Tom Cruise, well-known proponent of Scientology, has been compared to Christ by the current Church of Scientology leader, David Miscavige. He believes the two share a lot of similar characteristics. Said Miscavige, “Tom has been told he is Scientology’s Christ-like figure. . . . Like Christ, he’s been criticized for his views. But future generations will realize he was right, just like Jesus”.
Other Hollywood stars to embrace Scientology include Priscilla Presley and John Travolta. But evidently it will be Cruise, 44, who will one day be worshipped like Jesus all over the world, becoming a prophet for the religion.
Of course many others, put off by his antics and quirky lifestyle, are far from convinced of any messianic qualities residing in the American actor.
What is Scientology?
So what is Scientology all about? It is a quite recent alternative religion which claims to have a worldwide membership of 8 million, but that figure is far from certain. It is an eclectic mix of eastern religions, self-help therapies, and pop psychology.
Started by American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986), it officially came on the scene in 1955. But its conceptual roots went back several decades. His 1950 best-seller Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health had already laid the foundations for the movement.
Briefly stated, Scientology claims that man is an immortal divine being, going through many lifetimes of reincarnation on the path to spiritual freedom. The means to obtain true spiritual salvation is auditing, a type of counselling provided by enlightened Scientologists.
The Thetan (the true spiritual self) needs to be freed from mind and body in order for salvation to take place. The ‘theta’ or life force animates all living things. Theta is separate from but interacts with MEST (matter, energy, space and time).
An auditor helps the seeker to realise his divine potential (liberating the Thetan), and through a carefully-structured series of steps is shown how to do so. The seeker is a ‘pre-clear’ who works to become a ‘clear,’ someone who has obtained spiritual liberation. From there one can progress to the highest level in Scientology and become an Operating Thetan (OT).
Scientologists believe that the human mind consists of two parts. The ‘analytical mind’ is where rationality, memory and consciousness reside. The ‘reactive mind’ is where negative mental energy resides. This negative energy is due to past traumatic and harmful events. Memories of these hurtful experiences are known as engrams.
An E-meter (electropsychometer) is used to discover these engrams in the pre-clear. To become clear one must work through the negative images and energy. Physical toxins can also prevent one from becoming clear, so emphasis on clean-living and a drug-free lifestyle is also stressed in Scientology.
The goal for the Scientologist is to discover one’s divine identity, and progress through eight ascending levels or ‘dynamics’ until spiritual freedom is finally obtained. Then the cycle of reincarnation is finished.
Scientologists pay big money to gain their spiritual liberation. Courses, counselling, ongoing study and membership fees cost big bucks, and even though one can become free through the auditing process, there is a life-long need to stay free. Tens of thousands of dollars are spent by each seeker in this path to spiritual freedom. So this new religion has become a big money-maker for its leaders.
While the above description of Scientology may persuade many that Scientology is kind of weird, to say the least, there are also Christian considerations. As a counterfeit religion, Scientology must be assessed in terms of how it compares with the Biblical worldview.
Simply arguing that Tom Cruise might be a Christ-figure should of course send alarm bells ringing for Christians. There is only one Jesus Christ, and he has done all that is necessary for mankind to achieve reconciliation with God.
But other main doctrines also show the major differences between the two. God in Scientology is a sort of pantheistic or polytheistic being, in contrast to the personal, monotheistic, yet Trinitarian, God of Christianity.
In Scientology, Christ is not seen as unique, the second person of the Trinity, or the saviour of the world, but as one who slightly advanced beyond being a clear, but did not become an OT. He is more like just another avatar (incarnation of deity), a typical understanding in much of Eastern thought.
Mankind is viewed not as the creation of an infinite personal God, but as immortal spiritual beings who lost awareness of their own divinity. Trillions of years ago thetans became entrapped in MEST, and they now must free themselves from it, and from the reactive mind.
Salvation in biblical Christianity is based on the fact that we are created beings who have all sinned, and chosen to go our own way. Jesus Christ came to pay the penalty for our sin, and open a way back to God. Scientologists reject the notion of sin, as in various Eastern religions, and instead see self-enlightenment as the path of salvation. People must be coached or audited into an awareness of their pre-MEST divine identity.
Thus in Scientology, salvation is achieved through personal spiritual enlightenment, not through the finished work of Christ at Calvary.
As such, Scientology is simply one of many cults and alternative religions that have sprung up recently, denying the basic teachings of Biblical Christianity. While it might make some of its adherents feel good, it is another example of people following after alternative spiritualities that are ultimately human-centred. Scripture warns us that in the last days people will go after all sorts of counterfeit religions and false prophets.
While some might think that Tom Cruise is a new Christ-figure, in truth, like all of us, he is a sinner in need of salvation which only the real Jesus Christ can provide.