Dr. Robin Maas: Former Christian Science & United Methodist

Background: / /

October 9, 2000

Robin was raised in a family where her mother was a Christian Scientist and her father an indifferent Methodist. By the age of 14, both of her parents had died. This forced her to a deeper prayer life and Scripture study. After high school she attended a Christian Science college, in Illinois. By about the age of 30, her study of sociology combined with reading the Catholic mystics deconstructed her Christian Science worldview. She still believed in God but was left high and dry. Continuing to read Scripture, the mystics, she entered a Methodist seminary and was baptized there. After seminary she entered Ph.D. studies at the Catholic University of America. This experience made her Catholic. Robin became a Catholic in 1987, and has never looked back. She is a former dean of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. She is a professor of spirituality.

  • Kim

    Her study in Christian Science was not correct. I am a life time Christian Scientist, and it is not at all teaching that Jesus is not the Son of God, nor that he did not suffer. The difference is, that he went to meet his crucifixion with the confidence that it would not change his relationship to God, but make him to have dominion over all the earth, as is promised. Every trial, every pang of repentance and baptism is a form of crucifixion of the flesh and resurrection. We want to put on the new man, the spiritual man. It is not fair to speak of Christian Science as generally as this.

    • Lam978

      Kim, i was a lifelong Christian Scientist with parents and grandparents who were class taught and first readers etc. Your description of CS does not sound like anything I ever heard in CS. Suffering is denied. Anything material is denied.

      Dr. Mass is an intelligent, thoughtful, deep thinker. She didn’t get this wrong.

    • David Brunell

      Perhaps part of the confusion is that what Christian Science means by “the Son of God” and what traditional orthodox Christianity means by “the Son of God” are very different. C.S. Lewis explains in his book “Mere Christianity” [Sorry I don’t know how to underline or make italics here for a book title] that “the only begotten Son of God” means that the Son of God is God. He points out that beavers beget little beavers; dogs beget dogs; human beings beget human beings; God begets God. Thus he explains how it is that traditional Christianity believes “Son of God” means God and why Christianity has the doctrine of the Trinity, that the triune Godhead consists of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (There are many Bible passages that refer to all three of these entities in terms that could only refer to God.) Christian Science thinks that “Son of God” means that Jesus was something other than God. ..that God is one thing, and that the Son of God is something else. Mrs. Eddy says that Jesus declared he was not God but was the Son of God, as though those two things are different. Actually, however, Jesus never said he wasn’t God; Mrs. Eddy just infers he meant that by saying he was the Son of God. Christian Science does declare that Jesus was not God but was the “most scientific man that trod the globe” to use Mrs. Eddy’s phrase. In that denial of Jesus being God, Christian Science does depart from the understanding of historic Christian faith and has been viewed as a heretical teaching by adherents of the historic Christian faith, whether they be Protestant or Catholic. Another confusion concerns the use of the term “suffering.” On the one hand, Christian Science teaches that all that exists is good, spiritual and perfect, and that matter, evil, sin, disease, suffering, death — are all illusions as they could not exist in God’s perfect universe, and God is All, according to Christian Science. However, the adherent of Christian Science is still faced with the fact that we SEEM to experience all these negative things. Mrs. Eddy calls the consciousness that seems to experience the negative illusions “mortal mind.” It is “mortal mind” that experiences suffering in this life, but Mrs. Eddy reminds her readers that mortal mind cannot really exist because God, the Divine Mind is all that can exist since God is all. So, the Christian Scientist would say that anyone’s suffering, Jesus’ included, is in one sense unreal, but in another sense seems to be real now and has to be overcome. So, the Christian Scientist would say that Jesus’ suffering was just as real as anyone else’s suffering, but that in the final analysis all that suffering was actually an illusion that could not arise in God’s perfect universe. Some Christian Scientists try to refer to two modes of speaking about such things. They will refer to “the absolute” and “the relative.” The absolute would say “suffering is unreal and can’t exist in God’s perfect universe.” But the relative would say, “suffering SEEMS to be something in my experience now but I will overcome it someday when I understand the ‘absolute’ well enough.” So, as you can see, Christian Science is a very complex and confusing subject. I loved it and studied it for years but came to realize finally that there is a self contradiction in saying God is all and perfect, and that evil and suffering are an illusion on the one hand, and on the other hand saying that there seems to me a “mortal mind consciousness” that experiences an illusion of something other than God. If God really were All there is, there never could have been even an illusion of mortal mind experiencing illusions of suffering. Once I saw that clearly I could no longer follow this self-contradictory system, even though I had loved it and the people in it so much.