Church Organization, Friend or Foe

January 6, 2000

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.


As expected with this topic, we immediately focussed on the shortcomings of The Mother Church, the Papacy and various other fundamentalist systems of thought. Fortunately, our chairperson for the evening foresaw this happening and was able to move us along to more fruitful inquiries. For example: Is there any value to human organization? If so, what do we want from it? And, how would we look at the New York Christian Science Group, our very own, very present example of human church organization?

Yes, all those in attendance — and others we have talked with over the years — have been burned by religious organizations. We could perhaps now laugh at their inept attempts at managing the evolution of thought, dissent among members and inevitable scape-goating. But had we done any better in our own Group? and, could we disown the value of organization as a representation of the underlying divine idea and thus promoter of spiritual growth?

It's natural to want an organization to agree with us on all points — to be the idealized coddling and loving parent that no one ever actually had, but some at least agreed we had grown through disagreement and conflict. We had even learned sometimes that we were wrong! Certainly in Science, where there is conflict there is error, for then both participants are seeing things dualistically and how else are we to know this than through the discomfort of disagreement or problems? Could it be that the real purpose of church, or any relationship, whether good or bad, loving or hateful is to promote transcendence beyond dualities, to Good or Love alone?

In this regard, one member described the design of classical Hindu temples. One is led through increasingly darkened enclosures to the final inner sanctum, where utter darkness prevails Thought is thus presented with a variety of constrictions as meditational devices, until the final break-away into infinity. A Christian Science church with all its problems and seeming impediments to freedom could be used in the same way.

The calling of a Christian Science church — our Group included — is to heal. In Mother Church branches, different committees and activities expose one to a variety of situations demanding healing. Our Group is more simply organized: a rented room, revolving chairmanship and freedom to say what we want relieve pressure — but another kind of discipline is needed. We cannot rest on human belief, particularly when in session. It's up to experienced Scientists to constantly reach out to reality, not quashing the unfoldment of novel or even outrageous notions, which often yield the most far-reaching spiritual interpretations.

We discussed being born again (see John 3: 1-13). Man is in Heaven now, but belief depicts us as needing to achieve such status. As one grows spiritually and human parental projections are dropped, man's own inner temple asserts itself as mind, body, home, business and so on. This is our own infinite living church and the only reasonable re-birth in Science.

As long-term friends of our Group know, we've had plenty of problems trying to provide a safe space for all to share their different takes on Christian Science. We've spent time designing formats and preambles; we've admonished each other and still managed to run a number of good people off. But here too, we hope there has been some leavening of thought among the survivors, enabling us to welcome newcomers — or those from the past who feel we were unduly abrasive — to an enthusiastically welcoming space.

A paragraph written by John Doorly and quoted in the book by Arthur Corey entitled, "Christian Science Class Instruction", was read. Paraphrasing, he recommends students of Christian Science let people express Christian Science in their own way, in their own words. Surely we each have the wherewithal to find the common root from which such expressions and our own possible re-wording spring, and reside there, at the Root of Being. The resulting establishment of mutuality, based on Truth, not compromise, heals.

A member described his visit to a Roman Catholic Christmas mass. He found it warm, user-friendly and particularly liked the participation of many non-clerics in the service. There was nothing jarringly at odds with Science and what minor — mostly personal sense or chronological — differences he noted, were easily translated into Science. He may make this an annual outing.

Several healings were reported:

1) One member suddenly came down with the flu. and was so weak he could barely lift his head from the pillow; but he could still think and pray. He had been discussing with other members the fact in quantum physics that a particle is also a wave, depending on the point of view. He ratcheted this up to Science, revisioning himself not as a deteriorating particle or mortal but rather as a "...beam of living Love" (The Christian Science Hymnal, number 23:4). Furthermore, he was perfect (i.e., done through) not infected (done in — see Science and Health, p. 588:22). He recovered overnight.

2) As two members climbed a staircase, one mentioned to the other that he was suffering from arthritis of the knees. The other told of his own work on and healing in Science of the same problem. Immediately the suffering member rejoiced in the other's healing and declared his own non-matter basis. He was healed instantly.

3) Another member lost his wallet one evening during the week. He did not panic, knowing that in Science nothing is lost. He took a bus to where he thought he might have lost it, and told the driver of his misfortune. As he stepped from the bus, the driver, a wonderfully chthonic figure, blessed him and told him all would be well. The wallet was not there but he quickly remembered where it truly must be and returned there, to find it intact. As he stepped on a bus to return home, there was the same friendly driver to share his good feelings with.

Next week we'll look at Preventive Medicine.

The Bible

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy

Prayer, watching, and working, combined with self-immolation, are God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind.

Through repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration, mortals put off their material beliefs and false individuality.

Man is tributary to God, Spirit, and to nothing else. God's being is infinity, freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Like the archpriests of yore, man is free "to enter into the holiest,"—the realm of God.

Christianity as Jesus taught it was not a creed, nor a system of ceremonies, nor a special gift from a ritualistic Jehovah; but it was the demonstration of divine Love casting out error and healing the sick, not merely in the name of Christ, or Truth, but in demonstration of Truth, as must be the case in the cycles of divine light.

Miscellaneous Writings, by Mary Baker Eddy

It is not indispensable to organize materially Christ's church. It is not absolutely necessary to ordain pastors and to dedicate churches; but if this be done, let it be in concession to the period, and not as a perpetual or indispensable ceremonial of the church. If our church is organized, it is to meet the demand, "Suffer it to be so now." The real Christian compact is love for one another. This bond is wholly spiritual and inviolate.

It is imperative, at all times and under every circumstance, to perpetuate no ceremonials except as types of these mental conditions,—remembrance and love; a real affection for Jesus' character and example. Be it remembered, that all types employed in the service of Christian Science should represent the most spiritual forms of thought and worship that can be made visible.

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