“Comments/Review on Rodney Stark’s The Rise and Fall of Christian Science”
Singelenberg, Richard. “Comments/Review on Rodney Stark’s The Rise and Fall of Christian Science.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 14, no. 1 (1999): 127–33.
Singelenberg, a social anthropologist at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands, when he wrote the article, argued that Rodney Stark’s then-recent analysis of the ‘rise and fall’ of Christian Science overlooked two important issues that may have had a bearing on his conclusions. Two partly interrelated events of the 1980s and 1990s nearly crippled the Church: one doctrinal, the other financial. The doctrinal crisis, known as ‘the Knapp Controversy,’ came from the pressure to publish a book by Bliss Knapp, who made messianic claims about Eddy’s equality to Jesus. In 1948 the Christian Science Board of Directors rejected Knapp’s manuscript when he first submitted it, considering it ‘not authorized literature.’ His promise of a large bequest in exchange for publishing his book would expire in 1993, putting pressure on the financially strapped Church to publish the book—against the better judgment of previous Christian Science Board of Directors. The second crisis, the rapid loss of financial stability, occurred simultaneously. Despite warnings that the Church could not afford the ambitious media empire it proposed to build, the Church proceeded with the plans and nearly depleted the Church resources. Most of Singelenberg’s research is based on papers assembled by insider Church critics in a collection of detailed documents known as ‘The Mailing Fund.’
Print ISSN: 1353-7903
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