“Christian Science” in Vol. 2 of the Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America
Cunningham, Sarah Gardner. “Christian Science.” Pages 738–46 in vol. 2 of Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America. Edited by Rosemary Skinner Keller and Rosemary Radford Ruether. 3 vols. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 2006.
Cunningham provides a thorough introduction to Mary Baker Eddy, theological distinctions of Christian Science, the Church, and each of their relationships with women. Cunningham includes Eddy’s early Calvinist family life, education, search for health, and her relationship with Phineas P. Quimby. She recounts Eddy’s injury and recovery as the genesis of Christian Science. She covers Eddy’s early teaching, lecturing, writing, and publishing while struggling with poverty. She records Christian Science healing, the church founding (dissenters, defectors, reorganization, branches, ordination of the Bible and Science and Health), development of the Church Manual, the ‘Great Litigation’ struggle, recent legal and financial struggles, the Mary Baker Eddy Library’s opening of Church archives, and its online presence. Cunningham offers yes and no answers to whether Eddy and her followers were feminist. She points to: the predominance of female members and yet early male hierarchy; theological commonalities with other religions that empower women (a non-gendered God); and a rejection of associating men with spirit and intellect, and women with matter—Cunningham finds Christian Science to be more intellectual and less emotional. Cunningham classifies Christian Science with theosophy, harmonialism, and New Thought although Eddy resists this classification.
Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Library or Purchase
- Controversy: Great Litigation
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- Organizations: The First Church of Christ, Scientist
- People: Eddy, Mary Baker
- People: Quimby, Phineas
- Publication Date: 2001-2010
- Resource Types: Encyclopedia or Dictionary
- Subjects: Biographies and Chronologies
- Subjects: Church Manual, Governance, Leadership
- Subjects: Feminist Perspectives