« An even rarer first edition | Main | From the future back to the past »




I have for sometime heard there was a decline in church membership. But we don't have to accept that message or the idea that Truth can be restrained or limited in any way. To me this is a call for prayerful support of God's healing message and and an opportunity for us to return to the True concept of church as Mrs. Eddy describes: "The Church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick". This brings me back to what you said about Healing being the key to the health of the movement. I know that if we turn to God through prayer that he will direct and lead us to the solution. I have already seen signs of this revitalization here and now through the Living Love; Christian Science in action sermon's across southern California and the beautiful way they are introducing and bringing Christian Science to the community and the world! Remember what Jesus said to peter: Matt 16:18
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. This rock or foundation is indestuctable and as long as we continue to hold this Truth in the forefront of our thought, these divine solutions will continue the pour forth at the open fount.


Well, such a topic in my opinion is like prophesying- a violation of the Rule for Motives and Acts or being entertained by animal magnetism. Neither of which is useful for an individual or the Church. So I would say lets look at where civilization is compared with 30 years ago. 30 years ago very few people thought praying would be helpful for overcoming physical difficulties. Only the Episcopal Church even mentioned such a possiblity. Christian Scientists back them were a rare breed for their total reliance on God for healing. Today we are told 90% of the people believe that prayer is effective and aids healing.( Though that includes medical treatment and prayer together) As Our Leader tells us " As we work the ages win." and they are winning. We read in 1 Chronicles 21 of David being rebuked for numbering the people. We should keep this in mind as well. We are not about being the Mighty Christian Scientists or having the biggest membership or having a great social life among ourselves. We are about our Father's business of loving mankind which includes spreading the Word by "Healing the sick, raising the dead ( in trespasses and sins ), cleansing the lepers ( the impure) and casting out demons ( unwholesome ways and means). None of these are accomplished by human organization but through total reliance on God and love for mankind. Nonetheless the human organization of church is a strength for each one who attends and supports it. It is a protection and center for elevating mankind - an unselfed resting place- a place where God and men do meet. Hence its absolute necessity as an indispensable, immortal foundation which withstands the currents of mortal thinking or anti-God beliefs. The Church founded by Jesus, promoted by Mary Baker Eddy is protected by the Science or the law of God which never dims, dissolves, diminishes or disappears. It is in constant action with its undefeatable might and all mankind are included in it. No one whether he recognizes it or not is outside this all powerful, all loving law of God.He/she is included in the place where God and men do meet the place known as Church.

Jacky Sinclair

The enemy is usually within, rather than without. I strive to live what I know, rather than keep Christian Science in a jar on a shelf, only to be taken down in times of need. Do I succeed? Sometimes, and it's wonderful! There should never be an excuse not to testify at a Wednesday meeting. If we are truly living what we know, then every day will contain instances of overcoming suggestions of the absence of God in our life and experience. If, at the end of the week, there's nothing to report, then we should give gratitiude for such a harmonious time! Is finding lost car keys a bigger or lesser healing than mending a broken leg? Quantifying evil is sophistry.
Re: offering the back pages of the Journal rather than healing help - ouch! Guilty as charged. Thanks for the prod. I'm also trying to share my thought processes with others, in a non-CS jargon way. How will they know I'm praying (aligning my thought with Truth) if I stay stumm? They will peceive any positive results as luck, rather than Truth manifested.
I love the idea of joining hands and thoughts across the globe - rather like modern apostles writing to each other to give moral support when they could be feeling isolated. If it helps us to elevate the race and rouse the dormant understanding - it's church.


Such a well thought-out post and responses, thanks all. It is certainly evidence that "the time for thinkers has come."

I was at a gathering of Christian Scientists recently and someone mentioned that he had been told this was an exciting time to be a Christian Scientist. Isn't that a fantastic way to look at it? We can't just fly by on someone else's coattails and have our perfect, comfy lives. We are being called to arms, each in our own way... The important thing is that we heed that call.

As far as numbers go, didn't Jesus have only 12 followers at one point? Is a church service that has only 5 people attending and praying less of a healing service than one that has 50? Is the church less filled with love? Of course not! The same amount of love fills that space no matter how many are in attendance. That's not to say we shouldn't strive to share this with others or make our churches more effective in our communities. I just think we need to make sure we are all living that healing message. Are we actively loving and appreciating every single member of our church, now? If not, why worry about having more people to fill the pews? When we are living everything that we are learning and going forth healing and loving people will not be able to help being drawn to our doors, literally and figuratively.

Many of us (and I am including myself here, as well, of course) have been hiding the light of Christian Science under a bushel for too long, its time to let it shine.

Tim Leech

Good post and comments. It may also be helpful to take more of a historical perspective. You are correct Keith, that it seems the evangelical churches are the ones that seem to be growing at the moment. Certainly many of the early workers in Mrs. Eddy's church approached their work with an evangelical zeal. Sometimes that bore good fruit and other times it proved to be misplaced as folks went astray or sought popularity for reasons of appealing to personal sense. The CS Movement certainly grew very rapidly from its start in the 1870s up through roughly the Great Depression/World War II era. But, some of that growth, especially in the 20th century, perhaps came because being a Christian Scientist was something of a "trendy" or "cool" thing in certain upper middle class social circles. Certainly Mrs. Eddy expressed concern about all the material church building that was not necessarily accompanied by spiritual progress. She also expressed concern about the backlash from the established denominations over the rapid expansion of Christian Science. Gottschalk's book "Rolling Away the Stone" does a pretty good job of documenting and discussing this. It is not only in CS but many other walks of life that there is a temptation to look back with nostalgia to some "Golden Age" that has been somehow lost. It continues to be our task today to work out the problem of being both individually and collectively.


Thanks everyone for their great posts, and I hope more are forthcoming. This is indeed designed to be a place where comments are welcomed and I hope the host's posts are interesting and thought-provoking (even if some are more focused on the bibliographical aspects of the history of the movement, which is not everyone's cup of tea, I realize).

Thanks again!

Craig Beardsley

Thanks for the provocative post. It has elicited response from a number of first-time participants. I think its healthy to delve into issues that cause us to think. The issues herein touched upon are vast and need to be compartmentalized, and I hope those who have ideas and opinions will be willing to continue to be a part of the blog on a regular basis.

Thirty-five years ago, when I was a college student full of beans, I persuaded a friend to co-host a social event with me to which we invited Christian Scientists we knew to prepare ideas to share, thoughts based on four questions I posed in advance. These questions asked if Christian Science should encompass asceticism, if the book of Revelation suggests that fatalism somehow is inextricably and necessarily linked to our experience, if it is as revolutionary as Mrs. Eddy extols it to be (as independent of the formative things of her experience which might be cited as inconsistencies between her account of her life and that of her biographers), and whether Christian Science was permeated with too much "Eddyism" (imagine the gall it took to send such a question to church pillars!). We got a good turnout, but no one wanted to deal with the issues. Some likened the effort what Mrs. Eddy forbade in her Manual prohibition on unauthorized debate! Most came unprepared to discuss any aspect--either they didn't care to do their homework, or, I imagine, felt it out of place to even be part of some such thing.

I mention this event because, I think, it's characteristic of much of what stymies original and progressive effort. Many bright, enthusiastic thinkers have left the movement, many to write treatises (not that we need more metaphysical treatises). What I'd like to see is some real dialogue, but I think it can best be expressed thru being focussed. Let's choose some sharply defined issues and stay on topic. I invite any of those who have responded to this post to submit a tight thesis.


I read with great interest both the original article as well as all the comments to date. While I do agree with your statement Keith that the future prosperity of the Christian Science movement rests largely upon the growth of the healing aspect, I feel that there are other problems which are contributing to the decline of the CS church. The other commentators to your article seemed to dwell almost exclusively on the metaphysical approach. I would like to add that there are other more mundane aspects to the decline.

First, I feel that there needs to be more thought given to updating and bringing a more vigorous spirit to the Christian Science Sunday service. Note that in the Manual it refers to the "present" order of service. This seems to imply, at least to me, that it was never intended that the order of the Sunday service should be fixed in stone. Who knows what the order of service might be like if Mrs. Eddy had lived past December 1910. It seems illogical that a church which speaks of the infinitude of all things should cling so stubbornly to Bylaws which date back to the Victorian era. Clearly the 1910 approach isn't working too well in 2010. Every year the number of branch churches declines. It is all well and good to say that numbers don't matter, but eventually, if this trend continues, it will be more and more difficult to reach the newcomer. I have other thoughts on needed changes, but I wanted to put this out for starters.

I think that the work of the San Capistrano California Society is of great interest. Although they have kept the essential form of the services, they have attempted to bring a freshness to their approach. For instance, they publish a Sunday service bulletin, which is a great help for the newcomer. Also, they have a "social" hour following the service (out on the patio) where members and newcomers can mingle. This is a great idea!!

Well, that's about it for now.


Brad Thurber


Thank you for this open discussion. I am relatively new to Christian Science and wonder what is exactly meant with "...efforts by the Board to allegedly water down Christian Science to make it more attractive to those in the New Age movement."

I myself sadly witness a lack of healing, decline of members and a kind of stagnation in my branch church and the other churches in my area. I myself haven't had spectacular healings yet, just some "small" ones I am not sure if they are really healings resulted from CS-Treatment/Prayer. Not always but very often I failed when healing was needed and I prayed for others and/or for myself. Still I stick to Christian Science because I have a feeling that this is the truth, even if I am not able to demonstrate it yet ...

Maybe the approach to CS has become to religious (to much just a believe) and less scientific lately. I remember some writings from Max Kappeler, a devoted lifelong student of Christian Science, who stressed the "science" of Christian Science and found out about a special structure in the textbook Science and Health. He foretold that the cs-movement will decline if the people make to much a religion out of it rather than a science.

Like Brad Thurber I do think the services could need more liveliness, joy and jollity. Like in the psalms is written:
"1 O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph." (47:1)

"2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High." (9:2),

"1 Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.
2 Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise." (33:1-3)

Best Regards,


Thanks Brad and uweps. The issue of "present" order of services reminds me of bringing that very issue up for discussion some 30+ years ago when I worked the security detail at The Mother Church. I was speaking to a young woman who was also on Security, and her response was that she hoped to never see the day when the church service would change from one outlined in the Manual. If the Church were to actually announce that it was interpreting the Manual to allow The Mother Church and branch churches to come up with their own church services, I believe it would [1] deeply divide the movement over the propriety of making such a decision, and [2] divide the memberships on what to do differently. Before going down that road, a more practical approach might be to decide how the church service might be better promoted or supported. For example, the question of whether to publish a bulletin or have a social hour after the service is not one that requires the church service itself to be changed. We might find that the one hour of the church service (plus the Wednesday hour) is less the issue than what the church and its members do the rest of week. I don’t say that to sweep away the issue but rather to point out that how attractive the church makes Christian Science to a newcomer (or seasoned veteran) is not limited to the hour or two of church services. To the extent that Christian Science is merely a two hour per week life experience, it may not make much difference what those two hours are, so I think part of the debate should be what we, individually and collectively as a church membership body, do the rest of the week.

By the way, to the extent that the church services are not lively and joy filled (and often they are are pretty staid and low-key), that is often not a matter of the church service itself but rather the old traditions that the members maintain. If the members wanted to shout hallelujah, say amen, or clap their hands (for example), the Manual in my mind does not prevent that.

The question is raised on what is meant by the comment that some believe the Board has tried to water down Christian Science to make it attractive to New Age followers, I would say that there are many who believe that during the 1990s when the Church was talking about the mind-body connection research at Harvard and elsewhere, the Church was repositioning Christian Science as a mind-based healing method and not a spiritual healing method. At the same time, those interested in “New Age” theories were deemed to be potential honest seekers of truth who would be especially open to learning more about Christian Science, and the fear was that the Church was downplaying the “Christian” nature of Christian Science to make it more attractive to a more secular group of New Age enthusiasts who might be interested in the mind-body connection. The Church administration denied that they meant this, but that is what I meant by that allegation.

Thanks to everyone who has responded so far.

Marilyn McPherson

I came back to Christian Science in the 1990s and found it anything but watered down or trying to accommodate new age thought (why I left for 35 years after Sunday school is another story). I loved what the Board was doing then by connecting with the Spirituality and Healing in Medicine conferences. I came in with a fired-up zeal that got a bit squelched by the staid church I joined. After feeling and talking rebelliously for awhile I joined with a few others in my branch to start monthly meetings around, first "Church Alive" and now "Church Unconfined". I agree, healing is central to our mission but we truly do need to be on fire with evangelical fervor for the blessing that Christian Science represents. At the same time, we can love and embrace our brothers and sisters in other religions and denominations and value and lift up what they are doing to spiritualize human consciousness. There are many avenues for exploring evolutionary consciousness and we should find this to be an exciting time in the CS movement. Contributing to the periodicals, posting on sites like this, forming small groups to support each others' practices and to pray and share treatments for things as small as a stubbed toe to the refugees of the Pakistan floods - all our individual and collective efforts to see the world through a spiritual lens and expect healing results must bear and are bearing fruit. Let's keep talking.


Thanks, Marilyn, for your fine positive post. It is nice to see that some have a positive attitude toward the future and how it can be made better.

Marilyn McPherson

Thank you, Keith, for your original post. It's good to find forums like this for participating in dialogue about the Science we all love, knowing that inspired thought benefits and blesses "all whom (our) thoughts rest upon".


Along the lines of my 10/24/10 post, I wanted to add that I see in many places in the CS community, mention of the need for healing (or more or better healing) and I like the idea of a very expansive sense of what healing is and how it manifests itself. If we are working individually and collectively for the "betterment of humanity", and devoting sufficient time and energies to discovering more about God and His/Her perfect creation, to me, this is the path and the process of healing that is helping and saving the world. In this way, we will be actively witnessing to the coming of the kingdom of heaven on earth and within each of our hearts.


Could someone tell me what you mean when you say we need more or better healing? Are we looking for dramatic and miraculous physical healings to draw people to us or are we thinking of healing expansively, encompassing all the ills that flesh - people, society, environment, mind, body, spirit - is heir to?

Measuring our "success" by our effectiveness in the realm of physical healing will not, I believe, help us get where we want to go.

"Healing" has infinite scope.


I agree that the definition of healing needs to be expansive, but it also needs to find expression in the human experience. While healing is more than just dramatic physical healings, such examples I believe are important. When Mrs. Eddy talked about the need for better healers, and instantaneous healings, she was largely referring, I believe, to physical healings. That is not to say that she limited CS to that, but it was an important part of the growth of the movement.

Walter Ezell

The Rule for Motives and Acts doesn't propose that we pray to be delivered from "prophesying." The error Mrs. Eddy warns against is "prophesying ... erroneously."

My study of the manual and polity of church governence as established by Mrs. Eddy leads me to believe she did not envision a world where the majority of churches in the world are Churches of Christ, Scientist. Consider the limits the Manual places on the number of teachers (30 new ones every three years) and by extension, the number of class-taught students (30 per teacher every year). And yet, Mrs. Eddy did envision a "church universal and triumphant." She saw The Mother Church and its branches as a leavening agent. If presented a choice of growth in numbers or keeping the leavening agent uncontaminated, she would have seen no choice at all. The Manual, I believe, was designed for one primary purpose, to promulgate the practice of this Science without any dilution for the sake of ease or popularity. One would hope there is nothing in the Manual that would encumber the practice with staidness, joylessness or ritual.

If you want to see what Christian Science might have become without the Manual, go to a Unity service.

Marsha Cunningham

Thank you for this post, as it's addressed many confusing thoughts that I've had and heard about over the years, and trying to blame this or that, but I now see and agree that the problem is from within (each one of us).
I've heard people wishing to change the service to make it more inviting or interesting but the thought that always comes to me is that if we were healing in church, as Mrs. Eddy expected that we should, through the study of the Bible Lesson and living it during the week, as was mentioned here, then no one would be thinking about changing the service in any way. It would be a non- issue.
From time to time I pine for the "good old days" that I've read about in the biographies, but again, it's all up to us. How much time are we devoting to the practice? I like to think about the woman who started CS in Germany and how diligently she worked. She was young and had little experience but her teacher told her that she had love and obedience and could do it. At one point she was pacing the floor holding a candle in one hand and S&H in the other and crying as she was reading. I've never done that, or anything close to it.
I think that I've done good to stop watching "America's Most Wanted" after reading in the lesson, "Go not in the way of the evil doer", and realizing that I was watching violence for entertainment under the guise of maybe helping the police find a criminal. That woman who went to Germany would never have accomplished a thing if she's sat on the couch eating ice cream while watching crime TV. I see much truth in the original post and am guilty of wanting physical comfort and convenience.


Thanks so much Walter and Marsha. I have been busy working on my book but it is nice to see recent posts! I look forward to having the time to start doing regular posts again.


The comments to this entry are closed.