A Lutheran ResponseEvaluating Scientology from a Christian perspective is complicated by the extremely esoteric nature of the concepts and religious vocabulary developed by L. Ron Hubbard.18 Typical of organizations and movements such as Scientology, biblically-sounding concepts have radically different meanings that actually oppose Christian understandings—a situation of which recruits are often unaware. At a very basic level, Lutheran Christians differ sharply with Scientology’s understanding of what constitutes the normative basis for religious truth. A Scientology spokesperson has written, “Mr. Hubbard’s writings and lectures on the human spirit comprise the Scripture of Scientology religion…As the sole source of the Scriptures, he has no successor.”19 Lutherans reject such claims on the basis of the Bible’s own unanimous testimony that it alone is God’s very own Word, solely normative for all teaching and profitable for man’s temporal and eternal well-being (e.g., 2 Pet. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:16; Jer. 23:30-31).Certain elements of Scientology’s religious philosophy merit special comment from a Christian perspective. Christian observers have rightly noted that the concept of “God” in Scientology is undefined, and purposefully so—though it does claim to be a religion that recognizes a “Supreme Being.” Expressions such as “the Eighth Dynamic,” “God dynamic,” “infinity,” and “all Theta life” are used.20 Scientology frankly admits, “The Church has no dogma concerning God, and each person’s concept is probably different.”21 The Holy Scriptures, however, not only reveal who the true God is—God who is three persons in one divine essence (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit), Creator and Preserver of all things visible and invisible—but label as idolatry worship of and service to any other deity (Matt. 28:18-20; John 5:23; see Ex. 20:3 and Martin Luther, Large Catechism, Part I).L. Ron Hubbard interpreted Jesus Christ within the Scientologist framework: “Neither Lord Buddha nor Jesus Christ were OT (Operating Thetan), according to the evidence. They were just a shade above clear.”22 He refers to Christ as an “implant” (a false concept forced on a Thetan): “You will find…the Christ legend as an implant in pre-clears a million years ago.”23 Christian belief in Jesus the Christ is determined by the high Christology (teaching concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ) presented in Colossians 1: “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn [Gr: prōtotokos=pre-eminent] of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…” (15-16). Christ is not simply a “spiritual leader” possessing a “dream” of “higher states of spiritual awareness” like other religious leaders in history.24 On the contrary, in Jesus Christ “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:19), “in him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9), and His name is “above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-10).18See Robert A. Gilbert, “Western Esotericism,” in New Religions: A Guide, 304-308.19Leisa Goodman, L.Ron Hubbard, Founder of Dianetics and Scientology, 1, quoted by Craig Branch, “Scientology Part One: Hubbard’s Religion,” Watchman Expositor , Vol. 13, No. 2, 1996, 10.20The Scientology Handbook, Based on the Works of L. Ron Hubbard (Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, 1994), 69.21It adds: “As a person becomes more aware of himself, others, the environment and God, each person attains his own certainty as to who God is and exactly what God means to him. The author of the universe exists. How God is symbolized or manifested is up to each individual to find out for himself.” What Is Scientology?”, 545.22Quoted in Walter Martin, Kingdom of the Cults, 383.23Quoted by Kevin Anderson, Report of the Board of Inquiry into Scientology (Melbourne: Australia Parliament Government Printer, 1965), 150 (W. Martin, p. 383).24A Description of the Scientology Religion, Presented by The Church of Scientology (Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, 1994), 55.