the BIG ISSUE – a post for those new to CS

I was recently reminded that not everyone who comes across this blog is/was/has been a Christian Scientist. I’d like to reach out to them and offer them a little hope and some explanation. There are so many things that being “in Science” involves. In many ways I feel fortunate to have escaped with a mere Sunday School education and not gone farther with Primary Class Instruction, nor was I ever involved in church policy at any level.

Generally speaking, Christian Science is an individual religion. People study the Bible lesson all week and come together on Wednesdays (for testimony meetings) and Sundays to be read the same lessons they’ve been reading all week again. It is about individual spiritual growth. There are no social groups for adults or kids, there are no church pot lucks*.

The BIG ISSUE surrounding CS is the issue of prayer for healing. While a lot of unpleasant stuff can happen, I have known many individuals who have taken responsible action when it came to healthcare decisions. I have known many “good” CS who have taken themselves to the hospital (for a variety of reasons), been vaccinated before trips to out-of-the way places (or complied with state law and vaccinated their children instead of choosing religious exemption), been responsible with their own health care and that of their children, and not “radically relied” on healing. Those CS don’t make the news, they live their lives, they volunteer in their churches, and they fit in nicely with the rest of society, perhaps a little more conservative in their stance of no-drinking, no-drugs (with an exception for things like coffee** of course).

Much of the unpleasantness happens at CS “inspired” institutions and regions where large numbers of CS gather. The judgement one another on their spiritual growth, effectiveness of their physical healing capabilities, becomes far more obvious. Most churches have one or two radicals who criticize others lack of perceived physical healing. These radicals are often unpopular as they’re also the ones who say no to church pot-lucks and question antibacterial hand soap in the bathrooms.

So where does this idea of radically relying on prayer above all else come from and why are people judging others? Ms. Baxter sums up a simplified version of the logic involved on p. 58 of her book, Open the doors of the Temple:

If it’s true that you can demonstrate your increased spirituality by healing (and this all-too-often came to mean physical healing) then it is also true, they reasoned, that if you aren’t demonstrating physical healing you aren’t growing spiritually. In short, you are letting not only yourself but God down if you don’t stick with it until you find physical healing. No matter what, through pain and suffering, all will contribute to your spiritual growth and that is what Christians are after.   (emphasis mine)

If/when prayer and radical reliance on God fails, then it is perfectly acceptable (Ms. Eddy has a lot of say about judgement and distancing yourself from people who aren’t practicing CS “properly”) to pass judgement on them. It usually sounds a little like this:

“I knew her demonstration wasn’t up to the level it should be. Her spiritual understanding fell short.”    (Baxter, p. 58)

Yeah, I’ve heard that before.

As if surviving an often life-threatening situation by turning to medicine isn’t awful enough, you are then labeled a failure because you were not able to treat yourself with Christian Science. You have failed. You have let down God. You have let down CS. There will inevitably be someone who knows someone who had the “exact same” situation as you did but they prayed about it and were healed.***

Very, very few CS ever admit to visiting a medical doctor or using medication. Things like glasses or braces on teeth that can’t be hidden are grudgingly accepted as “suffer it to be so now” and the person should continue striving to overcome the need for physical aids.

There is a certain level of denial/impracticality surrounding the practice of Christian Science for non-physical-healing issues as well.

During my time at Principia I had a roommate who had taken on far more projects/classes/responsibilities than she felt she could handle. She was perpetually exhausted and stressed, often waking up at 6:30 am and working late into the night. She had “so much to do” and was “so stressed out” so she decided to pray about it. Reading the lesson/praying took up an hour or more of her time each day, leaving her school work and other projects untouched. This time sink only added to her stressed-out situation. I tried to point out if she spent more time working on her projects and less time stressing about how to prayerfully address her stress maybe she’d be less stressed and have more time to get things done. Instead she continued to work late into the night, sleep through her ambitiously early alarm clock, and stress about it until the term’s end.

In CS prayer is always the answer. Healing not happening? Pray more. Have faith. Know the Truth. It will happen. Still not happening, PRAY BETTER. Have you actually been reading your weekly Bible Lesson?! Christian Science is never at fault, your lack of understanding is the problem.

I know I haven’t begun to scratch the surface of what Christian Science is, does, or means. Please e-mail me or leave a comment if you have more questions. I will do my best to answer them!

Further reading for the curious new-to-CS, also see Resources

*There are some exceptions and some churches/CS-inspired organizations are forming groups, and holding pot-lucks, but 125+ years of tradition is hard to break. There is a fervent debate about what “Ms. Eddy would have wanted” and “what is written in the Church Manual” and The Mother Church usually goes by what is written with little room for interpretation (there will be forthcoming posts on the Church Alive weekly questions).

**Caffeine is a drug and should be avoided, extreme CS avoid coffee all together, or drink exclusively de-caf. The Principia dining hall serves exclusively caffeine-free sodas.

***One of the more common situations where this happens is childbirth – I had an unpleasant experience with Kid1, and opted for a scheduled c-section with Kid2. A friend of the family had an unpleasant first experience and c-section, but went on to have a successful vaginal birth – she had prayed about it and had an amazing healing. Why didn’t I have one too?


3 thoughts on “the BIG ISSUE – a post for those new to CS

  1. marykhuggins says:

    My problem with praying for days, week,months and nothing happens is that Jesus always got his healing immediately. I see no Biblical support for having Jesus on the job for a length of time before the demonstration was made. He was able to heal immediately. Tell me a time when this was not true of early biblical healing.
    Instead, know that CS does not practice the same healing as Jesus did when professional practitioners can’t crack the case in a short length of time, then say it was the patient who couldn’t do it, or worse, the child patient .
    Personally I think requiring healing of average members over their own cases, or children over theirs, is like asking a child who just began ballet class last fall, to do split leaps and multiple pirouettes and always end in a perfect turned out fifth position. Not even Maddie Ziegler, Sophia Lucia, or Asia Ray could do that, even though they showed a lot of talent when they first began, they were unformed and clueless, until they were carefully and properly taught. What they brought to the game at first was not technique, but fascination, desire to achieve, and growing self-discipline. No one expected them to learn it all in one lesson.
    But if you want to earn a living at practicing CS, then you’d better know how to get quick results, or else, keep giving prayerful support while the patient gets external help. I think is is malpractice for practitioners to quit when medicine is employed. They can still pray/know that the patient and all the medical personal are expressing themselves without error in their interventions and techniques.

    • kindism says:

      I’m still at a loss as to how one “learns to heal” like Jesus did and how the average person is supposed to achieve this lofty goal is beyond me.

      If I remember correctly in the case of very young children it is the parent’s fault that they were unable to correct their faulty beliefs.

      • marykhuggins says:

        Isn’t it strange that when you want to believe CS, you must figure out the techniques yourself? There is no rating system for who is the best healer. There is no counting of failures. Liz H’s practitioner claimed a CS healing for her leg, even the visual evidence was still demonstrating there was no healing, even when she managed to overcome the infection, the leg was ruined. Jesus would not have healed that way. CS claims to have rediscovered Jesus’ method of healing, but it doesn’t work for that % that is not something easily healed WITHOUT prayer.

        Parents are often sheep, incapable of demonstrating CS right off the bat. That is why they employ professionals. Practitioners. Then, the practitioner says,”overcome the error in your thinking, and this will heal”. Parents often passed this responsibility onto children who could not heal themselves, right?

        Years of prayer never overcame my brother-in-law’s developmental disability. Medicine does not even claim to do that. It admits what it can’t fix.

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