Misunderstandings Crumbling

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In this concluding podcast for this year's series, Chet and Shirley discuss the "Self-understanding of Christian Science" document that was recently released and how it's been received within the Christian community.

  1. How do I get a copy of the Self-understanding of Christian Science so we can share it with our inter faith group that we have been meeting with for the past few years on the Palos verdes peninsula here in Southern California.

    It sounds fantastic and a great tool to share with all our Christian neighbors.

    thank you for your podcast
    blessings, michelle jaeger jones

  2. Very happy to hear about your interfaith group there in southern California. Thank you for sharing that! And of course, we're happy for you to have easy access to the Self-Understanding of Christian Science document too. On the right side of this web page is a menu of all the items available in the Circle of Faith section. The last item (alphabetically ordered) is the link to the document itself. It goes by the name of the document: 'Self-Understanding of Christian Science.' It will take you to a link where you can download the pdf form of it.

  3. Beyond a static document, the concept of a self understanding dialog across the field and essentially within our branches will be beneficial

  4. I am using a Kindle and cannot download the document and this question might be answered there. A deep study of CS is new to me.
    I was told yesterday that Jesus did not really die on the cross according to CS teaching was listening to a Sentinel Podcast last night
    and she talked like he did. Please explain this to me as it is critical
    as far as my belief in Christmas. Does this mean the Virgin birth was
    also spititual? Please help me understand.

  5. Dear Jane:

    Here is the section of the Self-Understanding Document (page 5) which relates to your question:

    Death and resurrection. The death of Jesus was the same kind of death of the flesh experienced by all other humans. But his victory over death serves to lift faith in the same ultimate victory for everyone. As Paul writes, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”20 Christ Jesus overcame the world’s hatred and weight of oppression inflicted on his fleshly body. Christ works in the same way for the rest of us, finally conquering “the last enemy” and revealing the reality of eternal Life.

    Here are some references from Mrs. Eddy’s writings which confirm that the theology of Christian Science acknowledges that Jesus’ resurrection followed what conventionally is called death:

    SH 486:14-15
    Jesus proved by the prints of the nails, that his body was the same immediately after death as before.
    SH 598:10
    In the record of Jesus’ supposed death, we read: “He bowed his head, and gave up the ghost;” but this word ghost is pneuma. It might be translated wind or air, and the phrase is equivalent to our common statement, “He breathed his last.” What Jesus gave up was indeed air, an etherealized form of matter, for never did he give up Spirit, or Soul.

    Also: No. 35:7-13 (to 1st .) and My. 218:13-15

    But you also will find in her writings statements where she states in a more absolute way that he never died:

    ’01 10:30-3
    After Jesus had fulfilled his mission in the flesh as the Son of man, he rose to the fulness of his stature in Christ, the eternal Son of God, that never suffered and never died.
    Un. 62:18-23
    In Science, Christ never died. In material sense Jesus died, and lived. The fleshly Jesus seemed to die, though he did not. The Truth or Life in divine Science — undisturbed by human error, sin, and death — saith forever, “I am the living God, and man is My idea, never in matter, nor resurrected from it.”

    For me, the seeming contradiction is resolved in the healing practice itself. If a patient’s life is threatened, it is very powerful to understand that the patient as the eternal idea of God can never die. We don’t lessen our commitment to their life based on the reassurance that they will be raised in Christ any way.

    Similarly if the patient has passed, we don’t lessen our commitment to their life. The expectancy of resurrection is part of our faithfulness to the work and all that we’ve seen in our prayers. Raising the dead is part of the practice of healing, and many examples have been verified.

    But even if we don’t see the patient’s revival on this side of the grave, we certainly have the hope that their life continues in their eternal oneness with God.

    “ … the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 6:23

  6. Dear Jane,

    Great to know that you're finding these podcasts helpful!

    As Lois showed above from the Self-Understanding document, please be assured that Christian Scientists, like all other Christians, affirm that Jesus on the cross experienced the same death of the flesh that all human beings pass through. As the Bible clearly shows, those who witnessed his crucifixion and the friends who buried him afterwards observed the death of his material body.

    What Christian Science emphasises as all-important - again, in common with other Christian denominations - is that even after Jesus had died in the physical sense, his true, wholly spiritual life and identity, as “the Son of man who is in heaven” (John 3:13), remained forever alive and untouched by sin and mortality. This fact of his eternal existence was what enabled our Master and Saviour to rise from the grave three days later, fully overcoming death and proving for all time that man’s true life exists in God and is therefore eternal and indestructible.

    Regarding your other question, Jesus’ virgin birth is also as essential to Christian Science’s theology as it is to other denominations. It was vital that Jesus should be born of a woman who was physically a virgin (as Isaiah prophesied centuries earlier) as well as mentally and spiritually pure and virtuous. Because his conception was through the Holy Spirit alone - not through material means or human desire - he was uniquely fitted to reveal the true origin of all God’s children as being likewise “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).

    Here's a link to an article from the Christian Science Sentinel that you might also enjoy reading. It explores the significance of Jesus' virgin birth and his resurrection from death, and the healing power of these truths for us today: "Christmas - its promise and fulfillment" http://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/2cu5hpqt1zs

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