“The Impact of Christian Science on the American Churches, 1880–1910”
Cunningham, Raymond J. “The Impact of Christian Science on the American Churches, 1880–1910.” American Historical Review 72, no. 3 (April 1967): 885–905.
In examining the 19th-century reception of ‘the cult’ Christian Science among established churches, Cunningham provided a comprehensive, blow-by-blow depiction through quoted material of the many complaints written and preached by those clergy openly opposed to Mary Baker Eddy. What put orthodox clergy especially on the offense was the juxtaposition of waning interest in old orthodoxies with the phenomenal growth of Christian Science. Cunningham observed four main criticisms of Christian Science:
1) Eddy’s dubious relation to historic Christianity;
2) her teaching that evil and the body are unreal “as a cloak to cover shameless immorality” (900);
3) the structure of Christian Science as “shrewdly built around the scheme of getting money” (900) as seen in Eddy’s wealth, high practitioner fees, “gleaming classic temples” (892), and lack of social gospel;
4) its hygienic risks “blot[ting] out all knowledge of sanitation, … of surgical skill, all knowledge of the human body” thereby multiplying humanity’s pain (902).
In a parallel move to counteract the healing focus of Christian Science, the Emmanuel movement was formed in 1903—”a clerical-medical cooperation in parish mental health clinics and group therapy classes” (904), which became the forerunner of pastoral counseling.
Print ISSN: 0002-8762
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