An essay donated by Cheryl Petersen about
healing by prayer & medical treatment
Fighting the new war for interrelated discovery
As a lifetime student of Christian Science, I’ve been aware of the “warfare between prayer and conventional medical care,” however that war is over. Prayer and medicine are quite different but they now have comparable missions—spiritual/mental/physical health. During the war, neither the spiritual purists nor the physical materialists could prove sovereignty. Mercy seeped into the dark corners of consciousness and people realized they could stop fighting and learn from one another. Unfortunately, sporadic skirmishes still break out between die-hards who are deficient in imagination—in the context of discovery—but the majority of us are not missing out on the expanding understanding of spiritual/mental/physical health.
In the midst of the 19th century cultural shift, Christian Science took on a flourishing systematic life. It mirrored the burgeoning 19th century Industrial Age and the religious fervor that bypassed the brimstone and fire God for a loving and healing God. But more importantly, as unpaid servitude and inequality were being abolished in the United States and world, Christian Science took on new life as individuals realized they too could abolish servitude to sin and disease. The promise of freedom and health captured the attention.
In the 20th century, “authorities” and “experts” began claiming they were able to make good on that promise to freedom and health. Human beings went along with the promise until they realized it was a cloaked threat of excommunication or physical death unless they did what they were told. The mission of prayer and medicine was temporarily displaced by a feud for power.
At the end of the 20th century, I attended the traditional school of Christian Science and found within it not only treasured gems but also worthless rubble that accumulated during the war between prayer and conventional medicine. As I cleared away the rubble, I discovered countless other people doing the same thing. They didn’t conform to the approvals or disapprovals of authorities and experts. The purpose to think for ourselves and be accountable for our own decisions took precedence and we learned from one another. I witnessed the emergence of a different vocabulary, one that is closer to the original sense of the term.
Christian Science -- before it was stereotyped as that which avoids, or rejects medical attention -- was nearer the mission of medicine which is to aid the whole person.
Today is a different world, and any attempt to reinstall 19th and 20th century goals into the current practices of prayer and medicine, smears the picture with a self-serving stigma. Therefore, practitioners today are fighting to advance the spirit or true mission of prayer and medicine based on our ability to learn from one another with an attitude Christ Jesus pointed out, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matt. 5:7, NIV) The fight to discover together spiritual/mental/physical health will be won. Although we live with the scars of the battle between prayer and medicine, we can’t stop progress; we can’t silence the appreciation of what the medical field calls a miracle; we can’t shred theological texts; and we can’t discard the natural tendency to be merciful and interrelate.
Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer and lay speaker. She blogs at www.Beliefnet.com as Everyday Spirituality and www.HealingScienceToday.com.
Initial posting: 2010-OCT-08.