“Spiritual Christianity: Christian Science and Unity”
Conkin, Paul K. “Spiritual Christianity: Christian Science and Unity,” Pages 226–73 in American Originals: Homemade Varieties of Christianity. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.
Five years before the opening of the Mary Baker Eddy Library, Conkin acknowledged in this nearly 50-page chapter that current literature on Christian Science was sharply divided in content and tone. His relatively extensive textbook coverage of Christian Science is an attempt to bridge the gap. But, he explains, the Christian Science Church “presents more problems for the historian of Christianity in America than any other denomination. … Its beliefs are very elusive. Its records are secret” (226). An example of his gap-filling approach is his explanation of Mary Baker Eddy’s loss of her son to a foster mother: Christian Scientists would stress Eddy’s desire to be a mother and show the evidence of her love and concern, whereas critics would see her as willing to give him up, implying a defect of character. “There is insufficient evidence to verify either point of view” (229). The chapter is divided into four main sections: Eddy’s human story before her writing of Science and Health; the philosophical and theological development of Science and Health; the growth of a movement; and the building of a centralized church. Although Conkin admits Science and Health became “one of the most influential religious books ever written by an American” (237), he finds its philosophy and theology too incoherent, elusive, and full of conundrums.
See also annotation:
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
- Publication Date: 1981-2000
- Resource Types: Book Section
- Subjects: Biographies and Chronologies
- Subjects: Polemic Literature and Responses
- Subjects: Theology