Church of Christ, Scientist
Organization founded in 1879 by Mary Morse (Baker)
Eddy (1821–1910) as the embodiment of the healing movement
popularly known as Christian Science. As a young woman
Eddy suffered from chronic health problems. Through the
1850s and 1860s she sought out various remedies and eventually
found her way to Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, a mental healer
in Maine. She experienced great relief for a time and was
grateful for Quimby’s efforts. It was not until 1866, however,
that she found a new spiritual insight while recovering from an
injury received in a fall. She experienced a complete recovery
of health, discovering that God is all and that illness and death
are unreal. She also came to believe that in the acceptance of
the complete reality of God health appears.
Eddy’s recovery was followed by a period of further Bible
study, working with others in light of her new vision and reexamining
Quimby’s teachings. The result of this study was a primal
booklet, The Science of Man (1870), and then a textbook,
Science and Health (1875). She organized the Christian Science
Association in 1876 as an organization for her students. Over
the next years the healing movement grew and expanded. Several
new editions of the textbook were published as Science and
Health with Key to the Scriptures. In 1892 the movement went
through a complete reorganization and the mother church
structure, through which the church is currently organized, was
established. The church bylaws were published in 1895 as the
Church Manual. Leadership of the church was placed in the
hands of the mother church (the First Church of Christ, Scientist),
located in Boston, Massachusetts, and its pastor, Mary
Baker Eddy, who had been ordained in 1881.
Included in both the textbook and the Church Manual are
the tenets of the church. They affirm the Bible as the inspired
guide to life; one God; God’s Son; the Holy Ghost; and man as
a being in God’s image. Forgiveness of sin results from new
spiritual understanding that casts out evil as having no Godordained
reality. The atonement of Jesus, ‘‘the wayshower,’’ is
evidence of God’s love. Salvation comes through the truth, life,
and love, as he demonstrated. Healing, following the principles
laid down by Eddy in Science and Health, remains the most significant
aspect of the doctrine of the Church of Christ, Scientist.
Such healing is distinct from both psychic healing and
magnetism (or mesmerism), both of which were condemned by
Since Eddy’s death, leadership of the church has been in the
hands of a five-member board of directors that administers the
affairs of the church according to the rules laid down in the
Church Manual. Each church is autonomous but its leaders must
be members in good standing with the mother church. Church
headquarters are at the Christian Science Center, Boston. The
Christian Science Publishing Society issues a number of books
and periodicals, most notably the Christian Science Journal and
a daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor. The Herald of
Christian Science appears in a dozen languages.
The Christian Science movement has not only built a large
organization but has also inspired a variety of religious healing
movements in other groups. Throughout the early years of the
movement a number of students withdrew from association
with Eddy and the church. Some continued as independent
Christian Science practitioners, and others gathered around
Emma Curtis Hopkins and developed what would come to be
known as the New Thought movement. Boston Episcopal minister
Elwood Worcester founded the Emmanuel Movement,
the organization that introduced spiritual healing into the
Episcopal Church and continues today as the Order of St. Luke
the Physician.
The Church of Christ, Scientist was born in controversy and
has continued as a controversial organization. Members are
known for their refusal to seek the services of physicians, preferring
their own Christian Science practitioners. Throughout
the twentieth century, church leaders have labored long and
somewhat successfully to gain a legal status for their church and
to have their practitioners recognized by government authorities
and even insurance companies. Their success has been
challenged periodically when a person who might have been
helped by modern medical techniques or medicine dies. In the
1980s a score of court cases were heard, with very mixed results,
concerning Christian Science parents whose children
died without receiving any medical treatment.
The Church of Christ, Scientist can be contacted at its headquarters
175 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115-3187. Website
The Churches’ Fellowship of Psychical . . . Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
Christian Science A Sourcebook of Contemporary Materials. Boston
Christian Science Publishing Society, 1990.
The Church of Christ, Scientist.
March 8, 2000.
Eddy, Mary Baker. Church Manual of the First Church of Christ,
Scientist, in Boston, Mass. Boston Trustees Under the Will of
Mary Baker Eddy, 1908.
———. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Boston
Trustees Under the Will of Mary Baker Eddy, 1906.
Gottshalk, Stephen. The Emergence of Christian Science in
American Religious Life. Berkeley University of California Press,
Peel, Robert. Mary Baker Eddy. 3 vols. New York Holt Rinehart
& Winston, 1971.
Swihart, Altman K. Since Mrs. Eddy. New York Henry Holt,