Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Christian Science: Letter to a Believer


Dear Friend,

You write, in your email, "I am sorry to read such a smearing blog misrepresenting Christian Science in such a profound way - and demonstrating a gross mis-understanding about its teachings." It is obvious that you write as a defensive true believer, for it was not our purpose in any way to "attack" Christian Science. And I have read and studied its literature, including the works of Mary Eddy.

When the microreligion was founded, "mental healing" was all the rage in American society. Many much more famous people than Mary Eddy embraced it, and philosophies related to it, including Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau, and R.W. Trine, among many others.

You write, "Christian Science is not a cult." Of course, it is axiomatic among sociologists and students of religion that all members of all cults are programmed (or, educated) to believe that their faith is "not a cult." Not a single member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Hare Krishna, Scientologists, Christadelphians, or any other minority faith would agree that it is a cult. The word "cult" has a very bad reputation, but this is largely the result of ignorance.

In sociology, this word is not a pejorative; it is a convenient social grouping. It describes (usually) minority groups that either follow the teachings of one person (such as Mary Eddy) or a small group. The leader(s) must be seen as possessing some special "revelation" or divine wisdom not possessed by any other person. Any honest, objective analysis must agree that Christian Science fits nicely within these parameters. Members insist on conformity, insisting that all relevant truths can be found within their group, and that anything or anyone who disagrees with the formal teaching is "wrong." Christian Science also conforms to this definition. In short, the claim to absolute truth is made-- a claim rejected by academic and other more humble groups, however intelligent or enlightened.

You write, "Mary Baker Eddy... is valued greatly by Christian Scientists as the revelator, the discoverer and founder of the science of Christianity - which might be defined as the practical nature of the divine law demonstrated by Jesus in his healings and works." I was under the impression that Jesus was the "revelator" of the "science of Christianity"!

I find it interesting that you are more interested in focusing your letter on Mary Eddy than on Jesus and His teachings. For you continue, "Mrs. Eddy herself asked her followers to follow her only as far as she follows Christ." Yes, and in these words, she uses precisely the very same language as the founders of every other minority religion. You call this "a humble sentiment"-- the very same words used in other cults to refer to their very own leaders. Many in the history of Christian Science wanted to write and even to publish books about the popular subject of mental healing, and Eddy prohibited their being published by the Christian Science publishing house, and she discouraged her followers from reading any of it-- not exactly an open-minded forum for free expression. And Eddy, to this very day, is treasured by true believers as, to use your word, the "revelator" of God Himself. Her works are, for that minority, on a par with the Bible itself.

You write, "Her revelatory textbook illumines the Biblical teachings..." This is exactly the same precise claim made by every other "Christian" cult; they all agree in approach and presentation. Thus, so far, your letter says absolutely nothing new.

You write next, "It shows the science behind the actions of Jesus, therefore revealing how ANYONE (not just a those attending its church) can learn to heal." But the official teaching of the group is that those who do attend the meetings of Christian Science, or who read its literature, do have a distinct advantage over unbelievers; they are "superior" in knowledge or education.

You write, "The author of the blog also seems to cast Christian Science in the same light as positive thinking or any of the other systems like it that rely upon the human mind as a healing agent." Mary Eddy herself taught that alterations in the "human mind" were absolutely necessary for her way of healing to have any effect whatsoever. She taught that if her system were not followed, pretty much to the letter, no healing could occur. With what instrument do people become true believers if not with their "human minds"?

You write, "On the contrary, Christian Science appeals to divine law, the divine Mind, or God - as opposed to the human mind." No, it does not simply rely on the divine Mind alone; if it did, then one would simply pray, as did Jesus, "Not my will, but thine." CS, to the contrary, depends fully upon the human will-- which it carelessly assumes to be the very same as the divine will. This is not, of course, always the case. In fact, it might be argued that human will is rarely confluent or resonant with the divine will, except when it is engaged in Love.

You write, "It is this same divine law that was taught and practiced by Christ Jesus to heal in his era." So, why has no Christian Scientist in the entire history of the cult been able to heal all, or most, of the sick even within the strictly limited population of the minority faith-- a small group, of all true believers?

You next, rather predictably, encourage all readers to read Mary Eddy's book. This is a technique practiced by the Mormons, who encourage the reading of the books of Joe Smith, and Jehovah's Witnesses, who encourage reading of the books of the Watchtower Society. Again, nothing new has been taught in your letter. Reading it is an exercise in review.

Peace and Joy,

Richard Francis,
Love Ministries USA

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