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PSST — Stop self-punishment now to make it never-lasting,
so that “sorrow and sighing … flee away!”
 (Isa. 35 and 51)
Possible Sunday School Topics (P.S.S.T.) for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“(N)Everlasting Punishment”
for Sunday, April 30, 2023

By Tom and Amy Evans, former staff members and big fans of CedarS

P.S.S.T. for The Golden Text and The Responsive Reading

Is Everlasting Punishment real? (No.)

Look at the Golden Text. This verse from Psalms counteracts the belief in hell / everlasting punishment with a statement about God’s love: (Psalm 100:5 ). . . the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” Christian Scientists believe in an all-loving God. Many Christian Science churches have the text from 1st John in the sanctuary: “God is Love.” Does your class truly believe God is Love and only Love? If that is the case, then there is no origin for evil, sin, etc.

Look at the statements of everlasting love in Section 1. Mary Baker Eddy addresses the idea that people are capable of sin head-on in S&H citation 3: “Does divine Love commit a fraud on humanity by making man inclined to sin, and then punishing him for it? Would any one call it wise and good to create the primitive, and then punish its derivative?” This discussion continues in citations 4 and 5 in Science and Health.

How [does] man have a basis for wrong doing?” There is no basis for doing wrong!

Section 2 speaks of God’s loving kindness and brings up the concept of justice. What is divine justice? Is there an element of punishment in Divine Justice? (No)

This website by John J Parsons, “Hebrew for Christians” provides a helpful commentary on the idea of tzedek or Justice. This will provide great prompts for Sunday School discussions.

In Section 3 Bible citation 13 Hezekiah appears to be sentenced to death and then rescued from this horrible outcome by God. In Bible citation 14 King Hezekiah reflects on removing his own bitterness, being freed of sinful thoughts, and praising God.
S&H citation 12 looks deeper into the claim of sickness originating from God: “It would be contrary to our highest ideas of God to suppose Him capable of first arranging law and causation so as to bring about certain evil results, and then punishing the helpless victims of His volition for doing what they could not avoid doing. Good is not, cannot be, the author of experimental sins. God, good, can no more produce sickness than goodness can cause evil and health occasion disease.” Reason through this logic. Are we helpless victims of God’s wrath? (no) Is God vengeful? (no)

Christian Scientists believe sickness is not real. But how do you overcome a claim of sickness that appears to be afflicting someone with alarming symptoms?
S&H citation 16 provides the line of thinking to argue against and destroy the claim of sickness: “Disease is always induced by a false sense mentally entertained, not destroyed. Disease is an image of thought externalized.

Always begin your treatment by allaying the fear of patients. Silently reassure them as to their exemption from disease and danger. Watch the result of this simple rule of Christian Science, and you will find that it alleviates the symptoms of every disease. If you succeed in wholly removing the fear, your patient is healed. The great fact that God lovingly governs all, never punishing aught but sin, is your standpoint, from which to advance and destroy the human fear of sickness.”

Work through citation 16 with your class step by step.

  • Does disease have origins in reality or just a “false sense of reality?
  • How should you start a Christian Science treatment? (By allaying / removing fear)
  • Why is removing fear so important?
  • How do you remove fear?
  • How do you “silently reassure” someone that they are well?
  • Talk about the importance of understanding God as All-loving, without a motive to punish. How does understanding God’s love correlate with destroying fear of sickness?

Section 4 addresses destroying sin. God forgives sin. Consider what Jesus says about helping sinners repent or change their lifestyle when he compares himself to a physician who removes sin in Bible citation 17:

“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Discuss the question Jesus posed to the Pharisees in Section 5, Bible citation 22, “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?”
When have you experienced healing in your life?
Look at S&H citations 22, 23, and 27 for some direction on how to heal.
What stands out to you in those citations?

Section 6 focuses on kindness and tender mercies.
How does this wrap up the concept of everlasting punishment?
Describe how “wholesome chastisements” (S&H citation 31) can move you forward in your experience.

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