“Textual Healing: Mainstream Protestants and the Therapeutic Text, 1900–1925”
Klassen, Pamela E. “Textual Healing: Mainstream Protestants and the Therapeutic Text, 1900–1925.” Church History 74, no. 4 (Dec 2006): 809–848.
The focus of Klassen’s study is the healing practice of mainstream Christians in the US and Canada during the early 20th century. She argues that it was “unabashedly medicalized and modern” (810) and was supported by the therapeutic role of written texts. Christian Science and Pentecostal healing practices enter the discussion as perceived opponents. They both proposed new relations to biblical texts, but Christian Science was “more problematic in this regard…because not only did Mary Baker Eddy provide innovative readings of biblical texts, she also canonized these readings” (833). Advancements in Christian Science infuriated mainstream Protestants who considered it “a heresy thought up by a disturbed woman” (837). A religion founded by a woman was an “offense to manliness” (837). And criticism of Christian Science continued to grow increasingly sarcastic after Eddy’s death in 1910. These critiques, Klassen notes, persisted “as a sign both of the threat that Christian Science continued to pose and of the concern of some Protestants to claim an alliance with an increasingly aloof medical science” (839). She concludes that any honest analysis of ‘Christianized medicine’ must include the fact that even “foes such as Pentecostals and Christian Scientists” (847) contributed somewhat to mainline Protestant understanding of what Christianized medicine must be about.
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