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What Does it Teach?
by Pat Knapp
Recently I had the opportunity to do some in depth research on the New Age Movement as expressed in the teachings of Religious Science. Specifically, I focused on the Mile High Church of Religious Science in Denver. The following is an overview of that research.
Why Should We Be Interested?
We have in Denver, Colorado one of the largest Religious Science churches in the U.S. which draws approximately 3000 each Sunday. Its influence is greater still through its local, weekly television program "New Design for Living" (which has been running now on Sunday mornings since March 1978).
In addition to several churches in the U.S., there are many throughout the world: Canada, Central America, South America, Africa, Europe, India, Australia, and the Philippines. It represents one form of "New Age" thinking that has become, an increasing influence in our culture today. As Christians we are commanded to not be naive and uninformed about the surrounding culture so as to be prepared to (give an answer to him who asks'.
What Are Its Origins?
According to its literature, Religious Science is "closely affiliated with the great monistic traditions of the ages, with the ancient Vedic hymns, Hindu Brahmanism, Taoism, the mystics of all ages, and with the thinkers who taught either dynamic pantheism. .or substantial pantheism"(1)
The founder Earnest Holmes 1887-1960, was an admirer of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great Unitarian thinker. Holmes was also greatly influenced by Mary Baker Eddy (founder of Christian Science) and other Gnostic writers. Ultimately, however, as will be evident, the origin of Religious Science is found in Satan's lie that we can "become as God" (Genesis 3:5).
What Are Its Beliefs About Jesus Christ?
We accept his example and teachings. We do not deny the divinity of Jesus, but rather we affirm the divinity of all people, because God is the Father of us all. We think of Jesus as an example, not an exception (2).
In attending an introductory presentation on Religious Science given by Dr. Fred (as he is known by those attending the Mile High Church of Religious Science) not only was his denial of the uniqueness of Christ evident, but the denial of Jesus' resurrection as well.
After 2 hours of lecture came the question and answer period. The first question came from someone getting to the root of Religious Science's beliefs: "How does the resurrection of Jesus Christ fit with your belief system?"
Dr. Fred went into a 10 minute discourse saying it was, "very questionable if indeed the Jesus of the Bible really died or if He did, that He really rose from the dead there were many stories of many Jesuss...our church does not believe in the resurrection."
Interestingly enough, as 3 or 4 people (out of approximately 300 that had come) got up to leave he quickly added, "But, if you need to believe it's true, then that's ok too." No offer of dialogue was given to the inquirer and the meeting was closed off 50 minutes early.
What Are Its Beliefs About Good, Evil, and God?
God is the Source of all, beyond good and evil. God simply is. But in human life, where our freedom allows us to make mistakes (so-called 'sin' ), our comparisons of actions to what would have been better, leads us to ideas of good or evil. However, they are human inventions, for ultimately there is only God: Infinite Love and Truth (3).
So sin is just "mistakes" not acts of rebellion against a holy and just God. God too, is now a concept instead of a Person. Interestingly enough though, many attempts of personalizing this God are made in its literature: "God is the perfect Source of everything - perfect health, prosperity, happiness, harmony, intelligence, energy and so forth...God is a loving Presence and ever available, like a father."(4)
But how does an impersonal presence love? How does a "Source" give harmony, health and prosperity? These questions are not addressed in the literature.
Francis Schaeffer, Christian philosopher and writer, describes such manipulation of words as semantic mysticism; merely taking, "certain religious words which have a connotation of personality and meaning to those who hear them. Real communication is not in fact established, but an illusion of communication is given by employing words rich in connotations."(5)
The illusion of personality is given when, in fact, the God of Religious Science is nothing but an impersonal blob of energy and, as such, inherently incapable of having such characteristics as love and intelligence and utterly indifferent to such human aspirations as health and happiness.
How Does One Share the Gospel with these People?
1. Make yourself aware of what is truth as revealed in God's Word, the Bible, concerning the basics of Christianity and be able to give some concrete defense of those beliefs (meaning more than just your "personal testimony"). Study some basic apologetics at minimum. Know Why You Believe by Paul Little would be a good start.
2. Share with then the internal inconsistencies of their beliefs, and the illogic of their thinking. Help them see the short comings of their world-view (the presuppositions they hold to in interpreting the world around them). They cannot answer for instance, where evil and personality come from.
3. Share yourself with them, your weakness', your struggles and battles (this will vary in degree, depending on the relationship with them). Many have come from out of traditional churches that taught a "health & wealth" gospel or one steeped in ritual without reality. Most that I've had contact with came from traditional ritualistic Catholic backgrounds; but many come from legalistic Protestant fundamentalist churches as well.
4. Most importantly, we must live out the practical Gospel; the Gospel of love and yet acknowledgement of sin; the Gospel of helping others while at the same time not indulging them; the Gospel of emotional fulfillment and of the mind and intellect as well.
For a more
detailed version of this article, see the two-part article:
Analysis of Religious Science: Part One
Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light
(1) Tornay, Stephen C., Philosophy and Science of Mind. Science of Mind Publications (Pamphlet), n.d. Note: Pantheism is the belief that everything, including human beings, rocks, animals, etc., is God.
(2) The Viewpoint in the Science of Mind Concerning Certain Traditional Beliefs. Science of Mind Publications(Pamphlet), n.d.
(4) Creed, Howell S. Guide to Creative Thinking. Science of Mind Publications (Pamphlet), n.d.
(5) Schaeffer, Francis A. The God Who is There. Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1968. p. 56.
The above article originally appeared in The
Shield newsletter in 1988.
It was posted on this Web site 1998.
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