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What is Christian Science?

Updated on December 27, 2016

Christian Science Monitor

'Christian Science Monitor' is a US newspaper, founded in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, an inspiration of the Christian Science movement. However, it quickly transcended the original religious movement and became a paper of general interest attracting readers by its rational, unsensational approach to the daily news. Stressing the significant, serious, and lasting aspects of the world's news and views, it is a small, magazine-like, tightly organized, and well written national daily (published daily online, Monday to Friday, and weekly in print). One of the most widely quoted newspapers in the United States, it is used extensively in schools and universities and has been described as trying to make a meaningful pattern out of a complex world. It is produced in Boston, Los Angeles, and London, England, and has won many awards for design and typography.

Christian Science, religious teaching which emphasises the Christian ministry of healing. Spiritual healing in its broadest sense, which includes regeneration of mind, character, and body, is understood by Christian Scientists to be just as available now as it was among the early followers of Jesus. It is seen as a natural consequence of prayer, which Christian Science describes as 'an absolute faith that all things are possible to God- a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love' (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures).

It is based on the Bible and especially on the acts and teachings of Jesus Christ as interpreted by Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), the founder of Christian Science. Following an accident which friends expected to prove fatal, she was suddenly restored to health while pondering one of the New Testament healing miracles. From that time on, she devoted herself to the study of healing by prayer, and to teaching her religious system to others. In 1875 she published the first edition of her book Science and Health. Through the next 35 years of her life she continued to revise this book in the light of growing experience. It remains the basic statement of the theology of Christian Science and of its healing practice.

Mrs Eddy, who had been in poor health from childhood, spent years searching for deeper faith and studying the mental causes and effects of illness. According to her own later report, she became convinced of the healing power of faith in 1866 when, after reading about a miraculous cure in the New Testament, she found herself suddenly healed of a serious injury. This experience led her to believe that the Bible contained spiritual truths that would cure all the physical, mental, and moral ills of mankind. In 1875, Mrs Eddy stated her convictions in the work Science and Health, which was later revised as Science and Health, With Key to the Scriptures.

Mrs Eddy had not originally intended to establish a new church. She and her followers soon realized, however, that their beliefs were not being readily accepted in existing churches. In 1879, therefore, they formed the Church of Christ, Scientist. The Mother Church was established by Mrs Eddy in 1892.

The Biblically inspired doctrine and practice of Christian Science are set forth in the book Science and Health, With Key to the Scriptures, written by Mary Baker Eddy. Christian Science's basic teaching is that everything that exists is a creation of God, or Spirit, and is both spiritual and good. For this reason, material evils such as disease, death, poverty, and sin are essentially unreal. Man's spirituality enables him to understand the illusory nature of evil and sickness and to conquer them. Christian Scientists emphasize the words of Jesus: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." They believe that the nature of reality and of man's dominion over every phase of evil has been revealed through the life of Jesus.

Drawing on the Scriptures, Christian Science elaborates the nature of God as wholly good, as Spirit, Life, Truth, Love. It also describes him as Mind and Soul, the creative principle of being. From this premise, Christian Science deduces the essential nature of Man as good and spiritual, in the image and likeness of God, a witness to God's power and perfection. All that is material and mortal it sees as insubstantial and in the last analysis unreal. Only that which is created by God and sustained by his spiritual laws is held to be permanent, legitimate and real. This distinction provides the basis on which all Christian Science healing rests, and is also understood to be the basis of the healing recorded in the New Testament.

A small group of Mrs Eddy's students formed in 1879 the Church of Christ, Scientist, reorganised in 1892 as The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. This 'mother church' has since come to have some 3300 'branch' churches and societies in nearly 50 countries, more than 300 of them in the United Kingdom. Each of these offers a Sunday worship service which centres on a bible lesson read by two elected lay readers, and a Wednesday evening meeting which includes a period given to spontaneous testimony to the blessings and healings produced by the study of Christian Science. Each local church sponsors a public reading room and public lectures on Christian Science.

Christian Science worship is led not by ordained clergy but by two elected readers in each church. They read alternately from the Bible and Science and Health at Sunday services. The first reader also leads a midweek service at which members testify to their experience of healing. The Mother Church authorizes certain persons, called practitioners, to devote full time to healing through spiritual means. They are paid for their services. Teachers authorized by The Mother Church give regular instruction in Christian Science.

Qualified Christian Scientists who give their full time to the public healing ministry are known as Christian Science practitioners. There is no clergy; all offices in branch churches are filled by democratic election, with rotation in office the general rule. The permanent framework of all church activities is, however, set by the Manual of the Mother Church as written by Mrs Eddy, and this is not subject to change.

One of the most widely known activities of the church is the publication of an international newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, printed daily in Boston, London and Los Angeles. Other periodicals brought out by the Christian Science Publishing Society are of a religious nature and appear in more than a dozen languages.

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    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 

      7 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      Interesting. Fair enough so long as looking after our planet goes along with everything else. If God provided us with this blue world I figure he wanted us to look after it and ourselves. You can't really do one without doing the other.

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