“Christian Science and Harmonialism” in Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience: Studies of Traditions and Movements
Gottschalk, Stephen. “Christian Science and Harmonialism.” Pages 902–16 in vol. 2 of Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience: Studies of Traditions and Movements. Edited by Charles H. Lippy and Peter W. Williams. 3 vols. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1988.
Most 20th-century religious historians have placed Christian Science as one more movement within the eclectic swath of the American religious culture called harmonialism. Gottschalk objects to this and argues that the emphasis on the Bible and Christ in Mary Baker Eddy’s writings precludes the focus on ‘using’ methods for the primary purpose of comfort, health and wealth, control and power, that are exercised in the service of gaining and keeping harmony in one’s own life. Historically these harmonialist efforts have not stressed a strong centering on God and Christ or addressing sin and especially its corporate manifestations beyond the individual life. Gottschalk confesses that an emphasis on the capacity of one’s own thinking to shape outcomes and the understanding of desired outcomes as validation of right thoughts have indeed crept into some Christian Science practice and publishing over the past century. This has contributed to the confusion between Christian Science and harmonialism. He argues that these harmonialist patterns are an aberration of Eddy’s Christ-centered theology and Jesus’s saving mission.