Christian Science. Putting these two words together is difficult for some to accept. After all, religion and science are considered two separate and distinct fields of study, and many feel there exists a significant gulf between them.
This and other questions related to Christian Science were often discussed when I shared a small business with a close friend. He felt these two immense and seemingly unrelated words were never meant to go together. We had many deep conversations on the subject.
I explained that the science behind Christian Science was best illustrated through the practical proof of spiritual healing. I pointed out that Jesus healed countless individuals using prayer alone, and that he taught and encouraged others to do the same. By doing so, Jesus signified that these actions were not miracles, but the application of spiritual principles or laws. I told my friend that Christian Science was the rediscovery of Jesus’ healing method. And like the laws of gravity, aerodynamics or mathematics, it was and is available for anyone to learn, practice and prove for themselves. However, this Christianly scientific method is only successful when coupled with the Christian qualities as taught by Jesus–such as humility, tenderness and love. In this way, the healing of disease and illness of all kinds have been accomplished.
This explanation made little impression on my friend. He didn’t believe in God and the idea of Christian character seemed to have nothing to do with science. To him, only the scientific method could determine if something was scientifically authentic.
A partial definition of “the scientific method” from Wikipedia states:
“… To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation the formulation and testing of hypotheses.”
I reiterated to my friend that the science behind prayer-based healing, as taught in Christian Science, can best be proven by individual demonstration. I shared examples in my own life and invited him to visit a Christian Science Reading Room and read a few of the corroborated accounts of healing on record (many of them medically diagnosed).
My friend always respected my devotion, but responded that, to him, Christian Scientists testifying to the benefits attributed to their faith would always be biased and therefore suspect. It didn’t seem to matter to him that these testimonies were an unparalleled historical record of over 80,000 accounts from around the world, testifying to the efficacy of a healing system that has continued for over 125 years. My friend thought that unless he could see evidence of a third party to test the science, he did not feel impelled to investigate it further. And there we often left it.
So last summer, I thought of my friend and business partner when I found a blog by an ordained interfaith minister named Rev. Mary Jo Leaper. Rev. Leaper’s blog post of June 9, 2010 is titled, “A Christian Science Healing.” In it, she shares how she purchased the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. She read it from cover to cover and even memorized a number of passages. Later, she found herself overhearing of someone’s physical problem and felt impelled to pray for this person as she had learned from the textbook. The next day, she found that the person was completely healed. Rev. Leaper attributes the healing to the scientific prayer she learned and applied from Science and Health. She is not a Christian Scientist, but found that she could apply what she learned in Christian Science to heal others.
Questioning the validity of prayer-based healing is nothing new. Jesus faced it in his time, as did Eddy in the nineteenth century. Going back to my friend–one thing we would likely agree on is that results matter. I’m reminded of the time when Jesus healed the man who had been born blind. The Pharisees refused to accept that the healing was attributed to Jesus and urged the man to deny the efficacy of Jesus’ prayer. The man responded,
“I know nothing about that one way or the other. But I know one thing for sure: I was blind . . . I now see.” (John 9: 25, The Message)