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Church: A beacon for the ages

From the June 2020 issue of The Christian Science Journal

It might seem surprising that, after she discovered Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy did not move immediately to establish her church. Actually, she hoped none would be needed. And some years would pass before she would be convinced of this necessity.

Mrs. Eddy initially felt that other denominations would embrace the revelation of Christian Science and the explanations provided on how to honor Christ Jesus’ command to heal the sick—and the striking healing work that results from putting these teachings into practice. But she also began to see that the adherents of her new religion, operating without the discipline of church, began to get off track. As one of her biographers explains: “Too many neophytes, attracted to her teachings but unwilling to accept the disciplines that are as much a part of any serious scientific endeavor as they are of any valid Christian commitment … were ending up as advocates of personalized versions of Christian Science that were neither Christian nor scientific” (Robert Peel, “The background of The Mother Church,” Journal, June 1982).

Thus it was that in 1879 she chartered her first church, eventually denominated The First Church of Christ, Scientist. Its exalted purpose is hinted at in the two words making up the Greek word for church (ekklesia): ek, meaning out of or away from; and a derivative of kaleo, meaning to call. This suggests that in addition to gathering together seekers of Truth, church exists to call us out of a mortal sense of existence and identity and into the understanding of man’s real spiritual nature. It is the spirit of God, or Holy Ghost, imparted at every Christian Science church service, that stirs thought, enabling every individual in the congregation to glimpse “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). 

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