Church #17, First Church of Christ, Scientist

Date: 9/2/11

Church name/type: First Church of Christ, Scientist

Format summary: mostly familiar parts stacked in an odd way- also no peace passing and no communion

Overall Impression: not too lively but very interesting

This place didn’t actually seem that weird. The room and overall tone were a bit austere, but the people were friendly and approved of my project. Attendance was summer-low; about a dozen people.

Several things were striking about this church:
1) They don’t really have a sermon. The time you’d normally expect a sermon to fill was filled instead with readings from the bible and follow up readings from writings by the founder, Mary Baker Eddy. These followed a theme and were from various biblical books. I learned afterwards that these readings change yearly, but the themes are the same each year. So there is never new interpretation going on. Just whatever Mary Baker Eddy already wrote over a century ago.This makes Christian Science seem rather static and locked-in. Whatever they have, for better or for worse, they have to keep.
2) Lots of unique phrases are worked into the service. God is referred to as “Father Mother God”, “Mind”, and All in all. This makes the flow of sentences very poetic sounding and bit mystical.
3) The word science is used a great deal- seemingly stuck in Eddy’s writings at random. “Science removes the penalty only by first removing the sin that incurs the penalty.” “Science denies all disease, heals the sick, overthrows false evidence, and refutes materialistic logic.” So I went ahead and looked up the dictionary definition of science to see if I’d been confused as to it’s meaning. Basically it refers to knowledge or learning. So study of Christianity and how it works could be called a science. Many scientists use to word science to signify scientific method. This is a specific way of testing things and then forming better ideas based on the results. Scientific method is less about proving, and more about creating a progressively clearer picture about how stuff works as testing continues. The science used by Christian Scientists does not involve scientific method. I’m not quite sure why Eddy chose to call it science at all, except perhaps to make it sound smart. I asked one woman why and she told me because Christian Science proves these things are true. So not much help there. I was given a confusing book to read. We’ll see if I have the energy for that one…

Whadja learn today?: Christian Science is not actually a combination of Christian and science. Go figure. Also, do they really not go to the doctor ever? It never came up so I really have no idea.

One Reply to “Church #17, First Church of Christ, Scientist”

  1. When I was a Christian Scientist (many years ago), we were expected to use only Christian Science practitioners when we had medical problems. But a family in Delmar who attends the CS Church, stated that now they do use medical professionals. Like many churches, it seems like they are changing with the times! About the use of the word “science” – when it’s used by Christian Scientists, it’s just short for “Christian Science”, and doesn’t refer to what we know now as science as a general term. Yes, you’re right about the fact it’s not actually a combination of Christianity and science. I think Mrs. Eddy felt that it could be called a “science” because you could use the principles of it to ensure the same result, over and over – pretty much healing, I think. But I guess we know that that hasn’t worked so well over the years! Many healings, I’m sure, but unfortunately many failures, too. Hope this helps!

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