Jesus in Scientology
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Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard described Scientology as "the Western Anglicized continuance of many earlier forms of wisdom", and cites the teachings of Jesus Christ among belief systems of those "earlier forms". Jesus is recognized in Scientology as part of its "religious heritage," and "is seen as only one of many good teachers."
Contradicting the Christian concept of Jesus' "atonement of mankind's sins" through his death on the cross, Hubbard states in the Volunteer Ministers Handbook that "Man is basically good, but he could not attain expression of this until now. Nobody but the individual could die for his own sins – to arrange things otherwise was to keep man in chains."
Spiritual state of Jesus
In Scientology, Jesus is classified as below the level of Operating Thetan, and described by L. Ron Hubbard as being a "shade above" the condition of "Clear". According to R. Philip Roberts in The Apologetics Study Bible, "Scientology's upper-level materials tout the concept of Jesus as God as being a fiction that ought to be removed by 'auditing'".
Jesus and reincarnation
According to Scientology, as written by Walter Martin in The Kingdom of the Cults, there is a possibility that Jesus believed in reincarnation: "There is much speculation on the part on the part of religious historians as to the early education of Jesus of Nazareth. It is believed by many authorities that Jesus was a member of the cult of Essenes, who believed in reincarnation." Hubbard also linked Hindu teachings to Jesus. Walter Martin also mentions that the apostle Peter has, long ago, denied mythologies and fables attributed to Christ. "We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Peter 1:16)
Jesus as an implant
In the 2008 book Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions, authors Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears write: "According to Scientology, Jesus is an 'implant' forced upon a thetan about a million years ago". In A Piece of Blue Sky, Jon Atack writes "In confidential issues, Hubbard dismissed Christian teaching as an 'implant.' ... In confidential materials Hubbard attacked Christianity as an 'implant,' and said that Christ was a fiction."
Hubbard is quoted as stating that Christianity evolved from the "R6 Implant": "The man on the cross. There was no Christ! The Roman Catholic Church, through watching the dramatizations of people picked up some little fragments of R6."
Hubbard described the belief that the Christian heaven is “the product of two implants dating back more than 43 trillion years.” He said further that heaven is a “false dream” that leads thetans to a goal that does not exist, and persuades them of the singularity of this life.
Jesus in OT VIII
Operating Thetan level VIII is highest level of auditing level in Scientology. It is known as "The Truth Revealed". It was initially released to select high-ranking public Scientologists in 1988.
In OT VIII, dated 1980, Hubbard explains the document is intended for circulation only after his death. Its purpose is to explain the untold story of Hubbard's life's work. Hubbard explains that the reader has "undoubtedly heard pieces of data over the years that hinted at the greater untold reality of my mission here on Earth" but "the story was never written, nor spoken... It is only now that I feel it safe to release the information".
In the document, Hubbard teaches that "the historic Jesus was not nearly the sainted figure [he] has been made out to be. In addition to being a lover of young boys and men, he was given to uncontrollable bursts of temper and hatred". Hubbard mentions the Book of Revelation and its prophecy of a time when "an arch-enemy of Christ, referred to as the anti-Christ, will reign". According to Hubbard, the "anti-Christ represents the forces of Lucifer". Hubbard writes "My mission could be said to fulfill the Biblical promise represented by this brief anti-Christ period."
Views of Scientologists
In an interview with The Sacramento Bee, actress Mimi Rogers explained how her identity as a Scientologist helped her with the character Sharon in the 1991 psychological/religious drama film The Rapture. "I don't, for example, have a Jesus Christ definition of God ... And I have no views on heaven or hell. To me they're alien concepts. If I were a practicing Christian or a Jew, with all the hang-ups of those religions, I don't think I could have done Sharon justice" said Rogers.
In 1997, celebrity Scientologist Lisa Marie Presley hosted a Christmas party at a Church of Scientology mission in Memphis, Tennessee. Approximately 100 children attended the event, which Scientology officials stated was Presley's idea. Church of Scientology administrator Peggy Crawford asserted to The Commercial Appeal: "Some Scientologists are Christians and believe Jesus was divine. Some don't. We believe Christianity is not the only way.
Scientology minister-in-training and professed Christian, Craig Gehring, was quoted in 2007 in The Advocate as saying he thought that his belief in Jesus as the son of God did not conflict with his being a Scientologist: "Personally, I believe [Jesus is] the son of God - son of man, but like I said, that is not a Scientology doctrine. There isn't a doctrine about [Jesus] in Scientology." I believe very much in the Christian message. Jesus says time and time again, 'The kingdom of God is at hand.' ... And that is a message you will find any Scientologist working toward." Gehring said that during his time studying Scientology at the Baton Rouge, Louisiana mission, he had not encountered teachings of Scientology space opera as had been reported in 2006 in Rolling Stone.
Hubbard discounted the Christian belief of the Holy Trinity. According to his Phoenix Lectures, “The Christian god is actually much better characterized in the Vedic Hymns [Hinduism] than in any subsequent publication, including the Old Testament.” He goes on to say that the Christian god is much more like the Hindu Veda than the Hebrew god.
In the book New Religions and the Theological Imagination in America (1995) by Mary Farrell Bednarowski, the author comments that "In the game of life as Scientology understands it, sin does not call for repentance as much as it does the eradication of error, and that must come through the technology, the auditing process, sometimes referred to as pastoral counseling. In fact, in regard to getting rid of sin, Scientology sees parallels between the goals of its technology and Jesus's saving action." Bednarowski quotes from the Scientology publication The Scientology Catechism in noting these parallels between the stated mission of Scientologists and the teachings imparted by Christ to his disciples. She notes that Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard is not regarded in Scientology as a "divine savior", but rather a "loved friend and teacher". Writing in Signs of the Times: The New Religious Movements in Theological Perspective (1996), John A. Saliba cites Mary Bednarowski, and goes on to note "Helle Medgaard asserts that Scientology also misunderstands Jesus and repudiates the key Christian doctrine of the forgiveness of sins." In his book The Sociology of Religious Movements (1996), William Sims Bainbridge cites the research of Roy Wallis, in noting "Scientology ... has no discernible connection to Christianity".
In 1997, Scientology administrator Peggy Crawford said in a statement to The Commercial Appeal: "We definitely believe in God and we believe in individuals as spiritual beings." Professor Paul Blankenship of the Memphis Theological Seminary studied Scientology and commented on this view, saying "They do not do a lot of talking about God or Jesus. It's more getting your mind cleared, and I could see how they could say that that could be compatible. Scientology has not really developed into a complete religious tradition. They may very well develop."
Reverend Raymond Guterman of the Northwood Presbyterian Church in Clearwater, Florida, gave a sermon in 2001 titled: "Why Scientology Isn't a Church". "I'm not anti-Scientology; I'm not pro-Scientology. I just don't exactly understand individually why it's called the Church of Scientology and why there would be a cross, even if it's a different cross. When I see the cross, I think of Christ. If Christ is not the center of Scientology, then why would an organization use the cross and call itself a church? I'm just wondering, but I don't really plan to say any of that Sunday," said Reverend Guterman. He explained that in his view Scientology was not a "church" because it did not follow the words of Jesus Christ and accept him as savior, and for this reason said "in my opinion, it's not a church." Scientology representative Pat Harney contacted Reverend Guterman, and told the St. Petersburg Times she thought he was using Scientology in order to generate interest. "There's a definition of 'church' in the dictionary. It's called a congregation. There's a definition of the word 'church' that applies. I understand his Christian perspective. In truth, the derivation of the word 'church' predates Christianity," said Harney. The St. Petersburg Times noted Reverend Guterman's public discussion of Scientology in such a manner was "virtually unheard of" in Clearwater, Florida, due to the large presence of Scientology in the area.
Calvin Miller comments in Miracles and Wonders (2003) that L. Ron Hubbard "held to such odd notions, blending his Jesus with 'spacey theology.'" Writing in Larson's Book of World Religions and Alternative Spirituality (2004), Bob Larson points out that "In his 1952 book entitled Scientology: A History of Man Hubbard even adapted the words of Jesus as found in Matthew 11:5 to describe his new teaching." Author Steven Hutson writes in What They Never Taught You in Sunday School (2006) that "The Church of Scientology recognizes Jesus as one part of its 'religious heritage.' And this same 'heritage' also includes Zoroaster (an ancient Persian prophet), Socrates (the Greek sage), and a wide assortment of other philosophies and religions."
While Hubbard put into question where the Bible originated from, Scientology claims that “it does not conflict with other religions or religious practices, as it clarifies them and brings understanding of the spiritual nature of Man.” Martin and Zacharias write in The Kingdom of the Cults (2003), differentiating the truth in Scientology and in Jesus’ teachings. While Jesus gave “an objective standard of truth: himself,” Hubbard said “Know thyself and the truth shall set you free,” expressing the subjectivity and existentiality of truth in Scientology, compared to the centrality of Jesus in the pursuit of truth in Christianity. Martin and Zacharias further note that there are significant contradictions between the Bible and the writings of Scientology and that Jesus "gave no credence to other scriptures or distorted views of God."
R. Philip Roberts writes in The Apologetics Study Bible (2007): "Scientology makes occasional reference to Jesus Christ in its writings and uses as its symbol a cross with starbursts at each end. But even though it refers to itself as a church and may at times use Christian terminology and symbolism, it is clearly nonbiblical in its view of God, Jesus, Scripture, salvation, and other important doctrines." Roberts goes on to note that "Scientology does not accept the biblical concepts of Jesus as God the Word incarnate. It also places no emphasis on the substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus. Rather, it views Jesus as a proponent of reincarnation and other Eastern mystical concepts." In his 2007 book The Bible Answer Book for Students, author Hank Hanegraaff writes: "Although the church claims to be compatible with Christianity, the two belief structures – one rooted in science fiction, the other in soteriological fact – are contradictory and can't be harmonized." Hanegraaff explains the nature of the Scientology concepts of auditing, engrams, and thetans, and concludes: "Scientology is a rejection of the biblical doctrines of creation, original sin, and exclusive salvation through Jesus Christ."
The Church of Scientology claims that their belief system is different from Christianity because it is based “solely on reason” and that its members “possess a practical system of ethics and justice.” The church likewise claims that “anything religious teachers said or Buddha promised, even the visions of Christianity, are attained in Scientology as a result.” Muck, Netland and McDermott emphasize that this clearly shows that Scientology is incompatible with Christianity.
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