Grape Nuts

Over the years, I’ve occasionally heard the term ‘Grape Nuts’ applied to Christian Science. This notion comes from the parallel drawn between the idea that, like the cereal that contains neither nuts nor grapes, Christian Science is neither ‘Christian’ nor is it a ‘

science’.

Is Christian Science Christian?

I realize some of my mainstream Christian readers will dispute me on this, and I won’t argue the point ad nauseam, but I am of the belief that Christian Science is a Christian religious denomination, sect, or perhaps more accurately a cult, depending on your viewpoint, at least to some degree. I base my opinion on these points:

  • Christian Scientists do study the Biblealbeit in carefully selected snippets rather than as a holistic study, as one should properly do.
  • it is a theology that endeavours to delve deeply into the healing work of Jesus and seeks to explain and emulate how he did it.
  • Jesus’s teachings are central to Christian Science theology, as I understand them.

Christian Science is definitely a very different take on Christianity, and I can see where many mainstream Christians would see it as heretical, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t Christian per se, as I see it–I’ll say that it is not conventionally Christian–it isn’t Christian in their opinion. The disputes among Christians over whether or not Christian Science is “Christian” flow along theological lines, as I’ve seen it in discussion forums and written materials. I accept that there are valid arguments regarding the theology of Christian Science and whether or not it is correct as it relates to orthodox Christianity, but I base my contention that Christian Science is at least nominally ‘Christian’, based on the fact that it does have its basis in biblical teachings, and in Jesus’s teachings, however twisted or perverted a take on those it may be. I will agree that it definitely is not orthodox or mainstream Christian, and there are deep and valid theological arguments to be made against how truly Christian in the conventional sense it is.

Is Christian Science a ‘science’?

Science…

1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws…

2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation. …

5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.

As far as Christian Science being a ‘science’, I will say that in my opinion, it is absolutely not a science in any way, shape, or form–not in the conventional sense of what we understand science to be. Christian Science is more accurately a philosophy, if you want to take it out of the religious realm and move into at least the academic realm. But philosophy is as close as you’re going to get. It is not a science in the conventional sense of evidence-based sciences such as chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, or medical science. Science is something that is proven through observation, testing, verification, and repetition of results. Christian Science spectacularly fails in that. Christian Scientists will argue that it is a systematic knowledge of the world gained through observation and study, that Mary Baker Eddy did test her ideas–well at least she says she did, and that’s what makes it a science. However, there is little independent verification of Eddy’s observations, and the anecdotes she offers in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures are not independently verifiable, nor are the thousands of supposed Christian Science healings the Christian Science Church claims to have published. Most are anecdotal at best, and anecdotal evidence does not prove the veracity of a claim. Repeatable, verifiable results do.
I would conclude that in the conventional sense one thinks of the terms ‘Christian’ and ‘science’, Christian Science is neither. In a sense, it is at least nominally Christian, but a very unconventional form of Christianity. After all, if you ask me, it takes a lot of stones to think you can improve on the Bible and Jesus’s teachings, as Mary Baker Eddy does (she wrote a “spiritual interpretation” of the Lords’ Prayer, and while I’m no longer a Christian myself, I still think it’s a darn good prayer on its own and needs no interpretation)–it is at the very least a Christian cult. A science? Well it is a body of knowledge of sorts, and is in some ways systematic, but that’s where it ends. No, it’s not a science in the conventional sense most of us think of a science as. So, the grape nuts analogy is correct in a way. Like the cereal that contains neither grapes nor nuts, Christian Science is in many (conventional/orthodox) ways neither Christian, nor a science.
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