“Is It Small-Minded of Me to Base Morality on Scripture?”

A friend of mine and I were recently discussing different things and two things relating to scripture things came up. The first (what started the argument) Was I asked whether morality could be determined by age; for example, we say that is wrong for a kid but OK for an adult. My view was, if something is wrong should it not be wrong for all? She is a Christian but made some comments I wasn’t sure how to respond to. She implied that I “thought small” because after about thirty minutes of debate I realized my morality was based totally on scripture. When I said “moral” I meant biblical. She however was saying the Bible doesn’t answer everything and it is up to society to decide, because as she pointed out not every one is Christian and I needed to see the whole picture. This sounds immoral to me and in arguing it (using the Bible) she asked what seems un-biblical, yet I was stumped she said that “If the Old Testament grew into the New Testament then who’s to say it isn’t still growing?” She almost seemed to be implying that 1) scripture is not a complete canon yet and 2) it should change based on society. This seems very un-biblical and wrong but I wasn’t sure how to respond effectively.

Thanks for your e-mail. The two questions you brought up show a great deal of insight on your part. I would be honored to help you work through these issues.

First, let’s deal with morality. It’s great that you base your moral behavior based on biblical principles. Unfortunately, not everyone is so wise. But even biblically speaking, there are some things that may be appropriate for some people that are not so wise for others. For instance, look at marriage. Wouldn’t it be safe to say that a grown up married man is morally free to have sexual intimacy with his wife, but an unmarried teenage boy is not morally free to have sex with his girlfriend? Circumstances may determine some of our standards of behavior. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 that we are free to act the way we think we should (since we have been freed from the Law), but that we must first consider that our actions affect others. Christian morality is not based on a list of rights and wrongs, but on the law of love for one another. Sure, there are some things that are always wrong (such as murder), and some that are always right (such as love), but to say that every wrong is wrong for everyone is going to lead to trouble.

Your friend has a point that not every issue is covered specifically in the Bible. But the Bible’s principles can be applied to every issue. So, in fact, to think biblically is to think about the “big picture.” Society is actually more interested in keeping order than in encouraging morality. Age, therefore, does make a difference about what a person ought to do; not because morality is relative, but because sources of weakness can be different in people.

The freedom that we Christians have to make decisions is kept in check with our biblically-minded discernment about what is best for others and ourselves.

To answer your second question: yes, the canon of Scripture is closed. The New Testament is not just a highlight in the evolutionary development of the Old Testament. It is the “New Covenant.” It’s called a covenant because Jesus Christ fulfilled in person the “Old Covenant’s” purpose. Hebrews 1:1-2 points out that God has spoken in these “last days” in the person of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament is the inspired foreshadowing of Jesus. The New Testament is the inspired testimony to His life and works. The first few centuries of Christians had divinely guided criteria for evaluating the worthiness of a letter to be included in the New Testament. (For more on this, see Don Closson’s article on the Web.) Nothing society or anyone else can come up with since could come close to adding to what Jesus has already done.

Furthermore, Jesus is the Word of God. How can God’s very presence on earth be matched? His ascension into the heavens ended His earthly ministry. In the same way, His ascension also ended any speculation about another testament. (That’s why there can be no new New Testament.) When He spoke the words “It is finished” on the cross, it illustrates that there is nothing else to be revealed. All that is necessary now is the fulfillment of His New Covenant, with the ministry of God’s Spirit (through His church) and Jesus’ glorious return. Our job is not to write more books of the Bible in order to make it apply to society. Instead we need to take what’s already there and interpret it’s vital and timeless message to every new society.

I hope this helps with your questions. If you have any more questions or need some elaborating, please feel free to respond. Awesome questions! He rewards those who seek Him.

Kris Samons
Probe Ministries




“Can a Born-Again Christian Remain in a Carnal State?”

If one is truly a born again Christian, can they remain in a carnal state? If they are not willing to grow spiritually, give up those things which are offensive to God are they truly saved? Also much debate about losing one’s salvation seems to be a confusing topic for some. It says in God’s word that no man can pluck you out of the Father’s hand but what if one decides to remove themselves by renouncing their belief in the Lord? God did not remove them, they removed themselves. We have a Bible study in our work place and this seems to be an ongoing problem to give a clear cut answer to. Please could you help me?

Your questions are perceptive and very important for understanding the Christian life. I think it’s safe to say that Christians are not effectually sinless people. With that in mind, our righteousness is not ours, but Christ’s. Granted, a Christian is a regenerated being. We have the Spirit of God living in us and have the freedom to choose right over wrong. But some people seem to be changed overnight, while others are slower about showing the fruits of new birth. We must trust God to have that under consideration as He works in the life of new or not-so-new believers.

It’s important that we look at our lives and the lives of others from a broader perspective than we might be used to. God works throughout our whole lives. When we become Christians we can look back at times before our salvation and see that He was working even then. I think we’ll also be able to look back in eternity and see where God was working throughout our whole lives (unsaved and saved), when we weren’t even aware of it. To get to the point, living “carnally” does not necessarily invalidate a person’s claim to salvation. But at the least it ought to call it into question. 1 John 2:3-6 gives us an effective measure of our relationship to Christ. If we know Him, then we’ll act like it. If I’m not finding the desire or the ability to follow Christ’s will for my life, then I am forced to ask, “Why not?” I can recount many testimonies of people who truly came to know Christ after being in such a predicament.

A believer’s security is a very important issue. For if one can forfeit his inheritance, then how many sins will it take to disqualify him. John 10:27-30 does teach that no one is able to “snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Paul says in Romans 8:38-39, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So it seems that no one (not even the person himself) or no thing can take us from God.

Better yet, what if he chooses one day to renounce the faith he once held so dearly? I’m in no place to decide if someone’s profession of faith was sincere or not. But we do have the responsibility as brothers and sisters in Christ to challenge each other to bear fruit. If it isn’t being seen, then there ought to be someone who can say, “Hey, I’m not seeing any fruit.” Philippians 1:6 affirms our hope: “Being confident in this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” So, biblically speaking, salvation is for keeps. The question must be, “Is the person who isn’t living for Christ really a Christian at all?” Only God and the person in question can really answer that. Our responsibility as a community of faith is to encourage one another to be true to each other’s profession of faith.

I hope this helps you in your search for truth. He rewards those who seek Him.

Kris Samons
Probe Ministries




“Can a Christian Lose His Salvation?”

I have been debating a Christian online about whether salvation is permanent, which I believe it is. I have seen many scriptures that show this is the case but the person I am debating has brought up two verses I have never looked at before and I dont know how to respond. The verses are 2 Peter 2:20-21:

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.”

I looked in a couple of commentaries as well as in When Critics Ask (by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe) and they either said nothing about it or they didnt address the issue at hand.I have just within the last month or two started getting your newsletter and reading your articles/e-mail responses and I have been very impressed. So I was hoping that you could shed some light on this issue.

You have brought up a great question! The security of every believer is a critical issue in the Christian life. John 10:28-30 assures us that if we are given eternal life by God through Jesus Christ, no one can snatch us from the Father’s hand. Romans 8:28-39 also guarantees that nothing in all of reality can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

With that said, there is the issue of the “apparent” problem passages. Of them, 2 Peter 2:20-21 seems a real nasty one. But upon reading the entire epistle from Peter, one can see that the people in question are false teachers. Peter’s perspective, as that of Jude in Jude 19, is that these false teachers were not truly Christian. As Jude puts it, they are “wordly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.” Most likely these teachers publicly professed Christ as their Lord, but their subsequent rejection verified their unchanged spiritual condition.

The Bible as a whole teaches that believers are securely held in God’s hand. But let us be careful not to judge others because of what we see or don’t see. Challenge one another in perseverance to bear fruit, but leave the final judgment to the word of God that is “able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Thanks so much for your insightful question. God gives understanding to those who seek it as if searching for buried treasure and precious silver. [Proverbs 2:3-5]

Kris Samons
Probe Ministries




“I Don’t Know How to Answer this Biblical Argument Against Eternal Security”

I have been debating a Christian online about whether salvation is permanent, which I believe it is. This person brought up two verses to which I don’t know how to respond, 2 Peter 2:20-21:

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.

I looked in a couple of commentaries as well as in When Critics Ask (by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe) and they either said nothing about it or they didn’t address the issue at hand.

You have brought up a great question! The security of every believer is a critical issue in the Christian life. John 10:28-30 assures us that if we are given eternal life by God through Jesus Christ, no one can snatch us from the Father’s hand. Romans 8:28-39 also guarantees that nothing in all of reality can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

With that said, there is the issue of the “apparent” problem passages. Of them, 2 Peter 2:20-21 seems a real nasty one. But upon reading the entire epistle from Peter, one can see that the people in question are false teachers. Peter’s perspective, as that of Jude in Jude 19, is that these false teachers were not truly Christian. As Jude puts it, they are “worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.” Most likely these teachers publicly professed Christ as their Lord, but their subsequent rejection verified their unchanged spiritual condition.

The Bible as a whole teaches that believers are securely held in God’s hand. But let us be careful not to judge others because of what we see or don’t see. Challenge one another in perseverance to bear fruit, but leave the final judgment to the word of God that is “able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Thanks so much for your insightful question. God gives understanding to those who seek it as if searching for buried treasure and precious silver. (Proverbs 2:3-5}

Kris Samons

Probe Ministries




“Do Hindus Believe in Our Jesus?”

I have a question about Hinduism. I just had a conversation with someone who claims to be Hindu, yet believe in Christianity as well. He said that salvation in Hinduism is not only by karma (or karm, as he called it), but also by dharm, which he referred to as the acknowledgment of God being God. He also said karm was what good you have done, and didn’t talk about consequences of it. He said that wasn’t as much doctrine as mis-interpretation. He was saying that they believe in the same Jesus, but there’s no way this could be true. I wish we could have talked longer, but this wasn’t possible. My question is this: are any of these claims found in their scripture?

Thanks for your question about Hinduism. Hinduism is a very diverse collection of religious/philosophical beliefs. It’s very common to meet two Hindus who completely contradict one another. That being said, it’s not a surprise to hear some of the things that you heard from your Hindu friend.

One of the yogas (ways to reach human potential) of Hindu thought is called bhakti. This type of yoga is the personal devotion a person can have in any given form of the Deity. Many Hindus think Christianity is a great means by which to devote oneself to God. It already has a rigorous set of beliefs and practices in place that can be used as a road to ultimate liberation. Huston Smith says, “Many Hindus acknowledge Christ as a God-man, while believing that there have been others, such as Rama, Krishna, and the Buddha.”

Allow me to make some observations. First of all, if you meet a Hindu who believes in Jesus, consider this a great place to find common ground. Don’t be discouraged. The next step is to find out just what he or she believes about Him. It’s possible that this person may be a true believer in Christ. Remember, God is not just the God of “western” thought. But it’s also possible that he or she believes in a different Jesus, influenced by a pantheistic worldview. Does he think Jesus is just one of many ishtas (forms of the divine)? If so, then why would Jesus claim to be the only way to God in John 14:6? If the Scriptures are called to question, then what other resources do they use to believe that Jesus was even an ishta in the first place? If his Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible, then it might be a great idea to find out just where he’s getting his concepts of Him. Also you might bone up on why there’s warrant for belief in the inspiration of the Bible and the person of Jesus in the Bible. See our Web site for all sorts of information and helps (Theology and Philosophy Topics)

I would also suggest you read up on Hindu thought a bit. I’d say the best bet is to form a relationship with this Hindu and talk to him. There may or may not be any textual source for his beliefs. Unlike the religions of the West, Hinduism doesn’t have an authoritative text to refer to for all their beliefs. They have some helpful texts, such as the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita. These are the most well known and accessible texts for understanding the religion and philosophy of Hindus. But neither of them will talk about Jesus, per se (being written before His time). I suggest Huston Smith’s book The World’s Religions or S.A. Nigosian’s World Religions: A Historical Approach. I pray that you’ll have plenty of discussions with this person and that God would use you to sharpen one another (you to be a better disciple, him to be a disciple of the one true God).

Kris Samons
Probe Ministries




“Do You Have Anything on Scientology?”

Would you have anything on Scientology?

To put it bluntly, Scientology is a cult, and one designed to fleece the flock at that.

Watchman Fellowship (www.watchman.org) has a lot of excellent information on Scientology, but let me give you an overview of the problems with this self-proclaimed “church” from Watchman Fellowship’s profile on Scientology (http://www.watchman.org/profile/sientpro.htm):

Problems with the Founder

Scientology was founded by L. Ron Hubbard after a career as a science fiction writer in the 1930s. His book Dianetics came out in 1950 and the religion of Scientology was established by 1953. Scientology publications have made grandiose claims about Hubbard such as earning a degree in nuclear physics and a doctorate, becoming a WWII hero who miraculously cured himself of nearly fatal combat wounds, and discovering the secret to curing various diseases–all of which have been shown to be false.

From the Watchman web page cited above:

Biographers have also uncovered Hubbard’s involvement with the occult, which probably influenced his writings. Hubbard claimed to have had a near-death experience where he learned everything that ever puzzled the mind of man. The notorious Satanist, Aleister Crowley, was Hubbard’s mentor and he lived with Crowley protege John Parsons, engaging in sex magic at their black magic mansion hospice (Los Angeles Times, 24 June 1990, p. A1). Despite the inconsistencies in his history, Hubbard would become one of the wealthiest and most well known leaders of a religious movement in only a few years. As of 1986 over eight million copies of his book Dianetics had been sold (Ibid., p. 299). Scientology’s methodology and beliefs have led them into a long history of criminal and civil actions and convictions. Both the U.S. Federal and Canadian courts have found top Scientology officials, and the church, guilty of charges such as burglarizing, wiretapping, and conspiracy against government agencies (Time, 6 May 1991, p. 50).

Problems with Doctrine

Note the science-fiction terms that Hubbard coined to explain his new “religion.” Mankind, at his core, is a Thetan. The Thetan is that part of each individual which is immortal and which has become contaminated or debased by the influences of MEST (matter, energy, space, time). These contaminating influences have created engrams. Engrams are mental recordings of past moments of pain and unconsciousness that need to be cleared out so people can return to their original immortal, god-like, powerful state.

Scientology provides expensive “spiritual counseling” in the form of Auditing, where the engrams are cleared out of peoples minds through the use of an E-meter (like a lie detector). How many auditing sessions it takes to reach the goal of Clear depends, frankly, on how much money one has, up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Of course, no one successfully reaches this higher state of being because that would put an end to the flow of money.

Scientology claims to be compatible with all other religions. It doesn’t have to be practiced in place of any other faith system. It attempts to combine eastern religions and biblical wisdom with western philosophies. Scientology claims not to contradict other religions, but this is not true. Hubbard attacked Christianity as an ‘implant’ and said Christ was fiction. (A Piece of Blue Sky, p. 383).

Scientology has had a rocky history with the U.S. government’s financial institutions. Tax difficulties, fraud, and embezzlement have been constant sources for friction between the government and the leadership of the “church.”

In addition to some of the obvious problems with Scientology, there are many apparent dangers. Despite calling itself a church (obviously for the tax benefits), it seems to be disinterested in the concept of God while preoccupied with the doctrine of Man. Since men are inherently good in this worldview, the Christian view of sin is treated with contempt. Men do not need salvation through Jesus Christ; they only need to be cleared of their painful memories through the expensive Auditing process.

Watchman Fellowship recommends these resources (most of which are now available on the Web; links are provided):

1) Scientology: Cult of the Stars. Various articles on Scientology written by Watchman Fellowship staff and previously published in the Expositor. Includes information on lawsuits filed against Watchman by Scientology, various doctrinal papers and Scientology President’s claim to be a practicing Mormon. 23 pages.

2) A Piece of Blue Sky, Jon Atack. This book was written by a former Scientologist who is one of the premiere experts on the subject. It traces the history and sordid details of the organization. Interesting quote from the book: “It was 1950, in the early, heady days of Dianetics, soon after L. Ron Hubbard opened the doors of his first organization to the clamoring crowd. Up until then, Hubbard was known only to readers of pulp fiction, but now he had an instant best-seller with a book that promised to solve every problem of the human mind, and the cash was pouring in. Hubbard found it easy to create schemes to part his new following from their money. One of the first tasks was to arrange “grades” of membership, offering supposedly greater rewards, at increasingly higher prices. Over thirty years later. an associate wryly remembered Hubbard turning to him and confiding, no doubt with a smile, “Let’s sell these people a piece of blue sky.” 428 pages, Hardback.

3) L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman? Brent Corydon. Written by a former high ranking member with the help of L. Ron Hubbard, Jr. (the founder’s son), this book exposes the “corruption and mind-control” of Scientology. 402 pages.

4) Understanding Scientology, Margery Wakefield and Bob Penny. Ex-Scientologists, now Christian, give detailed understanding of the inner workings, beliefs and front organizations of Scientology. 167 pages.

5) The Road to Xenu and Social Control in Scientology. An autobiographical account revealing the methodology and unethical induction techniques in novel form. 169 pages.

Hope this helps.

Kris Samons and Sue Bohlin
Probe Ministries




Christian Science: Mary Baker Eddy and the Bible

Introduction

The First Church of Christ, Scientist is a towering presence in the city of Boston. It owes its centrally located architecture and nationwide Christian Science “reading rooms” to the ingenuity of Mary Baker Eddy. She’s credited with being an entrepreneur in religion, journalism, education, and women’s rights. Her innovation as a religious leader remains impressive to this day, being that she began such a large movement before women were even allowed to vote. But what of this faith she’s so known for?

Mary Baker Eddy grew up in 19th century New England, a time and place that saw tremendous religious dissatisfaction. Out of this same time and locale Joseph Smith started Mormonism and Charles Russell founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Eddy was a sickly woman from early on. She was well versed in general Bible knowledge. At the age of seventeen she joined the Congregational Church. She had somewhat of a rocky social life. She had three husbands by the time she was in her fifties. In her early forties, after her second marriage, Eddy met a man named Phineas P. Quimby.{1} She seems to have learned at least some of her healing concepts from Mr. Quimby.

Her adult life appears to have been characterized by great paranoia and outrageous allegations. She even blamed her third husband’s death from heart disease on poisoning from enemies of the Eddy’s.{2} She also related to one of her associates just before her death that she wished to be remembered as being “mentally murdered.”{3}

The followers of Mary Baker Eddy say she loved God and His word so vastly that she was given revelation about the truths of scientific healing hidden beneath the surface of the Bible. She recorded these truths in her Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. With this newfound ability to heal came the birth of Christian Science. Christian Scientists claim to possess basic spiritual methods for healing and comfort for participants of any and all religions.

Eddy founded the Church of Christ, Scientist in 1879. She established such periodicals as The Christian Science Journal, The Christian Science Sentinel, and the Pulitzer Prize winning Christian Science Monitor. By the time of her death in 1910, she had even founded the Massachusetts Metaphysical College. Her amazing initiative in the face of poor health for most of her life is not to be questioned. However, what ought to be challenged are the conclusions she arrived at due to such extreme initiative Eddy claimed that “the Bible was her sole teacher” for developing the methodical treatments for sickness as well as sin.{4} If this is so, then it’s appropriate to use that same source as a measure of her claims. Here we will examine the claims of Christian Science and weigh them with the established standard of God’s word. We will see that Christian Science is neither Christian nor science. Let’s see how Christian Science measures up to biblical Christianity.

Prayer

Mary Baker Eddy founded the First Church of Christ, Scientist upon the notion that everything she taught came from her examination of the Scriptures. Today we’ll begin evaluating her assertions according to the standard of those same Scriptures. Let’s first look at the subject of her first chapter in Science and Health: prayer.

She deduces from Scripture that audible prayer is a meaningless attempt to draw attention to one’s pretentiousness. Prayer changes nothing. True change comes from putting Truth into practice. Eddy robs prayer of its true effectiveness in communicating with God. For instance, Eddy says that prayer for the sick is not what will lead to one’s healing, only enlightened understanding heals.{5} Otherwise, why would some people remain sick after prayer and others get well? Surely if God is consistent and willing to heal He wouldn’t withhold healing from one and grant it to another.

But God’s wisdom is infinitely beyond our attempts to understand why He heals some and doesn’t heal others. Paul pleaded for God to take the thorn in his flesh from him and Christ responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). God allows us to experience difficulty in order to fulfill His grander purposes, of which we often know very little (1 Peter 4:19).

Mary Eddy accentuated Jesus’ call to “go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.”{6} To her, this was not a simple command to be humble in prayer. She believed this statement communicated that true prayer is not to be spoken or have anything to do with the physical senses. She said,

In order to pray aright, we must enter into the closet and shut the door. We must close the lips and silence the material senses. . . . Practice not profession, understanding not belief, gain the ear and right hand of omnipotence and they assuredly call down infinite blessings.{7}

Not only does prayer become suspect in Christian Science, but so do the orthodox concepts of belief and confession, which are necessary components of prayer and the Christian faith. Eddy misses the point of prayer altogether. Christians don’t pray to manipulate fate. We pray in order to verbally express our hearts to God and communicate our concerns. Jesus said that our Father already knows our needs before we ask of Him, but we are to pray nonetheless (Matthew 7:8-9). Eddy’s Christian Science has its roots in Gnosticism, saying that salvation is obtained through some sort of secret knowledge. That flies in the face of the historic Christian truth that simple belief in Christ as Lord and confession of faith in Him leads to justification (Romans 10:9). This issue, of faith versus understanding, is what we will address in the next section of this article.

Belief and Disbelief

Basic to Christian Science is belief and disbelief in error. Once again, like the Gnostics the Christian Scientists see all things in the physical world as an evil opposition to the virtue of the spiritual world. So error comes from an infiltration in the mind by the material. Eddy wrote, “We treat error through the understanding of Truth, because Truth is error’s antidote.”{8} If one denies the reality of pain, due to its material nature, one may be delivered from such pain. We read in Science and Health, “The dream that matter and error are something must yield to reason and revelation. Then mortals will behold the nothingness of sickness and sin, and sin and sickness will disappear from consciousness.”{9} Basically, Christian Scientists believe that pain is an illusion. If you deny the existence of this deception, it will go away.

As a matter of fact, material things are evil, because they don’t really exist. Remember, to a Christian Scientist error is the embodiment of evil. To think something exists that doesn’t is error. So anything resulting from the physical is also evil. This is the context for understanding sickness and death from a Christian Science perspective. It’s inaccurate to Christian Scientists to say only that sin, death, and sickness are results of a fallen world. They believe sickness and death are intrinsically evil themselves. This explains why Christian Scientists reject drugs and human medicine. Drugs are a material attempt at curing what only the spiritual can heal.{10}

Christian Scientists oversimplify sickness and death. Regardless of whether we like to admit it, death, brought on by sickness or suffering of some sort, is inevitable (Hebrews 9:27). Wouldn’t belief in spirituality or “disbelief in error” have rescued at least some from such human suffering? From what I can gather, even Christian Scientists still suffer and die. What about Eddy herself? If she was right, then why did she die?

Sickness and death result from the sin that we all answer for in Adam (Romans 5:12). Therefore, God has opted to rescue us from this fallen world through the means of faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Knowledge does not relieve one’s sinful predicament. Faith in Christ is the sole deliverer from this condemnation (Ephesians 2:8-9). Even deliverance does not always come in this life, but we have a hope that in the life to come there will be no sickness, no pain, and no death (Revelation 21:4). We have this hope because of that one event in history to which all Christians ought to find unity, the death of Christ. Next, let’s look at the Christian Scientist’s perspective of the atonement.

The Atonement

As we look at Christian Science we are measuring it according to the standard of God’s Word, which it claims to use as the source for its beliefs. In this section, we will discuss Christian Science’s perspective on the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Mary Baker Eddy’s unique view of the atonement of Christ has supreme bearing on the supposedly biblical nature of Christian Science. To Eddy, the cross of Christ was not meant to save sinful people from death by Christ’s death in their place. She stated “The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon ‘the accursed tree,’ than when it was flowing in his veins as he went daily about his Father’s business.”{11} Instead, Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection was a sign to His followers that the type of life He lived was effective in overcoming death.

To Eddy death is an enemy to Truth, another deception. Jesus was not subject to death, nor are we. She writes, “To him, therefore, death was not the threshold over which he must pass into living glory.”{12} Jesus is alleged to have survived the cross through the mastery of mind over matter.{13} This was the ultimate example of Christian Science in practice. Jesus healed Himself with no medicine, bandages, or surgery. Only the disciples thought that Jesus was dead.{14} But Jesus overcame all laws of matter in healing Himself from a near-death experience and He shed His material existence to reveal only the “Soul.”

Eddy contends that the disciples originally misunderstood Jesus’ appearance after the crucifixion by calling Him a ghost. But soon after they realized that He never died at all. If this is so then why is the tradition passed on to Paul by those same apostles in a sequence of events detailed here in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4?

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day. . . .

In that same chapter Paul defends the idea that Christ was raised from the dead, and that if this were not so then we’re all still in our sins and of all people most to be pitied (15:17,19). Hebrews 8:12 says of Jesus “he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” To imagine that Jesus did not die, but simply healed Himself, is biblically and historically preposterous.

To Mary Baker Eddy, Jesus’ death is no longer the redemptive sacrifice that gives life to all who believe. Instead, she establishes Jesus as the first Christian Scientist, a sort of “way-shower,” leaving a prime example of how we all can conquer sin, suffering, and death.{15}

Human Suffering

As we’ve been discussing the biblical nature of Christian Science, we conclude with some final thoughts. The central issue in Christian Science seems to be human suffering. Sin, sickness, and death are real threats to the human condition. Mary Baker Eddy was truly bothered by this. Instead of leaning on the God of the Bible for His comfort in times of crisis (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), Eddy devised her own plan to serve as an immediate solution to the burdens she carried.

Contrary to Eddy’s charges, Christianity does not deny the reality of Jesus’ healing ministry. In fact, healing is still a valid way for God to show Himself to a generation of hurting people. Nevertheless, healing, even in Jesus’ ministry was never intended to be the end all. It was a means for all who witnessed the event to credit Jesus with the Father’s seal of approval. The kingdom of God had come. Jesus affirmed this in Matthew 11:4 when He sent John’s messengers back to him to respond to the question of whether He was the Messiah with the message, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”

Healing of suffering, as well as sin must be recognized for what it truly is: God bringing glory to God. When we put humans and their suffering at the center of Jesus’ ministry or even our own ministries we are doomed to misunderstand God’s mercy and compassion in relation to human suffering. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). The Master Architect who is also orchestrating all of history to end the way He planned it has to have latitude in bringing this about. That means many of the problems that may not make sense to us will go unanswered until He has the final word.

Compassion is an essential requirement of the Christian message. But too many, like Mary Baker Eddy, have confused godly compassion for humanistic ideology. We ought to pray that none of us are found guilty of imposing our own circumstances upon the Word of God, in order for it to better address our perceived problems. God is faithful. He won’t do anything without purpose. But His purpose in our suffering cannot always be obvious. Remember, He loves His creation and will do all that’s necessary to bring about “good, for those who are called to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Often pain, suffering, and death are a means of God’s character development in His children. “[H]e disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). It takes eyes of faith to see His good in our difficulties. He who has eyes to see, let him see.

Notes

1. She credited Quimby with healing her. She became a huge proponent of Quimby’s abilities. Quimby claimed to have rediscovered Jesus’ very own methods for healing. Later this relationship went sour. There is a great deal of controversy over whether Eddy taught the same things as Quimby or not. Both Quimby and Eddy claimed originality and that the other was borrowing his or her ideas. Hoekema, Anthony A., Christian Science.(Grand Rapids MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1963), 10-11.
2. Hoekema, 16.
3. Hoekema, 17.
4. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, viii.
5. Ibid., 12.
6. Matthew 6:6.
7. Science and Health, 15.
8. Ibid., 346.
9. Ibid., 347.
10. Ibid., 345.
11. Ibid., 25.
12. Ibid., 39.
13. Ibid., 44.
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid., 26.

©2002 Probe Ministries.

 

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“Is It Small-Minded of Me to Base Morality on Scripture?”

A friend of mine and I were recently discussing different things and two things relating to scripture things came up. The first (what started the argument) Was I asked whether morality could be determined by age; for example, we say that is wrong for a kid but OK for an adult. My view was, if something is wrong should it not be wrong for all? She is a Christian but made some comments I wasn’t sure how to respond to. She implied that I “thought small” because after about thirty minutes of debate I realized my morality was based totally on scripture. When I said “moral” I meant biblical. She however was saying the Bible doesn’t answer everything and it is up to society to decide, because as she pointed out not every one is Christian and I needed to see the whole picture. This sounds immoral to me and in arguing it (using the Bible) she asked what seems un-biblical, yet I was stumped she said that “If the Old Testament grew into the New Testament then who’s to say it isn’t still growing?” She almost seemed to be implying that 1) scripture is not a complete canon yet and 2) it should change based on society. This seems very un-biblical and wrong but I wasn’t sure how to respond effectively.

Thanks for your e-mail. The two questions you brought up show a great deal of insight on your part. I would be honored to help you work through these issues.

First, let’s deal with morality. It’s great that you base your moral behavior based on biblical principles. Unfortunately, not everyone is so wise. But even biblically speaking, there are some things that may be appropriate for some people that are not so wise for others. For instance, look at marriage. Wouldn’t it be safe to say that a grown up married man is morally free to have sexual intimacy with his wife, but an unmarried teenage boy is not morally free to have sex with his girlfriend? Circumstances may determine some of our standards of behavior. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 that we are free to act the way we think we should (since we have been freed from the Law), but that we must first consider that our actions affect others. Christian morality is not based on a list of rights and wrongs, but on the law of love for one another. Sure, there are some things that are always wrong (such as murder), and some that are always right (such as love), but to say that every wrong is wrong for everyone is going to lead to trouble.

Your friend has a point that not every issue is covered specifically in the Bible. But the Bible’s principles can be applied to every issue. So, in fact, to think biblically is to think about the “big picture.” Society is actually more interested in keeping order than in encouraging morality. Age, therefore, does make a difference about what a person ought to do; not because morality is relative, but because sources of weakness can be different in people.

The freedom that we Christians have to make decisions is kept in check with our biblically-minded discernment about what is best for others and ourselves.

To answer your second question: yes, the canon of Scripture is closed. The New Testament is not just a highlight in the evolutionary development of the Old Testament. It is the “New Covenant.” It’s called a covenant because Jesus Christ fulfilled in person the “Old Covenant’s” purpose. Hebrews 1:1-2 points out that God has spoken in these “last days” in the person of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament is the inspired foreshadowing of Jesus. The New Testament is the inspired testimony to His life and works. The first few centuries of Christians had divinely guided criteria for evaluating the worthiness of a letter to be included in the New Testament. (For more on this, see Don Closson’s article on the Web.) Nothing society or anyone else can come up with since could come close to adding to what Jesus has already done.

Furthermore, Jesus is the Word of God. How can God’s very presence on earth be matched? His ascension into the heavens ended His earthly ministry. In the same way, His ascension also ended any speculation about another testament. (That’s why there can be no new New Testament.) When He spoke the words “It is finished” on the cross, it illustrates that there is nothing else to be revealed. All that is necessary now is the fulfillment of His New Covenant, with the ministry of God’s Spirit (through His church) and Jesus’ glorious return. Our job is not to write more books of the Bible in order to make it apply to society. Instead we need to take what’s already there and interpret it’s vital and timeless message to every new society.

I hope this helps with your questions. If you have any more questions or need some elaborating, please feel free to respond. Awesome questions! He rewards those who seek Him.

Kris Samons
Probe Ministries




“What Comes After Post-Modern?”

If this is the post-modern age, what will the next age be?

Wow! What a difficult question. I’m not sure that we can accurately answer such a question. I liken the discussion to trying to define a word that hasn’t been put in the dictionary yet. The jury is still out on what the word will mean. For now, it’s slang. It’ll mean one thing in one setting and may mean another completely different idea in other settings. Postmodernism has been the greased pig of the state fair competitions. No one has captured it yet to fry it up in a pan. How can we define view of a time period that is still being hashed out? It would be like choosing Time magazine’s Man of the Year of 2001 in July. September 11th hadn’t even happened yet. When our children hear 2001 they’ll most likely think of the terrorism and how George W. Bush responded as our leader. So how can we predict a reaction of a way of thinking that hasn’t even tucked itself to bed yet?

Another example would be me trying to determine what my grandchildren will look like before even having my own children. I have no idea even what my children will look like. I have no idea who they might marry. I have no idea what kinds of events may occur to change their appearance: such as fads, accidents, exercise habits, etc. The best I can do is suppose that there will be some kind of resemblance to me.

But let’s give it a try. Who knows? Maybe I can coin a movement or something in my presumptuousness. Many scholars expect some kind of return to pre-modern thinking. Of course, we can’t call the next movement pre-modernism. We already have one of those. Perhaps “neo-modernism” will rise from the ashes of postmodernity. As postmodernism has critiqued the certainty and absolutes of modernity, perhaps “neo-modernity” will seek to find balance between certainty and skepticism. Honestly, I can glean truth from both dispositions. I can also see detrimental holes in both movements. Perhaps neo-modernism will rescue us from the idea that man is the measure of all things while preserving the fact that truth exists. Perhaps it can also harmonize our desire to see the viewpoints of others without giving in to the danger of political correctness. But let’s not be too presumptuous. Modernity is not even dead yet. There are still plenty of folks, in the church and outside of it, that are modernists. Could we or our children live in a day when modernists, postmodernists, and “neo-modernists” all live concurrently? How would that work?

This is more or less a guessing game of entertainment caliber. I have to be honest. Even as I write this I’m shocked by the biblical support for what I just termed as neo-modernity. Isn’t what I said just another way of saying Christian? Perhaps we shouldn’t get too caught up in any movement, but simply seek to remain true to biblical suppositions. I’m not even sure if all these labels are worth their characterizations anyway. Everyone seems so serious about defining ourselves.

If experience serves as a teacher, we may be on the doorstep of still more confusion. I’ve been an Arminian, a Calvinist, a Baptist, a Lutheran, a liberal, a conservative, a pre-tribber, a mid-tribber, a son, a father, a philosopher, and a philo-SELF-er. The bottom line is that Christ and Him crucified has been the only constant in my life. He has seen me through all those days of extremes, and He will be my Lord whether I’m a postmodernist, modernist, or a neo-modernist. The name game is only that, a game.

But on a lighter note, I want to be the guy that started the neo-modernist movement. HAHA.

Kris Samons

Probe Ministries




“How Do I Talk to Family Members About Freemasonry and Edgar Cayce?”

I have just finished reading and re-reading your articles, “Freemasonry and the Christian Church” and “Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping (False) Prophet.”

I have been attempting some research on Freemasonry, since I recently considered joining the Lodge. Have no fear; I no longer have any desire to be a Mason, since it clearly conflicts with my relationship to Christ. However, my grandfather is a 33rd degree Mason and my wife’s grandparents are heavily involved in Freemasonry. He is a past Master (whatever that means), and they both attend meetings and other events (mostly with Eastern Star) several times a week. I know that this year, they are the “Worthy Matron” and “Worthy Patron” for their Eastern Star chapter here in ______. My wife also has a cousin who is planning on joining the Lodge after he leaves the armed forces. They all profess to be Christians. I also have an aquaintaince at work who is a Mason — he wears two masonic rings with the compass, square, and “G” symbols. I don’t believe that he is a Christian.

My grandfather is also a fan of Edgar Cayce. He has numerous books with his healings and such. He once told me that the two books he reads are the Bible and one of Cayce’s.

So my question is, how can I bring up the subject with any of them? I don’t know if there are others in the family who are deceived, and don’t know who to ask about it. I am very concerned about this issue, since both my wife and I lost our other grandfathers less than two years ago. They were both dedicated to the Lord and we know that we will be with them in His presence for eternity. I want to be sure where our surviving grandparents will be when they pass from this life to the next. My wife’s grandfather just turned 71 and my grandfather will be 81 in October.

There is a definite need to educate the Church on this issue. I probably would not know about it if I hadn’t been interested in joining.

Thank you for your ministry, and for the biblical truth that you proclaim.

Thanks so much for your question and your desire to learn how to address such an obviously sensitive issue. Freemasonry has a lot of baggage that makes it oftentimes a heated topic of discussion.

Given the fact that there is a great deal of mystery as to the history and heritage of freemasonry, it would be a mistake to say a Mason cannot be a Christian. Much of it has religious undertones. The question must be, “What kind of religion?” Many in the church have had and still do have a close relationship with this “fraternity.” Paganistic religion has also historically been a large contributor to masonic ritual. Depending upon your chosen masonic historian, the history of freemasonry can deal more with one than the other (Christianity and paganism).

Without a doubt, freemasonry is clouded with both Christian and pagan influence today. I’m sure, since you have read our articles on freemasonry and Edgar Cayce, that you know their inconsistencies with biblical faith. That brings us to your question. “How can I bring this up and be assured that my family members are grounded in biblical faith in Jesus Christ?”

It is not necessarily a given that these family members do not know Christ just because of their association with groups and teachers that are misleading. But it is certainly reason for concern. Perhaps you could open a discussion with some questions for them about some of the basic teachings of freemasonry. Since you have shown interest in the past in joining the lodge, they may not see it as “too nosey” for you to be asking questions about freemasonry. You could, for instance, ask what the lodge teaches about Jesus? The answer you get is likely to be quite subjective to the particular person you ask. One Mason may say that they teach that Jesus is the only Son of the Father God who redeemed mankind through His atonement, while others may answer that He is one among many religious types to pay heed to. Regardless, you have a segue here that can lead you to share with them who He really is.

Another question worth asking your family members would be on their view of Scripture. “Is the Bible a unique sacred writing to the Masons?” Again, their view is subject to be quite broad. But you have an opportunity here to probe them to not only answer your questions, but possibly to ask those questions themselves. There is a very good chance that you will be the first person to bring this up in discussion for them. The uniqueness of Scripture makes it substantially superior to the Bhagavad Gita and the Koran, to name only a few. Therefore, you have another inlet for substantial dialogue on the exclusivity of the Christian faith versus the religious pluralism of the masonic perspective.

There are many other subjects of discussion that you may strike a chord with. But the pervading sentiment must be one of humble inquiry. Don’t be pushy or opinionated. They will most likely be attracted to your desire to learn from them. Any scent of your attempts to change their minds or to get them out of the lodge will almost definitely send them running. So be honestly interested in what they have to tell you, no matter how off the mark it is. Remember, you are bringing up this conversation in order to determine their destination for eternity. So love them, above all else. Their membership to the lodge is not what determines their fate. It is their relationship to the true Master of all, Jesus Christ, that will chart their eternal course.

I pray that your efforts to bring up these matters before your family will end in a fruitful harvest, also resulting in a deeper relationship between you and your grandparents, cousin, and even your co-worker.

Thanks so much for your e-mail. God rewards those who seek Him.
Proverbs 2:3-5

Kris Samons
Probe Ministries

 

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