The Church of Scientology spent millions of dollars to air a Super Bowl XLIX ad in light of ongoing controversy over a documentary centered on the religion.1 The ad features a voiceover accompanied by quick clips of footage including a person hiking, a DNA strand, and a close-up of an eye.
The announcer in the ad says:
We live in an age of searching: to find solutions, to find ourselves, to find the truth. Now imagine an age in which the predictability of science and the wisdom of religion combined. Welcome to the age of answers.
The commercial is filled with real-life experiences and the latest innovations in science meant to portray a union capable of giving human beings the answers to life. This is not the first time the church has paid to air an ad during the pricey platform. Scientology ads aired during the Super Bowl in 2013 and 2014 as well, promoting their message to the largest audience in the United States during the most popular sporting event.
The ad followed the 2015 release of the documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief debuting at the Sundance Film Festival. The church launched a Twitter account to discredit the film, which focuses on Hollywood’s connection to the faith.
The Church of Scientology has many famous followers such as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, actress Kirstie Allie (who claims the church helped her overcome cocaine addiction), singer Beck Hansen, TV personality Greta Van Susteren (who says she is a “strong advocate of their ethics”), and EarthLink founder Sky Dayton. Dayton notes on his website that “communication is the solvent for all things”—the words of none other than L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology.2
It is no secret that the religion was inaugurated by Hubbard in the 1950s. Hubbard was a science fiction author who struggled financially. His book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health eventually became a best-seller and was the foundation for his emerging religious philosophy. Dianetics began as Hubbard’s explanation of the connection between the mind and the body and the urge to survive. While he promoted Dianetics as a scientific idea, its rejection by the scientific community led him to adapt his thinking into a self-help religious philosophy. He had this idea that religion, particularly a cult, is where the money was. Hubbard said:
You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.3
I’d like to start a religion. That’s where the money is!4
So start one he did—the Church of Scientology, or what might rightly be called Hubbardism (as it is purely the invention of Hubbard). It was an interesting mixture between modern secular humanism, self-help psychology, and Eastern thought with a little science fiction thrown in. And the money came in for him. Was Hubbard worried about his venture? Not at all. He openly wrote, “The only way you can control people is to lie to them. You can write that down in your book in great big letters. The only way you can control anybody is to lie to them.”5
The religion was meant as a money maker, and it succeeded with its ups and downs throughout Scientology’s early years. This chapter is a Christian response to Scientology, as Christians have seen it as a challenge to Christianity and want to have a response. Hubbard taught “that all men have inalienable rights to their own religious practices and their performance.”6
Christians are commanded to demolish arguments and every pretension that goes against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:4–5). According to Hubbard, we have the inalienable right to practice our religion, which means responding to Hubbard’s challenges of Christianity.
Scientology is a 20th-century religion invented by a man as a variation of religious humanism that might rightly be called Hubbardism. Unlike other humanistic religions in this volume, Scientology tends to meld self-help psychology with Eastern religions and even borrows some Christian ideas.
From the Scientology website, we read how they view the name Scientology:
Scientology: Scio (Latin) “knowing, in the fullest sense of the word,” logos (Greek) “study of.” Thus Scientology means “knowing how to know.” Developed by L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology is a religion that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature and one’s relationship to self, family, groups, Mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the Supreme Being.
Scientology addresses the spirit—not the body or mind—and believes that Man is far more than a product of his environment, or his genes.
Scientology comprises a body of knowledge which extends from certain fundamental truths. Prime among these are:
- Man is an immortal spiritual being.
- His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime.
- His capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized.7
As with any religion, Scientology seeks to help humanity understand what is broken in the world and how to fix it. By understanding the Eight Dynamics (more on this in a moment) and how man relates to both the physical and spiritual realms, each individual can achieve a spiritual awareness that will lead to ultimate fulfillment and longevity. Focusing on improving relationships and communication, counselors offer “auditing” to help individuals recognize the things from their past that are blocking the expression of their potential.
The Church of Scientology International is the mother church under which individual Church of Scientology groups are organized. With its headquarters in Los Angeles, the 11,000 local churches or groups exist in over 160 nations.8
It is important to understand that the Church of Scientology regards the teachings of Hubbard as authoritative. These materials are essentially the “Bible” for Scientologists where Hubbard is seen as the only “prophet.” In order to properly contrast the beliefs of Scientology with those of Christianity, there must be an emphasis on the writings and teachings of Hubbard.
On the Church of Scientology’s website under the question “Does Scientology have a Scripture?” we read:
Yes. The written and recorded spoken words of L. Ron Hubbard on the subject of Scientology collectively constitute the scripture of the religion. He set forth the Scientology theology and technologies in tens of millions of words, including hundreds of books, scores of films and more than 3,000 recorded lectures.9
Although Scientology sees Hubbard’s writing as authoritative, they claim to be tolerant of other religious views.
Scientology, like many of the dominant religions such as Islam, Buddhism, and Mormonism, has a single author as the revealer of truth. The authors of these religions have all attested to some sort of “private” interpretation or revelation, and they alone have the authority in its message.
The Bible is different to the scriptures revered by other religions. There is ultimately only one author for Scripture—God the Holy Spirit who moved through human authors to communicate his perfect and eternal message.
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20–21).
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
Not only is the Holy Spirit the author of Scripture, he is also the one who opens our eyes to receive the truth that God gives to us.
Revelation is God’s making his truth known to humankind. Inspiration guarantees that what the Bible says is just what God would say if he were to speak directly. One other element is needed in this chain, however. For the Bible to function as if it is God speaking to us, the Bible reader needs to understand the meaning of Scriptures, and to be convinced of their divine origin and authorship. This is accomplished by an internal working of the Holy Spirit, illuminating the understanding of the hearer or reader of the Bible, bringing about comprehension of its meaning, and creating a certainty of its truth and divine origin.10
Wayne Grudem further illustrates this point.
It is one thing to affirm that the Bible claims to be the words of God. It is another thing to be convinced that those claims are true. Our ultimate conviction that the words of the Bible are God’s word comes only when the Holy Spirit speaks in and through the words of the Bible to our heart and gives us an inner assurance that these are the words of our Creator speaking to us. Apart from the work of the Spirit of God, a person will not receive or accept the truth that the words of Scripture are in fact the words of God.11
There is also complete harmony in Scripture when compared to the disharmony of holy books of other world religions. Even though the Scriptures were written by men from different times, lands, professions, and ways of life, they all consistently attest to the glory of God and the revelation of the Messiah who would redeem people from their sin. Consider the argument from Living Waters:
If just 10 people today were picked who were from the same place, born around the same time, spoke the same language, and made about the same amount of money, and were asked to write on just one controversial subject, they would have trouble agreeing with each other. But the Bible stands alone. It was written over a period of 1,600 years by more than 40 writers from all walks of life. Some were fishermen; some were politicians. Others were generals or kings, shepherds or historians. They were from three different continents, and wrote in three different languages. They wrote on hundreds of controversial subjects yet they wrote with agreement and harmony. They wrote in dungeons, in temples, on beaches, and on hillsides, during peace-time and during war. Yet their words sound like they came from the same source. So even though 10 people today couldn’t write on one controversial subject and agree, God picked 40 different people to write the Bible—and it stands the test of time.”12
The theology of Scientology will sound somewhat familiar to Christians, but the words have very different meanings. While they speak of a Supreme Being or God, it is not the Creator God of the Bible.
In Scientology, the concept of God is expressed as the Eighth Dynamic—the urge toward existence as infinity. This is also identified as the Supreme Being. As the Eighth Dynamic, the Scientology concept of God rests at the very apex of universal survival. As L. Ron Hubbard wrote in Science of Survival,
No culture in the history of the world, save the thoroughly depraved and expiring ones, has failed to affirm the existence of a Supreme Being. It is an empirical observation that men without a strong and lasting faith in a Supreme Being are less capable, less ethical and less valuable to themselves and society. . . . A man without an abiding faith is, by observation alone, more of a thing than a man.13
Based on his observation, Hubbard asserts that faith is an important element of humanity, but he does so in an arbitrary way. He points not to any real authority, but to personal experience. He also asserts that an atheist is of less benefit to society than a person who believes in a Supreme Being of some sort, but does not provide any justification for his claims. The explanation continues:
Unlike religions with Judeo-Christian origins, the Church of Scientology has no set dogma concerning God that it imposes on its members. As with all its tenets, Scientology does not ask individuals to accept anything on faith alone. Rather, as one’s level of spiritual awareness increases through participation in Scientology auditing and training, one attains his own certainty of every dynamic. Accordingly, only when the Seventh Dynamic (spiritual) is reached in its entirety will one discover and come to a full understanding of the Eighth Dynamic (infinity) and one’s relationship to the Supreme Being.14
From the quote, it is worth noting that even though the Church of Scientology used the words “Supreme Being,” it clearly rejects the teachings of the biblical God and absolutely rejects the Trinity. As will be discussed later on in this chapter, the Church of Scientology has been heavily influenced by Eastern thought, like Hinduism.
Their book (A World Religion) on world religions leaves little doubt that the Hindu Brahma is closely paralleled with Scientology’s understanding of the Supreme Being. Here God is spoken in terms of Hinduism. Though Hubbard provides no strict definition of the Supreme Being, his descriptive characteristics are enough for the Christian reader to see its unbiblical nature. Hubbard rejects the Christian doctrine of the trinity. His Phoenix Lectures state “The Christian god is actually much better characterized in Hinduism than in any subsequent publication, including the Old Testament.” Again, he said, “The god the Christians worshipped is certainly not the Hebrew god. He looks much more like the one talked about in the Veda (Hindu scripture). What he mistakenly assumed is that the Hindu “triad” is the basis for the Christian “Trinity.”15
The Bible rejects the idea of multiple gods and affirms that there is one true God (Deuteronomy 4:39; Isaiah 43:10; 1 Timothy 2:5). The Bible always provides a clear distinction between God and man. Unlike other religions that mix the two and even attribute deity to human beings (not to be confused with being made in the image of God), the Bible clearly shows the difference between God and man, depicting God’s incommunicable attributes as something beyond man’s grasp (Numbers 23:19).
In Scientology, this view of a Supreme Being is more like Eastern Mysticism’s transcendental heavens, though it differs in that it holds that infinity is that Supreme Being. So the concept of a God like the God of the Bible is absent in Scientology. This means it operates like an atheistic or dualistic religion. As a religion, it is essentially a cross between atheism and Eastern Mysticism (e.g., Taoism, Hinduism, Jainism, New Age, etc.) where each individual forms their own view of the god of the Eighth Dynamic.
It isn’t a surprise that Hubbard has no reverence for Christ and sees him as just another moral teacher among many. In his Phoenix Lectures from 1968, Hubbard believes Jesus was “the Christ legend as an implant in preclears a million years ago.” In these lectures, he also casts doubts upon the authenticity of Jesus as Messiah. He states:
Now the Hebrew definition of messiah is one who brings wisdom, a teacher, in other words. Messiah is from messenger. But he is somebody with information. And Moses was such a one. And then Christ became such a one. He was a bringer of information. He never announced his sources. . . . Now here we have a great teacher in Moses. We have other messiahs, and we then arrive with Christ. And the words of Christ were a lesson in compassion, and they set a very fine example to the western world, compared to what the western world was doing at that moment.16
Hubbard makes a mistake here in reference to the meaning of Christ. The name “Christ” means “anointed” and is a proper name or title of “the Anointed One” to translate the Hebrew word “Messiah.”17 This is further explained by the apologists at Got Questions, when they write:
To the surprise of some, “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name (surname). “Christ” comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed one” or “chosen one.” This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Mashiach, or “Messiah.” “Jesus” is the Lord’s human name given to Mary by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:31). “Christ” is his title, signifying Jesus was sent from God to be a King and Deliverer (see Daniel 9:25; Isaiah 32:1). “Jesus Christ” means “Jesus the Messiah” or “Jesus the Anointed One.”
When someone was given a position of authority in ancient Israel, oil was poured on his head to signify his being set apart for God’s service (e.g., 1 Samuel 10:1). Kings, priests, and prophets were anointed in such fashion. Anointing was a symbolic act to indicate God’s choosing (e.g., 1 Samuel 24:6). Although the literal meaning of anointed refers to the application of oil, it can also refer to one’s consecration by God, even if literal oil is not used (Hebrews 1:9).18
Not only is Jesus Christ the true Messiah promised in the Old Testament by the prophets, he is also fully God and fully man, a view that would be rejected by the Church of Scientology.
Among the many passages that attest to the deity of Christ,19 three passages specifically stand out. The first is:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1–3).
In verse one, John uses “was” to illustrate Jesus’ pre-existence and eternal personhood as part of the Trinity. John further illustrates that Jesus was eternal by saying that the “Word was with God and the Word was God.” Christ was in an intimate fellowship with God the Father before time existed. John’s thoughts flow from Christ leaving the glories of heaven and putting on humanity.
In verse 14 of John 1, John says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John MacArthur in his commentary on John states:
While Christ as God was uncreated and eternal . . . the word “became” emphasizes Christ’s taking on humanity (cf., Heb. 1:1–3, 2:14–18). This reality is surely the most profound ever because it indicated that the infinite became finite; the Eternal was conformed to time; the invisible became visible; the supernatural One reduced himself to the natural. In the incarnation, however, the Word did not cease to be God but became God in human flesh, i.e., undiminished deity in human form as a man (1 Tim. 3:16).20
In referencing the word “begotten,” skeptics suggest Jesus was a created being instead of eternal. Again, MacArthur speaks to this very issue.
The term “only begotten” is a mistranslation of the Greek word. The word does not come from the term meaning “beget” but instead has the idea of “the only beloved one.” It, therefore, has the idea of singular uniqueness, of being beloved like no other. By this word, John emphasizes the exclusive character of the relationship between the Father and the Son in the Godhead (cf., 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9). It does not connote origin but rather unique prominence.21
The Apostle John had no doubt that Jesus was the eternal Son of God with full deity in his nature.
A second passage which refutes the view of the Church of Scientology in regard to the person of Christ is:
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things consist (Colossians 1:13–17).
In this passage, Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae highlights the fact that not only is Christ eternal but he is also Creator of all things. According to Greek scholar A.T. Robertson, “all things were created” has the idea of “stand created” or “remain created.” Robertson adds, “The permanence of the universe rests, then, on Christ far more than on gravity. It is a Christ-centric universe.”22
A third passage that clearly refutes Scientology’s view of Jesus is found in the opening of Hebrews.
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high having become so much better than the angels, as he has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they (Hebrews 1:1–4).
God spoke through the prophets by means of parables, poetry, historical narrative, psalms, proverbs, and prophetic confrontation. God chose to pronounce his message through a time span of 1,600 years and 40 different authors reflecting different locations, times, cultures, and situations. What was the message? Even in the midst of the failure of Israel, God would redeem them through a perfect Savior.
From the very Fall of mankind, God had promised to send a Savior to abolish the corruption that entered through sin. God would preserve the seed promised in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Throughout the narrative of the Old Testament, God promises once and for all through his Son’s death and resurrection to deliver His people from sin.
The Jews understood the “last days” to mean the time when the Messiah would come. Although it can be said that Jesus had a message from the Father, even truer is the statement that HE IS the message from the Father. The author of Hebrews also says Jesus has been “appointed heir of all things,” showing that Jesus has been given the authority to save and to judge.
The author of Hebrews further states that Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things. He made the worlds. This statement is damaging to the view that Christ is not fully God since Scripture states he is “the brightness of his glory and express image of his person.” The Greek denotes the radiance shining forth from a source of light. The idea of exact likeness as made by a stamp is reference to Christ being of the same substance as God. Both of these expressions point clearly to the deity of Christ.
When we read that Jesus is “upholding all things by the word of his power,” we see that he is maintaining or actively sustaining the universe. We see this manifested in the ministry of Jesus Christ, as he is able to heal, forgive sins, cast out demons, and calm nature’s fury.
Another comparison is that of Christ vs. all other religious leaders. All of them, including L. Ron Hubbard, Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, Muhammad, Buddha, and so forth, died. Jesus did too, but unlike these others, Jesus resurrected. Jesus, being God, had the power to lay down his life and take it up again.
Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father (John 10:17–18).
Only Christ has power over death as proved by his resurrection. Only he is in a position to inform us what happens after death.
For all of Hubbard’s teachings that through one’s self they can solve their problems, everyone still dies—even Scientologists. Those in Scientology, even its founder, could not conquer death. Ron Hubbard finally died of a stroke. According to the Bible, death is a punishment for sin as far back as the first sin with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 (see also Genesis 2:17 and Romans 5:12).
Scientologists believe that “man is basically good.”
A fundamental tenet of Scientology is that Man is basically good; that he is seeking to survive; and that his survival depends upon himself and upon his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe. However, his experiences in the physical universe, through many lifetimes, have led him into evil, where he has committed harmful acts or sins, causing him to become aberrated (departing from rational thought or behavior). These harmful acts further reduce Man’s awareness and innate goodness as a spiritual being.
Through Scientology, one confronts these acts, erases the ignorance and aberration which surrounds them, and comes to know and experience truth again.
All religions seek truth. Freedom of the spirit is only to be found on the road to truth. Sin is composed, according to Scientology, of lies and hidden actions and is therefore untruth.23
This raises the question of who defines “good.” By what standard is something good or bad in this religion? Scientologists consider things that are constructive and enhance survival as good and things that are destructive as evil. The exact outworking of one’s actions in light of the Eight Dynamics is determined by the individual, so there is no absolute view of right and wrong.
Scientology, like Eastern religions, also holds to a form of reincarnation, though it is slightly different. They have a varied understanding of the soul (which they call a thetan) that endured countless lifetimes. They also hold to a multitude of races of mankind.
Each person is seen as a spirit or thetan (what makes you, you) that has a mind (the expression of thoughts and emotions) and inhabits a body (a temporary physical expression of the self). Hubbard described the odd account of the origin of man in Scientology: A History of Man. The book has gone through several editions, but the history of the thetans and their origin on alien planets and subsequent evolution is described in detail. The engrams of trauma in these previous lives hinders survivability and must be removed through auditing. These ideas are solely the product of Hubbard’s imagination and have no foundation in any facts. As such, his teaching has been ridiculed by many people.
Contrary to the teachings of the Church of Scientology, Scripture paints a completely different narrative regarding man’s origin and nature and the nature of sin. Man was made by a perfect God in original perfection (Genesis 1:26–27, 31; Deuteronomy 32:4). We were made in the image of the God who created us. Man’s original perfection was marred when Adam and Eve, the first two people and our direct ancestors, sinned (Genesis 3). Thus, we die and are in need of a Savior. Morally, mentally, and socially, man fell into sin and had to deal with a Curse upon the ground for man’s sake (Genesis 3:17). This culminates in death (Romans 5:12), which results in the second death (e.g., Revelation 21:8) if we do not get saved from death and sin through Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate substitutionary atonement for our sin (1 Peter 2:24).
In Genesis 3, man goes from a having a perfect relationship with God and a perfect nature, to a relationship which is severed and a nature that is sinful. Genesis 3 describes this historical account of the Fall. Genesis 3:6–7 states:
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
In Romans chapter 5, Paul ties this account into his reasoning on the topic of justification by faith through grace, which is found in Christ.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:12–21).
In a moment, Adam’s disposition changed from absolute worship of God to whatever his sinful heart desired. Throughout the Old and New Testament, the authors of Scripture paint a narrative not only of the sinful condition of man but his actions, which show that he has a fallen nature. In the Old Testament, God implemented a sacrificial system to remind us of the need for a sacrifice and to point to the One who would redeem mankind from their sin. In the New Testament, we have the ultimate and final sacrifice in the crucifixion of Christ on a Cross to show the need for God’s wrath to be satisfied. Christ, being God, was an acceptable sacrifice to endure the punishment from God the Father. Jesus said:
Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father (John 10:17–18).
Upon death, God will judge man based on his Word. Those who die without receiving Christ, who covers all our sin with his death, burial, and resurrection, will die an eternal death in hell (described as eternal fire). There will be no rest from this punishment.
God reveals to us, out of his infinite knowledge, that man’s heart is deceitful and wicked (Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9). Since sin came into the world, our hearts and minds have been corrupted and can only be set free through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yet the entirety of Scientology comes from the mind and actions of one man, L. Ron Hubbard. The authority of God has been replaced with authority in a man. Thus, in the simplest sense, it is merely a variant form of humanism. But man is not the authority. Even God writes of man:
Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he? (Isaiah 2:22; ESV).
As with any religion, Scientology has an explanation for the origin of the physical universe.
In Scientology, this view flows from the theory of theta (the life force, or spirit) creating MEST (a coined word for the physical universe, Matter, Energy, Space and Time). In fact, it could be said that the creation of the universe is an inseparable part of that theory. The origins of theta and the creation of the physical universe set forth in Scientology are described in The Factors, written by L. Ron Hubbard in 1953.24
Theta is expressed as an impersonal force or spirit manifested in individual thetans which created the physical universe. The thetan is the impersonal creator or god for Scientology (hence the name Thetanism is sometimes used).
Scientologists recognize that a god exists, and this god is mentioned twice in the Creed of the Church of Scientology.25The Thetan (original) is claimed to be the creator, but this is not to be confused with the Operating Thetan, which is a level a person can supposedly achieve and then is able to study the advanced materials of Hubbard. Even so, it is tricky to understand as one is a thetan and doesn’t have a thetan, somewhat equivalent to the soul or spirit of a man. Even so, when “God” is mentioned in Scientology, it is referring to one moving “toward existence as infinity.”26
The age of the earth is not addressed by the Church of Scientology specifically on their website. However, tidbits on their website reveal they believe in an older earth, as opposed to the biblical age of the earth. For example, they write, “Based upon the tradition of fifty thousand years of thinking men, Scientology beliefs are built upon the fundamental truths of life.”27
Couple this with their view of nearly infinite past lives for individuals makes for a very old existence. So the concept of millions and billions of years is a common factor among Scientologists. Hubbard dates some of the early events in his creation myth to a quadrillion years in the past. So naturally you can see the friction between Scientology’s origins account and six-day creation as described in the Bible. Curiously, Hubbard once wrote, “Dianetics is a science; as such, it has no opinion about religion, for sciences are based on natural laws, not on opinions.”28
In the Internet age, however, many details have come to light about Hubbard’s origins account. It is clearly in conflict with the Bible’s account of material creation.
There are many erroneous beliefs built into the Church of Scientology regarding salvation. The first issue is the problem of reincarnation.
The orthodox Hindu idea of reincarnation teaches that when you die, your soul does not go to heaven or hell. Instead, you soul goes into some other kind of body here on earth. This body can be an insect, fish, animal or human body.29
Scientologists prefer to use rebirth instead of reincarnation to describe their means for salvation even though reincarnation is included in many of their teachings. Hubbard believed that the way to salvation is to end the continuous cycle of birth and rebirth—a distinctive of Eastern religions. The key to the Scientologist view of salvation is the idea of “auditing.”
One of the fundamental principles of Scientology is that a person can improve his condition only if he is allowed to find his own truth about himself. In Scientology, this is accomplished through auditing. Auditing is the process of asking specifically worded questions designed to help and find areas of distress. This is done with an auditor, meaning one who listens. An auditor does not offer solutions or advice. They are trained to listen and help you locate experiences that need to be addressed. But some experiences are so deeply buried in the mind, they are not easily recalled. The auditor helps you pinpoint these with an aid of an “e” meter. If you think of something that has upset or has stress connected to it, this shows up on the meter. Your attention can now be directed to that thought. Through auditing, one is able to look at their own existence and discover the past experiences that are holding them back against their will.30
Many cultists realized a system that teaches that people can be reincarnated into animal or insect would not appeal to Western thought, so they decided to change the concept.
Using the Western concepts of evolution and progress, they taught that through reincarnation the soul always progressively evolves up the scale of being. Thus you cannot regress back into an insect or animal body once you have reached the human stage. You are either born into another human body or you are absorbed back into oneness depending on your karma.31
Karma is the teaching that your present condition in life is a result of your actions from a previous life. Scripture answers the question of reincarnation with two important passages found in the Gospel of John. In chapter 3 which is a familiar account among people who are saved and not saved, a Pharisee named Nicodemus wants to have a meeting with Jesus. He was an influential and educated leader within the Sanhedrin. He comes to Jesus by night and begins the conversation with a startling statement for a Pharisee. He says, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2).
Multiple times throughout His ministry, Jesus’s miracles were discredited by the Pharisees and even attributed as works of Satan. Following this confession, Jesus makes an even greater statement that confused Nicodemus. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
Nicodemus’s confusion is further illustrated when he asked Jesus in verse 4, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus was not referring to a physical rebirth or reincarnation. He was referring to a state of regeneration. The word translated “born again” literally means “to be born from above.” Jesus was telling this man Nicodemus that the only way to achieve salvation was to have a change of heart through faith in God.
Another passage in Scripture which attacks the idea of reincarnation and karma is found in John chapter 9 where Jesus heals a blind man. As Jesus passes the blind man with his disciples, they ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (v. 1).
In our Western culture, we might think this to be an insensitive remark: however, it was a common belief among the Jews that physical illness resulted from sin. It isn’t necessarily the same definition of karma, but the implications are the same. Jesus corrected his disciples and told them this was done for God’s glory. The reason this man was blind was not due to a personal sin, his parent’s sin, or any other circumstance. He was experiencing the results of the Fall, and Jesus was going to give the man a new nature beginning with the healing of his blindness.
The second problem in their view of salvation is the idea that there can be multiple lifetimes to correct past behavior. In the process of auditing, a person is mentored as they look into their “history” to discern the conditions that have put them in their current condition. This is done through the help of an E-meter that pinpoints areas that are causing stress in their lives. As an individual processes these events and frees himself of the influence of implants or engrams experienced in previous lives or the present life, they advance toward a state of “clear.” To be clear is to free one’s “reactive mind” from any engrams that cause anxiety as well as toxins that impair the physical body.
Much like a pastor would guide a Christian in dealing with indwelling sin, an auditor assists in understanding the principles of affinity, reality, and communication (represented as an ARC triangle) to become clear. At this point, the secretive teachings of the Operative Thetan levels are studied to advance in understanding toward the Eighth Dynamic and spiritual freedom. There is no concept of a future state of heaven or hell, only spiritual freedom in a future that is built through right actions and thinking in the present.
The Bible paints a completely different narrative in regard to past lifetimes. There is only mention of the current life and the brevity of it. Hebrews 9:27 states, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Another passage is found in Luke chapter 16 in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. While the rich man enjoyed the luxuries of life, Lazarus was confined to the gate where he would beg for the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table.
On the other side of eternity, the rich man makes a request of Abraham. The dialogue goes:
“I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.” Abraham said to him, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” And he said, “No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” But he said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:27–31).
Both these passages affirm the teaching of the Bible that an individual only has their current life to trust through saving faith in Christ. Our existence today is the only one we have known and the only one we will ever live. After our time on earth has been completed, we will stand in judgment before God to give an account of our lives.
The Church of Scientology shares the same worldview as all the false religions of the world. They share in a rejection of the deity of Christ and his offer of salvation as being the only acceptable way of being right with God, the Bible as the only Word of God, eternal judgment, and absolute authority. Scientologists have a pluralistic belief system that allows the individual to embrace whatever lifestyle they choose in order to make them happy.
The goal of Scientology is making the individual capable of living a better life in his own estimation and with his fellows. Although such a statement may seem simple and modest, the ramifications are immense and embody the dream of every religion; the attainment of complete and total rehabilitation of man’s native, but long obscured abilities—abilities that place him at knowing cause over matter, energy, space, time, form, thought and life. Yet even well before one reaches this state, the changes Scientology can bring are profound. Personal relationships can be repaired or revitalized. Personal goals can be realized and happiness restored. Where once there were doubts and inhibitions, there can be certainty and self-confidence. Where once there had been unhappiness and confusion, there can be joy and clarity.32
In contrast, the Bible tells us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12), and it calls us to repentance and faith in Christ, because we have sinned against a holy God. We are called to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20–21) through Christ, and we would call all those in the Church of Scientology to do the same.
Teachings of Scientology
Deny the existence of the biblical God, but believe in a supreme force (theta) and manifestations of that force (thetan). The Eighth Dynamic is the infinite expression of the Supreme Being. Reject Jesus as anything more than a good man.
The writings of L. Ron Hubbard, especially Dianetics.
All men are basically good. The self is a thetan that has a mind and inhabits a body.
Sin is anything that leads to destruction or inhibits survivability, though each person must determine what constitutes wrong actions and truth for themselves.
The thetan is impaired by engrams that must be removed through auditing so that the thetan can achieve spiritual freedom. There is no concept of heaven or hell.
MEST (matter, energy, space, and time) was created by thetans at some point beyond a quadrillion years ago. The creation of worlds and humans reads like a science fiction novel including alien life and other planets.
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