Talking With Adherents of Religious Science

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©1999
Religious Science, like religions and cults generally, must agree with Christianity that something is seriously and basically wrong between the divine and the human.

Talking With Adherents of Religious Science

Religious Science (and Science of Mind), like religions and cults generally, must agree with
Christianity that something is seriously and basically wrong between the divine and the
human. The question is who has the more accurate diagnosis of the problem and the best
solution? The fact that Science of Mind goes out of its way to deny evil, disease and so on,
shows that these conditions really do exist. As in atheism, the constant need to deny affirms
the reality of that which is denied. Otherwise, there would be no need for denial. No one
feels constrained to build a philosophy against the existence of satyrs, because everyone
knows they are a myth. If evil did not exist, no one would know it. It is denied because it
does exist.

Sooner or later Religious Science [RS] believers will experience evil in ways they cannot
deny. This will lead to doubts about Science of Mind views, and at this point especially they
should be challenged to re-examine their spiritual values and commitments. For instance, if
sin or evil is merely an appearance that does injustice to the Reality of the divine perfection
behind it, why do those in Religious Science react to evil like everyone else and fail to
manifest perfection? Is not the very reaction to evil and the failure to manifest perfection a
betrayal of the principles of Science of Mind? Even Holmes admits, “We only think we
believe that God Power is in us.”[1] “In discarding the ancient idea of a huge person in the
nature of Deity, we are undoubtedly losing something…. Neither can we hope to get very
much satisfaction from thinking of God only as an infinite It.”[2] The following discussion citing Ernest Holmes underscores fatal problems in RS philosophy. The true betrayer is Religious Science itself:

I do not believe there is a single fact in human history, or a single manifestation in

the universe, which is or could possibly be anything other than a manifestation of
the One Divine Mind, the One Universal Presence, the One Infinite Spirit.[3]

We must realize the Perfect Universe if we wish to embody the greatest good. If the

Universe were not perfect it could not exist for a single moment. It is self-evident
that we live in a Perfect Universe; and, if so, then everything in it must also be
perfect.

The Truth is Indivisible and Whole. God is Complete and Perfect. A Perfect Cause

must produce a Perfect Effect. Disregarding all evidence to the contrary, the student
of Truth will maintain that he lives in a Perfect Universe and among perfect people;
he will regulate his thinking to meet this necessity and will refuse to believe in its
opposite. At first he may appear to be weak; but as time goes on, he will prove to
himself that his position is a correct one; for that which appears imperfect will begin
to slip from his experience.[4]

But as time went on, Ernest Holmes confessed his failure to manifest perfection, just as
Charles Fillmore, the founder of Unity School of Christianity, also failed in his own
confession of divine perfection and died as a result. Contrary to Holmes’ own experience, he
claimed that it was not a matter of choice or conjecture concerning perfection, for
“Goodness is already given.” But he could never live it. He even understood that his
philosophy was a failure:

We do not appear complete. We act as if we were temporal, limited, unprepared, and

afraid. We are not so foolish as to think that people do not suffer; that they do not
experience want; that they are not unhappy. But the potential I, the potential you, is
just as perfect as the inherent God. This is why the world will call us stupid: that we do
not call this perfection into objective manifestation. It is not a matter of choice that we
are potentially perfect. It is not a matter of conjecture…. Goodness is already given.[5]

Holmes was correct. It is stupid to remain in imperfection if one can change it. This is a
fitting epitaph to Religious Science philosophy: put simply and bluntly, it’s just stupid.

Unfortunately, cherished beliefs can die slowly, even when they are shown to be wrong. We
reported the following account in The Coming Darkness, a book documenting the dangers of
occult practice. It discusses a famous although fraudulent medium’s shock at learning that
people wished to continue to believe in his “divine” powers even after they had been told,
by him, that they were fraudulent:

M. Lamar Keene was, at one time, one of the world’s highest-paid mediums. He was

also considered one of the most proficient and would routinely produce alleged
spirit messages, materializations, psychic healings, clairvoyance, trumpet
mediumship, apports, etc. But he was a fraud. For over 13 years he practiced his
wares before his conscience got the best of him and he decided to confess his
unethical methods. In The Psychic Mafia he tells his story. “The average person is
exceedingly easy to fool,” he says.

In Chapter 5, “Secrets of the Séance,” Keene reveals many of the tricks of the trade.

Nevertheless, even after he publicly confessed his fraudulent practices, the will to
believe persisted. Most of his sitters and even the church board of directors either
refused to accept his confession or kept attending the faked séances of Keene’s
associate!

Not surprisingly, Keene’s reaction was one of shock. After telling them the “spirits”

did not exist, that they were fakes, people continued to respond to him on the basis
of what they learned from the “spirits”! He recalls, “I was crushed. I knew how easy
it was to make people believe a lie, but I didn’t expect that the same people,
confronted with the lie, would choose it over the truth.”

Why did these people continue to believe? Because they wanted to. Belief was more

comfortable than unbelief; this is precisely why so many cults and spiritual cons
flourish everywhere in America today.[6]

This “will to believe” explains why RS believers may continue to argue the superiority of
their beliefs against those of Christianity. A Religious Science church member will often
reply to a Christian, “We teach the positive things,” as if Christian belief in the reality and
effect of sin means that Christianity is entirely negative. To the contrary, nothing is more
positive and realistic than Christianity. Man is created in God’s image, loved infinitely by
Him and capable of an intimately personal eternal relationship with Him. Eternal salvation
is an entirely free gift! By contrast, where is the truly positive in Religious Science? Is it a
positive thing to deny reality? Is it positive to think you are divine, when you are always
confronted with evidence to the contrary? Or, is it positive for a woman or man to attempt
to have a personal relationship with an impersonal It? “There is a Divine Something, call It
what you will.”[7] Is it something positive to be absorbed or erased into an impersonal
essence at some point in the distant future?

Religious Science practitioner may also respond to a Christian, “But Jesus Himself taught
Religious Science when He stressed the power of faith.” However, when Jesus said, “Be it
done according to your faith,” He was clearly and specifically referring to faith in a God
beyond the limited resources of the individual. He was referring to a faith that realizes its
own creaturely need, rather than one that believes in its own divinity. He was referring to a
faith that trusts in God, not in its own arrogance. Had Jesus intended to teach RS, He would
simply have said, “Be it done according to your faith in your divine self.”

Another Christian response could surround the RS aversion to sin and separation from God.
After all, in Religious Science, Christianity represents one of the “greatest handicaps to
spiritual progress,”[8] due to its insistence upon man’s innate separation from God. A Religious Scientist may believe that Christians live in “hell,” because hell is defined as “a discordant state of being. A belief in duality. A sense of separation from God.”[9]

But is this is not primarily true of Religious Scientists? (Christians, for their part, are no
longer separated from God.) Do Religious Scientists not live in a discordant state of being,
wrestling with their perpetual sense of separation from the perfections of “Divine Mind”?
Do they not more or less recognize their own constant “separation” from God? Do they not
have “sin” constantly in their consciousness? Their own experience cries out “yes!” Man is
either one essence with God, or he is not. Religious Science members need to see the logical
consequences and expectations of both claims. Do they act like a God according to Religious
Science or do they act like a sinner according to Christianity? If they can be helped to
answer that question honestly, the battle is half won, and the truth about man’s separation
from God and Christ’s atonement may be introduced.

One good approach may be to center the discussion around Holmes’ own teachings that:

The only reason we have to suppose that Jesus knew (truth) is that he proved his

claim. What we should do then is find out exactly what Jesus believed, and why.[10]

Since the teachings of Jesus contain the key to right living, it is well to consider their

meaning…. We should re-read the words of Jesus as though we had never heard of
them before—start all over again, get a completely fresh outlook.[11]

One may then sit down with a Religious Science follower and “start fresh” in the area of
biblical study, specifically the teachings of Jesus on sin and salvation and God’s love for the
person (John 3:16). The RS practitioner will soon see that the Bible teaches something quite
different from Science of Mind, and that anyone who interprets the Bible in a normal sense
cannot achieve a Religious Science outlook. If Holmes himself was the one who emphasized,
“We must have clarity, not confusion; truth, not lies,”[12] where then is “the clarity” (or truth) in Holmes’ interpretation of Scripture? Where is “the truth” (or clarity) in his interpretation of experience?

In 1959, Ernest Holmes challenged: “You find me one thousand people in the world who
know what Religious Science is and use it, and live it as it is, and I’ll myself live to see a new
world, a new heaven and a new earth here.”[13] But within a year, Holmes had died, having never seen his new millennium. Of course, there have been millions of RS practitioners who have known what RS is, who have used it and lived it faithfully, even valiantly. And it
changed nothing fundamentally. Holmes was wrong because he refused to accept the world
as it is and had forsaken the one true God who created it. This is the God who declared, “It
is given for every man to die once, and then comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). If RS
practitioners do not wish to take the risk Ernest Holmes took, then they must be certain
that their philosophy of life is true. Indeed, the difference between being God or being a
sinner is the difference between living in heaven or living in hell:

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not

add to his words or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar. Two things I ask of you,
O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: keep falsehood and lies far from me. (Prov.
30:5-8)

The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does

not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that
God has borne concerning His Son. And the witness is this, that God has given us
eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does
not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 John 5:10-12 NAS)

In concluding, we can only agree with Science of Mind writer Rev. Margaret R. Stortz in her
online article “Science of Mind and the Spirit of Christ,” when she writes the following: “In
all of Christianity there is no more important single figure than Jesus, the wayshower and
inspiration from which the Christian religion began. As an inquirer into Science of Mind, it
is very important for you to have a clear understanding about Jesus’ relationship to God
and to you.”

Scripture Contrasts: RS vs. the Bible
The birth of Christ is not an historical event, but is an eternal incarnation (Keys to Wisdom, p. 39). But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the Law (Gal. 4:4).
It would seem unthinkable and certainly illogical to

believe that such states [heaven, hell] could be created
by God. (Ibid., p. 18)

Then He will also say to those on His left,

“Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the
eternal fire which has been prepared for the
devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41 NAS).

This is why the Bible says there is but one mediator

between God and man; Christ in us, the cosmic man
(Know Yourself, p. 94).

For there is one God and one mediator

between God and men, the man Jesus Christ,
who gave himself a ransom for all men… (1
Tim. 2:5).

Creation is eternally going on (Questions and Answers,

p. 11)

And by the seventh day God completed His

work which He had done; and He rested on
the seventh day from all His work which He
had done (Gen. 2:2).

It is never the will of God or universal harmony to have

any person suffer (Ibid., p. 24)

Therefore, let those also who suffer

according to the will of God entrust their
souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is
right (1 Pet. 4:19 NAS).

Born of the Spirit, your child is changeless, perfect,

completely safe and secure in Divine Mind (Ibid., p.
69).

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but

the rod of discipline will drive it far from
him (Prov. 22:15).
The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a
child left to itself disgraces his mother
(Prov. 29:15).

The devil is an hallucination (Gateway to Life, p. 19). He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning

from heaven” (Luke 10:18; see Luke 22:3;
Rev. 12:9)

There is no God that heals just because someone

crawls up to Him and prays for it. There are no special
dispensations of Providence.

And the prayer offered in faith will restore

the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise
him up, and if he has committed sins, they
will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess
your sins to one another, and pray for one
another, so that you may be healed. The
effective prayer of a righteous man can
accomplish much (James 5:15-16 NAS)

 


NOTES

  1. Ernest Holmes, Gateway to Life (Science of Mind Publishing, 1974), p. 51.
  2. Science of Mind, October 1979, p. 22.
  3. Ernest Holmes, Sermon by the Sea (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1967), p. 8.
  4. Ernest Holmes and Alberta Smith, Questions and Answers on The Science of Mind (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1953), p. 22, emphasis added.
  5. Science of Mind, March 1979, pp. 24-25, emphasis added.
  6. John Ankerberg and John Weldon, The Coming Darkness (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1993), p.242-43.
  7. Ernest Holmes, Keys to Wisdom (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1977), pp. 12, 85.
  8. Holmes and Smith, pp. 20, 30.
  9. Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1939), p. 598.
  10. Science of Mind, December 1978, p. 12.
  11. Ernest Holmes (compiled and edited by Willis Kinnear), Ideas for Living (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1972), p. 28.
  12. Holmes, Gateway to Life, p. 90.
  13. Holmes, Sermon by the Sea, p. 31.

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