Let’s Make the Bible Understandable for Us: Rewriting I John 1–3

Janis Hunt Johnson
3 min readMay 10, 2021
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

In any Christian Science church anywhere on the planet, every Sunday service ends like this: First, there is a reading of “The Scientific Statement of Being” from Mary Baker Eddy’s textbook for life, Science and Health. It goes like this:

The Scientific Statement of Being

“There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.”

Lastly, the “Correlative Scripture” from I John 3:1–3 is read:

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

Now, the first statement is something I absolutely love and live by. Still, having been written by a woman of the 19th century, it does need a slight alteration to be attuned to our 21st-century ears. So here’s how I say it:

There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and Its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is God’s image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; we are spiritual.

I don’t know about you, but the “correlative scripture” for this Statement, taken from the King James Bible — that’s from the early 17th century, folks — makes almost no sense to me at all. I struggled for years to comprehend it, to no avail…until I found The Message, Eugene H. Peterson’s interpretation of the Bible for modern readers. What a revelation! I could finally understand what before was chock-full of male pronouns and obscure language.

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Janis Hunt Johnson

Author, 5 Smooth Stones: Our Power to Heal Without Medicine through the Science of Prayer. Transformational Editor. From Chicago to L.A., now in Pacific NW.