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To the woman who discovered Christian Science...

From the June 2011 issue of The Christian Science Journal

To the woman who discovered Christian Science, the gap between a creed and a tenet was huge and impassable. Early on, Mary Baker Eddy balked at religious creeds as rigid and exclusive, because she saw her older brothers and sisters condemned to eternal punishment by the orthodox church for not subscribing to the time-honored “Apostles’ Creed,” which represented official doctrine on the Trinity, heaven, hell, judgment. Understandably, therefore, she saw divine Truth as far above any “cruel” creeds (see Poems, p. 29). And when she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, in 1879, she boldly announced it would be “a church without creeds.” Instead, she and some of the early church members began framing a set of “Tenets” (see Church Manual, p. 17). Eventually, over the years, these Tenets evolved into six key points concerning the theology and practice of Christian Science.

What did this concept of tenets, rather than creeds, offer the new church? A creed is, according to most dictionaries, “a brief authoritative formula of religious belief.” A tenet, on the other hand, is “a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true.” Creeds (from the Latin credo, or “I believe”) tend to be church statements with which adherents must agree. Tenets (from the Latin tenere or “to hold”) convey the idea of universal and eternal truths, which people naturally and willingly embrace as true. Tenets are fluid, adaptable to each individual. They inspire us to live our commitment. For Eddy, Christ replaced creed. The authority of Scripture replaced church dogma. And on-fire Christian healing replaced recitation of doctrine.

Over the next six months, the Journal will explore each of the six “Tenets of The Mother Church,” established by Mary Baker Eddy. The first installment focuses on the sixth tenet (See page 29 to learn why the editors chose to begin with the final one!), featuring Fenella Bennetts’s stirring article “A Promise Worth Keeping.”  

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