in essence with God could easily be produced (some such quotes are in the articles on my site). Pantheism is definitely a tenant of the religion since its founding. At the same time, quotes in their literature can also be found which display a belief in a Creator-creature distinction. So it would depend which of these contradictory ideas is the focus of the particular group you're attending as to what is coming across.

I am glad you are reading the Bible. However, I must say it must be a reading that is only accepting the parts of the Bible that can be "fit" into a RS viewpoint while ignoring the myriad of texts that would not fit.

For instance, the Bible teaches our sins separate us from God (Isa 59:1) while you're saying your RS group teaches there is never a separation from God. Sin is a central tenant of the Bible, which I know is not emphasized in RS groups. The Bible's teachings that through Jesus' death on the cross is the only way to forgiven and reconciled to God and many others are also in conflict with RS teachings.

So I will only say to continue to read the Bible; but since you don't like "interpretations being personal" then let the Bible speak for itself and don't try to make it "fit" into a RS interoperation of it.


Exchange #2

> Gary,

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I really like your webpage and your points. I will look closely at what you pointed out to me about the teachings of RS. I appreciate you and webpages like yours, they teach so many people. I felt yours is a very researched page.<

Thank you for the very kind comments.

> My understanding of the "separation" is that it can be overcome by knowing the Lord and changing your ways, not just your words, but your thoughts and actions.<

I would agree with what you say, in part. More specifically, what you have said would be the RESULT of being reconciled to God, not the MEANS by which to be. We are sinners while God is absolutely holy. And because of our sins we cannot enter into the presence of absolute holiness or have fellowship with God. God is too holy to commune with sin.

The way to solve this dilemma is for our sins to be forgiven. God took the initiative in sending His Son to die for our sins. Christ appeased God's wrath against our sins. And it is by believing in Christ that we can be forgiven and reconciled to God. So the "separation" is not bridged by anything we do but by what God has done. He sent His Son; He died for our sins; our only response is one of faith in what has been done for us. Hence the teaching that we are saved by faith not works.

As a result of having our sins forgiven through faith in Christ's sacrifice, we then can know God and be in fellowship with Him. And because of our renewed relationship we then produce good works.

Without first having our sins forgiven are goods works are useless in bridging the separation. And that is a major difference.

> My husband who is a devout Christian always felt "unworthy," that is due to his raising here in the Ozarks, he felt separation even though he was saved many times and walks a great walk daily.<

Your husband is half right. It sounds like he was taught the first half of the Christian message but not the second half. Yes, we are "unworthy" to come into the presence of God. But, through faith in Christ's sacrifice we are forgiven and thus are more than "worthy" to enter into the presence of God and fellowship with Him:

As the writer to the Hebrews put it:
10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

It would appear your husband simply wasn't taught this part of the message: that we can know we are forgiven and that we can have "boldness" (or, confidence) to enter into the presence of God.

> He only really listened to what he was taught, he now really reads the Bible, we study about 4 hours a day. It is my passion, my life. He now realizes that he is "not separated" but we do think it is a daily process that you must work at everyday and try your best.<

I am glad to hear you are studying so studiously. And even more glad you husband now understands he is not separated from God. But, I would hope his understanding is based on what I have said above, an understanding that his sins are forgiven, as opposed to simply coming to think there is not such thing as sin. The latter is taught at least in some Religious Science circles.

> I for myself stay away from any Church that isn't Bible and Jesus based. Here in the Ozarks we have Baptist, Pentecostal, Mennonites, and Church of Christ and a Methodist Church. We have church here at home everyday with our family, and we do visit the churches at times. It is a small town and it has been a learning experience for me of tolerance, acceptance, and love for others here. Every church here with the exception of the Methodist call each other a "Cult." But you have to take into consideration it is a town of 1,500, it is isolated, and people will be people and have the need to "be right."<

It sounds like you live in a very interesting community! I will say this, I can understand your being turned off by each group calling the other a "cult." Personally, I try to avoid the use of this word as it has rather strong connotations. If I use it at all it is only with very clearly defined limits and definition.

Each of the groups you mention, with the possible exception of the Church of Christ, would agree on what I call the "Essentials of the Faith" as outlined on my ministry's Confession of Faith. So they should not be calling each other a cult. Now there are important differences between the groups. These cannot be glossed over. At the same time Christians should be able to discuss such non-essential differences in a spirit of love, accepting the other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Church of Christ group might, depending on the exact type that it is as there are different groups that go by this name, fall outside of my listed "essentials." But I would still avoid the term "cult" in reference to it and simply explain my disagreements with it.

> I truly believe all of these people are working towards the same goal. Their paths may be slightly different, clothes, music or no music, tongues or no tongues, trinity or not, the way of Baptism, but they are trying to achieve the same thing.<

I would agree, with the exception of the doctrine of the Trinity. I do believe it is essential. But the other points you mention, I have my own beliefs in regards to them, some of which I discuss on my site. But I never say someone is not a Christian simply because we disagree on, say, how much water should be used to baptize with.

> It is not unusual here to see articles on the Church page in the newspaper saying "Santa is Satan," "Jews hate us, Muslims hate Jesus and us."<

It's not necessary to use such inflammatory terms. One should be able to express their opinions and disagreements with others without using such arguments.

> They run a lot of articles on "Cults," they put Mormons on the top of the list.<

Again, I would avoid using the term "cult" but when it comes to Mormonism there are many significant differences between it and historic, Biblical Christianity. I have several articles in this regard on my site [see Mormonism].

> The teaching of hatred and fear is unbelievable. It is a white community and it is a very prejudice community of other races.<

I don't believe it is teaching "hatred and fear" to explain why I disagree with another's view. However, as indicated, it is not necessary to use inflammatory language to do so. And I can understand why hearing such language in your local churches would turn you off of them. All I can say is I have never heard such language in my church, and previous ones I have attended.

As for prejudice against other races, that is inexcusable. There is no basis whatsoever for bigotry in the Christian faith. It would definitely be a turn off for me to hear someone who calls themselves a Christian to use bigoted language against another race. The Gospel message is for all races and should unite, not divide, races.

> This has been good for me, it has increased my study and research. Also made me see the judgment in myself towards these people. I caught myself being judgmental of these judgmental people. Shame on me.<

It is very astute of you to realize that being judgmental of judgmentalism is being judgmental itself. Not many will acknowledge this.

You are correct that hearing debates between others can force you to study more yourself to decide for yourself what to believe. That has happened to me on many occasions. Many of the articles on my site came as a result of me researching a new viewpoint I came across. And yes, there have been times when I have changed my mind on different things as a result.

> So now I write in the paper on praying for all and lifting all people up, not tearing them down. I turn to the Bible for help and give Scripture for all to turn to and study. I am so grateful for this lesson given to me by living here in this community, my Faith has grown and grown. I have also seen the ways in me that need change and I take a good look at my heart daily.<

It does sound like you are "growing" as a result of your study. And I can understand you wanting to now avoid the debates. I know full well how tiresome it can get.

> I also have been lucky to have a RS teacher for my classes on line that teaches from the Bible. As you said groups can be different. I have found the prayer class to make you take a hard, long look at what is inside yourself and not others. I am lead towards prayer and healing, mostly reaching out to nonbelievers.

I didn't mean to be so "windy". I grew up in a predominately Jewish community in Southern California, so the last 5 years here have been quite an eye opener for me here in the Ozarks in Arkansas. I will enjoy learning from you and your page.

God Bless You and Your Family,
Sincerely,
Judy
4/11/1999<

That you for your letter. And no problem with being "windy" as it was interesting. I will close by saying this, I have attended a Religious Science church before, albeit once, the Mile High Church of Religious Science in Denver, Co, read literature they had put out there, along with other RS literature. And having done so I simply cannot see how a RS and Christian teachings can be reconciled.

Yes, there are verses in the Bible which could be used to support a RS viewpoint. But there are many others which would be in complete conflict. So unless the RS group you are attending is completely different from RS in general then I simply find it difficult to understand how they can be truly teaching from the Bible. It seems to me they would have to continually "explain away" or "ignore" verse after verse in the Bible.

As I said before, concepts such as sin and Jesus being the only way to salvation simply are not part of RS teachings to my knowledge. But such teachings are definitely central to the Bible.


Note: All Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.

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