Scientology is a Western belief-system developed in modern times by its founder, L. (Lafayette) Ron Hubbard. Known for attracting celebrities, Scientology is a method for pursuing optimal health through personal effort and financial investment. Several famous Scientologists such as John Travolta, Tom Cruise, and the late Sonny Bono have been outspoken church members.  An understanding of the Church of Scientology’s origin and an elementary overview of its teachings will enable us to compare and contrast this twentieth-century religion with historical Christianity.

Claiming some fifteen million members, Scientology is an outgrowth of a study called Dianetics, initiated by L. Ron Hubbard. An accomplished science fiction and novel writer in the 1930s, Hubbard published a non-fiction book in 1948 entitled Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. In this book, the author presented ideas and techniques for promoting mental, emotional and spiritual perfection. Fueled by his prolific writings, L. Ron Hubbard’s movement was known as Dianetics until 1952 when he reorganized it, gave it the name “Scientology,” and declared it a religious system.
In the change from Dianetics to Scientology, clerical terms and practices were added and ministers donned full clerical garb, including the wearing of large crosses. Some critics charged that these modifications seemed “a verbal camouflage to escape taxation…”

Services are conducted on Sundays and Scientology has rituals for marriage, christenings and funerals. The Bible is seldom used and none of the rituals include prayer or any reference to God.
The teachings of Scientology are not theological (God-centered) in nature, but rather expound a method of maximizing individual potential. Scientology method purposes to uncover and eradicate accumulated negative and painful experiences in the soul of the seeker. Many of these “engrams,” as they are called, are believed to be received by the embryo in the womb or in a multitude of past lives. The influence of Eastern mysticism is readily observed. The clearing of engrams from previous lives seems closely related to the Hindu doctrine of karma and reincarnation. 

The concept of “karma” teaches that an individual soul, over the course of many lifetimes, experiences rewards and punishments in order to eventually balance past and present deeds. The desired goal of this age-long series of incarnations is reunion with the World Soul, the Infinite. Scientology offers a shortcut to the karmic process by reaching and dealing with the original aberration (the engram), freeing the soul to go on unencumbered. This state of “clearness” is similar to the enlightenment sought by the Hindus of ancient India and the world-saviors of Buddhism, differing only in methodology and terminology. The system of Scientology takes much less time and is less demanding than the ancient paths of self-denial and meditation. It is, however, much more expensive. Long-term members pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to cross what Scientology calls the “Bridge to Total Freedom.”

Scientology teaches an intriguing version of the beginning of human history on earth. Human misery is said to have originated 75 million years ago when an evil warlord named Xenu transported billions of human souls from outer space to Teegeeack (now known as Earth). The souls – called “Thetans” – were then dropped by Xenu into Hawaiian and Mediterranean volcanoes and blown up with hydrogen bombs. These invisible souls still exist today, founder Hubbard teaches. Called “Body Thetans,” they cling to every human body, infecting people with warped thoughts. Only hundreds of hours of costly Scientology “auditing” – a process critics have likened to exorcism – can persuade the harmful Body Thetan clusters to detach.

For most new Scientologists, the initial step toward spiritual advancement is a “Purification Rundown,” a detoxification method using vitamins and saunas. Next, church members strive to reach a spiritual stage called “Clear,” moving through eight levels of clearness, which may take as many as twenty hours of auditing. After they have attained “Clear” status, Hubbard’s followers try to reach a series of “Operating Thetan” levels – up to level VIII and beyond. 

In the method of Scientology, the one seeking freedom (called a “Pre-Clear”) is positioned opposite a Scientology-trained counselor called an “Auditor.” This Auditor directs the Seeker into the unconscious storehouse of unpleasant memories called the reactive mind. The Seeker is encouraged to “contact and relive the moments of emotions, pain, and unconscious thought that were filed in the memory bank of his reactive mind.”

According to procedure, the Pre-Clear and the Auditor sit with a device called an E-Meter between them. The E-meter (or Electro-psychometer) is the auditor’s tool and is used as a confessional aid in Scientology. It is a type of lie detector that sends a mild electric current through the body of the Seeker. Scientologists believe that the E-Meter is able to detect Body Thetans and past emotional traumas whether they happened yesterday or in a past life millions of years ago. As engrams are found, identified, and confessed repeatedly, they are automatically erased. They no longer cling to the harassed Thetan.

During the process of auditing, many personal and probing questions are asked. As the Pre-Clear grasps the “truth-detecting” cylinders of the E-Meter, an Auditor commonly asks, “Have you done anything your mother would be ashamed to find out?”

Confessions are frequently guided into areas of sexual behavior, of both present and past lives. Scientology concurs with Freud that one’s sexual feelings and acts should be thoroughly explored and revealed in the pursuit of well being. Because these intimate confessions are recorded and stored in Scientology records, concerns arise over how easily members might be manipulated with such revealing documents.

The modern religion of Scientology and historical Christianity both claim to be the only path to human salvation, yet their teachings are clearly opposed. Scientology focuses on self-improvement, self-mastery, and personal happiness, and is, in many ways, the antithesis of Christian doctrine. A closer look at the basic tenets of each faith will further reveal their differences.

In essence, Scientology is self-centered. The Scientologist is devoted to his own advance and the movement is for those who can afford it – it has nothing to offer to the poor. In contrast, Christianity is Christ-centered and the atoning death of Jesus makes salvation freely available to all. Regarding God, Scientology teaches a kind of pantheism – everything in the universe is a visible manifestation of God.

Conversely, in Christian theology God is the transcendent Creator, distinct from His creation.
Historical Christianity asserts that Jesus is God in human flesh (Col. 2:9), the sinless Lord and Savior who paid the full price of sin on the cross (Tit 2:11-14). Hubbard, however, taught that Jesus had quite a way to go in personal growth, that he was “just a shade above clear.”

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, according to Scientology’s founder, is irrelevant since humans are not sinful at all, but are divine god-like spirit beings called Thetans. Christians believe, however, that humans are not gods. They are, instead, created beings that rebel against their Creator.

Realizing, through auditing, one’s former divinity as a Thetan is the “salvation” that Scientology offers. Investing time and resources, the Scientologist works to produce his own salvation. He is not taught that hell is real or that an almighty God will some day judge his actions. Matter and reality are perceived as illusions.

Christian salvation, in startling contrast, is a gift from God that cannot be earned. Accessed by faith in Jesus’ redeeming work, salvation is conscious eternal life with God.

Christian doctrine teaches a distinct difference between good and evil. An individual has one life that God will ultimately judge and, tragically, eternal punishment results for those who reject Christ’s salvation (Rom. 14:10, 2 Thes. 1:5-10). Suffering, pain and sin are all very real in Christian thinking. Christ Jesus died to set humanity free from such things (Rom. 8:2). 

It has been interesting to compare Scientology with Christianity, but it is vital to understand that these two belief systems are incompatible. No one can be a “Christian Scientologist” because the religious teachings of each distinctly contradict one another and both cannot be true. Each person must decide where to invest his or her faith. Everlasting consequences make this a sobering responsibility. The apostle John offers this loving advice: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

P>Cooper, Paulette; The Scandal of Scientology, New York: Tower Publications, Inc., 1971. 

Hubbard, L. Ron; Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, Los Angeles: Church of Scientology of California, 1950

Martin, Walter; The Kingdom of the Cults, Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, 1985

What the Cults Believe
Joseph Mallia, “Church wields celebrity clout” Boston Herald (March 1998), p. 2. Internet

Walter Martin, Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis, Minn., Bethany House, 1985) p. 345.

Horton Davies, Christian Deviations, 3d rev. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1972), p. 109. Internet

W.J. Peterson, Those Curious New Cults (New Canaan, Conn.: Keats, 1973), p. 93. Internet

Joseph Mallia, “Sacred teachings not secret anymore” Boston Herald (March 1998), p. 2. Internet
Ibid., p. 3 and 4.

Omar Garrison, The Hidden Story of Scientology (London: Arlington, 1914), p. 29. Internet
Peterson, p. 91.

Paulette Cooper, The Scandal of Scientology (New York: Tower Publications, Inc., 1971), p. 83.
John Weldon, “Scientology: From Science Fiction to Space-Age Religion,” Christian Research Journal (summer, 1993), p. 23.

Gen. 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

L. Ron Hubbard, Certainty Magazine, Los Angeles, CA: Publications Organization, vol. 5, no. 10. n.d.

Rom. 5:10 “And since, when we were his enemies, we were brought back to God by the death of his Son, what blessings he must have for us now that we are his friends, and he is living within us!” (Living Bible)

Rom. 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1 Jn. 4:1 NIV