Beware the “Christianity and” fallacy

March 17th, 2016

“To the Son of God alone faith ought to look; on him it relies; in him it rests and terminates. If it proceed farther, it will disappear, and will no longer be faith, but a delusion.”

That’s from John Calvin in his Commentary on Ephesians. He adds: “Let us remember that true faith confines its view so entirely to Christ that it neither knows, nor desires to know, anything else.”

Calvin is but paraphrasing St. Paul, who writes in I Corinthians 2:2, “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

Though Mrs. Eddy twice quotes this text (SH 39 & 200),in practice she defied it. Her whole thrust in Christian Science is to proceed farther than Jesus the Son of God — to look beyond him into a higher metaphysics that ultimately supersedes faith or belief with scientific knowing (gnosis).

Eddy’s promethean ambition to blend the Gospel of Calvary with the mind science of Quimby is an example of the fallacy C.S. Lewis called “Christianity and” — any newfangled religious offshoot that tries to graft human self-salvation schemes onto the sole salvation of the Cross. (See The Screwtape Letters, Chapter 25.)

No verse in the Bible has been more utterly life-changing for me than I Corinthians 2:2. Stumbling across this Scripture in my thirties, starting to wonder what life would be like if I humbly obeyed it, and recognizing with growing disquiet how massively Mrs. Eddy disobeyed it, played a key role in freeing me from her grip.

Yet even today I catch myself approaching life’s challenges from the unwitting standpoint of “Christianity and [fill in the blank].” Take a mental inventory of your own and you will see how insidious the temptation is. Paul himself must have been susceptible to it, or he wouldn’t have avowed himself “determined” not to deviate in that letter to the church at Corinth.

What’s our best protection from the fatal mistake Calvin warned of,
looking past the Son of God so that faith disappears into delusion?
It is constantly and steadfastly “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

screwtape book cover

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