Three simple questions

March 13th, 2012

A Christian Scientist whom I first met some years ago, a younger man we’ll call Mike, recently asked me why I left Christian Science. I sensed he was open to a full and honest explanation. He sincerely wanted to know, for his own benefit. We met for lunch, and after briefly setting the background of my spiritual journey, I told Mike it really all came down to three simple but momentous questions. Each has a couple of possible answers.

1- Who is Jesus?
a- A good man
b- The God-man

2- Who am I?
a- Perfect
b- Imperfect

3- Who is the church
a- All the followers of Mrs. Eddy since 1866
b- All the followers of Jesus since AD 30

Christian Science says Jesus is just a good man – the best man ever, but nothing more; certainly not Deity incarnate. But evidence in the Bible and events in the 1st century say he is the God-man, and I finally became persuaded of that evidence.

Christian Science says I am perfect, and any suggestion to the contrary is merely a false dream (though how my perfection could be so misled isn’t explained). But evidence from my own self-knowledge and experience says I am imperfect, and I finally became persuaded of that evidence as well.

The two strands of evidence in fact reinforced each other. The more I faced up to my woeful imperfection, the more I needed Jesus as not just my ideal exemplar, but as my divine savior. The less I resisted his claims as God the Son, who died for me and rose for me, the less I needed to insist (against all reason) upon my sinless perfection.

I told Mike the flood of relief and rightness that I felt in finally coming home, coming in from the cold, made the whole thing for me not so much a matter of “leaving” Christian Science but more a matter of “joining” God’s royal household after a lifetime away.

That brings us to the third question, Who is the church? Christian Science confines it narrowly to the followers of Mrs. Eddy since 1866. But evidence in the Bible and events in 20 centuries ever since, define it broadly as all the followers of Jesus since AD 30. That widely inclusive royal household, which is labeled as 3b in my list of questions, has agreed throughout the ages with the theological positions I’ve labeled 1b and 2b. How could the church have survived and thrived as it has, without a burning conviction that Jesus is the God-man? And how could someone as imperfect as I know myself to be, dare reject that conviction in favor of my own contrary opinion?

“So it all lines up, Mike,” I concluded in my conversation with this young friend, a man who happens to make his living evaluating evidence. Regard yourself as perfect if you want, I told him. Regard Jesus as just a good man if you want. Regard all the Christians prior to 1866 as mistaken if you want. But weigh the evidence long and hard before you conclude on those three points; for in each case I found it decisive on the other side – the Gospel side.

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