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“Addressing the ‘Positive Gospel’ of the Metaph…
AUTHOR: Halverson, Dean C.
PUBLISHED ON: April 24, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN

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Copyright 1993 by the Christian Research Institute.
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“Addressing the ‘Positive Gospel’ of the Metaphysical Movement”
(an article from the Christian Research Journal, Fall 1988, page
7) by Dean C. Halverson.
  The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is
Elliot Miller.

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    Before we can accept Jesus Christ as our Savior we must
first acknowledge our need to be saved. When we do so, we are
saying that we have become aware of our enslaving sinful nature,
of the alienation that our sin has caused in our relationship
with God, of God’s impending wrath on that sin, and of our total
inability to save ourselves. Try telling someone in the
Metaphysical movement (Religious Science, Unity, _A Course in
Miracles,_ etc.) about the wages of sin, though, and they will
look at you as though you are an anachronism — a throwback to a
less-enlightened age. The ideas of an enslaving sinful nature,
of being alienated from God, and of God’s wrath are, to them,
extremely offensive.

    If there is one word that best characterizes the
Metaphysical movement, it is _optimism._ In a sense their
approach could be _nothing but_ optimistic, because the
Metaphysical belief system declares all that is negative (e.g.,
sin, disease, poverty, disharmony, and death) to be unreal. They
are unreal, says the Metaphysician, because such things are not
found in God, who is the First Cause and the Source of all that
is real. The source of all that is negative is therefore our
_own_ negative attitudes and false beliefs. We falsely believe
we are sinful and separated from God, when, in fact, we
eternally emanate from the impersonal Mind of God. The God of
the Metaphysical movement, who is the very Principle of Goodness
in all things, is not at all interested in judging us, but only
in providing for us all that is good. We can realize that
goodness when we recognize that we are one with God in our true
nature. One Religious Science minister wrote in a brochure,
“Once you realize your own true nature, you will find that
health, prosperity, love and peace are all fundamental parts of
you.”

    So, how does one share the gospel of Jesus Christ with
someone in the Metaphysical movement when their beliefs appear
to be so positive, and when the prerequisites for accepting the
Christian gospel appear to be so negative? I suggest you point
out how the Metaphysical way of salvation differs from the
Christian way. While the Metaphysical gospel begins with good
news, it ends with bad news.

    When considering how the Metaphysical movement denies all
that is negative, it may be surprising to hear that the
Metaphysical gospel has bad news in it. There is indeed bad news
in the Metaphysical gospel, though, and that bad news can be
found in the very words that Metaphysicians use to describe
their way of salvation. When witnessing, it is best to let the
Metaphysicians state these words themselves. The way to elicit
these words is to ask them to talk about their understanding of
the way of salvation or the path to enlightenment. As they talk,
listen for key words that speak of salvation as being based on
_human effort,_ as being accomplished through _a gradual
process,_ and as being dependent on _manifesting a standard of
perfection._

    Concerning human effort, when Metaphysicians talk about the
path to enlightenment they will use words like _achieve, attain,
obtain, manifest, demonstrate, prove, earn,_ and _embody._
Charles Fillmore, co-founder of the Unity School of
Christianity, said, “The real object to existence is to bring
forth the perfect man and _attain_ eternal life. Eternal life
must be _earned._” (_Dynamics for Living_ [Lee’s Summit, MO:
Unity, 1967], 326; emphases added.) Often Metaphysicians will
use the analogy of God being like a mountain where all paths
lead to the top. Notice, though, where this analogy places the
emphasis: on human effort. The spiritual seeker must climb that
mountain to reach God.

    With respect to the path to enlightenment being a gradual
process, listen for key words like _reincarnation, path,
journey, goal, step, progression,_ and _program. A Course in
Miracles_ states that all people are given “_a slowly-evolving
training program,_ in which as many previous mistakes as
possible are corrected.” (_Manual for Teachers,_ vol. 3 of _A
Course in Miracles_ [Tiburon, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace,
1975, 25; emphasis added.) What is meant by “slowly-evolving” is
not merely a few years, but numerous lifetimes. Shirley MacLaine
writes that “reincarnation is like show business. You keep doing
it until you get it right.” (_Out on a Limb_ [New York: Bantam,
1986], 233.)

    The final characteristic of the Metaphysical way of
salvation is that it is dependent on _manifesting_ some standard
of perfection. Metaphysicians assume that humanity is already
inherently perfect. What this means for their concept of
salvation is that before they can say they have attained
salvation they must _first_ manifest their inner perfection.
External imperfections — whether physical, emotional, or
relational — reveal inner imperfections (i.e., lack of
enlightenment) that must be dealt with. This requirement of
proving one’s perfection may be stated in various ways, such as
_manifesting the Christ within, taking total control of one’s
life, demonstrating unconditional love and forgiveness,
manifesting perfect health,_ or _bringing about global peace._

    After the Metaphysicians have finished talking about their
path to enlightenment, then help them become aware of the kinds
of words they have used: words of human effort, of a gradual
process, and of salvation being dependent on manifesting
perfection. Explain that while the Metaphysical gospel began
with what may have appeared to be good news, it ends with the
bad news that salvation must be earned by incomprehensible
striving over myriads of lifetimes to manifest one’s supposed
inner perfection. Experience should teach us that this goal is
not just difficult to attain — it is impossible.

    The Christian gospel, on the other hand, begins with the bad
news that humanity is sinful and that the wages of sin is
eternal death, but it ends with the incredibly good news that
salvation (including forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and the
ultimate realization of a perfect nature) is a free gift.
Salvation, according to the Bible, is not based on human effort
or on our ability to manifest perfection, but it is based on
God’s grace alone (Eph. 2:3b-5, 8-9). Neither is the Christian’s
salvation a gradual process, but it is a gift that can be
received immediately through faith in the completed work of
Jesus Christ. Finally, Jesus Christ met the standard of
perfection on our behalf. When we place our faith in Him, His
righteousness is transferred to our account (2 Cor. 5:21).

    In the end, the difference between the Metaphysical gospel
and the Christian gospel is like the difference between earning
a wage and receiving a gift. Paul writes, “Now when a man works,
his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an
obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God
who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as
righteousness” (Rom. 4:4-5). The way of salvation that is the
best news is clear.

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End of document, CRJ0028A.TXT (original CRI file name),
“Addressing the ‘Positive Gospel’ of the Metaphysical Movement”
release A, February 7, 1994
R. Poll, CRI

(A special note of thanks to Bob and Pat Hunter for their help
in the preparation of this ASCII file for BBS circulation.)

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