Christian Scientists have many occasions to answer questions about their church and its theology. They may have opportunities to speak to high school or college classes on comparative religions; to church groups or Sunday Schools of other denominations; or they may simply be discussing their faith heart-to-heart with a neighbor, friend or co-worker.
This section reflects that kind of ongoing dialogue by presenting some of the questions asked most often about Christian Science. The answers here are not intended to represent an official policy statement or to provide the final word on subjects that would necessarily require considerably more space than we have available here. It is in the spirit of offering a continuing dialogue that these "Questions and Answers" are provided.
Q. What is Christian Science?
A. Christian Science is based on the words and works of Christ Jesus, and draws its authority from the Bible. Its teachings are set forth in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. Although a distinctive part of Christian Science is the healing of disease by spiritual means alone, its higher purpose is universal salvation from every phase of evil - including sin and death (see Matthew 10:8). (back to top)
Q. Who are Christian Scientists?
A. They are the shopkeeper downtown, the paperboy next door, a co-worker at the office. They are artists, lawyers, factory workers, teachers, farmers. They come from every ethnic group and segment of society. They are all students of the Bible and Science and Health.
Christian Scientists live in all parts of the world, particularly in the 70 different countries where Christian Science churches are located. The greatest number of churches are in English-speaking countries: the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The second-largest number are in German-speaking countries. Africa is the area of fastest growth today. (back to top)
Q. Is Christian Science truly Christian?
A. Yes. Its foundation is the teaching and example of Jesus. Christian Scientists take Christ Jesus' promise seriously, that Christians should heal the sick as well as the sinning, in his name. (back to top)
Q. Why do you use the word "Science"?
A. It is a Science because it is the systematic application of rules based on a fixed principle. It heals through divine laws. We consider it the Science of the Christianity that Jesus lived and taught. The proof is in changed and improved lives, morally, spiritually, and physically. (back to top)
Q. What is the Christian Science view of God?
A. God, Spirit, is the Supreme Being, the creator and governor of the universe. God is ever-present, all-knowing, all-powerful, and wholly good. God's nature is seen through synonymous names for God used or implied in the Bible, including divine Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love. (back to top)
Q. How does mankind relate to God?
A. Every individual is actually the spiritual child of one Father-Mother, God. The true spiritual identity of everyone is the image and likeness of God, as the first chapter of Genesis makes clear (see verses 26 and 27). God's children are His reflection, or expression, and are always under His infinite care. (back to top)
Q. What does Jesus Christ mean to you?
A. Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, the Saviour, the Son of God (see John 9:35-37). The term Christ describes Jesus' divine nature or spiritual sonship with God. As both the Son of God and the Son of man, he was the mediator between God and man. He said of himself, "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). (back to top)
Q. Do you accept the virgin birth of Jesus and his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension?
A. Yes, Jesus was born of a virgin. Christian Scientists fully accept the Gospel accounts of his birth, life, victory over death, and final ascension as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and the evidence that he was the Son of God. (back to top)
Q. What Bible do you use?
A. In English-speaking countries we primarily use the King James Version of the Bible in church services and in reading the weekly Bible Lessons, although other translations are used occasionally. We also often use other current translations in our individual Bible study. Other areas of the world use Bibles published in local languages, such as the Luther Bible in German and the Louis Segond Bible in French. A tenet of Christian Science reads, "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (Science and Health, p. 497). (back to top)
Q. Does Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures replace the Bible for you?
A. No. Science and Health is a companion to the Bible, and as its title implies, a key to understanding the Scriptures. These two books are the textbooks of Christian Science and were ordained by Mrs. Eddy to be the pastor of the Church. Science and Health has been translated into 16 languages, plus Braille. It's also available on audiocassette and compact disc. (back to top)
Q. How do you practice baptism or holy communion?
A. Christian Scientists acknowledge and love these traditional Christian sacraments, but they do not practice them with outward symbols or ceremony. Baptism means the daily, ongoing purification of thought and deed. Eucharist is spiritual communion with God, celebrated with silent prayer and Christian living. (back to top)
Q. Do you believe in heaven and hell?
A. Heaven and hell are not regarded as specific destinations one reaches after death, but as states of thought, experienced in varying degrees here and now, as well as after death. (back to top)
Q. What is the Christian Science view of sin, disease, and death?
A. Sin, disease, and death do not originate in God, good. They are not ultimate realities of God's creation and are to be overcome as Jesus taught and illustrated. Those evils result from the belief that man is separated from God and that life and substance are in matter, therefore limited and temporal. Instead, life and substance are seen as Spirit, God, therefore unlimited and eternal. (back to top)
Q. How do you explain the various types of suffering in the world?
A. They result from believing that God, good, is absent from our lives, that evil is real, and that it is equal to or superior to God. Christ Jesus spoke of evil or the devil as a liar in whom is no truth (see John 8:44). His awareness that evil is not authentic but that God and His goodness are the actual reality enabled him to overcome suffering of every sort, for himself and others. Christian Science holds that God's will for all men is wholly good and that He is not the cause of sin, suffering, or death. (back to top)
Q. Does your Church counsel its members in personal matters, like marriage, birth control, divorce?
A. The Church itself does not counsel members in personal matters. Christian Science teaches strict adherence to the moral code of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. Christian Science practitioners are available to help individuals find healing through prayer of such problems as infidelity, sterility, indifference, and abuse. (back to top)
Q. Why don't you drink, smoke, or use social drugs?
A. Addictive or intoxicating substances can enslave individuals. Drugs may dull a person's moral judgment, and impair his ability to understand his relationship to God. They may seem to give the promise of a better life but they can never deliver the genuine joy and substance of spiritual life. Christian Science awakens people to the peace and satisfaction that is found in God's love and care. This frees them from relying on stimulants or trusting in matter in any form. Christian Science proves that true freedom is gained when one's life is governed by God not by drugs. (back to top)
Q. How does Christian Science help solve problems like poverty, racism, and war?
A. Christian Science prayer goes to the root of such problems. It recognizes all people as the children of one God, beloved by Him, sustained by Him, and harmoniously related to one another. It challenges the belief that they are separated from God, good. Christian Science refutes the assumption that hatred, envy, limitation, or greed govern people's lives, individually or collectively. It asserts that none of these negative traits can overpower the law of Love. Prayer, from this basis of divine law, helps to bring healing to mankind. (back to top)
Q. Is your religion changing with the times?
A. The activities of the Church continue to evolve to meet the needs of the times. The fundamental teachings and practice of Christian Science do not change, nor will they change. They are fully and finally stated in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, based on the timeless healing works of Christ Jesus. (back to top)
Q. Who was Mary Baker Eddy?
A. Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, and author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, a perennial best-selling book on healing. She was raised in New Hampshire by parents who were devout Congregationalists. The Bible was central to her religious and educational upbringing. Her early adult life included more than its share of serious personal tragedies and poor health. Over the next twenty years chronic illness led her to explore many curative methods. None resulted in permanent healing until her discovery of Christian Science. (back to top)
Q. How did she discover Christian Science?
A. In 1866 she was severely injured in a fall, and turned to the Bible as she had been accustomed to doing. All she had pondered in the past came strongly and clearly to her as she read an account of one of Jesus' healings. She was immediately healed. Convinced that God had healed her, she spent the next several years searching the Scriptures to understand the principle behind her healing. She named her discovery Christian Science and explained it in 1875 when she first wrote Science and Health. (back to top)
Q. Why do you call her your Leader?
A. This term helps describe her relationship to the members of her Church (see Manual of The Mother Church, Art. XXII, Sect. 1). Christian Scientists refer to Mrs. Eddy as the Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science. Although they love her and appreciate all that she accomplished, they do not worship her. Mrs. Eddy insisted that her followers ". . . Follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ" (see Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 4). (back to top)
Q. How do you pray in Christian Science?
A. Like those of other Christian faiths, Christian Scientists pray the Lord's Prayer. They turn to God, divine Love, to learn more of His power and presence, and to listen for His direction. The prayer that affirms and understands God's goodness and allness, challenging whatever appears to the contrary, is a powerful force. Prayer is the subject of the first chapter of Science and Health. (back to top)
Q. What is the relationship between the theology and the healing ministry of Christian Science?
A. They are inseparable, the one being a proof of the other. Christ Jesus, our Exemplar and Saviour, showed that his theology and ministry included healing the sick. Christian Science is seen as the rediscovery of the divine laws that Jesus understood, taught, and proved: and these laws are as applicable today as they were 2,000 years ago. (back to top)
Q. How do you go about healing the sick?
A. A complete answer to this important question requires deep, prayerful study of The Bible and Science and Health. Briefly: Christian Science healing comes through scientific prayer, or spiritual communion with God. It is specific treatment. Such prayer recognizes a patient's direct access to God's love and discovers more of the consistent operation of God's law of health and wholeness on his behalf. It knows God, or divine Mind, as the only healer. It brings the transforming action of the Christ, the idea of divine Love, to the patient's consciousness. A transformation or spiritualization of a patient's thought changes his condition (see Science and Health, p. 194:6). (back to top)
Q. How does Christian Science differ from faith healing, psychotherapy, Scientology, or positive thinking?
A. There are crucial differences. The practice of Christian Science does not involve hypnotism, spiritualism, or suggestion. It is not the control of one human mind over another, nor the exercise of human will. It employs no formulas, chants, or rituals, no esoteric practices or secret writings. Although faith is an important element in this healing process, it does not rest on blind belief, but on an ever-increasing understanding of the present perfection of God's spiritual creation. This is a practical and essential difference between Christian Science and what is generally considered faith healing. (back to top)
Q. Are Christian Scientists allowed to go to a doctor?
A. Christian Scientists always have freedom of choice in caring for themselves and their families, just as anyone who normally resorts to medical care could choose to use spiritual means. When someone joins the Christian Science Church, he or she has already seen evidence of this means of healing and has determined to follow this way of life. If an individual departs from the use of Christian Science by choosing some other kind of treatment, he or she is neither condemned by the Church nor dropped from membership. In many countries, in order to meet legal requirements, Christian Scientists engage the services of a physician or a qualified midwife to attend the birth of a child in a hospital or at home. (back to top)
Q. Why not mix Christian Science with medical treatment?
A. Christian Science treatment and medical treatment proceed from opposite standpoints. Christian Science is based on the laws of God that all cause and effect are spiritual. Medicine primarily deals with matter as both cause and cure. To try to heal from opposite systems may be unfair to the patient and could be counterproductive to healing. (back to top)
Q. What do Christian Scientists do in cases of broken bones?
A. There are many documented accounts of the setting and mending of broken bones solely through prayer in Christian Science. Some choose to use the services of a surgeon to set the bone and then rely on Christian Science treatment for the healing. You can also visit the Healings page on this web site for an example of a healing of a medically-diagnosed broken back (it is titled, "An Injury Healed and a Life Renewed"). (back to top)
Q. Can Christian Science heal children who are too young to understand its teachings?
A. Spiritual healing does not depend on age or experience. Little children respond naturally to God's love and to the mental environment surrounding them. As parents pray, their thoughts are freed from fear and filled with a sense of God's loving care. Both parent and child are benefited. Infants and children are often healed more readily than adults. (back to top)
Q. What is a Christian Science nurse?
A. He or she is an experienced Christian Scientist prepared to provide skillful physical care and spiritual reassurance consistent with the theology of Christian Science. Christian Science nursing does not include any form of medical treatment, such as diagnosing, drugs, or therapy. It does include practical bedside care, such as bathing, dressing wounds, turning, lifting, modification of food, etc. Anyone who is depending solely on God for healing and who is applying the principles of Christian Science, as explained in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, may engage a nurse at home or go to a Christian Science nursing facility. (back to top)
Q. What is your record of success with Christian Science healing?
A. It has been practiced effectively for more than 100 years. In some families, Christian Science has been the means of healing and care for five generations. During the past 112 years, more than 50,000 authenticated testimonies of healing have been published in the monthly and weekly Christian Science periodicals. Many of these have medical verification. In addition, thousands of accounts of healing are given each week at Wednesday testimony meetings in Christian Science churches around the world. Three books, Healing Spiritually, A Century of Christian Science Healing, published by The Christian Science Publishing Society, and Spiritual Healing in a Scientific Age by Robert Peel (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987), give detailed accounts of verified healings. (back to top)
Q. When did your Church start and why?
A. In 1879, four years after the first publication of Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy and some of her students voted to "organize a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master [Christ Jesus], which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing." The Church was reorganized in 1892, and the Church Manual was first issued in 1895 to provide a framework for church government and a blueprint for future development of its mission. (back to top)
Q. Why don't you have ministers?
A. This is a lay church in which every member has equal standing with God. With the Bible and Science and Health as our pastor, Christian Scientists turn to prayer and these two books for counsel and healing. (back to top)
Q. What are your church services like?
A. The services include congregational singing, a vocal solo, organ or piano music, silent and collective prayer, the audible praying of the Lord's Prayer, Scriptural reading, and a collection. There is also a meeting on Wednesdays that includes readings from the Bible and Science and Health, as well as testimonies of healing from the congregation. The Sunday services