“Christian Science” in The New Believers: Sects, ‘Cults,’ and Alternative Religions
Barrett, David V. “Christian Science,” Pages 176–85 in The New Believers: Sects, ‘Cults,’ and Alternative Religions. London: Cassell, 2001.
Barrett’s approach to his survey of 21st-century “sects, cults, and alternative religions” (book title) is to present ideas according to predominant views of believers, and is “not intended to be an academic textbook. It is written for anyone who wants to know more about new religious movements” (12). Thus, Barrett presents material from the perspective of adherents of Christian Science, even though he cites the views of its critics as well. Consequently, more in line with Christian Science views, he categorizes Christian Science within his chapter “Christian Origins” instead of placing it in his chapter “Esoteric and Neo-Pagan Movements.” Also, in response to controversial issues related to the history of Christian Science, Barrett gives voice to Church representatives, such as the Committees on Publication from Britain, to offer explanations. He highlights the Christian Science view of its own religious worth and purpose in emphasizing spiritual healing. Acknowledging the Christian Science self-understanding as Christian, he also notes some major differences with mainstream Christianity. Barrett theorizes that the declining membership “is probably due in part to the alleged authoritarian nature of its leadership, and in part to its continued use of 19th-century rules; but it is probably also because the Church has lost its monopoly on spiritual healing” (185).
ISBN-13 (Hardcover): 978-0304355921