One of the hardest things about actually being Christian is how much preconceived judgement and hysteria is associated with the word here in Western Europe. I feel sorry for Muslims because they will have the same problem although because their faith is one of outward practice, they tend to be more in the public eye.
I remember when I was younger, going on dates the subject of belief would certainly come up. As soon as I mentioned the word Christianity, I could see the person immediately changed and quickly lost interest. I ended up defending not my ideas, but my right to having them. I get this a lot, people are not comfortable with the word and tend to quickly disassociate themselves with it. People are more up front now and will quickly tell you that they are “spiritual but not religious” or will laugh at you for having such an idea without hearing what you say about Christian Science.
I tried for a while to describe myself as a “spiritual healer” but that made me sound like I should be wearing a kaftan and sandals and sitting on a mountain somewhere.
Early on, in my journey with Christian Science I would have been happy for the Christian part to disappear, it held a lot of negativity for me too and reminded me of my childhood where morality was a tool used to punish me. So where exactly does the “Christian” part come into Christian Science?
Mary Baker Eddy wrote a book called “Science and Health With Key To The Scriptures” which helps us to see the Bible in a Spiritual light. Many people wonder “why did her message have to come through Christianity at all?” Why not from Buddhism, Islam or Hinduism. It has more in common with that than as a Church. That is true, but only because mainstream Christianity has been watered down and largely replaced with a kind of Quasi middle class capitalist meeting place.
Perhaps we need to reverse the question though and admit that we are asking because we are not comfortable with Christianity and are reluctant to see that good can come from it. Many people want a revolutionary change in their spiritual ideas, but Christianity is the last place they would look and who can blame them?
I think the rest of the answer to that is in two parts:
Firstly Mrs Eddy came from a time and community where the Bible was the moral standard of the day and Mrs Eddy was a deeply religious lady. Secondly, her writings reflect the truth of Christianity, as the essence of her messages were Biblically based, in one simple word “LOVE”. Its true you could maybe find traits of that in all religions, but the Bible was the revelation and indeed the demonstration of all she studied and wrote about. Spiritual truths are not limited to the Bible, in fact they cannot be limited to words. Its a little bit like the sea, the tide comes in and out and leaves wonderful things in the beach, from the most unimaginable depths of the ocean. Her time of living was a time of the Bible, it was her background and her life long before she founded Christian Science.
Mrs Eddy not only wrote and gave speeches from the Bible, actually her early editions of Science and Health contained quotes from many of the World Religions. One of her most appreciated sermons which she gave in Boston was about the spiritual interpretation of the sea. It was much later in her experience that she formed a Church. She was rather hoping for a reformation of existing Churches than creating one herself. She once predicted that Churches one by one would adhere to Christian Science and as these all break up on points of division and moral opinion, we can see a new sense of Love based on something higher coming into place, just as she predicted.
Some people think that the Bible has some kind of “supernatural” power, and that even its physical presence or if its read like poetry can keep away demons. Muslims also have a similiar idea about the Holy Koran. Mrs Eddy was not one of these people, in fact she demanded proof by demonstration on every point she expounded from the book. For her the Bible was a textbook not a mysterious book given by mystery to humanity, it was a statement about man, his life and his being from Love itself.
During Mrs Eddy´s time some of her students came from other faiths, one of her Jewish students carried her message forward and created a “Jewish Science Movement” which enjoyed much of the same success. He re-interpreted Jewish Scriptures. Today also, the teachings which the old sufi Imams of Islam left us such as the Barelvi, Ahmed Raza Khan or the Ahmadiyya founder Mirza Ghoulam Ahmad, we find many of the ideas of Christian Science. its not because they found the ideas from Mrs Eddy, (although they all lived at the same time) its because these ideas are eternal and open to everyone and all of us at all times. Even though the person might interpret them differently in cultural ways.
In fact the life of Mirza Ghoulam Ahmad is very similar to that of Mrs Eddy:
- Both were reformers of their faith
- Both challenged the world to disprove their ideas
- Both left behind a legacy of books and ideas about spirituality and identity.
- both have interests in Healing (theres a homeopathy centre in their mosques)
it would be really nice if both of these groups could come together to explore what they have in common because both are open to sharing and listening and both are very interested in spirituality. I can´t think of any better way to bring the two religions together for dialogue than through these two groups.