Prescription of faith
Christian Scientists declare spiritual healing
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 21:02
Pass the bars of Northgate’s Boyett Street and the foam of the night’s first brew spills onto the floor. Laughter and music pour into the Saturday night air. Sunday morning on the same street, a few voices turn the words of a hymnal into song.
Since 1956, the Christian Science Society of College Station has called Boyett Street “home.” Their services take place in the red brick building nestled behind the bars frequented by students on weekend nights. Christian Science focuses upon a relationship with Jesus Christ, but places particular emphasis on the spiritual nature of human beings — medical issues are seen as issues that can be resolved through prayer alone.
Savannah Jackson, a sophomore industrial engineering major and Christian Scientist, described the origin of “Christian” and “Science” in the name.
“It’s Christian because it’s based on the Bible and Jesus’ teachings and it’s a science because it’s demonstrating the laws of God that Jesus proved,” Savannah said.
The religion has historically experienced controversy because of their views on medical treatment. Christian Scientists have been prosecuted since the advent of the religion for the death of children and adults with ordinarily treatable illnesses.
Savannah said these deaths can be interpreted as the misapplication of the laws of God.
“Christian Science is the law of God, and His laws must be applied,” Savannah said. “If applied incorrectly, you will not get the correct results. If you go in and try and solve a problem using the laws of physics, but you get Newton’s law messed up, then you can’t solve the problem. In Christian Science, you must have a clear understanding of the laws of God.”
She also said a battle exists between good and bad, and that these instances of “bad” are part of the war that is being fought.
“Error or the devil will try to attack you, will try and come and fight you and will give you the suggestion that there’s a problem, your child is sick, you have cancer, something like that,” Savannah said. “You have to decide where to put your weight — on God’s side, or on this error’s side.”
Though Christian Science upholds similar values and basic tenets of mainstream Christianity, the church website explains there is a greater emphasis placed on the spiritual rather than the materialistic or literal than in other denominations. Savannah said, for example, a more egalitarian or democratic, rather than patriarchal structure, exists within the church. More importance is placed on a spiritual relationship rather than a ritualistic expression of obedience.
Nathan Glaser, a sophomore physics major, said this freedom was an important quality of his spirituality.
“It’s less ritualistic,” Glaser said. “There’s more freedom with how we chose to believe things.”
Though Christian Science is not completely focused upon health care, a notable difference in the theology of Christian Science is the way physical pain or illness is viewed. Because the church views people as primarily spiritual and created in the image of God, they believe that through a clearer understanding of God a person draws closer to God and may transcend material matters such as illness or pain.
Savannah said this understanding of physical health comes into direct conflict with modern medicinal practices.
“If someone wants to use Christian Science, they have to understand that it conflicts with medicine because Christian Science is based on God and on the spiritual relationship between God and man and understanding that matter is not the all-encompassing aspect,” Savannah said. “Medicine is really focusing on matter. Christian Science focuses on your relationship to God. Why do these seem to conflict? Because one is material and the other is spiritual.”
The church’s website states, “It is up to each person who practices Christian Science to choose the form of health care he or she wants,” but also mentions most practicing members chose to find healing through prayer.
Ashton Jackson, a senior electrical engineering major, said she found the utilitarian nature of the religion to be extremely practical in every facet of her life.
“It’s a practical and Bible-based solution to any problem I’ve ever encountered,” Ashton said. “It’s not just a religion — it’s the most practical spirituality I’ve ever heard of. It can heal physical problems, heal relationships, economic problems, bad grades. It’s practical.”
Savannah grew up in Christian Science, but she said she truly embraced it in middle school with a healing of her injured knees.
“I really just prayed to understand my relationship as God’s child, and knowing that God is the origin and that I am his expression,” Savannah said. “And we see God as a very loving God. I knew that I had to express the qualities that God had, which was strength, durability, flexibility, endurance. And as I began understanding that more and more, the pain in my knees simply would go away. And one night, I remember sitting on the couch and my mom was cooking dinner. I just got up, put my shoes on, walked out the door and said, ‘I’m going to go for a run.’ And I went, and I ran.”
Years later, Savannah says she has no problems with her knees. Not only has she experienced personal healings, but she has also prayed and brought healing to other people. Because prayer is seen as a for of treatment, however, Christian scientists are not to pray for others without their consent.
“It’s like going to the hospital and having a surgery or something like that,” Savannah said. “The doctor must have the patient’s explicit permission.”
Ashton and Glaser both said they had experienced healing through prayer and faith. Ashton said as she found spiritual healing, physical healing of even broken bones followed.
“As I gained this spiritual understanding that was based on the Bible, the human side, the physical side fell into place perfectly,” Ashton said.