Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why you even need to know about Christian Science

Christian Science is a 130(ish) year old American denomination that had its heyday in the 1930's and has been declining since the 1950's. It's statistically not even worth mentioning in Christian Denominations anymore. And yet it's the most modern, cutting edge, and timely theological point of view of our time.

I look at so many postmodern seekers like Bishop John Shelby Spong, Rob Bell, Richard Rohr, Deepak Chopra and Science Mike and I think how wonderful it is to hear new voices speaking the truth that I grew up with, only sharing it in such a dynamic, modern and culturally significant way. I don't mean to speak for any of them because I don't know what they personally believe about every theological concept. I only know that their works point to a newer and more metaphysical perspective on God and Jesus and the Bible that Christian Scientists have been sitting on for 130 years.

The Christian Science church is suffering from the most pedestrian problem facing traditional churches around the globe. They are seriously aging, and instead of changing with the times to keep up with society, they've doubled down on conservatism and tradition. They have made themselves virtually useless to younger generations who are not coming back to the institution. You see the church and the theology aren't necessarily the same thing. So you can believe in and even practice Christian Science and never set foot in a church. So why bother having a church?

Here's the thing... All these new seekers who grew up in their Nicene/Apostles Creed churches with the threat of hell and a man-in-the-sky God, who are waking up to the Bible as a story of people searching for God, and Jesus as a rabbi who taught a new way of knowing God and living in His kingdom, and believe that following Jesus is bigger than just having an insurance policy for death, they will need somewhere to fellowship. They will not want to stay in their old thinking churches feeling unwelcome and excluded. This is when they need a church that is as deeply committed to Jesus as they are, and which is open to scientific discovery and exploration within the context of God.
So this is where we’ll begin. Not from where the church is right now, but from where the church is going, hopefully to be a home for the new seekers of the Science of Christianity.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A response from the Church survey

Sorry you haven't heard from me in awhile. I've been on vacation and working on a new Church project that takes up most of my time so this week I'm going to post a response I got on one of my surveys that really says a lot. Thanks to the church member who sent it in.

CS is very personality driven. Mrs. Eddy wanted it to be impersonal, but the way it is set up, especially with only being allowed to have one teacher for your whole life, makes people dwell on questions such as who-was-taught-by-who, who is your practitioner, are they a good practitioner, etc. Members seem to focus on people being the healers instead of it being an impersonal principle. Also, I don't understand why Mrs. Eddy made the CS Board of Directors a lifetime appointment by a board which selects its own members. This has been a problem because the board become insulated in Boston and does not hear or visit the field enough. Some of the flaky decisions have been made in the past which have driven a wedge in the Movement. Expecting small churches (most have under 25 members) buy new Hymnal Supplements or fully stock Reading Rooms, hold expensive lectures, etc. puts a burden on small elderly memberships. Having the church rely on lay people and not having a fully-trained minister and a paid church staff to support the flock puts a lot of pressure on the few who have enough free time to become readers and actually do the church work. It also makes members judgmental toward those who feel they don't have the time or the inclination to do church committee work. Also many churches have too many committees. Committee work takes away from healing work. Many churches are told to get away from the social (and I understand that) yet there is no true fellowship among the members. Having a soloist who can sing from within the membership can be troublesome, yet having to pay an outsider when a membership is small and struggling to keep the lights on is a burden. Sunday School teachers need more training. My kids have been really turned off by wacky teachers with ridiculous ideas. Or they have been bored to death just going over the lesson each week or constantly reviewing the commandments, beatitudes, etc. If you can't get teachers to commit to teaching each week and get people who can somehow draw out a comprehensive lesson plan then instruction is really spotty. Also kids are placed in classes according to age and not knowledge. Children who have been in SS since infancy are asked to sit through very elementary lessons if a visitor or newcomer enters the class. Regular school is not held this way. Kids learning French are put in beginner or advanced classes based on knowledge or experience. And having no Sunday School option for people who enter the religion after age 20 is a real problem. The religion depends entirely too much on self study and there is very little structured support of the new student.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chat with BOD

So I had a chance to talk to the BOD at the TMC Youth Midwest Summit the other day. They said there is no way they will ever publish a translation Bible Lesson while they're the Board. They have no interest in interfering with what the Branch Churches are doing. There's no Manual provision for them to get involved. It sounded like they were saying it's completely up to us to do whatever we want. They said they don't want to hold adult Summits because they don't think we should be talking so much, and we have associations for that kind of meeting. They aren't planning on publishing much literature or music that's current because there aren't enough members to make it worth it. (that's why all the music coming out is so lame - there are more older members who don't like good music.) The Journal costs 4x as much to make as they receive in subscriptions. The new Monitor kept the same subscription rate as the old one (that's quite rare). The impression I got was that they think Mrs. Eddy designed the Mother Church as a bunch of individuals doing their study at home, not as a church community. So that's how they're focusing their attention

Sunday, April 26, 2009

From a Post on TMC Youth

I am Christian Science, but I joined a Congregational Church so that I can have a normal, happy , joyous, praise filled worship experience with my neighbors, like other Christians. I can study and practice CS, and still go to another church where you can feel people are joyously praising the Living God, and fellowshipping with passion and excitement!To people walking in the door to our churches, Christian Science worships feel stiff, frozen, artifical, FORMAL, intellectual, unnatural, unhuman and blocking the heart. When is change needed? When churches are folding-up across the nation and only few young people are left. When the denomination is almost extinct. It's time to put the truth in a better "package". Currently, it's in a coffin headed for the cemetary. One of our large churches recently sold because there were very few "Scientists" left. An evangelical denomination bought the building and the parking lot is filled with cars all week long."Scientists" hesitatingly ask if they might explore tip-toeingly into warming things up step by step. The answer is a resounding "YES! Make big changes and fast!"Why? Because the planet will not be left inhabitable in a few decades unless mankind spiritualizes it's thought. God needs us to make CS worship "people-friendly". We must make our worships satisfying and relevant to the average person, not just to the group who is happy engaging only the intellectual processing part of their "left brains". People have both social and emotional needs. We are supposed to be "meeting the human need" if we are worshipping the right God. Are we? If we were doing that, people would be coming to our worships. They aren't. We got off-track somewhere along the line. Maybe in making an "idol" out of the order of worship and elininating the Holy Spirit. The "letter of the law" should never extinguish the "spirit of the law".

SOME HAVE COME ALIVE AGAIN!!! I visited the SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO SOCIETY while I was traveling. YES!!! YES!!! And a hundred times "YES!" Check out their videos! It was warm, wonderful and above all "normal". They did everything that all CS churches have traditionally done, but they did things in the friendly ways that other Christian churches do. It felt natural and normal. I hope that other churches will follow their example, of letting the Spirit back in, each in their own way. And I am glad that the Mother Church is allowing everyone to peek into their experience on this site.If you are a Christian Scientists who is happy with how our sparsely attended worship services are conducted, then you need to visit a few evangelical churches and see where your neighbors are going and why. Or visit a progressive CS church. But for the average citizen to walk into one of our Sunday worships, what we do looks just plain wierd to them. Stiff memorized statements preceed our rigid skeleton of order of services, and there is no human heart. It appears as if "Scientists" fear some great heirarchy of demons will befall them if they speak as humans or neighbors with any feelings.

CS has to stop being strange and impersonal. Mankind needs what we have.Do not tell me that "the church has done it's job" and that truth has been assimilated across the culture. It has not! New churches are springing-up with hand clapping gospel music (that part is good! ), and rapidly changing New Age theology. This "new metaphysics" is a mutation of Christianity and CS. They use our language, but there is rarely a place for Jesus in it. They often worship "divine self" instead of God the Source. CS birthed the metaphysical movement into being, and it has to recover it's role in shaping society's spiritual growth. We must learn to be relevant to society once again. We have dropped out of the game. We do not know what our neighbors think. We need to jump back in. I'm glad that some churches and societies are doing that.Dave C., Montana

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New Q&A segment

I'm thinking about making a weekly Q&A discussing the difference between the "culture" of Christian Science vs the truth of it. I would love to have people dialog with me on the issues that bother them the most about the CS church. I will research the issue and share the results with all of you. Let me know what you think of this idea. Especially send me your issues so I can get started.

Monday, March 30, 2009

This says it all...

From a Forum post on TMC Youth:

"I'm new to CS, so I have some thoughts on this topic.

I didn't know anything about CS & had heard that it was a cult, etc. I was reading a book by a New Age author who was raised CS & the things she described resonated with what I believe. So, I decided to look into it further. It has been 1 year & I feel frustrated at how hard it is to learn. S&H is difficult to read and church doesn't help me understand anything more nor does the bible lesson. Yet, with all of this difficulty, I continue to try b/c of what people talk about CS being for them. Plus, it's one of the few Christian religions where the people seem genuinely happy - that says a lot!

1. What I would like is to be able to go to Sunday School and learn the basics there. It seems like everything that I want to learn people say they learned in SS. But, I'm waaaaay over the age limit.

2. It would be nice to have some kind of introductory/study guide to help. For example, I am lost when it comes to Prayer and how to pray and what to say, etc. I know there isn't a set formula, but there are steps people go through. Maybe first looking in the bible for a great quote or something... How long do you pray? If nothing is happening, do you find another quote? What do you say? And the list goes on...

3. A lot of people seem to have been raised as CS & don't realize how difficult it is to understand much less utilize the information in S&H. I'm sure many people found healing just reading it, but for me, I haven't found healing nor understanding. And there isn't a resource available to aid me. I've read The Sentinel, MBE Biographies, etc.

So, there are my difficulties at 1 year in. Take it for what it's worth - 1 person's opinion." 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

be careful what you ask for

Well it's been a few days since I sent out my survey. I've heard from so many people it's been great. It was a little overwhelming to hear the disappointment of people who grew up in this church, whether they still attend or wouldn't set foot in a CS church ever again. Some responses were really vile, particularly the ones from people who converted to mainstream Christianity. The interesting thing is that they were the only people who were unhappy with the actual teachings of Christian Science. The rest of the responders were upset about one cultural thing or another. The dangerous avoidence of Doctors was huge, the judgemental nature of our members, the worship of MBE or teachers/practitioners, boring church services, etc...

So my conclusion so far is it's not resistance to the Christ, or not enough healing, or MBE's discovery, it's the closed minded, limited, judgemental, fearful CS culture that's draining our church membership. We could bring people back in if we start over from scratch - read S&H, understand it's teachings, know the Manual, and create the most loving, embracing, helpful church community we can.

I know there's more to be said here...
see you soon, I'm going to read my S&H