Christianity as Jesus taught it was not a creed, nor a system of ceremonies, nor a special gift from a ritualistic Jehovah; but it was the demonstration of divine Love casting out error and healing the sick, not merely in the name of Christ, or Truth, but in demonstration of Truth, as must be the case in the cycles of divine light. – Mary Baker Eddy
Our Master taught no mere theory, doctrine, or belief. It was the divine Principle of all real being which he taught and practised. His proof of Christianity was no form or system of religion and worship, but Christian Science, working out the harmony of Life and Love. – Mary Baker Eddy
My dad’s a geologist. Does this make me an expert in geology? Did I somehow inherit his geological expertise? Was I born with the knowledge to discriminate the difference between igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary? Would it make sense for me to make the claim that I am a “second-generation geologist”?
Umm… nope. A person can’t just inherit an expertise in geology – you have to do your own work, and put in your own study of it to be able to make the claim that you’re a geologist.
This holds true for any science, really – including Christian Science. Just because one’s grandparents or great-grandparents called themselves Christian Scientists doesn’t make one an expert in Christian Science, or the best practitioner of it. I mean… well… calling yourself a “third generation Christian Scientist” makes about as much sense, really, as calling yourself a “third generation geologist” – right?
Lately I’ve found myself making a distinction between the religion of Christian Science and the science of Christian Science, and this has led me to some interesting musings about the nature of my way of life.
For instance, it’s led me to think about how and why we identify ourselves as we do. I’m guessing most people who call themselves Lutherans were raised Lutheran, and most people who call themselves Catholic were raised Catholic – and I’m guessing most people who call themselves Christian Scientists were raised in Christian Science. And I suppose if you think of Christian Science as a religion – as a set of beliefs – then it would be natural for people who were raised in the religion of Christian Science to identify themselves as “Christian Scientists.”
But if you think of Christian Science as an actual science, rather than a religion, this opens up a whole ‘nother way of looking at Christian Science, doesn’t it? I know there are people who have found the Science of Christianity for themselves – who’ve never stepped foot in an actual Christian Science church, and are not particularly interested in the human organization of the Christian Science religion – but are practicing and proving the Science of Christianity daily in their lives. And wouldn’t we call them “Christian Scientists”, too?
Is it possible to be a non-Scientific Christian Scientist? And – contrariwise – is it possible to be a non-religious Christian Scientist? I’ve come to believe the answer to the first question is no. And I’ve come to believe the answer to the second question is yes.
I myself am not what you would call a very “religious” person, I guess. I enjoy going to church for the like-minded fellowship I find there, and the inspiration and uplift I get from my fellow Christian Scientists – I’m blest to be part of a Christian Science branch church that’s very loving and compassionate in its support for its members and its loving outreach to the community.
But, to be honest, I’ve never felt comfortable surrounding myself exclusively with other people who call themselves “Christian Scientists” or isolating myself from the rest of humanity to hang out with people who only speak Christian Science-ese. That just has never felt healthy to me. There’s a sort of group-think about it that makes me a little wary. And – as far as religion in general goes – I’ve never been big into tradition or dogma, and the “exclusivity” often found in religion has never much appealed to me.
When Mary Baker Eddy first re-discovered the Science of Christ-healing that Jesus practiced more than 2000 years ago she hoped she could introduce it to humanity through the religious institutions that were already in place. She soon realized that the religious institutions of that time weren’t ready to open their doors to Christian Science. And so she established her own religion to spread the word of her discovery. But I don’t believe she ever meant for the religious institution to be the most important part of her legacy to us. I believe she viewed the human organization as the necessary tool for sharing her discovery – but I don’t think she thought the religion of Christian Science was as important as the Science of Christian Science.
I know I don’t.
The time for thinkers has come. Truth, independent of doctrines and time-honored systems, knocks at the portal of humanity. – Mary Baker Eddy
Divine metaphysics is now reduced to a system, to a form comprehensible by and adapted to the thought of the age in which we live. This system enables the learner to demonstrate the divine Principle, upon which Jesus’ healing was based, and the sacred rules for its present application to the cure of disease. – Mary Baker Eddy
It is essential to understand, instead of believe, what relates most nearly to the happiness of being. To seek Truth through belief in a human doctrine is not to understand the infinite. We must not seek the immutable and immortal through the finite, mutable, and mortal, and so depend upon belief instead of demonstration, for this is fatal to a knowledge of Science. – Mary Baker Eddy
Question. – Are doctrines and creeds a benefit to man?
Answer. – The author subscribed to an orthodox creed in early youth, and tried to adhere to it until she caught the first gleam of that which interprets God as above mortal sense. This view rebuked human beliefs, and gave the spiritual import, expressed through Science, of all that proceeds from the divine Mind. Since then her highest creed has been divine Science, which, reduced to human apprehension, she has named Christian Science. This Science teaches man that God is the only Life, and that this Life is Truth and Love; that God is to be understood, adored, and demonstrated; that divine Truth casts out suppositional error and heals the sick. – Mary Baker Eddy