Now and then a minister tries to dispose of Christian Science...

The Republican

Now and then a minister tries to dispose of Christian Science by identifying it with the Gnosticism of the second century. Your correspondent at East Northfield has just registered the latest effort of this kind. It does not appear that any particulars were given which would indicate a similiarity between Gnosticism and Christian Science, and it would seem that the speaker offered his opinion that the latter is "the direct descendant" of the former as sufficient for his hearers. Since you have regarded this opinion as worth reporting, I trust that you will also publish a brief reference to certain pertinent facts.

It is to be observed, in the first place, that practically all the information regarding Gnosticism which has survived until now is contained in the polemical writings of its opponents. For this reason our information concerning Gnosticism may be somewhat like the information about Christian Science which a man might get by listening to ten or a dozen sermons against it. This is to say that we may have but little authentic information regarding the Gnostics. Such information as we have, however, does not disclose so much agreement between Gnosticism and Christian Science as it does between the Gnostics and the present majority of Christians. In the new International Encyclopedia we are told that the aim of Gnosticism was "to describe how the cosmic order was originally projected, then lost, and finally restored." This observation reminds one of creeds which are as yet more popular than Christian Science, particularly the doctrime of fallen man. In contrast with such theories and with Gnosticism, Christian Science, as Mrs. Eddy has said in Science and Health (p. 471), "holds the divine order or spiritual law, in which God and all that He creates are perfect and eternal, to have remained unchanged in its eternal history."

In several reference books we read that the Gnostics accepted Jesus as the Saviour of the world and revered Paul above other apostles, but rejected the Old Testament with its teaching of only one God. Such a position may be somewhat akin to the more personal forms of modern Christianity, but it could not be reconciled with Christian Science. In the same reference works we also learn that the Gnostics attributed the presence of evil in the world to the same cause to which it ascribed the presence of good. This view may correspond to a certain extent with the common belief that God permits or makes use of evil for good purposes, but it is utterly contrary to Christian Science.

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