“Christian Science: The First Healing Church”
Dericquebourg, Régis. “Christian Science: The First Healing Church.” Acta Comparanda Subsidia II (2015): 9–18.
Dericquebourg distinguishes those religious expressions where ontological salvation is their primary goal and purpose, from ‘healing churches’ (where he places Christian Science) where ontological salvation is also important, but the healing of mind and body is the heart of their faith and the authentication of their theology. Dericquebourg lists 12 characteristics in common among the healing religions and then works to demonstrate that “Christian Science is the first true healing church and the prototype of that sociological category” (13). In the rich religious landscape of 19th-century America, Dericquebourg saw the rising trend of the New Thought movement as putting spiritual healing at the center of its practices. Yet Dericquebourg separates Christian Science from these metaphysical New Thought movements because he sees Christian Science as the first “original reconstitution of Christianity” (14). Indeed, it is “the first truly organized healing Church” with its own ‘doctrinal orthodoxy’ (15). Dericquebourg then identifies three points of tension within the healing churches which he illustrates with the case of Christian Science: 1) the status of illness as unreal in tension with classical medicine; 2) Christian Science practitioners as ‘religious virtuosos’ who stand apart from ordinary Christian Scientists and are accredited by the Church; 3) the tension between healing as central and the temptation to “relegate the objective of salvation in the background” (17).