Is Christianity a Religion, a Philosophy, or a Theology?

by MJSmith

     If you have watched TV this month then you probably have heard about the war on Christmas.  Bill O’Reilly of FOX News says that Christianity is not a religion but a philosophy.  He did not say that Christmas is a religion, or a philosophy, as Christmas is neither, it is rather a day that was chosen by an organized religious church to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (and it is the wrong day too).  Yet other people, in the media (like Jon Stewart and the atheist that was on O’Reilly’s show), are saying he is wrong and that Christianity is a religion, hence, Christmas is a religious holiday.

     Just what is the difference between a religion and a philosophy?  According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary religion is defined as:  [reverence, religion] the service and worship of God or the supernatural; commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance; the state of a religious (a nun to her twentieth year of religion); a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices; scrupulous conformity; a cause principle or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.
     So, religion is any type of reverence toward or service and worship of any god, the devil, and God – it is not specific.  Religion is an “institutionalized system.”  The archaic meaning of institution is “something that serves to instruct.”  So a religion is a taught or an instructed system.  An institution is rooted to an organization.  The word system tends to have to do with the word body.  This body could be a congregation, or mass, of people – like in the term Christmas (Christ mass).  However, system also points to order or a “harmonious arrangement or pattern.”  This is how we refer to our solar system, as a harmonious arrangement or pattern.  Yet, if we study a matrix system we also have a “harmonious arrangement or pattern.”  So this basically tells us that true religion is based upon Science.
     Philosophy basically means loving (phil) wisdom (sophy).  Christianity most certainly falls into this meaning, for to be a Christian, a true follower of the Christ, you must be loving and wise.  The word itself is defined as:  pursuit of wisdom; a search for general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means; an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs; archaic:  physical science; ethics; all learning exclusive of technical precepts and practical arts; the sciences and liberal arts exclusive of medicine, law, and theology; the 4-year college course of a major seminary; a discipline comprising as its core logic, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology; a system of philosophical concepts; a theory underlying or regarding a sphere of activity or thought; the most general beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group; calmness of temper and judgment [love and wisdom] befitting a philosopher.
     Well, there certainly is a lot of territory in philosophy!  I think the archaic definition is of importance as it has to do with physical science, so with this definition Christianity is not a philosophy!  However, Christianity is a philosophy in regards to ethics and the last definition.  Where we get into trouble in calling Christianity a philosophy is with its direction in the pursuit of wisdom.  Is the sophy (wisdom) going to be spiritual Science (Christian Science) or is it going to by physical science – the science of the serpent in the Garden of Eden?  We cannot have Christianity being both good (Spirit) and evil (matter)!
     It is looking as if, under different circumstances, that Christianity is most certainly a philosophy, however, we get into trouble classifying it as a religion only because there are so many different Christian religions!  And these Christian religions have different beliefs (dogmas) about God (the Word), Jesus (the Christ), man (Christianity), and the universe (Science).  How many Christians would have even been able to do what I just did?  How many Christians (and Christian Scientists even) reading this would have been able to have translated God, Jesus, man, and the universe into the divine calculus?  Most Christians, unfortunately, are willing to accept the lie that man is fallen from Grace and incapable of helping themselves out of this mess, and told that they need a mediator (like a priest, a pope, a practitioner, or even a medical doctor).  And many do believe that Jesus is God while others Scientifically understand that Jesus is the Son of God and never has been God.  There is really only one way that we can actually say that Christianity is a religion – when we call it God’s Science, that of Christian Science.
     On December 3, 2012, Jon Stewart gave commentary on Bill O’Reilly’s “war on Christmas.”  He even showed the clip where O’Reilly was telling an atheist that Christianity is a philosophy and not a religion.  If you took notice of the atheist’s last name you could tell that he is of Jewish ancestry.  Jon Stewart is also of Jewish ancestry.  Bill O’Reilly is a Roman Catholic.  None of these men, however, are Christian Scientists!  And that is why this “war on Christmas via a war with words” is taking place amongst these men.
     Jon Stewart made many humorous comments.  He also spoke about how Christmas has expanded from its one day of the year (December 25th) to taking over the 24th with its Eve, then expanding to the twelve days of Christmas, and now Christianity has Christmas beginning on Thanksgiving Day!  Well, he is wrong about this because the Christian churches did not push Christmas back to Thanksgiving.  That’s right, Christianity did not expand Christmas it was done via commercialism.  Notice commercialism is an ‘ism’!  Nothing ever comes from ‘ism’ like feminism, socialism, and communism!  If you have read my previous article on Christmas (The Real American Christmas) then beginning Christmas on Thanksgiving day actually is not a bad idea, however, the Christians are not responsible for Black Friday, nor are they responsible for Santa Claus.  Santa Claus is not Christ Jesus.  Yet it certainly seems as if society wants to delete Jesus from Christmas and replace him with Santa.  Tell me if you think I am wrong.  The Christmas movies about Santa far outweigh the movies broadcast about Jesus.  I can spiritually interpret the idea behind Saint Nicholas, or Chris (Christ) Kringle, I can see that the idea behind Santa (Saint) Claus is the idea of Love, however, and in this way I am willing to accept Santa Claus.  Yet, he is not and never has been Jesus Christ, nor was Santa Claus included in Bible prophecy like Jesus was.  And that is what is of importance.
     Stewart also compared a Greek philosopher with Jesus Christ.  He asked which man was healed and resurrected after being martyred and then ascended.  Well, everyone knows it was Jesus.  So in Stewart’s mind the claim about Jesus “sitting at the right hand of God” turns Jesus’ theology (which is really Jesus’ Science) into the religion called Christianity.  He also makes the false statement (a lie) that in order to be a Christian you must believe that Jesus is God.  This is not true, I am a Christian and I have never believed Jesus to be God.  Being a Christian has nothing to do with the belief that Jesus is God, it has to do with your ethical behavior, and this may be closer to being a philosophy.  Jesus is a man who fulfilled Bible prophecy as the first coming of Christ in the New Testament.  The Christ is God’s spiritual ideal.  Mary Baker Eddy defines the Christ as “The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error.”  Mary Baker Eddy did not say the Christ is the man, or the woman, or the Son, or the Daughter that comes, but as the “divine manifestation of God, which comes” signifying the impersonal Christ as idea.  However, the Christ is manifested in the flesh (the human Second Degree) so that corporeal men can see the Christ that has come to the flesh to destroy incarnate error.  Does Stewart really know what he is even talking about when he declares a lie about the mandates of being a Christian on national TV?
     After hearing Stewart speak I have to wonder if he really understands history at all.  Stewart seems to have forgotten that the man Jesus, like himself, is a Jew.  Has Stewart conveniently forgotten this fact?  Jesus is a Jew in the New Testament.  He went to the Jewish Temple more than once, he based his teachings upon the Torah, and the Jewish (Christ) Prophets!  He was called a rabbi.  Jesus was given the title, by the Romans, as being “King of the Jews.”  Jesus’ disciples are also Jews!  There is not one of them who is a Gentile.  Did Jon Stewart hope that these facts are forgotten by his viewing audience?  Perhaps the Jews of today want to deny Jesus Christ ever having been a Jew like the old Jews denied him as their Messiah?  So, if anything, since Jesus was a Jew then Christianity had its origin in the religion that began with Israel.  And the difference between the Jews of today and the Israelites of today is the fact that the ten lost tribes of Israel (today’s Israelites) are known as Christians!
     The fact that the Jewish followers of Jesus were the original Christians seems to have been forgotten by Jon Stewart.  Such Jewish Christians, one important one called Peter, was at first against letting the Gentiles (non-Jews) into the circle of the Christian followers (if you want to call it church, then fine, the Christian church).  Another man, who was also a Jew, was named Paul (originally Saul).  Paul was not against the idea of letting the Gentiles into the Christian society.  Saul, before his conversion, persecuted other Jews (who were the early Christians) because they did not follow limiting Jewish laws set up by the Levite priests.  Saul eventually saw the light (the Christ Truth) of Jesus and eventually became a teacher of Jesus’ teachings, or his Science (even though it was not called Science back then).  I prefer to say that Christianity is not a religion or a philosophy but rather it is God’s Science, hence the term Christian Science.  Yes, Christian Science does have religious tones and philosophical viewpoints, but, as a whole it is a Science that can be practiced and demonstrated.  Christian Science teaches the system composed of the seven synonymous terms for God, the divine calculus, and the four levels of Science – this is order.
     Jon Stewart is probably a Jew that has accepted scholastic theological precepts about Jesus Christ and Christianity.  He may not even accept Jesus as the Messiah, the chosen one of God.  He resembles Saul, but is Stewart willing to see the light and become a Paul?
     Paul and Peter did not agree with each other as to which direction Christianity should go.  Many Jewish Christians, especially those who were driven by male ego and did not like having women (like Mary Magdalene) as deacons, were also against the Gentiles being Christians.  But, God showed Peter that he was wrong in his male opinion (dogma), with visions, and so Peter changed.  The topic of circumcision was a big one.  Should the Gentiles become circumcised?  God said, “No.”  Should Gentiles be forced to eat kosher meat and follow the Jew’s limiting laws?  God said, “No.”
     So Christianity became an opening for both Jews (if they would accept it) and Gentiles to receive salvation.  Is not this salvation what God wanted for the whole of mankind?  Is this not why God had scattered the ten lost tribes of Israel before Jesus was even born, so that the light (Science, Christ Truth) of Jesus would be accepted by the lost Israelites that had become integrated with and become Gentiles?  The ten lost tribes of Israel had forgotten who they even were; only the Bible has record of them.
     Bill O’Reilly is correct in saying that Christianity is a philosophy if it is based upon Science or universal Truth and when it is based upon metaphysics.  Jon Stewart is correct in saying that Christianity is a religion if it is based upon Christ Science.  However, if Christianity is rooted to the serpent’s wisdom of physical science, scholastic theology, and materia medica it is not a true philosophy, and if Christianity is rooted to a material organized church it is not a true religion.
     Jesus Christ taught Science to his disciples.  If he had not understood Science then he could have never cast out demons, healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, or raised the dead.  Jesus did all four demands of the divine calculus.  He told his followers that they were capable of doing the same works (demonstrating Science), and even greater works than the ones that Jesus performed would be accomplished by future Christian generations who understood the Christ Science that he demonstrated.  At first Christians had no problems demonstrating Christian Science, but after about 300 years organized religion took charge and the demonstrations began to fail and materia medica hospitals were set up.  Also, the dogs (men who hated women) added to the Word of God (specifically Paul’s writings) adding to the letters to the churches to be against women.  This is why St. John has a warning against adding to or taking away words in the book Revelation.
     Human philosophy is a far cry from God’s Science, and material organized churches (mostly run by men) are also a far cry from the Church Jesus promised that would be based upon the Christ (Rock).  “‘And I say also unto thee, That thou are Peter; and upon the rock [the meaning of the Greek word petros or stone] I will build my church; and the gates of hell [hades, the underworld, or the grave] shall not prevail against it.’  In other words, Jesus purposed founding his society, not on the personal Peter as a mortal, but on the God-power which lay behind Peter’s confession of the true Messiah.”  (S&H 137:29-138:5)  Notice that Mary Baker Eddy refers to this Christian Church as Jesus’ society.  She does not use the word “church.”  Mary Baker Eddy did set up Christian Science Societies.  It is interesting, according to the Church Manual, that these societies are the only types of Christian Science groups that can exist today if the By-Laws and the estoppel clauses are obeyed by Christian Scientists!  Today, according to the Manual, there would no longer be The First Church or the Branch Churches, only Societies.
     She continues on to say, “It was evident to Peter that divine Life, Truth, and Love, and not a human personality, was the healer of the sick and a rock, a firm foundation in the realm of harmony.  On this spiritual scientific basis Jesus explained his cures, which appeared miraculous to outsiders [non-Christians].  He showed that diseases were cast out neither by corporeality, by materia medica, nor by hygiene, but by the divine Spirit, casting out the errors of mortal mind.  The supremacy of Spirit was the foundation on which Jesus built.  His sublime summary points to the religion of Love.
     “Jesus established in the Christian era the precedent for all Christianity, theology, and healing.  Christians are under as direct orders now, as they were then, to be Christlike, to possess the Christ-spirit, to follow the Christ-example, and to heal the sick as well as the sinning.  It is easier for Christianity to cast out sickness than sin, for the sick are more willing to part with pain than are sinners to give up the sinful, so-called pleasure of the senses.  The Christians can prove this to-day as readily as it was proved centuries ago.
     “Our Master said to every follower:  ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature!…Heal the sick!…Love thy neighbor as thyself!”  It was this theology [not philosophy] of Jesus which healed the sick and the sinning.  It is his theology in this book and the spiritual meaning of this theology, which heals the sick and causes the wicked to ‘forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.’  It was our Master’s theology which the impious sought to destroy.
     “From beginning to end, the Scriptures are full of accounts of the triumph of Spirit, Mind, over matter.  Moses proved the power of Mind by what men called miracles; so did Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha.  The Christian era was ushered in with signs and wonders.  Reforms have commonly been attended with bloodshed and persecution, even when the end has been brightness and peace; but the present new, yet old, reform in religious faith will teach men patiently and wisely to stem the tide of sectarian bitterness, whenever it flows inward.
     “The decisions by vote of Church Councils as to what should and should not be considered Holy Writ; the manifest mistakes in the ancient versions; the thirty thousand different readings in the Old Testament, and the three hundred thousand in the New, — these facts show how a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with its own hue darkening to some extent the inspired pages.  But mistakes could neither wholly obscure the divine Science of the Scriptures seen from Genesis to Revelation, mar the demonstration of Jesus, nor annul the healing by the prophets, who foresaw that ‘the stone [the Crown] which the builders rejected’ would become ‘the head of the corner.’
     “Atheism, pantheism, theosophy, and agnosticism are opposed to Christian Science, as they are to ordinary religion; but it does not follow that the profane or atheistic invalid cannot be healed by Christian Science.  The moral condition of such a man demands the remedy of Truth more than it is needed in most cases; and Science is more than usually effectual in the treatment of moral ailments.
     “That God is a corporeal being, nobody can truly affirm.  The Bible represents Him as saying:  ‘Thou canst not see My face; for there shall no man see Me, and live.’  Not materially but spiritually we know Him as divine Mind, as Life, Truth, and Love.  We shall obey and adore in proportion as we apprehend the divine nature and love Him understandingly, warring no more over the corporeality, but rejoicing in the affluence of our God.  Religion will then be of the heart and not of the head.  Mankind will no longer be tyrannical and proscriptive from lack of love, — straining out gnats and swallowing camels.
     “We worship spiritually, only as we cease to worship materially.  Spiritual devoutness is the soul of Christianity.  Worshipping through the medium of matter is paganism.  Judaic and other rituals are but types and shadows of true worship.  ‘The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.’
     “The Jewish tribal Jehovah was a man-projected God, liable to wrath, repentance, and human changeableness.  The Christian Science God is universal, eternal, divine Love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death.  It is indeed mournfully true that the older Scripture is reversed.  In the beginning God created man in His, God’s, image; but mortals would procreate man, and make God in their own human image.  What is the god of a mortal, but a mortal magnified?
     “This indicates the distance between the theological and ritualistic religion of the ages and the truth preached by Jesus.  More than profession is requisite for Christian demonstration.  Few understand or adhere to Jesus’ divine precepts for living and healing.  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.” (S&H 138:6-141:9 “Science, Theology, Medicine”)
     Perhaps these words, as she continues, is enough for you to begin to understand what Jesus’ God-crowned mission was really all about?  It was not to promote the Jewish religion, nor was it to speak of a human philosophy, but it was to demonstrate Christ Science.  Jesus had his own theology spiritually higher than the Levite Priest’s theology.  Theology means:  The study of God and His relation to the world especially by analysis of the origins and teachings of an organized religious community; a theological theory or system; a distinctive body of theological opinion; a usual four-year course of specialized religious training in a Roman Catholic major seminary.  (WNCD)
     I do like the first definition up until you get to the “organized religious community” part.  But I am willing to accept the word organized so long as it is not materially organized, that it is a spiritual organization, order, or system.  The second definition points us to the system of Science, which is the definition that Jesus’s theology most closely relates to.
     Returning to the main question – is Christianity a religion, a theology, or a philosophy – I think we must be willing to admit that it is all three, so long as they include God’s Science and not physical science.  I can even see the four as the divine calculus – religion is God’s Word, theology is the Christ system, philosophy is the brotherly love of Christianity, and God’s Science is divine Science.