This meme, created and posted in one of the ex-Christian Scientist Facebook groups I’m in by one of its members triggers memories of one of my many thoughts and doubts about the veracity of so many aspects of Christian Science theology. It cuts to the quick on a fallacy of this theology and so-called “prosperity gospels” that is obvious to anyone with eyes and ears: there is a lot of suffering in this world, and a lot of human needs that go unmet each and every day. On that basis, as I see it, Divine Love (another term for God) hasn’t always met and probably never will meet every human need. Poverty happens, strife happens, shit happens. It’s all part of the human experience.
I work with clients who struggle to make ends meet, often forgoing food for themselves so that their children have something to eat, or clothes to wear to school. I see youth whose best, and sometimes only meal of the day is the one they get at the youth program at my workplace. Many children suffer and die from the effects of malnutrition every day in many countries.
How does the die-hard, denying all imperfect reality, Christian Scientist see this? Well, I can say that if I was still in the faith, my immediate reaction would be that those dear folks just aren’t “seeing” or “demonstrating” God’s “abundance” (note my heavy use of quotation marks–the only way I can transmit sarcasm on the written page). Somehow they’re just not seeing what’s really there. You see, in Christian Science-land, there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Really, it’s there, take off your shit-coloured glasses and look through rose-coloured glasses–you’ll see it! According to Christian Science, all of our senses are deceiving us, blinding us to some “true” reality that is out there…somewhere…just out of sight.
Can you imagine if I told a client who lives night-to-night in drop-in shelters, and eats at the Gospel Mission, and spends his days on the streets that if he’d just see what’s really there, that endless abundance, he’d be able to live in the million dollar mansion up on the hill and his mental health and addiction issues would magically disappear? He’d probably give me a black eye, and I wouldn’t blame him.
Are bad things just an illusion, as Christian Science theology would suggest? No, I don’t think so, and only another former Christian Scientist would truly understand how liberating it is for me to really feel this way, completely unfettered by Christian Science-induced delusional doubts. There is good in this world, and there is bad. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it always has been, and I don’t think anyone can change that; and I don’t believe there is some “God” out there that will arbitrarily change it either.
I totally get you and I struggled with a lot of the same thoughts at some point in my Christian walk and still do once in a while. suffering is a hard thing to swallow specially when you have seen it and grow up around it. I have seen death and have been close to meeting with it, I have been hungry, I have suffered abuse of many types, I have been in jail, out on the streets, I can only go on from there. We have been given the precious gift of free will and what have we done with it? use it for our own benefit. children hungry? sick people? war? death?, who can we blame? US you and I, not God. We only run to God when it is convenient, and when He doesn’t speak, we curse! we only want to hear what we think should be said to us. Believing in God and His Gift of life through Jesus Christ is hard and requires faith and courage, it would be easy for sure to sit and deny God, but when I see the long list of sufferings before me, I can only think that in order to make this better, I have to become an instrument in the hands of a loving Creator. I am the happiest man alive, I have a beautiful family that I did not deserve and when I see them I am reminded that I have a mission and that there is a Great and Awesome God who loves me and even though I struggle financially sometimes, I am at peace knowing that no matter what happens, I am loved and God will and has provided with bread each and every day. now my question is, What are you going to do about the suffering in the world? Jesus loves you and cares for you.
Now that you have lost your religion, you are truly ready to become and instrument. God does not want religious people, He wants willing hearts.
I’ll assume you’re asking me what I’m going to do about the suffering in the world. Of myself, I can do little. I’m one person. I do volunteer work in my community (working with the homeless, addicts, and those with mental health challenges), and the professional work I do for a front-line social service agency helps folks. So, I just try to effect change in my little corner of the world. That’s all I or anyone else can do.
I do not blame “God” for anything. I don’t believe God is responsible for suffering or prosperity. It is us as human beings who are collectively responsible for what happens to us. Do I believe in God? In a sense, yes, but not the Christian sense of God. I don’t believe in someone who lived and died over 2,000 years ago as being an active living force in my life. Jesus was a great teacher, one of many throughout history, and I believe it is through his teachings that he perhaps is active, in a sense, in people’s lives. If we took half of the lessons he taught to heart, the world would be a much better place. Unfortunately, many who call themselves Christians do quite the opposite of what Jesus did teach.
It sounds to me like you’re a genuine Christian who does take Jesus’s teachings to heart and puts them into practice. You’ve been through some trying times, and taken responsibility for what you’ve done and corrected yourself. The teachings of Jesus can be an excellent guide, and I’m so glad it’s brought you into a much better life, that, in my opinion, you DO deserve.