“A Comparison of Christian Science and Mainline Christian Healing Ideologies and Practices”
Poloma, Margaret M. “A Comparison of Christian Science and Mainline Christian Healing Ideologies and Practices.” Review of Religious Research 21, no. 4 (June 1991): 337–50.
Noting an increase of interest in spiritual healing practices within the decade of the 1980s, Poloma compares two different but active healing theologies and practices in the American Midwest from the perspective of social science. “This article seeks to examine empirically the alleged differences between Christian Science and mainline Christian beliefs and practices on a specific topic, namely, spiritual healing” (339). Poloma’s methodology includes recorded telephone interviews with 44 Christian Scientists and 95 mainline conservative Christians, all of whom reported having experienced spiritual healing. Her main topics of investigation include differences in healing ideology, healing practices (spiritual and biomedical) and rituals, and social support for healing beliefs and practices. While nearly all believed the primary reasons Jesus healed were to glorify God and to show compassion, the most distinctive differences between Christian Science and mainline Christians were seen in the use of biomedicine. Christian Scientists were much less likely to seek biomedical support, but they experienced greater social support within their own faith communities for their healing practices. Also, although both groups tend to agree that God grants some kind of healing in response to prayer, 85% of the Christian Scientists and 57% of the mainline Christians believed “God always heals if a person’s faith is great enough” (342).
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