The following is an essay regarding comparative religions, which was required to be posted to a blog for a college project in a Theology course. Its subject matter addresses a prompt on Christian Science. Clarifying Catholicism does not endorse the beliefs of other faiths. However, it is important to learn about them through the lens of young scholars. Clarifying Catholicism enjoys promoting and publishing academic materials. If you have written an essay that you would like to share that pertains to Theology or Religious Studies, please Contact Us with information.
by Ruthie Flynn, Elizabeth Yaremko, Izzy Bailey, and William Deatherage
(All except the last are guest columnists for Clarifying Catholicism)
Practices, Observances, and Overview
The observances and practices of Christian Science followers are contingent on the way the faith approaches reality. For the church, reality is purely the spiritual, while the material world is entirely false. This emphasis on the metaphysical inspires a unique perspective on health that harkens back to views of biblical times. This is because if a person is sick or ill, the material disease they are afflicted by is merely a side effect of a greater spiritual imbalance in their lives. This reflects the ancient theme of sickness being tied to faith, as anytime Christ heals a person, He asks them to repent and believe in Him. When they agree, they are cured. Christian Science takes this literally and applies it to a broader sense of spirituality.
The primary purpose of Christian Science is to heal. It is trinitarian and cites the same Bible that Catholics and Protestants do, but it administers no sacraments, often referring Christians to other churches for those. Instead, Christian Science is meant to supplement basic Christian theology with health teachings. In fact, many sick people will seek help from both medical professionals and ask Christian Science members for support. However, for many congregations, Christian Science treatments alone are preferred over seeking medical help. This is because curing a sickness is considered masking the symptom of spiritual impurity, which will actually worsen the person’s condition. Christian Science medical professionals are covered by many insurance companies and there are over thirty nursing centers across the United States.
The church’s rejection of medicine is selective, as while most drugs that deal with viruses and colds are viewed as suppressive to the state of a person’s soul, pain medications for processes like birth are allowed. Organ transplants are certainly frowned upon, mental illness is just a materialistic illusion, and if someone appears to be dying, it is just the false material façade at work; the person is in no spiritual danger of dying, so long as they remain faithful.
Regarding sexual and reproductive issues, couples are not married by the church, rather they are referred to other branches of Christianity. Because of this, faith does not comment significantly on matters of sexual regulation. For example, birth control, artificial conception, and abortion are not explicitly condemned, though many members of the community frown upon such practices.
Christian Science has no clergy. Its sacred texts consist of the Bible, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder’s, writings, and textbooks that have been written to heal diseases through spiritual formation. The church has no sacraments; baptism is considered a lifetime process. Services are held on Sundays and board meetings are on Wednesdays. At services, passages of the bible and textbooks are read. Each chapter elects leaders democratically, and a central board in Boston that guides the faith consists of five members.
The tenants of Christian Science are six-fold. The Bible alone is a sufficient guide to life. A member must believe in the Holy Trinity. Jesus is the only one who can cure disease by forgiving sins. The matter is false, the spiritual is real. Finally, the goal of humanity is to reach full unity with Jesus.
The teachings of Christian Science hinge on the idea of not only spiritual superiority over the material world but a material world that tricks its observers into believing a false reality. This thereby associates materialism to a sort of antithesis to Christ and medical scientists to that of metaphysical deniers who rob the church of its followers and its nursing facilities of funding. However, it is important to remember that the group’s belief in strict faith-healing is not revolutionary. In fact, it may be closer to what Jews and early Christians thought as well. So, before addressing people from this denomination, it is important to understand their perspective.
Abbott, Deborah. “Religious Beliefs and Health Care Decisions: The Christian Science Tradition.” Park Ridge: Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith, and Ethics. 2002.
Physical Site Visit and Service Observation
From top left to bottom right: (1) The outside of the First Church, where Christian Science services and testimonies are held. (2) Close up of the architectural styling of the church. It is modern-looking and consists of a large structure of diamond-shaped mirrors ascending. (3) The inside of the church; right as you walk in, there is a display of literature from several Christian Scientist authors, hymnals, journals, and the key scripture, Science and Health. (4) Another image of the inside of the church; these two chairs are typically where the two parishioners will lead the service. There are no clergy members in the Christian Science faith; each community has there own schedule of parishioners who lead each service each week. (5) The weekly editorial called the Sentinel.
I visited “First Church,” a Christian Science meeting room that holds the largest congregation in Washington, DC, on the morning of April 14th. I wanted to arrive early enough to absorb the architecture and artistry of the building before attending the service at 10:30 am.
The building itself is a spectacle; attached to a large city block on 16th and K St NW, First Church sits between two businesses in a bustling part of town. It is nonetheless far from unnoticeable. The gigantic structure of mirrors erupts out of the front entrance, letting the church catch natural light easily. I found it interesting and perhaps symbolic that each diamond-shaped structure grew taller and taller, almost as if the structure was reaching for the sky. It reminded me of a very quintessential image of heaven–the mirrors looked faintly like clouds, and yet in the design, we are able to see ourselves. I learned later that many patrons liken this symbolism to the Christian concept of human nature, that we are created ‘in His Image and Likeness.’
The inside of the building was spacious, very clean, had little artwork, and was decorated minimalistically. It essentially looked like a modernized studio apartment, with several bookshelves and displays of pamphlets, as well as Christian Science newsletters and religious literature. I found it curious that if I had stumbled upon this room and the literature was not there, I would have no idea this was a church. It truly looked like a very clean meeting room or a place where a business would gather for a conference or a party.
Unlike Eastern religions like Buddhism or Hinduism, where the image of the Buddha and adjacent spiritual leaders are plentiful in places of worship, or the Roman Catholic Church where the Sacraments are represented by physical objects and symbolic art, First Church has no spiritual symbolism. There are no crosses, which was very telling once I learned Christian Science’s view on Jesus’s status as the Christ.
One of the more phenomenologically accessible experiences one can have with the religion is visiting their place of worship. Mircea Eliade even posits that the divine itself is most often accessed (or rather occupied) by space. He explains that the use of space in religiosity is non-homogenous; meaning, space is distinctly sacred (not of this world) or distinctly separate (of this world). He notes that this is “not a matter of theoretical speculation, but of a primary religious experience that proceeds all reflections of the world” (Pals 203). That said, I found it fascinating how minimalistic this sacred space was. In fact, I almost felt as though the cleanliness and simplicity made me want to turn inwards, it was reminiscent of a museum. Perhaps the sacredness comes from the service itself; or rather, the true religiosity is reflected in the community appearing in the space when the congregation convenes.
The faith is also heavily focused on the metaphysical status of the human being. Moreover, there is an emphasis on spirit over matter; Mary Baker Eddy, the church’s founder has an interesting philosophy of human nature, wherein human beings are primarily spirits, and the matter is an allusion. That being said, I can imagine that a place of worship, under this theology, must be a place where the spirituality of a human being flourishes from the inside out. Physical symbolism does not hold as significant of a place as internal symbolism.
Interview with Jenny Sawyer (by Ruthie Flynn)
I contacted a family friend of mine, Jenny Sawyer, who is a prolific contributor to the faith’s nonprofit news organization The Christian Science Monitor, as well as a trained practitioner. She lived in DC for several years whilst working in a few media companies, and she became familiar with First Church and the particular community of Christian Scientists in DC. Our conversation over the phone was relatively informal and lasted about 45 minutes due to our familiarity; I was still able to ask specific questions ranging from the core tenets of Christian Science to some more nuanced topics like her experience as a practitioner, her thoughts on the evolution of the church and its appeal to folks today, and what life is like at a Christian Science college/work institution. I have summarized and transcribed only pertinent questions for the sake of brevity:
RF: What would you say are the ‘core values’ of Christian Science? And further, how does the basic theology differ from traditional Christianity?
JS: Well, by traditional Christianity, I am assuming you mean Trinitarian, etc., and the answer is a little complicated. The Christian Science faith actually does not regard Jesus Christ as the Son of God, per se. We take it more as an exemplar of the ‘Christ’ concept. Jesus embodied the Christ, but, as he says in the Gospels, “do as I do and you can do likewise.” So in that way, we are called to heal as he healed and live as he lived.
RF: Can you tell me a little bit about the founder of the Church, Mary Baker Eddy and the role of spiritual leadership in the church?
JS: So Mary Baker Eddy is considered to be the founder of the religion, and she is certainly an exemplary, but as far as divinity goes, we do not worship her or pray to her in any way. Very brief backstory, she founded the church in the late 1800s after surviving several chronic illnesses. There’s a famous story of her being in her bed presumably about to die, and she asks for one thing: her bible. She prayed for three days, did not take any drink, water, or medicine, and she was able to heal herself with thought. She had several students afterward, and she became a renown spiritual thinker and leader, especially as a woman during that time! Something she harped on in Science and Health is the fact that we all as humans have the ability to do this. It is in our nature. That being said, Christian Scientists do not elect clerics, nor do we really have any spiritual leadership besides practitioner work.
RF: As a practitioner, can you tell me about what the training was like and what it is like having that as a source of income?
JS: Sure! So in order to become a practitioner, you have to do several months of training in a Reading Room. A Reading Room is often timed a sister building to the Christian Science service meeting room; for example, the one in conjunction with First Church is somewhere in Adams Morgan. It is like a library of Christian Science literature, and every year they hold training for practitioners. It does cost money to become one, but the work is extremely rewarding. I usually marketed myself online or through the Christian Science Monitor, and essentially whenever someone needs help with prayer we assist them and pray on our own time. I often write a commentary on Bible passages and send them via email to my clients.
Excerpt from a Testimonial: Dislocated Bone Healed
With deep gratitude, I should like to testify to healing which I have received through Christian Science. Some months ago I hurt the forefinger on the hand that I use constantly in my work. The bone in the first joint was at least half an inch out of place. When this happened, I immediately declared the truth about the spiritual man and his relation to God. I am grateful to say I was able to go on with my work. For two or three days there was a slight numbness, but no pain. Whenever I looked at my finger I would at once declare for the perfect man, the reflection of infinite Mind, the image, and likeness of God.
About six months later, as I was having the nails manicured, I noticed that the girl was looking at my finger closely. I asked her what she would say was the matter with that finger. She said: “You have the bone out of joint. What a pity you have let it go so long! I would have a doctor set the bone even now. It will be painful, . . . but I would have it done.” While she was saying this I was silently declaring the truth about God’s man, the perfect and harmonious man. A week or ten days later I had the opportunity to hear a Christian Science lecture on “Man and His Relation to God.” My thought was so uplifted this day that it seemed as if I were living above all materiality. When I arrived home, I looked up many references on man in Mrs. Eddy’s books. While I was studying and thinking along this line, I suddenly heard and felt a snap in my finger; and when I looked, I found that the bone had gone back into place. It was perfect healing.
I am so grateful for this experience. It is another wonderful proof of what right thinking will do. I am learning to be more grateful every day to Mrs. Eddy for her consecrated work for humanity.
Florence L. Padelford
Online Presence Review
In terms of the Christian Science online presence, the community as a whole expresses a sense of welcoming for all as the viewer explores what Christian Science is, how one can be healed by Christian Science, and how to become involved and a member of the community.
Christian Science is not a well-known practice today, (as an estimate of 100,000 to 400,000 people worldwide are members of this community compared to the Roman Catholic community of 1.2 billion people worldwide), and in an effort to spread their message, this community offers a way for the observer to enter into their world through detailed explanations of the religion’s goals, messages, and a look into their ideas and beliefs (for instance, the explanation of why Christian Scientists do not have a traditional Pastor, but have a Pastor of the word being their Bible and the Founder’s, Mary Baker Eddy, book titled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, in order to allow her “Church’s Pastor to be as pure, constant, and powerful as God’s Word itself,” as mentioned on the Christian Science webpage under the neatly organized section titled The Christian Science Pastor).
What was most fascinating to me as a viewer of their community was the strive to reach out to others in order to include and welcome all to their religion, beliefs, and chance of healing in a very detailed matter. Their expression of themselves does not come off as trying to convince others to believe such as they do, but gives a generous amount of steps, guidelines, materials, and tips to review and think about for if a viewer is interested in their practice, emphasizing their welcoming behavior in terms of giving a simple opportunity to those interested (almost as a test run of their beliefs) rather than convincing those to join them in order to mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually heal. These materials consist of a large list of opportunities to partake in the Christian Science healing for one and can all be found on other branches of their website, such as Daily Lift Podcasts, written and recorded experiences of other Christian Scientists, contact options for a Christian Science Practitioner and Nurse, online books and pamphlets of the practice, lists of local services and events, online lectures and events, etc.
Adding on to this list of resources, the community portrays a great strength in communication as they keep updated online and physical newspapers and articles to connect to their whole community. Their expression of inclusion is so great, that even their Bible is posted online for those to view at easy free of charge, and they continue to host online lectures, events, magazines, Bible lessons, and offer incredible opportunities to learn more about spirituality with organized articles by age group (from children to young adult) to allow all ages to understand their beliefs while promoting a healthy and spiritually enlightened mindset for all. With much more offered, the community shows great respect to all as they succeed in reaching out to their own community, others outside their own beliefs, and the general public in wishing and truly wanting all to live to fulfill, happy, healthy, and enlighten lives.
Article Review- Elizabeth Yaremko
With Christian Science, the main aspect in this religion is to pray to God and through praying you can achieve healing in all aspects. With Florence Padelford, her bone was out of joint in her finger. For more than six months it was like this numb so she ignored it but always did a mantra “perfect man, the reflection of infinite Mind, the image, and likeness of God” but not healed. A person doing her nails identified the dislocation and tell her to go to a doctor to get it fixed even though it will hurt. She doesn’t listen and after about a week later she watch this lecture about “Man and His Relation to God.” elated she wanted to research everything and kept repeating what she heard while researching she soon she heard a loud snap sound incredibly that her joint snapped into place without pain just by researching and in a way using a mantra unconsciously since she kept thinking along these lines.
Christian Science is a religion in which is mostly thru prayer to heal from a wound or virus just by praying to God. No medicine needed just praying to god will fix your ailment. Christian Science is a strange way of saying that if God is there then he should heal you. For people who actively practice they said it is a lost area in healing thru prayer and intention to strive to get well. Some does get help thru non-prayer means but always pray thru god before doing so.
Article Review – William Deatherage
The Falling Apple: The Rise of Christian Science, by L. Ashley Squires, offers a historical perspective on the complex and often misunderstood faith of Christian Science. Controversial due to its denial of modern medicine and
The origins of Christian Science can be found in 1866 with Mary Baker G. Eddy, then known as Mary Patterson, whose spinal injury from slipping on ice was allegedly cured, after days of failed medical treatment, simply by reading the Bible. Following this crucial experience, Eddy determined that “my immediate recovery from the effects of an injury caused by an accident, an injury that neither medicine nor surgery could reach, was the falling apple that led me to the discovery how to be well myself, and how to make others so,” as written in her autobiography.
Squires notes the revolutionary nature of Eddy’s ideas at the time, as they combined elements of religion and science together, bridging a gap that many phenomenologists tried avoiding at the time. This was aided by a mediocre success rate doctors found at the time in history. The author highlights that it was not until 1912 that most Americans have an over fifty percent chance of benefitting from doctor visits. Eddy framed her movement, which focused on healing through prayer alone, as a beneficial alternative to medicine. Thus, Squires offers a historical and economic background to describe the success of Christian Science, as it originally offered an alternative to the risky and expensive nature of medicine at the time.
Another concern Christian Science addressed was the nature of the medical study that came out of Europe in the 1700s and bled into their time period. Specialization was rife, as it seemed like every part of the body required a very narrow focus. The brain surgeon and the physician focused on totally different tasks, and therefore their learning was different. This individualistic outlook on the body, coupled with a lack of classical education, concerned many that the body was not looked at as a whole. However, this European outlook, which was promulgated by noblemen, did not hold as well in the early Americas, where a more diverse cast of characters of middle and lower class backgrounds gathered to share ideas regarding both faith and science.
The increasing egalitarian atmosphere in the early United States, where more classes of people were given the right to vote, validated the opinions of movements like Christian Science. Eddy was not a medical professional, yet she was able to gain power and status in the lives of so many Americans. This was a byproduct of the American mentality that any person could move up the social ladder. Suddenly, alternative medical treatments sprung out of every corner of American society, though Eddy’s was by far the most influential at the time. While some movements advertised themselves as supplements to scientific medical treatments, though, Eddy’s did not.
While Eddy’s slip indeed triggered a “Eureka!” moment for her, it was also preceded by a life of several ailments, the death of her mentor (a fellow believer in alternative medicine), and abandonment by her husband. This unbound Eddy from all commitments, as she dedicated her life to spreading her new discovery across the country. She emphasized a set of hermeneutics that translated miracles in the Gospels literally. So, rather than gaining metaphorical meanings from such readings, she taught that the physical ailments Christ cured were directly linked to their spiritual state of being. Instead of redeeming humanity’s sins, Christ was actually serving as a role model, a living textbook of sorts, who demonstrated how to access God’s healing nature.
Soon, the simple touching of patients was banned, as Eddy believed it involved too much human agency. Towards the end of the 19th Century, medical laws began to consolidate and become much stricter. This, however, may have only strengthened the resolve of her followers, as membership exploded. Sociologically, this marked a return to an era of upper-class doctors, which left Christian Science to pick up the remains of those who sought to avoid such a fashion. Soon, a certain arrogance filled the scientific community, and many middle and lower class Americans were reluctant to obey them. At the turn of the century, a conflict between faith healers and scientific ones was in full swing. Unfortunately for the latter though, the governance of medical laws, especially on the local level, was left to democratic decisions. This meant that faith healing was allowed to flourish in many parts of the country that supported it. And anytime a scientific medical failure was reported, Christian Science would pounce on the publicity to tout their own merits and superiority.
The last aspect that Squires notes is also hermeneutical, though it also falls into the development of religious language. Scientific terms regarding the disease, such as the word “disease” itself, were viewed by Eddy as negative and too precise. She was concerned that by naming every illness so precisely, medical science was promoting itself as an exact science. A physician contemporary of hers once wrote: “But when, as so often happens, a name is illegitimately transferred from the reference it symbolizes to particular referents, confusion in thought and perhaps in practice is unavoidable.” Thus, by avoiding the use of absolute language regarding the disease, Eddy also avoided what many people thought of as an arrogance the scientific community carried.
The history and development of Christian Science’s ideas come complete with its own economics, social scientific, phenomenological, and hermeneutical perspectives. It rose as an alternative to the empirical sciences that dominated the medical landscape, as well as the faiths which accepted such beliefs. It played off the needs of the communities it impacted, and its teachings are inspired by a disconnect between truth and reality that manifests itself as a duel between spiritual and material. Lastly, it heavily relies on a very literal reading of scripture. All this was well-noted in Squires’s article, which seems to have comprehensively captured the context of Christian Science’s foundations.
Squires, Ashley. “The Falling Apple: The Rise of Christian Science.” Indiana University Press. 2017. https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1zxz056.5
Article Review – Izzy Bailey
A Christian Science Patient from The American Journal of Nursing
- L. “A Christian Science Patient.” The American Journal of Nursing 12, no. 5 (1912): 428
Although a short article, A Christian Science Patient, is a fascinating read for its ability to dwell in your mind and question what it truly means to be religious. From a nurses point of view in her element of work and her own personal morals, she writes about her own personal experiences encountering a belief conflicting (or even entirely opposite), from her own.
One of the basic and strong beliefs of the Christian Science community is the idea of having faith in God to heal what needs to be healed and take care of one through prayer and positive thoughts and outputs into the world. With this logic, there is no need for medicine or typical cures to illnesses, health complications, or disease that would be recommended and distributed by doctors and medical staff as God will take care of you through your prayers. It is a beautiful and spiritually enlightening belief of faith, but one that conflicts so strongly with our day and age, as was soon realized by this nurse as her Christian Scientist patient prepared to deliver her child.
Throughout the patient’s process of progressively becoming ill with an infection, she was determined to her faith as she refused all forms of medication and treatments, as she claimed that if “there was anything seriously wrong, she would phone to her Christian Scientist Practitioner, who would give her an absent treatment”. As the illness progressed, the nurse, sticking to her morals and duty through her job, became more forceful and demanding with the need for treatment, as a barrier began to form of hatred between the nurse and the non-conforming Christian Scientist. Even the nurse’s language had to be changed around the patient, as no negative symptoms and thoughts could be released into the world or they would be put upon the patient (what she believed started the infection in the first place by the nurse and her persistent use of treatments).
This article shows to me the great divide that religions may create, as neither the patient or the nurse could open their minds to understanding (or even trying to consider) the other’s morals that they both, understandably, have a strong belief in, in response creating barriers and hatred/dislike towards others unlike you and your mindset. But more than just this, the article shows how truly dedicated and faithful the human soul is, as the patient puts all of her trust (and her life) in God’s hands as the nurse puts her faith in the morals and the civil duty she has grown accustomed to and believes. With this idea, it is clear how religion can have such a massive impact on one’s morals and personal beliefs, and the ideas you have been influenced to during your lifetime stick with you in such a passionate, dedicated, and truthful way. Religion has a sense of strength and courage intertwined within it, giving those the power to be true to their ideas and beliefs while having the courage to stand up for what one truly believes is right.
Article Review- Ruthie Flynn
“Socially Reinforced Obsessing: Etiology of a Disorder in a Christian Scientist”
Source: Cohen, Ronald Jay, and Frederick J. Smith. “Socially reinforced obsessing: Etiology of a disorder in a Christian Scientist.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 44, no. 1 (1976): 142.
This article was a case study from a team of clinical psychologists from New York in the 1970s; I believe it adds a psychological dimension to our study of the faith, especially since Christian Science is so patently focused on the ‘Mind.’ Here is a brief abstract included in the study for context:
“A 28-year-old mother and housewife were referred for treatment for a variety of complaints, the keystone of which was her obsession with the disease. As an adolescent, she was introduced to Christian Science. During the next decade, she had a number of experiences that either reinforced or challenged her beliefs in the efficacy of prayers and the validity of ‘thought cures.’ As crises mounted in her life she began thinking about the disease to an obsessive degree. In spite of the fact that she recognized these thoughts to be unrealistic and much of her associated behavior to be irrational, she was incapable of resisting either the thinking or the overt behavior. Individual psychotherapy, employing a variety of modes, was quite effective in dealing with her difficulties.” (3)
The article began with a quick overview of the Christian Science understanding of health treatment, the role that prayer and thought play in healing and a generalized summary of what this woman’s experience was. I appreciated how much the article quoted actual scripture from Science and Health; it reinforced the narrative about the body that Christian Scientists adhere to from a theological standpoint. This woman, dubbed as “Mary” is it woman plagued by fear of disease. She was admitted to an outpatient mental health center for treatment by a hospital psychiatrist, presumably because of her obsessive behavior and panic attacks regarding her children’s health. As stated, she was raised in the faith of Christian Science, which became a point of concern for her psychiatrists. The two clinical psychologists decided to approach her obsessive paranoia about the disease from a religious/ideological perspective. They came to the conclusion that the fear of disease itself may have been instilled into her from a very young age; because the social consequences of attaining medical help for disease outside of Christian Science treatment (i.e., ostracization, excommunication, guilt about sinfulness) were so intense, Mary developed a pattern of obsessive-compulsive thoughts relating to disease.
I think the case study was interesting, and it illuminated some psychological reasons both for leaving the faith and for joining. I think fear is a huge motivating factor in religion in general; this is particularly true if the religion offers lofty expectations about life. If we can train our thoughts to be pure enough to heal all human ailments, what person with an obsessive fear about sickness would not leap at such an opportunity? In the same vein, if we believe that it is our responsibility to heal ourselves mentally, how could this not instill a pathological fear of ailments later on in our lives?
Altogether, we learned that health can be understood in many ways and there are different ways to combat emotional, spiritual, and physical problems. While their grasp on the material world may be questionable, their emphasis on prayer is indeed admirable. The spiritual world will always exercise supremacy over the material, and there is a great importance in healing one’s soul.
“ I learned that healing is the biggest aspect of Christian Science even though they look down upon the materialistic world. They truly don’t believe in most medicines since they deem it will negatively affect your soul or masking the true disease. They do praying to a greater degree because praying heals all aspects of the body and soul. ” – Elizabeth Yaremko
“I learned about the ways in which a religion can impact the way we understand our physiology, our limitations, and our agency in general. For Christian Scientists, human beings have an incredible amount of agency in their own health and wellness, perhaps to a dangerous degree. It is interesting to see how limitations have a function for safety.” -Ruthie Flynn
“Throughout this research, I’ve learned more about the connection of religion to one’s personal morals and ideas about the world around them, and how with these strong moral beliefs ingrained into one’s religious practices, religion opens a path for one to be courageous and true to their morals, as it gives them the strength and determination to stick by what they believe to be true from a higher power as well as spread their message no matter what the world around them and the general public believe.” – Izzy Bailey
“Christian Science is often swiftly mocked and derided by other sects of Christianity. And while its teachings are indeed controversial and can be detrimental to the health of its followers, there is a logic to their belief system. The validity of such logic’s premises is highly debatable, but nonetheless Christian Science offers a window that looks into the past of Christianity, whose origins often tied faith to physical illness. Thus, it is important to remember these notions before approaching or confronting adherents of the faith in a hopefully fruitful discussion and conversation. Only through this greater understanding can greater evangelization take place.”-William Deatherage
This blog makes a very good distinction between the Christian Science Church and other Christian denominations. It also marries well the relationships between the two. It is interesting to see how the Christian Church deals with its beliefs but more importantly the practices of the Christian Science Church. It seems that this church provides a strong basis for practicing and ‘curing’ oneself of spiritual deformities and physical desires. Thank you for your comprehensive report of the Christian Science Church.
This approach to life, both the spiritual and material life of a person, is most interesting. How much does the extensive literature within the Christian Science tradition keep up to speed with the latest in medicine and health? I had in mind in particular the extensive new research on the healing effects of diet and how many nutritionists are making similar claims about how many ailments can be solved, just by changing the diet. I expect this tradition would still consider a spiritual solution the most expedient, but is there possibility for natural remedies to assist with the symptoms of those deeper spiritual issues?
Either way, this is a super interesting report. I have always wanted to better understand the Christian Science tradition, and am grateful now to know more about it.
I did not have any knowledge about Christian Science and I honestly did not know it even existed. It was very interesting to read and listen to what you guys had observed and learned. I think the concept behind the entire religion is very interesting and I respect the Christian Science community’s beliefs. I am a nursing major and I find it interesting how this religion rejects some medicines. This was a great site and I really learned a lot!
I, also, did not know much about the Church of Christian Science. I honestly thought it was a synonymous name for the Church of Scientology. It is wonderful you all did this study because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one with a similar view. The interview caught my attention because many clarifications about what they believe and practice are made. I was very intrigued by the fact that they don’t believe Christ as God, but rather exemplary. Also, I commend them for setting up many reading rooms for the public use. It’s a non-intimidating way to get introduce to their Church.
This is very interesting and I appreciate the hard work you all put into this research! Christian science seems to follow a logical progression as Will emphasized, however I can also see some logical fallacies between following and understanding science and the scientific revelations we have today with the teachings of spirituality and psychology. It seems that this approach of a religion is aimed more at a psychological approach towards healing and life, than as a religion or belief system. Nonetheless, I have respect for the 100% belief its members place in God for their personal healing.
Thank you so much for your thorough exploration of the Christian Science community, I wasn’t previously familiar with them so this was an excellent introduction. One thing that occurred to me as I read about this community was how its beliefs and continuing popularity might relate to secularization in modernity. I know that this community was founded in part as a negative reaction toward the great expansion of scientific knowledge and authority in society. The body of knowledge (medical and otherwise) acquired through science and the increased authority that this has brought to this field has only increased up to the present day. I wonder if the members of Christian Science (similar to the fundamentalist groups we discussed in class, although I’m not claiming that they are one such group) are similarly reacting against Science replacing religious faith as an authority in society and in individual’s lives.
(Note: above comment was by Rachel Wood)
This is very interesting, especially by the fact the main purpose of the religion is to heal. I also did not know that treatments alone are preferred over seeking medical help. You guys have done an excellent job at discussing every facet of this religion.
This is very interesting, especially by the fact the main purpose of the religion is to heal. I also did not know that treatments alone are preferred over seeking.
Excellent research and article. I have studied Christian Science for more than forty years and was very active in church until I felt inspired to spend my time revising and updating Mary Baker Eddy’s, Science and Health, which is a textbook rather than scripture.
While revising, I followed Eddy’s pattern because she revised Science and Health until she died in 1910. Her revision work incorporated the latest discoveries in religion and science, to use those discoveries for the benefit humanity, rather than to argue about who is right or wrong.
Using contemporary language and knowledge, I see that Christian Science doesn’t so much deny matter any reality, as much as it affirms that matter doesn’t have the reality our five senses claims it does. Prayerful treatment starts with the reality of Spirit-substance and Godlike attributes of health and holiness.
It’s interesting to note that there was no church in the beginning. Eddy taught Christian Science in a classroom setting, using the Bible and Science and Health as textbooks, which had readers from all faiths for many years before a church was organized.
A historical sketch in the Church Manual says the First Church of Christ, Scientist, was founded to form a church “without creeds.” In other words, spiritual healing is a focus, however the six tenets directing adherents to God, Christ, overcoming sin, and following Christ Jesus is the foundation. There are supposedly no creeds to enforce beliefs that can’t be changed with understanding.
For many reasons, the church membership has declined. With my extensive experience as a longtime member of church, I’d say there are fewer than 50,000 members today.
Christian Science remains workable for me only when I don’t debate the authority of religion or science, but when I strive to follow the authority of God, Love.
Thank you again for the good work you’re doing.