Problems with Religious Science Teachings | John Ankerberg Show

Problems with Religious Science Teachings

By: Dr. John Weldon
By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©1999
The followers of Ernest Holmes believe he subjected all his beliefs to the test of rationality. If so, one might expect unexcelled displays of spiritual power, crisp reasoning abilities, inerrancy in his writing and breathtaking insights from his probes of the universe.

Problems with Religious Science Teachings

Religious Science Errors of Fact

Reginald Armor, biographer and lifelong friend of Ernest Holmes, referred to a common view of Holmes, one held by his followers, that Holmes subjected all his beliefs to the test of rationality. “Being very practical, he always submitted his insights, contemplations, and feeling to his reasoning, intellectual mind for verification.”[1] We are also told Holmes had a mind that “demonstrated its divinity” and was capable of “probing the farthest reaches of the universe.” If so, one might expect unexcelled displays of spiritual power, crisp reasoning abilities, inerrancy in his writing and breathtaking insights from his probes of the universe. Yet in the most important area of all, religion, he was usually in error. For example, in the following quotes we have supplied brief comments or corrections. Holmes argued, “Thus each religion approaches the same God, and must basically believe in the same God.”[2] (The Hindu God Brahman, the Muslim God Allah, and the biblical Jehovah, are utterly dissimilar.) “If we study every religion we will find great spiritual consistencies; belief in God [not true of Buddhism, Jainism or Shinto], belief in the Divinity of every individual [not true of Islam, Judaism or Christianity], and of good always triumphant over evil”[3] (not true of Hinduism, Zoroastrianism or Religious Science). Other examples of his numerous errors include the belief that bronchitis and other diseases result from “congested thought”;[4] that Jesus’ teaching was in “full accord with the Essenes”;[5] that polytheism antedated monotheism;[6] and that there are no incurable diseases, only incurable people.[7]

Do these examples, and again there are many others, indicate that Ernest Holmes was rational, divine or free from error? A few errors are one thing, for it is human to err, but virtually unremitting error is another matter entirely. So why should anyone place trust in his religion, a religion that even he admitted he simply made up?

The Problem of Ernest Holmes

Holmes was said to have a “reverence for God.”[8] He held Jesus to be “a spiritual genius,” “the greatest spiritual realist who ever lived,” and one with solid teaching.[9] This would lead people to assume that he had a reverence for Jesus. But reverence, at the least, includes respect for what a person taught, and Holmes, through his Science of Mind doctrine, denied Jesus’ teaching. Although Holmes declared, “In this philosophy, no attempt is made to rob Jesus of his greatness or to refute his teachings,”[10] this is precisely what Holmes did. He denied both Jesus’ greatness, His Person and His teachings. One wonders, did he really believe he was not refuting Jesus and His teachings, or was he unwilling to frankly state that if Jesus was to be understood in a normal sense, he was denying Him?

This brings us to the question of Holmes symbolic interpretation of Scripture. If Holmes was so enlightened, why did he never, anywhere, justify the legitimacy of his figurative, or metaphysical, interpretation of Scripture? The reason is because he could not. He simply demanded that others take his interpretations and invented religion on blind faith. Indeed, he was ill prepared even to attempt a defense of his views. As his brother pointed out: “He had no knowledge of either Greek or Hebrew, and traditional exegesis of a text was entirely foreign to him.”[11] This may help to account for why he refused to discuss the particulars of Christian beliefs. “Let us not waste time, then, in theological discussions which lead nowhere.”[12] What his brother pointed out concerning Holmes’ view of the afterlife was relevant generally, “He knew that his philosophy was unclear and probably would not stand the test of theology, but he had no fear of ‘authority.’…”[13]

Further, Holmes spoke of a perfect religion of the future (his teaching) that would “dehypnotize” people. In a revealing statement, Holmes fairly admitted that Religious Science would purposefully wipe God and biblical teachings out of people’s consciousness. “The absence of God and the devil will clean up the unconscious so that the fear of the unknown will also disappear…. How can this be brought about? That is what our classes and our textbook are designed to show…. The whole problem of sin and salvation is summarized and solved in the realization of the Divine Union…. There is no need for a go-between [Jesus as Savior]…. Superstitions like belief in hell, purgatory and a personal devil will have passed away…. There will be justice without judgment.”[14]

Clearly, despite Holmes’ claim to respect all religions, not to mention his emphasis that he taught true Christianity, the truth is that his personal agenda was to be rid of Christianity once and for all. This is the first problem with Ernest Holmes, by his writings he proved that his respect for Jesus and Jesus’ religion was hollow. The second problem with Holmes is that he read the Bible in such a way as to conform it to his personal views, as we’ve shown. Yet he criticized this approach when he stated, “I have found that Bible interpretation is often the reflection of personal opinion—more a matter of reading something into the Bible rather than getting something out of it.”[15] In these words, Holmes has condemned his own approach to the Bible.

A third problem concerns Holmes’ hypocrisy in treating the words of Jesus in the very manner that he implored others never to treat his own words. Holmes had one prominent desire when it came to his own words: “HAVING HAD the privilege of starting Religious Science, I would wish, will and desire above all things else that the simplicity and purity of our teaching could never be violated.”[16] In other words, Ernest Holmes wished above all else that no one would misuse or violate his words and his beliefs. Yet his personal reinterpretation of Scripture misused and grossly distorted the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. Is it right for Holmes to do to others what he begged others not to do to himself?

Clearly, his symbolic and figurative interpretation of the Bible had little value apart from its subjectivity, which allowed him to read anything at all into the text. For example, Holmes stated in Sermon By the Sea, “There was nothing obscure in the teaching of Jesus…. He said that there is nothing but God.”[17] “Holmes said, “Jesus ‘plainly told us’ that God was within every man, ‘He proclaimed that all men are divine.’”[18] But nowhere in the Gospels did Jesus say anything of the kind; in fact, His words emphatically denied both assertions (for example, John 3:19; 8:44). Can a man who so flagrantly alters another’s words expect people to trust or honor his own? (Modern Science of Mind leaders and teachers have not corrected the problem; to the contrary, they have continued it, encouraged it and expanded it.) Holmes also distorted the simplicity and purity of the writings of Moses, the Gospel authors and the Apostle Paul:

  • Abraham only dreamed God was testing him with Isaac.[19] (This is never stated or even remotely implied in the biblical text.)
  • Christ means God-in-us. It means the divine Son at the center of every person’s life.[20] (“Christ,” from the Greek Cristos, means “anointed” and referred solely to Jesus, as the Gospel writers testify.)
  • “The original meaning of sin” was to do or allow anything that separates us from the realization of our deity.[21] (The original meaning is from the Greek hamartia and meant to “miss the mark” of God’s holiness.)
  • The Greek word for spirit, pneuma, indicates “impersonal creative principle.”[22] (By contrast, it means spirit, wind or breath; see Colin Brown, The Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 3, p. 693.)
  • Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as His mother.[23] (This is not stated by any Gospel writer or by Jesus.)
  • “I am the way, the truth and the life” means that the infinite I, within the apparently finite you is God.[24] (In the context of John 14:6 Jesus applied this to Himself only, and the Apostle John confirmed it.)
  • Resurrection means “rising from a belief in death.”[25] (As the Apostle Paul taught, resurrection deals with the raising of the body; cf. Brown, Dictionary of New Testament Theology, “resurrection.”)

In chart below, consider examples of Holmes’ biblical interpretation, none of which have biblical, historical or logical justification.


Religious Science Distortion of Biblical Terms
Biblical Term
Science of Mind Interpretation
The blood of the Lamb The continual flow of spiritual life animating everything[26]
The lamb slain from the foundation of the world A symbol of the outpouring of spirit[27]
Outer darkness Utter darkness; standing in the shade[28]
Punishment Purification[29]
Demon possession Possessed by evil[30]
The Ark of the Covenant; Holy of Holies Inner divinity[31]
The Red Sea; The Flood Our Psychic Life[32]
The Wedding Garment Awareness of unity with God[33]
Elijah and Elisha Object lessons, not persons[34]



  1. Reginald C. Armor, Ernest Holmes, the Man (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1977), p. 4.
  2. Ernest Holmes, The Basic Ideas of Science of Mind (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1971), p. 93.
  3. Ernest Holmes (compiled and edited by Willis Kinnear), The Spiritual Universe and You (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1971), p. 27.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ernest Holmes and Fenwicke Holmes, The Voice Celestial (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1978), p. 271; cf., for example, F. F. Bruce, The Teacher of Righteousness in the Qumran Texts (London: Tyndale Press), 1956, and Wilheim La Sor, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament.
  6. Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1939), p. 131.
  7. Armor, p. 32.
  8. Ibid., p. 6.
  9. Holmes, The Spiritual Universe, pp. 16, 33, emphasis added.
  10. The Science of Mind, p. 631.
  11. Ernest Holmes and Alberta Smith, Questions and Answers on The Science of Mind (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1953), pp. 166-167.
  12. The Science of Mind, p. 631.
  13. Fenwick Holmes, Ernest Holmes: His Life and Times (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1970), p. 94.
  14. Fenwick Holmes, Ernest Holmes, pp. 287-289.
  15. Armor, p. 19.
  16. Science of Mind, pp. 10-11, emphasis added.
  17. Ernest Holmes, Sermon by the Sea (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1967), p. 11.
  18. Science of Mind, December 1978, p. 10; Ernest Holmes, What Religious Science Teaches (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1978), p. 59.
  19. Science of Mind, February 1979, p. 7.
  20. Ernest Holmes (compiled and edited by Willis Kinnear), Ideas for Living (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1972), p. 28.
  21. Ibid., p. 18.
  22. Holmes, The Voice Celestial, p. 337.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Holmes, Your Invisible Power—Part III (Institute of Religious Science, 1940), p. 40.
  25. Holmes, The Science of Mind, p. 630.
  26. Ernest Holmes, Words That Heal Today (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 10th Printing, 1949), p. 237.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Ibid., p. 108.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Ibid., pp. 173-174.
  31. Ibid., pp. 61-62.
  32. Ibid., pp. 86-88.
  33. Ibid., p. 108.
  34. Ernest Holmes (compiled and edited by Willis Kinnear), The Philosophy of Jesus… For the World Today (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, n.d.), p. 61.

Dr. John Weldon

Dr. John Weldon

Dr. John Weldon (born February 6, 1948) went to be with the Lord on August 30, 2014 following a long-time battle with cancer. John served for more than 20 years as a researcher for The John Ankerberg Show. During his tenure, he authored or coauthored more than 100 books, including the best-selling Facts On Series of books that has sold more than 2.5 million copies in 16 languages. His final book, published in July 2014 with Harvest House Publishers (coauthored with John Ankerberg), is especially fitting. How to Know You’re Going to Heaven offers a biblical and personal look at the way God has provided salvation through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12) and the confidence the believer can have of eternity with Him in heaven (1 John 5:13). John’s life and work have touched countless others seeking to grow spiritually and better understand the Bible. His friends describe him as genuine, humble, and passionate to share the hope of eternal life with everyone he met. His work will continue through his many books, his online writings at The John Ankerberg Show website (, as well as through the many people John has personally influenced through his ministry.
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R K Matthews
R K Matthews
1 year ago

I came from an Evangelical background into New Thought. I can attest that no matter the criticism of Dr Holmes, Evangelical Christianity is rife with fear based and superstitious nonsense, much of it borrowed from pagan sources by the Early Church. It became law of the land and morphed into the Protestant nightmare a few hundred years later. Nothing of the original gospel of Jesus remains intact. Especially in the KJV. Thanks.

2 years ago

My perception is that Homes’ teaching is so spiritually advanced and visionary
that your criticism completely misses the point of where Holmes wanted to hint at.
As Jesus said, the Law is made for Man, and not Man for the Law.

Mariflor Teves
Mariflor Teves
4 years ago

Traditional or conservative Christianity has a lot MORE & BIGGER problems in its teachings than Religious Science. One can just refer to the many atheistic arguments against an anthropomorphic God…How many crimes of murder, violence & discrimination have been committed in history in the name of this Supreme Being?

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