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THE SUPREME COURT IN OUR CHURCH GOVERNMENT

From the April 1928 issue of The Christian Science Journal


AT a time when several Christian Scientists were discussing the framework of government in our movement,—the conception of law as set forth in the Church Manual by Mary Baker Eddy,—the query came, Could our movement progress successfully without provision for church members to determine whether those in authority are acting in accordance with the Manual? That our Leader did not provide for a forum of discussion and debate in which the By-laws might be interpreted and applied, is a striking feature of her form of church government. The theory sometimes advanced that final power of control should rest with the body of church members, as is usual in political and social organizations, does not apply, since, contrary to the usual custom, the members did not originate the By-laws in the Church Manual. The Manual came from Mrs. Eddy, with whom alone remained all power not specifically granted therein to someone else.

We may gain some light on the question by considering the form of world governments in general. An intelligent examination of governmental systems reveals three necessary and distinct departments, the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. Students of political structure tell us that the consolidation of these three naturally distinct members into one body spells tyranny for the state. Successful governments have recognized this, and have enjoyed prosperity as they have maintained the three departments distinct and separate. No clearer example of this recognized ideal may be found than in the form of government of the United States of America.

The government of the Christian Science movement presents the same distinctive features that characterize successful forms of world government, with, however, a unique refinement—to be considered later—which marks it as different from all human forms, and assures its perpetuity. We find the legislative element of government existing as our Church Manual, a simple body of laws or rules which, because of their own completeness, will never require change, and which were possible only because of the spiritual foresight of their originator. The executive feature of our church government rests with The Christian Science Board of Directors, consisting of five persons. But where do we find the judicial authority that has always stood as the guardian of liberty and of protection from despotism? Our Manual makes no written provision for such form. Well aware, as we are, of the completeness of the Christian Science movement, providing as it does for every need and anticipating every emergency, we shall not look in vain for this judicial element. It does exist, and is actively functioning for the well-being of our Cause.

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