Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Christian Science and the Holy Spirit (the Comforter)

I found a very interesting explanation of Christian Science on the Web yesterday. It's about halfway down a page called "Christian Healing," edited by Robert Nguyen Cramer (now deceased), on the BibleTexts.com site (a site devoted to "exploring the original biblical texts, early Christian writings, and Christian values, practices, teachings, and history prior to 313 A.D.").

Mary Baker Eddy (Miscellaneous Writings [Mis] and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures [S&H]). J. Kier Howard states, "There has always been in Christianity a healing ministry that has been seen as biblically based." Howard also refers to such ministry's conflict with modern science. Below are descriptions of a prime example of systematic efforts to responsibly establish -- in the modern scientifically oriented world -- what Howard describes as biblically literal healing ministry. Extended quotations below are provided in the attempt to provide a balanced and fair representation of Eddy's teachings, which often have been misrepresented and misunderstood by both opponents and proponents.

It should be noted that Eddy used relevant modern terms and analogies to enable today's readers to better understand and appreciate biblical teachings, just as did early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria, Athenagorus, Theophilus, Tertullian, and Origen did in the second century A.D. For instance, when Eddy used the term divine Science or simply Science (with an uppercase S), she was referring to the biblical term, the Holy Spirit, which the Gospel of John also refers to as "the Spirit of truth" (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13) and as "the Comforter" (John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7; variously translated as the Advocate, the Counselor, the Paraclete, the Defense Attorney). In light of this, a "Christian Scientist" may be considered to be anyone whose practice of Christianity and Christian healing includes following Christ in thinking, speaking, and acting as instructed and directed by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. In this sense being a Christian Scientist is a way of life and is in no way defined by or limited to any denominational affiliation. Thus, when reading Eddy's writings, one can understand the intended biblical concept by silently substituting the phrase "Holy Spirit" wherever one reads "Science" or "divine Science" -- or in many cases where one reads "Christian Science." In the same way wherever one reads, "Christian Scientist," one can silently substitute, "one who is a methodical disciple of Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit."

To me, this is a very refreshing take on Christian Science, and on being a Christian Scientist. What an open mind this gentleman must have, I wish I could have known him. He's given the traditional Bible student a lovely way to read MBE's works and get the most out of them without experiencing any theological disconnect.

I'm so grateful the Comforter is here, and that its explanation in Science and Health teaches us how to actively feel that presence.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 3/13/2007 07:38:00 AM, Blogger John said...

This was really helpful to me, Laura. Thanks for the post. I was visiting my local CS church last Sunday and was asked if I was a Christian Scientist and I wasn't sure what to answer. I don't belong to a church, but I do consider myself a serious and sincere student. I have many responsibilities at the church I am a member of (President of the Board, chaplain, worship asst, etc.) and it's not possible for me to break away (even if I was sure I want to). But seeing "being a Christian Scientist is a way of life and is in no way defined by or limited to any denominational affiliation" was a real help to me to see what's going on with me as not material, but spiritual. Thanks!

At 3/13/2007 07:51:00 AM, Anonymous Dennis R. said...

This is wonderful. It makes a lot of sense. When I started reading Science and Health and the various articles, when I would read about the Christ, Truth, it made me think about the Holy Spirit. At one of the chatrooms, I was told I was mistaken, but maybe I was not that far off.

I have always tried to be led of the Spirit, so maybe I can be called a Christian Scientist, even though my denominational label is something different

At 3/13/2007 12:28:00 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

Love it! Thanks for posting this! I've always loved that about Christian Science - that it is a way of life, not about a denomination per se. It is something to be lived and loved, just as Jesus showed. Very insightfully stated.



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