Christian Science teaches the existence of an all-powerful God and the authority and inspiration of the Bible. Christian Scientists also believe the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus to be essential to human redemption. Mary Baker Eddy taught belief in one God and described God with the synonyms: Principle, Soul, Mind, Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love.
The Christian Science religion departs from traditional orthodox Christianity in several doctrines. The fundamental distinctive belief is that creation is entirely spiritual and perfect and matter does not exist. Sin, sickness and death also do not exist; people only think they do. "The only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief, until God strips off their disguise" (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 472:27-29).
According to Christian Science beliefs, humans are subject to the laws of matter only so long as they believe they are real. So just as in The Matrix Neo could mentally bend a spoon by realizing "there is no spoon," so the Christian Science religion teaches that people can heal themselves spiritually by realizing illness does not exist. (Note: This is a ReligionFacts analogy, not a Christian Science one.)
These core teachings are encapsulated in the "Scientific Statement of Being," which is read at every Christian Science church service:
There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual. (S&H 468) The Christian Science religion refers to God as "Father-Mother" rather than the biblical "Father." Though unconventional, this is not a major departure from mainstream Christianity, since God is believed to encompass both male and female (both were created "in the image of God").
Christian Science teaches that Jesus is divine but he is not God, and that Jesus' human nature is a separate entity from the divine Christ.
"Jesus Christ is not God, as Jesus himself declared, but is the Son of God" (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 361:12-13).
"Jesus is the name of the man who, more than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God, healing the sick and sinning and destroying the power of death" (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 473:10-17).
Mary Baker Eddy taught that the Holy Spirit is equivalent with "divine Science," i.e., the teachings of Christian Science.
"In the words of St. John: ‘He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.’ This Comforter I understand to be Divine Science." (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 55:27-29)
"His [Jesus'] students then received the Holy Ghost. By this is meant, that by all they had witnessed and suffered, they were roused to an enlarged understanding of divine Science, even to the spiritual interpretation and discernment of Jesus’ teachings and demonstrations, which gave them a faint conception of the Life which is God" (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 46:30-47:3).
Mary Baker Eddy rejected the traditional doctrine of the Trinity, saying that it suggests polytheism (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 256:9-11). She did, however, accept the threefold nature of God, defining it as a trinity of "Life, Truth, and Love," or "God the Father-Mother, Christ the spiritual idea of sonship, and divine Science or the Holy Comforter" (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 331:26-332:3).
Eddy defined salvation as follows: "Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness and death destroyed" (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 593:20-22).
Heaven and hell are states of mind. Heaven is "not a locality, but a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal" (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 291:13-16). It is "Harmony; the reign of Spirit; government by the divine Principle; spirituality; bliss; the atmosphere of Soul." (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 587:25-27). Hell is "Mortal belief; error; lust; remorse; hatred; revenge; sin; sickness; death; suffering and self-destruction; self-imposed agony; effects of sin; that which 'worketh abomination or maketh a lie.'" (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 588:1-4).
The Christian Science religion has no creed, but Mary Baker Eddy listed six "important points, or religious tenets" in Science and Health (496) as follows:
- As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.
- We acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God. We acknowledge His Son, one Christ; the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter; and man in God's image and likeness.
- We acknowledge God's forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.
- We acknowledge Jesus' atonement as the evidence of divine, efficacious Love, unfolding man's unity with God through Christ Jesus the Way-shower; and we acknowledge that man is saved through Christ, through Truth, Life, and Love as demonstrated by the Galilean Prophet in healing the sick and overcoming sin and death.
- We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection served to uplift faith to understand eter- nal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter.
- And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.