“World Religions Made in the U.S.A.: Metaphysical Communities-Christian Science and Theosophy” in World Religions in America
deChant, Dell. “World Religions Made in the U.S.A.: Metaphysical Communities—Christian Science and Theosophy,” Pages 203–10 in World Religions in America. Edited by Jacob Neusner. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.
deChant argues that Christian Science should be included in a survey of the world’s religions because of its significant contributions to both American religious life and the world’s religions. It pioneered new vistas of religious expression and challenged traditional notions about the authority of medicine in healing and of Christianity itself. deChant admits that he first heard of Christian Science as many do—through the passionate polemics of a respected community leader who proclaimed that Christian Science was neither Christian nor science. Discussing it with his mother, however, he learned that his mother had privately considered herself alive because of Christian Science, and that without it, he (her son) would not have been born. deChant categorizes Christian Science and theosophy as the two American-born metaphysical religions and compares their theology and practice with each other and with mainline Christianity. Although Mary Baker Eddy and her followers were to be condemned by the Boston intelligentsia, socially vilified, and subjected to countless struggles, deChant claims it “would also come to change America and the world.” He attributes the turmoil to Eddy’s direct and emphatic challenge to the status quo of American culture, calling into question “the authority of two of America’s most venerable institutions—religion and medicine” (206).