Christian Scientists see ‘new spirit’ emerging in society–Annual Meeting of the Mother Church June 5, 2017June 18, 2017
SPECIAL TO THE CLARION-LEDGER
Christian Scientists from around the world gathered in Boston on June 5 for the annual meeting of their church. They spoke of “a new spirit” emerging, which is calling forth the best in people across denominational and national lines, despite the cultural climate of political divisions and religious strife.
Founded 138 years ago, the Church of Christ, Scientist, is a Christian denomination based on the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. The use of the term “Science” refers to what church founder Mary Baker Eddy saw as the spiritual laws of God as understood and demonstrated by Jesus.
In an interview, the chair of the denomination’s board of directors, Allison Phinney, noted, “Materialism doesn’t satisfy. It is Spirit, God, that brings us into newness of life, shifting thought, revealing the power of church.”
“Newness of life” —a phrase from the Bible—was integral to this year’s meeting. The theme, “Let us feel the divine energy of Spirit, bringing us into newness of life,” came from the denomination’s textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures ,” by Eddy.
The meeting took stock of the challenges as well as the promise facing many Christian denominations today. These very challenges have prompted many to look to their core values as people of faith, the board emphasized. In these core values is the power that renews individuals and revitalizes churches and society as a whole.
There’s an awakening, Phinney said, to the fact that “we have to work together, that it requires the practical Christianity, which Christian Scientists would term healing, so evident in the life and love of Christ Jesus.”
The recent launch of a daily digital edition of the 109-year-old Christian Science Monitor is one result of this deeper look at core values. According to church officials, it represents a modest new beginning, focusing more on the Monitor ’s basic ideal of healing and impartial journalism.
Members of the church come from more than 60 countries and all walks of life and backgrounds, including the physical sciences. Said board member Rich Evans, “We don’t equate serious spiritual commitment with ignorance or unreasonable belief.” The conclusions of the Christian Science founder “were untraditional in some respects, but she thought deeply about the relation between practical Christianity and demonstrated proof of God’s great love for humanity.”
Mississippians who did not attend the meeting in person had the option of viewing the meeting via live streaming on the internet.
A recent letter, (“GOP does more harm . . .” Feb. 7), pitted politics against religion in a way that oversimplified the relation between the two. In the case of my own faith as a Christian Scientist, this left a false stereotype.
Spiritual healing is a way of life for most Christian Scientists, but it can’t rightly be approached in a dogmatic spirit, nor is it something Christian Scientists try to impose on others. Individual members decide for themselves on matters like the Affordable Care Act — the church doesn’t dictate political positions — and there are members on both sides of the political aisle. We ask respect for our religious practice where this is consistent with the rights of others, but we recognize this is a two-way discussion that requires responsibility and mutual cooperation, including with public health officials.
As for the practice of spiritual healing in our families, this, too, doesn’t fit the stereotype of harsh religious dogma blindly followed. Though we normally turn in a spiritual direction for healing, we aren’t “against” what doctors do for those who turn to them. Our perspective comes from the experience of actual healing in our lives, including in cases of serious medically-diagnosed conditions. We’ve seen healings of children after medical treatment was unsuccessful, so the issue isn’t one-way. We believe profoundly that God’s love and God’s will are always for healing, but each member is free to do what he or she thinks best. What matters most to us isn’t doctrinaire, but seeing our children safe and whole — and the Golden Rule lived in our families and communities.