I had just launched my search for the truth of our existence when I met Christine, and was excited to think that she could help me along the way. At that time, I had no idea that there was nothing Christian about Mary Baker Eddy’s “Christian Science.” Our early conversations only served to further my confusion as I studied the world’s theologies in my newfound drive to figure out what was true, and what was not.
But a couple years into our relationship, when I finally had a solid understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I’d also begun to understand how nonsensical is Christian Science’s view of God and the world we live in – including its insistence that we do not exist physically and that perceived pain is the result of erroneous thinking. This was especially ironic for Christine, who was crippled with arthritis and perhaps some unknown neurological disorder. But she denied her diseases, even as they swallowed up her ability to speak and left her in screaming pain; she was convinced that her symptoms were all the result of errors in her thought process.
As I came to the knowledge of the truth, I became very concerned not only about Christine’s peace in this life but about her eternal destiny. And I began sharing the Gospel with her. She resisted mightily, having been raised in CS from early childhood by a grandmother who must have been one of the original followers of Mary Baker Eddy. (If you’d like to know more about this cult, visit www.christianway.org, an excellent website created by some of its former members.)
I spent more than four years with Christine, becoming more and more assertive about unmasking her bizarre ideas as I realized, with growing horror, the enormity of the false teachings she was trusting in. I would wring my hands and worry aloud that she was undoubtedly headed for hell if she didn’t repent and trust in the Jesus who revealed Himself in the Bible, rather than the one presented by “Mrs. Eddy” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The women at ChristianWay.org even sent me a collection of excellent audio tapes exposing this cult’s false teachings, and I played them for her until she commanded me to stop -- for that session, anyway.
I was, in short, relentless. It wasn’t long before her CS practitioner--an equally deceived woman who practiced highly profitable telepathic healing--complained about me to the facility’s administrator. Which meant that then-Activities Director, who was a genuine believer herself, was forced to have a stern talk with me about bashing a resident’s beliefs. In fact, I’d put her in the very awkward position of having to ask me to change or to leave; she would have had no choice.
And that would have done no one any good. One way or the other, offending a resident would have compromised any further work I might accomplish on behalf of the gospel.
In retrospect, I could have been gentler, and more patient, and perhaps more loving with Christine. If this woman were alive today, I hope I would have approached her with more patience and compassion.
Would you like to know how this story ended? So would I.
The real question, of course, is whether Christine ultimately received Jesus Christ.
One Saturday in the late summer of 2004, I felt a relentless compulsion to visit her apart from my regularly scheduled weekly visit. When I entered her room and announced myself, she screamed “There is a God!” – the first intelligible words to come out of her mouth in a year. She was in a great deal of pain and distress, but calmed down as we read from John’s gospel. By the time I left, she seemed to be resting peacefully.
I returned on Monday morning – my regular visiting day back then – to learn that Christine had died just an hour before my arrival. Would I like to see her? I would, and I did, and seeing her face relaxed at last, I wondered: Is she now in heaven?
The truth is, I don’t know. She had certainly heard the gospel many times. And she really didn’t have anyone but me in the end – no husband, no children, no visits from other Christian Scientists to shore up her increasingly confused understanding of Mrs. Eddy's teachings. Perhaps the Lord had put her in this position of almost complete social isolation in order to hedge her in, to force her to consider His gospel. And perhaps she did before she took her last breath.
I sure am looking forward to finding out.