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Vital democracy in the branch church

From the March 1988 issue of The Christian Science Journal


The Bible tells us that when Moses was receiving divine instruction concerning the making and furnishing of the tabernacle (the first structure for worship that the wandering children of Israel had), he was given a vital standard: "Look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount."  Ex. 25:40. Today this simple rule can provide the key to successful church government. Mrs. Eddy, author of the Manual of The Mother Church, declares, "Human law is right only as it patterns the divine."  The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 283. And in the Manual itself she stipulates, "In Christian Science each branch church shall be distinctly democratic in its government, and no individual, and no other church shall interfere with its affairs."  Man., Art. XXIII, Sect. 10.

The democratic form of government, which is basic to the right conduct of the affairs of a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, aids the unfolding of God's kingdom on earth. When underlaid by spiritual vision, it is a unique help in leading human thought out of limited, limiting concepts of cause and control into the freeing perception of God's prerogative and capacity to govern mankind.

But if we think of democratic church government solely as government by majority rule, we lose sight of the ideal spiritual pattern—the immortal man of God's creating and the God-sustained structure, Church, wholly governed by divine Principle through spiritual law. And we also forget that the perfection of man and Church can be demonstrated here and now. Belief in the mortal, material sense of many minds and faith in the weight of numbers may resolve into a "might makes right" philosophy or tempt us to resort to political tactics of one kind or another simply to gain the majority. But first and last the aim of democracy in a Christianly scientific context is to achieve the humble yielding to the one Mind that raises church government to a moral and spiritual activity.

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