We have categorized Christian Science under Western Spiritualism rather than Theism because of two major factors which are fundamental to their faith: (1) belief that the material world is an illusion (2) belief that God is all-encompassing and the only ultimate reality.
Brief history: Born in 1821, Mary Baker Eddy grew up with acute illness. As a result, she sought answers from Phineas Quimby, who taught her about healing through the mind. In 1866, Eddy experienced a near-fatal accident. Upon reading about one of Jesus’ miraculous healings, however, she allegedly was healed. Because of this instant healing, she “discovered the Christ Science, or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love, and named [her] discovery Christian Science” (Science and Health, p. 107). She began to believe that healing comes through spiritual rather than medical means. The mind, she believed, strongly affects the body’s condition; she writes, “Through different states of mind, the body becomes suddenly weak or abnormally strong, showing mortal mind to be the producer of strength or weakness” (Science and Health, p. 377). After developing revolutionary beliefs about healing and spirituality, she had her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, published in 1875. Four years later, she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts. (Science and Health quotes found at Christian Science Publishing Center)
• Christian Scientists believe in one, infinite God who is All and all-good. They believe that God is not distant and unknowable, but that God is all-encompassing and always present, and that each individual is loved by God, cared for by Him, and made in God’s image—spiritual, not material.
• Christian Scientists believe in the Bible and in Christ Jesus as the Son of God, or promised Messiah. And they believe that Jesus’ teachings and healing work expressed scientific Christianity, or the application of the laws of God—laws which are still practical and provable today, by anyone, anywhere. Christian Scientists consider the Commandments, as well as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, to be central to their lives and practice of Christianity.
• Above all, Christian Scientists believe in the saving, healing power of God’s love—that no one is beyond redemption, that no problem is too entrenched or overwhelming to be addressed and healed. In other words, Christian Scientists don’t believe that salvation occurs at some point in the future, but that the presence of God’s goodness can be experienced here and now—and by everyone. Source: Christian Science
Belief about God
Does God exist?
Yes; in fact, He is all that actually exists. Anyone or anything else is an illusion.
How do you describe God?
God is not personal; in fact, Eddy describes Him as “divine Principle” rather than as a Person. The Trinity consists of Life, Truth, and Love. “God is incorporeal Spirit--creative Principle, supreme, omnipotent Father-Mother, omnipresent, omniscient--the only intelligence and all that actually exists. God is Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love” (This quote from Beliefnet).
Is there any kind of spirit world?
Yes. Even humans are spiritual rather than material. In fact, everything that man believes to be material (and thus real) is merely an illusion. This belief in “a material world and material body result from error in thought and ignorance of the true and only nature of reality, which is spiritual.” In other words, not only is there a spirit world, but in fact it is the only real world.
Only God actually exists.
(Quote from Beliefnet).
Belief about the world
Is there an overall plan or order behind nature?
Yes; however, nature is an illusion. God essentially imagined man into existence; man is a reflection of God. Learning from Christ’s earthly example of how to live, man must save himself in order to get to Heaven.
Belief about humanity
Are human beings different from the rest of nature?
Yes; however, humans are illusions, just like the rest of nature.
Where did we come from, & where are we going?
A. We are “reflections of God’s image and likeness,” which He imagined into existence. We are immortal spirits.
(Quote from Beliefnet)
B. Because we are immortal spirits, there is no death; death is an illusion. Eventually we go to either Heaven or Hell. However, “Heaven and hell are not places, but states of consciousness that continue after death. ‘Heaven’ is the self-made eternal bliss of realizing oneness with God. ‘Hell’ is the self-made anguish of believing in pain and death”
(Quote from Beliefnet)
In order to get to Heaven, we must save ourselves by rejecting our false beliefs that suffering, sin, death, and a material world exist; by embracing our true nature as reflections of God; and by performing “good works, patience, meekness, love, watchfulness, prayerful gratitude, [and] devout obedience in following Christ’s example”
(Quote from Beliefnet)
By such means, we will eventually dwell with God in Heaven forever. If we fail to meet these qualifications, however, we must endure hell forever. Eddy describes salvation as “Life, Truth, and Love as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed”
2.1 Beliefs about purpose
What is the overall purpose or meaning of humanity?
To be in “harmony with one’s true nature as God’s reflection” by rejecting the false belief in suffering, sin, and death and by doing good works, according to Jesus’ example.
(Quote from Beliefnet)
What is the main purpose or highest good for each individual?
The same. Through that realization, one experiences real healing.
Belief about ethics
How does one decide right & wrong?
• By learning from the Bible, as interpreted by Mary Baker Eddy, and from Eddy’s textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
• Evil is an illusion that results from one’s belief in evil; therefore, choosing to discard that belief is right, and continuing in that false belief is wrong.
Is it possible for humans to know truth?
What are legitimate sources of truth?
• The Christian Bible, but only through Eddy’s interpretations. “Christian Scientists believe, owing to the utter and hopeless confusion that the Bible allegedly engenders without a qualified interpreter, that it is necessary to have someone interpret the Bible for them. Eddy is the divinely appointed person to fulfill this task.”
(Quote from Walter Martin)
• Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
6 core beliefs of Christian Scientists
(taken from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 497):
1. As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal life.
2. We acknowledge His Son, one Christ, the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter, and man in God’s image and likeness.
3. We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.
4. We acknowledge Jesus’ atonement as the evidence of divine, efficacious Love, unfolding man’s unity with God through Christ Jesus the Way-shower, and we acknowledge that man is saved through Christ, through Truth, Life, and Love as demonstrated by the Galilean Prophet in healing the sick and overcoming sin and death.
5. We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection served to uplift faith to understand eternal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter.
6. And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for the Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, and to be merciful, just, and pure.