Christian Science, not to be confused with Scientology, is officially called, The Church of Christ, Scientist and was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879. The Christian Science textbook is entitled, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” and was first published in 1875. It was revised many times by Mary Baker Eddy.
Services are usually held twice on Sundays and consist of the daily readings, from the King James Bible and from Science and Health, read in their entirety. These readings are selected by the Mother Church in Boston, Massachusetts. and the same readings, on any given Sunday, are read across the world. Both books are established as the “Pastors” of the church and there are no “ordained clergy” – solely two Readers in each church. The attraction of Christian Science is that it offers healing and solutions to life’s problems and it teaches that God is Love (important synonyms for God are capitalised).
As to the doctrines of Christian Science, much has been documented but it is important to note that Mrs Eddy interpreted Genesis 1:27a and Genesis 1:31a (KJV) to mean that man is, in reality, the spiritual and perfect reflection of God and that sin, disease, death and matter cannot exist. A Christian Scientist, therefore, is to correct false, human thinking and understand and identify with his spiritual identity, which is “reality”, and thus experience healings and demonstrate solutions to life’s problems. Christian Science was presented by Mrs Eddy as a scientific system of healing – explaining how Jesus healed sickness and sin.
Problems occur because the student of Christian Science has a conflict between the reality of this world, what he sees, and what he is taught to be true in Christian Science.
Acceptance, voicing aloud or holding a belief in what he actually sees, makes the problem a reality, it is believed, and so withdrawal from the world around becomes an easier option in an endeavour to practise Christian Science truths. The result is a consequent denial of feelings, situations and illnesses. For children, in particular, the result is non validation of experience and feeling and it has been well documented that children have died from extreme medical neglect, as their parents have endeavoured to heal them. Many former Christian Scientists remember suffering childhood illnesses – asthma, ear infections, burns etc. with absolutely no medical treatment, while parents were trying to heal them!
Several generations in Christian Science can result in absolutely no comprehension of when a medical emergency arises or even any comprehension of what an illness might be self-diagnosis and then claiming a healing, causes problems. I know of many Christian Scientists who had a cold and cough and, upon the eventual, natural disappearance of these (sometimes weeks later), they then claimed a healing! There are also some in Christian Science who take pain relief – maybe for dental work – but keep it very quiet! There are also those who do use medicine but they may feel guilt at failing to make Christian Science work.
On Wednesday evenings, church members meet for another service which includes opportunity for them to speak and express gratitude for how Christian Science has healed and helped them. Christian Scientists often say that their followers are free to choose the medical option or to rely totally on Christian Science for healing. Mary Baker Eddy’s teachings are such that Christian Science is the only option and that it will only work if one totally relies on it for help and healing. Christian Science practitioners are often asked to help those who are struggling to effect a healing.
This help is most often offered via telephone or letter and would consist of affirmation/suggested readings from the literature. I implored my mother’s practitioner to at least visit her, in the hope that he would then see the need for her to receive care and encourage her to accept help. He refused. Voicing or seeing sickness would, he believed, give the condition a “reality”. Thinking of such things would give it a “power”. Much easier to stay away and resist spiritual dangers of distressing human need!
I left Christian Science because I had dreadful toothache which I could not heal! People around me told me I needed a dentist. I had no idea how to contact one and make an appointment and I needed help. I knew no-one who had any kind of experience of Christian Science or who could assist me in adjusting to a new life. It was about thirty years until I accessed the help I needed – via the internet! At the beginning of 2000, my mother, who was a radical believer in Christian Science (a radical believer is one who would only use Christian Science teaching for healing) became seriously ill with breast cancer and was refusing all medical and practical assistance. Watching someone mentally deteriorate and suffer was a huge shock to me and I was desperate for help. Having grown up in Christian Science, it had never occurred to me that Christian Scientists could suffer so much or how deeply painful it was for surrounding family.
The discovery of Christian Way was a life-line and I shall be forever thankful for their messages of support and prayers during that time. With this in mind, I started ExCS UK as a support group for former Christian Scientists and those who had relations still in Christian Science. We are not a group solely for Christians; we have seen too many hurting people who, primarily, need help – not another “belief system”, in the first instance. Over the years, we have visited or held informal annual meetings for those who had or have problems or distress as a result of Christian Science.
We have posted literature – some of which explains the difference between Christian belief and Christian Science – and sometimes we have just listened when people have needed to talk because of their distress. Many former Christian Scientists take varied paths – Christianity, Buddhism, New Age, Atheism, Scientology and the occult – to name but a few. We also remember those for whom the distress was too great and who ended their lives.
Sometimes, the former Christian Scientist needs encouragement if they have relations still in it. It is difficult to make everyday conversation when one’s thinking has taken a major U-turn! One Christian Scientist snapped in reply to me, “Stop asking me how I am. I am fine. I am God’s perfect child. Nothing can be wrong with me.” It makes every-day conversation ,very difficult! Sometimes, one is powerless to help a Christian Scientist and their relations need support from someone who understands.
Also, it should be remembered that Mrs Eddy reversed the meanings of some words and talking to a Christian Scientist on spiritual matters might become complicated. For example, one might mention angels (CS view is that these are God’s thoughts passing to man) death (CS: an illusion) Holy Ghost (CS: divine Science) resurrection (CS: spiritualisation of thought) Jesus, Christ, God…all have different interpretations from Christianity.
Recently, most members of our group have joined up with an international support group for former Christian Scientists on Facebook. This has the advantage of being most useful for exchanging experiences and current situations etc. It is a large, closed, non-denominational group which offers huge support. Ex-Christian Scientists on Facebook refers. During the last year, some members of this group have compiled a most useful resource on Facebook – The Ex-Christian Scientist – which covers such issues as Healthcare Resources, How to leave the Mother Church, Stocking the Medicine Cabinet and Christian Science and Doctors. Believe me, it is a huge step to know when a doctor is needed and to shake off childhood mental programming that one’s illness is illusory!
Many former Christian Scientists testify to leaving health issues too long before going to the doctor or to denying themselves pain relief! Three of us recently said, “Why did we automatically refuse the nurse’s offer of pain relief when we were in hospital?!” Childhood conditioning! Another problem, having left Christian Science, is dealing with the memory of its language – the words of hymns and texts are hard to eradicate after years of reading and memorising, often since early childhood.
It is important to remember that, despite the Christian Science churches closing and membership falling, people can access Christian Science and its books all too easily! Amazon and other suppliers sell its books and literature and on Kindle, some Christian Science books may be downloaded for free! Please remember our work. We may be a minority group but Christian Science still tries to reach out to the unsuspecting public, either through its literature (sometimes also to be found in public libraries) or through its lectures held at public venues.