By Deb Hawkins
Lord, you have searched me and known me. You have brought me out of the pit. You have saved me from false teachers! You have given me new life! Words cannot express my gratitude to you, Lord, for removing the scales from my eyes so I could see the real you and accept you for who you really are … my Lord and Savior!
A Brief Intro to Christian Science
The Jesus of the Bible and the Christian Science Jesus are not the same. As in every other false religion, Christian Scientists do not believe that Jesus is God. Christian Science teaches that Jesus is the way-shower, not “The Way.” In Christian Science church services, the lesson sermon (now called Bible Lessons)—a prepared “sermon” that is read in every Christian Science church in the world—is delivered by two Readers who have been elected by the local church’s membership. The Bible is read together with its companion book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. However, Mrs. Eddy redefined the meaning of many of the key concepts of the Bible to conform them to her companion book. Mrs. Eddy is revered by Christian Scientists and in some cases elevated to a position of divinity. The Christian Science belief is that Science and Health is a divinely-inspired writing, even though there is strong evidence that Mrs. Eddy plagiarized a significant portion of the book. She took many ideas from Dr. Phineas Quimby, who had been her admired teacher before his death in 1866, and marketed her “religion” to the wealthy citizens of Boston in the late 1800s during an age when people were experimenting with enlightened readings and ideas from eastern religions.
Mary Baker Eddy died in 1910. Her Christian Science church expanded until the mid 1900s but has since experienced a steady decline in membership; however, there are still many followers of her writings. We have some family members who are practicing Christian Scientists.
My Early Years: From Methodism to Christian Science
I was born in Michigan where I was baptized Presbyterian, attended the Congregational Church as a child and was confirmed a Methodist at the age of 12. When I was 14 years old, my parents left the Methodist church and started attending the Christian Science church. My dad had been raised as a Christian Scientist, but when he married my mom he stopped attending the Christian Science church. My mom was very antagonistic toward Christian Science in the early years of their marriage. However, I think my dad quietly practiced Christian Science throughout the years. I’m sure he was happy when, in 1972, a neighbor convinced my mother to visit the local Christian Science church! She then began attending on a regular basis.
As I was only 14 at this time and rather dissatisfied with the boring sermons and unfriendly Methodist youth group, I willingly left the Methodist church with my parents. At first, I thought the Christian Science services were very strange and I questioned why we were attending them. But as we kept attending the church, I got used to the format of the service, accepted the beliefs and became involved with the youth group where I met a lot of new friends. I remember one friend from the Methodist church challenged me before a class at school about the Christian Science belief that Jesus is not God. I don’t think I even knew the significance of what that meant, so I defended the Christian Science belief on that topic. Consequently, that was the end of our friendship. Let me mention here that before I left the Methodist church, I had a “Jesus” experience at a non-Methodist youth meeting with this same friend and her sister. People were being saved at this meeting and I remember thinking, what does it mean to accept Jesus as a personal savior? This thought persisted from time to time throughout the years and I believe a seed was planted at that time. At the Methodist church I attended, the teachings were based upon good works. The sermons were heavy on the theology and I didn’t understand them. This is why I believe I was such an easy target to get caught up in a false religion like Christian Science.
I attended the Christian Science church for 30 years. I met my husband, a lifelong Christian Scientist, and we raised our two sons in the religion. Christian Scientists generally do not go to doctors, except for the birth of children. They believe in spiritual healing and that all of creation, including people, is perfect in God’s eyes. They also believe that we live in a spiritual realm here on earth and what we see with our eyes is false. They don’t believe in a physical heaven and hell, but that these places are states of mind. They also do not believe in sin … it is unreal– a false belief to be overcome. While Jesus plays an important role in the religion, he is not the main character. In their belief system, Jesus was a man and was also the Christ, and the Christ idea can be revealed in each Christian Scientist for healing the sick, raising the dead and casting out demons. While Jesus was the most perfect man to walk the earth, he was not divine.
The Negative Impact
I believe that Christian Science had a very negative impact on me. Over the years, I developed a serious social phobia disorder. I also did not want anyone to know I was a Christian Scientist, so I would avoid conversations with non-Christian Scientists if I feared the conversation might include the topic of religion or health-related matters. I believe I developed the social phobia because Christian Science emotionally isolates its members both from each other and from the rest of the world. It is a very lonely religion. I literally felt as if I was going to lose my mind. I longed to be free from my self-imposed prison.
Freedom in Christ
Toward the end of 2002, during a time when there was some turmoil within the Christian Science movement, my husband and I became uneasy with the direction the church was going. He suggested we try out a large non-denominational church that had recently opened near our home. I was very opposed to visiting to another church. I was afraid of what I might hear that would challenge my Christian Science beliefs. But, after checking out the church website and further discussion, we decided to attend a Saturday night service. We both cried in church that night. The worship blew us away and the sermon spoke to our hearts. We decided we would attend that church on Saturday nights and the Christian Science church on Sunday mornings for a while and then decide if we wanted to leave Christian Science. Well, the next morning we did go to the Christian Science church service and decided on the spot that it would be the last time we would set foot in a Christian Science church. The Lord had already begun his work in us.
During the early stages of discovering our faith, we became more and more convinced that we had found the truth. We began taking classes to learn more about Christianity and were in awe of what we learned. Both of us had thought we were very familiar with the Bible, but it was as if we were reading it for the first time. We saw for the first time how the Bible fit together as one book and were amazed. God had opened our eyes!
We both accepted Christ in December 2002. Our sons also accepted Christ around that same time and we were all baptized in the faith in October 2003. The first people I told of my new relationship with Jesus were my oldest brother and his wife. You see, there had been a split in my family way back when my parents left the Methodist church to become Christian Scientists. My oldest brother and my youngest brother didn’t become Christian Scientists; only my middle brother and I did. My oldest brother, in fact, was in seminary at the time and was devastated that my parents, brother and I were being swallowed up in this cult. My brother was elated when I told him that I had become a Christian. It was at that time that he revealed that a pastor friend of his who had known me since I was a child had been praying for me for 30 years! Wow, that was amazing to me!
God put people in our path to guide us during this early time of discovery. We met a dear, mature Christian couple at church. They were actually the pastor’s in-laws and wonderful Christian friends who took us by the hand and helped us in our new walk with Christ. We joined their small group and I began volunteering in the church office. We were on fire for Christ!
Faced with my Own Mortality
In June of 2008, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer. My course of treatment required a hysterectomy, 27 radiation treatments and 6 chemo treatments. I was able to walk through this period of my life with confidence in Christ. The Lord stood by me every step of the way and I felt his presence. I stuck as close to Him as possible. I had many people praying for me during this time, and I truly felt the power of that prayer. I have been cancer free for almost four years now. The Lord has literally saved me from death! He opened my eyes at the right time so I would be prepared to face this challenge and live. There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be here to write this testimony had I not left Christian Science! I am so thankful to our Lord Jesus for my life and for the gift of eternal life. I give Him all the glory!