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Christian Science

The religion which had its origin in Mary Baker Eddy.* She claimed it came to her by direct revelation, and that Christian Science's definitive book, Science and Health, With a Key to the Scriptures, was written by her under divine dictation, though she conceded that a clergyman edited its poor grammar. Mrs. Eddy affirmed the inspiration of the Scriptures, but made the same affirmation for her own book which takes priority over Scripture with its not-to-be-changed-or-doubted key to the Scriptures. There are more than 2,000 Church of Christ, Scientist groups in the USA, and fewer than 1,000 in the rest of the world. The Mother Church is in Boston.

A distinctive feature of Christian Science is that it is never preached. The church has no preachers, no sermons. Instead, each church has a First and Second Reader who are obligated to read a selection of Scripture and a selection from Science and Health. No comments, explanations, or interpretive remarks are permitted, decreed the founder. Thus Christian Science received and maintains its final meaning, and protects the special status of Mary Baker Eddy by excluding the possibility that a greater than she should arise. She is the first and the last word about the truth of Christian Science.

Christian Science's one truth is that God as Spirit is All in All. Everything is Mind or Spirit-or, rather, there is no reality except Mind or Spirit. Mind, or Spirit, is Truth, Love, Power, Life, Goodness. Materiality is evil, sin, sickness, death, unreality. Since God is All, man is coexistent with God and his being, therefore, resides eternally in, and is not to be differentiated from, God's being.

Since Jesus of Nazareth is a physical man, he is not to be identified with God; only Christ, as the Principle of Mind, is identified with God. Jesus neither died on the cross nor arose from the grave. Jesus left the grave knowing that he had not died, that no man can die. Each of us must come to that knowledge; from discernment of the illusory character of death, our salvation comes. In the name of this same metaphysical idealism, Christian Science tolerates marriage (Mary was thrice married) and such things as food and money (Mary had great interest in the sale of her book and in the acquisition of money) since in the imperfection of their faith men do not wholly accept the fact that God, or Mind, is All. Everything Christianity posits in terms of the biblical teaching about creation, fall, and redemption, Christian Science declares to be unreality.

It is a mistake to think of Christian Science as a faith- healing religion. It does not claim to heal sickness, for it claims sickness is an illusion. Nor does Christian Science claim to save men, for it teaches that all which men could be saved from is unreal. It takes neither sickness nor sin seriously. One might add that if Christian Science took itself seriously, it could dispense not only with Readers as well as preachers, but also with its key to the Scriptures as well as with Scripture, and no less with Mary Baker Eddy herself. The latter's claim to fame rests on her use of both these writings to overcome what by Christian Science's own claim is really nothing at all. For God is All.

Official biographies of Mary Baker Eddy by S. Wilbur (1908) and L.P. Powell (1930); others by E.F. Dakin (1929), E.S. Bates and J.V. Dittemore (1932), and H.A. Studdert Kennedy (1947). See also M.C. Sturge, The Truth and Error of Christian Science (1903); H.A.L. Fisher, Our New Religion (1933); C.S. Braden, Christian Science Today (1958); R. Peel, Christian Science: Its Encounter with American Culture (1958).