“Christian Scientists and the Medical Profession”
Johnsen, Thomas C. “Christian Scientists and the Medical Profession.” Medical Heritage (Jan/Feb 1986): 70–77.
Mainstream Christian denominations were exploring the place of healing in religious life in the 1970s and ‘80s, which also saw the rise of fundamentalist faith healing practices. Serious concerns arose “about the legal basis for the toleration of such practices in a religiously diverse and scientifically oriented society” (71). Attention was called to this issue by several highly publicized court cases. Johnsen, a Harvard graduate with a PhD in History from Johns Hopkins and a Christian Scientist, addressed this by providing a contextual background of the evolution of the controversial relationship between the medical community and the misunderstood ministry of spiritual healing of the Church of Christ, Scientist, since its founding in the late 19th century when medical education and treatment were rudimentary. 1890-1920 was a stormy period when “medical organizations, alarmed by the growing popularity of Christian Science, crusaded actively” in courts and state legislatures for the legal suppression of its practice. Practitioners were aggressively prosecuted under medical licensing laws. Christian Scientists maintained their ministry of the sick was not the practice of medicine, rather healing was “part of the process of worship” (72). By the 1980s, difficulties with mechanistic medical approaches had led to new “consideration of the spiritual dimensions of health care” (77).