‘Lovest thou me more than these?’

by
September 3rd, 2021

Do you love God? Do you love Jesus? Do you love the Bible? Do you love the Church? Ask these questions of any Christian Scientist, and he will almost certainly answer yes.

Your friend’s agreement on these basic points can then become a doorway for dialogue about how beneficial Science actually is.

That is, does the Mary Baker Eddy religion comport with your friend’s expressed love or conflict with it?

A number of the essays in my book Discovering a Larger God illustrate how such a dialogue might unfold.

Loving God means that I desire to obey him, serve him, please him. My essay “The Dare” (page 143) explores the impossibility of knowing how to do any of this, if one views God on Mrs. Eddy’s terms simply as impersonal divine Principle, period.

Loving God also means that I don’t want to be at odds with him or estranged from him. My essay “Much to Atone For” (page 155) reasons through the paradoxical situation where a Scientist senses that he or she may have displeased God in a particular way, yet “knows” metaphysically that such cannot occur.

Loving Jesus means that one wants to know him as well as possible and to elevate him as highly as possible. In the essay “Diminishing Jesus” (page 154), I ask a Christian Science friend to confront the awkward circumstance that he may love Jesus more than Mrs. Eddy does. What then?

“Impossible Straddle” (page 115) calls out twenty ways in which one may try to compromise with Jesus or keep him at arm’s length. Nicodemus the Pharisee, I note, attempted to do this but in vain.  And doesn’t Christian Science make the same attempt? It’s no way to treat a loved one.

To love the Bible means to take it as written. The first tenet of Christian Science seems to agree—but Science and Health then devotes hundreds of pages to rewriting Scripture. In “Wes Backs Away” (page 147), I show how the Eddy teachings negate all five words of Paul’s famous proclamation, “Christ died for our sins.” No way to treat the Word of God.

And doesn’t loving the Bible also imply embracing it as the book above all other books? My essay “Why Settle for Less?” (page 157) points out out the illogic of subordinating the Bible to a latter-day “textbook” or “Scripture key” revered in one’s family. Seven pieces earlier in my book (Chapter 3) argue for treating the Scripture as its own key.

Finally, if the Scientist friend we’re talking with agrees tentatively (pending a definition of what’s meant) to loving the Church, my essay “Weigh the Evidence” (page 158) presses on the historically implausible contention of Mrs. Eddy that the true church (hers) only began taking shape in 1866, two millennia after Jesus’ time. Surely a merciful God had not left mankind wandering in the dark for all those centuries.

Loving the Church, we could then add, naturally leads the Christ-follower to accept the Church’s ancient and beloved creeds, such as the Apostles’ Creed. I make that case in “Shopping for a Home” (page 166), showing in a line-by-line discussion its superiority to the Christian Science tenets.

So, to summarize: Engaging a (relatively) open-minded Christian Scientist on these four fronts—God, Jesus, the Bible, and the Church—and doing so on the basis of what one loves from the heart, not what one believes with the intellect, seems to me a rather promising approach.

My essay “Pathways for Dialogue” (page 160) discusses this more fully than I’ve done here. There I look back and retrace how I was able to make my way from CS to the Cross along those very pathways.

Granted, reasoning logically with a Christian Scientist about faith and truth is not easy. CS teachings are inherently irrational and illogical. It takes patience, practice, prayer, discernment, and the help of the Holy Spirit to get anywhere.

But most people will admit that love is as love does. This was the basis of Jesus’ dialogue with Peter after the resurrection. His question, “Lovest thou me more than these?” (John 21:15), implies both comparison and consequences.

Anyone conversing in goodwill can see the reasonableness of examining whether we’re really living out the loves we profess. I hope the essays from Discovering a Larger God that I’ve referenced here can be useful as a sort of toolbox for helping a receptive Christian Scientist do that.

‘Discovering a Larger God: How the Cross Prevails where Self-Salvation Fails’ is my candid personal story of escaping Christian Science and coming to follow Jesus Christ. It’s a quick, easy read with some fifty brief, practical essays on life-lessons the Lord has helped me learn. Get your copy today.

 

 

 

 

The author can be reached at andrewsjk@aol.com

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