“Charisma and Covenant: The Christian Science Movement in its Initial Postcharismatic Phase”
Simmons, John K. “Charisma and Covenant: The Christian Science Movement in its Initial Postcharismatic Phase,” Pages 107–23 in When Prophets Die: The Postcharismatic Fate of New Religious Movements. Edited by Timothy Miller. Albany: State University of New York, 1991.
Mary Baker Eddy would transform her prophetic charisma into a set of bylaws (Manual of The Mother Church) which was meant to ensure institutional order and perpetuity, and act as a legal covenant for its members. “Love of leader [charisma] must be transformed into love of law [covenant]” (109). After Eddy, the court ruling of the ‘Great Litigation’ legally centralized authority in the self-perpetuating Christian Science Board of Directors to interpret and carry out the Manual’s directives. Simmons highlights one British Church member, Annie Bill, who rebelled against the Christian Science Board of Directors’s institutionalized leadership, and saw her own role as restoring charismatic leadership to the movement and creating an independent ‘Parent Church.’ Simmons claims that the majority of Christian Scientists who went along with the Christian Science Board of Directors’s centralized hold on power were, unlike the independent Annie Bill, “white, middle class, socially conservative Americans concerned with security and stability in the culture” (121). Simmons suggests that an infusion of the charismatic into the covenantal might help revitalize a movement.
ISBN-13 (Softcover): 978-0791407189
ISBN-13 (Hardcover): 978-0791407172
Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Library or Purchase
- Controversy: Great Litigation
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- People: Bill, Annie
- People: Eddy, Mary Baker
- Publication Date: 1981-2000
- Resource Types: Book Section
- Subjects: Christian Science History after 1910
- Subjects: Religion
- Subjects: Social and Cultural Studies