A Theological Critique of Christian Science

By James Rochford

In addition to a philosophical and skeptical critique of Mrs. Eddy’s Christian Science (see “A Philosophical Critique of Christian Science”), we also wish to offer a biblical critique of her view. Since her religion is titled “Christian Science,” it is often confused as being biblical. However, when compared with Scripture, nothing could be further from the truth. As we noted in our introduction (see “Christian Science”), Mrs. Eddy’s key book (the “Christian Science Bible” if you will) was Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Thus when we cite from this book, this is authoritative Christian Science teaching. Consider the various differences between Christian Science and Biblical Christianity:

DIFFERENCE #1: Mrs. Eddy utilized occult practices

The Bible bans contact with the dead. There are a number of passages that teach this (Ex. 22:18; Lev. 20:6, 27; Deut. 18:9–12; Isa. 8:19). However, Mrs. Eddy used occult practices like these throughout her life. Gardner writes,

That Mrs. Eddy both believed in spiritualism and practiced mediumship there is no longer the slightest doubt. During her séances rappings occurred, and spirits of the departed came and went. While in trance, Mrs. Eddy’s voice would change the voice of the person behind the veil. Mrs. Richard Hazeltine, a spiritualist who lived in Lynn, signed an affidavit in which she described one of Mrs. Eddy’s séances in 1866.[1]

Mrs. Sarah Crosby, of Albion, Maine, was for a time a good friend of Mrs. Eddy. She recalled an occasion when Mrs. Eddy suddenly closed her eyes, shivered, went into a trance, and began to jabber in a deep masculine voice. The voice claimed to come from Sarah’s dead brother, Albert Baker. Amazingly, the voice warned Mrs. Crosby not to trust Mrs. Eddy because she might exploit Mrs. Crosby for her (Mrs. Eddy’s) ambitions! There were other occasions when Baker’s voice came through Mrs. Eddy’s lips. Sometimes it would tell Mrs. Crosby to look under a certain chair cushion where she would find a message from her brother, written by Mrs. Eddy while her hand was under the brother’s control.[2]

While Mary Baker Eddy denied that she had practiced spiritualism, Gardner writes,

Mrs. Eddy lied. In addition to the previous quotations from persons who witnessed her séances, Mrs. Milmine, in her biography, gives other sworn affidavits. Mary Bartlett, for example, recalled how Mrs. Eddy had come to the door of her grandmother’s house saying that her spirit controls had directed her there to find lodgings. The grandmother, a devoted spiritualist, took her in and they held many séances in which Mrs. Eddy went into trances and channeled communications from the dead. When Mrs. Eddy denied her former belief in spiritualism, she probably did not anticipate how thoroughly her life would be examined.[3]

DIFFERENCE #2: Mrs. Eddy denied that Jesus was the Christ

Believers in the Bible believe that Jesus was “the Christ” or “messiah.” John writes, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son” (1 Jn. 2:22). And yet, Mrs. Eddy denied that Jesus was indeed the Christ. She writes,

But that the divine idea or Christ was and is so and therefore antedated Abraham; not that the corporeal Jesus was one with the Father, but that the spiritual idea, Christ, dwells forever in the bosom of the Father. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 334:1-4)

The word Christ is not properly a synonym for Jesus, though it is commonly so used. Jesus was a human name, which belonged to him in common with other Hebrew boys and men, for it is identical with the name Joshua, the renowned Hebrew leader. On the other hand, Christ is not a name so much as the divine title of Jesus. Christ expresses God’s spiritual, eternal nature. The name is synonymous with Messiah, and alludes to the spirituality which is taught, illustrated, and demonstrated in the life of which Christ Jesus was the embodiment. The proper name of our Master in the Greek was Jesus the Christ; but Christ Jesus better signifies the Godlike. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 333:3-15)

DIFFERENCE #3: Mrs. Eddy denied the Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity is an essential Christian doctrine (see “Defending the Doctrine of the Trinity”). However, Mrs. Eddy clearly denied this teaching:

Life, Truth, and Love constitute the triune Person called God,—that is, the triply divine Principle, Love. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 331:26-27).

The theory of three persons in one God (that is, a personal Trinity or Tri-unity) suggests polytheism, rather than the one ever-present I AM. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 256:9-11).

God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter. These three express in divine Science the threefold, essential nature of the infinite. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 331:30-332:1).

DIFFERENCE #4: Mrs. Eddy denied the incarnation

The doctrine of the incarnation is an essential Christian doctrine (see “Defending the Deity of Christ”). However, Mrs. Eddy denied this teaching:

A portion of God could not enter man; neither could God’s fullness be reflected by a single man, else God would be manifestly finite, lose the deific character, and become less than God. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 336:19-22)

Jesus is not God, as Jesus himself declared, but the Son of God. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 361:12-13)

DIFFERENCE #5: Mrs. Eddy denied death

Death is such a serious reality that Christ wept over it (Jn. 11:35). Paul says that death will be ultimately defeated at the end of human history (1 Cor. 15:54-56). But Mrs. Eddy denied that death exists. Regarding the death of Lazarus, she writes,

Jesus said of Lazarus: ‘Our friend Lazarus sleepeth, but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.’ Jesus restored Lazarus by the understanding that Lazarus had never died, not by an admission that his body had died and then lived again. Had Jesus believed that Lazarus had lived or died in his body, the Master would have stood on the same plane of belief as those who buried the body, and he could not have resuscitated it. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 75:12-20)

Mortals waken from the dream of death with bodies unseen by those who think that they bury the body. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 429:17-18)

Based on their worldview, Christian Scientists have a low view of death. Gardner comments, “Christian Scientists do not like to think about death. It is seldom mentioned in the Christian Science Monitor, and obituaries of even famous people seldom appear in that excellent newspaper. To this day the church has no burial service. Neither does it have marriage or baptismal services. It does have a communion service, but it is not to commemorate the Last Supper.”[4]

However, death and pain are not an illusion. To demonstrate this, we might ask the Christian Scientist if they fasten their children with seat beats in car seats. If they do, then why, if death and pain are really illusory?

DIFFERENCE #6: Mrs. Eddy denied Jesus’ death

Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Jesus’ students, not sufficiently advanced fully to understand their Master’s triumph, did not perform many wonderful works, until they saw him after his crucifixion and learned that he had not died.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 45:32-46:3). While the Bible repeatedly teaches that Jesus died, there are a number of other reasons to infer  that Jesus historically died on the Cross:

First, even hostile critics of the Christian faith believe that Jesus died. For instance, Gerd Lüdemann—an atheistic NT critic—explains, “Jesus’ death as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable.”[5] John-Dominic Crossan—a radical NT critic—concludes, “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus… agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact.”[6] Moreover, biblical critic Bart Ehrman writes, “One of the most certain facts of history is that Jesus was crucified on orders of the Roman prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate.”[7]

Second, ancient non-Christian historians and writers mention the crucifixion of Jesus. For instance, Tacitus—the anti-Christian Roman historian—writes, “Christus… was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also.”[8] Tacitus doesn’t seem like a Christian sympathizer in this passage, calling the Christian faith a “pernicious superstition.” And yet, he agrees identically with the biblical account of the crucifixion, even mentioning details like the governor in charge of the execution: Pontius Pilate. Elsewhere, Jewish historians record details about Jesus’ death, which mention the fact that he was “hanged (or crucified) on the eve of Passover.”[9] Moreover, a Greek satirist named Lucian wrote, “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day… and was crucified on that account they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage”[10] Just imagine that you were put on trial, and three of your most hated enemies testified in favor of your alibi; consider how much that would validate your story! It is similar to the historical evidence for the execution of Christ.

Third, modern medical analysis concludes that Jesus was dead before the spear punctured his side. In connection with this historical evidence, two medical doctors analyzed the biblical account in The Journal of the American Medical Association in March of 1986. They pieced together the accounts in the four gospels, and they concluded that it is medically clear that Jesus must have died on the Cross. They noticed that John wrote, “One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out” (Jn. 19:34 NLT). These three men cited this verse as evidence that Jesus was dead even before the spear pierced through the rib. They explained:

Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between his right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death. Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.[11]

Other physicians and medical experts have come to similar conclusions:

For this article cited above, see William D. Edwards, Wesley J. Gabel, and Floyd E. Hosmer, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” Journal of the American Medical Association vol. 255, No. 11, 21 March 1986 found here.

Robert Bucklin, “The Legal and Medical Aspects of the Trial and Death of Christ,” Medicine, Science and the Law (January, 1970) found here.

C. Truman Davis, “The Crucifixion of Jesus: The Passion of Christ from a Medical Point of View,” in Arizona Medicine, March, 1965, pp. 183-187 found here.

Pierre Barbet, A Doctor at Calvary (Garden City: Doubleday, 1953) found here.

Robert Wassenar, “A Physician Looks at the Suffering of Christ” in Moody Monthly, 79/7, March 1979, pp. 41-42; James H. Jewell, Jr., and Patricia A. Didden, “A Surgeon Looks at the Cross,” in Voice, 58/2, March-April, 1979, pp. 3-5.

Fourth, the Roman executioners surely would have ensured Jesus’ death. We can also be confident that Jesus died on the Cross, because of those who were responsible for Jesus’ execution: the Romans. The Romans were excellent at torture and execution. Perhaps no other society in human history has ever gained such an adept skill in the art of carrying out capital punishment. What are the chances that we would expect someone to survive a modern day execution? They are probably no more likely than the first century Roman system. In fact, the first century executioners may have even been better at it, considering their expertise and practice.

DIFFERENCE #7: Mrs. Eddy denied the atonement

The atonement is a central doctrine of Christianity (see “Defending Penal Substitutionary Atonement”). Yet Mrs. Eddy writes,

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. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 25:6-9)

Sickness is part of the error that Truth casts out. Error will not expel error. Christian Science is the law of Truth, which heals the sick on the basis of the one Mind, or God. It can heal in no other way, since the human, mortal mind so-called is not a healer, but causes the belief in disease. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 482:26-31)

DIFFERENCE #8: Mrs. Eddy denied the existence of sin

The existence of sin is throughout the Bible. In fact, the Bible would completely fall apart without this central theme. John writes, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8). However, in contrast to the biblical view, Mrs. Eddy writes,

There is no sin (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 447:24).

The notion that both evil and good are real is a delusion of material sense, which Science annihilates. Evil is nothing, no thing, mind, nor power (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 330:25-27).

DIFFERENCE #9: Mrs. Eddy believed in spiritual monism

While the Bible is dualistic (believing in both the spiritual and physical worlds), Christian Science is monistic (believing only in the spiritual world). Mrs. Eddy writes,

Spirit never created matter. There is nothing in Spirit out of which matter could be made… Spirit is the only substance, the invisible and indivisible infinite God. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 335:8-13).

All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. (S&H 468:10-12)


Christian Science is fundamentally incompatible with biblical Christianity. Therefore, for these reasons, we reject this perspective.


[1] Gardner, Martin. 1993. The Healing Revelations of Mary Baker Eddy. Buffalo, NY. Prometheus Books. 23.

[2] Gardner, Martin. 1993. The Healing Revelations of Mary Baker Eddy. Buffalo, NY. Prometheus Books. 24.

[3] Gardner, Martin. 1993. The Healing Revelations of Mary Baker Eddy. Buffalo, NY. Prometheus Books. 26-27.

[4] Gardner, Martin. 1993. The Healing Revelations of Mary Baker Eddy. Buffalo, NY. Prometheus Books.

[5] Emphasis mine. Lüdemann, Gerd. The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994. 50.

[6] Emphasis mine. Crossan, John-Dominic. Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. Harper One. 1995. 145.

[7] Emphasis mine. Ehrman, Bart. The Historical Jesus: Lecture Transcript and Course Guidebook, Part 2 of 2. Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company. 2000. 162.

[8]Cornelius Tacitus Annals 15.44. Cited in McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1999. 120-121. Even though Tacitus errs on his title (Pilate was prefect of Judea, not procurator), it still shows that he was cognizant of the historical Pilate and his administration in Judea.

[9] Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 43a.

[10] Lucian The Death of Peregrine (p.11-13).

[11] William D. Edwards, MD; Wesley J. Gabel, MDiv; Floyd E Hosmer, MS, AMI On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ: The Journal of the American Medical Association (March 21, 1986, Volume 256) 1986.