Some lies are so obvious they can’t be disguised. So, cults rely on a trick the Navy once used when trying to hide ships on the open seas. Vessels were painted in bright, bold colors, and covered with complex geometric patterns. The idea was not concealment but confusion.
Confusion is a key factor in Christian Science. The name itself is a bold and blatant lie. It is neither Christian nor scientific.
Christian Science is the brainchild of Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910).
Born in New Hampshire, she was raised in a strict Congregationalist home. According to her, she was sickly as a child—suffering near invalidism and remaining unconscious for hours at a time. In 1862, she came into contact with a doctor who proposed that she could heal her body through the power of her mind. This, he claimed, was in direct harmony with the way Jesus healed people in the Bible. It seemed like a good marriage between medical science and Christianity.
When Eddy suffered a fall a few years later, she claimed that doctors did not expect her to live. But then, she read the words of Matthew 9:2: “Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.’” Eddy then claimed to have been miraculously healed “Three days after her ‘near death experience.’” God then led her, she said, on a three-year journey where she learned the principles of Christian Science. She later wrote, “True healings are the result of true belief.” In fact, “Matter, sin, and sickness are not real, but only illusions.”
In 1875 she published Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Eddy believed that she herself was the key to the Scriptures, as predicted in Revelation 3. She further identified herself as the woman in Revelation 12. She, alone, could rightly interpret God’s Word. Only she could correct the errors that the Bible allegedly contained.
Christian Science doctrine is both brash and deadly. It denies the existence of Satan, sin, good, and evil. The “God” of Christian Science is not the triune God taught in the Bible, but rather the “Father—Mother.” According to Christian Science, Jesus was neither God, nor the Messiah. He did not really die, nor was His sacrifice in any way effective. These doctrines could hardly be more anti-biblical and anti-Christian had they been drafted by Satan himself.
Eddy’s teachings are not just harmful spiritually, they endanger physical lives as well. Practitioners are taught that, while doctors may be used for broken bones and vaccinations (where mandated by law), Christian Science prayer is most effective when used apart from medical care. This fact brings negative attention to the group, especially when untreated children are permitted to die.
Why would anyone want to join this group? Because there are many people who wonder why God hasn’t healed them and are ready to try anything that might work. When they hear stories of miraculous healings, or hear that someone has uncovered a secret cure that comes from God, the temptation is real. Desperation makes them vulnerable. Confusion leads them astray.
If someone you know is a Christian Science adherent, remember that the most basic teachings of Scripture have been totally upended in their mind. Though they speak of the Bible, it’s a false front for some of Satan’s most brazen lies. But remember also that these are precious souls for whom Jesus died. To reach them requires kindness, patience, and careful instruction in Scripture. Help them to see that sin, sickness, and death are very real—as is God’s Solution to sin through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son.
James Albrecht is pastor of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Okabena, Minnesota.