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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."
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."
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'".
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."
In an interview with The Sacramento Bee, actress Mimi Rogers explained how her identity as a Scientologist helped her with the role of "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.
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."
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."