religion founded upon principles of divine healing and laws expressed in the acts and sayings of Jesus, as discovered and set forth by Mary Baker Eddy
and practiced by the Church of Christ, Scientist. The church teaches that God is good and the only reality, and that sin, evil, and illness are overcome on the basis of this understanding. Adherents rely on spiritual, rather than medical or material, means for healing. The occasion of Mary Baker Eddy's discovery of divine healing was her immediate recovery of life and health when in 1866 she read an account of healing by Jesus in the New Testament. In 1875 her Science and Health
(later published as Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures
) was published. In 1879 she established the Church of Christ, Scientist. In Boston in 1892 was organized the First Church of Christ, Scientist—the Mother Church, of which Christian Science churches throughout the world are branches. Each individual church is self-governing and self-supporting, but all accept the tenets framed by the founder and incorporated in the Church Manual.
Upon Eddy's death in 1910, the administrative power was assumed, as laid down in the Manual,
by the Christian Science Board of Directors. An extremely active organization, the board enabled Christian Science to grow steadily in numbers and scope of activity during the first third of the 20th cent. Of the numerous publications the church issues, the most important include the Christian Science Monitor,
a daily newspaper; the Christian Science Quarterly
; the Christian Science Sentinel
; and the Christian Science Journal.
These are published by the Christian Science Publishing Society. Other activities are conducted by a board of education and a board of lectureship. The churches have no individual pastors. Services are conducted by two readers, one reading from the Scriptures, the other from Science and Health.
All churches use the same lessons at the same time. The teachings are drawn from the life and words of Jesus. Although most Christian Scientists are in the United States, the religion is found in 70 countries with large Protestant populations. A great percentage of its adherents are women.
See R. Peel, Christian Science (1958); S. Gottschalk, The Emergence of Christian Science in American Religious Life (1973); C. Fraser, God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church (1999).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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