The Brethren's "Key to the Scriptures"
Eau Gallie, Florida
Not long ago I had occasion to study the false doctrines of Christian Science, which are, of course, based upon the false teachings and fanciful imaginations of Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures in order to arrive at the teachings of Christian Science. One could not possibly reach the conclusions that are drawn in Christian Science by studying the Bible alone.
The amazing thing to me was that Mrs. Eddy claimed to believe the Bible only. She said: "The Bible has been my only authority. I have had no other guide in 'the straight and narrow way' of Truth" (S. & H., p. 126). But, the truth was that no person could ever get the weird interpretations of the scriptures that she got without her book. So, she later had to contradict herself by making it mandatory for her followers to use her "Key to the Scriptures." Thus, she said: "A Christian Scientist requires my work Science and Health for his textbook" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, P. 115)
So, when it comes to a study of the Bible, a person must "interpret" what he reads in line with what her "Key to the Scriptures" says it means. For instance, without Mrs. Eddy's book, one never would have known that the Holy Spirit is really divine science; that the devil is not a reality, but simply a personification of error, a lie; that sin is merely an illusion; that man cannot really sin; that there is no such thing as sickness, pain, or death; that hell is only self-imposed agony on this earth, mortal belief; that heaven is not a locality, but simply a divine state of mind - and on and on we go. All of these things are taught by Christian Science, but the point is that no one could possibly get these ideas from just reading the Bible, separate and apart from her "Key to the Scriptures."
Well, some of my brethren are just about as bad as Mary Baker Eddy. They have come up lately with some equally weird interpretations of the scriptures - and, to tell you the truth, I never will know (according to them) what the scriptures teach unless I interpret them with their "Key to the Scriptures." Someone says that the church (ekklesia) is not really the church; that it has no organization or organism; that the church is not an "organizational, functional, group unit." Thus, some brethren, based upon their "Key to the Scriptures," say that the church cannot function as the church. To be more specific, one brother says this: ". . . it is presumptuous for us to think God has addressed his will to organized functional group units of His people expecting these organized groups to function 'as one."' Now, to tell you the truth, I never would have known this from just reading the Bible! But I suppose that it is possible to get some to believe it if they just read their Bible along with the "scholarly" brethren's edict ("Key to the Scriptures") on this point.
Someone else says that there is no such thing as an "office" of an elder, notwithstanding the fact that you can read about one in the scriptures. Well, this fits in just fine with the afore-mentioned theory. If there is no organized church, then there certainly must not be any elders (officers, implying organization). Now, if I had just read the Bible where Paul and Barnabas "ordained them elders in every church" (Acts 14:23), both of these theories would be shot down! But, of course, there's a lot of explaining away that must be done on these passages, as well as others. So, if you can get a copy of the brethren's "Key to the Scriptures" on this point, then you will be blessed with the superior knowledge that comes only through a super-abundance of mental and exegetical gymnastics!
Brethren, the apostle Paul says about God's will, ". . . whereby, when you read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ" (Eph. 3:4). Some brethren are so concerned about the "corruption" of the scriptures that they play the part of the skeptic and have to "straighten out" all of the so-called misconceptions, misinterpretations, and inconsistencies in the word of God. The truth is that the greatest source of corruption comes from their man-made ideas, culminating in their philosophical, pseudo-knowledgeable "Key to the Scriptures."
Some are so concerned about "tradition," when, in reality, what they term tradition is simply nothing more than well-grounded established truth. Just because something has been believed, taught, and practiced for a long time does not mean that it is "tradition." Nevertheless, the "iconoclastic" tendencies of some are destined to cause "trouble in Israel." To tell you the truth, I never had heard the term "iconoclast" used very much until recently. Now it seems to be the secret password with some. After witnessing its use, I wonder if the word is not tantamount to pure "idiocy?" I wonder to God that some brethren would let the word of God stand as it is, feed upon the "sincere milk of the word" which is "without guile," and simply "be not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5: 17).
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIII: 10, pp. 15-16