There are so many things that we as Christian disciples need to be alert to—things that would ensnare us and lead us away from the Science of the Christ. Jesus’ injunction to watch and pray dare not go unheeded. And the times that we live in give us plenty of opportunity to exercise our divine authority and ability to watch and pray!
One of the phenomena that I’ve noticed over the past several months is an excitement among some Christian Scientists, as well as many adherents of other religious beliefs, about the account of Dr. Eben Alexander’s experience in what he described as the afterlife in his book (A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife), and his subsequent lectures, interviews, and videos about that event. It apparently has transformed him from a person who was materially-based in his thinking as a physician, to one who now believes that there is indeed life after death.
At this point, you might be asking: “What’s the problem with that?”
Well—his experience, on the surface, certainly sounds quite wonderful. It’s always good to hear of someone who is beginning to consider and explore spiritual matters. But there are a few problems with all of this, and ones that I think we need to take into serious consideration.
From what I’ve seen, Dr. Alexander’s relating of his afterlife experience appears to be laced with spiritualism—a mortal-theory/philosophy that is not in accord with the teachings of Christian Science. And that’s a problem in itself if Christian Scientists are embracing it. Perhaps, we’re too eager to enthusiastically endorse any sign of what appears to be good, without first asking the question: Is it really good or the imitation of good?
Yet there’s still a greater danger—yes, danger—from all of this: namely the allure of the afterlife. An allure that presents it as being a desirable place to be. A place that we might find ourselves wanting to escape to.
I had an intelligent and accomplished professional person—a Christian Scientist—call me for help a couple of weeks ago. In our conversation, they related to me how they had been reading Dr. Alexander’s book and felt that they would not be in this earthly realm of existence much longer. They were not experiencing any serious physical problems, but simply felt tired of life and thought that the afterlife, as described in his book, would be a wonderful place to go. They were quite serious about all of this. My challenging of this thinking took them by surprise and caused them to begin to rethink their position.
This allure, dear friends, is a subtle siren call of the carnal mind—one that can seem like the antidote to the struggles that we each have to deal with in our lives. And that desire to find relief from those challenges can be very tempting and impelling. It’s not that rest and peace aren’t good things—they are—but we first have to overcome the evil that is parading before our thought and seeking to garner our attention, as well as our identity, rather than look for an escape from handling and defeating it.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health (p. 291):
The suppositions that sin is pardoned while unforsaken, that happiness can be genuine in the midst of sin, that the so-called death of the body frees from sin, and that God’s pardon is aught but the destruction of sin, — these are grave mistakes. We know that all will be changed “in the twinkling of an eye,” when the last trump shall sound; but this last call of wisdom cannot come till mortals have already yielded to each lesser call in the growth of Christian character. Mortals need not fancy that belief in the experience of death will awaken them to glorified being.
And on page 486, she stated:
Death is not the result of Truth but of error, and one error will not correct another.
In short, we cannot afford to see dying in any form as a good or comforting experience. Death is not some gateway to spirituality that we need to pass through—something that we can look forward to. It is the last enemy to be destroyed (First Corinthians, 15:26), not sought after!
So—here’s the question: Are we going to resist the beckonings of error—even if they appear to be beautiful—and stand as watchful and prayerful sentinels on the rock of Christ or not?
I know my answer!