About ten years ago I attended a Christian Science public lecture in a town in Massachusetts. After playing “Amazing Grace” (no lyrics, just music), the lecturer began his lecture and finished about one hour later. After calling for testimonies (I gave my testimony geared to reach out to Christian Scientists) the lecturer called for questions.
I immediately raised my hand and he, in turn, called on me. “Does Christian Science,” I asked, “separate Jesus from the Christ?” It became obvious to me, after two minutes into his answer, that he wasn’t really answering my question. I raised my hand in respectful interruption; he immediately stopped and allowed me to clarify. I then stated, “Mary Baker Eddy once wrote that ‘Jesus, as material manhood, was not Christ’ [Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, 84]. Do you believe this?” “Yes,” the lecturer replied, “Jesus is not Christ.”
I then asked, “Would you please read, for everyone here, First John 2:22?” He then read 2:23, at which point I politely told him that that was the wrong verse. He then read 2:22: “Who is the liar, but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ; such a one is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”
There was looming silence over the crowd of two-hundred people, and the lecturer then asked me, “Would you like me to interpret that?” I said, “That’s not necessary, but if you must.” He then interpreted the verse as follows: Anyone denying that Jesus displayed the Christ Principle in his life is an antichrist. Afterward I and the lecturer had a stimulating one-on-one conversation!
Of course, the verse cited above says nothing like the lecturer’s interpretation; it, rather, reveals something quite unbiblical concerning Christian Science’s teaching about Jesus and the Christ.
Christian Science separates Jesus from the Christ. The former is “the name of a man,” while the latter is an “ideal Truth” (Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 473), which in part, it seems to me, is an impersonal body of teachings collectively known as “ideal Truth.”
My question to the lecturer, then, got right to the heart of the matter; and for those who had ears to hear the scripture cited was in actuality a stern warning against, if not condemnation of, such heresy.
There is, absolutely, no biblical ground upon which to state that Jesus is not Christ. Further, with such teaching one runs squarely against the biblical doctrine of the atonement of Jesus. Let me explain the first, and then the second.
Technically, “Jesus” (of Nazareth), which, by the way, means “the Lord saves,” is the name of the God-man who once dwelled among His people. “Christ” means “anointed one.” The first is his name, the second his office. Yet, in many places scripture uses the two synonymously (and together, such as “Jesus Christ”), and this brings us to the second point. Not only does scripture utilize the two synonymously, it uses them in this way to refute Christian Science’s view of the death and atonement of Jesus. I’ll illustrate with a story from the mission field.
After sitting through a Wednesday Night Testimony Meeting at a local Christian Science church, a man engaged me in conversation. After asking me a few questions about myself, I had opportunity to ask him some questions, such as “What do you do?”, “Where are you from?”, etc. (It’s good always to do this in order to establish some kind of personal relationship with your hearer.) I then asked, “You know, I read a statement from Mary Baker Eddy that ‘Christ never died’ [Eddy, Unity of Good, 62; this because “Christ” is not Jesus, as explained]. Do you believe this?” He answered yes. I then asked, “Well, would you please read for me a verse in Romans? Romans 5:8.” He read, I prayed for him; the end of the verse read “Christ died for us.”
I then asked him, “What do you think of this?” He stated, “Paul was wrong.” I continued to talk with him about his answer, and part of my reply to him was that according to Christian Science, the Bible is his “pastor.” How then, could he say that his pastor was wrong?
All the above illustrates a general rule of thumb that we find among various cults: If you’ve got the wrong Jesus, there will be heresy in other areas of doctrine. Among the many blatantly heretical statements by Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy is this one, found in Science and Health, page 361: “Jesus Christ is not God.” What a wonderful opportunity we have as witnesses of the biblical Jesus (who is the Christ [Matthew 16:16]) to ask Christian Scientists if they would, in faith, affirm John 20:28, which reads in address to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.”