A photo depicting two contrasting religious texts side by side, one labeled "Christian Science" and the other "Christianity," symbolizing the differences between the two beliefs.

How Does Christian Science Differ From Christianity?

Christian Science is a religious movement that shares some beliefs with Christianity but has substantial differences in doctrine and practice. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll analyze the key variances between Christian Science and mainstream Christianity to answer the question: how does Christian Science differ from Christianity?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Christian Science has unorthodox beliefs about the nature of God, Jesus, sin, sickness, death, and the authority of the Bible that diverge from both Protestant and Catholic Christianity.

Read on as we dive deep into the theological and practical disparities between Christian Science and Christianity around God, Jesus Christ, prayer healing, the material world, sin and evil, the afterlife, church authority, and more.

The Nature of God

Christian Science Views God as Impersonal Principle

Christian Science, founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the late 19th century, has some notable differences from mainstream Christianity. One of the most significant is its view of God. Rather than seeing God as a personal being, Christian Science teaches that God is an impersonal Principle, referring to Him as “Father-Mother God” to emphasize divine qualities traditionally associated with both masculinity and femininity.

According to Christian Science, God is completely spiritual and entirely good. He is the divine Mind and does not possess a physical body. Christian Scientists do not believe that God is anthropomorphic in any sense, meaning He does not have human characteristics.

They view God as an impersonal set of qualities such as Truth, Love, Intelligence, Soul, Spirit, Principle, Mind, and Life. God is understood to be the sum of these qualities rather than a being with personality traits.

Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote about God as “the great I AM” and saw Him as the only reality. Everything else, including sin, sickness, and death, is considered an illusion. God did not create matter and does not interact directly in earthly affairs.

He simply expresses His divine qualities which comprise spiritual reality. Christian Scientists turn to God through prayer and realization of spiritual truth rather than petitioning a personal deity.

Christianity Sees God as Personal Being

In contrast to Christian Science, mainstream Christianity has historically viewed God as a personal being. Most Christian denominations teach that God is an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent being who created the universe and sustains it through His sovereign will.

Although God is understood to be spirit without a physical body, He is seen as having personhood and interacting with humanity in personal ways.

Christians derive their concept of God primarily from the Bible, which uses personal pronouns and familial language when speaking about Him. God is portrayed as having feelings, thoughts, plans, and purposes.

He communicates with people, establishes covenants with them, guides them, and responds dynamically to prayers. Christians believe God seeks a genuine relationship with humankind even though He transcends creation.

Most Christian theologians maintain that God expresses Himself through three personae: God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This concept of the Trinity affirms God’s personal nature while allowing for His unity and multiplicity.

Each member of the Trinity relates to humanity in an intimate, personalized way.

So while Christian Science views God as an impersonal, divine Principle, traditional Christianity sees God as a personal, relational being who is actively involved in Creation. This fundamental difference about the nature of God leads to divergent perspectives on how to relate to the divine.

Jesus Christ

His Nature and Mission

Christian Science has a unique view of Jesus Christ that differs significantly from mainstream Christianity. In Christian Science, Jesus is not seen as the literal Son of God, but rather as the Way-shower who demonstrated the Christ spirit.

His life and works serve as an example of the power of divine Love to heal and redeem humanity.

According to Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy, Jesus was the promised Messiah, but his nature was fully human. He was not God incarnate. Rather, Jesus expressed the Christ spirit – the divine nature within all human beings.

By tuning into this spirit and living according to God’s will, Jesus was able to manifest remarkable healing works.

The mission of Jesus Christ was to demonstrate divine Love’s supremacy over sin, sickness and death. Through his teachings and healings, he showed humanity our true spiritual nature as beloved children of God.

Christian Science teaches that by following Christ’s example of purity, unselfishness and healing works, we can awaken to our inherent divine potentials.

Views on the Crucifixion and Resurrection

Christian Science does not interpret the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in literal, physical terms. While acknowledging the crucifixion as a historical fact, it is understood metaphorically as representing the final conflict between the Christ spirit and the material world.

The resurrection is seen as Jesus’ complete triumph over the beliefs of sin, sickness and death, proving man’s spiritual identity.

Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “His disciples believed Jesus to be dead while he was hidden in the sepulchre, whereas he was alive. From this experience the disciples learned that life is

deathless and love is the master of hate.” Science and Health, p. 44.

So in Christian Science, the crucifixion and resurrection symbolize the eternal victory of Truth over error, of Life over death. Jesus’ resurrection serves as evidence of every person’s ability to transcend material limitations through the understanding of man’s spiritual nature.

Healing through Prayer

Christian Science Rejects Medical Treatment

Christian Science, founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the late 19th century, believes that sickness can be cured through focused prayer and a spiritual connection with God. Followers believe that illness is an illusion that can be overcome by praying and gaining a proper understanding of the spiritual nature of God and humans.

Unlike most forms of Christianity, Christian Science generally rejects conventional medical treatment, believing that physicians treat only symptoms whereas prayer treats the root causes of illness. Christian Scientists avoid modern medicine, relying on prayer for healing and saying that human beings are spiritual beings and sickness is an illusion that can be corrected through prayer.

They believe that medicine is unnecessary for healing and that disease can be cured through focused prayer and by gaining a spiritual understanding of God.

Christian Scientists do not turn to medicine or doctors to treat illness, believing prayer and spirituality are the sole effective remedies. They see sickness as an illusion that should be cured by spiritual means alone.

Christian Science practitioners provide prayer-based healing services, not medical treatment, for a fee. However, most Christian Scientists do not forbid using medicine and generally leave it up to the individual to decide whether to use medical services.

Still, many Christian Scientists avoid medical intervention entirely, even for broken bones or during childbirth, believing solely in spiritual treatment.

Christianity Affirms Role of Medicine

In contrast to Christian Science, most forms of Christianity accept and support the use of modern medicine and healthcare. Mainstream Christianity views physicians as instruments of divine healing power and encourages followers to seek medical treatment when ill.

Most Christian denominations do not reject medicine or healthcare. Rather, Christianity affirms the role of medicine while also encouraging prayer for divine healing.

Unlike Christian Science, conventional Christianity acknowledges the reality of physical disease and sees medicine as a legitimate and valuable tool for treating illness. Christians generally believe God works through healthcare providers, giving physicians the knowledge and skill to bring about cures.

While believing that God ultimately brings about healing, most Christians think seeking medical treatment demonstrates using the tools God has given mankind to care for the body. Many Christians combine prayer for healing with standard medical care.

However, some Christians do believe God can and will heal sickness through prayer alone. Some Christians practice faith healing, where ailing individuals are prayed for and anointed with oil in order to cure disease by divine intervention alone.

But faith healing is seen as complementing medicine, not replacing it entirely. Mainstream Christianity does not shun all medical treatment in the way Christian Science does, but rather accepts medicine while also praying for God’s healing.

The Material World

Christian Science: World is Illusion

Christian Science views the material world as an illusion created by the human mind. According to Christian Science teachings, the physical universe that we perceive through our senses does not actually exist.

It is considered a false belief that can be overcome through prayer and spiritual understanding of God’s true nature.

Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy taught that matter, sin, sickness and death are not creations of God, but rather are mistaken beliefs of mortal mind. She described the material world as the “error of carnal mortal mind”, not the true spiritual creation of God which she saw as entirely good and spiritual.

By turning away from belief in materiality and focusing completely on the spiritual nature of God and his creation, Christian Scientists believe we can transcend this illusion of a material world and align our thought more fully with Divine Mind, or God.

Christianity: World Has Reality

In contrast to Christian Science, mainstream Christian teachings view the physical world as having real existence created by God. Most Christians do not see the material universe as an illusion or false belief.

Christian scriptures present God as the creator of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1). The material world is described as a deliberate part of God’s creation, declared good by God (Genesis 1:31), and meant for human beings to steward and enjoy.

Christian theology affirms that while the physical realm is temporary and flawed due to human sin, it still has meaning, purpose and value as part of God’s intentional design. Christians are called to live spiritually while still participating in the material aspects of life on earth.

So while Christian Science teaches that turning away from the illusion of matter is required for spiritual growth, mainstream Christianity sees the material world as created by God for a purpose, while also longing for the perfect eternal spiritual life to come.

Sin, Evil and Suffering

Christian Science: Not Real

Christian Science teachings state that sin, evil, and suffering do not truly exist. They view these things as illusions that result from spiritual misunderstanding. Founder Mary Baker Eddy taught that the material world is an illusion, and when we correctly perceive spiritual reality, we recognize that God only created spiritual good.

From the Christian Science perspective, sin, sickness, and death stem from the false belief that people and the material world are separate from God. As Eddy states in Science and Health, “All reality is in God and His creation, harmonious and eternal.

That which He creates is good, and He makes all that is made. “ Therefore, anything unlike God—anything bad, evil, or suffering—is not legitimately real according to Christian Science.

Christianity: Reality of Sin

In contrast, mainstream Christianity affirms the full reality of evil and sin in the world. Humanity’s disobedience towards God, beginning with Adam and Eve, is seen as the origin point. Christians believe people inevitably and universally commit sin by falling short of God’s perfect standard (Romans 3:23).

Additionally, Christianity sees suffering and death as inseparable consequences of sin. By introducing sin into the creation, humanity also unleashed affliction. Christians point to Bible passages such as Romans 5:12: “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.”

So while Christian Science denies the existence of evil and suffering, Christianity views them as inescapable realities needing redemption. Particularly through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, Christianity offers salvation from bondage to sin and suffering.

Afterlife and Salvation

No Hell in Christian Science

Christian Science teachings reject the existence of hell and eternal damnation. According to Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy, hell represents a state of mortal thought rather than an actual place of punishment.

She viewed hell as a figurative description of what happens when individuals turn away from God’s goodness.

Instead of hell, Christian Scientists believe in progressive states of existence. After death, they think individuals enter a transitional state during which they may become more fully aware of their true spiritual nature before moving on to higher planes of consciousness.

The goal is for each person to ultimately recognize their oneness with God’s wholly spiritual creation.

Heaven and Hell in Christianity

In contrast to Christian Science beliefs, mainstream Christianity affirms the existence of both heaven and hell. Heaven represents eternal life in God’s presence, described metaphorically in the Bible as a place of joy, peace and rest (John 14:2-3; Hebrews 12:22-24).

Meanwhile, hell signifies eternal separation from God often envisioned as a place of anguish, loneliness and punishment (Mark 9:42-48; Revelation 14:9-11).

Most Christians think individuals will spend eternity in either heaven or hell based on whether they trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior during earthly life (John 3:16-18; 14:6). However, views on the nature and duration of hell vary.

Some Christians interpret biblical imagery about hell more literally as a horrific place of eternal suffering, while others understand it as a symbolic representation of the permanent consequences of rejecting God.

Church Authority

Christian Science Writings

In Christian Science, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy are considered divinely inspired and authoritative. Eddy’s primary work is the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which is seen as an inspired continuation of the Bible.

Eddy’s other published writings, including the Church Manual which outlines the structure and functions of the Christian Science church, are also viewed as authoritative in Christian Science. According to Christian Scientists, Eddy’s writings provide a complete and final revelation of God’s nature and spiritual laws.

The Bible is valued, but Science and Health is seen as the ultimate authority for understanding God and spiritual truth.

The Bible in Christianity

In Christianity, the Bible is considered the highest written authority. It is seen as the inspired word of God, authoritative for doctrine, ethics, guidance, and revelation of God’s nature and plan. While interpretations vary between denominations, most Christians view both the Old and New Testaments as the complete divine revelation.

Some groups like Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy also grant authority to sacred tradition, creeds, ecumenical councils, and teachings of the church leadership. But the Bible remains the primary and most trusted source for Christian belief and practice.

Christians believe the Bible has supreme authority because it is the word of God communicated through divinely inspired human writers.


As we’ve explored, while Christian Science and Christianity share some common origins and language, they fundamentally diverge on essential tenets of theology and Christian practice – from the nature of God and Jesus to views on sickness, sin, and salvation.

The different worldviews lead to vastly divergent implications for how followers live out and apply their respective faiths. Christianity sees a personal God engaged in creation, instituting the church and sacraments as means of grace, with the material world and human sin as unfortunate realities.

By contrast, Christian Science sees an impersonal God and illusory material world, with sin, evil, and sickness as unrealities to be corrected through prayer and spiritual understanding – rendering church ritual and medicine irrelevant at best.

In short, the theological and practical differences between the two faith systems are deep and irreconcilable. While Christian Science retains some of the terminology of Christianity, in essence it has departed on a distinctly divergent religious path.

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