“Sickness, Death, and Illusion in Christian Science”
Prentiss, Craig R. “Sickness, Death, and Illusion in Christian Science,” Pages 320–36 in Religions of the United States in Practice. Edited by Colleen McDannell. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.
In this anthology based on primary documents, the contributors present the interaction of cultural and religious influences. Prentiss positions Christian Science “as a response to orthodox theologies, the lingering effects of the Civil War, horrific medical practices, and the suffrage movement” (320). The cultural and intellectual climate included such mental practices as hypnosis and mesmerism. Christian Science theology appeared to subscribe to radical Platonic dualism, but its view of matter as a “product of a false consciousness endemic to human beings” distinguishes it from dualism (322). Exposing this truth was the heart of Jesus’s mission and summarized in ‘the Scientific Statement of Being,’ where “man is not material; he is spiritual” (Science and Health, 468). The ritual life of a Christian Scientist consisted of Sunday services, weekly testimonial meetings, and reading the Bible and Eddy’s work, Science and Health. Practitioners functioned as both healers and teachers, leading patients to the right thinking necessary for healing. When Eddy died in 1910, some believers thought she would return to them as Jesus had done—contrary to Eddy’s own teachings, where “her apparent mortality was in line with her eschatological teaching that humankind would continue to experience the illusion of death until that day when all had shed the beliefs of mortal mind” (324).
Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Library or Purchase
- Controversy: Theological Controversies
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- Organizations: The First Church of Christ, Scientist
- People: Eddy, Mary Baker
- People: Plato
- Publication Date: 2001-2010
- Resource Types: Book Section
- Subjects: Healing and Health
- Subjects: Metaphysical
- Subjects: Theology