Saying the Same Words — Meaning Entirely Different Things

Today we buried my husband’s mother. The burial happened right after the viewing and only for the immediate family which included all our children and their families and my husband’s brother’s family. One of my husband’s cousins wanted to know if she was going to be buried today. I said yes, but only the immediate family is invited to the burial. She seemed perplexed. I told her that my husband, who had to give the message at the grave site did not want anyone but immediate family there as he did not know where his mother was since leaving the body.

The cousin was shocked. But hadn’t her aunt always said the right words? She said she never once doubted her aunt’s salvation. I had to explain that she used the right words, but her meaning of those words was so different from what they meant to believers. She was a Christian Scientist and did not believe in the literal death and resurrection of Jesus. She believed that Jesus was a human, as we all are, and that he had discovered the secret to getting his thinking right so that he could heal himself. My mother-in-law believed we could all do the same. In Christian Science, all things material are illusions and there is no evil, sin, sickness or death. If there is no sin there is no need for a savior. Instead the Christian Scientist looks to Jesus for insight to be able to overcome incorrect thinking. When they follow the Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, reading it faithfully along with the Bible, Christian Scientists learn how to deny what they think is reality and come to see only the spiritual and good. When this happens they believe they will have reached the place where they will be able to “raise themselves from the dead” just like Jesus did.

My husband mourns the loss of his mother from this earth, but the pain is even more biting because he has no assurance of seeing her again. While clearing out her house over the past couple of days, his brother said he threw out hundreds of copies Christian Science Sentinels, Christian Science Quarterlies, and copies of the Christian Science Monitor. She was steeped in its philosophy of metaphysics which is the antithesis of the foundational beliefs of Christianity that Paul repeatedly emphasized as critical to the faith. These are the same foundational beliefs I repeat every day as I say Colossians 1 out loud as I walk my dogs.

Ann Voskamp asked in her blog on this Wednesday, the day of my mother-in-law’s burial,

“Why is it that my mouth’s always numb? Am I an evangelical Christians who isn’t an evangelist? When is the last time I looked someone in the eye and whispered, “Do you know Him? How He holds all things together with the nails and the love?

What does one say to someone who denies the nails, indeed denies that there even is a world let alone that He holds it together? What does one say when the other thinks they really know him? Oh, Paul, what would you say to someone who twisted the meaning of each and every word that was so crucial to salvation? Words like sin, death, blood, nails, Calvary, Gethsemane are all realities that Christian Scientists must deny. These are the same realities that are the essence of an Evangelical Christian’s hope. It was too big a gap for my husband to close with his mother. We could never find the “key.”

Thanks for listening, Dear Ann Voskamp Walk with Him Wednesday community,



4 comments on “Saying the Same Words — Meaning Entirely Different Things

  1. Dear sweet Dawn, within complex mourning, your words create a beautiful statement of our living Lord Jesus Christ and the price He paid. My heart aches for you and your husband. Your courage to speak the truth stabs my heart and I wonder if I live my life to SHOW Jesus as the Son of the Living God.
    I’m having a short visit with son and family and missed your postings for a few days. You are in my prayers as we stand on His promises. Liz

  2. Liz,

    Thanks for stopping by in the midst of your travels and for leaving your encouragement. I think you are really gifted in the area of encouragement. You always say things that revive me. This dilemma with my husband’s mother has been like a white elephant…always there and not wanting it there, but not being able to get rid of it. I trust you are having a good time with your granddaughter. I had a wonderful time with my 4 children, 2 daughters-in-law and 5 grandchildren. We were all together for a couple of days because of the funeral. It was a bittersweet time, being together was the sweet part!

    Love you,

  3. Oh, Dawn! This is a very heavy thing that you and your husband are going through, now, then isn’t it? I am reminded of George Mueller who prayed for his father’s salvation all his life, and did not know for certain his father’s condition upon his death. Mueller said he simply had faith in the Father Whose ways are beyond our comprehension. I don’t know what it is to be in that place that you are in, except that I discovered a grievous thing just after my father’s death, about him, and hope that it did not have serious consequences for his eternity. I simply don’t know. So, now, I will pray all the more for you and your family in this, for peace and for comfort in your hearts about this.

  4. Dear A.,

    Thanks for this post. It really means a lot to me, especially the line “Mueller said he simply had faith in the Father Whose ways are beyond our comprehension.” Yes, God is good–all the time. Thanks so much for the reminder.

    Thinking of you as I head off to work,

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