A former Christian Scientist discusses why he left the church he was raised in

A former Christian Scientist discusses why he left the church he was raised in

Mary Baker Eddy was still alive when Robert Y. Ellis’s mother, then a little girl, moved from Iowa to South Dakota, and it was there that her family left the Methodist Church for Christian Science, a new denomination “discovered” by Eddy that emphasized the promise of spiritual healing.

For most of the 20th century, the family’s relationship with Christian Science defined much of its journey. Katherine Ellis became a Christian Science practitioner, using prayer to help ailing members of her faith. Bob Ellis for a time became a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, the newspaper Eddy had founded near the end of her life. Mother and son lived by Eddy’s key work, “Science and Health.”

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There were always doubts. James Ellis – Katherine’s husband and Bob’s father – had left the faith as a young man, and was actively hostile to it throughout his adult life. There were a few occasions when the family turned to medicine – Robert was delivered by a C-section, for example – but the family stuck with the faith through a string of tragedies, most notably the murder of James Ellis in 1972.

But Bob had always had a fascination with technology – James was a failed inventor who became a carpet salesman – and when his mother was diagnosed with eye cancer, he took her for treatment to the Harvard cyclotron, a particle accelerator that at the time was being used to treat eye tumors. That experience was a turning point for Bob Ellis, but even more so was watching his mother’s long, slow death from cancer four years later.

Ellis left Christian Science – the faith of his parents, his wife, his in-laws, his community. And then he spent a decade writing a memoir, “A Collision of Truths,” which he is self-publishing.

– Source: Michael Paulson, A former Christian Scientist discusses why he left the church he was raised in, June 22, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Michael Paulson, who covers religion for the Boston Globe, talks with him. We quote the end of the Q and A:

IDEAS: At the end of the book, you said Christian Science prepared you to experience the transcendent. What did you mean?

ELLIS: When you really, really let go of everything that’s going on around you, and let intelligence, God, whatever you want to call it, operate in your consciousness – and this is really what I believe meditation is all about – you do have these experiences which are transcendent, where you are, momentarily at least, free of all care, and you begin to get answers that you didn’t think you were going to be able to get. And I do think Christian Science prepared me for that.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if other religions prepare other people as well, but in my case it was Christian Science. Christian Science is a very mental thing, and, if nothing else, it teaches you to lean very heavily, in fact, completely, on God. But that’s the Christian Science God, which is divine mind and divine truth and principle and love, and that’s my background, that’s what I was taught, and that does stick with me.

I can’t help it. I don’t want it not to, actually. I’m very content with that.

– Source: Michael Paulson, A former Christian Scientist discusses why he left the church he was raised in, June 22, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Paulson refers to Christian Science as a new ‘denomination.’ A denomination is:

[a] religious body originating as a Christian movement or sect and generally classified as a Christian body regardless of its doctrinal orthodoxy.

– Source: Robert M. Bowman, A Biblical Guide To Orthodoxy And Heresy

It should be noted that Christian Science includes doctrines and practices which are at odds with the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. This departure makes Christian Science theologically a cult of Christianity.

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