The Teachings of Christian Science by Dr. John H. Gerstner


From retired Pastor Joe Gwynn,

A project of mine this summer has been to type four out-of-print works by the late Dr. John H. Gerstner. They are critiques of four prominent cults that ensnare thousands of unwary people. They (the booklets) are carefully footnoted and therefore can be defended with confidence. In them you will learn things (especially about their founders and history) that many of their proponents who come knocking at your door either do not know or will not admit. My purpose was to make these booklets (25-30 pages each) available for free downloading and distribution.

They are:
· The Teachings of Mormonism
· The Teachings of Seventh-day Adventism
· The Teachings of Christian Science
· The Teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses

John H. Gerstner (1914–1996), M.Div. and M.Th. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Gerstner was Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for thirty years. After retiring, Dr. Gerstner, the favorite teacher of Dr. R.C. Sproul, was a frequent speaker at Ligonier Conferences before his death in 1996. An excellent historian and Reformed theologian, Dr. Gerstner also wrote several excellent books, including my favorite “Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth”, an excellent critique of Dispensationalism.

In the one true God and his Son, Jesus Christ,
Joe Gwynn 

If you want this in Word format email me.

The Teachings of

Christian Science

John H. Gerstner

John H. Gerstner (1914–1996), M.Div. and M.Th. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Gerstner was Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for thirty years. After retiring, Dr. Gerstner, a favorite teacher of Dr. R.C. Sproul, was a frequent speaker at Ligonier Conferences before his death in 1996. An excellent Reformed theologian, scholar, and historian, Dr. Gerstner wrote many good books.

Introduction …………………………….……………………..….…………. Page 2
1. Description and History of Christian Science …………….…. Page 3
2. Doctrines of Christian Science .………………..….………..…….. Page 15
3. Terms Frequently Used by the Christian Scientists ……….. Page 19
4. For Further Reading ……………………………………………………. Page 20
5. Summary of Traditional Christian Doctrines …….………….. Page 21
6. Brief Definitions of the Sects …………….………………………… Page 24


The abundance of literature on various “sects” shows that there is great interest in the subject. But what is a sect? We must make our definition clear, for there is wide difference of opinion on its meaning.

Evangelicals generally use sect when referring to those denominations which do not hold to fundamental biblical principles … especially the deity of Christ and His atonement. This booklet is written from the evangelical perspective.

The teachings of Christian Science is designed as a ready reference booklet. It is meant to be a quick guide to the wealth of literature on this subject, and it includes a valuable table and glossary.

The general exposition in the first chapter gives an easily-grasped overview of the sect. The following chapter, “Doctrines of Christian Science” provides the reference material which summarizes the first chapter and adds some more technical data. Chapter two contains the basic theological structure of Christian Science stated objectively and concisely. The text itself gives a fuller exposition of some of the cardinal points outlined in the first chapter.

Chapter three. “Terms Frequently Used by Christian Scientists,” gives some of the most common terms in the vocabulary of this sect. Sects often have their own precise definitions for common religious words, and the glossary makes this immediately evident.

Chapter four, “For Further Reading,” lists both primary and secondary sources for further study of the theology and practice of the sect.

A summary of the essential teachings of traditional Christianity appears in chapter five. This summary is included to provide a basis for comparison with the doctrines of Christian Science. This chapter is designed to be used as a frame of reference.

To make the theologies of different sects clearer, their teachings have been summarized in the “Chart of Comparative Doctrines” at the end of chapter six. This tabular outline classifies the doctrines of Seventh-Day Adventists, and continuing with the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Christian Scientists, this chart allows the reader to see at a glance the position of each group on various Christian doctrines.

1. Description and History of Christian Science

Mary Baker Eddy

A devout sharp-tempered Calvinist, surer of hell fire than of his crops and seasons, he believed in its extreme form the awful doctrine that the majority of the human race were destined to eternal damnation. From this dark and forbidding view of human destiny a serene and cultivated wife and six healthy children, three of either sex, failed to detach him. Then a seventh child was born, She was a girl and received the name of Mary.[1]

H. A. L. Fisher hints at what the evidence itself shouts. The ideas of Mary Baker Eddy (Eddy) were a reaction against the Reformed faith of her father.

Indeed, the whole history of the sect could have as its golden text the word of the apostle Paul: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”[2]

Mary Baker Eddy was not the only one to rebel against the Reformed faith; the same was also true of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons. His parents had not been as attached to it as Mary Baker’s, but it was the same basic tradition of the churches with which he was familiar. Seventh-day Adventist William Miller was actually a Calvinist, but was unwilling to be bound by its eschatological restraints. We know that Charles Taze Russell (of the Jehovah’s Witnesses) was reared as a Covenanter. The “chaos of the cults” is a somber study in rebellion.

At twelve years of age, Mary was denying predestination and other truths while being admitted to the Congregational Church at Tilton, New Hampshire. The next years were largely spent nursing ills, having unpleasant stays with relatives and friends, and acquiring two husbands. In 1843 she married George Washington Glover, who died in 1844. In 1845 their son was born, the only child Mary ever had. It can hardly be said that she brought him up, however, for he was sent off to school and farmed out with relatives. The saying was that Mary did not seem to care for her lamb. In 1853 she entered into an unhappy marriage with a dentist named Patterson, who apparently was not fond of her chronic sickness. When he left her, she said it was for another woman. Georgine Milmine says it was because he could stand her no longer.

Phineas P. Quimby

Before this separation took place, however, the turning point in Mary Baker Glover Patterson’s life had taken place. In 1862 the ailing woman was healed by Phineas P. Quimby at the International Hotel in Portland, Maine. Who was Quimby? According to H. A. L. Fisher, “Phineas P. Quimby was one of those adventurers, more common perhaps in the New World than the Old, who, navigating the sea of knowledge without the charts and compass of education, end always by discovering to their own intimate satisfaction results which have eluded the wisdom of the ages.”[3] On this voyage without charts one thing Quimby had discovered was that people are often healed by a little dose of psychology and a big dose of mesmerism. So, he dubbed Mrs. Patterson’s head after putting his hands in water, and then put her to sleep. When she awoke, all sickness was gone. This made her a grateful patient and faithful disciple, dedicating her life to preaching the Quimby gospel of salvation. For the next years she devoted herself to propagating Quimbyism.

What was Mrs. Patterson doing in the years 1864-1870? These were the “wander years” during which she went from home to home, creating more or less trouble in almost every one of them. She was teaching the Quimby “science” of healing, using for this purpose a manuscript which she said had been written by “Dr. P. P. Quimby” and having her students copy it, while she guarded it most jealously. There is an unbroken chain of witnesses and affidavits and other evidences to prove this important fact beyond a doubt.[4]
The manuscript she used for her teaching was a copy of Quimby. George A. Quimby of Belfast, Me., has lent the writer one of his father’s manuscripts, entitled “Questions and Answers.” This is in the handwriting of Mr. Quimby’s mother, the wife of Phineas P. Quimby, and is dated, in Mrs. Quimby’s handwriting, February, 1862 – nine months before Mrs. Eddy’s first visit to Portland.[5]

The evidence that Eddyism was really Quimbyism is substantial. First, there was the Rev. W. F. Evans, who in 1869 wrote a book entitled The Mental Cure. According to Edwin Dakin, this volume is important “in any consideration of Mrs. Eddy’s career, for it shows indubitably the wealth of inspiration which Quimby generated.” Dakin’s opinion is in line with with Milmine, Snowden, and others, who cite statements such as this from Evans: “Disease being in its root a wrong belief, change that belief and we cure the disease. By faith we are thus made whole.” Second, there was Andrew Jackson Davis, who had the same ideas which Mrs. Eddy later developed, as Snowden clearly shows. Third, we have Julius A. Dresser, an early student of Quimby and father of New Thought. His True History of Mental Science is a strong argument for Mrs. Eddy’s dependence on Quimby. Fourth, not only are the ideas Quimby’s, but
the very language seems adopted from the same source. “The key words of Mrs. Eddy’s book, ‘science,’ ‘truth,’ ‘principle,’ mind,’ ‘error,’ ‘matter,’ ‘belief,’ which she uses in a peculiar sense as a kind of jargon or lingo, are all derived from Quimby who used them in the same peculiar sense.”[6] Still, there was a glaring difference between Quimby and Mrs. Eddy: Quimby seems not to have used religion in his healing, while Mrs. Eddy was first and foremost a religious theorist.[7] This difference between Quimbyism and Eddyism is emphasized by W. F. Evans in his book, Mental Medicine, published in 1872. After giving Quimby credit for great success in healing, he continues: “But all this was only an exhibition of the force of suggestion, or the action of the law of faith, over a patient in the impressionable condition.”

The Christian Science Church

In any case, the crisis in Mrs. Patterson’s life was now past. Whatever the source of her new theology, it was now hers and it made her, and made Christian Science. In 1866, she said, Christian Science was discovered.[8] She continued to work, applying its principles and teaching others (for substantial fees) at Lynn, Massachusetts, until 1882. Meanwhile, in 1875, she had bought a house, published her first edition of Science and Health, and with eight others formed “The Christian Scientists.” In 1877 she married Asa Gilbert Eddy, who was a good enough businessman to see that the second edition of Science and Health paid. In the same year the new movement’s name was changed to “Christian Science Association.” A couple of years later it was organized as the Christian Science Church. In 1882, the prophetess moved to the hub of her universe, Boston, after organizing the Metaphysical College and publishing the third edition of Science and Health. But, great healer that she was, she could not change her husband’s mind about dying. She attributed his death to MAM, malicious animal magnetism, or mental murder,[9] the same cause to which she later told her followers to attribute to her own death.

The rest of Mrs. Eddy’s life was a triumphal procession among her own ranks, while suffering constantly from enemy magnetism. Her admirers go to extremes in their description of her marvelous achievements. Others, not admirers, are prepared to grant that Mrs. Eddy’s rise in fortune, power, and influence was truly outstanding. In spite of all this, she moved from place to place to escape the relentless mental persecution. It was this persecution, apparently, which made her leave Boston in 1889, and which probably made her move to Concord to Newton in 1908, and which finally killed her in 1913. At least that is what the official verdict was, according to the dying wishes of Mrs. Eddy, as revealed in this conversation with her trusted associate Dickey: “Mr. Dickey, if I should ever leave here, will you promise me that you will say that I was mentally murdered?’ ‘Yes, Mother.’”[10]

Since Mrs. Eddy

Since Mrs. Eddy – what? Altman Swihart has written a book bearing that title, in which he discusses only two major divisions in Christian Science since Mrs. Eddy – those of Mrs. Stetson and Mrs. Bill. These are only two of many. In spite of many divisions, however, the movement which has centered in the Mother Church has continued and grown. It is difficult to prove that it has grown as much as some Scientists and others claim. Indeed, “Mrs. Eddy in a Message to her Church in 1901, answering a critic of her work, challenged him to match a record which could start thirty years ago without a Christian Scientist on earth, and in this interval number one million.”[11] Fisher quotes an American writer who, in 1912, said “there were then ten thousand Christian Science healers in the United States, and an annual supply of some six million Christian Science patients.”[12] Probably it was such figures which gave Mark Twain a scare and made him prophecy:

It is a reasonable safe guess that in America in 1920 there will be ten million Christian Scientists, and three million in Great Britain; that these figures will be trebled in 1930, that in America in 1930 politically formidable, and in 1940 the governing power of the Republic – to remain that, permanently. And I think it a reasonable guess that the Trust … will then be the most insolent and unscrupulous and tyrannical politico-religious master that has dominated a people since the palmy days of the Inquisition.[13]

Riley and Snowden noted years ago that the expansion of Christian Science was largely among “the richest pay streak of our civilization.” Christian Science has an overwhelming preponderance of its members in cities and of the female sex. Studies also reveal that although this is a “cult of American ladies,” women do not hold positions of top leadership; that although most of its converts are not poor, they do not represent many influential people of the cities; that those studying Christina Science exceed those adhering to it; and that nearly all of the converts come from the churches rather than from the world.

A Look at Mary Baker Eddy

So much for Mary Baker Eddy’s religious movement. What shall we think of Mary Baker Eddy? What did she think of herself? A recent Christian Scientist, Arthur Todd, asks if Christian Scientists worship Mrs. Eddy. “Do they consider her another Christ?” The answer, he says, is an emphatic NO!”[14] Then he appeals to Mrs. Eddy herself in support of this modest attitude:

In a letter to the New York Herald just after the original Mother Church Edifice was dedicated, she wrote: “A dispatch is given me, calling for an interview to answer for myself, “Am I the second Christ?’ Even the question shocks me. What I am is for God to declare His infinite mercy. As it is, I claim nothing more than what I am, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, and the blessing it has been to mankind which eternity enfolds … There was, is, and never can be but one God, one Christ, one Jesus of Nazareth …”[15]

But let us compare this seemingly modest demurer with the following letter she wrote to her devoted Mrs. Stetson:

Darling Augusta, My Precious Child … Jesus was the man that was a prophet and the best and greatest man that ever has appeared on earth, but Jesus was not Christ, for Christ is the spiritual individual that the eye cannot see. Jesus was called Christ only in the sense that you say, a Godlike man. I am only a Godlike woman, God-anointed, and I have done a work that none other can do. As Paul was not understood and Jesus was not understood at the time they taught and demonstrated, so I am not. As following them and obeying them blessed all who did thus – so obeying me and following faithfully blesses all who do this …”[16]

This would surely support Mrs. Stetson’s own view of Mary Baker Eddy which she expresses thus: “Christ Jesus was the masculine representative of the fatherhood of God. In this age Mary Baker Eddy is the feminine representative of the motherhood of God.’ “[17]

To be fair to the Christian Scientists we must say that the present Christian Science organization disowns Mr. Stetson and her followers. Our later discussion of the Scientist doctrine of Christ will make it clear that the difference between Jesus and other Christians is a matter of degree. The above statements indicate that even that degree of difference hardly existed between Jesus and Mr. Eddy. In perfect consistency with her high opinion of herself, she could run her affairs thus: “At two day’s notice any member of three years’ standing or upwards might be ordered, on pain of excommunication, to serve in Mrs. Eddy’s household for a period of more than three years. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me’ was the text quoted in support …”[18] All of these charges reveal the truth of Snowden’s observation: “The most serious allegations pertaining to Mr. Eddy are sustained by her own words found in her acknowledged writings, for in such matters she is always the most damaging witness against herself.”

So much for Mary Baker Eddy, the woman. What of Mary Baker Eddy, the author? In her own opinion she was the woman of Revelation 12,[19] the custodian of the key to the Scriptures. We have already noted her unacknowledged dependence on Quimby. And Snowden points out her more than coincidental likeness to Ann Lee, the founder of the Shakers.

The Shakers always prayed to “Our Father and Mother which is in heaven,” while Mrs. Eddy’s “spirituality interpreted” version of The Lord’s Prayer begins, “Our Father- Mother God.” The Shakers proclaimed Ann Lee to be the woman of the Apocalypse, and Mrs. Eddy made the same suggestion with reference to herself. The Shakers called Ann Lee “Mother,” and Mrs. Eddy arrogated this name to herself and forbade her followers to bestow it upon others, although afterwards she withdrew the privilege of applying it to herself and denied that she had ever authorized such use. The Shakers called Ann Lee was inspired, and Mrs. Eddy made the same claim. Ann Lee declared that she had the gift of healing, and this was Mrs. Eddy’s chief stock in trade. The Shakers called their organization “The Church of Christ,” and Mrs. Eddy adopted this name with the addition of “Scientist.” The Shakers forbade audible prayer, and Mrs. Eddy disapproved of it and has none of it, in her services. Ann Lee enjoyed celibacy, and Mrs. Eddy, though practicing marriage liberally herself, discouraged it in others.[20]

One volume on Christian Science is entitled, Mary Baker Eddy Purloins from Hegel. That she would not hesitate to steal a sermon is clear from a comparison of her writing with a sermon on Blair. We pass over the fact that she could not make two sentences fit together, she and almost all her critics saying that there is never any reason why one sentence of hers follows rather than precedes another. And not only do they stand in hopeless relationships, but in themselves many of the sentences convey nothing but equivocation and ambiguity. And all this she seems to have intended.[21] The secret of the success of Science and Health, it seems to us, is its overpowering use of repetition. Asher friend Bronson Alcott said: “No one but a woman or a fool cold have written it.”[22]

The Theology of Christian Science

What is the basic nature of the Christian Science system? A recognized Christian Science authority answers this way: “… it is a restatement of primitive Christianity – without the creeds, rituals and dogmas which have grown up through various interpretations of those teachings.”[23] The contention is thus that Christian Science is primitive, pure, uninterpreted Christianity versus creedal, impure, interpreted Christianity. Of course, any system must be an interpretation; it may be more or less sound interpretation, but interpretation is must be. And those sects which do (and virtually all sects do) claim to be purely uninterpreted Christianity are simply claiming infallibility for their interpretation and fallibility and error for all others.

Why, then, has it had an attraction for Christians? Some Christians are attracted to it because there is an element of Christianity in Christian Science which could deceive the very elect. “A pseudoscience does not necessarily consist wholly of lies. It contains many truths and even valuable ones.”[24] Here was, to adapt the expression from Trueblood, a cut-flower mortality in part, for “though she [Mrs. Eddy] had liberated herself at an early age from the formidable terrors of the Calvinistic creed, she stood for temperance and strict living.”[25] It is this moral note which constitutes the attractiveness of Christian Science.

What is the source of authority in Christian Science? The Bible alone? Clearly not, because Mary Baker Eddy had to provide a key to the Bible. Is her Key to the Scriptures the source of authority? No, because there are different keys to the Key. Mrs. Stetson thought she had the key to the Key and Mrs. Bill was sure she had it, and a number of others have said that they had it. But the corporation founded by Mary Baker Eddy claims to have the Key – the only Key to the Key. And most Christian Scientists agree with this claim. So Christian Scientists are those who recognize the Mother Church and its hierarchy. This is their source of authority.

This keeper of the Key to the Key rejects criticism and refuses to admit error. All this is quite suavely defended by Mr. Todd:

Not unnaturally the dramatic emergence and spread of Christian Science as a major religious phenomenon of the last eighty years finds expression in a multifarious literature. Books, pamphlets, and periodical articles abound, some ignorantly hostile, some malicious, some well intentioned but inaccurate. Hence it has become necessary to set up in library cataloguing two categories, ‘authorized’ (i.e., Mrs. Eddy’s own writing or publications of The Christian Publishing Society) and ‘unauthorized’ (miscellaneous publications of varied derivation and content).[26]

As a result of this censorship policy, note what has happened to Christian Science literature, to Science and Health itself. Snowden said that he had “not been able to obtain or even to see a copy of the first edition of Science and Health, although he applied for it to the Christian Science publishers and headquarters, but Miss Milmine gives an extended quotation from it that bears the marks of its being in Mrs. Eddy’s own unaided style …”[27] ‘The first edition of Science and Health has been so far as possible suppressed.’”[28]

Then there is the matter of the life of Mrs. Eddy. Miss Wilbur wrote an “authoritative” life of Mary Baker Eddy, virtually devoid of documentary evidence. Miss Milmine wrote a scholarly life of Mrs. Eddy: “the copyright was eventually purchased by a friend of Christian Science, and the plates from which the book was printed were destroyed, according to information which appears to be authentic and accurate. The author has been informed that the original manuscript was also acquired.”[29] Julius Dresser finally published the Quimby manuscripts and showed whence came Eddyism. According to Dakin, “The first edition of this very valuable work, which contained the letters which the then Mrs. Patterson addressed to Dr. Quimby, is already exceedingly rare. Copies are available in the Library of Congress, the New York Publishing Library, and the Boston Public Library. The second edition, with the letters missing, is readily available in most public libraries and from the publishers.” Tomlinson’s Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy, carry the imprimatur of the Christian Science Publishing Company. But what happened to the witness of another who knew Mrs. Eddy but wrote about her less favorably? It is said that Memoirs of Mary Baker Eddy by Adam Dickey was published by his widow three years after the author’s death. Mrs. Dickey was a member of the Mother Church in good standing, and was promptly persuaded to withdraw the publication. All copies were recalled. The Dickey account of the atmosphere in Mrs. Eddy’s home and the occurrences there forms one of the most extraordinary documents in her history, for it is the work of a loyal disciple who served in Mrs. Eddy’s household for several years and died as one of the ruling officials of the church.

In any system the doctrine of God is utterly crucial; this is nowhere more apparent than in Christian Science. God is all. God is the “All-in-all.” God is good. These statements are reiterated time and time again by Mary Baker Eddy and other Scientists. This pantheistic notion obviously and explicitly rules out al individuality, all materiality, all evil, all sickness, indeed, all. For, if God is all, all is nothing but God. “Limitless personality is inconceivable,” we are taught in No and Yes.[30] One divine personality is objectionable enough; tripersonality is that much more offensive to Scientists. “The theory of three persons in one God (that is, a personal Trinity of Tri-unity) suggests, says Marty Baker Eddy, polytheism, rather than the one ever-present I am.”[31] Another Christian Science author has written: “By the Trinity, Christian Scientists mean the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit – but do not accept the Trinity as three persons in one. Life, Truth, and Love are ‘the triune personality called God.’ (Science and Health).”[32]

The Christian Science view of Christ is obvious from all this, as well as from what was said earlier about the person of Mrs. Eddy. “Jesus is the human man, and Christ is the divine idea, hence the duality of Jesus the Christ.” Science and Health teaches that “the Christian believes that Christ is God … Jesus Christ is not God.”[33] “No wonder Mrs. Eddy wrote to her friend and disciple, Judge Hanna, ‘I have marveled at the press’s and pulpit’s patience with me when I have taken away their Lord.’”[34]

In all this pantheism, where does evil come in? Answer: it doesn’t. It is ruled out, that is, thought out. Albert Gilmore explains why evil cannot exist (though this is not quite true to Christian Science form): “Could God’s handiwork ever become less than perfect, we should have the impossible situation of imperfection from infinite perfection.” This is a valid statement of a real philosophical puzzle. However, pantheistic Christian Science has no doctrine of God’s “handiwork” … that is a creation notion, not an emanation doctrine. Precisely because the good God is all, and all is God, therefore all is good, and therefore there could not possibly be evil. Evil is an illusion; or, as the Scientists put it: “All sin is insanity in different degrees.”

If God, who is spiritual, is all, then nothing unscriptural can exist. Matter, therefore, cannot exist. If matter cannot exist, certainly an aberration of matter, called sickness, cannot exist. By a wave of her metaphysical wand, Mary Baker Eddy banishes sin, sickness, and suffering forever from the universe. Christ had to go to the cross to do that, but Mrs. Eddy had only to sit and ponder. Having received this command from the general, Gilmore and the other lieutenants rush in with the announcement: “Sin and disease are figments of the moral or carnal mind, to be destroyed, healed, by knowing their unreality.”[35] But which is greater to say: “Arise, take up thy bed and walk,” or, “Thy sins be forgiven thee”? Christian Science finds both of these equally easy. It heals men by assuring them that they are not sick, and it saves men by assuring them that they have never sinned. “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 as long as the belief lasts … Furthermore, since the real man has never departed from his original state of perfection, he is not in need of salvation. He is saved now, and reposing in the bosom of the Father; he has always been saved – that is, as God’s idea, the expression of Mind, man is forever held in the divine consciousness.”[36] “Not the image of God, the real man, but the mortal, the counterfeit, is in dire need of salvation from the constrictions, false beliefs, and limitations which so generally attach themselves to the material sense of man.”[37]

Practices of Christian Scientists

Now that this gospel of complete spiritual and mental health is an actual and present possession needing only to be realized, it is carried through with a certain degree of consistency. First, Christian Science promotes a calm and poised exterior, as was illustrated by the man who left Christian Science because he “ ‘got tired of being so monotonously happy.’ “[38]Second, Christian Science frowns on hospitals: “Do Christian Scientists go to hospitals? The teaching and faith of Christian Science reject medical treatment. To the extent that a man or woman relies on material methods of healing, he or she is not relying fully on Christian Science.”[39] Third, Christian Science does not approve of quarantines: “Incidentally, Christian
Scientists and their children obey all quarantine regulations because they don’t want their neighbors to become fearful of their safety because Christian Scientists refrain from material methods.” More recently Robert Peel has written that “the stubborn, irreducible facts of experience have shown that under ordinary circumstances any attempt to mix Christian Science and medicine seriously lessens the efficacy of each.”[40] “Incidentally, Christian Scientists feel that reliance on spiritual methods alone, to safeguard public health, is wise only in proportion to the spiritual understanding of health among the people of the area involved.[41] Fourth, consistent with its disbelief in suffering, it does in effect discourage sympathy.[42] Fifth, it despises poverty, which it regards as a false belief in material lack or material limitation.[43]

One of Mrs. Stetson’s early students said that when Jesus cured the demon-possessed man in the tombs, the people came out and found the man in his right mind and fully clothed. The question might be asked: Where did the wearing apparel come from? The answer is simple. Jesus understood Principle and so clothes immediately covered this man’s body … Thus, if someone who is not a Christian Scientist is poor and needs help, the best aid that a Christian Scientist can give him is to send out the impersonal love and the realization that divine Love enables all to make their demonstration of succor. Merely to give clothes to a poor non-Christian Scientist is of no special value, for he is in his present condition through his own fault, or through lack of understanding. What he needs most is Principle, not matter. But in the case of the Christian Scientist who is not becoming prosperous, it is proper to assist him in making his demonstration. To aid such a one is to contribute to his spiritual growth.[44]

But, while Christian Science is admirably consistent in the application of its principles at many points, it also shies away from such implications at other points. For example, if sickness is unreal, why should surgery and anesthesia be permitted? If the standard answer, because of the prejudices of the mortal mind, were accepted, it would wreck the entire system. By what rhyme or reason can a Christian Scientist who rejects doctors, despises hospitals, and refuses vaccination, say: “To stop utterly eating and drinking until your belief changes in regard to these things were error’ ”?[45] If sin is unreal, why should not the libertine exonerate himself even while he indulges? And what can the Christian Scientist reply to Van Baalen’s question: “Can you blame critics of ‘Divine Science’ that they point out the suspicious truth that Mrs. Eddy asserted that in the present stage of our understanding Science, we can only demonstrate against sickness, and not against hunger and money?”[46] But, most fundamental of all, why deny the existence of all evil and then posit a “Mortal Mind” which is the source of all evil including death, yea, even the death of the founder?

Christian Science stood theoretically demolished before it ever arose; but what of its practical refutation? Take the testimonials, for example, which fill the last pages of Science and Health. What of the eighty-four there listed? Well, what of the thousands which could not be mentioned? As to notorious cases of failure and disaster and death, they have been recorded in such numbers and with such proofs as must stagger the faith of even the most devoted and credulous Christian Scientists.”[47] The eminent French Scientist, Paget, after a careful study of Christian Science healing gave the following testimony:

They bully dying women, and let babies die in pain; let cases of paralysis tumble about and hurt themselves; rob the epileptic of their bromide, the syphilitic of their iodide, the angina cases of their amyl nitrate, the heart cases of their digitalis; let appendicitis go to uraemic peritonitis, gastric ulcer to perforation of the stomach, nephritis to uraemic convulsions, and strangulated hernia to the miserere mei of gangrene; watch, day after day, while a man or woman bleeds to death; compel them who should be kept still to take exercise; and withhold from all cases of cancer all hope of cure.[48]

Fisher adds: “To be ill in itself is bad enough; to attribute that illness to a moral and intellectual disability is worse still; to hold, as did the Founder, that illness or false beliefs may often be caused by the malevolence of an enemy, is worst of all.”[49] One writer remarked that a highway robber asks for your money or your life; Christian Science asks for both.

What of the moral fruits of Christian Science? The Bible is one thing; Mrs. Eddy’s key to it is another. They are two radically different systems of thought and, like the White Nile and Blue Nile when they merge at Omdurman, they are still clearly distinguishable from each other. All this has its ethical consequence. Christian Science is a special language which only those who use it understand and which can be very misleading to the uninitiated.

In Christian Science all actions may be considered either from a spiritual or a human standpoint. In the metaphysical realm these is no sin, sickness, death, or error. Testifying on this basis, Mrs. Stetson’s students could admit a fact from one standpoint and then deny it from the other. By employing these tactics the witnesses were able to evade the issues, so that the Board had great difficulty in deciding which of these statements to credit. When Anna Holden, for example, was asked if she were testifying in the absolute or fourth dimension, she replied: “Certainly – I try to stay where Mrs. Eddy tries to take us. There is no human plane. I recognize only one.” Then she was asked if she ate cereal for breakfast. She replied, “I did not have any this morning – only milk and a roll. Divine Love feeds me, and from this standpoint I take my material food.” The amazing discovery was then made that several students had testified in the civil courts during the Brush Will Case, etc., from a purely spiritual plane, and that the lawyers and the judge had not detected the significance of this method. The witnesses believed that they had acted in perfect accord with the true Christian Science.[50]

Let us take a glance at Christian Science’s idea of the church. Of course, she considers herself the only true church; she alone has the Key to the Scriptures, and, as already discussed, the Key to the Key. Mrs. Eddy’s regarding herself as a Protestant was apparently designed to prevent anyone from thinking that she was a Roman Catholic. Mrs. Stetson was emphatically anti-Roman. Channing was asked, “Do Christian Scientists consider themselves Protestants?” His jejune answer indicates that they are Protestant in name only: “Yes, Christian Science is a truly Protestant religion, although it embodies several distinguishing characteristics. Protestantism, it should be remembered, began as a protest against certain organizations or forms of worship. Christian Science also protests against mortal sense.”[51] Mr. Todd quite modestly states what he regards to be the true picture of the situation: “Current practice in radio circles and elsewhere is to set up four major religious classifications in the United States, namely, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Christian Science.”[52]

We have already indicated how strategically important the organization of Christian Science is to the perpetuation of its censored dogmatism. Mary Baker Eddy’s Church Manual is the official directory of the church. However, the real power is in the hands of the Board of Directors (self-perpetuating), who elect all officers of the church, including the Readers. Fisher gives us an interesting description of the directors who were active in Mrs. Eddy’s day. The general characterization apparently still holds:

The powers nominally invested in the Reverend Mother had long, in effect, been exercised by a Board of Directors. Five well-dressed, level-headed, substantial North Americans, such as would grace any club window in Beacon Street, continued to carry on the old firm in the old way and under the old prospectus. No heroic memories are associated with the names of Archibald McLellan, Allison V. Stewart, John V. Dittimore, Adam H. Dickey, and James A. Neal, the five directors appointed in 1904, upon whose shoulders was now imposed the sole responsibility for the director of the growing Church.[53]

Christian Science worship consists largely of reading from the Bible and from Science and Health as a commentary on the Scripture readings, singing Christian Science hymns, and occasionally (and immaterially) observing the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.[54]

Nor is Christian Science lacking in eschatology. It has a doctrine of the second coming of Christ. “ ‘Some modern exegesis on the prophetic Scriptures cites 1875 as the year of the second coming of Christ. In that year the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, was first published.’ “[55]

2. Doctrines of Christian Science

Doctrine of the Bible

The Bible is the inspired Word of God (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, pp. 126 f., 269 f.). However the Bible is sometimes criticized (AH, pp. 521 f.) and literal interpretations scored (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 169). There is but one Word of God and Mary Baker Eddy is its interpreter. Her book, Science and Health (SH), is the “Key to the Scriptures.” Mrs. Eddy was not only infallible in her interpretation of the Bible, but apparently equally authoritative in her commands to followers. Members of her church could be commanded, on penalty of excommunication, to serve in her household (Fisher, Our New Religion, p. 137). She was also believed to be impeccable, as a letter of Mr. Wiggin reveals in in which he affirmed that one of Mrs. Eddy’s followers had said she would not trust her sight if she saw Mrs. Eddy committing a crime (Snowden, The Truth About Christian Science, p. 94). In order to protect the truth of Mrs. Eddy’s teaching, the Christian Science Church labels publications “authorized” or “unauthorized” (Todd, “Christian Science” in Ferm, RTC, p. 377). This denomination is equally zealous in labeling and censoring the writings of her critics. It has been observed that this group has attempted a censorship of speech and press that even the vast and confident Roman Catholic Church has not attempted (Binder, Modern Religious Cults and Society, p. 99). A Roman Catholic apologist insists on this very point (Hangston, “Literature on Christian Science” in The Catholic Mind Through Fifty Years, ed. By Masse, pp. 50 ff.).

Doctrine of God

“God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle …” (SH, pp. 465 f. passim). God’s being is infinite and therefore impersonal. “Limitless personality is inconceivable” (Mary Baker Eddy, No and Yes, p. 20; Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, p. 91; SH, pp. 265, 331). Certainly God is not tri-personal. “Life, Truth, and Love are ‘the triune Principle called God’ “ (Channing, “What Is a Christian Scientist?” in Look, Nov. 18, 1952, p. 57; SH). God is frequently identified with all and this doctrine is buttressed by appeal to verses such as 1 Corinthians 15:28 (God is “all in all”; cf. Scheurlen, Die Sekten der Gegenwart, p. 114). The pantheistic strain is of far-reaching significance. Though Christian Science reads like philosophical idealism and has drawn some features from the German idealist Hegel (Haushalter, Mary Baker Eddy Purloins from Hegel, it is quite different. Idealism “does not at all deny the reality of matter or resolve it into a subjective illusion or delusion, but only discovers and demonstrates, as it believes, the true nature of matter as a mode of the divine life” (Snowden, TCS, p. 14). According to Mrs. Eddy, God is all and all is God, and there is nothing else beside. Thus angels “are pure thoughts from God” (SH, p. 298) and the devil has “neither corporeality nor mind” (SH, pp. 256, 331, 584, 917). The doctrine of Christ is set forth below. The Holy Spirit is Christian Science. “This Comforter I understand to be Divine Science” (SH, p. 55).

Doctrine of Man

Since God is all, and man, the true or spiritual man, is part of God, man possesses the attributes of God. “He is co-existent with God. As far back as the being of God is the being of man. ‘Searching for the origin of man is like enquiring into the origin of God himself, the self-existent or eternal’ ” (Haldeman, Christian Science, p. 112; SH, p. 535). “Hence,” writes Gilmore, “the real man as God’s likeness, without material accompaniments, has existed forever. When Jesus asserted, “Before Abraham was, I am,’ he undoubtedly referred to his true selfhood as the Son of God, as the Christ-man” (“Christian Science,” in Braden’s Varieties of American Religion, p. 163).

Doctrine of Sin

“There is no sin” is a refrain in SH (cf. pp. 447, 475, 481, passim). This is a consistent deduction from the fundamental principle of the system; namely, God is all and God is good. Gilmore argues: “Could God’s handiwork ever become less than perfect, we should have the impossible situation of imperfection from infinite perfection” (“CS,” pp. 158 f.). “Furthermore,” he continues, “since the real man has never departed from his original state of perfection, he is not in need of salvation. He is saved now, and reposing in the bosom of the Father; he always has been saved – that is, as God’s idea, the expression of Mind, man is forever held in the divine consciousness.”

If sin and evil have no reality, it is apparent that Christian Science regards all ideas of sin and evil as illusions. They are the product of “Mortal Mind” (though Mortal Mind itself is never explained). (SH, p. 311); that is, a soul is never lost through sin, but it is the very sense of sin which is sinful because it is the illusory product of Mortal Mind.

Doctrine of Christ

Christian Science makes a sharp distinction between Jesus and Christ. “Jesus is not the Christ” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 84). Jesus is the human man and Christ is the divine idea. “The Christian believes that Christ is God … Jesus Christ is not God” (SH, p. 361). “Jesus was called Christ only in the sense that you say, a Godlike man. I am only a Godlike woman, God-anointed, and I have done a work that none other could do.” This needs to be borne in mind when Todd responds to the question: “Do they [Christian Scientists] worship her [Mrs. Eddy]?” “The answer is an emphatic NO!” (Todd, “CS,” p. 374). Mrs. Eddy is not regarded as Christ any more than Jesus is regarded as Christ – nor any less. Often Mrs. Eddy is viewed as the feminine representative of God, the motherhood of God, while Jesus is the masculine representative of God, the fatherhood of God (cf. Mrs. Stetson in Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, p. 56).

Jesus was virgin born. “The illumination of Mary’s spiritual sense put to silence material law and its order of generation, and brought forth her child by the revelation of Truth, demonstrating God as the Father of men” (SH, p. 29). “Mary’s conception of him was spiritual” (SH, p. 332). This is sufficient to indicate that Christian Science believes the virgin, the child, and the birth to be nonmaterial, purely spiritual. “Jesus was not always wise: “Had wisdom characterized all His sayings, He would not have prophesied His own death and thereby hastened or caused it’ ” (L. D. Wetherhead, “City Temple Tidings,” Nov., 1950, p. 259, in Davies, Christian Deviations, p. 39). Jesus’ death was an illusion. “Jesus seemed to die, though flesh never had life” (SH, p. 78). His resurrection is thus interpreted: “To accommodate himself to immature ideas … Jesus called the body, which by spiritual power he raised from the grave, ‘flesh and bones’ ” (SH, p. 45).

Doctrine of Redemption

As noted above, Jesus only seemed to die (because He only seemed to live – in the flesh). The disciples mistakenly thought Jesus had died (SH, p. 44). “Paul writes: ‘For if, when were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the [seeming] death of His Son …’ ” (SH, p. 45). Christian Science necessarily rejects the evangelical doctrine of the sacrifice of Christ because there is no real death or sacrifice. Science and Health (p. 25) denies the sufficiency of the blood of Christ to atone, apparently ignoring the general doctrine that all things physical, such as blood, are not real in any case. “One sacrifice, however great is insufficient to pay the debt of sin. The atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner’s part” (SH, p. 23; cf. p. 24). The self-immolation by which atonement comes is the casting out of the idea of sin. “We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal.” (SH, p. 497). The punishment of the wrong belief seems to be the wrong belief itself. “But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts” (SH, p. 497).

The working out of this scheme of redemption in the realm of ethics is antinomian. Distinguishing between the unreal world, which men think real, and the spiritual world, which Christian Scientists regard as the only reality, has led to misrepresentations (Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, p. 77). Similarly, Mrs. Eddy told her confidential secretary, Adam Dickey, by use of ambiguous language, that she would not die.

The most conspicuous application of Christian Science salvation principles is to sickness. Perhaps the most succinct statement of Christian Science theory of sickness is this: “Man is never sick, for Mind is not sick and matter cannot be” (SH, p. 393). “Sin and disease.” Writes Gilmore, “are figments of the mortal or carnal mind, to be destroyed, healed, by knowing their unreality” (“CS,” p. 166). Since this mortal or carnal mind by its figments creates sickness “the less mind there is manifested in matter, the better. When the unthinking lobster loses its claw, it grows again. If the science of life were understood, it would be found that the senses of mind are never lost, and that matter has no sensation. Then the human limb (supposing it were lost through sickness, disease or accident) would be replaced as readily as the lobster’s claw – not with an artificial limb, but with a genuine one” (SH).

The diseases of animals are the products of mortal minds of men. Since all sickness everywhere comes from mind, all healing comes by dispelling its figments. Medicine is unnecessary to the true believer in Christian Science. “The teaching and faith of Christian Science basically reject medical treatment. To the extent that a man or woman relies on material methods of healing, he or she is not relying on Christian Science” (Channing, “What Is a Christian Scientist?” p. 58).

Doctrine of the Church

Christian Science regards itself as a denomination distinct from Protestant or Roman Catholic (Gilmore, “CS,” p. 157). As to organization, “the affairs of the Mother Church are administered by the Christian Science Board of Directors, which elects a representative, the first and second readers, a clerk, and a treasurer. The Board of Directors is a self-perpetuating body electing all officers of the church annually, with the exception of the readers, who are elected by the board for a term of three years” (Mead, Handbook of Denominations, p. 53).

Christian Science believes in baptism but Christian Scientists do not practice baptism in the material form; to them, baptism means purification from all material sense” (Channing, “WICS,” p. 57). The Lord’s Supper is observed according to the directions of Science and Health (pp. 32-35). The Lord’s Prayer is used with a Christian Science interpretation. Actually, prayer, in the ordinary sense of the word, seems to be precluded by the theology of Christian Science: “Shall we ask the divine Principle to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God’s rule … to work out our own salvation” (SH, p. 3). Christian Science has a marriage ceremony, for “until it is learned that generation rests on no sexual basis, let marriage continue” (SH, p. 274). “Until time matures, human growth, marriages and progeny will continue unprohibited in Christian Science” (Misc. Wr.,p. 289).

Doctrine of the Future

“If the change called death destroyed the belief in belief in sin, sickness, and death, happiness would be won at the moment of dissolution, and be forever permanent; but this is not so … The sin and error which possess us at the instant of death do not cease at that moment, but endure until the death of these errors … Universal salvation rests on progression and probation, and is unattainable without them. Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal … No final judgment awaits mortals, for the judgment-day of wisdom comes hourly and continually …” (SH, pp. 290 f.).

3. Terms Frequently Used by Christian Scientists

Angels: God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions.

Animal Magnetism: Just as right thinking enables a person to experience the good which is, so wrong thinking by animal magnetism causes a person to experience (or seem to experience) the evil which is not.

At-One-Ment: The unity between the mind of man and the mind of God, which Christ did not so much effect as demonstrate. This is antithetical to the orthodox position of atonement through expiation and reconciliation.

Board of Directors: Self-perpetuating group of five men who, guided by Mrs. Eddy’s Church Manual, govern the Christian Science Church, electing all its officers.

Father-Mother God: The infinite spirit, thought to possess comprehensive virtues expressed by this dual designation.

Hell: Anything negative such as mortal belief, error, lust, remorse, hatred, revenge, sin, sickness, or death.

Malicious Animal Magnetism: An evil disposition against another person (from which Mrs. Eddy complained of suffering), which may even bring sickness and death.

MAM: Common designation of Malicious Animal Magnetism.

Man: The compound idea of infinite spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind.

Mortal Mind: The source of all the illusions about sin, sickness, and evil. Its own source, according to the critics of Christian Science, is never explained.

Pantheism: The doctrine that all (pan) is God (theos); or, that God is identifiable with the totality of things. Christian Science argues that because God is good, and God is all, all is good (and evil, therefore, is illusion).

Science and Health: Short title of Mary Baker Eddy’s book, which is the foundational authority of her teaching.

4. For Further Reading

Beasley, Norman. The Continuing Spirit. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1956.
_______ The Cross and the Crown. New York: Hawthorne Books, Inc., 1952.

Braden, Charles S., Christian Science Today: Power, Policy, Practice. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1958.

Dakin, Edwin Franden. Mrs. Eddy, The Biography of a Virginal Mind. 1930. Reprint. Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith Publisher, Inc., n.d.

Dresser, Horatio W., ed. The Quimby Manuscripts. 1921. Reprint. Secaucus, N.J.: University Books, Inc., n.d.

Eddy, Mary Baker, The First Church of Christ Scientist and Miscellany. Boston: Trustees of Mary Baker Eddy, 1913.
________ Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures. Boston: Trustees of Mary Baker Eddy, 1939.

Fisher, H. A. L., Our New Religion: An Examination of Christian Science. Folcraft Library Editions, 1933.

Gilmore, Albert Field. “Christian Science” in Varieties of American Religion, Charles S. Braden, ed. 1936. Reprint. Plainview, N.Y.: Books for Libraries, n.d.

Hoekema, Anthony A. Christian Science. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974.

Laird, Margaret. Christian Science Re-Explored. New York: William-Frederick Press, 1966.

Milmine, Georgine. The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the history of Christian Science. 1909. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1971.

Peel, Robert. Christian Science: Its Encounter with American Culture, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1958.

Smith, Clifford. Historical Sketches from the Life of Mary Baker Eddy and the History of Christian Science. Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society, 1946.

Todd, Arthur James. “Christian Science” from Religion in the Twentieth Century. Vergilius T. Ferm, ed. 1948. Reprint. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, Inc., n.d.

Wilbur, Sibyl. The Life of Mary Baker Eddy. Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society, 1908.

5. Summary of Traditional Christian Doctrines.

In the following chapter we present views which are held by the church without exception (unless so indicated). There are three main branches of the catholic (universal) church: Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic. These have differences among them, but there is a remarkable consensus of viewpoint on the basic structure of Christian doctrine. This fact is justification for use of the term “the catholic church.” We have chosen quotations from official creeds of these branches to illustrate the various doctrines.

Doctrine of the Bible

The catholic church believes the sixty-six books of the Old Testament and New Testament to be the plenarily inspired Word of God. The Roman Church adds to this number some of the apocrypha. The Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches seem to give ecclesiastical tradition virtually equal authority with Scripture. The Protestant churches, however, hold tosola scriptura. Thus, the Lutheran Formula of Concord affirms: “We believe, confess, and teach that the only rule and norm, according to which all dogmas and all doctors ought to be esteemed and judged, is no other whatever than the prophetic and apostolic writings both of the Old and of the New Testament.” The French Confession of Faith says of the Bible that “inasmuch as it is the rule of all truth, containing all that necessary for the service of God and for our salvation, it is not lawful for men, nor even for angels, to add to it, to take away from it, or to change it.” The American Revision of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England states: “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”

Doctrine of God

The Athanasian Creed, accepted as an ecumenical creed by all branches of the church, reads: “ … we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance (Essence). For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible (unlimited or infinite), the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal … so the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God … the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches: “There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”

Doctrine of Man

Again we may use the Westminster Shorter Catechism, for it expresses what all catholic churches believe about man. “God created man, male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.”

Doctrine of Sin

The Roman Catholic statement made at the Council of Trent contains a catholic affirmation: “ … Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and … he incurred, through the offense of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through the offense of prevarication, was changed , in body, and soul, for the worse … this sin of Adam … [is] transfused into all by propagation, not by imitation … “ All catholic churches say at least this much; some, such as the Reformed, make more of the consequences of the Fall.

Doctrine of Christ

We may use the historic confession of the Council of Chalcedon (A. D. 451), for this has been recognized through the ages by all branches of orthodox Christendom as a true statement concerning the person of Jesus Christ. “ … our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [coessential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one. Person and Substance, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ …”

We note that the expression, “Mary, the Mother of God,” is a genuinely catholic expression. It does not mean that Mary was the genetrix of God, but that the human nature which was begotten in her womb was united with the eternal Son of God. So Mary was the mother of the child who was God; i.e., the mother of God.

Doctrine of Redemption

The satisfaction view of the atonement is the truly classic view of the catholic church. This could be shown from Protestant, Roman, or Eastern Orthodox creeds. We will show it by a citation from “The Longer Catechism” of the Eastern Orthodox Church: “Therefore as in Adam we had all fallen under sin, the curse, and death, so we are delivered from sin, the curse, and death in Jesus Christ. His voluntary suffering and death on the cross for us, being of infinite value and merit, as the death of one sinless, God and man in one person, is both a perfect satisfaction to the justice of God, which had condemned us for sin to death, and a fund of infinite merit, which has obtained him the right, without prejudice to justice, to give us sinners pardon of our sins, and grace to have the victory over sin and death.”

There is a great difference among the three divisions of Christendom concerning the appropriation of this redemption achieved by Christ. The Protestant churches teach that it is by faith alone; the other branches incline to the view that it is by faith and works, or by faith considered as the beginning of works.

All branches of the church teach that the Christian has an obligation to endeavor to keep the moral law of God and that a person who does not do so is a reprobate. There is a doctrine in the Roman Church which is inconsistent with this, but nevertheless she teaches the above explicitly.
Doctrine of the Church

The Westminster Confession of Faith contains a definition of the church shared by all bodies of Christendom which accept the notion of the invisibility of the church. “The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those, throughout the world, that profess the true religion, and of their children, and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.”
Doctrine of the Future

While there has been less defining of the doctrine of the future by the catholic church than has been true of other doctrines, what has been stated is unanimously affirmed. All branches of Christendom are agreed that there is a place of eternal felicity, called heaven, where redeemed men and unfallen angels dwell in the gracious presence of God. It is also taught that there is a place of eternal misery, called hell, where all unredeemed men and fallen angels dwell in the wrathful presence of God. The Roman Catholic Church maintains, in addition, the existence of purgatory, the limbus patrum, and the limbus infantum. Universal salvation has been taught by various individuals, but no church recognized by catholic Christianity has affirmed it.

6. Brief Definitions of the Sects

Seventh-day Adventism teaches that salvation is attained by faith in the atonement made by Christ in 1844. This faith must be expressed in obedience to the ethical teachings of the Bible (including the Saturday Sabbath) and in acceptance of the doctrinal teachings of the Bible (including the imminent premillennial return of Christ).

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be the only consistent Bible students. They find the vindication of Jehovah to be the fundamental aim of history. This vindication of Jehovah is accomplished by the atonement of the first-born creature, Jesus, and expressed by the witnessing to an impending Armageddon. At this battle Jehovah and His witnesses will be vindicated and the final consummation of things will begin.

Mormonism is built on a revelation subsequent to the Bible, called the Book of Mormon. According to this book, the church is to be recognized on the basis of a creed which teaches a plurality of created gods, repudiates justification by faith, and teaches a salvation achieved by the merit of obeying divine laws.

Christian Science is a formula for health and wealth by right thinking, but its thinking denies the reality of poverty and sickness.

Doctrines Traditional Christian Mormonism Seventh-day Adventism Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian Science
Bible Verbally inspired Inspired Bible and Book of Mormon Reluctant to affirm verbal inspiration; vague about status of Mrs. White Verbally inspired Bible inspired andScience and Health is its inspired interpretation
God Three Persons in one essence Polytheism Approximately traditional Christian view Uni-personal Impersonal and pantheistic
Man Body & soul created good Pre-existent soul takes body at birth in this world Body-soul creature; created neutral or with inclination to evil Body; soul not distinguishable from body Soul only; body is an illusion
Sin Result of Adam’s disobedience; corruption of nature and action It was necessary for Adam to sin. This brought mortality without guilt No clear doctrine of imputation of Adam’s sin; man now polluted Adam’s sin brought liability to temporal death “There is no sin” – it is an illusion
Christ One divine person in two distinct natures (divine-human) Called creator but only pre-existent spirit who took body at incarnation Like traditional view but represents human nature as having tendency to sin First born creature; changed into man at birth in this world Christ is a divine idea; Jesus is mere human
Redemption Faith in atonement as expressed by holy life Atonement gives man chance to earn salvation Believing in atonement made in heaven plus holy living including observance of the Saturday Sabbath Christ’s ransom gives man chance to earn salvation Salvation is casting out idea of sin
Church Mystical union of all true believers; visible union of all professed believers Other churches apostate; efficient hierarchical organization Seems to regard itself as true remnant church Traditional church rejected; 144,000 witnesses make up Church A denomination like Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish
Future Eternal heaven, eternal hell, temporary purgatory (R.C.) Pre-millennial reign at Independence, MO; tends toward universal salvation Annihilation of the wicked; millennium in heaven and eternity on new earth Earthly millennium during which final probation leading to annihilation or eternal life Universal salvation in future when idea of sin gradually dies

[1] Herbert A. L. Fisher, Our New Religion, An Examination of Christian Science, pp. 61.

[2] II Timothy 4:3, 4.

[3] Our New Religion, pp. 19f.

[4] James H. Snowden, The Truth About Christian Science. The Founder and the Faith. Philadelphia, 1920, pp. 68 f.

[5] Ibid., p. 71, quoted from Milmine, The Life of Mary Baker Eddy and History of Christian Science, pp. 128 f.

[6] Ibid., p. 79.

[7] Cf. Fisher, Our New Religion, who, after reading the Quimby manuscripts felt that he (Quimby) was not a believer in religion in the healing area, p. 23.

[8] Mary Baker Eddy, Retrospection and Introspection, p. 24.

[9] Fisher, describing Mr. Eddy’s death, says: “Then in an access of human weakness, the devoted wife invoked medical aid. Dr. Rufus K. Noyes was a distinguished Boston physician. He diagnosed the illness as heart disease, and prescribed ‘rest and tonic, digitalis and strychnine.’ To the Reverend Mother the diagnosis and remedies were alike impermissible. Mr. Eddy was suffering from a suggestion of arsenical poison emanating from the ill-will of his enemies … The way to cure Mr. Eddy was to direct a strong counter-battery of prayer for his recovery against the formidable spiritual artillery which was being deployed against him” (Our New Religion, p. 57).

[10] Altman K. Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, p. 95.

[11] Arthur J. Todd, “Christian Science,” in Vergilius Ferm, Religion in the Twentieth Century, p. 358.

[12] Fisher, Our New Religion, p. 155.

[13] Mark Twain, Christian Science, 1907, p. 72, quoted by Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, p. 273.

[14] Todd, Christian Science, p. 374.

[15] Ibid. p. 375.

[16] Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, p. 53.

[17] Ibid., p. 56.

[18] Fisher, Our New Religion, p. 157.

[19] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, pp. 560 f.

[20] Marry Baker Eddy, Science and Health, pp. 560 f.

[21] “The truth is, she does not care to have her paragraphs clear, and delights in so expressing herself that her words may have various readings and meanings.” Snowden, ibid., p. 94, from Wiggin’s letter.

[22] Jan Karel Van Baalen, The Chaos of Cults, 1956 edition, p. 101.

[23] Albert Field Gilmore, “Christian Science” in Charles S. Braden, Varieties of American Religion, p. 157.

[24] Oliver W. Holmes in Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, p. xiii.

[25] Fisher, Our New Religion, p. 108.

[26] Todd, “Christian Science,” p. 377.

[27] Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, p. 85.

[28] Ibid., quoted from Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement, p. 111.

[29] Edwin Franklin Dakin, Mrs. Eddy, the Biography of a Virginal Mind, p. 541. Christian Science headquarters tell us that the Milmine biography “could be bought freely by anyone who wanted it until 1915, when it went out of print.”

[30] Mary Baker Eddy, No and Yes, p. 20.

[31] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, p. 331.

[32] George Channing, “What Is a Christian Scientist?” in Look Magazine, November 18, 1952, p. 57.

[33] Science and Health, p. 361.

[34] James M. Campbell, What Christian Science Means and What We Can Learn from It, p. 129, cited in Thomas McKee, Eddyism Examined, p. 10.

[35] Gilmore, Christian Science,” p. 166.

[36] Science and Health, p. 497.

[37] Gilmore, “Christian Science,” p. 159.

[38] Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, p. 265.

[39] Channing, “What is a Christian Scientist?” p. 58.

[40] Robert Peel, Christian Science, p. 162.

[41] Channing, “What Is a Christian Scientist?” p. 58.

[42] Read moving story in McKee, Eddyism Exposed, p. 11.

[43] Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, p. 263; Wilby, What Is Christian Science? P. 163.

[44] Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, pp. 44 ff.

[45] Fisher, Our New Religion, p. 91.

[46] Van Baalen, Chaos of Cults, 1956 edition, p. 103.

[47] Milmine, Life of Mary Baker Eddy and History of Christian Science, pp. 324 ff.; Peabody, Masquerade, pp. 103-120; Stephen Paget, The Faith and Works of Christian Science, pp. 130-190.

[48] Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, p. 243, quoted from Stephen Paget, Faith and Works of Christian Science. 

[49] Fisher, Our New Religion, p. 195.

[50] Ibid., p 77.

[51] Channing, “What Is a Christian Scientist?”, pp. 56 f.

[52] “Christian Science,” p. 360.

[53] Our New Religion, p. 138 f.

[54] Science and Health, pp. 32 ff.; cf. Snowden, Truth About Christian Science, pp. 211 ff.

[55] Message to the Mother Church for 1900, cited in Swihart, Since Mrs. Eddy, p. 53.

2 thoughts on “The Teachings of Christian Science by Dr. John H. Gerstner

  1. Thanks Randy. Do you know where one can find free Gerstner audio online?

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