Self-salvation illustrated

by
April 26th, 2018

Three times in Matthew 24, Jesus warns that many deceivers will come in his name. Come they have. Their medium is distorted thinking. As to their motives, he doesn’t say.

It may be that some had good motives, perhaps including the founder of Christian Science. The damage they did is not lessened regardless.
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For Mary Baker Eddy does massively distort biblical Christianity, in a way that banishes the saving role of Jesus and consigns us all to self-salvation. You can find this starkly illustrated in a couple of sentences from page 23 of Science and Health.
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Instancing the distraught father in Mark 9, who brings his tormented son to the Lord for healing, she tuts at the man’s “helpless blind faith.”
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Then for contrast, she cites the jailer in Acts 16 who, upon asking Paul how he can be saved, is simply told, “Believe….” This is better, Eddy contends, because it “demands self-reliant trustworthiness [and] spiritual understanding.”
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Look at what’s going on here. On this account, our salvation isn’t something we receive from Jesus Christ. Rather it’s something we accomplish for ourselves by our own mental effort.
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Jesus need not be involved, Eddy implies by editing his name out of the full Acts 16:31 quotation, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” — and even perhaps should not be involved, she implies by criticizing the father’s desperate plea to him in Mark 9:24, “Help thou mine unbelief.”
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How revealing is her challenge for each of us to be self-reliant. Theologians have pointed out that in the Bible the opposite of faith is not actually doubt, but self-reliance. It’s the mentality of “I must, I can, I will,” instead of the humble admission that “I need Thee every hour.”
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Master of his fate and captain of his soul, the Christian Scientist is to understand his way out of sin and suffering into a right relationship with God.
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Thinking about the entire passage from Science and Health (given below), we notice two more instances of Eddy’s thorough-going effort to airbrush the saving Christ, the crucified and risen Son of God, completely out of the picture for her followers.
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There is to be no trusting one’s welfare “to others,” she begins — demoting the Lord from his personal identity to a mere member of the category encompassing everything that is not my sovereign self.
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Nothing of the sort is needed, she goes on, because once divine Love is understood the rest is details: you and I are then equipped to work out our “own salvation.”
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She cherry-picks the latter phrase from Philippians 2:12, one of the most Christ-centered chapters in all of Scripture, though the incautious reader would never know it from the Leader’s artful trimming to serve her slanted argument for self-reliance.
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But what exactly is it that equips us for self-salvation? What makes us trustworthy for the unaided conquest of sin and death? It was when I saw in the mirror someone utterly untrustworthy to my family and friends, my co-workers and co-religionists, that the Christian Science spell began to break for me.
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Self-reliance, at which I excelled, had sunk me.  I believed just enough in Jesus Christ to ask him to help my unbelief — and he did. He has been doing so ever since, 35 years and counting.
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Did Mrs. Eddy mean to deceive me and my loved ones about our lost condition, our crying need for a Savior, and Jesus’ availability to be just that for each of us?
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I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. I just know how good it is to be out of the trap of self-salvation and to be accepted as one of his sheep, safe in the fold.
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Cited from Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy, page 23, lines 23-31
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One kind of faith trusts one’s welfare to others. Another kind of faith understands divine Love and how to work out one’s “own salvation, with fear and trembling.” “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” expresses the helplessness of a blind faith; whereas the injunction, “Believe… and thou shalt be saved!” demands self-reliant trustworthiness, which includes spiritual understanding and confides all to God.

The author can be reached at andrewsjk@aol.com

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