The Christian Science movement began in the 1860s in Massachusetts and is based on the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy. Eddy claimed that direct revelation had given her the understanding
Christian Science in Georgia and in the South began in 1886, when Julia S. Bartlett, a close associate of Eddy's, spoke in Atlanta. During this time a prominent Atlantan, Sue Harper Mims, heard about Eddy's teachings and began to study Christian Science. She subsequently claimed to be cured of a chronic ailment and later became an active practitioner in Atlanta, as well as a lecturer and teacher of Christian Science. Other people also claimed to be healed through reading Eddy's Science and Health. As word spread, congregations began to form.
Christian Science teaches that God is principle, mind, soul, spirit, life, truth, love, supreme good, and father-mother. God is the one and only cause and creator but does not have a mind and is not personal. Heaven and hell are states of consciousness that humans experience according to their levels of thought. All flesh and matter is an illusion, as are sickness, death, and sin. Everything that exists is good; nothing can exist that is not good, and Christian Scientists strive to demonstrate this goodness in their daily lives through healing themselves and others of illness.
The Bible is foundational to Christian Science. Doctrinally, Christian Science disagrees with many central tenets of a classical expression of the Christian faith. Christian Science denies, for example, the Trinity and the deity of Christ. Clergy and preaching are not a part of the practice. Eddy's writings and the Bible—as interpreted by Eddy—are the sources of authority for Christian Science.
Willa Cather and Georgine Milmine, The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of the Christian Science (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993).
Stephen Gottschalk, The Emergence of Christian Science in American Religious Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973).
Robert Peel, Facts about Christian Science (Boston: First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1975).
David S. Williams, From Mounds to Megachurches: Georgia’s Religious Heritage (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008).
Justin S. Holcomb, Emory University
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