The following is a Question & Answer post where former Christian Scientists try and explain Christian Science reasoning to fairly commonly asked questions. We will be periodically sharing them, as questions that would benefit from multiple perspectives arise. This post is being answered by EG, who blogs at emergegently.wordpress.com, and Kat, who blogs at Kindism.org. It will be simultaneously cross-posted on both blogs. We have catagorized and tagged these as “Christian Science Q&A”
Today, we answer this question, posed by a reader at Kindism: If a Christian Scientist is gravely ill and prays for healing and dies when a medical intervention could have saved their life is that, in the minds of their loved ones, simply because God didn’t want them to live?
Answer from EG @ Emerging Gently
For someone to think it was “God’s will” that their loved one was not supposed to live is to believe somewhat in the vagaries of fate. That is not something the Christian Scientist accepts. In the Christian Science worldview, God does not really have a random “will” per se. That would imply that God can be fickle, and unpredictable. That is not the case with the Christian Scientist. To them, God only sees one thing–perfection–this is a steadfast constant in the Christian Science universe. In it, there is no sin, disease, or…death. All of these things are illusions. They are not real to God, therefore they are not real to the Christian Scientist–they’re as real as the huge lake you think you see in the middle of the hot desert. This is the universal constant for the Christian Scientist. In essence, to them, in “God’s image/perception” the death, and the sickness for that matter, never happened.
Now, dear reader, how’s that for some mental gymnastics? The fact that the Christian Scientist prays in any way for healing of sickness is a contradiction to the bedrock aspect of their theology that dictates the illusory nature of sin, sickness, and death. The true-blue Christian Scientist will tell you that they’re not really praying for healing; more accurately they’ll say that they’re praying to see “what’s really there”–the person’s perfect nature in the eyes of God. However, we all know that their prayers are occasioned by the very real perception of sickness. It’s a somewhat mind-bending exercise to mentally try to change what we all know to be an unchangeable perception. Unfortunately, sin, sickness, and death are real. One ignores that fact at one’s own peril. I could cite any number of cases in which serious illness was treated as illusion in the minds of Christian Scientists with tragic, and in some cases fatal results.
In the minds of the loved ones of the deceased, the death never happened. It is an illusion to God, and to God, death doesn’t exist, so it would be impossible for God to will something that doesn’t exist. That is also the main reason Christian Scientists are often so oddly unemotional in the face of the death of someone close to them. It’s not necessarily that they don’t care, it’s that to them, death is unreal. It never happened.
Answer from Kat @ Kindism
A Good Christian Scientist will firmly inform you that Death is an Illusion. As one staunch defender of the One True Faith reminded us, “death is no more real than a paper cut and it has no power over us!” The notion that medical intervention could have “saved their life” is foreign to them. Just go to a doctor! their non-Christian Science friends will implore, but the Good Christian Scientist will hold fast to Ms. Eddy’s reminder
We cannot serve two masters nor perceive divine Science with the material senses. Drugs and hygiene cannot successfully usurp the place and power of the divine source of all health and perfection. S&H 167:12-14 S&H 167:12
A Good Christian Scientist reminded “don’t give up now!” There is never a good time to turn from the One True Path in search of healing or treatment elsewhere. God, and Christian Science nursing homes, will not accept nominal worshipers. God will always provide!
Some will argue Ms. Eddy never intended for Christian Science to be taken to such extremes, and some say that Ms. Eddy offered a loop hole:
If Christian Scientists ever fail to receive aid from other Scientists, – their brethren upon whom they may call, – God will still guide them into the right use of temporary and eternal means. S&H p. 444:7-10
Of course, at the end of the day, the illness is all the fault of the person suffering. Ms. Eddy is quick to point out the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts — put another way, as long as the person believes they are sick they will remain that way. God has very little to do with healing, the person is not really ill, their thought is just not properly aligned with God. It is all about the person’s ability to align their thoughts with God and ignore (“overcome”) their ailment that will heal them.
The most important thing to remember is that healings never fail. They may not produce the results you had hoped for, but God knows best. God is testing you, and never gives you more than you can handle.
While a person is trapped in the unreal clutches of malicious animal magnetism (aka illness), Christan Scientists are quick to criticize the individual for their thought not being properly aligned with God. As long as they are suffering they must be doing something wrong. Once the person “passes on” the Christian Scientist is quick to remember the person’s True Spiritual Identity and praise them for their wonderful nature. The individual is “continuing on” — they are after all, Spiritual and Immortal.
Further reading from Kindism