Editor: Many of us within the Ananias circle, even if weâ€™ve never met in person, feel a close kinship through the shared experience of finding Jesus, the pearl of great price. The brotherly bond between Jim Ritchie in Alabama and Phil Moser in Alabama is an example. Last year after Phil told his story here, Jim poured out a response full of warm gratitude and delayed recognition. Weâ€™re posting it now as a preview of my upcoming blog interview with Ritchie about his own unlikely journey to the Cross.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, our crucified, resurrected, risen and reigning Lord:
I have finished reading Phil Moser’s testimony twice. The first time, I began to faintly hear passages from Science and Health that I could barely remember. I haven’t read anything â€œthe textbookâ€ in 20 years.
Phil’s outline and supporting citations from Scripture and from S & H were jarring. All the Scriptural passages rang clear and powerfully (since, after all it’s the Word of God). But could Phil’s choices out of S & H really be what I had once, long ago, truly believed?
So, in reading Phil’s essay the second time, when I came to a questionable citation attributed to Mary Baker Eddy, I went and dug out my long buried copy of her book. Sure enough. it actually said in context what Phil was pointing out by the S & H citations.
Flashback: I had been a Christian Scientist from birth until I was about 36 years old. Then for about 10 years I was neither strongly in the faith nor against it. (This website also gives my testimony in more detail, entitled “A Chaplain’s Story“.) Then at 46, I bought the Life Application Study Bible-New International Version and began to read the Scriptures as I would read my law books â€“ having been an attorney since 1966. That is, I began just reading objectively what the words were plainly saying on the surface of each page.
It wasn’t long until I came to the point of saying to myself: “I either have to believe what I’m reading right here, or I must somehow recommit to Christian Science.” But in an instant, I knew with all my heart and soul that only the Scriptures were and are the Holy Word of God! And I said to myself, I want only to believe the Bible and no deviation from it whatsoever.
I wanted only right-path ( “orthodox” ) Christianity ! This is Jesus speaking to me from the Bible, I am hearing directly from God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! Recalling that someone had told me not to get confused over the doctrine of the Trinity, I now thought: “Are you kidding, I’m seeing and hearing the Trinity in the language of God!”
The Book of Matthew helped me greatly; it is written by Matthew for people who were speakers of the same dialect they were hearing from the lips of Jesus. So I decided to start at the first chapter of Matthew and sequentially pay strict attention to the words attributed to Jesus, not what others said about Him but what it is written that He himself said (the words printed in red in some Bibles).
My criterion was that I would carefully listen to His words, asking myself: “Are these the words that a merely mortal man, even a very wise and saintly man, could sanely or honestly say? Or are these words which only the incarnate God, the Son of the living God, would be lovingly and firmly saying for all mankind to hear, that they might be rightly guided by this intentionally revealed language of God ?”
Well, I read slowly and thoughtfully from the first to last chapter of Matthew and counted up, as I was noting while hearing the reading, about 115 passages in which Jesus spoke as no merely mortal man could or would have spoken. Among the first examples are: 5:17; 7: 21-27; 7: 24; 9: 6; 9: 13; 10: 16 and 10:18-20. The complete list of 115 goes on, finally ending with 26: 53; 26: 55; 26: 63-64; 27: 11; 27: 46 ( Psalm 22: 1-end ); 28: 8-10; 28: 10; and 28: 18-20, where Jesus says at last: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…..”
Thus was my conversion complete and my new birth in Christ accomplished. I took Christ and Him crucified, dead, buried, resurrected, risen and seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty â€“ from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead, as my personal Savior, and only in Him may I be heard boasting. Give all praise to His holy name in glory. End of Flashback
So all that, as I said, was some 20 years ago. And now in 2009, my second reading of Phil’s presentation brought me face to face with many passages from S & H that were so contrary to Scripture, as I realized in general terms way back then, but were now “right here in front of me”. And now as refreshed, do they dramatically conflict with Scripture.
They are right here raising the very definition of unscriptural. Here are several examples, out of many I could cite, the clearly contradict Biblical teaching head on:
(1) S & H 291: 12 “Universal salvation rests on progression and probation, and is unattainable without them.”
No, calling on the name of Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life is the only way to salvation; and human “progression and probation”–no matter the meaning given for such terms of speech any where — are not involved in God’s plan of salvation.
(2) S & H 23: 1-7 ” Wisdom and Love may require many sacrifices of self to save us from sin. One sacrifice, however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin. The atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner’s part. That God’s wrath should be vented upon His beloved son, is divinely unnatural. Such a theory is man-made.”
No, no and no â€“ the Bible is God’s Holy Word but Mrs. Eddy’s entire passage is a human fabrication which unfortunately heaps her wrath upon those who believe her teaching into a hellish wrath of their own making for having followed her misguidance. Mrs. Eddy has taken upon herself the arrogance of rewriting Scripture. Christ’s one sacrifice upon the Cross, once for all, is the sufficient ransom for sinners of which Mrs. Eddy was clearly one, rejecting as she did here, Christ’s saving grace. If only she had been willing to accept even the New Testament for what it plainly says upon the face of each page; she would not have published such destructive deviations from Holy Scripture.
(3) S & H 25: 6-9 “The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon ‘the accursed tree,’ than when it was flowing in his veins as he went daily about his Father’s business.”
This passage is, to say the least, an abomination ( and this isn’t the type of observation I’m accustomed to making ), but this certainly calls for clear refutation. The One best suited to put the lie to Mrs. Eddy’s degradation of the meaning of Christ’s death upon the Cross is Jesus himself. Looking at Matthew 26: 36-42, we read: “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them,….’My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’”
If only Mrs. Eddy had been a faithful follower of Jesus, she would have stayed and kept the overwhelming death-watch Christ was asking of her there in the Gethsemane of His ultimate sacrifice upon the cross. However she says that THAT precious blood is no different than an average day in the life of Jesus Christ.
(4) Apparently there is a reason Mrs. Eddy didn’t highly value Christ’s shed-blood upon the Cross, and we find it here in S & H 45: 10-13 where she inserts “[seeming]” in a reference to Jesus’ death on the Cross:
“Paul writes:’ For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the [seeming ] death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.’”
TO CONCLUDE: I give my most profound Gratitude to God for saving me from such unchristian teachings as those illustrated above from Mrs. Eddy’s inexcusable and damaging rewriting of Holy Scriptures aimed against Christ’s saving work for sinners upon the cross once for all who would believe and give Him only the glory.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org