A little while back the Ithaca Journal ran a piece about Liz Heywood and her experience with Christian Science as a child (1). Shortly thereafter, someone wrote in to the Ithaca Journal with a follow up in-defense-of-CS article, and Ms. Heywood has since added her perspective to the ongoing discussion (2).
Ms. Eddy is quite clear that Debating in Public is frowned upon. ARTICLE X of the Church Manual clearly states
Article X Section 1 No Unauthorized Debating. SECTION 1. A member of this Church shall not debate on Christian Science in public debating assemblies, without the consent of the Board of Directors.
I’m not sure if what the well-meaning Ms. Case did was a violation of ARTICLE X, and I don’t really care much one way or the other. Reading over her rebuttal the arguments sounded hollow.
Christian Scientists do not deny the legitimacy of responsible medical practice, but in their experience they find that Christian Science treatment is most often equally or more effective than any material means of healing.
Individual Christian Scientists may not “deny the legitimacy of responsible medical practice” but Ms. Eddy’s extensive writing on the topic says otherwise. Ms. Case continues a little further down:
For more than a century in Ithaca, the surrounding areas and throughout the entire world, children have been raised in Christian Science. They are taught moral and spiritual truths which keep them happy and healthy. They are taught to have compassion for all humanity. They are taught how to heal through prayer, and they do experience healing in their lives.
I’ve got two young children, they’re usually happy and healthy and I’ve managed to raise them WITHOUT CHRISTIAN SCIENCE. Happy and healthy is how they usually are. It is possible to teach compassion for humanity without layering in the CS-induced guilt over failure. Teaching “how to heal through prayer” is only going to set them up for a lifetime of self-denial and an overwhelming feeling of failure (failure to heal, failure to properly understand, failure to practice CS properly, failure to know the right Truth), no one needs that kind of pressure.
I regularly attended Sunday School until my twentieth birthday and I never learned to heal as Ms. Eddy did (claims to have done), much less as Jesus did. I witnessed no instantaneous demonstrations over false physical beliefs. The best I could ever manage was a little stress-management (it was all in my head to begin with). As a previous commenter pointed out
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. ….
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.
CS claims to have rediscovered Jesus’ method of healing, but it doesn’t work for that % that is not something easily healed WITHOUT prayer.
I would like to take it one step further and ask exactly how this healing is supposed to be taught. If seventeen years of regular Sunday School attendance is not enough then what is? Either people are capable of having amazing physical healings through prayer or they’re not. Either you can teach this amazing Science or you can’t. In extreme cases the difference here is quite literally life or death. If it really is a “science” it should be able to hold up to scrutiny and should be able to work consistently every time.
Ms. Case unintentionally makes a very good argument for not relying on Christian Science in her closing paragraph:
There has never been a system of religion or medicine which has a perfect record of healing all human ills. Every system has its successes and its failures. And the experience of any one individual, whether good or bad, does not prove or disprove the worth of any system of religion or medicine. Christian Science has a excellent, well-documented record of healing, and when practiced consistently and responsibly, it brings harmony to all aspects of human experience.
The one man who never failed in healing was Jesus. Jesus’ disciples failed to cast demons out of a young child in Matthew 17:14-21, but Jesus never failed. Jesus rose from the dead and went on to ascend (3). Jesus’ closest followers and students could not heal 100% of the time and did NOT ascend. Ms. Eddy’s track record is even more dismal, and when her “healing science” failed to heal she blamed mortal mind, aggressive mental suggestion, or the patient’s lack of understanding (4).
The biggest difference in Jesus’ healing as opposed to Ms. Eddys’ is Jesus’ healing was instantaneous, healing as practiced in Christian Science may take a little while (5). A little while is not good enough. Either you are better NOW or you are not. There is no need for a prolonged struggle with “aggressive mental suggestion.” Living in denial about a problem under the guise of “praying about it” does not make it go away, yes, sometimes the problem solves itself, the human body is pretty amazing, but that does not mean a “CS healing” occurred.
Further recommended reading: fellow former CS blogger, Emerging Gently has posted an excellent piece entitled Blame the Victim which also discusses the “CS is never the problem they just practiced it wrong” mentality which is pervasive in CS culture.
- http://www.ithacajournal.com/article/20130604/VIEWPOINTS02/306040073/Guest-Viewpoint-Christian-Science-has-record-healing-ills-through-prayer, http://www.ithacajournal.com/article/20130626/VIEWPOINTS02/306260112/Guest-Viewpoint-Prayer-gave-no-solace-from-pain
- at least that’s what the Bible says, now, they may have omitted some things, and Jesus may or may not have been real, but seeing as Christian Science is founded on the rediscovery of Jesus’ long-lost art of healing, let’s just go with it.
- Noticing a theme here? Christian Science is never at fault.
- Actually in CS all healing is “instantaneous” — the moment the person knows the Truth they’ll be healed. Right.