The Practice and Teachings of Religious Science

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©1999
Religious Science is a syncretistic system that attempts to harmonize all religions by claiming they contain the same divine truth.

The Practice and Teachings of Religious Science

The Science of Mind website lists the following as its basic principles under the heading, “What We Believe,” which is taken from the first issue of Science of Mind magazine, October, 1927, written by Ernest Holmes:

• We believe in God, the Living Spirit Almighty….

• We believe in the incarnation of the Spirit in everyone and that all people are incarnations of the One Spirit.

• We believe in the eternality, the immortality, and the continuity of the individual soul, forever and ever expanding.

• We believe that Heaven is within us and that we experience it to the degree that we become conscious of it….

• We believe in the unity of all life, and that the highest God and the innermost God is one God.

• We believe that God is personal to all who feel his Indwelling Presence.

• We believe in the direct revelation of Truth through the intuitive and spiritual nature of the individual, and that any person may become a revealer of Truth who lives in close contact with the indwelling God.

• We believe that the Universal Spirit, which is God, operates through a Universal Mind, which is the Law of God; and that we are surrounded by this Creative Mind which receives the direct impress of our thought and acts upon it.

• We believe in the healing of the sick through the power of this Mind.

• We believe in the control of conditions through the power of this Mind…

Religious Science is a syncretistic system that attempts to harmonize all religions by claiming they contain the same divine truth. As Ernest Holmes put it, “The varying faiths of mankind are unnumbered, but the primal faith of the race is today, as of old, the One Faith; an instructive reliance upon the Unseen, which we have learned to call God. Religion is One. Faith is One. Truth is One. There is One Reality at the heart of all religions, whether their name be Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian or Jewish.” [1]

Such an attitude, of course, runs into fatal problems when one examines what various religions actually teach. For example, the Bible declares that Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1-3, 14; Col. 2:9), but such an idea is blasphemous to a Muslim or a Jew. The impersonal, undefined and amoral Brahman (eternal Spirit) of Hinduism is entirely unlike the personal, revealed and holy Jehovah of the Bible. And both early and late Buddhist beliefs are contrary to Christian, Islamic or Vedantic Hindu beliefs. To claim that all religions are essentially the same is therefore a grave error; the facts of comparative religion do not allow such a conclusion.

Religious Science believes that all people and nature are part of God, the One Spirit or omnipresent Divine Essence. “Every man is an incarnation of God…. Our spiritual evolution is a gradual awakening to the realization that the Spirit is center, source and circumference of all being. It is in everything, around everything and through everything, and It is everything.” [2] Unless men and women realize this truth and consciously appropriate their Oneness with God by personal choice, they will not receive any spiritual benefits but will remain in various degrees of spiritual darkness. “The Divine nature must be and is infinite; but we can know only as much of this nature as we permit to flow through us….” [3]

It is through faith (not a biblical faith, but “spiritualization of thought” or positive thinking) that people can claim their oneness with God and receive Its power in their lives. “Religious science not only emphasizes this unity of God and man, it teaches us that in such degree as our thought becomes spiritualized, it actually manifests the Power of God…. Religious Science teaches that right thinking can demonstrate [provide] success and abundance… and that true salvation comes only through true enlightenment, through a more complete union of our lives with the Invisible.”[4] Other basic Religious Science teachings include a belief that people and the universe are fundamentally good and that everyone will be eventually united to the Divine, never having been truly separate from It in essence, only in consciousness.

Positive Affirmations and Negative Confessions

The average Science of Mind practitioner utilizes a type of “positive affirmation” common to nearly all New Thought religions. These “prayers” attempt to change the individual’s mind about something, and they can be used to attempt to exert control over other persons, things and events. Because practitioners believe they can unite their minds to the Divine Mind they believe they can, potentially, divinely control their environment and life. They believe that they may function “as God,” and that whatever they desire may be realized. There is a relationship here to the premises of occult magic. For example, in Magic: An Occult Primer, occultist David Conway speaks in similar terms of the power of the mind, by which practitioners, with the help of spiritual forces, can control the environment and attain whatever they desire.

Craig Carter, in How to Use the Power of Mind in Everyday Life, discusses how Religious Science principles work, based on the alleged divine potential of the human mind:

If, for example, your consciousness is one of sickness, you will be sick. Deliberately alter it to one of well-being (prosperity, love, security, happiness, or whatever good thing you desire), and you will soon have that which corresponds to the new state of your belief.

This happens because behind every condition is a belief, and if you can change the belief, you can change the condition… the changing of your belief is entirely within your own control.

Because the outer world of your personal experience follows the model of your inner world of mental causation, every time you say, “I am…” and add something to it, you set into motion a mental Law of Correspondence, which tends to bring about in actual experience whatever corresponds to your word—your state of consciousness—about yourself. Say, “I feel wonderful!” and that Law will bring you more of something to feel wonderful about. But say to yourself, “I am tired,” and you most certainly will be.[5]

If, for whatever reason, practitioners are unable to realize their affirmations, they must begin a process of argument with themselves. “If you cannot achieve such an immediate realization, you must anticipate ‘arguing’ with yourself. This is a standard technique by which you affirm your belief in peace, denying any contrary appearance, disputing the reality of problems, asserting your belief in answers. Continuing in this fashion, your goal is to attain that state of realization where you can say, believing, ‘I am at peace.’ And at that moment, the great Law of Life will, in truth, have brought you peace!” [6]

Holmes and Kinnear note a point of caution here:

In giving a spiritual mind treatment one should stop when he finds himself tensing and trying to force something to happen. For this “forcing” is an indication that he recognizes the presence of a hostile, opposing power which is arrayed against him, and which he must overcome. This is a belief in duality, the Presence of God and a supposed opposite; good and evil, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty.

There is nothing but God and good in the universe. Good could only contribute to man’s growth and development. Nothing is ever trying to oppose him. The secret of accomplishment is in “letting” this good come forth.[7]

Based on this, we can see that the goal in Religious Science is “taking charge of your life by creating your own destiny.”[8] The God of Scripture, therefore, does not control our lives; as “God” we do. The following “affirmations” to bring about such control are typical examples of Religious Science methods:[9]

Treatment for Relationships: I now accept God’s Love as the law of all my relationships with other people. I see God’s Life in them; their life in God. I am in harmony with that Life, for it is my life, too. The God in me salutes the God in all whom I meet today. For this blessing I do give thanks.

Treatment to Remove False Conditions: I know that there is no power opposed to God. There is no false growth or wrong condition in God’s Life. That Life is my life now. I let go every contrary belief. I believe only in God, and I give myself utterly to His right action in my life.

Treatment for Healing: Infinite Mind knows only good, and is not confused. I let that Mind be wholly expressed in me. I now see the Father’s Perfection in all that I am. It knows how to heal me, and I release my needs to God’s action and see myself whole and perfect.

Meditation on “High Vision”: The highest God and the innermost God is One God. God, the source of all things, is also that which I am. God’s creative activity in me now reaches a point where I can recognize Him for all that He is. As my mind opens up in this new awareness I know that I am the One, and all is complete and perfect.

In the above affirmations, biblical passages are supplied to “support” each affirmation—Psalm 89:1; John 11:41; Psalm 82:6; Colossians 4:2 respectively. These Scriptures, however, in their biblical context, do not in any sense support such affirmations. As anyone with a Bible can see, they either oppose the affirmations or are irrelevant to the ideas in them. Only when these Scriptures are taken out of context and placed into a Science of Mind worldview, and thus had their biblical meanings redefined, can they be interpreted as supporting the affirmations.

There is, of course, an element of truth, biblical and psychological, in the idea of concentrating or meditating on that which is positive. Concentrating on the negative is certainly of little value. Scripture tells us of the benefits of a merry heart; and it says to rejoice always and to meditate on that which is good (Pro. 17:22; 1 Thess. 5:16-18; Phil. 4:4-8). Religious Science, then, has a kernel of truth. But from a Christian perspective there is a major problem. Given biblical revelation, Religious Science has no logical reason upon which to rejoice, since their monistic philosophy actually causes them to meditate upon that which is not true. For example, meditation upon oneself as divine, as part of God, is a reflection of self-deception not spiritual enlightenment. The universe is not run by an impersonal divine law that is at our beck and call to answer our every wish. Biblically, the universe is run by an infinite, personal sovereign God, who is working out His own plan, which people cannot alter.

Nevertheless, according to Religious Science, no such God exists and people control their own destiny by consciousness alone. This is why “the gospel of Ernest Holmes” is termed “creative self dominion.” The universe and its inviolate, impersonal laws are foolproof. Whatever our thoughts and actions, good or evil, they will bring about a logical corresponding result. Like a magnet, we are always attracting either good or evil to ourselves or repelling one or the other. It is impossible to escape this immutable law of cause and effect that governs all things.[10] However, nature’s laws will “obey” people if they first understand and obey them. “This Law works automatically until it is consciously changed. To learn how to think is to learn how to live, for our thoughts go into a Medium that is Infinite in Its ability to be and to do.” [11]

The reasoning is as follows. People are, potentially, one with divine Mind; that is, people are God’s thought, although they may not know it. And the creation is the image of God’s thought. So thought controls the image of thought, and if a person’s consciousness is properly situated, he or she will be able to control the creation and manifest the preexisting divine harmony, rather than succumb to an allegedly false appearance.

If we can control our thoughts and always affirm the good—regardless of contrary appearances—then only the good will be our portion in life. Whatever we desire—happiness, marriage, a new car or home, money, a better business, whatever—“There should be a quiet unstained acceptance of the fact that it is right for us, is possible for us and already is ours in Mind.”[12] All we need do is affirm it “into” existence. If we are depressed, in poverty or burdened with a serious illness, all we need to do is to recognize that this is only an appearance, not a reality. Through the principles of Religious Science, we can come to understand that the “appearance” is not ultimately real, and let what is real manifest its divine perfection in our lives. Religious Science does not say we never experience ourselves as sick, poor or lonely; it says that such conditions are unnecessary, that the “appearance” can give way to the divine reality. Since the ultimate reality is Divine Mind, and since we are “created” out of it, “we are made of and possess God-like qualities and we have the right and the ability to develop and use them. In fact it is necessary for us to do this if we are to fully express the Life within us.” [13]



  1. Ernest Holmes, What Religious Science Teaches (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1978), p. 10.
  2. Ibid., p. 57.
  3. Ernest Holmes, “What I Believe,” Science of Mind, Jan. 1965.
  4. Holmes, What Religious Science Teaches, pp. 24-25
  5. Craig Carter, How to Use the Power of Mind in Everyday Life (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1978), pp. 4-5.
  6. Ibid., p. 6.
  7. Ernest Holmes and Willis Kinnear, Practical Application of Science of Mind (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1977), p. 68.
  8. Carter, p. 6. emphasis added.
  9. Ibid., pp. 12, 15, 17, 27, 29, 32.
  10. Holmes and Kinnear, Practical Application of Science of Mind, p. 62.
  11. Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1939), p. 133.
  12. Science of Mind, Nov. 1979, p. 40.
  13. Ernest Holmes, The Basic Ideas of Science of Mind (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1971), p. 13.

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