Reforming Religion

New religions are started when someone has an idea that the old religions disagree with or refuse to knowledge.

In 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door Wittenburg he was not trying to start a new religious movement, he was simply trying to reform Catholicism. Among other things he disagreed with the church practice of indulgences (buying one’s way out of Hell), and went on to translate the Bible into German.

King Henry the 8th was not trying to start a new church/religion either. He just wanted to get a divorce, and free up church-held lands (and funds). In the process he ended up with the Church of England, perhaps a little over simplified, but that’s the end result.

I don’t think Mary Baker Eddy* set out to found a new religion. It is my understanding after her fall, three-year bible study, and subsequent discoveries she taught her findings anyone who would listen, in this way she developed a collection of followers and realized she needed to codify her teachings and set up some rather rigid rules in the Manual:

THE Rules and By-Laws in the Manual of The First Church of Christ,
Scientist, Boston, originated not in solemn conclave as in ancient
Sanhedrim. They were not arbitrary opinions nor dictatorial demands,
such as one person might impose on another. They were impelled
by a power not one’s own, were written at different dates, and
as the occasion required. They sprang from necessity, the logic
of events, – from the immediate demand for them as a help that
must be supplied to maintain the dignity and defense of our Cause;
hence their simple, scientific basis, and detail so requisite
to demonstrate genuine Christian Science, and which will do for
the race what absolute doctrines destined for future generations
might not accomplish.


Much of the Church Manual is focused on dealing with the cult of personality, and a long list of what members may and may not do. One of my favorite rule is from page 48: 11-15

The Golden Rule. SECT. 27. A member of
The Mother Church shall not haunt Mrs. Eddy’s
drive when she goes out, continually stroll by
her house, or make a summer resort near her
for such a purpose.

Every few years there is a movement, usually one or two people, often a CS Teacher, Lecturer or Practitioner who reads through the manual and goes YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!** Which never ends well for them, creates some fodder for church gossip, nothing changes and every one goes on with their lives.

Apparently there is an on-going movement in Missouri (a hotbed of CS reform and home to the Principia’s lower/middle and upper schools) which is trying to change up the church services, they call themselves Next Generation Fellowship, and everything I know about them I learned from their FAQ. There is also the New Wine/New Bottles blog, which discusses modernizing the church services but that hasn’t been updated since 2009.

There is also the Christian Way crowd, who are Christian Scientists who have “found Jesus,” it is a creepy blend of fundamentalism and evangelicalism with a heavy dose of CS is Bad. I refuse to link to them, they scare me.

I used to want to reform Christian Science, I think it has many good ideas, some of which are worth sharing, but I also feel it is easier to take the ideas and concepts that I like from it and move on. I don’t think I’m trying to start a new religion… well, at least not today.

*This is a Church-Approved source as the wikipedia page was very poorly written.
**I happen to think they’re doing it wrong, and the way CS is institutionalized is completely counter to what is laid out in the manual, but I’m not a CS big shot (heck, I’m not even CS any longer) so no one listens to what I have to say, so instead I’ve got this blog, where I can write and people can ignore me.