Debunking myths about Christian Science

October 11, 2009 at 10:32 am (Christian Science)

Christian Science is a small, young church with deep roots in early Christianity.

Its members tend to be very devout, prayerful and believing people, whose prayer-based healing practice draws them closer to God.

However, it should be stressed that this religion is not related or connected to Scientology, a separate faith. Other than a similarity in name, the two have nothing in common.

“Some people think that Christian Science is faith healing, but in fact, Christian Science teaches that it is never God’s will for anyone to suffer or die,” said Elizabeth Beall, with the Christian Science Committee on Publication for Utah.

Christian Science thrives in Utah. The first Utah congregation, called First Church of Christ, Scientist, Salt Lake City, was incorporated in 1891.

Some of these churches are local landmarks, Beall said.

“Architect Walter E. Ware designed the Christian Science church in Salt Lake City, among other historic buildings, such as the Old Masonic Temple.

“More churches were established in Utah between 1909 and 2006. Today, you can find them in Salt Lake City, Ogden, Park City, St. George, and an informal group in Kanab,” Beall said.

Salt Lake City has three churches, at 1165 S. Foothill Drive; 1303 E. Spring Lane; and at 2309 S. Highland Drive.

Christian Science has about 2,000 branch churches and societies worldwide, in more than 80 countries.

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, also known as “The Mother Church,” is located in Boston, Mass., and was built in 1894.

In addition to praying daily for the health and welfare of their local communities, Christian Scientists host regular public events.

Public talks on current topics are sponsored by local churches.

An international group of speakers known as the Christian Science Board of Lectureship is appointed by The Mother Church, headquartered in Boston.

Recently, one of these lecturers, Ron Ballard of Ashland, Ore., talked in Salt Lake City about prayer and the economy. In Park City, he spoke about prayer and the environment.

As their core beliefs, “Christian Scientists believe in one, infinite God who is all and all-good,” according to Christianscience.com. “They believe that God is not distant and unknowable, but that God is all-encompassing and always present, and that each individual is loved by God, cared for by Him, and made in God’s image — spiritual, not material.

“Christian Scientists believe in the Bible and in Christ Jesus as the son of God, or promised Messiah. And they believe that Jesus’ teachings and healing work expressed scientific Christianity, or the application of the laws of God — laws which are still practical and provable today, by anyone, anywhere. Christian Scientists consider the Commandments, as well as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, to be central to their lives and practice of Christianity.

The Web site continues: “Above all, Christian Scientists believe in the saving, healing power of God’s love — that no one is beyond redemption, that no problem is too entrenched or overwhelming to be addressed and healed.

“In other words, Christian Scientists don’t believe that salvation occurs at some point in the future, but that the presence of God’s goodness can be experienced here and now — and by everyone.”

Perhaps most singled out are the church’s beliefs on healing. Generally, a Christian Scientist’s first choice is to rely on prayer for healing. In most cases, this means that a medical remedy is unnecessary, the church’s Web site states.

“There is no Biblical or church mandate to forgo medical intervention, nor do Christian Scientists believe that it’s God’s will that anyone suffer or die. A Christian Scientist’s decision to rely on prayer comes from trust, not blind faith, in God, and from a conviction that God’s care continues under every circumstance,” Christianscience.com says.

Church members hold no antagonism toward medical practice, but usually rely completely on faith-based healing, because they’ve found it works best not to mix medical treatment with Christian Science treatment.

“What would you do if you found yourself in sudden pain, unable to breathe normally for several hours?” Beall asked.

“In January 2007, a relative faced this decision and considered going to the local medical emergency room. Instead, though new to Christian Science, he decided to call a Christian Science practitioner — professionals who give prayerful treatment to others.

After the call, he went to take a nap, slept quietly, and woke an hour later completely well. He told me later, ‘It was a deep and profound experience … and cost-effective! I’d have spent thousands at the E.R. I paid the practitioner just $20.”‘

Beall continued: “What happened? Christian Science, based on the teachings of Christ Jesus, says that anyone can be healed spiritually and that proving God’s deep love for man is not a miracle. Skeptics might say prayer didn’t heal him, but I also have been healed of physical and situational difficulties, including an ‘incurable’ skin condition called eczema.”

The church operates more than 25 Christian Science nursing facilities; has 1,500 Christian Science practitioners and 600 Christian Science nurses.

Like Mormonism, Christian Science started in America in the 19th century. Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) started Christian Science. She was an influential American author, teacher and religious leader — noted for her groundbreaking ideas about spirituality and health, which she named Christian Science.

She articulated those ideas in her major work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” first published in 1875.

Four years later, she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass. In 1908, she launched The Christian Science Monitor, a leading international newspaper and the recipient, to date, of seven Pulitzer Prizes.

Struggling with chronic illness, compounded by personal loss in her life, she was preoccupied with questions of health. Like many in her day, she avoided the harsh treatments of conventional 19th-century medicine and its dangerous side effects.

While investigating new cures, she continued to seek comfort and insights in the Bible, still drawn by the healing record contained in its pages.

A turning point occurred in 1866, when a severe fall on an icy sidewalk left her in bed in critical condition. She asked for her Bible and, while reading an account of Jesus’ healing, found herself suddenly well. Eventually, she referred to this as the moment she discovered Christian Science.

This led to nine years of intensive scriptural study, healing activity and teaching, culminating in the publication of “Science and Health” in 1875.

Eddy’s life was filled with accomplishments — discovering a religion, founding a worldwide church and, when she was 88, starting an international newspaper called The Christian Science Monitor. In 1995, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Christian Science churches now provide “Reading Rooms.” There, the public can find the Bible and Christian Science literature. Often, computers are available to research and study online, at http://www.christianscience.com.

Reading Rooms in Utah are in: Ogden — 780 E. 24th St., call 801-394-2432; Park City — 605 Main St., call 435-940-0224; St. George — 373 S. 100 East, call 435-628-3454; Salt Lake City — 2309 S. Highland Drive, call 801-466-3518; and 1165 Foothill Dr., call 801-582-2995.

Here is a sample of some of the history, beliefs and doctrines of the Christian Science denomination:

  • Christian Science name — The faith is based on the Bible, and Christian Scientists follow the teachings and ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, the virgin birth, the crucifixion, the resurrection and ascension of Christ Jesus, and so on, are all central to Christian Science theology. It’s called Science because it’s based upon a set of spiritual principles — laws relating to the nature of God and his creation — that can be applied with expected, consistent results.
  • Government — Local branch churches are democratically run, while The Mother Church and its activities are stewarded by a five-person Board of Directors. Guiding the Church’s global ministry is a simple 100-page Church Manual which reflects founder Mary Baker Eddy’s vision of a church living by the Golden Rule and unencumbered by too much human organization.
  • Heaven and hell — Christian Scientists do not believe these are places or part of an afterlife, but are states of mind. Christian Science theology does not include a final judgment day. Every day, each individual can make a new choice that determines the path he or she is on — a path away from God or towards him.
  • Health insurance — Some Christian Scientists have health insurance. Every Christian Scientist makes his or her own financial and health decisions.
  • Jesus Christ — Christian Scientists believe that Jesus stands alone in his mission and purpose as the promised Messiah. Christian Science teaches that Jesus embodied the divinity of God but that he himself was not deity — in keeping with Jesus’ own words that he was not the Father, and that God, the Father, alone should be worshiped.
  • Homosexuality — Christian Science accepts the Ten Commandments and teachings of Christ Jesus on these subjects, that sex should be limited to marriage, and that marriage is “the legal and moral provision for generation among humankind.” However, it also encourages members to be as free as possible from judging each other, while still supporting each individual’s moral and spiritual progress.
  • Medicine — Generally, a Christian Scientist’s first choice is to rely on prayer for healing, and in most cases, this means that a medical remedy is unnecessary. However, there is no biblical or church mandate to forgo medical intervention, nor do Christian Scientists believe that it’s God’s will that anyone suffer or die. A Christian Scientist’s decision to rely on prayer comes from trust, not blind faith, in God, and from a conviction that God’s care continues under every circumstance.
  • Meetings — Christian Scientists’ gatherings include familiar elements — hymns, prayer, readings from the Bible, a warm sense of fellowship. One unique feature is that they don’t have personal preachers or pastors conducting the services. Instead, two lay readers conduct services that are based on Bible lessons published in The Christian Science Quarterly.
  • Vaccinations — Christian Scientists care about their neighbors and fellow community members and gladly abide by city and state laws or mandates regarding quarantines, vaccinations and the like. The Christian Science Journal, Christian Science Sentinel and The Herald of Christian Science also contain documented healings of communicable diseases.

Sources: Christianscience.com and the “Media Guide of Christian Science” publication.

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Mary Baker Eddy

August 16, 2009 at 9:06 pm (Christian Science)

Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of the Christian Science movement. She wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures as an addendum to the Bible. She is believed to have healed people using prayer and through the reading of the Bible. You can get a copy of the PDF at http://christianscience.com/science-and-health.html. As I learn more, I’ll post more.

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