“Christian Science Healing in America”
Schoepflin, Rennie B. “Christian Science Healing in America,” Pages 192–214 in Other Healers: Unorthodox Medicine in America. Edited by Norman Gevitz. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988.
Schoepflin’s thesis is that in Christian Science, “healing the sick is a consequence of Christian Science practice and not its prime object” (192). He traces the history of Mary Baker Eddy’s followers and their relationship to the healing practice, arguing that its earliest appeal was its provision of a profitable vocation for practitioners. Initially practitioners advertised more publicly and specialized in certain types of ailments. By the 20th-century Christian Scientists saw healing as a gradual process of growth and turned more toward a religious practice than health care. Schoepflin’s critique on Christian Science itself deals with Eddy’s relationship with her followers and those who left her. He argues that Eddy’s rocky relationship with her faithful followers (‘orthodox Christian Scientists’) grew from her defense of her specific teachings, causing large numbers to rebel and leave her (‘generic Christian Scientists’). In order to protect the faithful, Eddy persisted in establishing rules and provided strictly orthodox Christian Science literature. After her passing, Eddy’s prophetic authority grew as her followers acknowledged the centrality of her revelations. Recently, they have more readily acknowledged the sometimes slow and painful growth required for healing and concede the use of physical aids. They have also evolved a more social ethic through The Christian Science Monitor.
ISBN-13 (Softcover): 978-0801837104
ISBN-13 (Hardcover): 978-0801836640