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Part One of this article presented the Religious Science monistic assumption that all that is is God. This second half will first look at an implication of this idea, then discuss other aspects of Religious Science.
Inherent Goodness of Human Nature
If all that is is God, and if God is good, then it follows all people must be good by nature. Throughout the services we attended at the Mile High Church of Religious Science (MHCRS), human beings were declared to be perfect, divine and above reproach. Sin and evil were obviously considered to be only an illusion. The mood was always upbeat, but so very unreal!
Empirically, what is the evidence for the idea of human goodness and divinity? No evidence was ever given. Feelings had the floor; facts were left out entirely.
If one is to assume human beings are basically good, it would follow it is their environment which makes them bad. If only good education, housing and jobs are given, then people will be good.
However, history and psychology give irrefutable evidence we are corrupt in our very nature. No one needs to teach children to lie, steal, cheat and so on. Hitler's Germany was on of the most highly educated in the world. No, indeed, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer 17:9).
Moreover, Jesus, throughout the Gospels, condemns the idea that anyone can be really self-righteous (Matt 23:1-36; Mark 7:5-23; Luke 5:27-34; John 8:33-47).
Throughout our contact with MHCRS, both in examining their wide variety of books and tapes offered and in the messages heard, syncretism was widely promoted. Note: syncretism is, "The bringing together of differing beliefs; particularly, the assimilation of the views of one religion into another" (Erickson, p.163).
Almost any and all sources of "truth" (except evangelical critiques of their beliefs) were quoted in the sermons we heard. Prayers, or more accurately meditations, were offered for Catholics, Protestants, Jews and others.
However, inconsistencies abounded. For in reality Monism and Pantheism run in diametrical opposition to the theism of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Tolerance of other belief systems is certainly important, but not blind acceptance. There are real and substantial differences between the various religions of the world.
Experience = Truth
A person next to me at one of the services summed up much of what I found prevalent. I informed him it was my first time there. He then advised me in cheerful fashion, "Well just sit back and enjoy!" Experience was given top billing; facts and objective reality were not considered important.
Richard Bube, a scientist and a Christian, comments:
Authentic science is unreservedly committed to the existence of an objective reality.... We need not suppose that this reality is static or even unchanging with time.... Nor need we suppose that this reality is unaffected by us or our perception of it.... To speak of an objective reality in the sense here used is to affirm that the character of things exists outside the self or the individual human being is what it is and does not depend on me.
Such a position (as put forth in Religious Science), if carried to its rational conclusion, involves a radical break with all traditional understanding of authentic science and opens the door to a subjective existentialism in which terms like truth, reality and objectivity become mere symbols without content (quoted in Groothius, p.105).
Terms such as truth, reality and objectivity do have content in a Christian view of the world and science.
Groothius further points out:
Scientists such as Galileo, Kepler and Newton presupposed that the universe was created by a rational God and was itself rationally constructed. They therefore pursued science with this faith that the creation would be explored through rational discovery (Groothius, p.106).
Practically speaking, how can you live life without defining such terms as truth and reality in an objective fashion? A good friend of mine has bought into much of this cosmic humanism. I asked him, "Does the sun rise each day whether I am aware of it or not? Does night follow day?"
Further, "Do we not live our lives based on these presuppositions of objective reality? Do not our experiences often prove statements to be either true or false?"
On the other hand, what if we hold to truth being defined as what the majority "feels" is truth, as Dr. Fred claimed we should. How then does one deal with the reality that the majority is not always right? Does might equal right?
What if a vote were taken in the USA today and it was determined the majority feel Religious Science values were not true? Would those going to MHCRS give up their beliefs? I doubt it.
Truth is not based on subjective experience but on God's revelation of Himself in the Bible and through Jesus Christ. While the New Age worldview seeks to be holistic, it has no objective grounding because it has no personal and morally perfect God that transcends the creation. Truth itself becomes nebulous in the New Age - Lost in subjective "space" and the "multiple realities" as do moral distinctions between good and evil. Yet the God of the Bible has given us an objective operating manual for the planet, that we may be equipped to obey Him in every aspect of life and thought (2Tim 3:16; p.170).
Why Do People Flock to Such a Church?
MHCRS does have some things in common with traditional churches and seems to offer what people haven't found in them. While talking with many people who go to MHCRS, I repeatedly heard them say they go to the church out of a dissatisfaction with traditional churches and a need for something more "positive" with "room for personal growth."
Many made comment they "felt good" in going and that "it made sense" to them. Further, they felt it "wasn't superstitious" and was "free from dogma." But the Christianity they rejected, I believe, was a caricature of real Christianity.
Further, while feelings are important, so is the cognitive process. Without a balance, one is not dealing with life truly "holistically."
The Bible teaches all human beings have a spiritual void (Rom 3:23). This void must be filled with spiritual content. It may be psychologically uplifting to think of valuing oneself as god, infinitely capable and able to control one's reality through the use of one's own mind; but my question would be, "Is this true?"
Does history show we are capable of absolutely controlling our destinies? I think not. Many don't seem to want to look closely at their beliefs or critically analyze what they are being taught. Why would they? What is left for them if they reject the beliefs of Religious Science? Much, if not all, of the traditional Church has proven ineffective and extremely shallow in their minds.
I have to agree the Church has failed in many respects. But Religious Scientists have thrown out traditional beliefs about God and then have accepted their new belief system without critically analyzing what is being offered to them in their place. And to not examine the ramifications of this new religion is nothing short of the proverbial jump from the frying pan into the fire.
A Correct Response
Both Christians and those who hold to Religious Science viewpoints need to examine the nature and origin of their knowledge. This is seldom done either in the traditional Church or outside of it. To some this seems too philosophical, to others, too obvious. But since both claim to have truth and since their "truths" differ on significant issues, both of these attitudes are faulty.
People need to look closer at who Jesus Christ really is and what He actually taught. Doctrinally, one needs to consider the completeness of Christ. Gordon Lewis is a professor at Denver Seminary and the author of many books which encourage people to examine the claims of Christ.
Dr. Lewis writes:
The Bible plainly teaches that Jesus the Christ suffered (1Pet 3:18) and died (1Cor 15:3). The Bible teaches furthermore that by Another's act believers are declared righteous (2Cor 5:21; 2Pet 2:21-24; 1John 2:2). That redeeming act was the death of Jesus Christ or the shedding of His blood (Lev 17:11; Matt 26:28; Rom 5:9; Eph 1:7; 2:13; Col 1:20). On the cross Jesus cried, "It is finished" for His death once and for all completed all that could be done for man's salvation (John 19:30; Heb 9:26; 10:10,12,14; p.91).
This salvation is not obtained through faith in faith or faith in a cosmic consciousness (which is ultimately simply faith in ourselves) as Religious Science would have you believe. Instead, it is faith in another Person, Jesus Christ.
Practically, one needs to study God's Word, the Bible. And this study needs to be in more depth than just a rock skipping across the surface of a lake. However, this surface study, I believe, is all those holding to Religious Science have done.
Several good books are currently available to provide help in properly examining/ interpreting the Scriptures.
These books include:
Fee, Gordon and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth.
Nicholson, Berkely. Interpreting the Bible.
Ramm, Bernard. Protestant Biblical Interpretation.
Sire, Jame. Scripture Twisting: 20 Ways the Cults Misread the Bible.
There needs to be an attitude of looking not only at what the Bible says but also at what it objectively means. Suppose for example, I were to take statements out of context in one of Shirely MacLaine's writings to try to show she is an Evangelical Christian and then promoted this idea. Would she be upset? Certainly! Would it be right for me to do this? Of course not.
In the same light, we must take in the historical/ cultural background in which the Bible was written. Further, the immediate and wider literally context needs to be considered when interpreting any particular passage in the Bible.
We need to search for the true meaning of the text, the meaning the original author intended, and not distort the Scriptures to make them fit into our own preconceived bias. In other words, "exegesis" (getting out of the Scriptures what is in them) must be done. "Eisegesis" (reading into the Bible what one wants to be there) must be avoided.
A big issue for all of us is the reality of the lack of authenticity in the lives of many Christians. This is the proverbial "proof in the pudding." I heard something to the effect, "We (those who know Christ as Savior and Lord) are the only Bible some will ever know."
Christians must develop their walk with God not for their own self-deification and personal fulfillment as Religious Science would have us believe, but because we have been forgiven by a gracious, loving and Personal God. Gratitude and love are the motivation; God's empowering becomes the means.
Remember, we are commanded to love God with all of heart and soul and all of our mind and our neighbor as ourselves (Matt 22:37-39).
Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light
Parts One and Two):
All Scripture references from: New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.
Creed, Howell S. "Guide to Creative Thinking." Lakewood, CO: Science of Mind Publications, 1965.
Erickson, Millard. Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986.
Groothius, Douglas. Unmasking the New Age. n.a. InterVarsity Press, 1986.
Holmes, Earnest. The Science of Mind. New York: Dod, Mead and Company, 1938.
Lewis, Gordon. Confronting the Cults. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 1966.
"Religious Science." Lakewood, CO: n.a.
Tornay, Stephen. "Philosophy and Science of Mind." Lakewood, CO: Science of Mind Publications, n.a.
See "Thou Art a Gracious God, and Merciful" for a discussion of one person's deliverance out of Religious Science.
The above article was originally written as a
class assignment at Denver Seminary in 1988.
It was posted on this Web site April 9, 1997.
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