This article taken from
The News and Research Periodical of the Christian Research Institute
Volume Seven, Number One
ERNEST HOLMES AND RELIGIOUS SCIENCE
“I didn’t like any of the religions I was acquainted with, and so I made up one that I did like”-Ernest Holmes, Science of the Mind magazine, Feb. 1979 p. 40.
Religious Science, the movement which Ernest Holmes began with his brother in the early part of the century has grown far beyond the proportions that any of its earliest observers might have foreseen. Holmes himself, however grew so optimistic about its potential that years before his death he declared the following:
We have launched a Movement which, in the next 100 years, will be the great new religious impulsion of modern times, far exceeding, in its capacity to envelop the world, anything that has happened since Mohammedanism started…It is the only thing that will keep the world from destroying itself…1
While it has not yet achieved anything approaching such universality of influence, Religious Science is certainly thriving. Additionally, many well-groomed Science of Mind representatives have been accepted as genuine Christians, not only by large sections of the general public, but by a surprising number of evangelical Christians as well. One can only venture a guess at how many orthodox churchgoers have accepted the validity of Religious Science thanks to such endorsements as the following by famed clergyman Norman Vincent Peale: “Only those who knew me as a boy can fully appreciate what Ernest Holmes did for me. Why, he made me a positive thinker.”2
We should also note that in becoming a respectable, even a “mainstream” Mind Science movement, Religious Science has done well in drawing its share of celebrity participants. Among the famous names listed on the Holmes Center’s board of directors are Robert Young (of “Father Knows Best” television fame); Louis Lundbory, retired board chairman of the Bank of America; Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins; and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Maurice Stans.3 Singer Della Reese and television stars Gavin MacLeod (“The Love Boat”) and Robert Stack (“The Untouchables”) are also visible promoters of Holmes’ philosophy.
Perhaps the most popular and promising of Holmes disciples is the effervescent Terry Cole-Whittaker. A photogenic young woman with infectious enthusiasm, “Reverend Terry” is in constant demand as a motivational speaker. Much of her success can be directly attributed to the peppy performances she gives in her weekly inspirational television program, which is being beamed to an increasing number of major U.S. cities. Her current upbeat slogan, “PRO$PERITY-YOUR DIVINE RIGHT,” is confidently displayed by many of her upwardly-mobile followers on bright yellow buttons and bumper stickers as a reminder to all that a correct attitude can bring affluence. Cole-Whittaker’s growing enterprises (and congregation) were somewhat difficult to manage while subject the the United Church’s central organization. So in November of 1982 she broke away to create the Science of Mind Church International, based in La Jolla, California. Its purpose, she says confidently, is “to transform life on earth”4, a goal reminiscent of Ernest Holmes’ own global aspirations.
However, such far reaching goals had a humble beginning. Ernest Holmes was born in 1887 to a poor family in rural Maine. The youngest of nine children, Holmes dropped out of school when he was 15 and did not return until 1908 for a short time to study public speaking in Boston. In his early years he became fascinated with the writings of American Transcendentalist author Ralph Waldo Emerson, and continued studying him for the rest of his life. Holmes also read the works of a number of prominent New Thought authors, as well as Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy. He was especially influenced by the metaphysical ideas of British Judge Thomas Troward. Later he went on to study the major religions of the world, hypnotism, psychoanalysis, psychic phenomena, theosophy, and spiritism. (Holmes was influenced to some extent by all of them.) It is undeniable that the occult played a significant role in formulating Holmes’ thinking. Early in his life he regularly attended seances held by a Mr. Wiggin and was “terrifically impressed by him.”5 At first, uncertain about the idea of spirits speaking through mediums, he vowed to continue further research. As reported in his biography: “In later years, he did follow through and attended seances on unnumbered occasions.”6 However, Holmes ultimately decided that spiritism was unreliable at best, and that he preferred rather to trust in himself than to depend on spirit communication. Holmes also came to distinguish between “psychics” and their powers – which he considered faulty – and the revelations of those he regarded to be true “mystics.”7
According to New Thought historian Charles Braden, Homes eventually traveled to California to visit his brother Fenwicke, who was then a Congregational minister in Venice. Full of ideas gleaned from years of New Thought study, Ernest gave his first public lecture in 1916, and in 1917 he and Fenwicke began the Metaphysical Institute in Los Angeles and launched themselves into careers as full-time teachers of their interpretation of “Mental Science.” The two became a very successful speaking team, and they attracted thousands of listeners in major east- and west-coast cities to their free lectures and paid classes.8 Each of them wrote his first book in 1919, and the popularity of their many works continues today. Although in 1925 the brothers dissolved their formal partnership (on friendly terms), they continued to collaborate throughout the years that followed.
Ernest decided to permanently base his operations in Los Angeles, and his following grew steadily as he spoke and wrote. In 1926 he published his best-known volume, The Science of Mind, which was to become the basic textbook of the movement. One year later, at the urgings of prominent friends (and despite his great aversion to anything resembling formalized religion), he incorporated the Institute of Religious Science and School of Philosophy (later to become the United Church of Religious Science, the name the the organization bears today).9
The work of the Holmes Center for Research in Holistic Healing, founded in 1971, is described by an advertisement in one Religious Science publication as being “the world’s most important research program,” and a quarter of a million dollars in support is requested.10 The Center sponsors annual symposiums on holistic healing that have featured such “new-age” notables as Olga Worrall, William Tiller, Thelma Moss, J.B. Rhine, Gerald Jampolsky, Hans Engel, Lawrence Le Shan, and Albert Villoldoall of whom are either occultists, psychics, parapsychologists, or their sympathizers.11
Ernest Holmes and his philosophy enjoyed great success throughout his life, and his words were heard by millions as he spoke on television, radio, and in countless public lectures. Since his death in 1960, his legacy continues in many forms, and his influence is felt throughout the U.S. and in at least 14 other countries. His magazine, Science of Mind, has a current monthly circulation of almost 70,000 subscribers. The movement has well over 100 churches directly affiliated with his United Church, as well as dozens of related congregations in the breakaway International Association of Religious Science Churches. With this background information in hand, let us ask: What is Science of Mind? And how does it compare with Christianity?
BASIC TEACHINGS OF SCIENCE OF MIND
Science of Mind, or Religious Science, is essentially an eclectic and syncretistic system, attempting to harmonize and unify what it considers to be the main principles of the world’s great religions. Holmes wrote:
What is the Truth? Where may it be found? And how used? These are the questions that an intelligent person asks. He finds his answer in the study of Religious Science. Shorn of dogmatism, freed from superstition, and always ready for greater illumination, Religious Science offers that student of life the best that the world has so far discovered. It has been well said that “religions are many”; but Religion is one…Faith is One. Truth is One. There is One Reality at the heart of all religions, whether their name be Hindu, Mohammadian, Christian or Jewish.12
Such a magnanimous position has serious problems of consistency, however. The central question that any religion must deal with is its definition of God. For example, the Bible declares the Christ is God (John 1:1,13; Col. 2:9) – something which is patently blasphemous to a faithful Muslim or Jew. The impersonal, undefined, and amoral Brahman of Hinduism is altogether unlike the personal, revealed, and perfectly holy Jehovah of the Bible. Both early and late Buddhist beliefs about God are significantly different from Christian, Islamic, or Hindu beliefs. In light of this, one wonders if someone who makes so serious an error as to claim that all religions are basically the same has really seriously studied them. [It would seem that such a one is guilty either of ignorance, bias or of misrepresentation (for the sake of convenience?).]
As we indicated earlier, Religious Science beliefs are drawn from a number of sources. Holmes is regarded by those in the movement as its chief interpreter and expositor, and his textbook, The Science of Mind, is a main source of doctrine. According to the official literature, Holmes derived many of views from an interesting hodgepodge of writings produced by other religions and philosophies, including the teachings of Buddha: the Zen-Avesta of Zoroastrianism; the Koran; the Bhagavad-Gita, Vedas, and Upanishads of Hinduism; the Egyptian Book of the Dead; the texts of Taoism; the Qabbalah of Jewish mysticism; the Talmud; the Apocrypha; such gnostic works as Fragment of a Faith Forgotten, Thrice-Greast Hermes, and the Pistis Sophia; and of course, the Bible, which is quoted often in Religious Science writings. Regarding this eclecticism Homes said:
The Christian Bible, perhaps the greatest book ever written, truly points a way to eternal values. But there are many other bibles, all of which, taken together, weave the story of spiritual truth into a unified pattern…It is unreasonable to suppose that any one person, or race, encompasses all truth, and alone can reveal the way of life to others…Religious Science reads every man’s Bible and learns the truths therein contained…Without criticism, without judgment, but by true discrimination, that which is true and provable may be discovered and put to practical use.13
In some cults, the founder’s presentation of spiritual “truth” is considered ironclad and beyond challenge or modification by lesser men and women, and the founder himself guards it jealously. However, regarding Holmes’ role as revelator and truth-bringer, Braden writes:
Did Ernest Holmes believe that his teaching was the final revelation, which at all costs must be maintained in its purity as the authoritative basis of Religious Science…necessitating right measures of control designed to preserve it?…he evidently did not, for Fenwiche told me in personal conversation over and over again the Ernest had no notion that he had evolved the final answers to all the great questions…He evidently did not expect that his writings would crystallize into hard and fast doctrines which, as in the case of Mrs. Eddy’s, must be considered the final word.14
Religious Science teaches that all men are part of the One Divine Essence. However, unless they realize this and appropriate their Oneness with God by personal choice, they will not receive any spiritual benefits, but may instead remain in darkness:
The Divine nature must be, and is, infinite; but we can know only as much of this nature as we permit to flow through us…But if we are Divine beings, why is it that we appear to be so limited, so forlorn, so poor; so miserable, sick, and unhappy? The answer is that we are ignorant of our own nature, and also ignorant of the Law of God which governs all things.15
At the same time, it is also taught that each person is at a different level of spiritual evolution and can only gradually accept the ultimate “truth” taught in Religious Science: that the entire universe is God.
Every man is an incarnation of God…Not some men, but all men, are divine. But all men have not yet recognized their divinity. Our spiritual evolution is a gradual awakening to the realization that the spirit is center, source and circumference of all being. It is in everything, around everything and through everything, and It is everything.16 The “I AM” is both individual and universal. All individuality merges into universality. All forms are rotted in one common creative Mind…17 God is all there is.18
It is through faith (not a biblical faith, but “spiritualization of thought,” “affirmative acceptance,” or positive thinking) that we can claim our oneness with this God, manifest Its power and gain Its benefits in our lives:
Religious Science not only emphasizes this unity of God and man, it teaches us that in such degree as our thought becomes spiritualized, it actually manifests the Power of God…Religious Science teaches that right thinking can demonstrate [materialize or provide] success and abundance… true salvation comes only through true enlightenment, through a more conscious and a more complete union of our lives with the Invisible.19
Other basic teachings include a belief that man and the universe are fundamentally good and perfect; that evil is not truly real;l and that all men will eventually be elevated to a state of divinity.20
SCIENCE OF MIND AND CHRISTIANITY
The preceding outline of the Science of Mind world view demonstrates its fundamentally non-Christian outlook. However, we need to examine some of its pivotal doctrines in greater detail in order to document the extent of the disparity between the Bible and Religious Science.
Despite the ease with which it employees biblical terminology, Science of Mind is not simply non-Christian, it completely rejects and is sometimes even hostile toward Christianity. For example, it is clear from the Gospels that Jesus taught a belief in a literal, personally Satan and a literal place of future eternal punishment, called Gehenna (e.g., Matt. 25:46; Luke 4:1-13). Yet Holmes, who said he follows the teachings of Jesus, declared:
I do not believe in hell, the devil, damnation, or in any future state of punishment; or any other of the fantastic ideas which have been conceived in the minds of those who are either morbid, or who have felt the need of a future state of damnation to which to consign the immortal souls of those who have not agreed with their absurd doctrines. God does not punish people.21
Obviously Holmes, like his many followers, prefers to have the Bible say what he wishes it to say, rather than what it really says. Although Holmes declares that “God does not punish people,” Jesus Himself said “These [accursed ones] will go away into eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46; cf. Col. 2:9). Through Isaiah God says, “I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity” (Isa. 13:11). He also says “I will punish the men who are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts ‘The Lord will not do good or evil'” (Zeph. 1:12). Rather than at least being frank and openly denying biblical teachings, Religious Science teachers commonly revise them to suit their own ends. This is certainly a fulfillment of Timothy’s prophesy of the time when many would “not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
TEACHING ON GOD
Science of Mind teaches a monastic philosophy that all is One. This One is God and God is Good. Therefore, all is good and perfect regardless of evidence to the contrary. If one reads Holmes’ writings carefully, God is ultimately seen as the infinite essence of all life, as an “Impersonal” Law that is somehow believed to have attributes of personality are given to God simply because Holmes felt uncomfortable with a totally impersonal God. Thus, through positive thinking, “we begin to see that there is an Infinite Personalness in the universe, an Infinite Presence (not an infinite person), the abstract and universal cause of all personalities. Then it begins to dawn upon us that where our life is personified, God is personified…The wave dips up from the ocean of Infinity and personifies itself through all people; hence it is personal to all who understand its inner presence.”22 This seems to say that if man did not exist, God would be entirely impersonal. Indeed, Holmes frequently uses impersonal synonyms for God. God is “The Thing Itself,” “One Law,” “Principle,” “The All Good,” “neutral force,” “the impersonal observer,” etc.
Holmes paradoxically insists, however, that even apart from man, God would be “personal.” “It is not personal in the sense of a human personality, but It contains within Itself the qualities which make up personality.”23 This leaves Holmes in the uncomfortable position of trying to declare the truth of contradictory beliefs. God is “It,” yet has personal qualities. If God is a neutral Force, etc., and not an infinite Person, how can Religious Science claim that God has personal qualities? God is either personal or He is not. God’s essential qualities cannot ultimately be both personal and impersonal. Holmes defines the Spirit as It (impersonal), then goes on to declare that God is more than “Law” because It is Spirit and is therefore personal. (Actually there is no necessary connection between a belief in Spirit and a corresponding belief in its personality. For example, in Hinduism Brahman (God) is seen as being a fully impersonal Spirit.) Holmes also wrote:
We have stopped looking for the Spirit, because we have found It. It is what you are and It is what I am; we could not be anything else if we tried…We have found It. In the universe, we call It Universal Subjectivity or Soul. In our own experience, we call It the subjective state of our thought, which is our individual use of Universal Law… We have said, “God is Law. There is a Divine Principle which is God” …[but] GOD IS MORE THAN LAW OR PRINCIPLE. God is the Infinite Spirit, the Limitless Conscious Life of the Universe; The One Infinite Person, within whom all people live…The One Indivisible Whole.24
In one passage he declares God is not an infinite person, then that “It” is. The matter does not become clearer when Homes states that “Spirit is the Power that knows Itself,” and that “In each one of us, to each one of us, through each one of us, something is personalized, and that which is personalized is personal to its own personification!”25 Whatever his God may ultimately turn out to be, to his followers, it is whatever that want it to be. Ultimately, much as he might have denied it, Holmes had pantheistic* tendencies and urged people to worship God in the creation, thus opposing the biblical warnings against such a view (e.g., Rom. 1:16- 25). “An evolved soul…worships God in everything; for God is everything.”26 As for the biblical God, he says: “Each of us … represents the Whole. In the old order we thought of the Whole as sort of a mandatory Power, an autocratic Government, an arbitrary God, sending some to heaven and some to hell, and all ‘for His glory.’ Now we are more enlightened and we realize that there could be no such Divine Being.”27
Without going into detail, we should add here that Religious Science denies the Christian view of the triune God (three eternal Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit coexisting in one divine nature). Instead, Holmes says, “God is Spirit, or Self-Knowingness. God is Law and action; [and] God is result or Body.” To put it another way, God is “the Thing Itself,” “the Way It Works,” and “What It Does” -an abstraction that is more appropriate to Holmes’ system.28
The Bible declares that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God (John 1:18, 3:16,18, 1 John 4:9). The Greek word translated “only begotten” is MONOGENES, and it has only one possible biblical meaning – unique, one of a kind. However, Holmes declares this to be false when he writes: “Who is Christ? the Son, begotten of the only Father – not the “only begotten Son of God.”29
This apparently follows from Holmes’ belief that everyone is a son of God. In his view, God has no special children; Jesus was simply one son from among billions who attained the status of Christ – as we all may, and eventually will. Holmes even goes so far as to say that “Jesus never thought of himself as different from others.”30
Where does this teaching come from? The heresy of Gnosticism, prominent in the first five centuries of church history, provides a significant part of the philosophical basis for Religious Science. Like Christian Science, the Unity School of Christianity, Divine Science, and other “New Though” or Mind Science groups, Religious Science teaches a division between Jesus and “the Christ.” To Holmes, Jesus Christ is not the second person of the Trinity, the unique God-man recognized by Christianity, but simply an ordinary man conscious of the inner divinity we all share. As he explains it:
Jesus is the name of a man. Christ means the Universal Principle of Divine Sonship…Jesus became increasingly the Christ as his mentality increasingly perceived the relationship of man Jesus to the Christ principle, which is inherent in all people. This Christ has come in certain measures of power throughout the ages to different ones and still does come and is ever inherent within each one of us.31 Christ is a Universal Presence…There is no one particular man predestined to become the Christ. We must understand the Christ is not a person, but a Principle…Fortunately, we do not have to contemplate Jesus as being “unique and different,” for the Bible makes it more than plain that he was a man like as we are.32
However, the Bible contradicts the idea that Jesus ever earned the status of or became the Christ. He was born the Christ (Luke 2:11, “for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”). “Christ” is a title which means “the Anointed One,” a title corresponding to the Hebrew and Aramaic words for “Messiah” – exclusively used in the New Testament for the prophesied Redeemer (Psalm 22: Isaiah 53) – and not a state of consciousness. One cannot refer to the Christ apart from Jesus of Nazareth. “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father…” (1 John 1:29, Heb. 10:10-14), but merely “a wayshower” who demonstrated correct methods for successful living and who is our prime example of self-realization.33
In Science of Mind, sin is not defined in the biblical sense of moral violation of the character and law of infinitely holy God, but simply as “a mistake.” Thus, rather than seeing sin in people, “We should recognize the Divine in them, no matter what the apparent seems to declare.”34 That Science of Mind members attempt to live in something of a “fantasy” world of their own making is clear from Holmes’ statement that:
DISREGARDING ALL EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY, the student of Truth will maintain that he lives in a Perfect Universe and among perfect people; he will regulate his thinking to meet this necessity and will refuse to believe in its opposite. At first he may appear to be weak; but as time goes on, he will prove to himself that his position is a correct one, for that which appears imperfect will begin to slip from his experience35 (emphasis ours).
To Holmes, since only “good truly exists, sin is not really tied to a concept of morality at all – again following many eastern/occult ideas:
I have always taught that there is no sin but ignorance, following the belief of Emerson … My object is to avoid the sense of dualism – a universe of good and evil.36
In contrast, throughout the Bible, sin and evil are regarded as being both very real and very repugnant to God. Although Holmes ridiculous the idea,37 God sent His Son to die that men might be freed from sin and its consequences (1 Cor. 15:3). the Bible says that “all unrighteousness is sin” (1 John 5:17), that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rome. 3:23), and that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23a). How unlike the message of Holmes and his followers! Indeed, “If we say that we have not sinned, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” and furthermore, “His word is not in us,” (1 John 1:8,10a). Fortunately, there is hope for those who will come to grips with this reality: “If we confess or sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
As we noted previously, it is apparent that Holmes came to believe that man is part of God through his devoted study of eastern and occult philosophy, where such a view is often central. When “Mind Scientists” read the Bible, they frequently misapply what it says exclusively about believers to all people everywhere. Also, since they see Jesus as simply a man who evolved to higher consciousness, or who tapped into “The Christ consciousness” as anyone may, then what Jesus said of Himself is essentially true of every man, and to simply realize this is all men must ever do. Hence, because Jesus claimed oneness with God, all men are potentially and ultimately one with God, all men are potentially and ultimately one with God. Holmes applies such biblical declarations as the following to all men:
“This is my Beloved Son”
“We have the Mind of Christ”
“Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit”
“Beloved, now we are the sons of God” “And because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts”
“He is the image and glory of God”
“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?” “I and My Father are one”
Hence, Science of Mind indiscriminately applies Scriptures that either describe Jesus or are conditioned upon one’s regeneration, to unregenerate men, and then tells them that they are already “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” that and so on. Scriptures are thus quoted with complete disregard for their context. It also seems that any passages which contradict Holmes are conveniently ignored – for example, where the Bible describes the unregenerate as “by nature children of wrath,” “dead in [their] transgressions,” “separate from Christ…having no hope and without God in the world,” and “excluded from the life of God” (Ephesians 2:3,5,12; 4:18). Science of Mind is careful to use only those Scriptures which would appear to support it; Scriptures which can be used (i.e., misused) to bolster Religious Scientists’ own preconceptions. Interestingly, even Holmes’ brother Fenwicke notes of him: “He had no knowledge of either Greek or Hebrew, and traditional exegesis of a text was entirely foreign to him.”38 Yet he quoted the Bible freely in support of his own nonbiblical views.
Whereas in fact man is a creation of God, forever distinct from Him in essence and never a part of the deity, we find that through Holmes’ misuse of the Bible, man now becomes part of God; when man speaks, God speaks. The first Religious Scientist writes to followers:
You are the all Conquering Son of God.39 First of all, realize that you are Incarnate Spirit, vested with Divine Authority;…40
… Man, by his nature, is the image and likeness of the Universal Father, containing His every element and attribute. Man, then is the actual Incarnation of Universal Spirit.41 God is what I am; God may not be what I appear to be, but what I really am must be God or I wouldn’t be.42
There is something Divine about us which we have overlooked. There is more to us than we realize…Man, the real man, is birthless, deathless, changeless; and God, as man, in man, IS man!43
Is not such an attitude of appropriating the very nature and glory of God for oneself, a creature (and a sinful one at that), somewhat arrogant? If we must all someday stand before the one true and living God to “give account” of our lives, will not such an attitude certainly result in God’s judgment, apart from repentance and faith in the true Jesus Christ? The Bible teaches that God, as man’s creator, is distinct from him (Gen. 1:1, 26-27; Isa. 45:12). In fact, God went so far as to state emphatically that He is not man (Num. 23:19; Hos. 11:9)! And He certainly stated that man was not God (Ezek. 28:1-10). The Religious Scientist would be wiser to trust in Solomon’s wisdom (Prov. 30:5-8) than to embrace the “ancient wisdom” (as occultists call it) offered primarily by the serpent (Gen. 3:4-6).
If man is really part of God, as Holmes teaches, then obviously he needs no salvation – after all, how can God be “saved” from anything? In Science of Mind, salvation is primarily mental, not fundamentally moral. It is no more than “being saved” from the illusion of evil and imperfection. When one realizes that he is part of God, and successfully appropriates “Its” power, he is “saved.” Actually, according to Religious Science, all men are “saved with an everlasting salvation” before they are even born, since all men are ultimately part of God. Thus, Ernest Holmes stated that his followers should believe that “it is impossible that any soul can be lost,”44 and “DEATH CANNOT ROB HIM [man] OF ANYTHING IF HE BE IMMORTAL!”45 Such a view disregards the fact hat the biblical view of death is one of separation from God, not annihilation. All men have eternal existence (immortality – in a sense) as they are created in God’s image. The question is whether or not one spends eternity with God or separate from Him in Hell.
If we read the Gospels carefully, we will see the Jesus clearly said the unbelievers will go away into a place of eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46). He told some who openly opposed His teachings: “How can you escape the sentence of hell?” (Matt. 23:33). He said that there were many on the road that leads to eternal destruction, but few on the path leading to eternal life (Matt. 7:13-14). Yet, in light of the plain and consistent teaching of Jesus, Holmes still declared:
But I am sure that full and complete salvation will come alike to all. HEAVEN AND HELL ARE STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN WHICH WE NOW LIVE according to our own state of understanding. We need not worry about either reward or punishment, for both are certain [in this life]. In the long run, all will be saved from themselves through their own discovery of their Divine nature, and this is the only salvation necessary and the only one that could really be 46 (emphasis ours). Jesus never taught the popular concept of hell.47
One may therefore rightly wonder on what grounds Holmes could state: “In this [my] philosophy, no attempt is made to rob Jesus of his greatness or refute his teachings.”48 (And this from the pen of the man who wrote, “And yet it would be a grave mistake to suppose that he [Jesus] was different from other men”!)49
Holmes has so redefined the experience of being born again (John 3:3) that it comes out having the opposite of the biblical meaning. The essence of Christian rebirth is to recognize oneself as a sinner, separated from God, and therefore to repent (i.e., to turn from sin toward God by placing one’s complete faith in Christ’s death for our sins). As a result, a new nature is imparted (2 Cor. 5:17) and one will desire to live one’s life for God. Essential to this salvation is the idea of man’s basic separation from God due to sin. God says, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, so that He does not hear” (Isa. 59:2). Before turning to God all men walk “in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph. 4:17-18). Yet note what Holmes says:
QUESTION – What does the Bible mean be being born again? ANSWER – Jesus said, “Ye must be born again.” His disciples asked, how can this be? and Jesus answered, “Ye must be born of Spirit.” We must have spiritual rebirth. We must be born out of the belief in externalities into the belief of inner realities; out of the belief that we are separated from God, into the belief that we are part of a Unitary Wholeness [i.e., God].50
In other words, according to Science of Mind, the transforming “realization” that there is no separation from God is what it means to be “born again.” But this is diametrically opposed to the biblical concept. As defined in God’s word, the new birth is a complete change in spiritual condition (2 Cor. 5:17) that takes place when a person receives Christ as his personal Savior, repents of his sins (Acts 3:19), and surrenders himself to a life of obedience to the will of God (1 John 2:29, 5:1, 4-5). This person passes from spiritual death into life (Eph. 2:1-7, Col. 2:13- 14). Try as they might, Science of Mind followers can never reconcile themselves to God by attempting to positively think themselves into a state of oneness with Him. The absolutely holy God of the Bible takes their sin far more seriously than this.
It is easily seen that the key teachings of Religious Science are not compatible with the God who has historically revealed Himself to mankind through the person of His Son in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. While Religious Scientists have the freedom to believe whatever they wish, we in the historic church must recognize their doctrines as spiritually deadly and follow the divine command of Jude 3: “content earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” We must be prepared to share the word of Truth with the followers of Ernest Holmes, both “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). As Peter instructs us, we must always be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account of the hope that is within you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).
John Weldon and Paul Carden
John Weldon, who has collaborated with CRI on several research projects, is an instructor at Horizon school of Evangelism in San Diego, California, and the co-author of several books dealing with the cults and the occult, the newest being THE HOLISTIC HEALERS, (IVP), with Paul and Terri Reisser.
(Portions of this article were adapted from the CRI Fact Sheet entitled “Religious Science or Science of Mind” by Todd Ehrenborg.)
- “Ernest Holmes: The First Religious Scientist,” p. 14.
- ERNEST HOLMES: HIS LIFE AND TIMES, back cover.
- Ibid. See also the SCIENCE OF MIND publications order form for this issue.
- San Diego EVENING TRIBUNE, Nov. 13, 1982.
- Fenwicke L. Holmes, ERNEST HOLMES: HIS LIFE AND TIMES (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1970), p. 93.
- Ernest Holmes, THE SCIENCE OF MIND, pp. 341-342.
- Charles S. Braden, SPIRITS IN REBELLION (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963), p. 290.
- James Reid, “Ernest Holmes: The First Religious Scientist” (pamphlet), pp. 7-8. See also SPIRITS IN REBELLION, pp. 296-7.
- SCIENCE OF MIND (magazine), January 1983, p. 22.
- SCIENCE OF MIND, November 1978, pp. 47-48.
- Ernest Holmes, “What Religious Science Teaches” (booklet), p. 10.
- Ibid., pp. 9-10.
- SPIRITS IN REBELLION, p. 302.
- Ernest Holmes, “What I Believe” (pamphlet), p. 3.
- “What Religious Science Teaches,” p. 57.
- Ernest Holmes, THE SCIENCE OF MIND (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1938; 35th Ed.), p. 413.
- Ibid., p. 405.
- “What Religious Science Teaches,” pp. 24-25.
- Ibid., p. 50. THE SCIENCE OF MIND, pp. 98, 335.
- “What I Believe,” pp. 5-6.
- Ernest Holmes and Alberta Smith, QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE SCIENCE OF MIND (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1983 Ed.), pp. 8-9.
- ERNEST HOLMES: HIS LIFE AND TIMES, p. 170.
- THE SCIENCE OF MIND, pp. 364-365.
- Ibid., pp. 86, 89.
- Ibid., p. 362.
- Ibid., p. 365.
- Ibid., p. 80. See also SPIRITS IN REBELLION, pp. 292-293.
- Ibid., p. 357.
- Ibid., p. 361.
- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE SCIENCE OF MIND, p. 10.
- THE SCIENCE OF MIND, p. 359.
- Ibid., p 367.
- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE SCIENCE OF MIND, p. 71.
- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE SCIENCE OF MIND, p. 22.
- ERNEST HOLMES: HIS LIFE AND TIMES, p. 294.
- THE SCIENCE OF MIND, p. 467.
- Ibid,. pp. 166-167.
- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE SCIENCE OF MIND, p. 14.
- Ibid., p. 43.
- Ibid., p. 32.
- ERNEST HOLMES: HIS LIFE AND TIMES, pp. 286-287.
- THE SCIENCE OF MIND, p. 388.
- Ibid,. p. 335.
- Ibid,. p. 3i72.
- “What I Believe,” p. 6.
- THE SCIENCE OF MIND, p. 436.
- Ibid., p. 631.
- Ibid., p. 367.
- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE SCIENCE OF MIND, p. 58.