Christian Science is distinct from other denominations in its teaching that matter does not exist. All is spiritual. Therefore, sin, sickness, and death, which appear to have physical causes, are instead only states of mind. Sin and sickness are treatable by spiritual means: prayer.
Let's look now at some of the basic tenets of faith:
Christian Science Beliefs
• Baptism - Baptism is the spiritual purification of daily life, not a sacrament.
• The Bible - The Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, are the two key texts of the faith.
• Communion – No visible elements are necessary to celebrate The Eucharist. Believers practice silent, spiritual communion with God.
• Equality – Christian Science believes women are equal to men. No discrimination is made among races.
• God – The unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is Life, Truth, and Love. Jesus, the Messiah, is divine, not a deity.
• Golden Rule – Believers strive to do unto others as they would have others do unto them. They work to be merciful, just, and pure.
• Heaven and Hell – Heaven and hell exist not as places or as parts of the afterlife but as states of mind. Mary Baker Eddy taught that sinners make their own hell by doing evil, and saints make their own heaven by doing right.
• Homosexuality – Christian Science promotes sex within marriage. However, the denomination also avoids judging others, affirming the spiritual identity each person receives from God.
• Salvation - Man is saved through Christ, the promised Messiah. By his life and works, Jesus shows the way to man’s unity with God. Christian Scientists affirm the virgin birth, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ as evidence of divine love.
Christian Science Practices
• Spiritual Healing – Christian Science sets itself apart from other denominations by its emphasis on spiritual healing. Physical illness and sin are states of mind, correctable through properly applied prayer. While believers routinely refused medical care in the past, recently relaxed guidelines allow them to choose between prayer and conventional medical treatment. Christian Scientists turn first to the church’s practitioners, trained people who pray for members, often from a great distance.
Believers hold that, as with the healings of Jesus, distance makes no difference. In Christian Science, the object of prayer is spiritual understanding.
• Priesthood of Believers – The church has no ordained ministers.
• Services – Readers lead Sunday services, reading aloud from the Bible and from Science and Health. Lesson sermons, prepared by the Mother Church in Boston, Massachusetts, give insight into prayer and spiritual principles.
To learn more about Christian Science beliefs, visit the official Christian Science website.
(Sources: ChristianScience.com, ReligionFacts.com, and Religions of America, edited by Leo Rosten.)