“Christian Science Today: Resuming the Dialogue”
Gottschalk, Stephen. “Christian Science Today: Resuming the Dialogue.” The Christian Century (December 17, 1986): 1146–48.
Contextualizing his own comments within the historic period in which he wrote (mid-1980s), Gottschalk argued that the public perception of Christian Science was based on misleading views from both medical and fundamentalist literature. Serious theological exchanges with mainstream Christians had declined precipitously by that time, resulting in an oversimplification and incorrect categorization (idealism, ‘harmonialism,’ and ‘gnosticism’) of Christian Science theology. Christians too often missed the crucial point that “Jesus is regarded as the figure through whom, supremely and uniquely, God’s nature was manifested to humanity.” On the basis of the historical events of Jesus’s virgin birth, crucifixion and bodily resurrection, Gottschalk explains how Christian Science builds on these events to demonstrate the means for spiritual healing. Rather than a supernatural interruption of the natural order, the healing experience is more accurately characterized as a revelatory appearance of a spiritual reality. This notion of reality—a conviction that God is absolutely not the author of the conditions of finitude (material existence)—is probably the greatest distinction between Christian Science and traditional Christian theology. Gottschalk sees Christian Scientists like distant relatives in the Christian family who “insist on raising uncomfortable questions” but from whom the family conversation would benefit.
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