Christian Scientists Rely of the Power Within for Healing

By By Wendy Maughan

By Wendy Maughan

While many felt helpless during the tragic events of Sept. 11, students of Christian Science sent help to victims of the crisis the only way they could?through prayer.

Some of these accounts can be read in the Oct. 8 edition of the Christian Science Sentinel. In one article, entitled “In the Shadow of the WTC,” Chris Meyer, who witnessed the tragedy, interprets events through the eyes of his faith.

He said that, after watching the tragic events and praying on the sidewalk, he grappled with the news of terrorist responsibility for the destruction. Immediately, he felt the urgency to forgive.

“We have to forgive because if we don?t, we?ll be saying that somebody is more powerful than God?.then we should bow down and pray to the terrorists because they?re more powerful than God,” Meyer said.

The belief in God?s ultimate power prevails among devout Christian Scientists from New York to Salt Lake City. Nancy Ferguson, a Salt Lake resident and devout life-long member of Christian Science, echoes Meyer?s refusal to succumb to hatred.

She believes the terrorists are punished by their own behavior, but in the end, she is reconciled to the millennium?s newest war.

“Humanity must go through steps,” she said. “Many Christian Scientists have served in wars, and there are stories of God?s protection. Bullets have been removed through prayer.”

Stories of prayer and protection are part of a larger picture painted over 100 years ago by Christian Science foundress, Mary Baker Eddy.

One of the few women to found a religion, Eddy claimed to be healed of a serious injury after reading a Biblical account of Jesus Christ healing a sick man.

She then went into seclusion for three years, during which time she produced a book called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

The book, which presents Eddy?s spiritual views along with passages from the Bible, provides the foundational doctrines of the church.

A major premise of the book is the idea that evil is ?unreal? because God never created evil, and nothing really exists unless created by God.

Consequently, evils such as terrorism and sickness are defined as illusions to be overcome by realities such as faith and prayer.

In this context, praying for tragedy victims is more than a nice sentiment?it is the only real help to be offered.

Ferguson claims that this way of thinking actually offers protection against things such as illness. By changing her thoughts, she says she can change her health. That, she says, is why she doesn?t get sick anymore.

“Of course, when you get sick, it doesn?t mean you?re a bad person,” she explained. “You?re just swallowing what the world has projected. But, if I think ?God has never made sickness, so I?m not going to get sick,? then I don?t.”

Ferguson cites television commercials for medication as being a kind of “mass hypnosis” designed to convince people of the certainty of illness. Members suffering illness may go to Christian Science Practitioners instead of doctors and pills. Practitioners work full time praying for the sick.

Members don?t expect people to go instantly from sickness to health?it is a process that takes time. While some have progressed beyond doctors and pills, others have more to learn.

Instead of condemning those who suffer illness, or solicit the help of a doctor, Christian Scientists use their doctrine to give hope.

“That?s what I love,? Ferguson said. “There is so much hope that these things can be overcome.?

While faith healing may be the most widely known aspect of Christian Science, it is not the only thing that draws members.

As a child in Sunday School, Ferguson was taught that God has aspects of both parents, or a Father-Mother God. She believes that Mary Baker Eddy was one of the first to recognize God?s motherhood. The teaching is one of many deciding factors in her choice to participate in the church.

According to these same teachings, the Father-Mother God produced physical offspring, namely Jesus Christ, who is a central figure in the religion. He is called the way shower, and his life is believed to be a demonstration of God?s power over the unreality of evil.

For example, Christian Scientists believe that Christ overcame the unreality of death by being resurrected. Members seek to, someday, do the same.

Only three Christian Science churches in the Salt Lake area are devoted to these and other teachings. There is no campus extension, due to small numbers of student members.

Despite its sparseness, the impact of this religion is still felt in the community and throughout the nation via several highly respectable publications, many of which are meant for mass audiences. The Christian Science Monitor is one such national newspaper published by the Mother Church in Boston.

“We want to be mainstream,” Ferguson said. “But it?s hard to communicate that to people. They think it?s a religious publication.”

Monitor writers demonstrate both scholarship and objectivity as they report on world events.

Some families can even benefit from the movie reviews, which not only summarize the plot, but give an exact number of scenes containing sexual innuendo, substance abuse, violence and even harsh expressions?among other things.

The church recently donated 27 Monitor subscriptions to Salt Lake area high schools.

“High School debate teams are always quoting the Monitor,? Ferguson said.

The U will gain some healthy exposure to Christian Science on Oct. 31, when members will participate in the Wellness Fair.

You can also listen to Sentinel Radio Education, sponsored by the church, at 9:05 a.m. on KTALK radio. For more information on Christian Science and related activities visit www.spirituality.com.

[email protected]