The New International Encyclopædia/Christian Science
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|Edition of 1905. Written by Edward A. Kimball. See also Christian Science on Wikipedia, Wikisource's Christian Science portal, and the disclaimer.|
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE. A term given by Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy, of Concord, N. H., to a religio-scientific discovery which she declares to have been made by her in the year 1866.
It purports to reveal the science of God, and to declare the actual truth about Deity; also the science of life and of man, both of which have been regarded as a mystery. It professes to be the science of the divine Mind, or Omniscience, and the science of Jesus' mission and teaching — the science of Christianity.
Christian Science affirms the divine individuality or infinite spiritual personality of God, and denies all man-made conceptions of Him as a finite personality of anthropomorphic nature or presence. It declares that God can only be spiritually or supersensibly discerned, and that the so-called material senses cannot cognize or comprehend God. In defining God, according to Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy adds to the generally accepted synonyms for Deity, such as Life, Truth, Love, and Spirit, the further declaration that God is the Divine Principle of all true being, meaning thereby that He is the creative principle, the cause, origin, source, basis, foundation, government, and law of all that has actual and permanent existence. She also declares that God is Substance, meaning thereby that Spirit, Mind, is the only actual, immortal substance or reality. In defining God as Good, she holds that the divine consciousness includes only the consciousness of good. She repudiates all assumption that God has created or consented to any form of evil, sin, sickness, or death, or that the fundamental law of being provides for the inception and continuance of sickness. She declares that all of God's laws mean and provide for life, and life only.
Christian Science purports to solve the mystery of evil. It denies the personality of evil as devil, and avers that evil has no real entity or immortality. Sin or evil is a negation — a wrong sense of the truth of being — a wrong sense of that which is eternally right. Christian Science denies the supposed naturalness of sin, sickness and death, and declares them to be abnormities or monstrosities of the ‘carnal mind,’ or ‘mortal mind,’ as it is termed in Christian Science — the paraphernalia of an ignorant and depraved sense of existence which can be mastered and lawfully abolished.
Christian Science acknowledges the Messiahship of the divine Christ as the manifested mediatorial link between sinning and suffering mortals and the divine Love, God. It declares that Jesus exhibited and taught the power of God to heal and to save, and that Jesus' works, instead of being unnatural and in contravention of law, were divinely natural, scientific, and in demonstration of divine order. It claims to remove the entire ministry of Christ from the realm of impenetrable mystery, and to present it as a lawful manifestation of the divine immanence — as the availability and adaptability of the truth or science of being. It pronounces sin and sickness the works of the devil, which Jesus came to destroy, and declares that salvation through Christ, which He demonstrated, naturally includes the healing of the sick as well as the reformation of the sinner.
In reference to the cure of disease, it asserts that the primary cause of sickness is to be found in the mental realm. It declares that fear, sin, superstition, ignorance, and a depraved, erroneous, fatal philosophy constitute the primal cause of bodily degradation and depletion and have involved the human race in mortality, and the statement is made prophetically that when the world fully learns this fact, it will, for the first time, begin to cope scientifically with and permanently master disease. It declares as a scientific postulate that ‘all manner of diseases’ are curable and that the practice of Christian Science is attesting this statement by healing all of the diseases heretofore regarded as incurable, such as malignant cancers, etc.
As a religious denomination, Christian Scientists believe in God, in the inspiration of the Scriptures, in the divinity of Christ, in the supremacy of God as Spirit, in prayer without ceasing, and in all the essentials of Christianity, and claim that the prime office of Christian Science is to destroy evil and reform mankind. They believe that all evil will eventually be destroyed and become extinct.
This denomination had in 1902 about seven hundred established church societies or congregations in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, and France, many of which have acquired large and costly church edifices. At the head of these is what is called the ‘Mother Church’ in Boston, Mass., with a membership of nearly 30,000, and of which Mrs. Eddy is the pastor emeritus.
There is no central denominational government. The Mother Church, through its ‘manual,’ or Church by-laws, exercises some control over the denomination as a whole, but the local or branch churches have a purely congregational form of organization and government. The denomination maintains a ‘publishing society,’ and issues a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal, and a weekly paper, The Christian Science Sentinel. The publishing house is in Boston, and the denominational literature is actively distributed. Reading-rooms, generally open daily, are maintained in connection with most of the churches.
As the discoverer of this science and the founder of the incidental religious movement, Mrs. Eddy has been and is the logical and inevitable leader of the denomination and its activity. She has written several works concerning Christian Science, the principal one being Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, which is known as the Christian Science text-book. This book states that this science is utterly unlike faith cure, prayer cure, spiritualism, theosophy, mesmerism, or hypnotism, and that the healing is accomplished naturally, scientifically, and according to law, in demonstration of fixed principles and accurate rule.
Although there are no compiled statistics available, the Christian Scientists estimate their numerical strength as nearly a million of people throughout the world, very many of whom believe that they have been healed of supposedly incurable diseases.
For a complete statement of the Christian Science belief, consult Eddy, Science and Health, with a Key to the Scriptures (226th ed., Boston, 1902, and many editions since).