Soteria: A View of Resurrection and Wholeness

Submitted in Partial Fulfillment
Of the Requirements

For the degree
Field of Christian Tradition in Scripture and History

By Shirley Thomas Paulson
Evanston, Illinois
May 2, 2005


Chapter Page
BASED ON REPENTANCE……………………………..113


Christians adore their Master and Savior, Christ Jesus. One of the most persuasive arguments Christians use in defense of their commitment to him is the promise of salvation as reward for their love and fidelity. It is the promise Christians have fought for and sacrificed everything for, and yet the meaning of salvation is subject to broad interpretation. Soteria, the Greek origin of the English word “salvation,” includes the meanings, “to save from serious peril” and “protect from danger.”1 But in the stories of healing by Jesus, this term is used frequently, and generally in reference to the wholeness of the individual healed.2 By inference, Jesus’ healing works were intended to signify not only immediate wellness but also protection from all earthly harm. Both Jesus and Paul spoke in eschatological terms in their teachings about salvation. So, far-reaching scriptural implications of salvation include the future kingdom of God, resurrection, healing from sin and disease, and everyday experiences of finding that which was lost.

William Placher observes the strange phenomenon concerning the role of salvation in Christian tradition, that “while the notion that Christ saves us lies at its heart, the church has never developed an official position on just how that salvation is accomplished.”3 The goal of this thesis is to present an interpretation of scriptural topics that offer insight into the question of how salvation is accomplished. This interpretation is based on the inseparable relationship between healing and full salvation.

Frank Darling has gathered evidence from ancient and modern historians of expectancy and frequency of Christian healing, especially during the first few centuries of Christianity, in his book, Biblical Healing: Hebrew and Christian Roots.4 He notes that the writings of Ante-Nicene Fathers, such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, Arnobius, and Lactantius provide most of the information of such healing. Irenaeus wrote, for example, of such healing:
Some drive out demons really and truly, so that often those cleansed from evil spirits believe and become members of the Church; some have foreknowledge of the future, visions, and prophetic utterances; other, by the laying-on of hands, heal the sick and restore them to health; and before now, as I said, dead men have actually been raised and have remained with us for many years.5

Although the practice of Christian healing declined in post-Nicene Christianity and has largely given way to medical practices today, especially in the Western cultures, the contemporary practice of prayer-based healing shows an important link between salvation and wholeness. In Irenaeus’ description of Christian works of his day, it should be noted that raising of the dead was confirmed and mentioned in the context of restoration to health. This thesis explores that link in fuller detail and concludes that the healing of sin, disease, and death are all aspects of the full salvation in Christ.



An exploration of soteria often begins with the questions, “how did we get into the condition that needs saving?” and “what is the foundational premise that allows for salvation to occur?” Those two questions naturally lead to the study of creation, particularly as it is expressed in Genesis.

In the first chapter of Genesis, males and females were created together in the image and likeness of God. “And God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31)6. But in the second chapter, the male was formed first, of the dust of the ground, and the female was created from the rib of the male. All was not well with this creation, for in the next chapter both of them were cursed by the Lord God who made them. Scholars are in general agreement about a two-source theory that explains how such apparent contradictions could appear in the same text.

The redactors who wove the two stories together as one in the canonized version led early theologians to treat them as one story with difficult discrepancies. And yet a spiritually metaphysical perspective on those two accounts can distinguish the important differences as proof of its own consistent explanation for salvation. The purpose of this chapter is to describe two types of metaphysical perspectives and their soteriological consequences. A metaphysical hermeneutic is admittedly often dismissed as too philosophical, unfounded in church teaching, and even heretical, so a justification for its use is also necessary.

Why metaphysics?

Metaphysics is an ancient concept, first articulated by Aristotle, who argued for the existence of a divine being responsible for all of nature. Metaphysics is now primarily known as a branch of philosophy “that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value.”7 Like many ancient and modern philosophers who followed him, Aristotle’s philosophy involves an investigation of God as God relates to the nature, causes, and knowledge of being. But theology differs from philosophy, in that the nature of God and religious truth in theology tend to supercede human empirical methods and conclusions. Metaphysics, therefore, when understood as a branch of philosophy, focuses its investigation of reality on the relationship between the human mind and matter and preserves its distinction from theology. And yet metaphysics can be theological when it bases its reality on “the Mind” as God, rather than human or material.

Plato’s lesson on education through an allegory of cave dwellers8 is an example of philosophical metaphysics. I will show through the use of his allegory how a spiritually metaphysical approach to it can illustrate the validity of a spiritually metaphysical approach to scriptures as well. It shows the usefulness of studying the two stories in Genesis for separate purposes.

Plato illustrated the falsity of the physical senses in their capacity to report reality and taught that only an object which is genuinely real can form the true basis of knowledge. His hypothetical setting includes people whose lives have been controlled in such a way that they can view only those things which are shadowed against a wall in front of them. The objects that form those shadows are actually behind the people, and since they are unable to turn around to see the actual objects, the only “reality” they can experience is their view of the shadows.

Plato shows how naturally the people who live in this condition would confirm through their discourse with each other their conviction in the reality and substance of the animated shadows. The contrast with those who see and experience the original objects is highlighted in his allegory by releasing one of the cave-dwelling captives and allowing him to explore life beyond the shadows. His discovery of light would at first be painful and blinding, but through a long and laborious educational process, he would change his mind concerning reality. He, too, would discern the foolishness of the belief in reality in the shadows, and his “healing”9 would consist of the discovery of the objects that caused the shadows, then the light of the night sky, and finally the understanding of the role of the light of the day sky. That is, the sun would be understood as the source of seasons, years, and even the ultimate cause of the appearance of the shadows.

The first chapter of Genesis is a story of light, where God’s creation of men and women is all harmonious. The subsequent story illustrates a mockery of God’s creation where darkness of ignorance, confusion, and cursing reigns. In the spiritual metaphysical systems I will describe, both of them show how the establishment of the light, or God’s good creation, is the stable, permanent fact to which the leaders out of darkness aspire. Adam’s origin and suffering are depicted as shadows of darkness, in contrast to the creation in which God pronounced everything as “very good” (Gen. 1:31).

Plato proceeds to show that the purpose of the learning process (from shadows to light) is to excel in war. Advanced learning leads to geometry and then astronomy, and the goal of the enlightened ones is to rule and help those still in the dark to advance. Ultimately, all those associated with the former “shadows” education should be so thoroughly taught that its influence is no longer felt. When a strong enough contingency of educated people exists, then all of those over the age of ten should be removed from the new society, and there will remain only a purity of thought, which will include those who are enlightened.

In a sense, this allegory is soteriological, because it saves from the falsity and pain of darkness. However, soteria is a theological term that involves the role of God in salvation, and yet God plays no role in Plato’s idealism. By contrast, a spiritually metaphysical application of Plato’s allegory demonstrates the worthiness of metaphysics in soteriological study.

If, for example, the “reality” behind the shadows in Plato’s cave was only spiritual and not material, then the awakening to that reality would reveal the presence and power of God, not the presence and power of material objects. Until that awakening, the physical senses would continue to confirm their own false judgments, calling those things real which are only shadows. An example of this procedure is Plato’s association of sound-sense with the shadows:
…what if the prison [cave] also had an echo from the side facing them? Whenever one of the men passing by [outside the cave] happens to utter a sound, do you suppose they [the prisoners] would believe anything other than the passing shadow was uttering the sound?

In this way, Plato illustrates the way in which the human mind “makes” its own realities through sensation and association.
When these prisoners of their own sensations and beliefs are released (through a divine intervention) to learn more of the reality (God’s presence) that was occurring all along, they might be considered “healed” of their dark ignorance. They would be free to experience the joy and reality of spiritual being.

The purpose of this thesis is to show how a spiritually metaphysical hermeneutic, especially in the accounts of creation and resurrection, brings an important perspective to the study of soteria. A comparison between some ancient teachings of “gnosticism” and contemporary Christian Science will highlight the importance of a spiritual metaphysics in the study of creation, as it resolves certain soteriological questions. “Gnosticism” carries the additional burden of ancient classification as heresy, but this classification is suspect, as will be shown below.

Beyond “gnosticism” as heresy

The discovery of the papyrus manuscripts in 1945, now known as the Nag Hammadi Codices, offered an extraordinary opportunity to define and classify “gnosticism,” since the authors themselves became accessible directly through their own writings. Until that time, what was known of these writings was almost entirely known in fragments and only through their polemicist detractors, spearheaded by Irenaeus of Lyons. However, confusion over the definition of “gnosticism” persists today, almost sixty years later. Karen King claims the reason lies not so much in the lack of material evidence, but in the continued entanglement of heresiological discourses.10 Therefore the effort to discuss a “gnostic” understanding of salvation that is relevant in contemporary study requires an interpretation capable of transcending the generally perceived heretic exegesis.

The ancient Greek understanding of the term hairesis indicated a particular school of thought and did not carry a negative connotation. Christians added to its meaning a distinction between true and false believers. Therefore, those believers who thought differently from those who “won” the theological debates of the time were pronounced “false” believers or non-Christians. In practice then, King points out that “‘orthodoxy’ and ‘heresy’ are terms of evaluation that aim to articulate the meaning of self while simultaneously silencing and excluding others within the group.”11 Designating people as heretics was an effort to place “outside” others who consider themselves to be “inside.” Who is to judge whether another’s conscience says, “[I] am sure that [I] know him,[because I] obey his commandments” (I John 2:3)? Ironically therefore, tension over heresy increased with the level of proximity. Again, King notes, “To exclude those who claim to belong means to divide the corporate self against itself in the interests of power or purity.”12

One of the classic approaches in evaluating “gnostic” thought is through typological classification. That is, the identification of types of behaviors or topics that represent certain Christian themes helps to clarify meaning through comparisons. Williams argues that a true understanding of “gnostic” thought will not be possible in the framework of the polemicists’ typology. “Gnosticism” itself is an unreliable category, and he believes a typology representing a dominant theme would be a better choice. He suggests a name such as “biblical demiurgical myth”, because it would separate itself from the heretical assumptions as well as the implication of a single religion.13

However, King rejects any kind of typology, because it results in perpetuating the heresy mold. Therefore, even though she agrees with Williams’ intent to reject the specific category of Gnosticism, she sees the “biblical demiurgical myth” typology as another means for validating the very problem Williams seeks to resolve. Using the road map of the polemicists, it is impossible to locate the unknown position of the opposition. “By reinscribing the polemicists’ themes and discourses and privileging their perspectives,” King writes, “we distort the interpretation of the texts — and indeed are kept from a fuller and richer understanding of what the controversies were really about.”14

The same can be said about the effort to explain the metaphysics of Christian Science. It is impossible to judge the issues at stake while evaluating it on the basis of what it is not. A spiritually metaphysical interpretation of some “gnostic” writings on creation offers valuable insight to an understanding of soteria; and Christian Science, which is a spiritually metaphysical interpretation of scriptures, concurs in some aspects and differs in other aspects with these “gnostic” writings.

First, I will offer an interpretation of The Apocryphon of John and of The Concept of our great Power, as they relate directly to the questions of creation and soteria. Then I will contrast the same topics with Christian Science. These particular codices are selected because of their emphasis on the meaning and means of salvation. In brief summary, the Apocryphon of John could say that salvation is based on original perfection, and that the problem of humans comes from believing in a will opposed to God. The offspring of this carnal will results in an enflamed jealousy of God’s creation. It continuously attempts to ape the divine creation and lure the “Human”15 into this counterfeit creation through fear and false pleasure. The true consciousness of the Human’s original perfection remains within, serving as a light to guide him out of mortal deficiencies, including material sense. The Savior explains that salvation is based on the way the light (Christ) leads out of darkness and toward an understanding of God. (This guidance from dark to light parallels Plato’s “cave” allegory.) The mission of the Savior is to guide everyone, regardless of how entrenched they are in the darkness of mortal thinking, even death. He saves them from all the depth of human strife. (See Appendix 1 and 2 for detailed interpretation.)

A brief synopsis of The Concept of our Great Power is that the Savior teaches how an understanding of God will provoke a tumultuous reaction from the counterfeit powers of earthly sorrow. However, the ensuing fires will serve as a purging of the human consciousness, guiding it out of a mortal dream state and awakening it to an understanding of God. (This guidance from dream to awakened consciousness is another example of parallel with Plato’s “cave” allegory.) The Savior’s mission is to separate the counterfeit powers of fleshly suffering from the understanding of God, who is the “great Power.” The saved individual is found reflecting the divine light and is able to see God. (See Appendix 3 and 4 for detailed interpretation.)

Christian Science: a metaphysical perspective on creation and response to “gnosticism”

As does the author of Ap John, Mary Baker Eddy follows the outline of the early chapters of Genesis to describe creation, the origin of human suffering, and the source of salvation in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.16 In her exegesis on those chapters, she describes first a perfect creation, made by God and without flaws. Both men and women, created in the image and likeness of God constitute the foundational reasoning for this perfection. She describes the nature of this perfect creation:
The universe of Spirit reflects the creative power of the divine Principle, or Life, which reproduces the multitudinous forms of Mind and governs the multiplication of the compound idea man.17…Infinite Mind creates and governs all, from the mental molecule to infinity. This divine Principle of all expresses Science and art throughout His creation, and the immortality of man and the universe. Creation is ever appearing, and must ever continue to appear from the nature of its inexhaustible source.18

Following this depiction of the complete and perfect creation, she cites the different scriptural source for the second chapter of Genesis as the basis of her explanation for the problem in creation. The second account of creation is the exact opposite of the good and perfect creation already recorded. More than mere contradictions between the texts, Eddy sees that the two accounts are antagonistic.19 In fact, similar to the language of Ap John, where the second creation is referred to as a counterfeit, Eddy writes in several places:
Although presenting the exact opposite of Truth, the lie claims to be truth.20

Here the lie represents God as repeating creation, but doing so materially, not spiritually, and asking a prospective sinner to help Him.21

The myth represents error as always asserting its superiority over truth, giving the lie to divine Science and saying, through the material senses: ‘I can open your eyes. I can do what God has not done for you….Thus Spirit and flesh war. The history of error is a dream-narrative. The dream has no reality, no intelligence, no mind…”22

As for Eddy’s solution to enemy’s tactics, she writes:
The Son of the Virgin-mother unfolded the remedy for Adam, or error; and the Apostle Paul explains this warfare between the idea of divine power, which Jesus presented, and mythological material intelligence called energy and opposed to Spirit.23

The seed of Truth and the seed of error, of belief and of understanding, – yea, the seed of Spirit and the seed of matter, – are the wheat and tares which time will separate, the one to be burned, and the other to be garnered into heavenly places.24

There are significant similarities between Plato’s cave dwellers’ “salvation,” “gnostic” writings of Ap John and Concept on creation and salvation, and Eddy’s Genesis exegesis. The most important point they have in common is a metaphysical perception of suffering and its solution. Whether the metaphysical standpoint is material or spiritual, they are not discussing theory or fiction; indeed these are serious expressions of existential suffering that offer real solutions.
They all agree that the problem confronting humankind is a darkness, in which humans are deceived. All suffering, including even the sensations of physical pain, is within consciousness. People are “saved” from the dark dream-like state through a helper who guides them to the light. From practice living in the context of the light, they learn to discern the falsity of their previous state. The difficulty in leaving the dream state lies in the confusing similarities between the reality and the more familiar shadows. The counterfeit life of shadows has no substance of its own, but it draws on the beauty of reality to appear valid. All these accounts indicate the impossibility of the sufferer to rescue himself or herself, because the temptation to resist the light is too great. But in each case, the savior is strong enough and convinced enough of the light to aid the rescue, even through fire and torture.

The greatest difference that distinguishes these stories is the foundation for the Platonic metaphysics. In that case, the basis of reality, toward which the rescue strives to move, is “artifacts,” or “statues of men and other animals wrought from stone, wood, and every kind material” (514.b). Therefore, the metaphysical process is based on material creation, and it is consequently philosophical. In the accounts of Ap John, Concept, and Eddy’s exegesis of the first chapter of Genesis, there is a vivid account of God’s perfect creation already in place before the act of salvation. Because the basis of reality upon which these rescues occur centers on the light, or power, or truth of God’s creation, the metaphysical process is spiritual. These metaphysical processes are not philosophical, but spiritual.

Further similarities exist, therefore, between the writers of Ap John, Concept, and Science and Health. These writers agree that God, Spirit, is the creator, and that the real and perfect creation of the divine creator is spiritual. The men and women created by Spirit have perfect mental capacities, as they are images of Spirit. Suffering is caused by a distortion of this harmonious reality. Whether it is caused by the “ignorance” of “Wisdom/Sophia” or the “lying serpent” who claimed to speak “the truth,” the fact of such self-contradictory syntax is the foundation for their correction. Salvation comes from the Christ, who rouses and awakens the confused and dreaming mortals, showing them the falsity of their beliefs. Teaching the sick, sinful, and even dead to respond to the permanent light (or Christ consciousness) within, the Savior encounters opposition. His love and persistence help them to resist the weakness of the flesh, including fear, ignorance, and sensuality. Obedience to the spiritual command, or repentance, frees the imprisoned mortals from their bondage.

Docetism, salvation for the elect, and demiurgy

Some of the most common criticisms levied against “gnosticism” in general by the Apostolic Fathers include docetic Christology, salvation for the elect, and demiurgy. An analysis of these challenges also distinguishes the more contemporary metaphysical system of Eddy’s, known as Christian Science, from “gnosticism”. Docetism claims that Jesus was known only spiritually without a physical, human body. The assumption was that if God did not make material bodies, and material bodies were therefore not the product of God’s will, then a human body could never serve as a Savior to those of us with material bodies. Our Savior could not come in the flesh, but only in a bodily “appearance”.25 Irenaeus, threatened by the “gnostics’” perceived attack on Christian salvation, argued against the absurdity of the “gnostic” conclusions: “Jesus could not seem other than he was, as the Docetists suppose, but what he was, he also appeared to be. 26

Although Jesus’ body is not directly discussed in either Ap John or Concept, the scope of this chapter does not extend to other so-called “gnostic” writings, and therefore, the absence of the discussion of the body offers no conclusive proof that the authors wanted to claim a docetic Christology or were misunderstood to do so. If the authors of these two documents were indeed describing a metaphysical understanding of the Savior, then the physical body would seem as real as the shadows were real to Plato’s cave dwellers. In fact, contrary to Irenaeus’ point that being and appearing must be the same, metaphysics show why appearances are deceptive. The point of contention against Irenaeus would not have been so much that the shadows did not exist, as the fact that the more substantive aspect of being was not in the shadows, but elsewhere.

Also, the fact that people would be raised from the dead and still remain in their bodies, and that Jesus would move on beyond that state of consciousness, where his body would no longer be visible (Ap John 1.10), were indications that Jesus’ body might well have been very much like that of other humans who would die and experience resurrection.

Eddy’s understanding of Jesus’ body was that it consisted of the same flesh and blood as belonged to every human; but her spiritual metaphysics considered the sensations of the body more in the context of a shadow than the enlightened understanding of his complete being.27 Jesus’ physical body in its limited form, as with every physical body, would ultimately give place to the original reality of its spiritual substance alone. Eddy’s point of departure from “gnostic” images of bodiless people (if indeed they were) lies in her requirement that the “learner,” abandoning his grip on the life of shadows, must demonstrate his or her understanding of metaphysics, rather than describe fantastical metaphysical concepts. In a recent Christian Science Journal, Managing Editor Rosalie Dunbar describes the practical relevance of spiritual learning in her own life, as an example of Eddy’s teaching:
I’ve learned a lot about what it is to live in relation to the Divine. This way of life is not without demands – including the demand to think in more spiritual terms, to yield less to personal opinions, predilections, and prejudices. Some healings I’ve experienced through prayer have been simple; others, more complex.28

Eddy’s metaphysical system includes demonstrated understanding of the light, which includes healthier bodies. The full understanding, or salvation, comes through resurrection and finally ascension (as will be discussed more fully in chapter three).

Salvation for the elect, or “salvation by nature”

In the paradigm of salvation resting upon the rescue of those who are entrapped in the belief of reality in shadows, the question arises as to whom should be rescued or saved. Williams describes the theological consensus on “gnostic” belief as “determinists who understood human existence not in terms of provision, possibility, or free choice, but in terms of fixed identity and destiny.”29 Specifically, Irenaeus claims a Valentinian anthropology to consist of choic (material), psychic (animal), and pneumatic (spiritual).30 Of these three only the peneumatic was saved, because only pneumatics had the capacity to possess Spirit.

However, contemporary scholarship is distancing itself from such rigid interpretations. Williams cites the “seed” of Seth and Norea in Ap John as a kind of potential within all humans, but the promise of perfection is still retained for only a select few. He also points out that the evil influences (archons) governing the bodies of Cain and Abel suppress the “seed” of Seth that must be awakened to life. 31 In addition, Luise Schottroff makes the case that it was the human self, or each individual person, not humanity as a whole, that included all three aspects of being (choic, psychic, and pneumatic).32 The seed would always be there, but it may be closer or farther from the conscious thought of the individual. Therefore, individuals were not selected above others; rather, each individual was to deal with all three characteristics within.

However, if everyone is considered to have that “seed” or “Christ-light” within, the question may be asked, “How is it that only “those on whom the Spirit of life will descend and (with whom) he will be with the power, they will be saved and become perfect…” (Ap John 2.25)? This question is reminiscent of one asked of Paul by the Romans (chapter nine). “Why,” in paraphrase, “are the Israelites selected above others as God’s source for the Messiah” (v. 4,5)? Paul’s response implies that it is not so much the inheritance of flesh as it is the meaning of God’s promise that explains the purpose of such inheritance, for “not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants. (v. 6,7)” This interpretation of scriptures is consistent with Schottroff’s point that it is not the identity of an individual that includes his right to be saved, but rather the power of salvation comes from a commitment to the “pneumatic” within, or in the words of Ap John, the “Spirit of life.”

Although there appears to be some equivocation in the Savior’s response to John’s question, “Lord, will all the souls then be brought safely into the pure light?” (25.15), the hesitation rests in the need for the questioner to have attained the light in order to understand the Savior’s answer. That is, having “learned” one’s way out of darkness and into the permanent (“immovable race”) reality of being, one is in a position to understand how everyone is to be saved. A few verses later, the Savior explains that “the power will descend on every man, for without it no one can stand” (26,15). Again, the modifying phrase, “for without it no one can stand,” seems to indicate that the power to be saved lies in the divine power rather than an innate power within humans. There is no direct indication that the Savior will decline to save anyone who wishes to be saved.

Eddy’s position is more decisive. One of her earliest religious struggles concerned her Calvinist father’s teaching of the doctrine of unconditional election, or predestination. At age twelve, she was unwilling to be saved if her older brothers and sisters were to be doomed to perpetual banishment from God (because they had not joined the church). Young Mary fell into a fever, and her ensuing prayers healed her and gave her the courage to rebel against the teaching.33 Stephen Gottschalk writes of her mature teaching on the subject that she “predicates the possibility of man’s awakening to and demonstration of his spiritual sonship with God entirely on revelation. To her, those under the illusion of life in matter could not possibly break that illusion and discern the spiritual fact through unaided efforts of their own.”34 While both metaphysical systems indicate the necessity to be saved by one other than oneself, Christian Science is adamant about everyone’s capacity to be saved. Eddy also emphasizes the responsibility of those saved who must participate in the Master’s teaching and guidance: “Much yet remains to be said and done before all mankind is saved and all the mental microbes of sin and all diseased thought-germs are exterminated.”35


Demiurgy, as defined by Williams, “assigns primary initiative and responsibility for the creation of the cosmos to one or more creators lower than the highest divinity.”36 In Ap John, distinct names are given to every function of thought involved in the process of creation and counterfeit creation. Accusation of demiurgy would be justified if these multiple “functions” are found to be entities outside the one divine Being, Spirit. It is possible that, in a metaphysical interpretation, the names of these functions are used as helpful guides in understanding a complex account of creation by one Creator. For example, the aeons grace, truth, form, conception, perception, memory, and so forth can all be attributes of one Creator (Ap John 8.5,10).

However, the appearance of Yaltabaoth is problematic, because he is determined to create a separate creation in his likeness, including good and evil (15.10; 18). Is the existence of Yaltabaoth a myth, a counterfeit parallel creation, as in the shadows of Plato’s cave? Yaltabaoth is often referred to as a “counterfeit spirit” (21.5); and yet he appears to be the creator of humankind after the likeness of Adam and Eve.

The purpose of defining aeons and creators is to offer an answer to the very difficult question of theodicy: “How does a discordant, suffering creation come into being, when God is all good?” According to Ap John, there are two creations, similar to the two-source theory of Genesis. First is a thorough and specific statement that the one God is Father and Mother of everything, and there is nothing above Him/Her. Second is the counterfeit creator who was born of the “ignorance” of Sophia (wisdom).

In the first account of creation, the name used to express the All-in-all God is “Monad” (2.10-4.10). It is not contradictory to the statement of the only God, also called “invisible Spirit”, to describe the expressions of thought that emanate from this God. “She”, or a feminine attribute of God appears as the “virginal Spirit who is perfect” and functions as “aforethought”. “Barbelo” represents the maleness of God, or the power who (which) consents to creation. It is from this power that eternal life comes forth. Christ, named “Autogenes”, is the offspring of this male-and-female Creator, and he is given authority and truth. He is understood as the light that provides dominion throughout all phases of consciousness (named “aeons”) (4.25-7.25).

A Human appears in the perfect image and likeness of the foreknowledge, the will of the invisible Spirit, which is also the will of the Autogenes. The Human is immediately given dominion with Christ (or, Autogenes), having spiritual and invincible power. The purpose of the Human’s being is to praise and glorify the three: Father, Mother (virginal Spirit), and Son (8.30-9.10).

Sophia represents the origin of the suffering of mankind, in that she had a desire that did not originate with her creator, the invisible Spirit. She conceived the idea of being a creator by herself, which was in fact an impossibility, since it was already confirmed that “God the Father was the creator of everything.” Therefore her self-conceived offspring (Yaltabaoth) lost its link to the consciousness of perfection. In fact, he became a monster because he remained jealous of the perfection he never had. His envy resulted in numerous attempts to recreate humans in his own counterfeit spirit. He succeeded in leading humankind to darkness and ignorance of their original perfection, but he never succeeded in totally annihilating the light that was always within. If Yaltabaoth’s creation was a real creation, rather than a counterfeit, then he would indeed be considered another creator, but the story implies that he tampered with the creation of God, by introducing levels of consciousness (aeons); these creations were always in mockery of the original, because he could never separate them from the light within them.

The Savior’s role was to cast off all these works of darkness, and to reveal the continuity of the “immovable race”, the original creation of “God, the creator of everything.” If the Savior had “saved” by recreating man in a fashion that was not original, then this “savior” would have been considered a new creator. Thus, in a metaphysical depiction of the account of Ap John, it appears that neither the Savior, nor Sophia, nor Yaltabaoth created new actual creations; the Monad, Barbelo, and “She” are all aspects of the one and only Creator.

In Concept, there also appear to be ambiguous repetitions of creation and destructions of creations. The Great Power is opposed to the aeons of the flesh, and other aeons appear and dissolve (43). But the state of reality concerning these aeons is unclear. For example, in the psychic aeon, there is a “defilement of creation” which “begets every work including lying and evil counsels, falsehoods and diseases. Psychics are informed they are sleeping and should awaken and return. If all these other aeons and creations are forms of delusion, then it is possible to consider their creator to be delusional as well. However, the dissolution of these “passing aeons” is vividly described and may indeed be more than fanciful.

If further investigation of “gnostic” writings ultimately confirms that demiurgy is in fact a false accusation, that all the additional creators and creations are depictions of false mental states or dream-like states of consciousness, then there would be another similarity with the contemporary teachings of Christian Science. However, the creators in these two documents may also be treated as “co-creators,” creating fleshly forms in conjunction with the “infinite Spirit” in a manner somewhat similar to some contemporary theologians who see humans as co-creators with God.

There is no ambiguity in Eddy’s view of the one Creator. She claims the one Creator in the first chapter of Genesis creates only the all-harmonious creation that manifests the goodness of God. The creation of Adam and Eve from dust and flesh are so unlike the original creation, they can only represent the mistaken view of life appearing real through the senses. She does agree, however, that the feelings inherent in this inverted sense of creation are acute (similarly to those who knew only shadows in Plato’s cave allegory). She writes of this appearance of dualism:
Mortals [of the counterfeit creation] are egotists. They believe themselves to be independent workers, personal authors, and even privileged originators of something which Deity would not or could not create. The creations of mortal mind are material. Immortal spiritual man [generic man, including all men and women] alone represents the truth of creation. When mortal man [all men and women who suffer from their own senses] blends his thoughts of existence with the spiritual and works only as God works, he will no longer grope in the dark and cling to earth because he has not tasted heaven.37

Eddy was not naïve, however, concerning the mystery of the existence of mortals. “Mortal existence is an enigma. Every day is a mystery,” she writes.38 Peel shows Eddy’s resolution to the mystery took an opposite turn from her Darwinian contemporaries. Rather than shrinking from the horror of an evolutionary theory that originated spiritual man and woman in primeval slime or striving to find the work of a loving God in the ruthless process of matter, Eddy claimed the Human of God’s creating was not evolved through matter. In fact, she agreed that Darwin might well have given a reasonable explanation for the evolution of mortals.39 Yet, when Eddy uses such terms as evolution, seed, progenitors, and species, they are used metaphorically to illustrate the “learning” process of salvation. Her ontological schema includes one creator, one creation, and a salvation from the darkness of mortal dreams.


Salvation, as expressed in metaphysical terms, is an awakening from false beliefs through the aid of one who knows reality. Spiritual metaphysics breaks off from philosophical metaphysics in claiming the reality to be God and God’s creation, rather than material knowledge. A spiritual metaphysical view of salvation is a conscious understanding of goodness that occurs through an awakening from seductive attractions and fears of evil. It involves an intense personal response to the Savior’s power to rouse and guide the sufferer. Consequently, there is no vicarious work of salvation; nor is blind faith of any value. Whether by fire (in Concept) or by shaking the foundations of chaos (in Ap John), the Savior separates the light from the darkness, and enables the prisoner to discern his (or her) own freedom from sin, disease, and death.

Some of the ancient heretical accusations against “gnosticism” may be muted somewhat if a spiritually metaphysical hermeneutic is found to be valid. Docetism, for example, may not be a correct analysis of “gnostic” understanding of Jesus’ body. It is natural to think of his body as possessing the same nature as those he was to save; but the bodies of both Jesus and his followers might well undergo the same resurrection process and may therefore be more appropriately understood by laws of metaphysics, rather than laws of physics. Eddy’s Christian Science says unequivocally that Jesus’ body was of the same flesh and blood as other humans and that this body was subject to resurrection.

Salvation for the elect is an ambiguous issue in the two “gnostic” documents in this study. There appear to be levels of readiness for salvation, and it is not clear from the writings whether these levels refer to individuals whose identity determines their relationship to the Savior, or whether these levels refer to states of thought within each individual. In Christian Science, there is no ambiguity. Every individual is forever the image and likeness of God, and the wide variety of dark states of thought that result in sorrow and suffering is always imposition, thrown off by the Savior.

The belief in demiurgy is predicated on the meaning and reality of creation. If, in the accounts of Ap John and Concept, the creations of fleshly, suffering mortals are counterfeit creations, then the creator of that counterfeit would not be accurately termed a god. However, the line of demarcation between the real and counterfeit is not distinct, and these two codices may not adequately represent the majority of “gnostic” writers. Again, Eddy makes a decisive break between the reality of Spirit and Spirit’s spiritual creation and the appearance of a broken creation. The believers of shadows “know” them to be real until they are shown the way to the true reality.

The primary message from both of the spiritually metaphysical accounts of creation — the two “gnostic” works and Christian Science — is about love. God, the creator, loves creation with such devotion and purity, it doesn’t tolerate dark, frightening thoughts of any kind. The Savior separates everyone from their own dream-like self-destruction and instructs them in an understanding of their own goodness. Salvation is, therefore, the knowledge of being loved.



How can anyone ever expect to be good enough to deserve the depth of God’s affection for us? Some crimes seem too full of evil to be forgiven. In fact, any crime at all is unjust before God who always loves. Yet, without total freedom from sin, how can anyone ever truly be saved from the effects of sin? Even murmuring, doubting, and withholding grace may be unthinkable before God who is always good. Jesus’ supreme act of sacrifice on the cross is the answer to these questions for those who believe in him. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans about the essential relationship between Jesus’ crucifixion and our freedom from sin: “We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6).

Since soteria includes a full salvation from sin, theologians have fiercely defended the fact of Jesus’ crucifixion atoning for the sins of others, and a few have described how Jesus’ crucifixion atones for the sins of others. This chapter consists of an analysis of Mary Baker Eddy’s explanation on how the crucifixion of Jesus Christ results in freedom from sin and its effects, along with a comparison between her views of atonement and a few early Church Fathers. The reason for focusing on the ancient theologians is that Eddy’s theology more closely parallels their thinking than that of her Western church contemporaries. Such a comparison also highlights the relevance of primitive Christianity today.

Mary Baker Eddy’s view of atonement

Eddy’s view of sin sheds light on the efficacy of the crucifixion and its role in salvation. Richard Nenneman writes of her larger-than-personal sense of sin: “Sin was a mortal belief in separation from God, from infinite good.”40 That is, every evil motive, every ignorant act of disobedience, every fear of failure stems from the thought of being separated from God. Jesus’ words on the cross express the ultimate separation from God: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)? In a recent Good Friday Service homily, Christian Science Teacher, Lois Rae Carlson explained, “we call this man our savior because he knew first hand the heartache we would experience when our best efforts are ruined, or when those we have loved consistently become the agent of our own destruction…. Jesus knew the agony of defeat, the scourge of mockery, the low-level constant repetition of those who would belittle his life and spit on his pure and perfect heart.”41

Without Jesus’ experience of the worst of human hatred and despair, others who experience sorrow in their own way would never be able to follow his guidance to the light. And yet it was only through that experience that Jesus could prove the impotence of human sin and inseparability from God. How did his crucifixion bring about an awareness of inseparability from God? In Paul’s letter (quoted above), he indicated that “our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed.” If the “body of sin” could be seen as the “embodiment of sin,” then the crucifixion of that embodiment implies a destruction of every agonizing thought of life apart from God. Jesus’ embodiment of the sins of others demonstrated how the malicious intent that attempts to destroy human life could never separate God from God’s children. What was ultimately destroyed was the supposed power of sin, not the beloved Son of God. Carlson continued, “While Jesus hung there on the cross, muscles tearing under the weight of his own body, there are three proofs in the Gospels that God was with Jesus–1) his ability to ask God to forgive his enemies ‘for they knew not what they did.’ 2) his concern for his mother and appointment of his disciple John to care for her, and 3) his recognition of the faith of the criminal who affirmed Jesus’ innocence.”42

All humans have the privilege of forsaking (or, in Paul’s word, “crucifying”43) the body of sin and discovering the perpetual inseparability of their relationship with God, or their at-one-ment with God. Eddy writes of the effect of the crucifixion: “Jesus’ teaching and practice of Truth involved such a sacrifice as makes us admit its Principle to be Love. This was the precious import of our Master’s sinless career and of his demonstration of power over death.”44 What greater joy could there be in salvation than the knowledge of being loved by God, being free from the life of inevitable sin, and the knowledge of being worthy of God’s love?

One of the most perplexing problems in the understanding of Christian atonement is what to do with guilt. How does Jesus’ crucifixion remove guilt from mistakes of evil intent, and how does this atonement remove guilt from ignorant mistakes? Eddy shows how a sincere desire to “crucify” our own sins, or to repent sufficiently to reform enables us to understand and reap the blessings of Jesus’ atonement. She writes,
Every pang of repentance and suffering, every effort for reform, every good thought and deed, will help us to understand Jesus’ atonement for sin and aid its efficacy; but if the sinner continues to pray and repent, sin and be sorry, he has little part in the atonement, – in the at-one-ment with God, – for he lacks the practical repentance, which reforms the heart and enables man to do the will of wisdom.45

On the other hand, ignorance and mere sorrow for sin offer no pathway to heaven either. Eddy writes,
Ignorance was the first condition of sin in the allegory of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Their mental state is not desirable, neither is a knowledge of sin and its consequences, repentance, per se; but, admitting the existence of both [ignorance and sin], mortals must hasten through the second [repentance] to the third stage, – the knowledge of good; for without this the valuable sequence of knowledge would be lacking, – even the power to escape from the false claims of sin. To understand good, one must discern the nothingness of evil, and consecrate one’s life anew.46

Eddy’s admonition to “hasten” through repentance is significant, as it rebukes the tendency to linger over a guilty conscience and even an undeserved feeling of guilt. The point of repentance is to gain the consciousness of good, or at-one-ment with God. Therefore, the sorrow of sin and false accusations of guilt must be abandoned as certainly as sin itself.

Tragic consequences of attempting Christian Science practice without atonement

I read with sadness a recent account of a woman who never learned the “at-one-ment with God” part of Christian Science while she was growing up. Her story illustrates the tragic consequences of an attempt to claim the “nothingness of evil” without the “valuable sequence of knowledge.” Carolyn Fraser writes in her book, chronicling her unfortunate education in Christian Science, that “we prayed and knew the truth like crazy; and when nothing happened, we thought it was our fault. Christian Science was supposed to make all our fears go away;…But instead, we were afraid all the time, of things that nobody else was afraid of…”47

She arrived at this conclusion by not understanding the essential teaching of salvation. In her words, “For [Christian] Scientists, salvation is not a matter of accepting Jesus as their savior but of ‘knowing’ the Christ, Truth: recognizing that man is perfect, here, now, and always.”48 What Fraser missed was the teaching of the atonement that causes “the old self [to be] crucified with him (Rom. 6:6).” When the “old self” has repented, transformed, and agreed to the “new self,” through the understanding of the crucifixion and resurrection of our Savior, Christ Jesus, only then can it be said “we might no longer be enslaved to sin (Rom. 6:6),” — or, in Eddy’s language, this new understanding of good enables one to “discern the nothingness of evil.”49

Fraser’s complaint is a serious one. The eagerness with which some casual students of Christian Science may jump to conclusions and bypass the meaning of the atonement in their practice, does lead to dangerous quackery. Indeed, the promises of salvation from sin and disease in Christian Science practice lead weaker characters too easily down the road of quackery, as has been evident since the inception of Christian Science in the late 19th century.50 But it is also true that not all failures of Christian Science practice have been due to superficiality. Despite the overwhelming evidence that the correct application of the “valuable sequence of knowledge” through the atonement does bring about transformation of character and health, there are instances of failure, even as there are instances of failure in the best of medical practices.51 The most earnest desire to feel closer to God and to advance in spiritual understanding, along with previous positive healing experiences, inspires faithful prayer and persistence, even under trying circumstances.

“Mind-cure,” a faulty imitation of “the Way” in Christ

Although Eddy herself was a remarkable healer52 and taught others to heal on the same basis, she foresaw another danger in teaching people to heal whose love of Jesus Christ was weak. The attempt to heal through mental means without the guidance and power of Christ is sheer mesmerism, or mental manipulation, and Eddy’s greatest concern with mesmerism was its tendency away from Christ. Eddy biographers Yvonne Von Fettweiss and Robert Warnack describe her concern with the contemporary “mind-cures” of her day that appeared similar to Christian healing but were in fact opposite to her understanding of it. “Mind-cure was a generic name for any number of mental healing theories that had sprung up suddenly and flourished for a time in the mid-1880′s….they were simply various forms of mentally directed will-power, or mesmerism.”53 Jesus Christ was for Eddy, the only way, the only truth, and the only life. Indeed, as she wrote, “The Master said, ‘No man cometh unto the Father [the divine Principle of being] but by me,’ Christ, Life, Truth, Love; for Christ says, “I am the way.”54

Eddy understood the meaning of “the way” as evidence of God’s free and loving grace that no human works to deserve. However, the existence of “the way” also implies the free choice given to humans to follow the way. Acknowledging the presence of Christ and acknowledging one’s love for Christ enable one to follow the Christ-light that leads out of human sorrow and suffering. The significance of this teaching is that the Savior (Jesus Christ) saves by being the divine Exemplar.

Irenaeus of Lyons

Post-Nicene Conference theology established a christological dogma that rules out Jesus Christ as Example. But church historian, Jaroslav Pelikan, shows that before such dogma, the second century Fathers were more concerned with the “picture of Christ” than the “dogma of Christ,” and therefore the example and teaching of Jesus helped explain the mission and power of the Messiah. The task of theologians such as Clement of Rome and Irenaeus of Lyons, who used the role of Christ as example and teacher to emphasize their understanding of the gospel message, was to link it with the message of salvation. Without the role of Savior for their Christ-Exemplar model, their theology would appear as moral behavior without salvation, and hence serve no purpose for Christianity. As it happened, neither the former nor latter theologians specified in any detail how salvation was related to the actions and experience of Jesus, so it was the result of the christological debate that ultimately influenced the meaning of the gospel message concerning salvation. 55

In the “picture of Christ” Irenaeus saw God’s cosmic plan of salvation, whereby Christians could learn to imitate Christ throughout all phases of human life. He noted, for example, that all “infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men” (Adv. Haer. 2.22.4) could find in their Master the perfect example. The fact that Jesus had “passed through every age” himself (Adv. Haer. 2.22.4) made him relevant to the humans who would be saved by him. Imitation was in fact that basis of Irenaeus’ fundamental doctrine of salvation, known as “recapitulation.” More than a moral plea for virtuous behavior, the teaching of imitation originated in “Christ’s imitation of the Christian, or more precisely, with Christ’s imitation of Adam.”56

The term “recapitulation” refers to the meaning of Christ as the new head of humanity. He is therefore seen as the “new Adam,” wherein he repeats the history of Adam, but departs from the point of temptation in Adam.57 Irenaeus lays great emphasis on the Logos, to be understood as the head of the invisible world. But it is in the incarnation that he becomes the head of the visible world as well. Thus through the recapitulation of Adam, including his fall, the whole of world history is saved. Irenaeus clarifies this point in his rebuke to “gnostic” teaching that the Savior was not apparent in the flesh:
If he only appeared as though he were flesh, without having become flesh, then his work was not true. But he actually was what he appeared to be, namely God, recapitulating in himself the model of humanity formed long ago, in order to kill sin, destroy death, and give life to humanity. (3.18.7)58

In his assumption of the resemblance of Adam, Christ “assimilated man to the invisible Father…also by means of His passion.” (Adv. Haer. 5.16.2) This reference to His passion in the context of resemblance with Adam is the means by which humankind is destined for salvation. In order for Christ to manifest its power in the fleshly condition, the incarnation was understood by Irenaeus as a unity of Logos and flesh. It is significant that the flesh was included in the unity with the Logos, because it is the flesh in particular which is in need of redemption, and salvation includes the whole man, including his flesh.59

While the similarities between Irenaeus’ doctrine of recapitulation and Christian Science lie primarily in the role of the Divine Exemplar and the incarnate power of the Word made flesh, the greatest difference lies in the expression of unity between God and the saved human being. Irenaeus describes the means of unity as a two-fold action, in which God comes down, and humans are raised up:
…he pours out the Father’s Spirit to create unity and communion between God and human beings. He brings God down to humans through the Spirit, and at the same time raises humans toward God by his incarnation; …[he] gives us incorruptibility through communion. Because of this the teachings of all heretics are destroyed. (5.1.1)60

The heretics he refers to are the “gnostic” writers who appeared to claim the salvation of the elect. Eddy’s doctrine of atonement may seem to include elements of the same heresy, as it modifies Irenaeus’ view of God creating unity. But it clearly does not claim salvation for a few. In her view of atonement, the pre-existing inseparability between God and all Humans remains intact for everyone; and the sinful, sick, and sorrowful state of humans arises from a dark (and false) view of God’s perfect creation. Therefore the remedy lies not in creating what already exists, but in the incarnate Word speaking to the human (finite) consciousness in precisely the way it is able to comprehend. Those who follow that light and participate in the redemption may appear to others that they are “chosen” or “elect,” but Christ is “the way” for all mankind, offering them the choice to follow. By maintaining the continuity of inseparability between God and God’s image and likeness, God does not “create” unity, but lifts mortals (through repentance) to an awareness of their spiritually intact, eternal God-likeness. According to Eddy, adoring Jesus for his supreme sacrifice is not sufficient for redemption, for “all have the cup of sorrowful effort to drink in proportion to their demonstration of his love, til all are redeemed through divine Love.”61

Gregory of Nyssa

About 175 years after the death of Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa expounded a theological doctrine reflecting influences both from the conclusion of the Nicene Conference and from a somewhat enigmatic source in Origen. A constant reader of Origen, he often interprets the Bible allegorically and reveals a profoundly spiritual conception of its meaning.62 Yet, particularly in his opposition to Apollinaris of Laodicea (and defense of Nicene doctrine), he supports the integrity of the human nature of Christ. Without Christ’s assumption of humanity as a whole, he and the other two great Cappadocians, Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nazianzus, were concerned with the endangering of the Christian doctrine of salvation.63

Gregory’s attention to the Word becoming flesh was due more to its means for deification (becoming God-like) than to Irenaeus’ interest in the example to humanity. Reconstitution of human nature through the resurrection of Christ formed the basis for Gregory’s doctrine of atonement; and therefore his interpretation of Scriptural accounts of creation, death, flesh and evil is central to an understanding of his theology. Starting with his spiritual doctrine of the nature of humankind, Gregory recognizes no distinction between the image and likeness of God. Jean Daniélou explains, “There is no opposition in his (Gregory’s) teaching between the natural and the supernatural man of modern terminology. For him the natural man is man as he was created in God’s concrete plan — that is, man with all those gifts which we now call supernatural.”64

Deification, then, was made possible through a “purification of heart”.65 The process of purification illumines a consciousness of the kingdom of God within, and consequently whoever purifies his heart will “see the image of the divine nature in his own beauty.” Gregory continues:
You do have within your grasp the degree of the knowledge of God which you can attain. For when God made you, He at once endowed your nature with this perfection: upon the structure of your nature He imprinted an imitation of the perfections of His own nature, just as one would impress upon wax the outline of an emblem. 66

Animality, or as Gregory terms it, the garment of skin, is imposed upon this image of God by the free will of humans. The freedom to turn away from God deprived humans of their immortality, and the consequence of sin — namely, death — is divinely intended as a remedy. The freedom to turn back to God through the grace of the resurrection is the “restoration of fallen man to his primitive state.”67 The flesh, for Gregory, is understood as “the old man,” a term used by Paul (Col. 3:9) referring to that which is stripped off and laid aside. “Divine law …forbids us to have two tunics”, writes Gregory, and “the rip in the old cloth may get worse and harder to mend.”68

Although the garment of sin is to be discarded, death is the friend that provides the means for removing this devilish garment. Gregory’s allegorical interpretation of the Bible, such as the interpretation of skin as a description of fallen man, also allows for his interpretation of physical death as an “appoint[ment] by God as a merciful provision for undoing the effects of man’s fall.”69 And his understanding of evil itself is consistent with Plato’s meaning of it, described by Anthony Meredith “as in some sense ‘unreal’; there is no ‘idea of evil’ to correspond with the ‘idea of the good’.”70 Evil is known best as a shadowy existence attributed to human will.

Gregory’s use of imagery to explain the nature of evil and its demise gained popular appeal and resulted in the naming of his theory as “the baited fishhook theory” (and also known as the “ransom” theory). Simply stated, the devil was pictured as a sea-monster who takes the bait, or the Lord in disguise, and is thus overthrown.71 But the emphasis of his work lay in the means for which people could move forever upward, away from the devil.

There is a circularity in Gregory’s system of purification, or salvation, in that humans return as they began. The perpetual tension arises from the freedom for God’s image and likeness to err and win back his native goodness. But since God is infinite, there is no point of rest or attainment in the spiritual life. In this eternal progress, writes Gregory, “the soul moves ceaselessly upwards, always reviving its tension for its onward flight by means of the progress it has already realized. Indeed, it is only spiritual activity that nourishes its force by exercise; it does not slacken its tension by action but rather increases it.”72

Eternal progress and infinite being, which by nature cannot be conceived by a finite mind, establish the basis for the mystical strain throughout Gregory’s writing and support his allegorical commentary on Genesis. And the doctrine of atonement which encourages such perpetual striving for progress became the basis of what later came to be known as apophatic theology (the belief that human concepts are incapable of knowing God).73

The contrast between the doctrines of atonement between Gregory of Nyssa and Mary Baker Eddy is marked more by language and practice than divergence of theology. Theological similarities include Gregory’s deification and Eddy’s healing works; Gregory’s lack of distinction between God’s original creation of the image and likeness of God and Eddy’s concept of spiritual man; Gregory and Eddy in agreement with the illumining of a consciousness of the kingdom of God within; and Gregory’s animality imposed upon the image of God by free will and Eddy’s animal magnetism imposed upon the image of God by human will.74

Distinctions begin to appear more vividly in the purpose and practice of their doctrines of atonement. While the purpose of Gregory’s doctrine tends to inspire the purification of the heart, Eddy’s doctrine expects that such a purification of the heart results in moral and physical changes for the better. For Gregory, the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross is a merciful provision for the undoing of the effects of the Fall for all mankind. However, for Eddy, this death was a wake-up call (mercifully) for all humans to take up their own crosses, “crucify” in themselves (or, repent of) what is unlike God, and thereby find in themselves that consciousness of the kingdom of God within. The resurrection of Jesus is the help that all mortals need in order to believe in the presence and power of Christ to destroy sin and disease. Only the transformation of the heart and the body is practical proof of the understanding of this doctrine.

A related distinction occurs between Gregory’s teaching of Christ’s assumption of humanity as a whole and Eddy’s relationship between Christ and humanity. Both agree that the Logos is made flesh, and that the divine power is thus able to operate in the physical, human experience. But the difference again lies in the means of salvation through this doctrine. Gregory offers no explanation for how the assumption of humanity results in atonement, and yet this explanation is the heart of the practice of Eddy’s system. For her, the key is starting with the divinity and perfection of God. Eddy sees the saving action of Christ to be the ever-present divine influence which leads human thought away from sin, fear, ignorance, and everything else that needs redemption. Jesus Christ, as the uniquely appointed human incarnation of that divine Word, is the Way-shower, making plain the divine way. His resurrection was the essential proof that Christ alone destroys sin, disease, and death for all mankind.

The practical import of this doctrine of atonement is the means for humans to experience wholeness. And yet most importantly, the goal of the atonement is not to gain personal power or sensual contentment. Dropping the selfish and sensual tendencies from such cross-bearing, the healed individual feels an impulse to love and help others. Indeed, Eddy’s biographers von Fettweis and Warneck write of this phenomenon: “the practice of healing must extend beyond oneself. The crown of divine Love comes in the unselfed living for others.”75

Augustine of Hippo

It would be difficult to overstate the significance of the work by Augustine on the subject of atonement in Christian theology. Historically and theologically, he straddles the patristic and medieval periods. He succeeded in repositioning the Western church farther from the East and in sowing seeds of Protestant theology long before it surfaced in the West. Like Abraham Lincoln who set the course for his country through a war that erupted during his tenure, Augustine set the course for Church doctrine through theological warfare that erupted during his tenure as bishop of Hippo. Though exerting authority over his contemporary doctrinal adversaries and carving the river of influence for centuries to come, in the end some of Augustine’s own questions were never resolved, and the Church itself never adopted his entire doctrine. William Rusch summarizes the breadth of Augustinian Christianity with these extreme epitaphs:
For some, [Augustinian doctrine] is a high point of theological and intellectual achievement that preserved the uniqueness of Christianity and allowed it to enter, and finally win, the Greco-Roman world. Others have seen [it] as a capitulation of the biblical revelation to a foreign system from which Christianity has still not yet escaped.76

Augustine claimed his extensive writing on the subject of sin and redemption arose from the necessity to defend Christianity from its attacks of heresy. Starting with the Christian doctrine he inherited, including an unresolved tension between responsibility and inevitability, he began to articulate a radically new anthropology.77 Sin had been regarded as inevitable and as a necessity of fate, and yet humans were held responsible for actions prompted by this fate. Influenced by his battle with the Donatists,78 Augustine’s anthropology inclined toward the affirmation of human inheritance of sin. Only through the generous and unmerited grace of God could the salvation of sinners take place. A favorite biblical text for Augustine, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), grounded his conviction that humans are entirely dependent upon God for salvation throughout all of human life.79

As if to test the potency of Augustine’s teaching, a voice of mighty opposition arose in the name of Pelagius and his followers, such as the more outspoken disciple, Coelestius and Julian of Eclanum. The proportions of this “heretic argument” grew to become the last great controversy that shaped Augustinian doctrine.80 Pelagius, a monk from the British Isles, resisted Augustine’s emphasis on dependence on God’s grace and argued against the resulting excuses for sinning due to the weakness of human nature. He claimed that any imperfection in humans would reflect negatively upon the goodness of God, and therefore humanity must possess absolute freedom of the will and must be responsible for its own sins.81

If God is the creator of humanity, he argued, then God knows the capabilities of humans to obey God’s commands. The demands of God cannot exceed the God-given ability to fulfill these demands. In a letter to Demetrias, a young nun who recently renounced her engagement and aristocratic privilege, Pelagius passionately defends his anthropological view of human virtue based on his conviction in God’s relationship to humanity:
It would be as if, forgetting the weakness of humanity – his own creation – God had laid upon us commands which we were unable to bear. And at the same time – may God forgive us! – we ascribe to the righteous One unrighteousness, and cruelty to the Holy One; first, by complaining that God has commanded the impossible, second, by imagining that some will be condemned by God for what they could not help; so that – the blasphemy of it! – God is thought of as seeking our punishment rather than our salvation …No one knows the extent of our strength better than the God who gave us that strength…God has not willed to command anything impossible, for God is righteous; and will not condemn anyone for what they could not help for God is holy.82

Paraphrased, “God’s goodness is incapable of creating inevitable sinners.”
Augustine’s anthropological disagreement with Pelagius is based on the first of his three life-experience, theological-shaping struggles. Joining the Manichaeans in his youth, he first relished the “gnostic” patterned divine origin and freedom from the bonds of matter. But ultimately disappointed with the emptiness of majestic words, bad behavior of its followers, and even disappointment in his own incapacity to renounce all sin, Augustine became convinced of the inherent sinfulness of humanity.83 His arguments with Pelagius brought into sharp focus his conviction in the “inevitability of sinners.” Sin is like a hereditary disease, he explains, passed down through the generations; it is a power holding us captive; and its consequence is guilt.84 The dilemma of the tension between inevitability and responsibility was resolved for Augustine therefore, and inevitable sin could only be absolved by the grace of God.
Unlike Pelagius’ concept of grace as human expressions of God’s gift, Augustine’s view was that grace could only be God’s divine assistance to humanity. Not merely a moral guidance, grace for Augustine is the redeeming presence of God within us, where healing begins. The great divergence between the two systems and the latter’s ascendancy in the church, signal the beginning of a new era in the doctrine of salvation. Grace, as it is freely given to all sinners, is understood to be the only means by which all humanity is saved.85 This doctrine, whose sphere remains within the Western church, is known as the doctrine of justification.

As a transition between the mysticism of the Church Fathers and the rationalism of the Middle Ages, the divergent theologies set in motion by Augustine became increasingly pronounced in the succeeding centuries. Joe Jones refers to these two trajectories as objective atonement and subjective atonement. In general terms, objective atonement refers to the changed situation of humans before God, whereas the subjective atonement calls for the change to occur in the individual.86 A number of distinct atonement theories have taken shape, centering around either of these two branches, but there has never been an authorized Christian dogma concerning atonement. Please see Appendix 5 for further description of these theories.

Whether expressed in terms of objective or subjective atonement, the entire doctrine of atonement in the Western church, or the reconciliation effected between God and his world through Christ, still rests upon the meaning of the doctrine of justification. The central issue in the doctrine of justification shifted from the anthropological inevitability/responsibility question to the means by which God (who is righteous) is able to justify sinners. For Augustine, justification included both the event of justification and its process. Through the grace of God, the renewal of the divine image in humankind was brought about through justification, and concluded with a new type of creation, where sin was destroyed and the love of God appears in those who were previously sinners. The new creation is never completed, however, as the “cooperative grace” (or, the process of justification) is always renewing within humans throughout their existence.87

Although the paradigm of justification as a means of God’s reconciliation for the sins of humans is a distinctively Western notion, there is an element of it which comes close to the Greek notion of deification, (the striving to regain the status of God-likeness). According to McGrath’s understanding of Augustine, “the righteousness which man …receives, although originating from God, is nevertheless located within man, and can be said to be his, part of his being and intrinsic to his person.”88 Diverging at the outset, the two broadly defined systems of atonement — whether defined as Pelagius versus Augustine, Greek versus Western church, or subjective versus objective atonement — contain elements of unity, which include the possibility of coming full circle.
In fact, Joe Jones believes both trajectories are essential to a full account of Jesus’ atoning work. The objective benefits, not dependent upon the believer, involve changes both in God and in the human situation, whereas the subjective benefits work in and through the believer’s Christian life.89 Mary Baker Eddy concurs with the necessity of both objective and subjective elements of atonement in the complete work of Christ, though on a different premise. She agrees with Pelagius’ assertion that God does not create helpless victims, incapable of obeying Him. For example, she writes:
It would be contrary to our highest ideas of God to suppose Him capable of first arranging law and causation so as to bring about certain evil results, and then punishing the helpless victims of His volition for doing what they could not avoid doing.90

However, she also agrees with Augustine that grace from God is the essential power in correcting the mistakes of mortals. The basis for her combining both subjective and objective reasoning is her metaphysical premise that God created Humans in the image and likeness of God; and the sinful nature of mortals is not native to Humans, but is a dark shadow, from which Christ is the Savior. She writes here of the role of grace:

The notion that animal natures can possibly give force to character is too absurd for consideration, when we remember that through spiritual ascendancy our Lord and Master healed the sick….Grace and Truth are potent beyond all other means and methods.91


Steve Long summarizes Augustine’s contribution to the theology of atonement by showing the necessity of “participation in God.”92 Evil arises when people use their freedom to turn to their own sufficiency, separating good from the participation in God. Confronting the separation from God (and God’s goodness) is also the central theme of Eddy’s doctrine of atonement. However, while Augustine focuses on the sinful nature of humans in order to defend his doctrine of grace, Eddy maintains the inherent nature of the goodness of Humans as the evidence of God’s grace. The anthropological difference lies in the role of metaphysics. Long wants to see the “abstract metaphysical god” killed,93 whereas Eddy sees the hope of atonement in the “crucifying” of the “old self,”94 through the metaphysical awakening to God’s perfection. In both cases, it’s a system of thinking that should be “killed” in order for the grace of God to be made evident in human life.

Irenaeus of Lyon’s doctrine of recapitulation also relies on both the power of the divine and the capacity for humans to follow their divine Exemplar. His anthropological premise is that Christ imitated the humanhood of Adam and then diverged toward the divine at the point of the Fall. Therefore humans are able to (and must) follow the example of the Savior’s humanity. Although the sinful nature of men and women is not prevalent, the divinity of the Savior is weakened in his likeness to the mortals he is saving. Gregory of Nyssa places more emphasis on the kingdom of God found “within” the human heart. He claims that we have the degree of the knowledge of God necessary to purify our hearts. His words, “For when God made you, He at once endowed your nature with perfection,” are very similar to Eddy’s: “The perfect Mind sends forth perfection, for God is Mind.”95 Eddy goes on to distinguish this endowment with perfection from the human thought filled with darkness. “Imperfect mortal mind sends forth its own resemblances, of which the wise man said, ‘All is vanity.’”96

In all the doctrines of atonement, there are similar themes. The loving relationship between God and His (perhaps better described as Her) creation was broken by the evidence of sinful, suffering human experience. Sin is an offense to God, and the means for that correction is the work of Christ. Eddy takes a radical position that God’s perfect creation has never been separated from God, but the belief in this separation causes untold sin and suffering until it is corrected through Christ. Only Christ can repair this dark fear and pain, because Christ is the reminder of original divine perfection. In practice, therefore, both subjective and objective atonement operate together. The divine perfection remains intact, while Christ guides the mistaken human thought back to the consciousness of inseparability with God.



Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on a cross; he died and was placed in a tomb; on the third day afterward, the tomb was empty, and his disciples saw him, talked with him, and touched him. But many people don’t believe it. How could it be? A man that was dead was again living on earth. The notion is so preposterous, most of the world has dismissed it as fantasy, but there have always been those who have believed it to be so. “How?” and “why?” have been the questions of the millennia, and each passing generation brings new light to the subject. Of equal importance to the event of Jesus’ resurrection is the historical emphasis on the saving significance of this resurrection. Church historian, Jaroslav Pelikan claims, “So great was that emphasis in the soteriology of many church fathers that the definition of salvation through Christ’s victory over man’s enemies has been called ‘the classic’ theory of the atonement.”97 This chapter offers an explanation of a spiritually metaphysical interpretation of the resurrection and comparisons with other types of interpretation, all in the context of the greater question concerning the meaning of soteria. The spiritually metaphysical interpretation is based on the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, primarily from her book, Science and Health.

Contemporary relevance of a spiritual interpretation

A fundamental hermeneutical question is whether the resurrection of Jesus Christ should be explained on a material basis or a spiritual one. And, for that matter, the same question is asked about the promised resurrection for all believers. Historically, the material interpretation has gained the greatest favor. This essay will show why a spiritual interpretation deserves greater attention and can even shed light on some of the most perplexing problems surrounding the issue of resurrection.

Joanne Dewart, in her book, Death and Resurrection, suggests a number of reasons for the growing popularity in the defense of the material interpretation. She postulates, for example, that the ancient struggle against a docetic Christology may account for the emphasis on the stories of the material body of Jesus. Also a common hope among Jews and Christians was that the rewards of the just would become evident in a new material creation. And even more recently, some doctrines that use the human body as metaphor find significant lessons for the church and secular society.98

Post Enlightenment thinking, however, has thrown doubt on the very meaning and substance of matter itself. Einstein certainly revealed that it was not what the physical senses claimed it to be. Time, space, and substance took on a relative perspective, and metaphysical concepts began to appear as substantial as matter, if not more so at times. Science and the arts continue through the postmodern era to grapple with the meaning of reality, intelligence, and matter; and they tend to either transcend matter or conversely, impute deific power to it.

Ray Kurzweil, in The Age of Spiritual Machines, claims mortality will no longer be inevitable by the end of the twenty-first century, if we use available brain-porting technology. As software, our mortality will not depend upon the computing circuitry, because our identity will switch to the permanence of our software. Therefore our immortality will depend upon the care we take for our frequent backups.99 Matter thus becomes greater than our identity, or soul. In the movie, The Thirteenth Floor¸ a drama depicts the terrible moral problems inherent in a related scenario. In this case, machines are designed to act out the life and soul of humans with such accuracy, that the identity of humans and machines is indistinguishable.

These illustrations of the ultimate technological advances in matter underscore a few of the problems of matter itself. One is the amoral condition of matter’s supremacy; the other is its lack of divine power. Since it is not divine of its own nature, it must be governed by an external agent — whether it be from the depravity of the human will or deific influence. This is the reason the divine Incarnation is such an important element of Christian thinking. When the Word was made flesh, it indicated the possibility that the divine could take total control over the flesh and govern it. The examples of technology’s capacity to dominate the human spirit from The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Thirteenth Floor show how matter can yield complete control to a mind outside itself.

The following interpretation of the resurrection is based on an understanding that the Incarnation is the central explanation for the divinity of Christ made manifest in the humanity of Jesus. It explains the phenomenon of divine Life governing the fleshly body. Even the death of the body yielded to the authority of the divine Life and returned to life on earth; and the hateful minds of persecutors were unable to use death to wield ultimate control.

Immorality cannot be ignored in a spiritual interpretation of the resurrection, because repentance is the pivotal requirement in the power of resurrection. Without the role of repentance, a spiritual interpretation may appear superficially as a docetic, or more generally, “gnostic” perspective. Clement and Origen of the Alexandrian school also taught a spiritual interpretation of scriptures in the early third century, and in the end their work was considered too dangerously off center from the course of Christianity.100 However, the modern reader should find newer allegorical/spiritual interpretations useful in shedding more light on the early Christian debates on resurrection, salvation, and repentance.

A spiritual interpretation of resurrection based on repentance101

Jesus said to his friend Martha that “those who believe in [him], even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in [him] will never die (Jn. 11:25). He taught consistently that there was a connection between believing in him and living. It is the belief itself that was to be powerful enough to overcome death, either before or after it appears to take over someone’s life. Jesus had healed and raised the bodies of others, before his own resurrection, and he frequently explained to those who were healed that it was their faith in “the Father who sent him” as well as their willingness to believe what he lived and taught that healed them.

Sin and disease were destroyed on the same basis by Jesus. He made clear to the attending Pharisees that he had the authority to forgive and to heal the paralytic man. “For which is easier to say,” he asked, “‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’ (Mt. 9:5)? The most poignant connection between the need for believing and Jesus’ power of healing sin, sickness, and even death surfaced at his own death and resurrection. On his walk to Emmaus a short while after his resurrection, he interpreted scriptures for his disciples in order for them to recognize what they needed to believe about him.

These disciples, whose hearts “burned within them” learned that believing was neither blind faith nor faith in magic, it was a type of believing that resulted in repentance. One definition of metanoia, “thinking differently”102 emphasizes there is an alternative way to think. Therefore, one who is able to believe something differently is receptive to the healing power of Christ. When people came to Jesus for healing, he helped them in a variety of ways to disagree with their own convictions in their suffering and to believe there was a power more potent than the laws of disease. It was the change of thought, or belief, through repentance that caused the transformation of body and soul; and on that basis it is conceivable that the change of belief is also the means through which resurrection could occur to a physical body.

Naturally, the question follows, “What change of thought was taking place while Jesus’ body lay at rest in the tomb?” As Peter confirms (I Pet.20:22), Jesus was sinless himself, and he taught his disciples he would suffer and be killed. He laid down his life voluntarily, and therefore it was clearly the sins of others that needed correction and not his own. The purity of his life was a rebuke to the self-righteous, sensualist, greedy, haughty, and selfish. Unselfish love, beyond what the world had ever seen, allowed all earthly sin to be brought to the surface in order to be seen as impotent before Christ.

There was no justice in the crucifixion of an honest and good man, but his resurrection enabled Jesus to illustrate his divine capacity to overcome all opposition to his authority. His resurrection was an act of divine Love, because it caused repentance and a complete change in heart for those who witnessed and understood what had taken place. Without Jesus’ actual death, his apparent divinity would not have been relevant to human suffering. And without his actual return to life, his disciples would have reverted to their previous lives. Only the absolute defeat of death could cause repentance powerful enough to strengthen his disciples to establish the Christian church, to heal sin, sickness, and even death for others.

Contrasting Interpretations of Resurrection

A helpful way to understand the consistency of this spiritual interpretation based on repentance is to weigh it against some of the most significant contributions to the subject. Before the actual crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Jews and Greek philosophers had already considered the continuity of life after death in various forms. Evidence of these beliefs appeared abundantly in literature, practices, stories, and symbols. In Homeric tradition, the house of Hades was the destination of those who died and left the earth. It was a sorrowful and angry place, according to the ghosts and phantoms who were able to convey such shadowy information.103 Socrates held a more positive outlook, envisioning the privilege of conversing with the famous dead. The mummification of Egyptians was also based on the continuity of life after death, where, according to the Egyptian Books of the Dead, the deceased hoped to be identified with Osiris, the god of the dead.104

But Plato rocked the world view of death by reversing the very identification of the human self. Instead of the Homeric view of the true person dying with a physical body left on the ground, whose soul flies away to a kind of half-life, Plato claims the real “self” is actually the soul whose corpse is a mere ghost. In fact Plato sees the soul as immortal, pre-dating the body itself. And it departs to the invisible world in bliss, “released from the error and folly of men,” dwelling forever in company with the gods.105 Therefore the body is a temporary nuisance, and freedom from it is a cause for rejoicing.

Mystery religions and Greek philosophy as a whole carried on aspects of Plato’s teaching in a variety of interpretations. For the Greeks, care for and cure of the soul became a central theme, even though resurrection, or the return to bodily life was not considered a possibility.106 It is unclear whether Platonism led to the development of “gnosticism,” or whether “gnosticism” was already vibrating sympathetically with the Platonic teaching of the immortal soul. Certainly the “gnostic” assurance of the continuing blissful existence after death was given a boost from Plato’s teaching that the body is an imprisonment to be cast aside.107 But Homer, Plato, and “gnostics” in general saw no use for resurrection, since life continued after death, whether sadly or blissfully.

Writing in the second century, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Christian apologist Justin Martyr confronted paganism, especially on the question of resurrection. Resurrection was a necessity, Justin claimed, because it was the body that needed to be saved. If salvation were only for the soul as Plato taught, then what was to be said of the body? Indeed, he concluded that the gospel of Luke showed the material aspects of Jesus’ resurrection, such as his invitation to dine with him and to handle him, in order to highlight the impact of the resurrection on the body. Reconstruction of the body should not be considered an impossibility when it is the same God who creates the flesh in the first place and rebuilds it after death. Trying to build bridges with the Greeks, Justin conceded that at least some aspects of Plato agreed with the “regeneration of the flesh”. In that, Plato was right, because, as he argues, “if Christ our physician (God having rescued us from our desires) regulates our flesh with his own wise and temperate rule, it is evident that he guards it from sins because it possesses a hope of salvation.”108

Spiritual interpretation compared with Greek and Christian apologist

A third option, the spiritual view that includes repentance, (based on Eddy’s writings) reconciles and disagrees with different aspects of the Greek and ancient Christian apologist views. For instance, Plato’s immortal soul could coexist with Justin’s need to see the fleshly body resurrected, if the role of repentance or changing of beliefs were more seriously considered. Jesus healed physical ailments of all sorts, from fever, blindness, and even death, and he requested that his followers do the same (Lk 9:2). On that basis, Justin’s argument that the body should indicate the harmonious evidence of God’s power and love is in agreement with this third option. If healing consisted of Christ’s power to change the sufferer’s belief to a harmonious image of God’s goodness, then the continuity of this individual’s goodness would be natural. Believing in an attack from a ferocious beast would make a person terrified, but seeing the bars of a cage enclosing the beast would change the fearful state to calm. In the same manner, when the belief of destructibility is changed to a belief in immortality, the body is calmed and becomes well.

The emphasis in this interpretation is based on how the work of Christ occurred. It is based on what Christ does to the thought of the person who is being healed. Christ Jesus, the person whose divinity was made manifest in the flesh, taught the spiritual law of immortality to those who thought of themselves as mortals. To Nicodemus, he explained that he should think of his birth in a new way, or to cease from thinking of himself as born in the flesh. In order to understand his life in the context of seeing the kingdom of God, Jesus told Nicodemus that whoever believed in him would not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3:16). And to the woman at the well in Samaria, he said the water, or gift of God, that he had to give would become a “spring of water gushing up to everlasting life” for anyone who received it (Jn 4:14). Neither the birth process nor the water that Jesus referred to in these discussions was visible to any physical senses, but they were both used as object lessons in teaching the present possibility of immortality.

Immortality and health in a physical body are not inconsistent, when the body is understood to be controlled by thoughts. A vivid Biblical example of this phenomenon is the healing of the man living among the tombs, who had an “unclean spirit”, and no one had strength to subdue him. He rebelled against Jesus’ authority, but Jesus commanded the disturbance to “get out” of the man and to become associated with the swine (unclean in Jewish law). It was as if the thoughts could be self-seen, that they were destructive, and that they were alien to the man. His natural thoughts brought peace to his own body. Jesus’ healings always restored bodies to harmony, the kind of blissful harmony Plato believed to exist only after the body’s demise. The difference, of course, is that Jesus presented the harmonious condition in the body¸ not beyond the body.


“Gnosticism” is a more amorphous philosophical system to define than Platonism, but a general consensus is that it claimed God never made matter, and that whatever appeared to be of a material condition was evil. Escape for “the elect” from the limitations of the world and the pains of matter was available to those who obtained the secret knowledge. Resurrection was understood by some in an eschatological sense, but the return to an earthly material body was not the goal of a “gnostic,” in general.

Contrasting opinions about resurrection occurred within “gnosticism,” as well as between “gnosticism” and orthodoxy. On one hand, the Valentinian school repudiated the resurrection altogether, because “the dead who have the seed of true gnosis live already totally in the Spirit.”109 But another “gnostic” writer, known as the teacher of Rheginos, writes of a “spiritual resurrection”, thus not denying the resurrection, but interpreting it in a way that does not include the earthly body revivified. Indeed, he writes, “the visible members which are dead shall not be saved, for (only) the living [members] which exist within them would arise.”110

The two most vigorous opponents of “gnosticism” were Irenaeus of Lyon and Tertullian of Carthage of the second century. Although recent scholarship shows the polemics of Irenaeus inaccurate, his work is significant for its lasting influence in the development of Christian theology. His greatest opposition was mounted against the evidence of gnostic dualism (the view that both spirit and matter coexist), through his own creationist theology, which included God’s creation of the material world and the expectation of a material millennial kingdom.111 Therefore the gnostic assertion that the overcoming of death would only be spiritual was a denial of the worthiness of the flesh to be saved.

In Irenaeus’ scheme, soul is understood as a participation in life as long as God wills it, but the soul is not immortal by nature. Spirit is of God and mingles with the soul to form the spiritual and perfect person. Death pertains only to the flesh, or the body, which returns to earth and is dissolved there. Therefore, what is mortal is ultimately absorbed by immortality. A millennial view of the earthly kingdom is an interim between Christ’s second coming and the eschaton, and it requires the physical resurrection of the body. In Irenaeus’ view, the gnostic view of the dead passing over the heavens and Creator is an anathema to the supremacy of God.112

Tertullian’s opposition to “gnosticism” also was foundational to the traditional understanding of resurrection, because his argument focused on the meaning of flesh and body. Tertullian thought the “gnostics” would better understand resurrection if they could agree that Christ’s body was truly flesh. By denying the humanness of his flesh, “gnostics” would also have to deny the possibility of raising any human flesh and consequently the relevance of Christ in the human experience. Yet the dignity of the divinely manifested flesh and its alliance with the soul bring the role of justice squarely into the proper meaning of resurrection. It is therefore the guilt of man, and not the substance of his flesh and blood that prevent the flesh from “inheriting the kingdom of God”, according to Paul (I Cor 15:50). For Tertullian, the present body is one that will be changed, but it will not be destroyed. The body of the resurrection is like an “overgarment” similar to the body of angels; it remains flesh, but it is flesh that is free from “every harassing malady”.113

A response from the spiritual interpretation that includes repentance
With a perspective that Spirit (God) is the opposite of matter and thus is not the creator of its own opposite, Spirit’s (God’s) creation must be seen as spiritual. This view, Eddy’s understanding of creation, accounts for the immortality of the children of God, “made in His image and likeness, male and female” (Gen 1:27). The sufferings and sins of the flesh, while quite vivid in the human sense of life, are in fact mistaken concepts that are in need of correction, or redemption. Christ, or spiritual Truth, is the only power that could “awaken” the human mind from its dream and cause the repentance necessary for a change of heart, because it is the divine made manifest in the flesh.

The dualism of “gnosticism” is opposed by this view, because repentance is required in order to dissolve the sense of God’s spiritual creation in matter. When a false belief of God’s absence is corrected through a conscious awareness of Love’s (God’s) presence, then the tendency toward fear or sensuality changes to grace. When a false belief of superiority to God’s creation (like the surpassing of the heavens) yields to a belief in God’s almighty oneness, then men and women change their view of life “in” their bodies to a life better understood as a “reflection of” immortal Life, God. The body is regarded neither an “overgarment” nor an immortal substance; rather it is an expression of thought that needs to be redeemed through repentance. It is therefore impossible to pass over the resurrection to a state of eschaton (if that is indeed the correct interpretation of Valentinian “gnosticism”), because the impurities of the human mind must first be overcome through repentance. Humans experience resurrection by Christ-corrected thinking, a step-by-step process.


Augustine’s teachings tend to reinforce the church’s positions on Christology and the Trinity, and his thinking on the resurrection is based on another of the church’s tenets of faith, the Incarnation. If the Word had become human and was raised, then Christians are right to hope for the same power as they confront death in themselves.114 Death of the human body is the result of Adam’s sin, Augustine vigorously asserts, and its remedy lies in the way goodness works its way into the human experience. The resurrection is a two-fold phenomenon, which heals both the death of the body and the death of the soul.

The final stages of the activities of the soul were more vivid in Augustine’s thought, and they include a complete turning away from the whole material world, including the body. Death is desirable, therefore, as it leads the soul away from this body. Although his thinking changed somewhat concerning the relation between body and soul, he maintained his conviction that the soul is better off without the influence of the Adam-derived sinful body.

The purpose of the Incarnation was to inspire devotion and hope for the faithful. It changes the status of believer to be liberated from the power of the devil and to receive the promise of being raised from the dead. Although Augustine does not explain how the resurrection of Jesus Christ as head of the church becomes the resurrection for others, nor does he explain just what the resurrected body is; but he acknowledges the divine power in which every created thing is subject to him.115

The death and resurrection of the bodies of others (besides Jesus) remained perplexing to Augustine, because the body itself was vile on the one hand, and yet beautiful on the other. He was especially interested in the influence of the soul on the body and vice versa, because he sought the means from which the soul should escape the corruption of the body. He notes, for example that the physical senses will ultimately be understood as mental. The sense of sight will change in such a way that it will turn “into the very quality of the mind itself.”116 In that way, the eyes will be capable of seeing “that substance which is not distributed through portions of space, nor limited by it.”117 In this change of the senses, there will also be a change in the role of body and soul. Whereas the lust of the senses (the sin from Adam) may exert great influence over the soul before the resurrection, afterward, the body (freed from Adam’s influence) may be more naturally governed by the soul.

Augustine confesses to an unresolved question concerning the body. “Why,” he asks, “must the spirits of the departed be reunited with their bodies in the resurrection, if they can be admitted to the supreme beatitude without their bodies?”118 In partial answer to his question, he concludes that the body to which the soul reunites is an incorruptible one, and that this incorruptible body is cause for rejoicing. He maintains his opposition to the Platonists by insisting the resurrection requires a return to the body. Intellectually, however, he may never have fully resolved questions concerning the death of the body, and his own understanding remained largely a matter of faith.119

Spiritual interpretation compared with Augustine

In response to Augustine’s question regarding the role of the body in resurrection, the spiritual perspective which includes repentance, as articulated by Eddy, answers that the resurrected body is a necessary step before the final “admission to the supreme beatitude”. Eddy’s eschatological viewpoint is that all sense of materiality will yield to the original spiritual state. In this original state of being, Humans see themselves spiritually, as the image and likeness of perfect Spirit (God). Jesus’ ascension, where he was no longer visible to the physical senses of his disciples, was an indication of that final state. It was distinctly different from the resurrection, because Jesus’ fleshly condition after rising from the tomb had been as tangible as it was before the crucifixion.

But the resurrection is a necessity, as it indicates demonstrated authority over the beliefs of sin, disease, and death. This dominion comes through repentance and spiritual maturity. It is the work of grace to inspire love, forgiveness, honesty, and obedience sufficiently to overcome fear, revenge, deceit, and disobedience. The change from self-oriented living to God-centered living through repentance requires a period of testing, to determine the whole-hearted consecration to God. Death is the “last enemy” to be destroyed, according to Paul (I Cor 15:26). Overcoming sin and sickness precedes this last enemy, but when they are all overcome, the body is temporarily between the corruptible state and the final spiritual state.

Whereas Augustine professes gladness to depart from the body, the recognition of repentance, or a change of heart, shows that dominion in the earthly body is preferable to escape before a complete dismissal of all material conditions. The knowledge and practice of sin’s impotence and the conviction of the powerlessness of disease — in the human body — requires a deep love and understanding of God. However, Augustine’s point about the mental nature of the physical senses does offer valuable insight into an understanding of the body’s substance. His claim that the mind ought to be able to see beyond the time and space continuum shows how the body can be governed by thoughts. And from there, it is conceivable how the change of thoughts through repentance can overcome the body’s ailments, including death.

N. T. Wright

Before the historical event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Jews had already fully evaluated the meaning and possibility of actual resurrection of the body from death. Prophets spoke of the resurrection in metaphorical terms, such as Ezekiel’s vision of the dead bones rising to life and illustrating the return of Israel to its religious home. Resurrection, to the Jews, was not merely a description of some kind of living experience after death, but rather it was a reversal or undoing of death. The second Temple Jews also relied on the metaphorical understanding of resurrection as a basis of hope for national freedom. It was a revolutionary doctrine, because the revivifying of corpses spoke of a real embodiment of national life following the period of exile.

There were blatant exceptions, of course, such as the conviction on the part of the Sadducees that there was no such thing as resurrection. In fact, all of the generally accepted beliefs regarding the resurrection throughout history have been seriously rejected by some groups. Today, some of the conventional explanations of the resurrection are thoughtfully questioned by New Testament scholar, N.T.Wright, in his book, The Resurrection of the Son of God.120 In general, his opposition is based on what he sees as the inability of theologians to claim the full import of the physical aspect of resurrection, through a spiritual interpretation of it. Wright defends the overall tendency of the Church toward a more material understanding and exposing the false subtleties of the spiritual interpretation, thus falling “into Plato’s ugly ditch.”121

Wright critiques the dominant paradigm for understanding Jesus’ resurrection through a variety of lenses. Starting with pre-Christian concepts of resurrection, he claims that the teachings of the Jews, of Paul, of the earliest Christians, of the gospel stories, and the claims of those who have experienced the “seeings” of Jesus have all been distorted because of a general inability to come to terms with the historical and physical reality of a dead body returning to life. He cites, for example that the fuzzy, metaphorical approach of the Jews’ understanding of resurrection could mean a variety of things; that Paul’s understanding of the resurrection was too “spiritual” to account for a physical event; that the earliest Christians put more faith in Jesus’ exaltation than his resurrection; that the gospel stories were late inventions designed to bolster faith; that the “seeings” of Jesus were more accurately religious fantasy; and that among the possibilities of what happened to Jesus’ body after the crucifixion, resuscitation was not one of them.122

To follow one of the strands of argument, Paul’s teachings on the subject of resurrection raise as many questions as answers. But Wright claims that a newer reading of Paul can clarify his meaning, especially on the I Corinthians 15: 42-44 passage regarding the contrasting terms for the body before and after resurrection. The first three contrasts are self-explanatory, showing the body before death as perishable, dishonorable, and weak, while the resurrected body is imperishable, raised in glory and in power. But the fourth contrasting terms cause problems in exegesis and interpretation. The Greek terms, soma pneumatikon and soma psychikon, do not lend themselves to clear-cut opposite meanings. The older translation of pneumatikon was rendered “natural body” in the King James Version, and yet it led to a more blatant expression of an opposite to psychikon, namely “physical body” in the New Revised Standard Version as well as Revised English Bible. Wright contends this distortion of translation leads readers to believe that the pneumatikon, its opposite, is referring to a non-physical body that could not be touched or cognized with the physical senses.

He explains that ancient philosophers made distinctions between differing kinds of substance, but that the perception of “physical” and “non-physical” as opposites is a post-Enlightenment concept. And by setting these terms in such a context, the reader is misled to see the contrast in terms of a world of scientific observation versus a very different “spiritual” world. This kind of spirituality is detached from public or political events, where God is remote and only perceived in a supernatural way. Removing the layers of culture and translation, the original meaning of these contrasting terms are derived from psyche, or soul, and pneuma, or spirit and indicate persons of different mental states. The psychikos person is not sensitive to the things of the spirit, whereas the pneumatikos person readily discerns spiritual things. So a more operative translation of this pair of terms would be characterized as “‘ordinary human life’ contrasted with ‘a life indwelt by the Spirit of God.’” 123 Therefore, the body that appears after resurrection is indeed different from the body before it dies. But the new body is appreciable to the physical senses in an earthly context, rather than an irrelevant spiritual type of entity.

Essential role of repentance

Although this essay offers an alternative interpretation that is spiritual, the role of repentance distinguishes it from the type of “spiritual” interpretation Wright opposes. Repentance is a type of thought that changes one’s belief from something bad to something good. Believing in the power of God’s love turns one’s thoughts to the contemplation of good, even spiritual things. Without repentance, though, the same individual could continue believing in the opposite of good and thereby indulge in greed, revenge, or some other vice. This interpretation would be consistent with Wright’s “ordinary life” compared with the repentant individual whose life is “indwelt by the Spirit of God.”

Whereas Wright contends this is a support to the materialist interpretation, the role of repentance brings out the role of genuine spirituality. Repentance that actually transforms character, as in the “burning hearts” of the disciples, requires a spiritual consciousness that Christ brings to light. Only a power beyond the mistaken human mind can act on it in such a way as to inspire and effect such repentance. Resurrection, then, may be seen as a spiritual power that results in transformation of the human consciousness and body. The change in the resurrected body reflects the change in thought in the same way that thought changes a sick body to a well body or a sinning soul to a gracious one.

Oscar Cullman

Oscar Cullman sees an important relationship between sin, sickness, and death, stemming from the ancient Jewish connection between death and sin. He sees that death is a curse, and that the curse on man came about because of his sin. It is significant to see the negativity of death, in opposition to the Greek philosophers who see it as the door to freedom. Since God is Life, Cullman argues, it is not the will of God that there would be death or even the withering or weakening of life, namely sickness. Every healing of the body is therefore “an invasion of the province of sin”.124 If death were not an enemy, then the defeat of death would have no meaning. But resurrection and even healings are important proof of Christian power, which gave force to the extraordinary growth of the ancient Christian community.

But the purpose of Cullman’s argument is to defend his primary point that the resurrection of Jesus has caused everyone who follows him to be living in the “End-time”. His concern is a response to some fundamental questions about the way resurrection relates to the time between death and resurrection. What happens between the time of death and the returned, revivified body? Does everyone have a private “interim period”? Or, is the final “end-time” a resurrection that includes everyone, including non-believers or sinners? Are we all in the interim period? Cullman claims that since Christ has broken the power, or the evil of death, the power of life is already at work in all members of the Christian community. The tension resides between the sense of resurrection “already fulfilled” or “not yet consummated,” and Cullman’s response is that the resurrection age is “inaugurated”. That is, although death has already been overcome, yet the body remains; and although a new kind of body is present, yet this body is not immortal.125

Compatibility between “inaugurated resurrection” and spiritual interpretation with repentance

The “inaugurated resurrection” is compatible with Eddy’s spiritual interpretation. Her view accounts for the relevance of each healing of sin, sickness, and raising from the dead. Even those who had been resuscitated but who died again (such as Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter), will continue, step by step to work out their full salvation until the body is fully transformed, or ascended in the manner of Jesus. The resurrected body is the one over whom the “second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ…” (Rev 20:6). It will not die again, and therefore it is not subject to sickness or sin.

This type of spiritual interpretation concurs with Cullman (and Paul) that flesh and blood would not inherit the kingdom of God. It also joins Cullman in countering Karl Barth’s assertion that the “transformation” of the body occurs immediately after the death of an individual, or Justin (in 150) who claimed that “immediately at death their souls would ascend to heaven.”126 Rather, those who “die in Christ before the End,” such as Lazarus in the parable of the rich man and the thief dying on the cross with Jesus are “simply various images of special nearness to God.”127 But these instances include no reference to resurrection, and they were better understood as “asleep” in the same way Jesus’ friend Lazarus was “sleeping” after the body had died.

Sin, sickness, and death are interrelated, because they all oppose the goodness of God, and therefore they are all subject to the supremacy of Christ. Cullman claims, in defense of his view of the inaugurated resurrection, “Every healing is a partial resurrection, a partial victory of life over death.”128 Paul encountered opposition to his preaching of the resurrection, precisely because death was not the immediate release to heaven; rather it required repentance and further effort to overcome all phases of sin, sickness, and death.


When Jesus said to his friend Martha that “those who believe in [him], even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in [him] will never die (Jn 11:25), he was encouraging her to turn her thought from the sorrow of her brother’s death and to believe in the spiritual power that could destroy it. His own resurrection was a demonstration of the way spiritual, divine Love would overthrow the world’s sin, the weakness of the fleshly body, and death itself. It caused repentance in his disciples, which in turn gave them power to ‘feed his sheep”. The resurrection is the power of Spirit made manifest in the humanity of those still on earth working out their salvation.

Charges against a spiritual interpretation of resurrection, such as reliance on docetic Christology, dualism, hope for material rewards for the just, and a Platonic disregard for the body are invalid when the spiritual ontology includes the necessity for repentance. The continuity of Spirit (God) and God’s spiritual image and likeness is reasonable when the darkness of mortal experience is overruled by Christ. Only through repentance can the sufferings of mortals be awakened to the consciousness of spiritual being. Indeed, Paul encouragement for his beloved friends, the Philippians, to “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you…” (Phil 2:12, 13) is not a threat, but a realistic message of hope and of love.



An often over-looked definition of soteria, or salvation, includes “to make healthy.” In Greek, the words “to save” and “to heal” are both inherent meanings of salvation, whereas the two words have diverged in English usage, and salvation without emphasis on wholeness has become the dominant meaning. Today the Greek Orthodox Church continues to embrace healing as an essential aspect of salvation, whereas the Western church typically centers on atonement and the reconciliation with sin. This chapter makes the claims that the art of wholeness, or healing, plays an essential role in Christian salvation, and that the active practice of Christian Science healing serves to preserve the original meaning of soteria. It will show how contemporary theologies parallel and diverge from the Christian Science approach to wholeness. Today the Greek Orthodox Church forthrightly defends the importance of healing in Christian faith practice, and both Orthodoxy and Christian Science attribute their devotion to healing to primitive Christianity. The route to this compatible conclusion, however, is often divergent, as will be shown in this chapter, and the basis of the difference rests again on the premise of spiritual metaphysics.

On the surface, the religious traditions of the Greek Orthodox and Christian Science churches could not be more disparate. Incense, icons, choral music, gold robes, and long services strike a vivid contrast to the simplicity of hour-long services in simple auditoriums without a single picture, choir, or clergy. But these differences might overshadow the mutual deep petitions in prayer for healing to the casual observer. A communion prayer in the Greek Orthodox Church includes the petition, “May the communion of Your holy Mysteries be neither to judgment nor condemnation, Lord, but to the healing of soul and body.”129 And in clarification of the source and meaning of healing, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “His [or her] ‘help is from the Lord,’ who heals body and mind, head and heart; changing the affections, enlightening the misguided senses, and curing alike the sin and the mortal sinner.”130 Here is evidence of an agreed upon importance of the role of healing and that healing the body is intertwined with the healing of the soul or mind.

Greek Orthodox treatment of healing

“The world is broken,” explained Very Reverend Father Demetri Kantzavelos, in an interview on the subject of healing and soteria, “and it is in need of body and soul to be made whole, or healed.”131 Corruption appeared to the Greek Fathers as a disease contracted by people, rather than a punishment from the divine power, according to John Meyendorff.132 Christ heals, therefore, by assuming our brokenness as his own, and by becoming what we are. Kallistos Ware shows this type of healing is naturally understood in the context of salvation, since it requires the work of Christ and results in a further advancement in the process of deification. 133 “Union with God by grace,” or “deification,” is the divine mystery in which the pure, unbroken nature coexists with the acquisition of grace. Vladimir Lossky, another recognized authority on Greek Orthodox theology explains that while Christ assumes the human nature, humans are to reunite by grace two natures in their created hypostasis, thereby becoming “a created god,” or a “god by grace.” 134 Another, perhaps oversimplified, expression of deification is simply “God-likeness.” Through the work of Christ, therefore, the brokenness of the world is aided through grace toward deification.

There is a practical element to the theology of healing, in that actual physical healing is urged upon church goers. At a recent church service, Father Angelo Artema’s homily implored his listeners to become more proactive in their healing prayers. He referred to the Biblical story of the woman healed of the issue of blood and highlighted her conviction given to her by the Theotokos that she could be healed. And she courageously claimed her healing by reaching toward the garment of the Lord. Fr. Angelo warned against his parishioners’ temptation with victim mentality and insisted that they believe in their healings before seeing evidence of them.135

Disease, corruption, and death are understood to originate in the loss of the likeness of human beings to God through Adam’s sin. While maintaining their original state of being as the image of God, the ability of humans to heal themselves does not come through their own resources. Rather, mingled with the “heavenly Spirit,” the soul is helped by something greater than itself. This divine power within originates in an infused “effluence of deity, which is grace.”136 Demetrios Constantelos, a more recent writer than Meyendorff, Ware, and Lossky, now prefers the Greek term theosis (including the meaning “deification”, but also “making divine”), rather than “deification.” It also implies the ultimate goal to “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). The most effective way to reinstate the relations between God and man, according to Constantelos, is metanoia, or repentance. Recalling the calls to repentance of John the Baptist as well as of Jesus, this metanoia involves “a change of mind and intellect, accompanied by contrition and regret for sins committed whether by deed, word, or thought.”137

The scope of this thesis does not do justice to the breadth and depth of the theology of wholeness in Orthodoxy. The same is true for the theology and practice of Christian Science healing, but a comparison of their commonalities and differences highlights the significance of wholeness in the overall objective of soteria.

Christian Science treatment of healing

The words of Constantelos on repentance would be indistinguishable from Eddy’s equal emphasis on repentance in her theology of salvation. Eddy’s understanding of salvation begins with God who must be understood as supreme over all and who therefore is capable of and willing to destroy all sin, sickness, and death.138 Each individual is believed to have the right and the responsibility to work out his or her own salvation, based on Paul’s exhortation to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). Those who experience suffering and feel a loss of God’s goodness are able to overcome that loss through prayerful communing with Christ; and this prayer involves repentance. Eddy writes, “Through repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration, mortals put off their material beliefs and false individuality. It is only a question of time when “they shall all know Me [God], from the least of them unto the greatest.”139

Such prayer is answered in two ways. First, Christ creates in the human consciousness a purer love and deeper understanding of God. Suffering and sorrow are turned to a deep awareness of being loved by God, and that quieted thought brings mental peace, as well as physical healing. Second, those who feel such love consequently feel like loving others, or healing them through the same type of prayer. Eddy places great emphasis on the impact of a healing prayer by indicating that the true test of all prayer should result in conscious love for others:
The test of all prayer [including the prayer for physical healing] lies in the answer to these questions: Do we love our neighbor better because of this asking? Do we pursue the old selfishness, satisfied with having prayed for something better, though we give no evidence of the sincerity of our requests by living consistently with our prayer?140

Therefore, the “how to” of salvation in Christian Science is more focused on the work, or “Christianization” of the individual than a dependency on another person (priest), physical object (oil), or ritual (sacrament) in Orthodox practice. Striving for the Christian faith commended by Jesus in those he healed is a daily prayer for a Christian Scientist. Eddy points out the distinction between two meanings of faith, namely trustfulness and trustworthiness. She writes, “One kind of faith trusts one’s welfare to others. Another kind of faith understands divine Love and how to work out one’s own salvation, with fear and trembling.’”141 The trustworthiness that inspires one to take responsibility for one’s own thoughts and actions includes and requires spiritual understanding. Therefore the bond between Orthodox and Christian Science theology in healing is the agreement that the spiritual nature of Humanity is intact, whereas a point of departure lies in an understanding of where the power of Christ is working in the human thought. The purpose of the Greek icon is to rouse thought to be at one with the divine; whereas the Christian Scientist seeks Christ in consciousness, not in material symbol.

Christian Science in Western Christian context

Western theological movements experienced an explosion of new developments since the Enlightenment. New systems of thought, social order, science, philosophy, and religion called into question long-held Christian traditions, reclaiming some of them, redefining others, and adopting radical new ones. Romanticism, Marxism, liberal Protestantism, Modernism, and Neo-orthodoxy are a few examples of these challengers cited by historian Alister McGrath.142 Nineteenth century New England was a melting pot where western Christianity in many forms competed for the hearts and minds of intellectuals; the struggle produced an uplifting message from religion, taking shape in new forms, such as Transcendentalism, Evangelical Revivals, and the Social Gospel.

Christian Science was born in the midst of this New England tumult, and its fundamental theology was and continues to be confused with its boisterous look-alike philosophical, psychological, and spiritual brethren from the same era. Christian Science practice involves drinking from the cup of the Master, Jesus Christ, and sharing the blood of the New Covenant, or “the persecutions which attend a new and higher understanding of God,” as Eddy describes the Eucharist experience.143 It maintains its roots with primitive Christianity through its daily encounter with the Master. However, the new metaphysical and mesmeric healing systems that sprang up almost simultaneously appeared indistinguishable from Christian Science to some observers who failed to discern the primitive Christian theology and practice undergirding its healing works. Christian Science was often ridiculed as a pretender in the context of new religious awakenings and yet dismissed as un-Christian by traditional Christians. Intense opposition levied against Mary Baker Eddy’s movement in its earliest years included the ironic attempt to simultaneously discredit it and then attribute its success to others.

Biographer Gillian Gill is one of very few (non-Christian Scientist) biographers who have had both full access to the Church archives and willingness to research the controversies surrounding the founding of Christian Science along with its founder, Mary Baker Eddy. Gill supports Eddy’s claim to her own work from a late-twentieth century feminist perspective. Before explaining the reasons behind Gill’s defense, I must offer a very brief overview of a long and complicated tale.

At the mid-point of Mary Baker Eddy’s long life (1821-1910), she was introduced to the mesmerist healer, Phineas P. Quimby from Maine, who gave her temporary relief from the terrible physical suffering she had been experiencing. Mary Patterson (using the name of her second husband, Daniel Patterson) and Quimby became friends, as she sought to learn his healing techniques. Mary’s Christian upbringing and love for God inspired her to try to assimilate her deep Christian faith with elements in Quimby’s mental methods of healing. It wasn’t until after his death four years later that Mary discovered the genuine Christianity of healing and gradually moved in the exact opposite direction from her former teacher. Quimby’s followers then accused Mary (who later married Asa Eddy and took his family name) of plagiarizing from Quimby’s works.

Gill concedes that “some minor charges of plagiarism by Mary Baker Eddy could be firmly tied down…[but] for a movement so unusually devoted to a single, original, and newly printed work, it worked well [for her detractors] to focus attack on the writer’s authority and bona fides.”144 She notes the irony in which critics varied between two incompatible positions: “on the one hand, Mrs. Eddy’s ideas were bunk, and on the other hand, that she owed everything to the brilliant Quimby; that she was too stupid to have read authors like Swedenborg and Plato and Hegel, and yet borrowed her ideas from them without attribution.’145

Feminist theologians of today will readily recognize the challenge of a nineteenth century woman in a world of male-dominated clergy making a claim to original theological thought, let alone offering to the world a healing system reminiscent of the apostles’ teaching and practice of salvation. The linchpin in the argument between the followers of Quimby and Eddy was the use of mesmerism. After Quimby’s death, Eddy began to sort out the opposing characteristics of mesmerism and the consciousness of Christ. The nineteenth century model of mesmerism (like hypnotism) played directly into the hands of patriarchy, where a dominant mind (usually male) took control over a weaker one’s will (usually female). Eddy’s decisive break with, and in fact vigorous denouncing of, her former friend and revered teacher sprang from her realization of the danger of personal mental control and her clarity about the salvific power of Christ. While there are still some Quimbyites professing his role as founder of Christian Science, Gill concludes the matter thus:
Had Mrs. Patterson been a forty-year-old man, a very different model would have come into play, and we would be thinking in terms of intergenerational influence…146 In the end, she [Patterson/Eddy] decided that the issue of the originality of her writings was one she could not win in courts or in the media or the academy, that it must be left up to God, who judges all hearts.147

Biographer Edwin Dakin accused Eddy of exploiting religious emotion to augment the popularity of her movement in his book written in 1930, Mrs. Eddy: The Biography of a Virginal Mind. He wrote, “She had committed blunder after blunder, and stupidity after mistake, and in the end she came out with the right answer.”148 The “right answer” was Dakin’s accusation of her claim of divine origin for the healing power she taught. It was “right” as far as Dakin was concerned, only in the sense that it was hard to argue against, even while Dakin thought it was absurd. He claims Eddy’s adoption of religion for her healing system was a ploy, when ironically it was Quimby who adopted Christian terms to defend his mental system of healing.

Philosophy and psychology

Dakin also accused Eddy of borrowing from other departments of human thought to bring wealth and fame to herself: philosophy and psychology:
“Following Quimby’s own excursions into philosophical fields, Mrs. Glover [the last name of her first husband, George Glover] started her own philosophy with the proposition that All is God, hence All is good….If all is God, Good, then how account for the evil in the world?…It was here that Mrs. Glover really stumbled.”149

First he accuses her of borrowing from Quimby, then from other philosophers, and finally accuses her of the audacity of her original philosophical thought, “by hitching evil up with matter, and then denying the existence of both.”150 The accusation of borrowing from philosophers wiser than her and then despising her original thought falls on its own logic. But of equal importance, contrary to Dakin’s claim of Eddy’s hijacking of philosophy, Eddy opposed human philosophy, as she wrote: “Human theories are inadequate to interpret the divine Principle involved in the miracles (marvels) wrought by Jesus and especially in his mighty, crowning, unparalleled, and triumphant exit from the flesh.”151 Indeed, her argument that Spirit is unlike matter, and therefore matter is not of God’s creation, is central to her premise for the capacity to experience Christian “miracle.”152

The third “department of human thought” Eddy is accused of borrowing from is psychology. A new book by Robert Fuller, Religious Revolutionaries, claims Eddy’s reworking of Quimby’s psychology with scriptural passages explains the basis of her key to spiritual living as well as her successful exploitation of Quimby’s foundational work. He cites Quimby’s progress in mesmerism: the discovery that faulty mental states are the root of physical and emotional disorders. This, Fuller claims, the basis for Eddy’s psychological healing.153 Both followers of Quimby and Eddy agree that Quimby claimed health could be achieved only to the degree that self-defeating attitudes are overcome. However, while Eddy would see mental negativity as the source of suffering, her great point of departure from Quimby lies in the cure of such suffering. Those who do not correctly follow Eddy’s understanding of wholeness as an inherent characteristic of God who is Mind, tend to locate her system of healing within a psychological paradigm. Wholeness, as Eddy saw it, was a state of “at-one-ment” with God, or the indestructible nature of the “image and likeness of God;” therefore the cure of brokenness was through the action of Christ at work in individual consciousness. She wrote, “I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith…”154

Eddy’s ultimate departure from Quimbyism is of greater significance than a mere parting of the ways; rather she found the mechanism of the human mind (or, psychology) to have no innate curative power whatsoever. Richard Nenneman, in defense of Eddy’s shunning of the human mind’s healing power, shows that prayer is most successful when the physical senses are silenced and Spirit, or the divine Principle, Love [names attributed to God] is given audience. He cites Jesus’ example of withdrawing himself even from his disciples to be alone in prayer.155 In stronger language of her own, Eddy shows how the human mind must actually yield to the spiritual facts (i.e. God’s allness and perfection of God’s creation) in the way a little child yields to the authority of his or her parent:
Christian Science, properly understood, would disabuse the human mind of material beliefs which war against spiritual facts; and these material beliefs must be denied and cast out to make place for truth. You cannot add to the contents of a vessel already full. Laboring long to shake the adult’s faith in matter and to inculcate a grain of faith in God, – an inkling of the ability of Spirit to make the body harmonious, – the author has often remembered our Master’s love for little children, and understood how truly such as they belong to the heavenly kingdom.156

Contemporary look-alikes: New Age and Spirituality

Fuller claims in another book, Spiritual but not Religious, that very few people identify themselves as “New Agers,” since there is no organized religion or movement under that name. However, he says, the vast number of those who describe themselves as “‘spiritual, but not religious’ are in general agreement with the broad principles of these alternative philosophies [i.e. alternative healing systems, psychological theories, and exotic philosophies].” In addition, many church-goers identify themselves as “metaphysical seekers” and are restless with organized religion and biblical heritage.157 Another popular characteristic of the New Age movement is the flourishing of meditation practices that lead to higher cosmic planes and include holistic healing. Deepak Chopra, a bestselling author of metaphysical healing books, is typical of New Agers who think of holistic healing techniques as the secret to spiritual mastery.158 Fuller claims these alternative healing systems (alternative to medical models) are akin to the special healing rituals known throughout world history. From the prophet Elisha, Jesus, and Mohammed, their healing “miracles” were intended to display the power of God “in such a dramatic fashion as to bring both those who were healed and those who witnessed to a deeper faith.”159

Eddy argues vigorously against this misuse of spiritual power in two ways. First, she claims Christian healing is not a special gift for a few; and second, the purpose of Christian healing is not to produce an advertisement for God. When healing is understood as the demonstration of wholeness, or original God-likeness, it is clear that everyone must have access to the means for “working out one’s own salvation,” as Paul puts it (Phi. 2:12). Eddy justifies her teaching of the universal accessibility of Christian healing power:
In Latin the word rendered disciple signifies student; and the word indicates that the power of healing was not a supernatural gift to those learners, but the result of their cultivated spiritual understanding of the divine Science, which their Master demonstrated by healing the sick and sinning. Hence the universal application of his saying: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me [understand me] through their word.”160

Therefore, while Christian healing does cause some to ponder and attribute such power to God, the greater purpose of the healing work is for the healed and healer to grow spiritually, or learn more about their original wholeness. As dramatic as some healings may appear to be, Eddy insists that physical healing is truly the smallest part of Christian Science practice. It is intended to stir thought for the purpose of seeking infinite goodness, or wholeness, whereas confronting and ruling out sin is considered the greater work in the theology of Christian Science. Eddy notes that the healing of sin is not only more important, but even more difficult than the cure of disease, because “while mortals love to sin, they do not love to be sick.” 161

Eddy acknowledges the popular tendency in religion to lean on the spiritual strength of others and attributes the reluctance to take responsibility for working out one’s own salvation to the sacrifice required. “Few understand or adhere to Jesus’ divine precepts for living and healing,” she writes. “Why? Because his precepts require the disciple to cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye, – that is, to set aside even the most cherished beliefs and practices, to leave all for Christ.”162 Although contemporary New Age practices such as A Course in Miracles appear quite similar to the Christian Science metaphysical approach to wholeness, the essential difference lies in the relationship between wholeness and sacrifice. Some chapter titles in the Course in Miracles are “The Illusions of the Ego,” “Healing and Wholeness,” and “The Acceptance of the Atonement,”163 titles which could easily relate to Christian Science. However, unlike Eddy’s adherence to Jesus’ cutting off the right hand and plucking out the right eye, the Course claims, “Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God. It arises solely from fear, and frightened people can be vicious.”164 Also, “Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross.’”165

It could be argued that the opposite positions regarding sacrifice stem more from semantics and practice, rather than differences in ontology. Both systems, for instance, make use of an absolute sense of being, in contrast to a relative sense. “To speak of ‘a miracle of healing’ is to combine two orders of reality inappropriately. Healing is not a miracle,” claims the Course.166 And Eddy agrees that “A miracle fulfils God’s law, but does not violate that law. This fact at present seems more mysterious that the miracle itself. … The miracle introduces no disorder, but unfolds the primal order, establishing the Science of God’s unchangeable law.”167 In other words, both systems claim the natural harmony of God’s presence and order of being, and that the setting aside of material law in favor of God’s power is to be expected in the human experience. But the emphasis on sacrifice in the practice of Christian Science draws it more closely to its primitive Christian roots.

Historical context for Christian sacrifice

Eddy’s teaching of sacrifice for the sake of wholeness involves the sacrifice of useless “gods,” such as glamour, sensuality, and greed. The gifts of God, such as growth in grace, are not asked to be forsaken but to be treasured; consequently the purpose of true sacrifice is to rid oneself of temptations and to draw closer to God. No sacrifice, regardless of its magnitude, has power to influence or appease God, who loves unconditionally; rather, its purpose is to free the sacrificer from earthly burdens. A major question in contemporary practice, then, concerns the meaning of comfort. If sacrifice is necessary for the successful practice of healing, is the ultimate purpose of healing to establish perpetual comfort? Or is it for the purpose of working out the larger issues of salvation?

Without the promises of ever-advancing progress in medical technology, ancient Christians joined their Hellenistic brethren to seek means for escape from the body. With the prevalence of death and dying in every day life, whatever set one free from a subservient relationship to the body was agreeable. Resisting passion or sexual desire, for instance, was an acceptable method of attaining such freedom, according to Peter Brown.168 For third-century Christian, Origen of Alexandria, there was a profound sense of fluidity with the body, which included a limited frame for the spirit, reflecting back to a former limitless identity, as well as extending an ever expanding freedom way beyond the grave. Any type of physical indulgence then, — overeating, physical sensuousness, and excessive sexual indulgence in marriage – would interfere with the spiritual senses of being.169

Two centuries later, Augustine began to articulate a significant shift in Christian thought concerning the body. Rather than advocating sacrifices of the bodily cravings, he found the greater enemy to be the human will. The sexual desire was always a disturbance to Augustine, not because it imprisoned one in the body, but because it was contrary to the natural will. Death and sexual desire both appeared to him as a mockery of the will.170 All flesh for Augustine was not merely the chemical compilation of cellular structure, but rather, as Brown summarizes, it was “all that led the self to prefer its own will to that of God.”171 Augustine’s understanding of the body serves as a useful link between Origen’s profound ambivalence to the body and the self-consuming attitude of modern Christians. Technology has spread its all-embracing wings over the world through the impetus of the human will. Always striving for more comfort and more power, technological advances pattern the human will.

Today, medical technology has largely replaced the body as the central concern for Christian ethics, but the will maintains its role as the moral compass. Ray Kurzweil and George Grant are both concerned with the relationship between the will and the direction of technology for the future, but they hold opposing views regarding the value of the human will. Kurzweil concedes that technology is driven by the desire to manipulate and control the course of the human experience.172 But he sees the escape from the bodily limitations as a positive development. Grant points out, however, that it is this very willfulness in technological power that distorts the practice of justice and promotes empirical tendencies. He claims that the technology-driven quest for comfort and power results in a loss of love for humankind.173

Eddy concurs with Grant’s warning against technologically-produced bodies and rebukes the egocentric tendency to manipulate bodies or life through technology. “Mortals are egotists,” she writes. “They believe themselves to be independent workers, personal authors, and even privileged originators of something which Deity would not or could not create.”174 Putting off the human will, as well as casting out fear, promote an awakening to the divine will and enable the divine healing action. As human thought repents of its willfulness and turns from its fear, it approaches the divine through the work of Christ, and the body yields to the characteristics of the divine. Thus the body, governed by thought in obedience to God, experiences wholeness.

Where the early Christians’ solution was to find the life in Christ outside the body, today’s technology promises to extend the capacity of the material body and mind. Therefore, with the introduction of technological hope for humanity, the incentive for sacrifice has generally been lost in contemporary religious practices. And in doing so, the model for wholeness becomes based on a medical one, rather than a Christly one. Paul’s question, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death” (Rom. 7:24)? is just as relevant today as it was when there was no medical technology available to answer the question. Will wholeness be found if the advancement of medical technology is guided by human will, rather than the Christian exhortation to live the Christly qualities, to take up one’s cross, and to let “this same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5)? Eddy sees that neither the body nor technology is the problem; but like Augustine, she believes the human will must be sacrificed, through repentance, in order to experience genuine wholeness.

Postmodern challenges to spirituality

When postmodernism burst the modernist hopes for human progress and reason after World Wars I and II, theology responded with suspicion, ambiguity, fragmentation, and irony. One aspect of the crumbling foundation appeared in the shift in theological perspective toward extreme subjectivity. Critic Elaine Follis calls it the “me, me, me age,” in which self-consuming tendencies result in the diminishing of religious communities and even lead toward the disintegration of community cohesiveness. New Age religion, an umbrella term for any number of self-help spirituality movements, appears kinder and less hypocritical than traditional Christianity; but moral relativism, lack of commitment, and abhorrence of sacrifice gain popularity in the postmodern do-it-yourself style of religion. As Follis is quick to point out, it is easy to be affable when there are no requirements, accountability, or presumed commitment.175 Sallie McFague also warns of the dangers of this “cult of individualism,” as it tends to promote the isolation of individuals who enter relationships whenever they wish. Anthropologically, she claims, it distorts the interrelational, interdependence of human beings who compose the body, and are components of the body, planet Earth.176

Perhaps philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, the acknowledged founder of postmodernity, never anticipated the popularity nor the effect of self-seeking comfort from his overthrow of Enlightenment objectivity. His primary objective was to engage language-users in a fully human life by breaking from the Cartesian and Kantian philosophies which resulted in solipsism177 and metaphysical irrelevance and which isolated individuals from community. In fact, Wittgenstein argued that no human self was alone in a private world, since the very existence of language is proof that humans live in relation to each other.178 Rather than seeing language as a private knowledge preventing speakers from relevant relationships, he demonstrated language as a means to “go on” in meaningful relation to others. The usefulness of Wittgenstein’s philosophy for theology is its ability to assist the Christian community in its vocation to live as the people of God in its particular historical-cultural context.179

Paul Tillich also sought to correlate philosophy to theology. His “method of correlation” is an example of both the postmodern challenge and postmodern hope for wholeness in salvation. Connecting questions in the context of culture with answers implied in Christian theology, he shows the practical relevance of theology. Answers are meaningful only as they concern the whole of our existence (or, existentially). Tillich challenges contemporary theology with his concept of God as the “Ground of all being and meaning.” In this sense, rather than a biblical personalism, he sees God as a metaphysical Principle, a transcendent First Cause. And on this basis, the role of Jesus Christ who was united with the Ground of his being was to become subjected to the “estranged existence” through the symbol of the cross, and his conquest was symbolized in the resurrection. 180 Salvation is experienced as a healing power, or recovery of our essential being. Tillich points to the fundamental meaning of the Latin salus as “healing” and finds salvation as God’s acceptance of us through God’s reconciling and healing work.181

Although Tillich finds a naturalness in Christian miracles, his theology includes no practical guidance for consistent practice of healing. From Eddy’s point of view, his denial of a real incarnation of God in human flesh and his denial of the real resurrection from the dead would probably make Christian healing an ethereal, impractical experience. Tillich’s most serious challenge for the practitioners of Christian Science lies in his postmodern charge toward any theologies that “try to deliver answers to questions that we in our particular situations haven’t asked.”182 Healing is always relevant to the human condition, because it demands the off-putting of “the old man” (Rom. 6:6) and demonstrates the eternal harmonious relationship between God and God’s image and likeness, thereby enabling salvation to occur. However, within the cultural context of advancing bio-technology and the “me, me, me” approach to spirituality, contemporary Christian healers will need to respond to the questions of the greater social needs.


Both the Greek Orthodox Church and Mary Baker Eddy claim the significance of healing practice arises from its essential role in the Christian’s everyday need to work toward salvation, and they both attribute it to primitive Christianity. Although practiced in widely different cultural contexts, both have also encountered stiff opposition from western culture. The original schism between the eastern and western church developed as a result of the West’s increasing interest in Roman law; and ultimately the western focus on justification of sin replaced the theological significance of healing. The new theological movements of 19th century New England veered toward metaphysical and philosophical individualism, when Eddy was trying to introduce a wholly different type of metaphysical principle that reinforced primitive Christian healing. The West’s insatiable quest for greater medical technology tends to minimize the value of Christian healing, and the unselfishness that is willing to heal others.

Repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration are the means for throwing off the limitations of mortal existence, and the proof of righteous prayer is the knowledge that love for God and love for others predominate in the affections. Such adjustments of the heart, according to Eddy, bring about physical wholeness, as well as mental peace. Healing that comes about through sacrificing human will, subduing fear, and praising God can only occur through the action of Christ’s presence and power, and this is the reason such healing is inseparable from the full salvation in Christ.


Soteria, the great hope in the heart of Christians, is a present possibility as well as a future promise for those who follow Christ in their daily lives and prayers. Understood from a spiritually metaphysical point of view, salvation is a conscious understanding of goodness that occurs through an awakening from evil attractions and fears. It is the release from the bondage of mental and physical suffering. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection serve to rouse Christians to a desire to repent and to take up their own crosses in order to follow him.

Christian healing, if it could exist outside the context of salvation, would not offer a significant alternative to medical technology. After all, it requires sacrifice and growth in grace, both of which are not attractive to a culture immersed in instant self-gratification. However, Christian healing retains its importance throughout Christian history precisely because it is inherent in the full meaning of salvation. A true Christian healer lives a life devoted to loving God supremely and loving his or her neighbor, striving to obey the Master’s two great commands. And in like manner, the exercise of the Christ-power in healing strengthens the work of Christianity on behalf of the entire world. Mary Baker Eddy thought of healing works as proof of Christ as the way of salvation. She writes,
Sacred history shows that those who have followed exclusively Christ’s teaching, have been scourged in the synagogues and persecuted from city to city. But this is no cause for not following it; and my only apology for trying to follow it is that I love Christ more than all the world, and my demonstration of Christian Science [referring to the system of prayer-based healing, rather than the name of the denomination] in healing has proven to me beyond a doubt that Christ, Truth, is indeed the way of salvation from all that worketh or maketh a lie.183

The task of future practitioners of Christian healing will be to show again how the questions of society relate to salvation. If they claim that the self-sacrificing work of healing themselves or others is essential to the working out of one’s salvation, they must show how a practical understanding of wholeness will feed the poor; how the marginalized will be reclaimed in God’s glory; and how the earth will be saved from killing itself in pollution. Wholeness cannot serve as an excuse for saving oneself above others.

The Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine devoted to seeking answers to such questions, devoted a recent issue to the environment. It serves as an example of the way personal salvation requires participation in the salvation for all, including the world we live in. Channing Walker, a contributing editor, highlights the similarity between the healing of bodies and the healing of the earth. When physical healing occurs on the basis of discerning the present goodness of God’s creation, the same principle applies to the prayerful discernment of God’s love for all the earth. “It’s about God,” he writes, “awakening in each heart and mind to adopt, as Christian Science teaches, a mental perspective of the environment that more closely mirrors His view. One that steers individuals and communities toward better everyday choices – personally, politically, environmentally – and results in better care for our beautiful small planet.”184

The key to the relationship between wholeness and soteria is that an understanding of wholeness causes spiritual growth, which in turn heals the body and strikes the heart with a desire to love. Loving God and loving others is unselfish and causes those who are healed to sacrifice for others. They turn intuitively to seek the means to feed the hungry, support the downtrodden, and repair the damage of self-consumption. The healed become healers, and this is the perpetual link that holds Christian healing to be an essential element of soteria.



The following interpretation is based on the translation of Frederik Wisse of “The Apocryphon of John” from The Nag Hammadi Library in English. 185 One of the difficulties in interpreting these ancient manuscripts is the presence of words with special meanings. Although many of the terms appear in other manuscripts with a relatively consistent meaning, they are found neither in canonized literature nor in contemporary language use today. They do appear to have parallel meanings with Hellenistic concepts, ancient Hebrew concepts, and Christian concepts, but their meaning is lost in a modern and post-modern context. Four of these frequently used terms are identified metaphysically in context. In order to bring out the meaning and continuity of the entire tractate, I substituted these terms as a reminder of the text’s meaning of the words in the following way. (See Appendix 2 for contextual passages indicating the meaning of these terms.)
Aeon – Kingdom, consciousness
Archon – Enflamed counterfeit consciousness
Authorities – Arrogant counterfeit consciousness
Pronoia – Savior

The setting of Ap John places John, the brother of James and the son of Zebedee, in the position of doubt and torment concerning the validity of his savior.186 A Pharisee ridicules the absent Nazarene, and in private John yearns to understand the Savior’s appointment by his Father and the imperishable kingdom (aeon) his Savior promises for him. Suddenly an image appears before John to speak with him and answer his questions. This image later identifies himself as the savior (Pronoia).

The answer begins with an explanation of the perfect and supreme Father, the Mother who is forethought, and the only-begotten son, Christ, who created everything (7.10). Knowledge about the perfect creator and perfect creation is important in the scheme of salvation, because the savior’s work is the return to the original faultless state of holiness from the accursed enslaved life (25.15). The perfect order includes harmonious relationships between the Father, Mother, and only begotten son and results in perfect creation.

The will of the invisible Spirit conceived of all creation and anointed it with goodness. Maintaining the harmony and glory of all that comes forth from the Father, three lights appear with the Christ: his will, thought, and life (8.5). Four powers known as understanding, grace, perception, and prudence accompany the lights; and with the authority of this goodness established, twelve states of eternal consciousness (aeons) become present: grace, truth, form, conception, perception, memory, understanding, love, idea, perfection, peace, and wisdom (8.25).

From the foreknowledge of the perfect mind and through the revelation of the will of the invisible Spirit, perfect Human187 appeared in coexistence with Christ (9.0). Perfect Human is given spiritual, invincible power, and the purpose of perfect Human is to praise and glorify creator of the Human. Each individual Human, including Seth, his descendents, the saints, as well as those who hadn’t repented quickly, is established in a state of eternal consciousness without reference to temporal conditions, such as time or space (3.25, 9.20).

The downfall of the human race began with Sophia’s desire to usurp the role of the invisible Spirit by bringing forth a likeness of herself, contrary to the will of the creator (9.30). Her creation is a mockery of the perfection and complete creation of the infinite Spirit. Her offspring whom she named Yaltabaoth, comes forth from ignorance and loses his likeness to his creator. The logical absurdity of Sophia, or “wisdom” acting out the opposite of her nature, or ignorance, indicates the logical absurdity of the perfect Human in a flawed condition, or downfall (10.10). The strength of this mockery is arrogance, as it attempts to claim itself as the ego of God and re-create the universe in its own power (11.20, 10.20). The twelve states of inflamed counterfeit consciousness (archons) include envy, Cain and Abel, and the depth of Hades; they mock the original twelve states of eternal consciousness (aeons). Darkness creeps into the thought of Yaltabaoth’s mother, and she recognizes it as inconsistent with the original perfection she had enjoyed in the beginning. It occurs to her that she had become forgetful (of original perfect creation), because of the ignorance and wickedness of her son, and she repents severely for her willfulness (13.20; 13.35).

Just as Sophia was working to correct her own deficiency, her son put into action his own determination to usurp the power of God in a new creation. Ignorant of the origin of the voice from eternal consciousness (aeon), he empowers his own arrogant counterfeit consciousness (authorities) to create a new form of man. As a reflection seen in the water, this new creation, human, remains in the image of God; but his deficiency is due to the likeness of his father, Yaltabaoth, the chief enflamed counterfeit consciousness (archon) (15.5). The resulting inactive and motionless body consists of perfect detail and function mixed with demons governed by their mother, who is matter. The work of the matter-governed demons arises from passions which result in pain, false pleasure, and fear (18.25). Now Sophia wants to retrieve the power she had given to her son, so she petitions the Mother-Father to awaken the inactive and motionless body. Yaltabaoth is instructed by holy decree to blow the spirit of his mother, Sophia, into the face of the inactive body in order for it to arise (19. 25).

Intelligent and luminous, this human’s inheritance from Sophia makes him greater than his father, the enflamed counterfeit consciousness (chief archon). Knowing that the human needs protection from the rage of his counterfeit creator, the afore-thinking Mother-Father sends the aid he needs through Life, in the form of light. This light always remains securely within the human (the type born of mixed parenthood) for the purpose of teaching him the way out of darkness and restoring him to his original fullness (20.20). But warfare between the human and Yaltabaoth intensifies to the point of death, in order to form the human again. The counterfeit spirit, Yaltabaoth, determines that the tomb of this newly-formed body will bind him with forgetfulness, and he will become a mortal man (21.5,10). Light from Life remains within him, however, and continues to awaken his thinking.

Arrogant counterfeit consciousness (authorities) tries a third approach, leading mortal man into the deception of luxury, where the serpent teaches him lust and destruction (22.10). Again, the light is present, making the man more correct in his thinking than his tormentor, and again the enflamed counterfeit consciousness (chief archon) seeks to overpower him. This time, the man is overcome with sleep, where his forgetfulness keeps him from paying attention. Part of his power is taken from him, and another creature in the form of a woman appears before him. Since the light had remained within him, the woman was made in the likeness of the light.

The man and woman, whose thinking begins to awaken, withdraw from Yaldabaoth, but he reacts in angry ignorance. Snatching life out of the woman, he seduces her, plants sexual desire, and thereby produces copies of the bodies with his counterfeit spirit (24.25,30). The man, however, recognizes the likeness of his original foreknowledge and begets the likeness of the eternal consciousness (aeon). Thus the seed remains within the creation for a while, until the Spirit appears to raise up and heal all those with deficiencies. Then the whole creation becomes holy and faultless once again (25.10,15).

John reenters the conversation with a direct question for his savior. “Will everyone be brought safely into this pure light?” The savior’s answer is not a simple yes or no, but requires further explanation based on an understanding of the previous accounts of the creations of the Spirit and counterfeit spirit (25.20; 26.20). Also, those who discern their original perfection and who are not under the spell of the counterfeit spirit are the only ones who will comprehend the savior’s response.

When the Spirit comes to save, he explains, those who are ready to live without anger, envy, or greed will learn a life of incorruption (learning, as Plato’s cave-dweller “learned” his way out of darkness, resulting in this case in a body similar to the Savior’s resurrected body.)Although still living in their bodies, they will be purified from all wickedness and involvements in evil. They will gain the power to fight the good fight and to bear up under everything. They will know their lives to be imperishable and wait patiently for the final relinquishing of the body (26.10). And of those who have not achieved the high standard of perfection? Will they be saved? The power of the Spirit descends on everyone, without exception.188

The counterfeit spirit, however, draws some of these astray, and John wonders what happens to the souls of those who are led astray and then die. Even these will be saved, the savior explains, because the power of the Spirit is stronger than the counterfeit spirit, and they will be brought into the eternal consciousness (aeon) (26.30).

John continues to question where the soul should go after it is separated from the body, because he couldn’t understand how it could return to the limitation of its previous nature. Commended for this astute question, John is told there is no reincarnation into another fleshly form, but this soul is saved because the Spirit of life is in it (27.20).

And of those who turn away? Where there is no repentance, they shall suffer forever.

John has one final question: “Where, then, did the counterfeit spirit come from?” His savior responds with a recap of the story of perfect creation, the evil actions of the arrogant and enflamed counterfeit consciousness (authorities and archon), and his own involvement in the act of salvation. The perfect Mother-Father raised up the perfect race with its superior thinking and light (28.10). Enflamed counterfeit consciousness, stirred by envy, planned a bitter fate for these people, which would cause all sin, injustice, blasphemy, forgetfulness, ignorance, and great fears to blind them. The purpose of blindness was to prevent the race from knowing God, who was superior to all of them. After repenting for his meanness, enflamed counterfeit consciousness immediately planned a flood of destruction, but it was deflected because of the presence of the light. He planned another attack by seducing the women and expecting to abuse them, but again without success. Finally he created a counterfeit spirit to resemble the Spirit and to seduce the women again, filling them with the spirit of darkness (29.20). The people were deceived and died without knowing the God of truth. And thus the whole creation became enslaved until the Savior came (30.5).

The Savior (Pronoia) now identifies himself to John as the light entering into the realm of darkness. He tells John of his work in the prison of Hades, explaining how the foundations of chaos shook, and the wickedness of thought prevented the people from recognizing him. The Savior returns a second time, but chaos shook again until he (the Savior) fled for the light. Finally the third time, he returns filled with light, striving to awaken those who would hear him. One is roused, grieving from the imprisonment of his body, but conscious of hope. The Savior tells him to get up and to become conscious of his own root in the light. He warns him to follow him out of the darkness and to guard himself against the ensnaring darkness and sleep in Hades (31.10).

The Savior continues to explain to John that he raised up the dead and made him conscious of his reflection of the light within him, showing him that death would have no more power over him. The Savior’s mission is complete, and he (the Savior) is ready to go to the perfect Kingdom (aeon). Part of his mission was to be certain that John knew these lessons and would write them for others who were ready to understand. They would remain a mystery to those who hadn’t yet experienced their resurrection from the death of the counterfeit spirit (31.30). (Again, reminiscent of Plato’s allegory, this savior struggles to rouse the complacent agreement with darkness and to teach the meaning of the light. Not satisfied with the saving of one or even a few, the Savior seeks the means to teach as many as will be willing to learn and to follow him.)

Immediately the Savior disappeared, and John went to his fellow disciples to share with them all that the Savior told him.



Aeon — Kingdom, consciousness
God is expressed in these terms: “God is the aeon-giving aeon,” “knowledge-giving knowledge,” etc. (4.5). Aeons are also identified as states of thought, such as memory, understanding, and love, etc. (8.5-20). The term kingdom denotes places in which various types of thoughts predominate or govern. “…the whole aeon of the chief archon trembled.” Aeons, therefore, can refer to the type of consciousness that governs .

Archon — Enflamed counterfeit consciousness
A defining context for archon is “This is the first archon who…created for himself other aeons with a flame of luminous fire…”(10.25). Archons, following the lead of the chief archon, Yaltabaoth, continuously attempted to either re-create creation or else destroy it. The chief archon “inspired them [Adam and Eve] with his counterfeit spirit” (24.30).

Authorities — Arrogant counterfeit consciousness
Authorities are the offspring of the chief archon: “he joined with his arrogance which is in him and begot authorities for himself” (10.25). Therefore they act on the arrogant command of the original counterfeit consciousness.”

Pronoia — Savior
The identification of the Pronoia says of himself, “I, therefore, the perfect Pronoia of the all, changed myself into my seed,…” (30.10). And later, “And behold, now I shall go up to the perfect aeon. I have completed everything foryou in your hearing.” Following this quote, the text continues, “And the savior presented these things to him that he might write them down…”(31.30).



The following interpretation is based on the translation of Frederik Wisse of “The Concept of our Great Power” from The Nag Hammadi Library in English. 189 As in the interpretation of Ap John, I substituted some significant terms with a metaphysical interpretation, as a reminder of the text’s meaning of the words in the following way. Two have the same meaning as found in Ap John, but three are added here. (See Appendix 4 for contextual passages indicating the meaning of these terms.)

Aeon – Consciousness, kingdom
Archon – Enflamed counterfeit consciousness
Hades – Death
Psychic aeon – Consciousness of human being
Shepherd – Feeble attempts to protect

An alternative title might be: “Understanding the divine power that saves through separating good from evil.”

Setting: The Savior is speaking in the first person to a follower, explaining the source of human agony and his means of saving.

The foundational teaching from the Savior is that knowing God transcends the physical senses. (“He will become invisible.”) This knowledge will rouse a great fire that will consume all the possessions of the disciple, but it will not consume him. There is a great separation between the things that prevent discernment and the powerful light that reveals God as the great Power. (This setting resembles Plato’s allegory, in that the separation between the shadows and reality known in the light is almost incapable of reconciliation. The separation of the person from his attachment to the darkness feels like an unfathomable torture.) Whatever is unable to perceive the great Power is to be thoroughly purged from that which does see it, and the unseeing shall be scattered and destroyed (36.25).

This separation has taken place in order that the seers may understand the kingdom (or consciousness) and how it will be made evident. In the great Power that is beyond the breadth and height of all earthly creation, there is a light that reveals the meaning of the Savior’s teachings. The meaning of the Savior’s writings is illumined by the light, and it supports those who live on earth. No one can actually survive without it. In fact, the great Power, or Spirit, is present every day and must be known, because it is the source of life for all (37.25).

The great separation took place because it is the nature of the light to overcome darkness. In the great struggle before the separation, the counterfeit powers wanted to see and know the meaning of the Savior, and they attempted to create life in the image of their perception. This false image, the consciousness (aeon) of the flesh, entered into great bodies of creation and roused the father of the flesh to avenge himself. Noah, a pious man, protected himself against the flood of the fleshly rage, and attempted to help others to hear his message. But no one would listen. The judgment of the flesh prevailed, and only the work of the Power withstood it (30.15).

Human consciousness (psychic aeon) is defiled with envy, hatred, sorrows, falseshoods, and diseases. This is a sleep state, in which dreamers are subject to these evil judgments. But those who sleep in this consciousness must be awakened to be alive. They must separate themselves from false, dreaming pleasures, because a fire will arise to burn all the wickedness in these dreams. When all the dwelling places are consumed, including the feeble attempts to protect (shepherd) them, the fire will burn until it destroys itself (39.30). Then the human (psychic aeon) will be awake to discern God, the great Power, and will know and receive the Savior. He will be as Noah, proclaiming the consciousness of the kingdom (aeon) to come. He will experience dominion over the powers of death (Hades) and raise those who have died (41.10).

But the agitation continued, where enflamed counterfeit consciousness (archon) strives to overpower human consciousness (psychic aeon). One of the humans was recognized, and he fell victim to the counterfeit power. Death was about to overtake him, but there was something about him that protected him from complete annihilation. The power of life that came from the divine Logos was inherent within him (42.5); hence, the great separation was taking place. Enflamed counterfeit consciousness (archon) acknowledged it (the psychic life) would dissolve, and that a mighty change of consciousness (aeon) was being established. Those humans who recognized this change would understand it and feel blessed because they were to know the truth (42.30).

Another story of destruction and resurrection follows in a similar pattern. It is unclear whether the story is intended as a continuation from the first, or whether it is meant to be an elaboration of the first. In both cases, a great fire appears to purge and purify everything that opposes itself to the great Power. In the second account, the fire destroys all elements of matter and leaves in place the consciousness of beauty. For those who still identify themselves with the punishment, they cry unto the Savior, the great Power. They are released from the lower power of the enflamed counterfeit consciousness (archon) and brought into the unchangeable consciousness (aeon) of rest. Freed from a relationship with matter, they reflect the divine light and are able to see him. (This description of salvation patterns Plato’s allegory in that those who have been roused from their dark stupor are conscious of the enlightenment of good and lose the desire to return to punishment.) Knowing God, the great Power, did come about through transcending the material senses, as the Savior taught in the beginning.



Aeon – Consciousness, kingdom
Aeons are states in which changes can occur, and they imply a type of thought that governs. “Know how what has departed came to be, in order that you may know how to discern what lives to become: of what appearance that aeon is…” (36.30). “The [archons] did not know that this is the sign of their dissolution, and (that) it is the change of the aeon?” (42.15).

Archon – Enflamed counterfeit consciousness
The archons rise up in opposition to the divinely empowered man. “They recognized one of his followers. A fire took hold of his (i.e. Judas’) soul…” (41.20). “Then the wrath of the archons burned” (45.30). Their counterfeit nature is expressed by this: “He [archon] wants to nullify all teaching, the words of true wisdom, while loving the lying wisdom. For he attacked the old, wishing to introduce wickedness and to put on dignity” (44.20).

Hades – Death
Death, or the destruction of human life, is governed by the ruler of Hades. The inseparability between death and its ruler implies a mental state more than a physical state of being. “And he (great Power) opened the gates of the heavens with his words. And he put to shame the ruler of Hades; he raised the dead, and he destroyed his dominion” (41.5).

Psychic aeon – Consciousness of human being
The psychic aeon is an expression of consciousness, in which the human thought is susceptible to both the influences of defilement and the saving authority of “the great Power.” Some contextual phrases include: “…the psychic aeon…is mixed with bodies, by begetting in the souls (and) defiling (them)…it begot…many works of wrath, anger, envy, malice, hatred,…”etc. (39.20). And yet also, “the psychic one…who knows the great Power…will speak in parables…” (40.25).

Shepherd – Feeble attempts to protect
Unlike the shepherd often used in scriptures, this shepherd is unable to defend against the destructions of the dwellings from the mother of the fire. “And its shepherd perished” (40.10).



Augustine established the vocabulary and grammar of Western doctrines of atonement. Western theologians of late antiquity, modern, and post-modern eras have continued to develop and respond to what he set in motion through his doctrine of justification. A brief summary of these theories of atonement illustrate both the difficulty and importance of seeking a cohesive explanation for God and God’s relationship to sinning mortals. In chronological order, the following theologians represent the dominant trends in atonement theology.

* Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury — often attributed (perhaps falsely) as the developer of the “satisfaction” theory. Brief summary: The state of eternal blessedness is frustrated through human sin. The remedy is to find a satisfaction, in which the offense can be purged. Humans are not good enough for this task, and therefore the “God-man” who possesses God’s ability and the human obligation is required to pay for the satisfaction.190

* Peter Abelard — example of subjective atonement; “moral influence” theory. Brief summary: Jesus’ death does not have the power to redeem, but his teaching and action of sacrifice cause us to love. The action of love is the cause of redemption. 191

* Thomas Aquinas — objective atonement; defends (or develops) “satisfaction” theory, as stated by Anselm. Brief summary: he shows how the satisfaction of Christ on the cross exceeds the offense committed by humanity especially through the love of Christ and the burden he bore.192

* Duns Scotus — subjective atonement; leads to “negative theology”. Brief summary: If God were predicated on mortal consciousness, it would not be secure. Therefore, this mind should be negated to leave only the consciousness of the divine.193

* Martin Luther — “justification by faith.” Brief summary: Influenced mostly by Augustine, Luther adds that the precondition for justification by humans is met by God. God graciously gives to humans what they require in order to be justified.194

* John Calvin — “substitution” theory. Brief summary: We deserve to be punished for our sin, but the price is too high, so the innocent life of Christ is offered as penal substitution. It leads to “limited atonement,” where atonement is not for everyone.195

* Immanuel Kant — extreme subjective atonement; Brief summary: Autonomy and absoluteness of moral consciousness is the basis for the concept of reconciliation. Religion is morality; what Jesus shows us is what we already had, and he did not constitute the atonement.196

* Friedrich Schleiermacher – modern reinstatement of doctrine of reconciliation; Brief summary: An “empirical” understanding of Christ as teacher and example only makes true redemption an impossibility. Divine causality operates through natural means, and therefore justification is contingent upon a real change in humans.197

* Karl Barth — “dialectical theology of justification;” Brief summary: Soteriology is necessarily secondary to the fact of revelation. The justification of humans refers to the epistemic situation, or the “Christologically disclosed knowledge of the Christologically determined situation.”198

* Paul Tillich – “liberated Protestant principle;” justified not by works (including intellectual and moral work), but by faith. Brief summary: Salvation (referring to more fundamental meaning, healing) is the recovery of our essential being and fulfillment of our meaning.199

* Rudolf Bultmann – subjective, “existential theology;” Brief summary: Jesus had no “messianic self-consciousness;” he did not identify himself with the coming Savior. He did foresee the imminent coming of the eschatological figure, even though in existential perspective, the Savior should be demythologized.200



Jesus said to his friend Martha that “those who believe in [him], even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in [him] will never die (Jn 11:25). He also said to Nicodemus that “everyone who believes in him [might] not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). In numerous discussions like these, Jesus taught there was a powerful connection between believing in him and living. He urged people to exercise authority over death through believing. To the father of a young girl who was dying, Jesus instructed him, “Be not afraid, only believe (Mk 5:36).

Believe what? In many cases, Jesus insisted on answering this question through his actions. But upon occasion he explained himself, such as the time he said, “Very truly…anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life” (Jn 5:24). The one “who sent him” was used as reference to his Father, or God, in the gospel of John. And the relationship between believing his word and having eternal life implies that the one who hears and believes is one who lives correctly, or in harmony with God’s being. One could infer from Jesus’ actions and words therefore, that the power of this belief is enough to overcome death, either before or after it appears to take over someone’s life.

Jesus’ own victory over death was the proof of his teaching. It was the complete defeat of death, wherein he himself — even though he died, lived. His resurrected body was the body of a person who had died; it had received new life. It was a body whose normal functions had ceased and then resumed; the physical senses of the people around him could perceive this body (Lk 24:39-43).

Jesus had healed and raised the bodies of others, before his own resurrection. He illustrated to his followers that the power over disease was as available as the power over death for those who believed him. He asked the blind men, for example, whether they believed he was able to heal them, and he made it clear to them that their healing came about “according to [their] faith.”(Mt 9:28) To the woman healed of “an issue of blood” whom he insisted on finding in the crowd, he gave assurance that it was her faith that made her whole. (Lk 8:48) Jesus repeatedly made it clear that people who were healed were those who had faith in “the Father who sent him” and that the only criterion for selecting those who were healed was their willingness to believe what he lived and taught.

Sin was destroyed on the same basis. The paralytic man both received his strength to walk and was forgiven his sins, when Jesus “saw their faith”. That is, Jesus commended him and his friends who had found a way to move him through the crowd and into the house from the roof top, because they were evidently convinced of Jesus’ willingness and power to heal him. Jesus made clear to the attending Pharisees, as well as to the sick man, that his capacity to heal the body was linked to his authority to forgive. “For which is easier to say,” he asked, “‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? (Mt 9:5) In another instance, the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and kissed them had been forgiven, and her belief in him was so evident that it needed no words of confession. (Lk7:38)

The most poignant connection between the need for believing and Jesus’ power of healing death, sickness, and sin was centered around his own death and resurrection. During the seven mile walk to Emmaus after his resurrection, he listened carefully to the disciples’ explanation of the events as they understood them. And as he revealed himself to their doubting hearts, he pointed first to the sadness of their being “slow of heart to believe who he was.” (Lk 24:26) He patiently “interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures,” beginning with Moses, (Lk 24:27) in order for them to recognize what it was they needed to believe about him. Believing in Jesus appeared to be the most important lesson Jesus wanted his disciples to learn from his resurrection.

True believing requires repentance

“Believing” as Jesus referred to it was neither blind faith nor faith in magic. This was the kind of believing that resulted in the disciples’ “hearts burning within” them. More symptomatic of repentance than mere allegiance, “hearts burning within” illustrate the kind of faith or believing that transforms character. Repentance of this magnitude causes ancient and modern day disciples to change what they believe so severely that they live differently. The kind of believing that results in repentance is a motif recurring from the beginning to the end of Jesus’ career, and it sheds light on his own resurrection. “Repent, and believe in the good news,” he proclaimed when he emerged from his wilderness trial (Mk 1:14). And in his final instructions to his disciples, according to Luke’s gospel, Jesus “opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations…’” (Lk 24:45-47).

Tracing the connection between repentance and believing through the process of healing sin and disease shows how the resurrection of the dead can also be understood on the same basis. “Thinking differently”201 is a useful way to understand repentance, as it emphasizes that there is an alternative way to think. One who admits to be wrong is able to consider a new basis for one’s reasoning or thinking. Therefore one is able to believe something differently from before one’s change, or repentance. Jesus made it clear that some people would believe him, and some would not. “Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (Jn 3:18). Although the form of the condemnation is not specified here, the phrase “already condemned” could be interpreted as referring to those already suffering from sin or disease.

But Jesus taught repentance. Those who didn’t believe could and should change their minds. When he mingled with publicans and sinners, he told the Pharisees it was more important to help the sinners to repent than to rehearse the righteousness of the righteous (Mt 9:13). After he healed the man who had been ill for 38 years, Jesus searched for him in the crowd to be certain he knew he would have to repent permanently in order for his healing to remain permanent (Jn 5:14). Even those who were healed physically but not known to be sinning were seen as “thinking differently” (or, repenting). For instance, when the centurion came to him, asking for the healing of his servant (or slave), he was commended by Jesus for his demonstration of faith in authority. And on the basis of faith in Jesus’ healing authority, the centurion was told to return home and find that all would be well. He shifted his faith in the supposed reality of a dying servant to faith in Jesus’ assurance of the servant’s wellness (Mt 8:5-13).

When people came to Jesus for healing, he helped them in a variety of ways to disagree with their own convictions in their suffering and to believe that there was a power more potent than the laws of disease. To the father of the boy suffering with convulsions, Jesus said, “All things can be done for the one who believes.” And in return, the father cried, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24) This healing power, greater than material law, came from “him that sent me” (Jn 5:24), or the power from God. The change required of the people Jesus healed was the realization that their faith in material law had to change to faith in spiritual law, or God’s law. Although the power was spiritual, it never required people to leave earth in order to have access to its relevance in their earthly bodies. In fact, their bodies were healed, or “made well” (Jn 5:6), as Jesus referred to it when this healing action took place.

Willingness to repent, or change their minds from one belief to another, was characteristic of those who were healed of either sickness or of sin. When Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, changed his mind to live according to the laws of kindness and fairness, rather than the selfishness (seeking happiness and self-worth in material wealth, perhaps) that labeled him “a sinner”, Jesus indicated again that the power to do so came from something higher than Zacchaeus’ own mind: “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost” (Lk 19:10). Zacchaeus expressed his change of heart in the language of repentance by offering to pay back his victim four times more than the worth of his mistake. Repentance that transformed character for the better, as in Zacchaeus’ case, was an indication that the individual believed his happiness came from a divine source rather than a material source.

The practical relevance of abandoning beliefs stemming from physical sensation in favor of the spiritual laws of God is woven through Jesus’ teachings and practice. His parable of the prodigal son illustrates the continuity of the Father’s faithful love and capacity to give abundantly to his son, as well as the necessity for the son to repent. Instead of finding satisfaction in material attractions, the young man found emptiness; and his Father’s spiritual qualities of compassion, honesty, and purity appeared more beautiful to him. He turned from his unprofitable ways and found refuge in his Father’s house (Lk 15:11). Even when the wandering away from the Father’s bountiful goodness was not willful or sinful, Jesus taught the blessing that comes from changing course and returning to the Father, or adopting his Father’s ways. His parable of the lost sheep, for instance, where one wandering sheep was missed, shows how there is rejoicing when this one is turned from the wrong direction and rejoined in the safety of the pasture (Lk. 15:1).

The power of turning thoughts

Jesus treated sickness and sin similarly, in that the Savior turned their thoughts away from pains and pleasures of matter and toward his authority and bountiful goodness. But the distinction in his treatment of sickness and sin was based on the fact that people were more willing to turn from their suffering than from their lusts. His healing of the ten men suffering from leprosy is a helpful example of the sometimes unspoken shift in thought by the individuals healed. Although the ten of them were together when they asked Jesus to have mercy on them and to heal them, only one of them turned back to acknowledge his gratitude to God. Jesus had the opportunity to tell him that it was his faith that had made him well, although the other nine had also been healed by the same unexplained thought process (Lk 17:19).

If a change of belief, or repentance, is the root of Christian transformation of body and soul (health and righteousness), then it is conceivable that change of belief is the means through which resurrection could occur to a physical body. An example of the fact that resurrection overruled material law in the physical body was presented in Jesus’ appearance behind locked doors after he rose from death (Jn 20:19). The body of Jesus was the same as before his crucifixion, as he wanted his disciples to understand from the visible wounds he showed them. But this body was not subservient to material law.

The significant question regarding Jesus’ resurrection is, “What change of thought was taking place while his body lay at rest in the tomb?” “He committed no sin,” according to Peter (I Pet 20:22), and yet Jesus had explained to Peter before it even occurred that he would suffer, be rejected of the chief priests, and be killed (Mk 8:33). He had the power to escape the ordeal, and yet he laid down his life voluntarily, as he knew the Father asked of him in the garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:42). In a previous stay in Jerusalem, he had told his disciples that no man could take his life from him, and that he had the power to lay it down and to take it again (Jn 10:18). It was clearly not his own sin that needed correction, but the sins of those who hated him. The purity of Jesus’ life was a rebuke to the self-righteous, the sensualist, the greedy, the haughty, and the selfish. It roused anger, revenge, terror, and envy to such a degree that these sins inflamed the people who crucified him. Unselfish love, beyond what the world had ever seen, allowed all earthly sins to be brought to the surface in order to be seen as impotent before Christ. Cut off from all human aid, and alone with the Holy Spirit, he vanquished the effects of every form of evil levied at him.

Love, the reforming power of the resurrection

There was no justice in the crucifixion of an honest and good man, but the resurrection, which Jesus foretold (Mk 8:31), was the means by which he could illustrate his divine capacity to overcome all opposition to his authority. His resurrection was an act of divine Love, because it caused repentance in those who discerned it. His command to his sorrowing disciples to “cast the net to the right side of the boat” (Jn 21:6) prepared Peter in particular to abandon his fishing career, to “feed his sheep” and to “follow him” (Jn 21:19). As they turned their thoughts and forsook their self-made lives for God-guided lives, his disciples were ready to exercise the spiritual authority Jesus had taught and expected in them (Mt 28:16-20).

Only resurrection could have produced such an effect on Jesus’ immediate followers as well as on those who were to come in the future. If Jesus had not actually died and overcome death, his apparent divinity would have been irrelevant to the human suffering. If he had not returned to earth where the disciples could see evidence of his victory, they would have reverted to their previous ways of living as they had already started to do. Because the resurrection involved the death of a supremely innocent man, the absolute defeat of death, and the repentance of disciples, it has since been understood as the act of atonement.

Therefore its impact on those who believe it is of considerable importance. Sin would be reckoned with, health would be restored, and the sting of death would be removed. But following Christ will inevitably cause the same kind of “burning hearts” and repentance as it did to the first disciples. Jesus had already explained that the only way anyone could follow him was to take up one’s cross, or to “lose one’s life” for Jesus’ sake (Mt 10:38). Paul understood Christians were to “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). The implied responsibility for people to work out their salvation is not in conflict with the unique role of Christ making it possible. When Christ brought the divine message of spiritual law and spiritual reality to the human condition, then the human thought was able to repent successfully, or to relinquish its belief in material law and its correlative limitation. Whether the material belief was pleasurable (causing sin) or painful (causing disease), only Christ could rouse the desire to believe in goodness from God (causing healing). Only Christ can rebuke material beliefs, because Christ is the divine message from the invisible Holy Spirit proclaiming its own authority.202



The following footnote from Gillian Gill’s biography, Mary Baker Eddy, describes the unraveling of the so-called Lieber-Hegel plagiarism charge against Eddy and illustrates the type of attacks levied against Eddy and her role as founder of Christian Science and author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

Perhaps the most egregious example of the strength of the plagiarism charge against Mrs. Eddy can be seen in the case of the so-called Lieber-Hegel manuscript, the text of which first appeared in a book-pamphlet published in 1936 and was reissued by its supposed editor and actual author Walter M. Haushalter in different forms over the next twenty years. In the pamphlet, Haushalter, a minister first with the Disciples of Christ and later with the Episcopalians, claimed that Mrs. Eddy had stolen her essential metaphysics from an eleven-page manuscript entitled “The Metaphysical Religion of Hegel” which Francis Lieber, a respected German-American political scientist, had written in 1866 under the pseudonym Christian Herrmann. The pamphlet included letters which allegedly proved that the manuscript had been sent to Mrs. Eddy’s early disciple Hiram Crafts, who in turn passed it on to her. Haushalter finally claimed to have combed New England library and manuscript collections before finally, fortunately, coming upon the lost documents. Haushalter finally published the text after he had made repeated efforts to sell the supposed manuscript to the Church of Christ, Scientist for $150,000. He managed to find four eminent professors from Johns Hopkins University to endorse the authenticity of the manuscript which they later claimed they had in fact not examined. The Lieber-Hegel document was enthusiastically received by those anxious to find evidence for their assumption that Mary Baker Eddy had been, in the words of one correspondent, “enslaved to some brilliant mind to whom she was indebted for both thought and terms.” The Times Literary Supplement declared the Haushalter charge of plagiarism “possibly the most important ever brought against Mrs. Eddy’s personal and doctrinal integrity.” It took the work of two American academics, Conrad H. Moehlman and Frank Freidel, to show on internal evidence that the document could not have been written by Francis Lieber. Faced with this evidence, the four professors recanted. Finally the archival research of Christian Science scholar Thomas C. Johnsen told the tale of how Haushalter got the idea of concocting the text from sources he found in the Harvard library. I am indebted for this information, and specifically for the quotations given in this note, to the definitive account of the Lieber-Hegel document scam given by Thomas C. Johnsen, “Historical Consensus and Christian Science: The Career of a Manuscript Controversy,” New England Quarterly (March 1980).

It is symptomatic of the force of the plagiarism issue has carried as a means of attacking Christian Science that Haushalter’s allegations were accepted for so long, even by scholars as distinguished as Charles Braden. In this instance, the Committee on Publication of The Mother Church had overwhelming documentary evidence to disprove the charges being made against Mary Baker Eddy, but such was its reputation for censorship, media manipulation, and cover-up that it could not get its message across. It was not until the more enlightened tenure of archivist Lee Z. Johnson in the 1960s and 1970s that a new breed of Christian Science scholars, Like Thomas C. Johnsen and his associates at the archives, notably Robert Peel and Stephen Gottschalk, did serious archival research and challenged some of the taboos. Two of the minor tragedies of Christian Science intellectual history are that Gottschalk’s book was never reissued and is now hard to come by, and that Johnsen’s superb doctoral dissertation, “Christian Science and the Puritan Tradition,” never found a publisher.203


1 Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 1977, s.v. “soteria,” 966-967.

2 Ibid., 990.

3 William C. Placher, ed. Essentials of Christian Theology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 188.

4 Frank Darling, Biblical Healing: Hebrew and Christian Roots (Boulder, CO: Vista Publications, 1989).

5 Ibid., 181
6 All scriptural references in this thesis are quoted from New Revised Standard Version.
7 The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, s.v. “metaphysics.”

8 Plato, The Republic, Book VII, trans. Allan Bloom (USA: Basic Books, 1968), 193-220.
9 The term “healing” is used by Plato in his philosophical metaphysics, and it is relevant for the spiritually metaphysical approach to follow. See The Republic, 515c, 194.
10 Karen King, What is Gnosticism? (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 150.
11 Ibid., 24.

12 Ibid., 25.

13 Michael Allen Williams, Rethinking “Gnosticism:” An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 265.

14 King, 215.

15 In current usage, the English word, “human” is inadequate to express the meaning of the man and woman known as God’s image and likeness. This perfect being is distinct from the existential meaning of humans who suffer in ignorance of their relationship with God. Therefore, to indicate this distinction, I will use the term “Human” with a capital “H” to refer to the spiritual and perfect image and likeness of God throughout this thesis.
16 Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (Boston, MA: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1875, republished 1994).

17 Eddy’s use of “man” is explained in her words: “…man is a generic term. Masculine, feminine, and neuter genders are human concepts. In one of the ancient languages the word for man is used also as the synonym of mind.” Science and Health, 516.

18 Ibid, 507.

19 Ibid, 522.

20 Ibid. 523.

21 Ibid, 527 emphasis added.

22 Ibid. 530.

23 Ibid, 534.

24 Ibid. 535.
25 Bentley Layton, The Gnostic Treatise on Resurrection from Nag Hammadi, Edited with Translation and Commentary (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979), 90-102.

26 Robert M. Grant, Irenaeus of Lyons: the early Church Fathers (New York: Routledge, 1997), 114.
27 Mary Baker Eddy, Poems including Christ and Christmas, “Christmas Morn” (Boston, MA: Trustees under the Will of Mary Baker G. Eddy, 1925), 29. Reference from stanza: Thou God-idea, Life-encrowned, The Bethlehem babe – Beloved, replete, by flesh embound – Was but thy shade!

28 Rosalie E. Dunbar, “God and transformed health,” The Christian Science Journal, February 2004, 62.
29 Williams, 189.

30 Irenaeus of Lyons, “Against the Heresies,” Ante-Nicene Christian Library
(London: Hamilton & Co., 1868), 1.6.1-4, 1.7.5, pp.24-27,30.

31 Williams, 196.

32 Luise Schottroff, “Animae naturaliter salvandae: Zum Problem der himmlischen Herkunft der Gnostikers.” In Christentum und Gnosis, Ed. Walther Eltester (Berlin: Alfred Topelmann, 1969) 65-97, as quoted in King, 206.
33 Gillian Gill, Mary Baker Eddy (Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1998) 10-12.

34 Stephen Gottschalk, The Emergence of Christian Science in American Religious Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), 82.

35 Eddy, Science and Health, 164.

36 Williams, 218.
37 Eddy, Science and Health, 263.

38 Ibid, 70.

39 Peel, 280.
40 Richard A. Nenneman, The New Birth of Christianity: Why Religion Persists in a Scientific Age (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992), 140.

41 Lois Rae Carlson, Homily given at First Presbyterian Church, Evanston, IL, 25 March 2005.
42 Ibid.

43 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:6).

44 Eddy, Science and Health, 26.

45 Ibid, 19.

46 Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, 1883-1896 (Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1924),109.

47 Caroline Fraser, God’s Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1999), 9.

48 Ibid., 163.

49 Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, 107.

50 A highly publicized example in Eddy’s lifetime was the claim of one of her pious followers (who was married and preached celibacy) to have had an immaculate conception, when in fact the child was likely illegitimate. See Gillian Gill, Mary Baker Eddy (Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1998), 418-436.

51 Documented accounts of successful healing experiences have been recorded every week in The Christian Science Sentinel since it was founded in 1898.

52 See an entire book filled with accounts of her healings: Yvonne Caché von Fettweiss, Robert Townsend Warneck, Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1997),

53 Ibid., 119.

54 Eddy, Science and Health, 286.
55 Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. I “The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)” (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1971), 141-143.

56 Ibid, 144.

57 Justo L. Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought, Vol. 1 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987), 166.

58 Gerard H. Ettlinger, SJ., ed. and trans., Jesus Christ & Savior (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1987), 61.

59 Aloys Grillmeier, SJ., trans. John Bowden, Christ in Christian Tradition, Vol. 1, From the Apostolic age to Chalcedon (451) (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975), 103.

60 Ettlinger, 63.
61 Eddy, Science and Health, 26.

62 James Herbert Srawley, ed., The Catechetical Oration of Gregory of Nyssa (Cambridge: University Press, 1956), xxi.

63 Gonzalez, 321, 346-352.

64 Jean Daniélou, S.J., intro., Herbert Musurillo, S.J., trans. and ed, From Glory to Glory: Texts from Gregory of Nyssa’s Mystical Writings (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961) 11.

65 The name given to a sermon on the subject from On the Beatitudes (Sermon 6, 44.1268B-1272C).

66 Ibid, quoted from Daniélou, 101.

67 Ibid, 13.

68 Ibid, 251.

69 Srawley, xx.

70 Anthony Meredith, S.J., Gregory of Nyssa: The Early Church Fathers, (New York: Routledge, 2002), 7.

71 McGrath, Historical Theology, 134.

72 Daniélou, 144.

73 Meredith, 13.

74 Gill explains Eddy’s use of the term “animal magnetism:” [It] has nothing to do with animals but refers to that magnetism exerted by the mind, or anima,” (134). Eddy shows the relation between animal magnetism and human will: “Human will-power is not Science….[it] is sheer animal magnetism. Human will-power may infringe the rights of man. It produces evil continually…” (144).
75 Von Fettweis, 218.

76 William G. Rusch, ed. and trans., The Trinitarian Controversy from series, Sources of Early Christian Thought (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980), 27.

77 Pelikan, 280.

78 The Donatist Controversy centered around the role of the state in the church controversy over “lapsed” members who had endured persecution. Augustine’s resolution to the controversy gave rise to his emphasis on the sinfulness of Christians. As a “mixed body” of sinners and saints, the church would always welcome those needing the grace of Christ through its administration of sacraments. [See Allister McGrath, Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1998), 72-77.]

79 Ibid, 83.

80 Gonzalez, See 29-31.

81 McGrath, Historical Theology, 80.

82 Pelagius, in J.P. Migne, Patrologia Latina, 33:1110A-B. [6.18], as quoted in McGrath, Historical Theology, 81.

83 Gonzalez, 17-22.

84 McGrath, Historical Theology, 82.

85 Ibid, 84,85.

86 Joe R. Jones, A Grammar of Christian Faith: Systematic Explorations in Christian Life and Doctrine (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002), 433.

87 McGrath, Iustitia Dei, 31.

88 Ibid.

89 Jones, 434.

90 Eddy, Science and Health, 230.

91 Ibid, 67.

92 Steve Long, The goodness of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2001), 128.

93 Ibid, 105.

94 Eddy, Science and Health, 39.

95 Eddy, Science and Health, 239.

96 Ibid.
97 Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. I “The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)” (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1971), 149.
98 Joanne E. McWilliam Dewart, Death and Resurrection, from Message of the Fathers of the Church, 22 (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, Inc., 1986) 37.

99 Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual Machines (New York, Penguin Books, 2000), 129.
100 Justo L. Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought, Vol 1 (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1971), 226.

101 The following interpretation is based on the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, primarily found in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. A more detailed interpretation of resurrection is found in Appendix 6 of this thesis.
102 James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (New York: Abingdon Press, 1961). Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, def. repentance, 47.
103 N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2003), 42.
104 E. A. Wallace Budge, The Papyrus of Ani, The Legend of Osiris, the Book of the Dead, 1895. “Osiris was the god through whose sufferings and death the Egyptian hoped that his body might rise again in some transformed or glorified shape, and to him who had conquered death and had become the king of the other world the Egyptian appealed in prayer for eternal life through his victory and power.”
105 Plato, Phaedo, trans. Benjamin Jowett, [2 February 2005].

106 In Acts 12:23, Herod, the Greek monarch was struck dead, because he gave no heed to God, and was said to have been eaten by worms.
107 Plato, Phaedo, “Would you not say that he is entirely concerned with the soul and not with the body? He would like, as far as he can, to be quit of the body and turn to the soul. … That is true.”
108 Quotation from pneumatike mone, PG 6.1588., Wright, 503.
109 Dewart, 88.

110 “The Treatise on Resurrection (I,4),” M. Peel. Trans. Nag Hammadi Library 47.38-48.3

111 Dewart, 93.

112 Irenaeus of Lyons, “Detection and Overthrow of the Gnosis Falsely So-Called,” V, Adversus Heareses 1-36.
113 De Resurrectione Carnis 1. from E.E.Evans, Tertullian’s Treatise on the Resurrection (London: SPCK, 1960) 61; cf.57.
114 Dewart, 168-169.
115 Ibid., 167-171.
116 Augustine, Letter 148.3 to Fortunatianus,

117 Ibid.

118 De Gen. Ad Litt. XII 35. Transl from J.H. Taylor. The Literal Meaning of Genesis (New York, Newman Press, 1982), 228.
119 Ibid., 165.

120 N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2003).

121 Ibid., 348.

122 Ibid., 7.
123 Ibid., 348-350.
124 Oscar Cullman, Immortality of the Soul, or Resurrection of the Dead? (London: Epworth Press, 1955), 29.

125 Ibid., 41.
126 Ibid., 59.

127 Ibid., 51.

128 Ibid., 29.
129 Liturgy of the Word, Saints Peter & Paul, Greek Orthodox Church, Glenview, IL, 7 November 2004.

130 Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, 1883-1896 (Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, copyright renewed 1924), 268.

131 Fr. Demetri C. Kantzavelos, interview by Shirley Paulson, 17 November 17 2004.

132 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought (Washington, DC: Corpus Books, 1969), 88.

133 Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way (Oxford: St. Thomas House, 1979), 99.
134 Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (London: James Clarke & Co. Ltd., 1944, trans. 1957), 126.

135 Fr. Angelo Artemas, “The homily,” Saints Peter & Paul Greek Orthodox Church, 7 November 2004.

136 Lossky, 118.
137 Demetrios J. Constantelos, Understanding the Greek Orthodox Church (Brookline, MA: Hellenic College Press, 1998), 78-79.

138 Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (Boston, MA: Christian Science Publishing Society, 1875), 593.

139 Ibid., 242.

140 Ibid., 9. Brackets are mine.

141 Ibid, 23.

142 McGrath, Historical Theology, 226-239.

143 Eddy, Science and Health, 33.
144 Gillian Gill, Mary Baker Eddy (Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1998), 337.

145 Ibid.

146 Ibid., 146.

147 Ibid., 338. Brackets are mine. For a fuller description by Gill of the long-lasting effects and conclusion of this dispute, see Appendix 7 of this thesis.

148 Edwin Franden Dakin, Mrs. Eddy: The Biography of a Virginal Mind (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1930), 110.

149 Ibid., 100.

150 Ibid, 102.

151 Eddy, Science and Health, 117.

152 It is important to clarify that Eddy’s claim for the “unreality of matter” comes about only through the spiritual “learning” of God’s allness. It is absurd to claim its unreality without first admitting through obedience to the First Commandment that there is no other power or being besides God. She writes of her own learning that came from her humble prayer in honoring God as all: “The three great verities of Spirit, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, – Spirit possessing all power, filling all space, constituting all Science, – contradict forever the belief that matter can be actual. These eternal verities reveal primeval existence as the radiant reality of God’s creation, in which all that He has made is pronounced by His wisdom good. Thus it was that I beheld, as never before, the awful unreality called evil. The equipollence of God brought to light another glorious proposition, – man’s perfectibility and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth.” (Science and Health, 109-110.)

153 Robert C. Fuller, Religious Revolutionaries: The Rebels who Reshaped American Religion (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 101-104.

154 Eddy, Science and Health, 218.

155 Richard Nenneman, The New Birth of Christianity: Why Religion Persists in a Scientific Age (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992), 153.

156 Eddy, Science and Health, 130.

157 Robert C. Fuller, Spiritual, But Not Religious (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 99. Brackets are mine.

158 Ibid., 116.
159 Ibid., 118.

160 Eddy, Science and Health, 271. Eddy’s use of the phrase, “divine Science,” refers to a consistency in divine law that is able to be tested, taught, and demonstrated universally. It signifies a scientific method, rather than a study of physical phenomena. Brackets original.
161 Mary Baker Eddy, Rudimental Divine Science (Boston, MA: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1891), 2.

162 Eddy, Science and Health, 410.

163 Foundation for Inner Peace, A Course in Miracles (Tiburon, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975).

164 Ibid., 33.

165 Ibid., 47.
166 Course, 19.

167 Eddy, Science and Health, 134-135.

168 Peter Brown, The Body and Society (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 31.

169 Ibid., 168.

170 Ibid., 405.

171 Ibid., 418.

172 Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual Machines (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Press, 1999), 35.

173 George Grant, Technology and Justice (Notre Dame, IN: University Press, 1986), 39.

174 Eddy, Science and Health, 263.
175 Elaine Follis, Redeeming Spirituality (unpublished manuscript, 2004), 34.

176 Sallie McFague, contributor, “Is God in Charge?,” quoted in Essentials of Christian Theology, ed. William C. Placher (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 112.

177 Defined as “the view that what I myself think is necessarily all there is” in James Wm. McClendon, Witness: Systematic Theology, Vol. 3 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000), 246.

178 Ibid., 248.

179 Placher, 30.

180 Stanley J. Grenz and L. Miller, ed., Fortress Introduction to Contemporary Theologies (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998), 57-61.

181 Ibid., 62.

182 Ibid., 57.
183 Mary Baker Eddy, Message to The Mother Church: Boston, Massachusetts, June 1901 (Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1901), 21. Brackets are mine.

184 Channing Walker, “A Better Environment: It’s Your Choice,” Christian Science Sentinel (14 March 2005), 22.
185 Frederik Wisse, trans. “The Apocryphon of John” from The Nag Hammadi Library in English, ed. James M. Robinson (Brill, The Netherlands, HarperSanFrancisco, 1978), 104-123.

186 The term “savior” carries the same meaning as “Savior”. I have made an effort to use the capitalization used directly in the translations. When I use the term independently of the text, I use the conventional capitalized form.
187 “Perfect Human” is my interpretation from Frederick Wisse’s translation, “perfect Man”, from “The Apocryphon of John” 8.30.
188 “The power of the Spirit descends on everyone, without exception” is my interpretation from Wisse: “For the power will descend on every man, for without it no one can stand” (26.10).
189 Frederick Wisse, trans., Douglas M. Parrott, ed. “The Concept of our Great Power,” from The Nag Hammadi Library in English, ed. James M. Robinson (Brill, The Netherlands, HarperSanFrancisco, 1978), 311-317.
190 Alister McGrath, Historical Theology (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1998), 135-136.

191 Joe R. Jones, A Grammar of Christian Faith: Systematic Explorations in Christian Life and Doctrine (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002), 433; also William C. Placher, ed. Essentials of Christian Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 369.
192 McGrath, Historical Theology, 138.

193 Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei: I Beginnings to 1500 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 64-65.

194 McGrath, Historical Theology, 186.

195 “Cathedral Studies on Atonement” from Anglican Diocese of Canterbury from internet; also McGrath, 118-119.

196 Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei: II From 1500 to the Present Day, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 149.

197 McGrath, Iustitia Dei: II, 155-156.

198 Ibid, 176, 182.

199 L. Miller and Stanley J. Grenz, ed., Introduction to Contemporary Theologies (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998), 62.

200 Miller, 47; also Placher, 372.
201 James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, (New York, Abingdon Press, 1961), Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, partial definition of “metanoeo”, or repentance, 47.
202 This interpretation of resurrection is based on ideas from Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, (Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1875; reprint 1994).
203 Gillian Gill, Mary Baker Eddy (Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1998), 657-658.


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