What They Believe- Christian Scientists
Christian Scientist: The Meaning
A Christian Scientist is a member of The Church of Christ, Scientist (Also referred to as CCS). The church is also recognized by the term The Christian Science Church, which was its original title and is not associated with the Church of Scientology. The organization was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879. Currently, the CCS is run by a five-person Board of Directors headquartered at the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. The CCS has approximately 2,300 churches in 68 countries.
Christian Scientist: The Foundation
According to Christian Scientist literature, Mary Ann Morse Baker was born in 1821. She was a frail youngster who suffered from many illnesses. In 1844, her first husband, George Glover, died of yellow fever and left her in poverty with an infant son. Shortly thereafter, Mary was forced to give up her son to foster care. In 1853, she married her second husband, Daniel Patterson. After being miraculously healed from injuries suffered during a crippling accident, Mary claimed to have uncovered the secret of “Divine Science.” She went on to teach her techniques of healing and spiritual philosophy to all who were intrigued. In 1875, after her divorce from Daniel Patterson, she moved from New Hampshire to Massachusetts and founded the Christian Science Association. It was there that she published her foundational book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In 1877, she married her third husband, Asa Albert Eddy, and together they officially founded the CCS. Asa died in 1882, and Mary went on to establish “The Mother Church,” The First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Boston, Massachusetts, in 1890. Mary died in 1910.
Christian Scientist: The Doctrine
Christian Scientist doctrine is found principally in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (S&H). Other CCS publications include The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Journal, Herald of Christian Science, The Christian Science Sentinel, The World Monitor, and Christian Science Quarterly.
Biblical Authority. Christian Science doctrine maintains that “as adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life” (S&H, p. 497). Nonetheless, Christian Science interprets the Bible in light of Mrs. Eddy’s writings, particularly S&H, in which she interprets the Bible according to her metaphysical presuppositions. She questions the textual reliability of the Bible, pointing to “the manifest mistakes in the ancient versions . . . these facts show how a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with its own hue darkening to some extent the inspired pages” (S&H, p. 139). Mrs. Eddy went on to apply new, spiritual meanings to common biblical terms. For example, “Jerusalem” is defined as “Mortal belief and knowledge obtained from the five corporeal senses” (S&H, p. 589). “Holy Ghost” is defined as “Divine Science; the development of eternal Life, Truth, and Love” (S&H, p. 588).
God. They use impersonal synonyms for God, which lessens God’s personal nature. “God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love” (S&H, p. 465). These are synonymous terms that “refer to one absolute God. They are also intended to express the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity.” (S&H, p. 465).
Spirit & Reality. Since God’s essence is spirit or mind, and only that which reflects God’s nature is real, then matter does not really exist. “Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal” (S&H, p. 468). Since matter does not exist and humanity reflects God’s nature, then humanity is not really made of matter. “Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual” (S&H, p. 468). Pain, death, sin, and disease are only illusions. “The only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief…They are not true, because they are not of God” (S&H, p. 472). “The cause of all so-called disease is mental, a mortal fear, a mistaken belief or conviction of the necessity and power of ill-health” (S&H, p. 377). Since matter, sin, disease, and death are illusions and are unreal, then people are not subject to them. “Through immortal Mind, or Truth, we can destroy all ills which proceed from mortal mind” (S&H, p. 374).
Christian Scientist: What About Salvation?
A Christian Scientist believes that sin and death are false notions (illusions). Therefore, salvation comes through understanding and overcoming these false beliefs and recognizing that humans are divine spirit and mind. “We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection served to uplift faith to understand eternal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter” (S&H, p. 497). However, salvation is not the result of some special wisdom set forth in the S&H. The Bible tells us that salvation is received only by acknowledging and repenting of our sin (real, not illusion), and putting our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
taken from: http://christianscience.com/beliefs.html
Christian Scientists believe in one, infinite God who is All and all-good. They believe that God is not distant and unknowable, but that God is all-encompassing and always present, and that each individual is loved by God, cared for by Him, and made in God’s image—spiritual, not material.
Christian Scientists believe in the Bible and in Christ Jesus as the Son of God, or promised Messiah. And they believe that Jesus’ teachings and healing work expressed scientific Christianity, or the application of the laws of God—laws which are still practical and provable today, by anyone, anywhere. Christian Scientists consider the Commandments, as well as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, to be central to their lives and practice of Christianity.
Above all, Christian Scientists believe in the saving, healing power of God’s love—that no one is beyond redemption, that no problem is too entrenched or overwhelming to be addressed and healed. In other words, Christian Scientists don’t believe that salvation occurs at some point in the future, but that the presence of God’s goodness can be experienced here and now—and by everyone.
One of the best ways to learn more about Christian Science is to explore the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
What The Believe- The Unification Church (Moonies)
Taken from: http://www.answers.com/topic/unification-church
A religious movement founded in 1954 in Korea by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a South Korean engineer. His family had converted to the Presbyterian Church, and in 1935 he had a vision of Jesus, who reportedly told him to complete Jesus’ unfinished work. He began to collect followers as early as 1944 into the Broad Sea Church. In 1946 he began a six-year stint in a North Korean prison camp. After his release, he made his way to Pusan, South Korea, where he eventually founded his church. Its basic teachings were written down in the Divine Principle, first published in 1957.
The first missionaries of the church were sent to Japan, where they had their greatest success. Members moved to the United States in 1959, and the first centers were begun in Eugene, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. Moon moved to the United States in 1971. Soon established were a headquarters in Manhattan, a seminary in Barrytown, New York, and Moon’s residence in Irvington, New York.
Unification thought is based on a unique understanding of the concepts of Creation, the Fall, and Restoration. The principle of Creation asserts that God created the world and by that act became known. The world, reflecting God’s nature, has two expressions, as Sung Sang (internal, invisible) and Hyung Sang (external, visible). It also is expressed as male and female. In the first set of expressions, one sees the relationship of spiritual and material; the second reveals what is traditionally known as yin and yang, the masculine and feminine. God created out of his inner nature, his heart of love. The purpose of creation is to experience the joy that comes from loving.
The Fall came about from Adam and Eve’s failure to realize God’s purpose in creation. The Fall placed Satan in control of creation. God has been trying to restore his primal intention ever since. The Bible is an account of God’s various restoration attempts.
The principle of Restoration delineates the conditions necessary for the reestablishment of God’s intention. The plan involves both God’s sending of one sinless man and the response of a free and responsible humankind. The Messiah was to be born as a substantial, physical being, an example of the ideal person. He was also to take a bride and realize the ideal family and thus become the True Parent. Through the True Parent, God will implant love in the hearts of all who follow him. He will also show them how to accomplish the true purpose in life.
Throughout the 1970s the Unification Church (full name: The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity) became one of the more controversial of the new religions. Because of its intense indoctrination, it was labeled a “cult” by many parents of the primarily youthful converts. Many were offended by the church’s policy concerning sex and marriage. New members spent at least seven years in celibacy, after which Moon selected a spouse for them. Most marriage partners were drawn from a different country or race. Following their engagement, couples were married in mass weddings, the most recent of which occurred in 1995.
The church spawned a number of organizations, some evangelistic arms and others designed to carry out social policies. The church also made friends with many scholars and intellectuals. Most of the church’s programs are now organized into two structures, the International Cultural Foundation and the International Religious Foundation. The former has sponsored possibly the most successful program involving nonchurch members, the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences.
taken from: http://www.religioustolerance.org/unificat.htm
While many of the beliefs of the Unification Church are identical to those of other conservative Christian groups, there are some major differences:
|They view God as a single being with “perfect intellect, emotion and will”. They reject the traditional Christian concept of the Trinity. God contains within himself positive (male) and negative (female) aspects, which are in perfect harmony with each other.|
|The Holy Spirit is the feminine counterpart to God. She is not a person, but is a form of energy that is derived from God.|
|Before Adam and Eve’s were married in Eden, Eve had an affair with the Archangel Lucifer. This caused the spiritual fall of mankind. She later engaged in an pre-marital sexual relationship with Adam. This caused the physical fall of mankind. Together, these illicit sexuality caused them to form an imperfect family. Their sin led to Satan taking control of the world.|
|The church links Communism (the expression of Satan) with Cain and Democracy (the expression of God) with Abel.|
|Jesus Christ is viewed as a unique human being who was born without original sin. After his crucifixion, he was spiritually resurrected, although Satan took his body away.|
|God’s original intent was for Jesus Christ to form a perfect marriage in order to redeem humanity, and undo the harm perpetrated by Adam and Eve. Since Jesus was executed before accomplishing his mission, it will be up to a third Adam to form this perfect marriage and complete Jesus’ task.|
|By his spiritual resurrection, Jesus has made possible spiritual salvation for persons who accept him as savior and believe in his message. They will, after death, live with Jesus in Paradise. However, because Jesus did not complete his original task, physical salvation is not possible on earth during one’s lifetime. Complete salvation (spiritual and physical) awaits the arrival of the third Adam and his subsequent perfect marriage.|
|St. Paul is viewed as the originator of Christianity. Through his expertise, he converted the teachings of Jesus concerning the kingdom of God into a formal religion about Jesus.|
|Hell exists on earth. Over time, Hell will be transformed into the kingdom of heaven on earth. Hell exists in the spiritual world as well, as an extension of life for those of us who live in hell on earth.|
|One of the main purposes of the Unification Church is to unite all of the fragments of Christianity into a single body.|
|The third Adam was born in Korea between 1917 and 1930. (The first Adam was the individual described in Genesis; the second Adam is Jesus). He will be recognized as second coming of Christ, the perfect man. He will marry the perfect woman, and will become the “true spiritual parents of humankind”. Some members of the Unification Church regard Rev. Moon and his second (and current) wife Hak Ja Han as these parents, although the Church itself has never made this claim.|
What The Believe- New Age
Taken from: http://www.religioustolerance.org/newage.htm
The New Age Movement is in a class by itself. Unlike most formal religions, it has no holy text, central organization, membership, formal clergy, geographic center, dogma, creed, etc. They often use mutually exclusive definitions for some of their terms. The New Age is in fact a free-flowing spiritual movement; a network of believers and practitioners who share somewhat similar beliefs and practices, which they add on to whichever formal religion that they follow. Their book publishers take the place of a central organization; seminars, conventions, books and informal groups replace of sermons and religious services.
Quoting John Naisbitt:
“In turbulent times, in times of great change, people head for the two extremes: fundamentalism and personal, spiritual experience…With no membership lists or even a coherent philosophy or dogma, it is difficult to define or measure the unorganized New Age movement. But in every major U.S. and European city, thousands who seek insight and personal growth cluster around a metaphysical bookstore, a spiritual teacher, or an education center.” 1
The New Age is definitely a heterogeneous movement of individuals; most graft some new age beliefs onto their regular religious affiliation. Recent surveys of US adults indicate that many Americans hold at least some new age beliefs:
|8% believe in astrology as a method of foretelling the future|
|7% believe that crystals are a source of healing or energizing power|
|9% believe that Tarot Cards are a reliable base for life decisions|
|about 1 in 4 believe in a non-traditional concept of the nature of God which are often associated with New Age thinking:
The group of surveys cited above classify religious beliefs into 7 faith groups. 2 Starting with the largest, they are: Cultural (Christmas & Easter) Christianity, Conventional Christianity, New Age Practitioner, Biblical (Fundamentalist, Evangelical) Christianity, Atheist/Agnostic, Other, and Jewish, A longitudinal study from 1991 to 1995 shows that New Agers represent a steady 20% of the population, and are consistently the third largest religious group. 2
New Age beliefs:
A number of fundamental beliefs are held by many New Age followers; individuals are encouraged to “shop” for the beliefs and practices that they feel most comfortable with:
|Monism: All that exists is derived from a single source of divine energy.|
|Pantheism: All that exists is God; God is all that exists. This leads naturally to the concept of the divinity of the individual, that we are all Gods. They do not seek God as revealed in a sacred text or as exists in a remote heaven; they seek God within the self and throughout the entire universe.|
|Panentheism: God is all that exists. God is at once the entire universe, and transcends the universe as well.|
|Reincarnation: After death, we are reborn and live another life as a human. This cycle repeats itself many times. This belief is similar to the concept of transmigration of the soul in Hinduism.|
|Karma: The good and bad deeds that we do adds and subtracts from our accumulated record, our karma. At the end of our life, we are rewarded or punished according to our karma by being reincarnated into either a painful or good new life. This belief is linked to that of reincarnation and is also derived from Hinduism|
|An Aura is believed to be an energy field radiated by the body. Invisible to most people, it can be detected by some as a shimmering, multi-colored field surrounding the body. Those skilled in detecting and interpreting auras can diagnose an individual’s state of mind, and their spiritual and physical health.|
|Personal Transformation A profoundly intense mystical experience will lead to the acceptance and use of New Age beliefs and practices. Guided imagery, hypnosis, meditation, and (sometimes) the use of hallucinogenic drugs are useful to bring about and enhance this transformation. Believers hope to develop new potentials within themselves: the ability to heal oneself and others, psychic powers, a new understanding of the workings of the universe, etc. Later, when sufficient numbers of people have achieved these powers, a major spiritual, physical, psychological and cultural planet-wide transformation is expected.|
|Ecological Responsibility: A belief in the importance of uniting to preserve the health of the earth, which is often looked upon as Gaia, (Mother Earth) a living entity.|
|Universal Religion: Since all is God, then only one reality exists, and all religions are simply different paths to that ultimate reality. The universal religion can be visualized as a mountain, with many sadhanas (spiritual paths) to the summit. Some are hard; others easy. There is no one correct path. All paths eventually reach the top. They anticipate that a new universal religion which contains elements of all current faiths will evolve and become generally accepted worldwide.|
|New World Order As the Age of Aquarius unfolds, a New Age will develop. This will be a utopia in which there is world government, and end to wars, disease, hunger, pollution, and poverty. Gender, racial, religious and other forms of discrimination will cease. People’s allegiance to their tribe or nation will be replaced by a concern for the entire world and its people.|
The Age of Aquarius is a reference to the precession of the zodiac. The earth passes into a new sign of the zodiac approximately every 2,000 years. Some believe that the earth entered the constellation Aquarius in the 19th Century, so that the present era is the dawning of the age of Aquarius. Others believe that it will occur at the end of the 20th century. It is interesting to note that the previous constellation changes were:
|from Aries to Pisces the fish circa 1st century CE. This happened at a time when Christianity was an emerging religion, and many individuals changed from animal sacrifice in the Jewish temple to embracing the teachings of Christianity. The church’s prime symbol at the time was the fish.|
|from Taurus to Aries the ram circa 2,000 BCE. This happened at a time when the Jews engaged in widespread ritual sacrifice of sheep and other animals in the Temple.|
|from Gemini to Taurus the bull circa 4,000 BCE. During that sign, worshiping of the golden calf was common in the Middle East.|
- Source of Authority. New Agers claim no external source of authority — only an internal one (“the god within”). They believe the individual is the standard of truth, saying that “truth as an objective reality simply does not exist” (Shirley MacLaine,It’s All in the Playing) (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21; Matt. 5:18).[HJB]
2. God. New Agers confuse the Creator with His creation and think that God is part of creation, not separate from it. They borrow from Eastern religions the belief in monism — that “all is One” — only one essence in the universe, everyone and everything being a part of that essence. Everything is a different form of that essence (energy, consciousness, power, love, force). But the belief in monism is really Hinduistic pantheism (all is God). New Agers view God as an impersonal life force, consciousness, or energy (M. Ferguson, Aquarian Conspiracy, p. 382; S. Gawain, Living In the Light, pp. 7-8) (e.g., the “Star Wars Force”), rather than a Person. They believe that every person and thing is “intertwined” with God (evolving spiritually to the state of “the Christ” being), and use Luke 17:21 (“the kingdom of God is within you”) to support this idea (despite the fact that “within you” in this passage means “in your midst”). They claim every human has a divine spark within him because of being part of the divine essence. The state of God is called by various terms among different New Age groups, i.e., God-consciousness, Universal Love, Self-Realization, the I AM, Higher Self, Brahman, Nirvana, etc. New Agers are obviously part of a religion of idolatry and self-worship. [HJB]
3. Jesus Christ. A major idea in New Age thinking is that of the “Christ Consciousness.” In other words, Christ is an office rather than an individual, such as Jesus, whom Christians know to be THE CHRIST. This idea of “Christ Consciousness” asserts that Jesus was not the only Christ, but that He equipped Himself to receive the “Christ Consciousness” (i.e., He was a great “spiritual master” who attained Christ Consciousness), as supposedly also did Buddha, Krishna, and Mohammed. [This is an old occult Gnostic teaching which stems from the ancient Babylonian mystery religions. New Agers also reinvent the historical Jesus by claiming that he spent 18 years in India (during His “silent years”) absorbing Hinduism and the teachings of Buddha.] New Agers believe that Jesus received the Christ Consciousness at His baptism, and that it left Him at His crucifixion.
4. Sin and Salvation. There is no place for the concept of sin in the New Age. There can be no sin because there is no transcendent God to rebel against. There are no rules or absolute moral imperatives. New Agers have a “New Thought” view of sin, which knows nothing of a representative man (Adam) by whose sin all men sinned. Nor does New Thought teach that there is any original sin, but that man’s true essence is divine and perfect. Indeed, it finds nothing which is of the nature of sin. Instead, it speaks of “troublesome desires” which appear to be natural human impulses which direct men from consciousness to their identity with God, and, therefore, are troublesome but hardly sinful. Since New Agers believe that each person is god, thereby having endless potential for self-improvement, sin is denied as the Bible defines it (man being inherently sinful and utterly depraved — Rom. 5:12). Sin is merely ignorance of one’s “inner divinity.” Because sin does not exist, there is no need for repentance or forgiveness, and Jesus did not die for our sins. They think that any perceived lack that man might have is merely a lack of enlightenment, thereby eliminating the need of salvation or a Savior. [In fact, salvation is not even an issue for New Agers. The soul is part of the universe and never dies. It is reborn or reincarnated in different physical bodies in a succession of future lives. The good or bad “karma” earned in the present lifetime determines one’s subsequent incarnation. Humans should seek to progress to higher states of consciousness and higher planes of existence. There are many different paths to the goal of spiritual perfection. No one path is the only correct path. The assumed cycle of reincarnation and karma presupposes a salvation by works, contrary to the principle of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9).]
- Man’s Destiny. The salvation of the world depends upon human beings. When enough people harmonize their positive energy and turn their thoughts to peace, the world will be cleansed or negative elements and New Age ideals will be realized in an era of spiritual enlightenment. Since man is intrinsically divine and perfect, his only real problem is ignorance of that fact. Man has a perception of finiteness which is, in reality, an illusion (Ken Keyes, Jr.,Handbook to Higher Consciousness,pp. 125-29). Salvation in the New Age is for man to become enlightened through experiential knowledge (gnosis). New Age groups offer various occultic techniques to enable individuals, and ultimately the world, to evolve into this oneness (unitive) consciousness (James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy: An Experimental Guide, pp. 243-60). These techniques may include altered states of consciousness (often transcendental meditation), yoga, crystals, channeling (spirit guides), psychics, past-life therapy, acupuncture, etc.
6. Good and Evil. Mimicking the Eastern religions, New Agers distort the distinction between good and evil. They believe that because “all is One,” ultimately there is neither good nor evil. They think that a person can transcend his consciousness and go beyond the bounds of moral distinctions, so that even murder sometimes becomes an acceptable way of serving one’s gods (e.g., Charles Manson). [HJB]
7. Satan. The traditional view of Lucifer as the devil or Satan is clearly absent in New Age literature. Rather, he is described as a mighty being of light and the “Ruler of Humanity,” as Alice Bailey, foundational apostle and leading writer of the New Age Movement, puts it. As to the history and achievements of Lucifer, Benjamin Creme, a leading lecturer and proponent of the New Age, says, “Lucifer came from the planet Venus 18.5 million years ago; he’s the director of our planetary evolution, he is the sacrificial lamb, and the prodigal son. Lucifer made an incredible sacrifice, a supreme sacrifice for our planet.”
8. Future Life (Reincarnation). New Agers believe in the ancient [Hindu] Eastern religious concept of reincarnation — that through a long process of rebirths, man can eventually reach spiritual perfection (cf. Heb. 9:27). New Agers often place animal rights above human rights, because many New Agers believe animals are reincarnated souls. They also teach the Hindu principle of “karma” — that what a person sows in this life, he will reap in the next life in his reincarnated state. This belief in reincarnation has led to believing in the power of “spirit guides” or “channels” — those who allow spirits from another dimension to speak through their bodies. [HJB] These entities always seem to repeat the three-fold error: (1) There is no death, (2) man is god, (3) knowledge of self is salvation and power (Brooks Alexander, Spiritual Counterfeits Project). New Agers misrepresent church history, the doctrines of Christianity, and often twist Scripture to support the idea that original Christianity taught reincarnation. They wrongly argue that the early church suppressed the doctrine and censored its teaching (Kenneth Ring, Heading Toward Omega, p. 158).