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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Christian Science

A system founded by Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) in the latter half of the 19th century. Eddy considered her religion to be a reinstatement of primitive Christianity with an emphasis on healing such as was practiced by Jesus and his disciples. While Christian Science as a church or religious faith uses many of the Christian theological terms, it seems that it assigns somewhat different meanings to central concepts such as God, Christ, salvation, heaven, the Trinity etc. For example, in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 465), Eddy wrote, “God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love.”

Christian Scientists study the Holy Bible, along with Eddy’s stated insights; such insights require a spiritual approach rather than a literal acceptance of the text. Spiritual healing as practiced in Christian Science is specific prayer based on understanding of God. It is not combined with material medicine or physical therapies, but is wholly metaphysical.

The teachings of Eddy, while at first merely an idea, or fresh approach to the application of early Christian teaching, eventually became institutionalized and a church was established known as The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. Today, there are more than 2300 branches of this church in some 70 countries worldwide. The churches have no ordained clergy. Instead, their worship services include the reading of selected passages from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by lay readers elected from the membership. The church publishes many periodicals including The Christian Science Journal and the Christian Science Sentinel; also the influential newspaper The Christian Science Monitor.

While Christian Scientists view life as created and governed by God who is Infinite Good, their religion is not “positive thinking.” Its goal is the spiritualization of human thought, Christianization of daily life and the demonstration of health and harmony in accord with the teachings of Christ Jesus.

R.R.C.

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