Can you be a Christian and a Scientologist? This emerged as the sticking question during my visit to a Scientology church in Clearwater, Florida. I’ll talk to anyone about anything and I’m interested in the truth. So, when Karen, a Scientologist for more than 40 years, called the radio show to confront my use of the word cult in reference to Scientology, I invited her to meet me and take me on a tour of her church.
If you read no further: no, you cannot be both a Christian and a Scientologist. But according to Karen and the Public Affairs Officer who escorted (guided) my visit, “Scientology has no argument with the Bible as a holy book nor with Jesus as the savior of man. We have people from all denominations.” They are adept at appropriating symbols (the cross), ideas (creation) and concepts (church) from any/all other religions that might make their messaging more palatable to more people. According to the Public Affairs Officer, “you can still be a Buddhist, Muslim, or even a Baptist and be a Scientologist.” They presented examples of individuals who practice Scientology and continue to describe themselves as Christians, and celebrated the use of their printed and video materials in many Christian churches.
There are a dizzying number of questions which emerge from these statements:
What do they mean when they refer to a creator? Do they mean God, the one true God of the Bible?
When they say Jesus, do they mean Jesus, the one and only Son of the Father, incarnate of the Virgin Mary, sinless atoning sacrifice upon the Cross, raised bodily from the dead, Jesus? The Way and the Truth and the Life Jesus revealed in the Bible?
When they say spirit, do they mean the Holy Spirit?
The Public Affairs Officer knew all about the Christian church. She had been raised in it. But she claims Scientology gave her something the Christian church never did: a specific set of steps to follow, principles and precepts, that actually make her life better. This is precisely the reason pastors in this CNN article gave for utilizing Scientology’s methods and products. There are specific delineated steps to follow in pursuit of your best life now. And therein lies the challenge The Church of Scientology presents to the Church of Jesus Christ in the world today.
People have felt needs and they don’t perceive those needs to be met at/through/by church. While we know there will always be false teachers seeking to divide and deceive, it is a serious condemnation of the organized church in America when people are presented with some form of the gospel that needs a supplement. These sheep wandered off from the fold because they were not fed, discipled nor called by name into a living relationship with the Great Shepherd of the Sheep, Jesus Christ.
The founder of Scientology, L.Ron Hubbard, created the organization and wrote the creed in response to the moral decline in society. He wanted to teach people how to be better and used precepts common to all religions in the creation of his own. And yes, he got very, very rich along the way.
Like all false religions, Hubbard attempted to generate a temporal solution to an eternal problem. What he crafted was a man-made substitute for the transforming and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, as if man could save and restore himself. Scientology proposes a methodology that guarantees happiness — and has no room for the concept of redemptive grace.
Freedom in Christ is the free gift of God to those who believe. The gift is free, but certainly not cheap. Jesus gave up the glory of Heaven and condescended to our physical reality in order to die as an atoning sacrifice for sin and reconcile us to God. And that work is finished. Yes, we spend our entire lives being brought into ever greater conformity with who Christ is, but the work of salvation is already done. In the words of Jesus from the Cross, “It is finished.” To add anything to the cross is to reject it entirely.
For people relying on grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, by the Bible alone for the Glory of God alone, there can be no compatibility, no syncretism with Scientology. The Gospel plus anything is an anti-gospel.