articles from the Words from the Founder column of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 4: Numbers 3, 4 and 5, 1991.
The Editor of the Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes.
Christian Science and the Resurrection of Christ
by Dr. Walter Martin
From the "Words from the Founder" column of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 4: Number 3, 1991.
In company with many other anti-Christian cults, Christian Science has historically denied the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ and taught instead that "His disciples believed Jesus dead while He was hidden in the sepulchre: whereas He was alive" (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, p. 349). Christian Science teaches that "to accommodate himself to immature ideas of spiritual power...Jesus called the body which by this power He raised from the grave 'flesh and bones'" (p. 209).
It is plain to see from these sample declarations taken from Christian Science literature that Christ's words in Luke 24:39 -- "Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have" -- meant absolutely nothing for Mrs. Eddy, the "mother" of Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy was capable of looking at practically any text in Scripture, reading it out loud, and then -- despite what it plainly says -- proceed to tell you what it clearly does not mean!
In the 20th chapter of John, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared physically to the disciple Thomas who had previously refused to believe in His physical resurrection. In the discourse there recorded, Christ invited Thomas to place his fingers in His wounds and his hand in His side, and enjoined him to "stop doubting and believe" (v. 27). It must be rather obvious to all but the most naive that Christ possessed a literal body of flesh and bone as real as that which He possessed prior to His resurrection. There is not one shred of evidence or one suspicion in the New Testament that Christ had a phantom-like body which He merely "called" a body to accommodate the "immature ideas" held by His disciples.
If there is one thing that stands out in the pages of the New Testament, it is the fact that "Christ died" (Rom. 5:6), that He "bore our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Pet. 2:24), and that those who crucified Jesus "saw" when they viewed His body "that he was already dead" (John 19:33). Few persons are aware of the fact that Christian Science denies that Jesus Christ ever died at all. Hence, it follows logically that if they believe He never died, there was no necessity for Him to be resuscitated or to rise from the dead. Therefore, they merrily deny both truths -- all scriptural evidence to the contrary notwithstanding!
It was the apostle Paul who in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 stated the great hope of the Christian's immortality when he wrote: "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."
From Paul's statement it is very simple to observe two very pertinent factors: First, that Christ was dead, and secondly, that He was resurrected from the dead, a fact Christian Scientists have a hard time trying to read out of the Bible -- but read it out they most certainly attempt to do!
It should be observed that as Mrs. Eddy and Christian Science deny the resurrection of Christ, they also deny His bodily ascension into heaven. Mrs. Eddy argued that "His disciples needed this quickening, for soon their dear Master would rise again in the spiritual scale of existence and fly far beyond their apprehension. As a reward for His faithfulness He would disappear to material sense, in that change which has since been called the ascension" (Science and Health, p. 339).
After the disciples witnessed Jesus visibly ascend into heaven, two angels appeared to them and said: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). Even a superficial comparison of this verse with the foregoing statement by Mrs. Eddy quickly indicates that Christ bodily ascended into heaven in a literal form, as testified powerfully by the Holy Spirit and in complete contradiction to Mrs. Eddy's spiritualization of both the resurrection and the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us be mindful, then, when studying Christian Science, that both the terms resurrection and ascension have entirely different meanings in the vocabulary of their religion and it is best to adhere very closely to Scripture in attempting to refute their garbled terminology and doctrine.
These words were adapted from Dr. Martin's pamphlet, Christian Science (Bethany House Publishers). It is available from CRI for $2.95.
Witnessing to the Muslims
by Dr. Walter Martin
From the "Words from the Founder" column of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 4: Number 4, 1991.
People often claim that the Muslims believe in the same God as Christians: "They just don't accept Jesus Christ." However, as we shall see, the Muslim God is not like the Christian God.
For the Muslim, Allah is the only true God. There is no such thing as the Trinity. The Muslim God is unapproachable by sinful man. He is so perfect and holy that he can only communicate with mankind through a progression of angels and prophets. The Muslim God is a God of judgment, not grace. Muslims have no concept of God as a loving Father.
Jesus Christ to the Muslim is just one of many prophets of Allah. The prophet Muhammad supersedes Jesus. Jesus is not the Son of God or a Person in the Trinity. Jesus did not atone for anyone's sins, although He was Himself sinless. Nor did Jesus die on the cross. Various Muslim traditions say that He either miraculously substituted Judas Iscariot for Himself on the cross, or that God miraculously delivered Him from the hands of the Romans and Jews before He could be crucified. Most Muslims believe that Jesus was taken bodily into heaven without having died.
Sin and salvation in Islam are associated with two concepts: works and fate. Every Muslim who hopes to escape the judgment of Allah must fulfill the works of the Five Pillars of the Faith. These include (1) Recitation of the Shahadah ("There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah"); (2) Five daily prescribed prayers; (3) Almsgiving, which is unlike tithing since Muslims are only required to give one-fortieth of their income; (4) Fasting during the entire month of Romadan, when Muslims are supposed to fast from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset in atonement for their sins over the previous year; and (5) A pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city, at least once in a Muslim's lifetime.
The three key topics of discussion between a Christian and a Muslim should be the nature of God, the identity and deity of Jesus Christ, and salvation by grace alone apart from works. Christians can share with Muslims that the Christian God transcends man's finitude and sinfulness because He cares about and loves people individually. Divine love is a concept missing from Islam and yet essential to human peace and happiness with God. A powerful witness of Scripture to God's love is John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
When told about Jesus, many Muslims will refuse to listen, claiming that our Scriptures are distorted and untrustworthy. The Christian can refer the interested Muslim to the many fine Christian volumes available showing the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. (Excellent materials are available from CRI on this subject -- including a bibliography for further reading.) Settling the issue of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture is foundational to the Christian's presentation of the New Testament teaching that Jesus Christ is truly God (John 8:58) and is the only way to salvation (John 14:6).
Next, tell the Muslim the good news that salvation does not depend on his own insufficient efforts, but on the grace of God displayed through the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross (2 Cor. 15:3-6). No one can work his way to eternal life. The Muslim will agree that Allah could justly choose to bar all men from paradise since no man is perfect as Allah is perfect. However, biblical salvation does not depend on man's imperfect efforts. Biblical salvation depends on the work and love of God. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-10).
Finally, the Christian should love the Muslim. Muslims have a definite zeal for God. They desire to follow God and express their worship of God through their lives. The Christian should respect Muslims' sincere intentions and share with them the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. When a Christian can demonstrate the power of the Word of God through the Holy Spirit, and use his own life as an example of the joy possible to those who love Christ, he becomes an effective example to the Muslim of the opportunity to know and worship the true God rather than Muhammad's distorted concepts about God.
These words were adapted from Dr. Martin's The Kingdom of the Cults (Bethany). It is available from CRI for $17.00.
Mormons and Biblical Terminology
by Dr. Walter Martin
From the "Words from the Founder" column of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 4: Number 5, 1991.
A Mormon missionary can visit the home of the average Christian and, by careful avoidance of areas of theological conflict, appear to be in essential agreement with the foundational truths of Christianity. This is possible because Mormon missionaries are taught to avoid careful definition of terms when approaching the "Gentiles." The Christian must be on his guard to detect this subterfuge.
I once visited a Christian school that prepared missionaries for the field. The instructor in the course on non-Christian religions and cults had encouraged his students to invite cultists to the campus with the aim of exposing the students to the methodology of various cultic groups. That day the Mormons were on campus.
Two Mormon missionaries spoke for some 25 minutes concerning their view of God. I could discern from the faces of the students that what they were hearing conflicted with what they had been taught in their classes concerning Mormonism's doctrine of God. The two missionaries were careful to use the terms "God," "Jesus Christ," "the Lord," "Heavenly Father," and numerous other theological synonyms for the Deity, but not once did they discuss their true view of God.
When the opportunity presented itself, I pointed out to the two missionaries that there was definitely an area of conflict involved, and that the problem was one of communication and terminology. They reluctantly agreed, and I reviewed the various terms they used to describe God. At the conclusion, the older of the two missionaries said: "But, Mr. Martin, we too accept the doctrine of God as taught in the Scriptures. We too believe in God, the God who made the heavens and the earth." I asked them, "But which God are you talking about -- Jesus, known as Jehovah in your theology, or Elohim, the Father of our spirits and the creator of Adam"? There was a moment of frustrating silence, and then one missionary said: "I see you are well-read in our theology."
I answered that I was familiar with their views and kept pressing him on the point of definition until he, with great reluctance, admitted that instead of believing in just one God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth (as he had originally stated), he actually believed in many gods, in the preexistence of the human soul, that the gods were polygamists, and finally that he himself aspired to godhood. The shocked expressions of the students and obvious embarrassment of the missionaries were evident. Forthwith a host of theistic arguments descended upon the two "elders," whom I left vigorously protesting their belief in the prophetic office of Joseph Smith and attempting to escape the now-aroused audience of students.
Once the veneer of biblical terminology is removed from many Mormon doctrines, it is possible to find out what Mormonism really teaches. If a Mormon says "God," "Jesus Christ," "atonement," "salvation," and so forth, we must recognize that these terms are not defined in the context of historic Christianity. When the Christian says "God," he is talking about God triune -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- three Persons, one nature, coeternal. When we are talking about Jesus Christ, we are talking about God the Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, of one essence or nature with the Father. We are not talking about one of many gods, but the eternal God Himself, all that He on this earth can ever mean to man (Col. 2:9).
When we are talking about the Atonement, we mean that Christ died for our sins (Rom. 3:24-31), and that the blood He shed in our behalf is sufficient for our redemption (Heb. 10:10; 9:22). The Christian believes that salvation is a free gift from the one and only God, made possible by the shedding of His own blood (Acts 20:28). This salvation cleanses us from all sin and makes us completely blameless and righteous in His sight. There is nothing we can do to improve on it or to earn it (Eph. 1:4-7; 2:8-9).
The Mormon concept of salvation is very different. To the Mormons, salvation in the sense of resurrection is conferred upon all human beings. However, salvation in the sense of exaltation or freedom from sin and guilt is obtainable only by our own works and efforts.
What the Mormons mean by theological terms and what the Bible and the true church mean by them are entirely different. The importance of destroying the "terminology block" cannot be overemphasized. No matter how good your presentation is, and no matter how much you have researched and studied, so that you can present the gospel in an orthodox manner, if you cannot communicate, you are wasting your time. Always define your terms when witnessing to a Mormon.
These words were adapted from Dr. Martin's book, The Maze of Mormonism. It can be ordered from CRI for $9.00.
End of document, CRN0038A.TXT (original CRI file name), "Christian Science and the Resurrection of Christ," "Witnessing to the Muslims," and "Mormons and Biblical Terminology" release A, June 30, 1994 R. Poll, CRI
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