The Christian Science movement began in the 1860s in Massachusetts and is based on the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy and the Bible.
Eddy claimed that direct revelation had given her the understanding of healing that had been lost in modern Christianity, and she recorded her teachings, which culminated in the first edition of her Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, in 1875. In 1876 she formed the Christian Scientists Association and three years later chartered the Church of Christ, Scientist. In 1892 Eddy reorganized the church into its current structure under the name The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston.
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.
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Atlanta, was incorporated in 1893, and the first church building was dedicated in 1913. Two other congregations, in Macon and Savannah, took root before 1900, and all three churches continue to hold public services on Sundays and Wednesdays. Early in 1900 several other congregations formed, and today there are churches throughout Georgia. The Georgia office of the Christian Science Committee on Publication is located in Atlanta.
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 with an all-knowing divine mind, but is not anthropomorphic. Heaven and hell are states of consciousness that humans experience according to their levels of thought. Christian science denies the materialist view of man and the universe, considering prayer sufficient to overcome any ailment. Although very real to the human experience, Christian Science holds the theological position that since God, who is entirely goodness and love, did not send sin, sickness, and death to his children, all flesh and matter are considered 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 shares both commonalities along with various points of disagreement with many central tenets of a classical expression of the Christian faith. Christian Science denies, for example, the Trinity and the deity of Christ. But while they do not accept the trinitarian view, they accept each of these three divine aspects as different functions of one God. Furthermore, 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.