The church group or denomination known as Christian Science is not unknown to us or the rest of the church world. This is due to their unique beliefs as to physical suffering in the world, and no doubt to the fact that they maintain an extensive program of informing the world as to their beliefs and the powers of their belief or religion. Most of all their teachings are known from some cases of Christian Scientists who in the face of some dread disease refuse all medical help to cure them, rather depending on Christian Science practitioners to cure them. As a result of these cases the belief receives wide attention in the daily newspapers and news reports.
Before going into a discussion of the beliefs and basis of Christian Science it would be well to give some of the history and organization of the denomination, this material giving much to the understanding and evaluation of the movement.
Christian Scicnce is a system of metaphysical or spiritual healing based upon the discovery by Mary Baker Eddy in 1866 of what she termed “the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love.” In 1875 Mrs. Eddy completed and published the first edition of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, in which her discovery is fully set forth. This book and the King James Versiou of the Bible constitute the basic textbooks of the Christian Science religion.
In 1879 Mrs. Eddy established a church called the Church of Christ, Scientist. The Church was reorganized in 1892 as a voluntary religious association known as the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. This is the mother church of the Christian Science Movement, of which there are as of June 1949, 2,993 branches throughout the world, and 100 college organizations.
The mother church anti its branches hold Sunday services and Wednesday evening meetings, both conducted by the First Leader. The Sunday services include a Lesson-Sermon, read by the First and Second Readers, consisting of alternate groups of Bible passages and correlative selections from Science and Health, so arranged as to explain various aspects of the subject of the Lesson-Sermon. The Wednesday evening meeting includes a period given over to testimonies of healing through Christian Science. As of June 1945 there were 10,806 Christian Science practitioners listed in the Christian Science Journal, devoting their entire time to healing the sick through prayer, and aiding in meeting the spiritual needs of students of Christian Science.
The Church of Christ, Scientist, is governed by the Manual of the Mother Church by Mary Baker Eddy, which contains church bylaws covering the various phases of the church’s activities. The provisions of these bylaws are carried out under the direction of the Christian Science Board of Directors, a self-perpetuating board of five members, which also transacts the business of the Mother Church and defines its policies under the Manual.
Among the publications of the church are: The Christian Science Journal, a monthly publication listing all Christian Science Churches and Societies; the Christian Science Sentinel is a weekly periodical containing articles about Christian Science as well as verified testimonials of healing; the Christian Science Monitor, an international daily newspaper, Published in Boston, which presents news of international importance and significance as well as such local news as is pertinent to the various editions in which the paper is issued. It contains each day one article concerning the practical application of the Christian Science religion.
The religious teachings of Christian Science are summarized in the following tenets, which are found in the Church Manual, 89th Edition.
“1. As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.”
“2. We acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God. We acknowledge His Son, one Christ; the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter; and man in God’s image and likeness.”
“3. We acknowledge Jesus’ atonement as the evidence of divine, efficacious Love, unfolding man’s unity with God through Christ Jesus the Wayshower; and we acknowledge that man is saved through Christ, through Truth, Life, and Love as demonstrated by the Galilean Prophet in healing the sick and overcoming sin and death.”
“4. We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection served to nplift faith to understand eternal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter.”
“5. And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and he merciful, just, and pure.”
Perhaps the thing that would help the most in understanding the movement of the Christian Science belief would he a detailed account of the life of its founder, Mary Baker Eddy. Because of the limit of time and space such an account can not be given in this article. For those who wish to read an account of the founder of this belief and the history of the early life of the church I would suggest the book Christian Science, The Faith and Its Founder.
The life of Mary Baker Eddy is not that of a devout Christian who developed her beliefs through much study and labor. In fact the first 50 years of her life are rather unimportant. She was born and raised in New England during the middle of the 19th century. As was typical of those days she was taught the contents of the Bible and from her later works it seems that she was quite familiar with its contents. During her early adult life she was constantly afflicted with ill health and as a result tried many cures for her troubles. In time she was led to try a new type of treatment that was just coming into fashion at that time, that of the treatment of disease by hypnotism or mesmerism as it was known in those days. As a result of this treatment she was cured of her many ailments, becoming a devoted disciple of the theory of the mental causation of physical troubles. Spending much time with her “physician” a certain Geo. A. Quimby, she soon began to teach this new way of treating disease to all interested students. During this time she was also busy writing her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It was her claim to have received this information that is contained in this hook directly from God, as inspired material. She also claimed that this new revelation came to her during a supposedly fatal illness, from which she miraculously recovered, although there is evidence to show otherwise. This revelation was that what is called sickness, disease, sin manifest themselves in what appears to he, and is called, matter; but as sin, sickness and disease are contrary to the being and character of God and would contradict Him in His wholeness or allness, then matter is actually a fiction, and disease, sickness, sin, must be deemed as non-existing.
This may all sound like a lot of philosophical talk that has little to do with the Word of God and the teachings contained in it. In essence that is exactly what Christian Science is; in my estimation it is entitled to neither the name Christian nor any rightful connection to the teachings of Christ. The belief that matter is nonexistent but is only a product of the mind is as old as the history of philosophy. The teachings of this general theory can be found in many different periods of history and its general development can be traced through many different schools of philosophy. What Mrs. Eddy has done is not only to teach this belief as a philosophical theory but to elevate it to a religious belief, using the miracles of Jesus, the early church, and even the Old Testament miracles as proof of this belief. If the rest of the Bible does not seem to bear out Mrs. Eddy in this teaching, she distorts them or ignores them so that this philosophical belief is made to be the truth of Scripture. To do this she has had to deny many of the basic truths of the Bible such as creation, the Godhead of Christ, the Trinity, the atonement of Christ for the sins of His people, and the realness of sin in the fall of man. Christ is no longer our Savior but becomes, as is stated in the tenets of Christian Science, the wayshower for His people.
Space does not allow for a complete discussion of how the beliefs of this religion completely differ from the teachings, the truth of the Bible; in fsct, how in reality they blaspheme God by making God and man one and the same.
Originally published in:
Vol. 18 No. 2 1958