The title for today’s post comes from “Que?tion of the Week” on time4thinkers–the Christian Science Church’s oh so hip youth-oriented website.* I will assume that the questions that are answered in this particular Q & A exercise are submitted by readers. My title for this post is the question that was posed for this week.
“There can be no doubt fewer people are attending Christian Science churches than 50 years ago. This is true for most denominations today.” 1
(emphasis is mine)
The answer, given by Christian Science practitioner Bill Warrick, is predictable (at least to me, and likely to most others who’ve left Christian Science). Right out of the gate, while honestly admitting that attendance has declined in the last 50 years, he trots out a tried and true line I’ve heard many, many times before of how declining church attendance crosses denominational lines. I have a few problems with that: first, that’s simply a cop-out. If people aren’t coming in the doors, THINK about why that is! Then DO something about it! Maybe people aren’t coming to church because Christian Science church services are honestly the best cure for insomnia I can think of. Or, maybe it’s because people aren’t interested in Christian Science, or like me, they’ve discovered that it DOESN’T WORK! Don’t rest on the old “well, it’s happening to everyone else, so there’s nothing particularly wrong with us” line. That’s a bullshit cop-out, and it’s a defeatist attitude. Not something that inspires me.
Also, is it possible that the decline of church attendance has been ever so slightly exaggerated? Yes, there has been a general decline in church attendance in so-called ‘developed’ countries, but there are some statistics that suggest that decline has been, in recent years, more gradual and has possibly, at least in the United States, stabilized.2 An article I found while I was Google searching information on church attendance shed some interesting light on the subject:
“Sunday used to be a day reserved by many Christians for attending worship services, but new research indicates the extent to which American churches today are competing against myriad other activities.
The biggest competition? Children’s sports.” 3
The article goes on to talk about churches that respond to this issue by offering services at different times of day, and/or integrating athletics into their programs, rather than being rigid and stigmatizing towards parents who choose sports for their kids and how those churches are, not surprisingly, experiencing growth, while churches that are more rigid in their approach (such as the Christian Science church is) do not seem to experience growth.
“‘More than two-thirds of congregations who said sports and fitness programs were a specialty of the congregation reported more than a 10 percent growth in attendance from 2000 to 2010. In contrast, only a third of churches with no athletic programs reported such growth.'” 4
The main message I got from this article, and from what I saw in the Wikipedia article is that yes, church attendance has been declining, but it has somewhat stabilized, and that churches that respond in a flexible way to the reasons why people don’t attend are the ones that are experiencing growth. Anecdotally, I recall a large mega-church near where I once lived near Seattle, Washington back in the early 1990s, which experienced phenomenal growth because they very smartly viewed their church as something that had to be marketed. They researched how they could appeal to people today, and targeted their market effectively. For example, they offered modern music at later services in the day that would attract a younger audience, and had more traditional services earlier in the day when an older demographic of attendees was more likely to come. The format of their services was flexible, not straitjacketed like Christian Science church services are, and not the boredom-fest that they are either.
“The number of people attending church may rise and fall, but as long as there is one person who can prove the principle of healing, this proof is an ignitor that truth alone possesses, and it can restart a bonfire of activity at any time.” 5
This phrase is a version of a familiar refrain I used to hear all the time when I was in Christian Science, and when I worked at The Mother Church. Whenever the delicate subject of declining membership came up, there was always some version of the line that “a little leaven can leaven the whole lump…” and how it didn’t matter how few Christian Scientists there were, we could still effect great things. In fact, I seem to recall that might have been the theme of Annual Meeting (of The Mother Church) several years back. In this case, Mr. Warrick is talking about one person as the spark. Well, if things keep going the way they are, there might well be only one person in Christian Science at some point.
I scanned through most of the comments (there aren’t many yet), and it’s more Christian Science self-delusion. I especially like the last sentence a commenter named Clara left: “We can trust that Christian Science still has a leavening effect on world thought. Member numbers don’t matter.” Yeah, right. So, when it gets to the point when there are NO church members left, what are you gonna do? I think it’s going to die out and become another footnote in history, like the Shakers and many others. In my opinion, the only thing that keeps the Christian Science Church going right now is its tremendous monetary wealth, which is increasing right now due to leveraging of its real estate holdings in Boston, the continuing closing of branch churches throughout the world, and bequests from dead Christian Scientists.
As I’ve said before, the Christian Science Church is a dying animal that is now feeding upon itself to survive, and has been doing so for many decades now. That, my friends, is unsustainable. If you want to survive, you need to grow. They can deny it all they want, and that’s what they do, but you cannot escape the fact that Christian Science is not growing, and they’re really doing nothing concrete to stem the decline. Sure, they do initiatives like Church Alive, which will probably last another couple of years (the Mother Church has about a five-year life-cycle on little initiatives like this, I’ve noticed), but I don’t see them addressing the real reasons for the rapid decline in church membership. They just keep up with the denial. Deny, deny, deny. That’s all Christian Scientists ever do. It’s almost all that their theology offers them. They will deny until the cancer consumes them completely.
*As of September 10, 2016, the website Time4thinkers appears to have been shut down. The links go to a generic page on the ChristianScience.com website entitled ‘Youth’, but there aren’t links to anything much that’s particular to youth activities.
1 “Que?tion of the Week: Why are Christian Science churches so empty today?” Time4thinkers. The First Church of Christ, Scientist. 17 June 2013. Web. 17 June 2013.
2 “Church Attendance.” Wikipedia. Web. 17 June 2013.
3 Steffan, Melissa. “The Main Reason for Declining Church Attendance: Children’s Sports?” Gleanings. Christianity Today. 8 April 2013. Web. 18 June 2013.
5 “Que?tion of the Week: Why are Christian Science churches so empty today?” Time4thinkers. The First Church of Christ, Scientist. 17 June 2013. Web. 17 June 2013.
Classic problem avoidance, blame shifting, and denial. Oh how I don’t miss attending CS-churches.
Many people (including Christian Scientists) believe that Mary Baker Eddy was against medical doctors. My understanding is she did not believe in healing with pharmaceutical drugs. A paragraph of her writings in Science and Health reads “broken bones are best attended to by physicians” or similar words. Our environment was quite young in 1866 and as we advanced with education, individuals in the medical environment were prepared to receive God’s ideas of modern procedures that cure. A lot of medical procedures cure without prescription drugs. I truly believe that a healing of relationships or other conditions are comprised of many things working together for the good of God, prayer is at the top of the list!
Thank you Nancy…your take on healing goes well beyond what most folks care to investigate.
Media overrides attending church among non thinkers. Sports are the level of the mentality of most as well As entertainment. Christian Science appeals to those thinking beyond what the world accepts as important . I have had phenomenal experiences in Christian Science. You must get beyond what’s for dinner and what time the football game begins!
So “right on” you are…thank you Carolyn !
As Mary Baker Eddy did say…”The time for thinkers has come”.
In this modern era, many have become superficial, unable to really feel what is happening to them and why!
C.S. requires a dedication towards the perfection…I love it.
as ever, Jules
Free time to watch football/TV was not one of my reasons to leave CS.
Very true. CS appeals to those seeking deeper life meanings or those anxious with health and other troubles– and always offers help. Pervasiveness of drugs has only added to such seeming emptiness/voids
Ironically it is prescription drugs not religion that have become the “opiate(s) of the masses.”
God alone fills voids with health, well-being, harmony. When one with God, there is no void.
one of the reasons that the church’s are empty is because the internet has been able to tell the truth about death and destruction that has permeated the lives of many decent people who did not realize that cs church and organization is a powerful and dangerous cult.
Nope!! NOT True at all!! How would you know if you’ve never been one? I was raised Christian scientist in the roofs my children’s Christian Scientists and we’ve had many many healings, some even life-threatening
The author says:
“Maybe people aren’t coming to church because Christian Science church services are honestly the best cure for insomnia I can think of. Or, maybe it’s because people aren’t interested in Christian Science, or like me, they’ve discovered that it DOESN’T WORK! Don’t rest on the old “well, it’s happening to everyone else, so there’s nothing particularly wrong with us” line. That’s a bullshit cop-out, and it’s a defeatist attitude. Not something that inspires me”
I woud point to his one line: “…IT doesn’t work”
Sadly the author refers to C.S as an “IT”….
where as we all know Chritian Science is so much more…an impowerment, a beautiful way forward…a way of embracing The Divine, within!
Christian Science is a life changer…for the good!
respectfully, Observer Jules
In reply to Jules Rensch…
I don’t see your point as far as me calling Christian Science an ‘it’. I suppose it is an attempt (weak at best) to try to defend something as indefensible as Christian Science. What do you propose I call Christian Science? ‘He’ or ‘she’? And, work on your own grammar before you go after mine. Last time I checked, ‘impower’ isn’t a word.
All that aside, I will respectfully disagree with you on the only salient points you actually do make here: Christian Science is NOT a beautiful way forward, unless you consider pain, suffering, and death to be beautiful. And yeah, Christian Science is a life changer. Seven years ago, this coming December 25th, I lost my father to a condition that could have been treated with real scientifically-based health care had he sought it sooner. But, he chose Christian Science, and suffered a slow death from heart failure that took about seven years to kill him. Yup, Christian Science changed his life–it ended it. It changed my life–it forced me to watch him die.
One of several reasons CS is dying is Mrs. Eddy was an autocrat leaving specific instructions how things were to be done forever. Church services could not be change; nothing could be changed. She shackled the Church preventing any change or growth. How could a person who took morphine require church members to avoid doctors? All very sad.
Clearly you need a history class in religion. Catholicism suffers from the same ‘specific instructions’ limiting its ability to adapt. Muslims have the greatest restrictions applied by their founder Mohammed in that it is by pain of death if anybody changes his religion in any way. Religion is simply a belief that truth is in the past and if the future discovers anything otherwise, it should be considered sinful. That is why religion suffers so much in modern day society.
Yes, Catholicism has its rituals that go back thousands of years, somewhat unchanged. However, from my observation, it is a church that does change and adapt, albeit slowly and very incrementally. The current pope seems to be moving it in a slightly more progressive direction. It is not nearly as straitjacketed as Christian Science is. I can’t speak for Islam, as I do not know a whole lot about it, but given that there are several distinct sects of Islam (which often conflict with each other), I’d say it has its flexibility in interpretation to some degree. All that said, religion is and always will be, deeply rooted in the past, and I agree–it is generally not forward-looking. Ultimately, I think we will evolve beyond the need for imaginary friends like “God”, just as we moved beyond the need for a pantheon of deities like Zeus, Odin, Jupiter, et al. Religion and deities fill the void that knowledge has yet to fill. The more of that space that is filled with actual knowledge, the less room there is for superstition.
Who is the author of this article and how can I write him? Yes, the above article is right. It is the structure of the church. Who wants to be read to? I keep going there but when you are single, you need something more. People like to be spoken to-not read to. I heard it was growing in Africa and other parts of the world. It’s sad. What I learned is very valuable but don’t feel like I am demonstrating it as before. We used to have more friendly get togethers. Where do you go from here? I used to do mediation and it is a way to contact God. Different from Science but real.
I am the author of this post, and the owner of this blog. You can contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Yes, Christian Science has experienced some growth in a few parts of Africa, but I understand that this growth has levelled off now somewhat. When I worked at TMC in Boston, a number of my colleagues travelled to a West African country that was experiencing a lot of growth, and one of them commented that the level of medical care available to the average person there was akin to what it was in the early 20th century in the USA–a time when Christian Science was experiencing its highest level of growth. I predict that if and as standards of living improve in those countries, interest in Christian Science and other pseudoscientific healing modalities will diminish. When a person is desperate for a cure–and the conventional medical system that’s available is sketchy at best, they’ll grasp at anything that offers a promise–even if it’s a false promise. It’s worth noting that Christian Science has not seen the same level of growth in South Africa, an African country that has a much higher standard of living than most African countries. Me thinks there is a parallel.
I agree with everything written on the top of this page. I also agree with the comments made below. The words used may be hard and painfully frank, but they honestly express the frustration and exasperation that I have experienced having given much of my life to CS. We cannot fix anything if we politely side-step or sugar coat the truth.
Mrs. Eddy was a world changer, one of the most progressive leaders known. If she was here today her religion would have continued to evolve. After all, she made hundreds of revisions to the S&H, right up to her last year. She would not let it die.
She sealed the doom of her gift by claiming that the full understanding of Jesus, and how to worship God, had been reached in 1910 for all time. She claimed that she, with her religion, were the “Second Coming of Christ”. You either are, or you aren’t. And if you aren’t but claim to be, you have put yourself in a very dangerous situation.
106 years later, I am afraid to say that the world at large would not concur that the greatest event in world history has happened yet. Certainly not in the nearly empty CS church buildings.
Many of us know the struggle of trying to make the movement healthy, and being forced to let the “deniers” win, while the church dies. We have managed to survive somehow. What breaks my heart is the story of a young man who came home from military service in Iraq and his church had closed. No where to go.
For those who like CS paraphernalia and memorabilia, you can find all you want on eBay and fleet market prices. Portraits of Mrs. Eddy, Mrs. Eddy silver spoons, etc. Or go to a CS retirement community, and you can have boxes of the stuff. I know one lady whose house is covered with pictures of Mrs. Eddy on all the walls.
Is the responder above correct in calling CS a cult? I think so.
It has been written that in heaven Jesus is at the right hand of God, and Mrs. Eddy is at God’s left hand. Really? I know she was a great thinker. But can she really make herself the second Jesus, the Second Coming of Christ, and share the throne with him?
In Hebrew metaphors the right hand of God is to welcome, embrace. The left hand is to reject or push away….push away. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. “So in heaven so on earth.” What can I say? We can see it with our own eyes.
We were given some good stuff…….insights into healing and the power of Spirit. We are left to sort the wheat from the chaff. We got some of each. And it is hard to distinguish.
Dave Christensen email@example.com
The way Eddy elevated herself in relation to understanding of Jesus, which you mention, is definitely a big bone of contention that mainstream Christians have with Christian Science, and although I am no longer Christian, I do find myself in agreement with them on that point, and they’ll get an acknowledging nod from this agnostic. Eddy certainly had chutzpah, to say the least.
Yes, CS is widely knows as a cult by other Christians. And if some of CS beliefs were not kookoo, the strange cult language, bizarre worship services, and the isolation of “scientists” from their Christian neighbor sure makes The Church of Christ’s Scientists look weird! When all the churches in town gather for a community Thanksgiving service, or a Christmas concert, the “Scientists” are not there with their Christian neighbors. (Wonderful loving people thought!)
Have you ever listened to a normal Christian discussing healing in biblical language with a “Scientist” crippled with “metaphysical” language. What a catastrophic humiliating oddity! “Scientists” cannot put their thoughts into normal English, let alone Biblical language.
The other churches should not cast stones, because many of their doctrines came from Greece and Rome and are foreign to the Jewish Jesus of the Bible. Jesus was a really cool guy! We have really messed him up!
If Mrs. Eddy had added a few of her powerful insights into mainstream Christianity, she could have done a great thing for the world. But her metaphysical beliefs are so far “off the wall”, and so unbiblical that she created a real nightmare for indoctrinated children to attempt to unravel their upbringing.
She studied all sorts of occult practices, and Hindu and had that stuff in the early S&H. A Unitarian minister friend helped her make her “science” sound more Christian. Notice the word “sound” more Christian.
I was horrified when I learned how much of Mrs. Eddy (The Second Coming of Christ’s) writings were plagiarized from Quimby. Quimby’s other students said that she stole his writings after he died. And she said that God gave her the S&H in divine revelation. Ha ha! Liar! Shouldn’t that bother faithful followers? It bothered me.
I once took a survey of family and friends raised in CS. I asked them what word they would use to describe their human bodies. Here are the answers:
Mortal. Error. Illusion. Mortal Mind. Animal Magnetism. False. Evil. Matter. Unreal. Imagination.
How sad to be raised feeling guilty about having a body. 😦 I’m sure none of the parents intentionally wanted their children to feel guilty about having bodies, but that is the actual outcome of being raised in the religion.
The last time I checked the Seventh Day Adventists had the best longevity of all the religions and Christian Scientists died earliest, due not getting medical attention in a crisis. Somebody commented that the Darwinian theory is in action: those who hold to failed beliefs are dying off. Survival of the fittest. If your religion makes people die early, something is very wrong. Real life-checks matter. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
I will say that I have had healings from God, verified “medical miracles”, instantly and completely. But I have never met anyone who had healings consistently. We are fortunate to have a few or maybe several healings in our lives. When I don’t get a spiritual healing, I go for help. I think God is happy to see me alive.
A healing is a healing, all coming from the One, The Divine…No need to credit it to Islam, Catholicism, Christian Science or any other belief system..it does not matter through where it comes.
What hits me harder than the loss of member’s is the loss of Jim Henson. He died of an infection that could have been cured with a round of antibiotics. It the worlds loss really. A shame.
I am a Wednesday night organist for a CS church. I really enjoy the testimonies, the readings, and the quietness of the services. But I would never join this church because of their rejection of modern medicine.
Christian Science growth began often by spiritual healing healing of cases that were given up by the medical faculty. Both my parents (as well as other relatives and friends) died under medical care. No one seems to question that.
In my own case, in my twenties, I was diagnosed in a hospital with extreme malnutrition with a collapsed lung. The attending physicians came to my bed and offered to operate for free because they wanted to be the first kids on the block to heal this lung problem. (They knew of no other treatment or physician in the world to refer me to. They were compassionate and would have done so.) They said that their experience to that date was that their patients always died during the operation. They explained that during the operation, the other lung was not used to doing all the breathing, but would be forced to do so, and I would die of shock, have a heart attack, and die during the operation. But they said, at least I would be sedated, and would hopefully be contributing to finding a medical cure. They said that if I left it alone, the same process would happen slowly, and be very painful, and that I would have a maximum of six months to live. I declined their offer, deciding to live out my days. They said, “Well, if it gets too painful, come back and we’ll do the free operation for you.” One day, after returning from making my funeral arrangements, my friend who was a new student in Christian Science herself, said, “Sit down and listen. You do not have to die! It is not the will of infinite Life to cause death. And she explained, among other things, that that Jesus took students and taught them Mastery. You have mastery through Christ Truth.” I understood just a bit of what she said, but it was enough that when I had a severe attack of pain the next day, I said to myself vehemently, “I’m just a baby in this Science, but this much I know. God is good, and sends me good. He is the only power. “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory! The only power over me is good. I will not bow down and serve evil/limitation!”
The lung stopped its flappy noise, and the pain stopped permanently. I could walk normally again. People sometimes asked me, “Well, did you go back to the hospital and tell and show the two head physicians who made you that offer?” I replied, “No, I just found out that God is the Great Physician.”
I have played the organ in various CS churches over the years. As of now, I play on Wednesdays in a local church. I actually enjoy the services and the testimonies-but I would never join. I fo not believe in rejecting medical help.
Christian Science does work. Christian Science heals material ailments, mental, relationships and financial problems. If you haven’t understood the Science and therefore not had the benefit of it don’t go trashing it. Please respect those of us who do practice it and have been doing so for the past 50 years ( since birth).
People attend Christian Science expecting it to heal like hypnotism or some other mind control remedy and they get disappointed. It is a Science that needs to be studied practiced and UNDERSTOOD.. I can see that the author needs to heal is his bitterness. Medicine wont do that but Christian Science will but he must be willing to allow it to. God Bless you all.
You obviously have not read my blog, other than this post. Let me enlighten you, point-by-point:
–“Christian Science does work” – no it doesn’t: both of my parents died, suffering unbelievably all the while praying in Christian Science for healings that never came. They were both Class taught and very dedicated students of Christian Science. They did everything ‘right’ according to the teachings of Christian Science, yet it did not heal them. It also never healed my brother of cerebral palsy, and I’ve read many other accounts of people dying of treatable illnesses while they prayed for healing in Christian Science.
–“If you havent understood the Science and therefore not had the benefit of it don’t go trashing it.” – first of all, this is a free society, this is my blog, and short of hate speech (which is illegal where I live), I will criticize Christian Science as I see fit, and if you don’t like that, that is your problem, not mine. I also was Class taught, and my Teacher repeatedly extolled my deep understanding of Christian Science, and consistently raved about the papers I submitted for Association assignments. According to him, I understood it. Except for a brief hiatus when I was 18 – 20 years-old, I was a dedicated follower of Christian Science for the first 41 years of my life. I think I understood it insofar as something as extremely esoteric, meandering, and self-contradicting a philosophy as Christian Science is, can be understood. If I had a dime for every time I hear the “[you/the person who died/the person who suffered] didn’t ‘understand’ it, or they didn’t fully ‘understand’ it,” line as an excuse for the abject failure of Christian Science as a healing method, I’d be able to retire comfortably now, while I’m still under 50 years of age. Please, I ask all Christian Scientists to quit using this excuse. It’s old, it’s tired, it’s offensive, and it’s false.
–“People attend(ing) Christian Science expecting it to heal…” – I don’t see how Christian Science heals like hypnotism or other mind control (neither of which have been proven scientifically–real science NOT Christian ‘science’), I suppose it’s similar in that it deludes people with false promises, but as far as I know, the methodology is different. I studied and practiced Christian Science for four decades. I know people who studied it for longer, who ultimately left it as well. I know one woman who studied it for almost seven decades before she realized Christian Science for the lie it is. Did she not ‘understand’ it after all that time? What’s to understand? Please explain in detail.
Am I bitter? You bet I am! I am absolutely appalled at the harm I’ve seen the belief and adherence to Christian Science do not only to my own family, but to others. Writing this blog, and exposing Christian Science for the dangerous fallacy that it is has healed me tremendously of my bitterness by providing me an outlet for it, rather than the denial of it that Christian Science would have me do. Denial of what IS real is psychologically unhealthy to an extremely high degree.
I’m happy for you that Christian Science seems to be working for you. I dearly hope that you are not befallen by some serious illness like cancer or heart disease (which killed my father), or that you are not involved in a serious accident that injures you to a severe degree, because I’m afraid you may find Christian Science wanting at that point.
May the Celestial Teapot bless you, and may the Flying Spaghetti Monster bestow many breadsticks upon you.
It funny how people will defend what they think they know, when they are actually defending what they believe to be true. CS always called for a deep “knowing”. “Knowing” is too high a claim. Knowing really does require a scientific basis and a book claiming to be scientific and yet never scientifically tested just does not qualify.
My deep frustration with the concept is the attempt to define life as other than it is – as a quest of knowing the “real” truth.
I know what I can touch, taste, see, feel and taste. My life is here on earth. It is my body, it is my interaction with other people, it is in my decisions and my joy.
For too long I have watched those closest to see searching for an alternative reality in science. What a waste of a real life worth living.
Last time I checked, science didn’t require understanding to work. Long before I knew what gravity was, my feet were firmly planted on the earth and there was no chance of my floating off. Science doesn’t depend on whether you know what it is, to be, it just is. People take medicine and don’t understand how that works, but they receive the benefit of it. If you want to have a go at understanding something, try the grace of God. It’s not about an understanding, God doesn’t pick and choose who to heal based on what we know in an academic sense. God heals us because he loves us unconditionally. He heals because when we pray for healing, the Kingdom of Heaven touches earth. Don’t you dare even say some poor soul who is suffering from some horrific disease that they didn’t understand. I’d argue it was you that didn’t understand.
I was brought up in CS and I never knew what the presence of God felt like until a friend invited me along to her Christian Church. I’d tried the whole understanding thing – it doesn’t work. However, inviting Jesus into my life was possibly the most amazing, terrifying but revitalising thing I could ever do. I’m now working through the many relationship, mental and physical problems CS left me with through a combination of Christian Prayer Ministry and going to a GP.
After all the hurt and pain CS has put me through over the years, don’t tell me I’m doing it wrong.
At the end of the day though, our faith is our own, and wherever you choose to place it is obviously your decision. Please don’t take this all personally, it’s not you, it’s just that CS left me with a lot of mess that I’m still trying to clear up.
Ever so true–science does NOT require ‘understanding’ to work! It just ‘is’. If Christian Science is to be given a label, I’d call it a philosophy (a fallacious one, however). It is not a science in any way, shape or form.
All of us who’ve escaped from, and are recovering from, Christian Science, have a lot of untangling of ‘interlaced ambiguities’ (to use a familiar phrase from Mary Baker Eddy), on the road to healing, and I’m glad you’ve found yours. While I do not share your belief in God, and do not attend any church, I have visited other churches through the years, both when I was still in Christian Science, and after I left. There was always much more life, love, and fellowship in those other churches than I ever found in the one I called my own. Even, as it is with commenter ‘HB’, if that path leads through Christian Science, at least people find their salvation. However, with Christian Science, if that path includes radical reliance, it could be a gruesome end.
Yes and no!
I have had God do miraculous healings when in CS, thanks to some insights MBE gave us. But I have had more miraculous healings after leaving CS because half of what MBE said was wrong.
Spirit is the real and all-powerful Source of all that is. True. Thanks MBE.
However God delights in making a physical creation. Physical substance is real! It exists because of God. “The earth belongs to the LORD and everything in it. Let all creation praise the LORD!” Let God’s government come to our experiences on earth.
You don’t have to deny creation to get a healing. You just have to let God govern it.
You ask these writers to get help with their bitterness. Yes, forgiveness is heart of the Gospel. Forgiveness is the biggest word to describe why Jesus came. Forgiveness heals everything.
But MBE only uses the word “forgiveness” 3 times in the S&H. According to MBE there is nothing to forgive. So cancel everything out with denial. Doing so leaves people psychotic messes.
beautifully said HB…healing bitterness, healing despair…requires a union with the Divine that many are incapable of…such the pity
I have studied and practiced Christian Science for over 50 years. Raised
4 children who are now in their 50-60s. Grateful every day for my life, health, joy, peace and love. I tried life without it and am so grateful for it. Lived at the North Pole and Newfoundland and USA in the Air Force and Kuwait, Oman, UAE running I. T. Businesses So blessed and happy with life
I love this blog post so much.
I led the “Church Alive” effort at my branch church when it was new. And it was like pulling teeth to get the board to say we could do it. We had so many awesome “do things new!!” Ideas come from the whole experience. And then, of course, nothing changed.
I talked about the “invisible writing in The Manual of the Mother Church.” Like the order of services says: “Solo.” But we read it as: “one person singing accompanied by either piano or organ.”
I agree with everything you wrote. And I love that you point out the whole money thing.
I hope my own family members get out in time and stop believing the Christian Science line- “it’s not a cult.” (YES it is!!!!) and that the “don’t read obnoxious books” is a great way to squelch individual thinking. (Obnoxious books of course being things like Quimby’s own writings, and excellently researched books on the actual history of Christian Science like “God’s Perfect Child.”
The fate of ‘Church Alive’, and it would now appear ‘TMC Youth/Time4thinkers’ is reflective of what I’ve noticed to be a short attention span issue at TMC. They start many initiatives, and then they just wither and die. Microcosms of the general withering of the Church as a whole, me thinks.
“short attention span” …. i wonder if it’s also that people who started the intiatives get burned out fighting for the good idea. and having to defend their position. so they quit & leave. so frustrating. #TiredOfTheBattles
Thanks so much for the great blog and insightful writing!
“Spiritual not religious” is my way not to throw out the baby with the bathwater, now that I no longer revere any religion as having a legitimate hold on anybody.
Not that religion cannot provide good in people’s lives — but across too many competing faith traditions, it can provide authoritarian, bigoted or narrow-minded harm. So I no longer lend my strength to that which I wish to be free from (to quote a lyric from a song sung by the artist, Jewel).
Yet spirituality — at essence learning to increase in love of oneself, love of others, love of the creation — has been long my path (after a blended S. Baptist and Catholic childhood). The path included a self-directed brief adult foray about 15 years ago into CS Mother Church membership and being class taught. (Immersion is my favored approach to learning about anything.) I nearly walked out of the class commitment upon hearing the first day that the now deceased teacher’s husband had remained paralyzed for life after an accident but that his treatment was deemed successful “in Science” (healing not cure) because he was “a joyous man.” But … instead I stayed for the duration of class instruction and later experimented with the CS metaphysics to actualize some useful ideas, as well as relationships with other spiritual practices I’d studied.
Beyond an internalized grasp of the CS lingo, I find it helpful to conceptualize between the relative human experience and choosing instead the absolute metaphysics of Love (good energy) always existent and available to us — visualizing the web of life and connecting as a compassionate conscious human node in a living network that occupies all time and space in the cosmos.
Maybe there’s something to the “bird clan” indigenous spiritual practices of a great-grandmother also going on, because I’m drawn to whatever’s likely to help us love more, come together instead of dividing ourselves, destroy less habitat, appreciate the plants, animals and elements around us, address climate change with solutions, and give us a song in our hearts after we’ve grieved our losses. (Why have tears if we’re not meant to use them as much as our laughter?) With the outside political picture in 2016, there’s a lot to work on spiritually across all the modalities, including the option to develop new ways of working metaphysically. You might say I “prayed without ceasing” during the presidential candidate debates in the US last night.
Selecting what intuitively seems to fit for whatever situation, sometimes I still “treat” with absolutes from S&H like “in every hour God supplies all good” if there’s time — or a personally modified Hindu Advaita mystical practice of breathing and instantaneous conscious reaching out into calm and eternal Love operating through time and space. The modified Advaita has seemingly saved fast-moving traffic from car crashes involving multiple vehicles including mine on busy, congested CA freeways. Seriously. Several times in outward circumstances of major drama like a Fast and Furious film stunt. Made me wonder if the Red Sea might have parted for Moses after all. But I’m not going to take any story, bible or otherwise at literal face value, because humans across all cultures tell story which is more often metaphoric, inspirational or entertainment (functions of religions, camp circles, internet streaming content and movie multi-plexes alike) than literally true.
MBE as a valued spiritual contributor, yes, but as a theorized final revelator never made sense to me because by the time I experimented with CS, I no longer accepted either the bible as a paper pope or the human pope as infallible. The notion of final revelation by Jesus or anybody else seemed a perversion of our direct and unmediated connection to infinite Source, Creator, Mind, Love, etc. aka God. But what’s not to like, from the kids’ song: “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.” Other would-be revelators about church in the biblical new testament (Paul and Peter) expressed bigotry contrary to my deep inner understanding of a good God (who could not possibly be unbalanced as exclusively male or privileging one racial faction over another, and still be good).
Once I let go of Paul and Peter as having no authority, there was no reason to accept anything else in the bible as holy writ or any religion as unchangeable directive. Sure, scholars wrote researched and footnoted tomes that helped me unscramble what was childhood religious mental conditioning (and a set up that later motivated me to explore if CS was actually how Jesus had healed, when I still believed it would be best to have some form of Christianity to practice).
But in the ultimate analysis, God’s direct and sometimes mysterious guidance is what overcame authoritarian programming for religious conditioning, and today lets me continue to experiment spiritually for whatever’s coming next. All of us have this freedom, and that’s good news.
I’m here to post that Christian Science does in Fact work!! The reason for any such mentioned
decline is due to the changes in Religious climate
change. It is in fact not a cop out to say that numbers are dwindling in every denomination, this
is indeed a Fact. Christian Scientists can hear the
lesson in their own homes via computer and even
smart phones. The cost of maintaining large churches is no longer feasible nor is it fashionable.
Christian Science a religion who’s followers trust in the infinite intelligence of the omnipotent invisible God and whose faith in not in that of the material collective consciousness is on the rise but unseen
to the masses for Spirituality is being expressed more in individuality than in collective masses.
Blessings of Love and Light to all who posted.
In in Hebrews 10, Paul says that we shouldn’t give up the habit of meeting together. If this is not important to you then you ought to realign your purposes with the will of God. I can listen to my churches sermon online after they’be been preached yet I still go to church because the community of faith is as big a part of the Christian walk than the teaching. The prayerful support, the family and we can share what God has been doing in our lives.
Unfortunately, it isn’t about what just works, it has to be what is solid, biblical truth. Christian Science does not teach that. The denial of Jesus as the incarnation directly contradictd scripture. Yet because it works doesn’t mean it’s God. Satan will do everything in his power to keep you away from Jesus and that includes giving you a few healing a to lull you into a false sense of security and Christian Science let’s him in to do that.
I pray that as you read God’s word that you would invite him to help you understand it, and that you would have an encounter with the living God. Having a relationship with Jesus is the most amazing thing ever, and also the most terrifying.
I would recommend taking a read of 1 John 4
I have seen no evidence in my 41 years in CS that it ever worked insofar as the healing of physical ailments is concerned. I’ll concede that it may have helped me on occasion with emotional and relationship-type issues to some degree.
As for it not being a ‘cop-out’ to parallel diminshment in numbers at CS churches, with the diminishment in other denominations, I disagree on at least two points: (1) Christian Science famously admonishes its adherents to stand out from the crowd and “be separate”–where’s that spirit? If CS is so appealing, why aren’t CS churches as full as those of many other Protestant denominations throughout the USA? (2) Please re-read this post with particular attention to the sections where I offer evidence that the decline in church attendance may be slightly overstated. Other denominations don’t seem to have seen the precipitous decline that CS has had, and I remind you that relative to most other mainstream religions, CS has never been large. From all evidence I’ve seen, worldwide membership never even hit 1 million. I believe the world population has been well over 1 billion in all of the time that CS has existed.
Sure, people can access the Lesson and church services on-line. I don’t know how many do. I’d be interested in the statistics, if those who keep them ever feel inclined to publish them. I can go on statistics that are published, that being the circulation levels of the various print periodicals, and those rates are abysmally low, and always have been.
My faith rests on what the evidence before me tells me. I have seen in my own experience pain relieved by pain relievers, infections abated by antibiotics, and injuries healed by physiotherapy. Christian Science never healed any of those things for me, and my parents’ choices to rely on CS in their final days condemned them to incalculable physical suffering and ultimately killed them. I don’t trust something I can’t see, hear, touch, or smell. I’ve seen no proof that some sentient supernatural thing called ‘God’ exists, and such a concept is completely illogical to me. That’s not to say I think it can never be possible, but it seems extremely far-fetched to me. I guess you could say that I’m the ultimate ‘doubting Thomas’, but so be it. If that’s the label you affix to me, I’m proud to wear it.
Excellent work. Incidentally I wrote something of some passing relevance to this which you might find of interest, little different take, dealing with the legal obligations towards children, but I specifically drew upon Christian Science doctrine to frame it.
Well worth every moment to read your work.
Thank you for the link to your article and Facebook page! It was a good read, and I did leave a comment on your page. You do have a good insight into the insanity of Christian Science. I always enjoy an outsider’s perspective. It really lays bare the fallacy of it all in a way those of us who were in it never really can.
Theres no insanity manifest when my prayer results in instant healing from heart attack. Wed saw a healinf from gross sorrow after Las Vegas massecre. Sorrow is a killer but the ignorant mortal doesnt know this. Your sleep as CS services shows that your spiritually dead. On your own you cant wake up.
Ive had many incredibls healings in Christian Science. Spiritual growth is what we,all need. Its the only way to understand that Life is science itself not merely a container for limited scientific discovery. Why is America dissolving into moral idiocy injustice haplessness? No spiritual growth at all. The animal is a mortal with no standard or vision besides its stupid self. Sound familiar? It should. We can go beyond this but not by believing that matter is our mother.
Mary Baker Eddy had reservations about institutionalizing CS as a church.
She realized a religion based on Jesus’ teachings and a spiritual, not material reality required deep thought. Popularity was nice but never essential to her Truths.
Her approach does not need other’s political review and judgment.
It is a system of thought based upon Spirit as primary and matter as error.
If you see and believe this deeply enough, many have proved the depths of such prayer effective.
It’s called faith, and faith has always been the heart of Christianity.
Today, the medical profession has learned the value of such prayer and Christian Science has been assimilated into the culture in many subtle ways. Consider how the medical profession has learned the placebo effect MBE laid out long ago, and how pharma drugs are now recognized as far from a panacea—just as she warned.
It HAS leavened thought, and many principles of psychology relate to the powers associated with positive thought. You are what you think is as commonly acknowledged in modern culture as the adage you are what you eat.
Does Christian Science require fun services, social games and exciting pastors? No, it is a contemplative, yet active form of mediation and a high form of prayer.
Buddhist monks are not criticized for their lack of personal dynamism, nor should CS as a religion.
It is openly not of this world and believes in a present spiritual; world just as Jesus described.
Does the world commonly reject a spiritual-only basis of life? Sure. Always has.
Materialists find futility in attempting to use CS. They always did and will just as in Jesus’ world.
Those totally relying on Spirit have always found success. Jesus died young materially. His work was done. Life continued spiritually. Few people wish to give up this dream of life, but don’t blame the principles of this faith.
Thanks Brian…yours is most probably the best explanation of the mystical qualities of the C.S. healing process, on these pages.
The old axiom “it takes two to Tango” rings true in the teachings of MBE…
….you & God teaming up to accomplish the wonderous …Bravo, my friend.
The above description of CS spirituality is what seems mentally unhealthy to me. Sorry. I believe that Spirit is real. But I don’t think the matter (the created world) is evil. That was deeply damaging to be raised thinking like that.
CS is Gnostic, which is the antichrist. In 1 John and 2 John, this describes Gnosticism as the antichrist. Gnosticism claims that only the spiritual (the ethereal) is good and the physical is a prison. That is a very negative condemnation for being born on earth. The test of the spirits is that Jesus comes to the flesh. That is a good thing!
I believe that Jesus, a human man with a body like us, came to this world to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It’s about a union of heaven and earth. But MBE condemns life on this earth as evil and unreal, and so I grew up thinking that my body was evil and unreal. You may say that is a harsh interpretation of CS, but I was raised in CS and that is the way it is practiced.
I think that Father God loves his Creation and wants to be with us in it. “Emmanuel” means “God with us”. Here and how.
I have had healings of instantly healed broken bones, tumors disappear between X-rays, and raised the dead. I thank MBE for teaching the allness of Spirit. But I had to get away from her morbid and condemnation of human life. I have seen that there is one creation, not two. And that one creation is right here. We have just been seeing it through dirty lenses. If you look for God to be right here you will find Him. He does not despise the physical world like CS teaches us to do.
MBE taught me to look for the good in situations and the good in my fellow man. I am extremely thankful to be raised with that.
But her condemnation of human life, and the denial of everything that isn’t perfect was very damaging to me, and I needed a lot of help to get over that.
I have seen many true healings in CS. But I have seen a hundred more suffer or die early tragically. I have not known anyone personally who had as many miraculous healings as myself. But I only owe half of that to CS. Here is my core belief:
ONE GOD. ONE CREATION.
Try thinking about that until you get it.
God Bless the whole world! No exceptions!
My Grandmother and Mother practiced CS and I had some exposer to it as a teenager. I ended up studying medical nursing so I obviously didn’t stay with CS. Its positive outlook is something that has stayed with me, but I also realized CS came about when many, now treatable, illnesses resulted in death. Science has made CS unnecessary in today’s society. Yes, we can try and align our beliefs with those we attribute to Jesus, we can believe Love is the road to everything important, but it’s hard to turn away from medical treatment at a time of need. Mary Baker Eddy allowed for eye exams, dental care, and to have broken bones set -. Doctors couldn’t help with TB or influenza then – today they can – so if she was alive today would she reconsider some medical treatment? As a teenager I witnessed people in the church refuse medical treatment and they died or suffered long term problems. It’s hard to watch this happen. As measles has recently risen as a problem I can’t help but think many CS parents didn’t vaccinate their children and perhaps thought prayer kept their children safe when actually, because vaccinated children were the majority – the herd in general benefited – today, with a larger percentage of anti- vaccinators ,measles has shown it’s ugly head again -when it was thought to be eradicated. People are allowed to believe as they choose, but this is a dying religion. My father-in-law made his family attend a CS church, but in the end when he had prostate problems, he couldn’t get to a urologist fast enough. Maybe some people have had long term success with only prayer, but I tend to think not because if the promises of CS were that readily acceptable to people, the church would be overflowing with members – it’s not.
Interesting story…thanks for sharing it, Sandy.
Lately, I’ve been studying a different take on “prayer”.
Seems there are several kinds of prayer…but the vast majority of them are in the “begging” catagory. These, by the way, are seldomly answered.
Mary Baker Eddy’s prayer was short and described a “expected” in their result.
The “begging prayer” was always a petition to the Divine to show mercy and ask for healing.
Mary Baker Eddy’s prayers were often, answered on the spot, much the way Jesus The Christ did his. The public, then as now, considered these healings as “miracles”.
all the best, Jules
I don’t believe God is omnipotent. “Why bad things happen to good people” . By Kurchner? was a huge influence during a difficult time. I believe he loves us like any parent loves a child, but for me, prayer is an opportunity to ask for guidance and strength and not to have a wish fulfilled. The human condition sometimes seems like we are in crisis mode – therefore at these times people ask for help with specific needs. I too don’t think this type of prayer brings healing – IMHO. Life is influenced by experience, mine has brought me to respect religion but also keep it between me and God.
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