Immersed myself in Scripture

July 8th, 2009

Carl Gans, my yokefellow in starting this website (see Philippians 4:3), has contributed the second part of his reply to a blog interview I began with him some weeks ago. Part One took up the questions from John Andrews, What is the faith you live by? and then, Why and how did you leave Christian Science? Part Two, posted below, reflects on What lasting effects have you experienced, for good or ill, from having followed Christian Science for much of your life?

Still to come are Carl’s thoughts on four additional questions…How much common ground do you find for dialogue between followers of the biblical Jesus and followers of Mrs. Eddy?… What is your approach to praying for ourselves as former Christian Scientists who are now baptized Christians?… Thinking of someone who follows Mrs. Eddy and who may be of special concern to you or me, how might we pray for that person? and… Mrs. Eddy in 1902 declared her belief that “Christian Science is destined to become the one and the only religion and therapeutics on this planet.” But obviously the path God has showed you and me for our lives went in another direction. How do you see the future of her teachings and her church in years to come? We’ll have the Gans viewpoint on all of that in future posts. Meanwhile, readers are invited to send your own comments on any or all of JA’s seven questions to CG.


JA asked:
What lasting effects have you experienced, for good or ill, from having followed Christian Science for much of your life?

CG replied:
A focus on the need to control fear, rather than being controlled by it

An ability to remain calm in stressful circumstances

A tendency to downplay the reality of evil, and of evil or dangerous circumstances

Difficulty in being emotionally connected and in being emotionally expressive

A strong belief in the sovereignty of God

A basically optimistic approach to life

A sometimes oblivious approach to life

A tendency to depersonalize God – the vestiges of the concept of God as an impersonal force, rather than as a Living Being and the Lord, the Giver of Life

A reluctance or at least a slowness to recognize the truth of Psalm 139, for example, which expresses the degree to which God interests himself in the details of our lives, and is personally involved in every action, every thought, every word of our lives

Slowness to recognize ill intent, bad motives, and evil at work in other people
This makes it difficult to obey Jesus’ admonition to be “wise as serpents, harmless as doves”

I would say one of the greatest and most complex of the effects of having been in Christian Science has been the aftermath of discovering that a great deal of what I thought I “knew” from Christian Science was in fact false, and contradictory to the plain teaching of Scripture. When I came to see from the reading of Scripture that Christian Science doctrine was false, and when I also came to realize that the falsity of Christian Science doctrine was intentionally so, I rejected as much of Christian Science theology as I could. I concluded that the level and the degree and the intricacy of the deception of Christian Science doctrine was so deep, and so pervasive, that I have rigorously kept my distance from anything to do with Christian Science.

As a result of my conviction in this regard, I did not try to interpret Scripture in light of Christian Science, nor Christian Science in light of Scripture. Instead, and this is a critical point, I immersed myself in Scripture. I quit trying to make the two play together, and simply rejected Christian Science in favor of the Bible.

A collateral effect of this decision, and my conclusion that Mrs. Eddy taught false doctrine, was to apply the “plain meaning rule” to my reading of Scripture. This “rule” is a method of interpreting writings, and says that if a writing can be understood by using the ordinary meaning of the words, then that is how it should be read. For example, in the interaction between Jesus and Peter, Jesus asks Peter “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said, “You are the Christ (or Messiah), the son of the living God!”

The plain meaning of Peter’s statement is that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God who was foretold throughout the Old Testament, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (See, for example, Isa. 9:6, Isa. 7:14). Mrs. Eddy’s treatment of that passage leads to a completely different interpretation, which if accepted would deny the deity of Jesus.

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