Christian Scientist: The Meaning
A Christian Scientist is a member of The Church of Christ, Scientist (Also referred to as CCS). The church is also recognized by the term The Christian Science Church, which was its original title and is not associated with the Church of Scientology. The organization was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879. Currently, the CCS is run by a five-person Board of Directors headquartered at the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. The CCS has approximately 2,300 churches in 68 countries.
Christian Scientist: The Foundation
According to Christian Scientist literature, Mary Ann Morse Baker was born in 1821. She was a frail youngster who suffered from many illnesses. In 1844, her first husband, George Glover, died of yellow fever and left her in poverty with an infant son. Shortly thereafter, Mary was forced to give up her son to foster care. In 1853, she married her second husband, Daniel Patterson. After being miraculously healed from injuries suffered during a crippling accident, Mary claimed to have uncovered the secret of "Divine Science." She went on to teach her techniques of healing and spiritual philosophy to all who were intrigued. In 1875, after her divorce from Daniel Patterson, she moved from New Hampshire to Massachusetts and founded the Christian Science Association. It was there that she published her foundational book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In 1877, she married her third husband, Asa Albert Eddy, and together they officially founded the CCS. Asa died in 1882, and Mary went on to establish "The Mother Church," The First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Boston, Massachusetts, in 1890. Mary died in 1910.
Christian Scientist: The Doctrine
Christian Scientist doctrine is found principally in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (S&H). Other CCS publications include The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Journal, Herald of Christian Science, The Christian Science Sentinel, The World Monitor, and Christian Science Quarterly.
Biblical Authority. Christian Science doctrine maintains that "as adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (S&H, p. 497). Nonetheless, Christian Science interprets the Bible in light of Mrs. Eddy's writings, particularly S&H, in which she interprets the Bible according to her metaphysical presuppositions. She questions the textual reliability of the Bible, pointing to "the manifest mistakes in the ancient versions . . . these facts show how a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with its own hue darkening to some extent the inspired pages" (S&H, p. 139). Mrs. Eddy went on to apply new, spiritual meanings to common biblical terms. For example, "Jerusalem" is defined as "Mortal belief and knowledge obtained from the five corporeal senses" (S&H, p. 589). "Holy Ghost" is defined as "Divine Science; the development of eternal Life, Truth, and Love" (S&H, p. 588).
God. They use impersonal synonyms for God, which lessens God's personal nature. "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (S&H, p. 465). These are synonymous terms that "refer to one absolute God. They are also intended to express the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity." (S&H, p. 465).
Spirit & Reality. Since God's essence is spirit or mind, and only that which reflects God's nature is real, then matter does not really exist. "Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal" (S&H, p. 468). Since matter does not exist and humanity reflects God's nature, then humanity is not really made of matter. "Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual" (S&H, p. 468). Pain, death, sin, and disease are only illusions. "The only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief…They are not true, because they are not of God" (S&H, p. 472). "The cause of all so-called disease is mental, a mortal fear, a mistaken belief or conviction of the necessity and power of ill-health" (S&H, p. 377). Since matter, sin, disease, and death are illusions and are unreal, then people are not subject to them. "Through immortal Mind, or Truth, we can destroy all ills which proceed from mortal mind" (S&H, p. 374).
Christian Scientist: What About Salvation?
A Christian Scientist believes that sin and death are false notions (illusions). Therefore, salvation comes through understanding and overcoming these false beliefs and recognizing that humans are divine spirit and mind. "We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection served to uplift faith to understand eternal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter" (S&H, p. 497). However, salvation is not the result of some special wisdom set forth in the S&H. The Bible tells us that salvation is received only by acknowledging and repenting of our sin (real, not illusion), and putting our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.