Christian Science is a system of religious thought and practice derived from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and the Bible. It is practiced by members of the Church of Christ, Scientist as well as some others who are nonmembers. Its central texts are the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science & Health With Key to the Scriptures by Eddy.
Most members refuse medical help for disease, although the decision to seek physical treatments is left up to the individual. Devout members refuse medications and all medical aid, oppose vaccination and quarantine for contagious diseases (although they advise members to obey state laws), allow a physician or midwife during childbirth and will only allow a physician to set a broken bone if no medication is administered. Adherents believe illness is nothing more than an illusion caused by a faulty belief system and employ prayer in order to replace bad thoughts with good ones.
Christian Scientists often pray for themselves and find healing. If one feels the need for additional prayerful assistance, however, he or she can call a Christian Science practitioner. Practitioners are men and women who devote their full time to helping others through prayer. The practitioners claim no personal healing power, nor do they act as intercessors; God alone heals, and the practitioner, just as the patient, turns to God in humility and willingness to hear His direction and follow His guidance.
The original edifice of the Mother Church had been completed in 1894. The Christian Science Journal, a monthly magazine founded by Mrs. Eddy in 1883, had been followed by a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel, first published in 1894. Mrs. Eddy had abolished personal preaching in the Mother Church and its branches, and had substituted the present "lesson sermon," consisting of passages from the Bible with their correlative passages from "Science and Health."
So far as can be gathered, Mrs. Eddy's philosophy took its origin in a few crude idealistic conceptions. She "discovered" that matter had no reality or existence, and that mind is the only "real" thing. Not however, what other people ordinarily understand by mind, for this she names "mortal mind" and denies its existence.
Over the years of building the Mother Church from an idea to the unfolding manifestation of it under its legal title "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston Massachusetts" Mary Baker Eddy fulfilled many identifying functions as: The Author of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures; its universal "Pastor Emeritus;" and as "President of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College." And still, she she did more. She created for the Mother Church a vast pedagogical infrastructure, built of the biblical city-foursquare (Revelation 21). She frequently used the term "divine Science" in conjunction with the universal context of spiritual science.
Concerning salvation, Mrs. Eddy said: "Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness and death destroyed" (Science and Health, p. 593:20‑22). Since to the Christian Scientist there is no such thing as sin, salvation in the biblical sense is totally unnecessary. She stated over and over again that sin is just an illusion (Miscellaneous Writings, 27:11‑12, Science and Health, 71:2, 287:22, 23, 480:23, 24, etc.).
Christian Science utilizes "practitioners" who pray for the sick. Eddy believed in "Malicious Animal Magnetism" (M.A.M.), which is negative mental energy or power, on the level of black magic. "Reading Rooms" are local Christian Science libraries where members go to read Eddy's works to aid their spiritual evolvement.
Unlike forms of spiritual and faith healing which may be used in conjunction with orthodox medical treatment, Christian Science insists that its healing should be divorced completely from scientific medicine, only rarely and reluctantly permitting the use of surgery and drugs as concessions to the weakness of mortal flesh. Although it emphasizes prayer and mental work, together with reading the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the group ceremonials and emotional ecstasy that accompany most primitive and contemporary faith healing are lacking.
Though differing markedly from traditional Christianity, it was as if [followers] saw it throughly Christian. Indeed, Mrs. Eddy wrote that "Christian Science and Christianity are one." Through her discovery of Christian Science, she claimed, the vital essence of Biblical Christianity had been grasped, and the Scriptures spoke anew with living meaning to men.
"The Science of Christianity is strictly monotheism – it has ONE GOD. And this divine infinite Principle,
noumenon and phenomena, is demonstrably the self-existent Life, Truth, Love, substance, Spirit, Mind, which includes all that the term implies, and is all that is real and eternal. Christian Science is irrevocable – unpierced
by bold conjecture's sharp point, by bald philosophy, or by man's inventions. It is divinely true, and every hour
in time and in eternity will witness more steadfastly to its practical truth."